Sometimes a sourcing advisory firm can save you untold millions, and sometimes, as in the recent cock-up exposed by Jason Busch over on Spend Matters, the engagement will lead to a total disaster. So how do you make sure you’re the superstar who brokered the agreement that saved your firms millions of dollars and not the fall-guy who takes the blame for a multi-million dollar cock-up? You manage the process from end-to-end, and you start by making sure you have the right firm as an advisory partner. What should you look for when searching for the partner who will help you succedd when others have failed? Although the specifics will depend upon your needs and the sourcing projects in hand, the following checklist, first put forth by Phillip Fersht, blogmaster of Horses for Sources, in this Global Services article is a great start!
- Internal Knowledge Management
The firm should be taking advantage of the latest technology to share their intellectual property internally in a manner that will allow any of their employees to take advantage of the knowledge available to benefit their customer. You should be getting more than just the experience of the reps on your account — you should be getting the experience of the entire firm.
- Depth of Experience
Harvard MBAs look good on paper, but you want a significant amount of deep operational work conducted at real customers in industry, not theoretical research projects conducted in the safe confines of the ivory tower. In addition, make sure at least one of the reps on your project has deep experience in the categories you will be sourcing.
- Mix of Experience
A breadth of experience is important, especially when market conditions change and new sourcing strategies need to be derived. In addition, make sure the firm has employees who have crossed the breadth of operational roles, including sales and customer service.
- Ability to ‘Advise’
The ability to ‘consult’ is good, but you need specific advice that is going to allow you to succeed beyond what you could do in-house or with the lowest-bid consulting firm.
- True Independence Where YOUR Outcome is Concerned
They must be focused on YOUR best interests, and not theirs’. Make sure their interests don’t lie in relationships that force them to use, or compensate them to use, particular tools, processes, or staffing agencies. Just because something works for the majority of their current clients, it does not mean it will work for you. It might, and if it does, that’s great, but if it doesn’t, they should have the freedom to put together the best solution for YOU.
- A deep focus on IP, Benchmarking, and Research
No one knows everything … and, more importantly, if they don’t benchmark, they won’t know how good they should be able to do.
- Operational Business Focus and Advisory Experience Beyond Simple Negotiation
The best advisor can offer services that guide you through the sourcing lifecycle and beyond. In addition, sometimes just having an independent party available can help you build consensus and support in complex and sensitive situations.
- A Sensible, Proven, and Flexible Methodology
If their method of negotiation methodology selection starts with “eenie, meeniee, minie, moe … “, simply put, you’ve chosen the wrong advisor.
- Respected in the Market
You want an advisor that oursourcers and suppliers respect … because if they don’t bid, you don’t save.
- Multiple Customer References You Can Talk Too Directly
The ultimate proof of their capability will be in their success with their other clients.