Introducing... Supplier Management

My subject for the coming week, whilst here in sunny Camps Bay, South Africa :-), is going to be Supplier Management. It’s an important topic, and I want to start with some of the basics and explain how you can get started.

As I always do when starting such blog threads, I’ll try a definition – and a short one at that.


Supplier Management aims to ensure that suppliers meet the business’s needs and objectives.

Expanding on this definition a little gives:

  • To ensure that service quality is measured formally
  • To provide a solid base on which supplier charges can be assessed
  • To ensure that agreements in contracts held with suppliers are adhered to and not replaced with what the supplier deems as acceptable

Getting Started with Supplier Management

As always I try to approach things from a practical viewpoint, so what follows are hopefully practical tips you can follow.

You first task should be to identify what data you need to capture – as it will be different for different suppliers and different service contracts. I’ve listed some examples below to illustrate my point:

Example 1. The contract is for the provision of an Internet cable line. You are paying for a service and the contract states that the service will be available 99.9% of the time measure month-to-month. Naturally your focus here is going to be downtime and availability, with the aim to produce a monthly report showing availability achieved, and all Incidents affecting availability.

Example 2. The contract is for desktop PC repair for a wide range of equipment. You are paying for a 4 hour response and resolution of repairs/provision of replacements within 2 days. Here the focus is going to be on Incident performance from the supplier, focusing on the timeliness of their response and their resolution.

I’m going to return to Supplier Management in coming posts this week.