Guide to Supply Chain Management in Construction 

supply chain management in construction

We may be living in a post-pandemic world, but we are still feeling the impacts of the last several years. This is especially true when it comes to the supply chain.   

A survey by Dodge Data & Analytics found that a significant majority of contractors (93%) indicated that their projects had been affected by rising construction costs due to supply chain issues.  

Despite these challenges, however, firms can still thrive and stay ahead. The key is to keep up with the latest supply chain trends so you can identify opportunities and action steps for your teams and projects.   

To help you do that, this post covers the essentials of managing the supply chain in construction. You will learn the benefits of supply chain management, strategies to improve, and leading technologies in the market today.   

Let's dive in!   

What is Construction Supply Chain Management?  

Construction supply chain management refers to the processes, systems, and practices used to manage the flow of materials in the construction industry. It also includes managing the relationships between various parties within the supply chain—including manufacturers, suppliers, contractors, owners, and more.   

Successful supply chain management moves construction materials quickly and cost-effectively. Goods are delivered on time and within budget, meaning contractors can build and execute projects efficiently.   

Strategies to Improve Construction Supply Chain Management  

Proper supply chain management, and efficient systems and processes are critical to the success of any project. Here are several tips for doing just that.   

Focus on planning with accurate forecasts  

Costs tend to fluctuate when the supply chain is tight, so it is essential to plan and forecast appropriately. Pay attention to trends and events, like material price increases and manufacturing disruptions, that may affect the supplies you need and factor those in when planning your budget and forecasts.   

It also helps to adopt solutions that make it easy to amend costs and bids. A cloud-based platform enables you and other stakeholders to collaborate in real time, so when prices fluctuate, everyone can see the changes and adjust accordingly.   

Choose the right partners  

For supply chain management to be successful, multiple parties—including suppliers, contractors, and subcontractors—need to work well together. For this reason, you must select the right construction partners for your project.   

Evaluate potential suppliers and partners by looking at the quality of their goods or services, particularly amidst recent supply chain challenges . Ask for references and consider their post-sale terms.   

You should also use a supplier management system that enables you to review and track vendor information. Some solutions allow you to input your supplier requirements and standards, so potential vendors or partners can determine if they are a good fit.   

Create clear communication processes  

Many issues (in construction and life in general) can be resolved or avoided altogether with effective communication practices. That is why you should set up processes to ensure everyone can relay information efficiently.   

The specific process will depend on your project and team. You should include the following details:  

Status and availability of materials. Pay attention to any goods or supplies you need for the project and where they are in the supply chain. Look at the materials in the pipeline and determine whether everything is on track.   

Potential or predicted issues. Instill a forward-thinking mindset in your partners to empower them to foresee potential mishaps. Brainstorm solutions with your vendors and contractors, then produce action steps if things go differently than planned.  

Changes in pricing or lead times. You will want to know about price changes and delays sooner rather than later. Make sure these are brought to your attention ASAP, then work with stakeholders to change course when needed.   

Tech to try  

sitesense logo

Intelliwave Technologies' SiteSense ® construction software solution streamlines how users identify and track materials, inventory, and equipment. Plan and track installation packages with insights into material availability constraints and keep project teams updated with dashboards and notifications. These solutions work on both desktop and mobile so teams can manage assets from anywhere.   

Invest in the right tools  

Technology is not a magic fix for all supply chain issues; however, it can improve efficiency and reduce risk. Cloud-based construction management solutions enable teams to work smarter and have a better handle on all materials needed for a project.   

Better insights into supply product information and pricing. Modern construction platforms can connect to suppliers for real-time quotes and pricing data. In a rapidly changing environment, having updated info is critical for putting together accurate budgets, quotes, and bids.   

Kojo

Kojo is a leading materials management software that provides contractors with an all-in-one digital solution to streamline materials management from pre-con to payment. With Kojo, contractors can increase efficiency, save on material costs, and grow margins.   

Improve collaboration and communication between teams. Using the right construction solution makes staying connected with your team immensely easier. Stakeholders can collaborate on a single platform , so supply chain updates, issues, and action steps are raised and resolved quickly.   

Integrated supply chain workflows. Connected construction solutions enable you to capture data in the field, which can then be synced with other applications—such as your ERP or accounting software. These integrations speed up admin and procurement tasks, saving time and lowering unnecessary costs.   

