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Author's profile photo Oyku Ilgar

How to Survive in a Zombie Apocalypse with Supply Chain Best Practices

Since we are in the spookiest season of all, my friends and I decided to binge-watch one of the most epic zombie movie series. At the end of the day, my friend was asking “Imagine you looked out of your window and saw zombies walking on the street, the markets are looted and the phones are not working anymore. What would be the first thing you take with you?”

I started thinking about a flame thrower, canned food, a monster truck, and a swiss army knife. But you cannot carry tons of food when fleeing a marauding group of zombies. And flame throwers and vehicles are useless without gas.

So I thought, if I would have a chance to pick whatever I want, I would choose to team up with a supply chain manager.

Let me tell you why.


They are ready for the plan A, B, AND C

Just like survivors making decisions to survive in a zombie world, supply chain managers are making decisions to ensure business continuity in a highly disruptive supply chain environment. The difference is, as a supply chain manager you have no chance to flee, but to fight.

A supply chain manager knows the planning process from raw material to the consumer, they predict the demand and make sure they know where to find supplies at the right cost and at the right time. They give agile responses to changes in supply, demand in volatile market conditions. This requires supply chain managers to quickly plan and re-plan when things don’t go according to plan.

And let’s be honest, plans never work like clockwork because we plan in the perfect world but execute in the real world.

The nightmare that is Covid-19 has shown our global chains to be fragile. One change in supply or demand can have a domino effect across the supply chain. We all remember when the pandemic triggered the plant shutdowns in Asia, then port closures created problems that caused congestion at the ports and resulted in the higher shipping cost. At the end of the day, I have to wait for the gaming console or a new car that I ordered months ago because we still have a semi-conductor shortage globally.

A supply chain manager knows how to combine the long-term plan, with the short-term reality to keep the supply chain running on schedule.

So, who would take the most resolute and agile decisions while the “walking-dead” are lumbering after you? None other than a supply chain manager who is used to operating in a crisis mode and finding an alternative to any global shortage or demand fluctuation.


They know the importance of collaboration

As in every zombie movie, there is always one family member who rejects all help offered by the newcomers to protect the family, and as a result, ends up dead halfway through the movie. This will never happen with a supply chain manager because they are aware of the importance of collaboration.

A supply chain manager knows that doing everything alone is way too risky, and collaboration with suppliers, contract manufacturers, service providers, and other trading partners is a must to build a resilient supply chain. Sharing the real-time data in a collaborative environment enables supply chain managers to recalibrate to make resolute and agile decisions.

To enable effective collaboration and visibility across the supply chain, it is crucial to enable a multi-tier collaboration that creates trust and value for each supply chain partner.

In essence, strong collaboration is the key to achieving resilience.


They have no tolerance for ‘waste’

I have never seen somebody simply placing an order for supplies on Amazon during an apocalypse movie!  They must leverage what they have available, recycle and re-use things, and make sure every scrap or unused part be turned into something useful.

Guess who is the best at following the sustainable practices to achieve “Zero Waste”?

You got it. Supply chain managers are constantly managing and optimizing resources, whether they be human, physical, or digital. Because every piece of material, labor, or energy waste means a lost cost or opportunity to make a profit. So, even environmental concerns aside, waste makes no business sense.

A circular economy aims to minimize waste and the continual use of resources. Supply chain managers who are following sustainable supply chain practices do not only focus on one dimension of business processes but see the entire lifecycle of a product from a holistic point of view – starting from the design to operate and ultimately decommission. This enables them to create a sustainable supply chain ecosystem that is economically viable and environmentally responsible.

Zombies may not exist in the real world, but for sure they lurk in our supply chain processes ready to take a bite from the profit.

So, let me rephrase the question for you.

What would you do if you see a zombie in your supply chain environment?


If you like to learn more about resilient and sustainable supply chains, click here to read the Oxford Economics Study: “The Sustainable Supply Chain Paradox Research 2021”.

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      Author's profile photo Arvind Sundaresan
      Arvind Sundaresan

      Now even POTUS is taking this "Supply Chain Problem" seriously. All headlines on 23rd Dec, gives me an impression his analyst team and researchers might have read out joint research with Oxford. Perhaps, its time for SAP - who continue to power majority of worlds Supply Chain has a discussion with Policy makers and Global leaders in enabling commerce in this disrupted world for a more sustainable future.