One aspect of life is unfortunate events like Coronavirus occasionally happen due to various planned or unplanned factors. The likely anticipation and preparations for such a crisis remain a crucial aspect of any sensible Business Continuity Plan (BCP). For businesses with warehouse(s), which plays a vital role in its infrastructure, the effects of any crisis can be highly damaging, specially to meet customer service expectations.
The use of a business continuity plan generates roadmaps to follow in case of such a crisis. Although every business may not have a similar continuity plan, the many experiences in terms of differences and similarities can help shape your Business Continuity Plan for Warehouse During Crisis.
“By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.”- Benjamin Franklin
Wherever there are business operations, plans for catastrophe or sudden business disruptions are necessary to help save a more significant portion of your activities, especially staff safety and customers. The use of the Business Continuity Plan can assist in alleviating such matters, and it’s essential to consider some critical factors in achieving excellent results.
So, what are the things to consider in minimizing the effect of a potential crisis for warehouse management?
13 Things you must Consider in Business Continuity Plan
Below are the 13 Things you must Consider in Business Continuity Plan for Warehouse During Crisis to help guarantee operational continuity within the shortest possible period.
- Planning Ahead
- Warehouse/Site contamination
- Process/supplier identified for quick decontamination in case of contamination of warehouse/office
- Work from Home
- Alternative Warehouse location planned/set up in case of contamination
- Plan for blue-collar replacement resources in case of sickness/absence
- Identify Critical Inventory to duplicate
- Operations Disruption
- Have a backup Call Center to take customer calls during a crisis.
- Inbound Routes Planned
- Plan of re-routing of incoming shipments
- Outbound Routes planned
- Last-mile distribution
To plan involves engaging experts and other relevant parties in creating an appropriate solution. The use of careful consideration in creating a contingency plan helps to hasten quick recovery from the crisis. If your business is planning to put a personal project in place or review and adjust an existing policy, the following things to consider become useful:
- The plan should be created using expertise from vital operational areas that may be affected by a major incident
- List all potential events that can affect your business operational capabilities.
- Every possible incident should be rated based on likelihood and severity.
- Give high priority to handle the most severe or likely threat effectively.
- Breakdown the plans into stages and create a process for moving from the unstable state of regular operation.
- Identify critical suppliers (as well as lead times) with the capabilities of repairing or replacing damaged buildings, equipment, and other vital services.
- Essential personnel should be guided on specific actions and responsibilities.
I would also strongly recommend conducting detailed warehouse audt for all warehouse activities using Best Warehouse Audit Tool to Improve Performance. In this way you can proactively identify any risk areas and close gap.
I would always recommend to follow below steps:
Strategize > Execute > Audit > Adapt > Learn > Repeat
With Business Continuity Planning, you get a comprehensive insight into the safety of assets, operations, premises, and staff. The identification of Warehouse/Site contamination includes priority risks as well as the evaluation of actions to be taken in response to identified risks. Having adequate response already in place permits for further planning. For warehouse/Site contamination, the Things to Consider in Business Continuity Plan includes:
- Seeking advice and assistance from appropriate local Government authorities. They always have some specific regulations and compliance topics.
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for tracking employees, medical evacuation, and emergency communications.
- List of assembly points, evacuation routes, security focal points, and relevant procedures.
- Specific memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with health facilities to handle delays in emergencies.
Process/Supplier identified for Quick Decontamination in Case of Contamination of Warehouse/office
In cases of very high-risk crises, pre-identification of critical business processes and suppliers identified for immediate decontamination plans become essential to smoothen operations easily. The use of crucial assessments is recommended and can be applied to pre-identify all necessary services. The vital activities are required to be identified beforehand. For Process/supplier identified for quick decontamination in case of contamination of warehouse/office, the Things to Consider in Business Continuity Plan includes:
- Differentiating critical operations into key groups based on whether it is vital, requires relocation, or can be performed remotely.
- Identification based on lifesaving activities.
- Essential services for maintenance.
Work from Home
The plan involves the identification of operations which can be effectively handled from offsite locations, preferably from home, by trusted employees. Working from home can provide the needed assistance if the business continuity plan becomes active. It is essential to identify specific assets, resources, or strengths that could be pooled to make the plan more efficient. For procedures involving working from home, the Things to Consider in Business Continuity Plan includes:
- Access to tools and processes for critical staff.
- Policies and regulations required for effective task completion.
- Also consider safety while working from home.
During the crisis of COVID-19 we have used Microsoft Teams extensively and I found this tool one of the best collaboration tools, as Microsoft claim “Work remotely without feeling remote’, is very much true.
Alternative Warehouse Location Planned/Set-up in Case of Contamination
An alternative warehouse location plan is essential for quick re-initiation of vital services, and faster response to demands. The business continuity plan would engage several measures to ensure the initiation of emergency response suited for your unique operations. The Things to Consider for Alternative Warehouse location includes:
- Location and capacity of the alternate warehouse.
