Four Strategies for Virtual Procurement

Has the pandemic forced you to shift to working with your suppliers virtually?

APICS Milwaukee Chapter serves the supply chain community with education and information needed to compete in today’s world. We share below strategies to work with your suppliers in the virtual world.

Although many supply chain managers historically conducted some of their business in a remote fashion, the pandemic has significantly increased the need for strategies to be effective in 100% virtual environments. Recently, SupplyChainDive shared four such strategies summarized below for leveraging virtual tools within the procurement process.

  1. Video calls: Pretty much everyone has become increasingly comfortable chatting on camera in a variety of locations and faux backgrounds, even with pets and kids entering the field of view. These days, a standard telephone call might even be considered impersonal. With two clicks, we are now face to face, and that makes for a more personal relationship. It is also easy to add others to the call, such as planners, expeditors and customer service reps.

  2. Virtual plant tours: These days, you can virtually tour almost any manufacturing facility or distribution center via video to feel more confident in buying from a supplier you can’t visit in person. You can often tailor the tour to include areas important to you and your team. Virtual supplier visits, if done properly, save time and money for the buyer and supplier.

  3. Digital problem solving: "Can you send me a picture?" The cameras in our pockets potentially offer the greatest opportunity to solve problems and communicate with suppliers in a real time environment. While the increased use of digital imagery predated the pandemic, its use has expanded. A video call between engineers and operations, with a defective part as the guest of honor, will collapse time and distance, save money, and create immediacy in improving product quality.

  4. Not-so virtual negotiations: A well-organized buyer, with clear requirements, responsive suppliers and access to a standard suite of digital tools can negotiate effectively, efficiently, and virtually. Many already do. Few negotiations with suppliers are done face to face. Ordinary requests for quotation can still be forwarded by the traditional methods of telephone, email, spreadsheet or through online platforms. The use of virtual tools creates deeper relationships that improve the negotiation process.

Although we do expect there to be days ahead when buyers and suppliers can meet in person, the shift to virtual tools will likely remain a significant factor in many relationships beyond the pandemic. Embracing strategies such as the ones above will help you remain competitive in today’s ever changing world.  

Looking for more information on improving your supply chain management efforts? APICS Milwaukee has just launched new expert-led instructor classes for globally recognized supply chain certifications including: Certification Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Certified Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) and Demand Driven Planner Certification. Learn more…