Involve senior leaders in supplier relationship management, a panel agreed at an event launching State of Flux’s latest global SRM benchmarking report.
Daniel Cameron, CPO of education publishers Pearson, advised procurement to take advantage of the desire of many C-level leaders to be storytellers. “Suppliers are a really big stakeholder for the CEO,” he said. “It’s about getting them to recognise they have a role to play in telling that story.”
He described how the CEO, CIO and CMO gave presentations at a Pearson supplier event, “giving insight into what we are doing and why”. “The feedback was incredible. [Suppliers] said they hadn’t heard that joined-up narrative before.”
The “acid test”, he said, was the CEO choosing to come back to hear feedback from suppliers at the end of the day. “That for me was really powerful: the storytelling of the SRM message.”
Rachel Lee, CBRE’s VP of global supply chain management, said she had done a lot of work to actively engage her senior leadership in SRM. “I decided to start small and build up,” she said. “I went to the CEO and told him I wanted him to come and meet suppliers with me. Gradually I got the rest of the senior team involved.”
Her CEO’s feedback on meeting the CEO of a supplier was: “It’s brilliant, they are solving a business problem for me.” Lee no longer has to encourage senior leaders to meet with suppliers, as they do it on their own.
Strong relationships also helped avoid a big operational incident at a CBRE client site. It was a Friday night, and the only person on site was a supplier, who noticed flooding. They called the COO, who sent someone to fix the problem. “Disaster averted, and the client didn’t even know about it,” said Lee.