- Posted by James Canada
- On February 17, 2021
Last month, we discussed internal and external customer/supplier relationships. Each employee has customers, both inside and outside the company, who rely on that employee’s output. If you extend that thinking, then any work function can be viewed as a business process. And that idea is at the heart of true quality improvement.
The interaction we have with our outside customers is an obvious business transaction. But so is the exchange between business partners, who must understand and meet each other’s requirements. The same goes for our external suppliers, who need to know about our business so that they can better meet our needs. All of these relationships are equally important and should be managed equally well.
In fact, it might be best to think of all of these interactions as customer/supplier relationships. In this context, the word “supplier” doesn’t just mean an outside vendor—it can be anyone who provides you with input, like another department within your company or even the person in the next office.
The most important component for a successful customer/supplier relationship (or any relationship) is “feedback.” If we don’t tell our suppliers how they are doing and what our expectations are, they won’t know if they are meeting our requirements.
In all instances, a company is better off developing strong relationships with a smaller number of suppliers. Let the supplier know that if they meet your needs at a fair price, they will keep the business. Now the supplier—whether vendor or coworker—has a reason to give you the extra service and support you need. They will also be willing to change their process to ensure that you get the quality you need.
Jim is an operations, business development and program/project management leader with Executive Management experience in both Service and Manufacturing environments.