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About the Author

Gary M. Barraco
Director, Global Product Marketing
Amber Road

Gary is responsible for developing strategic product marketing direction and presenting the Amber Road brand and solutions worldwide. As the platform evangelist, Gary develops and launches customer insights, go-to-market plans, product messaging and content, and field marketing tactics which establish Amber Road’s solutions as a standard in the Global Trade Management space.
Previously, Gary was VP, Industry Development for ecVision for 9 years prior to its acquisition by Amber Road. He also held marketing positions with tech companies where he was instrumental in implementing programs that yielded exponential growth and spearheaded alliance relationships with a range of third-party organizations. He has 20 years of active military service where his primary specialty was providing marketing support to Army National Guard recruiting and retention operations in New Jersey.

Gary received a BS from the State University of New York and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at Moravian College. He is a member of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, Footwear Distributors Retailers Association, Outdoor Industry Association, US Fashion Industry Association, Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, and American Association of Exporters and Importers where he serves on various committees and planning groups.

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Supply Chain Comment

By Gary M. Barraco, Director, Global Product Marketing, Amber Road

November 19, 2015

Achieving Higher-Value Supplier Relationships

Some Ways Technology can Help Companies Achieve a Strong ROI With Their SRM Programs

Barraco Says:

...Companies that successfully implement strong supplier relationship management (SRM) programs have realized real dollar value return on investment.
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Today manufacturers realize their suppliers are their most valuable asset. In fact, data collected by SCM World in 2014 showed that, among more than 1,000 practitioners, three-quarters believed stronger relationships deliver high or very high value for their companies and 84 percent reported that strategic supplier engagement is important or very important in driving competitive advantage.

Collaborative and strong working relationships can deliver substantial benefits for manufacturers and suppliers alike in the current competitive environment. Research studies show a direct link between the quality of supplier relations and customer profitability, with average annual benefits of collaboration worth $300 million among the best-performing companies. Gone are the days of hitting suppliers with unduly harsh fines and deductions, erasing their profit margins. Rather, the goal is cultivating a more harmonious and long-term partnership.

There are many reasons for this change in approach; a reduced supplier base, faster product development and commercialization timelines, diminished internal resources and increased demand for innovative products by customers are all contributors to the need for a collaborative approach.

Companies that successfully implement strong supplier relationship management (SRM) programs have realized real dollar value return on investment. Below are ways technology can help companies achieve a strong ROI with their SRM programs.

1. Improve day-to-day communications with suppliers. Technology can dramatically reduce the cost and time associated with manual SRM management. Supplier documentation, certificate collection, and collaborative tracking processes can all be labor intensive and time consuming tasks without automation. A web-based, searchable and centralized data repository platform can streamline and track discussions among supply chain members.

2. Enhance document management. A document management portal allows the ability to upload and share documents with suppliers. The portal also allows for document version control and systems to measure activity through electronic receipts and other acknowledgements, ensuring that suppliers have accessed the correct document.

3. Centralize accountability through issue assignments and notifications. An exception-based workflow, time and action calendaring system allow users to monitor and update their current responsibilities. Since this information is centralized in one platform, the time it takes to manage workflows is reduced. 


4. Proactively manage supply chain issues. Many organizations today are already recording and collecting the data they need, but they struggle with converting that data into knowledge and gaining insight to prevent problems. Technology can automatically generate alerts based on business rules, and include an automated escalation feature to ensure proper managerial oversight, including monitoring issues, measuring timelines and reacting to problems before links in the supply chain break. 

5. Optimize supply chain expenditures. Supplier portal solutions can help companies increase their supply chain visibility and control, increase supply chain accountability, and accelerate time-to-market through proactive supply chain project management. As a result, reduced risk and minimized supply chain efficiencies improve return on investment, adding to the bottom line.

Final Thoughts

Effective communication and collaboration can be challenging, but it is a key part of a strong supplier relationship management program. By investing in technologies to yield greater value from these relationships, companies can minimize risk, improve supply chain efficiencies, increase visibility and control, and enhance accountability. In fact, some global brands leveraging automation to increase transparency and communication with suppliers experienced a 30 percent rate of return through lower cost savings on materials and transportation alone.  This type of payback can add up to saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in hard currency and hours of soft costs for labor. 

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