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ASCM Insights

Supply Chain Mapping — an Essential Step Toward Resilience


As the global economy tackles the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a whopping 70% of companies are still grappling with information-gathering and evaluation. These businesses are attempting to manually identify which of their suppliers have a site in a locked-down region, secure raw materials and components, and protect their network from further disruption. With essential data absent or unobtainable, response to the outbreak is reactive and unsynchronized, making the impact even worse.

However, those supply chain organizations that had the foresight to map their networks before the crisis emerged have much better visibility into what is really going on with their supply chains. “Instead of scrambling at the last minute, they have a lot of information at their fingertips,” write Thomas Choi, Dale Rogers and Bindiya Vakil for the Harvard Business Review (HBR) . “They know exactly which suppliers, sites, parts and products are at risk, which allows them to put themselves first in line to secure constrained inventory and capacity at alternate sites.”

The APICS Dictionary explains that supply chain mapping is “drawing the procedures or relationships that form an organization’s business process.” The best maps are as revealing as possible. They depict the geographical location of suppliers; supplier’s suppliers, all the way down to raw materials; manufacturing plants; warehouses and distribution centers; transportation routes; and major markets. They include information on activities performed at each site, alternative sites that can do the same, lead times, shipment frequencies, product mix and volumes, supplier delivery performance, and more. Many organizations also choose to incorporate disruption-related metrics in their supplier evaluations; some even require suppliers to participate in annual mapping efforts.

“Supply network mapping can be resource-intensive and difficult. However, there is no way around it,” the HBR article continues. “Companies will discover the value of the map is greater than the cost and time to develop it.”

Preparing for the unthinkable

ASCM continues to closely monitor the situation related to the spread of the coronavirus. Our team is constantly gathering resources and creating content to help you and your organization navigate this crisis, respond and prepare for the future.

On April 9, ASCM will present Planning Through Unimaginable Times, featuring Brian David Johnson, futurist in residence at Arizona State University, and Anthony Zampello, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, an adjunct faculty member at Bentley University. I invite you to join them for a discussion about today’s most innovative risk-management strategies; the importance of international coordination, collaboration and information-sharing; methods for assessing your major sources of vulnerability; devising creative plans for the future; and much more. Register today for this insightful webinar.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted through

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