October 29, 2021
Written by
Darragh Toolan

Five reasons to hold supplier innovation awards

It seems that every major company is holding supplier innovation awards, from Vodafone to Asda, all the major players are at it. So why are the companies in the know hosting these kinds of awards, and should we jump on the bandwagon?

Gold award trophy on blue background

In short, the answer is a resounding yes; supplier innovation awards are one of the best ways we can drive a real impact throughout our companies.  The consequences of holding these awards are huge, and I’ve rounded up what I believe are 5 main reasons to hold supplier innovation awards:

They strengthen relationships with stakeholders

At their heart, supplier innovation awards are a way to recognise the superb achievements of outstanding suppliers.  They are a way to express gratitude towards the hard work that’s been put in during the past year.  The president of CEMEX Mexico, Juan Romero, says that the CEMEX “INTEGRATE your ideas” awards provided a way to:

“strengthen our relationships with all our key stakeholders”

It makes sense.  Our suppliers work tirelessly for us, so ensuring that our gratitude is heard is going to improve relationships on all sides.  A simple thank you goes a long way.

It encourages and emphasises a company's best practices and values

Supplier innovation awards can often be adapted to include certain values that a company wants to emulate.  Take the NDA estate supply chain awards, they include, as one of their categories, collaboration, a category whose guidelines also double up as collaboration best practice. It includes examples such as:

“suppliers who have brought together everyone involved in the delivery of a project or contract” and suppliers who are “working towards a common goal and finding collaborative solutions to problems”.

Not only does this promote best practice within a company, it also offers an incentive for suppliers to focus on a company’s important goals and values.  Which suppliers are going to focus on collaboration more? Suppliers who are doing it of their own accord, and with no concrete hope of a reward.  Or, suppliers who are encouraged and rewarded for seeking collaboration?

It's a fantastic first step in the journey to creating a positive company culture

People often talk about the benefits of creating a certain company culture, but no one ever seems to know exactly how to go about creating one.  Holding supplier innovation awards is a perfect first step; not only, as I said in point 1, does it strengthen relationships between you and your suppliers (a crucial first step to innovation).  It also creates a culture of gratitude and thanks, where hard work is encouraged and awarded.  A culture where suppliers will want to innovate for you.

It helps you improve innovation

While supplier innovation awards help encourage innovation (we’ll get to that one later), they also help you to make informed decisions about innovation.  It makes sense that by sifting through examples of innovation and deciding on the best ones, you’ll start getting attuned to what the best kinds of innovation looks like to you.  The more you investigate the best innovations in your supply base, the quicker you’ll get at recognising the best.  Another sneaky way that holding these kinds of awards helps improve innovation, is that you can begin to access the most innovative suppliers in your field.  For example, Asda sponsors “The Innovation Award” within the Bakery Industry Awards.  The suppliers which are nominated don’t have to be the current suppliers for ASDA, which means that ASDA has access to a handpicked list of suppliers leading innovation.

Finally, it develops supplier innovation

The most obvious reason to hold supplier innovation awards is because it provides an incentive for suppliers to focus on innovation.  It’s all well and good to sermonise on how your company values innovation, and want’s to promote it within its supply chain.  Too often we say that we care about innovation, only to go and focus on the same old dinosaur price reduction.  Supplier Innovation awards are the best way to put your money where your mouth is and actually reward your suppliers for their innovation.

Holding supplier innovation awards is a great way to strengthen your relationships, encourage best practices, create a positive company culture, gain clarity on and encourage innovation.  But the best reason to hold supplier innovation awards?  It provides a bit of fun.  Holding an awards ceremony can be a great way to allow everyone to let their hair down at the end of a hard year.  It enables people from a company who wouldn’t normally interact to come together and celebrate their mutual achievements.

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