Tag Archives: supply chain management

British Businesses Need to Respond to Brexit Now

British businesses can’t afford to wait before they take action and respond to the post-Brexit situation in the UK.

With uncertainty still abounding, and business implications not yet fully understood, two separate reports have confirmed that British businesses need to be taking action to prepare themselves for the Brexit.

Slowing UK Economy

The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Indexes for both construction (weakest performance in seven years), and services (lowest growth in just over 3 years) showed that the UK economy was already slowing down before the Referendum took place.

The economic uncertainty following the June 23rd vote is likely to lead to further falls for July. Experts have advised that businesses need to take immediate action to mitigate these falls, particularly in the service sector.

And despite a fall in purchasing associated with these industries, companies also reported on-going supply chain pressures, including lengthening lead times linked to transportation delays, and lower supplier stocks.

Challenges for British Businesses

At the end of last week, the Institute of Directors (IoD) launched a paper outlining a wide-ranging assessment of what the Brexit means for British businesses.

While the IoD suggested that the UK will most likely retain access to the single market for goods, albeit with some concessions, the real concerns raised were also for the service industry.

The report highlighted that 83 per cent of IoD members had a link with Europe, whether via export, import, supply chain, staff or otherwise, and that these businesses needed to begin conversations with EU clients and supply chain to clarify what these changes will mean.

However, the IoD paper also offered the following thoughts:

  • The UK is unlikely to be able to deal with new trade partners whilst re-negotiating with the European Union and amending existing third-party arrangements.
  • Passporting for financial services will be difficult to negotiation, as remaining EU members will see this as an opportunity to shift business to European cities.
  • The IoD expects EU nationals living here to be able to stay once the UK has left the EU, but called on politicians to clarify this status as soon as possible.

In the immediate aftermath of the referendum vote, IoD members considered the key priorities for the Government to be:

  • Take steps to stabilise the economy in the face of any negative reaction in financial markets.
  • Securing a new trade agreement with the European Union.
  • Prioritise new UK trade agreements with high growth markets and ensure preferential market access to third countries (via existing EU trade deals) is maintained
  • Clarifying the status of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens elsewhere in the EU.
Coherent Response

Simon Walker, Director General at the Institute of Directors, stated: “In the wake of the EU referendum vote, we now need politicians to respond coherently to provide stability as we work out our future path. We must not lose faith in the ability of British businesses to overcome these challenges. 

“The IoD is resolutely positive about the opportunities that globalisation brings. We were promised an open and outward looking country after Brexit. Whoever ends up in charge must deliver on that pledge – a Britain that continues to play an outsized, global role in a world that is coming together, not moving apart.”

Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors and author of the report, added, “In the wake of the referendum, the most pressing concerns for businesses are responding to the short-term consequences stemming from disruption to financial markets, and preparing for longer-term ramifications, and maximising any opportunities that a post-Brexit landscape stands to offer.

 “With such a high degree of integration into EU markets, British businesses need to consider the possible outcomes of negotiations and whether we have access to the single market. There are a number of areas outlined in this report where we can forecast a range of potential changes to policy that firms should take into account when making any adjustment plans in the wake of Brexit, with both short and longer-term perspectives in mind.”

Why Supplier Segmentation Can Aid Risk Mitigation

Supplier segmentation could prove a useful tool for procurement in aiding risk mitigation in the supply chain. Sandeep Singh of Genpact explains.

Jirsak/Shutterstock.com

In the first part of this series, we looked at the role of procurement plays in risk mitigation. In this article, Sandeep Singh, Vice President – Procurement and Supply Chain Services at Genpact, offers further advice on risk mitigation strategies, as well as how to create effective supplier segmentation.

What are good mitigation strategies for global supply chains in light of high impact factors like natural disasters and political instability?

To anticipate, prevent, and manage adverse events throughout their operations, global enterprises need enhanced visibility of their third-party risks. They need more efficient risk assessments to support targeted mitigation strategies, and the ability to predict potential outcomes throughout their operations.

Some of the mitigation strategies could include:

  • Having access to a list of risk assessed, qualified suppliers, who can serve as an alternate source of supply in case of an adverse event.
  • As part of a supplier selection process, adopting a multi-supplier strategy, where suppliers are located in multiple geographies, or where one supplier may have an ability to ship from multiple locations.

These mitigation strategies can easily be created by analysis of past trends and through leveraging digital technologies.

