Sustainability Content

Procurement pros rise to the occasion at Big Ideas Summit Chicago

When the city of big shoulders hosted the Big Ideas Summit last week, the procurement executives at Procurious’ event in Chicago generated a lot of excitement and a powerful list of insights.

An array of speakers led thought-provoking sessions and imparted plenty of big ideas — from the latest in neuroscience to how procurement technology and policies affect issues like human trafficking and forced labor in supply chains.

‘What other needs do you have?’ — Lessons from ConnXus, a supplier relationship expert

Supplier relationship management (SRM) has grown from just sourcing the best deal to really evaluating suppliers for diversity, ability to innovate, value generation and their risk.

In this series on SRM, we’ve discussed how the development of supplier diversity has improved supplier management overall, and we’ve explored how companies can meet their goals to have a robust supply chain that’s diverse.

Businesses now know to get their spend data in order and should know how to measure the impact of that spend. They should be able to develop suppliers and drive innovation. Responsible businesses can protect their brand reputation by assessing their main suppliers (tier 1) and those deeper in the supply chain, as well as having a plan to mitigate risks, like unethical sourcing, forced labor in the supply chain or poor performance in the past. But, it’s also clear that lacking in supplier diversity or being weak in supplier information management (SIM) are risks themselves.

To learn more about these issues, we talked with SRM expert Daryl Hammett, the general manager of ConnXus, a provider that connects buyers and qualified suppliers.

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5 benefits of multi-tier supply chain transparency

Consumers expect brands and retailers to know much more about their products than in the past, such as where it was sourced, how it was manufactured, who was involved or what countries it passed through on its journey to the store. All this requires a deeper understanding of the supply chain.

While multi-tier supply chain transparency is challenging to achieve, it can reap serious benefits for businesses that invest the time and resources. Taking progressive steps to achieve visibility at multiple tiers can benefit businesses in five ways.

EcoVadis, NYU report on the state of sustainable procurement

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Sustainability efforts paired with technological growth continuously affect the way business leaders plan for their companies’ futures. As budgetary and operational plans are considered, thought leaders in the supply chain and procurement space are evaluating sustainability as an asset that can stifle risk and bring about further economic growth.

EcoVadis, a firm that works to provide sustainability risk and performance ratings for global supply chains, recently launched its 2019 Sustainable Procurement Barometer in partnership with the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business.

ASCM launches Enterprise Certification to improve supply chains’ focus on ecology, economics, ethics

The Association of Supply Chain Management (ASCM) announced the launch of the ASCM Enterprise Certification, the first-of-its-kind, global cross-industry standards guide to benchmark progress and measure the ethical, environmental and economic initiatives of corporate supply chains.

Visibility is Key to Managing CSR Risks in Indirect Spend, EcoVadis Says (Part 3)

Indirect spend often gets overlooked by businesses because the outcomes from buying those goods and services are not the company’s core product, which relies on direct spend. But the potential for lost money and increased risk is so great that businesses must find a way to manage indirect spend.

“The broad reach of indirect spend, coupled with a lack of visibility creates risk, so the key to gaining visibility and managing this risk is to prioritize indirect spend management within an organization and start assessing indirect supplier performance in a formalized way,” said EcoVadis, a risk mitigation provider that offers business sustainability ratings and intelligence.

EcoVadis joined us for a Q&A to explore the next steps to figure out how to identify weak points, prioritize areas to defend against and create a plan for mitigating risks.

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Unconditional Procurement with Cybersecurity

In the global supply chain landscape, threats to cybersecurity are increasing exponentially. Fortune 500 companies have seen sensitive information exposed because hackers have targeted their vendors and business partners, which are organizations that might not be as secure as their corporate buyers. Every supplier and business partner becomes an added risk.

Working with global companies large and small, one of the biggest opportunities that I’ve observed is managing multi-tier suppliers and mitigating risk. We can support all of our suppliers through secured technology and the principle of “unconditional procurement.” What does that mean? By “unconditional,” I mean an unrestricted approach to procurement.

Are Supplier Relationships Evolving with Technology for Better or Worse?

As the digital transformation of procurement matures, relationships with suppliers are changing — in good ways and in challenging ways. To give us a close-up view of developments in supplier relationship management, we did a Q&A with Daryl Hammett, the general manager of ConnXus, a provider whose SRM solution helps buyers and suppliers work together to be efficient, responsible and sustainable.

Q&A on Digital Procurement’s Role in Sustainability, Ethics and Compliance [PRO]

As supply chains get increasingly externalized and globalized, the broad scope of operations is subject to equally broad regulatory oversight and supply risk. Meanwhile, as consumers increasingly demand transparency and ethical behavior by value chain brand owners, supply chain organizations at those brands (and also at their suppliers), are having to increasingly respond to these demands. Procurement organizations, for their part, are trying their best to support this externalization on all fronts, but they are so busy with strategic sourcing and P2P execution that even the “basics” of supplier qualification, certification and on-boarding are suffering — never mind having time for more strategic activities in supplier innovation, advanced risk management, digital transformation and other areas.

