Conducting a Supplier Survey for a better Supplier Relationship Management
Creating a competitive advantage by conducting a supplier survey!
Suppliers are your hidden growth assets. There is a business saying "You are as good as your suppliers".
The traditional approach by companies with respect to suppliers has been to ignore them as partners. The idea then was to have an unlimited number of suppliers which afforded the company with unlimited choices and quotes. If you didn't like what Supplier A was selling, then try Supplier B, and so on down the line until you found the quality, cost and delivery that you desired. Somehow, you never had enough suppliers. If you had two, you needed four. If you had four, you needed eight.
However, the traditional approach did not work in the long run. So the best way is The ESI (Early Supplier Involvement) approach. In other words, you take these suppliers as partners in helping you design products which use fewer components, allow quicker response, cost less to manufacture and exhibit better quality.
In short, ESI makes your suppliers into design and cost/cycle time-cutting partners. Costs should go down on both sides in this arrangement with subsequent increases in profit. In addition, the supplier is given a long-term contract which often guarantees business for the life of the product, given that the supplier meets all the necessary requirements.
You have probably heard or conducted a lot of supplier studies which are meant to evaluate your satisfaction towards your supplier. That is one way approach and that is fine.
Now, think about this, if your relationship with your supplier is vital for your business success, then it makes sense to get your supplier to evaluate you as a client through a simple, practical supplier survey.
Traditionally, supplier surveys are conducted at the stage of supplier selection in order to evaluate a supplier that fulfills your needs and demands. After selecting your supplier the next step is to maintain and grow the relationship. One of the best ways to do that is to conduct a vendor survey annually.
Suppliers will rate you in a number of areas that make business sense to you and to your supplier like, business growth potential, purchasing professionalism, early supplier involvement, response to cost reduction ideas, schedule stability & sharing, technology support, purchasing commitment, identification of cost drivers, partnership for Growth program, training and education effectiveness etc.
As you can see from the above list, there are many areas that the client-supplier relationship can be surveyed and major gaps will be identified in order to improve the relationship.
A supplier survey can be structured to give an overall benchmarking for you to know where you stand among other clients that your supplier deals with.
The supplier survey will definitely create a competitive advantage for your organization in the market place.
This article on conducting a supplier survey is provided in cooperation with Insights Matrix.
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