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Developing the Super Supplier

A central component of getting your firm to run through its daily operations is the quality of the supplier relationships and the inbound materials that are processed. So in the natural progression of superlatives, if the supplier relationships that were the base description at the beginning of the SCM initiatives, then it is quite natural that we must have by now arrived at the “Super Supplier”. Ofcourse, what is the next superlative then? I suppose it would be “Next Generation Total Quality Super Responsive Supplier”. Jokes aside, developing supplier relationships are critical to the supply chain, so much so that I view the proliferation of technology into the space with suspicion. This suspicion is not really about the efficacy of the technology that is making inroads into the firm but about its impact on the way that business relationships (the intangible side, specifically) are affected.
The article Developing the Super Supplier at CPO Agenda delves into the issues of who, what and how a super supplier comes about.

“Super collaboration” is the most advanced form of customer-supplier interaction possible. Unlike combative, co-operative and even partnership types of relationship, it aims to create competitive advantage for both parties over the long term, argue the authors – three professors at the IMD business school in Switzerland.

Hmm… create competitive advantage for both parties over the long term? Let’s see…

Four conditions are required for super collaboration to take off: procurement has to be focused on enhancing competitive advantage; a genuine market opportunity must exist; all functions in both organisations must be committed to making the relationship work; and a strong communication and evaluation structure needs to be in place.

It appears from the summary that the competitive advantage so developed has more to do with cost rather than differentiation. I’m guessing that the notion of cost employed here is not the lowest price bid but lowest total supplied cost.

Update: Only the executive summary was available and so I cannot access the rest of the article.

Category: Supply Chain Management

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