THESIS on SupplyShift
What is THESIS?
The Sustainability Consortium has drawn on years of experience in engaging with both suppliers and retailers across the consumer goods industry to launch, The Sustainability Insight System (THESIS), with enhanced user experience that will provide additional value for all types of users.
THESIS is a science-based performance management system that allows users to understand and solve the most important social and environmental sustainability issues across the supply chains of food and consumer goods. Both buyers and suppliers will be better equipped to act on assessed sustainability performance. Users will experience more seamless account creation and management, a more intuitive approach to assessing and sharing their sustainability performance, increased user control throughout the process, improved data quality, and more robust data insights.
What is new and what is the same?
All users will benefit from an enhanced user experience while completing sustainability performance assessments, including system reliability, auto-saving progress, and storing year-over-year data going forward.
New improvements for 2020:
- Seamless on-boarding experience for new and returning users
- Dashboard for improved user experience
- Increased access points to THESIS helpful documents
- Retained historical information for returning users
- Easier access to full KPI information on scorecards
- Supplier analytics for deeper dives into anonymous peer benchmarking
In-assessment Action Recommendations and enhanced scorecards will help suppliers better understand their performance. Action recommendations prompt a user to know very specifically what their recommended first step towards improvement should be. This will help novice suppliers get started on their sustainability journey, and help experienced suppliers optimize their performance. With enhanced benchmarking tools, suppliers will be able to more accurately and easily benchmark their performance relative to other suppliers through an improved user interface and more information, including more detailed graphs and ranks. Scorecards are downloadable and update in real time as peers share the same assessments.
Retailers will still communicate with their suppliers to set expectations (e.g., participation, timelines, how the data will be used, etc.). Most importantly, the underlying methodology for The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) KPIs has not changed. TSC KPI sets are still developed using a multi-stakeholder, science-based approach. The KPI sets undergo annual review that considers user and member feedback, analysis of KPI differentiation and actionability, and the emergence of any new science.
Will TSC KPIs change?
While TSC does release annual updates to some KPIs, the core of the system will remain the same as previous years. The Release Notes section at the end of the PDF version of the KPI set outlines all changes.
Will TSC product categories change?
THESIS allows users to select which assessments to complete from an organized list of product categories. You may notice new, simpler names or more specific options than were available in past years, but the underlying KPIs for each assessment have generally not changed.
Is “THESIS INDEX” the new name for The Sustainability Index?
More than 1,500 suppliers have shared their sustainability performance with more than a dozen retail customers through the key performance indicators (KPIs) developed by The Sustainability Consortium (TSC). Historically, retailers have referred to this program or system differently. For example, Walmart and Sam’s Club have commonly used the term “The Sustainability Index”. The Sustainability Insight System, or THESIS, from TSC will share the same core as these past efforts and may be referred to as THESIS Index.
Where is THESIS hosted?
THESIS is hosted on the SupplyShift platform. The THESIS sustainability performance assessment process has its own branding but is fully integrated into SupplyShift. This means THESIS users get the full benefits of the next-level platform SupplyShift have built, and existing SupplyShift users can access THESIS using their existing account and log-in details.
Who is SupplyShift?
SupplyShift’s cloud-based technology enables supplier performance measurement, mapping and assessment to any tier, supply chain transparency, and improved collaboration throughout the entire supply chain. SupplyShift’s technology platform efficiently and securely gathers and analyzes supplier data, connecting companies to de-risk and improve supply chains. The platform is built with the belief that, when properly managed, a company’s supplier network can deliver incredible value for the company, the greater economy, and can play an important role in changing our world for the better. The SupplyShift platform makes it seamless to gain the insight needed for a more responsive, responsible, productive supplier network.
Why did TSC choose to partner with SupplyShift?
TSC ran a public RFI process and vetted several different potential partners. SupplyShift’s proven technology, novel network architecture, existing partners, and expert team made them the best fit for our needs. The SupplyShift platform seamlessly integrates TSC’s KPIs resulting in an improved experience for buyers and suppliers alike. SupplyShift also provides a full suite of supply chain management solutions in a single network, so that buyers and suppliers can choose additional services to collect and share any kind of information at any tier of the supply chain.
