Google “supplier relationship management” and your search will bring back all kinds of articles, seminar offerings and even software specifically designed to automate workflows. In the world of the internet, supplier relations is a business-to-business function requiring an academic, systematic and segmented approach.

But, when you think about it, supplier relations are actually human relations.

And that’s how we treat our supplier relationships here at CHAMPS Group Purchasing. As we recruit new suppliers, conduct negotiations, manage contracts over their lifecycles, solve problems and even say goodbye, we deal with people, not corporate entities. All of us on the contracting team recognize that we are the face of the organization to the supplier community.

Each time we interact with a supplier, we are conducting supplier relations. For better or for worse, we are remembered in the future for the way we conduct business today. Good supplier relations build bridges that extend beyond the current relationship. As representatives move from company to company, their memories of past dealings can bring business or drive it away.

I feel, while there will always be boundaries, under the right circumstances, suppliers can even be seen as our customers.

Treating everyone with professionalism and respect, no matter what the circumstance, is the hallmark of good supplier relations. Partnerships are built on our ability to see that we have mutual goals. And, collaborative, human relationships can produce as many positive long-term results as any computer program.

What do you see as the key to maintaining positive supplier relationships?

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