Questions To Ask When Collaborating With Suppliers

Dustin Mattison interviewed Sara Husk. Sara discussed collaboration with suppliers and customers.

Sara works for a company called Imaginatik. Imaginatik specializes in providing innovation infrastructure both from a technical and services perspective, primarily to Fortune500 companies. Sara works with a lot of companies on their innovation program on a day to day basis.

One of the things Sara and her team is noticing is that companies increasingly want to go outside of their four walls to collaborate, innovate and develop new things. This can be with customers, suppliers or vendors. They really want to get the most that they can out of the entire group they are working with. It can be partners, universities, community groups, state regulatory groups, etc. These things can all help bring value back to the company.

The first things Sara usually asks are “why do you want to get into this?”, “what is it you are hoping to gain?”, “what does success look like?”, “what are those intangible outcomes?”.

The tangible outcomes might be to get some type of new way of manufacturing a part. Intangible might be to build a strong relationship with suppliers so that they bring some of their best and creative ideas.

You are also looking at things like why you want to be the brand of choice in the marketplace to be the group to collaborate with. You also need to think about who owns the outcome and how to handle these types of pieces as well. There is a lot that goes into it in terms of the thought process up front.

There are a lot of things that are involved with thinking this whole thing through. You need to ask questions such as: How do you get people aligned with you? How do you get people participating with you? What is in it for the other parties?