(Frequently Asked Questions)
1. What is the ʺEkwato solutionʺ?
The Ekwato solution is a secure, global digital solution in SaaS (Software as a System) mode, accessible via the Internet. This platform offers several powerful and easy-to-use tools to manage and control a wood purchasing policy on their supply chains.
2. Who is it for?
This solution is for:
📌 Companies (buyers or importers) that purchase wood products and have requirements in the application of their supply: internal requirements (purchasing policy), normative requirements (certification labels for the responsible management of wood products, legality or otherwise) and regulatory requirements (e.g. EUTR or other similar laws imposing a Due Diligence System – DDS).
📌 Companies that sell wood products (suppliers or exporters) that must meet their customers’ requirements. The goal is to provide documented evidence to meet the purchasing requirements of their customers (the latter being buyers or importers, as defined above).
📌 This solution can also be used by third parties that wish to use the power and efficiency of the tool for their activities.
3. Is this solution suitable for large groups or very small companies?
The EKWATO solution has been designed to allow maximum flexibility:
📌 it adapts to the needs of the users (purchasing department, Quality, CSR) that can use it to set up a documentary traceability system and the product risk of their returned wood purchases, mandatory in their wood purchasing policy, or to facilitate the management of their existing system.
📌 it is a multi-site, multi-user and multilingual tool, currently available in French, English and Spanish, which makes it possible to combine suppliers (and/or clients) and production (and/or distribution) sites within the same system.
📌 The solution’s modular aspect and the subscription formulas offer the fairest pricing according to each user’s level of use.
4. Is it mandatory to use all features of the Ekwato solution?
No. The Ekwato platform was designed with independent modules: the company can choose one or more modules according to its needs. For example, a company looking for time savings and greater control in collecting documents from its suppliers will only choose the COLLECT module, even if they are only national suppliers.
5. Do you have to be a company in the timber sector to use the Ekwato solution?
No. Companies buy or sell wood products without being in ʺthe timber industryʺ. Many companies outside the timber industry buy semi-finished processed wood products to include in the manufacture of their products (industrialists or assemblers) or finished processed wood products ready for the end consumer (distributors). Furthermore, components of a finished product, not considered a priori as a wood product, can be made of wood; the company must meet the specific purchasing requirements of this material (internal, normative, regulatory requirements) or those of the customer.
6. Do my suppliers or customers have to pay a fee to use the Ekwato solution?
No. For the ʺCOLLECTʺ module, opening a supplier account to access the EKWATO platform (submission of documents) is free for each supplier created by the user; the number of suppliers is unlimited. For the ʺSHAREʺ module (downloading of documents), opening a customer account is also free for each customer created by the user: the number of customers is unlimited.
7. Does the Ekwato tool meet GDPR requirements?
Yes. The platform is hosted in France and GDPR* requirements have been taken into account in its design. At any time, users of the platform can access their registered user information and can request its modification by contacting the person indicated (the Ekwato platform user who created a free account internally for its supplier or customer or Ekwato directly).
*GDPR : General Data Protection Regulation.
8. How secure is the platform?
📌 Access to use the platform:
Accessing the platform is secured by a unique user identifier and access code. The EKWATO customer account administrator, who opens an account on the platform for a user of their company, as well as a free account for their supplier or their customer, never has the access code and users can modify their access code whenever they wish.
📌 Data stored in the platform:
Strict compartmentalization is implemented in the design of the structure of the platform’s computer model. There is therefore no possibility of uncontrolled distribution of the data registered by an EKWATO customer account user; data are only stored in the user’s compartmentalized account. Similarly, if two companies (EKWATO customer account) open a free account for the same supplier, the latter must use a separate user session for each of its customers.
📌 Data backup:
The server architecture of the EKWATO tool guarantees a permanent backup, whatever the risk, including geographic. Documents uploaded into the EKWATO platform can never be accessed via an Internet browser: a specific controller is integrated into the software so that only the platform’s IT process can read the document via a secure URL, modifiable over time, which checks that the current user has the necessary rights to perform the download.
📌 Accessing stored data:
The platform is hosted in France and meets GDPR requirements. There is no obligation to compel service providers, by warrant or subpoena, to provide data on electronic communications stored on servers, such as certain non-EU legislations (ʺCloudActʺ).
9. Is having a decision tree necessary?
The decision tree, a successive sequence of questions or criteria to determine an output level of risk for a wood product, is used as a risk analysis method, as found in Due Diligence Systems (DDS).
Several cases are possible:
1) The company has not created a decision tree: EKWATO supports the company in its implementation to define its due diligence system.
2) The company has created its decision tree internally: EKWATO studies with the company the available similar criteria or criteria to be created for its decision tree.
