Are you afraid of the dark parts of your supply chain?

October 31, 2016 Haley Fraser


Based on true events. Because what you won’t see can hurt your supply chain (and brand).

Similar to choosing the next president of the United States, taking the passive approach to your supplier management is extremely risky. Many businesses have a lack of supply chain transparency combined with a fixation on reducing costs, which is not only outdated but has led to negligence and irreversible brand damage. Consider, for instance, Blockbuster, who’s empty buildings are now nothing more than haunting reminders. As consumers become more informed on corporate social responsibility, the weight of brand image falls even more heavily on procurement—be careful or your sustainability shortcomings will show.

Whether you have a supplier that is a ghost when it comes to meeting corporate social responsibility goals, or your supply chain depends on trade agreements that might be dismantled by the next United States President, it’s evident that supply chain risk is the Boogeyman that’s keeping buyers up at night. Because what could be scarier than bumps in the supply chain?

Natural disasters and other unexpected disruptions (like finding the serial killer hiding in your closet) are hard to avoid or plan for, making agility your only saving grace. But what about the things that hide in plain sight? Slavery and pollution ranked as the second and third most concerning supply chain threats in our Twitter poll. An ethically dirty supply chain can no longer be covered up with glitzy marketing campaigns and the tried and true cost-cutting across your supplier base to improve the bottom line. If the only thing that is keeping you up at night is the thought of paying an extra dollar for pencils, you’re buying a one-way ticket to the supply chain house of horrors. (Get ready for the gauntlet).

Compliance is a large part of mitigating risk. In fact, companies must have quantifiable data to prove their commitment to reducing supply chain harm, and according to ISO 20400, companies must have a set of sustainable procurement practices in place in their supply chain. Compliance becomes a lot trickier (not in the fun trick-or-treat fashion) for large enterprises such as Apple, who has been applauded for their sustainability and supply chain efforts while indirectly employing 1.1 million supply chain workers globally. When you consider this scale, the task of ensuring compliance seems insurmountable. Without the right infrastructure in place to quickly identify and mitigate risk, you might as well give in to the monsters under your bed.

Large enterprises using legacy software are just waiting for the things that go thump in the night to jump out from the dark corners. With outdated processes, procurement is making decisions with a bag over their heads—running blind and certainly to their doom.   

Use #BumpInTheSupplyChain and tell us about your worst supply chain nightmare.