The Coronavirus pandemic isn’t just a short-term challenge that has already done a major overhaul of how we live and work. It’s clear now that it will have long-lasting implications on how many different supply chains work all over the world, and will pressure and drive businesses to build long-term resilience into their value chains for handling challenges down the road.
Building resilience and maintaining business continuity in turbulent times requires holistic approaches to manage the supply chain and get protected from future disruptions. Today, it’s imperative for businesses big and small to develop a robust framework to enable resilient risk management operations capability that would take advantage of platforms supporting applied analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and/or VR/AR and other newest technologies. Such a framework will ensure end-to-end transparency across the entire supply chain and will help embed risk response into corporate business-as-usual protocols in the long run.
When it comes to innovation and software development, it’s crucial to secure the software supply chain as early as possible to avoid business hibernation that can kill any business.
To secure the software supply chain, you need to make at least these four steps:
- Explore the entire pipeline and identify separate elements such as people, code, dependencies, infrastructure, the total cost of software product development, etc.
- Ensure a consistent and quality build process.
- Protect the deployed system while in transition of new builds.
- Guarantee and validate the final delivery of builds against initial requirements and QA.
What software development and big meat supply chains have in common
In one Forbes article, the author makes a point that today’s meat production system is so concentrated that the pandemic we’re facing has overwhelmed this supply chain. When a supply chain becomes more concentrated, there’s a huge risk of a loss of supply when a single plant gets closed for some reason (e.g. natural disaster, fire, etc.). When a Tyson beef plant in Kansas closed last year due to a fire, it did cause some production disruptions. But thanks to other plants that ran Saturday shifts to fill the gap, the supply chain was able to compensate for the temporary closure of a single large plant.
The bottom line is, do not put all of your eggs in one basket.
Supply chain distribution proves to be a working solution to avoid delivery delays and issues in the future and prepare better for the possible impact.
This analogy fits the software development world very well. Blended with the IoT, artificial intelligence, big data, and the cloud, distributed software development supply chain has the potential to improve and reinforce resilience.
The advent of large-scale software development automation and DevOps has already contributed to the elevation of the software supply chain and its underpinning delivery pipeline to mission-critical status in companies across many industries and niches.
But there’re two global issues holding enterprises and innovative startups alike from scaling and re-defining products fast enough to gain a competitive edge and meet rapidly changing customer demands. Especially in critical times like we’re facing now.
Lack of software engineering resources and software developers working out of one geographical hub
Back in February 2020, as many as 74 per cent of UK recruiters (nearly three quarters) believed skills shortages would be their top hiring challenge for this year and the years to come. As a result of the shortage, 42 per cent of UK employers had to increase the candidate pay rate to fill their skills gap. This data is generally supported by Bullhorn’s 2020 Global Recruitment Insights and Data (GRID) survey that found that of more than 2,000 global recruitment consultants, 46 per cent call the current talent shortage in the UK the worst in the past five years.
One company has recently researched job demand in the UK by the key sectors listed by the Visa Bureau. They’ve looked at talent shortages across ten varying industries, including finance, IT, education, food, and determined that software developers were in high demand particularly in London (48%) and South West (almost 40%).
As such, filling the skills gap should be a top-of-mind priority for all companies looking to get back on track as fast as possible during and especially after the pandemic.
Lack of skills and the high cost of domestic resources can significantly slow down or disrupt completely your entire software supply chain, which will make it much more difficult to build resilience and maintain business continuity.
Workplace disruption can happen at any time and take many forms. Before the Coronavirus, most of the challenges were temporary outages of services: internet and electrical, and the occasional traffic jam or big event disruptions that could easily be handled by a little overtime, or working through lunch.
For a few, the disruption was taken to the next level like suffering from building fires, or a collapse of infrastructure caused by disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes. The disruptions lasted from a few days up to a few weeks as these companies worked to replace infrastructure, and get everyone’s head back into the game, as there is a huge mental component that needs to be dealt with before productivity is fully back.
Software companies that have already fully embraced a cloud infrastructure, work with remote teams, or have good work from home policies in place definitely are in a better place to quickly adapt to workplace disruptions in the future of any shape and duration.
One of our clients was able to distribute the development of their breakthrough fintech product across three locations some time ago and is now doing business-as-usual while continuing to scale and maintain their SaaS-based product. In this case, supply chain distribution has helped the company mitigate most of the risks other companies are feeling today as a result of their inability or failure to embrace innovative work formats like remote or virtual teams.
How to maintain business continuity during the pandemic and any other workplace disruption with product development supply chain distribution
e-bate is an affordable, web-based platform for decision-makers who need to implement and gain control of their rebate management. As they struggled to find and hire developers with the right skill sets within the UK, the risk was high that their software supply chain would be disrupted. To prevent it, they partnered with us for their product development distribution. We built an extended team distributed across three locations:
- In the UK, we supplied CTO-as-a-Service as well as DevOps, UX/UI talent, and Azure stack developers.
- In Ukraine, we helped build a team consisting of .Net and AngularJS developers, QA, Solutions Architect, and Scrum Master.
- In Spain, we hired additional .Net developers (the core technology) to boost the team in Ukraine and diversify risks in case something goes wrong with the Ukrainian operations.
In such a way, e-bate was able to avoid the software supply chain fragility, fully embrace a remote work environment, and build resilience, which allowed them to fully maintain business continuity in Q1 2020 hit badly by COVID-19. Their distributed team keeps working from home during the lockdown, and their product scaling is in progress. While Spain was getting hit hard, the less affected UK and Ukraine team were able to pick up any slack and offer support. The supply chain stayed strong.
In conclusion, Coronavirus should inspire businesses to prepare their technology supply chains for the future. Firms caught flat-footed should learn their lesson from the current crisis and start making fundamental changes now to be better prepared for future shocks, which are inevitable.
As a first step, it’s essential to digitise and automate as many processes as possible. Having a robust digital supply chain strategy in place can have a significant impact on your business operations. Second, you should consider leveraging technologies like IoT, AI, machine learning, and advanced analytics to take your UX to the next level and gain a competitive edge. Third, as successful cases demonstrate, IT leaders should consider distributing their software development supply chain among several geolocations to build resilience for future crises.
How can Evolve help?
We combine deep expertise with cutting-edge capabilities across software product design and development, advanced analytics, and the newest technologies to help companies distribute their software supply chain for risk mitigation, better understand their customer needs, identify growth opportunities, and create new business models. From IT strategy development to commercialisation, we help build innovative products that bring customer value and enhance business outcomes.