Supply Chain Risk: Don't Forget the Bean Counters

In the war to reduce supply chain risk, it's not just old-school management consulting firms (e.g., BCG, AT Kearney) and the consulting spin-offs of the Big 5 that are getting into the advisory game. In fact, I'd argue it is the accounting-types from the original Big 5 firms who are leading the charge in the supply risk consulting area. In a recent AMR Research brief (registration required), Mark Hillman and colleagues describe how the audit practices have Ernst & Young, KPMG, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers have gotten the business and operational consulting bug once again, targeting this area, among others. And in the case of KPMG, the supply risk practice appears quite mature indeed, according to Mark and other sources I've heard from.

Given the close ties of supply risk ownership -- or at least management -- to the internal audit function inside many organizations, the rise of bean counter advisors in this area is not surprising given their existing audit relationships inside client companies (it's also safely distant from IT consulting, which in the post-Enron world is a gray area for the audit firms, at best). Indeed, a number of Protiviti's supply risk practice leaders also come from the old Arthur Andersen (and not the sourcing and supply chain side of the old consulting practice). Personally, I feel that given how aloof the management consulting Big 5 spin offs can be when it comes to such areas as global sourcing, I'd sooner place my bets with the old audit-stock of advisors to come up with better supply risk recommendations and processes, anyway.

Jason Busch

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