Five Best Practices in Supplier Information Management

In the current “Age of Innovation,” businesses are more reliant upon their suppliers than ever before. But, the ability of sourcing and procurement teams to fully optimize their suppliers’ performance in order to maximize the overall value they deliver requires a shift in mindset from the practices of the past that viewed all suppliers as mere vendors to more progressive approaches that foster collaboration across the spectrum of supplier management processes. It follows, then, that having best practices in supplier information management is a key component of a comprehensive supplier management checklist.

Having detailed, accurate, and centralized supplier information has become a foundational part of managing relationships with suppliers well. The challenge for most procurement organizations, particularly large, global ones is that they are frequently forced to manage numerous and different back-end systems, supply bases, cultures, processes, and data standards – all of which can contribute to a high level of complexity.

From historical spend to banking information, supplier information can include quotes, contracts, contact details, locations, remittance information, certifications, performance ratings, risk scores, financial statements, production capabilities, and overall category coverage, as well as news, analysis, and other third-party information about the supplier. Collecting, organizing, verifying, and managing such a broad range of information across a huge supply base can make managing supplier information a tactical nightmare with potentially strategic costs.

When done well, supplier information management is an efficient process that captures comprehensive information about the suppliers and makes it easily accessible to the different stakeholders and decision-makers across the enterprise. Best-in-Class supplier management typically starts with a platform designed to accomplish those goals and supports better communication and greater collaboration with suppliers, while minimizing supply risk exposure.

Best practices in Supplier Information Management include:

  1. The centralization and standardization of all pertinent supplier information in an automated, usable, and generally accessible system or platform
  2. The use of a system that acts as the single “source of truth” for supplier data
  3. Supplier self-service capabilities in the management of their information (with validation)
  4. The co-location of key supplier information with other supplier transactions/communications
  5. The inclusion of third-party data and information sources

To compete and win in today’s market requires better communication and collaboration with the strongest suppliers, making supplier information management a critical capability for Chief Procurement Officers trying to drive their business to the next level. To fully harness the power of their suppliers, procurement teams need to understand and enact these best practices in supplier information management so they can identify, collaborate with, and manage the suppliers to optimal success and impact.

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