How many supplier site visits (onsite visit to a new supplier to vet them) have you conducted this year? While every supplier doesn’t require a site visit, it is important to do so when it is a:
- Critical supply or service: Meaning, if your supply or service is interrupted, it would be catastrophic, like IV fluids.
- High dollar impact: This would be if the expense is a major investment for your healthcare organization, similar to pacemakers.
- Limited source of supply: If only a few vendors supply a product then you need to make sure you are picking the one that is the best fit for your hospital, system, or IDN.
Conducting Effective Supplier Site Visits
By performing these site visits, you will open the door for better supplier relationships, it will help you to empathize with your suppliers’ challenges, and aid you in gaining keen insight into how your supplier does business.
Depending on the scope of your supplier site visit, you might want to invite a few stakeholders (e.g., administrative, clinical, and financial) to visit the site with you so you can compare notes, represent end users, and examine the supplier’s facility with a critical eye.
Next, you will need an agenda to control the pace, time, and content of your visit. Nothing could be worse than not seeing everything and everyone you came to see or meet. So, make a list of who you want to see, what you want to see, and what questions you want answered with tentative timelines (beginning and end) for your visit with each individual and department.
Have a formal meeting with your stakeholders to assign questions and areas of interest, since it might be better to break up your stakeholders into teams to cover more topics and more ground on your site visit. It’s best to prepare a checklist for each of your stakeholders so you don’t miss anything. Then, schedule meetings ahead of time so you don’t miss meeting with key executives and their staff.
Follow Up with Suppliers
Lastly, don’t forget to have a formal post site visit meeting with your team to review your findings and conclusions. What did they like? What didn’t they like? What concerns them? Can the supplier do what he says he can? Then formally inform your supplier of the result of your visit in writing.
We have found site visits to be invaluable in our consulting practice. There is nothing better than seeing things with your own eyes and hearing things with your own ears. These visits will give you perspective, content, and firsthand knowledge of your vendors’ capabilities, liabilities, and assets with which to make decisions on your relationships going forward.
Don’t miss this opportunity to become more effective on your site visits in the future with better planning, training, and detailed agendas to help you and your site visit team make the most of their time on the ground with your suppliers. This isn’t a time to socialize; your visit should be all business!