Economy in Recovery: Will Vendor Performance Limit Your Rebound?

The latest news is the more and more purchasing managers are reporting slower delivery times from their vendors.  The spike is quite pronounced, matching many of the historic peaks.ISM Slow

This is a critical time for any business that relies on its vendors to deliver materials.  If you cannot ship your products because a vendor cannot perform, you may not just lose a sale, you may lose a customer. (On that topic, see my post Tight Inventories Limiting Sales.)  Last October I predicted that vendor performance would be a growing problem (he said while patting himself on the back), and I offered 5 Lessons on Vendor Performance.  This is one of several areas I highlighted in one of my all-time favorite blog posts, Business Strategy for the Economic Recovery.  I was pleased when I saw Caterpillar setting a good example, meeting with it's vendors to asses their ability to respond to the Bullwhip Effect.

Business management suggestion: identify all of your critical vendors, and talk with each one.  Not just to the sales guy, but to the president or operations manager.  Ask probing questions about their staffing of people with key skills, their working capital, their relationships with their vendors.

After you're done evaluating your vendor's ability to perform for you, run through other issues that will arise as the economy continues to expand.