As provocative as it might sound, the recent coronavirus pandemic forced most logistics and supply chain practitioners to change their focus from proactive management to reactive management. In this article, we will be first discussing the trends prior to the COVID-19 pandemic with a view on proactive and forward looking supply chain processes. Then, we will discuss the recent changes triggered by the challenges related to the pandemic and impacting how supply chain professionals had to react to the drastic changes in their supply chains. Finally, we will be making some recommendations to integrate the two approaches for the best outcome.
Pre-virus, most supply chain philosophies were focused on mid and long term horizons. For example, Sales and Operations planning techniques (S&OP) have proliferated in businesses with an emphasis on forecasting. Forecasting remains a crucial function (and not just for supply chain but for the entire business) with planning windows that usually go from 3 months to 18 months. We have also seen efforts to use IBP (Integrated Business Planning) across business units and companies. While the need for forward looking techniques remains strong, the reality of the current economic environment around the world leaves us with a lot of uncertainties.