The 8 Modules, 31 Focus Points and 5 Collaboration Phases of the SEIC Methodology provide a path to success

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Our Diagnostic Tool provides a gap analysis of SEI capability to support the strategic planning process

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In-depth explorations of the approaches and techniques used by leading organizations in the field of SEI today

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Thought leadership and insightful articles on the most important issues for companies pursuing an SEI agenda

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Insight calls are available to join for all members of the SEIC and will be addressing a number of topics

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Useful downloads, from unique research to practical templates, frameworks and tools being used by SEI leaders

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The 11 modules of the SEI methodology focus on the key processes that enable the successful rollout of SEI

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Our Capabilities Assessment tools provide the means for organizations to gain insight into their own SEI approach

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In-depth explorations of the approaches and techniques used by leading organizations in the field of SEI today

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Thought leadership and insightful articles on the most important issues for companies pursuing an SEI agenda

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Useful downloads, from unique research to practical templates, frameworks and tools being used by SEI leaders

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Building a reputation as a customer of choice

Becoming a customer of choice is essential to facilitate Supplier-Enabled Innovation, but requires that procurement change how it interacts with the supply base

Customer of choice SEI

How does a buying organization become a customer of choice? It might not be the first question that a company asks when venturing into Supplier-Enabled Innovation (SEI), but searching for its answer will quickly gather more urgency as an SEI program develops.

 

Being a customer of choice, after all, underpins the success of any SEI strategy. Without a willingness from suppliers to contribute knowledge and intellectual capital, procurement will lack the fuel needed to power SEI.

 

Not all companies will encounter this problem – through working collaboratively for a number of years, some of the SEIC’s more mature members are already the preferred customer for many of their suppliers. But for companies just starting or looking to improve their SEI impact, cultivating a reputation as a customer of choice can be a significant stumbling block.

 

The problem is rooted in the traditional perception and structure of procurement. In research released earlier this year, 3M found that half of suppliers surveyed wouldn’t make “strategic recommendations” to customers due to a perceived lack of openness or incentivization. Moreover, 70% said that half of their customers didn’t have the systems and processes necessary to facilitate supplier collaboration.

 

Member companies of the SEIC relate similar feedback when discussing their SEI journeys. Bayer, Husqvarna and UCB, for example, all tell of how they needed to take concrete steps to improve their standing as a customer of choice in suppliers’ eyes – and all have recently started new initiatives to further this goal.

 

At the start of 2017, Bayer launched an online collaboration platform where select suppliers could post ideas and proposals. All are assessed by the life-science company, and feedback offered irrespective of whether the supplier’s idea is ultimately successful or not. It’s an excellent example of how a buying organization can simultaneously dismantle a reputation of being ‘unopen’, and demonstrate that it’s investing in the systems and processes that are conducive to supplier collaboration.

 

Husqvarna and UCB, meanwhile, have adopted net promoter score (NPS) surveys as a means of improving their reputations as customers of choice. Both have their suppliers score them as a customer based on different value indicators, and then use the results as a roadmap to improve the relationship (more details on Husqvarna’s NPS survey – which is also used to boost internal stakeholder support – can be viewed by SEIC members here). Again, good examples of how procurement can undo its reputation of being closed off and begin fostering real supplier engagement.

 

At their core, what these initiatives call for is a re-alignment of procurement’s priorities. The efforts of these three companies all point towards instilling renewed trust and communication into their supplier relationships, indicating that their suppliers attach huge value to both qualities.

 

That isn’t to say that these methods can be exclusively followed for all supplier relationships, of course. Some of our members also look directly at incentivization techniques to establish themselves as customers of choice, with free PR, marketing, and certain contractual rewards all methods that we’ve come across.

 

But what we can glean from these examples is that, to truly establish itself as a customer of choice, a buying organization must do away with the hard-line, uncompromising reputation that is typically associated with procurement – and in its place build a reputation for cooperation and co-creation.

 

Samuel Wrest

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