Five New Supply Chain Risks and Regulations
Mickey North Rizza, of BravoSolution, explains the top 5 risks and regulations affecting the supply chain and how companies can mitigate them
Supply chain risk is a major issue, and new sources continue to pop up. Adverse weather, natural disasters and factory fires have historically grabbed the attention of CPOs, but there are other risks procurement leaders must be aware of that are just as hazardous. The world of procurement is constantly changing, and supply chain managers must be on top of their game. Here are 5 new threats that you might not be ready for:
1. Financial Fraud
Financial fraud can come in the form of collusion, poor monitoring of employee expenses, or misconduct from the vendor, including falsified labor and inflated bills. Did you know that less than one-third of executives are utilising data-analytics tools that can detect fraud or vendor waste?
Many executives identify high-level trends in invoice characteristics, but don’t scrutinise individual line items, which is where most fraud occurs. The possibility of fraud also increases when multiple suppliers are involved, so it is especially important for procurement teams to have visibility into all parts of the supply chain.
Only 12 percent of executives monitor third parties for fraud, waste and abuse on a regular basis. In order to avoid fraud risk, procurement teams need to exercise their right to audit vendor bills and activities and make use of the analytics and monitoring technology available to them.
2. Cybersecurity Threats
Many companies have lax procedures in protecting critical data, leaving businesses vulnerable to attacks that could harm customers, operational processes and brands. Even if you have security measures in place, the suppliers you work with may not.
Because of this, cyber risks to the supply chain actually pose a greater threat than weather, fire, and social unrest. Global supply chains are very complex and threats can come from all directions, which means that comprehensive security plans are of utmost importance.
To avoid catastrophic disruptions, procurement leaders need to apply security controls, utilise multi-tier supplier governance, buy only from trusted vendors, disconnect critical machines from outside networks, and encourage collaboration among security, IT and supply chain managers.
3. Supply Chain Management Regulations
New rules and regulations continue to pop up in the supply chain, and companies need to be ready to disclose information about their sourcing and supply chain practices. For example, the Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act requires companies to file annual reports with the SEC, disclosing efforts to address specific human rights risks in the supply chain.
In addition, the FDA is tightening its legislation around food sanitation, requiring companies to ensure food safety with the Sanitary Transport Rule. The U.S. government is also cracking down and establishing controls on the sourcing of conflict minerals such as tungsten, tin, titanium and gold in order to stop the militia groups that are funded from the sales of these minerals.
In order to help ensure compliance and sustainability, it’s important to have full supply chain visibility. Although it may be costly and/or time intensive to gain full visibility and compliance – it’s worth it in the end.
4. The Talent Gap
Baby boomers are retiring and there are few up and coming procurement gurus to take their place. CPOs are scrambling to find a solution to this problem, as the implications of this issue are likely to last for at least a decade.
The U.S. Census Bureau predicts more than 60 million Baby Boomers will exit the workforce by 2025, and approximately only 40 million new bodies will enter. However, CPOs can ameliorate this epidemic by employing tech-savvy and analytical professionals, complete with finance know-how and topped with industry specific expertise.
To obtain this talent, procurement leaders need to narrow the skills gap in their employees by offering comprehensive, yet focused, training programs to mold these candidates into the well-rounded procurement leaders the industry needs.
Unfortunately, only 25 percent of firms offer cross training and only 16% are increasing their development budget. If implemented correctly, cross training will not only provide companies with sharp, well-rounded talent, but will also help to alleviate turnover, increase job satisfaction, and ultimately draw in more talent.
5. Rising food costs
Droughts are worsening across the United States, increasing food prices and ultimately raising the cost structure for many firms. Overall food prices are expected to increase by 2.5-3.5 percent this year, with fruit up 3.5-4.5 percent and vegetables up 2-3 percent.
U.S. beef and veal prices are expected to increase by a whopping 5.5-6.5 percent. With consumers pinching their pennies, retailers, grocers, and the like must get creative in cutting costs.
A tip-- look to other areas of spend, such as facilities management or transportation, to avoid raising the prices on consumers. Knowing where the money is going and consolidating expenses can make a big impact in staying resilient in the face of this source of risk.
NTT DATA Services, Remodelling Supply Chains for Resilience
Joey Dean, the man with the coolest name ever and Managing Director in the healthcare consulting practice for NTT DATA and is focused on delivering workplace transformation and enabling the future workforce for healthcare providers. Dean also leads client innovation programs to enhance service delivery and business outcomes for clients.
The pandemic has shifted priorities and created opportunities to do things differently, and companies are now looking to build more resilient supply chains, none needed more urgently than those within the healthcare system. Dean shares with us how he feels they can get there.
A Multi-Vendor Sourcing Approach
“Healthcare systems cannot afford delays in the supply chain when there are lives at stake. Healthcare procurement teams are looking at multi-vendor sourcing strategies, stockpiling more inventory, and ways to use data and AI to have a predictive view into the future and drive greater efficiency.
“The priority should be to shore up procurement channels and re-evaluate inventory management norms, i.e. stockpiling for assurance. Health systems should take the opportunity to renegotiate with their current vendors and broaden the supplier channel. Through those efforts, work with suppliers that have greater geographic diversity and transparency around manufacturing data, process, and continuity plans,” says Dean.
