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Supply Chain Risks Need to Be Prioritised in the Outsourcing Revolution

Supply Chain Risks Need to Be Prioritised in the Outsourcing Revolution

By Alex Balcombe, Partner at Harris Balcombe 

Outsourcing has come into its own in recent years. More people than ever before are opting to work for themselves and offer their services on a contractual basis.

For businesses that don’t have the capacity or expertise to handle certain processes internally, outsourcing is a blessing. Businesses are seeking technology resources to give them the competitive edge, and hiring manufacturing companies to produce their goods.

Yet the fact that they are no longer simply selling on their own merits opens them up to risks. Businesses are relying on other companies, their operations, people, reputations and decisions to fulfil their own supply chain. If inventory or services are not received on time, it can have a huge domino effect.

The challenge?Getting more companies to undertake contingency plans, insure themselves against the risks of outsourcing and understand the policies that they need to takeup. Being confident in your network of smaller businesses which all have an impact on your bottom line, is crucial.

So, what do you do?

Identify Risks

Companies just don’t operate in isolation anymore, yet supply chains are rarely brought up as priorities in board rooms. What happens if your biggest supplier has its own disaster, isn’t able to get a delivery to you in time and the goods you rely on fail to arrive? This could result in higher costs by having to switch to an alternative provider or even loss of business.

Before you even think about insurance, it’s smart to prioritise a contingency plan. In tumultuous and unpredictable financial times, and as global supply chains continue to grow in complexity, so too do risks. From top to bottom, having a deep understanding of your supply chain is invaluable.

Undertake a comprehensive review of all of the potential drawbacks or situations that could arise externally. By identifying these high-risk areas, you can make sure that you prioritise mitigation strategies, and have a flexible response plan should any of these problems occur. You should document this process in a risk management document, which will help you to develop realistic, cost-effective strategies should a disruption arise.

Resilient Strategy

If you do encounter a bottleneck situation, where key components you usually source from are not available, the company with the better resilience strategy will thrive.

Conduct safety training, have a proactive plan in place, and have other available suppliers on hand. If your key overseas supplier has a logistics issues, finding a replacement at the drop of a hat can be near on impossible if you don’t have a plan in place. For each risk to your global supply chain, you need a contingency strategy in place. It’s also wise to test any plan of action before any problem happens, to allow you to make the supply chain as resilient as possible when facing a disruption.

The Insurance Question

If you depend on many different players to meet deliverables, how do you insure yourself in case they fail to fulfil their work and your business suffers?

One of the most greatly misunderstood types of insurance is business interruption. Some think that any costs associated with business recovery will be picked up by interruption insurance – but this is not true. Business interruption insurance only covers your company operations – you need a supplier extension clause.

A supplier extension insures for the interruption to the supply of goods or services from third parties. It’s also worth noting that you will only be covered if the supplier is hit by something that you have already insured yourself against.

Even if you have the right insurance, the most challenging part of quantifying interruption claims to your supply chain is still the same as if it was a ‘traditional’ disaster such as a fire. This means proving how you would have fared had the incident not occurred.

Insurers may scrutinise your circumstances to, put simply, try to pay you as little as possible, working with a team of professionals to check you have met all of the conditions of your policy.

A specialist claims consultant can help you with the whole process and pick up on crucial points. They can advise on the best course of action, help you to understand your circumstances, minimise further business loss and assign you a team of experts to help. They will also handle all of your paperwork for you, to save you the headache, and negotiate with insurers to prevent any delays or disputes.

Use insurance as a method to control supply chain risks, but don’t use it as an excuse to avoid planning. If you come up with a strategy to stop your business from falling foul to supply chain problems before they arise, you can avoid bottlenecks further down the line. All businesses rely on suppliers and service providers, but the status of them is getting more and more complex. Take the case of Carillion, which highlighted how the collapse of one company can have such a big impact on supply chains.

We’re in the age of efficiency and we’re constantly being measured against productivity. Outsourcing reduces overhead costs, supports innovation, offers global access to talent, enables you to quickly implement new technology and focus on other tasks. However, you do need the reassurance that if a disruption does happen, you have a resilient plan in place now to act quickly, not hastily react.


Reinventing Your Digital Marketing Strategy Post-Covid

Reinventing Your Digital Marketing Strategy Post-Covid 1

By Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO Mavens & Moguls

I started a global branding and marketing firm 19 years ago. Marketing is a term that means different things to different people so it helps to clarify whether you are talking about market research, PR, social media, advertising, promotions, guerrilla marketing, strategy, analytics, SEO, SEM, B2B, B2C, content, etc. There are so many tools in the marketing toolkit today but I think it is redundant to say digital marketing because truly everything has a digital element since everyone is accessing and interacting with your brand online, through their phone or via the website at some point. In the old days there was print, TV, radio, direct mail and outdoor those were your only options but today technology runs our lives so everything is digital eventually. If digital is not part of your strategy then you would not be relevant so digital marketing is marketing in 2020.

