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Building Teams and Supplier Relationships: Twelve Tips from Quality Experts


Enhancing Key Supplier Relationships

  • Put in the time upfront. Understand the business needs and the supplier process thoroughly before tacking the Supplier Agreement.
  • Get personal. Establish relationships between key players on both the supplier and manufacturer sides. Include face-to-face meetings whenever possible so team members develop personal relationships, which leads to trust.
  • Demonstrate trust by giving the supplier the primary part of your business. This does not eliminate the need to have alternative suppliers. 
  • Do not price shop around without telling suppliers first. Word gets out and this destroys trust.
  • Create a Supplier Audit Package. Let your suppliers know upfront what to expect.
  • Conduct an in-person business review at least once per year. This should include a review of defects and other quality measure data, and a review of the supplier QMS. Don’t forget to ask about changes in personnel and business challenges

Building Cross-Functional Teams 

Gone are the days when the quality team was isolated in its own building. Experts agree that working together ensures better company performance.?

  • Cross-functional leadership begins with the top. The functional leaders must work together and set the example for their teams. You have to walk the talk.?
  • Consider co-location of cross-functional team members whenever possible.?
  • Invest in collaboration tools like SharePoint and Rational Pro.?
  • Consider enrichment programs like cross-functional assignments for high-potential employees.?
  • Invest in training led by subject matter experts.?Reward and promote cross-functional behaviors. Recognize employees who want to fix problems instead of running at the first sign of quality trouble. Reward employees who volunteer for cross-functional projects.?
  • Invest in 360 degree feedback programs ? 

Return to the Roundtable Discussion: Risk Manage Your Supplier Quality

Learn more about implementing supplier quality management at MDM East, June 17-20, 2013 in Philadelphia.  


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