Supplier Relationships

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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Supplier diversity is a concept with multiple definitions.  Most commonly, a supplier diversity program focuses on the utilization of women owned, minority owned, and else certified diverse businesses within your supply base.  There is, however, another interpretation of supplier diversity – a diversity of geographical location, sourcing practices, and overall organizational structure.  Evaluating these factors in a meaningful way when evaluating suppliers can be an important factor in managing supply chain resiliency, sustainability, and adaptability.

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Anyone who has ever completed a Request for Proposal (RFP) has had the unfortunate experience of informing all but one or two suppliers they have not been awarded the business.  It may be difficult and at times uncomfortable, but when the unchosen supplier is the incumbent, there is more to manage than just this conversation.  How this transition process is handled can either help or hinder the success of moving to a new supplier relationship. There are a few steps you can take to smooth the transition and ensure all parties are as satisfied as possible.

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Elliot Epstein, CEO of Salient Communications, has partnered with organizations such as CIPS in the past to help sales and procurement professionals better understand each other. He has also done a series of podcasts on Sales vs Procurement with Paul Rogers – a three decade procurement professional that Epstein describes as the leading procurement coach in Australia.

He talked about the podcast series as well as the sales procurement divide in a YouTube interview titled Dealing with the Rising Power of Procurement.

For my podcast on the topic, including guest audio from YouTube, visit Blog Talk Radio or Sound Cloud.

The sales vs procurement divide has always been an interesting one. Who is really in the power position? How accurate is each side’s understanding of the actions and motives of the other?

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Suzuki and Volkswagen have finally completed their ‘divorce’ or the breakup of their 2009 partnership that was supposed to bring market, manufacturing, and technical expertise together for the benefit of both parties. This true story sadly illustrates the dark side of collaborative business relationships – and that is the fallout for all parties if and when they fail.

For my podcast on the topic, including guest audio on the story from Reuters, visit Blog Talk Radio or Sound Cloud.

As sad as the state of the relations between these two companies is today, the partnership started with high expectations on both sides. In 2010, VW purchased a 20% stake in Suzuki, worth approximately $2B US, indicating that this deal was no informal initiative.

Unfortunately, it also started with ulterior – or at least secondary motives – that may have doomed the effort from the outset.

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According to joint research done by Design News and Exploration and Insights in 2014, 67% of companies have design cycles of 3-12 months. The remaining 33% of survey participants are almost evenly divided between design cycles requiring longer than a year and those taking less than three months. Regardless of their length, we can be sure all of those teams are looking for ways to shorten them, without sacrificing quality or functionality, so that they can be first to market and get the greater share of customers.

CLICK HERE TO READ THIS POST ON DESIGN NEWS

While the need to speed up design cycles is top of mind today, it is not a new initiative. In fact, 20 years ago, Design News published what you might call a “multi-generational design engineering retrospective.” As stated in “Engineering Megatrends,” published on Aug. 28, 1995, “Since the first caveman decided to capitalize on his best idea for a new club, businesses have operated on the principle that the first to get to market owns the market — at least for awhile.” With increased competition from all corners of the globe, and the nearly universal consumer fascination with having the latest, most innovative products, cutting time to market is now a critical element of competitive advantage.”

Despite this pervasive emphasis on “faster, sooner, better,” the same organizations that have multiple design cycles a year only update their approved vendor lists (AVLs) on an annual basis.

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This week our audio comes from Acquire Procurement Services, a consultancy based in Australia specializing in establishing and re-negotiating contracts across sectors. Their video is titled 'Why do we treat employees and suppliers differently?' and is available on their YouTube channel. In it, they draw a contrast between the information companies share with their employees and how they handle sharing with suppliers who might perform the same or similar functions on their behalf.

You can listen to the podcast on the PI Window on Business Blog Talk Radio channel or on our Sound Cloud page.

 

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Companies should never confuse a supply relationship with friendship. In fact, part of the role of any good provider is to challenge its clients in a productive way. Many times, companies outsource in...
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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 optim...
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The long term plan of Tesla CEO Elon Musk to establish a widespread energy solution might finally be coming to fruition. After the public adoption of his electric cars, the Tesla Model S and Roadster, Musk has now moved on to the release of both a battery for residential use and a larger battery for industrial application, called the Powerwall and Powerpack, respectively.

Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed for energy storage for residential consumers. According to Tesla it is primarily designed “for load shifting, backup power and self-consumption of solar power generation.” Two variations of the Powerwall have been released: a 10 kWh model which is listed at $3,500 and a 7 kWh model listed at $3,000. Their big brother, the Powerpack, is expected to be released in 100 kWh capacity blocks and is designed to be scalable from 500 kWh to 10 MWh.

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This week’s webinar notes are from a March 25th webinar presented by the Outsourcing Institute and Alsbridge. This is too soon to expect the on demand version to be available (assuming it will be) but here is the link to the page where OI posts their on demand events. There was also talk of a whitepaper related to the webinar content, and I will post the link to that’s as soon as I am sure which one it is.

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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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Supplier diversity programs have been a hot topic for some time now. While the need for minority-owned and diverse supplier programs at most companies has only recently begun to take shape, the growth has been astronomical. In fact, a study done by CAPS Research states that 71.79% of organizations expect their total supplier diversity program spend to increase greatly within the next two years. ('Measuring Supplier Diversity Program Performance', March 2012)

Even though support for diversity programs has been rising, there is still some hesitancy from businesses to develop them. This reluctance is often due to inaccurate perceptions regarding the value they can offer a company, but these myths are often easy to debunk.

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In September 2011, Wal-Mart announced a plan to spend $20B with woman-owned businesses by 2016. More recently, they expanded their Women’s Economic Empowerment program to include a ‘women-owned’ labeling program. Products that meet company ownership requirements will start appearing on Wal-Mart shelves this September1. Qualified companies can apply to be a part of the program through WBENC and WEConnect International.

Despite the company’s apparent good intentions, the program has not been warmly received by all, including some critics who feel calling additional attention to these products simply because of female company ownership does little to advance equality. As one commenter posted in response to a BusinessWeek article on the program, “The path to gender equality does not involve stickers pointing out that a product has been made by a female entrepreneur.”2

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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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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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This week’s webinar notes are from a January 9th event hosted by Procurement Leaders and sponsored by iValua, with a case study presented by Whirlpool. The event is available for replay on iValua's site. If you are interested in more on the topics covered in the webinar, you can also download a free report (no registration required) that shares the results of iValua’s first Procurement Executives survey.

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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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This week’s webinar notes are from a recent Directworks webinar titled ‘Creating Shareholder Value from Supplier Relationships’. The webinar and slides are available on demand on Directworks’ site or you can download a whitepaper with the same title that builds on the content of the webinar.

 

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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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