The Growth Potential In Managing Supplier Risk


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DHL Gets Serious About Mitigating Risk.

Learn DHL’s proactive approach to supplier risk in the latest edition of Supply Chain Management Review.

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The Growth Potential In Managing Supplier Risk

  1. 1. leADerSHiP SkillS CONTiNuiTY reSPONSe FrAMeWOrkThe GrowthPotential inManagingSuPPlier riSk TBy Wayne S. evans and Sven Blawatt he global economic downturn changed some fun- damentals in nearly every industry, geography, and area of business—from finance to operations, fromThe downsides of a supplier failure compliance to procurement. The global reces-are pretty obvious. less clear are the sion may be dissipating, but its effects and les-advantages to be gained by aggressively sons learned will have a significant impact on our approach to risk as we dust ourselves off and beginmanaging and mitigating supplier working in a recovering economic environment. As procure-risk. Two supply chain management ment professionals, perhaps the biggest change we see pre- toexecutives from DHl tell how their post-recession is the increased importance and focus on risk. Furthermore, we’ve witnessed an evolution in viewing this areacompany transitioned from a reactive more holistically from risk management through risk a proactive approach to supplier risk. The downturn moved risk from a good practice to a mustThis approach not only results in greater do, best practice. For us at DHL, like many other companies, the eye-opener came when a number of suppliers started show-supply continuity but also serves as a ing very weak financials with some Dun & Bradstreet scoresbuilding block for future growth. indicating a high probability of near term business failure. As a consequence, supply chain risk management was abuzz again in C-Level suites and corporate boardrooms. The Aberdeen Group, an independent research firm, con- ducted a study on supplier risks before the downturn. The report, “Supplier Risk Increasing While the Market Stands Wayne S. Evans ( is Head of Procurement, Americas and Sven Blawatt ( is Regional Procurement Category Manager-Transportation, both at DHL Global Business Services.30 Supply Chain Management Review · September/October 2010
  2. 2. John LabbeStill,” provided a glimpse into a more laissez faire atti- nies competing in the global economy will face increasedtude about supplier risk, with 49 percent of companies pressures and risks to their operations. As companiessurveyed reporting that they did not have a developed emerge from the downturn there will be a continuedsupplier performance and risk management program in effort toward leaning the supply chain and outsourcingplace.1 Even then, many of these same companies, 62 areas when there is a compelling value proposition. Thispercent of them, reported that they expected supplier brings about reliance on suppliers who can proactivelyrisks to increase significantly over the next three years manage risk more dependably and on lower risk suppli-due to factors such as the globalization and disburse- ers in areas such as logistics. There will also be increasedment of their supply base. Enter the global recession responsibility on purchasing professionals to proactivelyand, combined with existing trends, supplier risk man- manage and mitigate risks by choosing optimal suppliers,agement has skyrocketed in importance. monitoring them, and ultimately balance risk and return. Even as we enter an economic recovery, most compa- Going into the recession, we needed to Supply Chain Management Review · September/October 2010 31
  3. 3. Supplier Riskfor supplier failures as decreased demandincreased competition and drove revenues A New Definitiondown. On the way out, demand could again of Supplier Riskbe a problem; this time we need to preparefor constrained resources. For example, as therecession deepened we noticed that some of H istorically, supplier risk management has represented those processes that a company employs to limit unforeseen supply disruptions. Recent events have expanded this definition to includethe larger print companies were taking presses practices that protect the business from supplier events that canoff line and, in some cases, destroying them— have an impact on the company operationally, legally, and financially.thus reducing capacity in line with demand. While techniques to guarantee materials and services continue toSimilarly, the airlines started taking planes out drive supplier risk management programs, the definition has evolvedof service to match demand. These strategic to include methods and technologies that limit the level of exposurebusiness moves lead to capacity constraints, of the business to regulatory, brand, or legal risks.and as the economy recovers this will lead to an A successful supplier risk management program can become aimpact on delivery, price and quality. Also dur- continuous supplier improvement program—enhancing the quality,ing the recession many fledgling suppliers went speed, reliability, and costs at which suppliers deliver.out of business, which again will add to supplyrisk and pricing pressures. Although the economy may be seeing improvement, was cost reduction. One of the most effective modelsthis heightened demand pressure alone, will lead to was to send out “cost reduction” letters to the key sup-additional supply and quality risks as suppliers attempt pliers asking for a firm percentage discount. As we moveto increase capacity. Therefore, we must be proactive towards a sustained economy our focus is shifting to sup-and provide contingencies for these risks going forward. plier development and supplier relationship management.Solutions include building up and engaging a diverse To be successful, we realize the continued improvementsupply base and, through collaboration, establishing process can no longer be just focused on