If you desire more innovation from your suppliers, you need to be willing to knock down your walls and collaborate to make this happen. Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) is a journey where you set the course. There needs to be a solid organizational reason to pursue a deeper connection with a supplier. Understanding this goal before you start your process is the key. However, you don't want this type of relationship with every supplier. Many suppliers just need to deliver the product at the negotiated time. The suppliers in this category solely need to be held to the agreed upon metrics to be deemed a success.
When you find a new path or an exciting opportunity for your business, reaching out to a strong and viable partner to help you explore this route is sometimes the most cost effective way to achieve your goal. To make this leap, you need to stop holding your supplier at arm's length and start valuing your partnership as if you and your supplier are one. True innovation is derived from the trust you establish in your relationship. Once established, you can work together to find game-changing value for your organization.
Procurement professionals spend a large amount of time on risk reduction in their supply chain. They need to keep their operation flowing efficiently while keeping the products needed on hand. Stepping out of this time consuming role to nurture a partnership is difficult and doesn't usually yield the same type of immediate benefits as many other pressing items. When your reputation and brand are on the line, it is always time well spent to keep a quality product going out the door that meets your customers' needs. If all of your time is spent mitigating problems, you'll first need to address your day-to-day suppliers. Once you get them running smoothly, you can then dedicate time to creating closer supplier partners.
Innovation with your supplier isn't necessarily asking them to bring you something awesome. What it really means is having them take your vision, concept, or design to the next step to achieve your goal. The iPod is a perfect example. Apple challenged many partners in its supply chain to innovate and make this slim, portable, music device happen. From the battery manufacturer to the disc drives, Apple's suppliers found a way to adapt its technology and bring forth a truly innovative product.
The value realized from this type of partnership is solid bottom line proof that supplier relationship management can produce fantastic outcomes. Finding an expert and creating a way to differentiate your product or brand in the marketplace truly creates top-notch results. Managing these relationships greatly alters the buyer and supplier dynamic, but it can also be a game changer for your organization.