4 ideas for organizing supplier relationships effectively
When there are several suppliers to consider, businesses have to walk a fine line to be both efficient and complex. Sophisticated procurement models will often involve large amounts of companies, demanding a strategy for breaking them down into manageable segments.
Getting more specific requires the staff, software and services to address differences between each company. Since there's pressure to modernize and keep with the times, useful management means knowing the full implications of each relationship. Here are some ways to enhance supplier connections through specific policies.
1. Clearly define the relationship
A recent piece for Spend Matters said that the term "supplier management" can be broad enough to apply to many different tasks. Is your company more interested in risk management, sustainability, social responsibility or some other value? Being more focused about what a supplier relationship initiative will entail lends some structure to your latest efforts and also puts the different priorities of the company in better definition.
"Businesses can identify the way different goals interact."
Getting granular about supplier problem points may go better if businesses identify the ways different goals interact. The source featured a series of circles, for example, showing how some goals fit inside of and connect to others. At the core of the initiative can be smarter data collection, stronger use of technology and other fundamentals for the greater tasks.
2.  Get more involved
One thing many of the functions on that graph have in common is the need for commitment from the company. While procurement doesn't always have to involve collaboration with certain partners, as a Forbes article recently said, it absolutely can take a conscious shift, as well as resources to handle each supplier.
3. Add the appropriate staff
Following on that previous point, it's useful to see the role extra personnel will play when managing supplier-related issues. Whether the relationship itself or something else, such as a specific risk, needs attention, augmenting staff can be part of the plan to make more of an impact. Entering into a procurement management plan understaffed leaves businesses at an early disadvantage as they try to account for new expectations and technology.
Staff implementation can also mean bringing more knowledge to supplier relationship improvement, adding to the overall experience in the organization for engagement and supplier relationship improvement ideas.
4. Condense the tools you use
Complex supply chains can also mean complex tools for handling specific issues. The key to overcoming this is prioritizing simplicity when possible. EBN suggested focusing on collaboration methods that are especially streamlined, the implication being that this could keep all participants on the same page more easily.
A related point in the same article pertained to the need to "go paperless" in your business when you can, transitioning to a functional, shareable system. This could be another way to bridge gaps between suppliers for a stronger relationship overall.
Just because there's no paper doesn't mean you won't have clear access to documents: In fact, this can be the start of a way to keep organized. All suppliers in a network can also endeavor to go paperless together for the full benefits.
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