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A Systemic View of The Supplier Development Sphere

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Consider the ESD Plan ecosystem when making decisions.The complexities involved in your ESD Planning process can be overwhelming, even without considering the dynamics involved in the BBBEE codes of good practice. This article looks at some of the areas you would need to consider.

Clearly thinking through you ESD Plan will provide you with one of the most effective means to go about communicating the necessary change within the organisation. In a recent book Simon Sinek, he argues that organisations lose the plot at various times due to their inability to articulate why they do what they do.  Articulating a clear ESD plan and your theory for change will assist you in the process.

As an enterprise development practitioner you will need to wear various hats in the organisation, but that of a sales manager is one of the most important and articulating why would assist you a great deal.  Be sure to craft a single message from the top of the organisation. This message will become the cornerstone of your campaign. Once you have articulated the message, then start considering what the various tools are that you have at your disposal for communicating it. Unfortunately in today’s electronic environment we choose the easiest tool to reach the masses, not necessarily the tool with the most impact. A wise change manager once said that the effectiveness of your change depends on the amount of conversations you have had. Rarely however does a mass email initiate conversations.

Consider now the various sphere’s that will play a role in your ESD planning process:systemic-view-of-supplier-development-sphere

The external ecosystem sphere

The ESD program that you have specified in your ESD plan will take place in the regional or industry ecosystem that your business finds itself in. This is shaped by various factors such the supply and demand dynamics in the market place, various NGO’s that are involved in your ecosystem, the need for local economic development in the region in which you operate or where in the developmental chain you are going to focus your SME development efforts and if you will be specifically focused on woman and youth entrepreneurship. Lastly, you also need to give consideration to ecological sustainability or your might find yourself rewriting your program two years down the line.

The supply chain sphere

Previously, you could get away with meeting your supply department every so often, when you would argue with them over a scope of work or the lead time on a contract. Now you will have to make close friends with supply as you will need to understand the world of strategic sourcing and contract negotiations. In order to have the impact you are seeking to achieve the supply department will need to become one of your two most important allies. You will need to understand the efficiencies that they seek to achieve and how to integrate transformation plans of your T1 vendors within your contracts and service level agreements. It is from a supply chain perspective that most of your preferential procurement gap analysis will take place regarding where and what you need to develop. Consider this wisely though as the general lead time on your enterprise development efforts will be two to three years.

The operational sphere

Your most important ally will come from the operational sphere. It is here where you need to make friends, and make them fast. Seek out those people who have a passion for development and are considered change agents in their work environment. Then partner with them as closely as possible in the supplier development process. Some of the most successful supplier development programs to date have been initiated by operations, with the focus on innovations around specific needs. Make yourself comfortable with the fact that the end users in the operations will own the viability of any supplier development effort. If the leadership in your organisation understands this they will be wise in linking your ESD Plan’s KPI’s with that of the operation’s.

The supplier development sphere

Lastly, give consideration to the supplier development sphere. Over the past few years most of the business development support providers have focused on the area of entrepreneurial development. This is a very important aspect and depending on where you will focus your developmental efforts, could include a large part of your program. This is however only the start of the developmental journey. As the company matures you will focus more on the company specific gaps rather than the entrepreneurial specific gaps. As most of the companies that you will develop are small you will probably not have a Service Level Agreement in place with them. Nevertheless they are important to the success of your program and therefore it is advisable to start an SLA as soon as possible and make sure your end users are part of the process. By far the most successful supplier development programs have been based on lean management principles as this drives both discipline and thinking processes in the development of companies. Given all of the above, Delivery, Cost and Quality will remain the most important leading indicators of sustainability. If you don’t measure this, then you will soon find yourself without all those jobs that you have sought so diligently to measure over the past few years.

When developing your ESD plan think wisely regarding the trade-offs that you will be making. By being everything to everyone you will soon find your resources spread thin with no substantial impact, so rather make a decision as to what it is that you would like to achieve and why.