Could the good old phrase ´time is money´ – used already by B. Franklin, the 18th century – be applied to 21st century supply chain security?
After visiting the ´dark side of global supply chains´ – crime taxonomies and B2G corruption in particular – in the last couple of blogs, it is time to look bit on the ´brighter side´ – i.e. ´what-who-how´ can be done to fight against illicit in global supply chains. Our first ´bright side –blog´ is about ´time-based security management´ – a concept which might have been explicitly applied in the past by some authors in IT-security domain, but possibly not yet in a broader supply chain crime prevention and security management context. Time-based management per se is nothing new: one can easily find lots of literature from 1990´s where ´time´ – as in ´lead time´ or ´duration´ – was explored as a key competitive factor linked to product development, manufacturing, logistics operations, definitely still being of very high relevance in such ´traditional contexts´. Now, in this blog, we aim towards explicit linking of ´time duration´ with ´security performance´ – please bear with us for a moment…
In July 2011, a colleague at CBRA and myself were giving a couple of presentations at Imperial College in London, in a supply chain security conference organized by Dr. Khalid Bichou and Professor Michael Bell. Our presentation topics dealt with supply chain security metrics; vulnerabilities in global supply chains; as well as crime taxonomies. During the conference coffee breaks, I had interesting discussions with some researchers from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean on following idea: could we produce a conceptual model – with some practical examples – on what kind of role ´time-dimension´ typically plays in supply chain security management? Well, now, some 3.5 years later, I am giving it a shot to share the following simple idea: In supply chain security management, keeping time durations short is good for the good guys; while keeping time durations long is bad for the bad guys… Let´s consider next several practical examples!
When considering first from the good guys perspective – say a security director of a manufacturing or a logistics company – the time parameters linked to crime prevention, detection and recovery appear to be more or less in line ´the shorter the duration the better´. Think first for example about risk management, security device installation and maintenance as well as security training processes: the faster they can be done – while still maintaining the required quality or performance levels – the less time employees are away from other tasks, and the lower level of security costs are achieved. Next, let´s consider time aspects linked to crime incidents, say for example warehouse burglary: the faster an alert is made; the faster the alert is monitored; and the faster the security service or police intervenes on site, catching the intruder, the better. Also, in the case of a ´crime reward decrease´ -mechanism, say for example a device stopping a stolen truck or a color ampule destroying a stolen product, time evidently is money. As the last item, let´s think about various post-crime recovery activities: replacing stolen or damaged products; reporting to police; and going through a legal process, are obvious examples confirming that ´quick time is good for the good guys´.
Considering then from the bad guys perspective, does it hold that ´long time is bad for the bad guys´ – encouraging good guys to prolong any duration linked to illegal activities, if and when possible? Well, the longer it takes to carry out various steps in illicit acts, including time required for intrusion, committing the illicit act as well as escaping from the crime site, say again in the case of warehouse burglary or truck theft, the worse it is for the bad guys, increasing the likelihood of getting caught or otherwise failing. Then, the longer the learning period for example to circumvent new security measures or to produce counterfeit products, the higher the cost of crime, and therefore the less the illicit profit – at least when considering a cost linked to one´s own time spend. Long selling time in case of stolen goods also makes it less attractive to commit such crimes, at least when comparing with goods which can be sold on black markets in a quick manner. The last example for the bad guys deals with the punishments: risk of having to ´do long time in prison´ if caught can reduce the interest and motivation to get involved in such illegal acts, in the first place.
Finally, I would challenge you, dear blog reader, to come up with a case where such a ´dual time-based security´ -logic fails: can you think about a case where a long duration is good for the good guys, or where a short duration is bad for the bad guys? We would love to hear from you, on the blog comment field or by email ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) . Have a good rest of the week everyone, Juha.