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Chain wrestling

06 November 2017

Andrew James describes how managing supplier relationships within the supply chain has helped Jaguar Land Rover work more efficiently without jeopardising security.

SECURITY MANAGERS have enough to do and the very title of ‘manager’ conjures up the inference that there is a set of requirements and responsibilities to be handled with a defined number of resources (people, equipment, time, budget etc). That is before you even begin to peel away the ongoing needs of stakeholders, external force demands and proactive intelligence assessments that are meant to lead to productive gains through continuous improvement. There is enough to do. 

Many managers are also bombarded with the next-best-thing-on-the-market offerings from people and companies that they have never heard of, as suppliers attempt to gain additional business. Many suppliers are content to quote for business, win-some lose-some and bolt things to doors and walls before selling a maintenance contract and walking away. The supplier relationship is, for many, a transactional one at best and such relationships break down as a result of lack of cohesion, failing to understand each other’s needs or because the emotional bank account has been depleted or overdrawn. 

When you embark on any type of relationship be it family, friend or even supplier-buyer, then you are effectively opening an emotional bank account. For the most part, in a supplier-buyer relationship, the buyer makes the first deposit by placing goodwill in the shape of an order. With that comes a set of expectations that are normally agreed upon from the outset and moulded over time. The supplier is now responsible for making deposits into the bank too – delivering on time, to specification, quality and cost is the currency transaction here. The bank account will only grow through mutual deposits. 

Over time and through repeat business the account will continue to thrive and interest (reward) is delivered back to both parties. At some point in the relationship one of three things will happen. 

  • Both parties continue to remain in a constant cycle of transactions and seemingly happy with the relationship but may be missing transformation opportunities due to the one transaction at a time nature of the relationship;
  • There becomes much more of a common understanding of each other’s strategy that drives a change in the relationship status to strategic partnering. This realisation only comes as a result of profound trust in the abilities of each party to grow together; and
  • Through broken promises, failed projects or performance delivery (on either side) the bank account withdrawals become too excessive and the account is closed

Successful security managers and leaders will manage their relationships with care and invest their time in maintaining the account. It stands to reason then that managing few relationships in this way is possible whereas attempting to manage too many relationships will ultimately lead to breakdown. Strategic partnering is thriving in organisations today and this article seeks to demonstrate the practical application of the concept within a large organisation operating in a fast-paced environment where time is one of the most precious commodities. 

Strategic partnering 

Corporate Security and Business Protection (CSBP) is the department responsible for managing fire and security related risk in Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). With a vision of ‘protecting the future of JLR’ the team deploy resources across multiple disciplines covering items such as, security and fire systems management, front line security, asset protection, corporate investigations, emergency response and resilience planning. The full list of responsibilities is far more encompassing and the general structure spans a traditional operational delivery model underpinned and overarched with a tactical deployment of the longer term transformation strategy. 

JLR is a company that brings together two British car brands. After Tata Motors acquired Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford in 2008, it merged the two marques into a single company and its success has flourished, with memorable vehicles and innovative technologies that add to a long-lasting legacy. Tata Motors, India’s largest automobile manufacturer, officially joined Jaguar Land Rover together as one company in 2013. Sales and profits have risen year on year, with more exciting chapters in the histories of these two brands still to be written. 

Many in the fire and security installer industry will know all too well, the difficulties involved in merging organisations who will, much like Jaguar and Land Rover, be operating from different systems, approaches and architecture. Since 2013, CSPB has been working to harmonise, make more efficient and transform the hardware and system infrastructure used to protect the organisation. That particular journey began with a vision for excellence centred on standards for the future. Start with the end in mind is a common management mind-set and some would argue that you cannot begin to chart your roadmap without first understanding what is to be achieved. In this case, and remaining true today, the purpose is to create a robust and effective security culture where security is the biggest team – everyone is a member. 

Part of the standardisation strategy involved the number of, and how JLR manage, supplier relationships within the fire and security supply chain. A particular focus was applied to shifting the buying model and working with internal stakeholders in getting all parties to understand the importance of security standards as opposed to purchasing based on cost alone. The focus is on the long term ‘you get what you pay for’ and whole life solution delivery that starts at robust design – an outcome of having a detailed set of requirements including performance criteria and continues with post installation service and maintenance, managing performance through KPIs and strategic partnering. For the process to work effectively then all parties should see it as a cycle as opposed to a start and end linear structure, not dissimilar to the continuous improvement cycles depicted in many academic books and journals. 

The course within JLR is set and the focus is on consolidation through standardisation, automation and transformation and this can only be done through effective partnering with the relevant security and fire industry.  How does ‘strategic partnering’ work in reality and what does it look like? ‘Connected and Secure’ is an inflight project within the Company that seeks to do a number of things:

  • Consolidate the disparate and disconnected access control systems across JLR worldwide – starting in the UK and a number of other ‘key’ facilities across the globe;
  • Replace the current access workflow system that manages all administration such as access requests, leavers, area control etc;
  • Replace the current visitor management solution;
  • Take advantage and replace the current card technology and move to an enabling platform that secures the future of JLR and enables other technologies to be used; and
  • Integrate and automate the technologies so that access control administrators can be proactive systems advisors as opposed to data inputters as they are today

Project vision

The project vision is to have a connected data set (50,000+ cards in the systems) that is commercially valuable to the organisation when making key strategic decisions. In its current form, there are six different AC systems, not including workflow, and nine supplier-buyer relationships to be maintained, which includes the external-internal that are entities not directly employed by JLR but resident within the company stakeholders who manage the IT-based systems. For the past five years CSBP has focussed on the end vision. Five years ago was the point in time when the company began a working relationship with the technology strategic partner for access control. 

It has taken five years for the future to be shaped that started with introductions over a cup of coffee. From that initial conversation, the partner has been instrumental in providing JLR with that most important commodity – time. It invested effort, competence and professional support in bringing the vision to a reality. The future within the access control space is far clearer and involves three key partners for the department to manage and work with. 

The fundamental differences that sets strategic partnering aside from other transactional buyer-supplier relationships revolve around mutual interests and long-term aspirations. If either party is looking for a cheap or quick fix then it will not work. The benefits to JLR have been clear from the outset, it comes with that acceptance of being the trusted advisor, which is called ‘transparent’ in JLR customer first principles’ terms. 

The focus in this article has been centred on one technology – access control, which is part of the physical security infrastructure. There are many more technologies in need of focus and partnering now so introductions over a cup of coffee should not be underestimated. 

The physical security world needs to have more conversation and debate if it is to improve because the challenges continue to emerge or become greater. The focus in many technology companies is beginning to shift into the digital advances being seen in 3D, artificial intelligence and augmented reality, all of which will begin to merge the physical and digital worlds – protecting that merged world is a fascinating challenge and, subject to a whole different article.  

Andrew James is senior manager for corporate security at Jaguar Land Rover. For more information, visit www,jaguar.com or www.landrover.com