Whatever the industry, manufacturers continue to struggle with their supply chains. In one study, 26% of automotive manufacturers stated that supply chain risk, reliability and flexibility are their business’ top challenges over the next 12 to 24 months. The concerns are similar in aerospace and defense, where a report from Ernst and Young ranked managing the supply chain and performing on key contracts among manufacturers top five concerns.

Where there’s supply chain risk, there’s bound to be issues with quality. That’s where a system for automating supplier interactions, from sourcing and purchasing, through APQP, can help. A cloud-based supplier portal can automate supplier interactions, so you can improve your performance, improve relationships with suppliers, innovate more effectively and rapidly, and ultimately, improve the quality or your manufactured parts and products to grow your bottom line.

Quality issues often start with lack of visibility. If you have to check 18 different spreadsheets (most of which are probably out of date or inaccurate) to get a picture of your suppliers’ performance, your quality is bound to suffer. With a system for automating supplier interactions, you get one true source of data, so you can better understand supplier performance. You’re able to see historical performance and feedback in terms of quality, defects per million, and ability to deliver. This information allows you to make better decisions on sourcing.

After all, better data makes for better problem solving, and better problem solving makes for better manufacturing quality. In a manufacturing quality report from Deloitte, about 95% percent of respondents said they believe that closing the gap in problem-solving would have a moderate to extremely high impact on quality.

But there’s more to improving quality than just improving data quality and your ability to see that data. Improving your ability to act upon that data easily and effectively also has a tremendous impact on quality. A cloud-based supplier portal helps improve quality by eliminating manual processes. Instead of having to go to seven different systems for information, you’ll have all the information you need to make smart decisions in one place. And you’ll know that information is up-to-date and accurate. You’ll eliminate repetition of effort and shorten the time to put together a BOM or RFQ by as much as 80-90%. With all this extra time, your buyers can work on coaching suppliers who are struggling and get them up to speed. Rather than dumping a struggling supplier, you’ll be able to bring them back up to standards and improve their (and your) performance and quality.

This ability to accurately assess, measure, and respond to your suppliers leads to quality improvements in other ways, as well. With a cloud-based supplier portal, you’ll have the information and open communication platform you need to more closely collaborate with your suppliers. You’ll be able to see where there are bottlenecks, tooling that isn’t performing as expected, and waste happening. Working hand-in-hand, you and your suppliers can work to innovate and improve performance across the board, so everyone comes out ahead.