Your relationship with your suppliers can make or break your business. While there are many benefits to outsourcing parts of your business processes, a lot can also go wrong.
There’s no need to worry, however. You can take steps to minimise the risks, and ensure a long and mutually beneficial relationship with your suppliers.
Foster proper communication
Nothing ruins a perfectly decent business process like bad communication between parties involved. Poor communication is one of the biggest pitfalls any business can have, but it’s often overlooked. When something goes wrong, it’s easy to point fingers, but it might really have been avoided by proper communication.
Mask sure that your supplier has one point of contact in your business, and that you have one point of contact on the supplier’s side. If you’re outsourcing cladding in Cape Town, for instance, but you’re in Johannesburg, then it’s especially important your communication lines are clear and open at all times.
While you don’t want to inundate your supplier with constant emails, it is important that you maintain regular communication that is concise, courteous, and frank.
Establish a process
When outsourcing, it’s best that you define and establish an official process from the beginning. But you can implement one at any point.
If the process is informal, you lose track of things, people get confused, and quality drops. Work out the best system for going forward, clear it with the supplier, and then make sure it is always followed. You may need to follow up later to make sure all parties are adhering to the system, or see if it needs adjusting.
If something goes wrong, like a missed deadline, don’t make it your knee-jerk reaction to blame the supplier. Even if there is fault on their side, there might still be something you can improve upon on your side. Perhaps you need to manage your expectations or put together clearer briefs.
Just don’t play the blame game, because that’s of use to no one.
Monitor and review the performance
Even the most reliable supplier can slip up now and then. Conduct regular performance reviews to help you keep tabs on their work and make sure they’re fulfilling their end of the agreement. This will also alert you to potential problems that may be lurking down the line, or help you know where refinements need to be made. These reviews will also let you know where you stand when it comes time to talk about contract renewal.