Streamlined payments and billing processes. Connected construction also simplifies payment- and billing-related workflows. For instance, you can enable subcontractors to digitally submit pay applications, then route those requests to project managers for prompt approval. Moreover, modern tools can let you and your subcontractors track payment status updates online, reducing the need for back-and-forth conversations.  

AlliedBIMLogo Build It Better Logo-1

If you work in prefab, also check out AlliedBIM . This company offers BIM services and fabrication software to help firms design and assemble models in a way that saves time, labor costs, and material waste. Allied BIM leverages integrations to cut down spooling efforts and track fabrication lead times.  

msuite logo

MSUITE i s a cloud-based software suite that connects BIM, Fab, and Field Construction Teams and tracks, manages, and shares data for measuring a project's health. Built for those involved in MEP, EPC, and modular construction, MSUITE increases VDC, shop, and project management visibility into design processes, material status, and shop stats.   

Stratus+button

Stratus is a construction procurement, manufacturing, and coordination platform. By maximizing the BIM model for prefabrication, STRATUS gives users the ability to create advanced work packages, on demand reporting, and job tracking all within a digital environment. That enables execs, shop floor & field personnel to make data-driven decisions with accurate information, communicate efficiently, reduce waste, and increase productivity.  

The Benefits of Better Supply Chain Management  

Improving your supply chain processes and systems can take time and money, but it is well worth the investment. Here are some benefits construction companies get when they stay on top of supply chain management.  

More transparency  

The right supply chain management tools give you a better handle on project materials and equipment. With solid systems in place, you can easily track where supplies are, when they are delivered, and if they have been installed.  

When supply chain data is visible, teams stay organized and make smarter project decisions. If you know when a piece of equipment will be delivered, for example, then you can make staffing and scheduling decisions accordingly.   

Being transparent with the above information also adds value to the final stages of a project. Consolidating supply and equipment data is a breeze, thus making handover and operations easier.   

Tech to try 

geometrid

If you need to monitor your supply chain network, Geometrid can help. The platform provides visibility and analytics across the supply chain, so you are never left in the dark. Geometrid delivers real-time updates in an interactive BIM environment, making it easy to track building progress, view elements, and access analytics.   

Tighter cost control  

Increased supply chain visibility also sheds light on areas of waste and improvement. You can quickly see where you are overspending and pinpoint inefficiencies in your processes. This, in turn, frees up cash flow and paves the way for a healthier bottom line.  

Build.Works Logo

build.works is a cloud ERP solution for lean offsite construction. It offers a range of tools for BIM-based production planning and execution. From creating quantity takeoffs for Design for Manufacturing & Assembly (DfMA) to crafting a Bill of Materials for your modules/panels, build.works has various capabilities that can help bridge the gap between BIM and supply chain execution.   

Win more work  

Solid supply chain practices lead to more favorable project outcomes for contractors, vendors, and owners. And when you consistently execute quality projects, you will naturally win more work and grow your business.   

Bringing It All Together in Supply Chain Construction Management

Supply chain challenges will not be going away, so investing in systems and practices that improve how you manage supplies, equipment, and teams is more important than ever. We hope this guide gives you ideas for uplevelling supply chain management in your company.   

And if you are looking for more construction insights and best practices, subscribe to our blog. 

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Please note you do not have access to teaching notes, the impact of covid-19 on construction supply chain management: an australian case study.

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN : 0969-9988

Article publication date: 12 January 2023

Issue publication date: 1 September 2023

Effective maintenance of construction supply chains is paramount to business continuity during the pandemic. Focusing on a large private Australian construction company, this research aims to investigate to what extent the current pandemic has affected the daily operations of this company. This research touches on the broader effect on the industry, while it narrows the focus on how effective construction supply chain management can minimise a pandemic's negative impact on a company. The critical question will be how private contractors that primarily rely on social infrastructure projects can fortify their supply chains and general operations during the global pandemic.

Design/methodology/approach

A mixed qualitative and quantitative approach is employed in this research. Based on literature review and question design, data is collected through interviews with various stakeholders. Moreover, operation data is also collected from the case company to support the results and findings.

The respondents have generally agreed that the case company has effectively managed its supply chains to this point of the pandemic through the implementation of supply chain monitoring processes and maintaining stable relationships with stakeholders. This is supported by the operation data of the case company.

