Can You Hear Me? Communicating With Your Supply Chain Through the Noise

Can You Hear Me? Communicating With Your Supply Chain Through the Noise

Data — it is the word that resonates most when discussing the supply chain with my clients.

Do you have a point regulatory requirement like REACH or anti-human trafficking? Data helps you comply. Does your company have a Supplier Code of Conduct (SCOC) that is linked to your values, and those of your suppliers? Data conveys those values. Is there a big change at your company that needs to be communicated to a broad audience? Data is a two way street.

Your supply chain does more than provide you with goods and services. It also represents one of the largest data journeys your company embarks on each and every day. Nobody wants to speculate that their suppliers have all signed your SCOC each year, nor do they want to assume that these same suppliers understand the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of anti-human trafficking laws. The difference between speculative and robust compliance lies within every supply chain interaction your company makes.

Where things get a little crazy is when the goal of collecting supply chain data meets the often disjointed reality of supply chain interaction. Let’s take your SCOC and Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC) policy and line them up. There is a good chance your suppliers are being asked the same question in two different ways. Perhaps your purchasing department levies your SCOC (which contains bribery as a topic) while your legal team oversees the ABAC program, but that information lives in two separate places and is governed by two different stakeholder requirements.

Some questions come to mind when I think about this scenario:

  • Are the documentation request cycles the same?
  • Is the supplier recipient the same (and does it need to be)?
  • Do the initiatives overlap?
  • Would the data match if our company ever came under scrutiny?

The advice I always impart is that data is everything when it comes to supply chain compliance. The way you approach it makes all the difference. Compliance in your supply chain is born out of your company’s values, and there is a compelling argument for stakeholders to work together in a platform that can leverage this data across any question set. A disjointed approach can negatively impact supply chain compliance — so imagine how a consolidated approach would scale into success.

So, what does a consolidated approach look like? These are some recommended guidelines to follow:

  1. Network internally to understand which departments require the same or similar data
  2. Review your contracts — is your company already obtaining data at the contract level?
  3. Understand how your company traditionally engages with its supply chain
  4. Map out the data that is being requested from your suppliers each year
  5. Agree on a consolidated request approach to reduce supplier burden
  6. House your data somewhere easy to access and report from

A helpful hint for all points is this: if you are looking for a good source of truth, your front line (purchasing) is a great place to start.

For more information on how Assent helps companies take the noise out of supplier interactions, download our new supply chain communication infographic. Still not finding the answers you need? Contact our team of experts at