How Does One Department Manage 5000+ Suppliers?
The larger an enterprise grows, the more its supplier base will grow. Each department within an organization will also see their supplier list grow. They will have to figure out how to manage their suppliers in a way that maintains those relationships, ensures quality control and risk mitigation, and enables them to recognize when contracts or pricing need to be renegotiated.
A list of suppliers that has grown into the thousands can be intimidating, but there are ways to manage those suppliers to build strong relationships based on a sense of partnership.
1. Share the Load
Split the list of suppliers up in a way that makes sense for your team and assign each supplier manager a selection of suppliers that deliver products or services they understand well. Sharing the load of connecting with and maintaining relationships with suppliers will enable your team to communicate with suppliers personally without being overwhelmed by a list that is too big. Strategic assignments will empower your team to build meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships.
2. Communicate Often and Well
Managing suppliers is all about communication that goes both ways. Treat your suppliers as partners and be clear about things like timelines, quantities, and even strategy.
Check in with suppliers when you have new opportunities that may be beneficial to them. Invite suppliers to industry or corporate events, ask your suppliers for feedback and ideas on making your relationships more efficient and profitable for both of you.
3. Use a Single Source of Truth to Store Supplier Data
When your supplier list is extensive, having a single source of truth for all supplier information is necessary. This will ensure that all supplier information is in one place and accessible to the entire team, making understanding spend and finding contact information quick and easy. It also encourages your team to collaborate and share information.
4. Use Technology to Clean and Sort Supplier Information
Clean supplier data is essential to understanding your spend and managing your relationships with suppliers. Using ERP software and tools like Tealbook guarantees all supplier information is accessible, accurate, and in one place.
5. Create a Process
Creating and following a process for managing suppliers is incredibly important for building supplier trust and ensuring that supplier management is done strategically, especially as the supplier list grows. Consider onboarding activities, how often and when check-ins with regular suppliers should occur, and how procurement and suppliers should best connect with each other. A clear and consistent process makes managing suppliers easier for your team and fosters professionalism and trust with suppliers.
6. Recognize When to Trim Your Supplier List
As your supplier list grows, and as your business shifts to meet emerging strategy and context, there will be times when supplier relationships need to be ended. While long-standing supplier partnerships can have many benefits, recognizing when those relationships are no longer the best option for your business is necessary to properly manage an extensive supplier list.
Managing suppliers takes work and time, but tools like Tealbook make it easier. Contact us to learn more about how Tealbook can help you build a solid data foundation for your supplier master, so you always have accurate information about supplier offerings, certifications, and how to connect with suppliers.