What Is Supplier Relationship Management?


Just about every business is a part of our global supply chain—a network of manufacturers, transporters, warehouses, and distributors to buy and sell products. And since your company likely relies on other partners to remain functional and profitable, optimizing relationships with your key suppliers couldn’t be more essential. 

This article will define supplier relationship management (SRM) and will explore the benefits of good SRM, including a more profitable, reliable, and stable business model. 

Supplier Relationship Management Definition

Supplier relationship management, also known as SRM, is a big-picture strategy businesses implement to ensure their relationships with suppliers are as optimized, coordinated, and profitable as possible. 

In SRM, a company identifies the most critical suppliers in their network and then determines how to manage relationships with those vendors. And since supply chains are complex, most companies establish measurable, crystal-clear methods to evaluate each supplier. 

How do I get started with supplier relationship management?

The simplest way to practice SRM is to make a list of all the suppliers in your company’s network. Then, decide what criteria you’d like to use to evaluate your suppliers. Some examples of performance indicators? Communication, reliability, accuracy, affordability, and flexibility. You can also include figures like lead time and minimum order quantity.

Once you’ve written your list of suppliers and determined what criteria matter to your business, you can create a scorecard for all your suppliers. To accurately score each supplier, you’ll probably want to consult with different members of your team, from top executives and accountants to the employees who place orders and work in shipping and receiving. 

You’ll also want to reevaluate your suppliers regularly so you can stay on top of any changes in communication, value, or reliability. 

And, most importantly, remember that your SRM isn’t just an evaluation—it’s a hands-on process. If something isn’t working with a supplier, you should let them know and work together to improve your processes. 

Related: How to Choose a Supplier 


What are the benefits of supplier relationship management?

Companies practice SRM in hopes of increasing their profitability—and reducing headaches, too. Here are a few notable benefits of supplier relationship management:

1. Boosted profitability

No company wants to overpay its suppliers—but there’s more to profitability than simply paying less for goods. Changing suppliers over and over again can also cost your business money. That’s one reason why good SRM can keep your costs down.

When you practice effective supplier relationship management, you’ll know ahead of time what suppliers are ready to grow with your business as you scale or forecast higher demand. And, most importantly, you’ll uncover what suppliers aren’t a match for your business before they slow your operations down. 

SRM can also help you move away from suppliers whose prices are constantly fluctuating, or at least help you negotiate a lower minimum order quantity. 

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2. Improved reliability

Next up, you can expect good SRM to weed out unreliable suppliers. That’s because over time, your supplier relationship management will help you evaluate all your vendors, offering you the chance to identify and solve any problems with reliability, quality, and more.

For example, if a supplier is constantly underestimating lead time, your businesses could work together to either speed things up or agree upon a new, more realistic lead time. If you can’t fix what’s broken, you may need to replace that supplier with a more reliable one. 

3. Increased confidence 

By practicing supplier relationship management, you’ll constantly optimize your roster of vendors. Month by month and year by year, your team of suppliers will become more reliable, offer more value, and become easier and easier to communicate with.=

And to most businesses, that increased confidence in vendors is worth quite a bit—especially when the global supply chain is vulnerable


How Sortly can help your supplier relationship management 

An important piece of managing supplier relationships is knowing exactly how much and when you need to place orders. Sortly inventory management software allows you to track inventory in real time as it’s used across your business and centralizes your data into one easy-to-use platform. That means inventory data and reports (including low stock reports) are always at your fingertips, so you can place supplier orders using actual data—not guesswork. You can even set low stock alerts to nudge you (or your employees) when it’s time to order more. It helps that your whole team can track inventory easily—from any device, in any location—so you know your inventory levels are accurate and up-to-date, which ensures that each order is cost-effective and you’re not over or under-ordering.

If your company would benefit from improved inventory management, try Sortly free for 14 days. Sortly is an all-in-one inventory solutions that lets you organize, track, and manage your inventory. Our easy-to-use mobile app lets you and your team update inventory on the job, scan barcodes from your smartphone, set low stock alerts, and more. That means you can work more efficiently, plan for jobs better, and serve your customers to their highest satisfaction.

Join the over 15,000 professionals who trust Sortly as their inventory management solution and start your trial today.