Category Archives: CSR

One Key Question to Ask When Selecting a Multi-Criteria Supplier Sustainability Monitoring Solution

In our last post on Key Questions When Selecting a Multi-Criteria Supplier Sustainability Monitoring Solution, we noted that not only can supply risk management not be siloed, but in order for it to be successful, it must be centralized through a CoE that puts together policies and procedures that not only ensure that

  • every supplier is covered
  • on all relevant dimensions
  • but not on irrelevant dimensions
  • without any duplication of effort

but also ensure that

    • there are no false positives in the risk assessment and
    • there are no false negatives

In order to effectively implement this holistic approach, an organization will require a good multi-criteria supplier and sustainability risk monitoring solution that can proactively monitor, assess, and re-asses supplier sustainability and risk using data from dozens, if not hundreds, of disparate sources that paint a comprehensive picture of supplier sustainability.

But not every platform will make the cut. Definitely not all will meet the integration requirements, which is one key requirement of a good platform. More specifically, ethics, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability information is vital information that can and should be used in many different supply management platforms such as e-Sourcing, e-Procurement, CLM, SRM and other platforms that support a wide variety of supply management processes and workflows. As such, this integration should be trivial and for major supply management platforms, almost “out-of-the-box”. Moreover, in some organizations, this information also needs to be available to other departments that, and no surprise here, are reliant on different platforms and responsible for smaller or indirect spends not (fully) under the control of Procurement. As such, the platform needs a well defined, and easy to use, API that can allow the data to be pulled out for any platform that needs it, and that allows any proprietary or limited access data the organization has access to on the supplier’s sustainability and risk profile to be pushed into the system. Why?

For more complete details on this requirement, as well as key questions to ask when evaluating a multi-criteria supplier sustainability monitoring solution, check out Sourcing Innovation’s latest white paper on 5 Essential Criteria for Selecting a Supplier Sustainability & Risk Monitoring Solution, sponsored by Ecovadis, that will help you understand just what a good sustainability and risk monitoring solution needs to do.

Waste Not. Want Not.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability is all the rage with Generation Y and, in many countries, is essentially the law (where environmental protection is a key concern of citizens and law makers alike) — but are you doing everything you should (even if it is not yet legislated)?

Basically, if you procure it, and it is not used, you wasted it — and if you are not careful, it will go to a landfill, and that should be unacceptable.

However, in many companies, the focus on CSR and Sustainability is on the supply chain, and the Tier 1 (and Tier 2) suppliers as it is expected the company will comply with all laws and adhere to its own Sustainability and CSR policies, but this over-focus on the supply chain often results in drips of waste throughout the organization that, when added up, create a small pond, if not a large lake.

What do we mean by this?

Due to a lack of initiative or control by Procurement, the following happens in most organizations:

  • paper, paper everywhere especially in the back office (as AP needs to print invoices that fail OCR to re-enter them, legal has to print contracts to review them, managers need their reports on paper, etc.)
  • obsolete MRO inventory piles up in the stock room as excess parts for equipment replaced years ago doesn’t go with the equipment
  • low-cost defective products pile up in the back of the warehouse as it’s not worth the perceived return costs for minimal cost products or low volumes
  • non-recyclable packaging goes to the trash and the local landfills (and dumping costs) pile up
  • broken pallets litter the corner of the yard and are left to rot

But Procurement could prevent most of this.

  • demand management reduces paper especially if Procurement ensures AR, Legal, Managers, and anyone else who generally uses a lot of paper has dual monitor systems. A couple of hundred on a good extra monitor can reduce paper usage by 80% and only has to be replaced every 4 to 5 years.
  • MRO management (software) either in house or third party can instantly detect when inventory is obsolete and sell it to someone who needs it before all it is useful for is scrap metal
  • up-front return process definition and management ensures that defective products get promptly returned, or recycled, to make sure scrap yards don’t increase
  • insistence on reusable or recyclable packaging and making it mandatory in contracts can prevent packaging waste
  • better pallet acquisition can increase lifespan and a recycling/disposal policy can make sure the wood goes to good use

In other words, unless Procurement makes an effort to define its wants as waste free as possible, it will get its wasteful wants. Another point to ponder.

Geopolitical Sustentation 25: Government Actions

Upon review of our damnation series, we know that governments can be a major source of damnation. From their meddling in the employment rate (economic damnation 3), currency strength (economic damnation 5), and their sheltering of the 1% (economic damnation 7); their lack of support for postal services (infrastructure damnation 11), ports (infrastructure damnation 13), and roads (infrastructure damnation 14); their (mis)management of customs acts (geopolitical damnation 28), trade embargoes (geopolitical damnation 29), and the TPP poison pills (geopolitical damnation 30); their taxation (regulatory damnation 33), tariffs (regulatory damnation 34), and health and safety (regulatory damnation 35); and their poor urbanization plans (societal damnation 43), utter lack of support for education (societal damnation 44), and their handling of workers’ rights legislation (societal damnation 48), their damning meddling is everywhere. (It’s more ubiquitous than the meddling of those meddling kids.)

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. In our damnation post we listed a few of the more focussed damnations that will cause you a never ending nightmare.

  • Budget Freeze
  • State of Emergency
  • New Legislation Outlawing your Product or Service
  • Criminal Charges against your Organization or Executives

1. Don’t Sell Governments More Than You Can Afford to Maintain in the Receivables Indefinitely.

There’s no guarantee of quick payment, or even late payment in the timeframe you are led to believe it will materialize in. Government might be good money, long term contracts, and guaranteed references, but they aren’t always the best customers if you need money now. Make sure you have a core business selling to the private sector that can sustain you through the dry times.

