What is a sustainable supply chain?
Sustainability is one of those terms that tends to be used interchangeably or in connection with environmental concerns. You’ll see it crop up in discussions centred around managing natural resources or avoiding their depletion to keep an equilibrium of sorts. Essentially, having a sustainable supply chain means taking into account environmental and financial practices across the complete supply chain and optimising processes to achieve this.
With companies worldwide waking up to the impact of their carbon footprint, environmental objectives are increasingly part of the agenda. It’s a sexy concept, but is it just a PR stunt for companies? Or do they really deliver what it says on the tin?
Largely, no, because, as our CEO Jack Macfarlane has demonstrated before, creating a green supply chain (let alone a sustainable one) is easier said than done.
Companies at best are able to factor in their suppliers’ environmental effects to their own. They struggle completely to have visibility one step down in their supply chain – mainly because of a lack of visibility around tendering out to suppliers (and how procurement officers pick those suppliers). – Jack Macfarlane
On top of this lack of visibility, we must also bear in mind that supply chains are, well, a bit complex. Successful supply chain management requires responsiveness, reliability and efficiency to respond to multiple and sometimes conflicting objectives from stakeholders.
Yet, these three qualities, responsiveness, reliability, and efficiency, are all too often lacking from supply chain transactions. This isn’t the fault of supply chain managers but more the fault of processes and technology that aren’t fit for purpose in this era.
How can today’s supply chain managers reconcile sustainability objectives with complex management of the chain?
A sustainable supply chain strategy needs enough flexibility to adapt to trends, situations and risks as they emerge.
This includes an ability to:
- Anticipate trends through scenario-planning with supply chain managers and stakeholder representatives
- Identify trends early and assess their impact on your supply chain
- Investment as required in innovative tech and/or development of strategic partnerships
Greater efficiency end-to-end is therefore crucial to allow companies to thrive in challenging and uncertain climates.
Simplifying complex supply chain management through collaboration & visibility
The most obvious route to simplifying your supply chain and achieving sustainability, is through collaboration and a greater visibility across the chain.
Easier said than done.
Historically, supply chains have been synonymous with adversarial relationships. Times are, fortunately, changing. Which makes sense, as there are numerous upsides to choosing collaboration and visibility in supply chain management.
To take a few examples:
- Risk management. Collaboration across the supply chain provides more accurate information up and down (and sideways!) in the supply chain and makes it easier to identify risk before and as it emerges.
- Lowered costs. An important dimension of a sustainable supply chain is economic – it’s no good going green if you’re going to go bust in three months. Pooled resources increases capacity with fewer outgoings.
- Reduced admin. Instead of duplicating efforts, your focus should be on simplifying your processes. Cut those unnecessary corners, cut them!
Is it all worth it though? Well, if you trust Professor Umar Burki’s research, companies that embrace green innovations and practices into their supply chain achieve encouraging triple bottom-line outcomes. All you need then, is the right technology to help you achieve the transparency and compliance required.
At DeepStream we’re very aware of the cultural and technical issues that arise in traditional supply chain management. This is why we’ve created a platform designed to help supply chain managers be the responsive, reliable and efficient rockstars they need to be:
- Visibility across the supply chain, with each company able to set the specific requirements they need to meet their objectives
- Cost-efficient – unlike enterprise software, DeepStream is fast to implement and affordable, costing a company fewer resources.
- Flexible and collaborative – the platform adapts to its user’s needs and not vice versa. Unlike most supply chain management softwares, DeepStream supports collaboration between buyers, supplies and different intermediaries. Create workflows to match the particular needs of your company and its partners.
Most importantly, at DeepStream we put the focus firmly on simplicity and user-friendliness. Because it doesn’t matter how many magic tricks a piece of software can do, if the manual is the size of a phone book, it’s not going to get used.
Sounds good? Why not book a demo with us, in which you’ll be able to test out the technology fully and decide if it’s right for you?