When Supplier Development is much more than you think…

Most of the standards posts I have done in the past are very technical and Here is all about dreams, intentions and looking forward on the future. It is all what we can achieve with Suppliers, how can one develop a good supplier within the bets costs.

First of all, small mention about supplier selection, it is one of the most key points for developing a supplier is making the right choice. Obviously the first challenge is price, and I can tell you from my experience when you consolidate big purchasing volumes and a reasonable amount of part numbers and prices and begin to speak about million euros all departments feel the motivation. And that is the first thing team building. Develop a supplier only one department is not feasible.

Secondly already mentioned in the past, for your own good, do not give too many parts for a new supplier, give them enough for you to make good business  and for them to be interested. From supplier quality we always request few parts and not complicated. But here do not underestimate your suppliers. Furthermore, developing your suppliers requires a good understanding of supplier technologies from the very beginning, what the supplier can achieve, strengths and roadblocks also in technology. You do not want to spent hours and hours on supporting supplier to produce one component and forgetting the rest. That is reaction, not development, do you want to arrive to your destination bailing out water from the ship…

One thing to mention about supplier development, at least in the beginning, the best supplier to develop is a local supplier. There are many reasons to develop suppliers locally that afterwards will grow with your company and can be global leaders in the market and go hand in hand with you.  The main purpose of developing a local supplier is resources allocation, engineering, quality, experts and other people from your company. We always say in Spain, four eyes see more than two, and you can highlight risks more directly, and not only highlight, address issues from the start. There is also some kind of intercultural understanding between local people and yes, it is true what you think, they will cover supplier and try to solve it before escalating a local supplier, being proud helps. People empower themselves with suppliers by understanding it is their own challenge and their own work, never an imposition.

The most important part of supplier development is the first project, when everything is new for the company. It is very much important to share the company values and methodology with the supplier. It is like a relation, it is very important to clearly define engineering quality, logistic, requirements, etc… Afterwards same importance is the followup, specific interdepartmental meetings with supplier and individual supports. The aim is always a safe launch of the project.

The final and most important part of supplier development is the expertisement transfer. It is not a know how transfer. It is a transfer of the minimum knowledge a supplier must have to produce components. Doing a process audit is not enough, since we are talking about Poka-Yokes and other tricks in production from all our years. The more you develop a supplier the more price reduction you can ask. It is all about visiting, spend time there. I insist the more you show them how to save production the less defective parts. And not to mention the positive of teaching in our learning. We learn when we teach the others and afterwards you can even standardize many lessons learnt with other suppliers

So it is all about challenges and risks, but there is also magic in achieving targets and positive feedbacks from the suppliers. The best in my experience is to see the results of a good team working but also very much personal effort from all the team.

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