Evaluating Suppliers: Part One

There are scores of ways to evaluate the performance of your suppliers – from detailed rating systems to casual debriefings with your internal team.

Based on our own clients’ feedback, we’ve compiled a set of the qualities that distinguish a competent supplier from an “A-Team” supplier — one that adds significant value to the project.

In this issue, we’ll illustrate how one of these characteristics: “the ability to challenge assumptions,” resulted in huge savings for our client. Look for examples of other A-Team characteristics in future Dimensions.

  • Ability to challenge assumptions.
  • The right people with the right set of skills.
  • Understand your process in detail.
  • Use sophisticated tools.
  • Invite input.
  • Expend extra effort where it counts.
  • Ability to think creatively.

Ability to challenge assumptions

“What if we rotate the building?”
It takes confidence and an open mind to suggest alternatives that might change the course of a project in progress.

Recently, a project team staff was deep into a design review for the expansion of a manufacturing facility. They were sizing up the preliminary layout showing the position of the production line, discussing the location of truck docks and rails. Our structural engineer suggested quite simply that they should rotate the building 180 degrees.

Two hours and one CAD operator later, the production line was repositioned within the plant which solved several problems and saved the client more than a half million dollars.

“This way we can tighten the schedule by five months.”
When a major beverage manufacturer was evaluating plans for a line upgrade, they came to SSOE for a second opinion. By challenging the original assumptions, SSOE was able to reconfigure the layout of three packaging lines, build an installation schedule that shaved five months off the project schedule and eliminate production downtime by coordinating installation with production needs.

In both scenarios SSOE’s team represented diverse engineering disciplines enabling the individuals to evaluate the problem from different perspectives. A-Team suppliers are creative problem solvers. If your suppliers seldom present an idea that adds value to the project – cast a wider net.