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The Client: Fortune 100 Consumer Electronics Company

Overview

The consumer electronics company was struggling to gain better control over and visibility into their social compliance and sustainability status across a complex network of global suppliers. MetricStream’s solution helped them streamline, automate, and integrate their audit activities in a common, enterprise-wide framework. It simplified audit management, improved auditor productivity, and provided real-time visibility into audit activities and non-conformances. 

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Solution

The client considered multiple vendors and solutions for supplier social compliance and sustainability management. Eventually, MetricStream was identified as the right choice based on the advanced capabilities of their solutions, as well as the flexibility of their underlying platform. The client’s needs were very specific and niche. But MetricStream’s platform could be effectively configured to meet those needs.

Today, MetricStream’s solution and platform provide a single, centralized environment for the client to manage and monitor all social compliance and sustainability audits across the global supply chain. The solution streamlines and automates audit activities. It also provides advanced support for both mobile and offline audits. All audit findings, non-conformances, and other issues are consolidated in a single system where they can be tracked and reported in real time.  

Below are the key highlights of the MetricStream solution:

A single source of truth for all audit data: The solution provides a cohesive framework to integrate and streamline end-to-end social compliance and sustainability audit activities. When an audit manager decide that a supplier facility needs to be audited, they prepare an audit plan in the MetricStream solution, and send out notifications to internal and third-party auditors, as well as auditees through the system.

The addresses and geo-coordinates of each facility are maintained in the solution, so that auditors can easily locate the site that has to be audited. The auditors then go on-site, access the client’s specific code of conduct checklist within the solution, and enter their audit findings, observations, and compliance scores directly into the system. All non-conformances or issues are classified into pre-defined categories, communicated to the supplier facility, and tracked right up to closure through the solution.

Since all the data is stored in one place, it is easy to search, find, and track. For instance, a few months after an audit is conducted at a facility, an auditor visiting the site for the next audit can quickly pull out the results of the previous audit from the MetricStream solution to determine if the issues and non-conformances identified have been effectively resolved.

User-friendly operating system and interface: The MetricStream solution was configured to provide a simple, intuitive interface, according to the client’s specific requirements. This way, users had no trouble adapting to and using the tool. Easy-to-use navigation controls make it easy to move from one page to the next.

Support for multiple Internet browsers and operating systems: As a web-based tool, the MetricStream solution supports almost all browser combinations, ranging from Windows Internet Explorer (IE) 8, IE9, and IE10, to Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari. It also supports widely used operating systems including, Microsoft Windows and Apple’s Mac.

Mobile app for audits: MetricStream’s audit mobile app has greatly improved the ease, agility, and efficiency of social compliance audits, as auditors can now conduct field work on the go, from the convenience of their tablets or mobile devices. They can walk around the supplier facility, entering their findings as they see them, and taking photos and videos as evidence. All the data is automatically integrated with the central audit database where it can be easily tracked by the audit team at the company headquarters.

Offline Audit Briefcase: Since auditors don’t have Internet connectivity in many supplier locations, all they need to do is use MetricStream’s offline audit briefcase. It comes as an app on just about any operating system or Internet browser. Through it, auditors can download their audit forms and checklists onto their tablets or mobile devices before going out into the field. They can then tour the supplier facility, and enter their data as usual. Later, when they connect to the corporate network, their findings are automatically synchronized with the central audit database at the click of a button.

Real-time data consolidation: The system is built with a collaboration feature which allows multiple auditors to work on the same task without impacting each other’s work. For instance, if there are five auditors walking around separately in the same supplier facility, each one can view the findings of the other four in real time on the same audit form. This shared view is essential because all the auditors are evaluating supplier compliance with the same code of conduct. Their responsibilities may be different - but it is very likely that each auditor will observe something that is relevant to the other. For instance, an auditor checking ethics may see an instance of environmental violation at the supplier facility. He or she can immediately capture this data and update the audit form section on environment. In turn, the auditor evaluating environment can see this data, and determine if the incident needs to be inspected further.

