supplier risk

Why Secure Sourcing Starts with Automation

Automating supplier-related processes benefits businesses.

Growing economic uncertainty, geopolitical unrest, and emerging cyber threats mean that security and risk management are now critical boardroom priorities. If that weren’t enough, businesses today are not only accountable for the factors that impact them directly, but they’re also responsible for those that impact their suppliers.

Take the recent Quest Diagnostics data breach as an example. Despite Quest’s strong internal cybersecurity infrastructure, the sensitive information of 11.9 million patients was hacked through a third-party billing vendor with subpar security standards. The lesson is clear: a company is only as safe as its weakest vendor.  

Many organizations continue to manage suppliers, contracts, and procurement processes manually or with outdated, clunky technology that is too complicated for efficient use. These haphazard systems are, unfortunately, perfect harbors for risk, but there is tremendous opportunity here. According to a recent McKinsey & Company report, 56% of source-to-pay tasks could be “fully or largely automated using currently available technologies.”

While automation isn’t a cure-all, it does have the potential to drastically decrease overall risk. How? By reducing the “human factor” in supplier management and allowing sourcing employees to focus on more critical projects. In addition to putting risk mitigation at the forefront, automating supplier-related processes benefits businesses in these four key ways:

Chris Crane, Co-Founder, Product, Scout RFP, a Workday company

Talking to Your Tail Spend – Chapter 3: The Potential Risks Lurking in your Tail Spend

Unmanaged tail spend results in significant risks to organizations.

We’ve released a series of articles to answer your questions about tail spend. We started by defining tail spend, discussed how to better work with stakeholders to manage it, and now we’re diving into the potential risks lurking in your tail spend and the problem with taking a scorched Earth approach. To get up to speed, read our prologue, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 on what this tail spend series will help you accomplish.

What is the risk exposure in my tail spend?

Risk is an increasingly important consideration in procurement and we’re right to think about the impact of risk hidden in our unmanaged spend. The tricky thing about risk is that it can differ across companies, even within the same industry. Supplier financial risk is important to most, but what about brand risk, geopolitical risk in the supply chain, and the risk of payment fraud? Depending on the spend category, IP risk or labor practice risk may also be a consideration.

The starting point, once again, is the spend analysis, with the category manager charged with determining the highest risks for their category. If a category isn’t actively managed, it can be assigned to a risk team for a basic analysis. Given that the average company only actively monitors about a quarter of suppliers for risk, there’s a lot of unwatched suppliers even outside the long tail. Risk assessments are typically driven by supplier spend or a triggering high-risk factor.

Amy Fong, Principal - Procurement and Purchase to Pay Advisory, The Hackett Group