The logistics of supplying humanitarian aid in the earthquake-ravaged Nepal

DHL Disaster Response Team extends stay to aid in the aftermath of the devastation that has rocked Nepal.

Aid being delivered in Nepal
Aid being delivered in Nepal

As earthquakes continue to rock the region and wreck lives for thousands, DHL has pledged to extend the deployment of its Disaster Response Team until the end of May.

The group comprises 18 highly-trained volunteers hailing from Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Bahrain, India, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Belgium, and UK.

The DRT was deployed less than 48 hours after the first earthquake struck on 25 April. As the country’s only international airport in a landlocked country, the airport is the main gateway for the international aid community to send relief goods into Nepal.

The volunteers – deployed in three waves – are all trained in disaster management to help coordinate relief aid and improve logistics operations at Tribhuvan Kathmandu International Airport. To-date over 2000 tons of relief aid has been distributed to the victims, including: food, shelter, medicines, water, solar lamps, tools for rebuilding, plastic sheeting, and a 35-ton inflatable hospital from Medecin sans Frontieres,

Faced with an increasingly demanding situation and with limited equipment, the volunteers move goods into centralised airside warehouses run by the United Nations World Food Programme for further distribution by international non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Gagan Mukhia, Country Manager, DHL Express Nepal, commented on the challenges facing the relief effort: “Some of the huge air cargo pallets initially had to be dismantled before we could move them because there just wasn’t the equipment to unload them as a whole. With the latest earthquake on 12 May, we are still able to continue with our DRT operations as we now have the equipment and systems in place to deal with the ongoing relief effort that Nepal will desperately need for many months ahead. Planes can now be unloaded quickly and aid distributed more efficiently to the Nepalese community.”

In addition to the ongoing voluntary work of the Disaster Response Team, DHL’s Aid and Relief commercial service has moved over 100 tonnes of relief goods for organisations like ShelterBox and Norwegian Church Aid. Additionally, bookings for over 90 tonnes have already been received for the coming weeks.

Fallout Still Being Felt After Strikes At Port of Los Angeles

West Coast Port Strikes Start to Play Out

Port of Los Angeles Strike Effects

Earlier this year we covered a story about delays caused by industrial action at ports on the US West Coast. This week, the Port of Los Angeles has released some troubling statistics that point to the long-term impact of this action.

Despite a significant rise in container volumes for the month of March, cargo volumes at the port have dropped drastically in April.

Expectations of a full recovery were bolstered by strong showings in the month of March, after an agreement was finally reached with West Coast port employees and the longshore workers union. The agreement led to the clearance of a backlog of ships that had been present at the Los Angeles port for months.

March was in fact, the second busiest month in history for the Los Angeles Port facility. However, the huge 11.8 per cent drop in cargo volume recorded in April suggests that the increased activity was merely clearing the backlog and that cargo figures may remain low on an ongoing basis.

Major US ports have long been seen as an indicator of the health of the US retail sector. Normally, when shipping volumes are decreasing the retail sector follows and starts to slow. However, further highlighting the concerns of West Coast ports, is the fact that cargo volumes at Los Angeles are falling at a far greater rate than at other ports across the nation. This suggests that rather than broad sectoral problems, this issue is specific to the port and the industrial action.

It is thought that during the months-long dispute (where work essentially ground to a halt), many firms made alternate arrangements and instead shipped into Mexico, Canada or ports on the US east coast.

It will likely take some time to determine exactly where the chips will fall in this matter. Major importers will be reluctant to walk away from the huge infrastructure and warehousing investments they’ve made near the Port of Los Angeles and will likely return to shipping goods through the port. However, the many small and medium sized firms that established alternate shipping routes to deal with the delays brought on by industrial action may be less inclined to return to the port.

David Noble: Ethics In The Profession

“I do believe the impact of our profession – we underestimate it…”

Watch our fourth Big Ideas Summit keynote (part 1 of 4)

Watch David’s keynote in FULL here

David Noble, Group Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), provides a fascinating insight into the profession from the point of view of the chartered body.

Addressing and shifting some paradigms about procurement first, David then goes on to speak about the importance of ethics and compliance and how licensing the profession helps professionals in their day-to-day roles.

Procurious members can find David’s full keynote here. Not a member yet? Register for free.