Integration with the client’s enterprise systems: The MetricStream solution integrates with multiple IT systems in the client organization, including a supplier information repository, an enterprise data warehouse, a directory services application, and a user account management system. The solution imports and exports data to and from these systems, thereby enriching data reporting and analysis. For instance, it exports all transaction data in real time into the enterprise data warehouse so that users of this system can slice and dice the data to extract important insights, and create comprehensive reports. Similarly, the solution exports supplier audit findings and social compliance metrics into the supplier information respiratory. So, instead of going back and forth between various systems, users get all the supplier data and metrics they need in one place.

Challenges

In the last few years, consumers have become increasingly aware about the treatment meted out to factory workers at many top supplier organizations. Incidents of child labor, stress and harassment, unsafe working conditions, and environmentally unsustainable business practices have dominated news headlines, inciting public anger not only against the suppliers that perpetrate these practices, but also the companies that procure from these suppliers.

The client, as a respected global business brand, is committed to ensuring that their supplier facilities are run on ethical, humane, and sustainable principles. They have a dedicated internal team to conduct social compliance and sustainability audits i.e. evaluating selected supplier facilities to ensure compliance with the client’s code of conduct around labor, environment, health, safety, and sustainability.

Yet, managing these audits proved to be increasingly challenging, as there were hundreds of suppliers across various countries, each one catering to different commodities and different business units in the client organization. So, most supplier data ended up being scattered across multiple disparate repositories and point solutions. This siloed approach obscured top-level visibility into supplier social compliance activities.

Moreover, when it came to conducting audits, the company’s manual approach was far from efficient. Auditors visiting a supplier facility would have to enter and format their findings on multiple cumbersome spreadsheets. Compounding the challenge, many facilities didn’t have network connectivity. So the auditors would have to return to their offices, and then manually consolidate their findings, generate reports, and send them to the client’s supplier team.

In turn, the client’s supplier team would be flooded by a range of audit reports from various supplier facilities worldwide. It was exceptionally challenging for them to track audit activities or non-conformances since the data was spread across various documents and emails. So, if there was a non-conformance related to labor and human rights, the team would have to manually sift through multiple documents to figure out where the factory was located, which specific product line it catered to, what the non-conformance was, who the auditor was, which spreadsheet or system the findings were entered into, and whether or not those findings were accurate.

Faced with these challenges, the company decided to upgrade their supplier-related social compliance and environmental sustainability systems. They wanted a “single version of the truth” - a completely consolidated database of all supplier social compliance and sustainability audit data that would be easy to manage and track. They also wanted to automate their activities as much as possible to save time, effort, and resources.

Why MetricStream?

The client chose MetricStream for the following reasons:

MetricStream’s market leadership: MetricStream’s social compliance and sustainability management solutions are used by some of the largest and best-known organizations, and are highly recommended.

Platform configurability: Although MetricStream did not have an out-of-the-box solution to meet the client’s requirements, their underlying GRC platform was so flexible that it could be used to build and configure a solution to the client’s expectations.

Platform extensibility: The MetricStream platform can be easily extended to add on new solutions. The client is already in talks with MetricStream to implement solutions for supplier information management, supplier onboarding, supplier performance management, ongoing supplier monitoring, and supplier survey management. This way, the client can get an end-to-end system to manage and track their entire supplier governance landscape.

Benefits

  • Simpler audit management:
    The solution has replaced multiple siloed systems with a common audit management framework that can be used by up to 1,000 concurrent users across the enterprise to plan, manage, conduct, and track social compliance audits across hundreds of suppliers worldwide.
  • Improved audit productivity:
    MetricStream’s innovative mobile audit app, offline audit briefcase, and real-time data sharing capabilities have enabled auditors to optimize their time on the field, coordinate their activities better, and enrich their findings.
  • Better auditor efficiency:
    Since most audit activities are automated and streamlined, the audit team has been able to save resources, and focus their time on more important tasks such as analyzing audit findings.
  • Easy access to audit data:
    Audit plans, findings, issues, non-conformances, and other social compliance data are stored in a single, centralized repository with intuitive search tools. This makes it easy for users to find the right data at the right time.
  • Real-time audit visibility:
    Audit findings from across global supplier facilities are automatically rolled up into a central database. Therefore, in real time, audit managers can track each supplier’s level of social compliance, and accordingly make informed decisions.
  • Flexibility to work offline:
    The solution enables auditors to easily conduct their tasks and record findings even in remote places that do not have Internet connectivity.

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