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"The Point" is written by BMP Editor Kelly Barner as well as a diverse group of guest contributors.

Are Suppliers Faceless Entities?

Are Suppliers Faceless Entities?

The term supplier is banded around with such ease, yet has it devalued the relationship and removed the individual, resulting in generic and stale business relationships?

The supplier

The associated business activity of a supplier is simple enough: the supplier delivers goods/services to the buyer in order to fulfil a contractual requirement. However, the challenge is that the term can also be used in many other ways. For example:

  • It can be used as an excuse to blame poorly structured contracts. “The supplier didn’t agree”

  • It can be used to justify the buyer not doing something they don’t want to do “the supplier didn’t support it”

In essence the word “supplier” is used as a generic label to cover all and any activity between the buyer and their supply chain.

Labels

Society has a habit of labelling many areas of the world we live in, ranging from how one’s spouse might be identified “The wife/husband” through to labelling social, economic, political, regional, and religious groups.

When a label is used it can de-humanise the individual. Sometimes this is a deliberate approach to make it easier to talk about a wider group, however when used incorrectly it can also have a detrimental effect on how the individual identifies their value and how others evaluate their contribution.

Human relationships are behind all commercial contracts, and so de-humanising the relationship may feel like a convenient model for addressing multiple aspects but one needs to question if it will really drive the best out of the relationship.

Who Cares?

When we look at the relationship between the buying organisation and their supply chain, we see a trend. Suppliers who are valued are rarely labelled as “the supplier” but are identified by either the company name or account team members. When this supplier is discussed internally, the ability to name the company/account team demonstrates to the business the value placed upon the relationship.  This has a knock on effect within both organisations, a greater focus placed on the human relationships creates a stronger desire to accommodate and collaborate.

With more and more automation being introduced into the procurement processes, it has the capability to remove the human relationship aspect of doing business. Now more than ever one needs to focus on how labels are applied within business.

Collaboration

Collaboration remains an undeveloped area of business opportunity, with few organisations able to say they collaborate with their entire supply base. Collaboration can take many forms but they all require a human desire to want to engage. The level of support buying organisations can generate from their supply chain may be directly influenced by how the supply chain has been labelled.

The future

The next time you discuss “the supplier” you may want to reflect if it is being used to truly reflect the larger community or to cover up other underlying issues. It is human nature to blame a faceless entity when convenient such as “The Business believes XXXX,” however to get the most out of others you need to respect who they are and what they bring to the relationship.

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Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 2/15 - 19

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 2/15 - 19

This week starts multiple weeks of ProcureCon events – in Toronto this week and in Orlando the week after that. Follow @ProcureCon on Twitter if you’re interested in the goings on. From a virtual standpoint, there are two worthwhile events taking place – see why I think so below. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

 

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Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 10/26 – 10/30: Two Types of Outsourcing and a Look at Supplier Engagement

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 10/26 – 10/30: Two Types of Outsourcing and a Look at Supplier Engagement

This week may not be as busy as last week, but the topics are as diverse as the presenters. And since so many companies ran events last week, this week’s hosts and speakers offer a fresh diversity of perspectives on procurement topics. Remember that we are in daylight savings time season, so double check the starting time of each event in its host country as well as your own. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

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Guest Post on the Social Contracting Blog: Contract Management: Yours, Mine, and Ours

Guest Post on the Social Contracting Blog: Contract Management: Yours, Mine, and Ours

In his recent book Global Supply Chain Ecosystems, Mark Millar wrote, "…today's supply chains encompass complex webs of interdependencies, frequently spanning the globe, designed and deployed to optimize critical attributes – such as speed, agility, and resilience – that drive competitive advantage."

His point plays out on a daily basis through the contract management strategies and practices in many organizations. Because our supply chains are no longer linear or consecutive, we may be buying from and selling to the same company at the same time. This puts our organization in the role of being simultaneously both buyer and supplier.

