Operating a Purpose-Driven Supply Chain
Leading with purpose creates an impact that resonates across a business—including employees, customers, partners, and shareholders. It can often be a complicated process, but it doesn't need to be.
For global brands that source raw materials, move products through global supply chains across borders, and ultimately deliver a product or experience to a customer, understanding the impact of a supply chain on our communities, the environment, and the bottom line is incredibly valuable.
A supply chain is the ultimate platform for purpose because it is bigger than the company. It connects every organization that brings a finished product from raw materials to end customers. The supply chain offers tremendous opportunities to drive real societal change—not just at a single organization, but within every organization along the supply chain. Think of it as the "network effect" for a greater purpose.
To start, a purpose-driven supply chain means the seller or shipper has taken steps to improve internal procurement and shipping processes to eliminate unproductive practices. That includes everything from reducing unnecessary miles by improving shipping routes to cutting back on emissions by upgrading trucks. A purpose-driven supply chain is optimized, efficient, effective, and beneficial to the larger supply chain ecosystem.
To operate a purpose-driven supply chain, consider the following strategies.
Simplify supply chain processes. Good analytics and reporting work with machine learning to continually improve processes throughout the supply chain. Every change that even slightly reduces waste, speeds delivery, or enhances quality can incrementally improve sustainability.
Supply chains can be improved through major changes, but it's more common to see results through small, iterative improvements.
Consolidate shipments and forecast for supply and demand. An empty container is a wasted container. Predictive analytics can predict where and when goods will arrive and consolidate shipments from multiple suppliers destined for multiple final destinations. At the same time, predictive analytics, combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning, can predict likely demand and ensure more efficient supply and manufacturing processes.
Ultimately, this makes the most efficient use of assets and transportation, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases generated per unit of cargo by minimizing empty miles.
Create transparency. Blockchain technology is increasingly used to capture and verify supplier sourcing practices, and IoT devices can monitor and report on working conditions and environmental factors. Utilizing these technologies, supply chain managers can help enhance visibility into how suppliers extract or produce raw materials to ensure they're following sustainability standards.
The supply chain is an essential part of any company that provides products to end users. For a supply chain to be purpose-driven, a purchase must be processed, shipped, and delivered in the most economical, socially responsible, and environmentally friendly way possible.
Our collective goal should be to make the complex and fragmented supply chain sector a simplified, open, and collaborative network of networks that's not only focused on growth, but also purpose-driven.