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Suppliers can not be trusted?

As a buyer, you are constantly involved in starting up, supervising or evaluating a collaboration between the internal client and supplier. Every day I read or edit a contract or set up a Request for Proposal [RfP] for purchasing a product or service. These documents are often full of mistrust and in many cases are simply placed with the supplier. Are these suppliers not to be trusted?

I wonder if these expressions of mistrust, often called minimum requirements, contribute to a better or worse purchasing process and cooperation? And where does that distrust come from? Consider, for example, the impact of the unilateral termination of a contract by the client without a reasonable term or written substantiation. Or what to think of: "The client reserves the right at all times to stop the process with a tenderer, not to award the contract or to cease the purchase process". While reading a little further that: "Registrations [offers] that come in after the said time are not taken into consideration".

There are many other examples to mention. I have left the time of thick contracts or RfPs for a while now. On the one hand because I myself have come to the conclusion that more paper with "unreasonable" conditions and requirements does not lead to better services [rather worse]. On the other hand, because I believe that a lot more profit can be gained in simplifying [cost reduction] of the purchasing process with a focus on execution. Because what do we keep each other busy with all those requirements and conditions.

The distrustful reader, however, will immediately notice: "Yes, yes, easy to talk, wait until it goes wrong." He can also explain me the downside of not closing a contract or RfP. And how can you buy something well, if you do not really understand it? They will argue to have more knowledge [such as cost expertise] in-house. After all, we also have to check whether we are offered the right price. You have to take it for sure.

Do you know everything or do not know anything?

The traditional purchasing profession or actually trick [van Weele 2018] assumes that the buyer wants to pay the least and wants to earn the supplier as much as possible. This way of thinking creates a lot of mistrust. Perhaps it is naïve of me to assume that entrepreneurs have ever started their business to add value to create better service for their customers. And that a salesman really wants to help his customer?

Actually it is all about what glasses you judge a supplier. Based on extremes, I recognize two types, those who "already know or want to know everything" and a group that assumes that they "know little / nothing" about what they buy. Does an attitude of "I know everything" make you listen more or less to the ideas of another person? Are you going to tell the supplier more about what it should do? Does the supplier become more or less reactive as a result?

But is an attitude of "I know nothing" so wise? Can I add value as a buyer if I do not know anything? Do I still count as a discussion partner? How do I prevent suppliers from taking a walk with me? "Knowing nothing" also gives a feeling of uncertainty and lack of control.

From distrust to transparency

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