Timely Delivery of Quality Products – A Shared Responsibility

We were scrolling through a number of procurement discussions and found several that dealt with the factors that make a good supplier. Among the most frequently noted is timely delivery of product made to specifications. We are in total agreement; a history of good performance is one criteria for our network. However, this can be a shared responsibility, not just a supplier factor.

A good performing supplier strives for perfect quality and on-time shipments each and every time. The last thing any supplier needs is an unhappy customer. Here are some things the buyer might consider to improve the odds of timely deliveries.

  1. Provide adequate time for the product to be made properly. This is especially important with new suppliers, who may encounter issues in first articles that need resolution. The more critical, valuable, and sophisticated the product is, the more important this becomes. Buyers know that suppliers are prone to promise aggressively sometimes, and on others, the promised date may be well padded. You are unlikely to know which until you know the supplier well.
  2. If you are dealing with a new supplier, be aware that the suppliers’ most important customer may have a major problem while your product is being produced. If a choice must be made as to who gets priority, you may be relegated to 2nd place. In such cases as this, timely communications are essential, so be sure there are well-greased communications channels established so you stay abreast of developments quickly.
    One way to deal with this issue is to ask the supplier about his main customers, and rush job experience. If you can visit the supplier, you will get some visual evidence of the type of work the supplier is doing, and can ask questions about rush job experience.
    This problem can also be present in proportion to the number of important JIT customers the supplier deals with. If you desire JIT service, then you may be asking for a higher level of service that that normally experienced.
  3. The supplier’s business involves human beings, which means that some problems are inevitable. Buyers would like confidence that heroic efforts will be made to ensure delivery dates and quality excellence occur, so again, timely communications are essential.

While you are in the introductory stage with a new supplier, it might be a good idea to check the progress of your work about a week or so before the planned delivery date. You will know how things are going by the tone, etc. of the person at the supplier’s site who answers your questions. Or you might consider some sort of electronic check-off that the production is proceding on schedule. Most suppliers will provide this information, so long as it does not become unreasonable.

Of course, there’s a fine line between timely communications questions and excessive interrogation. But success here is why we all get the big bucks—and timely shipments!

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