Organizations often find it challenging to develop and maintain effective communication with a diverse supplier network. In almost every industry, supplier relationships have a great influence over an organization’s ability to manage supply chain risks, improve processes, and service customers responsively while keeping costs low.
An APQC study on supplier relationship management featured best-practice organizations that have realized benefits through enhanced communication and collaboration with their suppliers. For example, Cessna—a manufacturer of light and midsize jets, turboprops, and other small aircraft—integrated processes and resources with its suppliers to improve quality, reliability, delivery, and service. The company and its suppliers joined forces to address the cost pressures of raw materials, crude oil, and health care.
Organizations can build these strong relationships with their suppliers by having supplier events that enable face-to-face collaboration. APQC recently spoke to Chuck Intrieri, a third-party logistics and supply chain consultant, regarding supplier day events. During a supplier day, an organization brings critical suppliers to its facility so that each party can have face-to-face collaboration and get to know what the other brings to the table. The organization and the suppliers identify ways to streamline processes and discuss next steps for improving performance. The event also allows suppliers to tour the organization’s facility so they can better understand its operations and provide the best customer service available. Chuck notes that many suppliers have only had previous interaction with an organization’s supply chain or purchasing manager, and thus can benefit from seeing the organization’s entire operations.
Chuck points out that organizations should host a supplier day event at least once a year, but if needed organizations can have events as often as once a quarter. He also notes for organizations to effectively execute a supplier day event they should involve a cross-functional team that includes representatives from their manufacturing, quality assurance, sales, and safety groups.
According to Chuck, organizations can measure the success of supplier day events by identifying KPIs that measure quality, cost reduction, delivery, and time. Not only should organizations identify measures of success, but they should also be open to suggestions from their suppliers.
Chuck notes that these events provide an opportunity for collaboration that adds value to the organization and its operations. Supplier day events help organizations stay ahead of their competitors because their integrated relationships with suppliers can lead to increased quality and reliability of their products.