Originality/value

This is timely-conducted research, and it is original research with invaluable operation data. This case study is conducted during a pandemic and provides lessons learned for global supply chain management in the post-pandemic period.

  • Supply chain management
  • Supply chain resilience
  • Corporate culture

Sutterby, P. , Wang, X. , Li, H.X. and Ji, Y. (2023), "The impact of COVID-19 on construction supply chain management: an Australian case study", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management , Vol. 30 No. 8, pp. 3098-3122. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-10-2021-0942

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Stephen Pryke

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Successful Construction Supply Chain Management: Concepts and Case Studies

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Successful Construction Supply Chain Management: Concepts and Case Studies 2nd Edition

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Provides a unique overview of supply chain management (SCM) concepts, illustrating how the methodology can help enhance construction industry project success

This book provides a unique appraisal of supply chain management (SCM) concepts brought together with lessons from industry and analysis gathered from extensive research on how supply chains are managed in the construction industry. The research from leading international academics has been drawn together with the experience from some of the industry's foremost SCM practitioners to provide both the experienced researcher and the industry practitioner a thorough grounding in its principles, as well as an illustration of SCM as a methodology for enhancing construction industry project success.

The new edition of Successful Construction Supply Chain Management: Concepts and Case Studies incorporate chapters dealing with Building Information Modelling, sustainability, the ‘Demand Chain' in projects, the link between self-organizing networks and supply chains, decision-making, ‘Lean,’ and mega-projects. Other chapters cover risk transfer and allocation, behaviors, innovation, trust, supply chain design, alliances, and knowledge transfer.

  • Supply Chain Management techniques have been used successfully in various industries, such as manufacturing and food processing, for decades
  • Fully updated with new chapters dealing with key construction industry topics such as BIM, sustainability, the ‘Demand Chain' in projects, ‘Lean,’ mega-projects, and more
  • Includes contributions from well established academics and practitioners from Network Rail, mainstream construction, and consultancy
  • Illustrates how SCM methodologies can be used to enhance construction industry project success

Successful Construction Supply Chain Management: Concepts and Case Studies is an ideal book for postgraduate students at MSc and PhD level studying the topic and for all construction management practitioners.

  • ISBN-10 1119450683
  • ISBN-13 978-1119450689
  • Edition 2nd
  • Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
  • Publication date February 25, 2020
  • Language English
  • Dimensions 6.9 x 0.9 x 9.7 inches
  • Print length 384 pages
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From the inside flap.

  • Includes new chapters dealing with key construction industry topics such as BIM, sustainability, the 'Demand Chain' in projects, 'Lean', mega-projects, and more
  • Includes contributions from academics and practitioners from Network Rail, mainstream construction, and consultancy

From the Back Cover

About the author.

STEPHEN PRYKE, FRICS, MSc, PhD, PGCertEd, DipS, MCMI, is Professor of Supply Chain and Project Networks, and Course Director of the MSc Project and Enterprise Management at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London. He is also Director of Postgraduate Teaching and Learning at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, UCL and Director of the Centre for Organisational Network Analysis (CONA@UCL). Stephen worked closely with the leading exponents of supply chain management worldwide before joining UCL full time. He previously provided project management training and consultancy to a number of major European companies and has been a consultant with Durland Consulting in Chicago. His main research interests involve supply chain management and the application of social network analysis in the study of construction project networks.

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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Wiley-Blackwell; 2nd edition (February 25, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1119450683
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1119450689
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.9 x 0.9 x 9.7 inches
  • #7,450 in Home Design & Construction (Books)
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Case study: Lean supply chain management in construction projects

  • Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Research output : Chapter in Book/Entry/Poem › Conference contribution

Researchers and construction professionals have adopted lean manufacturing concepts and strategies in the development of lean construction principles. Much of these efforts have centered on the field construction activities themselves. However, the ideology of lean focuses on the entire value stream of an operation from raw material to final product delivery. Waste and inefficiency is still evident throughout construction supply chains. The goal of this paper is to investigate improvement opportunities in the construction industry, utilizing the practice of lean supply chain management. A case study was conducted to achieve this goal and investigate applicability in the field. An assessment was done with a local contractor already familiar with lean. From this study came a number of findings and observations: differences between lean and non-lean fabricators and effects on construction, effective staging of materials. From these findings, improvement recommendations are prepared for future projects.

