Evaluating Potential Suppliers: Ask the Right Questions

Manufacturers are accountable for assuring supplied materials, components, equipment and/or services meet regulated requirements and specifications.

While supplier selection standards and recommended procedures may exist within a manufacturing firm, they might not always be followed or appropriately documented. Consequently, the manufacturer may be found noncompliant and risk losing business.

To prevent these consequences, manufacturers must diligently qualify suppliers before selecting them.  Qualifying potential suppliers includes evaluating their willingness and ability to demonstrate that they have developed productive, mutually beneficial relationships; effective processes; and noteworthy results.

As you seek suppliers best suited to contribute to your business success, ask the following questions:

1.  Do they share your values regarding achievement, influence and quality?

– Is there an understanding and agreement on visions, missions and goals?

2.  Can they demonstrate desired skills and competence?

– Do they ship successful products in comparable markets?

3.  Do they have a strong network and build healthy relationships?

– Can they refer you to their “fans” (not just customers)?

4.  Do they have and embrace quality documents and procedures?

– Are their facilities clean, neat and organized?

5.  Is time used in an efficient and effective manner?

– How fast do they respond to your questions, concerns or opportunities?

6.  How do they measure performance?

– Do they share your quality, safety, cost, schedule and innovation metrics?

These questions will help you explore the Dimensions of Supplier Qualifying Success, the three areas –

Results, Processes and Relationships –

that naturally fall into balance when your supplier is the ideal choice.

In short, if you want to identify the ideal supplier, accept no less than the following:

  • Shared Values
  • Compatible, Accomplished Performance Metrics
  • Demonstrated, Efficient Skills and Competence
  • Established “Fans” and Network
  • Embraced Quality Standards and Documents
  • Track Record of Healthy Relationships, Fast Response

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