The enablers of ISO 20400 explained By Mellita D'Silva

Oft times we are in a hurry to ‘embed sustainability into procurement’ without considering what needs to be leveraged to organise procurement towards sustainability.

The enablers are the organisational conditions and management techniques needed to successfully implement and continually improve sustainable procurement. As an organisation starting out on your sustainable procurement journey, you need to ensure that such conditions and practices are in place in order to assist individuals with responsibility for the procurement of goods or services to be able to integrate sustainability considerations into the procurement process.

Let’s take a deep dive into what these constitute:

Governing Procurement

It is important to integrate sustainability into existing governance arrangements and not to develop a new governance programme. Think about your existing procurement tools and templates; your procurement policy, meet the buyer events, PQQ (pre-qualification questionnaire)/SQ (supplier questionnaire) templates, ITT (invitation to tender documents, contract templates and the SPM and SRM (supplier performance and relationship management) processes.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, slot in your sustainability requirements, questions for the supply chain and KPIs into these existing gateways. See how we supported eight West London Local Authorities to use their procurement governance to better low carbon initiatives.

Enabling People

Effective delivery of the sustainable procurement policy and strategy requires that individuals involved in procurement, including internal stakeholders, understand the reasons for implementing sustainable procurement. It is also important that all internal stakeholders understand how to play their part in such implementation and are given the means to do so.

The easiest way to make sustainable procurement and sustainability business as usual within the organisation is to ensure it is written into job descriptions and PDRs. These can be tied to specific works packages and categories being procured and shaped according to the competency matrix. Training people is important. This can take the shape of informal shadowing or attending events and industry conferences or more formal qualifications, such as the Supply Chain Sustainability School.

The School focuses on 17 key topics of Sustainability, as well as addressing topics in; procurement, digital, management, people and FIR (Fairness, Inclusion and Respect). Membership is completely free and gives access to thousands of learning resources and CPD-accredited content.

Engaging Stakeholders

Internal stakeholder buy-in is critical in ensuring success for your sustainable procurement programme. Procurement is a services function with input from various departments, functions – budget holders, budget allocators,, contract managers, construction managers, asset managers, specifiers, senior leadership teams. Consider mapping your stakeholders and identifying their interests in relation to sustainability.

In order to fully manage sustainability risks (including opportunities) throughout its supply chains, an organisation might need to engage one or a group of suppliers, partners or subcontractors in initiatives that go beyond contractual requirements such as early contractor involvement, supplier development, 360 collaborating engagements. Our work with Barts Health NHS Trust was successful due to the significant internal and external stakeholder engagement on their social value objectives.

Setting Priorities

The sustainability objectives of the procurement policy and strategy should be transformed into operational priorities for the procurement function through risk management. This can be done per categories, sub-category and even down to the granular level per supplier. Identifying the risks and opportunities for sustainability in your supply chain, seeing what influence and leverage you have to affect that and mapping the impact will help shape future procurement strategy and procurement decisions. It also helps inform the remainder of the procurement process and supplier performance management. To get a better understanding of carrying out this exercise of risk and opportunity analysis, see the School’s heat mapping e-learning module.

Measuring and Improving Performance

To ensure that the organisation is meeting it’s sustainable procurement priorities, it should implement a performance measuring system that monitors, assesses and continuously improves performance, taking corrective actions if necessary but also rewards good performance against targets and KPIs.

An important part of ensuring your sustainability strategy and sustainable procurement policy come to life is reporting back to management and the corporate level leadership team on the progress made by the supply chain vis procurement on the sustainability goals and ambitions of your organisation. Making data driven decisions will take procurement to the next level and be a catalyst for change. You can explore our Sustainability Tool via a free demo.

Grievance Mechanism

In contributing to sustainable procurement, grievance mechanisms can play an important role in mitigating negative impacts in supply chains and in providing access to remedy for affected stakeholders. A grievance mechanism is a whistle blowing policy but for the supply chain. In the procurement process the supply chain should have a right to reply for anything unethical or unsustainable that may have occurred in the process.

If you would like support in understanding your enablers and strengthening them, please contact me today.

For more information

Mellita D’Silva
Sustainable Procurement Consultant

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