The impact of supplier quality management on Eskom's Eastern Region power network operations.
South Africa’s national power utility, Eskom, procures products and services from a multitude of suppliers for its operations. Annually, Eskom’s Eastern Region spends approximately two billion rand on the procurement of products and services for its power network operations. Considering the expenditure, what is the effect of supplier quality management on Eskom’s operations? The aim of this study was to determine the impact of supplier quality management on Eskom’s Eastern Region’s power network operations. A multi methods approach was used for this study which included quantitative data and phenomenological interviews. For the past two financial years, Eskom’s Eastern Region procured R2.7billion worth of products and services from 187 suppliers for its operations. A probability sample of 82 suppliers was drawn from this population. The sample was composed of 58% electrical construction companies, 20% product manufacturers, 17% consulting engineers and 5% electrical hardware distributors. Data was collected using an email questionnaire developed by the researcher. Structured phenomenological interviews on supplier quality management were conducted with 41 employees of Eskom’s Field Services Department. These employees were chosen as they are directly accountable for managing network operations and are end-users of suppliers’ products and services. Significantly, the statistical analysis and the outcome of the phenomenological interviews revealed points of convergence and divergence between the stated positions of the suppliers and the actual experience of Eskom’s employees on quality of products and services. By combining the quantitative and qualitative dimensions of this study, the analysis illustrated the existence of cavernous gaps between suppliers and actual experience of Eskom employees on quality management areas such as suppliers’ commitment to product and service quality, focus on customer satisfaction, effective quality control and network operations. Several elements of the suppliers’ quality management programmes don’t meet Eskom’s expectations. The results of the study can benefit both suppliers and Eskom in identifying aspects of quality management that are negatively impacting operations and recommends areas of improvement.