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5 Steps to Strategic Supplier Relationships

5 Steps to Strategic Supplier RelationshipsRefining strategy is a never-ending process. Once you get a project, a relationship, a product line to lift-off, there will always be room for improvement and opportunity to tinker with its underlying strategy. When it comes to sourcing, are there areas that can be enhanced or further developed?

Selecting a strategic partner to entrust with your goals and expectations is not an easy task. There are numerous suppliers in today's saturated market. How can procurement identify the best supplier for their unique needs?

These 5 tips will help you close the loop on expectations, quality, and savings:

1. Do your homework and vet

The best way to avoid a non-strategic supplier relationship is to not get into one in the first place. Before committing to a new vendor, do loads of research, network with industry peers, consult with experts and find the best fit for your company. The more you set the relationship up for success the greater the chance you will be working with someone who possesses the ability to strategize in your best interests.

2. Explain your business inside and out

If your supplier doesn’t fully understand what you do, how you do it, and why you do it, they will not have access to the necessary components for sound strategy. Be aware that knowing your business at the level you do can actually be a detriment to instilling that knowledge on someone else. What’s second nature to you may fall differently on an outsider’s ears. Try to answer the questions they don’t even know to ask.

3. Communicate and meet regularly

A lot can change from one day to the next so it’s important to keep your vendor apprised along the way. Without the most up-to-date information on your operations, capacity, goals etc., your supplier will have difficulty adding value to your strategies. True partners are always in the know so they can be leaned on for any decision.

4. Get feedback and tap into their expertise

Once your supplier has your business down pat, it’s time to start listening. If you vetted properly then you’ve most likely selected a supplier with capability to problem-solve the same issues you run into. They’ll be able to draw on their experience with other customers and their industry know-how to determine what will and will not work in the united quest to meet your objectives.

5. Be willing to walk

It sounds harsh but what’s harsher is enduring an inferior product and service in the name of complacency. Of course, like any relationship, you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater and you should try to work out the kinks if the overall net is more than favorable. But in some instances, survival trumps loyalty and certain connections just weren’t meant to be. Hopefully it doesn’t get to this point, but your supplier should always be aware that it could if your well-communicated expectations aren’t met.

Our goal at OMNIA Partners is to act as an extension of your procurement team. We do not leverage suppliers who only meet requirements or who are merely “good enough.” We thoroughly vet for true partnerships, mutual benefit, high-quality and shared skin in the game, among countless other vital items. We want vendors who can help take our members to performance and end products that smash all stakeholder and company goals.

Learn more about our strategic sourcing process.