“It takes two to tango” – Louis Armstrong, 1952

Increased supplier collaboration is seen as the answer to innovation, risk management and competitive advantage. It isn’t an easy task, particularly since most procurement organizations have a history of keeping their thoughts and plans to themselves. But what if you make the time and take the leap, and the supplier does not respond as you expected?

When a category of spend is evaluated and determined to be strategic, part of the analysis needs to take into account the behavior and attitude of the suppliers in that category. You have decided that your spend with them is critical to the success of your organization, but where do you fit into their sales plan? It is important to make sure you understand your relative importance, particularly in cases where you are hoping to collaborate with the supplier on future designs or service offerings.

When conducting a supplier relationship analysis as part of a category management effort, it is also important to remember that one category may have as many types of supplier relationships as it has suppliers. If your sourcing strategy has typically led you to have relationships with a small number of large suppliers in order to save costs, you may find that there are only a few where you have sufficient spend to rate as a strategic partner from their perspective.

As your procurement organization clarifies its long term vision and action plans, expectations of supplier relationships should be considered, articulated, and then communicated to the entre team. The more weight collaboration carries, the more important it will be to recognize opportunity factors like size and geographical location in contract award criteria.

Supplier Relationship Analysis - AuthorAbout the Author: Kelly Barner is co-owner of Buyers Meeting Point (www.buyersmeetingpoint.com). She has her MBA from Babson College, an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College, and a BA in English and History from Clark University. Kelly has a unique perspective on supply management that includes time as a practitioner, a consultant at a solution provider, and now as an independent thought leader.In 2012 Kelly was awarded a Provider ‘Pro to Know’ award by Supply & Demand Chain Executive Magazine.