Watch: See more Big Ideas from our 40 influencers

4 challenges procurement faces & how to overcome them

Results from a newly published study shine a light on an assortment of internal challenges facing the procurement function, as well as its changing role as we enter an uncertain future.

4 challenges procurement must overcome

Xchanging has issued the first results from its 2015 Global Procurement Study of more than 800 procurement decision makers. 

These first set of results look at internal challenges and the new role of procurement, covering misaligned KPIs, lack of internal engagement, capacity issues and skills gaps.

Challenge #1: Misaligned KPIs

Despite the now wide ranging responsibilities of procurement decision makers, 47 per cent name ‘cost savings realised’ as their number one KPI. The top four KPIs listed are all cost related. CSR/Sustainability impact, by comparison, is ranked as the least important at just 1 per cent.

Chirag Shah, Executive Director, Xchanging Procurement comments: “These results strongly indicate that there is a problem with the current KPI structure. Procurement teams are responsible for many business critical functions. From risk management to sustainability impact, procurement is engaged in activities that far surpass its cost-cutter legacy. The metrics against which organisations track procurement’s performance do not line up with what procurement actually delivers.”

Challenge #2: Lack of Internal Engagement

63 per cent of procurement decision makers globally identify ‘internal stakeholder engagement’ as a challenge, with 14 per cent claiming it is as an extreme challenge.

Shah explains: “Procurement’s strategic capability isn’t being understood and because of that, it isn’t appropriately valued. Not only is this causing problems for procurement performance, it is also restricting business success; by not engaging with the procurement team and fully understanding what it can deliver as a strategic partner, companies are limiting their potential for growth.”

CPOs clearly feel more internally valued than procurement middle management; 60 per cent of CPOs feel that procurement is a C-level priority in their organisations compared to 37 per cent of procurement middle managers.

Shah makes a number of recommendations based on the findings: “To improve internal engagement, and properly communicate the value of procurement, procurement departments need to consider tactics such as introducing governance boards, using score cards to track deliverables, leveraging analytics and reporting tools to demonstrate results and even re labelling team members with non-cost centric job titles that relate to their roles, for example ‘Risk Manager’ or ‘International Consultant’”. 

Challenge #3: Capacity Issues

According to Xchanging’s numbers – 80 per cent of procurement decision makers identify ‘procurement team time pressures’ as a challenge, and 20 per cent as a major challenge – implying that the majority of procurement departments are facing major capacity issues.

Surprisingly, in comparison, ‘talent shortage’ is considered an operational challenge by far less respondents, with 59 per cent citing it as a challenge and only 12 per cent as a major challenge.

The number citing talent shortage as a concern drops to less than half (40 per cent) when asked if it’s a problem for the industry as a whole.

xchanging

Challenge #4: Skills Gap

The skills considered most important for procurement professionals are ‘relationship management’ (88 per cent consider important, 59 per cent very important) and ‘negotiation skills’ (88 per cent and 58 per cent).

Significantly, these are also the areas where procurement decision makers identify the greatest gaps in skill set provision; around a quarter cite ‘relationship management’ (26 per cent) and ‘negotiation skills’ (23 per cent) as areas with the greatest gap in skill set provision. 23 per cent also name ‘project management’.

Want to read more? The full report can be downloaded here.

Supply Chain Disruption – When Rockets Blow Up

Stick a rocket up your supply chain…

Exploding rockets in your supply chain

When we talk about supply chains, we often discuss the ‘critical path’. The term is used to give firms an understanding of the earliest and latest a certain activity can take place without having an impact on a projects overall timeline. It is also used to point out areas of importance and concern within a supply chain.

Earlier this week, Inmarsat, a British provider of global satellite communications, saw a significant issue reoccur on its critical path. The rockets the firm uses to deliver its satellites into space keep blowing up!

On Monday, the firm was forced to announce a further delay to the launch of a third satellite for its global broadband service, Global Xpress, (designed to provide high speed broadband to users at sea, in the air, and in remote regions). The delay was due to an ongoing investigation into a Russian supplier that provides the firm with the rockets used to put its satellites into orbit.

The supplier has faced numerous issues with its 53m tall Proton-M rocket in the last five years. The most recent of which occurred last week when a Proton-M rocket (the same model used by Inmarsat), carrying a Mexican satellite, exploded shortly (eight minutes) after take off. Fortunately, the explosion took place at an altitude where any debris was burnt off before returning to earth.

