When it comes to supplier quality management (SQM), it’s easy to focus on logistics. After all, the real-world challenges of getting high-quality products to your customers are numerous and immediate, which is why they sometimes overshadow other, more subjective aspects of the job.
The truth is, if you want to build and protect your brand, keep costs down, and mitigate your risks, you need to maintain strong supplier relationships. Though the task of building trust might seem ambiguous, there’s no need to worry — tried-and-true strategies can help you improve supplier communication.
Setting the Foundation: Choosing Quality Suppliers
Like the name suggests, a supply chain is made up of many connected players — or links — that work together on a single task: getting high-quality products from your suppliers to your customers in a timely manner. The health of your brand very much depends on the strength of each and every link. As an SQM professional, it’s your job to build, document, and nourish your supply chain — and that begins with identifying the very best suppliers with whom to establish positive relationships.
The importance of this cannot be overstated. Without good partnerships — and suppliers are, indeed, your partners — your shipments may be fraught with issues, such as incorrect, missing, or low-quality products. And, if your customers don’t receive the right products, or if the products they ordered arrive in rough shape, they’ll simply choose a different company to work with. Your supplier partnerships thus affect both your brand reputation and your bottom line.
Three Strategies That Will Improve Supplier Communication
Like any other relationships, those with your suppliers can be positively developed and sustained with a little forethought. Adopt these strategies to ensure a healthy and collaborative partnership:
1. Set Expectations
Nobody likes guesswork. That’s why the most effective SQM professionals communicate clear and consistent expectations from the start. By outlining your preferences for communications and reporting, you ensure fewer problems arise in the future because suppliers know how to meet your needs. With a foundation set, you’ll also be in a better position to make improvements where and when required.
2. Build Trust (But Verify)
Everyone knows that trust is built over time. However, there are ways to accelerate the process. For example, offering training that helps your suppliers understand what’s required of them can show suppliers that you’re a reliable partner who’s invested in their success. Emphasizing the importance of a collaborative relationship similarly communicates that you’ll be accountable for your half of the deal.
After you’ve set this foundation, it’s important to assess performance. With up-to-date records in hand, you’ll know which supplier relationships need work and which can proceed more independently. In both cases, be sure to show your suppliers respect by communicating clearly and remembering to discuss joint successes as well as failures.
3. Simplify Your Processes
Supplier quality management comprises a lot of moving parts, which is why having a single source of truth for all communications and documentation will save you and your suppliers a lot of headaches. Adopting the appropriate technology, in this case quality management software with built-in supplier relationship management functionality, is one way to achieve this goal.
Of all the links in your supply chain, your suppliers are among the most important. Taking the time to improve supplier communication and build trusting partnerships is well worth the investment. Aim to set clear expectations, onboard your suppliers, and simplify your processes with the help of technology. In doing so, you’ll protect your brand reputation and boost your bottom line.
RizePoint offers quality management software that empowers people just like you collect, organize, and manage data around your quality assurance and supplier quality management programs. Click —> here to request a free demo today.