- The functionality available or needed for smooth operations during a crisis.
- Perform rapid risks and needs assessments.
- The activation process required.
- Repurposing staff to suit the functions for the new alternate location.
- Communicate about the Alternative Warehouse location with employees as well as key partners.
Plan for Blue-Collar Replacement Resources in case of Sickness/Absence
The reliability of crucial staff may be compromised, but having a plan for blue-collar replacement resources within the BCP would guide the repurposing of staff during a crisis. The strategy needs to assess employees based on performance and further create training to solve any emergency upgrade involving teams easily. Keep staff motivated can be challenging during crisis. Key employees need to be identified and trained for similar functions that would prove vital during any crisis. For plans involving blue-collar replacement resources, the things to consider include:
- Activates the BCP and get the necessary approval for dedicated staff.
- Notify key staff of possible activation of the business continuity plan.
- Appropriately address the security of assets, premises, and staff. And define the permit conditions in detail if required.
- Announce repurposing of staff to cover both emergency response and critical operations identified.
Identify Critical Inventory to Duplicate
A regular review of crucial inventory within the warehouse is assessed, based on ABC classification and duplicates should be planned in cases where the factors are considered very important. For example you want to resock you A Class critical items in two warehouse locations. Also, for practical and reliable outcomes during a crisis, the business continuity plan needs to be subjected to constant reviews (including ABX-XYZ classification) to seek areas needing improvement. In guaranteeing proper crisis management, procedures are required to be consistent with the business priorities; a regular testing policy should be added.
For Operations Disruption, the BCP needs to ensure proper testing is done before any approval. The use of action plans identified for recovery and enhancement of operations during a disruption in a warehouse should be maintained, reviewed, and updated regularly. In cases of operation disruption, the things to consider include:
- Having essential elements secured and ready to provide cover over such periods.
- Update Management Tools and maintain functioning at required levels.
- Validate the adequacy of emergency plans, systems, and procedures.
- Familiarize all staff with new plans, procedures, and systems by adequate training.
Have a Backup Call Center to Take Customer Calls During a Crisis
The primary task of any call center is to provide proper communication with customers. Once any interruption occurs, like in case of an emergency, there is an interruption. For any reason, the BCP should cover for such instances as sending the wrong notion may cause adverse effects on the market. For backup Call Center plans, the essential things to consider include:
- List expected logistics needs regarding significant assets.
- List all budget lines that can be converted to serve as response lines.
- List all critical players in emergency operations alongside their contact details.
- Ensure relevant SOPs are available.
Inbound Routes Planned
Before taking any action relating to Inbound Routes, pause to review existing BCP and Disaster Recovery Plans. If there is a sufficient plan, a thorough approach would also be required to address a variety of contingencies capable of disrupting your business planned inbound routes. For planned inbound routes, the essential things to consider during crisis includes:
- List of staff required alongside qualifications
- List of identified routes that can be repurposed
- Training methods in place towards performing assigned tasks
Plan of Re-routing of Incoming Shipments
The likelihood of having to engage other alternatives for inbound shipments in cases of the viral crisis has to be in the playbook. The re-routing plan for such scenarios needs to already be in place and should be flexible enough to reflect your business activities, complexity, and size. In ensuring a firm’s process is in place.
Outbound Routes Planned
Time remains a valuable factor for the route planning system as they can considerably limit your transportation calendar. Not only do outbound route systems should entail less distance from the warehouse, but it also helps curtail spending on other transport needs. For outbound Routes plan, the following tips are the essential things to consider during a crisis:
- A practical, realistic, and feasible outbound route based on local Government permissions.
- Simplify critical operations and promote needs-based on efficient resource usage. For example, since 5th April 2020 most business need to apply for permit to deliver.
- Create robust procedures that ease operations and implementation.
For order quantities that differ daily or weekly, pick a system that automatically delivers efficient routes for last-mile delivery as well as multi-stop schedules. For the last-mile distribution plan, the following tips are the essential things to consider during a crisis:
- Reduce overall miles and discuss practical daily planning efforts.
- Regularly test and validate selected distribution methods.
- Monitor and regulate these updates to address new needs and risks.
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for the warehouse in terms of crisis is only as effective as the planning put in place beforehand. It is critically important to set specific guidelines about who gets directly involved, and which stages everyone gets involved. Engaging the right employees and partners goes a long way in the planning stage, and these create a more transparent, consistent, and more reliable plan.
About the Author- Dr Muddassir Ahmed
Dr MuddassirAhmed is the Founder & CEO of SCMDOJO. He is a global speaker, vlogger and supply chain industry expert with 17 years of experience in the Manufacturing Industry in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia in various Supply Chain leadership roles. Dr. Muddassir has received a PhD in Management Science from Lancaster University Management School. Muddassir is a Six Sigma black belt and founded the leading supply chain platform SCMDOJO to enable supply chain professionals and teams to thrive by providing best-in-class knowledge content, tools and access to experts.