I wrote on the Cerasis blog about 8 months ago about how a collaborative supply chain can beget better optimization and has many benefits. Now I want to talk about how you can kick start supply chain collaboration via a “Supplier Day”. I have that in one day you can get things started simply by inviting your suppliers into your facility and getting down to brass tasks. When you open up this line of communication, goals are stated out loud, and as countless studies have repeatedly said, when you say your goals out loud with those who are involved in that success, whether it’s employees, vendors, partners, or whoever, you are more likely to get them done.
A supplier day is a concept where you bring in your main suppliers either by commodity or critical suppliers for supply chain collaboration and continuous improvement. You also tap the suppliers for their knowledge, cost reduction and quality improvement.
A letter by the coordinator who is chosen and each supplier is sent an agenda outlining hour by hour what will occur from 9am to 2pm. The agenda is set. Attached to that letter is a Value Analysis Questionnaire where you ask the supplier for questions on ideas they may have to decrease cost and yet maintain and never jeopardize quality. This seeds the ideology and atmosphere to foster true supply chain collaboration at the Supplier Day. These suppliers are the experts in the field and they should come forward with some cost reduction ideas for you, if the right questions are asked (attached to the letter with the agenda on it).
When you hold a “Supplier Day” it truly starts the process of supply chain collaboration with your suppliers. The result you will see happen in front of you is that the suppliers would take your part you bought from the supplier right in your facility. They would see the part and if they could eliminate some processes in their plant to reduce the cost. They can see if other materials can be used. They can see if a standard part can be used in place of a specialized part. They can suggest finishes that are alternatives, rather than the finishes you suggest. They take a look at your specifications and look at alternatives to reduce cost but not jeopardize quality.
Supply chain collaboration is the very essence to Supplier Day. You want to collaborate, trust and work with your suppliers. I believe there should not ever be a pounding on the table for cost reduction, but rather a discussion and systematic approach to cost reduction and collaboration.
You can talk about long term contracts. You can talk about trust between each other. You can talk about how you can improve continuously together and what their new products are and how that might fit into your future growth. You need them as much as they need you. It is a collaboration of trust and understanding.
After a plant tour and a one-on-one discussion with each supplier to review their value analysis ideas, contracts and collaboration. Everyone returns back to the conference room and the coordinator wraps up the meeting after the supplier has had a chance to speak and comment about the day’s meeting. Before they leave he gives them the card that states you would like their input about the meeting; how it could be improved, changed or critiqued. That way, you can continuously improve the Supplier Day Conference.
What are some ways you help increase supply chain collaboration in your supply chain ecosystem? Let us know in the comments section below!
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