COVID Truths or Myths: Are CIPS & APICS Building the post-COVID SC prototype and the importance of managing your circular supply chain

Posted on April 7, 2020


Every Monday morning, I invite you to share your opinion regarding some of the more interesting and thought-provoking stories from the past week on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting procurement and global supply chains.

The purpose of this exercise isn’t to merely shoot the breeze. The whole idea is to stimulate meaningful discussion about the changes that are certain to happen because of COVID-19.

Everything from the emergence of the remote procurement professional and governments controlling supply chains to the growing belief in protectionism will be covered.

When it comes to the future of procurement and supply chains, nothing is off the table at this point, so feel free to let loose!

The Post-COVID Supply Chain Prototype

I have always enjoyed talking with Bill Michels, Vice President of Operations Americas at CIPS because I usually come away energized and learning something new.

Bill Michels CIPS

For example, before the COVID-19 crisis, which as you know is stretching supply chains to the breaking point, CIPS and APICS were working on building a supply chain model for Africa. By the way, Bill, if I miss anything do let me know.

Funded by Bill and Melinda Gates, when Bill explained what the initiative involves the first thought that came to my mind was that it is potentially the ideal prototype for the post-COVID supply chain.

In short, and this is my takeaway, is that in a post-COVID world, organizations should not look at normalizing their supply chains based on what they were doing before but focus on developing a hybrid supply chain that reflects a “balanced” resiliency model.

More to come in the weeks that follow, so stay tuned.

Circling Your Supply Chain

One of the reasons that most people can obey the social distancing edict is that they can still get pretty much anything they need online. However, just because a supplier has an online ordering page does not mean that they are really online ready.

Let’s put aside for a moment the cases where there is price gouging such as a $2.00 bottle of hand sanitizer being sold for $13.00. What I am discovering is how there are issues with product quality as it relates to the circular supply chain.

For example, the other day, we ordered products from what I now know is a pop-up or flash distributor in which some of the products such as a countertop cleaner had expired back in 2012. Several food items were either past or on the cusp of their best before date.

I know that I am talking about purchasing as a consumer. However, the products being shipped carry the brand of the original manufacturer. Take the big bag of Brookside dark chocolate pomegranates. While the price was reasonable, the date was bad. When I called Brookside to inquire if they were still safe to eat, the response was yes, but beyond the next 30 days, we cannot guarantee their freshness.

Granted that the likelihood of becoming seriously ill from eating chocolate-coated dried fruit past the BB date is minimal. That said, the fact is that if there is a quality issue, it isn’t the flash distributor who is going to take the biggest hit, but Brookside themselves.

Based on the questions that the Brookside service person was asking, i.e., what is the product code and from whom did you purchase the items, tracking their products is essential. The more important message, however, is that organizations have to get better visibility into their circular supply chain because the next issue may involve a product that could make people seriously ill if sold beyond its shelf life.

PS we called the distributor who, after some backtracking hedging, did take all the products back. From our standpoint, lesson learned.

Final Thoughts

I just finished moderating a panel discussion with Irdeto’s Head of Purchasing and the team from Market Dojo regarding the evolution of technology use before, during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

As an aside, Irdeto is a company that you may not know, but as I discovered, have likely encountered in your day-to-day life.

One of the many fascinating insights from the discussion was the result of a poll asking what level of impact has COVID-19 had on the use of your current technology. 56 percent said that there was a moderate impact. This response seems to indicate that organizations are finding new and beneficial functionality within their current platforms because of the pandemic. While this is a good thing, it also makes me wonder how many companies are not fully utilizing their existing procurement technology and what effect this has not only on their procurement efficiency but their technology acquisition strategies overall.


Posted in: Commentary, COVID-19