Brexit and Supply Chains – How to Plan For The Unknown 

Britain is set to leave the EU on 31st December, yet there is currently a lot of uncertainty about what the trade terms will be and what the implications will be for businesses. Supply chains are expected to face huge disruption as documentation requirements are still unknown and border posts will bear the strain. In the event of no withdrawal agreement, supply chains could face administrative costs totalling £15 billion*.  

As we wait with anticipation to see what the outcome of the talks between UK and EU leaders will be, lets focus on what organisations can do proactively to mitigate the bumpy road ahead. 


As the administrative tasks that fall out of Brexit are likely to be extensive, prioritising which projects should be run first may be your initial challenge. It is important to run the right projects well rather than trying to achieve everything as quickly as possible.   

Be agile and adaptable 

Clearly in an ideal world you wouldn’t be faced with such a large-scale logistical challenge, with no visibility of the trade agreement implications during a global pandemic! Therefore, you will need clear strategies for reporting and managing issuesrisks and dependencies. Success will come from quickly defining your requirements, then scaling and running projects that can be adapted rapidly in a coordinated manner. Adopting lean processes now which eliminate waste and maximise value will drive efficiencies which will be beneficial in the longer term too.  

Flexible resources 

Does your current resource model allow you to flex capability and capacity to manage the changes ahead? The levels of uncertainty for the period ahead are so great that the answer has to be a flexible resourcing model to ramp up and down as needed and keep a tight handle on cost implications.  

Learn along the way 

These are unchartered waters and be assured your competitors will be facing the same challenges. Learn lessons along the way which will help you build improvements back into the programmes of work. You will be addressing a developing picture for the foreseeable future, as new challenges emerge and new strategies become available. The implications for each sector will become clearer over time so don’t panic about doing everything in advance. Collaborating and knowledge sharing will be useful as different insights, methods and approaches come to light.  

Managing customer expectations 

Do you have a CRM tool which enables you to communicate regularly and clearly with your customers? With the right communication, you can manage expectations and retain customers in spite of delays and potential disappointments. Be proactive in managing your responses and be open about the implications.  

Hopefully you have an adequate Project Management Office already set up and in place to help manage the disruption Brexit will cause, however, if you have concerns our blog on PMO upgrades might help. Structuring, prioritising and sequencing changes can be stressful when the pressure is on.  Learn more about how we can assist with Portfolio Management and download our free Little Book of Portfolio Management here.  

At Nine Feet Tall we are highly experienced in Programme Planning advice and Delivery. Please do get in touch for a free consultation.

Esther McMorris


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