To increase the likelihood of third-party risk management (TPRM) initiatives achieving expected outcomes, organisations can adopt a Lean Digital approach, combining digital technologies, design thinking methods to focus on the end customer, and Lean principles that offer greater agility.

This approach tightly aligns risk processes to business outcomes, and helps overcome the challenges from legacy operations. This is done by driving the right choices end to end, rather than focusing on the individual parts of the process.

What is a good process to follow when carrying out supplier segmentation for risk management?

Multiple product or services, complex data structure and taxonomies, large supplier base across the globe and changing regulations makes supplier segmentation by risk a complex process.

Leading companies are increasingly relying on data-driven digital solutions, powered by the right set of business rules to conduct risk segment. The Lean Digital approach can make risk segmentation more efficient and effective. Typically to arrive at risk segmentation of suppliers, organisations can follows two broad steps:

Step 1

Segmentation based on:

  • Category or type of product or services suppliers are delivering or will deliver – an office stationery supplier may pose no risk, as compared a supplier providing IT services, or a supplier providing raw material for the manufacturing of an end product.
  • Location of supplier – a supplier located in a developing country can be prioritised first, as compared to suppliers located in developed countries.
  • Nature of supplier relationship – how strategic or critical is a supplier to an organisation’s business. It may be more sensible to focus on suppliers with a long-term engagement, versus a one-time purchase.

Step 1 can also be taken to understand and manage inherent risk. It can help organisations prioritise their needs around risk, and can save lot of time, effort and investment into managing risk.

Step 2

Organisations can assess suppliers’ relevant risk dimensions leading to their segmentation as low, medium or high risk. Risk dimensions, such as anti-bribery and corruption, and data privacy, need to be mapped with the category, or type of product or services, that supplier is responsible for delivering.

Further, a scoring methodology should be created, taking into consideration category and location of supplier, and then connecting it to an applicable risk dimension.

This scoring methodology should also consider weightings across various risk dimensions, so that the final output is a comprehensive risk score which can then be used for supplier segmentation into low, medium and high risk brackets.

Are there examples of good practice in supplier segmentation by risk, where organisations have mitigated their risks?

There is a good example of this through some of the work that Genpact has done with clients in the past. One pharmaceutical company wanted to improve its ability to assess its thousands of vendors and partners, particularly as regulators were taking a greater interest in third-party risk management.

The firm lacked standard processes for supplier risk management, could not provide timely or accurate risk reports, and could not keep up with the volume of assessments required. Genpact transformed the pharmaceutical firm’s TPRM operating model by defining and executing a scalable, five-step process for assessing third parties against its standards of excellence.

The organisation also introduced metrics, data-driven process management and technology to industrialise the process. This enabled more accurate and timely reports, reduced assessment cycle times by up to 40 per cent, and increased coverage to assess close to 100 per cent of the company’s third parties over a certain level of spend.

Genpact offers a number of procurement services that can be tailored to specific client needs, including end-to-end Source to Pay (S2P) services for both direct and indirect materials. Find out more by visiting their website.

Turning Point in SE Asia Supply Chain Challenges

A turning point has been reached in the challenges facing the South East Asia supply chain, say global consultancy Crimson & Co.

In the light of economic growth, rising affluence and booming consumer demand, many international businesses are seeking to capitalise on the growth in South East Asia’s developing markets.

The challenges in the South East Asia supply chain have reached a turning point. This is down to the scarcity of supply chain professionals, increased consumer diversity, and fragmented supply chains.

The many layers of suppliers, localised delivery and route to consumer practices, and lack of transparency and consistency in information flows, make it incredibly difficult for businesses to achieve the next wave of global growth.

SE Asia Supply Chain – Huge Promise

There is huge promise but transforming supply chains to reach market potential, handle diversified products, and provide outstanding quality and service to customers is a mammoth task. The businesses best able to overcome these challenges can transform their South East Asian supply chains to become a source of competitive advantage, and drive global growth.

With rising labour costs and the move away from an export-based economy, changes in China are creating opportunities for South East Asia in global manufacturing. This also positions global businesses to capitalise on growing demand in these markets.

For most companies the potential is clear. The challenge is how to address it.

The Time is Now

Richard Smith, Director of Crimson & Co Singapore, argues that the time to transform supply chains is now:

“South East Asia is an incredibly attractive region with rapidly growing markets and low cost operations. The challenge is how to address fractured supply chains and the shortage of supply chain skills.

