Customer partnership is defined as the building of a relationship in all departments between the Supplier and the Customer—a relationship that is based upon “known details” benefiting both parties, now and for years to come.
From a Sales/Ordering perspective, the “known details” can range from payment terms to delivery lead time, to order quantity, to target price. The Supplier’s Sales organization partners with the Customer to determine the degree of flexibility when considering various design elements that will eventually translate into cost reductions and/or product improvements. In the true spirit of partnering, the Supplier’s Sales team guides the Customer so as to establish realistic expectations for product performance, price and delivery, thereby becoming the essential Voice of the Customer. Conversely, the Customer must provide direct, meaningful input so as to enable the Supplier to best meet Customer expectations.
From an Engineering perspective, the “known details” involve all of the technical issues that need to be fully defined and understood throughout the concept and development stages of every project. These “known details“ can be as basic as defining the level of corrosion protection that is required on a solenoid, to as complex as asking the Customer to provide a complete validation specification for a highly custom, very sophisticated solenoid designs and value added sub-assemblies (similar to what is required in for automotive or aerospace applications). These upfront technical discussions will enable a streamlined design process, ultimately shortening the time to market, as well as providing the highest performance and most cost effective product. In this regard, both the Supplier’s and the Customer’s Engineering Departments must truly become partners toward a common goal.
Supplier Quality Assurance can only become a strong partner with, and advocate for the Customer if the two entities start out by establishing a thorough understanding of the Customer’s requirements. Both parties must acknowledge that, throughout the life of the product, the product may be subjected to continuous improvements (requested either by the Customer or by the Supplier Engineering, Manufacturing, or a Sub-suppliers), the intent of which is to maintain the highest level of quality and performance.
The Manufacturing partnership between Supplier and Customer is also based upon “known details”, including component and manufacturing lead times, as well as purposefully defined delivery schedules (quantities and dates) and/or Kan Ban inventory stocking and replenishment levels. Partnering toward defining and controlling these “known details” will help to reduce lead times and improve delivery.
To achieve maximum performance, safety and overall mutual success, Suppliers and Customers should partner to define, understand and implement all of the “know details” described above, the combination of which will provide the best solution for both Customer and Supplier. These partnership inspired benefits will result in a product that has better performance, is more cost effective, meets application requirements and truly brings value to both parties.
For a quick checklist of vendor success tips on vendor management for a win-win partnership, please visit Vendor Management: Making It A Win-Win.
By Greg Ritchey, Project Engineer at Magnet-Schultz of America, Inc.