Sep 29

Written by: RSouthard
9/29/2008 6:00 AM

In Fridays SafeSourcing blog post “Traceability also requires sensibility if you want a safe supply chain” I promised to discuss today what solution providers in the procurement space can do and the best practices that can be implemented to protect retailers during the procurement process and their consumers as a byproduct .

Building a traceable supply chain takes time as we discussed on Friday. In the meantime there are things that retailers can do to hold suppliers accountable to safety standards that are already in place. This would be even simpler if it were part and parcel of customer support service packages offered tangent to e-procurement programs. As this author has often indicated the first clear step is to have a robust base of suppliers available to create a sustainable e-procurement process in the first place. Once retailers have ascertained that this data is available from their vendor, the next logical step would be to discuss the Request For Information process that suppliers are held accountable to as part of this service and the supporting documentation they should be required to provide in order to insure compliance with the Request For Information. It would be nice if this were elemental to the data already included in the supplier database discussed previously.

Basic questions to the potential supplier candidates will differ based on the type of product or service being purchased. By example, construction questioning may include LEED certification discovery. Food products depending on source of origin questioning may include discovery relative to SQF compliance, GFSI compliance or ISO 22000 compliance. Questions obviously would seek detail as to the level of compliance and the number of individuals who may hold certification within the company as well as how many additional associates will be certified on a go forward basis. This type of questioning eliminates green washing relative to environmental or green certifications and safe washing relative to safety certifications. Follow on questioning should discuss the practical application of standards within an organization and the process followed to maintain compliance once certified. A final step in the RFI process would be to collect and store electronically copies of the certifications and standards suppliers profess to comply with as backup to the questioning process. A final step prior to providing a list of candidates for buyer review and signoff would be to provide scorecards of the supplier candidates ranking them relative to your safety and environmental procurement goals. This is not to suggest that you might not use a supplier without all certifications in place, but it will allow you to make an educated selection and mitigate risk going forward.

Ask your vendor if this type of data is stored in their database and what design plans they have for adding detailed source of origin information such as seed source for produce products in the near term that support even deeper levels of traceability. This author believes this to be a common sense approach.

We look forward to your comments. 

Copyright ©2008 Ron Southard