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Category: Procurement and Sourcing

Supply Chain News: Making the Most out of Supplier Site Visits


A Commonsense List of Guidelines from Dupont Supply Manager


April 14, 2016
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Supplier "site visits" are a key element of the procurement process, enabling supply management professionals to better assess numerous aspects of a current or especially potential suppliers capabilities.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

SCDigest would add that it is very important to define your objectives prior to the visit, and to strictly adhere to that plan even if the supplier wants to take you in other directions.

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But how often are these sites visits really done well? There can be a lot of variance not only between companies, but even different procurement managers within a company, especially if that company has not defined a formal process and trained its managers on how to get the most from such meetings.

In a recent issue of Inside Supply Management magazine from the Institute for Supply Management, Yuriy Yavorovskiy, a supply manager for DuPont in Pryor, Oklahoma, offered the following quick principles for maximizing the effectiveness of supplier site visits, which we thought were worth repeating.


They include:


Get a tour guide: Have someone different than the sales representative lead you through a facility, as it's possible the information coming from someone close to operations may be less sugar-coated or affected by the sales agenda.

Start from the beginning: Follow the manufacturing/order fulfillment process flows in logical sequence from the receiving dock to the warehouse, noting weaknesses, opportunities for improvement, as well as strengths and benchmark opportunities you can bring home.

Ask questions, observe and listen: Pay attention to bulletin boards, graphs and key performance indicators, such as quality, on-time delivery, customer complaints, inventory turnover and safety incidents. Ask clarifying questions to check if the supplier's employees understand and care about posted metrics and business performance.

Build connections: New relationships will help you decrease your dependent on your sales rep. The connections you make may help you solve future problems faster and with less pain.

Seek feedback: Not only are you trying to understand your supplier, but you are also leaving an impression about yourself and your company. Display genuine interest in people and processes. Recognize successes, seek feedback and ask for ideas.

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Develop trust: Have lunch or dinner with the people you meet. Develop trust and rapport by talking about something personal. Always follow your company code of conduct and be careful not to send
any mixed signals or give any false hopes.

Repeat visits: .Now that you have a point of reference, more site tours with supplier competitors may generate new, unexpected observations. Suddenly, you may see open issues or proposals in an entirely new light.

Present your observations: Share the findings of your tours with your internal customers. Was your company's perception about the supplier in line with your observations? Is it time to make changes to your supplier base or renegotiate any contracts? Is the price increase your supplier is asking for justified? Are there any benchmark opportunities you can pursue?

To this commonsense list SCDigest would add that it is very important to define your objectives prior to the visit, and to strictly adhere to that plan even if the supplier wants to take you in other directions.

What would you add to this list of guidelines for supplier site visits?? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


Your Comments/Feedback

Kurt Hallock

Director Supplier Relations & Procurement, Fortna
Posted on: Apr, 27 2016
Those are great points.  Prior to the visit, it also helpful to align the internal stakeholders on what is most important with that supplier; such as safety, quality, efficiency.

When touring more than one supplier, I find helpful to have each of my colleagues rank the companies before and after the tour.  Many times the results change, and it fosters creative discussions!  Thank you for calling attention to this important topic.



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