In our last post we reminded you that State of Flux is a global leader in Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) research that has been producing the Global SRM Research report for six years. Their most recent report, which is thicker than many (e-)books, should be seen as a wake-up call to organizations that claim they understand the importance of suppliers and relationship management, but really have no idea what relationship management means and what is involved to get it right as only 17% of companies fall into the emerging leaders category and only 21% fall into the followers category, which, using the classic Aberdeen Model, says that these companies are average at best (and, to be blunt, average companies are not very good at SRM). This also means that 62% of organizations really have no clue what SRM is, why it is important, and/or how to get it right. Given the percentage of spend that the average organization directs to suppliers and other third parties (which is as high as 80% in some verticals), this is not a good thing.
The good news is that it’s not hard to be above average in SRM. All it requires is a little (okay, a lot of) elbow grease, a focus on the essentials, the implementation of good processes and supporting technology, and a plan to address the critical gaps against each of the six pillars of SRM. A company that focusses on the essentials, identifies processes and platforms to address each critical gap, implements those processes and technologies, and makes steady progress will likely find that it goes from “needs improvement badly” to “above average” in 12 to 24 months, depending on the organizational commitment and resources dedicated to SRM.
So what are these six pillars?
- Business Drivers & Value
Like any Procurement function, success ultimately depends on alignment with organizational goals and key business drivers.
- Stakeholder Engagement & Support
Stakeholder engagement must be proactive, include internal stakeholders and executives and key supplier personnel, scheduled, tracked, and managed like any project as each key stakeholder, if she is doing her job, will provide input and insights critical to realizing value from the supply base.
- Governance & Process
Just like categories and sourcing events, SRM needs to be managed against a model or plan to be successful. Formal governance methodologies and processes need to be defined, tools need to be implemented, and adherence to process needs to be monitored.
- People & Skills
Relationships are always between people. It’s critical that an organization not only identify the best people, but place them where they can have the biggest impact. This requires identifying people who are not only strong in EQ, but who have the IQ necessary to manage the projects associated with the supplier that may require a strong technical background in one or more areas.
- Information & Technology
The reality is that there is more than one supply chain. There is the physical supply chain through which goods flow. There is the financial supply chain through which money flows. And there is the information supply chain through which all of the information needed to manage the physical and financial supply chains flow. This is the most critical supply chain from a SRM point of view as you have to capture requirements, performance, and capability data on a regular basis in order to properly manage a supplier relationship.
- Relationship Development & Culture
Managing is just the first step in a good SRM program. The most successful relationships are those that are collaborative, innovative, constantly improving, and mutually beneficial.
A significant amount of work might be required to identify (and then implement) the actions that need to be taken to achieve a sufficient level of competency, but its a lot easier to do so with a high-level game plan, which the pillars provide, than it is to start from a blank slate.