It’s impossible to understate just how challenging the past 19 months have been for businesses, especially those in sectors that depend on large and multifaceted supply chains. As one of the UK’s leading building services companies, this period has made us realise just how crucial our supplier partners are in almost everything we do. An open, collaborative and effective supply chain is the bedrock of modern facilities management, from cleaning to engineering services, a fact that many facilities service providers, including Integral, may have taken for granted before the pandemic upended our world.
As we leave the worst of the crisis behind us, then, we have an opportunity to learn from this period, understand our shortcomings and build back better. That’s something we are serious about at Integral, which is why we’ve published a new report that reflects on the key lessons from this pandemic and examines how supply chain management is likely to develop in the future as a result.
Yes – the pandemic allowed our industry to demonstrate its strength, resilience and ingenuity. But it has also shown us where we can do better. By making a conscious effort to listen to our partners, show empathy and understanding for one another’s challenges, and work together to solve these issues, we all benefit – Integral, our suppliers, customers, and even the people we serve every day in buildings across the UK.
‘Pandemic lessons: The future of supply chain management’ – much of which has been informed by our survey of several tier 1 supply partners in February 2021 – is a piece of thought leadership for FM professionals as they take stock and plan for a future after the pandemic. With the help of Integral subject matter experts, the report offers valuable insights into areas such as supply chain management, stakeholder relationships, facilities services in a hybrid landscape, and future technology deployment.
Key lessons in the report include:
- An effective supply chain is built on empathy and understanding
The pandemic has highlighted the need for greater trust, empathy and transparency between supply chain partners, which will help businesses plan more effectively, meet demand as it changes due to seen and unforeseen circumstances, and have more patience and understanding when supply chain partners experience challenges.
- Wellbeing applies just as much to facilities staff as it does to employees or building occupants
Supporting staff health and mental wellbeing through the pandemic has challenged suppliers like never before. In an industry so focused on employee experience, it’s easy to forget those delivering services. In the future, prioritising people’s wellbeing will provide better outcomes for everyone in the supply chain, from those delivering critical facilities services to building users.
- Supply chains need to prepare for new real estate and workplace strategies
Demand unpredictability is likely to be a key feature in the future, as organisations embrace hybrid working and other new work models. As a result, suppliers need to understand their customers’ priorities and be able to shape service delivery accordingly.
- Data will help mitigate the next crisis
Technology will play a crucial role in building resilience into supply chains by ensuring visibility, accuracy and efficiency. Digitising workflows and order processing would add much-needed rigour. Likewise, the data from the implementation of smart building technology should improve service delivery, make the supply chain’s job easier, and offer greater protection from future threats.
We hope that the insights in this report resonate with our supply chain partners, customers and industry peers. It’s down to us as industry to work collectively for a better future.