I have recently been asked to take charge of my company's CW program. Do I really have to perform monthly vendor reviews?
--Skeptical in Seattle
There are those who believe that there is more to a CW program than evaluating suppliers. I think, however, that conducting regular supplier evaluations is critical to program success. You don't necessarily have to assess your suppliers monthly, but you should conduct reviews and have a process in place. Reviews will help ensure you have an effective working relationship with your supplier.
Many organizations conduct their supplier reviews annually. Starting off, though, you might want to schedule performance appraisals on a quarterly basis. (I am assuming your predecessor already had a process in place.)
Regular evaluations provide a forum for suppliers to discuss any concerns they might have, including ongoing performance, or address small issues before they become big ones. Further, companies use these reviews to share with their suppliers the company's ongoing strategy, individual vendor scorecards and trends you have seen over the past months. You can take this opportunity to announce changes in metrics, answer suppliers' questions and request their input. The meetings can be designed to create a more collaborative working relationship built on strong communications. Conducted right, they are way to obtain supplier support.
It's not just about evaluating suppliers. Reviews can work both ways. These meetings allow you to get an idea of how suppliers rate the company's CW program, where it stands in relation to other firms. Given the right collegial environment, suppliers can bring best practices from other programs to you.
Some companies ask that their business unit managers -- those who use a large number of temporary workers -- be present at these meetings. This is way to align both the suppliers and the employees with the company's vision and goals. Deeper alignment can create a more efficient focusing of resources on a company's goals, but it's not without its challenges.
At the end of the day, most staffing firms welcome reviews, because they help provide information the firms need to perform better and provide better service. And if it helps you meet your program's goals, I would embrace reviews.