SME Compass for Sustainable Supply Chain Management

Cargo ships entering one of the busiest ports in the world, Singapore

Small and medium-sized companies are central to the German economy and, as a result, Germany's social and ecological responsibility in the world. They have less power over suppliers than large corporations, however. A new tool can help them work towards sustainable supply chains.


What does corporate responsibility mean for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)? How can SMEs get started with sustainable supply chain management? What special challenges do SMEs face and what role can they play in implementing corporate responsibility in Germany? The ‘KMU Kompass’ (SME Compass), an online tool for sustainable supply chain management developed specifically for SMEs, addresses these and other questions.

Step by step towards corporate responsibility

The SME Compass, developed by adelphi on behalf of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), helps SMEs get started with sustainable supply chain management. With this tool, they can implement corporate responsibility in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights 2016–2020 (NAP) in a practical, process-oriented manner.

The SME Compass is based on the five core elements of human rights due diligence, which are anchored in the NAP. It identifies five central process steps for sustainable supply chain management: (1) develop strategy; (2) perform risk analysis; (3) take action; (4) measure and report; (5) manage grievances.

A holistic approach to human rights and environmental protection

While the process steps are based on the NAP, which in turn creates the basis for implementing human rights due diligence in Germany, the SME Compass explicitly expands the concept of due diligence to include environmental risks. In this way, the SME Compass relies on an integrative approach, combining human rights and environmental risks where possible to create holistic supply chain management.

In addition to the online tool, which enables users to click their way through the five process steps in sequence, the website also offers practical help on some of the central challenges that were identified in the course of the project. Among other things, SMEs can download an Excel tool for an initial risk assessment or look at tips for implementation. 

The project managers and contact persons at adelphi are Daniel Weiß and Bibiana García