Integrity is the Color of Program Staffing

The vendor-gate is where the engagement for new and expanded business opportunities begins. Suppliers wanting to supply goods and services to a major corporation have to start at the same entry point. Major buying organizations staff the vendor-gate with managers responsible for reporting the progress of the corporations’ supplier engagement efforts.

These staffers assigned to the supplier entry point provide a cursory review of prospective vendors before making any referrals to internal buyers or influential executives. Accordingly, this badge of honor recognizes these staff members as the official vendor-gate managers. They are entirely responsible for making sound referrals to other departments, while maintaining integrity of the company’s supply resources program.

If the aforementioned general description worked as smoothly as it sounds, discrimination and the need for fair supplier programs would be obsolete. The vendor-gate specialist does not always work with true consistent processes. They yield several levels of business determination, serving as a filter for new suppliers.

The first filter is the most inconsistent within major buying entities. Although inconsistently applied, it imposes the most common language among all public and private organizations. The vendor-gate keeper expresses the question, “is your company certified?”  The business enterprise responses vary from yes, by a couple of agencies, to pending and all the way to no certification. However, no matter what the response, the vendor-gate keeper will raise a more recent requirement of certification in order to moderate the progression before any referral is given to proceed with selling procedures.

Second, the vendor-gate manager will then proceed with the company’s general supplier application that is common to all new suppliers. Once the application is complete, the prospective supplier is then added to the company’s database. This database in inconsistently accessed by the entire organization, and in most cases does not grant open access to contracting opportunities that are germane to the supplier’s service capabilities.

Surprisingly, too often you find buyers using manual methods to maintain contact with suppliers, despite of the updated software available for effective sourcing techniques. Buyers like to refer to these quick personal supplier references as their ‘go to’ list of proven vendors of choice.

Third, providing the prospective supplier makes the appropriate follow-up inquiries, the vendor-gate manager researches buyer-seller matching potentials. If there appears to be a match between the services provided and corporate operational requirements, the vendor-gate staff will attempt to make the appropriate reference calls for referrals. Occasionally, the vendor-gate staff member will make contact and the matching program has a good start.

The matching process is predicated on the level of the vendor-gate manager’s knowledge of their respective organization. Which is why the most frequent and common matching occurs with the general low-tech products and services like office supplies, building maintenance, safety equipment, and fleet products. The unfortunate part of this successful pairing is that large prime vendors that hold long-term contracts most often absorb these items, and the best opportunity will center on bidding as a second-tier contractor.

Staffing is the most important element of all supply resources operations, parrticularly as it relates to ethics and the integrity of the processes. Human Resources should have critical input on how the selection takes place for the leaders assigned to supplier resources management.

A traditional method for staffing the VIABLE process is that of having a manager and three direct reports. Each of the staff members have interdependent and distinct functions including (1) Outreach and Sourcing; (2) Second-tier and strategic alliances; and (3) Database management and statistical reporting.

That is a general operational layout, but not the optimal formation of operating a top brass supplier engagement program. The top director for supply, operations, and procurement should have 100% responsibility for ensuring fair supplier engagement procedures.

The top person responsible in some companies is the controller. When that is the case, then that is the ultimate person responsible for making all managers that influence or direct outside supply resources accountable for their selection actions.

The Chief Executive Officer should of course have the ultimate responsible, but that is so cliché, since he/she is ultimately responsible for everything about the organization. The checks and balances for supply resources is normally taken out of the picture of consistent practices because their are no watch dog agencies like the

Equal Employment Opportunities Commission or Fair Labor Practices board as with personnel discrepancies. This is why it is so critical that internal processes be established and monitored by an ethics officer position of an organization to ensure social and economic fairness of the supply resource management.

Offered by Dean L. Jones, C.P.M on 3/15/05 .