Supplier relationship management

How CBRE built a supplier relationship management programme


As the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment company, CBRE’s Global Workspace Solutions (GWS) UK business has created a framework to support operational and category procurement teams in building closer collaborative relationships with key suppliers

What did they do?

With a desire to boost the supplier management capabilities of its category teams, the UK procurement team of CBRE’s Global Workspace Solutions (GWS) business decided to create a dedicated supplier relationship management (SRM) programme, with the aim of:

  • Building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships
  • Driving operational efficiencies to reduce costs
  • Pro-actively identifying and managing risks
  • Driving mutual growth
  • Generating opportunities for innovation

To deliver on these ambitions, the supplier engagement team created a standardised framework that would guide category leads across the business to have the right conversations and govern their approach to building constructive relationships with their most crucial suppliers.

How did they do it?

Launched in 2021, CBRE GWS’s SRM programme includes the following elements:


To ensure it is focusing its attentions in the right place, GWS separates its suppliers into the following segments:

  • Strategic: The most strategically important supplier partners, included in the formal SRM programme and also enjoy the same benefits as preferred suppliers, outlined below.
  • Preferred: Important suppliers but less vital than strategic, these receive additional support through the central engagement team, including a dedicated inbox for queries, invitations to engagement events, a quarterly newsletter, training opportunities and preferential payment terms.
  • Approved: Suppliers meeting CBRE’s minimum standards.

Regular supplier meetings

Each of the strategic suppliers will meet with their assigned category lead regularly, usually on a quarterly basis, to help strengthen their relationship. Category leads are provided with a draft meeting agenda to guide their conversation, which covers areas such as:

  • Corporate updates from CBRE and the supplier
  • Overview of commercials and KPI performance
  • Risk mitigation discussion
  • Exploring innovation opportunities


The framework includes a mixture of general KPIs known as Joint Measures of Success, which can be compared across all suppliers, and specific targets that are pertinent to that particular supplier and their relationship with CBRE, to drive individual improvement.

Monitoring and communication

To ensure the process is being implemented effectively and to keep track of how it is impacting each supplier’s performance and relationship with CBRE, the supplier engagement team monitors the process with a number of tools, including a central tracking sheet collating supplier details and scheduled meetings and a team calendar where this information is kept updated. Additionally, to monitor preferred suppliers’ own experience of working with CBRE, the team sends out a net promoter score survey annually

In order to ensure the roll-out proceeded smoothly, the supplier engagement team delivered two-hour training sessions via Zoom, taking category leads through how the framework would work and how to use the draft agenda.  The team has also taken the opportunity to drive home internally the value the SRM programme is bringing to CBRE, using channels such as newsletters, supplier events and case studies.

Has it worked?

Yes. By creating a framework, segmentation process and draft agenda for supplier meetings, CBRE GWS’s supplier engagement team has been able to elevate the role of SRM, putting it on course to drive greater commercial results and supplier innovation, as well as opportunities to anticipate and mitigate potential risks.

While the programme is still in its early stages, initial feedback from suppliers has been strong. It has also helped to deliver innovations, such as a robotic security guard, and identified opportunities such as one supplier that was able to become accredited as a social enterprise following discussions about its business model with CBRE.

What’s next?

The SRM programme continues to be refined after being rolled out in early 2021, in response to feedback. This includes identifying more strategic suppliers to be included in the programme and exploring opportunities to introduce a unified suite of reporting tools that will allow the supplier engagement team to keep track of supplier performance from one platform.

Having already demonstrated success in the UK, the model is also serving as a template to roll-out similar programmes across CBRE’s global business.


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