If you want to source successfully you’ll need to be able to create the detail!

May 15th, 2012

Many companies take far too long to turn around sourcing projects and the reason is they don’t know what they don’t know.

I was reading the news paper this morning. The business section of our local paper always carries a section by Harvey Mackay. I have been reading Harvey’s column for years and have also read his books. The first one I read years ago was “Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive” . In the book Harvey discusses his Mackay 66, which is what his article was about today.  You can download a copy of the Mackay 66 for free on his website www.harveymackay.com.

Specifically Harvey’s list is focused on what you know about your customer. Most sales people could not fill this list out and answer all 66 questions for any customer they call on. The idea behind this list is that the more you know about your customer, the more the customer becomes personal to you. The reward should be obvious. If you don’t get it, you might need to stop reading and go fill out your list.

I have always managed my business relationships in this way and it works for projects too. Associates I have worked with over the years can all tell you about Ron’s A-Z sessions. The philosophy is that you keep asking and then answering questions and objections until there are no more.

So how does this work with procurement? Again, it should be obvious. The fact is it apparently is not based on my experience with most companies. Ask the average category manager or buyer what they can tell you about the product or service they are sourcing and they unfortunately can not tell you much.

It’s pretty simple to conduct an A-Z session. One simply starts by asking questions, answering them and continuing until you don’t have anymore questions. Yes you may have to spend some time researching the questions?

Example: Here’s a list to get you started. Each question should beg another question. When you run out of questions, you should have what you need to source the product or service.

1. What product or service are we buying?
2. How much do we need?
3. When do we need it?
4. How much did we buy during the last order cycle?
5. Do we have a specification?
6. Has the product or service changed at all since last purchased?
7. Is there a contract in place?
8. Where is the contract?
9. Do I have a copy of an invoice?
10. Who are our internal or external customers?
11. Who are our suppliers?
12. Are there additional suppliers?

You should be able to easily add another 25 questions to this list.

Here’s a hint, most procurement professionals are not subject matter experts on everything they have to source. The exercise above can be completed in less than an hour. Couple that with the research tools available to all of us today and suppliers websites and you might be the subject matter expert your customer needs.

Remember when you create value, customers will reward you and others will find you. If you would like to learn more about this post, contact a SafeSourcing associate.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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