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Sustainable Sourcing: What motivation do standards provide?


01-Mar-12 10:48

In this guest post, Brian Farrington’s Stephen Ashcroft takes a look at how procurement functions need to adapt their approach to sustainability to meet standards.

 

There is a significant opportunity for the procurement specialist to implement a procurement sustainability strategy, but first businesses need to understand the organisational benefits from this journey.

 

The stimulator can be British Standard 8903 – 2010. This is a guide dealing with the principles and framework for procuring sustainability, The British Standards Institute refer to BS 8903 as a daughter standard of BS 8900.

 

It is already evident that the robustness of procuring sustainability will become a future PASS/FAIL facet of public and private sector pre- qualification processes. The traditional tick box approach is being replaced by more probing and qualitative judgements.

 

The bland “Do you have a sustainable procurement strategy?” with a tick box Yes/No will, in future, require evidence that such a strategy is aligned to an organisational strategy - always assuming that there is the latter! The penetrative requirement for demonstrable method statements showing how procurement has applied a strategy into the supply chain will currently challenge many procurement departments.

 

We have encountered the view that there is a conflict between procuring sustainability and making savings. This is flawed logic. Through life costs should, for example, be a focus for procuring IT, the refreshment strategy and end of life disposal are material considerations, often ignored at the tender evaluation phase of procurement.

 

What is in it for your organisation? It will be a boost to the corporate reputational image. It will drive down costs. It will facilitate winning contracts where sustainability is a prerequisite. A good example is the opportunity to convince the ‘front office’ of business development that the ‘back office’ can materially support winning themes.

 

We’ve devised a set of metrics to evaluate current procurement actions against criteria determined by BS8903 and, equally importantly, facets of procurement performance omitted from BS 8903, in order to make a strategic tool to deliver to the organisation’s agenda.

 

Above all, focusing on BS8903 will show that procurement does take initiatives that are for the corporate benefit.

 

Stephen Ashcroft is a procurement consultant for Brian Farrington, you can find him on Twitter: @Farrington1978.


Steve Hall Steve Hall is Editor at Procurement Leaders. Steve oversees the publication of Procurement Leaders Magazine and draws on a decade in business publishing, providing quality coverage to senior business leaders. Follow Steve on Twitter: @thestephenhall

 
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