What retailers currently use SupplyShift?
Of the retailers using TSC KPIs, SupplyShift has worked with Walmart, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Sodexo, Ahold, and Sprouts Farmers Market. SupplyShift also works with a range of other retailers and brands that are not yet affiliated with TSC on other areas of responsible supply chains.
Who will have access to my data when using THESIS on SupplyShift?
The SupplyShift platform puts suppliers, manufacturers, and producers in control of who gets to see their THESIS Index results. Suppliers can choose to share results with one or many of their corporate customers on the SupplyShift platform. The Sustainability Consortium gets a copy of the results to improve the KPIs and to conduct any additional analytics requested by corporate customers selected to receive the assessment results. SupplyShift has access to all data for purposes of running the platform. Suppliers have the option to share assessment results publicly on TSC’s website, which will only be done if that permission is granted.
Did my data transfer from SAP to SupplyShift?
There was not a mass migration of previous supplier KPI responses onto SupplyShift. Suppliers were able to access any previous KPI data on SAP’s Product Stewardship Network until Spring 2020. The SupplyShift solution does support the integration of external data, and all data entered in the SupplyShift platform is stored there to support future year-on-year tracking and to auto-populate answers in future assessment cycles.
What Does a THESIS License Include?
Unlimited THESIS standard assessments
The license includes access to all available key performance indicator (KPI) sets, including guidance, related hotspot information and improvement opportunities, as well as autosaving and an easy user interface to enter information and share with customers.
Access to THESIS supporting documents
- Sustainability Snapshots: Overviews of the issues and opportunities for each KPI set. These are ideal for internal communication when collecting data, as well as communicating results to external audiences.
- Supply Chain Diagrams: Graphic representations of product life cycles that highlight locations of hotspots, improvement opportunities, and their associated KPIs.
- Downloadable KPI Sets: Versions of the KPI sets in PDF and interactive Microsoft Excel formats.
- KPI Calculation Tools for offline calculators and response assistance tools for 12 common KPIs.
Every user will receive automated recommendations for performance improvement, based on responses to each KPI to help plan for action.
Supplier Scorecards and Benchmarking
- A summary of your overall performance and KPI-level scores for each assessment completed.
- Anonymized peer-ranking data that updates in real time as others complete the same assessments.
- Suppliers can view THESIS-wide ranks and KPI-level benchmarking.
New in 2020, suppliers will now have access to published analytics that allow for a deeper dive into anonymous peer data. Unlike the assessment scorecard, published analytics reveal response option-level insights.
Access to TSC and SupplyShift customer support services, webinar trainings, and online tutorials.
Suppliers can add any number of colleagues to their profile, to allow multiple users to work on responding to assessments at the same time and view results.
Communicate your sustainability performance results to all participating customers without having to re-enter data.
How do I get started with THESIS on SupplyShift?
It’s simple! Click here to sign up, select your assessments, and get started.
My company has multiple brands and subsidiaries. How many accounts should I create?
THESIS accounts should be created at the company level. You should create as many THESIS company profiles as necessary to complete product assessments at the level of granularity your customers expects. An active THESIS license is required for each THESIS company profile. If you are a Walmart or Sam’s Club supplier, your assigned Reference ID can be used on multiple THESIS company profiles to verify your relationship with Walmart or Sam’s Club. Each THESIS company profile will need to have a unique account owner – one person cannot manage more than one company profile.
Where can I access THESIS content and tools?
You can access TSC KPI sets and their supporting documents by purchasing or renewing your license on SupplyShift, which is necessary if sharing an assessment requested by a retailer. If you are not interested in sharing but want to use THESIS as a reference, then you can purchase directly from TSC. TSC members can access THESIS tools, free of charge, on the Member Portal.
What is the cost of a THESIS license on SupplyShift?
A THESIS license is being offered by SupplyShift to suppliers, manufacturers, and producers at the same low rate as prior years: $699 USD. As always, the license will remain free of charge for TSC Members. TSC Members should contact their nearest TSC staff member or firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain their discount code.
Who at my company should purchase a THESIS license?
