True, there are some things you keep under your hat; for instance, there's a right time to release information about new-product introductions, and changes in business model, corporate strategy, market-penetration strategies, capex plans – these you may want to keep close to the vest. But where a business partner has steered you to new business, brought efficiencies to your operations, increased your productivity, saved you money – that's the kind of thing that you can tell the world. Shout it from the rooftops? Why not?
Partners are intimately involved in your initiatives. No company exists in a vacuum. So, clearly, you need to be careful in selecting whom you work with. Because we are dependent – so interdependent – we need to carefully vet whom we team up with – whom we share our plans and data with, no doubt about it.
Complicating things is the complexity of our businesses these days; seldom are we talking about a relationship with just one partner. Numerous linkages need to be formed, and each must be based on agreed-upon goals and paths to reach them. In truth, these partnerships are generally forged after the parties have very carefully studied the others' histories and achievements. Longstanding relations can exist only if reliability and ethical stances are present from the get-go.
You've moved a long way toward success when you know a partner's word is his or her bond, and where you know that everyone is genuinely committed to the success of the venture. Often that means more than honesty and openness. It calls for a frankness, which enables genuine give-and-take, the fertile ground that ideas need if they are to become reality.
While you don't have to divulge every detail of a relationship, acknowledging that a business partner has been a tremendous boon to your operations is only right and appropriate.
We'd like to think that this, our annual 100 Great Supply Chain Partners issue, illustrates that kind of togetherness and commitment. We'd like to feel that that kind of relationship, one built on trust, is widely valued in the business community. And is worth trumpeting.
This much we do know: some companies appreciated their partners in logistics and transportation services or in technology or in some other area under supply chain management enough that they were moved to nominate them as Great Partners for this issue. For them, there was no value in keeping mum about the identity of a partner who greatly helped them. We celebrate that kind of spirit.
The nominators had to believe that their partners helped them in some important way to tackle and overcome real-world issues. In other words, the partners didn't merely do what the contract stipulated; they did what was necessary to ensure that the relationship was fruitful and beneficial – for everybody.
Perhaps the companies you nominated helped you save money. Perhaps they brought efficiencies to your operations. Did they help you miss new business? Any one of those possibilities is a positive, and is deserving of recognition.
In the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners issue we recognize the valuable service provided to those who nominated them. In fact, once again this year, thousands of nominations came in. Some companies, of course, had multiple nominations. What matters is that each nomination expressed gratitude for a partnership that allowed someone to focus on their core efforts while their providers took care of non-core responsibilities.
Here's the reality: no matter how many appreciations any one company received, the fact is somebody was moved to send us a nomination. You can't make anyone do that, and the action says a great deal about the value the nominating party places on the relationship.
We could fill the entire magazine were we to publish all of the compliments that were sent in. The few that we can include are called Spotlights, and they are designed to give you a feel for the appreciation folks have for their partners. In addition, in every 100 Great Supply Chain Partners issue we publish a number of case studies, which are detailed articles based on in-depth interviews with the parties. While these obviously deal with specific relationships, we feel they illustrate the trust, commitment, energy and concern of every one of the 100 partnerships we include in this report.
Nominations are received each year from companies of every size and from every vertical, and the nominees themselves are involved in supply chain management in just about every manner possible. The companies aren't always household names; at least, not in every country. Some you know, doubtless others are new to you. But that's another benefit of this issue. Someone has found a company, previously unknown to you, to be dedicated to the nominator's business success; now they want to shout about it.
Here's how we put the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners issue together: It follows from a six-month poll of readers in which we asked logistics and supply chain professionals to nominate providers whose products, services or solutions have made a significant impact on their company’s efficiency, customer service and overall supply chain performance. The purpose of the list is to focus on those providers who have so impressed their customers that they deserve to be held up as examples for others.
It's clear from the nominations that many clients see this as their opportunity to give a public salute to those partners who helped them achieve better results, to let people know who is genuinely trying to be a top-notch supply chain partner. In keeping with our theme, it's our sincere hope that the Spotlights and case studies in this issue point out services, technology, expertise and support that can strengthen your network in future.
When you look at the nominations carefully, you will see what are the 10 top issues in readers' minds.
What's a Partner Got to Bring?
• Reliability – Meaning well is not enough; hope is not a business model.
• Excellence – If they don't have this upfront, should they be your partner?
• Value – Seriously, what does your potential partner bring to the table?
• Expertise – Give me a partner who knows my business – and something I don't already know.
• Problem-solver – You deserve a proactive partner, not one looking to you for the answers.
• Continuous improvement – Does your partner value ongoing education?
• Support – Your partner needs to support you well after the sale is done or the implementation is finished.
• Positive attitude – You need a partner who sees challenges as opportunities.
• Global reach – You can't conquer the world if you have a stay-at-home partner.
• Strong leadership – What's required is much more than Leadership 101.
• The methodology for the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners nominating process is detailed on this page. Very simply, the companies listed here are entirely based on voluntary responses from readers. No one at SupplyChainBrain had anything to do with which companies were nominated.
• We have included 100 vendors simply because it is a manageable number. We actually received nominations for hundreds more. For better or for worse, the number 100 has become the standard for any list of this type.
We want to thank everybody who participated in this year's edition of the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners nominations. These providers of products and services are true partners because they stood with you and helped you achieve your supply chain goals. By nominating them, you're doing more than merely acknowledging them. You're telling them, the world and your competition just what it is that you expect and require from a partner. You're saying that you are dedicated to strengthening your global network, and you know just the right folks to help you do that. That's something to shout about.
Thanks again, and we look forward to your participation next year.
Click here for the complete list of the Great Supply Chain Partners for 2016.
2016 Great Supply Chain Partner Case Studies:
Cargo Chief - SunTerra Produce
Cloud Logistics – M&G DuraVent
NonstopDelivery – Bush Industries
CargoSmart - BuyCo For Growth
Club W - Snapfulfil
Trax Technologies - Blount International
Elemica – Continental Tire
A.N. Deringer – Agrium Inc.
Relay2 Inc. - D.Phone
Methodology for the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners Nominations
The list of 100 Great Supply Chain Partners is made up of solutions providers who have received multiple nominations from their customers and/or whose customers agreed to be interviewed by SupplyChainBrain for a published, in-depth case study.
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