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Key Steps to Designing - and Attaining - a Sustainable Supply Chain

Trusting your partners, treating other businesses how you would wish to be treated and extending participation beyond the first tier of suppliers are three key steps to building a sustainable trading partner network, according to supply chain software company E2open president and CEO Mark Woodward.

As business sectors compartmentalize and an increasing part of any businesses services, such as logistics or manufacturing, are outsourced, it is becoming harder for companies to keep control of the activities in their supply chains. But by embracing three key ideas, it can be possible to have a successful, scalable and sustainable business network that achieves profit for all.

From the start of any supply chain project, the business at the helm needs to identify and communicate the objectives to all involved, Woodward says. This means that brand owners and suppliers need to be on board when deciding upon and designing key performance indicators against which success will be measured.

Second, a brand needs to be the kind of partner itself that it would want to deal with if a supply chain relationship is to endure. Policies such as sharing technology, best practices and being flexible create a culture that breeds innovation and a culture of improvement.

It is also important for the brand business to achieve a full buy-in of any sustainability policies it wishes to see across its supply chain. A well-designed incentive program is one way of getting to this point.

By extending participation to second- and third-tier suppliers you can increase buy-in to the principles and avoid turnover in suppliers that inevitably breeds disruption. This will effectively “boost the horse power” of the sustainability of your entire network.

Finally, brand owners need to trust their suppliers. The heart of any sustainability strategy is creating long-term partnerships across a supply chain. Through sharing information and ideas, a business can increase visibility, and incubate shared business values.

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Keywords: Supply Chain Visibility, Supply Chain Management, Supply Chain Sustainability, Logistics Management, Transportation Management, Supply Chain IT, Green Logistics

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