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FLOCERT´s digital tools: 3 questions to Frank Brinkschneider
As a certification body, what digital tools does FLOCERT have in place for its customers to enhance assurance and credibility?
FB: We have two major digital tools in place for our customers: Ecert (which is now about to be re-named to Intact Platform) and Fairtrace. We started the digitisation of our certification processes in 2009 with the implementation of our certification software Ecert. Through our interactive Ecert platform, customers have full access to their certificates as well as their current and previous audit findings. Customers can also use Ecert to suggest and follow up corrective measures to demonstrate compliance with the Fairtrade Standards. One of the most valuable aspects of Fairtrade is the payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and the Fairtrade Premium. In order to track these payment transactions, FLOCERT launched the Fairtrace platform where customers report and verify purchases and sales transactions with their suppliers or buyers. The verification, also called “the virtual handshake”, between the business partners adds transparency and credibility in the supply chains and supports the Fairtrade network with key aggregated statistics on volumes and Price and Premium payments.
We live in a rapidly changing environment, with companies worldwide relying on emerging technologies to drive progress and efficiency. How can the use of advanced digital solutions make assurance more accessible and useful for FLOCERT’s customers?
FB: Our digital tools allow us to better facilitate the certification journey of our customers from the start, supporting them to be compliant with the Fairtrade Standards and giving indication when they risk non compliance. The first touch point is our quick online application process with easy access to all the documents that are needed to understand how to comply with the standards. Beyond our main digital tools described above, we are working on digital solutions in various areas of our work in order to make certification more accessible and efficient.
For example, we have recently implemented automatic alerts for business transactions that are not meeting the Fairtrade Standards. There is a daily screening of the transactions that our customers report in Fairtrace and if any do not meet these rules, we get in contact with them to understand if it is a reporting mistake and help them solve it, or to alert them that they are deviating from the required practices so they can modify them right away. We want to apply a similar mechanism at the beginning of the commercial relationship when signing contracts with business partners by testing the use of a digital contract tool. With this digital tool, we want to be able to generate more information and help customers ensure that the negotiated elements in a Fairtrade contract meet the Fairtrade Standards.
Moreover, we are currently piloting an induction program for new customers and a new type of audit. The induction program uses an E-Learning platform which helps new customers navigate the standards they need to comply with. The new type of audit, called a digital audit, allows our auditors to investigate in detail all of a customer’s transactions. As this is something the auditors can do independently, it is very convenient for our customers as it does not disturb their day-to-day practices. These digital audits focus on checking the economic part of the Fairtrade Standards and are a complement to physical audits which are of course still very much necessary and valuable.
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Frank Brinkschneider is FLOCERT´s Director Business & IT Solutions. When he is not following the latest digital trends, he enjoys being a fantasy role player, engaging in adventures and using magic to explore new characters. He has been doing this since he was a child and now, as an "oldie", he likes to play pen & paper games.