Retailers and distributors have to cope with more risk in their supply chains (in terms of product and supplier performance), but increasingly have less technical capacity and financial resources to manage this – call it a ‘double squeeze’ . In January, 2017, Track Record Global ran a seminar at the Saïd Business School, Oxford , UK in order to find some answers as to how buyers can manage this ‘double squeeze’ effectively.
Opaque Supply Chains – where the does the risk lie?
Dr Steve New (Saïd Business School, Oxford, UK) gave an insightful presentation which highlighted the different types of risk that exist – both tangible (health and safety etc.,) and intangible (sustainably and ethically sourced etc.’) – and that raw material provenance was becoming increasingly important. But he also said that there had yet to be evidence of a paradigm shift in the thinking of the majority of consumers and businesses. Steve outlined his 3 ‘laws’ of supply chains; firstly that businesses’ culpability for supply chain ethics cannot be less than their influence/engagement with supply chain quality; secondly that businesses that are ignorant of tier (n) have no defense if tier (n) knows about them; and thirdly that a business can’t manage supply network data with an information system designed simply for 1st Tier suppliers.
Shrinking in-house technical resources – coping strategies
Sarah Boyle (Spring Chicken Ltd and formerly Mothercare plc) gave a close and detailed account of how Mothercare plc had grown online sales from virtually nothing (2006 – 2007) to over £10m worth in the first year but with no reduction in product quality and the management of risk. At the time they calculated that they needed 3.5 extra technicians for compliance checking for online pushchair category alone – knowing that other categories were to follow. They managed the big increase in risk by outsourcing risk assessment and management to Track Record Global, enabling their technologists to focus on new and enhanced product designs.
Light touch, transparent approaches for factory audits and PSI
Chris Riley (Verisio Ltd) is highly experienced in running highly successful on-site 3rd party inspection companies. He stated that there were still many product quality issues associated with less well informed suppliers – particularly where there is a limited understanding of EU quality requirements and how rapidly they are updated. In a world where risks are steadily increasing 3rd party inspections of factories; products; and shipments should be increasing. Budgetary constraints, however, make this impossible. A risk based approach, therefore is required so that quality checking can be focused where risk to product quality is greatest and suppliers need most assistance. He outlined some innovative protocols that were most efficiently implemented using the new generation of online systems – such as Track Record Global’s.
End-to-end risk management – the next revolution in product quality management
Fiona Horsnell (Track Record Global) highlighted the fact despite the remorseless and accelerating increase in connectivity, so many businesses still manage product and supplier quality using massively inefficient (and more worryingly ineffective) paperwork approaches and excel spreadsheets. There is, however, a technical revolution just around the corner. Track Record Global’s vision is one where suppliers have an increasing role in managing internal quality but their ‘live’ performance in quality management terms and the quality of their products is made ‘transparent’ to their customers. Transparency is achieved by the use of online quality centered IT systems – enabling the building of complex but inclusive databases built on product quality and supplier performance reporting. These big data sets are structured around the quality continuum (from product sealing to product technical file to returns and recalls) and shine an immediate light on where buyers and technicians need to focus their effort. This is what TRG delivers. Our Service cuts costs; significantly improves efficiency and effectiveness; and delivers a range of new and exciting benefits to buyers – building Trust Through Transparency.