SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Prateek Jindal describes how the course helped him and his team increase value from improving their strategic sourcing strategies on down through your category playbook.
As a Sourcing Director, I manage Category Playbooks and drive effective sourcing strategies within our organization. Coming from Facilities Management (FM) organization, my directives are to manage over 20 key categories primarily in the services procurement domain, including Elevators, Janitorial, HVAC, Security, Snow Removal & Landscaping, Waste Haulage, Electrical, Key Trades, and many more. Each category is unique and requires substantial knowledge and understanding to ensure client requirements and expectations are met, both qualitative and quantitative. Combining a portfolio of over 40 clients and management of over 20 FM categories, it is imperative to have robust Sourcing Strategy Planning and regular review of Category Playbooks.
While our existing processes to develop Sourcing Strategies and Category Playbooks were functional, I recognized the need to elevate our practices to industry-leading standards. To address this, I recently completed the Certified Sourcing Practitioner course SIG (Sourcing Industry Group) offered. This essay highlights how the concepts and techniques learned during the certification course enabled me to enhance our Category Playbooks and elevate our sourcing strategies significantly.
Effective Category Playbook is a comprehensive guide for sourcing professionals, providing key category information, best practices, spending and savings information, pipeline of activities, ongoing service delivery challenges, and captures industry innovations & sustainability-related advancements. The Certified Sourcing Practitioner course offered valuable insights into developing and optimizing Category Playbooks. By applying the concepts acquired through the certification course (a reference to Lesson 3.3), I intend to enhance our Category Playbooks in the following ways:
- Category Maturity: Completing a Category Maturity Rating Assessment by assessing the right metrics on the certainty of spending, contract portfolio, quality of suppliers, stakeholder alignment, benchmarking, and Porter’s Five Forces analyses, will help to configure priorities and sourcing strategy better.
- Comprehensive Category Assessment: Implementing a structured approach to assess each category’s current state, analyzing spending data, supplier performance, and cost drivers. This will enable us to identify opportunities, risks, and potential areas for improvement, leading to more informed decision-making.
- Strategic Category Segmentation: Adopting a refined category segmentation framework, aligning it with our organization’s strategic priorities. This approach will enable us to tailor sourcing strategies based on each category's unique characteristics and criticality, ensuring optimal outcomes.
- Market Intelligence Integration: Integrating market intelligence gathering techniques into our Category Playbooks via vested supplier relationships, using consultant services and subscriptions to 3rd party services such as Gartner and IBIS. By leveraging external data sources, industry reports, and market trends, we intend to understand better supplier landscapes, pricing dynamics, and emerging technologies. This knowledge will empower us to negotiate better terms, identify alternative suppliers, and drive cost efficiencies.
- Enhanced Stakeholder Collaboration: Implementing a structured approach to engage stakeholders across functions, including finance, legal, and operations, during the Category Playbook development process. By involving them early on and gathering their input, we will ensure alignment with organizational goals, increase transparency, and foster collaboration throughout the sourcing lifecycle.
In addition to revamping our Category Playbooks, the Certified Sourcing Practitioner course equipped me with invaluable tools and strategies to optimize our sourcing practices and category planning. Here’s how I intend to apply the concepts learned to elevate our sourcing strategies:
- Strategic Sourcing Methodologies: The course introduced me to various strategic sourcing methodologies, such as the 7-Step Sourcing Process, Should-Cost modeling, and the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis. By penetrating these methodologies more deeply into our sourcing strategies, we will be able to drive greater cost savings, improve supplier performance, and mitigate risks.
- Supplier Relationship Management (SRM): I recognized the critical role of strong supplier relationships in achieving sourcing objectives. Applying SRM principles, I established proactive communication plans, conducted regular performance reviews, and collaborated with suppliers to drive continuous improvement. These efforts fostered long-term partnerships, resulting in enhanced service levels and innovation.
- Supplier Performance Management (SPM): The course (a reference to lesson 2.4) emphasized the importance of supplier management strategies. Most interesting was the content around “Watermelon Scorecard,” a phrase I have regularly used. The course covered many interesting points on allowing scoring flexibility on scorecards, deploying real-time scorecards, providing access to suppliers to view and compare their scorecards, and having the right level of sponsorship on both buyers’ and suppliers’ sides on the management and review of the performance scorecard. Leveraging this knowledge, I plan to considerably enhance the SPM policy and scorecard for our organization’s Tier 1 and 2 suppliers.
- Sustainability in Sourcing: Recognizing the growing importance of sustainability and ethical sourcing practices, I plan to incorporate these considerations into our sourcing strategies. We are focusing on Environment and Sustainability more than ever. Some best practices which we are developing are evaluating clients’ and suppliers’ ESG reports and practices, incorporating ESG as an important agenda topic in quarterly business review meetings, updating RFP evaluation criteria to incorporate the Sustainability questionnaire, and making conscious choices that align with our organization’s ESG values, positively impacting our reputation and stakeholder perception. On the Ethical Sourcing front, we are incorporating best practices as part of the Modern Slavery Act and, on a case-by-case basis, ensuring inflationary relief is made available to the Suppliers due to unprecedented minimum wage and CPI increases.
- Technology and Automation: The certification course highlighted emerging technologies and automation tools in the sourcing domain. Capitalizing on this knowledge, clubbed with recent advancements in the field of Generative AI, I am exploring our technological landscape heavily, identifying areas for improvement, and implementing innovative/disruptive solutions to streamline processes, reduce manual effort, and enhance data analytics capabilities. The idea is to have world-class technological advancements in our industry to keep us ahead of the competition and increase the barrier to entry for the competitors.
The Certified Sourcing Practitioner course offered by SIG has been instrumental in transforming our Category Playbooks and elevating our sourcing strategies. Incorporating the concepts learned throughout the course enhanced our category assessments, category maturity, segmentations, and market intelligence integration. Moreover, the course provided us with strategic sourcing methodologies, supplier relationship management techniques, risk mitigation strategies, and a focus on sustainable and ethical sourcing. These advancements will empower our organization to achieve cost savings, drive innovation, mitigate risks, and build stronger supplier partnerships. Moving forward, I am committed to continuously leveraging the knowledge from the certification course to refine our sourcing practices and maintain a competitive edge in the industry.
The Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) Program is a 10-week course that focuses on the hard and soft skills of sourcing, including strategic sourcing and outsourcing methodologies, as well as best practices in negotiations.