Let 500 Strategies Bloom

James Barsimantov

December 01, 2016

SupplyShift’s James Barsimantov says the proliferation of standards and individual company approaches to supply-chain monitoring, which is currently leading to fatigue and frustration, will ultimately accelerate transformation to better practices.

But only if companies get better at managing information.

Speaking in Washington DC at a conference addressing “How Business Can Tackle Deforestation,” Barsimantov pointed out that more and more companies are making aggressive commitments to buy wood and paper products that were sustainably harvested. Those companies must then develop tools to understand the policies, practices and the sources of their suppliers—and reach further back in their supply chain to really understand what’s going on.

“The challenge is that each company is doing this in different ways,” Barsimantov said, “which I think is a great thing.

“It pushes the boundaries of how we interpret these commitments, how we make good on them, and how we do more on sustainability.”

On a panel entitled “Certification and Beyond,” Barsimantov joined Scott Poynton, founder of The Forest Trust, and Nigel Sizer, president of the Rainforest Alliance. While those two organizations are global leaders in certifying products that are environmentally, socially and economically sound, all agreed that there must be a better way to manage for sustainability.

“Certification is not going to go away,” Barsimantov said. “It’s a valuable tool. And it’s not going to solve the problem. Everyone knows that.”

Supply Chain Data Management

As many readers well know, armies of sustainability and procurement people are sending out different Survey Monkeys or Excel files, or using one of many different tools, to collect the exact same data. In a conversation with Tobias Webb of the London-based Innovation Forum, organizers of the deforestation summit, Barsimantov pointed out that industry needs to take advantage of the fact that all of these approaches have a great deal of overlap.

The data network cures dreaded “survey fatigue,” by making information valuable to for anyone to learn about best practices in their industry, so they can know how to improve.

“What’s great about the work these companies do in SupplyShift is that it allows them to get the supply-chain visibility they need while doing it in the way that they want, while taking advantage of the collaborative data that’s in the cloud.”

Without such data-management tools, “we end up focusing on responding to questions in surveys when that’s not the goal, Barsimantov said. “The goal is turning data into action, into continuous improvement. We need a cloud network to do that.

“It’s really exciting to be working with a lot of the companies that were here at the conference. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Follow this link to read a transcript of Toby Webb’s conversation with James Barsimantov, PhD, Chief Operating Officer of SupplyShift, or follow this link to hear the podcast on Innovation Forum.

James Barsimantov

December 01, 2016