The Definition of Success (Metrics)

Ready to continue building your supplier matrix?

In the last article, we talked about the first building block: reviewing the core tenets and values that explain the WHY behind your business.

In this article, you’ll discover how to translate those values into measures of supplier success.

Identify 5 to 7 Key Differentiators

To bring your business vision to life (or to keep it thriving and growing), you and your suppliers need to be simpatico when it comes to core values.

Your suppliers don’t need to reflect every single value in your business model, but they should mirror the most important ones. Therefore, think about the qualities that truly set your business apart—in other words, your key differentiators.

For example, is one of those differentiators offering timely service to your customers? Having the most innovative trends? Or perhaps offering rock bottom pricing?

Make a list of those unique and defining qualities. 5 to 7 should suffice.

Define Your Measures

Now the fun begins. How do you measure the differentiators you’ve just identified?

But hey, why measure at all? Well, the guiding principle here is “what gets measured, gets improved,” an axiom famously coined by Peter Drucker or Robin S. Sharma (there’s some debate on this one). Measures are the way you can keep elevating your suppliers’ performance—and fully deliver your value proposition to customers.

Here are a few ways to think about those measurements.

Type Best Described As Example
Binary An answer to a yes or no question Is the product made in the US?

Is the product certified organic?

Quantitative A number to strive for 100% on-time shipments

1M units

Production per month

Scale A range of performance, such as:
Good for measuring qualities that don’t lend themselves well to numbers, such as innovation

To gain a full understanding of a supplier’s performance, you’ll probably want a mix of objective and subjective measurements. And while I’ll happily admit that some things can’t be measured, I’d also encourage you to think creatively about those “difficult” differentiators. Find ways to translate them into meaningful metrics to help you and your suppliers improve.

Making Things More Concrete

Wondering how this part of your supplier matrix might actually start looking on paper? Perhaps this simple example will help.

Key Differentiator Measurement (s)
#1 Best New Products  Innovation (H/M/L Scale)
#2 Responsible Global Production GOTS Certified (Y/N Binary)
#3 Responsible Global Citizens Required list of COPs
#4 There where you need us (i.e. – growing into new markets) Supplier capacity (Binary: 3M units or Quantitative: % available to secure)
#5 Always instock, All the time On Time Shipment Rates, Fill Rates (Quantitative)

There’s More Help Out There, Too

The process of developing and staying close to these measures is challenging. Fortunately, there are some great resources out there to help you succeed. In my work, I’ve found Radical Focus and Traction to be incredibly helpful.

Next Up . . .

You’ve just learned to define your measures of success based on your key differentiators. The next step in building your matrix is to assess your suppliers’ performance in comparison to those metrics—and to figure out what it tells you about your suppliers . . . and your business.

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