Well, I admit, I barely did more than bat an eyelash when Dell announced its recall of 4.1 million batteries manufactured by its supplier, Sony.

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But when I read today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article about Apple recalling an additional million Sony batteries, I sat up and took notice! This, my friend, is a big issue for purchasing professionals!

This story (or combination of stories) is an example of how critical supplier performance can be. There is chatter about the reputations and stock prices of both Dell and Apple being negatively impacted – huge issues in the eyes of senior management.

I also found it fascinating that CNN quoted Dell chairman Michael Dell as saying “We have confidence that they have taken the right countermeasures and the process is now secure. We expect that Sony will continue to be a good supplier of batteries for us.”

Think about that. A chairman publicly commenting on a supplier quality issue to the international press.

I’ve had a lot of diverse experience in my purchasing career. But, thankfully, I can say that I’ve never experienced a chairman commenting on a supplier performance nightmare for a supplier that was under my watch!

I have many questions about this situation and invite you to share your comments on these questions…

We know that Sony manufactured the batteries. But who designed them? Sony? Apple & Dell? Apple/Dell and Sony?

Do you feel that it would make a difference if the customer (Apple/Dell) designed them?

Who selected Sony as the supplier? If top executives are commenting about the supplier, was it a strategic partnership that was negotiated at the highest levels of both organizations? Or were single purchasing agents at both customers responsible for the supplier selection process?

Is the battery supply market so tight that the computer manufacturers stick with Sony where, if it was another industry, the supplier would be history?

How much should public relations influence supplier selection or the “firing” of a supplier?

Do you agree with Michael Dell that dumping Sony would be an ill-advised, knee-jerk reaction?

OK. Let your opinions loose!

Charles Dominick, SPSM
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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