Don’t Forget Your Suppliers When Sending Emergency Notifications During a Business Disruption

If you utilize an emergency notification service for business continuity, you’ve likely spent a great deal of time carefully considering your methods for communicating with internal employees and response teams during a critical event.

However, have you paid careful attention to your process for communicating with external stakeholders—suppliers in particular?

 Bypassing or forgetting notifications to suppliers is an oversight we see often as an emergency notification service supplier. It’s not that the supply chain is fully ignored. Often, detailed response plans exist that are geared towards disruptions in the incoming supply. But what about situations where the “receiving” company has a disruption?

Why Is Supplier Mass Notification Important?

Depending on your industry, the efficiency of your supply may have a significant impact on your business. Manufacturers, for example, rely on just-in-time inventory management methods to minimize warehousing and storage costs. These companies may have very limited options for receiving and storing raw materials or perishable goods, particularly in the event of an unanticipated plant closure (when no one is available to receive and handle shipments). As such, rapid communication with suppliers early in the life of a critical event can possibly save time and money in terms of halting or rerouting shipments, salvaging materials, etc.

Why Is Mass Notification to Suppliers Overlooked?

If supply chain communication is so critical, why is it overlooked? Perhaps one reason is simply contingency planning doesn’t go that “deep.” Plans in some organizations may be designed to cover internal processes and communications, but are not fully outlined for external organizations.
Another may be fear. When internal disruptions occur, they may not have public visibility. Some companies worry that pushing negative information externally may cause unwanted, widespread attention to the event. Whatever the reason, organizations of all types would benefit from evaluating and preparing for supplier communications during critical events.

What Can Make Supplier Notifications Easier and Better?

Want to make sure your supplier notifications hit the mark? Consider the following best practices.

Define Expectations

First, set expectations and guidelines for the proper use of a notification system with suppliers. Make sure the guidelines are discussed and agreed-upon both inside and outside the organization. Build scenarios within the notification service to cover events that might arise.

Ensure Contact Data is Up-to-Date

People come and go in organizations. Ensuring your database contains updated information is even more challenging when the contacts are not technically a part of your organization. Establish a lead primary point of contact in the supplier organization who should be responsible for data quality.
Utilize a Self-Registration Portal to allow external contacts to maintain their own information. Send quarterly reminders to the individuals and the primary POC to have them check and update their personal information.

Test Notification with Suppliers

Testing should be implemented both internally and externally. Supplier contacts need familiarity with notification technology and any associated processes. Review overall expectations to ensure clarity.

Target Notifications

In an attempt to reign in the undesired spread of information, make sure your notifications are targeted to precisely the right people instead of being pushed to large groups of people at the supplier’s organization.

Get Responses Back

It is good practice to get a confirmation from supplier recipients that the message has been received. Share this report with the supplier POC so it’s clear who has and has not received the notification.

Remember to Send an “All Clear” Message

After the event has passed and operations have resumed, send suppliers a final message stating the situation is resolved. If additional instructions are warranted, provide these as well.

Supply-chain management works best as a dance between trusted partners. While it’s expected your suppliers tell you when they have a disruption, make sure the information flow moves in the other direction as well in order to keep your operations running smoothly.