Many companies think that because they have a recall plan in place, they are ready for any recall that may occur, only to realize they are actually woefully unprepared when it actually happens. That typically points to one thing: the plan wasn’t nearly as robust as it needed to be.
When it comes to recall preparation, having an outline of a plan isn’t much better than having no plan at all. Here are some of the signs a recall plan is inadequate.
Like death and taxes, recalls are inevitable. But that’s where the comparisons should end. While being concise is a worthwhile goal, and a long recall plan doesn’t automatically equal a robust one, if your recall plan is a couple paragraphs long, there’s no way it can be comprehensive enough to guide your company through numerous steps required.
Any recall plan should begin with the steps that follow the earliest reports of a problem all the way through close out and resolution. In between, companies must understand how they will identify and notify customers and consignees, manage the response, determine the reverse logistics involved with returning affected products, and, eventually, dispose of the products. Too many companies focus only on naming staff members within the company to oversee the recall – not on the logistics of the actual recall execution.
Recalls are incredibly complex, especially when they are global in nature (and many of them are, even when companies don’t realize it). They’re often too much for one company to manage internally – let alone by a small crew within the company. Plus, what if the recall plan lists a team member by name and that person leaves the company? That is often one of the top pain points for companies experiencing a recall – especially if it’s their first or they haven’t been through one in years.
As the saying goes, “prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” When planning for a recall, it can be tempting to do the opposite. Companies hope they will never experience a recall, but if they do, they hope it will be small in terms of units affected, limited geographically, and devoid of additional complexities. But using that approach can leave companies vulnerable. That doesn’t necessarily mean companies should plan for the worst case scenario, either. But the recall plan should account for potential challenges. For example, a company that produces some products that contain lithium-ion batteries should account for specific transportation regulations.
If a recall plan doesn’t account for the many data points that must be captured and tracked throughout the recall, companies may be at risk of regulatory noncompliance. When a recall occurs, team members often scramble to enter information into spreadsheets. That type of manual process is painstaking and often leads to errors.
A robust plan alone can’t guarantee a smooth recall execution, but it is the first critical step. Since many supply chain partners and regulators now require manufacturers to have a plan in place, it makes sense for business leaders to take the opportunity to ensure it is truly up to the task of guiding the company through the recall.
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