Collaboration in most instances can be very beneficial for all involved. When working with your current suppliers, collaboration can be a vital aspect in the success of cost savings opportunities for both of your organizations. This applies the good ole “don’t be afraid to ask” approach. Your organization, like most these days, is looking for ways to reduce costs and streamline processes. What could be better than working directly with the people that already provide goods and services to you?

I read an interesting article from that talked about reaching out to your current suppliers to discuss ways that you can improve your business and lower costs throughout. I thought this was a great idea. In my experience with sourcing, when you include the incumbent in the process you will find that everyone can gain from it. In fact in many instances I have discovered that the suppliers might have had ideas all along for improvements in costs and processes but were either never heard or did not bother to bring it up. That may be another concern altogether in your supplier relationship, you want suppliers who are proactive with their approach to managing your account but that’s another topic.

Not only should you approach your suppliers on direct cost savings like lower product or service costs but you should brainstorm on ideas for process efficiencies. For example you might currently receive weekly invoices; this is costly for you and the supplier in both time and money. By switching to monthly, if possible, you can both reap the benefits without actually changing any prices. The article also brings up a good point, both parties should be open to receive and able to provide constructive criticism. Suppliers are most likely going to be open to teaming up in some form to not only retain the business but also to improve their practices as well, assuming they are willing to.

Keep in mind that while this idea can create a wealth of ideas and prospects, it may be difficult without the buy-in from the right people in your organization and from the supplier so make sure to take the necessary steps to sell the idea before jumping the gun.

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Jennifer Ulrich

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