Regardless of preparation and planning, crises will eventually occur. It is the procurement professional’s job to help resolve them and apply your acquired knowledge in the preparation for the next event. Mitigating the human cost of disaster is an important reason why procurement is a part of disaster response and recovery planning. Here are some essential steps for successful procurement crisis management.
Know your experts and lean on them.
Effective emergency response requires clearly defined roles and responsibilities, so that during a crisis teams can concentrate their efforts. As requests and inquiries come in, and information is essential, team members need to know who to go to for answers. Writing in Harvard Business Review, Eric McNulty warns against micromanaging and over-centralizing decision making. Delegation of tasks and decisions to those who are best equipped to make them will keep your office’s response efficient and flexible. This allows team members to play to their strengths and allows the chief official to focus on the big picture and the next steps in the response.
Practice four-way communication.
Four-way communication means informing or including offices and entities vertically and horizontally related. During a crisis, your emergency response team should be in coordination with your:
Finance and Administration officials and executives
Agency customers on the front lines and in leadership
All these parties should be involved in your emergency response planning before the next crisis arrives.
Utilize emergency framework agreements (EFAs).
Put your existing EFAs into action for an immediate response. Create EFAs for secondary and alternative vendors. These short-form contracts should be for supplies and services most likely to be used in the response to an emergency and are typically for indefinite quantities. They can be used to quickly employ vendors who are not already under contract. Governments should maintain EFAs for items like food and water, shelters and beds, common drugs and medical supplies, and fuel. Each EFA should define:
Critical performance specifications
Delivery or distribution conditions
Any other essential criteria that is legally required
Double-check your information.
Panicking rarely helps anyone, so don’t do it. Supply Chain Dive’s procurement toolkit prescribes officials to take a moment to double-check what they know about the crisis. Having full information, or a more complete picture, is empowering and can take emotions out of the situation. Maintaining professionalism is important, and it will help diffuse tensions or emotional responses of those you are working with.
Learn from experience.
To grow as a professional, you must use challenges as learning moments. Crises often identify weaknesses in systems and processes. Working through one will help you identify future risks.
Create a risk register and list the logistical steps in your critical functions and emergency response that are most vulnerable to disruption from economic, environmental, technological, or political forces.
Rank your essential goods and services that are most likely to be in high-demand, difficult to obtain, or otherwise disrupted by a crisis.
Identify and vet alternative or secondary suppliers for those goods and services and put EFAs in place.
Monitor local, national, and global events and trends that could affect your ability to obtain those products or perform those functions.