09 September 2004
Large organisations may soon need a dedicated supply chain risk analyst because of the increasingly uncertain global business environment.
Purchasers must wrestle with the fact that, despite a good economic climate, there are many significant risks when taking advantage of low-cost labour areas, stretched logistics and selling into emerging markets.
Helen Peck, a senior research fellow in marketing and logistics at the Cranfield School of Management, warned that supply chain resilience based on risk management would be increasingly vital for senior purchasers.
Resilience is the ability of a client and its suppliers to withstand major economic, political and natural disruptions.
She told SM: "The day is definitely coming, if not already here, when large organisations need a specialist in supply chain resilience to report directly to a supply chain director. Whether the person is dedicated solely to risk analysis or not, they will be needed."
Peck, who will lead a workshop based on her research into supply chain resilience at the annual CIPS Premier Conference next month, said lean supply chains were being altered to accommodate greater risk of disruptions.
She pointed to increased terrorism, the emergence of China - not just in manufacturing but as a services provider - and uncertainty in energy markets, including record high oil prices.
"Supply chain resilience or vulnerability is a very new field and in many ways it is the flipside of lean supply chains. A lot of lean supply practices are good and have their place but they assume things about the trading environment that have changed."
David Adsley, consultant with executive and management recruitment firm the BJD Group, said he had seen an increasing demand over the past 18 months for senior purchasers to have at least some risk management experience.
"It's now at a stage where it is no longer just part of a procurement manager's brief," he said.
"People are becoming more and more dedicated to this concept. I have job descriptions where the main thrust has been to manage the supply chain from a risk exposure point of view."
News focus: Danger signs