Top Strategic Sourcing Articles by Source One:

Top News

Is an RFP always your best option?
When people hear the term strategic sourcing, it is commonly associated with Request for Proposal (RFP). However, it is a misconception that strategic sourcing and RFP are synonymous. Rather, a RFP is just a tool in the strategic sourcing toolbox. Behind strategic sourcing there is a process; some processes may vary but the general process flow is pretty much the same. The most important thing to keep in mind is that your approach to each step of the process should be shaped around developing the best strategic path forward for a given sourcing category. What I mean by this is that you should be thinking about how to shape a solution that elicits the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) and is actually implementable for the organization. These two elements are key and need to be at the forefront of when executing all sourcing based activity.

Essentially, strategies centered on TCO and implementable solutions are the focal point of strategy development and should heavily factor into approach. Your approach to strategy development must factor in numerous elements, such as the organization’s outlook, insight gained from contract analysis, supplier relationships, as well as a cost analysis, and proceeding with a RFP isn’t always going to be the right approach to execute. Remember it’s just one tool in the toolbox. Other options include request for quote (RFQ), direct negotiations, reverse auctions and benchmarking to name a few. I find it always helpful to have a candid conversation with the end users and the suppliers in order to fully understand the relationship and let them know what your objectives are. From there you can work together to attain your goal.

Suppliers understand the business and sometimes the business is calling for cost reduction. Incumbents will do their best to help reduce costs, but they also understand that sometimes they aren’t the best fit solution. For example, there may come a point where these suppliers, due to company size etc, may not be able to meet the target cost requested in order to continue operating while making a profit. However, I’ve always found that supplier’s appreciate this transparency, and are more willing to take a first pass at reducing costs by working with you rather than being drug into a RFP process. In my experience, sometimes the threat of a RFP works better with incumbent suppliers rather than actually pursuing the more burdensome activity of taking the category out to market. This is an even more effective strategy when you have benchmark data against which to compare the incumbent’s pricing.

From a pure negotiation standpoint, the incumbent generally appreciates that you reached out to them first and gave them a first pass opportunity to hit your goal. They are more apt to work with you and even more importantly, being transparent with the incumbent, is a more effective method of handling an important supplier relationship. Now if you have a limited understanding of the category, and the incumbent supplier isn’t one that would be considered a preferred supplier, or identified as being a partner, I’d be more likely to take the category out to market in order to gain an understanding of what the market has to offer. Then I am able to include the incumbent supplier in the RFP process and compare their proposal to the rest of the market and negotiate from there.

 Now for more tactical categories with a much lower risk impact to the organization, like office supplies, I’d be much more likely to benchmark and negotiate, or proceed with a RFQ. For this type of category, the requirements are fairly basic and consistent across the industry, limiting the need to conduct a full qualification assessment. I’ve also used reverse auctions where appropriate. Again this is a good strategy to utilize for categories that are less strategic in nature and very price driven. Let’s say I’m making several large purchases of rebar over the course of a year, I’ll most likely conduct an RFI to identify a supplier who can fulfill my needs. Then run a reverse auction for each product purchased. The rationale here is that I can take advantage of the hungrier supplier. Supplier X might be at capacity but Supplier Y is desperate for business.

The lesson overall is that each category needs to be looked at individually in order to shape the most effective strategy for a given category for a given organization. There is no cookie cutter approach and all factors must be considered in order to be strategic and effective. Strategic sourcing is not synonymous with Request for Proposal, and an RFP is just one strategy, “tool,” that can be employed when shaping a strategy and working to achieve sustainable cost savings.
Source One Round Up

March 24, 2017

Here's a look at where Source One's cost reduction
 experts have been featured this week!

40 WMS selection tips to help you find the perfect software
Software selection projects are typically long and tedious processes, and any individual that has had to be responsible for reviewing RFP responses, vendor demos, and stakeholder meetings can appreciate suggestions for making the process more efficient. Senior Consultant Torey Guingrich and other industry experts offer their advice in this extensive list of tips for the WMS selection tips. Guingrich suggests considering both existing and future warehouse requirements, creating a WMS vendor shortlist with practical considerations, and including all key stakeholders input on the RFP.