Publication series

  • Collaboration
  • Just-in-time
  • Lean construction
  • Supply chain management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Architecture

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  • Link to publication in Scopus
  • Link to the citations in Scopus

Fingerprint

  • Lean production Engineering & Materials Science 100%
  • Supply chain management Engineering & Materials Science 92%
  • Construction industry Engineering & Materials Science 76%
  • Supply chains Engineering & Materials Science 73%
  • Contractors Engineering & Materials Science 72%
  • Raw materials Engineering & Materials Science 70%

T1 - Case study

T2 - 16th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction, IGLC16

AU - Zimmer, Eric

AU - Salem, Ossama

AU - Genaidy, Ashraf

AU - Shell, Richard

N2 - Researchers and construction professionals have adopted lean manufacturing concepts and strategies in the development of lean construction principles. Much of these efforts have centered on the field construction activities themselves. However, the ideology of lean focuses on the entire value stream of an operation from raw material to final product delivery. Waste and inefficiency is still evident throughout construction supply chains. The goal of this paper is to investigate improvement opportunities in the construction industry, utilizing the practice of lean supply chain management. A case study was conducted to achieve this goal and investigate applicability in the field. An assessment was done with a local contractor already familiar with lean. From this study came a number of findings and observations: differences between lean and non-lean fabricators and effects on construction, effective staging of materials. From these findings, improvement recommendations are prepared for future projects.

AB - Researchers and construction professionals have adopted lean manufacturing concepts and strategies in the development of lean construction principles. Much of these efforts have centered on the field construction activities themselves. However, the ideology of lean focuses on the entire value stream of an operation from raw material to final product delivery. Waste and inefficiency is still evident throughout construction supply chains. The goal of this paper is to investigate improvement opportunities in the construction industry, utilizing the practice of lean supply chain management. A case study was conducted to achieve this goal and investigate applicability in the field. An assessment was done with a local contractor already familiar with lean. From this study came a number of findings and observations: differences between lean and non-lean fabricators and effects on construction, effective staging of materials. From these findings, improvement recommendations are prepared for future projects.

KW - Collaboration

KW - Just-in-time

KW - Lean construction

KW - Supply chain management

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84856671108&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84856671108&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Conference contribution

AN - SCOPUS:84856671108

SN - 9781905732456

T3 - Proceedings of IGLC16: 16th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction

BT - Proceedings of IGLC16

Y2 - 16 July 2008 through 18 July 2008

A data-driven robust decision-making model for configuring a resilient and responsive relief supply chain under mixed uncertainty

  • Original Research
  • Published: 15 May 2024

Cite this article

supply chain management construction case study

  • Bahar Javan-Molaei 1 ,
  • Reza Tavakkoli-Moghaddam   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-6757-926X 2 , 3 ,
  • Mohssen Ghanavati-Nejad 1 &
  • Amin Asghari-Asl 4  

The crucial role of the Relief Supply Chains (RSCs) in the response phase of disaster management is undeniable. However, the literature shows that the simultaneous consideration of the resilience and responsiveness dimensions in designing the RSCs under mixed uncertainty has been ignored by researchers. In this regard, to cover the mentioned gap, the current study aims to configure an RSC by considering two critically important features namely resilience and responsiveness under mixed uncertainty. For this purpose, this work proposed a multi-stage Decision-Making Framework (DMF). In the first stage, a Multi-Objective Model (MOM) is proposed that minimizes the total cost, maximizes the responsiveness level, and maximizes the resilience of the RSC. In the second stage, to deal with mixed uncertainty, a data-driven robust approach based on the Fuzzy Robust Stochastic (FRS), Seasonal Auto-Regressive Integrated Moving Average Exogenous (SARIMAX), and Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) methods is developed. In the third stage, to solve the proposed model, a novel variant of the goal programming method is developed. In general, the main contribution of this study is to develop a novel data-driven DMF to design a resilient-responsive RSC. To show the applicability and efficiency of the developed decision-making method, a real-world case study, the flood that happened in 2019 in Golestan province, Iran, is considered. Eventually, sensitivity analysis, managerial insights, and theoretical implications are presented. According to the achieved results, primary suppliers 1, 3, 5, and 7 and also backup supplier 1 are selected. Also, the results demonstrate that distribution centers 1, 2, 3, and 5 are established. Moreover, the optimal utilization of different transportation modes is specified in the achieved results. The outputs demonstrate that the developed data-driven FRS approach has better performance in comparison with the deterministic and traditional FRS models. Besides, the outputs indicate that the developed solution method has better performance in comparison with the traditional approaches.

