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In contract part, I mentioned the supplier manual, and bracketed it with employee manuals. Anyone that once got in touch with human resource management department may be impressed that each company utilizes the seemingly similar organizational structures in spite of differences in minor points. Moreover, companies with basic management system must also possess employee manuals—they merely differ in contents from companies to companies, as their goals are the same: to list rules and regulations and measures of reward and punishment in advance, to make preliminary guidelines in advances and create criteria for operations.


Similarly, supplier manuals guide and restrict suppliers. The most ideal condition must be the contract signed before suppliers entering the business system. However, this is not always the case.



First of all, it may be possible that enterprises are weak in managing suppliers so that they do not have supplier manuals temporarily. Instead, they act simply according to acquaintances and procurement orders. Most of the small foreign merchandisers do not have supplier manual either.


Secondly, if they have supplier manuals, enterprises need to treat new suppliers and existing suppliers differently. For new suppliers, the enterprises can require all of them to sign, while for existing suppliers, it should depend on the purchasing quadrant they belong to. It may be because supplier manual had not been signed for various reasons at the time suppliers entered the system, or it may be because that supplier manuals were compiled after suppliers entered the system— one of the conditions listed above. At this time, supplier manuals are compiled based of practices, and requirements for future are also added. Thus, suppliers appear to be unwilling to sign. Therefore, enterprises should discuss with existing suppliers and amend the contents of manuals slightly for different suppliers.


Thirdly, the most common phenomenon is the update of existing supplier manuals. More often than not, the change of leadership or business strategy, and new leaders bring in new management philosophy, especially that in procurement. For news suppliers, the new policy shall be followed , but for existing suppliers, one of the important links is to keep the coherence and consistency of policies. Thus, they need to compare new manuals with past ones repeatedly and consider carefully to ensure the deleted or added terms are appropriate. Meanwhile, if the enterprises are group companies, they have to pay attention to the general direction of the headquarters’ as well, even can they synchronize with and copy  from the group directly.

供应商手册的内容应该是采购或者供应合同的补充,就如同员工手册与员工合同是两件文书一样。从笔者观察的近30份不同组织的供应商手册来看,供应合同重点在于商务板块,而更多的组织把供应商手册的重点放在质量系统的要求和期望,是对ISO9001 和 ISO/TS16949 的内涵的具体解读和实施。

The content of supplier manuals should be the supplement of procurement or supply contract, just as the employee manual and employee contract are two documents. From my observation of nearly 30 supplier manuals from different organizations, the emphasis of supply contract  lies in business and commercial areas, yet more organizations put emphasis of supplier manuals on requirement and expectation of quality system, regarding them as the detailed interpretation and implementation of ISO9001 and ISO/TS16949.


The framework of the content of supplier manuals is as the following, and the sequence is varied from enterprises to enterprises:

  1. 概要Quality General
  2. 供应商评估Supplier Assessment Survey
  3. 高级产品质量策划Advanced Product Quality Planning
  4. 过程批准Process Sign-off
  5. 部件提交及批准Supplier Part Submission
  6. 产品环保指令要求 Product Non-hazardous substances
  7. 测量系统分析Measurement System Analysis (MSA)
  8. 统计过程控制Statistical Process Control
  9. 绩效跟踪Performance Monitoring
  10. 验收及退货Receiving Control
  11. 投诉及问题解决流程Problem Solving Documentation
  12. 质量评审Supplier Management Quality Review (MQR)
  13. 升级及围堵Escalation and Containment
  14. 变更管理Supplier Request For Change
  15. 质保Supplier Warranty


The various trend for supplement has appeared on the above basis.

第一是对整个供应链的关注(Supply Chain Collaboration),而不只是下一级供应商,因为越来越多的组织意识到要致胜,不能单凭自身和下一级供应商,而是整个供应链。

Firstly, the Supply Chain Collaboration. The focus should be paid on the whole supply chain rather than merely the sub-suppliers. Because more and more organizations became to realize that they cannot solely rely on themselves or sub-suppliers but the whole supply chain to win the competition.

第二是供应商手册里包含各类法规要求,劳动法规,环境法规,健康安全法令等等,也就是跨国企业里普遍关注的企业社会责任(Social Responsibility),因为这些要求已经变为一种终端用户选择产品的其中一个考量,同时是上游客户营销的一个推广点,它们不仅来自于政府监管,和法律条文,更加来自于客户的直接要求。

Secondly, the supplier manuals contain various laws and regulations, such as labor laws, environmental laws, health and safety laws and so on. These are also social responsibilities that multinational enterprises generally pay attention to, since these requirements have already become one of the factors that affect consumers’ selections for products and a brand proposition for upstream customers. Not only do them come from government’s regulations and laws, but they also come from direct command of customers.

第三种趋势是对产品品牌及包装(Branding and Packaging)的关注,因为好的品牌设计和维护是增值的,而好的包装设计不仅可以有效保护产品,同时可以改善物流运输环节的效率,甚至促进销售,同样也是为产品加分的。

The third trend is the focus on branding of packaging of products, because good product design and maintenance are value-added. Good packaging design, however, can both protect products effectively and improve the efficiency of logistics and transportation, even promote sales. Thus, it also adds value to products.


Furthermore, supplier manuals are also known as supplier quality manuals in some organizations. Thus, requirements for business are not included. If content regarding business as followings can be included, then it is more appropriate to call them supplier manuals.

  1. 订货流程Order Process
  2. 交付流程Delivery Process
  3. 价格及付款Price and Payment
  4. 知识产权Intellectual Property

供应商手册如同ISO9001 管理质量手册,在供应商管理还没有像目前质量管理的流程如此成熟之前,它只是组织管理供应商的一个大的框架。在此之下的每个章节都应该有具体的操作流程,和工具,而这些就如同ISO9001下的作业指导书和表格表单。而因为它是一块奠基石,因此又务必要重视。

Supplier manuals just like ISO9001 quality management manuals, which act merely as big frameworks for organizing and managing suppliers before the process of supplier management becomes as mature as that of current quality management. Under this circumstance, every chapter should have its own operation process as well as tools, which act as working instructions and form under ISO9001. It is because supplier manuals are cornerstones that they should be highlighted.


In practice, it is the quality department that take the responsibility of drafting and compiling supplier manuals. They usually discuss with other departments or teams to decide on the final version, especially with the purchasing department to ensure the stability and conditionality of the iron triangle, composed of quality, cost and delivery time. Simultaneously, participation of other departments is ensured to reduce resistance and cost of implementation. In addition, there are dozens of pages involved for compilation. Thus, it is hard to ensure that suppliers have read them carefully no matter they are printed and compiled in volumes or sent to suppliers in electronic versions, or published in the suppliers’ network access ports, since most of them just give a glimpse carelessly. Thus, to ensure that suppliers have understand these requirements listed carefully, it is better to explain these requirements and content with suppliers face to face at the beginning of the startup of key suppliers and understand difficult points for implementation. Firstly, it can eliminate understandings from suppliers. Secondly, appropriate modification can be made before the agreement is signed. Thirdly, it can be the reference for modification next time.


Please check the examples for supplier manuals at the download page.


Great Acknowledge Given to Ms. Akiko Wang from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies for Translation

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