3) The company has a decision tree proposed by its Monitoring Organisation (MO): the company can reproduce its decision tree identically and add new criteria (proposed by EKWATO or to be created) to customise its decision tree.
In these three scenarios above, the user uses the feature in the EKWATO platform to save his personalised decision tree and then activate it to calculate automatically the level of risk for each registered wood product.
10. Can the impact of a change in a supply chain on the level of risk of my products be simulated?
Yes. Through its simple and quick-to-use, powerful and unique modelling tool, the company can carry out simulations to determine the future level of risk of a wood product due to a change of species, country of origin or supplier, including when it concerns one or more of its components.
11. Is there a tool to help make the right decisions quickly and efficiently?
Yes. The ʺRISKʺ module of the application categorises products and suppliers according to their level of risk. This feature quickly identifies the products and suppliers most “at risk” for the company to help make the necessary decisions. This automatic processing is particularly suitable for companies with a large number of products or suppliers to monitor: it provides more simplicity and responsiveness while greatly reducing the risk of errors or omissions, which can be frequent with manual processing.
12. Can the risk reduction measures be monitored?
Yes. The creation of risk reduction measures is included in the ʺRISKʺ module. A risk reduction measure is assigned to each wood product and the user is informed of its completion time by an automatic alert. In the dashboard, users can consult at any time the status of all the risk reduction measures in progress on all of their wood products, and those resolved. This traceability of the actions carried out by the company provides tangible evidence that the company complies with the requirements of its wood products purchasing policy (internal, normative or regulatory requirements).
13. Can the level of risk of wood products be determined in real-time?
Yes. The EKWATO platform calculates automatically and in real-time the level of risk of each wood product, which very quickly identifies and anticipates a risk situation in order to take the necessary decisions as soon as possible to avoid supply disruptions and the need to search for alternative solutions. The company is, therefore, more responsive and resilient.
14. Why choose Ekwato over the competition?
Most of the existing solutions on the market concerning due diligence in the timber sector offer free information to help companies understand the regulations of the country of origin and identify the risks associated with this country ; it is very useful and necessary, but this aid is not enough. Indeed the company that carries out a risk analysis on its purchased or imported wood products must then necessarily itself collect the information and documents for its supply chains from its suppliers ; just as it must carry out its risk analysis for each wood product, including each wooden item that composes it ; these two activities must be done as many times as necessary in the year according to its purchasing policy (internal, normative or regulatory requirements). Such work is often long and tedious, especially if the requirements require a recalculation of the risk level for each modification of the product or its supply-chain, and a mandatory registration.
With its automatic document collection and real-time risk analysis modules, Ekwato simplifies these collection and analysis tasks, and thus saves much time.
The advantage of the Ekwato solution also lies in the secure provision of information on the legality of wood products to respond to requests for information (customer-supplier relations), which preserves the confidentiality of documents. Indeed, not all the documents needed for risk analysis are systematically publicly available (by companies or a third-party platform).
Unlike generalist solutions, Ekwato’s business software is dedicated to players in the timber industry, designed by experts in this industry: it is perfectly suited to business uses and interfaces with the ERP used by the company for day-to-day internal management (see question 15 for interfaces). Use of another software or software to replace that used by the company is unnecessary.
15. What are the possible interfaces? Will I have to change ERP to use the Ekwato tool?
No. The exchange of information between two computer systems is carried out by an API* that allows interoperability**. An API is a set of definitions and protocols that facilitates the creation and integration of application software (data exchange).
The Ekwato team develops APIs for its customers: it can be a simple interface to a conventional desktop software (spreadsheet, data base) or a more complex ERP management system; this interface concerns both the loading of data for the Ekwato tool as well as the extraction of data to the customer’s system.
This includes, for example, updating supplier information for the Ekwato tool or extracting the result of a simulation of the risk level of a new wood product to the customer’s system.
* API : ʺApplication Programming Interfaceʺ
** Interoperability: possibility of communication between two or more computer systems, devices or elements.
16. What is SaaS software?
ʺSoftware as a Serviceʺ (SaaS) is a software distribution model in which a third-party provider hosts applications and makes them available to its customers via the Internet.
With SaaS software, companies no longer need to install and launch applications on their computers or in their data centres. This eliminates the cost of hardware acquisition and the costs of maintenance, software licensing, installation and support.
Users can rely on the SaaS provider to perform updates automatically, manage the addition of patches and develop new features.
Users can access it from any connected device and any geographical position where an Internet connection is possible (high accessibility).
SaaS applications, also called ʺplatformsʺ, are already used by companies for fundamental technologies such as messaging (emails), purchasing management, customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, finance, human resources management and invoicing.