Supplier questionnaires are now seen as an incredibly valuable tool when it comes to choosing suppliers. Historically the process of appointing preferred suppliers was seen as a situation where the buyer wanted to achieve the lowest possible price for supplies and the supplier had to offer the lowest price that the company could afford.

Suppliers often had to submit lots of paperwork and could more or less choose what information they sent in to potential customers or clients. But those days have gone now!

Supplier questionnaires enable companies to choose between companies that have all responded to the same questions, so it is much easier to evaluate between companies and ensure that you are choosing the best possible supplier to suit your exact needs.

Different Customers Need Different Suppliers

The emphasis for procurement is now about working in partnership, so the relationship is not an unequal relationship that is about costs, it is often about much more – from longer term risk avoidance programs to product development initiatives – these days its all about the relationships.

A specific company may require a substantial amount of flexibility from certain suppliers, and it will use the supplier questionnaire to ask questions about this flexibility and how the supplier will meet those needs.

The range of questions asked will help the supplier evaluate whether or not they can effectively deliver what is being asked of them and the customer has various responses to the same question, so that a comparison can be made between companies.

This actually creates a much more level playing field and ensures that small to medium sized businesses can also compete for business, in a way that they may not have been able to do previously.

Some companies also have preferences for using suppliers that may have a strong environmental ethos and have a low carbon footprint. Others may view price as the most important aspect of any procurement policy, whereas for others it may well be Health and Safety or so on, but all these issues can be covered using a supplier questionnaire.

Important Tool For Quality

The use of a supplier’s questionnaire is also a really important tool when it comes to assessing quality. The questionnaire offers customers and clients the opportunity to ask rigorous questions about how a supplier will ensure quality not just in terms of the goods and/or services that they may be supplying, but also in terms of customer care, how they deal with any problems and how they put things right.

Obviously no supplier will answer that they provide sub-quality goods and poor standards of customer care, but the answers that they do provide will give an indication of how competent they are and how seriously they take quality issues.

Relevant Financial Information

It is perfectly acceptable to ask about turnover, financial position etc. Many companies have been unable to withstand the recent economic downturn, with suppliers sometimes unable to meet their contractual obligations, so it is wise to ensure that there are some questions contained in the questionnaire that relate to the financial position of any company that is to become a supplier. This shows that you take their supplier status seriously and also affords you some peace of mind.

Length Of Questionnaire

Some supplier questionnaires can be quite lengthy, but this need not be viewed as a bad thing. If suppliers are serious about providing you with a service, then they will be happy to complete the questionnaire. In addition, any supplier who is any good should already have all the information ready to hand and most will already have it in document form, so it is simply a case of extracting that information and inserting it into the questionnaire.

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