What is Important For Me In a Supplier Relationship

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SIG University Certified Supplier Management Professional (CSMP) program graduate Andy Peksa shares what he finds as the most important aspects of a supplier relationship and how they may be able to help you in your role.


Supplier governance can encompass many things and be established in many ways. For our company and my role as a Senior Buyer, essential features of a governance structure with suppliers are communication, accountability, Accuracy, and fast turnaround time. The items I am asked to buy are vital components for a good supplier relationship. Without these components, it can cause issues for the end users and a slowdown in workflow for the company.
 
Communication is vital because, with good communication, you and the supplier will be on the same page. It would help if you had open and honest communication between yourself and the supplier. With good communication, you will be able to relay to the supplier your needs, the timeframe you need them by, and the price point necessary to stay within budget. In my role, I purchase many things, from headsets to one-off user software licenses. I need to have a supplier who can fulfill all the needs of our company that I am responsible for, or at least as many of them as possible.
 
Establishing an open line of communication between myself and the supplier is crucial. I need to know whom to contact for what types of items and whom to escalate requests to when needed. Providing the main point of contact at the supplier is a good start, and it is helpful to have a backup or a backup team to reach out to when our main point of contact is unavailable. Establishing a timeframe for how quickly a response needs to occur is also a good baseline. Suppose the supplier understands that they need to get back to you within a reasonable timeframe that sets expectations upfront and can help provide an ETA to the end user on when a quote or order can be completed. With good communication, both parties involved should know where they stand at all times and what the expectations will be.
 
Accountability and Accuracy are vital portions of a good supplier relationship. Going back to the supplier and letting them know any issues you have with the quality of their products, the turnaround time on orders, the Accuracy of invoicing, etc., are essential. Accuracy is crucial because you do not want to spend extra time tracking down rankings and correcting or fixing incorrect invoicing. This can be an extra time-consuming measure for the buyer.
 
On the flip side, the supplier needs to know that the orders coming in will be accurate with correct pricing and will only be switched on time or arrive with old pricing, etc., as this will cause delays on the side of the supplier getting the items out in a quick fashion. Establishing early on that these sorts of things and others will not go unnoticed and will be addressed is essential. A breakdown in Accuracy can lead to you transitioning a particular business to another supplier. Avoiding that is good for both parties, as a strong relationship benefits both sides.
 
Fast turnaround time has been mentioned throughout, but it is also vital. For my role and the items I purchase, this is at the top of the end user’s expectations list. They are expecting things to come as quickly as possible. Delays in receiving the items they need can mean a loss in productivity and delays in their daily business, which means delays for the company overall. Finding a supplier who can provide the necessary turnaround times will help keep your business moving smoothly.
 
All of these are important in my role, and if you are purchasing similar items, they would be necessary to you as well. They all tie in nicely together, and if one piece is missing, all the pieces will crumble. Communication comes first and is the foundation for all the other details. Accountability is at the top, and if the parts in the middle are not met, it comes into play. Accuracy and Fast Turnaround time are in the middle, as these are the core concepts of this supplier relationship. Building this type of structure and having the supplier onboard with it is a great way to start a new business relationship and maintain a good relationship from now on.

The Certified Supplier Management Professional program is a five-week course delivered through SIG University’s unique education platform. Visit our website to learn more about the discipline of governance and enroll for the upcoming semester.

 

Andy Peksa, Senior Buyer-Procurement Ops, T. Rowe Price

I started my professional career doing customer service for Bank of America. After working there for almost eight years, I moved to Travel Advantage Network, where I also worked in customer service. During my time at Travel Advantage Network, I earned my MBA. While at Travel Advantage Network, I was offered a role as the Procurement Specialist for the company. I worked in that role for several years before taking an opportunity at T. Rowe Price, where I currently work as a Senior Buyer. I thoroughly enjoy Procurement, and I am glad my career and education took me down that path.