In Search of Lean Suppliers Reporting on First Steps in Supplier Development

Jan A. Elfving1 & Glenn Ballard2

1Ph.D, Head of Nordic Procurement Unit at Skanska. Paciuksenkatu 25, 00101 Helsinki, Finland, Phone +358 40 738 6100, [email protected]
2Research Director of the Project Production Systems Laboratory (, 214 McLaughlin Hall, Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1712, USA, Phone +1 415/710-5531, FAX 510/643-8919, [email protected]


This paper reports some early findings related to supplier development: the result of prequalification, performance evaluation and supplier development from 5 pilot regions in 3 countries. It is a follow-up to an IGLC paper presented in 2011. Supplier development can be seen as a third option when make or buy options do not lead to desired results. It seems to be a little used option in the construction industry. This paper reveals that, at least in the pilot regions, supplier development needs to start from very basic things such as helping to fulfil legal and company requirements, and setting standards for measuring quality and delivery reliability. Over half of the supplier base does not fulfil the basic requirements. When suppliers do measure quality and delivery, measurements often do not capture issues important to their customers, the projects. The findings have resulted in re-defining supplier segments, presented in this paper along with next steps in supplier development.


Lean, supplier, supply chain management, preferred supplier program.



Elfving, J. A. & Ballard, G. 2013. In Search of Lean Suppliers Reporting on First Steps in Supplier Development, 21th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 135-143.

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