16 March 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor
CIPS has produced a paper on supply chain vulnerability to help buyers create contingency plans to deal with potential disasters such as bird flu in the UK.
The paper outlines potential weaknesses including increased outsourcing, leading to loss of control and visibility, and dependency on fewer suppliers.
Among practical steps the guidance recommends are checking current processes, learning from the experience of others through benchmarking and having a solid knowledge of markets and suppliers.
CIPS says that quality control systems, risk management policies, ethics and supplier selection can all help to protect against vulnerabilities.
The study recommends buyers avoid operating "in silos" and work across departments, considering alternative suppliers.
René de Sousa, CIPS procurement specialist, told SM
: "H5N1 (bird flu) is an example of supply chain vulnerability - earthquakes might be another. But regardless of what the issue is, it's about how it affects the supply chain."
He said that a CIPS checklist covering supply chain issues around the H5N1 virus and the vulnerability study will be on www.cips.org