Volcanoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides—the last 10 years are a rude reminder that one or more of these natural disasters will dramatically impact our current modes of living and doing business. And while such larger fatality events are less frequent than climatic conditions such as floods, heat waves and blizzards, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), each of these incidents reinforces the need for a deeper understanding and focus on catastrophic event preparedness. And at the national security level, having a methodology that proactively prepares for such supply chain risk hazards is mandatory.
Cue from the government
In order to best understand these vulnerabilities and create a transparent collaborative framework, both private sector and public sector organizations came together in the mid-Atlantic region under an initiative sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to create a framework that clearly defines their roles, responsibilities and accountabilities; devise a robust plan that could easily adapt to varying degrees of vulnerabilities; and implement a platform that is standardized both internally and externally across the ecosystem.
Working through the Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program (RCPGP) Mid-Atlantic Supply Chain Resilience Project, the Shared Intellectual, Inventory, Infrastructure, Information and Integrated Ecosystem Systems (SI5ES) was adopted for exploration.
SI5ES facilitates communication, collaboration and exercises among key partners and with the public sector. Its methodology frames supply chain risk problems and is especially suited for an unknown context, such as an emerging market or a catastrophic event. A principal benefit of the SI5ES is to provide a significant mix of distinctive partners such as private and public entities; critical infrastructure; process; and people aspect of several different supply chains. This creates a shared platform for understanding and mitigating risk and anticipating response/recovery actions.
In order to understand the effectiveness of SI5ES, it is vital to look at each of its six phases of initiation.
PHASE 0: Define the strategies—The purpose of this phase is to understand the relationship of catastrophe preparedness to corporate strategy, business planning, competing priorities, pricing and other core initiatives.
PHASE 1: Understand the big picture—Supply chain zones are typically characterized by a coherent set of operating assumptions regarding the availability and flow of product and services. Additionally, they often are organized to minimize reliance on other zones. Relationships within a zone are functionally and contractually organized around these assumptions and their expected persistence. In the geographic region impacted by the potentially catastrophic event, it is important to understand:
‘How have the pre-event assumptions been changed by the potentially catastrophic event? Do the zones involved have sufficient strategic capacity to recover and potentially redirect local capabilities?’
PHASE 2: Analyze supply chain zone, hubs and sites—The core of every zone consists of hubs, which equate to the principal nodes of the supply chain network. Determining the strategic capacity of each individual hub involves understanding what processes are accomplished; what capabilities exist; what interdependencies facilitate the processes and capabilities; as well as time sequences and sensitivities related to processes, capabilities and interdependencies for each hub.
This supply chain preparedness methodology differs from others in that 1) it focuses on the fundamentals and 2) the role of the lead component. Traditional problem solving steps include gathering, analyzing and synthesizing. Engaging these fundamentals by subject area—such as infrastructure, process and people—establishes an overall preparedness framework by zone. Secondly, a supply chain preparedness framework is generated by fixing a lead component, something that needs to be considered as a given or a constraint. Analyses of each subject area are then integrated to develop an overall hub picture.