5 Factors for High-Impact Sustainable Procurement

 Are you aiming to get more meaningful change and positive social impact through your procurement? We’ve heard from over 40 organizations that these 5 success factors are key contributors to sustainable procurement that drives positive change in the supply chain.

Over the last 24 months Reeve Consulting has interviewed over 40 supply chain and sustainability representatives from governments, crown corporations and private sector organizations on the essential elements of sustainable procurement and what it takes to move beyond Policy to actual action and impact on the ground.

We’ve summarized the results of these practitioner interviews and collated the 5 success factors that are most commonly cited for creating high-impact sustainable procurement program.

 

1. Put your priorities into policy and spread the word

Utilize sustainable procurement to align organizational practices with values. The priorities identified within a sustainable procurement policy and program should cascade down and align with the priorities in your top-level sustainability plans and corporate strategies. Creating a policy defines sustainable procurement priorities and provides guidance to staff and suppliers on how sustainability will ‘show up’ within different forms of procurements.

 

2. Follow a two track program of building and doing

Policy is important; but policy alone does not drive action and it takes time to approve and begin to implement. Follow a two-track program that simultaneously works on ‘high impact procurement opportunities’ (HIPOs) while also taking the time to intentionally put in place the 10 elements of a high performing program. Do not wait for a policy to be perfected before integrating some social or environmental considerations into some of the products and services you are buying right now.

 

3. Form your fantasy sustainable procurement team

The partnership between the Procurement and Sustainability groups is especially important for the development of a high impact program, to drive more sustainability thinking into the planning and needs assessment stages of the procurement process. This powerful partnership can deliver a compelling message by communicating in internal working groups and sharing cross-developmental goals. When sustainable and procurement groups champion common values to the organization, leadership listens.

 

4. Set your staff up for success with tools and training

Deploy simple tools that can enable staff to begin to self-identify the sustainable risks and opportunities that might be relevant to their purchasing decisions. Engage a robust training  plan that encourages staff to be resourceful and facilitates discussion. Leverage early wins and repeat as required until a culture evolves that looks for opportunities.

 

5. Have a chat with your supplier over the garden wall

Working directly with suppliers is an approach to achieve impact without a formal program in place. Collaborate with vendors to address sustainability opportunities in your supply chain outside of traditional RFx processes. Consider asking suppliers if they have environmentally preferable options available, especially with more mature markets, where there is a less noticeable disparity in costs.

 

Realize your program’s full potential

Consider the benefits you could see by asking your supplier to engage with a social value business, or the increased efficiency of staff if they were trained to identify procurement opportunities and are supported by a cross-organizational working group. While policy can align your values and provide guidance when purchasing it is important to remember that policy by itself rarely gets the job done alone. Stay focused on a few program elements that will create an impact in the next six months.

 

Use the CCSP Benchmarking Framework or have your program maturity assessed by groups like Reeve Consulting to learn how to focus your efforts to higher impact quicker.