Nobody knows a supplier's business better than the supplier, itself. Right?

Wrong, according to 27 suppliers and two original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) surveyed in December and January as part of Arthur Andersen's Automotive Best Practices Forum.

Arthur Andersen surveyed the companies about “knowledge management” to see if they could quantify the collective knowledge within their own organizations. The companies declined to be identified.

The respondents said they believe suppliers know more than OEMs when it comes to supplier product costing, sub-supplier performance, pricing history and program management.

But the same respondents said OEMs know more about the suppliers' realm than suppliers themselves in several areas: delivery and quality performance, competitive environment, regulatory environment, consumer needs and usage and vehicle integration issues.

Interestingly, 93% of respondents said OEMs know more about supplier product warranty performance than do suppliers themselves. That suggests that OEMs are not sharing enough warranty claim information with suppliers, or that many suppliers are slow to get more involved in warranty work, even though automakers have been pressing the issue for a few years now.

In general, the survey shows a need for suppliers to examine their businesses more closely, says Suzanne Livernois, a manager in Arthur Andersen's Business Consulting Div.

“OEMs aren't going to spoon-feed this information to suppliers,” she says. “They need plans to acquire this information themselves.”