Daily Archives: March 23, 2010

Sourcing Innovation Welcomes EC Sourcing Group as New Lead Sponsor

Sourcing Innovation is pleased to welcome EC Sourcing Group, a leading provider of Sourcing, Vendor Management, and Document Management solutions for the Mid-Market. Established back in 2001, EC Sourcing Group has spent the last nine years quietly building out a very respectable sourcing and spend management suite as they amassed a large, global, customer base (of almost 100 customers, a number they are on track to pass before 2010 is up). Formed by strategic sourcing professionals with decades of experience running projects in the CPG and Retail space, EC Sourcing Group is also able to offer strategic sourcing services where they bring their wealth of sourcing experience to bear.

As per my post earlier this month on how EC Sourcing Makes Sourcing Easy and Affordable, EC Sourcing Group offers a full e-Negotiation suite with RFX, Auctions, Project Management, Document and Contract Management, and a brand new Corrective Action Reporting Module, which is pretty snazzy. Plus, they are in the process of internationalizing and simplifying the platform that is already used by a number of multi-national clients. The platform currently supports (four) 4 European languages, will support at least six (6) by the end of 2nd quarter, and will also support at least two (2) Asian languages by the end of the year, including Mandarin. To make their SaaS offering even easier to use, they’re currently adding a new quick-access layer to the existing UI that will allow more advanced users to do basic tasks even quicker and easier than before. Finally, as the founders come from a strategic sourcing background (as sourcing managers in retail and CPG), EC Sourcing Group also offers sourcing and spend analysis services, and maintains a network of consulting partners who they can refer to you if you encounter a scenario that requires specialist sourcing expertise.

In my last post, I walked you though the basic e-Negotiation platform. Today, I’m going to describe their new Corrective Action Module that can be used by all affected parties to track, report on, and resolve issues that can arise in the delivery of goods and services. The importance of being able to identify, track, report on, and correct issues quickly, which is often overlooked by sourcing groups who have not yet graduated to best-in-class status, cannot be underestimated. Savings identified during the sourcing process are only potential until they are realized — they are not realized until they are captured. These savings are not captured until the supplier delivers at the service level committed to and the buying organization pays at the price committed to. And while an EIPP/P2P system that makes sure invoices are paid at contracted rates and that maverick spending (that erode rebates) is stopped dead in it’s track is a good start, as it can be configured to make sure you don’t overpay, if the supplier continually delivers bad shipments, these “savings” will soon be eaten up by the cost of dealing with repeat problems.

With EC’s solution, anyone can report an incident as soon as it’s discovered and start the tracking and resolution process right away — the buyer, the receiver at the warehouse, the engineer who discovers the components are all faulty, etc. And once the incident is created, it’s added to the repository where it gets compared against alerts, repeat occurrence triggers, and running reports. The right person will be immediately notified when a priority shipment is botched, if the supplier has been late 3 times in the last 3 months, or if the number of incidents this year has entered the double digits — or if anything else of interest happens. The alerts, triggers, and reports are all 100% user customizable and can be defined by supplier, location, reason (customizeable 3-level reason codes), product or service, item number, time-frame, key-words, status, and other custom fields defined on your custom corrective action report templates.

The template-based solution allows each organization to create it’s own corrective action report templates appropriate to the goods and services it is buying and streamlined for creation by the individuals who will be receiving and working with the products and services. To report an incident, all an end-user has to do is log-in, select the template, fill out the appropriate fields, and submit it. Then, depending on organizational rules, it goes to an administrator/buyer (who is alerted that it is ready) for review, who then releases it to the supplier; or it goes straight to the supplier, who is given a fixed amount of time to respond. If the supplier doesn’t respond on time, the supplier is reminded and people higher up the organizational hierarchy are alerted.

It also has all the standard features you’d expect in terms of template creation, incident status tracking, user-defined report generation, and export to Excel and PDF, as well as an audit feature that lets you find out who did what and when. That way, if a template, or data is changed, and something doesn’t seem right, you can examine the history, and take corrective action if you need to. It’s a great way to kick-off your Supplier Performance Management program.

So please join me in welcoming EC Sourcing Group. It’s forward-thinking companies like them that keep this blog, and the education it gives you, going!

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Transformation is Necessary for High Procurement Performance

Last week, where I walked you through The Hackett Group’s 18 value streams that can take you from a naive apprentice to expert sourcerer, I noted that your procurement needed to be transformational. I also provided you with some examples of transformational value streams that included process re-engineering, financial hedging, and supplier collaboration. But I didn’t address how you shift from a strategic mindset to a truly transformational one.

The key is to think about reinventing your procurement organization. That requires going beyond simple strategic sourcing where you are sourcing current needs using the best tools, processes, and information available to thinking about your long term needs beyond the current project (and contract) and coming up with a strategy to make any savings you secure sustainable over the long term. For example, you might focus on securing a long term contract with a supplier who could become a strategic partner, or with a third party manufacturer committed to upgrading it’s production equipment and processes to deliver year-over-year cost reductions, or with a design firm who works with you to continually re-engineer designs to be more cost effective to produce.

As this recent article in Industry Week about how to achieve high performance points out, transformation is the process by which companies, business units, or locations make a step-change improvement in their operating performance. It’s more than just an incremental improvement. It’s a new way of operating. It’s not just shifting from cost savings (tactical) to cost reduction (strategic), but to cost avoidance (transformational). It’s going beyond a focus on lowest TCO to a focus on highest value. For example, maybe you could save 10% if you could increase your order from 75K units to 100K units, but when all is said and done, the company is measured on profit. Maybe it’s better to create a slightly higher quality version of the product, only order 50K, pay a little more, but sell them at a higher profit margin. Whereas a strategic sourcerer would try to negotiate the 10% discount on the possibility of 100K of demand as a stretch goal, the transformational sourcerer would accept a slightly higher price-point for 50K, slightly improved, units to maximize total company profit in the long term.

So where do you start? As per the Industry Week Article, you start by recognizing the gaps between your performance and that of best in class companies. If you don’t understand how much better you could be doing, you’ll probably never acquire the drive to be truly transformational. As a result, you’ll leave significant value on the table without even realizing it.

Then you set stretch goals that seem unattainable but are, in actuality, just a little beyond reach. Given that over 80% of all activity in most business processes is a waste — adding no customer value whatsoever — there’s a lot of room for improvement. And since no one says you have to get there all at once, shoot for 50% improvement. If you get 20%+ every year, you’ll be pretty close to your goal after a few years.

Finally, you get a strong organizational leader on your side. As with every other effort, the support of a strong C-suite leader is the key to success. At some point, someone is going to need to make a tough call because you’re going to have to radically change how things are done and there is going to be a lot of resistance at first. But that’s good, because that probably means you’re on the right track.

Stay there, and you might just find out what transformational procurement really is!

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