Today, environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives are a mainstay on the corporate agenda. And, as everything is connected in a supply chain, ESG progress at your organization is directly linked to progress for your partners. To effectively gather and analyze ESG data from all parts of your network, you need direct support from two key stakeholders: your tier-one suppliers and your internal team.
Stakeholder #1: Your tier-one suppliers
In theory, data visibility with your tier-one suppliers should be straightforward: They collect the data and then send it to you. But it's rarely that simple. Digital transformations that have happened since the start of COVID-19 have helped with data sharing in some ways, but in others they have complicated things. According to a 2022 HICX survey, a supplier must log in to 8.4 systems on average to serve a customer. In addition, each login is a data entry point, which can quickly become duplicated, outdated and inaccurate. With this cumbersome and time-consuming system, ESG goals suffer.
The key to obtaining better ESG data from suppliers is to adopt a supplier-first, data-centric approach. Leaders must thoroughly review — preferably by experiencing firsthand — the process of suppliers sharing their ESG data. Then, they must work together to streamline it as much as possible. In other words, how can the process be cut from eight logins to three?
By focusing on supplier experience management, you treat your suppliers like partners with their own business goals, rather than just data and material resources. This bolsters your relationship, and that pays dividends, as suppliers who are treated better provide better data, and that translates to better ESG results.
Stakeholder #2: Your procurement team
To make supplier management a priority, though, your procurement team will need buy-in and support. Improving the technology systems that enable data sharing may require the implementation of a new platform. Your chief procurement officer (CPO) will need to budget for this type of upgrade, as well as for staff training to learn how to use the new platform. The finance department can help your CPO with budgeting as well as measuring return on investment.
Furthermore, effective platform implementation requires the support of the information technology (IT) team. IT professionals help transfer knowledge from successful integrations elsewhere in the business and handle the technological details.
Once all of this is achieved, every department in the enterprise that uses supplier data will be strengthened. Plus, there are benefits beyond ESG: Quality supplier data powers cybersecurity, fraud prevention, reputation management and other key items on the corporate agenda. In short, quality supplier data supports a resilient business model.
Better business strategies for a better planet
Lastly, a supplier-centric approach seeks to address the entire base of suppliers, not just a strategic few. This is the most reliable route to a transparent supply chain and better ESG results. When all relationships flourish to their full potential, it’s from this vantage point that supply chain professionals can really do our part to protect the planet.