Five areas of supply chain risk
Weather, politics, economics, compliance and reputation are five key areas
What does the perfect supplier look like in the eyes of a buyer?
The UK’s rail, utilities and construction industries have gone from strength-to-strength in recent years, with the kick-off of major projects such as HS2 and the world’s biggest offshore wind farm all creating opportunities for suppliers.
It could be argued that the perfect supplier is simply one that can supply whatever it is that the buyer needs, but there is a lot more to it than that.
Here, we look at the top five qualities we think buyers want from the perfect supplier.
Ultimately, buyers need to know that suppliers aren’t going to add extra risk to their organisations’ risk profiles. The main way to ensure this is by making sure the supplier is operating in a compliant manner. At Achilles, each of our communities works towards the relevant industry standards, but they all tend to centre around the same areas, such as making sure suppliers are complying with the Modern Slavery Act, have a good health and safety record and a clear stance on corporate social responsibility.
In fact, research commissioned by Achilles led to the discovery that the biggest concern for buyers when dealing with SME suppliers is ensuring that they follow the latest procurement standards and regulations.
Buyers tend to be particularly wary of smaller contractors’ ability to comply with up-to-date legislation, so it’s vital for suppliers to demonstrate that they are on top of this.
Secondly, in the eyes of the buyer, a perfect supplier should always ensure its records are up-to-date.
Whether this is with regard to insurance certificates, financial performance, health and safety, environmental policy or training courses that have been completed, businesses need to make sure all information is relevant and regularly updated.
Not only does this make it easier for the supplier to keep on top of their policies and paperwork, but it also helps the buyer to make better-informed decisions.
Achilles gathers information on various areas relevant to the industry during the pre-qualification questionnaire stage, that is a prerequisite of joining our communities, and requires suppliers to undergo regular updates, at a minimum annually, for a further guarantee that this data is all up-to-date, something which buyers are extremely keen on.
For those suppliers who have undergone an Achilles Audit, a score – depending on a community this can be pass/fail or numerical – will be given that indicates how well they have done, which is made visible to buyers together with the audit report.
Demonstrating to buyers that your organisation is committed to continual improvement by learning from the audit results and achieve better audit scores year-on-year, shows buyers that your organisation is continually meeting the ever increasing buyer standards. You may not be always perfect but ensuring that you have action plans in place where required will go a long way.
Innovation is a key supply chain trend at present, and buyers want to see signs of this from the suppliers they work with because it could be what gives your customer an advantage.
The Achilles pre-qualification questionnaire includes a dedicated ‘supplier profile’ section where businesses can showcase their credentials, giving them the chance to show off about their achievements and anything unusual they may have worked on, either internally or with an external organisation.
Buyers want their suppliers to be ahead of the game, always looking to better themselves, while remaining compliant. Therefore, it’s important for contractors to bear in mind that buyers will be looking for signs of innovation, but they’ll also be searching for compliant suppliers, so these two factors need to go hand-in-hand.
Last but not least, the perfect supplier should have a proactive attitude.
Joining an Achilles community demonstrates to buyers that suppliers are serious about meeting buyer and industry requirements.
However, just joining isn’t enough. Remember to engage with your customers outside of the Achilles platform and, your own marketing team or the person responsible for marketing to promote your organisation’s achievement. This can be done on their company website, social media, exhibitions, and email signatures – get as creative as you like.