More and more, lately, the relation customer-supplier among companies is crutial. And for the purpose, many of them set up portals and other tools that improve easy communication in order to, for example, download regular Supplier evaluations; or receive prompt RFQs online or even participate in supplier auctions before nominations. One of this usage of the portals is to share with Suppliers company supplier Manual(s). And plural comes to the fact that it can be separated into different manuals that collided represent the company Manual.
But what is exactly a Supplier Manual? Let us start defining what is not, A supplier manual is not a procedure, though it is similar, a Manual is not a Supplier contract in a way shares some features with it. Supplier procedures are internal documents, and it is important the “internal” word, that specify some activities towards suppliers; but since some activities are internal before/after contacts with supplier, there is no need on sharing that info with supplier in such a detail. Supplier manuals are general documents that explain general behaviours, conduct or relation towards supplier. So do expect general phrases and statements. The most similar thing to a manual would be then a procedure but not into details.
Continuing with “IS/NOT” approach, a Supplier Manual is not a Supplier contract. Supplier manual first of all it is not to be signed by suppliers, it is a document for information, with an educational purpose. Contracts difference is that they specify minimum requirements that both company need to clarify for a proper relationship, and for the purposes some references to procedures and behaviours are needed. But the main difference with a contract from a manual is that contracts do not specify the expectations of a supplier, how should react, behave, cooperate with or support our company.
A supplier Manual should be differentiated in four or five parts: general (with comments from company, referential norms (ISO), confidentiality, environmental, etc..). Second volume is related to project Management (different phases and activities expected), serial production (incident claim management, answering times, response, etc..), and finally supplier evaluation (and other). Fifth chapter only dedicated to attachments of specific formats from your company.Important here is only to attache the communication formats with suppliers, internal formats are not necessary.
Finally there is no manual of doing a manual. There are some recommendations but, in the end the importance is that this document reflects all your expectations from a supplier and all the required information for that company to understand yours.