Market, personnel and supply chain resilience: Building your plan

By Daniel Taylor, head of manufacturing, NZTE

There is no doubt the last few years have tested personal resilience, but business resilience is also really important and has been equally challenged.

In a nutshell, business resilience is the ability of a company to quickly adapt to disruptions while maintaining their operations.  Whilst there are many elements to business resilience, I want to consider a few that I believe are particularly important for New Zealand’s manufacturing exporters.

Supply chain resilience

First up is supply chain resilience.  We have seen multiple examples over the last couple of years of the impact of supply chain disruptions. Having supply of critical components flow through one provider, or even one geographic location, means that anything that impacts that particular supplier or set of suppliers will negatively impact a manufacturer’s ability to operate. Having a small but dispersed range of suppliers will help to ensure that operations can continue, even if one supplier is taken out of the equation.

Market resilience

Market resilience is also important, and here again, having all your eggs in one basket presents a risk. There is a fine line between focus (which is usually a very good thing)- and over-exposure to a single market (which isn’t) – and this line will be different for every company. Knowing where that line is, and managing appropriately means your business can continue to function even in the event of a market shock.

Personnel resilience

Personnel resilience also needs consideration, particularly as we see the Omicron strain batter our workforce. Understanding the skills of your team, and having multiple options for carrying out key tasks, be that operating machinery on the factory floor or managing key relationships in offshore markets, prevents the whole operation grinding to a halt if one person is taken out of the business.

Obviously, the best time to build these resilience plans is before they are needed, but if that hasn’t happened, the next best time is right now! Consider a range of scenarios, even if they might seem far-fetched (how many businesses were thinking about pandemic planning in 2019?). If there are gaps in your plan, work out how to fill them, and give you and your business the best chance of surviving and thriving regardless of what challenges may arise. Our free online resource, myNZTE, has a range of information and resources to help businesses with their resilience planning.

Daniel leads NZTE’s Manufacturing Export Customers team. He has held roles as trade commissioner in Europe and Australia, and NZTE private secretary to the Minister for Economic Development. Before joining NZTE, Daniel was operations manager at Global Fruits. 

The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Xpress Engineer NZ, NZ Engineering News or the parent company, Hayley Media.