009 - How To Select The Very Best Suppliers

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By Torben Anderson, Torben Anderson: Tech strategy, and CTO. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Every business needs great suppliers in order to be able to scale up successfully. Regardless of your current business position, your team’s ability to select the very best suppliers to build your technology function is absolutely vital.

The success of a business is determined by the quality of the suppliers it relies on. Trusted and reliable suppliers can bring a wealth of great value and support. It’s an area that is never more important than when you first start to build your technology function and get that initial idea into the market.

However, it also applies to established businesses who are looking to build new products.

I believe there are 12 areas to consider when trying to choose the very best supplier for your business.

Let’s take a look:

  1. Know what you want

The key to working with great suppliers is for them to be able to fully understand your vision. It’s then being able to implement that fully to produce a successful end outcome. The way to ensure this happens is to be really clear about your exact requirements from the outset.

It’s extremely important that from the very start you write everything down and create visuals where appropriate. This ensures that what you’re wanting to achieve is explicitly communicated to your supplier, before a contract is drawn up.

Once you’re happy that the supplier fully understands the brief and you’re happy with their ways of working, draw up the key objectives and milestones in the contract. This keeps everything transparent.

By doing this, your idea and vision won’t get lost in the initial enthusiasm and eagerness to get the project moving forward.

Great suppliers will embrace this way of working and respect your professionalism and understanding of how to achieve excellence from the start.

  1. Be aware of the intentions behind suppliers offering lots of free work

Some suppliers offer free work as part of a package to entice you on board. This can sometimes work really well, for example, if they’re giving you a taster in the spirit of the proposal before you financially commit. But if it feels like it’s more than an initial taster, it’s critically important that you ask yourself exactly why they’re offering to work for free.

Is it because they need to pick up more work? If this is the case, you need to think about why they aren’t busier. Busy, successful, established companies won’t need to offer this, so question a supplier if they offer a lot of work for free.

It may be that they’re new and trying to increase their customer base but it’s always worth investigating the company further by doing a credit check and an online search for reviews.

  1. Get referrals

Investing in a supplier is often a large financial commitment so don’t jump in before you’ve really researched their background.

It’s important that you get honest feedback to be able to make those key decisions. An easy way to do this is to contact other people who have used them before. By directly approaching customers, you’re able to quickly validate the credentials of the supplier in question.

If the supplier has a glowing report from previous customers, they’re more likely to do a great job for you.

  1. Build redundancy into your suppliers

People often think that the fewer suppliers you use, the smoother the process will be, but this isn’t always the case.

Consider using multiple suppliers across different delivery platforms to ensure that if something goes wrong in one area, it won’t affect the entire project.

If one supplier fails, you already have another supplier lined up to potentially step in and deliver the project.

By building redundancy into your suppliers, you’re not only protecting the project delivery, but also minimising the financial risk.

  1. Document the way you want to work

Clarity is key!

In order to get the best suppliers, you need to understand them as much as they understand you. Be crystal clear from the outset about organisation and logistics because if these aren’t set in stone early, there will be problems further down the line.

Consider:

  • What hours do you want to work?
  • How often do you want status updates?
  • When do you want to meet?
  • If they’re based in a different country, can they accommodate meetings at times to suit your time zone?

In order for projects to remain successfully on track, I believe you should have a call with your suppliers at least twice a week and be fully engaged in active conversation for regular daily updates.

Constant communication is the key to successful end outcomes.

  1. Ask what they need from you

This may seem like an odd question at first, but it’s really important that you ask suppliers exactly what they are expecting from you. This gives you the chance to see that they understand you and your needs for the project.

The truth is, suppliers need access to your team’s knowledge and expertise in order to successfully deliver a project.

Suppliers can’t work in black holes. By this I mean that suppliers must fully appreciate the people and resources that you’ll need to provide to them to carry out the project, and equally you need to know what they need in order for you to plan and budget accordingly.

If there’s a mature and considered response when you raise the question of what you should have in place in order for them to proceed, it will show you that they’re confident in working in the way you need them to. It also helps to validate whether this supplier could be a great culture fit for the project you want to deliver.

TO FIND OUT MORE:

For the next 6 areas to consider when choosing the very best supplier for you and your business click here.

23 episodes