Everyone within your organization is held to a high standard and your vendors should be no exception to this rule. For business relationships to thrive both parties mustn't get complacent and actively participate in the relationship. No matter how many vendors your organization is working with, accountability is key. Once your vendor understands the level of accountability expected their performance and your relationship will grow.

Establishing a Service Level Agreement or "SLA" with your supplier is one of the best ways to ensure accountability. SLAs will help to eliminate any expectation gaps by constituting acceptable service in quantifiable and measurable terms, where applicable.

To ensure everything in your power runs like a well-oiled machine, we've developed a set of components, both service, and management related, that should be included in a merchandising Service Level Agreement. While the expectations below should act as the framework for your service level agreement Procurement professionals can formalize service expectations that build onto this framework based on SLA best practices and experience within the merchandising space to create a culture of high-quality service and accountability within your organization.
  • Specifics regarding the services provided
  • Timing related to each provided service
  • Remedies/penalties for each of the performance expectations
  • Termination proceedings for failure to comply with expectations
  • Quality control plan, including resources and assurance details
  • Reporting Process, including content and frequency
  • Ongoing communication expectations, including meeting iteration and context details
  • Key contacts/responsible parties of both the organization and vendor

As mentioned previously, complacency is detrimental to relationship growth and overall success. Keep in mind that SLAs act as a measuring tool and bring uniformity and consistency to vendor performance allowing your organization to compare similar services across vendors within your space. To ensure consistency from an accountability perspective a service level agreement must be actively monitored to determine compliance and reviewed periodically to determine if modifications are needed.

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Gabriella Bittner

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