In a world driven by performance and results, the idea that a commercial arrangement is a chance for ‘collaboration’ sounds like its been taken from an self-improvement manual. But instead of getting bogged down in woolly language, let’s consider some areas where procurement often struggles to make an impact: inefficient payment systems, poor compliance and supplier innovation. Within supplier networks is the route to accessing these pockets of value, either through process, technology or relationship management – or all three. Collaborative networks become a more solid prospect when they’re attached to that value – they become a solution to problems, rather than simply a description of a relationship. Investing in this way of working with suppliers isn’t an acceptance of a philosophy that denies the need for cash, quality, value, rather it’s an understanding of the kind of dialogue that needs to happen with suppliers to make it possible.