taking cost out.a consistent service offering that mitigates any poten- It also must focus on creating tighter relationships withtial drop in quality. Supplier relationship management, suppliers, which is a key factor in a continuous supplierwhich is based on the concept of collaboration, is one of improvement program. Establishing suppliers across indi-the key factors to secure a continuous service offering on vidual business units provides the opportunity to stan-a high level standard. dardize frame contracts, bundle volumes, and align targets The current risk environment is compounded as and expectations along the company’s long term strategy.companies and customers are globally distributed and Key strategic initiatives are focusing on, for example, car-dispersed, and driven by a desire to grow the top line bon efficiency, equipment and machinery utilization, andand cut the bottom line. As worldwide supply chains are continuous process and efficiency improvement. In theexpanded, risk mitigation practices will help differenti- future our opportunities for cost reduction will rely onate those that succeed from those that fail. Regulatory continuous improvement programs and driving down therequirements and accompanying pressures have cost of doing business.increased ten-fold. (With political leaders in Washingtonseeking to bolster regulatory and enforcement efforts to Procurement Can Lead inprotect against another “Great Recession,” you can bet Mitigating Riskthose requirements will increase.) Competition in most Most in the supply management profession would likelyindustries has dramatically intensified. These increased agree that supplier risk has become a heightened prioritybusiness pressures are driving an ever-greater reliance and that the C-suite’s interest in the topic has peaked.on understanding, monitoring and mitigating supplier Yet there is still work to be done in educating our organi-risk. Companies are under growing pressure not only to zations on the importance of supplier risk management.avoid supply chain disruptions and problems, but also to The procurement organization looks at risk moreimprove supplier performance and collaboration to miti- “holistically” than other parts of the typical global com-gate future risks—and to improve business value. This pany. (The accompanying sidebar offers our perspec-leads to improved bottom line results and product/ser- tive on what constitutes supplier risk today.) Althoughvice quality. it may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, purchasing Like most global companies, we took aggressive action professionals evaluate the buying process as more thanto take costs out in the recession. And, as with most just about price. They are interested in Total Cost ofenterprises, our primary focus in supply management Ownership (TCO). We have the perspective, data, and32 Supply Chain Management Review · September/October 2010
  4. 4. the tools necessary to help our colleagues—from finance cant risk related to poorly defined SOWs. This makesto operations—understand that purchasing is more than resolution of issues with the supplier or service providera cost-decision, and that supplier risk management is that much more challenging. Our experience has shownmore than just avoiding pitfalls. We need to bring these that “non strategic sourcing” leads to inconsistent SOWsperspectives and data tools to bear as widely as possible with the same supplier. We’ve also found that without aif we are going to truly have an impact in mitigating risk solid statement of work, it is extremely difficult to man-for our organizations. age the supplier and “hold their feet to the fire.” Based on our experience at DHL, and in past posi- 4. Financial risk. All of these factors contributetions at major consulting firms, we offer the following to financial risks—from failure to leverage economiesthoughts on what procurement brings to the table in of scale to contract leakage, from financial exposure toterms of mitigating risks in key areas: legal or production issues. It is important to identify and 1. Compliance risks. Simply stated, the procure- mitigate financial risk as early as possible. One potentialment organization has standardized processes for buying solution is to monitor risk or market intelligence indi-goods and services. When departments source without cators from third party providers. Dun & Bradstreet’sconsulting procurement, there arelikely to be problems documenting As we move toward a sustainedthe purchase process, which increas-es the risk of non-compliance and economy, our focus is shifting to supplierthe risk of an audit. Our message development and supplier relationship management.internally to the more “independent”executives is simply, “cover yourself.”If you source on your own you’re opening yourself up to Supplier Evaluation Risk Rating, for example, is cre-potential compliance issues. Whereas, purchasing has a ated from statistical models to predict the likelihood ofclear, compliant and auditable trail. a company ceasing operations without paying all credi- It is common practice for internal and external audi- tors under state/federal law over the next 18 months.tors to review the acquisition process for high dollar Information such as age of business, payment trends anditems. We have all seen several instances where a sig- performance, financial ratios compared with industrynificant purchase made through the business did not fol- averages, sales and profitability, and more all are takenlow a rigid, fair, and transparent bid process and failed into consideration. A change in score of two or more,to meet the audit requirements. Furthermore, the doc- triggers an automatic email alert to procurement signal-umentation, if it existed, was difficult to find and not ing them to launch actions on replacement or backupstored in any central repository, leading to the percep- suppliers. This kind of alert mechanism allows procure-tion that there is a non-compliant process. This risk can ment to act rather than re-act on a potential mitigated by utilizing an electronic repository from an When executives in a business unit want to awardeSourcing application. DHL uses these and the other business to a specific company, they usually don’t real-robust capabilities in Emptoris Sourcing. ize what the broader relationship is with that company. 