“As companies move their factories from China to South East Asia, they should grasp the opportunity to carry out a full supply chain review to identify how they should configure their supply chains to better deliver on their current and future business strategies. Due to the significant costs involved in the transformation, businesses need to assess the real benefits and ensure it will deliver against objectives.

“Companies can accelerate their supply chain transformation by bringing best practice from elsewhere in their organisation, other industries and innovative local supply chain practices. Through understanding their businesses’ maturity and readiness to change they can identify where sustainable improvements can be made and how to leverage disruptive technologies to drive business performance.”

Challenges Remain

However Smith warns that a number of challenges remain across the South East Asian supply chain, such as high staff turnover, with employees quick to leave for higher salaries, as well as a lack of experienced professionals with supply chain knowledge across manufacturing, distribution, planning and supply chain management.

In order to ensure successful transformation, Smith also warns that knowledge and awareness of local culture and business landscapes is critical, with a long term focus on developing local supply chain knowledge and people capabilities. This can be done by establishing a physical presence in the region, and developing region-specific leadership and training programmes.

Smith concludes: “Opportunity abounds in the South East Asia region with unrivalled chances for market growth, logistics, sourcing and manufacturing. The time to reinvent networks and processes is now – transforming the South East Asia supply chain into a source of competitive advantage.”

Crimson & Co is a global supply chain consultancy, with a scope spanning supply chain strategy, planning, procurement, manufacturing, logistics and customer channels.

How the Leave Vote Will Impact Procurement and Supply Chain

It was an unlikely event just a week ago, but the Brexit has come to pass. Procurious looks to unpack initial thoughts on how the ‘Leave’ vote will impact both procurement and organisations as a whole.

EU Vote Leave

Last week, Procurious’ weekly news article reported on the potential impact of the UK Referendum on UK and European supply chains.

Now, with a weekend of uncertainty and speculation behind us, Procurious looks at the initial views on what the wider implications are likely to be for procurement now the ‘Leave’ vote is a reality.

Initial Response

Following the ‘Leave’ result announcement on Friday morning, the UK stock market dropped 8 per cent on opening, its worst one-day fall since 2008, although it recovered slightly during the day. The pound, too, fell dramatically in the early morning, with a 10 per cent fall taking it to an over 30 year low.

Across Europe, stock markets reacted in a similar fashion. Markets in France and Germany also fell around 8 per cent, while the Swiss Government were forced to stabilise the Franc as it dramatically appreciated in value.

Due to the unprecedented nature of the vote and the result, experts foresee a period of volatility in UK, European and World markets. The volatility has already had an impact on commodity prices, with oil prices dropping by over 5 per cent, both in Europe and the USA, while gold prices have risen by nearly 7 per cent.

In a bid to calm markets, George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, broke his silence to reassure markets that  “Britain is open for business” – but warning too “it will not be plain sailing”.

The Long Term

The long-term implications will take a while to become clear. The markets across Europe will stabilise, as will the value of the currencies of the member states. However, as has already been reported, the UK exit may precipitate other in/out referendums in Europe.

Far-right parties in France, Italy and the Netherlands were all quoted on Friday as saying that it was now time for their countries to have their own votes. Although further votes would result in increased volatility, these are unlikely to happen in the short term.

For now, all member states, the UK included, are still part of the EU, and are therefore subject to EU regulations and obligations under the single market.

Britain will most likely wait until at least October, when a new Leader of the Conservative Party is elected, to trigger Article 50 to start the EU divorce process.

Procurement, Trade and Supply Chains

Setting politics aside, and assessing the UK’s decision from a procurement and supply chain point of view, there are a number of factors businesses must consider in the short term, in the run up to the UK formally taking its leave from the EU.

Should the value of the pound remain low, this will bring both positives (think cheaper exports for British companies), and negatives (think more expensive imports of global products, and less bang for your buck in foreign currency exchange transaction), for procurement organisations.

The UK will also have to renegotiate trade deals, not only with European countries, but also with other countries around the world. Both UK imports and exports would be subject to tariffs, increasing supply chain costs of organisations with pan-European supply chains. However, it is worth noting that this will only happen in the event of the UK fully removing itself from the EU common market.

It is also worth remembering that this will not mean the end for procurement activities around Europe. Far from it. New trade deals, negotiations, supplier evaluations and supply chain changes, will all fall under procurement’s remit, making our profession as important for organisational value as it ever has been.

