New study suggests Walmart is among the minority in encouraging complete supply chain visibility

New research sponsored by the Business Performance Management (BPM) Forum and E2Open, which offers an Internet service for supply chain planning and management, suggests that more than two-third of supply-chain professionals have very little insight into the environmental profile of all the partners across their company's extended supply chain.

The timing of this survey release is pretty interesting, given Walmart's disclosure this month that it plans a Sustainable Product Index, one that will force pretty much every one of its suppliers to cough up information regarding the materials, production methods and transportation services that went into getting their products on a Walmart shelf. ( See my earlier blog for background. )

The study is called "Accleration of ECO-Operation: Achieving Success & Sustainability in the Supply Chain." It reflects the answers of more than 125 individuals in supply chain management, finance and operations roles across a variety of industries. Fully 90 percent of the respondents, according to the report, cop to NEEDING more visibility from their trading partners. But about two-thirds of them say they don't have this information, and 78 percent of respondents say that there is little accountability across their trading network.

So, what exactly ARE businesses tracking in all those enterprise resource planning applications? I'm just saying ...

Here are a couple of other findings:

  • 42 percent of businesses responding to the study haven't figured out carbon footprints or greenhouse gas emissions information for their supply chain
  • 76 percent of the companies say that customers HAVE NOT yet requested this information; but two-thirds believe those requests will come within a year
  • 85 percent report that they are starting new programs that combine operational efficiency and corporate social responsibility across their entire supply and demand chain

That last statistic is actually encouraging, although the fielding size for this research is rather small. But it suggests a lot of work needs to be done over the next 18 months in this area. The good news is that if you haven't considered supply-chain sustainability yet, you're not in the minority. But if you don't plan to include it in your next fiscal-year planning, you WILL be left behind.

The whole Acceleration of ECO-Operation report can be downloaded off this link.

E2Open's publicly declared customers include The Boeing Co., Cisco, Dell, Vodafone, IBM, Motorola and others (many of them from high-tech).

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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