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In order to maintain a competitive edge in the manufacturing industry, it is essential to have a good supplier collaboration strategy in place. This means working closely with your suppliers to ensure that all aspects of the production run smoothly and efficiently. 

By improving communication and cooperation between yourselves, you can minimize problems and maximize profits. In this guide, we will discuss the benefits of supplier collaboration and offer 8 tips on how you can improve it in your own business. And no, that does not include emails and spreadsheets.

What is supplier collaboration?

In simple terms, supplier collaboration is the process of working together with your suppliers to improve all aspects of production.

This includes communication, coordination, and cooperation in order to streamline the manufacturing process and deliver a high-quality product. In order to achieve this, it is essential to develop strong relationships with your suppliers and build a foundation of trust.

In the fast-paced world of modern manufacturing, supplier collaboration has become increasingly important, as it helps to reduce costs, improve quality, and speed up production times. At the same time, it has become more challenging.

Supplier collaboration for parts purchasing is harder than other forms of supplier collaboration. It requires way more communication and collaboration among many different teams (both technical and commercial) throughout the sourcing and quoting process. Hence, disconnection is more typical in this area.

The good news is that enhancing your supplier collaboration doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In fact, there are a number of simple steps you can take to improve your supplier relationships and create a more efficient and effective production process, and we’ll be giving your eight of the most effective ones later in this article!

What are the benefits of supplier collaboration?

There are many benefits associated with supplier collaboration, both for the buyer and the manufacturing supplier themselves.

Perhaps the most significant benefit is that it can lead to cost savings for the business. By collaborating closely with your suppliers, you can eliminate waste and optimize production processes.

In addition, supplier collaboration can also result in shorter lead times and improved product quality.

Some other prominent supplier collaboration benefits include:

Improved communication and coordination

When manufacturers and suppliers work together closely, it leads to better communication and coordination between the two parties. This improved communication can help to avoid misunderstandings and potential conflict situations.

Greater supply chain flexibility

By collaborating with your suppliers, you can increase the flexibility of your manufacturing operations. This increased flexibility can be extremely beneficial in today’s ever-changing marketplace, especially when demand for your products suddenly spikes or drops.

Improved supplier performance

Collaborating with your suppliers can help you to improve their overall performance. By working together, you can help them to identify areas where they need to make improvements and then work with them to implement the necessary changes.

Increased transparency

When you have a good relationship with your suppliers, they will be more likely to share important information with you that can help you to make better-informed decisions about your manufacturing operations. This also assists with taking a holistic view of your business and helps to identify potential problems early on.

Improve compliance

By collaborating with your suppliers, you can help to ensure that they are compliant with your company’s policies and procedures. This can help to avoid any potential problems that could arise from non-compliance.

Increased trust

When you collaborate with your suppliers, it helps to build trust between you and them. This is because you are working together towards a common goal, and they will be able to see that you are committed to the relationship. This can lead to improved supplier performance as they are more likely to feel valued and appreciated.

Faster innovation and product development

An iterative product design process that includes your supplier can help to speed up innovation and bring new products to market faster. This is because you are tapping into their expertise and they can offer valuable insights that you may not have considered.

Enhanced risk management

When you have a good relationship with your supplier, they are more likely to proactively alert you to any potential risks that could impact your business. This allows you to take steps to mitigate those risks before they become an issue.

Common Problems in Supplier Collaboration

Despite the many benefits of supplier collaboration, there are also some common problems that businesses face when trying to establish these relationships.

One of the most common problems is a lack of efficient communication and coordination between the different teams within a business.

Companies are stuck to using email threads. This can often lead to confusion and frustration on both sides, which can hinder the development of trust between the manufacturer and supplier.

Additionally, another common problem is a lack of transparency, which can make it difficult to identify areas where improvements need to be made.

When taking a collaborative and holistic approach to supply chain management, visibility is critical to the success of any initiative. Lack of transparency can also lead to problems with quality control and communication breakdowns, which can ultimately impact the bottom line.

The good news is that there are ways you can overcome the problems listed above and improve supplier collaboration.

8 Tips to Improve Supplier Collaboration in the Manufacturing Industry

Improving supplier collaboration can be a challenge, but there are a few key things that businesses can do to make the process easier. Here are eight tips:

1. Define what supplier collaboration means for your business

Every business is different, so it’s important to take the time to sit down and define what supplier collaboration looks like for you. This will help you develop a clear strategy and set of objectives.

2. Communicate regularly

Good communication is essential for any successful relationship – and supplier collaboration is no different. Make sure you touch base with your suppliers on a regular basis to discuss any issues, updates, or changes. Email threads are a thing of the past, instead, use a software platform to digitize supplier communication – like Jiga.

3. Set up regular meetings

In order to maintain good communication and keep everyone on track, it’s important to set up regular meetings with your suppliers. This will give you a chance to catch up on progress, discuss any problems, and make sure everyone is still aligned with your objectives.

4. Encourage feedback

Feedback is a valuable tool that can be used to improve supplier relationships. Encourage your suppliers to give you feedback on their experience working with you, and use this feedback to make improvements where necessary. This way, you can identify areas that need improvement and work together to find solutions.

5. Be open to new ideas

It’s important to remember that supplier collaboration is a two-way street – so be open to hearing new ideas from your suppliers. They may have suggestions that could help improve your process or product.

6. Reward good performance

One way to encourage good performance from your suppliers is to reward them when they do a good job. This could be in the form of financial incentives, public recognition, or simply showing your appreciation.

7. Involve your suppliers in the design process

When suppliers are involved in the design process, they can offer valuable insights and suggestions. This will help to ensure that your product is of the highest quality possible.

8. Monitor performance closely

As we mentioned in our article about measuring your supplier’s performance, using a set of KPIs(Key Performance Indicators) is a great way to keep track of your supplier’s progress. Combined with a supplier scorecard, these KPIs will help you to identify areas where your supplier needs to improve.

By following these tips, you can help improve supplier collaboration in your manufacturing business – and ultimately create a better product for your customers.

Forming closer bonds with your suppliers

Supplier collaboration is key to any manufacturing business, as it can help to improve the quality of your product and keep costs down. Enhancing your level of supplier collaboration can also lead to increased transparency and communication between you and your supplier base.

It’s also important to keep your suppliers up-to-date with changes within your company, such as new product launches or changes to your manufacturing process. This way, you can be sure that they are providing you with the best possible service.

While there are some hurdles to overcome when it comes to putting greater supplier collaboration in place, our eight simple tips for improved supplier collaboration in the manufacturing industry should give you an excellent starting point to move forward.

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