Your supply chain and extended workforce can include; suppliers, vendors, partners, consultants and distributors. They can have access to your facilities, employees and trade secrets. In order to protect yourself from potential exposure you must understand exactly who these companies are. Screening these companies should include documenting where they do business and possibly a site visit or inspection. Background research on the company and key executives should also be considered, including searching for information on their litigation history, credit history, and assets.
Failure to secure a supply chain that is consistent, reliable and trustworthy can lead to issues that impact your ability to manufacture, distribute and sell products and services in a timely and repeatable fashion. Suppliers that are not stable financially and have been involved in litigation (breach of contract, trade secrets theft, counterfeiting) should be vetted further to avoid the potential risk they can bring to your company if they go rogue. Suppliers looking to make extra money have been known to sell products via unauthorized channels, register trademarks and other IP in jurisdictions and hold you and your brand hostage. Remember that your extended workforce (Partners, Vendors & Consultants) often have access to your facilities, employees and proprietary information. Treat your extended workforce just as you would your employees as they pose the same risks and can expose you and your company to the same liability.