High-reliability solutions require more than just showing up with the right parts. When sourcing commercial off-the-shelf products, every aspect of the process requires heightened scrutiny.

Maintaining exceptional supply chain security is critically important to the high-reliability sector, where the cost of mistakes is much higher than losing business. But beyond maintaining strong vendor relationships that build a secure supply chain, is there a responsibility to do more in high-reliability solutions?

We believe that a collaborative model of vendor and customer relationships can strengthen partnerships and enhance security for the entire high-reliability supply chain. Here’s what exceptional collaboration looks like. 

Lead with data, follow through with review  

Tracking vendor performance is critical. A risk-based approach measures both the vendor’s performance and the components they are supplying. Real-time performance monitoring for supply chain partners tracks vendor criticality and timeliness in detail. Inspections should offer highly detailed information, with multiple-point visual inspections. Once data is captured, it needs a close eye for review. An experienced, dedicated team of reviewers should engage on reviews.

Collecting and reporting information based on vendor performance is only a starting point. If data isn’t put into an actionable plan, its use is limited. After the information is collected from inspection, testing, and review, a strategic analysis brings together goals and objectives. The resulting analysis provides a platform for much more than judging vendors on specific products. 

Creating a strategic analysis supports not only improved vendor performance, but also overall supply chain health by identifying and correcting inconsistencies in products, processes, and services. The strategic analysis should comprehensively address potential future issues with the goal of overall continuous improvement.

Plan for sustainable vendor partnerships

When problems with vendors occur, what happens? Look for an active stance that addresses problems with immediate, thorough investigations. Implementing an aggressive process to suspend a supplier immediately and seek evidence to determine a root cause is critical. By determining the source of any issues, you can handle problems swiftly and effectively.

When evaluating a potential high-reliability solutions partner, look for examples of continuous roadmaps when complications occur. Visibility into the cycle of determining the fundamental reason for a problem, creating a corrective action plan, and stringently driving improvements demonstrates a commitment to not only the quality of an individual component but the overall health of vendor relationships.

Distributors who commit to improving the success of vendors can sustain long-term partnerships. When actively managed, these alliances create stability and continuous improvement in vendor performance, which in turn drives industry-wide success in the high-reliability sector.

High-reliability solutions require reporting — and listening

Beyond locating the underlying cause of any issues, swift, transparent distributor/vendor communication is paramount. Creating a corrective action plan and revised procedures and training ensures that capacity building is a priority.

Sharing extensive experience, information, and any findings that we encounter in our rigorous vendor-inspection process is our responsibility. Reporting must happen consistently and openly. This allows distributors to develop the necessary qualifications and standards to mitigate risk in the high-reliability sector.

Audits provide insight for customers and strategic partners into the entire process. While audits happen across the industry, we take a uniquely collaborative approach: we believe that information from audits should move both ways. Audits serve the purpose of informing customers about our processes, but we also see audits as an opportunity for improving our systems to meet the most stringent requirements with exceptional consistency.

Sourcing in the high-reliability space creates unique tensions. Developing lasting strategic high-reliability partnerships requires a deep commitment to vendor management that ultimately aligns with customer needs. Taking ongoing action to improve vendor performance and meet customer needs creates a net effect of improvement across the industry. At A2 Global, we unequivocally believe that the responsibility to raise the bar exists, and we work towards that goal daily.

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