What do your suppliers really think of you?

andrewhillman.jpg "The majority of suppliers will mostly not express what they truly feel and experience in their relationship with your company, its employees and specifically your buyers," Andrew Hillman, MD of Bespoke Sourcing Solutions, told SmartProcurement. 

"As a procurement professional you spend many hours with your suppliers in a number of different ways. Yet, most of the time these forums do not afford you the opportunity to really understand and gauge what your suppliers really think of your company."

So, why is it important to know what your supplier really thinks and experiences when dealing with your organization? In some cases answers to the following questions can be invaluable:

  1. Does your supplier believe your procurement organization is fair and ethical in its dealings?
  2. Does your supplier experience bribery from employees or are they exploited in any way?
  3. Does your supplier just simply fix problems because they believe the customer is always right or is there a better way to work together with your supplier to improve the total quality and delivery experience?
  4. Does your supplier find it easy and pleasant to work with colleagues within your organization?
  5. Do they think that your procurement organization is professional and that the processes are simple and effective?
  6. How does your oganisation compare to other buyers in the market?

The above questions are relevant in modern procurement practice, where supplier relationships and supplier collaboration is key to the success of any procurement organization, says Hillman.

So, how do you go about finding out what your supplier really thinks?

One very successful and powerful tool is a Supplier Opinion Survey.

"This survey will provide you with valuable information on how suppliers view various aspects of your organization and help you understand what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. It is a unique management tool for a company to improve and further develop its internal processes and external processes with suppliers and partners in the supply chain network.


The survey should aim to address both business and communication related aspects as well as measure the quality of the relationship between the supplier and your company. Basically, the purpose of the survey is to measure how your company is performing through external eyes.
Dependent on the level of insight you want into your supplier, surveys could be rather brief or quite in-depth.


They could range from a short 20 question survey to surveys which contain various sections spanning all aspects of the organization, from procurement through finance, marketing and production."

"It is best to engage an independent company to conduct the survey, allowing the supplier to remain anonymous, should they choose to do so. This allows for greater transparency and honesty in responses, which is ultimately what you need for the process to be successful and for the information to be accurate.

Surveys should also include a section for the supplier to provide additional comments and examples for suggestions for improvement.

The collated results of the survey offers unique value in that it will high-light the areas where the supplier and your company have invested resources to improve key processes but also indentify those areas which clearly require improvement and where the necessary and appropriate attention is required.

Ultimately, from this process, supplier relationships are improved and a desired culture and environment created where dealings with suppliers are collaborative in nature and in the spirit of Win-Win, says Hillman.

To find out more about Supplier Opinion Surveys, contact the author of this article, Andrew Hillman of Bespoke Sourcing Solutions at Mobile : +27 82 858 1850 or E-mail : ahillman@bespokesourcing.co.za

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