9 Supplier Management Myths In African Supply Chains

Supplier management myths in Africa are misconceptions or wrong practices in the management of suppliers within a supply chain.

These myths ultimately cause problems between the supply chain and its vendors, leading to inefficiencies across the entire operation. They allow supply chain managers and leadership to ignore their responsibility while managing suppliers.

Undoubtedly, sourcing and managing suppliers is a big part of the procurement process. However, many African supply chains underestimate this process. As the business and supply chain operations continue to grow, it is possible to find that the leadership and operation as a whole begin to slip in their responsibility to the suppliers.

It happens for various reasons but is devastating to the entire operation.

Ideally, we all strive to have a great relationship with suppliers. However, in trying to achieve the optimal relationship, we are often guilty of allowing the myths of supplier management to get the best of us.

You may get too comfortable with a supplier, tend to be a little lax with due diligence, or don’t even bother anymore. Slips in responsibilities towards suppliers in African supply chains happen due to familiarity.

What are some of these supplier management myths?

Solely Focusing on Primary Suppliers

“Only care about the critical suppliers.”

While critical or strategic suppliers are the most important suppliers to the supply chain, neglecting your other suppliers may cause issues with your supply chain. 

Take, for instance, your car. The plug is one of the less essential parts of the vehicle, unlike the engine, tyres, and gear. However, a bad plug can ground your car. The same applies to your supply chain. 

Neglecting your suppliers because you believe they are not critical is not good supplier management practice. It can make them complacent, leading to issues with your supply chain. If you think about it, they wouldn’t be there if you did not need them.

Zero Issues = Great System

“The supervisor has found nothing wrong with our process, so we are doing great.”

You must continually evaluate the supply chain process and identify areas that need improvement.  

Sometimes, because the supply chain supervisor is not directly involved in supplier management, they may approve supplier management practices using a pre-existing checklist.

However, passing a checklist doesn’t mean there can’t be any improvement. 

If the leadership or team members spot processes that can be improved or tweaked to deal with suppliers better, there should be a system in place to authenticate such processes and then set about improving them.

Being proactive about continuous improvement can go a long way in reinforcing the agility of your supply chain.

No Revaluation of Contract Terms

“No need to revisit the terms of our contract. I got a great deal with the supplier years ago”

Getting a great deal with suppliers is excellent, but it shouldn’t end there. How often do you revisit the contract terms? The supply chain is fast evolving; items get cheaper or more expensive, depending on the technology available and the economy. 

As much as you want to ensure your supply chain is always getting a great deal, it is equally important to ensure your suppliers get fair compensation.

Constantly revisiting the terms of the contract allows for both to happen. It also allows the supply chain to adjust to new technology and processes that can optimize it.

Convincing your suppliers that you have their best interest at heart will make them value your business and motivate them to keep to the terms of the contract. 

Using Non-Automated Systems or Tech Solutions To Manage Suppliers

“We Can Use Our Non-Automated System Or Software To Manage Suppliers.”

Many companies and supply chains believe they can get away with using non-automated supplier systems or software, accounts payable, or spreadsheets. 

The problem with non-automated tools is that they often make errors when accessing the supplier management risk, thereby exposing the supply chain. Automated systems are faster and assess supplier risk more accurately using pre-determined factors.

Supplier Consistency Means 100% Trust. 

“The supplier has shown consistency; I will give them a break because I can trust them.”

While showing suppliers that you trust them is great, it is not an excuse for the supplier management leadership and team to neglect their duties, especially when evaluating suppliers. 

When suppliers have shown a consistent record of great service, you may be tempted to cut them slack by not doing your due diligence in transactions with the supplier.

They may be great, but ignoring due diligence and other supplier responsibilities leaves the supply chain exposed or vulnerable.

Always evaluate the suppliers properly to tackle maleficence and genuine errors that could harm your supply chain. 

Due Diligence in The Selection Process = We Have a Great Supplier

“We performed our due diligence in the selection process, so we are good with the supplier.”

Like the previous myth, supplier management leadership and teams often tend to slack off on evaluating suppliers because they believe the sourcing team did a great job in the sourcing and onboarding process

While this may be true, showing the suppliers how seriously you take your supply chain is vital. This way, you can set the pace for future transactions. 

No Materialized Risk Means No Future Risk in The Supplier Management

“We worked with the supplier before a formal program was set, so we continued with them despite the risk.”

Because the risk never materialized before setting up your supplier management and risk assessment program, it is not guaranteed that it won’t appear in the future. 

Risk assessment systems are there to help you identify risks. When they do, it is on you to advise your suppliers accordingly. 

For example, a gas tanker without insurance or a gas tanker with a reckless driver. They both present substantial risk. But because there hasn’t been an accident prior to finding out, it isn’t a reason to continue with them. 

In building supplier relationships, we must always make it a point to prioritize the interest of the supply chain.

Checklists Don’t Matter in Supplier Management

“supplier management checklists are just a bunch of red tape.”

It is easy to think this, but those checklists are derived from hours of research and years of experience.  Think of it from the business perspective. They have to ensure the supply chain has a method of keeping its suppliers in check. 

The checklists protect the supply chain as much as possible from unnecessary disruptions. 

Finally, even if the checklist is outdated, as a supplier manager, you must find out what works and update them. As long as the checklist is not detrimental to the supplier’s relationship with the company, you may as well stick to it.

 Not Paying Suppliers on Time

“Payment is always slow.”

Unfortunately, businesses have a history of owing their suppliers. One study shows that corporations can owe their suppliers upwards of 4-6 weeks.

As a supplier manager, you should always ensure your suppliers get their money on time. It goes a long way to motivate them as well.

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