How to Successfully Manage your Supply Chain


An oldie, but a goodie:  SSC President Jennifer Woofter's ideas from a 2007 post on creating success in supply chain management.

We've talked recently about the importance of ethical supply chains.  Now, I'd like to share more about SSC's approach to supply chain management, and the three components we consider to be critical in creating a successful and accountable procurement plan:

  1. Policies – the first step in creating a “green supply chain” is to identify the key environmental impacts of your products/services and create a policy that specifically addresses those areas. For example, if your company makes electrical components (e.g. semiconductors), then your key environmental impacts during the production process are, a) toxic chemical use during production, b) energy use, and c) water use. So your policy should explicitly address the need to find eco-friendly alternatives for those areas. Whereas, if you are a basic office (without manufacturing), then your key environmental impacts have to do with land/building use and office supplies. Your policy then should deal specifically with infrastructure (green building, etc.), energy, and office materials.
  2. Programs – the next step is to set up a purchasing program that integrates traditional metrics (price, quality) with environmental (and sometimes social) indicators. There are a variety of ways to do this, and we specialize in helping our clients figure out a way to maximize their eco-priorities without sacrificing material availability and profitability. There is also a component of marketing here, since consumers will often pay a premium for eco-products, and this should factor into the purchasing program’s structure.
  3. Performance – the final step is to actually implement the program, and here is where we provide supply chain auditing services. Sometimes we review suppliers who are already being used in order to judge whether they are meeting the policy’s goals. Other times we seek out new suppliers, especially when the supply chain is not already well-established. Ideally, any committed company factors in an annual review of their suppliers so they can ensure that their policy/program is working correctly, and we can help here, too.

If your organization is ready to take a look at its supply chain from a social-and-environmental responsibility viewpoint, please email me for a free consultation at Getting started is easier than you think!

This summer, we're giving sharing the best articles from the SSC website, going back eight years. The article above was originally posted on February 7, 2007. We'll be back in September with all new content. In the meantime, if you're interested in learning more about SSC, or working with an SSC consultant, please contact us!