Supplier Checklist: Price, Quality, On-Time Performance and Passion

Having now spent most of my career analyzing and creating approaches to improve procurement practices, it's not too often that I come across a fundamental idea that I've not considered before. When I read this recent post from Purchasing Transformation I was taken aback by a wonderfully (new to me) simple notion: The importance of looking for passion in your supply base. According to the post, "in a world where cost and volume seem to be the rule of the day ... passionate businesses can surely find a niche market and exploit it to the fullest." The passionate business in the article is Bianchi, the venerable Italian bicycle company. As a former Category 3 cyclist, I was certainly charmed by this example. But there's something to it, even for those who couldn't care less about riding a bike. Consider your own supply base for a minute and think about how passionate suppliers often look beyond just the numbers, encouraging creativity and commitment not only in contracting and their overall relationship with you, but also their willingness to think outside of the box from a product design perspective. Passion might not always suggest a commitment to both innovation and the customer -- or at least a well-behaved customer -- but in my book, it's about as good an indication as any.

- Jason Busch

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