… and, in fact, may increase it!
For example, let’s say that risk analysis identifies a disruption risk from southern china with the primary reason being unpredictable transportation due to labour and provider capacity uncertainty. Let’s also say that Procurement decides a good response to the risk is to just triple inventory and instead of working with a 3 week safety stock, works with a nine week. Problem solved, right? No! Problem exacerbated. Why?
Given that production is not likely to notice an issue and raise a flag until they get down to 1 or 2 weeks of stock, simply increasing stock levels is not going to speed up the time in which Procurement is notified of a potential issue. But even worse, if Procurement raises stock levels, chances are Procurement, or the supplier, will increase shipment sizes and send stock less often. This will increase the amount of time before Procurement could sense a problem because if shipment windows increase from 2 weeks to 6 weeks and a disruption happens one day after a shipment, it will be almost 6 weeks before Procurement identifies it, which could be too late for a recovery. Risk increased.
In fact, most mitigation strategies designed at a single tier actually have the potential to increase risk. Let’s take a few:
- Dual Sourcing
without careful planning, both suppliers could use the same Tier 2 source
- Alternative Design
that reduces / eliminates the need for one rare material in favour of another doesn’t reduce raw material risk of the other material is just as rare or the acquisition / production cost substantially higher
- Financial Risk Monitoring
for shakey suppliers doesn’t catch production shortcuts they might be taking to cut costs that increase risk that could result in catastrophic failures
- Replacement Product Lines
chances are the replacement product lines share parts and suppliers … you’ve actually increased risk from a disruption, not decreased it
To truly mitigate risk, you have to go multi-tier and work with your supplier to identify the most likely risks, and how to properly mitigate them.
For example, if the risk is:
- factory shutdown
you can work with the supplier to ensure a secondary geographically remote location has the ability to recreate the production line quickly
- transportation shutdown
have secondary shipment companies, and ports, lined up and ready to go if primaries go down … be ready to truck or rail longer or even airfreight in emergencies
- financial stress
the buyer may need to step in and float operations during new production line setup or new product design
- raw material unavailability
the options for alternate supply must be known in advance, as with the options for substitute material
But you’re not going to be able to figure out the right secondary location, transportation options, financial mitigation strategies, or raw material strategies on your own. Don’t try. Work with your strategic suppliers and get it right.