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The way it's always been

First off, why are you with your current suppliers

  • They're simply the ones you always use
  • They give great incentives, gifts or freebies
  • They have regular price promotions
  • Their reps are particularly persuasive
  • They came out on top when you researched the market

If it isn't the last one, you could be doing both yourself and your company a favour by looking a little deeper.

By the numbers

The problem with evaluating a supplier relationship is that it is just that - a relationship. As such, a whole host of subjective feelings and emotions can get in the way. For a more objective view, try our really useful evaluation checklist template. We've matched it with a supplier record, so you can document the supplier's performance and keep the two sheets as one file.

» Get your supplier evaluation template «

How to score

Using your evaluation checklist is simple yet effective.

  • Use the second sheet first, using it to rate your suppliers quality, service and overall value. You'll see these overall sections are broken into subsections, each of which has a score out of ten.
  • Circle the appropriate score for each subsection, then add up all the scores in that overall section. Next, divide the total score by the number of subsections (it'll be 2 or 3). This will give you the average score for that overall section.
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Now look at the first sheet – the supplier record.

  • You'll see there is a section below the address details in which to record the scores. Write them in the labelled areas.
  • There is also a section for performance. Think back to the last time you had problem with this supplier. Make a note, and then list the solution that the supplier (or you) came up with solve it.
Get some points for yourself

Fill out a sheet for each supplier you use, then use these notes in addition to the scores to evaluate the supplier against alternative vendors. If you save yourself even one hassle by choosing a better vendor, the effort will have been worth it. And if you find that you're already with the best supplier, show your manager and score yourself some points!

Yes, it's important to find a supplier that you can trust. But for most products and services, being at the mercy of a single supplier isn't a smart move. Consider having at least one back-up option for as many suppliers as possible. Recommendations are a great way to find reliable suppliers - try asking your colleagues. If you don't have anyone to ask, we recommend DeskDemon's forum boards. They're a fantastic way to get advice on a range of topics and sticky situations.

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