2. Legal and contractual risks. Traditionally, Nor do they understand the competitive situation in theif procurement is involved, then legal is also involved. category. They usually have a preference because of anWhen procurement and legal are not brought to the existing relationship or good experience with that sup-table, contracts tend to lack consistent, favorable and plier. There have been instances where we already havecompliant terms and conditions. In our experience, 30 percent of a category with one supplier company andwe’ve seen contracts ended without proper termination a business unit owner wants to send a new piece of busi-provisions, liability issues without proper indemnifica- ness to that same supplier. This would result in puttingtion clauses, and intellectual property disputes without more than 50 percent of that category with that one sup-protective language. On several occasions in our careers, plier, thereby creating the potential for increased risk bywe have been brought into circumstances where pro- concentrating significant spend with a single supplier.curement was not initially involved in creating the con-tract but later asked to “clean up a mess” that could have Complex Sourcing:been avoided. A Top Priority for Risk Mitigation 3. Statement of work (SOW) risks. When busi- Over the past two years, purchasing has become increas-ness units operate independently in contracting with ingly involved in complex sourcing projects for transpor-suppliers and service providers, there is typically signifi- tation services—across all operational business units Supply Chain Management Review · September/October 2010 33
  5. 5. Supplier RiskDHL. We have done this by offering our sourcing exper- perfect examples. As we move to a recovery and econom-tise, procurement tools, and a broader view across all ic expansion, procurement has a prime opportunity tobusiness units in support of their internal requirements. engage in the management of complex sourcing events.As one may imagine, reducing internal transportation It’s possible to solidify this engagement by offering a pro-costs is significantly important to DHL—given that curement service as an SME. Potential support resourc-Deutsche Post DHL, is the world’s largest mail and logis- es include a dedicated team with standardized processestics services group with more than 470,000 employees in utilized in place, and an array of sourcing technologiesmore than 220 countries and territories worldwide. We supporting the complexity of this commodity.see our involvement in this strategic area as an important Once engaged, these resources can address a varietysign of the relationship between purchasing and other of risks, including:strategic departments at DHL. By providing a service to • Operational Risks: It’s often the most critical sup-those unit—not a barrier—we increase the value that plies and services that are sourced independently—orprocurement brings to the table. The entire organization sourced without full procurement engagement. Thehas come to recognize that having procurement involved loopholes left in such statements of work (SOW) andas a subject matter expert (SME) can ensure proper due contracts can be significant, resulting in a great deal ofdiligence and governance. Moreover, it can ensure best disruption within the company if the right supplier oroutcomes covering interests on a business unit and over- service provider is not selected. Historically at DHL,all company level. the sourcing of internal transportation was done with- The holy grail of strategic sourcing has long been the out our involvement. But with procurement’s exper-high-value, high-dollar, complex supplies and services tise it was possible to increase the transparency of thethat are critical to a company’s operations, as with trans- transportation spend and to reevaluate and enhance theportation spend in our case. We refer to this as “complex supply base, providing additional qualified carriers. Thissourcing.” With the introduction of sourcing technolo- increase in the supply base has improved the company’sgies and e-auctions, the “low hanging fruit” was the logi- position in terms of providing better lane coverage andcal first target for cost savings. As costs were wrung out more competitive pricing, hence leveraging volumes,of supply chains, and as technologies evolved, it became reducing the reliance on incumbents and providing truepossible to leverage these solutions for complex events. market prices.Today, not only can sourcing technologies assist with • Financial Risks: Complex sourcing categories arecomplex RFx’s but optimization technology is available also usually the highest value and the steepest pricedfor conducting complex sourcing events. Plus, the stan- categories and services. The risks associated with thesedard “three bid and a buy” sourcing process becomes categories will have financial impact not just for a busi-even more efficient because the real-time feedback tech- ness unit, but straight down to a company’s bottom line.nology reduces the negotiation lifecycle. Leveraging our technologies and best practice, procure- The days of massive spreadsheets, teams of experts ment at DHL has been able to bring about significantand months-long processes are quickly vanishing. Today, changes in complex categories by promoting standard-the sourcing optimization technologies offered by the ized terms and conditions, SOW’s, and processes as welltop software providers, such as Emptoris, are capable as greater transparency. A