Selecting a Qualified Supplier

Supplier selection and evaluation are processes that can take some time and energy but the effort will be rewarded when the product or services needed are supplied in a timely and cost-effective way.

The first step in supplier selection is often research, particularly if the item or service has not been purchased before. There are a number of tools to assist you in this initial phase:

  • Discuss your purchase with the appropriate Procurement Team member in advance.
  • Go to the Procurement Commodity Pages and check to find on-line resources we use or use a Web browser to search for suppliers.
  • Consult the local and Boston yellow pages for local suppliers.
  • Consult professional journals, trade publications, directories and supplier catalogs.
  • Talk with colleagues here and at other institutions who might have purchased similar items.
Once a list of potential suppliers has been determined, begin to evaluate their capabilities. Ask suppliers for a list of references. Visit their sales offices, warehouses and manufacturing plants to evaluate their operational capabilities. Look to see if the firm appears prosperous. Evaluate their use of technology. Ask employees how they feel about the company. When needed, ask for samples and prototypes (there may be a cost associated with these) as well as its ability to supply the goods or services.

It is a good practice to investigate the financial stability of the supplier. WHOI uses Dun & Bradstreet to analyze the stability of publicly-held companies. There services may be obtained by contacting the Procurement Department. There is a fee for these services. Any member of the financial management team at WHOI can assist you in understanding these reports.

Analyzing a privately held company is more difficult. It may be necessary to look at an audited financial statement for the company. You may also ask for bank and other trade references. Again, any member of the finance team can assist you in this analysis.

Last updated: May 29, 2007