Initiatives drag on, come up short, and even totally collapse all the time. Procurement and Supply Chain professionals are painfully familiar with this fact. On the latest episode of the Source One Podcast, Brian Seipel suggests organizations can trace headaches throughout the sourcing process down to one fatal mistake - poorly planned timelines.

All too often, organizations wait until their sourcing initiatives are underway to finalize their timelines and begin actively managing them. The troubles that begin at the RFP administration stage then continue through contracting and supplier on-boarding. All the while, drawn out processes and unrealistic deadlines will cause promising supply chain partners to jump ship.

"Of all the dates you know," Seipel says, "your implementation date is the most critical and easiest determine." That's why he works backwards from there in offering best practices to listeners.

At the implementation stage, Seipel recommends the Procurement reach out to every front-line stakeholder to gather their insights. With additional input from suppliers who live and breath implementations, Procurement can ensure they don't wind up missing deadlines and settling for their incumbent vendors.

Gathering as much information as possible is also essential throughout contract negotiations. By asking for standard terms and conditions up front and entering into a dialogue with Legal, Procurement can make more informed, strategic decisions.

Constant communication, too, is key. During the RFP administration stage, Seipel encourages Procurement teams to adopt a "firm-yet-forgiving" attitude when it comes to its timeline. "Each time you communicate with suppliers," he remarks, "reference the next milestone, its deadline, and the deliverables owed to you." He takes care to remind Procurement, however, that offering wiggle room is almost always necessary.

For more tips for timeline optimization, subscribe to the Source One Podcast today.

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