An indicator of fraud?
As per a number of Sourcing Innovation posts, and a recent post over on Procurement Leaders on Procurement Fraud: A Shocking Wake-Up Call, procurement is a ripe area for occupational fraud. Outside of Accounts Payable, Procurement generally controls or influences the most organizational spend.
And not only is Procurement Related Fraud on the Rise, but it is taking place at 2 out of every 3 organizations — many of which are even unaware of its presence! Furthermore, every organization affected by fraud is likely losing 2% of its revenues to fraud. Forget overpayments, duplicate payments, and other recovery audit targets that, even when extremely successful, aren’t likely to recover more than 0.5% of your revenue in supplier credits — especially when most of these overpayments can be prevented with good invoice automation. Fraud is the bigger uncontrolled drain on the average organization’s coffers, and the issue that most needs to be attacked.
Fortunately, there are tell-tale signs of fraud, and if you regularly look for, investigate, and take precautions to prevent certain scenarios, the chances of fraud occurring in your organization will be significantly reduced. A number of these signs are succinctly summarized in Mr. Ashcroft’s post on Procurement Fraud: A Shocking Wake-Up Call, referenced above, but it’s the first four that really catch your attention.
- Single Source Decisions
- Insistence on Sole Contact With Suppliers
- Reluctance to Change Suppliers
- Refusal to Issue Invitations to Tender
All of these relate to sole-sourcing, which we all know to be a significant supply chain risk as a single disruption can wipe out an entire product line or category. Sole-sourcing should generally only be used when you are producing a new product which involves turning over a lot of proprietary knowledge to the manufacturer, proprietary knowledge upon which your competitiveness is dependent, or when the product requires a new type of technique that only one supplier can currently offer at an affordable price point. Otherwise, for supply assurance and risk mitigation, dual (or tri) supply should be used.
If something is being sole-sourced for which there is no good justification, then the sole-source arrangement should be carefully evaluated as the reason therefore could be fraudulent (or, if not fraudulent, unethical, as the buyer could be choosing that supplier simply because the supplier constantly gives the buyer free tickets to sporting events, free trips to industry conferences, etc.). And if any suggestions to change the supplier meet with unnecessary reluctance or insistence not too, that’s an even bigger indicator that something could be happening under the table.
In other words, when you get right down to it, sole-sourcing is generally not a good decision. When you combine the opportunities it presents for fraud and disruption, the risk is typically too great.