I can’t believe it’s three years ago that I wrote my article and subsequent handout on vendor / supplier management but it is a subject which is still high in my mind. 

In our work as retained advisors a lot of our time goes into managing other suppliers on behalf of our clients. There are some suppliers who are a joy to deal with, they do what they are meant to do in terms of contractual obligations, deliver meeting actions and projects to agreed time scales and are proactive in their engagement and genuinely add value to the relationship.  

Then there are, sadly, particularly amongst the “consolidator suppliers”, those suppliers who seem to be struggling with the concept of service delivery and adding value to their clients. With these suppliers you often have the never-ending churn of “new account managers” which results in a process to “kick start” the relationship and then just as relationships are built and you may have got some progress the cycle starts again (to the cynical this is a deliberate strategy). 

Service improvement plans are created but not implemented, promises made go undelivered and often service is not delivered to contractual obligations never mind expectations. Quite often communication simply goes unanswered and whilst you may be told you’re an important client you certainly don’t get that feeling.  

These supplier relationships are extremely difficult to manage. From the client side you find yourselves endlessly repeating the same conversations with actions / promises continually getting “kicked down the road” or completely undelivered. In these circumstances it is easy to “give-up”, to disengage from the vendor management process but like opting out of voting this will just result in “you get the supplier you deserve”.   

The worse a supplier behaves the more important it is that you implement the concepts of supplier management. Yes, its repetitive, yes at times its endlessly frustrating but the pay backs can be tremendous. It can help bring an errant supplier into line, to create the “evidence” of non-compliance which can be used for termination or at the very least give reason to strongly consider separation at the appropriate renewal point.   

Baskerville Drummond would happily to support you in implementing supplier management or to discuss any issue you are currently having with your suppliers.