How can information from suppliers be checked for quality?

4 ways to check supplier data for quality and how reference data can help.

How can information from suppliers be checked for quality?

Markets and manufacturing practices have dramatically evolved in the last decades, and businesses now collaborate with large numbers of global manufacturing and supply partners. Yet with expansion comes complexity and opacity, as companies try to navigate through regulations and the need for quality data for their own reporting purposes. Companies dealing with external suppliers often lack the same quality management capabilities they established internally, hence forcing them to rely on manual and ad hoc communication, which can lead to miscommunication, delays, and, ultimately incomplete necessary data. At the same time, pressures in regulated industries and overall customer expectations have increased scrutiny of supply chain emissions and accountability. Tackling the informational fundaments for improving sustainability in supply chains has become a pressing issue. This article provides insight as to how information from suppliers can be checked for quality.


  • Companies risk service, quality, and reputation deterioration as well as increasing costs if they fail to improve sustainability in their supply chains.
  • Supply chain complexity hinders the tracking and monitoring of sustainability measures and data.
  • The discrepancy between national regulations for supply chain sustainability and the lack of financial incentives/capital hinder suppliers' efforts to measure their emissions efficiently.
  • Supplier information can be checked through certification, data verification, supplier review, and benchmarking.
  • Missing supplier data can be compensated by data from extensive CO2 databases.

Issues related to complex supply chains

To continuously manage costs, and improve sustainability processes, a company must be able to not only choose the right supply chain partner but also monitor and proactively manage supply chain quality and sustainability. By failing to tackle communication and sustainability issues within their supply chain, companies risk large-scale service, quality, and reputation deterioration as well as increasing costs.

Supply chains are complex, especially for large companies that offer a wide range of products. A single product's supply chain may include a plethora of different material suppliers and manufacturers. Furthermore, successful businesses use multiple vendors per component or item to maintain regular delivery in the event that one supplier fails. The complexity of a chain does not necessarily imply a 'complicated' supply chain; rather, it describes a state of interconnectivity or interdependences throughout the network in which a change in a single element can have serious implications. Adding to the complexity, tracking and monitoring sustainability measures and data within a product's supply chain can become nearly an impossible task.

Improving a product component's environmental performance is already a step in the right direction. However, suppliers and manufacturers need to be on board. Replacing the component with a more sustainable alternative is another option, yet requires a shift in supplier and possibly an entirely new supply pathway.

Global discrepancies

In developed countries, governments, organizations, and citizens assist in putting pressure on policy-makers and brands to ensure sustainable sourcing and manufacturing. In fact, most brands especially in the US and in Europe have escalated taking responsibility, requesting information from their suppliers to start evaluating emissions related to their upstream activities. However, this remains a challenge for companies in developing countries, most of which cannot prioritize sustainability measures simply because of failing regulatory support, financial incentives, and financial capital. Hence, there is still a huge discrepancy between different actors of a complex supply chain stretching across the globe. And for the climate's sake, this gap needs to be addressed.

How can supplier information be checked for quality?

  • Certifications: Asking suppliers for certifications or other proof of their products' quality such as emissions data, analyses or internal reports is an effective way to check the quality of supplier data. This can help you ensure that the products you purchase from suppliers are of consistently high quality.
  • Data verification: requesting the verification of a supplier's data gives confirmation that the provided data is accurate through the provision of objective evidence and confirms that specified requirements have been fulfilled.
  • Supplier Reviews: A supplier's review or mere reputation is not to be considered lightly. Having a look at a review of a supplier enables the estimation of their reliability to a certain extent. It can even give an indication of whether their products meet the expected sustainability and quality standards, and can also help identify any potential issues with a particular supplier.
  • Benchmarking: In order to estimate whether a supplier's data is plausible, simple benchmarking can be of use. Accurate benchmark values can be found in extensive reference databases, and with the right one, these values can sometimes even be more accurate than the ones provided by suppliers, because of the specific calculation methodology and scope used allow for more detailed values.

Attempting to verify and check supplier information can be tedious and cost-ineffective. It is nonetheless necessary to ensure the fundaments for proper reporting and emission calculation, yet entirely missing information can substantially hinder them. So, what to do when supplier information is entirely missing?

Secondary data to the rescue

This is where secondary data enters into play. Secondary data will complete the gap of missing primary data from suppliers with information stemming from a variety of sources such as published scientific studies, public and official national statistics, company reports, and existing LCI databases. To maximize the usefulness and accuracy of the information displayed in a secondary data database, dynamism is key, as it ensures the data is regularly updated taking into account material and process innovations, technological developments, efficiency improvements and various calculation methodologies.

sustamize has developed a Product Footprint Engine (PFE) that is more than just a secondary data database. The sustamize PFE provides companies with a wide range of comprehensive and dynamic reference data databases that fill the gap of missing or incomplete supplier data. It is continuously improved through a combination of in-house, expert-led product footprint calculations, industry expertise, AI processes and a dedicated multidisciplinary team.

Wish to get easy access to our extensive and dynamic database? contact us.

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