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Let’s address the elephant in the room. 2020 was a challenging year for all things supply chain. Whether it was the shortage of critical PPE to the delays in everyday household products, supply chains were front and center. It wasn’t all bad news for supply chains in 2020 though; we see one of the most significant mobilizations in our history with the production and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. Even though 2020 was a tough year, it allowed companies to highlight supply chains’ major flaws and look to 2021 to address those risks.

Here are five supply chain trends for 2021 to create a more resilient supply chain:

1. Advanced Supplier Collaboration

Collaboration with your suppliers is critical in an effective supply chain but becomes even more important during times of uncertainty. Companies need quick-real time information from their suppliers during their decision-making process. Better collaboration with suppliers allows you to evaluate how your network is affected and how your supplier’s network has been affected. Companies will look to have more visibility into the suppliers in areas such as available inventory, capacity, delays, etc. Having a more collaborative process with suppliers will allow for flexibility as things change.

2. Nearshoring

When you’re reliant on one single supplier, especially if your supply is overseas, you run the risk of delays when your supplier is experiencing delays. This is something that caused a huge issue during the pandemic but also with natural disasters, security breaches, political unrest, etc. Companies may look to onboard multiple vendors locally to diversify and dramatically mitigate the risk when one of these scenarios occur, ultimately saving companies both time and money. It also allows various options when a product is needed allowing for a more optimized supply chain. Whether you need to optimize by cost or by lead time, diversifying your vendors both locally and overseas allows you the flexibility to achieve this.

3. Hyperautomation

This year has highlighted the need for supply chains to be flexible and to be able to adjust as things change quickly. This is why companies in 2021 will look to not only invest in technology but also to automate that technology. They will find more collaborative planning tools that will give them the flexibility to see the downstream effects in their supply chain immediately. A fully integrated ERP, Planning, and execution tool will enable companies to have the most up-to-date picture to make lightning-fast decisions.

4. AI and Machine Learning

For the last 10 years or so, companies have been looking to move their forecasting to be more machine learning-based, 2021 will be no different. There have been massive investments in R&D into the space this year and expect companies to take advantage of these advancements in 2021. We’ve seen these investments in our own technology partners with Anaplan’s creation of Plan IQ and Coupa’s acquisition of Llamasoft. Flexibility in terms of the time scale will be important in these solutions as companies will not want to be doing year over comparisons with 2021.

5. Scenario and Contingency Planning

This is not a particularly new concept, but something that was brought to the forefront in 2020. Although it’s almost impossible to plan what happened in 2020, it highlighted the need to have contingency plans in place. Looking ahead, companies will use technology to help with what-if scenario planning, not only for the visibility downstream but to also highlight where action needs to be taken. Getting ahead of potential risks and having contingency plans in place will help to mitigate those risks and avoid potential delays in disruptions like we saw in 2020.

About Spaulding Ridge

Founded in 2018, Spaulding Ridge is a top management consulting firm, dedicated to client success and helping organizations implement and adopt best-in-cloud technology to solve their most pressing challenges. We provide the office of the CFO financial clarity to Sales and Operational complexity by integrating financial and sales SaaS Platforms.

We help:

 • Finance gain control ” Increasing financial effectiveness, insight and impact

 • Sales increase Productivity ” Hitting quota more quickly, consistently and efficiently

 • Operations increase Competitiveness ” Through productivity rates, customer service outcomes, and efficiency

Kyle Rish
Kyle Rish
Associate Partner, Spaulding Ridge
About the Author

Kyle Rish has 10+ years of experience within the supply chain industry playing various roles, including as a Supply Planner, Demand Planner, and finally as a Supply Demand Planner for the Americas at Apple, Inc. Kyle brings his in-depth experience to Spaulding Ridge in the Anaplan practice as an Associate Partner in the Anaplan Practice, where he leads supply chain initiatives.