Supply chains: the bigger picture

By Anne Himeno | April 25, 2017

When looking at supply chains, it’s always good to keep in mind what the underlying impact of a chain might be. There are, of course, countless supply chains that deliver our daily needs, each having a potential impact on the environment and the people working in a given supply chain. This is something both consumers and legislators are increasingly aware of.

Companies are experiencing increasing consumer demand to be transparent about their supply chains. This is also coupled with legislation to make companies more accountable for what happens in their supply chain. Take, for example, the recent “Devoir de Vigilance” law in France, or proposed legislation in The Netherlands, both of which place more responsibility on companies to be accountable for activities in their supply chain even if they are not directly involved.

Knowledge is power!

The proverb: “Knowledge is power” has perhaps never been more applicable to today’s complex supply chains. To truly understand how well your supply chain meets your social responsibility goals, you will need information that is gathered well beyond your Tier 1 suppliers. Often, the true picture of your supply chain’s performance is held in numerous, isolated “information silos”, such as ERP systems or custom IT systems that are scattered across different suppliers in your chain. And the more upstream you travel along the chain the less chance there is that data is even kept in a digital format. What’s needed is a comprehensive solution to bring all supply chain data together into one IT system where it can be turned into knowledge. At ChainPoint, we do exactly that. ChainPoint delivers technology and services to connect all the separate dots of supply chain’s data together so the true picture of your supply chain really can be seen.


Our technology is capable of gathering information of all sources

Where’s my impact?

Knowing who the stakeholders are in your supply chain is an important step in identifying your supply chain’s overall impact. Companies know, of course, who their Tier 1 suppliers are, but typically don’t know who their Tier 2 suppliers are, and so on. Given that the true impact of your supply chain is found across all its tiers, it is important to first map out your supply chain to understand where all your products’ components or ingredients come from.

What’s my impact?

When you know who the stakeholders are in your supply chain, the next step is to learn more about your supply chain’s impact. With this we mean understanding things such as the environmental and social conditions at the different stakeholders in your supply chain. For example, you might want to understand the amount and type of pesticides used in growing cotton, water usage and pollution in dying fabrics, the presence of child labour in loom-sheds or the safety and working conditions in factories producing your products.


By using audits, monitoring and self-assessments, valuable information can be retrieved about the true state of your supply chain. This information can be used to report upon and understand the impact in your chain so you can take timely, remedial actions where necessary. ChainPoint’s technology offers many ways to collect data at any point in the chain, including offline smartphone applications, web-based data entry and integrations with popular technologies such as Excel, Dynamics and SAP, to name but a few.

How to start?

Although it might seem daunting to integrate all the data in your supply chain, modern technology can help lessen the load on your organization. For example, the task of onboarding your supply chain’s stakeholders can be simplified by using invitations. In this case, a company typically invites just their Tier 1 suppliers to a system such as ChainPoint and asks each Tier 1 member to also invite their own suppliers to the system. In turn, Tier 2 suppliers invite their suppliers, and so on, which means that even a complex supply chain can be onboarded in relatively little time.

Another approach we often see is where a small-scale pilot system is developed first of all to learn more about the possibilities to collect data at various points in the supply chain. When the challenges are more firmly understood, the system can be scaled out more broadly to the wider supply chain.

The key point is that starting to integrate the valuable data in your supply chain is likely easier than you imagine, especially with help from specialized Supply Chain Collaboration systems, such as ChainPoint.

Contact us now!

At ChainPoint, we have supply chain experts who are happy to listen to your supply chain integration goals, and to advise you based on your specific needs. If you are looking to improve your supply chain’s efficiency and sustainability, please feel free to contact us so we can discuss how our solutions can help.



Posted in sustainability impact, traceability

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