The Power of Information Sharing in Business Continuity Management
April 25th, 2022 •
Hannah Tichansky • Reading Time: 5minutes
A Conversation with Andrew Goldman, Head of Business Continuity and Supply Chain Risk Management at MilliporeSigma
For their second issue, Risk & Resilience Magazine sat down with Andrew Goldman, Head of Business Continuity and Supply Chain Risk Management at MilliporeSigma, a division of Merck KGaA. The Spring 2022 issue theme is The Path to Organizational Resilience, and focuses on topics like business continuity, crisis management, operational resilience, and more.
Thanks for sitting down with us, Andrew. Tell us- what are your top priorities for improving business continuity in 2022?
Our company plays a critical role in life science and biotech- we support manufacturers of life-saving drugs and vaccines that are addressing COVID. It’s all about making sure that our products are available because ultimately, they save lives. So, in my role, it’s about minimizing supply chain disruptions and the first step is identifying risks across our network. My role starts with the business impact analysis, a critical focus area in terms of understanding which products and which supply chains are the most impactful in terms of saving lives and supporting the global effort to end the pandemic. Then, the focus area becomes more tactical in terms of ensuring that we have our business continuity plans and end-to-end supply chain risk assessments in place to address these critical products and critical manufacturing sites.
How should business continuity strategies evolve following recent challenges like data breaches, the pandemic, etc.?
These challenges affect all industries. I think the priority for organizations should be to ensure that they have a program in place and dedicated resources to start looking at this risk. Priority number one should be to make sure that you are starting to take this topic seriously and are proactive in terms of identifying potential failure points across your supply chain, assessing those risks appropriately, and then mitigating where necessary or putting contingency plans in place if mitigation actions aren’t possible.
Priority number two is making sure that this program or resource is properly supported from the executive level. This means getting visibility into the risks identified in business continuity plans or supply chain risk assessments and making sure there’s support. We also need support from the manufacturing sites of the distribution network in terms of putting the work in to complete those assessments or continuity plans, and then ultimately taking the mitigation actions that accompany it.
Have you seen an uptick in due diligence for third parties based on the pandemic?
I can certainly speak to our industry and how critical our products are even before COVID. If we have a supply chain disruption on our end it can lead to manufacturing shutdowns for drug manufacturers and then ultimately lives could be lost here. It’s always been a very, very hot topic and there’s always been a lot of due diligence from our customers and from other third parties in terms of understanding what we’re doing to mitigate and prepare for potential disruptions. With that said, we’ve seen an uptick as a result of the pandemic, because now we have this whole new line of products including COVID-related therapeutics, both in development and the start of the commercial level, as well as the vaccines that weren’t in existence three years ago.
How important is visibility and eliminating organizational silos when it comes to business continuity plans?
When it comes to managing supply chains, communication and visibility are critical. There’s this great concept in supply chain literature about a bullwhip effect where one small change is made and your decision can cause massive disruption and chaos downstream. Regarding business continuity management and business continuity plans this is certainly the case, but I see it at a few different levels. When plans like supply chain risk assessments are being conducted, they must be a cross-functional exercise because there are inputs that certain individuals will have that can drastically alter the risk score for either raw material or a piece of equipment, or something along the logistics chain. If they’re not included and if there’s no communication, these things will certainly be ineffective… You need to have a cross-functional effort in conducting these risk assessments and with that lens, to look at supply chain risk.
In many cases, the disruption has already happened. It’s no longer a risk, it’s an event. Having a nimble organization that can communicate and share knowledge upstream and downstream throughout the supply chain can mitigate the potential impact of disruptions.
“In sports, you never root for somebody to get injured. I think it’s similar to this topic as well- helping other companies or other individuals understand how to better manage their risk is really important. Work together to ask how to prevent supply disruptions because ultimately society suffers when there are major supply chain disruptions…”
What are steps organizations can take today to help boost their business continuity plans?
Make sure that you have dedicated resources where it’s not just 10% of somebody’s time. Ideally, there is at least one individual that’s running the program full-time. If they don’t have anything in place there’s a lot of literature and best practices out there to help an organization to help launch the program, so I encourage you to do research. This topic has just skyrocketed over the last decade, with COVID even more so.
There are a lot of consortiums out there as well that are helpful. The opportunity to be able to collaborate across industries to understand how other companies are handling these topics is really helpful to see, especially since some of these programs are still in their infancy.
In sports, you never root for somebody to get injured. I think it’s similar to this topic as well- helping other companies or other individuals understand how to better manage their risk is really important. Work together to ask how to prevent supply disruptions because ultimately society suffers when there are major supply chain disruptions, even if it’s not a product you’re purchasing. Nobody likes waiting longer for items or seeing shelves bare. There is a lot of collaboration and a lot of information sharing which is fantastic. That’s why it’s a pleasure to be able to share whatever knowledge I can- it’s a very important topic.
Andrew Goldman holds 20 years of experience, focusing on supply chain operations and operational excellence. For our conversation, we discussed his work in business continuity management and supply chain risk management, where he is responsible for the development of these plans across manufacturing and distribution sites. These plans include end-to-end supply chain risk assessments for critical products, as well as disaster recovery plans, including recovery timeline objectives.
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