As I mentioned when opening this blog series, surveys are often overused and a potential irritation to your suppliers. Therefore, you must be conscious of who else may be surveying your suppliers at the same time. I call this ‘Air Traffic Control’.
Making the Choice Plane and Simple
Surveys are like planes (okay, bear with me). By making sure only one survey is live (or in flight if we wish to stretch this metaphor to its limits) at any given time, you minimize collisions in priorities. This is where suppliers have to make a choice between two tasks from your organisation. Most cases, one survey will lose out. In some cases, the supplier will choose to ignore both.
Build relationships with you colleagues and associates who also interact with suppliers. Collaborating on timings, even informally, can ensure that your suppliers aren’t bombarded with surveys or ‘extra-curricular’ tasks, and can focus on only one at a time, giving each the attention it deserves.
Making your suppliers more than 'passengers'
One you've coordinated with your colleagues and made sure the runway is clear for your survey, you need to make sure you have the right passengers on board.
All too often, everyone is invited on board. Messages are broadcast to entire supply chains regardless of whether or not they are actually relevant to all the recipients.
The result? Suppliers become passive passengers, ignoring the surveys that actually are intended for them as they drown in the noise of irrelevant communications.
To remedy this, I advocate assigning specific roles and responsibilities to the people within your supplier organizations. Think about the things your organisation needs to communicate to suppliers and create your roles around these - individual contacts might be responsible for sustainability, product specifications, artwork and so on. This approach will allow you to target the specific segment of your supply base that your survey is actually relevant to. You will be able to maximize the number of suppliers who actually respond. Plus, the people you ask will more than likely be able to provide a much more valuable response!
The Art of the Successful Supplier Survey comes to an end next week when we ask: Is the end nigh?