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CVE-2024-3094 The targeted backdoor supply chain attack against XZ and liblzma

April 01, 2024 By Ilkka Turunen

11 minute read time

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As sure as long weekends arrive in the western world, so too does news of new supply chain attacks. The easter bank holidays were no exception, with the discovery of a targeted attack against the popular XZ compression utility seen in many linux distributions such as fedora, debian to name a few.

The Sonatype team was alerted Friday with the rest of the world as this attack was uncovered by a curious developer who noticed that their ssh login was taking 500ms instead of 100ms!  

We think this is one of the more complicated benevolent stranger malware injections to date, and deserves amplification. This post is to discuss all the elements that have been discovered over the weekend and give our stance on this incident.

The practical end result is that the world now has another patching effort in front of them - to discover which systems are affected by the bad packages, and to upgrade to a known good version, which currently is understood to be anything below 5.6.0. The malicious code seems to have only been distributed in the operating system packages, and not present in the java-xz package. This may change as more research is performed.

The situation is still developing, and the malware attacker’s contribution history is being studied. As we find out more we will relay information about the package here.

What is the XZ package and what does it do?

To put it shortly, the XZ utility and it’s associated library are linux utilities, much like bzip or gzip. It handles data compression. It has gained popularity over the years and is commonly used for this purpose. Compression is useful in many use cases, and is often seen in critical procedures performed by the operating system. This is speculated to be the reason why the assailant chose this project specifically as their target.

Who is affected by the backdoor?

The good news is that no Java software dependencies are affected, according to our research and as discussed by the Apache foundation . Although there is a xz distribution in Java under org.tukaani.xz, the last release was 3 years ago, and all subsequent commits have been done by the original maintainer and can be considered safe. 

This means operating systems that distribute the xz package and liblzma which is installed with it should be considered affected. The affected versions are 5.6.0 and 5.6.1 - both released in the last few months, now pulled from all the distro package registries. Any system with these two versions still installed should be considered compromised.

When considering what to patch here, operating systems mean not just linux boxes, but also containers and any development machine that may use tools like homebrew. So far at least Fedora, Kali, and some unstable releases of Debian have been confirmed to spread the malware.

What is the malicious code in xz?

The malware targets the sshd process, commonly used to facilitate remote access in Linux servers. It allows the attacker to essentially bypass the entire ssh authentication process - and thus gain access to the server. It needs to run on a system that uses glibc and most likely on something that uses .deb or .rpm packages. 

The attack actually uses the IFUNC call provided by glibc to bypass system calls for encryption under these specific circumstances. One of the most published effects is that it bypasses the ssh daemon authentication procedure, allowing unrestricted access. Since the code is encrypted, it performs slowly which is why it was 

discovered.

There are good deep dives into the technical details of this issue that can be found:

  • Github user thesamesam’s FAQ  
  • org.tukaani (original project maintainer’s) writeup

Essentially, any unix machine, including macOS based personal devices, on which any version of xz or liblzma is installed should be considered backdoored and needs to be remediated. You should be prioritizing systems in production with public facing ssh connection ability.

How did the backdoor get merged?

What makes this attack stand out is that the assailant followed the benevolent stranger attack playbook nearly to the letter. This is very similar in motivations and vector to the attacks performed against 3CX or Solarwinds , just played out longer term. Thus, this is definitely a supply chain attack, but probably the most elaborate social engineering project that we have seen. 

Firstly, the XZ project has been maintained by a sole developer for almost two decades. It is liked, moderately popular, and underserved at least to the apparent community needs. In 2022, the project maintainer began getting pressure from suspected sock puppet accounts about their lack of speed of applying updates .

This type of behavior is not uncommon in open source projects that get popular - maintainers are inundated with requests for work without the requester actually helping. This type of dynamic has led to some authors to protest within their software - like in the case of the famous colors and faker packages where the author deliberately made their software publish protest messages about their free labour. The older a project gets without volunteers, the more likely it is to be subject to security weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

In the case of xz, the maintainer expressed the project is their hobby, and would welcome another maintainer onboard.  One such maintainer appeared, Jia Tan. With an account with a short history, they approached the maintainer with initially innocent patches and began contributing code. With the benefit of hindsight, it is now evident this was social engineering performed to ratchet up the pressure for the maintainer to relent. As is standard in open source, when you pick up the shovel you begin to gain trust. Over time, Jia Tan became more and more trusted . 

