Sourcing the Day After Tomorrow Part IV

In Part I we recapped Sourcing today, in Part II we recapped the review step, and what it entails today. Including a few of the sub-steps that were typically done sequentially in a long, manual, and drawn out process. In Part III we dove into these steps and explained while some were critical for a sourcing professional to undertake, others, while necessary, were a complete waste of time as the majority of the tasks could be automated. But is it just the review step where this is the case?

Let’s move onto Needs Assessment. This consists of a number of sub-steps that include, but are not limited to:

  • Detailed Use Case Review
  • Exploration of Alternative Options
  • Production Requirements
  • Support & Service Requirements

Let’s take these one by one. In order to better understand the organizational need, and determine whether or not an alternative option might be as acceptable, or more acceptable, the buyer has to truly understand the organizational need — how will it be used? What are the key end-user requirements? What do they really value? Why? Hence, a key detailed use case review is critical.

An exploration of alternative options is also critical. Identifying potential alternative options is a good start, but you don’t know if they are really alternative options until you explore them in detail and, most importantly, map them to use cases. And, even more important, evaluate them against what users value.

And, depending on the product, the importance of an examination of the product requirements ranges from minimal (if a dozen suppliers all use the same equivalent process and all produce an equivalent product that has met the need for two years, a review that nothing has changed might be all that is required) to intensive (if new production process are, or need to be, employed). And it might range from a cursory review of production line specs to a detailed on-site review of operations and output product quality.

Finally, we also discussed support & service requirements as a key sub-step. Depending on whether the product is single use (like office paper) to multi-use (like laptops) to key components in a machine (like a cylinder in an engine), the step can be minimal or quite intensive as well. Support can range from no support required to continual warranty and maintenance support.

In other words, as with the first step, the amount of work entailed in each step varies, and the time required can be hours to weeks. But should it be this way? That’s a question to answer in Part V.

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