3 Tips for Successful Communication with Suppliers

Many times organizations begin using eSourcing tools with the mistaken assumption that the tool will automatically take care of all the work for them.  Communicating with suppliers throughout the eSourcing process is probably the most neglected, yet important, piece of an eSourcing project.

One of the biggest mistakes a project manager can make when running an eSourcing event is to publish the project and then wait for supplier responses. The project manager needs to engage suppliers and demonstrate how important their participation is to ensuring success. While the tool helps automate many parts of the process, the tips below outline a few communication strategies to keep in mind before, during, and after the event that will make a world of difference in the success of any eSourcing initiative.

Pre-Project Communication

Before publishing an eSourcing project, it’s a best practice to reach out to suppliers to inform them of the upcoming RFI/RFP/RFQ. Inform suppliers via email, or better yet a direct call, to let them know what the project is about, when it will be published, and confirm the primary supplier contact for the project. Now the suppliers are aware of what’s to come, you should reduce the amount of calls or emails from confused suppliers.

Communication during the Project

Once the project is published, monitor who logs on to participate and contact suppliers to ensure they received the invite. Ideally, the project includes a method for suppliers to submit their intent to participate, but if not, suppliers should be contacted again to confirm if they plan on participating. Without confirming and checking in on supplier statuses, you may find yourself with fewer participants than planned, which could negatively impact the negotiation process.

Keep suppliers informed of any changes made to the project through an online message board and direct emails. When changes are made to the project timeline, specifications, or terms and conditions, there’s no harm in over-communicating what has been modified!

Training suppliers on the RFI/RFP/RFQ process also shows the dedication of the project manager to ensure suppliers are successful. Suppliers will be grateful if you take 10 minutes of your time to walk them through the online eSourcing application. Training is especially critical when running live bidding events, especially if you want to avoid issues and make suppliers comfortable with the technology.

Post-Project Communication

As deadlines approach, email suppliers reminders about what needs to be completed and by when. Finally, once the RFI/RFP/RFQ is complete, keep suppliers updated on the evaluation process. Thank them for participating in the project, inform them when next steps may occur, and explain any action items.

Always remember that suppliers are taking their time to submit quality responses and proposals to be considered for your business, and you may be working with them in the future. Suppliers want to know that they are being seriously considered for the opportunity, and that you are managing the eSourcing process professionally. Providing suppliers with some extra attention can positively impact the success of your eSourcing project and better your relationship with those potential suppliers in years to come.

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