State of Flux 2012 SRM report, part 4 – the Supplier View

- January 23, 2013 5:06 AM
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So in part 1 of our series we looked at some of the overall findings in the State of Flux 2012 Supplier Relationship Management report, in part 2 we looked at the factors that help define leadership in this field, and in part 3 we looked at some of the gaps still observed by State of Flux.

Today, we’ll finish off our series with a look at some findings from the supply side, this being the first year the survey has specifically looked at their perspective. Some 125 firms responded on the supply side, and whilst that may be slanted somewhat towards UK based businesses, it is still a pretty impressive sample.

What is genuinely surprising is how close the supply side perception is to the buy-side. I would have expected more cynicism  from suppliers – in other words, buyers generally feeling that SRM programmes were working better than the suppliers perceived the situation. But that is not the case.

For instance, 86% of buy-side felt that they had made significant or moderate progress in the last year; 81% of suppliers felt the same about their customers. Perceptions of the benefits of SRM to suppliers are also remarkably similar across buy and sell side – the one difference being that the ability to achieve higher margins is ranked more highly by the sell side. So some buyers clearly don’t realise that this is an outcome of SRM for their suppliers, which is an interesting point and one worth some further thought.

Another pretty good match was seen in response to the question about “barriers to greater collaboration”. However, there was a bit of a gap in that 60% of buy side saw “lack of staff with the required skills” as a barrier, compared to only 40% in the sell side. Perhaps they were being kind to their customers, or perhaps procurement people are just quite self-critical! (That’s a good trait, by the way).

Now, just as you get some self-selection on the buy side, (organisations who have at least an interest in SRM are by definition the ones who will respond), the same probably applies with suppliers. But even given that, it is interesting to see just how close the perceptions are. That’s promising actually, as it suggests that even though there is more to do in the whole SRM field, the two sides of the table at least perceive similarly the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that currently exist . Alignment is a good sign.

So, summing up the whole report – it’s a very impressive piece of work and recommended to everyone interested in SRM. The overall message is one of slow progress, although with some significant barriers still existing, notably in the areas of skills and tools. The “leaders” appear to be moving further ahead of the “followers”, through better governance, skills, and a greater commitment to collaboration and benefits sharing.  Where SRM isn’t making progress, a lack of resources or more immediate priorities are the likely reasons.

But don’t take my word for it – you can request a download of the report here.

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