This is the third time Inmarsat has faced delays due to issues with Russian rockets. In 2013 the second satellite in the program was delayed after a similar explosion cast doubt over the mission.

The recent issues have forced the Russian Space Agency to postpone all activities until a full investigation has been carried out. As suggested by Inmarsat CEO, Rupert Pearce, these investigations could take some time and will have a significant impact on when the Global Xpress programme can resume.

“This is the third time our Global Xpress programme has suffered launch delays because of Proton launch failures. Although in the past, Proton has returned to flight within a few months of a launch failure, it will not be possible to determine the length of the delay in the launch of I-5 F3 until the cause of the Centenario launch failure is established. Customers are understandably anxious to see the delivery of GX services on a global basis, and as soon as we have sufficient information to ascertain the new launch date for I-5 F3, we will make the information public, as well as comment further on the impact of the delayed launch of I-5 F3.” He said.

The issues and delays caused by the faulty rockets have caused the organisation’s share price to slip and no doubt are causing significant headaches for the company’s operational team.

You need a plan: managing risk in the supply chain

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Increased complexity in supply chains means increased risk, coupled with unprecedented visibility from social media and a lowered public tolerance for disruption – in other words, a perfect storm. For my last session of ISM2015 day two, I’ve come to find out about what supply chain professionals can do to weather the storm and become their organisations’ risk-management experts.

Hannah Kain speaks earnestly and authoritatively, with a dry sense of humour. She’s the president and CEO of ALOM, a global supply chain services provider that has been operating for almost 20 years primarily in the electronic and technology space. It’s headquartered in the Silicon Valley and works with tech, automotive and medical companies – in short, cutting edge players that use Kain to solve their complex supply-chain challenges. Kain’s here today not just to lay out the challenges involved in operating supply chains in the age of social media, but to give the audience some solid and invaluable advice on minimising risk.

The context

Procurement professionals have to navigate more layers, more partners and more regulations than ever before. They’re dealing with globalisation, compressed timelines and increased customer expectations around speeds, prices and visibility. Corporate boards and the public are no longer just interested in what supply chain professionals are doing, but how we are doing it. The reason behind this is that procurement is moving from the back to the front of organisations. Visibility has changed, expectations have changed, along with the nature of communications and global immediacy. We’re not used to this level of scrutiny, but it isn’t going to go away.

Brand risk factors include social responsibility, cultural sensitivity, cybersecurity (40 per cent of data breaches happen through the supply chain), personal conduct, customer service, ethics, regulatory compliance, sustainability and, of course, quality. It’s important to understand that we’re all stakeholders in our organisations’ brand, from the board of directors through to shareholders, customers, suppliers, the community and employees.

Social reputation

Millennials are very concerned about the social reputation you have as a company. Kain’s blunt observation that “if you have a poor brand reputation, you have a hiring problem”, made me think of the NSA and its recruitment woes after Edward Snowden.

An example of a well-executed risk strategy was Adidas’ enforcement of its workplace safety policy in 2014. The company drove standards aggressively amongst its Asian suppliers, issuing 66 warning letters, dumping 13 suppliers for non-compliance and rejecting 104 new suppliers over safety concerns. No doubt this was a costly and difficult process but the flow-on effect is a greatly improved public perception of Adidas’ social responsibility, and of course a lessened risk of supply chain disruption through accidents in the supply chain.

Ensuring regulatory compliance is now a significant part of a procurement professional’s role. Kain praises some of the laws that have been passed recently in the US, making the point that rather than seeing regulations as a headache, CPOs should embrace them as a well-structured way to minimise risk. The Conflict Minerals law, for example, exists to ensure raw materials are not sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where rebels are using indentured labour and channelling the revenue to fight a brutal war. US public companies are required to trace the origins of their metals all the way back to the smelter level – in practise this means auditing as many as six levels back down the supply chain.

Similarly, if you sell over $100 million of product in California, you have to certify that no child labour has been used in your supply chain – a very high standard to meet. As with Conflict Minerals, it’s a huge but worthwhile task to audit an entire supply chain. The real headaches start, however, when your company has two suppliers of a product to avoid disruption, or even three – this means the size of the auditing task is doubled or even tripled. In consequence, CPOs are now concentrating their supply base, often to a single trusted supplier. These regulations really delve into the “how” rather than the “what” of supply chains and illustrate Kain’s point about unprecedented transparency.

