I recently gave a workshop on supplier evaluation in a lean environment as part of the AME Lean Conference. Because the attendees of my workshop already had a working knowledge of lean principles and practices, they were quite different from many audiences I have presented to and interacted with on the subject of supplier evaluation and supplier performance improvement. They wanted to find ways to improve their suppliers performance AND they were already familiar with a proven continuous improvement methodology — Lean. These folks have the means but needed to understand the how to.
Too often I have seen procurement people who want and need improved performance from suppliers but aren’t sure how to make it happen. They may use scorecards to diagnose problems and opportunities, but find the next steps challenging — how to get at the underlying causes of performance issues and how to help or lead suppliers to addressing them. High performance and continuous improvement systems such as lean can provide the tools and the path. Improving supplier performance is very challenging. It requires both hard skills (continuous improvement methodologies and skills) and soft skills (communications and relationship building skills). But having capabilaities in a proven methodology can provide a huge advantage.