Technology is a wonderful thing.

Electronic sourcing platforms help to expedite the sourcing process in ways procurement professionals of the past could never have imagined. Whether you're  hoping to administer RFIs, RFPs, or reverse auctions, e-Sourcing tools provide a level of convenience and connectivity that can fundamentally change the way you do business. They are, however, far from foolproof.

Procurement professionals who are already prone to rushing the RFx process may find that an e-tool exacerbates the existing issue.  Here are some common mistakes to avoid when planning your next e-Sourcing event.

1. Don't Forget to Invite Suppliers
Hey, you have business to award and now you have this great new eSourcing tool. Suppliers should be knocking down your door, right? Wrong.  Many eSourcing platforms present the option to post e-Sourcing events that are visible and open to all users.  In some instances, Procurement professionals post public events like these and assume they'll naturally attract interest.  This is rarely the case. Conducting comprehensive research and establishing contact with potential suppliers is essential to a well-attended and successful e-Sourcing event.

2. Don't Fail to Establish and Maintain Contact
Just because your tool sends an automatic email to suppliers does not mean these suppliers will attend your event.  An automated and unsolicited email not only reads as impersonal, but could also look enough like spam to end up in the garbage.  Take the time to contact all potential suppliers.  Describe your company, your needs, and the specific nuances of your approach to sourcing.  These simple steps could be the first in staging a successful e-Sourcing event and establishing a fruitful supplier relationship.

3. Don't Email the Wrong Person
Contacting a potential supplier can be useless if you fail to reach the appropriate individual. Too often, procurement professionals attempt to reach out through a generic email they found on a website. Even a smaller supplier is unlikely ever to come across this email and take it seriously. You should never expect to move from the wrong hands to the right ones.  More likely than not, a misguided email will wind up deleted or forgotten. This is another issue that verbal communication can alleviate.  A single phone conversation with a supplier can quickly help you identify the specific individual you should contact.

4. Don't Assume the Suppliers Know the Tool 
As always, the adage about assumptions proves true.  You cannot reasonably expect each of your potential suppliers to be intimately familiar with the e-tool you intend to use. Many suppliers have never even participated in an online event. Even e-Sourcing veterans might not know how exactly to best use your particular process.  Make sure to contact suppliers and thoroughly explain your choice of tool.  Answer whatever questions they might have to assure a smooth event.  Confusion could lead to a collection of poor bids, or no bids at all.

You'll likely notice that these fatal mistakes have a few things in common.  They both tend to result from insufficient research and ineffective communication.  A simple phone call could make all the difference when staging e-Sourcing events.  Making contact now could spark the conversation that leads to a long-term supplier relationship. Need a little extra help give our Procurement and Strategic Sourcing experts a call today.  
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