indicatorAdvice for Alberta businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic

Supply chain insights to help you navigate the unknown

Free on-demand webinar

By ATB Financial 30 June 2020



Recent world events and macro trends—such as nationalism, trade wars, the COVID-19 pandemic and environmental concerns—are reshaping global trade considerations for major trading nations like Canada.

Ed Straw, Vice President and Head, Advisory Solutions at ATB and Tom McCaffery, President and CEO of Supply Chain Canada, explore how to analyze and manage the risks in your current supply chain, and opportunities to make supply chain management a fundamental building block to your future success.

Throughout this discussion, we’ll explore:

  • Political and global issues that are affecting supply chains
  • Risks and issues that COVID-19 laid bare
  • Mapping your supply chain
  • Strategic risk management of your supply chain
  • Changes in market demands and supply chain roadmapping
  • Local relationships to help you grow: specific considerations
  • Coming out of COVID-19: Performing a reassessment
  • Supply chain strategy
  • Outsource, offshore, or nearshoring: how are these plans changing and considerations for accurately doing a cost/benefit analysis
  • Building relationships with your suppliers to help you prioritize effectively
    Understanding that everyone is a customer

Three key takeaways 


Map your supply chain.

“It is about understanding your relationships and the business of your business partners,” says McCaffery. “Mapping the supply chain is critically important for everyone to do. It is another one of these time consuming things that we haven’t always necessarily done in the past. It’s a matter of really understanding who your immediate suppliers are and who is in behind that.” 

Straw says adding your alternative suppliers to your map with key details about their capacity and timelines will help your company start to develop a backup plan in case a disruption happens.   


Understand the external risks of your supply chain.

When you’re building out a strategic plan for your supply chain, it is critical to understand the unique external risks your company faces. One risk Canadians companies will face as the post-pandemic recovery gets underway is responding to increased demand fast enough, says McCaffery. Those companies who understand their supply chain risks and how to manage them will be better positioned to take advantage of the recovery period.

He says to consider risks in three broad categories:

  • Demand. These include a loss of major accounts, volatility of demand, the concentration of your customer base, innovative customers and buying too much or too little.
  • Environment. There are environmental factors always in play, says McCaffery. Whether natural disasters, terrorist attacks, political and social unrest, regulatory changes, or labour disruptions, the potential for these factors to disrupt your business exist throughout your supply chain.
  • Supply. Risks in this category are dependent on key suppliers, supplier downtime, consolidation in supply markets, quality issues, and potential disruptions. “It’s time to really look at building up your suppliers more broadly,” says McCaffery. 


Building relationships with your suppliers.

“Suppliers need to be a partner with you. They need to understand what you’re trying to do. When you think about it, everybody is a customer of someone in your supply chain. You have to be thinking about what I want to know about my customers, they want to know about me because they want to walk away with a sale and have you be successful, so there is a partnership there,” says Straw. 

In the past, the relationships with suppliers in some industries have been a bit more adversarial, says McCaffery, but that’s changing with the current global realities. 

“Procurement isn’t just about buying something and getting it where it needs to be when it needs to be there for the right price. There are a lot of relationship elements to it. When we get busy and we have a high volume of stuff to buy, things like building relationships tend to go out the window because it’s more operational. We really need to take a step back from that and stop hiding behind contracts. We have to start working together in a different way,” he says.   

Insightful webinars for leaders in business

Exclusive access to industry leading webinars for business owners and leaders.

You might be interested in

Need help?

Our Business Support team will be happy to assist.

Chat now
ATB Virtual Assistant
The ATB Virtual Assistant doesn't support landscape mode. Please tilt your device vertically to portrait mode.