It is recommended that an employee central to your operations (e.g., corporate social responsibility, compliance, supply chain management) or one that has visibility across all your retail customers (e.g., Director of Sales or Procurement) purchase your THESIS license. The purchasing user will be able to easily onboard colleagues throughout the organization to help with THESIS responses. There is no limit to the number of users that a company profile can have.
Does purchasing a THESIS license make me a member of TSC?
Purchasing a license to use THESIS does not equate to TSC membership. TSC members can access and use THESIS free of charge on the Member Portal. New versions of THESIS content are available on the Member Portal before being released for non-member use. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a member of TSC, please visit our Membership page.
How will I be able to share my data with my retail customers?
Once you are signed onto the THESIS platform, powered by SupplyShift, you will have the opportunity to select which retailers and other purchasing organizations you want to share your data with before and after completing your sustainability assessment(s). This new feature enables you to simultaneously share your sustainability performance data with your selected retail customers. You can also share existing responses to additional customers at a later date.
What will my retail customers do with my results?
It is best to contact your retail customer directly to ask about their supply chain sustainability programs. TSC has seen retailers use THESIS in several ways, including to:
- Establish baseline data with suppliers to then track year-over-year improvement or launch organization-wide commitments
- Identify areas of opportunities for collaborative goals across common suppliers
- Provide additional data to ethical/responsible sourcing teams for compliance audits
- De-risk supply chains ahead of launching new businesses
- Educate buying teams and consumers about sustainability hotspot issues
How does THESIS Index relate to other sustainability initiatives or certifications?
TSC Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) measure performance across the entire supply chain at a product category level, which is different from sustainability measurement systems that focus on an organizational, factory, farm, limited issue, or product level. While TSC has not provided an exhaustive comparison to other systems, more than 600 Certifications, Standards, and Tools are referenced in our KPI Guidance. If included in this guidance section, it was determined to be a ready-to-use resource that can assist in the KPI calculations. The Background Information section of the KPI Guidance provides supplementary resources that you can reference to learn more about the issue.
What is the assessment cycle for 2020?
Each of your participating retail customers will communicate directly with you when they expect your KPI responses to be complete each year. It is important that you make sure your data is updated and shared with each of your retail customers before they access it.
Is THESIS content available in languages other than English?
THESIS content is currently only available in English. However, within the SupplyShift platform you will have the option to toggle to other languages for the mainframe of the platform. THESIS Help Center offers support videos with Mandarin and Spanish subtitles. Please contact TSC at email@example.com for the THESIS Help Center password.
How does THESIS align with Walmart’s Project Gigaton?
The expansion and improvements to THESIS will not affect existing alignment with Walmart’s Project Gigaton. Historically, Walmart has referred to THESIS as The Sustainability Index and may do so going forward. Walmart analyzes Index results to benchmark supplier performance, identify risks, and focus suppliers on continuous improvement on sustainability hotspots across the entire product lifecycle.
Project Gigaton focuses only on measuring greenhouse gas emission reductions achieved by Walmart suppliers in the reporting year. In many cases, suppliers taking action to improve on certain Sustainability Index “hot spots” have set goals and will achieve emissions reductions which can then be reported to Project Gigaton. Project Gigaton is focused on elevating supplier goals and progress specifically tied to climate and GHG emissions reductions.
Issues Covered by THESIS
What kind of sustainability issues does THESIS address?
THESIS addresses a wide range of environmental impacts such as pollution, climate change, water quality, and resource depletion as well as social impacts such as worker health and safety, labor issues, and community rights. Evidence is sought for hotspots, which are activities in the product life cycle that cause social or environmental impact and improvement opportunities that can address those hotspots. Key Performance Indicators are then designed to allow measurement of progress against the hotspots. Learn more on our Methodology and Research Background.
Why are there questions about issues that are already well-regulated or managed?
THESIS KPIs are developed based on research and stakeholder participant input for global applicability. Issues that may not seem differentiating for one organization or region may be differentiating in other markets.
Why is a certain issue or hotspot missing from my assessment?
TSC only includes issues and opportunities that are materially significant and actionable, as is defined by the quality and quantity of supporting (or conflicting) scientific evidence. TSC uses a structured research process to identify published research studies and then checks the interpretation of that evidence through a multi-stakeholder review. Learn more on our Methodology and Research Background.
