Supplier relationships – a view from the sky

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TPS report cover sheet.

Never forget the cover sheet on your TPS report...you'll have 8 bosses coming by to tell you about it. Image via Wikipedia

A pure procurement post for a change, although previous posts apply to procurement as they would for any aspect of business.

We are finding an increase in interest in supplier relationship management recently among our larger clients these days, which is encouraging, since SRM seems to be one of those things that people know they should be doing, but don’t actually invest the time to do. Often, when things don’t feel important, they often aren’t and are wisely pushed to the back burner. This is not that.

Supplier relationships represent the type of thing that is important, but not urgent (thanks Covey). Just like reviewing our financial portfolio or doing a will, it is one of those things that we just don’t seem to get around to doing. I personally don’t need to worry about those things, since I am, of course, immortal, but I think others should.

I won’t go through a comprehensive (read: boring) list of why we should be more concerned about supplier relationships, but my main reasoning here is we here at TPS report see the way business works as a giant system. The farther away we move from our little corner of that system, the less we focus on individual personalities, and the more we see either breakdowns in coordination or good coordination making operations flow smoothly. It doesn’t fit with our cultural narratives, but there are no real heroes nor real goats (ok, we all know a couple duds).

So, if we spend a great deal of time designing our organizations as systems, why shouldn’t we include our strategic suppliers? Just like individual relationships (see previous post), supplier relationships based on trust can deliver surprising results.

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