2. Don’t be slack in receivables recognition and collection

Insure all deliverables are received, acknowledged, and accepted on a timely basis. Make sure the invoice gets in the approved payment queue ASAP, and follow up the minute a payment date is missed. You don’t want multiple invoices in a queue during a budget freeze or budget shortfall. You want as few as possible, and you want them front of the queue as soon as the freeze is lifted.

3. Keep abreast of any proposed legislation that could impact your product

You want plenty of time to engage lobbyists if you can afford it, and if the product line is that profitable, or identify reformulations (or replacements) if the product is important, but not worth enough to engage lobbyists to try and alter the legislation appropriately (which may not be successful).

4. Make sure you have well documented policies and procedures in place … and all follow them.

Have a policy that failure to follow policies and procedures, especially those that are designed to protect the organization and stay on the right side of the law, will result in immediate discipline and possible dismissal. Also implement monitoring systems and processes to do your best to ensure that all individuals follow critical policies and procedures. The goal is that if someone breaks the law, it’s doing so in a way not supported or condoned by the company.

5. Make sure the board oversees the executive and reviews key financial reports and deals on a regular basis.

If one of your executives is engaging in shady business practices, you want to discover it and take action first. It’s often the difference between a slap on the wrist and a public hanging. (And don’t say you have nothing to worry about. It’s well known that the job that attracts the most psychopaths is that of the CEO, with the job that attracts the second most psychopaths being that of the lawyer who defends him.)

Key Questions When Selecting a Multi-Criteria Supplier Sustainability Monitoring Solution

In our last post on why Supply Risk Management Can Not Be Siloed, we noted that the average organization was not properly managing risk, and this was not only costing the organization time and money, but putting it at significant risk. We noted that there were a number of reasons for this — which included a lack of time, resources, and even immediacy — but the biggest reason was because there is a lack of cohesion in the fragmented risk management approach employed by many organizations. But we also noted that there was something the organization could do, namely, take a holistic approach to sustainable risk management.

In a holistic approach to sustainable risk management, risk management is centralized through a Centre of Excellence (CoE) that holistically manages risk for the entire organization. This CoE will put together policies and procedures that not only ensure that

  • every supplier is covered
  • on all relevant dimensions
  • but not on irrelevant dimensions
  • without any duplication of effort

but also ensures that

    • there are no false positives in the risk assessment and
    • there are no false negatives

Part of these procedures will include regular monitoring for risk and the regular re-examination of risk and sustainability of organizational suppliers and potential suppliers. And best practice will dictate that part of this monitoring and review will be automated by a multi-criteria supplier sustainability monitoring solution and supported by a provider that specializes in this type of platform as the monitoring will need to be maintained and adjusted as new data sources become available, old data sources go offline, and the depth of data changes over time.

But how do you select a good provider, and, most importantly, how do you select a good platform to meet your multi-criteria sustainability needs? The first thing you do is understand what makes a good platform and what the platform needs to do to take away your risk and sustainability management and your risk and sustainability monitoring pain.

To help you achieve this goal, the doctor recommends that you download Sourcing Innovation’s latest white paper on 5 Essential Criteria for Selecting a Supplier Sustainability & Risk Monitoring Solution, sponsored by Ecovadis, that will help you understand what a good sustainability and risk monitoring solution needs to do, not just what features or functions need to be in the brochure.

Stop Blaming the Supplier! Melamine in the Milk is STILL Your Fault!

This article originally ran three years ago. (Link) It’s continued relevance is why we are repeating a slightly updated version of it.

Three years ago, research revealed that only 6% of procurement managers and directors have ever been made aware of unethical activity in their supply chain. (Source: This was a surprising statistic since we know that supply chains in certain verticals run rampant with unethical behaviour, including violations of workers rights, child labour, and even human trafficking. However, when you think about it, it’s not all that surprising as E&Y’s recent 14th Global Fraud Survey found that 42% of executives could justify unethical behaviour to meet financial targets! Who would want to stand up to the CXO who could fire you if you know the CXO probably authorized the unethical behaviour in the supply chain in the first place!

The reality remains that as much as we’d like to believe that only 6% of supply chains have unethical activity, given that almost 86% of North American companies have a supply chain reliant upon China alone for key parts1, and 42% of CXOs will turn a blind eye, that’s a pipe dream. Depending on how rigid you want your definition of ethical to be, I’d guess that the number should be closer to 60%. Or more!

So why is it your fault if your supplier does it? Simple. As per the original survey, it’s because less than half of your organizations do any due diligence in their supply chains! Only 48% of UK firms do any due diligence at all! Even worse, 14% of respondents to the original EY survey did not even know what third-party due diligence meant, for crying out loud! You have to do due diligence and you have to ask tough questions and someone who can be trusted has to do a site visit to major suppliers at some point. If you do all this, and the supplier lies through their teeth, then, while your company may still be held financially responsible, it won’t be held criminally responsible and ethically you will know you did all you could (except cut the supplier loose before they did the unethical act, but at least you can cut them loose as soon as they do).

This is why you need good supply chain visibility, document management, and CSR monitoring. There are companies that do this, including Resilinc, Integration Point, and Ecovadis. (See the Vendor Post Index for more.) Reach out and get these types of solutions if you don’t already have them. They will be worth it.

And if you want more information, Ecovadis recently sponsored a trilogy of white papers by Sourcing Innovation on the importance of sustainability and social responsibility monitoring in your supply chain, the first two of which are available for your reading pleasure:

and the following is coming soon:

  • 5 Key Questions to Ask When Selecting a Multi-Criteria Supplier Sustainability Monitoring Solution

1 Supply Chain Disruptions, Ted Landgraf, Above the Standard Procurement Group, July 15, 2012.