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Roger Blumberg - VP Corporate & Product Marketing

How to Strengthen Your Supplier Management Strategies

  • Blog
  • Supplier Management

It’s relatively easy to state what supplier management is: making the most of what comes into your organization, so you can make the most of what goes out. That’s true whether you are in services, manufacturing, public sector or higher education. It’s also true in good times and bad: organizations that have come through the Covid-19 pandemic most successfully have tended to have good supplier management strategies and technology in place.

What’s more difficult to state is how to manage suppliers effectively:


  • How many suppliers does an organization need?
  • What is the right mix of large and small?
  • Are local suppliers best, and how do you find them?


The suppliers that deliver most value to your organization are not necessarily the ones with the highest spend, and the suppliers that are easiest to deal with are not necessarily the ones that pose the least risk. Moreover, many if not most organizations today need to align supplier management with broader environmental, social responsibility and governance (ESG) objectives and guidelines. So there are plenty of questions that are difficult to answer without a strategic framework – and some creative thinking.

Register for our webinar on November 10 now!

We are delighted that two of the leading procurement practitioners from higher education will be on the panel to address these issues at our forthcoming webinar, entitled “The Value of Supplier Relationships” on November 10, 2020, at 10 am Eastern Time. They are Lori Brierre, Director of Strategic Operations at Clemson University in South Carolina, and Mark Mills, Chief Procurement Officer at the University of Pennsylvania.

Both have done a great job in providing continuity to students, faculty, and staff through the pandemic, to a large extent because they have managed supplier relationships effectively with a strategic approach.

University of Pennsylvania

To do this in a decentralized environment you need to be able to guide suppliers to preferred suppliers. At UPenn, this is achieved with helpful icons in the Penn Marketplace. As a result, the system not only facilitates cost-containment by leveraging aggregated spend but also plays a critical role in advancing sustainability and economic inclusion. “Because we have a versatile platform that simplifies making purchases through our preferred suppliers, we’ve been able to highlight local, small, minority-owned businesses. Many of them are providing resources such as personal protective equipment, building signage, or other important goods and services that are critical, and in extremely high demand during these extraordinary times,” Mark has reported.

Clemson University

When Lori Brierre arrived at Clemson the challenge was too many suppliers creating supply chain risk. Her team therefore set about replacing the existing open registration solution with one that was closed; meaning suppliers had to be invited by Clemson to register to do business them. The new solution would also include vetting suppliers by collecting all standard business information on each supplier upfront. The first step in executing the plan was rationalization of its supply base. This would mean a drastic reduction in the number of active suppliers. To do this Brierre created an algorithm for the university that helped it reduce its number of suppliers from tens of thousands to 4,000.

Joined by Forrester…

Lori and Mark will be joined on the panel by Duncan Jones, Forrester Principal Analyst Serving Sourcing & Vendor Management Professionals. Duncan is one of the main architects behind Forrester’s approach to buy-side applications, “supplier value management” (SVM). This label recognizes that firms increasingly view suppliers as key partners who contribute as much to business success as employees – and particularly so in this time of pandemic and recession. “Supplier value management acknowledges and reinforces the principle that suppliers are a critical source of business value and not just a category of business spending that needs to be reduced,” he says.

…and Accenture

Also on the panel is Francois-Xavier Bourbigot, a managing director in Accenture’s Supply Chain & Operations practice who has led many global procurement transformations for organizations across a range of industries, including consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications. With JAGGAER celebrating 25 years in business, CEO Jim Bureau will also be on hand to reflect on how the evolution of technology impacted the importance, performance and longevity of suppliers.

It’s something of a cliché to say an event is “must-attend” but with user meetings currently impossible, this webinar panel discussion is going to be just that. Don’t miss your chance to hear from the experts!

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Forrester webinar

Spots are filling up fast – Don’t miss out on this expert panel!

Register Today

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