Procurement News

Super suppliers

Super Suppliers are a force for good for your organisation, if you know their powers and how to effectively manage them.

Who are they?

Super Suppliers come in many forms but tend to be found in 3 areas of an organisation:

  • The system or service they supply is integral to the business, e.g. ERP, supply chain, finance, and the cost of change is significant.
  • The system or service they provide is high risk, without them the business would cease to function or be in breach of legal obligations, e.g. regulatory consultants, security systems.
  • They are the only provider in the market of the service or system and to replace it would jeopardise the organisation.


What are their powers?

The super supplier knows their power within the organisation, but do you? Depending on where the supplier is identified will determine the power they have.

Powers come in many forms, but most often we see the following:

  • Integral system – a significant part of the organisation’s landscape and spend and therefore able to leverage the existing engagement for ongoing revenue plus upsell new products and services.
  • Divide and conquer – the supplier has many touch points in the organisation and can profit from multiple budgets and where it exists misalignment of strategy. They are also able to navigate the organisation and influence relationships to get decisions made.
  • Pricing – where the supply is limited the price point can increase significantly without warning and there’s little room for manoeuvre.
  • Smoke and mirrors – the supplier will submit proposals that appear to deliver the moon on a stick. They didn’t include the caveats and special terms, gotcha!

How can you manage them?

Being prepared presents a uniform front to the super supplier. They know that you have knowledge of their powers and are ready to demonstrate yours. These superpowers will be fair game in getting what you want from the engagement:

  • Unify – align your organisation with the suppliers, improve communications. There should be a mirror role through all levels of the organisation to enable regular communication and escalation where needed.
  • Strategy – the supplier needs to know about your organisation to deliver the best value, you need to know about their business too. Aligning on day-to-day issues all the way to strategy and roadmap development ensures both parties benefit.
  • Communication – internal teams must share consistent comms with suppliers that operate throughout the organisation. Regular internal supplier reviews consolidate issues and clarify the approach to the supplier.
  • Negotiation – where proposals are not clear, challenge. There is no such thing as a stupid question and if you think there’s something missing from their proposals, there probably is!

It can be overwhelming when dealing with the super suppliers and their powers, pretty quickly you can turn the table, use your powers and deliver a positive outcome.

It would be great to hear the super powers you’ve experienced and used to overcome as a force for good. If you’d like help developing your super powers do get in touch #astercommercialservices

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