recent initiative for a businessof simultaneously evaluating hundreds of different pro- partner focused on standardizing a supplier surchargecurement inputs. Such evaluations can take into consid- schedule across the business with expected, continuouseration the global market, specific current supply chain savings of over $1 million annually.conditions, and individual supplier conditions. And • Suggestive Bidding Risks: When organizations putimportantly, they offer solutions that address the buyer’s out strict specifications without allowing suppliers toand supplier’s goals in the best possible way. present alternative bids and solutions, something is lost This obviously has implications for mitigating risks. in the process. Not least are the supplier’s creativity andIn fact, we have found that a focus on complex sourcing the ability to find mutually beneficial common is the most important task a company can under- Managing this level of flexibility is extremely difficulttake to mitigate both supplier risk and broader business with paper processes. Complex sourcing technologies,risks. As another procurement leader noted, “Where by contrast, allow for more flexible bidding, and thus athere is complexity—especially complexity that is diffi- broader set of supplier solutions. When you’re not allow-cult to measure—there is risk.” Too often, complex cat- ing suppliers to tell you about themselves and to be cre-egories of spend are not sourced at all and are treated as ative, you’re not getting best value—and there is risksacred cows. Transportation, benefits and marketing are inherent in that limited approach.34 Supply Chain Management Review · September/October 2010
  6. 6. Suggestive bidding, which is empowered by sourcing downturn—before, during, and after.)optimization technology, allows the carrier to create its own These realities and beliefs are all reflected in our pro-offer based on modules provided to them in a “sandbox” envi- curement mission at DHL. We continually ask ourselvesronment. Let us illustrate with another transportation sce- how we can advance the value we provide to the broadernario: Rather than strictly defining routes, the buyer defines organization.all required scheduled stops on a weekday basis and provides Getting cost out is not going to be as “simple” andthem to the qualified carriers. The carriers then create their “easy” as it has in the past. But the value is higher now,own routes based on their existing business and cross docks the risk greater and the consequences will impact overallin place. In doing so, they are able to provide a better price corporate competitiveness. As supply management pro-and eventually create their own discount structures. Such fessionals, we need to understand when strategic sup-an approach also supports supplier relationship manage- pliers are financially strained, and learn how to supportment, as the carrier is ultimately more successful utilizing itsthem. We need to bring tools to the table to monitorfull capacity. supplier risk proactively. We need to manage suppliers A centralized sourcing optimization technology in a different way, in a way that seeks mutual continuousensures successful suggestive bidding, leading not only to improvement. In short, our organizations are expectingbest price but also to best value. Further, such sourcing us, as supply management leaders, to move the organiza-practices help identify risks while helping ensure proper tion forward to a more secure, more prosperous place incompliance and governance. Optimization enforces a the future.consistent and fair bidding process—eliminating the risks Before jumping into specific strategies and imple-related to inconsistency. menting solutions, the first step in increasing the value proposition is to identify and isolate the one or two keyIncreasing the Value Proposition risk types within your business environment. Once you’veIn the recession, we’ve seen the business world move completed this exercise, you can customize your risk man-forward and increasingly recognize the importance of agement strategy towards monitoring these risks.strategic supply management. Senior executives can no Then, identify risk factors or indicators that can belonger afford to simply operate with their “price blind- continuously monitored—and develop and implementers” on. Value can be delivered in myriad ways, not least a dashboard or alert functionality to keep you activelyof which is through effective supplier risk management. updated on these indicators. Note, too, that supply baseComing out of the downturn we will experience supply intelligence and transparency go a long way to mitigat-risk, inflation, and continued business failure—all of ing long term risks. A potential vendor managementwhich can be managed by a proactive procurement orga- database should include information on supplier history,nization. (Exhibit 1 depicts a timeline of activities and process compliance, bidding performance, and currentopportunities associated with the various stages of the market intelligence (for example, via third party financial risk scores). EXHIBIT 1 Finally, we believe that supplier col- Key Events in Downturn Cycle laboration can be a significant factor in mitigating supplier risk—and can help you steadily reduce your risk percentage in the Reverse Auctions long term. By identifying key players in your In ation supply base and sharing your organizational Net Value Lower Demand Approach Downturn goals and targets with them, customized solutions can be developed on both sides of the relationship, increasing efficiency and Demand Management mitigating overall risks. j j j Focus on Cost Reduction Supplier Relationship “Supply Chain Letters” Management endnote: 1 “Supplier Risk Increasing While the Market Sacred Cow Initiatives Stands Still,” The Aberdeen Group, March “Complex Sourcing” 2007. Time 2008 2009 Supply Chain Management Review · September/October 2010 35