It can and does happen, usually without warning, and often when least expected. So, what to do? Those around you may be pressing for immediate and miraculous solutions, but the first step is to keep calm and assess the situation quickly and thoroughly.
In making the initial assessment and taking first actions, consider the following:
Each situation is unique and, in each case, there will be further questions to consider, but just from the list above, it is clear that good planning and communication is essential for organising the work to address a supplier bankruptcy.
I faced a supplier going into administration just as I was appointed into a new role as Procurement Director. In this case, the supplier was a sole source of a particular varnish for which they owned the formula. Collecting the data as described above was crucial for being able to properly understand the situation, the risks and the actions necessary to secure a new supply and deliver the projects dependent on this varnish. We solved this situation by:
We had stock to satisfy the demand for 3-4 months, but needed 5-6 months to find and qualify new suppliers. In this race against time, the engagement of all the stakeholders proved critical, as it was the Material Laboratory Manager, who was able to identify (and verify) that the varnish stock (those which were not close to shelf life expiry) could be diluted in order to extend the usage while still meeting the functional specification of the product.
With a good initial assessment, quick actions, and a well-coordinated project plan, we were able to find and successfully qualify an alternative before the stock ran out.
Prevention / Mitigation
It might not always work out so well, and it would be best to avoid such situations if at all possible in the first place. Therefore, when considering prevention, the list of possible mitigations is endless, but here are a few points to consider:
©2019 Amy Jones
I have over 20 years’ experience in Procurement/Supply Chain and Finance, I work full time in my own business as a Supply Chain / Procurement Consultant and Trainer and Executive Coach.
If you read some of the articles on LinkedIn, they will have you believe that finding success is only about mindset. I believe it is more complex, the following factors are, in my view, equally and in some case more critical to success.
1. Environment. If I take a fish out of water, it doesn’t matter what its mindset is, it isn’t going to survive (at least not without thousands of years of evolution to become an amphibian). How many people are working in stressful open plan offices, getting up at 4am to catch flights, not having enough time to exercise or get sunlight, dealing with unrealistic targets and trying to balance family with work? We weren’t designed for this, and while we have to find coping mechanisms as best we can, your environment significantly impacts on performance and success.
2. Skill and Knowledge. There is a level of confidence which comes only from having built experience and skills from trying out what works and what doesn’t. This doesn’t happen over-night, and may involve studying to get qualifications and further knowledge.
3. Support. How much can you achieve alone without collaborating with other people? Probably quite a lot, but until you have people surrounding you that you can trust and rely on, your full potential will be limited. I have done my best work when I had an ace team who I could completely rely on and who were experts in their field.
In all of these cases, it could be argued that the right mindset is the starting point for addressing the gap and changing it. I would agree with this, but probably the ‘I have the ability and determination to change this’ is more fitting than a ‘be positive, grin and bear it’ mindset when you are dealing with challenges such as finding or creating a new work environment. And for continuing success, a can-do attitude, confidence and optimistic outlook will help enormously, and all the more so if it is backed up with strong foundations of a good environment, skills, knowledge and support.
What else do you need for success? I would love to hear from you.
©2019 Amy Jones
I am a certified and accredited Associate Executive Coach with the Academy of Executive Coaching. I have over 20 years’ experience in Procurement/Supply Chain and Finance, and I now work in my own business as a Coach, Consultant and Trainer.
I support professionals, particularly (but not only) in the field of Procurement and Supply Chain to develop their career, skills, teams and strategy.
From the comments on my last article, 5 things you can do when you feel overwhelmed, the most popular thing to do were going for a run, followed by a cup of tea, flap about, write a list and play the ukulele (not necessarily in that order)!
Motivated by these positive comments on running, I decided to do a half marathon at the weekend. I should clarify at this point, that I’m not a great runner – think Labrador rather than Greyhound. But I am keen (Labrador again), and I do love a challenge.
During the long kilometres of the run, I had time to think, and several similarities between running and work came up:
1. Fuel up Having not yet mastered the art of running and drinking without choking, I had to stop a couple of times during the race to fuel up with water and isotonic drink, but ultimately it helped me go the distance, feel and perform better. In work, training and learning act as a fuel for performance, for the next steps and the inputs needed to keep delivering. Just like having to stop to fuel up, take time out for the training courses and learning periods.
2. Enjoy the moment. Along the run I saw the snow topped mountains, some lambs jumping, I could smell the fresh water of the lake. In work there may be opportunities arising which you can miss if you don’t look around. It is also important to maintain a perspective on what is going on so that you can enjoy the moment while not getting bogged down on the enormity of a task or challenge.
3. People want to support you. On every corner, from bridges and balconies, waving from buses, and popping out from attic windows, there were groups of people cheering and encouraging with ‘hop, hop, hop!’ People want to support, seek them out and let them help you. Encouragement will make you go faster (even when you think you can’t).
4. Steady yourself when the going gets tough. My legs were getting weak and shaky at around 17km, so I eased off a little and just focused on one kilometre at a time, even just one foot in front of the other. Doubts and painful times can threaten to derail efforts, but taking it steady and narrowing the focus can bridge the gap until it gets easier.
5. Keep going because you want to. I wanted to do this run because I want to stay healthy and active now and, in the future, and I like to push my limits from time to time. However, if I would have sensed along the way that my body wasn’t okay, then I would have listened to myself and have had no hesitation to stop. I often hear the phrase ‘never quit’ strongly advocated, whereas my view is keep going if you are doing what you want to do, but if you find you are on a track which is not what you expected or wanted, stop, rethink and change direction. Persist in the things you want to do, what feel right and what works for you. Tenacity is fantastic, as long as it is taking you in the right direction.
What activities have taught you the most about yourself, your work and your life? Please do share your experiences which have had the biggest influence on your approach to work, I would love to hear them.
©2019 Amy Jones
I am a certified and accredited Associate Executive Coach with the Academy of Executive Coaching.
I have over 20 years’ experience in Procurement/Supply Chain and Finance, and I now work full time in my own business as a Supply Chain / Procurement Consultant and Trainer and Coach.
How to effectively address these steps? There are many ways, but talking through an issue can really help with finding perspective, getting a higher level of awareness, developing ideas, understanding what you really need and even letting off steam. I always find that when I am able to speak my thoughts out loud and share them, they become more fully formed and clarity surfaces.
Please do share your strategies for managing when you are feeling overwhelmed, I would love to hear them. Or if you would like to work with me for coaching, please do get in touch.
©2019 Amy Jones