Four ways the supply chain can successfully engage with stakeholders and suppliers

Supply chains are the keepers of knowledge, and not just for products and services, but for relationships too.

To deliver appropriate services, sourcing teams must know their customers well and understand their business needs. This isn’t easy. When we consider organizations like hospitals, where the “customers” include multiple departments and stakeholders with a variety of competencies, being proactive with contracts on their behalf gets complicated. Further complicating matters, sometimes stakeholders perceive the supply chain as non-expert outsiders and because of this, sourcing teams can be met with tension. Supply chains must earn customers’ buy-in by proving that they’re a collaborative partner with their customers’ best interest in mind, and not a team solely focused on finding the cheapest deals. Transparent engagement is the simple solution to building credibility with stakeholders. Our sourcing experts have determined four ways that this can be accomplished.

1. Do your homework

Do your research to understand the working relationships between stakeholders and suppliers before pressing a case for changing suppliers.

Ask stakeholders questions: Go directly to the source to understand their preferences, relationships, and goals.

Have benchmarks ready. Be prepared to discuss the potential cost savings, Key Performance Indicators, and relationship history.

Determine if there are consolidation opportunities. Sync up your contracts, recurring and new, to determine ways to consolidate purchased service needs within the next contract.

References from peers can go a long way. Reference calls in which your stakeholders can discuss their concerns can be a tremendous asset in building the case for considering cheaper options.

2. Be thoughtful and strategic

Like any good collaboration, success occurs when both parties can put themselves in the others’ shoes. For the supply chain, this means understanding how specific suppliers and their offerings can add or subtract from their customers’ workload.

Remember the optics of contract changes. If contract changes potentially threaten stakeholders’ domains or responsibilities, sourcing experts must be prepared to make a case for their suggestion and help ease reluctance.

Convey ideas for qualitative and quantitative improvements. This allows supply chains to frame their sourcing recommendations as resources that can help stakeholders meet their goals

3. Create a governance process

The governance process requires both supply chain and stakeholder commitment to adhere to an agreed upon process that draws on the strengths and expertise of both parties.

Create a structure to collect business requirements. This ensures that a high-quality of services are rendered for stakeholders and enables the supply chain to garner maximum value from these supplier relationships.

Identify a governance committee and develop considerations. Considerations should be brought to a committee. Create a universal standard for evaluating suppliers to help facilitate the conversations that need to take place in order to justify an award.

Incorporate equitable and inclusive sourcing techniques. Implement supplier identification best practices that introduces local, green, and diverse-owned businesses to your pool for consideration.

4. Provide Guidance

Once credibility is obtained, supply chains can start building the trust needed to move contracts forward and develop productive working relationships with their customers, in much the same ways that the suppliers themselves work to develop relationships – by listening & demonstrating that they understand the customer’s needs and then fulfilling those needs. With Governance in place, now supply chains can provide strategic guidance on best practices for structuring contracts, which should include:

How to capture KPIs and supplier performance. This can be done by comparing performance against defined metrics & thresholds for a given timeframe.

Capture factors beyond initial cost reduction. Cost savings can only bring stakeholders to part of their goals, and the contracting process should also reflect the broader goals of the organization.

Conductiv has more than two decades of experience in helping supply chains optimize their purchased services contracts by strategically engaging with stakeholders and suppliers. Our organization provides the benchmarking data, predictive analytics and market insights that supply chain teams need to improve their transparency and create sustainable and scalable sourcing programs. If you’d like to speak with us more about our solutions, contact us at

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