04 Mar

I think you know the logo from above - yes, it is the trademark of "Corona", the Mexican brewery, but this is not what I would like to talk about today.

For me as a Frequent Traveller worldwide, the COVID-19 (Corona) outbreak didn't come fully unexpected - lots of warnings from diverse Institutes over the last years, after SARS in 2003, MERS and finally Ebola two years ago in Africa.

I read a lot of books on Ebola, Marburg Viruses & Co. in the 90th and its history - but, to be honest - I was not really prepared from my personal belongings on an outbreak in Europe. It was always far away - Africa, Asia... but not in Germany, Hamburg, Buxtehude - in a rural area where I currently live.

From personal side I was confronted with the virus first time last week in London, when I traveled back home from a business trip - and my departure gate was opposite the Air China gate - where lots of Chinese tourists were waiting to fly back home to Beijing. "You personally do not feel well" - waiting at the security and hundreds of Chinese people with masks and protection around you - I felt really "naked or unprotected"...

So far I have decided not to travel by train, bus or plane for the next months and replace face-to-face meetings with video conferences.

Additionally - from the business side - I already advised my Staff and Consultants Mid of January to work from home - even to avoid travel to and from high infected areas (China, Italy...) after I had some calls with my Chinese customers and Consultants.

What I have seen the last days and weeks - in my own business, it is important that Organizations have to take precautionary measures in order to ensure business continuity during the fallout.

It is important to have an conductive business continuity plan already on your table before the major outbreak comes up. That means internal and external communication measures, identifying new or alternative partner or vendors to keep your supply chain alive are necessary.

Currently I see that companies with strong centralized procurement teams and good relation- and partnerships are more confident about their facing risks -others are grappling and suffering with their China exposures / activities.

For many businesses, the outbreak has significantly slowed down operations - in fact, according to our customers from Manufacturing and Automotive in China - more than 40% have stopped work in the affected areas.

Within a short time nearly all of my customers have established a local task force and were monitoring the local situation. The task forces were developed to mainly distribute guidelines for travelling, industrial hygiene as well alternative working solutions and more. Additionally employees and partners / contractors have been kept well informed.

Positively spoken - they shifted their focus to bring not only their contractors under their safety programs, also their subcontractors - Bridging slides, documents and active monitoring, our Chinese partners were able to ensure their safety values through each tier of their supply chain.

Simply said - taking the appropriate measures to reduce or minimize supply chain disruptions with 4 quite considerations:

  • Protection of the most valuable assets => People
  • Asses the value chain to identify current risk or vulnerabilities
  • Ensure Business Continuity - Plans & Protocols should be up to date
  • Development of redundancy assurance with critical vendors and sole source providers (dual vendor strategy)

Some companies are actively benchmarking their efforts against others to determine the right policies and levels of support for their people.

The Corona Virus crisis is a story with an unclear ending. What is clear is that the human impact is already tragic and we have to suffer on the implications on mainly health & business definitely more than "a few months".

Be aware - stay strong - businesses are only as strong as the communities of which they are a part in - keep safe in Europe & beyond - avoid any risk of infection!

Best regards,

Wulf Schlachter

March 4th - 2020

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