Source One owes its 25 years of excellence in procurement and strategic sourcing to its expert team of directors, analysts, consultants, and interns. Like any great organization, we thrive thanks to dedication and determination from individuals at each level. To commemorate this important milestone and to recognize some of the talented people who've helped us get here, we're asking a number of Source One veterans to share what they've learned throughout their careers. These are the things that have helped set them apart as professionals and set us apart as an organization continuously delivering results for our clients.
Brian Seipel, Spend Analysis Lead and Consultant, joined Source One in 2014. Brian supports Source One's strategic sourcing and business development initiatives with his expertise in IT, marketing, and spend analysis. Leveraging this diverse skill set, Brian provides the comprehensive services that have become Source One's trademark over the last quarter century. He offers the following advice to those looking to succeed in the field:
"Measure Twice, Cut Once."
Most procurement pros learn this lesson the hard way. It's all too easy to cut corners when we're fighting against deadlines. Proper market basket development falls by the wayside the closer we get to our slated launch dates; we may skimp on data collection or miss critical elements of the spend profile entirely to avoid project delays. Glossing over these details and rushing through the process without fully comprehending the spend might get you to market faster, but it'll leave you scrambling in the future.
"Don't Ever Make Assumptions"
This is crucial whether you're producing an RFP, analyzing spend data, or negotiating a contract. We want to eliminate as much guess work as possible to get an apples-to-apples comparison of suppliers. Failing to include enough detail, or banking on the supplier to draw the right conclusions, will doom an otherwise strong RFP. We don't want suppliers making assumptions any more than we want to make assumptions ourselves.
"Do your Research"
Comprehensive market intelligence is essential to our credibility. We cannot impress our clients as experts if we're not aware of what is going on in the world of procurement and strategic sourcing. This means reading relevant blogs and trade publications to stay on top of new trends and developments. Clients want to know we're as tuned in as we say we are.
Don't be afraid to ask questions of your clients and offer answers of your own. Clients bring us in because our resources and expertise fill a gap in their procurement process. We have the answers and we shouldn't hesitate to provide them - that's what they hired us for! On the other hand, it's important to recognize when you don't have the answers. We're the experts on procurement and strategic sourcing, but our clients are the experts when it comes to their business. Make a point to close the knowledge gap by asking questions as assertively as you offer insight.
"Don't Be Afraid of Tough Conversations"
Negotiations can be uncomfortable. They are, however, an essential component of our business. If you need something from a supplier, go ahead and ask. It is always easier (and cheaper) for a supplier to retain an old customer than it is to find a new one - the sales rep you are working with knows this. Barring any outlandish requests, they will work with you to keep your business. If you enter a negotiation respectfully, decisively, and well-informed, few suppliers will reject your terms outright.
Megan Connell, Consultant, joined Source One in 2013.
Coming to Source One as an intern, Meg quickly impressed the entire office as a distinctly valuable member of the team. She accepted the job in hopes of new challenges and the opportunity to provide creative solutions to everyday problems. She's met each challenge with the same determination and intelligence that define Source One's approach to strategic sourcing. Here are some of the things she's learned along the way:
"Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions"
As a boutique firm, Source One provides its employees a lot of visibility into the company's inner workings. You don't necessarily get that at a larger firm. This privilege carries with it a responsibility. If you're not sure about something, want to learn more about something, or are simply interested in something, you've got to ask the question. On a different note, no one expects you to be an expert in every area, so it's okay to ask for help. This is also important from a consulting standpoint. We have to make sure we know precisely what's going on with our clients and fully comprehend their current situation to provide the best recommendation.
"Attention to Detail is Everything"
Echoing Brian, Meg says, "The littlest mistakes often have the biggest impact." From your initial data cleanse on - every aspect of your research, every second of your efforts will have repercussions. Without a dependable baseline report, every stage of the sourcing process becomes more difficult and more unpredictable. Nothing will ever be perfect, but the success of a campaign depends upon everything being as close as possible.
"Everyone's Voice Matters"
This is another lesson Source One helped Meg learn early on. High expectations and a tight-knit work environment mean that you'll sometimes be tasked with providing guidance to colleagues above you. Your idea of the hierarchy shouldn't scare you away from offering insights and feeling confident in what you can offer the organization. You stand a far greater chance of going far if you're willing to speak up.
"Don't be Afraid to Get Creative"
Part of what drew Meg to Source One, part of what continues to draw talent, is the degree to which it encourages employees to propose outside-the-box answers. There's no reason to pigeonhole yourself, or commit yourself to any accepted way of doing things. Some of Meg's proudest professional achievements have come about when she's made a point to look for solutions outside her comfort zone.
"Keep your ears open when you're talking to any and everyone," says Meg. Every single bit of information counts and could make the difference in establishing a client relationship and executing a successful campaign. Active listening during client interactions is just as important as comprehensive research. Both contribute to the unparalleled market intelligence that has helped Source One set itself apart in procurement.
Meg and Brian are just two members of the team that's been a premier name in strategic sourcing for 25 years. Check out our diverse service offerings and stay tuned for more lessons from Source One insiders next week.