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Editor’s Note: Today’s blog is by Dr. Muddassir Ahmed of In this blog he provides a simple reference guide to better yourself as a supply chain leader.

Why Focus?

Supplier Development is a proactive & reactive business process that aims to increase the performance
and/or capabilities of the supplier and meet companies’ short- and/or long-term supply needs. You can read the detailed technical definition here. Moreover, Supplier Development promotes ongoing improvements that are intended to benefit both your company and supplier(s).It is important to note that the above focus does not take into account short-term efforts to improve cost, quality or delivery issues with supplier(s) to meet companies’ expectations. Supplier Development focuses on long terms systematic improvement to attain sustained performance. The process of supplier development can be both direct and indirect. It is important to know the difference to manage your resources.

Supplier Quality is responsible for tracking and improving our approved suppliers’ performance regarding the number of complaints, caused line stop/ escapes, DPPM. We value our suppliers and in the meantime challenge them to take responsibility and ownership in our effort to improve our services and product quality continuously. Each business level should define its weakest supplier pool (Focus 5) where shared efforts with impacted suppliers must be carried out to gain acceptable quality level as defined in your company Quality Objectives. The reason for the Focus 5 listing can be serious Quality Escape, bad DPPM, negative complaint rate trend or weak On-time delivery performance in the last 12 month.

What Value You Will Get?

Supplier Development contributes towards 5 Key Work Streams in Supply Base:                        
1) Drive the Development of High-Risk Supplier Products and Processes Using Commodity Specialists and an Effective APQP Management Process.                                                                         
2) Implement Continuous Improvement Projects (Lean, Process Capability, Six Sigma) with Key Strategic Suppliers to Drive Cost-Out and Supply Base Capability.                                                    
3) Reduce Supply Base Risk by the Effective Application of Focused Systemic Improvements and Risk Factor Analysis.                                                                                                                                          
4) Improve Materials Management Competency in Supply Base.                                             
5) Ongoing Assessment of Key Supplier Site Metrics to Ensure Business Continuity with Companies’ Requirement and Proactively Identify Potential Risk Factors

Effective Supplier Quality activities strengthen supplier performance via controlled supplier qualification and selection, part validation, incoming inspection and claim management.

How to Track Performance

Every business has their set of metric which they want to focus on. Here are few examples which I used:

  • Focus Supplier improvement results (DPPM and/or OTD with min. 50% improvement) min. 10% YoY
    improvement on Supplier DPPM
  • 100% chargeback for Quality Escapes caused by External suppliers
  • 100% adherence to the Supplier Self-Assessment &  Supplier Qualification process
  • Closure rate/time for Defective Material Report
  • Lead Time Reduction in Supply Chain

How to Manage Performance

  • Monthly Supplier Quality meetings are scheduled with each supply chain Leader and their direct reports.
  • Establish Supplier Development Projects deck for each business with clear business case and deliverables to achieve stretch development goals.
  • Conduct Quarterly Business Reviews with key/strategic partners
  • Conduct scheduled process audits to focus supplier processes
  • Have structured Supplier Self Assessment process which should be done by both buyer and supplier to compare views on supplier rating criteria.

Key Questions You Should Ask as Supply Chain Leader


  • What are the Top 10 Regional Strategic or Potential Supplier where we need to launch Supplier Development Projects to drive continuous improvement or drive competitive advantage? 
  • How do we follow Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)? Do suppliers comply with our PPAP requests?
  • Do we launch and maintain Supplier Development Projects for “Focus 5” Suppliers for each site?
  • Have our suppliers been qualified via former Quality System Assessment or Supplier Self-Assessment process?
  • How do we deal with supplier risk assessments including geopolitical, natural disaster, & business continuity planning?

    At the plant level:

  • Who are the top 3 troubled suppliers and what actions are being taken to address their performance?
  • Describe the DMR process, show examples of written DMRs and what is the process for reviewing the corrective actions?


  • Are our SCM people aware of Quality Manual or Guidelines available in business?
  • Do we communicate Supplier Excellence Manual constantly towards suppliers?
  • Do our site level people know the escalation path in case of significant Supplier Quality issues?
  • What specific actions are included on each Supplier Quality/Development Engineer’s development plan and what competency is that plan addressing?


  • Do we have qualified people to do supplier system and process audits?
  • Have our Supplier Development and Supplier Quality Engineering completed necessary training of supplier quality tools like Advance Production Quality Planning (APQP)?

About Author

Dr. Muddassir Ahmed is a Manufacturing Operations, Procurement and Supply Chain leader from international multi-site manufacturing experience in Electrical, Hydraulics and Internet industries. With considerable experience in deploying Continuous Improvement best practices in Europe, Middle East & Africa. You can follow his blog or contact him on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin