Two years ago when Pacesetter Research published its first report on innovation in how professional services firms approach supply chain, with some noted exceptions it was found that on the whole law firms were content to have a limited but designated role. Our report then noted that “…lawyers have a guaranteed seat at the table in supply chain transformation projects but are typically only brought in to address a handful of technical issues: contract negotiation and management, negotiation support, compliance (e.g., reporting, legislation monitoring and anticipation, supply chain transparency, anti-corruption, trade sanctions, bans and embargoes, and ESG-related issues such as slavery act compliance), and tax.” (2021) A fundamental problem with this approach was that supply chain management was undergoing a revolution – an involuntary one, brought on by the economic and political ruptures of the pandemic.

What a supply chain is, how it is managed, who is involved in managing them, who has access to what information, the nature of relationships throughout client supply chains: in 2023, these elements are all seen in profoundly different ways than they were in 2019. Again, none of this happened on a whim. Dramatic changes in how the world works forced companies to go back to the proverbial drawing board and rethink – redesign – their supply chains. The solutions to seemingly straightforward issues like procurement cost controls or a long-time supplier suddenly finding themselves behind a sanction wall turned into supply chain-wide puzzles. After some years of intense investment, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the benefits of digitally-enabled and connected supply chains are finally becoming apparent: greater transparency, greater flexibility, better risk management, and ultimately greater long-term resiliency.

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