The Supplier Management World According to Mr. Declan Kearney

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to catch up with an old friend in the sector, Declan Kearney. Declan has a fascinating background in that he’s turned around a very successful sales career (earlier in life) to one focused on the other side of the buyer/seller relationship: supplier relationship management. Declan had his own tech firm that was sold and has consulted in recent quarters with companies on building supplier management programs.

Writing in the blog Procurement Leaders in December, Declan shared his vision for the future of this emerging focus (and role) inside companies, whether it exists in procurement or some other part of the organization. Declan’s idealized strategy for supplier management starts with a “dedicated team sponsored by senior executives from across the functions most impacted by supplier activity (e.g. operations, IT, supply chain, procurement, QA/sustainability, finance, sales & marketing) … [that is tasked with supplier management activity that embraces] … the opportunities and addresses the threats presented by the multiple interactions across the supply base.”

In this supplier management world, “suppliers are effectively segmented based on qualified, consensus-based criteria – reviewed and updated frequently to facilitate supply base change. Specific supplier management strategies are defined for each segment – potentially varying by category, by geography and by business unit reflecting varying market conditions.”

If this sounds like category management but with a focus on supplier engagement and development rather than sourcing alone, you’d have it right (at least by my read). But supplier management doesn’t just stand alone in this world. Rather, it’s integrated with other procurement tools while also using its own specialized systems including “supplier information management (a central enabler supported by supplier self-administration), spend analysis, sourcing and contract management, risk & compliance, relationship & performance management, P2P/ transactional, e-invoicing and supply chain finance, logistics, trading networks, social media and enterprise collaboration and the emerging area of supply management data analytics.”

In other words, this vision is about supplier management at the core of all types of supplier engagement – not as a procurement or risk management afterthought.

I’ll revisit some additional observations from Declan in a follow-up post.

In the meantime, if you’re curious about the topic of supplier management, I would encourage you to check out our research on the topic (reach out to us for a one-time trial if you’re not already a Spend Matters PRO subscriber). Here are some of the research brief titles we’ve published in recent quarters:









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