In these challenging times, it can be hard to think ahead, writes Helge Hess, Senior Vice President at Software AG. When companies operate in a state of emergency, they are affected in three sensitive areas: health and availability of employees, a decline in demand, and the interruption of logistics chains for procurement and distribution.

Today, in addition to the massive challenges facing our healthcare system, there is a risk of broken procurement and distribution processes: Many borders are throttled, and carriers must drastically reduce their capacities. Logistics companies are informing customers that, for certain regions, regular transit time obligations are suspended – and that deadlines and transit times cannot be guaranteed. Car manufacturers are ceasing production.

Cross-continental supply chains also threaten to break down. For example, trains from central China to Germany have already broken down several times or arrived with no cargo. The logistics chemical, vehicle construction, textile and electronics companies are under threat, as their value-added chain is spread over many partner companies. In the case of products (such as mobile phones) that consist of many individual parts, the mere absence of a few components is enough to bring production to a standstill.

Companies are currently taking operational measures to keep their key operations and processes running and to cope with various scenarios.

Some important operational measures to maintain core processes include:

  • Rescheduling procurement and distribution logistics routes
  • Process adjustments to ensure the supply of warehouses, branches and factories
  • Close exchange with suppliers (or searching for alternative suppliers)
  • Adjustment of capacity planning for short-time work

All these show that operational excellence is particularly needed when faced with challenges beyond the scope of day-to-day business. Procurement and distribution processes must be managed efficiently that a rapid response can be made to short-notice events.

If your company has invested in the documentation, analysis and monitoring of your business processes over the past few years, you can use these tools to quickly identify and coordinate relevant measures. The aim is to minimise damage and to take the best possible precautions in the event of serious disruptions. This is known as business continuity.

With a business continuity management system (BCMS) you will:

  • Have plans for resuming regular operations as quickly as possible after an interruption.
  • Understand your core processes for products and services (and all aspects such as responsibilities, information technology, partners, etc.), a mandatory prerequisite for defining emergency plans.
  • Evaluate the current situation based on your business impact and risk analysis.

Process monitoring plays a dominant role.  Once a BCMS is implemented, measures for periodic monitoring and evaluation must be implemented. By monitoring procurement and distribution processes – an application scenario of process mining systems, which are used to not only see delays in processes – you can identify causes and propose counter measures.

In addition, companies give high priority to protecting their employees and customers through specific guidelines on travel and infection prevention. Here, too, the comprehensive approach of an Enterprise Management System (EMS) is evident, with a so-called “read & understood” capability. This ensures that guidelines are distributed quickly and enables control over what has been received and understood by each individual employee.

Difficult times call for extraordinary measures. Start with process excellence and you will have better transparency and be able to better manage your business continuity.

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