Welcome to Part Three of ADEC Innovations’ “Rethinking Sustainability Audits and Assessments” series. Over the course of this three-part series, we have examined why the process of assessments and auditing often falls short in providing business value to suppliers, and are looking at solutions for both suppliers and their buyers to improve performance and lower supply chain liability.
Missed Parts One and Two? Check out previous issues of Greenwatch to learn how to combat audit fatigue and lower the cost of auditing.
When you grow beyond Excel, one of the most important steps for any company initiating or reviewing their audit processes is finding the right software for the job. If your company is looking to roll out new assessment software, there are a number of questions you should ask before choosing your software solution, during the roll out of the new software, and into the long-term.
Access and Usability
During your search for a new software solution, one fundamental but often overlooked aspect to consider is whether or not a solution is the right fit for your organization. There are a few pitfalls at this early stage that you should be careful to avoid. For example, staff must be able to understand and use the software effectively, ideally with a minimal training, and the software must be compatible with the existing digital infrastructure in and around the facilities in which it will be used.
When evaluating software solutions, consider fit and compatibility questions, including:
- Will internet connection quality, usage monitoring, or restrictions such as firewalls affect the functionality of the software in the regions in which it will be used?
- Is the software compatible with the devices that are typically used in the regions where the assessments will take place?
- Who will be given access to view, edit, and share the audit? How can administrators invite additional participants or revoke access to existing participants?
- Will the expected users find the software easy to use? Will they understand the language the software uses? Will they be able to easily navigate assessments, provide descriptions of actions taken, and access explanations of scores? Will they be given notifications of the progress of the audit?
- Does the software run the assessment process in a way that is consistent with your existing process? Are the questions clear and written in a consistent tone? Is the scoring methodology actionable and consistent with your internal ranking?
The Roll Out
Once you have chosen which software solution is right for your organization, consider next-steps as you prepare to roll out your new software. To make the transition as smooth as possible, it is important that you plan the details of how you will phase out your old system, what kind of pilot program you will run to test the new software, and what kinds of provisions will need to be in place during the full roll out.
Questions to ask during this phase include:
- Are you currently using any external systems to provide data, such as procurement systems or vendor lists, that will need adjusting to be compatible with the new system? How much historic data should be loaded into the new system?
- Who do you need to inform and update about the change? Will managers or clients need to be informed about any changes in reporting? Are there any payments or contracts that need to be honored?
- During your pilot, will you be able to provide sites where users can practice interacting with the system with no impact on their actual score? Do you have a mechanism for ranking and prioritizing feedback that you receive during pilots and other tests?
- How will you provide initial and ongoing training? Will you have dedicated staff to react to any issues which arise?
- How will users be onboarded? Do you have any procedures in place to follow up users who do not login to the system at launch? Will your communications take place both within the new software, to reinforce adoption, and outside of it, to ensure you reach those who have not yet adopted it?
Of course, the process doesn’t just end once you have your new software up and running. In order to ensure that the adoption of new auditing software leads to real improvements in the auditing process, you will need to be engaged in constant monitoring to gather data on the software’s performance and manage any changes that take place. Changes to watch out for include:
- Trends in user logins - are your suppliers consistently using the new software year-round, or are there times when it is less used?
- Changes in methodology - will you be able to easily adjust the software to accommodate new assessment questions and retire old ones? Will it allow you to adapt your scoring methodology in the future?
- Evolution of the supply chain - how easy will it be to bring new suppliers onboard after the initial roll out?
Rolling out new auditing and assessment software across your supply chain can be a challenge. But, like all challenges, it can be overcome with the right preparation. Use our checklist of questions as a guide to give yourself a head start on finding the software solution that is right for your organization, implementing it effectively, and tackling any issues that arise in the short- or long-term.
CleanChain, an ADEC Innovation, helps you gain visibility and insights into the chemical use in your supply chain. Want to find out more? Book a free demo with us today to find out how CleanChain can help you engage your supply chain and improve your chemical management initiatives.