5 Quick and Easy Ways to Help Your Suppliers Better Support You

5 Quick and Easy Ways to Help Your Suppliers Better Support You

We recently had the pleasure of attending a Marine Machines Association (MMA) event that was graciously hosted by Electric Boat.

This informational was greatly attended, as it covered various challenges that the Navy, Shipbuilders, and the Supply Base are facing. Terminology often associated with these issues include: Schedule Attainment, Workforce Development, Suppliers & Supply Chain Challenges (post Covid), and Cyber Security, to name a few. Regardless of which buzzwords were utilized, none of these challenges were new; they had all been seen or heard multiple times in the last 10+ years. GES had already experienced these same talking points, just presented by different PowerPoints, speakers, and venues.

One specific topic needing further exploration was that of the Shipbuilders & Suppliers Relationship.

GES has spent the last decade working with various shipbuilders. Our team can relate to trades, or the “Shop Floor” issues just as easily as they can relate to leadership, or the “Top Floor”. It is the mentality that all moving parts, all levels of employment, must connect in order to achieve success that has led GES to popularize the motto: “We connect the Shop Floor to the Top Floor”.

GES Team interacts with tradespeople and VPs on a weekly basis. We also work very closely with many suppliers, some who are very frustrated with their inability to break the “Shipbuilders Code”. A similar feeling is experienced by the shipbuilders’ procurement team.

After 100s of conversations with both parties, we can highlight 5 quick fixes that have the potential to improve this relationship drastically:

1. Assign a single Point of Contact (POC) on both sides and do not change people every 6 months; avoid starting the learning curve all over again

2. Answer phone calls/emails/texts in same business day

3. Listen with the intent to understand NOT to reply, and hold frequent meaningful round table discussions; listen to the “Voice of the Supplier/Customer”

4. Send them clear and quality paperwork, while being open to feedback

5. Place POs based on lead time and pay them on time

The aforementioned ideas were circulated among various MMA members who collectively agreed that these straightforward suggestions do not require a big budget or Special Red Team, just some motivation to make it a priority.

Constantly reciting the problems/challenges and hoping that someone will step in as the “Orange Vest” to address these issues is not a solution.

The choices are simple: repeat the same topics at future events, vent for a while, then go back to the same problematic actions while expecting different results, or ask GES Team to showcase what they know best: “Solutions that lead to Executions”.

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