Once Jia gained the trust of the maintainer, they began suggesting and adding features. Jia Tan also advocated for the xz project's adoption downstream into linux distributions due to its now advanced features - again a very normal and expected activity. With the benefit of hindsight though, the timeline of these activities is extremely accelerated when considering normal open source project contributor journeys. They went from contributor to signing releases in a course of a year.

Over the next 24 months, they would add encrypted code that started working in stages. The malicious code was hidden in two binary test files embedded within the source code . Normally this would be alarming, but this was a compression package after all, meaning binary test files are not beyond the norm, allaying any doubts, so all malware was hidden in plain sight. It was partially this compression that caused the slowdown observed by the developer later on. More on these below.

Though everything seemed above board and would have passed any human sniff test, it is worth mentioning that in our past modeling of what projects are most likely to contain security vulnerabilities, we have found that binary files are one of the largest indicator of a security vulnerability being present . 

elements-useful-id-vuln-projects

How was it discovered?

The malware was discovered by a Microsoft developer wondering why their ssh connections over a period of time began slowing down. As they investigated the issue they came to realize the sideloaded nature of the xz utility. This caused them to raise the alarm, which ultimately resulted in the package being pulled out and the current incident being raised.

How do I mitigate the issue?

You should aim to understand every affected system you control and which ones have the affected packages installed. This will include not just virtual machines, but also containers based on any linux distro. 

Best practice to help with this effort is to generate a SBOM or a System BOM of all of your containers and virtual machines and monitor them for any new findings. In this regard, Sonatype  Container can be of help by auditing your container package indexes for any known bad package.

It's worthwhile to prioritize any infrastructure that has public facing interfaces but not forget about other privileged hardware such as developer machines or internal build infrastructure that may be of high value target potential. 

It also is evident that information about this issue will continue to arrive as researchers deep dive into this code. The situation over time may change as the assailant worked on the code for a period of 2 years. It’s prudent to expect further changes in known safe versions.

Why did this happen?

A lot of perspectives have been raised about this attack - the maintainer was a sole unpaid enthusiast. As they began trusting the attacker more they began letting patches through without oversight, even when they didn’t actually fix issues they claimed to. It would be completely wrong to blame the original maintainer for the lack of any such oversight - it is after all their hobby project, something they did on the side out of passion. In fact, they were taking a break from contributing altogether at the time of this incident. They already were the sole torchbearer of a larger community decades ago.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is safe to say the attackers chose their target carefully. It was a critical project, large adoption, under pressure. When put together with the sequence of evidence, it is easy to conclude that this was a deliberate operation from beginning to end.

What could have been done to avoid falling foul of this lure? Not much I’m afraid. Some of the commentary raises a consistent criticism that the industry should do more to support these kinds of critical projects. The grim thought many have had is how many other projects such as xz are susceptible to this type of operation? Much like underinvestment in physical infrastructure in the form of highways or water utilities , there is a significant portion of the digital infrastructure that has seen their old maintainers retire and no new ones emerging to take the mantle. The reasons for this are manyfold and deserve future examination, but needless to say, xz is not a unique project in this regard.

By a coincidence this hobby project became part of critical infrastructure and nearly became universally adopted. This phenomenon is not unique to the xz project or any other open source for that matter. Due to the network effect, any piece of code can transform from a hobby to a universally leveraged piece of critical infrastructure. Adopting code takes little effort and so it is done in the name of efficiency, which is extremely useful for the incentives most of us have - to ship software out as fast as possible with as good of a quality as possible.

This certainly means on one level that to minimize the risk posed by such attacks is to begin contributing back to open source software you depend upon for your business.

From a systems perspective, the reality is that a lot of our IT infrastructure is beholden to a deep supply chain consisting of components just like this - relying upon countless open source projects. Because of this, according to one study, replacing open source altogether would 3x an organization’s software development spend instantly . 

This fact of digital nature is not lost on adversaries and attackers - nation states and otherwise. The long game the attacker played suggests deep pockets, pointing the finger to an intelligence operation. The desired outcome of such an operation would certainly have been the complete backdooring of most digital infrastructure, and we were possibly mere months away from this plan completing.

This is not the first such attack - on the application level we have observed many such incidents ranging from manufactured several crypto heists , open source hijacks , to backdoored releases of other popular packages . 

