What is supply chain mapping?

Supply chain mapping involves collecting information about your suppliers, their suppliers, and those who work within your supply chain to create a global map of your supply network. This map is a collated information source that will grow and develop along with your supply chain and provide you with simple and easy access for analysis and risk mitigation.

Why is supply chain mapping important?

Supply chain mapping is important as it allows you to quickly react to any issues you may face relating to your supply chain by helping you to better understand how and where your products are produced. This knowledge is key for:

  • Risk assessment
  • Demonstrating corporate social responsibility
  • Ensuring responsible sourcing
  • Providing due diligence

The important knowledge gained from supply chain mapping provides you with a deeper understanding of your wider business, helping to pre-empt potential issues whilst protecting brand reputation.

Why is supply chain mapping crucial in the food industry?

1. Identify where value can be added or is lost

Supply chain mapping allows you to identify a range of issues spanning quality, compliance, environmental or social at all tiers of the chain to improve visibility, drive efficiencies, and mitigate risk. In the food industry, quality raw ingredients are highly important for the standard of the final product. Identifying suppliers that meet your business expectations via mapping helps to uphold standards.

Supply chain management can also help you identify where value is lost in the eyes of the consumer, not only in terms of time and money. In the food industry, customers can have strong opinions and values relating to where their food has come from and how it has been sourced. Some countries have higher rates of exploitation, such as modern slavery. Knowing where suppliers are located helps to understand the level of risk they pose to you and your customers.

2. Make informed business decisions

Supply chain mapping can support you in making informed business decisions that can prevent and reduce risk and increase growth. Using the insight your business has gained about your supply chain, you can build long-term supplier partnerships, upskill, and support suppliers which can help you develop faster and more efficient processes at all stages of the supply chain.
As well as enabling you to support and grow your existing suppliers, your supply chain can help to identify any areas of weakness and enable your business to make informed decisions and suggest improvements. This could be anything from a geopolitical risk, outbreak situations and much more.

3. Strengthen supply chain collaboration

Implementing supply chain mapping can help to foster improved communication channels and in turn, strengthen relationships between your business and its direct and indirect suppliers. By improving visibility, your business can collaborate and share expectations to drive progress against important goals and initiatives.

4. Streamline and speed up your processes

By mapping all tiers of your supply chain, you can easily identify suppliers based in locations of interest when issues and opportunities arise. Having full sight of your supplier networks, businesses can save hours of admin time by pinpointing relevant suppliers to contact. Embedding other digital tools including digital audits or centralised documentation management can further help to deliver process efficiencies.

Delays within your supply chain can result in faulty products, hold-ups for later processes, and reduced customer satisfaction. If you foresee an issue with a current supplier – this could be due to local weather, politics, or other geographical issues – having a detailed supply chain map can help you quickly identify alternative solutions within your supplier network. Having a clear map of your supply chain allows you to easily adapt to situations, mitigating risk throughout your supply chain.

5. Mitigate risk ahead of time

No supply chain is completely secure and therefore implementing strategies that will mitigate risk within your supply chain ahead of time is key for success. Supply chain mapping can help businesses to you identify areas of potential risk and implement contingency plans that will ensure you are protected from any unexpected incidence. Within the food industry there are several factors that can’t be mitigated and will affect the produce, such as weather, disease, and political incidents. By strengthening your supply chain through contingencies, you can reduce the impact these factors may have on your business operations and results.

6. Comply with legislation

The Modern Slavery Acts and other legislations increasingly require companies to illustrate how they address modern slavery, environmental risk and much more, including how this is addressed within their supply chains. Supply chain mapping enables businesses to do this effectively by understanding who their suppliers are, identifying a range of risks, and enabling them to implement any action they can take to prevent such risks.

As agriculture is a high-risk sector for exploitation and abuse across supply chains, it is extremely important to identify and prevent potential issues. Not only is this important to comply with legislation but also for customer satisfaction and loyalty reasons. As food supply chains are international there is an increased risk of sustainability and human rights violations that need to be identified through supply chain mapping.

Protecting people and the planet through the tiers is more than a legal requirement, it’s a moral obligation. Using our supply chain transparency software, we work with businesses, suppliers, NGOs and leading certification bodies to build the foundation for ethical supply chains.

Are you ready to optimise your supply chain mapping processes through digital supply chain transformation? Get in touch with the Authenticate team.

For more information on the Authenticate platform or to discuss your challenges and requirements, get in touch with the team.