The work I do and love is called as “Supplier Relationship Management” (SRM), helpfully defined by Wikipedia as:
“The discipline of strategically planning for, and managing, all interactions with third-party organizations that supply goods and/or services to an organization to maximize the value of those interactions. In practice, SRM entails creating closer, more collaborative relationships with key suppliers to uncover and realize new value and reduce risk of failure.”
Now, I like to think of SRM more simply, starting with:
Suppliers: a person or organization that provides something needed, such as a product or service.
Then, adding on:
Relationships: how two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected.
And finally, joining together to create a Matrix:
an environment in which something develops;
a mold in which something is shaped.
I am working mightily to resist the urge to make a Keanu joke here, so bear with me. The idea is that suppliers are the group you build relationships with to drive business. And yes, I know that’s not exactly rocket science.
But more complicated is that matrix and your role as a leader to create the space to develop supplier relationships. And that's powerful. You can think of your partnerships as separate and transactional, or you can choose to establish a nurturing environment focused on business growth for you and your partners.
Each supplier matrix is as unique as the business itself – influenced by what your customers want and the changing dynamics of the marketplace. What's more, each matrix will evolve as the business and industry mature.
The trick is knowing what you need from a matrix to be successful now―and what you’ll need from it to be successful in the future.