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In order to stay competitive in today’s crowded and everchanging marketplace, manufacturers are tasked with delivering value in two ways. The first is by providing innovative products that ensure and improve safety and efficacy and the second is by maximizing cost-effectiveness throughout the product’s lifecycle, from development to launch to mass production. Central to this two-pronged mission is the expertise of a manufacturer’s suppliers, yet many companies do not properly utilize this valuable resource.

Suppliers are often contacted only when the manufacturer has decided they need a particular component. This all too frequently occurs when there is immediate need or time till launch is running out. Unfortunately, collaboration in this manner severely limits opportunities for innovation or problem solving and makes enhancing production nearly impossible. This is why involving suppliers early in the new product development process is the best way for manufacturers to ensure their products are not just functional, but state-of-the-art.

Benefits of Early Supplier Engagement

Only those suppliers that gain a seat at the table early in the development process have the ability to be creative when problem solving. Early supplier engagement is a gamechanger as supply partners can now collaborate to develop appropriate performance specifications rather than merely be called upon once these specifications have already been determined. In this way, supplier expertise is fully employed as they are able to take appropriate measures to avoid problems rather than simply react to them after they arise.

Even if serious issues do not pop up, early collaboration is still useful as it enables more effective design and development. With early supplier intervention, design verification and product actualization can be accelerated.

Enhancing Results with the Right Supplier

Manufacturers stand to benefit most when they choose suppliers that provide total solutions rather than those specializing in a single product or service. This is because total solutions supply partners possess market knowledge both inside and outside the industry of the manufacturer, increasing chances for innovation to occur. These companies also tend to be more solutions-focused rather than sales-focused as diversification has lent them a high degree of financial stability.

As manufacturers endeavor to remain competitive and profitable, it is important that they promote early involvement with suppliers to allow themselves to access the full wealth of knowledge available to them. The big picture benefits that come with early collaboration with suppliers, namely cost management, reduced risk and shortened development times, are more than worth the investment.


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