August 19, 2016

The Not-So-Obvious Risks Managed by Product Stewards

Risk management and product stewardship go hand-in-hand. In fact, an effective product stewardship program can be an integral part of a company’s overall risk management effort.

Some risks and their relationship to product stewardship are obvious. Compliance activity, for example, is traditionally associated with product stewardship. The risk associated with noncompliance is well understood by stewards and executives alike.

But other risks are not as top-of-mind, such as reputation management. Yet product stewardship efforts contribute enormous value in this area and others, says Tom Grumbles, occupational health manager at Sasol. He discusses the different areas where product stewardship and risk management meet in “Risk Management and Product Stewardship,” a chapter in the new book Realizing the Full Business Value of Product Stewardship, published by the Product Stewardship Society.

On reputation management, Grumbles writes “A company depends on reputation to achieve a sustainable business. [Health, safety and environmental] events anywhere in the supply chain that are attributed to a company can create the risk of losing business and ultimately profitability … Good PS programs can help control and in fact manage those risks if they occur.”

Grumbles also points to product development as an area where stewardship can add value by lending their expertise. “How quickly can you get a product to market in your business area? What are the steps in your product development and where can product stewardship be applied,” he asks. “Are there chemicals that consumers have growing concerns about, that can reduce the potential success of the product in the market?”

Although many product stewards’ activity is driven by regulatory requirements, a broader perspective shows that other risks exist that are less easily defined. A key is thinking in terms of value proposition – not just what you have to do but how you can add value. “Getting better at these other areas can help increase value,” says Grumbles “Doing that little extra can help your company keep market share.”


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