Welcome back to Whitepaper Wednesday here on the Purchasing Certification Blog. In this installment, I’ll be reviewing a whitepaper entitled “Six Technology Tactics to Promote Corporate Social Responsibility” from Epicor and Purchasing Magazine.

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A trend has been to lump an ever increasing array of initiatives under the sustainability and social responsibility umbrella and the whitepaper starts out by confirming this, saying that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) “holds organizations to a higher moral and ethical standard considering the overall interests of society in the operations of its day-to-day business. Under this utilitarian view, businesses would need to take responsibility for the impact of their activities on all parties that they would affect—customers, shareholders, surrounding communities, and the environment—in all aspects of their operations…[S]ustainability incorporates a multitude of supply chain considerations such as fair labor practices, energy and resource conservation, human rights, and community responsibility.”

The whitepaper’s title teased at technology tactics that would promote social responsibility and I was excited to see “Strategic Sourcing & Procurement” as the #1 area on the whitepaper’s list of six areas where technology could be applied. I thought that this section started out right on target by saying “As a result of the increased scrutiny, companies are now setting up supplier guidelines that include social and environmental requirements and supplier codes of conduct. Preferred suppliers have traditionally been viewed as those with the best performance, total cost, and quality. In leading-edge companies, CSR and sustainability are now part of the preferred supplier equation ensuring social and environmental compliance as well as the normal performance metrics of product quality, on-time performance and price.”

The whitepaper went on to whet my appetite by saying “Managers in companies are teaming with their procurement departments to better leverage their efforts to ‘green’ their suppliers. This requires the company to carry out an assessment of the environmental consequences of a product at all the various stages of its lifecycle which means measuring the environmental costs of securing raw materials, and manufacturing, transporting, storing, handling, using and disposing of the product.”

“Yeah, yeah…so how do they do it and how does technology make it better and faster?” I was excitedly whispering under my breath as I read along.

Unfortunately, the answer was a little non-specific for my tastes. The whitepaper simply said that “Implementing an automated supplier enablement process brings higher visibility into the overall process. It provides essential and comprehensive information about suppliers that improves the strategic value of those relationships and mitigates risk.”

That’s it?

Aw, man! Could we get any more general?

What I was looking for was something a little more granular, like what the whitepaper suggested for the #4 area, Logistics: “Logistics software applications are at the forefront of the CSR effort by bringing very tangible benefits to companies that are using software to optimize shipping routes which in turn reduce costs and reduce the carbon footprint. The value proposition is as simple as getting from point A to point B: optimized trucking and shipping routes mean less miles traveled, less miles traveled means less gas used by trucks, less gas used by trucks means less CO2 emissions.”

It helped that the whitepaper also shared a couple of real-world examples of how this “technology tactic” succeeded, citing the fact that UPS leveraged such software to save 3,000,000 gallons of gas and reduce its carbon dioxide emissions.

Obviously, the whitepaper covered four other technology tactics that I won’t discuss here. It had some elements that disappointed me and others that I found worthwhile. If your responsibilities align with its good parts, this whitepaper may be useful for you, though it is unlikely to be a great read for everyone.

If you would like to download your own copy and make your own judgment, you can do so from Purchasing Magazine’s Web site (registration required).

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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