Strategic Sourcing Throughout the Product Lifecycle Q&A
Direct Materials Sourcing Expert Martin Przeworski offers his perspective on sourcing throughout the product lifecycle in this recent Q&A. Based on his experience, Przeworski provides examples for how sourcing and procurement groups can create value in every stage of the product lifecycle. These professionals possess the market intelligence, ability to engage suppliers and cost-reducing methods that can be applied beginning to end of the product lifecycle, not just when looking to cut spend during the manufacturing stage. Further insights on this topic are available in Source One's most recent whitepaper Strategic Sourcing Throughout the Product Lifecycle: Balancing Competitive Costs with Innovation & Speed to Market.

Today is the last day of ISM Tech 2017! The three day even kicked off on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. and the information technology and services sourcing experts from Source One are enjoying the last few sessions of the conference. Over the last few days, attendees have had the opportunity to hear from industry experts as they presented educational sessions focused on technology and all the options available to take business operations to the next level. Our team has met and collaborated with other industry experts during ISM Tech 2017, and we look forward to the future of these relationships as we work to solve existing issues and identify opportunities for growth in the future. 

Industry professionals around the world are looking forward to the highly anticipated international conference hosted by the Institute for Supply Management in May. Over 2,500 global supply chain and procurement professionals come together for four full days of presentations, networking opportunities, and educational sessions that allow attendees to work with experts in the supply chain and procurement industry. As the exclusive sponsor of ExecIn, a sub-conference at ISM2017 designed specifically for supply management leaders, Source One prepared a schedule that attendees can anticipate as an opportunity to reevaluate their business operations and existing procurement processes with the support of best in class procurement experts.

The Source One team looks ahead to SYNERGY national conference in the fall, and in anticipation of the annual conference host Corporate United will present one-day regional meetings on The Road to SYNERGY. Baltimore, Maryland hosts the first conference in June, where local procurement professionals can collaborate with other experts in their industry on a smaller scale in anticipation of the national conference. As a Gold Sponsor for these Road to SYNERGY events, Source One looks forward to attending these focused events in preparation for the national conference.  
This past Tuesday I had the pleasure of returning to my alma mater, Penn State Abington, as a member of a Corporate Communications alumni panel. As a student, I remember attending these panel sessions, appreciating the valuable career advice and perspective the panel members offered. Quickly approaching 4 years since I've stepped foot on the beautiful campus, I jumped at the opportunity to come back and speak to students to share my experience and, dare I say, words of career development wisdom.

While this particular session was geared towards Corporate Communications students, the advice offered by myself and the other panel members can really apply to future graduates in any major looking to set themselves up for success in a career they love upon graduation.

1. Intern, Intern, Intern - Whether your school mandates internships as a part of your graduation requirements or simply recommends them, secure an internship - or rather, internshipS. Don't wait until you need internship credits to start looking and applying for internships. As one of the most educated generations, simply having a degree no longer sets you apart in the workforce, but experience does. Intern as early and as often as you can so you can start getting the experience you need to distinguish yourself from the competition. Plus, internships are a prime opportunity to identify what you enjoy, or possibly even more importantly - what you don't like about a particular career path.

2. Network - This is a piece of advice given by almost every professional and while it might seem a bit cliche, nearly every member of the panel had personal anecdotes on how networking benefited or impacted their career. This trick here is to simply meet and get to know people in the field you're looking to pursue. Do not approach networking with a "What's in it for me?" attitude. Instead, approach it with sincerity in learning more about the professional. Set up informational interviews over coffee or lunch just to get a better idea of what this particular professional does everyday. Find out what they love about theor work or what they find most challenging. This will help you get a perspective that isn't necessarily offered in your textbooks and it may open up opportunities for you later down the road.

3. Be Proactive in Developing Your Skills - Regardless of whether you know exactly what you want to do upon graduation or are still trying to figure it out, identify different career paths you could take with your major and begin to develop your skills and experience. More specifically, research different positions in that career trajectory and take steps to build out your resume accordingly. For example, certain positions may require that you have specific certifications outside of your degree. While you may not want to immediately enroll in that certification program, you can begin looking at the course work and requirements.