How are certifications and ecolabels considered?
TSC does not typically endorse specific certifications or ecolabels, but if their criteria are scientifically founded (i.e., based on studies that are publicly accessible & independently reviewed) and if they were developed in a multi-stakeholder context, then specific criteria can be adopted as improvement opportunities or into the KPI response option.
What is the scope of an assessment?
THESIS is designed to assess the global production of a product. This means all regions and customers, unless otherwise noted in the assessment scope or title. Assessing your global production of a product is essential for the ability to simultaneously communicate results to multiple retail customers and gives your and your retail customers a more complete understanding of your sustainability performance.
We recognize different impacts are more or less important in different markets. When data and research are being collected, TSC makes special note of assumptions and limitations concerning geographic applicability and includes experts who have knowledge of geo-specific impacts in the discussion.
What if a KPI is only applicable for certain geographies or only pertains to part of our supply chain?
Even if a KPI does not apply to your entire supply chain, you should still answer the KPI related to the portion that is relevant. KPIs will include a “Not Applicable” response to handle situations when it is not applicable to any geography or production stage of your product’s supply chain.
Completing THESIS KPIs
What if I can answer more than one response option, which one should I answer?
Answer the highest applicable answer, e.g., if both (B) and (C) are applicable, you can choose answer (C).
How should I answer the question if I can’t find a response option that matches what our organization is doing?
Choose (B) if the first response option is labeled “Not applicable”, otherwise choose (A), which will typically contain the phrase “We are unable to determine at this time.”
Does anyone check or verify our responses?
TSC does not conduct audits of the assessment results. Retailers may choose to implement their own verification system. Completing a THESIS assessment is the start of the process. Once you have shared the completed assessment, the shared information goes to your customer. Since THESIS KPIs are designed to measure and encourage year-over-year improvement, we recommend you create or enhance an internal system of regularly tracking your performance on all KPIs. You will then be ready to show documentation of responses if a retail customer implements a verification system.
How should I complete a KPI if I only have data for a portion of my business?
Your calculation should cover your entire global business, not just the portion for which you have data. For some KPIs, your denominator in your calculations should represent your entire business and the numerator should represent the data for the portion you can account for. For KPIs that have a “% of supply” response option, you will report the numeric value for the portion of business that you have data for and then indicate the % of your supply that the numeric value represents.
Do questions regarding supply chains apply to my company since our organization is vertically integrated?
Yes, a vertically integrated organization still needs to understand the impacts of the different divisions that interact to create a product.
Some questions ask for percentages. How do I calculate these?
The guidance associated with the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) question provides a “Calculation and Scope” section that describes how the percentage should be calculated. The KPI Guidance may be viewed in the THESIS KPI document and is also in a pop-up box linked to each KPI when completing an assessment on SupplyShift.
Should calculations for product or material mass include the mass of the packaging?
No. Exclude packaging from any calculations involving the mass of product or material produced or purchased. Separate packaging KPIs are included where relevant.
Do we share a separate assessment for each factory?
No. The KPIs are global in scope. You will aggregate any relevant data according to the products within the assessment scope.
We collected data from our factories or suppliers within the last twelve months, but the data reported actually reflects an earlier window of time outside of the twelve-month window. Can we still answer the KPI legitimately?
The guidance for each KPI will specify the acceptable data reporting period. Typically, the data needs to have been reported to you within the last twelve months for a prior twelve-month period that itself did not end more than twelve months ago (i.e., any twelve-month period wholly contained within the last two years).
Table 1. Example 12-month reporting windows for reporting occurring on October 1.
Should the quantitative data being collected (e.g., GHG emissions, water use, accident data) be used to compare suppliers’ performance?
TSC scores these KPIs based on the completeness of data collected rather than the value of the outcome metric itself. However, the quantitative outcome data can be used to evaluate year-over-year performance for a single supplier or identify outliers across common suppliers.
I’m not familiar with some of the KPI terms. Where can I find those definitions?
