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The importance of effective supply chain management

 

By Wayne Lewis, Sector Head of Procurement at Imagile Professional Services

As the Head of Procurement, I am responsible for the development, implementation and on-going management of the procurement strategies at Imagile Professional Services Limited (IPSL). I’ve worked in the industry for more than 20 years, and in that time, I have identified key principles for delivering and maintaining a successful procurement strategy.

The importance of effective supply chain management should never be underestimated. Not only does a trusted network of partners allow firms to improve their customer service, it can also reduce operating costs and therefore provide financial benefits.

Over the past few months, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the industry and this has meant having to quickly adapt and assess our approach to supply chain management. Now, more than ever before, we are seeing the true value of having a strong procurement strategy in place.

The value of strong and open relationships

Although disruptive, The Covid-19 pandemic has showcased the importance of having trusted relationships with supply chain partners. In challenging times, mutually beneficial supply chain relationships are key – we can, and will, support each other in continuing to deliver the highest levels of service to our clients.

Communication is paramount for building and maintaining strong relationships with suppliers. Honest and regular communication with each supplier encourages trust and is at the heart of all effective business relationships. We place a lot of emphasis on this as IPSL. Choosing a supplier that is reliable and trustworthy, rather than making a decision based solely on competitive pricing is far more effective in the long run as these relationships are often built to last.

Building and nurturing these kinds of relationships will allow you to return to reliable suppliers time and time again and will result in better customer service and overall client satisfaction – something that will be an invaluable asset to any business in challenging times.

Consistency within a supply chain is essential

Constantly changing suppliers in search of the lowest price can be detrimental to a business for several reasons. Typically, this method is capricious and can result in missed deadlines, additional costs and dissatisfied customers. If I’ve learned one thing working in procurement, it’s to work with people that you trust to deliver on their promises, ‘on time and in budget’, consistently over the long-term.

Some vendors may not stay in business for very long, so the risk of having to change suppliers at short notice is much higher if you’re constantly using new companies. Focusing on building relationships with a steady supplier is a much more effective way to operate – they are likely to appreciate the steady business and can make concessions where needed.

In addition to that, having a long-term mutual understanding with a supplier makes the entire operation of the supply chain much more efficient. Ultimately, this makes everybody’s lives easier, allows everyone to focus on the same goals and will result in a higher standard of products, services and satisfaction for clients.

Accountability and teamwork

In my experience, procurement is much more successful when an entire organisation is responsible in some way for wider procurement successes. Making the process a team effort can help to boost company morale and improve strategic approaches to purchasing.

Without question, collaborative relationships where communication remains open and consistent, with key stakeholders, external suppliers and other parties, is essential in procurement. This method of operation ensures that the strategic and operational procurement needs of our clients are fully understood and met by our supply chain through both good and challenging times.