As per this morning’s post on Common Challenges of Indirect Procurement, often the best way is to start with better technology and better processes, beginning with spend analysis. If the organization can quickly identify which categories will yield sufficient savings to make a sourcing project viable, then it can integrate high-opportunity projects into the strategic sourcing plan, put mid-opportunity projects out to auction, and simply ignore low-opportunity categories as the 20/80 rule generally applies to indirect Procurement as well. If better technology and processes are not possible due to budget or other constraints, sometimes the organization can outsource the categories to a third party. However, if the organization is not good at outsourcing, this could backfire.
So what does your Supply Management organization do to enable success if it can’t get better systems and can’t outsource? As per this recent article over on the HBR Blog Network on how we killed our strategy to save our mission, the best thing it can probably do in this situation is to get out of the way. Just like Question Box ultimately achieved success by shutting down its field operations (and killing its physical product line) to build toolkits to help local community organizations be successful, maybe the best thing Supply Management can do is to deliver a knowledge service that provides the other departments with the knowledge and tools they need to manage their major indirect categories efficiently and effectively. If Supply Management provides each department with the appropriate market information, strategy, contract templates, and other key sourcing tools for managing their high-dollar indirect procurement categories, then Supply Management can enable better results by acting as a consultant to the rest of the organization. It might not be the ideal situation for some Supply Management organizations, but if it improves the bottom line, and Supply Management’s reputation, it’s still a big step forward.