A recent University of Tennessee-sponsored survey of leading supply chain executives helped quantify the continued apathy surrounding the proper assessment and management of supply chain risk. For starters, the survey found that none of the companies surveyed use third parties to independently assess their risk, 90 percent don’t even quantify the risk themselves, and while 66 percent acknowledged the existence of corporate officers focused on managing legal compliance, none of these same professionals touched the supply chain.
If HR can be directed to manage against the cost of a potential employee discrimination suit, how did global companies get to a place where they still don’t see the wisdom in protecting themselves against a potential supply chain disaster?
The Port of Tianjin, China’s third largest, just blew up. For companies that rely on that port and that didn’t have a crisis playbook in place, the lessons they’re about to learn could be fatal. If you saw the video of the explosion and are even remotely familiar with Chinese industrial accident rates (70,000 lives lost each year) then you know that the Chinese media is under-reporting the story and that “business as usual” at the Port of Tianjin is likely on indefinite hold.
But here’s the rub: if the Longshoremen at the Port of Long Beach decided to strike unexpectedly next week, the business effects for those without contingency plans could be strikingly similar. That’s how tenuous multi-tier supply chains can be.
Supply chain risk management (SCRM) is defined as “the implementation of strategies to manage both everyday and exceptional risks along the supply chain based on continuous risk assessment with the objective of reducing vulnerability and ensuring continuity.” It’s yet another operational discipline that technology has recently enabled to new heights, as the ripple effects of a catastrophic supply chain event are not intuitive. In fact, they’re usually mind-boggling.
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