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Supplier relationship management toolkit and guidance for leaders

This toolkit has been developed for programme managers who are looking to set up and run a Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) programme in their agency.

It will assist you with ongoing SRM practices within your agency and add value to those that have only just begun their SRM journey. It provides best practice guidance for managing strategic supplier relationships and will ultimately strengthen your overall supplier relationships.

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Implementation and mobilisation stages

The implementation and the mobilisation stages of the toolkit will be available in early to mid-2022.

Setting up the Supplier Relationship Management programme

To set up a successful Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) programme, you should complete:

  1. The SRM value proposition - A value proposition captures SRM value and how this translates to benefits.
  2. Supplier segmentation - Segmentation helps agencies determine which suppliers are most critical to achieving their objectives.
  3. Supplier engagement strategies - Engagement strategies to be adopted with suppliers, based on the level of supplier relationship.

The SRM value proposition

The SRM value proposition helps you to identify additional value from strategic supplier relationships beyond the original contract. The process sets up SRM initiatives to capture additional value through collaboration with strategic suppliers.

How to create your SRM value proposition

Create your SRM value proposition by following the steps outlined below. This will create a clear line of sight to your strategic objectives.

  1. Identify the Government’s strategic objectives that are relevant to your agency’s initiatives. This could include broader outcomes or other procurement outcomes.
  2. Identify your agency’s strategic objectives and understand how you will deliver these.
  3. Finally, what is your SRM strategy? Make sure that your SRM strategy supports your agency’s strategic objectives, which aligns to the Government’s strategic objectives.

Further information on the Government’s priority broader outcomes is available on our website.

Broader outcomes

Measuring and sharing the value

The value proposition predicts additional value through effective management of strategic suppliers. The key principle is to engage stakeholders and secure support for the programme.

It is important to develop a method to capture direct and indirect value.

Direct value is measured financially through factors such as:

  • cost reduction/avoidance – exempt from incurring future costs, eg a reduction of proposed price increase from a supplier
  • net present value – captures the total value of a potential investment opportunity
  • return on investment – evaluates the efficiency of an investment.

Indirect value can be documented through case studies that are validated by the agencies.

SRM focuses on collaboration and finds ways to recognise the supplier contribution. This may include direct financial recognition, supplier awards and positive publicity.

Supplier segmentation

Objectives of segmentation

The segmentation process helps you to understand risks and opportunities presented by supplier relationships. It applies a range of criteria against each supplier to determine operational criticality and strategic importance.

Segmentation allows you to make informed choices on allocation of resource, time and effort. It also allows you to deliver the expected contracted value and create additional value beyond contractual obligations.

Segmentation principles

  • Segmentation indicates the engagement strategies that could be adopted.
  • Segmentation uses multiple weighted criteria to assess the risk and opportunity presented by supplier relationships.
  • Segmentation takes into account both category and supplier attributes.
  • Segmentation should be reviewed on a regular basis (eg annually).

Segmentation process

The segmentation process is broken down into three steps:

Step 1 - Category segmentation

In a category segmentation, group your contracts according to products and/or services. For example, professional services, utilities, IT hardware and software as a solution.

You should then segment categories based on the criticality of supply and expenditure to create a clear picture of how significant each category is. You can do this by:

  • Capturing data at the category level.
  • Identifying weighted criticality criteria.
  • Evaluating each category against the questions.
  • Maintaining a central record and re-validate annually.

The category segmentation should be completed annually and endorsed by relevant stakeholders and the procurement team. The output identifies each category’s criticality to the business.

Step 2 - Supplier segmentation

In a supplier segmentation, group your suppliers based on their value potential and criticality to differentiate between suppliers within the same category. You can do this by:

  • Capturing value potential information by supplier
  • Identifying weighted supplier criticality criteria
  • Evaluating each supplier against the question set
  • Reviewing your supplier segmentation matrix

This process assesses the individual suppliers by using a set of weighted criteria; suppliers are positioned based on criticality and value potential.

Criticality considers factors including:

  • Ability to consistently supply
  • Ease of accessing alternative supplier
  • Impact on compliance with regulatory and sustainability obligations
  • Criticality to performance

Value potential includes factors such as:

  • Supplier’s ability to provide value
  • Supplier’s likeliness to co-operate

The output places each supplier into one of the nine boxes, as illustrated in the figure below.

The nine-box model provides guidance on how each supplier should be managed. The focus of supplier management is dependent on where the supplier sits in the 9-box model below.

srm 9-box model
Step 3 - Segmentation validation

After each segmentation cycle, the validation stage ensures you are managing suppliers at the correct tier and you get stakeholder buy-in.

Complete the validation using the following steps:

  1. Identify and engage the appropriate stakeholders.
  2. Document segmentation results.
  3. Have appropriate engagement strategies available.
  4. Discuss and refine output as appropriate.