As far as digital goes I am a big fan of SEO, social media especially LinkedIn and Content Marketing. Because we are always online now 24/7 it is easy to get sucked into it but you do not have to let it run your life!  My advice is to pick a few things you enjoy doing and do them really well.  You cannot be everywhere all the time so choose high impact activities that work for you and play to your strengths.  It does not matter which platform you choose just pick one or 2 that are authentic to you. It should look and sound like you and the brand you have built.  Whether yours is polished or more informal, chatty or academic, humorous or snarky, it is a way for your personality to come through.  Everyone is not going to like you or hire you but for the ones who would be a great fit for you make sure they feel and keep a connection and give them a reason to remember you so that when they need your help they think of you first.

There have been a lot of changes in the past few months due to the virus crisis but one thing that has not changed is that smart technology still runs our lives today and it is hard to stay on top of the latest tools and platforms to take advantage of current trends so you may feel lost, confused or frustrated by all the options and noise in the market today.  There will be new tools and technologies coming for sure but here are some digital strategies to include in your plans to grow your audience:

*  Smart speakers and voice search are growing in importance so being able to optimize for voice search will be key to maximize the marketing and advertising opportunities on Siri, Alexa, Google Home, etc. I predict that the brands that perfect the “branded skill” with more customer-friendly, less invasive ads are going to win big. Are you prepared when customers ask your specific brand for help like “Alexa ask Nestle for an oatmeal cookie recipe” or “What is the best Mexican restaurant in Boston?” if not you are missing a big opportunity!

*  Live video grabs attention – live streaming is available on every major social media platform and it is only getting bigger to hook in users with short attention spans, in a mobile first world, you have less time to grab people, attention spans are shorter than ever so video will be used even more, show don’t tell for maximum impact, rich content drives engagement.

*  Interactive marketing makes it stickier — brands will drive engagement even more with polls, surveys, quizzes, contests, interactive videos, etc. to grab audience attention even quicker

*  AI-powered chatbots cut costs and convert visitors into leads by encouraging themed content to answer FAQs with voice search-friendly semantic keyword phrases, is your content strategy ready?

*  More confidence in trusted content, friends and influencers than advertising – the world has been moving this way for years with people seeking their friends’ and influencers’ opinions and advice online on what to buy, where to go, and what to do more than a paid ad or fancily packaged content. Customers are savvy today they are happy to buy what they want and need but they do not like to be sold things. Curated content and ideas from a trusted source beat paid content every time. Partnering and building relationships with the right influencers with content that is co-created helps brands scale and grow faster and amplify and boost their message.

* Authentic relationships beat marketing automation — technology runs our lives more than ever but it is relationships that drive business and commerce so people will find more ways to connect in-person to build trust and strengthen connections. Make sure you offer several ways to talk with them and get to know them. Algorithms can only tell you so much about a customer, transactions are driven by relationships. Use automation where you can but do not ignore the power of the personal touch.

*  Big data is getting bigger but customer conversations are key to best insights for content. Talking directly to your customers to get first-hand in real-time their experience and knowledge will be a priority and competitive advantage to get the messages right.

*  Content will match the buyer’s journey and understanding that journey will inform how to attract, engage and convert customers and which keywords and topics are used.

*  Influencers will continue to rise in prominence so partnering and building relationships with the right influencers with content that is co-created helps brands scale and grow faster and amplify and boost their message.

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Banking beyond the office

Banking beyond the office 2

By Tim Hood is the Associate Vice President for Hyland in EMEA.


Following months of unprecedented challenges, the global financial community is beginning to get a sense of COVID’s long-term legacy. And while the current situation still has some way to run, the prospect of a rapid bounce back to the old normality looks doubtful.

Over the last six months, a wholesale review and reinvention of a raft of working practices has taken place.

Fortunately, the financial sector was able to adapt relatively quickly to this altered reality because compared to some, it was well down the path to digital transformation.

And as the work-around solutions using technology that was never intended or designed for remote working have been refined or replaced, many firms are finding that these new ways of working are actually working well.

That’s evidenced by the fact that ‘return to office’ dates keep rolling back, with a number of institutions not expecting staff to return to the office until the beginning of 2021, at the earliest.

However, the social distancing measures that remain in place will undoubtedly continue to have a major impact on the traditional office space. With almost half of British workers now working from home according to the Office for National Statistics, how many will want to return to the office, having been free of their daily commute for the last six months? In a recent survey by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), one-third said they wanted to continue working from home.

And as homeworking protocols become ever more embedded, that could see many functions where remote oversight is possible, never return permanently or totally to a central office.

So, with homeworking seemingly here to stay, for a large number of organisations the new norm is likely to be a blend of remote and office-based working.

In uncertain times, one of the most critical business skills is the ability to adapt. Just because we have always done things that way is no longer a valid line of thinking. So, when it comes to matters like remote working, it’s time for a more flexible mindset.

Some banking leaders are beginning to acknowledge the changing reality. Barclays CEO Jes Staley said that corporate offices “may be a thing of the past.” JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are also proving to be trend-setters in the reassessing the future shape of offices and flexible working.

Of course, effective remote working depends on people having access to accurate, up-to-date information.

