We distinguish between reactive and proactive supplier development. While reactive supplier development is the case where you as a customer react when an error has occurred, proactive supplier development is about developing the supplier’s competence, collaborating on innovations and reducing the risk of errors and deficiencies throughout the value chain.

When you are responsible for the relationship with the company’s suppliers, you can plan to create a good customer-supplier relationship, and then use the results of this work to make your own improvements. Good communication, clear conditions and clear specifications of the agreed delivery are the cornerstones of any customer-supplier relationship. You avoid the ravel and the need for firefighting that easily occur when you have received a product or service with deviations.

Good communication is the alpha and omega
You should never underestimate the importance of communicating in an understandable way. As a customer, you usually know which components are particularly demanding to deliver with good quality. You must ensure that you have routines that guarantee that this information is communicated to the supplier before the delivery starts.

If you have open channels and continuous dialogue with the supplier, it is easier to avoid incorrect deliveries and problems due to misunderstandings and ambiguities. The same goes for the other way. If the supplier has problems delivering with the quality you have specified, he must convey this without delay.

Purchasing competence
In our experience from projects where we support development of customer-supplier relationships, is that the cause of ambiguities and problems often lies with the customer. Where the framework conditions for delivery are unclear, we often see poor dialogue and misunderstandings. This leads to errors, deficiencies and reduced quality. This is why purchasing competence in own organization is of highest importance.

When you want to create a good starting point for collaboration, you should make sure you have a good specification that makes it very clear to both the supplier and your own organization what is to be delivered. This should also include a simulation or a test performed internally before handing over the specification to the supplier. What are the necessary requirements in the department or production stage that will use the articles or services – will our specification fulfill our quality expectancy? If this is well-defined, the foundation for a good customer-supplier relationship has begun.

Example from supporting the automotive industry
In the automotive industry, we find many examples of subcontractors and customers who work well in steps. This means that the customer has specified the requirements to the supplier, the customer also have a good insight into the supplier’s processes and routines, and can quickly and proactively advise on what changes must be made to avoid errors, stops or deficiencies in the end product.

If not, we have helped the customer to formulate requirements for the supplier. In cases where the supplier has not had the necessary processes and methodology in place, we have also provided guidance and methodology training so that the supplier was able to deliver with the necessary quality.

We have in multiple cases also acted as an intermediate to make the customer and the supplier exchange experience to achieve a certain target. For example, we facilitate when the supplier and the customer visit each other or assist in making an assessment. Then the supplier can more easily understand why the specific requirements are set and what the consequences will be when these are not complied with. In the same way, the customer can make an assessment of the supplier to help support in making the value chain as adding as possible.  In many cases, we see that such an exchange of experience in itself leads to improvement.

In our experience, it is less costly to work with improving a strong customer-supplier relationship than having to switch supplier in the middle of a contract.

C2U Way of Working
Our starting point is always the current situation. We map all relevant facts that can be linked to the component or the process using acknowledged analysis tools. Based on data and experience and in co-operation with the customer, we describe the necessary changes and set requirements for implementation. We then help the customer to achieve the set target, within minimum time and with less cost waste.