Fundamental Lessons Learned from COVID-19 Pandemic

As the pandemic is gradually loosening its grip across the globe, there are several reforms underway. Learning from the pandemic and adopting new ways of thinking are imperative to move on the road ahead. Here are some common lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic:-

Lesson One: Build Resilient Health Systems

To fight pandemics as they break out, future healthcare systems should be war-prepared. We have near-complete awarenessof tackling big killers such as heart disease, cancer, lifestyle disorders, AIDS, etc., but not a virus. We also need to look at our healthcare setting, particularly, the critical care section.

A resilient health system for rapid identification, evaluation, reporting, and response to novel outbreaks is the most critical aspect of pandemic preparedness. All countries are mandated by the International Health Regulations regulating pandemic response to have core health system capabilities, including surveillance, laboratories, human resources, and risk communication. Health services also need to include the ability to screen, diagnose and treat infectious diseases.

While high-income countries have strong health systems, they often lacked the adequate capacity to treat large numbers of patients with COVID-19 or to protect health workers from infection. If hospitals become overwhelmed, resilient health systems need expanded capacity to deal with health emergencies.

Lesson Two: We Need To Set ‘Early Warning Systems’ In Place In The Society

Unlike in the past, Viruses are not only ‘hyperactive’ in the 21st century, but often leave their tales of destruction with ‘viral speed’. This is due to globalization. The second lesson, therefore, is that the globalization of air-connected countries cannot be stopped, but when an unknown virus breaches its walls and leaps on humans, alarm bells should come early enough. That did not happen in the case of COVID-19. The virus might have been contained in small pockets if an early warning system had been in place and if nations had separated themselves.

Lesson Three: Invest in Biomedical Research and Development

Science’s credibility is necessary but inadequate. Governments must invest in biomedical research and development on a sustainable basis, not only during the health crisis but also during the interpandemic period. The Commission on the Public Health Risk System for the Future, following the West African Ebola outbreak, proposed an incremental increase of $1 billion a year to promote the research and development of emerging medical technologies. Given the economic destruction of the pandemic, even $1 billion annually is far too poor, with the World Bank forecasting a 5.2% contraction in global GDP in 2020. The R&D Blueprint for COVID-19, a World Health Organization (WHO) project, illustrates the enormous undertaking needed to produce safe and efficient therapeutics and vaccines.

Lesson Four: Many Enterprises Don’t Truly Understand Their Supply Chains

Some organizations may have noticed that in their supply chains there were crucial points of vulnerability that were not known until the pandemic strained them. Supply chain management strategies were not adequate for COVID-19’s volatile climate, including demand fluctuations, partners who unexpectedly halted or suspended operations, and unexpected shortages of materials and goods.

Lesson Five: There’s No Hiding From COVID-19

Enterprises cannot easily replace any third party whose output has been affected by COVID-19, as the vast majority of suppliers have been affected in any given sector or industry. For many companies, this has brought supply chain resilience to the foresometimes in painful ways. The World Economic Forum commented on its website, “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the business environment for many organizations around the globe, highlighting the importance of being able to respond, adapt and set up crisis management mechanisms to cope with uncertain weather conditions.”

Enterprises can’t simply replace every third-party whose performance was impacted by COVID-19, because the vast majority of suppliers in any given sector or industry were affected. This brought supply chain resilience to the fore for many organizations … often in painful ways.  On its website, the World Economic Forum commented, “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the business environment for many organizations around the globe, and has highlighted the importance of being able to react, adapt and set up crisis management mechanisms to weather situations of uncertainty.”

Many enterprises are now seeking new ways of thinking and partnering with their third parties to be more resilient in the future, after surviving and recovering from supply chain challenges and disturbances during the pandemic.

Lesson Six: It’s All About The Ecosystem

At the beginning of the pandemic, the supply chain problems showed the need to change the buyer-seller relationship from “transactional” to “symbiotic.” Even the term “supply chain” seems obsolete, since the modern extended business is an ecosystem of relationships across third, fourth, and even fifth parties, rather than a single one-to-one relationship chain.

Some companies do not fit well into the current extended business ecosystem. For example, conventional distributors that traditionally operate at low margins may be less reliant, leaving them dramatically vulnerable during disruptive events. Instead, the connections between buyers and suppliers may be more direct and the importance of near geographical proximity may be more concentrated.

Lesson Seven: Build A Circle Of Trust

When they are struggling, suppliers need to be able to connect more freely with purchasers, and not fear that this transparency will cause them to be left out of the supply chain. Enterprises need to shift the dialogue with suppliers by making it clear that by helping distressed suppliers recover, they can “take on a bit of risk to manage risk.” This may include offering guidance on management and operation or even financial support.

Lesson Eight: Embrace Technology For Faster Response

The need for (and lack of) real-time, actionable third-party risk management (TPRM) data was exposed by the pandemic. At the start of a crisis, this type of data helps organizations to rapidly “connect the dots” and make important, educated decisions. To build this kind of real-time TPRM data platform, few organizations have invested in the infrastructure and master data management (MDM) processes needed.

Some valuable lessons on supply chain resilience have been taught by COVID-19, and organizations that put those lessons into action will be better equipped to survive the next big disruptive event. In a crisis scenario that was part of the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, anyone that can adapt their approach to third parties and implement technology in a way that provides genuine, real-time visibility into the extended business environment will be able to prevent uncertainty in supply chains around best practice. The major question that companies should now ask is if they have learned from these experiences and are making the necessary adjustments to improve themselves and be better prepared.