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Crowdsourcing Success with Sourcing Leaders Across the U.S.

The Beatles got it right: we get by with a little help from our friends. Luckily, at Sourcing Leaders, we have a huge network of friends. In the past two weeks, we’ve met up with sourcing professionals across the country, in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, to discuss our struggles and successes. Our goal was to find out where we could help each other by sharing challenges we were currently experiencing and receiving real-life, unbiased advice from our peers who had been there, toiled, and triumphed.

From procurement-specific topics, including developing category models and implementing controls, to much broader topics, including strategizing career transitions and improving negotiation techniques, we discussed a wide range of areas. Let’s take a closer look at how these conversations played out and what we can learn from turning failures into success.

SVSL P

SVSL Convenes by the Bay at the Autodesk Gallery

Of course, at Silicon Valley Sourcing Leaders, one of the first topics that popped up was about technology. We also talked about contracts, category management, and influencing without authority. Here’s what came up:

How do I utilize collaboration technology to achieve results with limited resources?

  • Be mindful of change management and create practical policies to manage notifications.
  • Automate sends and responses to offload some of the burden.
  • Remember to be present and connect with colleagues face-to-face when possible.

How do I efficiently manage contracts in partnership with our legal team?

  • Find tools that incorporate the full contract management lifecycle.
  • Work with Legal to develop templates and playbooks to help expedite the process.
  • When developing a process, consider risk, technology, agreement type, and scalability. 

How do I build relationships to achieve the results I want?

  • It is important to address stakeholder needs first before your own, like cost savings.
  • Language and ownership are significant. “You can’t do that” elicits a very different response than “let’s figure this out together.”
  • You can use relationship building as a broader opportunity to rebrand your organization.

CSL Braves Thunderstorms to Meet along the River

In Chicago, we each took turns sharing our most pressing challenges one by one and receiving advice from the entire group for the ultimate crowdsourced solutions. Here’s what we talked about:

What are some negotiation techniques and tips for working with a very strict process?

  • Suppliers are usually focused on getting a foot in the door; use this strategically.
  • If you are working with commodities, normally you can find this information publicly.
  • If you are sourcing specialized products, first lock in the supplier, then negotiate down. 

How do you create a good culture for a procurement team?

  • Transparency, trust, and internal alignment are crucial for any team to establish. 
  • Always focus on your customer and sell the value of procurement to the business.
  • Make sure everyone is in tune with what is going on and knows their own value.

How do you leverage controls in procurement?

  • Make sure everyone understands how the new processes differ from the old.
  • Ensure teams know what’s on the line and the consequences of failure.
  • Educate stakeholders on regulations and “sell” the solution to them appropriately. 

NYCSL Takes Over Times Square to Conquer Challenges

In New York City, a huge group of Sourcing Leaders met up to share what was working well and where they could use a little help. Topics ranged from flexible working options to supplier pricing policies and everything in between. Here are a few highlights:

How do you adjust strategies on the fly in new situations?

  • Know your audience – speak their language and show how your strategy will help.
  • When strategies fail, most times it is because the resisters outnumber the adapters. Even in fast-paced environments, make sure you focus on change management.
  • When adjusting, speak up if something isn’t working and needs to be fixed. 

How do you create tangible value for the company based on a TCO approach?

  • Accountability, ownership, and understanding of the procurement tools you use is critical.
  • It’s easier to identify TCO if you are procuring tangible goods as opposed to services.
  • When adopting a TCO model, make sure you have a champion and obtain stakeholder buy-in.

How do you partner with other (external) organizations effectively?

  • Make sure you have strong brand recognition; if your marketing is off or if you don’t have a strong point of view, it will be harder.
  • Use the power of other brands to leverage your brand and promote a relevant joint story. 
  • Leverage your networks – social media like LinkedIn and Facebook can be very helpful.

Thank you, Sourcing Leaders

Once again, thanks to all the Sourcing Leaders who participated in these engaging events! It was amazing to see the community come together around some common challenges, like relationship building, negotiating, and demonstrating value, and brainstorm how to overcome them. Until next time!

P.S. In the meantime, stay in touch – we’ll see you on LinkedIn in the SVSL, CSL, and NYCSL groups! Go ahead and post any questions you didn’t get to ask at these sessions or help out your peers by sharing lessons learned.

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