Certainty Blog

What is a Supplier Risk Assessment – Why it’s Important

What is a supplier risk assessment

A supplier risk assessment is a process that helps businesses identify and evaluate potential risks associated with their suppliers. By conducting a supplier risk assessment, businesses can proactively address potential issues and minimize disruptions to their operations.

The general purpose of a supplier risk assessment is to ensure that a business is working with reliable and trustworthy suppliers. This is important because a company’s suppliers play a critical role in its overall operations, as they provide the raw materials, components, and services that are necessary to produce and deliver products and services to customers. If a supplier experiences issues or fails to meet the company’s expectations, it can have serious consequences on your supply chain resilience, such as delays, production disruptions, profit losses, and an overall effect on their competitive advantage.

Types of Risks in the Supply Chain

Businesses should consider several types of risk factors when conducting a supplier risk assessment. Some of the most common risks include:

Financial stability

A supplier’s financial health is an important factor to consider, as it can impact their ability to meet their obligations to the business. This includes timely delivery of goods, adherence to payment terms, and the overall health of their business.

Product Quality

Poor quality products can have serious consequences, such as customer complaints, returns, and lost sales. It is important in your risk management strategy to verify that a supplier’s products meet the required standards and specifications.

Delivery Reliability

If a supplier is unable to meet delivery deadlines, it can cause delays and disruptions to a business’s operations. It is important to assess a supplier’s ability to meet delivery schedules and ensure that they have the necessary resources and capacity to do so.


A supplier’s compliance with regulatory and industry standards such as the German Supply Chain Act is an important factor to consider. Non-compliance can hugely impact business continuity and result in legal issues, fines, and damage to a business’s reputation.

The Supplier Evaluation Risk Rating System

To help businesses assess and manage the level of risk with suppliers, many companies use a supplier evaluation risk rating system. This system assigns a risk rating to each supplier based on a variety of factors, such as financial stability, quality, delivery reliability, and compliance.

The risk score is typically based on a scale, with higher scores indicating lower risk. For example, a supplier with a high-risk rating may be considered less reliable and may require closer monitoring and management, while a supplier with a low-risk rating may be considered more reliable and may require less oversight.

By using a supplier evaluation risk rating system, businesses can prioritize their efforts and allocate resources more effectively. It can also help them identify supplier relationships that may require additional support or intervention to address any issues.

The Supplier Risk Assessment Process

There are several steps that businesses can follow when conducting a supplier risk assessment:

Identify the suppliers

The first step is to identify all of the suppliers that the business works with. This includes both current and potential suppliers, and your tier 1, 2, and 3 suppliers.

Identifying your suppliers can be completed by performing audits of your supply chain. This can include reviewing the flow of materials and products through their organization, as well as interviewing employees and managers who are involved in procurement and sourcing. Performing this audit gives you clear visibility of your entire supplier network – not just your direct suppliers you’re likely already aware of. Also, it will help your business identify any potential gaps in its network, as well as any areas where it may be over-reliant on a single supplier.

Gather information about the suppliers

Once the suppliers have been identified, the next step is to gather as much information as possible about each supplier. Metrics of use may include financial statements, operational data, and compliance records. This information is generally gathered when businesses audit or inspect their individual suppliers.

It’s recommended to regularly schedule audits and inspections for current, new vendors, and potential vendors to ensure sustainability and to maintain a high level of awareness for potential supply chain disruptions. During these audits and inspections, it’s beneficial to use digital checklists over paper-based checklists. The ability to input observations during this process in real-time streamlines the audit process and maintains higher accuracy. Checklists such as the German Supply Chain Act Due Diligence Checklist and the Supplier Social and Environmental Compliance Checklist are excellent free templates for automation and to improve measuring supplier performance.

30+ Audit and inspection checklists free for download.

Assess the risks

Using the information gathered, the business can then assess the vulnerabilities associated with each supplier. Things to keep in mind when assessing a supplier’s risk could include:

  • Evaluating the supplier’s financial health and ability to meet its obligations.
  • Assessing the supplier’s quality control processes and procedures to ensure they meet your standards.
  • Supplier’s lead time and ability to deliver products or services on time.
  • Evaluate your level of dependence on the supplier and the potential impact on your business if the supplier were to fail.
  • The supplier’s reputation in the industry, are there any red flags or warnings?
  • How responsive and communicative is the supplier? How easy is it to reach them and get the information you need?
  • How compliant the supplier is with all relevant laws and regulations.

Prioritize suppliers

Based on the risk assessment, the business can then prioritize the suppliers based on their risk profile. This will help the business to focus on the most critical suppliers first.

When prioritizing suppliers, it’s important to consider the factors that are most relevant to your business and to use a systematic approach to evaluate and compare different suppliers. One way to prioritize suppliers is to use a scoring system or a weighted criteria matrix.

Here’s a step-by-step process of using a weighted criteria matrix for supplier prioritization:

  1. Identify the criteria that are most important to your business. This could include strategic importance, financial stability, quality and reliability, lead time and delivery, cost, innovation and value-add, reputation, communication, compliance, and diversification.
  2. Assign a weight to each criterion based on its importance to your business. For example, you may assign a higher weight to strategic importance and quality than to cost.
  3. Rate each supplier on each criterion. You can use a scale of 1 to 5, or any other system that works for you.
  4. Multiply each supplier’s rating by the weight of the criterion to get the weighted score for each supplier.
  5. Sum up the weighted scores for each supplier to get the total score.
  6. Compare the total scores for each supplier and prioritize them based on their score.
  7. Regularly review and update the score and the weight of the criteria to ensure that the priorities align with the current situation of the company.

It’s important to note that this method is just a guide, and you should adjust it to best fit your company’s needs and culture. Also, you may want to consider including a qualitative analysis with the quantitative one.

Implement risk management measures

Once the risks have been identified and prioritized, the business can implement risk mitigation measures. This may involve developing contingency plans, negotiating contracts with higher-risk suppliers, or implementing additional monitoring and oversight.

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