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Supplier Integration The Ultimate Guide of 2023

Supplier integration enables a robust supply chain process. However, not many people know how to collaborate with their suppliers. 

For this article, we will discuss what supplier integration is. We will tell you the essential elements to have effective supplier integration. Further, we will uncover to you key strategies for better supplier integration. 

Once you are finished reading this article, you will have a deeper knowledge of supplier integration, enabling you to implement it in your profession effectively. So without further ado, let us now delve into supplier integration. 

Supplier Integration: What is it?

When we hear integration, we know that it is about connecting two or more processes in an effective way. Therefore, supplier integration is the degree to which firms collaborate with their suppliers. 

This collaboration includes idea generation, new product development, product concept development, large-scale production, and market testing. 

Supplier integration enables the company and suppliers to better understand their obligation to each other while building a strong relationship. 

Many procurement professionals can work long and hard to implement processes internally for an effective supply chain process. However, if it is not communicated well with your suppliers, the process will slow down resulting in poor outcomes. 

Thus, having a robust supplier integration provides a competitive advantage, especially for companies that use hundreds of suppliers to produce 30% or more of their products. 

Essential Elements of an Effective Supplier Integration

Through a blend of education and awareness, implementing supplier integration in your supply chain streamlines the processes in your overall production. Therefore, you must ensure that you cover these aspects to keep all the parties in your production engaged:

1. Tell your suppliers early

Not everyone likes surprises, especially those who stick with their schedule. The earlier you can let your suppliers know that there will be changes coming in the processes the more time you can hear their sentiments and make adjustments if necessary.

This will allow you and your suppliers to address any challenges that may arise due to the changes that will be made. 

Furthermore, you should ensure that you have a clear and realistic timeline for onboarding new suppliers. 

2. Ask for feedback

You can trust the integration plan that you have formulated for your supply chain. However, you must know that success is not built overnight. You must know that after you see the outcome, there will be revisions to make it better. 

Asking suppliers for their input at every stage of the process helps improve your integration plan and increase supplier buy-in. 

3. Simplify your process

There will always be the temptation to use the latest technology to keep track of intricate processes. This may be beneficial but it is the simplest solution that proves to be efficient. 

You should focus on what is efficient and easy to use before you adopt new systems. This enables you to invest the money for other things and minimize supplier frustration due to frequent changes in the system.

4. Set and stick with your expectations

It is crucial for you to hear the sentiments or feedback of suppliers. However, it should never dictate all the choices that you will make. 

The final decision of the systems you will adopt should first and foremost serve your business, only adjusting to supplier requirements when it has no negative impact on your business. 

5. Avoid doing difficult things all at once

If you have many suppliers, do not try to bring them all over to a new way of working at the same time. Unless you have the resources to ensure control for each supplier, prioritize them into different categories and bring each group aboard in batches. 

6. Set regular reviews

There is always a temptation to move on to the next job after you are done with the first project. However, that cannot be the case with supplier integration as understanding and compliance is the center of success. 

Setting up monthly reviews, allowing for more feedback, adjusting your plan, and making additional training resources is crucial for the next project to be successful. 


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Key Strategies to Have a Better Supplier Integration

1. Evaluate your suppliers

Choosing the right suppliers is just half of the battle. Supplier evaluation lets you know who will integrate best with your processes and culture while helping avoid problems that you may encounter. 

In evaluating your supplier, you should consider their responsiveness in your calls and line of specialization to know if they can meet your needs. 

2. Open communication

Open communication is necessary to foster strong supplier relationships, especially when it comes to setting clear expectations, maintaining production schedules, and solving issues regarding production. 

Many companies use management tools to foster better communication with their suppliers. Thus, it increases visibility on both sides and helps you track items immediately. 

3. Integrate suppliers into your compliance system

Extending your compliance system to your suppliers enables you to tighten your supply chain. This allows your suppliers to track assigned corrective actions, check the areas they need to improve, and conduct inspections before shipping products to you. 

4. Track supplier compliance

Tracking your suppliers enables you to benchmark them and see which of them performs well and who needs to improve. Additionally, it ensures that suppliers comply with the requirements necessary for the operation of the business. 

Things to Avoid in Supplier Integration

Supplier relationship and management is significant to streamline your procurement and supply chain process. However, it can create real problems in your process if you get wrong. Here are some things you need to avoid in supplier integration:

  • Failing to assess your new suppliers
  • Underestimating risks that can be brought by suppliers
  • Neglecting the significance of creating strategic relationships with your suppliers
  • Working with too few or too many suppliers 
  • Downplaying the significance of KPIs and metrics to monitor your supplier’s performance. 

Although it may seem burdensome to spend effort and money in building relationships with suppliers, doing so will strengthen your supply chain and save you from risks that you may encounter in your processes which can be more costly in terms of management effort, finance, and business reputation. 

Frequentlyasked questions

+ What is supplier integration?

It is the process of collaboration between firms and suppliers.

+ Why is it important?

It is important as supplier integration provides a competitive advantage, especially for companies that use hundreds of suppliers to produce 30% or more of their products. Additionally, working with qualified suppliers will make your processes more efficient and effective.

+ How to assess your suppliers?

You can assess your suppliers through the use of metrics and KPIs that will help you determine if they can provide the things that you need.

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