But here ensues the never-ending battle of domestic vs global supply chains. As I see it, domestic sourcing limits the high-risk exposure related to offshore sourcing— Canada’s issue with importing the vaccine is a good example of that. So, of course, I had to ask, for lifesaving products, is building domestic capabilities an option that is being considered?
“Domestic supply chains are sparse or have a high dependence on overseas centres for parts and raw materials. There are measures being discussed from a legislative perspective to drive more domestic sourcing, and there will need to be a concerted effort by Western countries through a mix of investments and financial incentives,” Dean explains.
Wielding Big Tech for Better Outcomes
So, that’s a long way off. In the meantime, leveraging technology is another way to mitigate the risks that lie within global supply chains while decreasing costs and improving quality. Dean expands on the potential of blockchain and AI in the industry.
“Blockchain is particularly interesting in creating more transparency and visibility across all supply chain activities. Organisations can create a decentralised record of all transactions to track assets from production to delivery or use by end-user. This increased supply chain transparency provides more visibility to both buyers and suppliers to resolve disputes and build more trusting relationships. Another benefit is that the validation of data is more efficient to prioritise time on the delivery of goods and services to reduce cost and improve quality.
“Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) is another area where there’s incredible value in processing massive amounts of data to aggregate and normalise the data to produce proactive recommendations on actions to improve the speed and cost-efficiency of the supply chain.”
Evolving Procurement Models
From asking more of suppliers to beefing up stocks, Dean believes procurement models should be remodelled to favour resilience, mitigate risk and ensure the needs of the customer are kept in view.
“The bottom line is that healthcare systems are expecting more from their suppliers. While transactional approaches focused solely on price and transactions have been the norm, collaborative relationships, where the buyer and supplier establish mutual objectives and outcomes, drives a trusting and transparent relationship. Healthcare systems are also looking to multi-vendor strategies to mitigate risk, so it is imperative for suppliers to stand out and embrace evolving procurement models.
“Healthcare systems are looking at partners that can establish domestic centres for supplies to mitigate the risks of having ‘all of their eggs’ in overseas locations. Suppliers should look to perform a strategic evaluation review that includes a distribution network analysis and distribution footprint review to understand cost, service, flexibility, and risks. Included in that strategy should be a “voice of the customer” assessment to understand current pain points and needs of customers.”
“Healthcare supply chain leaders are re-evaluating the Just In Time (JIT) model with supplies delivered on a regular basis. The approach does not require an investment in infrastructure but leaves organisations open to risk of disruption. Having domestic centres and warehousing from suppliers gives healthcare systems the ability to have inventory on hand without having to invest in their own infrastructure. Also, in the spirit of transparency, having predictive views into inventory levels can help enable better decision making from both sides.”
But, again, I had to ask, what about the risks and associated costs that come with higher inventory levels, such as expired product if there isn’t fast enough turnover, tying up cash flow, warehousing and inventory management costs?
“In the current supply chain environment, it is advisable for buyers to carry an in-house inventory on a just-in-time basis, while suppliers take a just-in-case approach, preserving capacity for surges, retaining safety stock, and building rapid replenishment channels for restock. But the risk of expired product is very real. This could be curbed with better data intelligence and improved technology that could forecast surges and predictively automate future supply needs. In this way, ordering would be more data-driven and rationalised to align with anticipated surges. Further adoption of data and intelligence and will be crucial for modernised buying in the new normal.
These are tough tasks, so I asked Dean to speak to some of the challenges. Luckily, he’s a patient guy with a lot to say.
On managing stakeholders and ensuring alignment on priorities and objectives, Dean says, “In order for managing stakeholders to stay aligned on priorities, they’ll need more transparency and collaborative win-win business relationships in which both healthcare systems and medical device manufacturers are equally committed to each other’s success. On the healthcare side, they need to understand where parts and products are manufactured to perform more predictive data and analytics for forecasting and planning efforts. And the manufacturers should offer more data transparency which will result in better planning and forecasting to navigate the ebbs and flows and enable better decision-making by healthcare systems.
Due to the sensitive nature of the information being requested, the effort to increase visibility is typically met with a lot of reluctance and push back. Dean essentially puts the onus back on suppliers to get with the times. “Traditionally, the relationships between buyers and suppliers are transactional, based only on the transaction between the two parties: what is the supplier providing, at what cost, and for what length of time. The relationship begins and ends there. The tide is shifting, and buyers expect more from their suppliers, especially given what the pandemic exposed around the fragility of the supply chain. The suppliers that get ahead of this will not only reap the benefits of improved relationships, but they will be able to take action on insights derived from greater visibility to manage risks more effectively.”
He offers a final tip. “A first step in enabling a supply chain data exchange is to make sure partners and buyers are aware of the conditions throughout the supply chain based on real-time data to enable predictive views into delays and disruptions. With well understand data sets, both parties can respond more effectively and work together when disruptions occur.”
As for where supply chain is heading, Dean says, “Moving forward, we’ll continue to see a shift toward Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and advanced analytics to optimise the supply chain. The pandemic, as it has done in many other industries, will accelerate the move to digital, with the benefits of improving efficiency, visibility, and error rate. AI can consume enormous amounts of data to drive real-time pattern detection and mitigate risk from global disruptive events.”