29 Oct
Written by
Vizibl Professional Services Team

How to begin setting SMART goals with suppliers

Now more so than ever, we’ve had days where we are chained to our laptops for hours on end, with zero time to get our heads up and suddenly its 6pm and you are left wondering what you accomplished? How did so many hours fly by with numerous meetings and emails completed but with nothing substantial to show for it?

Five post its with the words Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound

This can also be the case in how we interact with our suppliers. In this article we aim to give you a starting point on how to set goals with suppliers to ensure you have good strategic direction towards what it is you want to achieve.

"The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”
Bill Copeland

The importance of setting goals is not exactly a new topic of conversation in 2020, but one might be surprised at how many forget to set up goals not only in their personal or professional lives, but importantly throughout the lifecycle of a relationship with a supplier or partner.

Why might this often be the case when it is so logical that goals are vital to productivity?

Goal-setting is not always well-embedded into our personal or professional approaches. It is something people consider when they start a new job or the New Year comes around, but the follow-through is not always consistent. Think about it: how many people say they will make a goal to go to the gym more, quit smoking, read more books, give more to the community, wake up earlier, be better, etc? And how many fail to keep up with their goals?

Having goals is an essential first step to drafting your plans and actions to reach your objectives and collaborate across your teams or organisation. However, it is important to keep in mind that having too many goals, having vague ones, or only process-focused goals could easily push one towards failure of achieving any at all.

Setting SMART Goals For Procurement

To avoid stumbling blocks or even complete failure of achieving goals, you need to clarify your ideas, focus efforts, and use your resources productively. A proven method of doing so effectively is by adopting the SMART goals approach:

  • Specific (keep it simple but significant, stay away from ambiguities)
  • Measurable (easily quantifiable)
  • Achievable (agreed with those involved so that they can be attainable)
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and results-based)
  • Time bound (time-based, time-limited, timely and time-sensitive)

Why would such a basic concept be the best recommendation we could come up with?

This is simple: it keeps you away from setting up unattainable goals and helps navigate difficulties. It gives you a framework for keeping the base of your goals specific, realistic to your cause, easy to quantify, time-limited and agreed upon.

‘Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless.’
– Morris Chang

So, you might be thinking, all this theory is nice and mostly already known probably by anyone that was ever interested in setting up goals. So basically everyone. But the question is:

How do you convert the theory into practice?

That’s always the hard part.

Well, fear not, this is where we step in to support you in becoming a master in setting up smart goals that will see your business grow and develop exactly, or dare we say, even better than you would’ve ever expected.

Get a quick overview of how to digitise your strategic objectives in Vizibl:

Here our professional services team give you a quick overview on what goal setting and strategic objective setting looks like when digitised In Vizibl.

Step 1: Take time and think about the broad picture

Answer the basic existential question: ‘what do I want?’ – ‘what do I want with this supplier or from a supplier relationship in general?’ – ‘what are good business outcomes for the supplier?’

This will help you visualise the general direction you want to take.

The answer to this question might be: ‘I want to drive innovation and collaboration with my suppliers to improve quality and services to drive overall strategy.’ – ‘I want to enhance my relationship with my suppliers to help both our businesses grow in a mutual satisfactory way’ – ‘I want to be a champion in setting up great relationships with suppliers that drive trust and bring a real joy in the mutual engagement and collaboration’

Step 2: Set up a timeline for it

Vision established, you can start answering ‘when or by when do I want that to happen?’ This should then give you an overall idea of how much time you need to invest in it.

Step 3: Start breaking it down into actionable steps

Don’t worry too much about making them smart yet, just try and break that overall vision down into some clear steps.

For example, say your Vision is:

Vision: ‘I want to drive innovation and collaboration with my suppliers’.

In this case, one goal might then be:

  • Create a positive, accessible environment that enables suppliers to easily propose innovation ideas.

Another goal could be:

  • Ensure you are able to capture and track all innovation ideas with your suppliers – and then, subsequently from this – ensure you have an innovation review process that can help you analyse these and determine which ideas are worth investing in.

This will allow you to capture the benchmark of how many ideas are being presented – from there you can create quantifiable and time-bound goals to increase those innovation ideas and also to track the outcomes of ideas that are being invested in.

Or say your Vision is:

Vision example: ‘I want to enhance my relationship with my suppliers to help both our businesses grow in a mutually satisfactory way’

Example Goal 1:

  • Research and adopt a software that enables both parties to track their business objectives – which would then lead into – supporting in achieving those objectives.

Or maybe your answer is that ‘I want to be a champion in setting up great relationships with suppliers that drive trust and bring real joy to the mutual engagement and collaboration.’

In this case, your goal may be: have your suppliers act as advocates for your company.

Step 4: Get specific!

From the scenarios above, your goal of:

“Research and adopt a software that enables both parties to track their business objectives” then translates into:

  • 1 month research of software tools, shortlist and present back to the businesses in the following month to then reach a proposal by X time (3 months from now for instance).

Or your goal of “having your suppliers act as advocates for your company “could then translate into:

  • Have 3 different suppliers from your tier 1 base act as advocates for your company by next quarter.

The more specific you are, the better and easier to track and measure.

Of course, all of these are just examples and your goals might be different to the above, but the idea is to give you practical ways of how broad, just ‘pie in the sky’ almost-visions could be translated into clear, specific, timed and actionable steps.

Step 5: Always recheck your goals

One way to check is to assess your goals based on the SMART definition.

Another, more practical way to check is to go through your goals one by one and try to answer the fundamental questions: ‘why, what, who, how, when?’

If you can answer all of these for every goal, then you’re good.

If you can’t answer all of these for every goal, then you’re still good. Why? Because you’ve identified what it is you can’t answer and therefore what needs amending to be able to confidently SMART them up.

To sum it up, get to the why, what, how, when and who. Don’t overthink it!

Right now it is more imperative than ever to start shaping up your goals with your suppliers. See if you can set 3 smart goals based on what we’ve outlined here and share your feedback with us on how you progressed, or talk to one of our amazing services team through our chat on the right!

Until next time.

Authored by Alexandra Damian & Alexandra Bitang

Published May 2020.

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