Strategic cooperation between purchasing and supplier: in 6 steps

Technological developments, increasingly shorter lead times, uncertain economic times and increasing globalization.

build picture-bridgesStrategic collaborations between organizations are therefore becoming increasingly important in order to survive in our dynamic society. I also come across this phenomenon as a purchasing consultant. Buyers are more often looking for strategic partnerships with major suppliers. This means, however, that an equal partnership must be formed between the (procurement) organization and supplier, with both parties being dependent on each other. In this blog I describe in 6 steps that buyers have to take into account when forming strategic partnerships.

6 steps for optimal strategic cooperation

In the step-by-step plan below, I explain in 6 steps how a strategic collaboration can be achieved as optimally as possible. In addition to the 6 steps, there are two aspects that are important during the entire process (from the start of the collaboration to the evaluation).

image-strategic analysis

Step 1: Strategic analysis

View from your own organization what the long-term goals are and what strategy there is to achieve these objectives. What contribution does the collaboration make to achieving your strategic goals?

Step 2: Preparation cooperation

In strategic collaborations it is smart to set up a project team that sets the goals of the collaboration (for example use our balanced score card) and determine the conditions for a collaboration. In this step, it is also possible to think carefully about the profile of an ideal partner.

Step 3: Select partner

In step 3, the most suitable partner for a collaboration is selected. The value of a strategic collaboration lies in mutual dependence. How compatible are the goals and strategies of both parties? What do both parties want to achieve with cooperation? When the supplier looks for cost savings and the purchasing organization knowledge development, the collaboration is doomed to fail.

Step 4: Structure cooperation

In step 4 it is determined which structure fits best with the cooperation. Is there sufficient confidence at the start of the collaboration or is more control required? How dependent do both parties want to be from each other? How long will the collaboration last? Use the above questions to determine which structure best suits the collaboration and from when the collaboration starts.

Step 5: Management cooperation

Make someone explicitly responsible for the collaboration. Make sure you schedule periodic consultations and make a good reporting structure. It is crucial to properly monitor the contributions of both parties in relation to the objectives and to ensure that both parties contribute. Finally, it is important to determine how (confidential) information is handled and how any conflicts are resolved.

Step 6: Evaluation cooperation

At the end of the collaboration and certainly during the collaboration it is important to evaluate. What is the situation with the goals set at the beginning of the collaboration? Try periodically to evaluate so that it can be adjusted in time. Moreover, it is good to not only evaluate with financial indicators, but also, for example, see how much knowledge has been gained through the collaboration or what innovations have resulted from it.

In addition to the six steps, there are 2 essential aspects that can make a collaboration a success: the competencies of the organizations that work and trust together.


  • See if the organization has the right competencies (eg depending on knowledge, skills, mindset, tools and learning mechanisms) to start a collaboration.
  • Ensure that from the start of (starting up) the cooperation is worked on a mutual trust relationship. Only with sufficient confidence can both parties build up an equal relationship where they really become dependent on each other.

How did you organize strategic cooperation within your organization? Is improvement still possible in these collaborations with your suppliers?

Febe Smid
Consultant Supply Value
06 11 24 11 66 or

Do you want to start immediately with the organization or optimization of a strategic collaboration? Download an extensive version of the step-by-step plan below (3 A4 PDF format).