The Supplier Assault Course is a metaphor that I’ve found really helpful in my time working with retailers and their suppliers. In a nutshell, each task, project or initiative that involves a Supplier can be viewed like an Assault Course – with different stages to complete and assorted obstacles to overcome.
Whilst you could just leave the Supplier to struggle through the course on their own, a much better way is to guide them through, providing the tools and know-how they need to do the job.
When you invest the time and effort to help suppliers successfully negotiate each Assault Course, two important things happen. Firstly, you give your suppliers their best chance of successfully completing the tasks you set them. Secondly, and arguably more importantly, your suppliers’ level of engagement increases. Because they feel understood, valued and supported by you, the relationship you have with your suppliers is deepened. They become more committed to the things you care about, and more willing to work to your timescales and requirements in the future.
Equipping Your Suppliers
In the previous post in this series, we began to look at a real-life example of a Supplier Assault Course: asking suppliers to respond to a survey. We thought about the different stages of the task (Step 1) and what obstacles might stand in suppliers’ way (Step 2).
This week, it’s time to think about the third step in applying the Assault Course metaphor to the real world: how you could remove unnecessary obstacles and help suppliers overcome the unavoidable ones.
There is still work to do once you’ve fired the starting pistol on your Supplier Assault Course.
Next week, we’ll look at responding to unexpected obstacles, and measuring success with a view to doing an even better job with your next Assault Course.