7 Smart Lessons for Sourcing & Procurement Professionals
7 smart lessons I've learned from my mentors through the years. Particularly relevant in my work area - Sourcing and Procurement.
- Relationship means reciprocity: There are no free lunches. If you want something, you should be ready to offer something in return. In dealing with suppliers, sometimes this basic logic is ignored by sourcing executives causing a bad supplier relationship in turn leading to a serious risk to the inbound supply chain. The willingness to "give in return" - even when it is difficult - is essential for the relationship to grow and flourish.
- The execution of an idea is more important than the idea itself: The most ingenious sourcing projects, no matter how deeply analyzed or thoroughly researched, can fail during execution. A simple idea together with an execution plan, right efforts and attention to details will always give better results than many extraordinary ideas coming out from intense brain storming sessions.
- Don't let anyone intimidate you: Stakeholder management is one of the most important parts of sourcing cycle. During the process if you let anyone (e.g. end-user, engineering, quality, finance or your own colleague) bully you, it makes a progressive effect on your mind. You have to be assertive and stay on your ground in order to keep your self-esteem at par. Some people may have a different opinion on this point as sometimes it is advisable to stay low in the short term to gain more in the long term but I think even a single instance should not be accepted.
- What doesn't kill us makes us stronger: Often we get much too stressed thinking about missing a saving target and wonder how will we survive if a sourcing project is delayed. I believe we should give ourselves a little more credit for being able to overcome difficult situations. We've all gone through tough phases in business and have come out without losing a limb. I've learned that 'Staying Positive' is the best mantra to deal with such situations.
- Learn from Suppliers: Suppliers are the subject matter experts in their field of business. Sometimes we make the mistake of ignoring someone because we assume that we already know all about the subject. Just listening to suppliers' words and understanding their product or services gives small nuggets of knowledge which are extremely useful during the sourcing process. In my experience, I've rarely come across a supplier who couldn't teach me something new.
- Present your story effectively: It may sound too basic to be a 'smart lesson' but after suffering through innumerable painfully boring PowerPoint sessions, I thought it should be included. Communication through PowerPoint slides has become an integral part of strategic sourcing and category management roles and effective communication requires both good content and clear presentation. I've learned three basic things to make an effective presentation.
• Be 100% clear about the objective of the presentation. Is it meant to inform, persuade, sell or entertain?
• Remove the clutter of text and graphics and keep a simple and clear story line
• Be consistent throughout the slide deck and same type of repeated presentations (e.g. supplier recommendations) should follow a standard template
- Maintain a work-life balance: Last but not the least, maintain a fine balance between "work" (career and ambition) on the one hand and "lifestyle" (Health, pleasure, leisure and family) on the other. It may not directly help to become a successful sourcing professional but it will definitely make you a happier person.
Well, let me stop at 7 because it sounds like a smart number :-). Hope you find them valuable. Please add more in the comments.