Book Review: “Relationship Management – Unlocking the Hidden Value in Your Supply Base”

It’s almost four years since we reviewed Jonathan O’Brien’s book “Supplier Relationship Management – Unlocking the hidden value in your supply base”. This impressive work, covering every aspect of SRM (as we will call it from now), added to his Category Management and Negotiation previous volumes. All three are very good and cover core procurement areas of interest, making this a trilogy of important books for the profession.

As we said then, the author, an experienced procurement writer, trainer and practitioner, and a founder of the Positive Purchasing training and advisory firm, “deserved credit for a very complete and exhaustive book, covering pretty much everything and anything you could think of in the field of SRM. And (unlike his Negotiation book), I found nothing that I fundamentally disagreed with from a professional point of view. This deserves to become THE standard book on this topic - for the moment at least, and probably for many years to come”.

Well, it has obviously sold pretty well as there is now a second edition on the market. The new version  has made some additions and improvements from the first including an updated approach to segmentation, some simplification in a few areas to make them more understandable and identification of the ‘7 facets of SRM’.

Those “recognise the different organisational components that need to align and work together to make SRM work as an organisation wide philosophy”. The seven are strategy, requirements, governance, segmentation, prioritisation, importance  and intervention – according to O’Brien they are the “interrelated strategic components that enable, inform, direct and support each other and that surround, shape and determine the central facet, which is the specific intervention and what exactly we will do with our chosen suppliers or supply chains to unlock value”.

As in the first edition, it is both a book that will be used in academic and educational settings, yet is also full of practical and proven tools, ideas and advice. Those will prove useful for procurement and indeed other operational managers whose jobs include working with strategic suppliers in pretty much any significant way.  At £40 or so it is not cheap, but it’s good value for what it contains and is highly recommended.

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