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Kain divides risk-management strategies into two categories; preventative and reactive. Both are equally important and I soon learn that risk-management is a lot more complex than I’d thought.

Preventative risk-management strategies

  • Preventative strategies are best for stable industries, public companies and high-profile organisations with good alignment, a culture of planning, strong conceptual corporate supply chain staff and reward planning.
  • Put in place a SCOR (Supply Chain Operations Reference) model: create objectives, KPIs, measures, targets, KRIs, loss tracking initiatives. Assign numeric value to disruptions.
  • FMEA (Failure Mode Effect Analysis) method: identify failure points and causes, predict the potential frequency of failure, assign numerical probability and severity factors resulting in a Risk Priority Number (RPN), document your mitigation strategy and response actions.
  • Manage based on data: establish a dashboard and a supply chain event management system with alerts and pre-alerts on the state of your suppliers.

Reactive risk-management strategies

  • Reactive strategies are best for fast-moving, smaller and innovative companies with a culture of agility, resourcefulness, entrepreneurship. These organisations reward resourceful fire-fighting and focus on minimising disruptions that have occurred.
  • Have a communication plan on social media: the response should come from senior management level. Acknowledge the problem, know the facts, be truthful initiate a solution and define escalation actions.
  • Poor reaction: Lululemon’s reaction to customer complaints on social media about transparent fabric was to blame the issue on customers’ weight, rather than taking responsibility for the quality. The result? A social media storm, sending the stock price tumbling 15 per cent in one day, followed by a two-year recovery process.
  • Good reaction: In response to reports on unsatisfactory working conditions, Apple’s CEO regularly visits Chinese iPhone suppliers to meet with employees, management and government officials.

Kain’s eight tips for putting out fires on social media

  • Prepare for the worst – have a plan
  • Take responsibility
  • Put consumer and work safety first
  • Respond quickly, sincerely and truthfully
  • Be real – personally respond and take it offline if possible
  • Respond privately to personal inquiries
  • Fix mistakes expediently
  • Arguing with social media users is always a bad idea.

Kain concludes with a reminder that your supply chain and brand are intertwined. Risk is always present and disruptions are inevitable – you need to be both proactive and reactive to minimise and deal with events as they happen.

Founded in 1915, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) is the first and largest supply management association in the world. A not-for-profit association with 47,000+ members and 140+ affiliated organizations around the globe.

ERP or SAAS – Why Have Two?

ERP or SAAS – Why have two?

In an evolving, modern procurement environment, how do you keep up with the pace of new business practices? In recent years we have seen the emergence of Procure To Pay (P2P) and P-Card systems that work in isolation from ERP systems, or as expensive modules as part of an ongoing ERP investment.

General dissatisfaction with P Cards, and expensive, time consuming ERP Modules have led many organisations to look at flexible, less expensive cloud based Procure To Pay solutions (or Software As A Solution – SAAS).

Understanding how SAAS applications can provide flexibility when utilized alongside an ERP system is an ongoing challenge to Procurement and Finance teams – particularly in non trade and intangible procurement categories (such as Marketing). 

Identifying a suitable bolt-on SAAS application is only part of the issue – convincing IT and CFO’s of the considerable savings to be made by taking a step outside of existing platforms to drive savings is difficult given the ongoing investments typical of an ERP system. ‘Can’t our ERP do that?’ is a typical question. And the answer is YES – But at what cost, time and upkeep?

Most SAAS applications are often delivered to a less tech savvy audience and are therefore more user friendly (i.e. less intimidating) and end up with a higher adoption rate – reducing change management timeframes. And the right SAAS solution will drive compliance through convenience, as well as providing internal controls that P-Cards cannot – bringing discipline to purchasing across many departments by enabling rules and the internal control of suppliers.

The ability of modern cloud based P2P applications to work within an organisation’s financial rules, without the need to compile external usage reports (and not endure hefty monthly interest fees) from P-Card suppliers provides a data store that can be used to track, plan and negotiate with suppliers. Any good SAAS Application will enable direct data export into ERP platforms – providing best practice to a procurement team through both compliance and information.

As cloud based P2P’s gain acceptance, Procurement Managers face the challenge of identifying solutions that will sit comfortably alongside their ERP systems, while providing the flexibility and responsiveness that many ERP modules cannot.

How will your organisation respond?