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Submitted by mike_bruns_99 on


Does anyone else use the feedback model with key suppliers or vendors?  

I'm not talking about Starbucks here, although they are a key supplier  :-)   And I’m not talking contractors or temps. I'm talking about long-term or key-suppliers, totally separate companies, critical to your team's success. Suppliers that provide parts, subcontractors used frequently in projects, etc. 

I know the suppliers don’t formally report to me, but there is at minimum a peer relationship. Most often they seem like directs. For many of them, I spend much more money with them than on a specific direct. During large projects, I frequently spend more time with the supplier’s project manager or account manager than with some of my directs.

Feedback is normal and natural. It’s a simple way to keep small problems from building into large ones.

From time to time, I'll say to a suppler:  “Hey supplier, could I give you some feedback?  When you ship us bad quality parts, here’s what happens………"


Does anyone see downsides, or changes to the traditional model to make it more effective with suppliers?  

mattpalmer's picture

You're completely right that you're dealing with more of a peer than a direct (although they're not *truly* a peer -- there's no "partnership" here).  I wouldn't use the full four-step feedback tool, because it pre-supposes a degree of relationship that you just don't have.  There's also a problem in that you're communicating with a person who is representing an organisation, so asking "Can you work on that?" doesn't have the same emphasis of "you" that it would for an individual.

Instead, I'd recommend using the peer feedback tool, which is basically just steps two and three by themselves.  It's as simple as, "Hey, I don't know if you dudes realise this, but when you ship us bad quality parts, it *really* screws up our production runs."  There's even a cast on it ( to help you roll it out.