Monitoring supplier performance: “I’ll be watching you”

Did you ever hear the song “I’ll Be Watching You?” sung by Sting and The Police rock group?  It can be applied to supplier performance management, too. Here are some of the lyrics:

“Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you” (from The Police)

Every move you make.  Maybe you don’t know every move your supplier makes. But shouldn’t you have some insight into how well they’re doing for you?

Every vow you break. Do you know if your suppliers are really living up to the terms of their contracts with you? When they promise to meet service level agreements or give you a specific price, how do you know for sure that this has happened?

Every smile you fake. Do your suppliers pay lip service to your requests for improvements, but never really make them? Do they try to put on a good show, but disregard your requirements? This can be seeming to go along with becoming lean or implementing another customer performance improvement initiative, but not really doing it.  How much are they faking it instead of really making it? (Another song).

Every claim you stake. Are suppliers meeting their obligations to you? Do you have specific information, such as scorecards or assessments, that you review on a regular basis to be sure?

I’ll be watching you. When you measure supplier performance, your suppliers know you’re watching. If you watch them, your suppliers will improve. Just knowing that their customer is paying attention to and measuring their performance causes supplier performance improvement.

However, just watching isn’t enough and won’t cause sustained performance improvement. Taking action should follow. But monitoring supplier performance is a start.

by Sherry R. Gordon

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