Supplier Evaluations? How about Customer evaluations?

Supplier evaluations is a common LinkedIn group discussion.  Since Proficient Sourcing’s business is to help identify appropriate and excellent manufacturing suppliers, these discussions are of particular interest.

Our work typically involves generating candidates for new supply situations.  In this case, evaluation criteria are focused on price and delivery, with an assumption of appropriate quality.  As time moves on, other factors come into play.

These other factors include meeting promised dates, effective communications, how problems are dealt with, response to special needs, and reliability.   There are other things that might come into play, but these are the main thoughts.  We are in complete agreement,  and our supplier network would also agree.

On the other hand, the buyer-supplier relationship is truly a joint effort, so some of those discussion members might benefit by reflecting on how suppliers might evaluate them!  Following are just a few thoughts on this, and we would most enthusiastically welcome your comments.

Most job shops have an assortment of customers, with a few generating most of the revenue.  If, as a new customer, you want to be treated like a VIC (Very Important Customer) then realize you are competing against the bread and butter of the supplier.  For example, our network has an injection molder that is a vital supplier to Honda.  Any molding requirements that interfere with Honda will be challenging to honor.  This is something to keep in mind when and if you decide to consider a new supplier.  We recommend asking how you will be handled if your requirements begin to conflict with the shop’s main customers.

In most cases the important customers are larger companies than the suppliers in our network.  This means the management “bench strength” of the buyer company is probably larger than that of the supplier.  When you have an urgent RFQ or investigation request for the supplier, remember there may not be someone available to handle that request as promptly as you would like.  If the supplier had more resources, you might well sacrifice other things, such as price or turnaround.  We cannot stress strongly enough for the buyer to establish a strong communication link within the supplier company to discuss urgent requirements reliably and fast.  We will also help in such situations.

If the supplier-buyer relationship had predictable volumes, excellent quality, good pricing, and on-time delivery life could be very simple.  Both sides are working on most of these continuously, but often neither side has a full understanding of the other. Eventually, both will have crisis situations that strain the relationship.  We believe both the good supplier as well as the good buyer will have the communication mechanism in place to successfully survive most of these.  Let us help you with these situations; it is part of our job to make the relationship work!





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