Every KPI has an associated guidance with four sections, one being “Definitions” where you can review key terms within the KPI that may need clarity. The KPI guidance may be viewed in the THESIS KPI document available for download within each THESIS assessment and is also in a pop-up box linked to each KPI while completing an assessment on SupplyShift.
How do I enter my data if it is too small for the response field?
Check your calculations to ensure that you have used the correct units. If you are sure that you have performed the calculation correctly and the number is still too small to be accepted by the response field, you may enter zero as your response.
Do I provide responses only for the facilities my company owns?
You provide response for all facilities that perform the activities described in the KPI, regardless of ownership. For example, if you use contract manufacturing and the KPIs concerns greenhouse gas emissions during manufacturing, you need to calculate your response for both your facilities and those that you contract. Data from contracted facilities may be more difficult to obtain and this should be reflected in the percent completeness response options.
How would a new company that may not have the data/history respond to this assessment?
Not all companies have the systems in place to collect the data necessary to respond to the KPIs. Addressing sustainability requires measurement and monitoring and this is reflected in the design of the KPIs. Putting data collection systems in place will allow you to respond to the KPIs in the future. Until then, you may have to select “Unable to determine at this time.” for any KPIs that you truly cannot complete.
What if I haven’t received my verification email after signing up?
Immediately after creating your account you will receive a verification email from SupplyShift. If you have not received an email within 15 minutes, check your spam folders and please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. SupplyShift will provide a verification link so you can get started.
What if someone from my organization has already paid for our license?
Once someone from your company has purchased a license and created their account, they will be able to add additional users to the company profile on SupplyShift. It is recommended that you reach out to this person and request they onboard you in order to allow you to collaborate on a single profile. Each company should have only one profile they use to communicate with all of their customers. Company profiles on SupplyShift can have an unlimited number of accounts. There is no need to pay for another license if your organization has already purchased one for this year.
What if I already use SupplyShift to respond to information requests from other customers?
You will be able to access your assessments from other customers and your THESIS assessments through the same account. When it is time to select your THESIS assessments, the starting page will have an option to create a new account, or enter using your current SupplyShift account. Please enter using your current SupplyShift account credentials. You will need to purchase a license to access THESIS assessments even if you are an existing SupplyShift user.
What is a Reference ID and why do I need it to share my THESIS assessments with Walmart and Sam’s Club?
Your Reference ID is a unique identification code used on THESIS to verify your relationship with Walmart and/or Sam’s Club and must be entered before you can share your assessments with these retailers. Your Reference ID is different from your Vendor ID or your Retail Link ID. Obtain your Reference ID through your Walmart Sustainability Portal account. For further detail, see instructions provided below.
How do I obtain my Reference ID?
Obtain your Reference ID by following these steps:
1. Navigate to the Walmart Sustainability Hub and select “ACCOUNT SIGN IN” from the left side menu.
2. Use your Retail Link credentials to log in. Then, you will be directed to your Walmart Sustainability Portal account. (Having trouble? Contact Walmart Sustainability Support at email@example.com)
3. On the dashboard page, you will see information about Project Gigaton, The Sustainability Index and other initiatives within Walmart.
4. Under the Sustainability Index, select “Get Started”.
5. Here you will find information on The Sustainability Insight System (THESIS), your previous assessments, and Walmart’s requirements for this year.
6. Your Reference ID will appear on the right hand side of the page.
If you have difficulty creating a Walmart Sustainability Portal account or accessing your Reference ID, contact Walmart Sustainability Support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if I already know my category assessments from previous reporting years?
Use the search feature located in the top right corner of the onboarding series to search for your assessments. Note that some titles and KPI sets have undergone changes from prior years. If you are unable to find the appropriate assessment, please contact TSC or reach out to SupplyShift support at email@example.com.
Why do I need executive approval to submit an assessment?
The highest ranking sustainability executive in your organization must sign off on your organization’s completed assessment prior to submitting. This step is required for verifying that all information presented in the assessment is accurate. You will not be able to edit your responses once the assessment has been submitted.
What type of payment is accepted?
All major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club, JCB, UnionPay) are accepted. Wire Transfers and Invoicing are also available as alternative forms of payment. Users can contact SupplyShift Support at firstname.lastname@example.org to request either of those options.
