Test, Do, Learn, and Share

Over the years, enterprise needs for supply-chain asset protection (SCAP) have undergone a transformation from lock-and-key security operations to more integrated supply-chain security and facilitation networks. By taking advantage of the latest technology, this evolution is possible. However, too many organizations look to technology as a cure-all. This leads to a false sense of security and weaknesses in the network that are difficult to diagnose without the right team in place.

As we look forward to the next frontiers in SCAP, we must think integration. The following is a roadmap, based on my experience, that integrates various business concepts from financial stewardship to organizational culture creation. You might also use it as an à la carte menu not only to solve short-term challenges but also to position your organization to succeed long term.

Connect the Network and Get Organized

Find the right operating and reporting structure to allow your team to thrive and you to spend your time where most needed. As I set out on my own roadmap some years ago, I quickly realized that to build on accomplishments, I would need a structure to institutionalize learning and tackle big projects.

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I focused first on collaboration and created regions supported by a network of project management teams (PMTs). This structure progressed and socialized ideas in the business and encouraged interfacility, interdivisional collaboration on such topics as audits, green initiatives, investigations, shortage awareness, technology, training, uniforms (yep, those too if you use them), and vendor vetting and engagement.

Team leaders were encouraged to become subject-matter experts (SMEs) certified by the Loss Prevention Foundation, American Trucking Association, and International Association of Interviewers. From this experience, the PMT in charge of training enhanced our standard operating manual, which eventually became a digital interactive tutorial. Building on shared knowledge and a “pay it forward” attitude, the network became connected and focused on a singular vision—one team with one goal “to win at all we do.”

Capture Quick Wins

Once the right organization is in place, identify immediate fixes that will help your team gain traction and provide immediate financial benefit that could support funding for larger programs. We upgraded our SCAP network with technological enhancements to quickly connect qualitative (CCTV and Regiscope) and quantitative (business intelligence tool) information.
The CCTV platform provided multiple advantages:

  • Remote access via PC, smartphone, or tablet
  • Thermal imaging and motion tracking technology
  • Advanced video review on an IP platform
  • Analytics with smart alerts based on a facility profile

Maximizing network visibility coverage was invaluable. Capturing, storing, and being able to transmit small clips of video to the appropriate resources minimized time spent investigating. Instituting protocols that allowed off-site support teams to provide more focused monitoring during high-awareness events allowed for a targeted focus on key assignments without any task interference for the talented team that needed to be “on” all day and every day.

Introducing the Regiscope system provided an immediate improvement to a soft-target hardening program. At welcome centers (guard houses), Regiscope can record every inbound shipment, video capture, appointment, and bill of lading that enters and exits a facility. At facility entrances, it records the entry and egress time of every visitor and temporary employee as well as their purpose for visiting (and can flag them as a no return as well). The Regiscope helped crack a multimillion-dollar cargo theft investigation that connected specific suspects to high-shortage appointments within a very short window of deployment.

Examine the Field

With the right teams in place supported by core technology, turn your efforts to improving speed-to-market for your enterprise product strategies. Improvements such as 24/7 yard access and other risk-mitigated throughput initiatives for select facilities will move your merchandise closer to the consumer while maintaining or increasing security layers. Having a well-trained officer working the welcome center at all hours will make receiving inbound and outbound appointments more fluid and flexible while getting your freight one step closer to its final destination.

In addition to the operating benefits, 24/7 yard access mitigated cargo theft risk by keeping our freight out of unsecured parking lots. More than 80 percent of reported US cargo theft occurs in unsecured parking lots. We focused on that risk as measured by the volume of freight held in our secured yards over weekends—a portion of which could have been parked in unsecured lots in the past.

Implement a lane risk management program to keep your inbound cargo safe and secure. We used origin and destination zip code to identify the highest-risk inbound shipments in our supply chain. We then partnered with high-risk vendors to create a GPS program to track all high-risk or high-value shipments. The GPS tracking program was expanded to encompass all inbound shipments from our high-risk vendors, not just those on high-risk lanes. In addition to the covert GPS program, all new carriers were vetted for safety, financial, and security best practices as an additional layer of review before entering contract negotiations.