While there is no problem with this, it does raise complexities for the procurement and sales teams if one or the other is unaware of something going on. I can honestly say I have seen this happen firsthand.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON THE SOCIAL CONTRACTING BLOG

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Implementation of new suppliers

Implementation of new suppliers

As a child at the dinner table, we were expected to try at least a bite of something. Like anyone, we often did not want to try something new. It was not comfortable and it was easier to skip it or default to what we knew we liked. There is an old commercial for Life cereal where Mikey tries it and the famous tag line – Try it, You'll Like It.

 

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Webinar Notes: We Don’t Need No Education, But We Do Need Contract Management

Webinar Notes: We Don’t Need No Education, But We Do Need Contract Management

This week’s webinar notes are from an event run on September 3rd by Spend Matters EU/UK, Selectica, and IASTA. The event is available on demand here.

Once you get this classic Pink Floyd tune stuck in your head, it is likely to stay, and maybe that was the idea with this event title. Far from being a strategic sourcing solution ‘add on’ contract lifecycle management requires its own program considerations, including its impact on global supply chains, corporate strategy, and enterprise wide implementation and leadership. In other words, not allowing your next executed contract to be just another brick in the wall.

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Book Review: Supplier Relationship Management

Book Review: Supplier Relationship Management

Supplier Relationship Management (Kogan Page, available Oct. 28, 2014) is the third book I have reviewed by Jonathan O’Brien, a Director and co-owner of Positive Purchasing with over 20 years experience in purchasing. As we have come to expect of O’Brien’s work, this book provides an extensive look at the metrics, relationships, and change management considerations associated with supply base collaboration.

 

It is true that supplier relationships, innovation, and collaboration are among the topics du jour in procurement, but O’Brien proves himself well versed in the associated opportunities and challenges.

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Town Hall Notes: Designing a Meaningful Set of Performance Metrics for Every Contract

Town Hall Notes: Designing a Meaningful Set of Performance Metrics for Every Contract

This week’s event notes are from the September SIG Town Hall Teleconference. In this open mic event, Dawn Evans, SIG’s President and CEO, led a discussion about the metrics procurement can put in place to drive meaningful results from suppliers. These events, held monthly, are open to buy side members. SIG also welcomes first time buy-side non-members so they can experience the open nature of a SIG Town Hall Teleconference. These events are unsponsored and are never recorded in order to encourage open participation. For more information on SIG Town Halls, click here.

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Book Review: Buying and Selling Information

Book Review: Buying and Selling Information

Buying and Selling Information, by career salesperson Michael L. Gruenberg, is a guide to help buyers of information services (think subscription-based online databases). Beyond this very specific case, Gruenberg has good advice to offer buyers and sellers of any product or service. He is a salesperson who ‘gets it’ – or understands the need for buyers and sellers to work together for their mutual benefit, and for the benefit of their organizations. In his own words, “It’s all about equal footing, momentum, and success” (xviii).

 

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Internal Marketing and Supplier Relationship Management – A 1-2 Punch

Internal Marketing and Supplier Relationship Management – A 1-2 Punch

This guest post is a team effort from Source One Management Services. If you would like to comment, you can do so by posting below, contacting them on Twitter @GetSavings, or contacting them directly here.

The outlets for procurement and supply chain news have no shortage of recommendations for improved business processes, new ideas, and technologies your department should implement to “modernize” or “optimize” or any number of other “-izes”. If you have read any of Source One’s contributions – here, on other publications, or on our own blog – we make just as many recommendations.

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Why Supplier Relationships Go Bad

Why Supplier Relationships Go Bad

There has been a lot of focus in the past year on Supplier Relationship Management, and rightfully so. As the efforts of Strategic Sourcing initiatives begin producing diminishing returns, SRM is heralded by most to be the next step: focusing more on delivering value to the organization and developing relationships that can produce competitive advantages in the market. However, an SRM policy is only effective if the proper suppliers are in place, which is why it is routinely classified as the next step after strategic sourcing. There is little value in curating and managing relationships with suppliers that are not firmly aligned with your organization’s strategic goals.

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Webinar Notes: Farming Supplier Relationships: Learn to Drive Value More Effectively

Webinar Notes: Farming Supplier Relationships: Learn to Drive Value More Effectively

This week’s webinar notes are from an October 29th event hosted by Sourcing Interests Group and presented by David Jungling from Denali Sourcing Services. If you are interested in the content, but aren’t a member of SIG, Denali also recently published a whitepaper on the topic, which can be downloaded here.

