Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM): Sustainability versus Security

The global supply chain landscape in 2014 consists of a complex, inter-connected, inter-woven manufacturing and production scene that crosses cultures, continents, and oceans.  This interconnectivity often allows businesses to flourish and experience successes at unprecedented rates.  While this ever-growing manufacturing connection is exciting for business development, it also presents unique challenges in design processes that should be considered when achieving reliability and sustainability.   A primary challenge in securing a supply chain comes from ensuring reliability and sustainability while mitigating risks posed by security threats, cyber threats, transportation and logistics issues, counterfeit parts, among a myriad of other threats to the supply chain.   This breadth and depth of supply chain issues is often seen as entirely overwhelming to an organization and creates a tendency to cast a SCRM net that attempts to protect everything, but actually protects very little.  With increasing federal and private regulations, public law, and scrutiny of supply chains, organizations are met with the challenge of implementing a SCRM program that can effectively address the risks their supply chains present to their projects and programs.

Identifying and Implementing an Organization’s Primary and Secondary SCRM Goal

Embedding an effective SCRM process into everyday operations requires a thorough examination of project and program goals.  Is the primary goal of the mission to protect and secure data or is the primary goal to ensure project and program success through reliable equipment?  Defining the primary and secondary goals is critical for a supply chain risk management process.  The identification of your organization’s primary goals in supply chain risk management leads to a more informed identification of risk to the project or program.  An effective risk management program may have a primary focus of security or a primary focus of sustainability depending on the project or program, however one does not exist exclusively without the other.  Establishing the projects and programs primary goal in SCRM is an initial step in reducing the complexity of the evolving global supply chain and will influence the prioritization of the long list of issues present in global supply chains.

Incorporating the Primary SCRM Goal As Part of the Organizational Culture

Whether the primary SCRM goal is security or mission sustainability and reliability, that goal should be incorporated into the organizational culture.  When the primary SCRM goal is understood as part of an organizational culture, it can then be applied as a cross-cutting goal across mission-sets.  While mission sets will vary greatly even within one organization, working towards a common SCRM culture can greatly increase the chances for program success while focusing on security and sustainment across projects.   Influencing organizational culture can prove to be a very challenging task which can be addressed through education and training.

Establishing a culture with common SCRM goals across an organization is critical in ensuring mission success across projects.  Efforts to secure a supply chain on one project within an organization can severely degrade the mission of another project by limiting critical acquisitions that may not pose the same risk to multiple projects.  If the delicate task of protecting a mission’s supply chain becomes part of a cross-cutting program that is communicated throughout projects, the risk of degrading sustainability of multiple projects can be greatly reduced.  Delicate adjustments are required to balance analysis of threats to the supply chain with communication across projects, a firm understanding of the project and organization’s primary and secondary SCRM goals, and historical analysis that helps prevent repeat failures in the supply chain.

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