Prepare Now

A two-year waiting period for the UK to formally leave the EU doesn’t mean that nothing can be done in procurement. There are a number of strategies and actions that can be taken in order to prepare, and help to mitigate future risks.

Procurement professionals first need to understand if and how they are impacted within their current contracts and supply agreements. Assessing the current supplier lists to identify European suppliers, or suppliers with European Tier 2 or 3 suppliers, is a good starting point. 

It will be better to know now if critical, or bottleneck, suppliers will be impacted, so mitigations and contingencies can start to be planned. Within existing contracts, procurement must assess the potential impact of tariffs on pricing, and if they, or suppliers, will be in a position to renegotiate these contracts.

Finally, investigating alternative sources of supply for all products is a good step to take. This could be supplier based in the UK, or further afield. Another option in this regard would be assessing the possibility of exploring innovative supply solutions with existing suppliers.

UK and European businesses, including procurement departments, have time to prepare. The biggest mistake would be in leaving it too late to ensure actionable outcomes.

Are your supply chains likely to be impacted by the referendum result? How can procurement act to ensure they still have the best deals with suppliers? Let us know your thoughts.

Had your fill of politics? Need something to take your mind off it? Here are some headlines to peruse from the world of procurement & supply chain…

FAA Relaxes US Drone Regulations

  • The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has relaxed its regulations on the piloting of drones in US airspace.
  • Before now, operators needed to obtain a licence, requested on a case-by-case basis, to have permission to pilot a drone legally.
  • Now, the regulations state that commercial drones can be flown by pilots over the age of 16, below 400 feet, and with the drone in line of sight.
  • However, the changes will not affect the commercial drones proposed by Amazon, as the FAA is still carrying out further research on this use.

Read more at The BBC

Instagram Hits 500 Million Users

  • Social media platform Instagram has doubled its user base in the past two years, topping 500 million in the past week.
  • The last 100 million members have been added since September 2015, a considerably faster rate than the previous 100 million.
  • The site boasts 300 million daily active users, has surpassed its rival Twitter in monthly active users, and is now double the size of Snapchat.
  • The platform has further expansion plans, with much of it aimed at Instagram’s role as a platform for businesses.

Read more at Tech Crunch

Boeing Signs Deal with Iran Air

  • US-based Boeing has signed a deal with Iran Air to supply 100 jetliners.
  • It marks the first time that Boeing has done businesses in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in the country in 1979.
  • The value of the deal is unconfirmed due to a lack of information on the jetliners to be supplier, but it is estimated to be in the region of $11 billion.
  • However, any and all contracts that Boeing signs with Iran will be subject to US Governmental approval, something which could change following the November elections.

Read more on Reuters

Amazon Fined for Shipment Mishandling

  • Amazon has been fined $130,000 for two alleged incidents of mishandling of dangerous chemicals in its logistics operations.
  • The fines, one of $78,000 and one of $52,000, related to the shipment of two flammable substances by air, between Illinois and Florida in 2014.
  • This is the third fine in two weeks for Amazon from the FAA, following a $350,000 fine for a similar incident, also occurring in 2014.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

12 Ethical Questions to Ask in Supplier Pre-Approval

In procurement, ethical practice is the key to a positive organisational image. Knowing the right ethical questions to ask can make a real difference.

phloxii/Shutterstock.com

Increasingly the corporate world is focusing on social issues in supply chains such as slavery, forced labour and human trafficking, typically referred to as “modern slavery”. Procurement professionals have an important role to play, by sourcing in a manner that enables and rewards suppliers for good ethical practices.

Local governments and consumers are increasingly aware of such issues and are supporting, if not demanding, that businesses act to implement ethical standards in their procurement processes. Organisations will suffer reputational damage if they are found to be sourcing from suppliers using exploitative labour.

Companies may also face legal sanctions if suppliers are found to be involved in corruption or bribery. Organisations naturally want to avoid negative impact.

The issue of modern slavery has highlighted issues in countries where:

  • Workers have fewer or no protections.
  • There are high levels of poverty.
  • There is widespread use of migrant workers.
  • Because of the industry and use of raw materials, there are high risks.
  • The supply chain is labour intensive, because the end product is cheap. 

