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Sourcing & Procurement

Rogers Communications

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Rogers educates its staff on the importance of supplier management.

By Alan Dorich, Knighthouse Media

Communication can be key to keeping a company running smoothly. If a firm does not convey the importance of specific policies, it can suffer setbacks. But Rogers Communications is taking the right measures to avoid such problems, Director of Supplier and Contract Management Samantha Crawford says.

Recently, Rogers has implemented initiatives to reinforce the value of supplier management and is enjoying significant improvements. “It has really helped raise the acumen at the organization,” she says.

Based in Toronto, Rogers Communications provides wireless, residential and media services to Canadians and Canadian businesses. Entrepreneur Ted Rogers started the company with the purchase of his first radio station in 1960.

Over the years, the company extended its reach into cable television and digital and wireless services, with the first national carrier in Canada to introduce unlimited data plans this year – Rogers Infinite plans. Rogers also owns the Toronto Blue Jays and holds the exclusive national rights to the National Hockey League games. 

Today, “We’re continuing to find ways to give our customers the best experience,” Crawford says. “We’re making sure we’re keeping up with what they’re looking for and staying ahead of our customers’ needs.”

Back to the Beginning

A longtime veteran of the telecommunications industry, Crawford joined Rogers four years ago. Today, she oversees supplier performance and commercial contract management, as well as the company’s third-party risk program.

Under her leadership over the past two years, Rogers has improved supplier management. Through this initiative, the company has focused on making sure that its suppliers are socially responsible and understood its own expectations.

Although the company could have solely focused on improving its processes, Crawford felt it was important to improve employees’ knowledge. “We wanted to go back to the beginning and talk about the foundation of all these concepts,” she recalls.   

As part of this process, Rogers created four pillars to illustrate the importance of supplier management. The first pillar, Crawford explains, shows how this affects the firm companywide. 

The second pillar explains how procurement is connected to Rogers’ stakeholders. “Those are folks we work and collaborate with,” Crawford says. “There are things they need to know so we can help them.”

While the third pillar consists of Crawford’s procurement department, Rogers’s suppliers comprise the fourth. With this framework, the company created Procurement 101, an online course that has helped improve awareness.

This has been accomplished by presenting the information through scenario-based situations as opposed to printed materials that would detail policies. “It’s just a piece of paper until you start to help people understand why they’re important to us,” Crawford says.

Today, “When we talk about things like third-party risk, people don’t say, ‘Why should I care?’” she says. “They want to make sure the customers’ questions and concerns are solved.” 

Rogers also has reinforced this with small campaigns, micro-learnings and other communications that discuss specific concepts and re-iterate key messages and ideas. But its work is not finished yet.

“We also have a curriculum we’re building for our suppliers as well,” Crawford reports. “Eventually, we’ll be starting up an academy for our suppliers to stay up-to-speed on key concepts and ideas that are important to us.”

Defining Risk 

Crawford also has focused strongly on third-party risk, but a key step in this process was defining what it meant for Rogers itself. Her group worked closely with the company’s enterprise risk team in this effort. 

“If you’re not standardized and aligned on that approach, trying to manage risk can be overwhelming for an organization,” she admits. “Our first big step was really aligning at an organizational level how we want to define risk.”

Through this process, the company determined key areas of risk and created a seven-question assessment for determining if something is high risk or not. This has proven to be very useful for associates who are not familiar with the terms used by Crawford’s department.

“We’re trying to translate everything in a way that’s meaningful to their work every day,” she explains. “We’ve got something that’s very standardized to make sure we’re putting our energies in the right place.”

Although Rogers has yet to formally implement this system, it has received a strong response in its test run. “We’re finding that people are on board with integrating it into the work that’s already being done,” she says. 

Being the Best

Crawford is proud of her team at Rogers as its members have focused on supplier performance management. “Not only did we make the commitment, we’ve held ourselves accountable to that and made progress,” she says.

Today, Rogers can better serve its clients, thanks to better relationships and quality performance from its suppliers. “We’ve done it because it not only makes us to be a better company but allows us to be the best for our customers,” she says. 

She sees a busy future ahead for her department as it implements more frameworks for the rest of the organization. That way, “They are all part of this with us,” she says. “They are part of the process and there’s a lot we are looking at doing together now.”

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