Supply Chain Resilience

The University relies on a number of suppliers to provide a wide range of goods and services. These goods and services contribute to the University being able to conduct a variety of activities throughout the Academic Schools and University Services.

The impacts if a supplier was unable to meet their commitments to the University will vary considerably, based on a number of factors including:

  • The criticality of the University activity which relies upon the product or service
  • How essential the product or service is to the University activity being undertaken
  • How often the product or service is delivered or provided to the University
  • The availability and willingness of viable alternative suppliers
  • The lead time in which an equivalent product or service could be sourced

Based on these factors (and any continuity arrangements that are currently in place) each Academic School and University Service should be able to identify who their key suppliers are, and the potential impact of each of these suppliers not being able to fulfill their obligations. Strategies should be identified in order to mitigate these impacts as part of each Academic School and University Service area Business Continuity Planning.

These strategies will likely fall into the categories of maintain the status quo or increase resilience.

  • Maintain the status quo — this may be preferable for lower priority suppliers where the impact if they do not fulfil their commitments will be very low or very easily mitigated. This may also be an appropriate strategy if robust business continuity arrangements are already in place for the product or service in question.
  • Increase Resilience— where applicable, consideration should be given to:
    • Having more than one source of supply for critical products and services.
    • Increasing stock holding of critical products either on campus or at the supplier. This can increase the amount of time it takes for a supply chain disruption to affect the University.
    • Investigating mutual aid agreements with other Universities
    • Working with each key supplier to understand their business continuity arrangements, (including within their own supply chain) and what can be done to facilitate a quick recovery for the University following a supplier disruption.
    • Including business continuity clauses or requirements in supplier contracts.

If the above measures prove impractical, then consideration should be given to seeking an alternative, more resilient supplier. This will depend on any contractual obligations that are in place with the existing supplier, and whether a more resilient (and viable) alternative supplier exists. When this is the case, the more resilient supplier may be a more expensive option, however this should be weighed against the potential impact of a supply disruption.

For further guidance on resilience within the supply chain, please contact the Procurement Office.

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