Codes of Conduct

Many companies have a Code of Conduct. This is a great way to start out, but can seem ‘non-actionable’ when on its own. So instead, a company can also introduce initiatives such as:

  • Collecting and providing all parties with the information they need to plan more effectively (for instance by sharing audit reports).
  • Creating processes which ensure efficient communications and formalised, streamlined buying and production processes.
  • Empowering procurement professionals to reward good practice and leadership amongst suppliers.
  • Encouraging buyers and suppliers to collaborate with organisations who have expertise in addressing systematic problems within the supply chain.
  • Enable the supplier to collaborate with others who are purchasing from the same supplier.

Your Role as a Procurement Professional

Typically, a procurement organisation will establish some firm processes to ensure the ethical practices. In addition, you can, as a procurement professional, also make yourself aware of some of the most essential ethical questions that you can ask during a sourcing activity, within the supplier pre-approval part of the process.

I would recommend that you, as part of your pre-approval process, get inspired to use some of the following ethical questions and observations in your process:

You want the supplier to have good labour standards, a positive impact in the community, and actively work to improve standards.

You should be looking for:

  • Staff turnover at production sites
  • Good human resource management systems
  • Good labour standards audit results
  • Sharing of good practice with other suppliers
  • Willingness to discuss issues such as pressures on working hours and pay
  • Retrospective comparison of planned vs. actual timings and volume outputs, measured against overtime worked at site

You want the supplier to demonstrate improved working conditions at all times.

You should be looking for:

  • Sites with initiatives such as active trade union representation
  • An existing recognition agreement and collective bargaining agreement
  • Number of workers with long term agreements
  • Analysis of working hours

You want the supplier to demonstrate stable relationships with own suppliers and subcontractors.

You should be looking for:

  • Average length of relationship with individual production sites
  • The dialogue they have with their suppliers/subcontractors on labour conditions

How Blockchain Technology Can Revolutionise Procurement & Supply Chain

Blockchain technology could prove to be a valuable tool for procurement and supply chains in their quest for transparency.

Zapp2Photo/Shutterstock.com

In today’s world, the process of procurement, and even supply chain management, is facing more scrutiny than ever before.

Due to several different advances in technology (many of which relate more to our personal lives than business management), people are more sensitive than ever to issues of accuracy and matters of record. We want transactions verified, sources authenticated, and, generally, transparency in all things.

Where procurement and supply chain management are concerned, that level of transparency has been pretty much impossible in years past. However, there are some that believe that Bitcoin’s blockchain technology, of all things, has vast potential to alter how procurement is monitored and could improve accountability on all sides.

Blockchain Explained

For those who may be unfamiliar with how blockchain technology works, this overview of Bitcoin explains that it’s essentially a public ledger on which all Bitcoin transactions are recorded.

Every transaction generates a series of letters and numbers indicating the two parties involved and the amount of Bitcoin exchanged. While specific identities are protected, it makes it absolutely, automatically clear where your Bitcoin came from, such that amounts of Bitcoin can be traced back through various transactions.

It’s basically a fool-proof system of transparency meant to guarantee the authenticity of these transactions.

Supply Chain Transparency

But how exactly would such a system help companies dealing with procurement and supply chain concerns?

This explanation clarifies the idea in a very effective manner, stating that a blockchain can track what went into a product, and who handled it along the way, revealing the provenance of a product to everyone involved, from origin to end user.

The article uses the example of a taco supply chain. When you buy a taco from a food truck you’re making a lot of trusting assumptions: that the truck is sanitary, that the taco’s ingredients are fresh, etc. But with a system of transparency in place you can personally check that those assumptions are indeed based in reality.

Considering that example with a product in the process of procurement, you begin to see the immense potential value of a blockchain.

Authenticity Checks

Indeed, the same article discusses a range of examples covering different industries and points of interest along the supply chain. For instance, you might be able to look at a blockchain-style log and determine if a shirt you might buy was made with child labor, or you might see if a bottle of olive oil is just olive oil, and if so where else in the world it might be procured. You might even be able to confirm the authenticity of an antique or special product before purchasing.

Perhaps the most interesting example, however, comes in the form of a new company that’s arisen as a result of the blockchain to combat fraud and crime in the diamond trade.

Everledger is essentially building a vast data network, tracking diamonds in circulation by their identifying features and serial codes, and thus legitimising an industry that’s frequently been overrun by criminals and fraudulent transactions.

With a public ledger, diamonds could be traced back to their origins, appropriate values could be maintained, and selling a stolen diamond without being on record as doing so, would be all but impossible.

