68% of supply chain professionals claim that supplier engagement and supply chain communication are the most challenging parts of compliance.

Supply chain compliance is changing. Programs are no longer hosted on spreadsheets. In 2019, companies are choosing to adopt technology that gives them key insights into their company and products’ compliance measurements. 

We do see, however, certain best practices that have stood the test of time. Many of these are non-technical and fall into the preparation stage of a program.

Companies often overlook the importance of supply chain program preparation. While it may seem insignificant, program preparation has a high correlation with overall program success. With that in mind, let’s discuss two of the most important elements of supply chain program preparation: supplier data provisioning and pre-launch supplier communication.

1. Supplier Data Provisioning

If you were to ask around the Source Intelligence headquarters, what is the most important part of a compliance program, you’d probably hear the term “supplier data provisioning” as part of their answer.

Many team members here at SI consider data provisioning to be the backbone of a successful supply chain program. Without clean supplier data, it is extremely challenging to get strong program results. So what exactly do we mean by “clean data”?

Each supplier within your data set should have some standard pieces of data associated with their company:

Standard Information

  • Company name
  • Website domain
  • Company phone number
  • The main point of contact (POC)
  • POC email address
  • POC phone number
  • Product details
    • CAS number or other product ID
    • Invoice or PO Number

Data Provisioning Tip:

You’ll notice that there are a few fields that include point of contact’s (POC) information. Engaging with your supplier on a person-to-person level leads to much higher response rates and request completion rates. 

When you’re provisioning your data, try to identify the “info@” “support@” “sales@”, and see if there is a person at that supplier company that you can engage with instead.

1. Pre-launch Supplier Communication

Do you regularly discuss your upcoming supply chain initiatives with your suppliers?

If you’re not frequently communicating with your suppliers, you can quickly take a back seat in their day-to-day priorities. Lines of communication are so varied in today’s business environment, that infrequent communication can lead to an unresponsive supplier.

Unresponsive suppliers cause problems, especially when starting a new compliance program (this is particularly true when working with a third-party compliance partner on a specific initiative). A request for sensitive information that comes “out of the blue,” can easily be overlooked, and suppliers will wait until the third or fourth request to take action. Therefore, it is important to be vocal with your suppliers about your upcoming program.

Transparency is key to any program’s success. Telling your suppliers exactly what they need to provide you will help your supply chain program in five ways:

  1. Decrease supplier follow-up questions
  2. Decrease data variety
  3. Increase response rates
  4. Increase data accuracy
  5. Increase timely response

In our latest eBook, “A Professional’s Guide to Supply Chain Compliance,” our supplier engagement included a pre-launch supplier outreach checklist which boils down the information you will need to give your suppliers for a successful program. Click below to download the eBook.

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