Level-Up Your Sourcing From Chaos to Clarity by Overcoming These Challenges

Mark Flowers
Managing Director, Product Management & Operations, OneMarket

At first glance, sourcing may seem like a straightforward task – simply identifying, evaluating, and procuring goods and services from suppliers. However, as many organizations have discovered, sourcing is often a far more complex and challenging endeavor than meets the eye.

In the age of digital transformation, businesses have to deal with various sourcing challenges that can significantly impede their operational efficiency and strategic growth.

Inefficient sourcing can cause more than operational inefficiencies. Lost time and resources, impaired strategic decision-making, and decreased profitability are just some of the many issues that can severely hamper an organization’s ability to stay ahead of the curve and maintain a robust bottom line.

In this blog, we delve into the intricacies of common sourcing challenges, shedding light on their far-reaching implications.

Five Sourcing Challenges: The Silent Killers of Profitability and Efficiency

Limited to no visibility into historical sourcing event activity nor any of the RFx data gathered over time

A lack of visibility into historical sourcing event activity and RFx data can lead to suboptimal decision-making, increased operational costs, reputational damage, and missed strategic opportunities. Without access to past pricing data, companies are at a distinct disadvantage when negotiating future contracts. They can’t determine whether a supplier’s pricing is competitive or inflated, and may potentially overpay for goods or services, adversely affecting the company’s profitability.

Besides that, organizations may continue to engage with underperforming suppliers, opening the door to quality issues, delivery delays, and service disruptions. These negative outcomes increase operational costs and damage the organization’s reputation and customer relationships. Companies may also miss out on identifying trends and patterns that could inform future procurement strategies. For instance, they might overlook seasonal price fluctuations, emerging supplier risks, or opportunities for consolidating spend.

Inefficient, time-consuming, email-based communications with suppliers and no centralized source of what was communicated over the event timeline

One of the primary challenges of maintaining effective communication with suppliers through emails is the lack of real-time visibility. An important email request could get buried, or worse, end up in the spam folder. A missed deadline for submitting a critical RFx response could cause significant delays in the procurement cycle.

The absence of a centralized system makes it nearly impossible to keep track of all communication timelines effectively. When key personnel leave the organization, crucial emails from a supplier could be lost in the sea of correspondence, and key proposal and pricing files get purged from that shared drive, resulting in misinformation or lack of information when making strategic decisions.

Complicated sourcing tools that waste time and force unnecessary data entry, make even the limited manual email process look tempting

Sourcing tools were designed with the intent to streamline and optimize sourcing processes. In reality, they often become a hindrance rather than a help. They frequently demand excessive detail entry, causing substantial delays and inefficiencies in the procurement cycle. The more convoluted the tool, the slower the process becomes. This sluggish pace can lead procurement professionals to revert back to manual processes, like email, out of sheer frustration. Or even worse, decide to skip the RFx process entirely and revert to direct negotiations and missing the opportunity to test the market.

The end result? An ineffective sourcing strategy that falls short of achieving its intended objectives and impedes overall business performance.

Poorly implemented sourcing technology, leaving behind a broken, inefficient process

When sourcing technology is not well integrated with existing systems, it can result in data silos and disjointed workflows. The lack of integration hampers information flow, creating bottlenecks that can slow down processes and increase operational costs.

Poorly implemented sourcing technology can lead to inaccurate data capture and reporting, undermining strategic decision-making in procurement. It can also result in missed opportunities for leveraging economies of scale or consolidating suppliers due to fragmented visibility into sourcing data.

If the technology fails to meet organizational procurement needs, companies may resort to alternative solutions, including reverting to traditional, offline practices. However, without the benefits of centralized data and automated workflows offered by modern sourcing technology, they risk inefficiencies, errors, and a lack of transparency in their procurement processes.

No centralized way to manage RFx documentation, resulting in misplaced or mismanaged critical information

Without a centralized system, RFx documents could be stored across multiple locations, making them difficult to track and increasing the likelihood of misplacing important documents. One consequence of this is significant operational disruptions, as organizations may struggle to locate essential information when needed.

Consider, for instance, the scenario where a supplier’s compliance certificate is misplaced. If an organization cannot produce this certificate during an audit or inspection to serve as proof that a supplier meets certain regulatory standards or industry requirements, it may face penalties or sanctions, impacting the company’s bottom line and tarnishing its reputation.

There’s also the issue of contractual disputes. For example, if a contract document outlining the terms and conditions of a supplier agreement is misplaced, it could result in confusion over agreed prices, delivery dates, or quality standards. Disagreements between the organization and the supplier could arise, potentially escalating into legal conflicts. Such disputes are not only costly but could also strain supplier relationships.

Streamline Sourcing with Specialized Technology

The challenges detailed above, in large part, are the unfortunate byproduct of inadequate, overcomplicated, or outdated sourcing technology. The need for a robust, user-friendly, and efficient sourcing solution is therefore obvious. Such a solution would not only streamline operations but also provide increased visibility into valuable data, centralize management capabilities, and eliminate the administrative burden associated with conventional sourcing methods. By leveraging such advanced tools, organizations can enhance their sourcing efficiency, reduce costs, and drastically improve their overall procurement outcomes.

OneMarket Sourcing is a solution purpose-built by practitioners to centralize sourcing efforts, create diverse events effortlessly, and tap into the power of LogicSource RFx tools and templates. It allows sourcing events to be conducted and built more efficiently, reducing the time required upfront and allowing sourcing teams to focus on strategic negotiations.

Learn more about OneMarket Sourcing here and the other modules that support the full Source-to-Pay lifecycle here.

About the Author

Mark Flowers

Managing Director, Product Management & Operations, OneMarket

Mark is a software veteran, self-confessed data nerd, and an experienced procurement practitioner. He has 30+ years of experience spanning both Sell-side and Buy-side of Global Business, operating from 5 countries across Asia and North America, with Senior Leadership roles across Procurement, Product, Sales, Finance, Marketing & Customer Service.