Just what is Strategic Sourcing?

March 11th, 2010

A strategy according to Wikipedia refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. The word is of military origin.

Let’s look first at strategy in general.

As a former military procurement guy if we think of strategy from a military perspective, how an actual battle is fought is a matter of tactics: the terms and conditions that it is fought under or whether it should be fought at all is a matter of strategy.

The next logical step would be to understand that a strategic plan is a way to define a company’s strategy. When this author goes about developing a strategic plan I tend to lean in the direction of aligning my thoughts so that they are in concert with my three basic necessities or tenants of running a business which obviously includes sound fiscal guidelines. The tenants are.
 
1. A long-range strategic plan
2. A tactical plan
3. A talent management plan

The ultimate goal is not to do something just to do it, but to do it as a way of beating or avoiding competition and growing at the same time. Think of Dollar Stores in terms of how they avoid competing with Wal-Mart although they are in a very similar space.

If we believe the above, how do we relate that back to Strategic Sourcing?

Strategic Sourcing should be a discipline used to identify, examine, select and implement a variety of sourcing alternatives for  specific groups or categories by evaluating, selecting and collaborating with your sources of  supply in order to achieve improvements in quality, cost, operational efficiency and other benefits that support a companies overall strategic plan. To that end just lowering the purchase price is not necessarily strategic in and of itself.

Some say that based on that definition and an understanding of strategy that Reverse Auctions therefore are not strategic. This author says that depends. If Reverse auctions’ are the result of significant discovery and analysis that focuses on identifying the best opportunities to support a strategic objective and it is the result of using the entire RFX sequence, it may in fact be strategic but it could also just be tactical. This author believes we are splitting hairs.

After all one mans pill is another mans poison.

We look forward to and appreciate you comments.
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