Mapping your supply chain: how to get started

Mapping your supply chain is an essential part of responsible sourcing. Learn what this is and how to get started with our overview.

Supply chain mapping helps a business understand where their suppliers are and the practices along each tier – so that they know more about how their goods or services are produced and the risks in their supply chains.

What is “mapping a supply chain”?

Mapping a supply chain means gathering information about your suppliers, their own suppliers, and the people who work in your supply chain to create a global map of your supply network. This information can be held in a single data platform for ease and to facilitate analysis.

Supply chain mapping isn’t just a one-off exercise – it’s an ongoing activity, as you get more information and as your supplier base and supply chain changes.

Why should I map my supply chain?

Mapping the supply chain helps a business learn more about how its products or services are produced, where, and by whom. It is the foundation for building a risk management, due diligence and responsible sourcing programme in your supply chain.

Key benefits:

  • Create supply chain transparency and visibility. Investors and consumers expect a business to know how and where their products are made.
  • Identify and understand the inherent risks within the supply chain and protect operations and reputation against them. For example, some countries have higher rates of exploitative practices like child labour and are therefore higher risk to source from. Knowing where suppliers are located helps to understand the magnitude of these risks.
  • Make informed business decisions and prevent risks. Using insight about their supply chains businesses can prevent and reduce risk, build long-term supplier partnerships, upskill and support suppliers.
  • Take action to remediate issues and protect workers. Having more information about suppliers and workers allows a business to understand the human rights and environmental impacts their decisions may have throughout their supply chain.
  • Comply with legislation. Modern Slavery Acts and other laws require companies to demonstrate how they address modern slavery, including within their supply chains. To do this effectively companies must know who their suppliers are, the risk of modern slavery, and what action is being taken to prevent and remediate it if and when identified.
  • Report on ESG criteria and become more attractive to investors. Environment, social and governance criteria (ESG) are of increasing interest to investors, who seek to understand the potential environmental and social risks of an investment prospect. Doing supply chain mapping as part of a comprehensive due diligence programme is key to reassuring investors that businesses understand their supply chains and have true visibility of the risks within them.

 

How to get started: the stages of mapping your supply chain

  • Identify who will be responsible for pulling together information about suppliers, and capture what you already know in a single place. Speak to people across your business and various departments, look at suppliers’ invoices, and check the addresses on their websites.
  • Learn where suppliers and their suppliers are located, by working with procurement and using existing supplier lists.
  • Integrate information on your suppliers from different sources, using a spreadsheet or data platform. Supply chains can change rapidly; a system for managing supplier data will help you to keep information current and in one place.
  • You can then consider conducting an initial risk assessment to help you prioritise where to focus next. A key part of this is to research the risks and issues facing your suppliers. Collect information about what is happening at their sites, and research the inherent risks associated with the countries and sectors suppliers operate within. Use tools like the Sedex self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) for suppliers, audits and pre-screening risk tools as part of this process.

Continue this process as your supply chain grows – the more information you have, the more insight you’ll gain. Once you have a good idea of your top tier sites, start looking at the sites that supply to them, i.e. their suppliers. If you use several wholesale agents you may want to start this earlier in your supply chain mapping process.

 

How Sedex can help with supply chain mapping

  • Gathering information. We can help a business gather information on its suppliers, including where they are located, the activities occurring at different sites and the people they employ. We offer Self-Assessment Questionnaires (SAQs) for capturing data about suppliers’ and businesses’ own sites.
  • Supplier engagement and onboarding.
  • Our data platform, Sedex Advance, holds all this information in one place to build an interactive map with reporting Supplier companies can share data with multiple customers to avoid duplication of effort.

Contact us to find out how we can help you map your supply chain

Find out how DuPont Nutrition and Biosciences works with Sedex to drive efficiency, improve transparency and support business relationships within their supply chain.

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