Perhaps you need large supplies once in a while. Or maybe you keep talking to suppliers and feel disappointed with what you get each time you switch to another supplier.
Here are a few broad pointers that may help you in thinking about how to brief your supplier.
- Who will be end user of the product?
In your case, it might be your factory workers who will further work on the raw material you provide them. Or the end user who will be using the product. What are the challenges such end users face? What can reduce the friction between them and the usage of the product? In which context will the end user be using the raw material or the product made out of that raw material?
For example, if you are in need of T-shirts for your team to wear at an upcoming event, you’d need to tell your supplier what sort of material you’d like to have for the T-shirts. Or you’d end up with unwearable hosiery in humid weather.
- What dimensions are required for the product to be supplied?
If it’s doors and windows, you’ll have to share specific measurements of height, width and thickness with your furniture expert. If it’s shelves, you’ll have to explain the area it will cover too. When it comes to well-defined products, the dimensions might be standard.
But when it comes to services that require customization, the dimensions will keep changing. Most suppliers have the bandwidth to deliver that if they delivery schedule is also simultaneously flexible. How do you want the supplies to be packaged? If you are a corporate house ordering for mementos, you would want to avoid the need to pack the mementos further.
- Which pace and place of delivery is suitable for you?
Some corporations can manage wider gaps between two deliveries because they can afford to pay in bulk for larger orders. You’ll need to arrive at an understanding regarding timelines with the supplier.
Cakes or pastries might look like simple things to collect all by yourself from the store for a party in your office but they are not easy to carry well on the road.
- What kind of prototype or model you’d like to stick to?
If the supplier has shown you a prototype or you have provided drawings for one, think about using it as a standard frame of reference. It’s easier to comply with specifications, if a drawing or prototype exists. Like a trophy you design once and for all.
- How will you determine the quality and ask the supplier to comply to the quality standards?
There are random tests that look for compliance to certain quality standards – some are industry-specific while the others can be developed by you. Steel rods for your construction projects already come to you after being certified for complying to certain industry standards.
These standards also come into the picture while briefing the supplier about your storage conditions, duration of storage before use or further processing, compatibility with your existing production system. Ice cream for your event will need different storage and distribution set up than snacks served at room temperature.
These broad guidelines emerge from the most common mishaps businesses land into while sourcing stuff from the suppliers. Tell us about your happy experiences or adventures stories of how you survived your supplier woes.