Five Strategies for a Successful Enterprise Supply Chain Risk Management Program

Nathan Ruiz, Senior Vice President
Supply Chain

Though the supply chain lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic feel like they are in the rearview mirror, the conflict in Ukraine has kept the need for resilient, robust supply chains at the forefront of the national security community’s priorities. 

For the federal government, that requirement goes beyond the Ukraine conflict. It must safeguard the supply chains for all federal services, from the capabilities of the military and intelligence community that protect U.S. global interests and sovereignty, to the healthcare systems that take care of American communities. The U.S. government must also ensure availability of vital goods and technologies, from semiconductors to electric vehicles, in order to bolster the domestic economy. That’s a tall order.

U.S. federal agencies recently introduced pioneering initiatives to transform their supply chain risk management posture from reactive to resilient. Legislation like the CHIPS and Science Act reinvigorates domestic production for critical technologies like semiconductors, for example. Government agencies issued these directives to root out supply chain risks, planting the seeds for long-term, agency-wide change. 

What can the federal government do right now to turn these supply chain directives into results? Meeting the moment requires the United States to draw on supply chain risk management (SCRM) best practices and the latest technologies that enable them.

From my experience working with dozens of DoD and federal agencies to build supply chain risk management programs, here are five approaches I have seen work. 

1.  Lean forward at the office level, instead of waiting for the enterprise solution.  

Team missions, incentives, and key objectives can vary across every organization. While enterprise-level SCRM initiatives are important, each team and office can start standing up capabilities! Adversaries don’t wait for agencies to roll out full enterprise programs to exploit vulnerabilities. Teams should certainly seek out guidance from their Enterprise Risk Management team, but building enterprise resilience begins with effective execution at the office level. 

Eventually, standardized SCRM reports and indicators encourage collaboration and strengthen the unity of effort across the enterprise. They often draw on best practices from offices or other organizations, and yours can set the enterprise standard. 

2. Harness data to understand identified supply chain risks. 

Every vendor in a program’s ecosystem can cause supply chain disruption. That disruption can come from a myriad of places. To name a few: a key supplier in poor financial health shuts down unexpectedly; suppliers based in adversarial nations such as China decide to no longer do business with the United States because of geopolitical tensions; a natural disaster strikes in a geographically vulnerable area, taking a key supplier offline; or infrastructure for vital shipping routes goes down.

Establishing the key risk vectors to defend against is critical. To get smart on those risk vectors, teams should draw on comprehensive government resources from organizations such as ODNI’s Supply Chain and Cyber Directorate (SCD) or data and software from the private sector.

Agencies can mitigate these operational risks with the right technology and data. Access to commercial data around company firmographics, supply chain relationships, financial health indicators, and ultimate beneficial ownership data helps form a more comprehensive assessment of your vendor base across your prime and subcontractors. 

3. Facilitate live collaboration across teams and programs

To effectively execute an SCRM program, different offices need instant access to shared information and the ability to collaborate together. Software presents an ideal solution to get offices on the same page. A status quo SCRM solution might rely on a vast Excel spreadsheet emailed between offices and their vendors for vendor updates. This siloed approach creates room for version error and delay. The inability to collaborate in real-time introduces too much inefficiency, especially as the number of offices participating in an SCRM program increases. 

Instead, software that offers access to the supply chain-related data and updates in real-time for all users creates a more accurate source of truth. Offices can draw on the software for accurate reports and collaborate to deliver the outcomes that are vital to their program. 

4. Monitor the ecosystem continuously beyond initial purchase. 

Knowing risk exposure requires more than just vendor due diligence at the time of purchase or contracting. Global conditions may change, or a vendor may switch suppliers, introducing new vulnerabilities. An effective SCRM program doesn’t just vet vendors and their suppliers once; it provides continuously updated data to ensure they remain secure. With real-time data updates, an agency can spot risks as they emerge and eliminate them before they cause disruption. 

Screen Capture of Govini Ark Software Platform - Supply Chain Provenance

5. Go beyond risk identification: create the systems to automatically mitigate them.

Effective programs don’t just surface risk; they also suggest mitigation options. If a vulnerability is identified but deemed within acceptable risk levels, a superior program lets teams tailor and increase their monitoring to match the potential threat vector. Or, programs can escalate the response and identify alternative parts or vendors to provide mitigation options. 

What does this look like in practice? Our government customers draw on Govini’s Ark software, leveraging Govini data and AI-enabled applications, to build out comprehensive vendor assessments across their contract portfolios. These assessments evaluate foreign influence, geographic risk, supplier financial health, and more. 

Ark helps government agencies reduce the time spent on SCRM activities by up to 75%. The data in Ark also surfaces supply chain risks before they impact operations, and is used to inform decision-making at the highest levels.

This success is replicable across the federal government. 

The United States already has the capabilities that it needs to mitigate supply chain risks and ensure that its federal programs remain free from interruption: commercial data and software.  

Govini’s Ark platform was purpose-built for Acquisition workflows, including those related to supply chain risk. Ark solves supply chain challenges ranging from accelerating supply chain due diligence for vendor research in the S&T phase, to identifying suppliers at risk of going out of business for sustainment offices, and ensuring supply chain resilience for each stage in between.  

Its AI-enabled applications are powered by continuously updated data, including parts and products information, authoritative government contracts data, key management personnel information, organizational data, and more.

The federal government has communicated America’s resolve to solve supply chain challenges. By drawing on the above best practices, federal decision-makers can turn the intent into action, and execute on that will. The time to act is now.

Learn more about Govini’s Ark software here: