To fully achieve supply chain sustainability goals, there needs to be transparency. Without that, it becomes hard for a company to see its goals and vision through and it also faces a wide range of risks. A business is first required to make significant strides towards more transparency across its network if it wants to achieve sustainable supply chain.
Attaining transparency is not one of the easiest things to do and the following four “T’s” will assist as they are key aspects to the creation of transparent supply chain operations. They are:
Trust looks at and applies to both the internal operations along with the external network of suppliers. Internally, it applies to the relationships across different departments. This is achieved by setting the same organizational goals and making certain that all departments within the supply chain are working towards the same objective. Transparency can be increased if everyone is working together in one actionable plan. A healthy spirit among team members will assist in paving a smooth transition towards transparency.
Externally, establishing trust with suppliers is crucial if a business wants to increase transparency. However, trust works both ways. A supplier must be willing to have its buyers visit its facilities and a buyer must also show interest in their supplier base. Developing healthy relationships is quite a quick and ideal way of increasing transparency in supply chains.
A supply chain manager must also make sure they have top decision-makers on board if they are planning to adopt a transparency project. Transparent operations must be invested in the core values of the company and there ought to be a recognized need in this area. Every single individual on board must be committed to shedding more light on both internal and external operating processes. The success of projects depends highly on traction within the organization.
Technology plays a major role in supply chains today. The tracking technology available is highly sophisticated and enables companies to run operations smoothly. With consumers demanding more information regarding the processes of their latest purchases, the company needs to be willing to invest in available technology that traces raw materials along its supply chain.
Transparency however involves much more than traceability. Today, you also have electronic databases filled with supplier data that avails itself in social media type settings where buyers are offered the chance to meet suppliers and get detailed performance information. Furthermore, current technology can build trust and better training programs as buyers across the globe can connect with their suppliers.
Training programs also serve as a brilliant method when it comes to increasing transparency within a supplier network. Companies are not in the position to expect their suppliers to act in a certain manner if they do not communicate these desired behaviours. However, training goes beyond simply communicating such. Developing skills and the best-practice processes is a hands-on approach and one way to facilitate that is sharing knowledge through training.
A classic example of such a training program is Nestle when they were trying to clean up the seafood industry in Thailand. The company established several objectives to contest forced labour and came up with an action plan to achieve those objectives. The action plan included the creation of “demonstration boat” or “university” where boat owners were instructed on best practice fishing behaviours and fair working standards. Such a hands-on training method allowed Nestle to have a better insight of where their products and raw materials come from and helped them create sustainable business relationships in the long run. Having these types of training programs in place shows that topics of supply chain transparency and sustainability have traction within an organization.
All these four T’s can be used to create an increase in transparency along the value chain. It is this newfound transparency that will enable companies to reach their sustainability and risk mitigation goals.
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