5 steps to increase supply chain transparency

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Business in a globalized world demands more trust and transparency in global operational structures. Supply chains carry a lot of sustainability and disruption risks. To proactively manage risks and enhance sustainability, every business needs greater transparency in the supply chain. But where is the right starting point for supply chain transparency? 

Supply chains are usually complex in terms of structure, number of components and upstream suppliers. There is no “one size fits all” solution. The way companies approach greater transparency and traceability depend on the used resources, corporate priorities and the size of the supply chain as well as the desired outcomes and the corporate sustainability strategy. These are the most import steps to consider to increase your supply chain transparency: 

1. Start with the right strategy

  • Create trust by setting sustainability- & transparency goals and make them available to the stakeholders
  • Include supply chain transparency as a criteria in the supplier Code of Conduct 

2. Set the right scope

  • Start with potentially risk-related materials and work first with those suppliers, with whom you have a long-term trustful relationship 
  • Have a clear narrative why disclosing supply chain information is beneficial for the business relationship

3. Set the right timing 

  • Use annual supplier meetings to announce your intended activities to increase supply chain transparency
  • Send out an informative initial announcement about the intention of the supply chain mapping before sending the request to the suppliers
  • Do not send out your information requests before holiday season as suppliers may be on leave or busy with other tasks and deadlines

4. Identify the right contact person 

  • Ensure that your supplier’s contact person has the knowledge and authority to share requested information 
  • Include deadlines for the request and send reminders 

5. Let your suppliers reach out to sub-suppliers

  • Do not personally send out requests to your sub-suppliers, better ask your supplier to request the data from their direct suppliers (your sub-supplier). This way, higher response rates can be reached

There are many ways to achieve an increased transparency in supply chain networks. Regardless of the specific approach, companies can achieve long term value by enhancing sustainability along their supply chain and ensure social and ecological standards.