DSC_01711. How can we better measure sustainability?
2. How can we design more sustainable products?
3. How can we avoid socially-negligent suppliers?
4. How can we instill sustainability in our suppliers?
5. Who can we trust to drive sustainability?

Michael Koploy @softwareadvice and I had a lively conversation on these five questions for his article about the future of sustainable strategic sourcing see http://bit.ly/HooydC . Being that Software Advice covers ERP – enterprise resource planning – just how can technology drive sustainability? First, what is ERP, you ask? It is a complete integration of all the stuff to make stuff, matching all the inputs to make the outputs. Think of it this way: all the ingredients to make lasagna, including portions/measurements that get calculated into how often you need to buy sauce, buy pasta, etc. in order to create one dinner lasagna at X time.

Technology may make us more efficient in driving objectives-led purchasing (very important!) but it doesn’t take away the human element of food, or any industry we are in. Choosing suppliers, whether sustainable or non-sustainable is based on relationships but technology tools like ERP lead manufacturers out of entrenched, long-held behaviors with a thick opaque lense. An ERP system can’t make final decisions for choosing one supplier over another, but ERP can provide metrics or a dashboard driving objectives-led purchasing decisions, rather than the usual, “I think they/we ran out of that a lot this year?” This level of efficiency helps drive sustainable strategic sourcing via good decision-making.