A full circle of communication
One of the fundamental tasks of procurement professionals is to interact with vendors to procure the goods and services required of our respective agencies. Procurement is responsible for ensuring fair and open practices with our vendor community. Establishing a mutually beneficial relationship requires that procurement communicate to vendors their expectations and the consequences of failing to fulfill those expectations. Holding periodic orientation sessions can help familiarize vendors with internal processes, from the beginning of the solicitation to the completion of the services.
It is important to explain in great detail the established procedures for dealing with unacceptable quality levels or the unfortunate occurrence of a contract breach. Procedures can include issuance of a cure notice, show cause notice and notice of termination for default. Additionally, we are trained to document any deficiencies in goods received or services being rendered.
As we are with our internal customers, procurement professionals are concerned with the level and quality of service we provide to our vendor base. Our level of effectiveness can be determined by issuing an External Customer Satisfaction Survey annually and comparing the results to established performance measures. It is important to obtain feedback from our customers on the performance of both procurement and our vendors.
Engaging in these practices has become standard throughout our profession. But is there more that could (or should) be done to promote positive vendor relations? Are we missing the other side of vendor relations? The answer is yes.
Communication must come full circle, and that includes establishing a practice of not only recognizing but more importantly sharing positive results. Taking the opportunity to submit a letter of recognition for outstanding customer service requires very little time and goes a long way in communicating to a vendor that they are achieving (or exceeding) a level of response your agency has come to expect. We can be quick to pick up the phone or document inferior service, but it is equally important to do the same for a positive experience.
About the author
Carrie Woodell, CFCM, CPPO, C.P.M., FCPM, is the purchasing manager of Winter Park, Fla.