At this stage most of these examples concern consumer issues and supply chain transparency. However, as blockchain technology becomes more common, it’s easy to see its potential aspects in procurement as well.

For a technology that’s fundamentally simple, it’s somewhat amazing that it might solve transparency issues that have persisted in business transactions for most of human history.

Best Procurement Books – Explaining Procurement with Apple Pie

The Faculty’s Hugo Britt shares one of the best procurement books he has found. Did we mention it happens to be for pre-schoolers?!

BlueRingMedia/Shutterstock.com

“But mum/dad, what is procurement?” How many times have your kids asked you this question, and how often have you struggled to explain your complex role in simple language understandable by a child? The best response to this question that I’ve ever heard is “I do the shopping” – which paints a relatable picture of mum or dad pushing a giant supermarket trolley around all day at work.

The best procurement books should be able to answer that question, and I’ve found a picture book that answers it much better than I can. One of the many books my three-year-old enjoys reading with me at bedtime (hundreds and hundreds of times over) is Marjorie Priceman’s whimsical “How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World”.

Best Procurement Books - Cover
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World – All Images are copyright to Dragonfly Books

The book is delightfully illustrated, about a little girl in Edwardian times who wants to make an apple pie. The premise is summed up in the first few lines:

“Making an apple pie is really very easy. First, get all the ingredients at the market. Mix them well, bake, and serve … Unless, of course, the market is closed.”

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The Apple Pie Supply Chain

And this is where this great little book becomes a textbook on Procurement. The little girl packs a suitcase, puts on her walking shoes and takes a steamship bound for Europe and beyond. Along the way, she sources a number of ingredients which will help to make the apple pie:

  • Semolina wheat from Italy
  • Elegant eggs from a French chicken
  • Cinnamon from the bark of a Sri Lankan kurundu tree

kurundu

  • Milk from a good-mannered English cow
  • Seawater and sugarcane from Jamaica
  • And, of course, apples from a Vermont orchard

orchard

She appears to be a master negotiator (or perhaps just very charming), as there’s no mention of money changing hands for any ingredient. Along the way she has to overcome many of the challenges faced in Procurement, such as language barriers and creative means of transport.

The little girl then goes through the exhaustive process of turning the raw materials into the ingredients she needs, milling the wheat into flour, grinding the kurundu bark into cinnamon, evaporating the seawater from the salt, boiling the sugarcane, persuading the chicken to lay an egg, milking the cow, churning the milk into butter, slicing the apples, and finally mixing the ingredients and baking the pie.

process 1

Her reward is to share the delicious pie with all the new friends she made on her journey, including the chicken and cow.

Before my son demolishes a piece of cake or pie, we sometimes pause to talk about this book. It’s fantastic to see him wonder about all the work and ingredients that went into his slice of cake, and he’s even starting to think the same way about everyday objects all over the house, including clothes he wears and toys he plays with.

I give this book 5 out of 5. Do you have any children’s books to recommend that touch on Procurement? What are the best procurement books you have found answering that all important question? Share your thoughts below!

All images above are the property of Marjorie Priceman (and publisher Dragonfly Books). You can purchase How to Make an Apple Pie here: http://www.amazon.com/Make-Apple-World-Dragonfly-Books/dp/0679880836

Hugo Britt is a Research Consultant at The Faculty, helping to support The Faculty Roundtable, an influential group of Australian procurement leaders who gather to share their experiences and insights. 

For more information on The Faculty Roundtable contact Program Manager, Belinda Toohey.

Modern Slavery Act 2015: Supply Chain Transparency Requirements

In October 2015, the UK government issued statutory guidance relating to supply chain transparency and reporting obligations of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

This article was first published on Greenstone.

The document confirms who is required to comply and when they need to comply by, as well as including essential details on the all-important annual statement. You can read the document here.

Here is everything you need to know and what you need to do.

Background

Consolidating UK law on slavery and human trafficking, the Modern Slavery Bill was first introduced to parliament on 10th June 2014, and subsequently passed into law on 26th March 2015.

With the aim of preventing employment exploitation and increasing disclosure of labour practices, the Modern Slavery Act introduces new grounds of compliance for commercial entities. Not only do organisations need to ensure that modern slavery is not an issue in-house, they also need to take, and report on, actions to prevent the issue from occurring within their supply chains.

Which Companies are Captured?

