Precisely because it is difficult to keep an overview – because the supply chain is so complex and business relationships are so interwoven – it is all the more important to do business with a clear attitude. It pays to set and adhere to ethical standards. Open Text’s Jochen Adler has identified five steps that will help companies deeper insight into the supply chain and to better meet their own responsibilities in a networked world.
1. Find suitable and reliable suppliers
Before tackling an ethical supply chain strategy, companies must first find trading partners who operate according to the same values and standards. It is advisable to structure the search for such partners based on your own, clear values. This can be done, for example environmental sustainability count, but also the fair treatment of workers, a clear commitment to transparency and fiscal compliance or the use of raw materials that are not burdened by conflict.
In order not only to rely on the statements in annual reports, one should also consult the publications of relevant associations and clubs, for example Greenpeace (sustainability and raw materials), Transparency International (transparency and compliance) or the Allbright Foundation (diversity and inclusion). Trust in these partners is the basis for ensuring ethically sound business practices across the entire supply chain – but only a first step: It is also a matter of quickly establishing control mechanisms so that false incentives can be identified and countered in the event of undesirable developments.
2. Digitization of the supply chain
In order to secure all interactions with the individual partners, one should integrate them electronically into your own business processes. That lays the foundation for a digital, transparent supply chain. Ideally, companies use a cloud-based data integration solution that ensures expandability and scalability. The effects of the current corona pandemic clearly show how important it is to adapt quickly to changing consumer preferences or market situations.
In addition, the digitalization of processes and the deep integration into existing and transactional systems (such as SAP, SalesForce or Microsoft 365) also prevents the possible falsification of delivery documents in paper form: The increased visibility within a digitized supply chain and drastically improved analysis and evaluation options contribute to this that less mistakenly incorrectly declared or even deliberately falsified components and goods come into circulation.
3. Supply chain: digital identities and signatures
After the choice of a certain group of suppliers and digital connections have been made, it is important to put all interaction between connected and your own company on a secure basis. As a technical implementation for such a relationship Identity and access management platforms to: The partners are assigned counterfeit-proof, digital identities within the expanded business ecosystem. This ensures, on the one hand, that external partners and suppliers have secure access to internal resources such as logistics, warehouse management, inventory lists and other data – limited in time and place to the extent required.
On the other hand, every access can be traced back to its origin using cryptographically verified identities, which increases the traceability of misuse and manipulation. Platforms and solutions for digital signatures not only ensure smoother processes, but also an increased level of reliability and traceability for authorizations and approvals.