As lockdown restrictions are relaxed and then re-imposed the long term impact for businesses is still largely unknown. Of course not all businesses have been in lockdown, many have been working hard to maintain vital supplies, others have been adapting to new ways of working and continuing to support the economy. Whether you’re a business that has been closed or one trying to continue, you have one thing in common, in some shape or form you have been or will be dependent on relationships with your suppliers to navigate a recovery.
For some businesses their supplier relationships will have made the difference between successfully coming through this period - or failure. For others, that challenge is about to begin.
So is the time to reflect on the health and resilience of your supplier relationships?
Businesses will be faced with many choices and pressures on how they should proceed. While many organisations will be looking to the future through exclusively a risk lens and will be thinking about financial stability and supply continuity, others will be looking to wrap this into a more empathetic and supportive approach, one that ultimately will not only reduce short term risk but also yield long term benefits. It’s clear that some supply chains will be remodelled and that supplier ‘churn’ is inevitable, but ultimately most companies will remain with their core suppliers and move forward together.
Our 2020 supplier management research report will be published in October when we’ll share with you the feedback from over 400 organisations about their experience managing supply chains during Covid-19. It will provide valuable insights in to how they were impacted and what their priorities will be going forward.
2020 Online summits | Supplier management at speed
Asia Pacific: 20 October - North America: 22 October
EMEA: 3 November
In addition to these insights on how customer organisations have been impacted it’s also the time to be thinking about suppliers. Not just in the sense of ‘checking up’ on suppliers from a risk perspective but also a time to consider what they are thinking, what are their strategies, what are their fears and also what they think about you.
At State of Flux we’ve been working with companies for more than 15 years to help improve supplier management capability to both manage risk and drive value. For 12 of those years we’ve been conducting detailed research in to global supplier management best practice. Part of that has been to conduct over one hundred Voice of the Supplier studies to help organisations understand how they’re perceived by their suppliers and if they’re a customer of choice for their most important suppliers. These studies focus on gathering feedback on key aspects of supplier interactions but can also be used to gather other feedback.
In recognition of the unique circumstances we believe that more information should be gathered from suppliers to help shape future strategy beyond just risk management in a way that is more supportive and partnership focused.
The aim for us all is to firstly emerge from this crisis whole and intact and secondly to build a stronger more productive relationship for the future.
The premise is simple – you’ve been through a tough time together so the questions should focus on:
“How did we do?”
“What could we have done better?”
“How are you doing?”
“Where can we help?”
“What can we both learn from this?”
By all means continue with the appropriate due diligence but don’t underestimate the uncertainty and in some cases the fear that simply responding to number questions will create. You can land this more softly and create a more open dialogue by taking a partnership approach.