Supply Chain Management Blogs by SAP
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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

If the last 3 years have taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. We don’t know where the next surge in demand, or supply disruption is coming from. We don’t know when the next geo-political event or natural disaster will happen. What we do know, is that they will happen sometime in the future. And we also know that companies that have the tools and processes in place to respond will be in the best position.


Amid so much change, and so much competition, the need to evolve quickly or get left behind is every companies’ reality. With this in mind, it is no surprise that the theme for Sapphire this year is how to “Future Proof” your business.

Future-proofing our supply chains is essential in ensuring that our operations can withstand unexpected disruptions and changes in the marketplace.

Here are 5 strategies to future proof your supply chain to minimize supply chain risk, maximize opportunities, and ensure business continuity, and some sessions that you can attend to help you achieve them:

Build Resilience

The ability, to not only sense, identify or even predict changes in supply, demand and other market disruptions is just one side of becoming a risk-resilient supply chain. You also need agile business processes in place to have the ability to respond to these changes. This starts by mapping out your supply chain to identify critical areas of inherent risk and create contingency plans to respond.


Adopt Sustainable Practices

A companies supply chain sits right in the middle of its sustainability initiatives, both as a major contributor to the problem and as a huge area of focus as they strive to meet company and regulatory goals. Supply chains are a primary area to focus in on as you try to minimize scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and reduce your carbon footprint. Supply chains are also in the spotlight as companies try and optimize the usage of the worlds natural resources and define their role in a circular economy. Regulatory bodies are also homing in here with the recent plastics tax regulations in the UK and Spain being two high visibility examples.

Companies should adopt sustainable practices in their supply chain to reduce their carbon footprint, improve social responsibility, and enhance resilience. This can include using renewable energy, reducing waste, and ensuring ethical sourcing.


Embrace Technology

To future proof your supply chain you need to improve visibility across the supply chain and increase the productivity and efficiency of processes, and technology has a huge part to play. The Internet of Things (IOT) has enabled a wealth of data to be generated from smart products and assets. This data can be analyzed by machine learning algorithms to detect patterns and predict potential outcomes, risks and opportunities.

We are also seeing technology help address the well documented labor shortages, as artificial intelligence and robotics can help augment the workforce in warehouses and factories around the globe, and data driven tools and devices empower people within the supply chain to make more informed and timely decisions.

Identify And Diversify Sourcing Strategies

Decades of focus on improving long, lean, low-cost (and largely offshore) supply chains had delivered many benefits – but it also left companies defenseless against the extreme supply and demand shocks that followed.

The limits of geography have become evident for companies’ supply networks. Moving some supplier sources closer to home offers a way of reducing risk.

Nearshoring or onshoring can contribute to risk-resistant supply chains and lead to faster time-to-market, more effective planning cycles, and greater flexibility in response to disruption. Proximate sourcing can enable greater control and more frequent site visits, fewer cultural barriers, and better communication. Reductions in logistics costs and lead times can also bolster the balance sheet by freeing up working capital that is tied up in cash outlays to suppliers and inventory in transit.

Collaborate with Partners

Companies should collaborate with their partners, including suppliers, logistics providers, and customers, to create a more resilient and agile supply chain. This can include sharing data, joint planning, and coordinated risk management.


By implementing these strategies, companies can future-proof their supply chain and better navigate the challenges and uncertainties of a rapidly changing business environment. This is how you build a supply chain that’s ready for whatever comes next.

It's how you shift from ordinary supply-chain automation to business-changing transformation. It’s how you move supply chain agility, resiliency, and sustainability from boardroom talking points to operational realities.


We hope to see you in Orlando at Sapphire.