Responsible sourcing has reached a crossroad as companies have evolved from an approach based on employee compliance to one that goes beyond this to drive continuous improvement through strong supplier management and partnerships. Companies seek to demonstrate the value of responsible sourcing, but the lack of common standards for evaluating these successes threatens to undermine further development and wider adoption of these responsible sourcing practices.
There are a number of metrics currently in existence that impact the process of goal setting and evaluation:
- Goal setting and the key performance indicators for supply chain sustainability remains a work in progress. Most focus on qualitative program descriptions and challenges, rather than focussing on outcomes or value. A better approach would be to focus on continuous improvement.
- Public reporting is still focussed on negatives such as lack of supplier compliance, while measure so of positive values are underdeveloped. A more sophisticated approach would be to measure both supplier capacity as well as performance. Suppliers need to be able to understand the value created by their meeting responsible sourcing requirements, as this will provide them with the best motivation to comply.
- Supplier scorecards do not capture the data needed to allow internal audiences to make informed sourcing decisions. It's important to build ownership for metrics so that responsibility for implementation can be assigned throughout the company and accountability is clear. Micro-level targets can be established, and rolled up to provide a picture of overall performance,
- IT infrastructure remains a critical barrier to program measurement. Difficulty in accessing information has limited the ability to manipulate and analyze data. Fixing these problems will be expensive.
- Supply chain processes are not sufficiently transparent so that it can be determined that companies are managing their supply chain responsibility at an acceptable level. Companies need to demonstrate that they are meeting these commitments to their investors and other stakeholders, and they need to demonstrate how the value derived from these efforts on social and environmental issues.
Methods for evaluating the success and impact of supply chain sustainability programs must continue to be developed. Deficiencies in creating internal alignment must be addressed, and IT systems must be upgraded and improved. Communication between companies and investors must be developed with greater clarity around responsible sourcing practices and how they impact social and environmental outcomes. Communication and collaboration among stakeholders as well as transparency in the collection and analysis of metrics and indicators needs to be developed.
Adapted from: Key Performance Indicators for Responsible Sourcing, http://bit.ly/cD3EuM