Daily Archives: February 10, 2017

the public defender’s five principles of sourcing … (Part II)

… and why you need to understand them if you want to source better.

Over on Spend Matters UK, the public defender recently gave us the fifth in his Five Principles of Sourcing. Designed to mimic the philosophies that underpin many of the biggest and best firms in the world, the public defender‘s five principles were designed to inform good practice that is fundamental to procurement success, regardless of vertical, region, or category.

Yesterday, we discussed the first three principles: Coherence, Openness, Rigour. Today we continue where we left off.


Alignment covers both alignment to stakeholders and to the market. Sounds obvious, and there will be few procurement professionals (we hope) who don’t understand the need for stakeholders to be signed up to and involved in critical sourcing and procurement activities. But on the market side, how often do we try and source something that isn’t really what the market can best supply?

True success is not saving money, consolidating SKUS, consolidating the supply base, or increasing supplier performance measures — true success is meeting the needs of the stakeholders *while* doing all of the above. Remember, Supply Management’s job is to support the organizational goals, not it’s own … and true success is satisfying stakeholders (and helping them satisfy end customers).


Everything we do must come back to being “commercial” — looking to achieve benefits and competitive advantage for our organisations through putting in place and managing effective “commercial” deals.

Even non-profit organizations are in business to generate “profit”. The only difference is “profit” is defined as excess revenue (beyond what is needed to cover expenses) that can be put towards the intended purpose of the noon-profit (such as researching a cure, sheltering the homeless, or spreading the word). Thus, the end goal of the event is to minimize the cost necessary to achieve the stakeholder goals and have money left at the end of the day to do “more”, whatever “more” may be. That’s how competitive advantage is achieved, more value for less outlay.

In other words, if you fail to embed one of these principles in your sourcing event, you are not going to extract the value you should … and may even do worse than just spot buying on the open market or leaving every organizational user to fend for herself. For example:

If the process is not coherent, you might get the best possible deal on ink cartridges, but not realize that IT has included free replacements of all the inkjet printers with laser printers as part of their big server buy that they did internally because your team just didn’t have the technical chops to digest the overly convoluted specs provided by the potential vendors.

If the process is not open, you might save 2% on the same old, same old steel parts buy, but not realize that 40% of the cost is in the overhead because the supplier is still using bending and punching and not new laser cutting techniques that the supplier down the street is using to reduce overhead to 20%, which means that 1/5 of the cost is up for negotiation!

If the process is not rigourous, incumbents can be allowed to negotiate away awards that were fairly awarded to new suppliers in return for shady promises of cost reductions on future events, free trips to vendor learning days, and so on. This takes you down a slippery slope that not only puts your ethics in questions, but the value you delivered, as maybe the incumbent lost because they were charging more for what has become an inferior product or service (as competitor offerings improved since you first picked the incumbent).

If the process is not aligned, then you’ll get a great deal on a great product and deliver a huge value … no one wants. As a result, the stakeholders will just buy off contract at higher market prices because there will be inflated demand (as a result of contracts not being adhered to which reserve inventory). Without alignment, no one wins. Ever.

If the process is not commercial, you’re missing the point. Supply Management is about more stakeholder value for less outlay than would otherwise be made without Supply Management. (Not necessarily less than last time. If market prices increased 10% but Supply Management kept increases to 5%, that’s less outlay than the org. unit would have done without Supply Management’s involvement if it was historically buying at market.)

In other words, heed the five principles well. And download the public defender‘s white papers (registration required) for more insight.