Saturday, May 22, 2010

We Are the World

Everyone talks about the "global economy" and how business is linked with the various countries around the world - either as commercial markets or as sourcing markets. In all my CSR positions, I've had the opportunity to consider the world beyond my own country borders, but never have I had to dig as deeply into country information before my current position.

I sit squarely in our supply chain organization and am focused on helping the company consider entry into and exit out of different countries from a sourcing perspective. And I'm now in the middle of a "country risk assessment" project where I've been tasked with assessing the risks of doing business in those countries where we're currently sourcing and those under consideration.

It's an interesting project and I get to learn about countries like Mauritius and Jordan, but it's been a laborious piece of work as well. Each country requires several hours of research and of course there are many other pressing demands on my time. I've started to engage external purveyors of country risk analysis to see if I can streamline the research process and am now in the position of receiving approximately 20 e-mail newsletters a week that alert me to macroeconomic shifts in different countries around the world.

The problem with these research and information sources is that I simply don't have time to filter through the wealth of information out there. And most of these sources don't do a good job of narrowing down available information to make it easily digestible or relevant to my industry. My full-time job could be to sift through information about China, but unfortunately, I have other things to do.

As I pull these country profiles together for an upcoming meeting (one that's far too close on the horizon), a growing concern is how I'm ever going to keep these profiles current and how I will be able to manage ongoing communication of their contents to my colleagues. It's a weird responsibility, being the keeper of country risk information - and one that I'm not totally convinced plays to my strengths.

After all, how does one person stay abreast of all the economic and political developments in several dozen countries, while considering all the potential implications on our supply chain and business? There has to be an easier way!

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