Achilles Experiences: Affinity Water improves supply chain management with Achilles UVDB
Affinity Water is the United Kingdom’s largest water-only supplier, providing an average of 900 million litres of water each day to a population of more than 3.5 million across the Central, East and Southeast regions. Formed in 2012, the company is owned by a consortium of investors and employs around 1,100 people.
Affinity Water has relationships with over 1,100 active suppliers spread across 90 live spend categories. Gary Booth, Director of Procurement and Fleet Services at Affinity Water, and his small team oversee these relationships as part of Affinity’s supply chain management.
Initially Affinity used Achilles UVDB to generate potential tender lists of pre-qualified suppliers, but continued to take potential suppliers through its own qualification procedures for individual tender opportunities.
This was time consuming and labour intensive. As Affinity only reviewed a supplier when they were actively tendering, it was perhaps no surprise that when Gary conducted a review in 2014, he found that for around 800 of Affinity’s active suppliers – many of them long-term, legacy suppliers – the company held minimal up-to- date information.
‘We set out to improve our assessment and knowledge of our suppliers,’ says Gary. ‘We’re now doing something different. Achilles and their systems underpin that.’
Affinity realised that by making use of the Achilles UVDB Verify Audits, it could better manage its relationships with high risk profile suppliers. ‘For the highest risk suppliers we decided to go further in our relationship with Achilles and adopt the Achilles UVDB Verify standard. This means that Achilles conducts an annual thorough risk-based audit of those high-risk suppliers,’ Gary explains. Gary and his team are now contacting their suppliers and notifying them of the change in process. ‘Going forward in 2016, as we launch fresh competitive exercises in the high-risk category of spend, having a valid Achilles UVDB subscription and Verify Audit will become prerequisites to be considered for the tender process.’
Affinity continues to periodically self-assess its low-risk profile suppliers, but requires all medium-risk profile suppliers to have an Achilles UVDB qualification and all high-risk profile suppliers to complete an annual Achilles UVDB Verify Audit in addition to having a valid Achilles UVDB qualification.
This rigorous programme of supply chain management fits perfectly into Affinity Water’s wider ambitions in the utilities sector. ‘We want to be the leading community-focused water company, and knowing about our supplier’s approach to the environment, health and safety and quality assurance is crucial,’ says Gary. ‘These are all components of the wider risk profile.’
Expanding its buyer relationship with Achilles has allowed Affinity Water to transform its risk management process and consequently
improves supply chain management and operations across the business. For Affinity, making the most of the Achilles UVDB platform means:
Peace of mind. ‘We can trust Achilles to ensure that suppliers have certifications in place,’ says Gary and Affinity Water can be confident it’s engaging suppliers who are qualified and credible.
Easy access to supplier information. Achilles gives Gary a single point of reference for information about his medium and higher risk suppliers, providing him with relevant and accessible data to make procurement and supply chain management easier.
A proactive partner. With a small team and a large network of suppliers, Gary has found Achilles to be a useful resource. ‘They’re
effective, responsive, and have actually done a lot of the legwork,’ says Gary.
Affordable improvement. Affinity Water’s new supply chain management programme is designed to support continual improvement and Gary hopes that it will build credibility and recognition in the market place. The cost of undertaking such a programme in-house would have been ‘prohibitive’. ‘Achilles is by far a more cost-effective option,’ says Gary.
Better for everyone’s business. ‘We’re not overburdening our suppliers by having them audited individually by a series of clients,
including ourselves,’ says Gary. ‘Plus, the Achilles UVDB community is a gateway for suppliers into the wider utilities sector where other buyers will find them.’
“I can tell the outside world, I can show shareholders and I can explain internally that we have deployed a consistent approach towards the management of our supply chain risk, and Achilles underpins that.” Gary Booth, Director of Procurement and Fleet Services, Affinity Water