Supply-chain asset protection (SCAP) in business has traditionally been reactive instead of proactive. SCAP teams are often housed in headquarters or a regional hub and called upon to investigate incidents and deal with the outcomes. That means the “protection” side of the role isn’t aggressively fulfilled, and the process becomes one of mopping up a mess. The supply-chain security management team may learn something in the aftermath, but collectively the group grows frustrated, and the time-consuming work lacks strategic direction.
Members of the military use the powerful term “left of boom” to describe all events that lead up to an explosion. Left of boom is where one can have a positive effect—gathering intel, training the team, and putting systems in place that make the explosion less likely. Everything to the right of that boom deals with consequences and clean up—securing the area, treating the injured, repairing the infrastructure, and raising morale again.
In retail, far too many loss prevention teams talk about events left of boom but actually and unwillingly function a right-of-boom operation. Being left of boom means being proactive and having the correct resources—the “protection” part of an SCAP team is active. Being right of boom can be brand tarnishing. As an industry, we need to move camp. We need to pick up all our equipment and ideas and move them to the left of the boom. It will generate better results and improve morale. And don’t underestimate the power of morale. Stopping an event from happening is far more satisfying than dealing with the mess after it has happened and sometimes getting a trophy for clean-up work.
In terms of supply-chain security management, we can do many things to get left of boom. We need to consider our roles not just in the companies we work for, but also in the processes that happen in and to our role.
SCAP is an integral part of any modern retailer, but it also has a function that lies slightly outside the normal day-to-day running of a store. Being proactive here allows the supply chain loss prevention team the opportunity to make a lasting difference to the operation. A retailer that doesn’t get a loss problem under control has a real problem. It bites into profit margins and pushes them closer to the brink. But a proactive asset protection strategy changes all of that. The timeline of events that precede a boom are vitally important.
The first step on the path to preventing that boom is getting the money you need to perform your operations successfully, which isn’t always easy in a retail environment. Sometimes costs are under heavy control. So you need to do your homework. Know the resources you will require and have them costed thoroughly. Look to the more innovative, hands-off ways of effective loss prevention. You may end up proposing a cost saving or future cost avoidance instead of requesting an increased budget.
Finding innovative ways to use your budget will help you build a proposal that works for you and the company as a whole. Have a defined strategy from the outset to make sure you get the most from the whole process. Think about new ways of doing things, such as:
- Using WiFi, RFID, Bluetooth, and GPS to track products through your systems.
- Developing a thorough supply-chain security management and risk management strategy.
- Employing feature recognition to address negative event creators as well as to promote a better service experience.
Develop Team Skillsets and Design Your Organization
Once you have the budget, you need to set up your organization. You are now in a position to make your plans. Look at how you might do things differently to create better outcomes. You may have to start from scratch in many areas to define an operation that will be effective and fit for purpose.
Assess the skills of your existing team and align them with your new way of working to see how they match up. You will need the right players in the right places as well as the correct structure. As you develop these ideas further, you will be able to communicate new roles or new expectations for the team you have and look to recruitment or training to fill any gaps you have identified.
Check out the full article, “Supply-Chain Focus Should Be ‘Left of Boom,'” which was originally published in 2017, to get tips on gathering intel, designing your attack plan, and mastering and executing your supply-chain security management strategy. This excerpt was updated October 26, 2017.