Doing some projects around the house over the last few weeks has made me realize a few things about my clients as well as myself in terms of how to achieve optimal results quickly and with minimal pain and effort. A big part of completing any project is knowing what tools you have available. Not only that, it's also knowing how to use those tools properly. This is true whether you are partitioning a room or sourcing telecommunications.

One of the values Source One brings to its clients is its tools, whether it's its proprietary databases of contracts, price points, and categorization mechanisims or its sourcing tools at Further, other tools and solutions that are available to the client that they otherwise may not be aware of but we see other clients in their position using successfully. There are other tools out there, that are often overlooked as well such as stakeholder engagement and internal process documents and document management tools the organization may be using for non-sourcing purposes. Not only can these types of things have a huge impact on the timeline and success of a project, they're free!

Often we find ourselves doing what we have always done and achieving OK results and not taking the time to dig a bit deeper and find the right tool for the job. Can you pound in the nail with the handle of a screwdriver because you are too lazy to go looking for a hammer? Sure, but it'll take longer, probably marr your screwdriver handle, maybe injur your hand and possibly not even get the nail the whole way in and straight. I see situations similar to this in sourcing all of the time. Many just get used to doing what they have always done, or what the organization has always done, that they forget how easy it can be do do a nice, quick job of hammering in a nail if they just take the time to go grab a hammer.

The other thing I get some criticism for from friends is buying tools I don't have an immediate need for. This can sometimes come back to bite me but I find that if I am judicious in my seeking and procuring of tools, they will ultimately provide me far more value than if I went on without them. In other words, I can get really good at working with what I have available, say, sawing wood with a handsaw very nicely, but I can work much more quickly and achieve the same (or better) results with a power saw. Both tools do the same job, but if I don't take a chance and buy that power saw, I will be achieving a good result, but at the expense of a very elongated timeline compared to the better result I'll achieve with my fancy new power tools.

A susccessful strategic sourcing initiative will include three things: 1. Knowing the tools you have 2. Knowing the tools you need 3. Knowing if there are better, worthwhile alternatives to #1. In most cases you will be able to get the job done with the tools you have (even if you have to pound in a nail with a screwdriver handle). In some cases, you will absolutely need a new tool (why buy a drain snake if your sink never has clogged?). And in almost every single case, there is a better tool for the job and just knowing it exists puts you in a unique position to obtain it and acheive far better results, far faster than you would have otherwise.

Certain jobs are better left to the professionals either because the tradeoff for doing it yourself is not advantageous or because it is an area in which you do not have expertise. I won't touch electrical or plumbing. I very likely could do an OK job on most small household electric or plumbing work, but it's not worth the risk in the results of subpar work. For categories where your organization does not have subject matter expertise, it may be beneficial to hire consultants who can provide or obtain the best tools and resources to do the best job possible for your organization. This leaves you with the peace of mind that the job will get done right and you can focus on other more pressing matters.

Another area outside help can be enormously beneficial is in tool identification and guidance. Sure, you may own a drain snake, but do you know how to use it? Consultants can help you refine and improve your process, engage your stakeholders, and motivate suppliers with best practices they have developed from working on projects day in and day out that your organization may only see every few months or years. With proper knowledge transfer, you and your team can learn the skills required to tackle similar projects in the future on your own.

For help identifying tools you already have and tools you may need to achieve better, faster results, visit
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David Pastore

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