Benchmarking to rebuild better with sustainable procurement


Procurement, supply chain and sustainability leaders alike are search for guidance on how they can rebuild better, more resilient supply chains in the face of massive uncertainty. EcoVadis global content marketing director David McClintock looks at key factors to their success.

Thousands of people gathered a few weeks ago to focus on Sustainable Procurement at the 2021 Sustain event. The 5,000+ registrants and 3,000+ attendees (more than twice the number from last year, and 10 times the number from just five years ago) are a testament to how Covid and all the calamities of 2020 have moved procurement into a very bright spotlight.

Procurement, supply chain and sustainability leaders alike are searching for guidance on how they can rebuild better, more resilient supply chains in the face of such massive uncertainty. There is a visceral passion and ambition among this community to reinvent their supply chains. But along with this spirit was an unsettling mix of uncertainty, anxiety and trepidation about how they should accomplish this.

Beyond the buzz

The buzz about “seizing the Covid moment” as an opportunity to drive procurement transformation is not new. But, what is emerging is the close synergy between specific topics, such as digital transformation, process overhaul, tool selection and the integration of enriched performance indicators – including sustainability – that are now available digitally, into procurement and supplier management processes. As Mourad Tamoud, chief supply chain officer at Schneider Electric, emphasised during Procurement Leaders’ Innovation In: Positive Growth event, we must “design a supply chain in alignment with the long-term objectives of agility, innovation, planet and customer-centricity”. A tall order.

Now is the time to benchmark performance

But events are still mostly “one-way”, from speaker to audience. The focus – and advantage – of benchmarking is understanding the ‘reality on the ground’, as well as plans and predictions from hundreds of practitioners in a structured way. This is exactly the focus of the Sustainable Procurement Barometer study. This peer survey of procurement and sustainable supply leaders provides insights into the state of sustainable procurement practices across every industry. This year’s study is conducted in partnership with the Stanford Value Chain Innovation initiative.

This year, we will look at the data through the lens of rebuilding after Covid.

We see four key factors that we must rethink about supply chain sustainability, which sets a framework and direction for launching or accelerating a programme to meet the needs of the ‘new normal’.

  1. Rethink supply chain strategy. What we are optimising for? We’re now moving from “Just In Time”, optimising for costs, reduced inventory, and so on; to “Just In Case”, supply chain resilience as a strategic differentiator with CEO visibility.
  2. Rethink value chain participation. The crisis is driving an acceleration in inequalities, not only among individuals and communities, but also businesses. Some are doing well while others have suffered or never recovered. We must rethink how we grow, inclusively, through solidarity in ecosystems.
  3. Rethink finance, from constraint to opportunity. Instead of finance being a bottleneck to sustainability, now CFOs and investors are demanding more sustainable/environmental, social and governance data than ever. McKinsey reported a $14tn opportunity exists for growth in supply chain finance. How will we transform our supply bases to leverage finance as a positive incentive for sustainable growth?
  4. Rethink monitoring, from analogue/on-site to digital/remote. Cancelled audits were emblematic of the need for this shift away from ‘analogue’ processes, toward digitally integrated intelligence – both predictive and primary data-based – that scale globally at the speed of cloud platforms, and fit seamlessly into processes and ecosystems.

More sustainable procurement starts with you

By making a modest investment of 12 minutes of your time to complete the survey, you are participating alongside hundreds of your peers to enrich the 2021 dataset that drives the benchmarking. Note, all data is anonymised. Then, this data is cross-analysed, graphed and compared to previous years’ benchmarks and summarised in a report.

So whether it’s always-on intelligence, supply chain decarbonisation, predictive risk mapping, digital scalability, among others, it’s time to discover your peers’ strategies for sustainable procurement to thrive in the new normal.

David McClintock, Global Content Marketing officer at EcoVadis. 

Take EcoVadis’ benchmarking survey here.

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