Overall, take the time while you have it to explore your opportunities. Maintaining a high GPA is important but it's not the only thing employers look at when considering their candidates. Take initiative and balance the time you spend studying with gaining experience.

Interested in taking me up on the first piece of advice listed here and joining the Source One team as an intern? We're always looking for motivated individuals who are interested in learning more about procurement and strategic sourcing, as well as gaining exposure to dozens of industries. To learn more about our internship opportunities, visit Careers at Source One.

Yesterday kicked off the Institute for Supply Management's Tech conference in Washington, D.C. An evening welcome reception and supplier display greeted attendees and set the tone for an exciting three days of educational sessions, networking opportunities, and innovative consultations with suppliers and providers. With the convenience of so many supply management professionals in a collaborative environment, attendees can strategize with experts to discover the best options that fulfill all their technological needs. In addition to identifying solutions for existing challenges, representatives from top providers are available to offer insight for potential growth opportunities by utilizing technology to gain a competitive advantage and bring a business to the next level.

For Day 2, supply management professionals attended a variety of presentations discussing how new technological innovations of today are influencing the future, and which advancements are allowing businesses everywhere to stay ahead of their competition. Some of the hot topics to be covered include the role of artificial intelligence in the future, robots outside of the manufacturing line, and best practices for procuring software and technology. Attendees also have the opportunity to hear from experienced leaders in their industry as they advise the most efficient methods for identifying, mitigating and managing risk.

The day concludes with a session on the future impact of supply chain, IoT and analytics followed by supplier displays for attendees to discover solutions and services that will support them in all their technological needs.Tomorrow will be the final day of the conference, featuring a panel with data experts providing their insights on how the transportation revolution is driven by data and wrapping up with a keynote addressing technological advances that are outpacing humans across a variety of sectors.

Source One's information technology and services team members have enjoyed meeting with other industry experts and collaborating during the sessions at ISM Tech 2017. With their extensive background creating and implementing sourcing and procurement initiatives for clients of a variety of industries, the experts at Source One can assist with business intelligence, data center management, IT managed services, software development and more. ISM Tech 2017 is one of the events hosted by the Institute for Supply Management in anticipation of their international annual conference in May. As the exclusive sponsor of the ExecIn subconference at ISM 2017, Source One looks forward to the future opportunities to network with other supply chain experts from around the world.

For more information on Source One's offerings, visit the team online at
Most commonly, strategic sourcing is only introduced during the manufacturing phase of the product lifecycle, during the growth and maturity stages. Organizations often only consider procurement a necessity when considering their options for reducing the overall costs of the established product. Within many organizations, procurement is viewed as an obstacle in the sourcing process. However engaging sourcing and procurement teams throughout the product will offer a clear view of the market landscape when it comes time to make serious purchasing decisions, and ultimately result in added value.

Strategic Sourcing and Procurement can achieve even greater savings by expanding on existing component opportunities to include the engineering team's insights into critical and non-critical selection. Including SS&P during the ideation phase can offer an abbreviated development timeframe that meets cost targets to ensure the design of a quality product in a competitive market is a repeatable reality. Procurement has the ability to enable manufacturers to understand the market for material and functional design considerations, evaluate their current contract engineering relationships, and then determine the most efficient approach to balance costs with technical considerations. Beyond that, procurement can leverage supplier input during the Production phase that can assist engineering teams to guarantee cost-competitive and sustainable initial design.

In a recent conversation, Strategic Sourcing Throughout the Product Lifecycle Q&A, with Source One Consultant Martin Przeworski, he reveals the benefits of including procurement during the earliest phases of the product lifecycle. Przeworski applies his background in engineering as a direct and indirect material sourcing expert to improve communication between engineers and procurement professionals that achieves savings and allows both parties to stay competitive in their markets. This question and answer session follows the release of a new white paper titled Strategic Sourcing Throughout the Product Lifecycle, which explores the value of engaging Strategic Sourcing and Procurement groups at each stage of the product lifecycle. Przeworski was a main contributor to the white paper, and collaborated with other members of the Source One team to offer their perspective on utilizing procurement earlier in the product lifecycle than it is traditionally and how it can provide additional value start to finish.