Look for suppliers who cross several categories. For example, if a supplier is segmented a number of times (eg in different categories) as a Tier 2 supplier, there may be a case for promotion to Tier 1 supplier. This situation is something that can also be resolved based on ‘feel’ or the opinions of individuals within your organisation.

Supplier engagement strategies

Supplier engagement strategies by level

The level of engagement required with a supplier can be determined by dividing the chart into tiers to help you decide how to allocate resources.

srm 9-box model with tiers
Tier 1– Strategic

Suppliers in this tier should go through all the recommended engagement strategies.

Tier 2 – Collaborative

Very similar to those at Tier 1, however the executive level sponsors may be less senior, and meetings will be less frequent.

Tier 3 – Managed

Focus on basic contract, risk, and performance management where deemed necessary. There shouldn’t be a need for relationship management activities for suppliers in this tier.

Tier 4 – Tactical

Suppliers in this tier will have relatively low value potential and relatively low criticality. Engagement strategies at this level should focus on transactional efficiency and maintaining governance.

The following section lists the specific engagement strategies for the supplier relationships from the segmentation process. The ’ticks’ specify the activities that are essential under each tier.

Relationship management and development

Engagement activities T1 T2 T3 T4
Appoint a senior executive as ‘Executive Relationship Owner’    
An equivalent senior executive should be appointed within the supplier side    
Hold exploratory talks with senior supplier executive to agree the framework for this engagement.    
Hold bi-annual meetings between the executives to share strategy (e.g. service/product roadmaps), review progress and ensure continuous strategic alignment.      
The Lead Agency Relationship Manager and the Agency Relationship Manager should provide information and support to the Executive Relationship owner wherever necessary    
Information should be shared as required to promote improved strategic alignment between the parties.    
Conduct a 360° relationship assessment.      
Ongoing exploration of opportunities to derive more value for both parties from the relationship    
Joint business planning should be created and managed by both parties.      
Cross-agency communication and collaboration    
Where relevant, leverage supplier forums to resolve relationship management and development issues shared by participants.    
Increased cross-agency communication and collaboration      

Contract management

Engagement activities T1 T2 T3 T4
Confirm that valid contracts (unexpired and approved by the appropriate authority from both parties) for all goods and services are in place.
Ensure that contracts are stored appropriately, and obligations (for both parties) are monitored and acted upon.  
Manage contract changes effectively by following the contract change process (e.g. Contract Change Proposal).  
Ensure that contract exit provisions are in place.  
Conduct annual contract reviews.    
Where relevant, leverage supplier forums to resolve contract management issues shared by participants.  
Conduct annual contract reviews for contracts      

Performance management

Engagement activities T1 T2 T3 T4
Validate contracts to ensure that SLAs are present, unambiguous, and still aligned to organisational needs.  
Review KPIs and ensure they are appropriate and, where possible, a leading indicator of failure before it occurs.  
Ensure that measurement and reporting routines are set up and understood by all parties.  
Schedule performance reviews to take place at least quarterly.  
Performance reviews should include root cause analysis, problem solving, interim and long-term countermeasures and corrective actions.  
Where relevant, leverage supplier forums to resolve performance management issues shared by participants.  
Conduct checks to ensure products/services are delivered on time and are of the quality required.      

Cost management

Engagement activities T1 T2 T3 T4
Position cost reduction as the opportunity to remove 'bad cost' from products and services using techniques such as supply chain analysis and value engineering.    
Open Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) dialogue with the supplier and internal stakeholders.    
Initiate collaborative working with suppliers and internal stakeholders.    
Where relevant, leverage supplier forums to resolve cost management issues shared by participants.  
Have conversations with suppliers about how to use existing products/services in more efficient ways.    
Hold meetings internally to identify opportunities where spend could be transferred to a Tier 1 or Tier 2 supplier.      
Consider supplier rationalisation strategies where spend could be transferred to a Tier 2 or Tier 3 supplier.      

Risk management

Engagement activities T1 T2 T3 T4
Confirm that a comprehensive risk assessment has taken place during the sourcing process and has been documented including any post-contract mitigation actions.    
Ensure that post-contract mitigation actions have been implemented and are effective.  
Ensure that the supplier’s financial stability has been checked in the last twelve months and is satisfactory.  
Ensure that required Business Continuity Plans are in place and have been tested in the last twelve months.    
Create a risk register and validate with internal stakeholders and the supplier.  
Schedule and conduct regular risk reviews.    
Where relevant, leverage supplier forums to resolve risk management issues shared by participants.  
Conduct basic due diligence as required.      

Continuous improvement

Engagement activities T1 T2 T3 T4
Identify and engage the relevant internal stakeholders to discuss continuous improvement opportunities.    
Use performance review forums to explore improvement opportunities.  
Create an open dialogue with suppliers to identify improvement opportunities.  
Where relevant, leverage supplier forums to identify improvement opportunities.  

