Want to Know How Well You’re Doing – Ask Your Suppliers

A recent piece over on SupplyManagement.co on commit to canvass reminded me that sometimes the best way to figure out how well you’re doing is to ask your suppliers. While benchmarking is critical, it won’t always give you the full picture.

For instant, just because your benchmark says you “order on time 99% of the time”, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing a bang-up job of getting your orders in on time in the supplier’s view. For example, let’s say the contract says you’ll endeavour to get your orders in 14 days early, but “rush” orders can be put in with only 7 days notice. Well, just mark every order “rush” and make sure it’s in 7 days early and you’ll hit your on-time order target. But if the contract says that you only expect 10% of orders are going to be “rush” but 70% of orders are “rush”, how happy do you think your supplier is going to be with you?

And how will you know if the supplier thinks your “cooperative” problem sessions are delivering value? For instance, if you have team members who always end up doing what they decided before the joint session anyway, it won’t be “cooperative”, the supplier will see no value, and they’ll be upset at you for wasting their time.

You need to ask your supplier how you’re doing once in a while. And, to get brutally honest answers, you should make an anonymous survey a regular communication mechanism. Thanks to modern technology, they are cheap and easy to design, administer, and amalgamate. So ask you’re supplier how you’re doing. I guarantee you’ll be in for at least one surprise.

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