• Growing environmental awareness makes proving CoC more important.
• Software should be designed and tailored to assist companies in demonstrating, tracking and maintaining their CoC accreditation.
• Main trading systems should support CoC functionality.

Increasing pressure from environmental lobby groups, the public’s growing concern regarding their carbon footprint and UK and other governments’ recognition of the apparent effects of global warming have led to major changes in the way that timber is bought and sold in this country.

And the timber industry is playing its part. Chain of custody (CoC) is the method devised to enable all of those involved in the supply chain to prove that the timber within a transaction is 100% traceable to a sustainable, legal and ethical source.

The Code for Sustainable Homes is one of the government’s earliest indicators as to the direction it intends to take in respect of zero carbon housing. Although, at this stage, the code acts as a voluntary tool for both public and private housing developers, it does lay down that all public housing needs to achieve at least a 3-star rating if it is to obtain central government funding. To achieve this rating, you must be able to prove that the timber materials have a proven CoC.

If one thinks of the volume of government projects undertaken over a year, it is easy to see why merchants need to fall in line to become CoC certified – after all, there is a lot of business to be won (or lost).

Corporate social responsibility

Many companies are also incorporating corporate social responsibility policies stating that any construction work undertaken on their behalf must only use timber from traceable sustainable sources. This includes the Olympic Delivery Authority, which is due to announce its preferred timber suppliers for the construction of the 2012 Olympic Games in the summer; and Jewson, which has made its four branches nearest the Olympic Park site CoC-only timber stockists.

So it starts to become evident why merchants need to get a handle on CoC if they want to treat timber as a serious offering within their business. If your customers are increasingly demanding sustainable, legal and socially responsible timber, then you need to be able to prove your sources and get accreditation.

The onus on proving CoC lies with the last organisation in the supply chain process – often the merchant. Consequently, traditional methods of managing this process have been time-consuming and heavy on administration and paperwork; often considered by many as a “bit of a headache”.

ADP has created methods within its business management system, K8, to handle CoC in a more streamlined, easy and efficient manner – helping merchants to remove the headache.

We designed K8 to provide a trading and financial system for businesses from one-person operations to multinational enterprises.

The CoC methods form a key part of this for timber customers, and have been designed to form an integral part of the timber module of the system, with all customers receiving the functionality as standard.

Government requirements

On top of that, K8 provides our customers with a way of ensuring users are operating in line with government requirements for chain of custody approval. We believe trading systems should help in delivering commitments to CoC.

It should specify in your purchase orders that goods are to be supplied according to CoC requirements and check that incoming documents, on the receipt of goods, carry CoC identification and, where relevant, are appropriately labelled.

Another facility ensures that sales documentation, such as delivery/advice notes, sales invoices, acknowledgments and quotations, provide a certification code against the products sold.

Goods receipts are tied to delivery and CoC goods distinguished from non-CoC stock, with reporting controls in place to identify and analyse volumes of purchases and sales of CoC goods.

Rather than having to create a separate system to record this information, we feel that your main trading system should be sufficiently flexible to allow you to do this. A software solution must be capable of evolving as new requirements arise in the market and your supplier should be able to provide you with appropriate and timely advice to assist you moving forward.

If this is not the case, it might be time to rethink your IT strategy.