Quick-fix solutions are similar to band-aids. They are appropriate when we are faced with minor scrapes and bruises that do not take long to heal. How then does a company react when minor scrapes and bruises suddenly become huge gashes and sores in need of some serious bandages? These wounds may be the result of a supply base going out of business or a cost increase in a certain commodity. Whichever may apply, reactions vary among companies as some look for a hasty remedy while others are more interested in an intensive sourcing process that will reap benefits in the long run.

It is normal to prefer using quick-fix solutions for problems that need more than just some Neosporin. I understand that some are acceptable as they alleviate the problem for the time being while a more long-term answer is in the works. The hybrid car, for example, is not the solution to rid the world of harmful gas emissions, but for the time being, these cars are lessening the amount of gas emitted into the atmosphere. We must keep in mind that the bleeding is going to continue and the hybrid car cannot soak it all up (I’ll end my analogy on that note). Hopefully, a global plan will come to fruition in Copenhagen this coming December as national leaders gather for the United Nation’s Climate Change Convention.

The ultimate goal is to eliminate problems, not just postpone them. When a sourcing process is in need of a fix, there is really no such thing as a permanent solution and problems are never really eliminated. The same goes for many other complex entities. Markets constantly change, supply chains are continuously disrupted, and technological shifts occur on a regular basis.

It is easy to fall into laziness mode once a quick-fix solution has been implemented. Procrastination sets in and only when the panic button is hit do you then begin to care again. We need to remember that whether it pertains to strategic sourcing, running a marathon, planting a “recession garden,” or acing a test, there are really no shortcuts that reap benefits. In the end, you are only hurting yourself. You’ll get tricked by suppliers, come in last place, grow rotten veggies, and not learn a single thing.

I’m not saying that quick-fix solutions should be thrown away. I’m just discussing on when they are to be used appropriately. Walk 20 blocks instead of jumping in a taxi (and give yourself the time to do so). Pack lighter for a week-long trip so as to avoid having to check a bag, or just fly Southwest. Buy a Brita and a durable water bottle (you’re going green and saving at the same time). These are just some simple quick-fix solutions to give individuals a little more breathing room when it comes to their daily budget.

When discussing quick-fix solutions within your company rather than your personal life, it is more difficult to legitimize them. There is one shortcut, however, that is bound to deliver significant results. MasterNegotiator.com is a self-service strategic sourcing site that offers companies free access to preferred pricing for commonly purchased items and services. The pre-negotiated contracts available are normally offered exclusively to high volume customers. The site provides a free, quick, and easy way for businesses to save. Categories range from office supplies to pest control services. MasterNegotiator.com is not a makeshift remedy that has high risk side effects but is rather a tested vaccine ensured to strengthen your company’s immune system. The site is designed to meet the needs of companies of all sizes.

Some spend categories require a more customized sourcing strategy. In order to position your company for growth as the economy recovers, be sure to utilize multiple sourcing strategies rather than a single solution across all areas of your budget. MasterNegotiator may be the best fit for your office supplies spend, but your telecommunications needs may call for a more tailored solution. Therefore, the quick-fix should not be nixed, but rather used in combination with other sourcing strategies.

Many individuals are short on resources under the current economic conditions. There are solutions in which additional resources are available to help you produce cost savings results without adding to your company’s cost structure. With some solution providers, there is no need to be concerned with whether or not the soft costs associated with a sourcing process will pay off in the hard costs savings. The extra human capital available with solution providers will perform research on current market trends, analyze your incumbent supplier’s competitors, implement best practice processes and engage alternative suppliers to begin building potential relationships.

With assistance from solution providers, you can establish more efficient procurement processes that deliver savings. However, if a contract is implemented with a new supplier or better pricing is received from an incumbent, the process is not yet complete. Reporting issues may arise, compliance issues will always exist, and there may be some instances where the contract pricing agreed upon is not in place, requiring a monthly audit before credit requests are no longer needed. It can be time-consuming and sometimes frustrating, and attention to detail is required; but it is always important to realize that these tasks serve a purpose and that in the long-run, all you’ll need is a first-aid kit.
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Kathleen Jordan

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