ISO 20400 - the new standard for Sustainable Procurement

Scyscrapers seen from a park

Guide to successful gap assessment against the new ISO 20400

The new ISO 20400 was published this year and promises to offer procurement and sustainability professionals alike a unique opportunity to unlock the benefits of their twin disciplines at a whole new level by an integrated and systematic approach.

Unlocking the benefits

Benefits are linked to your specific organisational challenges and opportunities so there is no one size fits all. We see that there are five main drivers of benefit:

  • A new way for procurement to add value – with procurement increasingly seen as a source of value add, and even top line growth, an ISO based approach, executed strategically, can unlock more innovation and added value than stand-alone or purely risk based initiatives.
  • Updating your insight into risks – last year’s self-assessment questionnaires from your suppliers are unlikely to give you foresight into next year’s emerging risks – but intelligent horizon scanning and systematic category analysis in an ISO 20400 framework can.
  • Sustainable cost savings – When the immediate cost savings have been realised, an integrated approach can provide a clear pathway to deeper sustainable cost savings.
  • Efficient integration – Sustainability and procurement departments have been collaborating for some time but the standard offers true and full integration of processes – that means efficiency and scalability.
  • A structured approach – An ISO 20400 based approach can drive consistency, alignment and collaboration into relationships with suppliers and stakeholders. 

Assessing the gap/Avoiding pitfalls

The first step in this journey is understanding where you currently stand and conducting a strategic gap assessment between your organisations relevant capabilities and those essential for a successful implementation of the standard. 

A Gap Analysis is a natural way to understand that potential. Here are our top tips for a successful Gap Analysis:

  1. Review your strategy - Before conducting a clause by clause comparison it is essential to compare your current strategy with the underlying principles of the standard.
  2. Use it to build capacity – both sustainability and procurement teams are busy so use the assessment to building real insight and understanding across teams and stakeholders.
  3. Focus on scalability – Once you have identified a gap you should consider the scalable solutions to address it. You’ll need to show early returns on investment and rapidly scalable solutions will deliver these.
  4. Go digital – there is a new generation of digitally enabled tools many of which might not yet be on your radar. Where the gap and the need is clear, work with technology strategists to get the best out of a digital market that is alive with innovative new tools.
  5. Choose an experienced partner – the standard is new as an ISO but its pre-cursor national standards have been established for several years. Make the most of the available body of knowledge and experience. 

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Lin Jacobsen Hammer

Lin Jacobsen Hammer

Head of Sections and Training

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