Supplier collaboration basically means that your goal is to communicate better, and work more closely, with suppliers for the best possible project execution.
According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global CPO Survey, one of the main goals for CPOs is to increase supplier collaboration. What is interesting, and slightly uncomfortable, is that the study also found that 60 per cent of CPOs do not have a clear digital strategy. To me, it seems that when you talk about communication and collaboration, technology is the the clear answer.
Collaborating involves many ideas that ultimately result in a partnership that works better together:
- Communicate better, faster and more effectively.
- Create a simpler procurement process between partners.
- Define clear expectations from the beginning.
- Share performance data for improvement.
Tactical solutions for these are seemingly very easy. But you can tackle these goals one by one, or face them all by considering the digital options you have. Many people believe increasing supplier collaboration can be accomplished by being more available, or just simply sharing more information. It isn’t just what you do, but how you do it.
Connectivity is Everything
There is a very real opportunity with procurement technology to solve your collaboration problems. Technology connects people in a way that was impossible in the past. Continuing to use old methods to communicate will hold you back on your collaboration goals.
Look at it this way. It’s already difficult to communicate internationally, so improve the way you communicate by eliminating the polluted email accounts. New procurement technologies are developing collaborative features such as live chatting.
What will really allow you to collaborate better is being easily accessible to suppliers and being able to connect to quickly. In turn, all your project communication is redirected onto your system rather than being spread thin in between emails, phone calls, and post mail.
Define a Simpler Procurement Process
Rather than saying “work better together”, you should be working towards making your entire procurement process simpler in order to collaborate better.
The complexity of working in procurement is extremely challenging, and even more so as CPOs try to implement new strategies to optimise operations. Organisational skills are very important for procurement professionals, so leveraging technology to help manage the complex processes can be incredibly valuable. You ultimately become a low maintenance customer to your supplier.
Even the smallest tasks, like simplifying document sharing can eliminate frustration. Create a hub for project related documents which can be updated, rather than engaging in the email document attachment dance.
You should think of the idea as redefining the way you do things to eliminate lengthy tasks and replacing them with short ones. Your team and suppliers would appreciate simpler processes, allowing you to both finish routine tasks quickly and reduce lead times.
Establish Clearer Expectations
With many options coming out into the procurement technology market, it is less valuable to try and tackle your challenges one by one. So if your goal is supplier collaboration, you should consider ones that allow you to invite suppliers to be a user.
A workflow management system that gives access to your suppliers can really close the gap. With access, suppliers can see your workflow, their role in the project, and keep track of progress.
Sometimes it is difficult to communicate compliance issues and other important information regarding the partnership and the roles suppliers play in the projects. Using technology to document clear expectations optimizes clarity on both ends. Suppliers understand what is expected of them and you can feel more comfortable knowing that. It opens the door for trust.
Data is Your Friend
Performance data is very simple to gather when automated. Giving constructive criticism should be an important component to your supplier collaboration strategy. Suppliers need to know key areas for improvement so that they are aware of your expectations and given a chance to better their service.
The most accurate and effective way to show performance is to provide data. Collecting scorecards regularly can keep track of trends that can tell you if your SRM is working. Awareness is only going to help your partnership so you need to collaborate to make sure you both are working towards improvement.
There are many options for procurement organisations, but essentially, the type of system you choose to deploy depends on your main goals. It’s time we stop looking for quick fixes and look for opportunities in technology to meet our goals.
If you’re looking to improve your supplier collaboration, Winddle is a collaborative solution for sourcing and procurement that can absolutely help make your goals a reality.