Knowledge Based Sourcing II – The Philosophy

Yesterday’s post introduced us to Knowledge Based Sourcing, the Next Level Supply Management proposal put forward by Booz Allen as its entry into the Next Level Ring. Described as a competency consisting of a set of powerful techniques used to identify high impact value drivers that result in increased understanding and knowledge of ‘ideal’ cost structures that can be used to develop better relationships with suppliers, focused on reality based improvement plans, and gain an ongoing business advantage, Knowledge Based Sourcing (KBS) is defined by its characteristics, which were reviewed in detail in yesterday’s post.

Today’s post is going to discuss the basic philosophy of Knowledge-Based Sourcing, which is a simple, four-step continuous improvement cycle:

  • Cost Model Generation
    a detailed cost model that captures the majority of component costs, including all of the cost drivers
  • Gap Identification
    which identifies where costs are higher than they should be based on raw material costs, realistic production costs, and market averages
  • Gap Closure Plan
    which outlines a plan to attack and reduce costs that are too high
  • Standard Cost Revision
    which updates the costs in the cost model to current costs and updates the baseline according to new information

This continuous improvement cycle incorporates the following aligned behaviours:

  • cost standards for major processes based on physical realities and best-in-class data points
    as a goal towards reducing costs below known minimums for a given process with defined equipment and resources is not just unrealistic, but stupid
  • best-in-class performance compared with known (supplier) costs
    as exceeding best-in-class cost performance will generally not be possible unless the process is changed
  • dialog around cost improvement ideas relative to best-in-class pricing
    as many heads are better than one
  • agreement on a realistic improvement plan
    as all parties need to be on-board for success
  • supply management as a learning opportunity
  • that improves based upon a better understanding of cost, best-in-class performance, and past improvements

And, most important, promises the suppliers that:

  • no requests will be made to undercut cost structures
    as this is unfair
  • a fair profit and SG&A allowance will be incorporated into target cost models
    as all supply chain partners need to profit
  • comparisons will only be made with peer-group suppliers using real, validated data
    as other comparisons are invalid
  • detailed feedback will be provided on cost elements that need to be improved
    as improvement does not happen in a vaccum
  • collaboration on waste removal will occur
    as waste is quickly becoming one of the most significant contributions to unnecessary costs (thanks to rising raw material, power, and water costs)
  • business will be rewarded to those that open their books and demonstrate best-in-class costs
    as the goal of KBS is to collaborate on cost improvement
  • information will be protected as confidential
    as it’s only fair
  • knowledge gained can be applied to other business
    as this is a great incentive for collaboration and improvement

It’s a good philsophy, and a good foundation for improving supply chain relations. Tomorrow’s post will dive into the cost modelling process.