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15 November 2012 | Anna Reynolds
Carphone Warehouse is aiming to improve supplier relationship management (SRM) by establishing a range of methods for internal staff and suppliers to generate innovative techniques.
Speaking at the Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government annual conference on Monday, Jamie Napper, head of the Strategic SRM function at Best Buy Europe at Carphone Warehouse, said the company realised it had to change its approach to SRM. “In the past, we have treated our suppliers with a stick. It was all about performance,” he said.
The new approach followed complaints from suppliers who said they were wasting time pitching ideas to the wrong people who either didn’t have enough authority or control of the budget.
Napper recommended that businesses send out regular surveys to their suppliers for feedback: “We sent out a survey to our top 22 suppliers and asked them to vote on what they wanted to fix,” he said.
“Interestingly, supplier payment came fifth on the list. What suppliers actually wanted was improved communication and engagement by making sure their ideas reached the right person. Value, not cost, was also a top priority.”
Carphone Warehouse has developed a design forum for suppliers to pitch and discuss concepts. Napper said it is key to set suppliers’ expectations from the start: “We looked at the contracted terms and developed a new gain/share principle. First of all, we ask what is the objective of a contract? Is it to save money, reduce heating costs or reduce environmental impact?”
Napper discussed the benefits of internal crowd sourcing and explained how Carphone Warehouse has set up an online system for staff to come up with ideas to tackle issues with supplier relationships.
“Once you have decided what needs to be fixed in a relationship, agree on a process and get the right people in your organisation to work on it,” Napper added. “We take a supplier and the person who has bought the service and map the whole journey from point of contact so that we can identify the problems.”
He also told delegates that asking suppliers how they manage relationships with their own vendors can be extremely useful.