In our last post we noted that most sourcing platforms were designed for indirect sourcing, commonly described as the sourcing of finished/consumer goods and services, because it was easy, quick, and allowed an average organization, even a manufacturing, pharmaceutical, or Oil & Gas company, to get big savings — at least initially. After a while, the savings dry up, and unless an organization acquires an advanced optimization-backed sourcing platform, they’ll disappear entirely. (And even with such a platform, the returns will shrink over time.)
The organization will hit a brick wall, unless it goes direct. Why?
Because going direct is the only way an organization can get true insights into the costs, and opportunities, associated with each product it sources. Because, when you get right down to it, there is no indirect sourcing from a product perspective — your indirect is someone else’s direct. And if it’s indirect for your provider, you’re just paying a handling fee to a third party to handle purchase from the source and transportation to a locale closer to you (because you don’t want to deal with import / export, remote suppliers, etc. etc. etc).
And, more importantly, as direct manufacturers know well, up to 80% of product costs are locked in during design finalization and/or product selection. So the only way to take costs out is to understand what costs are going in. But when you go direct, you create detailed should cost models. You tie them to material costs and component costs defined in a bill of materials and roll up the costs with overhead production costs and understand precisely what a product should costs and whether a bid is in line with expectations. This way you know when quotes are higher than they should be (possibly due to collusion), when they are inline with expectations, or when they are lower. If they are inline with expectations but higher than you need them to be, you can understand what the cost drivers are. Then you can ask suppliers to identify designs with alternate materials, or at least less of the high cost materials, and then select those suppliers who will work to bring costs down. If the costs are lower, you can interrogate the suppliers to find out why. Do they have a lower cost source of raw materials? Are labour or energy costs significantly lower than usual? Or is the specification the supplier is quoting toward not up to snuff? The latter is extremely important — it can prevent a purchase of a poor product that could cost the organization dearly.
The power of a direct platform for continual cost insight, and cost saving, is incomparable, especially when compared to an indirect platform. And there’s nothing a direct platform can’t source. It’s the harder sourcing project — indirect is just a bill of material with one entry. And a service project is just a roll-up of service line items.
So why don’t you have a direct platform? Sure, most platforms, including the one you’re using, don’t make the cut, but some of the newer up and coming platforms do, even the S2P platforms. For example, Synertrade has been able to do direct since day one. Ivalua acquired DirectWorks and is integrating direct into its native end-to-end code base. Jaggaer acquired Pool4Tool and has been working on a universal data model (& bridge) to link it to its indirect platform. And even Zycus can suck in a BoM (although it can’t do BoM management) for sourcing purposes.
So go direct. Finance will thank you.