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HomeProcurement/Supply Chain ManagementDecoding the Kraljic Matrix: Mastering Your Supplier Relationship Management

Decoding the Kraljic Matrix: Mastering Your Supplier Relationship Management

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In the intricate web of modern commerce, a company’s success often hinges on its ability to manage its relationships with suppliers effectively. Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) is not merely about transactions; it’s about nurturing partnerships that drive mutual growth and innovation. As per a McKinsey report, supplier development and innovation leaders tend to beat industry trends by 2x in growth and other metrics. Every purchase made can either propel a business forward or become a burden on its resources. Enter the Kraljic Matrix, a powerful tool designed to revolutionize procurement strategies and drive sustainable value creation. In this blog, we’ll explore the essence of the Kraljic Matrix and its application through an example.

Supplier Relationship Management is an effective way to foster strong and collaborative relationships with suppliers, leading to improved business performance. SRM provides an opportunity for companies to gain a competitive edge by forming productive partnerships with their suppliers. By engaging in SRM practices, businesses can identify the best suppliers from which to source materials and services, optimize costs, mitigate risk, explore new opportunities for top-line growth through supplier innovation, streamline operational processes and receive preferential treatment as a customer of choice.

Building strong supplier relationships involves several key steps:

  • Categorize your suppliers: Use tools like the Kraljic Matrix to assess supply risk and purchase volume, prioritizing strategic relationships.
  • Set clear expectations and goals: Communicate your requirements and expectations, while also understanding your suppliers’ needs and capabilities.
  • Establish open communication channels: Regular communication helps address issues proactively, build trust, and foster collaboration.
  • Track performance and KPIs: Utilize metrics like on-time delivery, quality, and cost to measure supplier performance and identify areas for improvement.
  • Invest in relationship building: Dedicate resources to building personal relationships with key suppliers, fostering trust and transparency.

Imagine your suppliers as a diverse cast of characters in your business play. Some hold starring roles, others play supporting parts. But just like in any great production, understanding each supplier’s role and performance is crucial for success. This is where the Kraljic Matrix comes in, wielding their magic like spotlights on your supply chain stage.

The Kraljic matrix was created by Peter Kraljic and first appeared in the Harvard Business Review in 1983 to devise a means to segment the supplier base. 

In the review, he argued that the supply items should be mapped against two key dimensions which are risk and profitability. 

  • Risk: How critical is the supply of this product or service to your business? Think “irreplaceable” versus “easily substitutable.”
  • Profitability/Volume: How much do you spend on this supplier? Consider high-value versus low-cost purchases.

The purpose of why he created the Matrix was to help companies maximize supply security and reduce costs by using most of their purchasing power. Thus, it makes procurement a strategic activity rather than a transactional activity. The Kraljic Matrix is a strategic procurement tool that classifies products or services based on their impact on profitability and supply risk. It categorizes items into four quadrants, each suggesting a different approach to managing procurement. 

Let us understand the Kraljic matrix with an example from an automobile company, considering both supply risk and purchase volume:

Supply RiskHighLow
High VolumeStrategic: Engine components, transmission systems, safety equipmentLeverage: Tires, glass, standard electronics
Low VolumeBottleneck: Specialized sensors, custom alloys, niche trim elementsNon-Critical: Office supplies, cleaning materials, promotional items


  • Strategic: An engine component supplier is critical for production and requires high-volume purchases. This necessitates close collaboration, long-term contracts, and joint innovation to manage supply risk and ensure quality.
  • Leverage: Tire suppliers, while important, offer replaceable options and typically involve high purchase volumes. The focus here is on negotiating competitive prices and leveraging economies of scale.
  • Bottleneck: A supplier of specialized sensors for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) might hold a monopoly and supply low volumes. This creates a bottleneck situation, demanding careful quality control and alternative sourcing strategies.
  • Non-Critical: Office supplies like printer cartridges have low risk and low volume, making them ideal for consolidation or phasing out in favor of alternative vendors.

In the fast-paced world of procurement, strategic decision-making is the key to success. The Kraljic Matrix offers a structured approach to analyzing procurement portfolios and tailoring strategies accordingly. By leveraging its power, businesses can navigate the complexities of supply chain management, drive sustainable value creation, and stay ahead in today’s competitive landscape. As the adage goes, “Knowledge is power.” With the Kraljic Matrix in hand, businesses can harness that power to transform their procurement practices and unlock new growth opportunities.

Also read: Navigating the Waves: Ensuring Maritime Security for a Seamless Global Supply Chain

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Shantanu Trivedi
Shantanu Trivedi
Shantanu Trivedi is working as a faculty at the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun. He holds an MBA and a Ph.D. degree in Supply chain management. He has more than a decade of experience in teaching and research. He has published 2 books, 5 book chapters and more than 12 research papers and articles in international journals of repute. His research interest includes Supply chain management, agribusiness, online and distance education, Business sustainability and infrastructure management. He is the reviewer of many international publishing houses. He has presented his work and won awards at many research conferences and symposiums. He has worked on many research with state governments and the government of India. In his spare time, Shantanu loves to travel and explore nature.
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