The success of your traceability initiative starts long before the right solution provider has been chosen. After you have defined your business and sustainability needs, the next step is to ensure internal and external alignment and readiness to take on a traceability solution. Without buy-in, support and collaboration from your key stakeholders within your organization and your supply chain, it would be impossible to create a cohesive and unified strategy.
What is Internal Alignment?
Putting together your cross-functional traceability team
Defining a clear responsibility
assignment matrix for internal teams For example
- The IT team is responsible for data integrations
- The local buying office is responsible for supplier alignment
Setting a budget
Creating a realistic timeline of priorities and milestones
Identifying and communicating with key stakeholders from relevant teams, including the C-suite
What is External Alignment?
- Ensuring suppliers understand why and how a traceability solution is being adopted
- Ensuring suppliers understand the incentives for compliance and risks or penalties for non-compliance
- Alignment with service providers — their data needs to feed into your traceability platform so different systems must be able to talk to one another
- Leveraging your supplier relationships to partner with them on this program
Assess Your Readiness
The traceability solution you choose will depend on your organizational readiness and maturity. Do you have the in-house personnel needed to work with a traceability solution provider? Where is your data held and how accessible is it? Do you have contact with your suppliers? Readiness can be defined in three aspects:
To work with any traceability solution, companies need a solid foundation of master data — information on products, suppliers and purchase orders — to ensure these entities are referred to consistently across systems. The quality, granularity and location of your data all matter here.
To assess your data readiness, identify the systems currently holding your brand’s data and the availability of that data, as this will have to align with the traceability solution’s data structure. This task will require a dedicated effort by your IT team to understand data mapping and establish integrations that can push your master data into the traceability system.
At the core of any traceability program are the relationships you have with your suppliers. To manage the constant communication and collaboration with suppliers, brands must factor in sufficient bandwidth, personnel and organizational structure. Some of the tasks that the supplier engagement team will have to perform include:
- Engaging your community of suppliers and educating them on the importance of their cooperation
- Outline the vision for sustainability beyond compliance by setting out your environmental values and goals
- Training suppliers to upload information to your chosen traceability platform
- Regular monitoring to ensure supplier compliance
- Responding to issues and queries from suppliers to ensure a smooth uptake
Across the world, garment suppliers operate under the control of brands and are often treated as disposable. But brands beware: a traceability program won’t succeed without the collaboration and cooperation of your suppliers. Developing strong relationships built on mutual respect is crucial.
Suppliers should be supported and motivated to share their data and help you achieve your traceability goals. Companies can encourage supplier engagement by offering incentives such as guaranteeing them more business, paying a premium for orders, connecting them to sustainable supply chain financing and reducing payment terms.
This story is an excerpt from the Traceability Roadmap, TrusTrace's step-by-step guide to implementing traceability in fashion supply chains. Read the full report here.
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