The journey towards strategic sustainable procurement
The benchmarking study of Action Sustainability confirms that strategic sustainable procurement is still an emerging trend globally, with major differences between organisations. More than 50% of assessed organisations score below 2.5 out of 5, and only 12.5% are at a mature level, i.e. over 3.5 out of 5. The level of maturity of an organisation is mainly driven by its level of commitment: locations, industries and sizes are not a determining success factor. (august 2019)
It is a journey to arrive at a mature position on sustainable procurement. Several organisations take that journey from basic to maturity and it is certainly not a quick process, taking around 3-5 years to get to a stage where sustainability is fully integrated into the organisation and its procurement processes.
A closer look at the detailed results reveal huge differences between elements of a robust sustainable procurement framework. Organisations are typically good at formalising their commitment to sustainable procurement and engaging their stakeholders around it. However, when it comes to actual implementation of this commitment, important drivers such as SMART objectives, performance review, priority setting, or individual objectives are very low.
Succes factors and recommendations
The publication presents a detailed analysis of each section of ISO 20400, with a focus on the following 10 success factors and recommendations for Senior Leadership to implement sustainable procurement:
Understand your organisation’s culture and drivers – Undertake a Driver Assessment exercise. This type of exercise is best completed through a workshop involving senior executives as they need lead the sustainable procurement approach.
Engage your stakeholders – Engage with your stakeholders before and throughout the development of your sustainable procurement strategy in order to make sense of the strategic importance of sustainability for your organisation and your supply chains.
Prioritise – Carry out a priority setting exercise by setting up a “heat map” of sustainability threats and opportunities across your procurement spend.
Policy and Strategy
Define SMART objectives – Transform policy commitments into practical objectives that can be implemented, measured and communicated.
Share accountabilities – Make sure you incorporate a Responsibilities, Accountabilities, Consult, and Inform (RACI) exercise as part of the strategy development. This will help maintain the focus on delivery, engage internal stakeholders along the way and ensure that the strategy is realistic for all stakeholders with key responsibilities and accountabilities.
Empower sustainability and procurement staff – Do not underestimate the importance of empowering staff in the early stages of the implementation of your strategy, including setting priorities, resourcing, team and individual objectives…
Strategically engage with your suppliers – Consult with your supply chains as early as possible. You may be surprised about great solutions or innovations they may already be implementing with other clients!
Plan your route – Overlay your supply chain sustainability impact and risk assessment or ‘heat map’ with your RFT pipeline and plan your stakeholder engagement for at least the next 12 months!
Tailor sourcing strategies – When sustainability stakes are high, give yourself enough time to consider how you will evaluate your suppliers and develop creative ways to influence suppliers to give you their best sustainability offer.
Build competitive suppliers through the contract – Sustainability is a fast-evolving environment: make sure your suppliers continuously improve, develop their capabilities and innovate throughout the duration of the contract.