The lesson we absolutely should not take from all this is that open source should be considered unsafe or minimize its usage. Far from it, the open nature of the project allowed this attack to be uncovered in the first place. 

What should happen instead is that organizations should have a cold hard look at their risk models when it comes to open source. The reality is that when you adopt technology it comes with a commitment to keep it maintained, and the risk of adverse realization rests solely on the shoulders of the organization adopting the code - not the maintainers of it. The only mitigation to such risk is to identify the affected systems quickly, and to jettison the malicious or vulnerable code as fast as possible. 

This combined by genuinely effort in replenishing the pool of maintainers for such projects, through dedicating time and energy and resources are the only way to sustain what is already out there. CISA and OpenSSF have initiatives towards this end, but more is needed from everyone if the aim is to succeed.

Practical steps to minimize future incident impacts

There are patching strategies one can follow - such as adopting a best practice we uncovered a few years ago in our research that the most optimal version of any package is 2.7 versions behind the latest release . In this case this would have helped to keep the package in a safe range.

Migration-score-correlation

There is tremendous naivete in the industry in assuming all code that is gained from reputable sources is safe forever. For the most part it absolutely is. However, when it is proven to NOT be, it is absolutely imperative that the organization be able to mount a coordinated patching effort in 48 hours or less, with full knowledge of the affected targets. Anything less is not to benefit from the learnings of such incidents in years past, and to ignore the fact that these types of attacks will become more frequent.

All of the risk may come from the open source code, and yes, effort to keep it safe should be made at the open source project level. However true that may be, another truth also exists: the RISK of that open code rests solely with the organization adopting it - directly or indirectly. Any method to minimize this risk should be undertaken, and pretty soon will be required by directives such as the NIS2 directive in the EU . This will require critical organizations to notify regulators of any such incident within 24 hours of discovery and supply them with a mitigation plan.

To achieve such monumental feats might seem daunting, but the solution is simple - to look inward at your process to collect the information necessary and automate the identification process. The fundamental element to be collected is a SBOM of every software, operating system and open source dependency bought, adopted, built or put into production, and to monitor these SBOMS in an automatic matter for ANY new vulnerability, issue and release and evaluate them against predetermined policy automatically. To this extent, Sonatype Container in our platform can help.

Merely blindly upgrading everything is a waste of energy which is why most organizations don’t do it. Applying intelligent rules automatically when new findings are discovered helps organizations stay on top of their issues. It is for this fundamental reason we recently published our Sonatype SBOM Manager product - to help automate this process end to end.

This is not the first attack of its kind nor will it be the last one. It is a wake up call that we as an industry must rise up to the challenge and get better prepared. At the same time, we must support our maintainers. Our digital world depends on it.

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Written by Ilkka Turunen

Ilkka serves as Field CTO at Sonatype. He is a software engineer with a knack for rapid web-development and cloud computing and with technical experience on multiple levels of the XaaS cake. Ilkka is interested in anything and everything, always striving to learn any relevant skills that help towards building Sonatype for success.

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The crucial role of Supply chain finance: Boosting cash flow, reducing risk, saving lives

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17th May 2024

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Supply chain finance is an increasingly critical aspect of supply chain management, enabling organisations to improve their cash flow, mitigate risk in their supply chains, and ensure the continuity of supply and the financial health of their suppliers, according to SAPICS (The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management).

In the public health sector, lives depend on efficient supply chains, to ensure that essential medicines, vaccines and healthcare commodities are available to patients and vulnerable communities when and where they are needed. However, the financial side of these supply chains can often be a complex hurdle that impedes the effectiveness of health programmes, SAPICS says.

Recognising the imperative to intensify the focus on finance in supply chain management, and to ensure that its members are empowered with the latest knowledge, skills, tools and technology, SAPICS has partnered with the global Supply Chain Finance (SCF) Community. This group consists of international knowledge institutions, corporations and supply chain finance professionals who share best practice and new research in an open, collaborative environment. Its founder members are leading business schools supported by corporations, banks, consultancies and technology vendors. The SCF Community aims to promote and accelerate the understanding, development and implementation of supply chain finance models.