So, what’s the solution? Well, procurement must first practice what it preaches by tapping supply market innovation for itself, and this innovation is taking many forms. In an everything-as-a-service (XaaS) world, procurement must not only take a leadership role in robustly contracting for these diverse cloud services, but also:

— identifying how various providers beyond cloud applications can help procurement execute much more efficiently — at the cadence of the business.
— embedding the best digital supply market innovations into its own service delivery in order to expand its own influence and brand within the enterprise.
— enabling and empowering functional partners in GRC, IT, Finance, Legal, HR, Risk/Audit, etc. to enable their own service value (increasingly in a cross-functional GBS environment) and integrate the disparate services together much more coherently.

For example, consider the question: Who is responsible for establishing the single face to the supplier when we digitally on-board and manage them to not only transact with them in a compliant manner, but also ensure that they’re operating securely, ethically and transparently more broadly? It’s not just procurement, but rather a combination of procurement, IT, GRC and various centers-of-excellence that should be working tightly together. Unfortunately, misalignment is the norm, but not because of outright conflict or malfeasance, but because functional folks are too busy just trying to execute within their own silos. And they’ll never extricate themselves from that situation unless they have drastically new capabilities to deploy.

This is where procurement organizations need to make smart choices on how they apply digital strategies and tools/services to this area of sustainability, ethics and compliance.

I was recently catching up with an industry colleague of mine named Tomas Wiemer on the topic (he’s a former procurement transformation leader from Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent). He is very deep into this area and typical of leaders at European firms who are definitely in the vanguard here. Tomas is considering some career changes right now, primarily with some emerging tech players who can have a dramatic impact in the industry. Tomas reminds me a bit of a European version of Roy Anderson, who just joined Tradeshift (here’s part 3 of an interview that I did with him), and I think that Tomas will do similarly well when he lands somewhere. He’s doing some interim work for a client, and I agreed to let him interview me for my inputs, but given my role, I asked him for the questions in writing so that I could fully respond in kind and publish it to our subscribers. The questions are below:

How do you view topics as compliance and sustainability in the procurement digitalization landscape?
Do you foresee a convergence/harmonization of sustainability/compliance requirements toward suppliers thanks to the rise of S2P platforms/marketplaces?
What do you believe is the greatest added value of procurement digitalization / AI for compliance and sustainability?
What do you think are the key conditions/requirements to enable the emergence of sustainability/compliance topics in digital procurement?

What’s interesting is that this topic is very hot right now. My business partner Jason Busch just attended the recent EcoVadis conference in Paris, and the buzz (beyond the buzz from the sustainably grown coffee that was undoubtedly served there) was palpable. Part of the reason is that the topic is giving many procurement organizations new ways to engage the business and the suppliers alike in a way that drives much more meaningful value across the value chain beyond just price-centric cost savings. And it also engages a new generation of procurement professionals who want to have a meaningful impact on value chains rather than just being deal-makers and “firefighters.”

Anyway, the questions above are big ones, and require very thorough answers, so without further ado, let’s get to answering them ...

ISM 2019 Houston Conference: Highlights and Musings (Part 2)

After a Spend Matters' team went to the ISM 2019 conference last week in Houston, I recapped the event in an earlier post, but today I want to focus on two more sessions, one titled "Procurement Hacks" and the other about sustainability, given by HP Enterprise. And I have a special shoutout for Katie Smith, who discussed a procurement digital transformation case study for HERE Technologies.

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Sustainability: The New Recruitment Advantage

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Compensation, professional development and job security rank high on any job applicant’s list of priorities, but there’s a new attribute that is motivating potential candidates — an organization’s sustainability initiatives. Much like the consumer trend of wanting to understand where their products come from and if they are responsibly made, people are questioning their jobs and want to know how their roles and their companies are impacting the world. In fact, the CPO of a Global 500 food company recently mentioned to me that "the No. 1 question I get in interviews with young graduates is: 'Why is your Responsible Sourcing program better than your competitors X & Y in the food sector?’ "

At EcoVadis’ annual Sustain conference last month, experts in procurement and supply chain spoke in depth about the HR issues facing procurement teams.

Sustainability, Environmental Stewardship and CSR: The CPO’s Outside-In Agenda (Part 2B) [PRO]

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In our last article in this Spend Matters PRO series, we focused on several pressing issues that are shaping procurement from the outside in, yet chief procurement officers are primarily still concerned with issues set by an inside-out agenda — that is, cost-cutting and supply assurance targets mandated by upper management. However, our PESTLE analysis of factors shaping the modern CPO agenda identified broad outside-in trends that an organization needs to consider if it wants to truly tap and manage the opportunities (and risks) offered by external supply markets. (Read the CPO’s Conundrum: Parts 1A and 1B.)

Nowhere is this more readily apparent than with the topic of sustainability and environmental stewardship, the focus of today’s brief. The environment is an inseparable component of any business. It forms the platform layer off which all goods and services are produced, and cannot be ignored. And the difference between effective and sustainable management and ineffective and unsustainable management, as pointed out in yesterday’s article, is shocking. Not only would investments in environmental sustainability focussed companies over the past two decades doubled an average rate of return, but millennials will pay a (small) premium for sustainably (and ethically) sourced products and you are ensuring that you will have raw material supply for years (and decades to come).