Service Leaders Speak: Jim Wetekamp of BravoSolution on “Sourcing Leadership for the Recovery”

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Today’s guest post is from Jim Wetekamp of Bravo Solution, a global provider of supply management services and solutions (with offices across 3 continents).

It’s been just over a year since the financial crisis that signaled the worst of the global economic recession, and as we head back to work after summer vacation, businesses around the world are looking with a glimmer of hope towards the future. As the evidence in favor of a turnaround mounts, I am increasingly approached by sourcing leaders who are looking for ways to position their businesses for sourcing leadership in the recovery.

In truth, the visionary sourcing executives recognized early on that the objective for sourcing leadership doesn’t change at all as we dip into recession and then begin to recover. It is only the resources that they are allowed that changes. Ambitious executives will have seized the opportunities presented in the last year to be a strategic value driver for their businesses, driving cost out of the supply chain and helping to improve profitability in lean times. And they’ll have done that by adhering to the priorities that matter for sourcing leaders no matter the state of the economy:

Visibility, Fundamentals, and Evolution
Figure 1: Evolving Supply Management Priorities

The most successful sourcing leaders will have continued along this path over the last year; they will have kept their teams strong and armed them with the tools they need to succeed. These leaders are the ones who will find themselves best able to ride the crest of the recovery wave. They will not waste time staffing, training, and re-booting their sourcing organizations. Sadly, few organizations have weathered the past year fully intact, so what do sourcing executives need to do to lead in the recovery?

Sourcing Leadership’s job as the economy begins to recover is to rebuild the capabilities that were lost and get back on mission. This is not the time for a slow build; the most successful teams will be those who can quickly ramp their teams up and begin firing against all their priorities immediately. If you do nothing else, you should make sure your organization has best-in-class capabilities in three main areas:

Visibility and Opportunity Planning
If you don’t currently have visibility into your spend, it’s time to get a quick snapshot while laying the groundwork for a longer-term spend management program. Long term, a spend visibility tool will help you analyze and interpret your spending; you’ll likely also need a service provider experienced in rapid spend analysis to get you quickly through the initial opportunity identification phase. BravoSolution routinely delivers detailed opportunity analysis in a matter of weeks, even where our clients have spent months prior trying to understand their spend with internal resources.

Sourcing Fundamentals and Technologies
If you’re not using e-Sourcing tools, then you’re denying your business enormous efficiency gains, and wasting the time and expertise of your team on mundane recordkeeping tasks. You can move through the opportunities you identified faster and start realizing savings and managing vendors sooner if you’re using tools designed to accelerate that process. If you don’t have the bandwidth or expertise for a particular category, don’t be afraid to ask your technology provider for support – most leading e-Sourcing technology vendors, including BravoSolution, offer templates, advice, and even fully managed or outsourced events for their e-Sourcing customers.

Evolution and Extending Reach
The biggest disservice you can do for your organization (and your career) is to shy away from your most complex, highly visible categories at this moment. Strategic categories like transportation, packaging, and services mean too much to your business to be left to languish while your team rebuilds. You need to tackle these categories now, while suppliers are still eager to negotiate, and before a recovering economy begins to drive up costs in your biggest categories. Clearly, in categories that have such far-reaching impact across the organization, you cannot afford to fly blind. The value of pulling in a knowledgeable partner at this stage cannot be underestimated. Like other leading solution providers, BravoSolution regularly works with our customers to build tailored sourcing events that help our clients gain a deep understanding of their suppliers’ cost models and priorities, and to identify awards that drive efficiencies for both buyers and suppliers, reducing costs for both parties, and driving lasting, collaborative sourcing relationships.

By preserving, or better yet enhancing, your capabilities in these areas before the recovery takes hold, you will be poised to ride the wave of recovery and create competitive advantage for your business over the long term.

Thanks, Jim.