Will AI disrupt procurement?
When it comes to risk, procurement management teams have to be wary of possible disruptions. But these can come from several places including changes that occur when technologies that once seemed uncommon are normalized.
A classic example of this right now is Artificial Intelligence, sometimes thought of as a danger to the supply industry because of its potential impact on jobs. Now there's speculation surrounding the real force of this technology as research into it continues. The World Economic Forum's most recent Global Risks Report included mentioned the lack of strong governance for Artificial Intelligence, considering how new it is to supplier systems.
AI and different categories of disruption
In fact, one of the organization's previous perception surveys, mentioned in the report, placed AI and robotics as the top technologies in need of better governance, with 46.3 percent of survey respondents affirming this idea. That put these areas ahead of other types of tech gaining steam, including 3D printing and virtual reality systems.
The report also found a widespread range of disruptions associated with AI, all of which could add to the need for some sort of plan to account for it in the near future. The same perception survey ranked AI as the No.1 technology for exacerbating risks in economic, geopolitical and technological fields. While there is some appeal to the consistency AI represents, there's also a sense of danger that comes with this developing sector.
"Speculation surrounding the real force of this technology as research into it continues."
What could AI do?
With this much interest directed toward AI, procurement companies can't help but take notice, and possibly prepare. In a Supply Chain Digest piece from last month, Institute for Supply Management CAP Research research associate Roberta Jennings described some of the areas where AI, or cognitive systems, could improve procurement. Despite possible benefits in managing contracts, supply and spend, though, Jennings discussed some of the drawbacks to implementing "smart" procurement in the near future.
"It can be extremely challenging to cleanse data, determine weights for various classifications of data and ensure that there is some standardization among measures," she said. "Firms may feel confident about data generated through their own ERP systems, but the situation gets murkier when also feeding external data into a cognitive system."
The idea appears to be that automation could make predictive and analytics-driven changes easier, taking in data from different sources to create automatic plans. A big question, though, is whether or not automation is ready for supplier adoption. A more meaningful strategy could be either a slow phase-in or the use of human staff alongside potentially disruptive tech.
The Fourth Revolution
Some might see AI as an argument for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as Spend Matters noted. This trend, also called 4IR, refers to a digital transformation that stands to shift business as much as other major developments have in the past. What could matter the most during this time is the stability that comes with experienced purchasing management.
Without discounting them completely, businesses can prepare for the arrival of new technology by paying more attention to different suppliers.
There’s no doubt category managers and stakeholders make significant investments to sourcing the products and/or services they use, building relationships with suppliers, and ensuring these purchases meet specific business needs. However, sometimes having an outside perspective and a more strategic methodology to how purchases are made can result in a cost effective and efficient solution that betters overall business operations. Procurement resources within an organization offer tactical and objective insight to improve processes and enhance manager’s abilities to effectively obtain the required services.

