When inviting tenders from suppliers, you should always ask: “If your existing supplier withdraws their service, how would you ensure business continuity?”
Your company may be obliged to review and retender its supplier contracts from time to time. Or maybe you’re not happy with your existing print supplier (or agency or props supplier). Nevertheless, divorcing them and finding someone new can be a real headache.
After all, that marketing agency or print manufacturer might have let themselves go a bit. But at least they understand your quirks. Your likes and dislikes. Even if they don’t always go along with them.
Add to this the risk of a failure in supply if the divorce gets messy, and you could be moving from a business continuity issue to disaster recovery.
Let’s say you put £25 million in print a year through your main print supplier. That’s a lot of work for them to lose, and they’re unlikely to be happy about the loss.
They may hold significant assets and imagery of yours that suddenly become difficult to find. Their presses might suddenly become very busy. They may just tell you they’re not interested in a smooth transition to your new supplier, helping to bed them in and handing over the work project by project.
If they simply walk away, can your new supplier pick up the pieces on day one?
New supplier responsibilities
We’ve transitioned in the region of £250 million of print to our supply chain over the past five years. That means we understand how much incumbent suppliers vary in their willingness to play ball with smooth transitions.
We know that an airtight disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity is essential during a handover between suppliers. Our experience has given us a certain expertise in business continuity – and your new supplier should have that expertise, too.
Requests for proposals (RFP) tend to focus on normal delivery conditions. However, you need to know before you appoint a new supplier how they would cope under extraordinary conditions.
Business continuity plan
Whatever timescale you agree with your new supplier, you should receive guarantees that they can activate their business continuity plan immediately should the supply chain fail.
This should include:
• Full production capacity and capability from day one
• Plan in place to transfer stock to a fully operational warehouse in a timescale that causes no disruption to logistics
• Pre-agreed and named transition team able to be in place from day one
• Ability to deploy any software required to replace an incumbent’s, should this be required
Following this immediate response, you need to ensure that the potential supplier also has a tested plan in place that covers areas (in the case of print) such as materials availability, communications, stock information, data requirements, and much more. Different types of supplier need to cover different areas.
Probably most importantly, they shouldn’t charge you a premium to deliver early. At the proposal stage, ensure their commitment to being fully transparent and guaranteed pricing in the event you trigger the disaster recovery plan during the transition.
Ideally, you want a civilised divorce from your incumbent supplier, where no one talks about disaster recovery.
Nevertheless, if you don’t interrogate your prospective suppliers’ business continuity plans during the RFP process, you may be courting disaster.
We’ve known for a while that agile marketing – continuously developing and refining your marketing activity to improve your response to unfolding events and customer activity – can increase speed to market and foster more effective customer engagement than relying on those rigid old long-term marketing plans.
But to be truly agile, you need adequate data – from measuring the efficiency of your marketing operation to assessing customer sentiment and the effectiveness of your engagement across all digital and social channels. Knowledge really is power.
The problem most marketers face is not lack of data – every aspect of your digital activity generates reams of real-time information – but the ability to glue together these data feeds and interpret the information in a rapid and meaningful way.
That’s why we introduced Status. Status is our data visualisation and analysis tool, which complements our Media Centre MRM platform. It takes real-time data from all your marketing activity and presents it in an easy-to-read-and-interpret series of dashboards.
The faster you can access these insights, the more quickly you can assess what is working and use this intelligence to increase marketing performance, engagement and – what ultimately interests us all – sales.
Agile marketing often breaks down when information is either not shared by different teams due to siloed ways of working, or when third-party agencies retain the data. It also fails when your technology spits out information that other platforms can’t read.
Status solves these problems through being platform-agnostic. It can pull in data from marketing platforms such as our Media Centre, as well as numerous other sources, including Twitter, Facebook, SAP, Google AdWords, Google Analytics and Campaign Monitor.
It can combine marketing data with sales data, production, delivery and stock information, and financial and budgetary data, giving you total visibility of your entire operation.
As a cloud-based app, Status enables you to view your real-time data on any desktop or mobile device. You can view broad overviews of activity or drill down to a granular level of information on any area of your operation.
Not only does Status provide valuable real-time insights, it helps you measure your return on investment by showing the impact of your campaigns on sales. You can see which channels work best at driving specific engagement, while the agility and insights it provides gives you more time to plan more effective campaign strategies.
But best of all, it’s easy to understand and navigate – you don’t need an IT degree to interpret the data and develop meaningful strategies. We supply it with expert training and setup, and ongoing development and support.
Until next time
About Simon Ward
Simon Ward ITG – Simon is the founder and CEO of pioneering technology-led marketing company, Inspired Thinking Group (ITG). ITG delivers best-in-class marketing software, procurement and studio services to dozens of blue-chip clients, including Audi, M&S, KFC, PUMA and Heineken.
Simon Ward SP Group – Prior to ITG, Simon founded SP Digital in 1998, and in 1999 bought SP Print to form SP Group, creating innovative marketing and point of sale displays for some of the world’s best-known retailers, including M&S, Sainsbury’s, Holland & Barrett and Calvin Klein.