The Third Supplier Experience Community: Exploring how to achieve more agility, less friction
The third Supplier Experience Community event recently took place, this time welcoming around thirty executive attendees, from some of the leading global brands.
Supplier Experience Community: Background
The group meets under Chatham House rules in order to provide a forum in which to explore how to drive a ‘Supplier Experience mindset’ in organizations.
It includes discussions on identifying the value drivers of improving supplier experience and how to architect solutions to remove common friction points.
In the session, we were joined by Andrea Sordi, Academic Director, Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee; and Sammy Rashed, founder of the Think Tank ‘Beyond Group’ and subsequently SRCD where he provides consultancy and executive coaching services.
The session featured a presentation from Andrea Sordi focusing on changing the nature of the buyer-seller relationship and an interactive workshop with a live brainstorm, discussion and summarization.
Three areas to focus on
Andrea’s presentation outlined key geopolitical, economic and fiscal factors and the impact that these have had on the supply chain and in dealing with suppliers.
Andrea noted three areas that require specific attention from Procurement leaders today:
- Data and visibility
There is an urgent need to provide great data and visibility of that data. This applies not only internally but also externally. Due to the levels of disruption and future anticipated disruption, it is imperative that procurement functions can act with speed. Data visibility leads to agility. You cannot act without data and access to that data.
- Ecosystem collaboration
Today’s enterprises are faced with many common challenges, from geopolitical issues and supply chain disruptions through to more fundamental challenges around sustainability and climate change. In order to overcome these challenges, it is crucial to collaborate with our ecosystem in a much more efficient manner. Andrea explains that the sum of this collaboration will be much greater than everyone trying to gain competitive advantage on their own.
- Facilitation of innovation
Procurement has to move away from this notion of being just a cost-out type of function and start to become a focal point to facilitate innovation across this value chain. This means really sitting at the table of decision-makers to come up with great ideas, connect the ecosystems together and bring the data together as well, so that you can make informed decisions.
Procurement in the age of VUCA
Sammy spoke about how Procurement needs to react to a VUCA world (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) and suggests looking at three aspects to cope with VUCA:
- How to cope with variability in demand
- How to drive collaboration in supply
- How to increase agility in processes
As the starting point for the brainstorm discussion, Sammy presented a conclusion from previous sessions in which he has asked the community: ‘Where is the biggest opportunity in collaboration? Is it to remove friction points in that relationship? Or is it to add additional levers or benefits or gains in that relationship?’ The consensus is that collaboration with suppliers will benefit the most if as many of the friction points as possible can be removed.
The three top pain points, or points of friction were identified in the session as:
- Payment visibility: The ability for suppliers to be able to view information such as invoice status via a self-service channel.
- Onboarding process: This remains long and onerous for many suppliers.
- Data: Specifically, the lack of data visibility and the ability to really self-maintain that data. This relates not only to individual tools but also to the number of portals and the resulting portal fatigue and initiative fatigue due to the many data requests that enterprises are sending out. More needs to be done to enable an efficient transfer of that data across all applications.
Further discussion in the session focused on identifying important components of a ‘supplier experience’ value proposition to help alleviate challenges and improve collaborative outcomes.