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Frequently asked questions

We’ve put together a list of answers to some of the questions we’re asked most frequently. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, please get in touch.

How do I know the responses to my questions are reliable?

String3 uses existing customer-supplier connections to create a ‘network’ of the organisations that were involved in making the specific product you are asking about. Your question is sent to your supplier with information that lets them know the exact product you are asking about (this information might be the purchase order number, or the delivery number - something both you and they will recognise). They confirm whether they made or sourced it and provide new product information for their supplier, in the same way you did. At each point where the question is passed on, the supplier receiving the question needs to validate whether they supplied the product/material to the person passing the question to them. If they don’t do this, the question is unable to keep moving through the network.

In this way, if any supplier selects an incorrect option, the question will stop moving. If they incorrectly select ‘made it’, but in fact they ‘sourced it’, this error will become clear when String3 asks them to provide details of the materials they used to make the product. If they select the wrong supplier to forward your question to, that supplier won’t recognise the request, as it will be asking about materials they didn’t supply. String3 provides you with tools to see how far through the network your question has progressed. A question that has stopped before reaching its answer might highlight potential issues.

Only organisations who confirm that they have supplied the identified product (or materials it was made from) will be connected, enabling your question to flow and reach the organisations who really know the answers.

How can suppliers be confident the information they input is not shared with anyone?

After more than 12 years of practical experience of collecting information from supply networks, we know how important it is that your sources of supply remain confidential. We have designed String3 with this requirement at its core. In String3, you will never see identifiable details of businesses you don’t already know, and neither will your customers or your suppliers (if you have them).

Connecting your supply network does not mean you will be able to see who everyone within it is. String3 works on the basis that you only see those organisations that you already do direct business with. Your direct suppliers can be certain that you, only see the their business name, not who they in turn source from. And likewise, supplier’s suppliers will not know who has responded to a question before it reached them.

How do you ensure privacy in String3?

We take the security of data very seriously. We operate an information security management system (ISMS) to ensure that we design systems and processes that consistently maintain the confidentiality, integrity and availability of our customers’ data. Our ISMS is certified to the ISO27001:2013 standard and is audited every year.

How much information about my supply network will I get?

Despite not being able to see who every organisation is within your supply network, over time, with more questions sent and more connections made, you will gain significant insight into the size, location and responsiveness of your supply network. For example, how many different suppliers are involved in any given product’s supply network? How many suppliers were involved at a certain production phase? Which of my suppliers are best at passing questions on and chasing responses?

What will my reports show me?

You will receive reports showing the progress of your questions. The reports show how far your question has moved along the production phases of the product you are asking about. For example, a report about a viscose garment will show the phases within the supply network needed to make this viscose garment (finished garment; viscose fabric; viscose yarn; viscose pulp; timber) and how far along these production phases the question has currently reached. The report will highlight how good your direct supplier is at responding to your question by showing the date and time they responded and also how good their suppliers are at responding to them.

What questions can I ask using String3?

String3 is designed to allow you to collect reliable information, directly from the most relevant organisations in your supply network. It is specifically designed to allow you to ask questions about materials and processes that your supplier obtains from their suppliers, or even further ‘upstream’ in the supply network. The String3 team is responsible for the design of the questions, including specifying the range of acceptable answers. This is important as it ensures the unique reporting features of String3 operate consistently. Initially, most String3 questions are focused on topics and issues we know to be important to our customers. For example; Country of Origin and species of timber - to support compliance with the due diligence requirements of the EU Timber Regulations, or Country of Origin of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (sometimes called ‘3TG’) to support compliance with the US ‘Dodd-Frank Act’. Other customers are focused on collecting information to support their corporate commitments to minimising the environmental and social impact of their operations.

A full list of materials currently supported by String3 can be found here. This is regularly updated as more materials and questions become available.

We are currently exploring questions about certification status, worker welfare and chemical usage at given production stages. We’d love to hear from you if there are any specific questions you would like to see supported.

Historic Futures are supply chain experts who have over 10 years’ experience collecting data from complex and changeable supply chains