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Supplier management is one of those phrases that is often used but not always understood. Simply put, it is the way companies manage their suppliers throughout the lifecycle of their contract with them. This starts with getting the best deal but continues with building a relationship with your suppliers, monitoring the quality of the goods or services they supply and managing their performance against agreed deliverables. If supplier management is new to you, here are five things you might want to consider.

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1. Procurement Practices

When sourcing suppliers you need to understand what you are looking for – what is most important to you. This might be price, quantity or quality or a mix of all three. Set down your procurement practices and be clear on what you want, allowing suppliers to provide realistic quotes (reducing risks of non-delivery in the long term) and develop contracts that reflect what both companies expect from the relationship.

2. Relationships

Developing positive relationships with your suppliers is a key factor in the success of your business. It allows for open, honest and timely communication – something which will be important if (some would say when) things go wrong and will help with solving any issues quickly.

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3. Partnerships

Good relationships with suppliers should lead to partnership working wherever possible, with each organisation considering how their success can impact that of their partner. This can be done by sharing information and future plans for your business, allowing you to identify areas where they align with those of your suppliers and offering the potential for improved quality, reliability or value in goods.

4. Technology

Technology can have a huge impact on how you manage your suppliers, making it easier and streamlining your business. Consider investing in supplier management software such as that offered by Supplier Management Software company Contractswise to help improve your performance and productivity.

5. Define Supplier Management

It can be easy for staff to blur the lines between supplier management and other business areas. Make sure you clearly define what it means to you and how you expect your employees to operate in this regard, reminding them of what it isn’t, which includes: supplier information management, supplier development, supplier performance management or compliance, each of which have a set of rules of their own.