Supplier Collaboration: How to Keep it Collaborative with Suppliers

14 June 2024

Achieving a healthy level of collaboration with suppliers is essential for a successful relationship. But in an ever-changing business landscape and world in general, it requires constant maintenance. Incorporating a few simple routines within your organization can ensure that your collaboration levels with suppliers stay as high as possible. 

This is our 6-step path to maintaining and increasing supplier collaboration:


1. Service - Always be service orientated when deploying your supplier portal. Make sure you can be reached and stay responsive to supplier requests. From login to technical questions, quality service at every stage leads to higher supplier engagement and participation rates.

2. Ease of Use - Keep your portal as easy to use as possible for suppliers. Reduce the number of required inputs to the minimum needed, make validation messages crystal clear, and be sure there are no special technical requirements needed (such as software downloads) to use the portal.

3. User-Friendly - Be sure the GUI (Graphical user interface) is user-friendly and web-based, so those who already use other web pages and applications find it intuitive and familiar. Keep your portal mobile-friendly as well and include on-screen messages telling the user what needs to be done.

4. Tutorials and Training - Today, nearly all users are visual learners. Make use of online how-to videos rather than text tutorials. These videos should be as professional and detailed as possible. Also, offer in-depth training sessions when neededץ

5. Provide Both Incentives and Penalties - Provide small incentives for regularly participating suppliers. And, in turn, enforce penalties to non-conforming ones. An small incentive example could be ensuring payments for supplies are consistently made on-time. Another would be communicating a supplier's importance to the accounting department, which can also avoid further disruption.

6. Buyers and Administrators Buy In - Make sure all ranks within the organization have bought into the portal deployment and understand the goals and KPI targets. Buyers and administrators are on the front lines, facing suppliers daily—they’re the ones that can convey the importance of portal usage to supplier contacts.

Would you agree that supplier collaboration is key? Would you take steps to improve yours?

At the end of the day, effective supplier collaboration can improve relationships with suppliers and deliver significant benefits including:

  • * Transparency of supplier open orders
  • * Shared PO information between MRP, supplier, buyer, planner, and management
  • * Predictions of which suppliers will be On-Time In Full (OTIF) before delivery is missed
  • * Knowing inventory levels at your supplier
  • * Knowing the lead-time for every part
  • * Accessing live order status from anywhere, at anytime
  • * Improved supplier performance
  • * Improved customer satisfaction
  • * Cost-reduction of new parts development and lower inventory levels
  • * Real-time, and better-informed business decisions
  • * Strategic suppliers growth per real and proven customer service levels

The End Game - This small steps toward better Supplier Collaboration can create a healthy supply chain

If improving supplier collaboration could improve your business, would you try a proven approach?