Deborah Austin Companies thriving in today's economy use deep supplier relationships and pooled buying power to generate huge savings and grasp competitive advantage, says a new report "Best Practices in Supply Chain Management and Partnerships" by benchmarking firm Best Practices LLC, Chapel Hill, N.C. Through best supply-chain practices, firms reported cutting lead time and inventory by 50%-plus, and eliminating processing errors. Key effective practices identified:
Align supply-chain-management systems with strategic initiatives and goals.
Forge partnerships with suppliers, pooling talents and resources.
Certify supplier partners, establishing a common language.
Use technology -- such as extranets and common CAD/CAM platforms -- to improve supplier relationships.
Refine/enhance manufacturing processes, identifying which organizations can provide highest quality/lowest cost.
Foster communication between partner organizations.
Emphasize mutual benefits of partnership.