What if my payment is rejected?
If your payment has been rejected, please check if the type of payment you are using aligns with the accepted forms of payment. If you have questions about your payment or are experiencing processing issues, please contact SupplyShift Support at email@example.com.
What is the refund policy?
Refunds are available on a case-by-case basis, under special circumstances. Please contact SupplyShift Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that no refunds are available once use of the platform has commenced.
What currencies are accepted?
Prices are listed in USD and will be processed in USD.
Will I be charged tax?
Tax is calculated automatically when you are paying for your license. Tax will be calculated based on the address provided and the associated tax code for the service we provide.
Where can I find a receipt for my license?
You can download a receipt of the license purchase via the THESIS menu option by clicking RECEIPTS, clicking the desired receipt and clicking Download. A PDF file will be downloaded to your machine.
I forgot my account information, how do I log in?
You can recover your credentials from the login page. If you are experiencing difficulties logging in that have not been resolved by recovering your credentials, please contact SupplyShift Support at email@example.com.
How do I onboard a colleague?
When logged in to your account, click the menu icon in the top left of the screen. Select Profile from the menu, then select Manage Accounts. Select the Add Account button to add contact information for the new user in the Add Account dialog. Choose the Admin or User role to allow your colleague to collaborate on assessment responses. For more information about SupplyShift account roles, please see SupplyShift’s support center article on account roles and permissions.
How do I add assessments?
To add a new assessment, click THESIS in the left side menu. Use the + symbol to search for additional assessments. The system will authorize you to add additional assessments without further payment while you have a valid license for your organization.
How do I add retailers to share my assessment responses with?
There are a few ways to add retailers and choose which assessments to send to each retailer. Each assessment will have a cover page where you can edit the retailers who should be recipients of your data. This list will be populated with the retailers you selected as customers in the selection process. Retailers can be added or removed prior to submitting your assessment, however once you have submitted data to a retailer you cannot rescind access for that retailer. To add new retailers, click THESIS in the left side menu. Then, click RETAILERS. Select the new participating retailers to add to the assessments. To add selected retailers to an assessment, click THESIS in the left side menu. Then, click an assessment to select additional retailers.
How do I export my answers?
Once you have submitted your assessment, navigate to the Scorecard tab of the assessment. Select the overflow menu to download the KPI set and action and recommendations for that assessment.
What if I submitted my assessment, but need to make updates or changes to my answers?
Once you have submitted your assessment the KPI responses and scorecard will be sent to TSC and the retailers you selected as recipients. You will no longer be able to edit your assessment once it is submitted. Confirm all answers are accurate prior to submitting.
What is the process for producing a THESIS assessment?
First, TSC research staff and stakeholders define the boundaries of the product category and review published research for evidence of social and environmental impacts and improvement opportunities. In an established process, the quality and quantity of evidence is evaluated for inclusion in THESIS as a hotspot or improvement opportunity. Based on this analysis, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are developed that link hotspots and improvement opportunities to specific metrics. From there, Sustainability Snapshots are developed by mapping hotspots to business objectives and sustainability issues to create a one-page summary of the THESIS KPI document. Supply Chain Diagrams are in the process of being developed for all product categories.
How and when is it decided what product categories will be included in THESIS?
TSC chooses product categories based on their estimated impacts, which is related to their impacts per product and the volume of products sold. Members also make requests that are reviewed by all stakeholders. TSC develops THESIS content for new products every year. A list of completed product categories can be found using our ProductFinder.
How are stakeholders involved in the process of developing THESIS?
The Sustainability Consortium engages corporate, academic, government, and non-governmental organizations as stakeholders. Stakeholders bring expertise and industry insight to the development of THESIS assessments throughout the entire process. In addition to attending workshops, stakeholders submit written feedback and input to the drafts of documents that are created.
Who can participate in the review of THESIS?
TSC members and other invited stakeholders provide input to TSC to help identify possible hotspots and improvement opportunities associated with a product category and they review and provide feedback on THESIS content and tools to help make them accurate and actionable.
How can experts who are not part of TSC membership engage?
TSC researchers and members reach out to external stakeholders when we start work on a new product category, and experts can provide input to the research process.