Too many companies protect working capital by slow-paying suppliers

“Supply-chain finance today takes many forms, including early payment with dynamic discounting, inventory financing, pre-shipment purchase-order financing, and asset-based lending,” explains Luca Gelsomino, academic director at the SCF Community. “But the sector offers plenty of room for growth,” he states. “Too many companies continue to limit their efforts at protecting working capital to slow-paying suppliers. More creative solutions are needed to benefit both parties, especially at a time when economic uncertainty promises to put even more pressure on already challenged margins.” Based in The Netherlands, Gelsomino is also an assistant professor at the University of Groningen.

Supply chain finance will be in the spotlight at the upcoming 46th annual SAPICS Conference, which is Africa’s leading event for the supply chain profession. Taking place in Cape Town from 9 to 12 June 2024, it will see hundreds of attendees from around the world gather to network, learn and share knowledge through panel discussions, presentations, workshops and case studies.

A powerful practical workshop facilitated by Gelsomino is on the programme along with an insightful presentation on supply chain finance that he will share with SAPICS 2024 attendees.

Managing physical and financial flows in supply chains

These sessions will delve into the relevance of supply chain finance for today's supply chain manager. SAPICS Conference delegates will have the opportunity to work on real-world case studies, applying supply chain finance principles to day-to-day operations. “This hands-on approach ensures a deeper understanding of how supply chain finance principles can be applied to enhance cash flow optimisation, supply chain resilience and sustainable performance. In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, the integration of supply chain and finance has become paramount for success. It is critical that we jointly manage physical and financial flows in supply chains,” Gelsomino stresses. His not to be missed contributions to this year’s SAPICS Conference have been sponsored by financial technology solutions provider Addendum, which is also a Silver Sponsor of the event.

SAPICS is hosting this year’s conference in association with the Southern African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF).

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1993 how the construction company remstroy was created   the year 1993 was a period when a lot of construction companies, which had been working successfully during the soviet times and had rich staff capacity, were forced to cease their activity for various reasons. a lot of capable specialists either had to look for another job or change their field. but there were also those who were willing to realise their potential in the field of construction in accordance with the received degree and the experience they had accumulated. thus, in 1993 in elektrostal (moscow oblast) a group of specialists and people sharing each other’s ideas, who had enormous educational background and the highest degree in architecture, organized and registered ooo firm erg which began its rapid development and successful work, offering its service both on the construction market and other areas. 2000 industrial construction is the main area   seven years of successful work have shown that combining different types of activities in the same company is not always convenient. and in the year 2000 the founders of ooo firm erg decided to create and register a monoprofile construction company ooo remstroy construction company. industrial construction was chosen as the priority area. it was in this area that the directors of ooo sk remstroy began their working life and grew as specialists. in order to achieve the set goal, they selected a mobile team of professionals in the field of industrial construction, which allows us to cope with the tasks assigned to ooo sk remstroy throughout russia and the near abroad. 2010 manufacturing of metal structures   we possess modern equipment that allows us to carry out the entire cycle of works on the manufacture of metal structures of any complexity without assistance. designing – production – installation of metal structures. a staff of professionals and well-coordinated interaction of the departments let us carry out the work as soon as possible and in accordance with all customer’s requirements.” extract from the list of members of self-regulatory organizations, construction.

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  1. Successful Construction Supply Chain Management

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  7. Successful Construction Supply Chain Management

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  8. Successful Construction Supply Chain Management

    Successful Construction Supply Chain Management: Concepts and Case Studies. Stephen Pryke. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, Dec 13, 2019 - Business logistics - 384 pages. Provides a unique overview of supply chain management (SCM) concepts, illustrating how the methodology can help enhance construction industry project success.

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  12. Successful Construction Supply Chain Management: Concepts and Case Studies

    The new edition of Successful Construction Supply Chain Management: Concepts and Case Studies incorporate chapters dealing with Building Information Modelling, sustainability, the 'Demand Chain' in projects, the link between self-organizing networks and supply chains, decision-making, 'Lean,' and mega-projects. Other chapters cover risk ...

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  14. Case study: Lean supply chain management in construction projects

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  20. Construction Supply Chain Management : Concepts and Case Studies

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  24. The crucial role of Supply chain finance: Boosting cash cash flow

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  25. OOO Remstroy Construction Company

    2000. Seven years of successful work have shown that combining different types of activities in the same company is not always convenient. And in the year 2000 the founders of OOO Firm ERG decided to create and register a monoprofile construction company OOO Remstroy Construction Company. Industrial construction was chosen as the priority area.

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