Gain Visibility and Measure Progress

To best align SCAP to business goals, establish a technology toolset to analyze performance and document progress. With the benefits of quick wins proving our approach, we were positioned to create greater value for the enterprise. The focus at this stage was to provide the SCAP team with improved tools to effectively and efficiently execute at a high level while containing payroll expense and minimizing span of performance.

The two linchpin tools for one of the networks I designed were APPro™ and a fraud portal. A business intelligence platform, APPro (designed with strategic provider Ministry of Ideas out of the UK) supports digital auditing, reporting, and a case management system that provides real-time information and analysis to our SCAP teams. The introduction of APPro also marked the start of SCAP mobility. The application was designed with tablet use in mind, in addition to PC and smartphones, to allow our SCAP officers to enter audits and information as it happened from anywhere in our facilities.

The fraud portal was created as a digital interface to expedite communication between SCAP and digital fraud teams. Over a three-year period, double-digit millions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent orders were identified and stopped before shipment.

Build the Business Case

Align your technology strategy to the enterprise’s critical business strategies and show your results. To keep our team focused on quantifiable progress, we established strict financial discipline. With a keen eye on expenses, we focused on adding value to the enterprise by closing large-value investigations, minimizing risk exposure, and creating a unique relationship within the virtual supply-chain community. Effective adoption of technology allowed us to increase value without increasing cost. Keeping payroll expense flat, we were able to positively impact key risk indicators such as loss avoidance and fraudulent stop orders. A crucial aspect of our financial stewardship was properly managing outsourced resources. Our SCAP team was able to secure and document significant financial benefit of double-digit millions in recovered losses by preventing fraudulent orders and closing cargo theft investigations with greater efficiency.

Create Culture

Celebrate progress and give your team the credit they deserve. Transparent and authentic interaction, recognition programs with committed quarterly network calls, and an annual team-branded digital magazine served as effective vehicles for improving and maintaining strong communication and employee engagement in the SCAP mission. A commitment to open, honest communication and “people first, mission always” was evidenced in improved manager trust scores.

We gave our team a voice with an inclusive digital magazine to celebrate success and share knowledge across the network. An officer of the month is selected in each facility based on the officer’s monthly performance and their personification of core values. Each quarter, one of the many SCAP supervisors is selected as leader of the quarter, and one of our many national asset protection investigators is selected as investigator of the quarter based on exceptional results (not heavily weighing on stats but overall performance as an SME).

To extend our culture outward across our network, we converted our guard houses into welcome centers. This engagement moment with the carrier and driver community has shown that we genuinely care about their experience of moving our freight.

Look Ahead

Build on momentum to tackle the toughest challenges before you even know what they are. With a roadmap laid out and in motion, we were able to move forward to increase visibility so that we could address weaknesses in the supply chain before they became issues. We partnered with our GPS provider on enhanced dashboarding that tracks potential risk while in transit using both GPS and, most recently, EDI data inputs. This integrated view of high-level order data, carrier information, and shipping events should allow you to review estimated time of arrival, lane risk, inventory management, and risk mitigation as the supply chain is performing in real-time. (I refer to it as a supply-chain visibility initiative or SCVI.)

We converted our training programs, policies, procedures, audits, and case management to digital platforms, all accessible via the SCAP portal, to allow for real-time information and communication across all screen sizes and devices. To further support the SCVI, I worked with third-party solution providers to develop a unique and one-of-a-kind overt/covert camera and locking platform with GPS and RFID technology that can be used on and in trailers for outbound deliveries.

As the group intelligence improves and the tool set evolves to support it, you may reach the point where you can predict potential issues before they impact operations. Teams may also come forward with new solutions that all can leverage. With true stochastic analysis techniques, you should be able to plan, define probability, and model based on predictive analytics with the confidence to act.

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