The supply chain is one of the few potential competitive advantages left to enterprises. Marketing tools are available to all and this week’s advance in technology is often matched by a rival’s progress next week. However, supply chain still offers companies the chance to better satisfy customers at lower costs and in ways that cannot be easily or immediately replicated by competitors. If it’s that important, then it makes sense to ensure that business continuity is applied to – better still, embedded in – the supply chain.

An end-to-end process for the transformation of resources in a product or a service, and its delivery to end-customers is a simple way of describing a supply chain. Behind this simple definition, there may be structures of great complexity. The old adage holds true: a (supply) chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It is often vulnerable to disruption of business continuity because of supplier failure at the start of the supply chain, strain placed on the supply chain internally because of an obsession with reducing costs, and negative publicity from customer feedback that spreads more rapidly than the supply chain can react and adjust.

Today, organisations are increasingly appointing managers whose specific responsibility is to look after the cross-functional operation of the supply chain. To be effective, supply chain directors need broad knowledge of different functional areas of a company, including but not limited to logistics, warehousing, production, sales and marketing. Making a business ally of the supply chain director can therefore be a good route to bringing business continuity to a wide range of areas and departments in a company. Along with internal auditors, they represent a segment of business organisations with wide-ranging knowledge and influence. And, even if the two sets of individuals may have different agendas, they both have an interest in seeing business continuity well established and executed. So if you haven’t done so already, perhaps it’s time to go and make contact.