Specifically within IT and Telecom commodities, managers and their supporting resources are responsible for ensuring technologies meet business standards and requirements that are critical to maintaining business operations. The focus tends to be less on the cost of service or market conditions, but rather on keeping business communications and connectivity to the outside world working. Although Procurement’s role is to help simplify and standardize processes, in order to be successful in working with stakeholders, Procurement needs to be mindful of current initiatives and relationships in place today. With that in mind, here are a few benefits procurement can offer IT and Telecom teams and parallel best practices for approaching stakeholders and implanting oneself within the sourcing process.
  • Leverage market competition: While IT and telecom professionals know the technical details of the services they are using, they might not know all of the suppliers capable of providing that service or other solutions available that might be a better fit and more cost effective. Procurement teams invests resources to research market conditions and uncover potential viable alternatives to both the supply base and technology. This allows for competition when sourcing these commodities and negotiating with incumbents suppliers resulting in improved service at a reduced cost.
    • Learn from the subject matter experts: Have a foundation of the product/service being purchased. Procurement needs to be educated by end users why they are buying what they are buying and what the requirements are. If you understand how all pieces fit together the team will not only have confidence in your capabilities, but will respect the investment you are making with instilling yourself to support them.
  • Spearheading sourcing initiatives: If stakeholders have good relationships with suppliers, they tend to rely on them to not only bring ideas to the table, but to be fair with pricing and overall account support. Unfortunately, supplier sales teams have their own agendas and quotas to meet. Procurement takes a more strategic approach by engaging in sourcing activities, such as Request for Proposal or Request for Information initiatives, with both incumbent suppliers and the alternates they have uncovered during their market research. Stakeholders do not typically have the time to interview multiple suppliers, review proposals, and assess capabilities in a productive way. Procurement will not only facilitate and manage these processes, but will assess and report the results in a way that allows the team to make an informed decision.
    • Be sensitive and considerate of existing relationships: Within the telecom and IT categories, most suppliers have ingrained themselves from both a financial and technological perspective and are involved for many years. It is not common practice to changes suppliers. Therefore, Procurement needs to approach the team delicately if recommending a change. There will be some hand-holding and it is important to consider all of the requirements and focus on the facts. For example, if alternate supplier pricing is very attractive, what are the technical and functional benefits on making a change? How will the new supplier ensure an easy transition? What are the value added-services they provide and how do they differentiate themselves compared to the incumbent? If you can get everyone to see the big picture, it is more likely they will support your recommendation for a change.
  • Perform billing audits: Although basic checks and balances might be in place when reviewing invoices, it is very common especially within telecom and IT for miscellaneous discrepancies to occur. They might be small miscalculations or slight price increases, but these minor changes can have a major impact on the overall budget. Procurement will ensure an understanding of each billing element on an invoice from monthly recurring costs to applications of taxes and surcharges. They will validate against contractual obligations and work with suppliers to correct any billing anomalies.
    • Provide constructive feedback: Don’t put the blame on the team for missing billing errors or shame the suppliers for making mistakes. Many times these are system generated issues; although both stakeholders and account reps should be completing reviews to catch these inaccuracies. Procurement should offer insight into best practices for completing billing audits and suggest more formal assessments from the supplier accounts team to ensure not only correct billing but to motivate opportunities for price concessions or recommendations for innovative technology refreshes.
Procurement can be a great asset to IT and telecom teams in support of overcoming challenges, better internal sourcing processes, and achieving the best bang for your buck!  However, if Procurement wants to be considered an ally, they need to promote themselves as an additional resource to the team and not someone trying to take control.
Intern Corner - From Financial Accounting to IT/Telecom Strategic Sourcing
When I began my internship at Source One Management Services, I was unsure what to expect. In preparation for my interviews I studied materials about procurement and strategic sourcing consulting, but I still wasn’t entirely sure what my day to day work would consist of. I knew from the interview process the majority of the work would be used through Excel and I felt confident in my abilities as a result of my previous internship experience and coursework at DePaul. Approaching my first day I felt eager to learn more about a previously unknown space.

During my first few weeks at Source One, my workload consisted of pulling invoices and data entry, and ultimately this work proved to be valuable experience in learning all of Source One’s different business offerings. It was a highly educational experience to apply what I’ve learned during my classes at DePaul one day to business decisions the next. The data collection tasks I undertook in my first few weeks provided first-hand experience in the main driver of Source One’s decision making. This experience, while mundane at first, formed an important base as I expanded my knowledge of sourcing and procurement.

As I gained a better understanding of some of the industries Source One’s clients operate in, I’ve been able to conduct supplier research. This is one of my favorite and most educational parts of interning at Source One.

I greatly valued these initial data collection tasks as they’ve exposed me to a wide variety of business segments, leading me to be placed on the Telecom/IT team. While Telecom uses the same overall Strategic Sourcing process, the content differs greatly. Working on projects in the Telecom team allowed me to expand my procurement knowledge into a previously unknown field. This came with a learning curve but as I’ve progressed I’ve been able to take on greater responsibility in these projects. I have found it incredibly valuable to stay with the same project for an extended amount of time as opposed to completing one off tasks for a variety of projects. Being able to use the information I had helped gather to reach out to suppliers, provided me with a deeper understanding of the Strategic Sourcing process. 

