When the norm for computer operations was locating all computing resources within a single location IT concentrated on maintaining frequent and accessible backups to the company data. Copies of the backup were moved offsite. Some organizations even created replication sites where they installed duplicate (but usually smaller) systems that could be brought online by restoring the offsite backup in the case of a local disaster that rendered the main facilities unavailable. For a lot of companies, the process and practice has changed… mostly for the better.
For those of us involved in the supply chain, the definition of disaster is very different from what many companies consider to be disasters. When problems occur with our trading partners in different parts of the world they cause a ripple effect that can be just as damaging to business as can a local flood or power outage. So even if our company has migrated its operations to cloud based infrastructure in which little if any computing infrastructure is located within our physical walls, disasters that are more like flash-floods can surprise us and cause significant problems for our businesses.
As supply chains grow in size and importance, your company will need to pay closer attention to production facilities around the world. What if a disaster forced a shut down at a critical plant thousands of miles from your headquarters? Do you have a process in place to deal with it?
You need to first of all establish procedures for each plant and for each possible type of disaster. This includes lower-tier suppliers too (your extended supply chain). Know how each plant interacts with the “grand plan” of your supply chain, as well as with other components of the supply chain. Not knowing this could surprise you with a “domino effect” where the loss of one plant shuts others down for lack of parts. Work with suppliers to educate them about your disaster plan. Conduct reviews with them. When you are building your plan, concentrate on recovery and alternatives.
Just what kinds of disasters are we planning for? You name it and it has probably happened somewhere in the world. We know, of course, about natural disasters: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, snow. Add to this list terrorist attacks, health epidemics, theft (physical or data), all the way to pirates capturing your ship.
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