A very strong trend in the market today is that of supplier relationship management. Simply put, it delineates your broad-based list of suppliers in a pyramid-like format with the tactical, commodity-centric ones (you can get copper wiring from 50 different vendors tomorrow) all the way up to truly strategic, long-term suppliers instrumental to your success in the market (Motorola handsets for AT&T Mobility, for example).

PyramidThink of the different levels in this pyramid. Commodities are just that – commodity suppliers are all put through reverse auctions and will aim to drive a more attractive cost structure and leverage information technology to constantly scan the market for value chain disruption.

Conversely, you have foresight into strategic suppliers’ advanced research and development efforts because they are an extension of your own research and development efforts. Collaboration often drives unique products and services to a very differentiated and sustainable market position. Cost performance in Strategic Relationship Planning also points to unparalleled asset management efficiency and effectiveness through critical relationships. If I am Sara Lee, for example, and have an on-site account team at the Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, I am not only tightly integrated with Wal-Mart buyers, but can also optimize my asset utilization much more efficiently and effectively and exponentially increase my inventory turnover ratios.

Process Optimization

There is a reason that a number of franchise concepts succeed. They follow a systematic, disciplined process for success. How do you build repeatable, predictable processes to scale your business? The answer is through strategic relationships.

World-class project and process management is independent of any one person, entity, or potential constraint. It is, however, highly driven by collaboration in constantly looking at what is working, why, and how it can be continually optimized to get the best outcome. That collaboration comes from internal pockets and external constituents with a vested interest in the outcome of that process. It is critical here to identify key touch points, milestones, and required resources along that process continuum. Then, look for quality gates of governance and compliance to best practices for the most efficient flow.

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