From my first day at Source One I felt welcomed by everyone at the Chicago office. Source One’s office culture is such that I’ve been able to work closely with everyone from Analysts to Directors on a number of projects. No one at Source One has ever been too busy to offer help in understanding the Strategic Sourcing process. A variety of social events such as the 2017 Kickoff Meeting at For the Win Chicago, reinforce a collaborative and welcoming environment. I’m now two months into my internship and couldn’t be happier with my opportunity at Source One. In this short time I’ve worked on a diverse spectrum of projects, gaining valuable experience in both consulting and strategic sourcing. I plan to continue a career in consulting after I graduate from DePaul. I hope to apply the analytical and technological skillsets I’ve developed at Source One to a variety of business problems down the line as I advance in my career. 
IT Sourcing: The importance of defining requirements
In 2017 alone, business leaders are expected to spend $3.49 trillion on software and IT services.
When it comes to purchases IT software or hardware, it comes as no surprise ROI is a top concern. These tools and products can provide efficiency throughout your organization and create new opportunities across operations and processes that have the potential to take your business to the next level. However there are so many options in today's world where new technological innovations are revealed regularly, one of the most difficult steps in updating your software and IT needs is selecting the right tools.

Before even evaluating all the options you believe your business has, develop a comprehensive set of system and user requirements. Decide what components are negotiable and which are necessary to assist in eliminating potential suppliers before you even create your RFP. It's common that sourcing professionals will request that businesses provide a User or System Requirements Specification Document to identify potential suppliers that meet these specifications. It's never too early to outline these needs and offer any details that can allow Sourcing professionals to leave out suppliers that may not be able to provide all these specifications and prevent them from participating in a sourcing event for business they have no chance of winning. To save time and energy for everyone involved, it's best as the business to decide on a good set of system requirements in the very beginning. Technology gives your business a competitive edge and shapes the future of your organization, and you will want to seriously consider the needs of your business and the options available before making any decisions.

This week, The Institute for Supply Management invites supply management professionals to meet for a three day event in Washington, D.C. focused entirely on technology solutions and services. ISM Tech 2017 offers supply management professionals the opportunity to meet with experts and leaders in the industry to learn about new possibilities and cost-reducing efficiencies in a range of departments throughout any business. The conference also allows attendees to collaborate with innovative suppliers and top providers in procurement to discuss solutions for existing challenges and opportunities for growth in the future. The IT and Telecom experts on the Source One team are looking forward to meeting with attendees to offer their services and professional experiences.

ISM Tech 2017 is just one of the many events the Institute for Supply Management hosts in preparation of the international annual conference that welcomes supply chain and procurement professionals from around the world. ISM2017 is one of the most highly anticipated events in the industry, with more than 2,500 professionals from all over the world meeting in Orlando, FL for four days of presentations and informative sessions from leaders in the industry. The conference also features sub-conference ExecIn, sponsored exclusively by Source One. ExecIn is designed for procurement decision makers and leaders in their organizations, with opportunities to meet with other professionals at their level that share a similar perspective. 
The Growth Marketing Funnel Brands are pouring out new marketing campaigns and communications, with the goal of remaining relevant – and at the end of the day, increasing revenues. Marketing campaigns depend on countless IT requirements to make these brand messages effective. Why are brands constantly pumping out content? They are attracting, nurturing, converting and engaging their current and future consumers. Where does this start? It starts with strategic marketing plan development by the brand(s). Similar to The Sales Funnel, growth marketing follows a likewise path, which I will be referring to as The Customer Growth Marketing Funnel, which include the five stages shown to the left.

As you can see in the illustration, the Customers are always on top – they should always be the driver of all decisions. To support any marketing plan, they are many software platforms to help develop, organize and deploy marketing initiatives; they include the ability to forecast and budget, customize templates, tools to define your target and reach market, and embedded calculators to help you realize the ROI, cash flows, customer conversion rate, break even points, and marketing deployment success rates. They also support competitive analysis, marketing strategies, product development, Ad content and the ability to delegate to your team. Overall, this software allows you to develop your positioning and brand strategies across a multi-channel business, use interactive marketing plan templates to map out your strategies, and organize and manage your team through implementation through pre-built, guided templates and additional tools.

