Q&A with Andy Horne, Head of Supply Chain at EDF

We sat down with Andy Horne, Head of Supply Chain at EDF to find out more about how procurement teams have been dealing with the pandemic. 

How has COVID-19 changed your role and the demands on your team?

Over the past few months, everything has been about responding to COVID-19, and ensuring we're able to keep our business moving. We've got a significant presence offshore and we've worked collaboratively with our supply base to ensure continuity of service and supply.

My role specifically has become one of coordination. We have a number of supply chains across our business and we recognised the value in combining to ensure consistency, to share best practice and to address risk(s). We mobilised a central forum where all of our supply chains come together to focus on COVID-19 and our response across our entire supply base and I've taken on a role of coordinating that.

What measures has your company put in place to deal with the COVID-19 crisis?

We wanted to ensure that we had a real focus around ensuring our suppliers had the right awareness and understanding of government support. When the UK government initially announced their support, we looked into it ourselves to understand fully what it could mean for our supply base. We updated our external supply chain website. It became a COVID-19 landing page, ensuring links directing to HMRC's own website were included. To raise awareness to our supply base of over 5,000 suppliers we pushed out a notification to make them aware of this landing page

We also raised visibility around supply chain financing which is something that we'd already introduced into our supply chain and have made available to our suppliers. Supply chain financing provides suppliers with a vehicle to receive their payment for goods or services rendered far earlier than the traditional payment terms, whilst protecting our own working capital ratio. All businesses, in such extraordinary times, were facing challenges and financial pressures so, being able to provide this support, to our supply chain, if they want it, was a real positive.

Was it difficult implementing these measures as an international company?

I would not say so as whilst we are an international company, our focus is broadly, within the UK though we have been linking in with our colleagues in France who have also set up a COVID-19 response team that has supply chain input from across our global network.

Within this unit we've been sharing best practice, sharing knowledge and working together wherever there's logic and wherever it's practical to do so. Everybody’s facing the same challenges across the globe, there are significant demands on certain products, and we want to ensure that we come together wherever we can to harness our global strength.

How has your organisation been managing with the directive for non-essential workers to work from home?

We’re managing well. Our enterprise IT function have done some phenomenal work in being able to mobilise our operations from a traditional office environment to that of home working. Historically, many of our employees didn't have access to laptops or remote connectivity so we have had to adapt, and adapt quickly to provide this kit. The speed of response has just been phenomenal. I'm tremendously impressed with how our people have then adapted to such significant change, and within that how our suppliers have supported the response.

We have introduced virtual conferences on a regular basis as teams to keep connected, with a bit of fun in there as well. We wanted to make it better for those who are used to a really social environment, trying to recreate the office buzz. It has been tremendously difficult for some, so we've been pushing out a lot of communications as you might expect, and raising visibility of the technology and support that is available to make sure that we stay in touch.

Whilst I'm office based traditionally, back in my past, I had been a home worker for probably the best part of 10 years. I was aware of how different it was. You have to have a good governance around the way that you work when you're a home worker, because you’re never away from work. Striking the right work-life balance is key.

Do you think it's possible that this crisis has indirectly catalysed any positive change in the industry?

From a personal perspective, less travel, no commute, more time with the family, simple things like being home for every evening meal, going on family walks have all had a positive impact.

As a business, one positive that's very close to my heart is how connected we are now as a collective supply chain. That has been a tremendous positive for us and we want to make sure that we build on that and develop that further. Another is the environmental impact, the positive impact which the reduction in travel has had and how, through the embracing of technology, we have realised there are other means of delivery.

Like many though, we’re still figuring out the new normal but the speed at which we, and others have adapted has been incredible. I think we’ve challenged the norm, and within that, our expectations around what’s possible. . We're not alone of course but it is quite exciting to consider the future and to look at redefining the art of the possible, within the new normal.

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