How Suppliers and Organizations Can Work Together Towards a Shared Vision of Success

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Note: This is the 4th in a series of 5 blogs about Supplier Relationship Management.

Thus far in our supplier relationship management discussion of shifting relationships with suppliers from that of adversaries to partners, we have also highlighted how CPOs can influence that shift and what administrators can do to improve this relationship.

These blogs have focused on the role and steps procurement professionals within universities and organizations can take to influence that strategic shift with their supplier base. But what if you are on the other side of the table? What are some of the benefits to suppliers and how can they improve their relationships to influence this change?

There are numerous benefits to suppliers when moving their relationship to that of a strategic partner. Working towards shared goals, consistent communication and project management, and having a plan to improve what is currently in place in the working relationship are just a few examples. As a supplier, there are some basic questions you should ask yourself when determining if you are currently working as a successful strategic partner. By focusing on the impact you can make within an organization, you open yourself up to better two-way communication and working toward shared goals. As the NAEP stated in their recent 2016 Innovators Forum Report, Enhancing Supplier Value and Performance, these are some questions to consider:

  • Did we provide best-in-class service?
  • Did we adhere to contract pricing?
  • Did we participate in value added initiatives that we valued by the community (e.g. sustainability)?
  • Did we embrace the procure-to-pay tools at the organization?
  • Did we drive innovation or provide expertise that was helpful?

Characteristics of a Strategic Partner

Once you’ve asked yourself the questions above and determined you are aligned to work with an organization as a strategic partner, the next step is to strengthen some of the key characteristics identified by organizations as vital to the relationship. A mutually focused desire on long-term goals and an investment in building the supplier management relationship is essential to success. As identified by the focus groups at the NAEP Forum, some of the criteria identified include:

  • The supplier understands and has alignment with the organization mission and partnership goals
  • There will be a high investment in the relationship (resources and engagement level)
  • There is an opportunity to have broad impact on the organization (high spend, value & risk)
  • There is significant potential to create value beyond price
  • The chance to impact key end-users is high (many touch opportunities)

Making the shift to a strategic partner is highly valuable and beneficial to both the organization and the supplier, moving the relationship beyond a transactional partner that revolves around basic operational issues to that of a valued business partner working towards a shared vision.

Donna Yeaw is the Supplier Integrations Team Manager and was a featured speaker on the Supplier Management: Building the Complete Dashboard webinar with Procurement Leaders.

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