We often mention in our articles, best practices, blog and marketing materials that purchasing professionals should be casting the widest net possible in their initial RFI stage of their strategic sourcing process. Rather than looking to disqualify potential suppliers, you should be looking to qualify as many as possible in your initial sourcing initiative. An easy way to accomplish this is to ask your existing and potential suppliers for help in identifying new sources of supply, regardless of if you are buying a product or a service.

So how do you do this? It is simple actually. When you reach out to potential suppliers, and they indicate that you are not capable of handling your business, simply ask them if they have any partners or know of any companies that could help you. You will be surprised at how often a supplier will turn you on to another vendor that you never heard of, and in some cases, will even direct you to one of their competitors that can handle your requirements.

Don't stop there however. When you are conducting your initial steps of the sourcing process, look to identify suppliers in "adjacent technologies" and ask them for help. For instance, if you are looking for Sarbanes Oxley auditing services, and have worked with a telecom or electricity bill auditor in the past, ask them if they could recommend someone… or if you are purchasing a highly engineered piece of machinery, find suppliers that are in similar industries if they are aware of anyone that can help.

As a procurement professional, you are often required to learn everything there is to learn about a product or service that your organization is buying, in a very short period of time. Asking professionals in that industry for help can often be the best way to identify new technologies, suppliers and industry developments that you simply could not find on your own in a short period of time.
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William Dorn

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