Supplier Development Should be Job 1 for Supply Chain Leaders

“Quality is Job One” from Ford Motor Company was one of the more famous slogans many consumers knew because of the company’s extensive advertising campaign. The advertising campaign reflects Ford’s earnest effort to improve product quality and communicate its seriousness about quality to consumers.

For Supply Chain teams that work with Suppliers, the slogan might as well be “Supplier Development is Job One.”

The most straightforward arguments for supplier development were made in the following

Close supplier relationships from supplier development activities allow buying companies to become preferred customers.

Supplier development is broadly seen as a strategy and a set of activities to improve supplier’s capabilities and performance to meet buyer’s short and long term supply needs. Supplier development can incorporate many elements depending on the program’s need and relationship scope, including

  1. Financial support (facility expansion…)
  2. Capital investment (tooling, machines, etc.)
  3. Training and implementation of quality tools
  4. Resource commitment (primarily design, engineering, and supplier quality engineering)
  5. Supplier performance assessment and continuous improvement
  6. Recognition and reward systems
  7. Long-term supplier relationship management


Given the above level of commitment in terms of resources, time and money it is only natural for buying companies to ask ” What is in it for me? (aka “Business Case”). Fortunately, the answer for that question can be found in the research as well as industry survey conducted Daniel Kruse and Dr. Handfield.