Innovation-oriented purchasing: characteristics, success factors and bottlenecks

How can different types of collaborations with suppliers lead to innovation? What are the success factors in managing supplier collaborations? And how do you limit the risks that a collaboration entails? Supply Value has researched the role of purchasing in collaborations with suppliers that should lead to innovation.

Innovation is essential for companies that have to compete in a rapidly changing industry. Suppliers often have complementary knowledge and skills and are therefore frequently approached for collaborations. The purchasing function has an important role in managing collaborations with suppliers. Previous research into purchasing trends showed that innovation is an important issue for purchasing managers. With a follow-up research, Supply Value researched how innovation-oriented procurement looks like for different types of collaborations with suppliers. And more importantly, what the characteristics, success factors and bottlenecks are.

Research Supply Value
In order to classify various collaborations with suppliers, use was made of the 'Dutch-Windmill Model', which is an extension of the well-known 'Kraljic Matrix'. Activities that have been researched because purchasing plays an important role in this are (1) supplier selection, (2) supplier development, (3) supplier integration and (4) supplier involvement (at NPD). Interviews were conducted with buyers, purchasing managers and purchase managers of innovative companies for this research. The interviewees came up with concrete examples in which collaborations with suppliers have contributed to innovation.

The research results show that four different types of collaborations that lead to innovation can be distinguished. The results can help purchasing professionals, because for each of these collaborations it has been determined how you can recognize them, what the success factors are and what the possible pitfalls are. In all partnerships, it is important that suppliers are given the opportunity to contribute ideas for innovation. In addition, trust between the two parties is an important condition for entering into a partnership. The results show that purchasing has a significant role in managing such collaborations and how purchasing can manage different types of collaborations. The results also provide answers on why it is likely that suppliers want to cooperate.

Do you want to get started with innovation-oriented purchasing? Curious about the bottlenecks and success factors?

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Gert van Beek (