Keeping in contact - Supply Management

Keeping in contact

11 January 2012
I am responsible for all manufacturing, engineering, maintenance, planning and operational excellence at The Royal Mint. The relationship we have with procurement is very good and adds a huge amount of value to the business overall. It’s in line with The Royal Mint’s strategy of working as one team – working for what we call ‘the country’ (the whole organisation) rather than just ‘the club’ (an individual department).   Things between procurement and operations changed when Gail Roberts, director of supply chain, joined The Royal Mint in 2009. You need to have people at senior level who are committed to making it work and who can get some momentum. If they have drive and focus and are consistent, people pick up on that and follow their lead. For that to happen, you need to ensure you demonstrate a set of values and are clear about what needs to be done. If you don’t have interpersonal relationships at all levels you lose the ability to challenge and if you lose that, you stop moving forward. There are an increasing number of examples where our closer ties have brought about business improvements. One example is our links with a supplier of mild steel coil. Better links between the technical team, the supplier and the commercial department meant we got improvements in terms of flexibility on lead times and deliveries, while the supplier benefited from understanding our future volume and quality requirements. Operations people often ask for what they think they want, not what they actually need, so challenging specifications can help. Equally, if the operations team has close links with a supplier, it can help commercial colleagues understand what can be expected, which helps negotiations. To develop good relationships with your stakeholders or internal customers, face-to-face contact is key. You don’t get that level of understanding if you don’t take the time to talk to people and see what they do – and they appreciate you making the effort, which strengthens the relationship. While things have vastly improved here, we do recognise we need to develop it further. For example, operations is better at persuading engineers that they’re not necessarily the best people to do commercial contracts and deal with suppliers. It’s got better, but it doesn’t happen all the time. How it works at the Royal Mint The Royal Mint’s procurement and operations teams have forged closer links with a clear set 
of values that the teams can 
follow, in line with the organisation’s strategy of 
working as one team. 1. Get out and meet your 
internal customers face-to-face. I’ve yet to see an example where a relationship is developed better by email. 2. Be consistent – your 
actions and your attitude will then be copied 
by others. 3. You have to be honest 
and open with each 
other to challenge
each other to progress 
things for the good of 
the business. 4. Aim for the outcome to benefit the organisation as a whole, not just your department. 5. Keep it up. It’s not 
easy, it doesn’t happen 
by accident you have 
to work at it like any relationship, but if you’re consistent in 
your approach it will 
deliver benefits. ☛ Phil Carpenter is executive director of operations, The Royal Mint
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