Last Friday, while sipping a coffee at ‘Pret’, signboards around were loud and clear in feeding me with their “Supplier Information” ; from where they get their organic Milk, about their coffee farms in Africa and likewise. Am I really interested in that? Oh Yes! I am. This information is helping me justify my loyalty for Pret.
The message that I am trying to derive here is the importance of ‘Marketing Your Supplier’, which is definitely not a new technique and in today’s cut throat competitive environment, some businesses have excelled in getting their basics right. They have firstly invested time in knowing their supplier and then marketing them well. So much so that ‘Waitrose’ goes an extra mile with its latest campaign to provide a live feed to the viewers from its farms and it certainly calls for a strategic branding exercise. That’s the power of supplier information and it can be extrapolated to Automobile, Pharmaceutical, Chemical, or any other industry. Apple in its latest 2016 Progress Report on Supplier Responsibility goes to the extent of reporting supplier’s accountability, labour & human rights, environment health & safety.
This leads me to wonder what would be needed to Unleash the Supplier Potential? Here are five action points which could serve as the base to ensure readiness before you can capitalize on the supplier potential:
1. Customize: Design the system which maps to your specific requirements ranging from organizational unit structure to supplier hierarchy and if there be a need for customizing your current systems to fit your environment, just be open to it!
2. Collect: Collect information from downstream systems for a holistic view of supplier (360 degree view). Knowing your supplier is not about cost and provision, but also about risk as well therefore, identify the most critical indicators and benchmark your suppliers against those.
3. Capitalize: Create and capitalize on automated workflows which are seamless, efficient, effective and compliant to the requirements.
4. Communicate: The power of communication cannot be undermined in creating long lasting supplier relationships. Therefore use surveys, forms and deploy a feedback mechanism which are business relationship specific and calls for effective information gathering from both internal stakeholders and suppliers.
5. inCorporate: Integrate with relevant systems like document management, reporting, competency for risk scoring and providing validations for example, standard punch-outs for key information – OFAC/Debarment, IBAN, TIN etc.
Once the above capabilities are in place, a roadmap can then be carved to derive long term value from supplier relationship through supplier collaboration which is a long term complex process but nonetheless it gives a holistic and a fair view of a good starting point i.e. effective Supplier information management as a strong foundation for the same.