The appraisal element of a supplier evaluation programme is a means to open up and improve dialogue with key suppliers rather than the overall objective, a senior buyer has said.

Speaking at the Procurecon 2012 conference in Brussels yesterday, Willy De Beucker, head of procurement – non metals at Metallo, told the audience he had learnt the value of such programmes is the communication channels they open up. He said rather than developing an in-depth ranking of the performance of suppliers, the major benefit of such schemes is opening two-way communication.

“Supplier evaluation in my view is not about evaluation. Yes, you do evaluate the performance of your suppliers, but the outcome is to talk to your supplier in a structured way. The ultimate objective of supplier evaluation is two-way communication,” said De Beucker.

Drawing on his experience of heading up large evaluation programmes, he advocated a three-stage process in order to achieve good outcomes. Stage one involves thinking about the right amount of resources and time to commit, so the scale of the evaluation programme and how many suppliers should be evaluated can be judged correctly. The second step is the evaluation aspect that should factor in both supplier’s perspectives and those of stakeholders. The final stage is using the results, and De Beucker highlighted the importance of communicating the results right across the business so that any potential impacts can be brought to the fore.

On the appraisal element, De Beucker highlighted the value of getting personal views from stakeholders rather than just relying on data, he said: “Ask for perception, because perception is reality. If only one order was late but it was critical to your operation, then it is more important [than many late orders of non-critical items]”.

He also advised against having buyers themselves carry out the evaluation interviews with suppliers. Instead representatives from the functional teams should lead them in the company of a buyer. “They need to look your supplier in the eye and tell them what they think,” he said.

Adam Leach, Supply Management

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