State of Flux Has the Treatment for Your SRM Ailments: Part IV The Business of Supplier Relationships

At the State of Flux Chicago and London Events, State of Flux released their 2015 Global SRM Research Report: The Business of Supplier Relationships. This report, which is their 7th annual research report that analyzes detailed survey data from over 500 global companies, provides deep input into the state of supplier relationship management and the benefits that it can bring.

The importance of good SRM cannot be underestimated. As the report clearly states in its introduction, the nature of business is changing, with many companies becoming both flatter and more reliant on third parties to delivery everything from customer support through to research and development … in other words, businesses are putting more and more of their brands’ reputations into the hands of other companies. In such a scenario, a business can only be as good as its worst supplier.

On the other hand, becoming a key supplier’s customer of choice will bring access to a range of benefits, from price advantages to innovation — and that failing to do so will mean such benefits accruing to competitors instead. However, this is no longer as easy said as done as changing business dynamics are giving suppliers more power and choice about who they partner with, and how.

More than 40% of survey respondents have achieved a positive, quantifiable post-contract benefit from their SRM activities, with 31% reporting a benefit of 4% or more. Moreover, 60% report cost reductions, 52% report cost avoidance, and 39% report preferential pricing. These are substantial across-the-board benefits. While a strategic sourcing decision optimization event on a category might save 10% or 12%, that savings is limited to the handful of categories that the organization has time to strategically source. If the average organization has 60% of spend under management, only has time to strategically source 1/3rd of that in a given year, then the organization only saves 10% on 20% of spend, for a grand savings of 2%. But a great SRM program can save 4%. Across the board. Year over year. This is substantial.

This is not unrealistic. As per our previous posts, research demonstrates that good SRM contributes to as much as 70% of a company’s gross profit. No other business function can make this claim. And, most importantly, State of Flux‘s seven years of research has demonstrated that the benefits, both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’, that have been secured by the companies leading the way in SRM have continued to increase. The gap between the leaders and the laggards is getting bigger and bigger.

Supplier relationships are big business, but improving them requires more than a will. It requires knowing the way. That will be the subject of our next post.