The UK government has assessed 65 critical supply chains over the past year under an initiative to bolster resilience.
Andrew Forzani, chief commercial officer in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), told an event Project Defend involved mitigating risk concerning vital suppliers across government.
Speaking at the CIPS Breakfast Briefing on Managing Risk in Procurement and Supply, Forzani said: “Over the last year there’s been a programme called Project Defend. It has assessed 65 critical global supply chains to the UK in a huge amount of detail.
“It’s about intelligence, so understanding the totality of those supply chains and having mapping and visibility on an end-to-end basis.”
Forzani said Project Defend involved addressing risk through relationships, in terms of diplomacy and trade talks, and investment in capability.
“As a procurement and supply chain specialist it’s been really positive to see a massive investment in capability across government, a real recognition that supply chain visibility and management is actually a really critical skill and an area we need to get right,” he said.
Forzani said the MoD had a procurement spend of £26bn a year and £13.5bn of this was with 19 strategic suppliers.
“We in the past have probably been guilty of taking the view that we didn’t really need to understand the deeper supply chain in too much detail,” he said.
“That was something we relied on our prime suppliers to deal with. I think we’ve realised over the past few years that isn’t something we can rely on.”
Forzani said the extent of the MoD’s reliance on global supply chains became apparent with Brexit planning and then the pandemic.
He explained how a supply chain resilience programme with a team had been set up in the MoD “working through all critical defence programmes so they are mapped to the lowest level”.
Forzani said time had been spent building a stronger supplier relationship management model, while terms and conditions in contracts had been tightened to “obligate suppliers to provide a further level of supply chain information and mapping”.
He said the next step would be to reduce manual processes and pull together information held on different systems, creating “industry standard data requirements that everyone is adhering to and ideally a common platform so it becomes more real-time and collaborative”.
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