The Sourcing Innovation Series: Part VIII

Yesterday, Charles Dominick of jumped in with an initial post on Sourcing Innovation for Single-Customer Contracts on his Purchasing Certification Blog where he offered his insights on the affect of the forthcoming innovation on purchasing professionals and the skill sets required for the future. For more details on the post, and my thoughts on it, check back Sunday.

Today I’d like to welcome Kevin Brooks of Apexon who has been kind enough to provide us with his commentary on the Future of Sourcing. Note that Kevin was also kind enough to provide his insight on Supplier Performance Management in response to one of my weekend series over on eSourcing Forum.

My take on the topic is a bit more abstract. In particular, I suspect that innovation in sourcing will trend toward doing less rather than doing more.

When I look at other industries, I notice that innovation seems to move along a path that makes things easier and simpler for end users even if there is tremendous sophistication under the hood. (Microsoft Windows might be an exception to this rule!) I don’t need McKinsey slide decks to convince me that true strategic sourcing is complex, but the same thing could have once been said about any number of things that are now commonplace. Driving across the country. Getting a knee replacement. Online banking.

I suspect that the tools to enable sourcing will move toward simplifying a complex process, and put the capability in the hands of a much wider group. Sourcing will become a standard business skill set you’d expect from any decent business school graduate. At the same time, more of the responsibility for delivering against expectations will fall on the heads of suppliers themselves, or their proxies (as in the case of contract manufacturing or outsourcing).

Obviously, big strides need to be made in sourcing technology and in clearing the pesky master data management briar patch. And I’m sure there are a few innovative strategies yet to be discovered – Jason’s global capacity marketplace, for example — but they don’t affect the ultimate trend line. In the end, I suspect successful companies will tend to prioritize customer sales and service over internal operations or supply sophistication. Yes, the two are connected, but not in the eyes of most CEOs or even the customers themselves. The less time and effort a company puts into sourcing, the more they put into customers. Ergo, sourcing innovation will trend toward doing less, not more.

Thanks Kevin! I look forward to future guest posts from you!