Welcome back to another installment of Whitepaper Wednesday here on the Purchasing Certification Blog. This week, I’ll be reviewing a whitepaper entitled “Driving Lean through Your Supply Chain: The cultivation of a more efficient supplier network” from Intek Plastics.

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First off, I have to say that I really appreciate the fact that this is a whitepaper focused on working with suppliers on Lean initiatives. Many Lean resources talk almost exclusively about internal applications of Lean.

As the basis for the whitepaper, the author concentrates on evaluating suppliers’ adoption of Lean by centering the content around these five questions:

  • Why do I need a Lean supply chain?
  • Why are so many suppliers lagging in Lean?
  • What will I gain by choosing Lean suppliers?
  • What does a real Lean supplier look like?
  • How can I tell if a supplier is really Lean?

It is the last section that is packed with the most actionable information. A few of the many indicators of “true Lean-ness” that the author shares include:

  • Lean that Moves Beyond Manufacturing. The whitepaper says that “You should see evidence of Lean in accounting, new product development, sales, materials management, logistics, and even human resources.”
  • Evidence of a Visual Factory. The whitepaper claims that “Within minutes of setting foot on a Lean supplier’s production floor, you should see cues that it’s a visual factory… [including] metrics boards, Kanban signals, standardized work and maintenance visuals.”
  • Employee Engagement. Citing the fact that a well-done Lean program “empowers and energizes employees,” the whitepaper indicates that a “brief conversation about Lean with a production floor employee will speak volumes about the supplier you’re assessing.”

The whitepaper closes with a handy 15-Point Lean Supplier Checklist. My only complaint about this whitepaper is that it does not reach its potential for a comprehensive reference guide to implementing Lean in the supply chain. For example, while it references the importance of suppliers having value chain maps, it doesn’t really explain the finer points of such maps or provide samples. That being said, at nine pages, it is a quick and easy read for someone who has already gotten an introduction to Lean.

You can download your own copy of this whitepaper from Intek Plastics’ Web site (no registration required).

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
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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