Financial Data
Updated 22 Nov 2019

Why you should be giving your supplier chain partners ongoing feedback

Procurement team members are often frustrated by the performance of their supply chain partners, but never voice their frustrations. Here’s why feedback will make a big difference for your business. 

Su-Mari du Bruyn, 30 December 2015  Share  0 comments  Print

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Whether fair or unfair, the perception of the effectiveness of a procurement team will be influenced by the performance of their supply chain partners.

It is therefore important to regularly provide supply chain partners with feedback on their performance, so that all parties are clear on what is expected of them and know what they are doing well and should continue doing, as well as where they are underperforming and need to focus on improving.

Related: 5 Steps to take your meeting from futile to phenomenal

The benefits

Monitoring and tracking performance has a number of advantages. It enables you to communicate factually and objectively, both internally and externally. It creates healthy competition amongst supply chain partners.

Such a system will enable you to highlight potential issues early enough to take corrective action before the issue spirals out of control and it will also provide you with the opportunity to highlight and congratulate supply chain partners who do provide you with excellent service.

Overall, although such a system will require an investment of time and effort, the reward it yields in time saved in the long term, provides a far greater return.

Which suppliers to monitor

Unfortunately it is not always practical to monitor and provide regular feedback to every single supply chain partner and so you have to apply some kind of selection criteria.

Your list of key supply chain partners could include critical sole-source suppliers providing unique products or services that absolutely no one else at present does; it could include the ones that you are spending the biggest portion of your expenditure on and / or ones that would cause significant disruption in your business operations should they fail you.

Typically you would exclude suppliers that you make use of irregularly, or those that are of such a size and nature that your effort invested in tracking and providing feedback, would not yield sufficient return on investment to justify the effort.

The selected core list could periodically be expanded to include suppliers who at that point in time appear to be problematic and warrant more focus and closer management.

What to monitor

There are a variety of aspects that could potentially be included and each business will need to decide for themselves what to include and what to exclude from their list of monitoring criteria. This list should be reviewed and amended from time to time to ensure that it remains relevant to your partnership success.

For each item that you do include, it is important to pre-determine how you are going to evaluate and rate the supplier’s performance on that aspect. Here are a few examples:

Performance factor

Evaluation criteria

On time delivery

Deliveries received one day early and on the due date is deemed acceptable. Only one exception per calendar year will be accepted.


Documentation must be error-free. Only one exception per quarterly review will be accepted.


Receipt of emails must be confirmed within 24hr. Receipt of automatic out-of-office reply will be the only acceptable exception.


Delivery must be of the correct item ordered and of the correct quantity. Only one exception on quantity accepted per calendar year. 

We often encounter procurement team members who are frustrated by the performance of their supply chain partners, but who have never voiced their frustrations with the relevant supply chain partners.

You simply cannot expect your supply chain partners to intuitively sense your opinion of their performance. Supply chain partners never intend to perform poorly, because the success of every business is in the long term dependent on providing good service to their customers.

Related: The bottom line

The issue is usually either that they are unaware that something they are doing or not doing is causing frustration, (and will gladly change it once they become aware) or that the right people are unaware. An open flow of constructive communication is critical to your partnership success.

If you have been clear on your expectations and frustrations and reasonable in the time-frame given for their performance to improve, you may have reached the point to seek an alternative supply chain partner to replace them, if you do not see the desired results.

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About the author

Su-Mari du Bruyn

Su-Mari Du Bruyn is co-founder of Adapt To Change. She is a qualified HR practitioner and logistics specialist and is passionate about Continuous Improvement and people development. Through Adapt To Change she assists businesses to improve their business performance and better engage their staff. Su-Mari also recently launched her e-book business guide, The Power to Ignite. Available exclusively on for Kindle, The Power to Ignite is a practical guide to the powerful art of Continuous Improvement, sharing proven methodology and highlighting important dos and don’ts in engaging staff and improving business results.

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