Supplier Relationship Management, 7 Steps

Supplier Relationship Management

7 Steps to Effective Supplier Relationship Management

Supplier relationship management (SRM) is the process of developing and maintaining strategic partnerships with your key suppliers. It involves identifying, evaluating, and engaging with suppliers that can help you achieve your business goals and objectives.

Key Takeaways

SRM is the process of developing and maintaining strategic partnerships with your key suppliers.

SRM can help you reduce costs, improve quality, enhance innovation, and increase customer satisfaction.

SRM involves segmenting your suppliers, defining your objectives and expectations, communicating and collaborating with them, monitoring and evaluating their performance, recognizing and rewarding their achievements, managing conflicts and risks, and reviewing and improving your SRM strategy.

Why is SRM important? Because it can help you:

  • Reduce costs and risks
  • Improve quality and performance
  • Enhance innovation and collaboration
  • Increase customer satisfaction and loyalty

But how do you implement SRM in your organization? Here are seven steps to guide you:

1. Segment your suppliers.

Not all suppliers are equal. You need to prioritize your suppliers based on their strategic importance, value, and risk. You can use a matrix or a scorecard to classify your suppliers into categories, such as strategic, preferred, approved, or tactical. This will help you allocate your resources and attention accordingly.

2. Define your objectives and expectations.

For each supplier category, you need to define your goals and expectations. What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you want to measure and monitor? What are the service level agreements (SLAs) that you want to establish and enforce? What are the benefits and incentives that you want to offer and receive?

3. Communicate and collaborate.

Communication is the key to any successful relationship. You need to communicate clearly and regularly with your suppliers, both formally and informally. You need to share your vision, strategy, plans, and feedback with them. You also need to listen to their needs, concerns, and suggestions. Collaboration is the next level of communication. You need to work together with your suppliers on joint projects, initiatives, and innovations. You need to leverage their expertise, capabilities, and networks.

4. Monitor and evaluate.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. You need to track and analyze your suppliers’ performance, compliance, and satisfaction. You need to use data and metrics to assess how well they are meeting your expectations and delivering value. You also need to conduct regular audits, reviews, and surveys to identify gaps, issues, and opportunities for improvement.

5. Recognize and reward.

Recognition and reward are powerful motivators for any relationship. You need to acknowledge and appreciate your suppliers’ achievements, contributions, and efforts. You need to provide them with positive feedback, testimonials, and referrals. You also need to reward them with incentives, discounts, bonuses, or contracts extensions.

6. Manage conflicts and risks.

Conflicts and risks are inevitable in any relationship. You need to anticipate and mitigate them before they escalate or impact your business. You need to have a clear process for resolving disputes, complaints, and claims. You also need to have a contingency plan for dealing with emergencies, disruptions, or crises.

7. Review and improve.

SRM is not a one-time event, but a continuous process. You need to review and improve your SRM strategy, processes, and practices regularly. You need to evaluate the outcomes and impacts of your SRM activities on your business performance and competitiveness. You also need to seek feedback from your suppliers, customers, and stakeholders on how to enhance your SRM capabilities.


  • SRM is a strategic process that requires top management commitment and cross-functional involvement.
  • SRM is a two-way street that requires mutual trust and respect between you and your suppliers.
  • SRM is a long-term process that requires continuous improvement and adaptation to changing business needs and market conditions.

Supplier Relationship Management: A Key Factor for Global Demand

Supplier relationship management (SRM) is the process of strategically managing interactions with suppliers to maximize value, minimize risk, and drive innovation. SRM is essential for businesses that operate in global markets, where supply chains are complex, dynamic, and vulnerable to disruptions.

Global Supply Chain Management Market Size and Trends

According to a report by Statista, the global supply chain management market was worth roughly 16 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 and is expected to reach almost 31 billion U.S. dollars by 2026. This indicates a growing demand for efficient and effective supply chain solutions, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exposed the fragility and interdependence of global supply networks.

One of the key trends impacting global supply chains in 2022 is logistics disruption, which stems from the continued shutdowns of major ports and airports, largely in China, South Korea, and the US. This creates a ripple effect across global supply chains that ultimately affects the availability, quality, and cost of goods and services. To cope with this challenge, businesses need to redesign their supply chain flows, optimize their inventory levels, and enhance their last-mile delivery capabilities.

Another key trend is supplier diversification, which involves sourcing from multiple suppliers across different regions or countries to reduce dependence on a single source and mitigate risks of disruption, quality issues, or price fluctuations. Supplier diversification can also enable businesses to access new markets, technologies, and innovations that can improve their competitiveness and customer satisfaction.

However, supplier diversification also poses some challenges, such as managing multiple contracts, standards, and expectations; ensuring compliance with local regulations and environmental standards; and maintaining visibility and control over supplier performance. This is where SRM software can play a vital role in facilitating communication, collaboration, and coordination among suppliers and buyers.

Global Supplier Relationship Management Software Market Size and Benefits

SRM software is a type of supply chain management software that helps businesses manage their relationships with their suppliers. It can help businesses to:

  • Identify and select the best suppliers based on various criteria such as quality, price, delivery time, reliability, sustainability, etc.
  • Negotiate and monitor contracts and agreements with suppliers
  • Track and evaluate supplier performance using key performance indicators (KPIs) such as on-time delivery, defect rate, responsiveness, etc.
  • Identify and resolve issues or disputes with suppliers
  • Provide feedback and recognition to suppliers
  • Encourage innovation and continuous improvement from suppliers
  • Manage supplier risks such as financial instability, ethical violations, environmental impacts, etc.

According to a report by Digital Journal, the global SRM software market size was valued at USD 2.7 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 4.9 billion by 2029. The report attributes this growth to factors such as increasing globalization of businesses, rising complexity of supply chains, growing demand for cost reduction and efficiency improvement, and rising awareness of sustainability and social responsibility among businesses.

SRM software can help businesses gain a competitive edge in the global market by enhancing their supply chain performance, reducing costs, improving quality, increasing customer satisfaction, and fostering innovation. SRM software can also help businesses cope with the uncertainties and challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath by enabling them to adapt quickly to changing customer needs, market conditions, and supplier situations.

Therefore, SRM software is a key factor for increasing or decreasing global demand in the supply chain management industry. Businesses that invest in SRM software can benefit from improved supplier relationships that can lead to better business outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between SRM and CRM?
A: SRM stands for supplier relationship management, while CRM stands for customer relationship management. Both are processes of managing relationships with external parties that are vital for your business success. However, SRM focuses on your suppliers or vendors, while CRM focuses on your customers or clients.

Q: What are the benefits of SRM?
A: Some of the benefits of SRM are:

  • Lower procurement costs
  • Higher supplier quality
  • Faster delivery times
  • Greater product or service innovation
  • Stronger customer loyalty

Q: What are the challenges of SRM?
A: Some of the challenges of SRM are:

  • Lack of senior management support
  • Lack of alignment between business units
  • Lack of trust and transparency between parties
  • Lack of skills and resources
  • Lack of standardization and integration of systems

Q: What are the best practices of SRM?
A: Some of the best practices of SRM are:

  • Segment your suppliers based on their strategic importance
  • Define your objectives and expectations for each supplier category
  • Communicate and collaborate with your suppliers regularly
  • Monitor and evaluate your suppliers’ performance
  • Recognize and reward your suppliers’ achievements

Q: What are the tools of SRM?
A: Some of the tools of SRM are:

  • Supplier segmentation matrix or scorecard
  • Supplier performance dashboard or report
  • Supplier service level agreement or contract
  • Supplier feedback or survey
  • Supplier recognition or reward program


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