How do you ensure a smooth transition to a new supplier?

It’s always exciting when you are moving to a new supplier. No doubt you will be itching to use them as soon as possible, but how do you make sure the changeover goes smoothly? The key to any transition is a good project manager who can ensure the plan is laid out clearly and then proactively manages the change. 

As a Programme Director with over 16 year’s experience, I’ve collected five of my best tips for managing a supplier transition project.

 

Make sure you understand the contracts:

Often the person who is delivering the transition wasn’t involved in the contract negotiations.  In order to deliver the benefits, you need to understand why it is happening and what will make it a success.  It’s also important to be aware of any contractual dates so that the plan can factor them in. 

 

Be clear on roles and what people are responsible for:

Critical to any project success is understanding who is delivering what, and by when.  Setting this out early in the project reduces the likelihood of gaps or overlap.  It ensures everyone is clear about what they are accountable to deliver.

The incumbent supplier will most likely need to provide information and support during the changeover, it is better to get this early on. 

 

Allow time for unknowns and create contingency:

Once a plan has been drafted you need to check through it to ensure it is realistic. Often things take more than one delivery to get them right, so ensure you have time baked into the plan for learning and the subsequent changes.

If you have a set date for a supplier exit that cannot be negotiated, you must plan to deliver early to ensure there is no service gap between the suppliers. You can do this by ‘getting ahead’ early in the delivery by accelerating the dates which are being delivered to.  Either through more resource, longer working hours or parallel working activities. This will give you extra time to deal with issues towards the end of the delivery plan, when the trickier problems will arise.

 

Trial and pilot the new service / product:

The best way to make sure you have what you need for the cut over is to trial it with a closed number of users ahead of the final launch.  It’s important that what you trial is the final service, so it is representative.  As per the tip above, if you need to learn during this trial you need to put time in the plan for changes to be delivered and then re-trialed.

 

Communicate, communicate and communicate:

Communications across all the different stakeholders is critical to the success of the transition. You need to ensure that you are joined together as a project team and that your senior stakeholders understand what is being delivered when. Communications is also critical to anyone that is going to be affected by the transition and should be a key part of the launch and cut over to the new supplier. Engage early and ensure it is clear why the move is happening and what it means to them.

 

We hope that this article gives you some insight into planning your next supplier transition. 

 

Written by our Programme Director Jane Noad. For more information and advice, contact Jane at Jane.Noad@novo-k.com.

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