This type of software is also applicable to the “Attract” portion of the funnel. I like to refer to this stage as the Buyer Stage, the customer exploration and education phase. This is the stage where you are executing your Marketing Plans, where you’re producing, publishing and promoting suitable content across all strategic channels; you are drawing consumers in to your content hub(s) and ultimately your database. Strategic Marketing Plan Platforms assist in tracking the views, visits, followers and opt-ins and downloads from your initiatives. Deployment tools include your website, social medial pages, mobile aps and interactions, videos, podcasts, SEM, SEO and blogging. When you have attracted customers you then should nurture them and show your company is worthy of keeping a customer’s attention by offering additional value adds to keep and foster consumer loyalty. Loyalty Platform Software, for example, can drive and maintain quality conversions, encourage engagement and increase the customer’s time spent on your website and other engagement platforms. Other software platforms that assist in the nurturing portion of the funnel include landing pages, automated e-mail deployments, webinars and marketing automation software. Marketing automation software is crucial to a company’s marketing plan; it allows you to relay information quickly and effectively to current and future members. This software will also pick up any information that you may have missed and track the information allowing you to be in real-time cognizant state of knowing the success rate and effectiveness.

Now that we have nurtured your most loyal customers, let’s convert them to be regular purchasers and advocates to your brand, otherwise known as influencers. Marketing automation is the driver to consumer conversions, but your website, landing pages, staff and hubs should be the “closers”. Key metrics to this phase include multi-channel sales, click to purchase rate, revenue/profit and repeat purchasing, to name a few. In my opinion, this is where the most important and crucial marketing software platforms come into place; all Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms fall in this phase. Not only does CRM collect data on customers across many different channels including contact hubs between the customer and the company (i.e. company's website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials and social media), but they can also provide customer-facing staff comprehensive information on customers' personal information, purchase history, buying preferences and concerns for more targeted and personal shopping experience. CRM also drives future marketing strategies and investments. CRM comes full circle and supports all aspects of The Customer Growth Marketing Funnel.

You have all of this valuable information, so what do you do with it? You utilize this data to not only drive future decisions but also to engage your customer base. You identify your advocacy champions and enhance your customer engagement. In this stage, your goal is to turn your most loyal customers into social advocates for your brad, value and product/service. For example, beauty bloggers are influencers in the market where, at times and most likely, are paid by brands to promote their product through their blogs and websites. Key metrics within this phase include reviews, comments on social media, social support, referrals, and survey responses and indirect sales. Gathering measureable feedback allows for action planning and execution. When you pay attention to when your customers are talking, you may uncover things you would have not known and not be able to adjust course in time. There is software available for Reputation Management. These platforms allow you to grow your customer relationships, gather actionable feedback, standout online, get customers interacting, build repeat business and monitor customer trends.

Customers are the essence of any business, but within today’s overabundance of communication hubs, it’s become more difficult to get your message through. Investing in and utilizing marketing software platforms increases your chances of getting your messaging and initiatives through to not only your loyal customers but your “reach” ones. Investing in marketing technology can and most likely will increase your ROI and effectiveness of your marketing initiatives. Run through The Customer Growth Marketing Funnel and ask yourself the following:

· What is the ROI on each marketing campaign?

· Do we have the proper marketing software to foster and grow my business?

· Is my technology performing affectively in real-time?

· Do we Plan, Attract, Nurture, Convert and engage our customers?

If the answer to any of these is no, it’s time to look into sourcing the proper marketing software partner to increase your strategic marketing plan and more importantly, profits!

ICYMIM: March 20, 2017

Source One's series for keeping up with the most recent highlights in procurement, sourcing, and supply chain news week to week. To stay updated on the latest supply management articles, check in with us every Monday.

The Doctor (AKA Michael Lamoureux), Sourcing Innovation 3/14/2017

Many organizations only begin to include procurement during the New Product Design stage of the product lifecycle, without considering the benefits of utilizing procurement during Market Needs Analysis or the New Product Definition phase. The best time to involve procurement is at the product's inception, when they can offer solutions that maximize profit and in turn maximize value for the company overall. Lamoureux emphasizes that wherever and whenever procurement can provide support, they should be utilized to offer the most efficient options throughout the product lifecycle. Procurement has the potential to apply processes that go beyond cost-reducing initiatives in specific phases, as they can provide solutions for more efficient practices all around. Organizations that included procurement from the first stage of their product lifecycle have discovered the benefits beginning with the function's market intelligence during Introduction up until the Product's End of Life, where it offered solutions for maturity through decline.

