Leverage ERP for a Greener Supply Chain

Later this month I will join other experts on sustainable sourcing for a free webinar “Leveraging your Supply Chain for Competitive Advantage” sponsored by Sustainable Business Forum and DuPont Sustainable Solutions.  This blog provides a preview of my eBook article “Leverage ERP for a Greener Supply Chain” which will be available to webinar registrants.  

“If supply chain management is really nothing more than how companies work together, then why all the complexity and concern?”  It is a valid question asked by those not familiar with todays “always on” operational environment and equally compounded by the just in time (JIT) expectation many organizations, both large and small, have in our rebounding global economy.  The events in early 2011 when a natural disaster of epic proportions struck the Japanese automotive industry , sending shockwaves around the world, reminded us of what can happen when the “always on” mindset we have so come to expect suddenly turns off.

Understanding the risks and opportunities associated with a kinder, gentler and greener supply chain
suggest a fundamental need to revisit what we already know inside of our organizations.  With systems managing information in terms of petabytes (or 10003 megabytes) on a regular basis, one of the challenges of having information is knowing what information you have and where to find it.  This can be a daunting task for many information technology (IT) groups.  Fortunately, with the advent of third-generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to include business intelligence (BI) tools, manipulating large structures of information at one’s fingertips – properly organized – is possible.  With this new capability, organizations can begin to readily answer the four big questions constituting a green supply chain program across all facets of company operations:

  1. What substances are used to make my products?
  2. Who supplies my materials, components, and goods?
  3. Where do my materials, components and goods come from?
  4. Can I make changes to any of these to be greener and more profitable?

In most cases, a company already has the right information to answer these questions.  They just need to know where to look for it.  Enter the friendly and reliable ERP system in its new and enhanced capability with BI and advanced analytics.

If supply chain is really about collaboration, a greener supply chain suggests removing some of the neo-capitalist “one winner only” purchasing mentalities and replacing them with “co-innovation and value creation” thinking between manufacturers and suppliers.  This can mean “opening the kimono” to allow key suppliers into your core ERP system, or creating supplier portals to share and exchange pertinent information on supply chain performance and expectations.   Creating win-win opportunities to engage a value chain under the auspices of creating value through a greener supply chain can open the door to new thinking, both in how we view traditional operating models and how we measure our performance against a triple bottom-line.  This should give new life to the time-tested and trustworthy ERP system, and a new sense of purpose on what information we use to operate our businesses in new and creative ways.

Click here to receive a full copy of the article as part of the eBook and free webinar offer by Sustainable Business Forum.  Thanks in advance to Sustainable Business Forum for the opportunity to participate in this webinar and eBook project.


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Filed under Compliance, Operations, Procurement, Supply Chain Management, Sustainability, Technology

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