The ULTIMATE Preferred Procurement Betrayal – The Story of a Scandalous Supplier and Their Supposed Status


Preferred Betrayal

Okay, so it may not truly be the ULTIMATE betrayal, (and the story may be a tad bit old) but it does sure make for a catchy headline!  That said, lying about anything in my opinion is a betrayal of trust so… points for it being on the spectrum.

A Preferred (Not) Supplier Story

I swear sometimes the suppliers are just begging for me to write about my experience with them.  Especially when they do ridiculous things. So, sit down and grab your coffee for some story time!

It was just another ordinary day at work like any other. I was minding my own business and then I got the email. At first, I thought it was just another business partner Q&A with a supplier. Unfortunately, it turned into something more.

You see, this person said we had to use their services due to previous work they had done.  When I pushed back, I was told “but I’m a preferred supplier!!” Um, a what?

To be a ‘preferred supplier’ would mean we would have a ‘preferred supplier program.’ Or at least the notion of a list of some sort.

For example, when I was at Amgen, we had a list of 10 preferred suppliers for Management Consulting. Anything outside off that, was considered “non-preferred” and had to fill out an extra form for their justification.

Which was exactly the last time I had any type of preferred supplier program in place. So, you could see why I found this situation ironic and annoying. Not to mention, it made me less inclined to help them at that point. Which is why I’m an advocate for honesty and a tame approach.

What’s a Preferred Supplier?

What I really think this situation boiled down to is, the fact that a preferred supplier can mean many different things to different people.

Check out the CIPS Preferred Supplier definition HERE.

Depending on what company you are at and what your position is, you may have a differing opinion even from someone else in your organization. Let alone with an outside supplier.

Not to mention, there’s no one single answer that I’ve seen across the board consistently. If you ask 10 category managers across different industries, odds are they will all give you slightly different answers.

Here are just a few examples of what can be considered a preferred supplier or program:

  • An actual list (say maybe top five or ten suppliers) that are to be used.  And there is increased scrutiny and intense justification for approval to use outside of that list or not at all.
  • A sole provider for a set of services (exclusive provider) no bidding/RFPs for business.
  • A supplier who has a contract (MSA, etc.) with a company.
  • A supplier who has been on-boarded and certified (sometimes must have certain GMP certifications) or validated.
  • A decision tree on to who can provide what specific services (typically only a portion of the total services a business can provide).
  • Or sometimes, any supplier already working/has experience working with the company.

And I’m sure you can see why this might lead to a multitude of misunderstandings! (Especially if there isn’t a program in place.)

Not everyone does it the same way or even defines it the same.  It’s very much up to the industry/category manager to decide what works well for their circumstances.


So next time you are inclined to fib a little about status – don’t do it!

Preferred Supplier Definition

Check out the ‘Strategic Sourceror’ definition of “Preferred Supplier” – 👉 HERE

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