Keeping tabs on the supply chain is not just a localized issue any longer. Suppliers in diverse locations worldwide make it almost impossible for a supply chain manager to maintain inventory control and know exactly what's going on everywhere in the company's domain. A Wall Street Journal blog suggested that seeking transparency through best practices implementation can go far toward gaining full control over the supply chain.
Know What Goes On In The Company's Name
The Journal's blog article suggested that supply chain managers gain a better understanding of what's going on upstream, and find out how suppliers operate their businesses and whether they are using ethical practices in their operations. Every level of worker should have training in what's ethical and what's not. By doing that, the company ensures no fraud is being committed and no surprises arise - like a supplier using slave labor - to create damage to the company brand. Hans Kieftenbeld with AB Mauri in the United Kingdom explained that management personnel are increasingly aware of supply chain problems but are not so sure how to rectify them.
"It has come to the attention of the C-suite and people are putting more emphasis and programs in place…whether that is through policies being put in place or a supply code of conduct, we are making a statement as a company that these are some of the principles we stand by," he told the Journal.
Ethical Management Of The Supply Chain
An Institute for Supply Chain Management report listed a number of areas that supply chain leaders should look at to ensure smooth and ethical operation of the supply chain. First, they advised, that any appearance of impropriety in company communications, actions taken or internal and external relationships needs to be eradicated. Company personnel need to be advised that such actions won't be tolerated and will lead to sanctions. Conflicts of interest should also be avoided and any attempt to influence supply management decisions should be nipped in the bud, according to the study.
Current Technology Is A Good Thing
Keeping technology current, while a seemingly annual expense, is a vital part of keeping the supply chain operation running on all cylinders. Mickey North Rizza is an industry consultant and he told the Journal that keeping databases up to date can help businesses qualify partners, suppliers and potential partners before delving into product creation.
"It gives them intelligence to make the right decisions when they take action," Rizza said.
Having that knowledge keeps risks at a minimum and mitigates any possible damage that could be done. Keeping proprietary information confidential is another area, said the ISM report, to maintain a strong ethical process. Combined with professional competence, confidentiality can give a manager the upper hand on keeping the operation within ethical boundaries.
The Journal story also suggested companies may want to consider working with existing supply chain data exchanges currently based in Europe. By doing so, suppliers and companies are able to focus together on improving labor conditions, health, safety, environmental and ethical concerns.
"If you want to do business with us, basically it says you have to sign up and make sure you comply with all these aspects," Kieftenbeld said. "It covers all the principal parts of what I would consider responsible supply chain."
Rizza added that due diligence must be conducted or else something usually will break down.
"Can we be 100% certain? Probably not," she said. "No matter how much due diligence you do on a supplier there may be a surprise. We're just trying to mitigate any risk that comes up."
Using automated mobile data collection software to help reduce operational risk is what a good manager does. While people play an important role, ultimately, software advancements ensure the operation works and generates revenue and profitability.