Supplier Relationships

Back in 2012, Chrysler Group allowed a modest-sized company to manage all of the chemicals and related supplies on a trial basis for one of its North American assembly plants. Like any Chrysler supplier, ChemicoMays had to prove itself on cost, quality and its capacity to deliver.

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This content was published on the Thinkers 360 member blog on July 23, 2020 If you’re a small business owner, you’re certainly not alone in being fed up with “us” – meaning corporate procurement. That...
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Leaders of procurement teams at manufacturing and process companies are decisive. They know what they want in a supplier. They want a supplier with a similar culture and competitive quality, service a...
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In part 1 of this series, I addressed the misaligned nature of the past relationship between procurement and marketing – as well as the disruptive potential for companies that can bring these two team...
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We’ve seen a recent trend of Fortune 1000 companies reducing their agencies by almost half to optimize spend and increase productivity within marketing.  This has been a gradual, strategic consol...
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In my article Data & Socially Responsible Procurement, I discussed how data analytics is located at the intersection of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and procurement. In particular, I expl...
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CSR is No Longer an Option . . . In an evolving landscape of regulations, social values, and consumer preferences, the Triple Bottom Line has become an essential framework of business design. The conc...
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“The only time they don’t say ‘Drop your pants’  now is at the Christmas party.” (p. 10, Epstein on sales' common interations with procurement))   The Ultimate Showdown Sales vs Procurement:...
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Companies today are spending significant amounts of money on contingent workers, with businesses allocating hundreds of billions of dollars for these engagements. As a result, the C-suite is increasin...
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Imagine walking into your office and being tasked with a new challenge: finding an offshore supplier in a region from which you don’t usually source.  Once you start, the task gets even harder: y...
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This supply chain is the bridge between the customer needs of a market segment and the value-added of a product. If we can’t connect the two, then we have a show stopper.” (p. 4)

Supply Chain Construction: The Basics for Networking the Flow of Material, Information, and Cash by William Walker (CRC Press, 2016) is an impressive work that combines exhaustive supply chain planning considerations, processes, and figures with a narrative that keeps all of the information provided firmly rooted in reality.

I met the author in person at the February 2017 ISM Economic Forum in NYC where he participated in a panel discussion I moderated. Although Bill is an adjunct professor of supply chain engineering at NYU, the book is far from academic. It illustrates critical business principles through plausible real life examples that make their lessons easy to understand and recall long after reading them.

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When you just look at a purchase from a pricing perspective, it would be reasonable to think that purchasing products directly from the manufacturer be an effective way to reduce unnecessary overhead and markup costs.  While I generally find this to be true in practice, if it were that black and white the large number of distributors thriving in today’s markets would cease to exist.  Manufacturers and distributors each have strengths and weaknesses, but in a strategic purchasing landscape you do not always need to choose between the two. In fact, developing a balanced relationship with manufacturers AND distributors often proves to yield the most value, particularly with high volume purchases.

 

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You’ve invested a lot of time and money. You may even have staked your reputation on backing a supplier. So when is it time to replace them?

At a recent executive meeting, the subject of incumbent suppliers arose. The conversation reflected on both the personal and business investment that can occur when a supplier is selected, from a business stakeholder and a procurement perspective.

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A value chain is the overall set of internal and external resources – human, physical, financial and informational – that require to be marshalled and managed in order to achieve the objectives of any organization. (p. 2)

Building Effective Value Chains: Value and Its Management by Tom McGuffog provides an almost completely unexpected perspective on the meaning of value and value chains as well as how they should be nurtured in a variety of contexts. I chose the word ‘nurtured’ deliberately; McGuffog makes the point that this book is for “students” in a wide range of disciplines extending far beyond a corporate setting. The attention he pays to humanity and the “value of human life” in his discussions of value and values is so compassionate that I found myself wondering if McGuffog had switched places with Gyöngyi Kovács, Karen Spens, and Ira Haavisto who edited Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians how the two books might have turned out differently.

 

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“The essence of supply chains is to match supply and demand. But what happens with supply chains and, particularly, what can supply chain performance be, in the context where the demand is neither dictated by nor is the performance of the supply chain directly evaluated by the end users?” (p. 7)

Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians, a multi-contributor book edited by Gyöngyi Kovács, Karen Spens, and Ira Haavisto takes a very serious look at a topic that many people may regard in a casual or ‘soft’ manner.

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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 b...
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In a new effort, announced this week at ISM2016, ThomasNet is looking to put their considerable weight behind one of the trickiest cross-products in all of supply management – the attempt to align demand from corporate procurement and with the innovation and agility of small suppliers. In advance of their announcement, I interviewed Ed Edwards, Manager of Audience Outreach, and Travis Sherbine, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management, from ThomasNet about the realities of making a formal SMB program work.

Let’s face it, there is something unnatural about the fit between big (or even medium sized) corporate procurement and small businesses (hence my labradoodle reference above). But, just like lovable, low-shed labradoodles, there is huge upside for procurement AND small suppliers if they can invest the additional effort required to make their interaction a success.

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If you were to review your own procurement team’s achievements and capabilities from the perspective of a customer, would you buy from you?

The principle of using an internal business function which is currently a cost centre, and turning it into an revenue generating business proposition, is not new. Examples can be found in most areas ranging from IT through to Finance. The principle is based on creating such a leading business function others will pay to use.

 

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Buyers and suppliers, they make the commercial world go round.

-        The POD Model, p. 1

 

The POD Model: The mutually-beneficial model for buyers and suppliers which enables an increase in profit through commercial collaboration by Michael Robertson strives to do something that we need a whole lot more of in procurement. It provides a framework for combining our philosophical objectives as collaborators and innovators with the inescapable need to measure our results.

Robertson looks at the messy reality of buyer supplier relations and breaks them down to a few major issues: cost, risk, flexibility, and incentives for mutual gain. He then looks to find a way to factor those into contracts in such a way that no one party benefits at the cost or loss of the other.

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In the first part of this two-part series, I established the reasoning behind establishing a diverse supply chain in the nontraditional sense. Emphasis on maintaining a supply chain that is diverse in geographical location, capabilities, and overall corporate values is vital in maintaining supply chain resiliency, sustainability, and adaptability.  To achieve a supplier mix that fits these goals, the right questions must be asked during an internal supplier rationalization process, overtaking the traditional values of an RFx.

 

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