Sunday, September 23, 2012

Supply Chain Management

All companies have suppliers in place in order to provide services, or goods for their clients and customers.   This does not just happen by accident; but rather by careful assessment of supplier capabilities.   In our case, we maintain a Business Alliance group in place to manage suppliers.  This involves interview and selection, contractual relationships, establishing service metrics, problem resolution and semi annual, or annual review to make certain our suppliers meet the requirements of our clients and customers.  

This is a never ending process, particularly for a global company with hundreds of suppliers around the world.  Our clients expect our firm to pass through competitive pricing; but not at the expense of quality services.  So, we face a balancing act as we negotiate pricing with our suppliers that is competitive; but that does not compromise quality.  

Every so often, we have to reboot our supplier relationships, either individually with a particular supplier, or in reference to an entire industry segment because Metrics tell us that we are not achieving the results we need.    This could involve redesigning certain aspects of our services, as well, to make sure that we have the right processes in place to insure success. 

Supply Chain Management is really about establishing partnerships around the world based on trust and mutual respect.  This is not an Us versus Them relationship; but rather one that recognizes that only by working together do we succeed in meeting the needs of our clients and customers.   Sometimes, this involves tough, or even intense discussions related to performance; but always in a positive spirit of cooperation.   And, specific additional training may be necessary to best explain our service requirements. 

There are times when service failure makes it impossible to continue doing business.   When that occurs, if performance does not improve after considerable discussion, we must change suppliers.   The good news is that this happens infrequently because we work so hard at partnership.  

Supply Chain Management is a critical aspect of managing any business.  To do so, it is necessary to track a number of service variables.  Those Metrics are used for regular evaluation to make sure service promises made are services promises kept.   Clearly, we cannot succeed without our global affiliates in more than 150 countries around the world.   Supply Chain Management is the key to our mutual success. 

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