Value creation and innovation

Engagement activities T1 T2 T3 T4
Identify and engage the relevant stakeholders to develop a guided innovation brief for the supplier (where appropriate).    
Communicate the guided innovation brief to the supplier (where appropriate).    
Facilitate meetings to review innovation opportunities with the supplier and relevant internal stakeholders.    
Work with internal stakeholders and the supplier to initiate and manage innovation projects.    
Agree innovation metrics and report progress.    
Facilitate discussions related to other value creation opportunities, including topics such as: value enhancement, risk mitigation, time to market, supply chain efficiency, sustainability, investments etc.    
Identify stakeholders and the procedure for inviting and processing supplier ideas.      
Where relevant, leverage supplier forums to share value creation and innovation initiatives that are common to participants.    

Transactional efficiency

Engagement activities T1 T2 T3 T4
Conduct joint reviews of transactional processes and develop improvement plans.    
Where relevant, leverage supplier forums to target transactional efficiency issues shared by participants.
Review contract and ordering processes including the use of Purchase Orders and catalogues.    

Meeting structure and frequency

The arrangement of structured review meetings with the supplier’s client-facing team and internal stakeholders should be arranged by the Relationship Manager, once roles and responsibilities have been assigned.

These meetings should be established at a set frequency throughout the life cycle of the supplier relationship. This should be consistent with the level of interaction required by the engagement strategy. The list of attendees required to join each meeting will depend on the type of meeting. The type of meeting can be classified into three levels:

  • Strategic
  • Relationship
  • Operational

Consider pre-existing and well-functioning governance structures and scheduled meetings. Where robust structures are already in place, there may not be a need to change. Adding an agenda item to address SRM objectives may be sufficient.

The type and frequency for each type of meeting are in the tables below. This allows a degree of flexibility for face-to-face interaction with suppliers. As a minimum, the subsequent meeting frequencies should be followed.

The agenda for these meetings should also be structured and agreed in advance with internal agency participants and with the supplier.

Strategic meetings

Purpose

The strategic meetings are a senior forum attended by executives from both parties in the relationship. Its primary purpose is to review, discuss and agree the strategic direction of the relationship. It will review progress against the joint objectives and the joint business plan.

Agency attendees

  • Executive Relationship Owner
  • Lead Agency/Agency Relationship Manager
  • Other stakeholders as required

Supplier attendees

  • Executive Relationship Owner
  • AoG Relationship Manager
  • Account Manager
  • Other stakeholders as required

Suggested frequency

  • Minimum bi-annual 

Suggested agenda

  • Strategic highlights and challenges of the previous period – both parties
  • Strategic highlights and challenges for the next 12 to 18 months – both parties
  • Review relationship scorecard
  • Strategic risk review
  • Areas to focus on for more strategic alignment and collaboration – both parties
  • Review current joint business plan – celebrate success and address challenges – refresh plan and commitment
  • Review and resolve any escalated risks or issues
  • Any other business.

Relationship meetings

Purpose

The Relationship meeting is the forum intended to drive the delivery of the supplier relationship strategy via the joint business plan. The forum should be designed to review and manage the relationship development and value opportunities. By exception, it also serves as a point of escalation for any issues that cannot be resolved at the Operational level.

Agency attendees

  • Lead Agency/Agency Relationship Manager
  • Other stakeholders as required

Supplier attendees

  • AoG Relationship Manager
  • Account Manager
  • Other stakeholders as required

Suggested frequency 

  • Minimum quarterly

Suggested agenda 

  • Strategic highlights and challenges of the previous period – both parties
  • Review current joint business plan – celebrate success and address challenges
  • Review plan and initiative/work stream pipeline
  • Review and resolve any escalated risks or issues
  • Agree agenda for upcoming strategic meeting.

Operational meetings

Purpose

Operational meetings should take place to monitor and maintain performance standards, in line with the agreed contract and joint business plan.

Agency attendees

  • Agency Relationship Manager
  • Operational Relationship Manager
  • Other stakeholders as required

Supplier attendees

  • Account Manager
  • Other stakeholders as required

Suggested frequency

  • Minimum monthly

Suggested agenda

  • Review of delivering all Supplier Partnership initiatives / work streams
  • Contractual performance review.

Internal strategic meetings

Purpose

Internal alignment is critical to the success of SRM initiatives, and a consistent application of SRM processes across the agency will provide high quality outcomes. The Procurement Lead should engage relevant stakeholders to ensure continued agency commitment to the joint business plan.

Agency attendees

  • Executive Relationship Owner
  • Procurement Functional Lead

Suggested frequency

  • Minimum monthly

Suggested agenda

  • Evaluate the delivery of SRM initiatives
  • Assessment of overall supplier performance across the organisation
  • Review accountability and information across the different levels to enhance management decisions
  • Strategic highlights and lessons learned from the previous period
  • Strategic highlights and challenges for the next 12 to 18 months
  • Review relationship Balance scorecard for each business unit
  • Strategic risk review
  • Identify areas to focus on for better strategic alignment and collaboration
  • Review and resolve any escalated risks or issues.

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