The threshold to determine which companies have to adhere to the Modern Slavery Act has been something of a discussion point for the vast majority of the year.

Following a government consultation period earlier in the year, it was confirmed that the Act applies to any organisation that supplies goods or services and that has a turnover exceeding £36 million, aligning the legislation with the definition of a ‘large business’ in the Companies Act 2006.

Furthermore, this threshold is valid for any organisation that has operations in the UK, regardless of where it was formed. This means that many non-UK organisations, providing goods or services within the UK’s geographical boundaries, will have to engage with their suppliers, essentially resulting in diverse, complex and global supply chains being assessed.

Annual Statements

A key part of the Modern Slavery Act is the stipulation that captured organisations need to prepare and publish an annual statement. The statement details the ongoing process they are taking to ensure that there is no modern slavery within their business and supply chains.

To be published at the end of the organisation’s financial year, and required to be approved at board level, the statement must be publicly available via a prominent link on the company’s corporate website homepage.

What does the statement need to look like?

There are 2 routes that organisations can go down when it comes to preparing the slavery and human trafficking statement. Captured organisations must prepare and publish either:

  1. A statement detailing steps the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any part of its own business or supply chains; or
  2. A statement that the organisation has taken no such steps.

Although Option 2 is the simpler journey, having a publicly available statement that effectively says that the organisation does not care about the issue of modern slavery risks a backlash from stakeholders. As such, the safest route to compliance is certainly the first.

In terms of what the annual statement needs to looks like, the Act does not stipulate the exact parameters, but does provide some key areas that should be covered:

  • the organisation’s structure, its business and its supply chains;
  • its policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking;
  • its due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking in its business and supply chains;
  • the parts of its business and supply chains where there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking taking place, and the steps it has taken to assess and manage that risk;
  • its effectiveness in ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in its business or supply chains, measured against such performance indicators as it considers appropriate;
  • the training about slavery and human trafficking available to its staff.

What do captured organisations need to do?

The statutory guidance confirmed that the supply chain transparency and reporting provisions of the Modern Slavery Act commenced on 29th October 2015.

However, a transitional period applies to businesses with a financial year-end date between 29th October 2015 and 30th March 2016, meaning those who have a year-end of 31st March 2016 will be the first to publish the statement.

So what should companies be doing to prepare for these new supply-chain requirements? Regardless of when the year-end date is, it is imperative that organisations start engaging with their suppliers now and assess the level of risk. Without an extensive, and ongoing, information gathering exercise, taking steps to prevent the risk and subsequently reporting on them is simply not possible.

Where to start

As it is now a requirement for companies to collect and interrogate data from across their web of suppliers, it is essential that they make the process as efficient as possible.

We understand that this can be a complex and time-consuming process. The traditional offline data collection methods are not suited to the demands of today’s globalised supply chains. As such, it is an increasing trend for companies to move the process online.

For advice on what you need to consider when moving your supplier risk and compliance process online, please read our previous blog article on the subject.

Gyles is Head of SupplierPortal at Greenstone, a non-financial reporting solutions company providing software and supporting services to clients in over 100 countries.

Greenstone’s SupplierPortal solution enables buyers to effectively manage supplier risk and compliance through a secure and private online platform. Buyers have the flexibility to distribute standard framework questionnaires, as well as proprietary questionnaires, to their suppliers and can then manage and analyse this information through a comprehensive suite of analytical tools.

Technology Will Expose Supply Chain Deficiencies in Near Future

In the not-too-distant future, technology will reveal everything about products, and expose all the supply chain deficiencies that exist.

Smartphones, embedded with the technology that enables consumers to scan items in the supermarket and see the entire supply chain process, will happen sooner rather than later, according to Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand CEO, Molly Harriss Olsen.

“We’re getting to the point that we can build these technologies. Mark my words, it’s on the way and it will be instantaneous. The world of connectivity isn’t coming – it’s here,” she told the room.

Cleaning Up Supply Chains

While the procurement industry well and truly knows about the challenges of cleaning up the supply chain, the fact that the technology that would automatically expose supply chain deficiencies was met by furrowed brows. As she made the statement, you could literally hear a pin drop in the large conference room.

Fairtrade assists marginalised producers (mostly in the agricultural space) and addresses issues like child labour, environmental issues, water usage, waste management, ensuring the employment of women and helping these farmers to have profitability in their farms and a robust foundation upon which they can succeed.

