How to avoid the Abba effect with your print suppliers

Do you like Abba?

Personally, I can’t stand them! However, I know that many people disagree with me. My wife thinks that Abba are great.

I, of course, think that she is wrong! But that is just my subjective opinion. I have no way of proving this. Proving one’s opinions can be a big issue when measuring suppliers.

Buyers often the measure their suppliers too subjectively


Effective supplier performance monitoring depends on using the right measurement

Buyers who are subjective create less effective partnerships with their suppliers. This is because the relationship will rely much more on personalities. That means it can be much harder to stay in control of a job. The buyer is less likely to achieve what they need.

Buyers who measure suppliers objectively are more likely to achieve their goals. They will stay in control of their jobs because they have suppliers that have had their performance carefully measured. This creates strong supplier partnerships.

Here are three ways to measure your supplier objectively to create that strong supplier partnership.

Avoid using opinion

Never ask anyone to express their own view of a supplier. It is easy to get someone’s views without meaning to. For instance, a score on a supplier’s quality has to be subjective unless there is some way of measuring the quality scientifically. Otherwise you are just relying on someone’s opinion.

Opinions can be based on many things. Some of these may not actually have any real effect on what you are trying to measure. For instance, whether someone likes the personnel at a print factory can have a huge effect on their scoring.

So that’s why it is important to use the next strategy.

Focus on measurables

A much better way to score a supplier is to concentrate on things that cannot be disagreed on. For instance, the number of on time deliveries by a supplier can be accurately measured. This figure cannot be is disputed unless the measurement is incorrect.

It is surprising how many aspects of a supplier’s service can actually be measured in this way. There is no need to measure anything on subjective views.

However, even with accurate scoring, some people seek to favour certain suppliers. If this is the case at your company, the following strategy will also be useful.

Use blind scoring

If you are evaluating a new supplier, it is always useful to use an evaluation form. However, it can be difficult to score these forms objectively. One way round this is to use blind scoring.

This involves taking the supplier’s name of the evaluation form. It means that people will not know which supplier they are scoring. You may also need to take off any other leading information. Examples of this include addresses or any particular machinery that is specific to that supplier.

Of course, not everyone is convinced about objective scoring.

Isn’t it all about relationships?

It is important to have good working relationships with the people at your suppliers. However, you need to make sure that they perform correctly as well. So, whether you are evaluating a new supplier or checking on the performance of a current supplier, you need to make sure that you score them.

However, to do this you need to apply these principles.

Here are three action points

  1. Write out a list immeasurable on which you wish to score your suppliers
  2. Create targets for your suppliers
  3. Make sure that these are clearly explained to your suppliers

You will find that you have far fewer disagreements

You will have fewer disagreements about supplier performance internally.  And you will have fewer disagreements with your suppliers about whether they are performing to the correct standards.

Of course, I’d love to stop disagreeing with my wife about the musical merits of Abba!  So if anyone has any ideas about measuring music objectively, please let me know…
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