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Book Review: Supplier Relationship Management in the Supply Chain

Book Review: Supplier Relationship Management in the Supply Chain

Supplier Relationship Management in the Supply Chain by Stuart Emmett is accurately titled – it is in fact a book about the importance and execution of supplier relationship in the supply chain. But because so many organizations do not have SRM programs (or would benefit from being more supplier-centric) it is more importantly a book about change. In order to get different results, we must think and act differently. This is a simple enough idea, but bringing about such changes in an organization is complex enough that few of us have reached our desired level of SRM maturity.

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Webinar Notes: NLPA Conference Preview

Webinar Notes: NLPA Conference Preview

This week’s featured webinar was presented by the Next Level Purchasing Association. Each of the three speakers gave a preview of the sessions they will presenting at NLPA’s first conference, which is being held in Pittsburgh, PA this September.

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Webinar Notes: Best Practices in Supplier Relationship Management

Webinar Notes: Best Practices in Supplier Relationship Management

This week’s featured webinar was a Procurement Leaders Thought Leaders event on the topic of supplier relationship management. Innovation with suppliers is a critical component of competitive advantage, but in order to turn potential into performance procurement needs a plan. In this webinar, we heard from Hubwoo, BMO Harris Bankcorp, and P&G about supplier segmentation, key success factors, and achieving innovation.

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Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989, is a self-help book written by Stephen R. Covey. It has sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages worldwide, and the audio version has sold 1.5 million copies, and remains one of the best selling nonfiction business books.

The approach continues to be pertinent in every day life at work and at home. Buyers Meeting Point will be reviewing each of the Seven Habits over the next few months.

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Are you listening?

Are you listening?

We have two ears and one mouth but we rarely use them in that proportion. We are so anxious to tell our story or give our perspective, we don't stop to LISTEN to our suppliers, customers or partners.

I read this article from Smartblog on Leadership titled: Explore the benefits of customer and supplier partnerships.

It gives a few examples of suppliers and customers worked together to benefit both organizations. They started by listening to each other's perspective and asking each other the following questions:

  1. What do you really need from me?
  2. What do you do with what I provide you?
  3. Are there gaps between what I give you and what you need?
  4. What problems might I help you with?
  5. Am I providing things you don’t need?

rapidrealignmentThis type of listening and exploring with strategic customers/suppliers can produce significant positive results right to the bottom line.

So who has time for all this? We have to take care of all the email, phone calls and meetings on the calendar? How do we carve out the time and focus to do something like this? Will it be effective if we take small steps and at least begin the process?

The authors of this article, George H. Labovitz and Victor Rosansky, have a business process to support this and have written a book, Rapid Realignment. Based on some of the highlighted case studies, it certainly seems like a resource to explore.

Has anyone utilized this approach? What type of results did you see and what would you suggest?

 

 

 

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Are you a King or a Joker?

Are you a King or a Joker?

This week’s trip to The Flip Side is based on a post written by Reed Holden on his blog Pricing With Confidence: ‘Procurement: Kings or Jokers’. Holden has written a number of books on pricing and negotiation. His primary focus is helping Fortune 1000 B2B companies in a number of industries maximize their growth through setting optimal go-to-market strategies.

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What do Suppliers Think of ‘Customers of Choice’?

As the economy starts to rebound and leverage positions change, becoming a ‘customer of choice’ is being discussed in many procurement conference rooms. You would think that us sitting around discussing how to be the most fabulous customers possible would be music to a sales person’s ears!

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Webinar Notes: The CPO of Con-way Talks Innovation, Collaboration and How to Drive Lasting Value

This week’s featured event was presented by Sourcing Interests Group and Emptoris (an IBM Company). The main speaker, Mitch Plaat, is Con-way’s VP of Procurement and CPO and has been with the company for 22 years. He has overseen quite a transformation, starting six years ago with the decision to engage Emptoris for help in the form of solutions and services.

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