Vendor management is core to business and we really can't live without it. This encompasses our office supplies, delivery services, utilities and the goods we need to function day to day. When you consider the myriad services and supplies businesses need in order to operate at peak functionality, the strategic management of those services needs to be first and foremost in our minds, but you'd be surprised at how often it isn't.
Most companies might think their management solution is perfect just the way it is, and in some cases that might be true. The real issue is that only a few businesses know exactly what to look for or even where to begin, and without that information they might find that their current service is lacking in more ways than one. Here are a couple of things to look out for.
Vendor management should be a constantly changing aspect of your business. This might sound confusing or even contrary, but the key is in an innovative vendor management strategy. It's incredibly important to constantly reevaluate your processes and your services to ensure not only that everything is running smoothly, but also that you're still getting the best possible deal you can.
Because vendor management inherently means dealing with a great deal of third party businesses, services and providers, it would be ridiculous to assume that one solid strategy will never need tweaking as time goes by. Vendors change their prices from time to time and in order to ensure you get the best deal, it's important to keep an eye on any new package deals they may offer which would better benefit you. The same goes with services offered – perhaps a vendor you have a strong relationship with begins offering a service you usually source somewhere else. In that case, you might consider switching to them for that service for sake of ease or cost savings. Every time you reevaluate, you'll find changes – be it somewhere you can save money, somewhere you can optimize efficiency and performance, somewhere you can spend less resources and so on. For these reasons, it's important to deal with a vendor management service that is always thinking about what to do next.
Remember: In an ever-changing world, the only strategy guaranteed to fail is one that never changes.
In life and in business, relationships are always core. That applies to vendor management as well – mutually beneficial partnerships are the key. In the long term, having a good relationship with your vendors creates efficiency, cost savings and perhaps mostly important, trust and reliability. When you work with an excellent vendor, you'll want to keep working with them and that means a management strategy that focuses on cultivating important partnerships, instead of merely passively filling quotas.
Strong relationships also benefit your brand and in ways you might not think. Without a history or bond between you and a vendor, you can't really come to know what to expect from them. This could mean missed deadlines or shipments, unethical or unprofessional behavior or even worse. A solid management strategy keeps these things in mind to ensure your brand and company's reputation doesn't find itself tarnished.
Another thing to consider is that a good relationship with a vendor is, in itself, a way to minimize risk. Day-to-day tasks become a great deal easier, and when issues arise, you and your vendors can craft more potent, tailored solutions to any unique problems that arise. Never underestimate what loyalty can do – when you're able to keep excellent suppliers in your supply chain, you not only minimize risks involved, but also save money and time in the process.