Rooting out 'Fake News' in Supply Chain Risk Management
Kelly Barner, riskmethods, 3/16/2017

When it comes to determining if content is worthy of your time and attention, Barner provides her advice for deciding whether a news piece is quality or 'fake news.' Before reading the article word for word, first scan for data that could offer reliable sources to prove the author did their research, and these statistics or charts have real value for you. It's also important to consider before seeking the information you need, that first referring to a verified source could be a better place to start than simply performing a general search for the desired information and sorting through the results to find a trusted source. In supply chain risk management, it's crucial to make decisions based on facts, and professionals in this industry need to be capable of determining whether the data and reputation can justify making an important decision. 
Breaking News: Art of Procurement Founder Philip Ideson Partners with Kelly Barner of Buyers Meeting Point to Launch Palambridge
Philip Ideson, Art of Procurement, 3/13/2017

Palambridge, a new virtual platform that unites procurement experts, technology, and intelligence in an on-demand setting, launched at the end of last week. The founders of Palambridge include Philip Ideson of Art of Procurement and Kelly Barner of Buyers Meeting Point, who combined their individual years of experience to develop this model to deliver procurement solutions for subscribers of the service. The idea came about after the founders hosted The Procurement Revolution in 2016, and their network of experts and partners included valuable procurement intelligence, solutions, and professionals who could contribute to this change in the industry. Specifically, Ideson and Barner aim to connect subject matter experts with the businesses seeking services from experienced professionals like themselves. The category experts at Source One are featured on Palambridge as their background as procurement professionals for clients in various industries and ability to provide solutions for the Palambridge community.

Why GPOs should standardize healthcare sourcing
Health care organizations can rely on complex systems to meet supply and delivery goals. To control spending, they might also work through a Group Purchasing Organization. Though this can already offer value, strategic sourcing can add even more to the mix, as stakeholders make better procurement decisions with lower costs in mind from the start.

The benefits of GPOs
A GPO does more for health care organizations than simply lowering prices. In January, the Healthcare Supply Chain Association published its latest annual report on the impact these groups have for health care supply.

According to this source, GPOs are indeed set to save as much as $864 billion within 10 years for healthcare, but they're also focusing on important supplier issues, including transparency, disaster management and knowledge sharing.

In a press release accompanying the report, Todd Ebert, the CEO and President of the HSCA, described the vast scope that the CPO has come to represent.

"The importance of GPOs seems to reach local groups as well as larger ones."
"GPOs are expanding their offerings to meet evolving hospital and provider needs, including data analysis and benchmarking, market research, innovative technology integration, infection control, electronic product tracking and developing and facilitating communities of knowledge among healthcare providers and supply chain experts to share best practices," Ebert said.

The importance of GPOs seems to reach local groups as well as larger ones. Modern Healthcare reported on the Michigan-based HPS and its deal with Resource Optimization & Innovation. The two are now sharing contracts, possibly affirming the strength that even smaller-level GPOs feel they have to expand in the current market.

Why use strategic sourcing?
Much of what a GPO does (or is poised to do) aligns with the benefits of strategic sourcing, something healthcare decision?-makers should recognize. The GPO is meant to support supplier value and keep the organization connected to new trends: Sourcing technology can help with the same things, with an additional focus on system standardization.

This could put it back in control of supply, cutting down on the distance between it and its business processes. The end user is important, too, and instead of simply saving money, the smartest system can maximize the final results as well as the ROI for the health care organization in charge.
That need for end results was evident in a recent interview between Becker's Hospital Review and two representatives of Cardinal Health: Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Scott Nelson and CMO Dr. Shaden Marzouk. Dr. Marzouk told the source that 57 percent of hospital staff are aware of some incident when a physician didn't have the product a patient needed.

To highlight the need for patient-centered transformation, Nelson said that automation, analytics and transparency are all elements of the ideal supply arrangement. This reflects the consistency that strategic sourcing provides.

Even when GPOs think they've already made improvements, they may actually still need the added help of e-Sourcing and other important management tools.