Accelerating Supply Chain Scenario Planning

  • Nitin Joglekar and Shardul Phadnis
  • November 16, 2020

The pandemic showcases a need to make slow-moving supply chains nimbler. Using data and collaborating with partners on scenario planning can empower companies to adapt.

Image courtesy of Gordon Studer/

In spring 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted supply chains across numerous major industries worldwide and showed no signs of abating, most organizations had limited vision in terms of how they should prepare to resume business activities. This lack of clarity resulted from a confluence of uncertainties, including when an effective vaccine might be widely available and what mandates governments might implement to curb the coronavirus’s spread. As organizations and their supply chain partners have turned to scenario planning to help them “see” actionable paths amid the pandemic, such planning has become faster, nearer term, more inclusive, and digital.1 Our field research has found that digital technologies, data, and collaboration with supply chain partners are central to this effort.

Conventional scenario planning involves considering possible future states for a planning horizon ranging from three to 30-plus years. It requires a multistep deliberation process within the boundary of a single organization or its supply chain that may take a few months after the data has been analyzed. (See “A Primer on Supply Chain Scenario Planning.”) Planners revisit these scenarios when uncertainties emerge, especially as a crisis becomes evident.