This includes the 30 million coffee farmers around the world who are at the mercy of speculative financial markets.

She impressed on the procurement professionals in the room that they had the power in their hands to either resolve the problems the planet faces in the future, or contribute to it.

“The biggest leadership decision you need to make as a procurement leader is implementation. Once you make that, you can’t even begin to imagine what the impact might be.”

Moving Away From Economics

Harriss Olsen was asked by a major Australian food brand representative, whether Australian businesses were embracing the initiatives implemented by Fairtrade.

“On the whole, I’d say we’re on the edge of embracing it. I’d urge you to take the next step. We need to stop making every decision based on economic grounds. We are either part of the solution, or we’re part of the problem. All our decisions are based on improving the planet. Virtually everything we can buy is traded on the stock market, and value the farmer gets on a daily basis,” she says.

“It might come as a surprise to you that while we got rid of slavery some time ago, there is still an extraordinary amount of it going on today. And until is blows up in your face, you often don’t know what you’re dealing with it.”

Dynamic Solutions to Dynamic Problems

‘Pop up Warehousing’ and ‘Dynamic Warehousing Networks’ are new terms hoping to provide dynamic solutions to solve an old problem – large fluctuations in stock.

Whether predictable or unexpected, most businesses have had to deal with stock maxing out their facilities from time to time. Moreover, as managing average or normal stock levels has become more sophisticated and accurate, the effect of the pinch points becomes more acute.

Of course, any predicted overflow can be accommodated. However, just because it is predictable (for example, seasonal storage gluts), doesn’t mean its impact, or the challenge of solving it, is reduced. Furthermore, not all stock excess is predictable – far from it! Taking advantage of bulk purchase opportunities or running promotions make good business sense, but often create storage headaches.

Historical Solutions

Historically, the solutions that companies resort to cost money and may adversely affect operations. They may rent additional warehousing to accommodate extra stock, or find themselves involved in costly shuffling of inventory across locations, both existing and new.

Outsourcing – getting a third party provider to pick up the slack – is the obvious course to follow, but has traditionally suffered from a lack of transparency and the sense that a better solution might have been missed. After all, an emergency is not always the moment to run a tender process!

Dynamic Solutions

However, the growth in dynamic solutions such as Pop-up Warehousing (the colloquial term for on-demand storage space) is now set to change the game.

This ability to quickly identify available warehouse space and pricing on the internet, represents a step-change in how to deal with over-spill. It means that solutions can be found locally or in strategically relevant hubs – dependent on the user’s need – and that rates are benchmarked by the market.

On top of the transparent pricing and availability that these dynamic solutions provide, they also facilitate a direct dialogue with providers across the country. This means that users can identify, secure, and make use of available warehouse space immediately.

This level of choice can mean the economic benefits of bulk buying or customer promotions are not diluted further down the P&L, and the added flexibility can also allow companies to be more daring in their development – testing new products, markets or distribution strategies with less inherent cost (and risk) and modelling the impact of more permanent solutions to their business without making significant investments or sweeping changes.

Speed and Flexibility

The ability to quickly react and adapt can be particularly beneficial to fast growing or new e-commerce businesses. These business are often unclear about what mid- or long-term capacity they need, and the resources required to support fixed logistics costs.

Dynamic warehousing allows them to upscale logistics in line with their growth rate, without overwhelming resource and cost implications, nor the distraction and risk of running a fast-growing logistics function.

With end to end logistics costs averaging 12 per cent of sales value, not doing it as efficiently as possible can make a material difference to competitiveness. For a third party logistics provider, that 12 per cent is their 100 per cent, and they have the vertical and horizontal experience of logistics to build skills and capabilities from shared experience. Outsourcing logistics can, therefore, make a lot of sense for younger companies – as long as the most appropriate providers can be found easily.

Whilst outsourcing is not a new concept, the catalyst for the recent upsurge in interest has been the development of interactive online platforms by companies such as Flexe Inc in the US and, more recently Zupplychain in the UK.

These websites provide a degree of aggregation and transparency that means all businesses, whether large or small, mature or a start-up, can benefit from a level of flexibility. This means users can be more responsive and make better decisions for the present and future health of their company.

Zupplychain employs algorithmic matching of customer’s search requirements to warehouse availability to show warehouse pricing, along with an automated and structured process to progress enquiries and a cloud based system to manage customer stock in provider’s warehouses.