That may require reprioritising investment to ensure more appropriate technology solutions are in place. Believe me when I say that accelerating digital transformation is no mere nicety, but a prerequisite for corporate survival over the coming months and years.

Tim Hood

Tim Hood

Of course, every organisation is different and will have to review its existing systems and procedures before implementing any major technological changes. But I would say that there are several core components required to help ensure future resilience.

As a minimum, there should be the establishment of a content services hub to centralise document storage and workflows in a single location, with a user interface that’s consistent – whether you are logging on from your dining table at home or at your office desk.

This will remove potential information silos where data gets stuck, and also prevent the creation of multiple document versions that inevitably follows.

Next, look to introduce intelligent automation where you can, to accelerate improvements in document storage and workflows.

Then, look at shutting down any redundant or unnecessary systems and applications. This is an opportunity to streamline operations by ensuring business-critical information, which may be spread over several dozen apps in some corporate organisations, is uniformly updated and easily accessible. When staff have to search for important documents across multiple locations, they end up frustrated and prone to making mistakes that result in delays and poor customer service.

Though the immediate response to COVID-19 may have had a short-term adverse effect on many in the financial sector, longer-term it can be the catalyst that enables the creation of a truly digital workplace that seamlessly melds together a flexible, distributed workforce with a much streamlined corporate space.

Achieving that will require organisations to carefully chose the correct technology solutions. If they can do that, then our brave new world may not be so scary after all. 

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Rethinking business travel post-pandemic

Rethinking business travel post-pandemic 3

By John Charnock, CEO of

All over the world, governments are still working to contain COVID-19. Worldwide lockdown measures and restricted travel have heavily impacted many industries. In particular, the travel industry has been hit hard, and according to reports from some travel agencies, it’s very likely that business travel will not return to normal until 2021.

In this article John Charnock, CEO of, takes a look at how corporate travel can adapt, recover, and look to hit the ground running when business returns to the ‘new normal’.

Whilst we try to get COVID-19 under control, everyone is adapting to a more digitized world – from digital doctors to remote learning and working. There have been travel bans, and the majority of business and corporate travel has been on hold.

With the landscape changing daily, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the travel industry. But assuming we do get back to the ‘new normal’, there are steps business leaders can take to ensure a successful business trip in the future.

Assess the risk and duty of care

Businesses will need to travel in the future, and the industry will bounce back very quickly. But before organizing any trips, business managers must conduct a thorough risk assessment to determine whether the travel is necessary. One key factor to consider is the destination; even though a country may have lifted travel restrictions, it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s perfectly safe to travel there.

There is also a bigger focus on employee health – and rightly so. As a result, businesses will be taking more responsibility for this. Travel managers should ensure that employees are more aware of safety protocols, better hygiene, and more efficient and safer booking experiences, such as paperless online booking and self-check-in services.

Business managers have to make the health of employees a top priority and take measures to ensure their safety, before considering a business trip. It might be that travel managers will have to include a full COVID or Health Programme for all business travelers.

Great communication is needed

This is important across the whole business in normal times, but we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of communication during COVID-19. Worldwide businesses must encourage regular two-way communication.

Employers will need to know where staff are at all times, in case circumstances change and employees need guidance and advice on where it is safe to travel and where they may still be at risk. Is there an internal messaging or communications platform? Do you need to look at automating updates across your workforce?

Don’t forget to use data

A goal for business leaders is to ensure they are prepared, and not in a position to be without the resources they need to handle another huge global travel disruption.

By harnessing data through third parties, or existing suppliers, businesses can gain access to travel information and insights adapted to the specific travel needs across different countries. Access to data might well be our greatest asset at the moment. It will enable you to make better decisions concerning employee travel before, during and after a crisis.

Maintain international relations

We need international cooperation and coherence about what behaviors will be expected of future business travelers. Contradictory advice will not help contain COVID-19.

If the business travel is international, then there will need to be a common understanding of quarantining at either end of the journey. Travel managers should be proactive and seek confirmation and find a common understanding when it comes to business travel.

What might happen is that there’s a set of globally consistent rules or guidelines on the use of masks, social distancing, and hygiene measures.

Be smart with budgeting

During this pandemic, many businesses across the globe will have experienced some sort of financial impact. Business travel in big businesses can be a large portion of the annual budget.

Are you closing a deal, building a client relationship, or exploring new opportunities? Either way, businesses need to make sure they manage their travel budget wisely to maximize the value of every trip. Can you gain the same value and benefit from video conferencing?

Travel bans have made companies realize maybe those cross-country flights for drinks and dinner don’t deliver economic returns.

As travel bans start to lift, companies can feel confident in asking their employees if the travel is essential, and if not, then they are improving efficiency and costs.

Whether that means investing in courses, providing new guidelines, or just prioritizing employee well-being, business travelers should now be safer than ever going forward.

What we’ve experienced is that COVID-19 has accelerated changes in the way we work and in how we all conduct business. In the future, will it be the default to meet via Zoom or Google Hangouts, and only fly to meet someone if it’s a business emergency or last resort?

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