Global Sourcing: Addressing Myths with Capabilities Part III: Risks & Opportunities

Today’s post is from David Henshall, Founder of Purchasing Practice. Dave can be reached at dhenshall <at> purchasingpractice <dot> com.

In this four part series, we examine eight dimensional capabilities that will help you overcome the myths surrounding global sourcing. In today’s post, we will focus on the dimensions of risk and opportunity. (Yesterday’s post addressed corporate social responsibility.)

The decision to pursue a global sourcing strategy will ultimately depend upon the amount of value that it creates. Value in this context, however, should include not only the available savings opportunities, but also the inherent risk after considering the organisational capabilities in managing the increased vulnerability from sourcing in higher risk countries or region.

Dimension #4: Risk

Increased risk comes in the form of damage to brand and reputation, unplanned cost, supply chain failure, delay, currency fluctuations and IP theft, for starters. Professor Richard Wilding & Professor Alan Braithwaite, from the Cranfield School of Management in the UK, have identified six capabilities for the effective management of global sourcing risk:

  1. ‘Total Acquisition Cost Management’ – the ability to analyse and predict the total cost of a good from the source of supply to its final point of sale. They advise it is important to analyse and build into the costing the inherent lost sales risk of the product by developing and applying a market-risk and cost risk profile. The inventory holding cost through the chain must also be factored in.
  2. ‘One touch information flow’ – to avoid double entry, duplication, mistakes and inconsistency as the same transaction moves through the many points of contact in the chain. Accuracy of information is a precondition of pro-active management and the ability to exercise risk mitigation measures. This capability is systems enabled; it is critical to have the widest view of the total chain on one information platform with the ability to recognise inconsistencies.
  3. ‘Total product identification and compliance’ – to ensure fast accurate product and handling unit identification that feeds the “one touch information” requirement without delay. The use of bar codes and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) to the correct standards is the enabling technology; this needs to be quality assured and enforced on the ground across many sites with failures being fixed where they occur.
  4. ‘Real time routing through dynamic visibility’ – the capability to see through the chain, know what is coming, and test for events that have not happened as planned; to interpret the implications of failures in a pro-active way and make decisions to minimise their impact.
  5. ‘Vendor development’ – cycle time compression linked to real demand’ – the capability to understand and improve the long-term performance of vendors in terms of cycle times, timeliness, quality and accuracy is central to time compression and risk reduction. Based on historical performance of the end-to-end chain, it is possible to identify improvement programmes to develop supplier reliability. The ultimate goal is to issue orders and schedules on shorter lead times, reflecting real demand or more accurate forecasts. Understanding the underlying performance of the vendor, and his category of products in the marketplace, is the starting point for this; it is dependent on information across the chain.
  6. ‘Information platform’ to provide consistent and timely information – the capability to put in place, operate and maintain a full supply chain visibility solution. All of the above capabilities are anchored by the operational skill to secure and maintain the information backbone with the diverse data structures that are needed by each supply chain function.

All of these capabilities relate to management information and the skills to apply that information with greater precision; information on the extended chain in terms of accuracy and speed of availability is central to these capabilities.

Dimension #5: Opportunities

Global sourcing can facilitate both supply side and demand side opportunities. On the supply side, Ford Motor Company cites these as:

  • Annual cost reductions in LCC markets have consistently exceeded those in mature markets due to:
    • Expanding scale
    • Deepening relationships with suppliers
    • Competitive environment
  • Wage rate growth in China and India will be limited by the large number of under-employed:
    • China has 1.338 Billion people living in the country
    • India has 25 million English-speaking, educated workers, and this number is expected to increase every year (as there are 232 Million people who speak English as a second or third language)
  • Labor rate differential is so large, gap is expected to remain substantial for the foreseeable future

On the demand side, global sourcing can facilitate the pursuit of export opportunities. Organisations can leverage supplier relationships to open the global marketplace, allowing them to market and sell their products in new markets across the globe.

Part 4 will examine Politics, Local Context, and Enabling Infrastructures of global sourcing.

Thanks, Dave.

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