Quality Management in the Oil Industry: How BP Greases Its Machinery for Frictionless Sourcing
(5 pages of text)
In the winter of 2010 in Shanghai, Dr. Zeb Feng, procurement director for Asia at British Petroleum (BP), was acutely aware of the growing burden that quality control imposed over his company’s global operations. Chinese suppliers were masters of cost-cutting, but quality often suffered as a result, which led in turn to an increased need for inspection and development efforts. Almost five years ago, Feng’s company had established an international procurement office (IPO) in Shanghai, which served as a shared service centre for internal customers throughout BP worldwide. Since that time, the IPO had been mainly sourcing non-hydrocarbon goods and services.
After a corporate board meeting with Christina De Luca, the vice president of procurement and supply chain management for BP’s downstream operations, it had been decided that the company would start to enhance its global competitive sourcing. As the number-one supplier market in the world, China was a high priority for further oil exploration. The pressing point that concerned Feng was whether Chinese suppliers were sufficiently ready to supply mission-critical supplies for oil drilling, extraction, and refining. During a recent conference call, De Luca had reiterated, “Zeb, our competitors are way ahead of us in their sourcing operations, and they have achieved much lower costs. We’ve got to do something!” Feng had to gather his team for a planning meeting. He knew that supply quality was the key issue, but how could it be resolved?
This case was written for a graduate or MBA course in purchasing and supply management or supply chain management. It gives students the chance to develop their analytical and decision-making skills on a complex strategic sourcing decision. The case presents the opportunity to review sourcing organization, sourcing strategy, low-cost country sourcing, international procurement offices (IPOs), quality management, and supply-chain design.
China, Large, 2010
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