Forming healthy and efficient supply chain relationships is as important for small and medium businesses (SMBs) as it is for large enterprises, and small businesses are taking up emerging and automated technologies to ensure supply chain hygiene and an uninterrupted supply chain process.
Maintaining and nurturing relationships with suppliers is critical, with on-time and consistent supplier payments ensuring product and service deliveries consistently support customer needs. This benefits suppliers themselves, who value consistent and on-time payments, resulting in a win-win relationship for both the SMB and the supplier.
Forming strong and reliable relationships with suppliers based on trust is crucial for businesses across all industries. Strong supply chain relationships enhance operational efficiency and workflows. This ensures customers are well looked after, in turn fuelling business growth. Fostering and maintaining strong relationships with various suppliers is essential to the smooth running of most businesses, and managers need to develop good supply chain hygiene that supports suppliers and delivery processes.
Missed or late payments can fracture supplier relationships, with potentially devastating results for businesses. Organisations at the end point of the supply chain need to remember that supply chain players run a business too – so late or inconsistent payments can frustrate them and set them back.
Payment issues can result in late deliveries, and even cause suppliers to cease contracts and deliveries altogether. This can significantly impact business operations, leaving consumers waiting for orders and stock, employees under-resourced, and managers scrambling to find new suppliers they can rely on.
Earning a name for inconsistent payments can also present a roadblock for SMBs looking to grow in the market, and developing relationships with additional suppliers.
Human error – moving to tech
Unfortunately, many payment mishaps are a result of human error or poor finance data practices. Manual invoice processing opens SMBs up to supply chain risks, because physical invoices and pending expense notes can easily be lost, stolen or damaged, jeopardising relationships with suppliers.
Digitalising expense and payment data can help businesses more effectively keep track of past, future, and ongoing finance requirements, meaning all upcoming payments for inventory and services are easily stored and viewable. Being able to view payment data and timelines on a central, online, and accessible app makes it easy for managers and finance employees to foresee nearing payments, and prepare for these transactions ahead of time.
This also saves SMBs significant time in the long run, with fewer receipts and invoices to chase up, and fewer finance reporting inaccuracies to correct. Most importantly, it means supply chain expectations and obligations are met, and relationships between suppliers and their customers remain sturdy.
The importance of strong supply chain management can’t be underestimated in an SMB’s pathway to stability and growth. Losing valued relationships with suppliers over something as trivial as a missed payment is avoidable, especially when modern options are available to digitalise and better manage payment data. Small businesses looking to grow need to acknowledge the vital nature of their various supply chains, and ensure reliable suppliers are met with the right payments at the right times. These often trust-based relationships are imperative to ensuring business livelihood, and an opportunity for them to forge a stronger presence in the market.
Fabian Calle is General Manager, SMB and Nationals, ANZ, at SAP Concur.