What’s Your Level of Transparency in Discussions with Sourcing Peers?

Level of transparency with your sourcing peers

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What's Your Level of Transparency in Discussions with Sourcing Peers? 1
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Level of transparency with your sourcing peers

In a recent conversation with an Agency partner, the comment was made that I was transparent in writing these blogs. The comment didn’t realize surprise me as I’m typically straightforward and to the point, in almost all of my business interactions including negotiations and peer sourcing discussions I tend to have a level of transparency that inspires trust. But it did make me think about the overall secretive nature of our business.  It left me a bit perplexed, to say the least.

It doesn’t matter if you use the sourcing gemstone, the purchasing chessboard or an internal proprietary process.  The end result focus is always on the same things – quality, pricing, innovation, etc. – ARQSCI and a set amount of levers to be pulled, in a given order.   So in my humble opinion, there is no “Secret” in sourcing or category management.  There are only so many levers to pull and a few different methodologies for the order of pulling them.  But given the secrecy, it begged the question – could I be wrong?

I know in my tenure I have found others who are very willing to talk and share experiences, best practices and new processes.  But there were far more that shied away from the experience. So what gives?

Now maybe it’s because I think transparency makes you efficient and saves time.  Or maybe it’s due to my upbringing and integrity.  I just don’t see how helping someone else out could negatively affect your business in a negative way. Maybe I’m just naive. But I still don’t see the experts at AT Kearney patenting Sourcing processes, hiding their content or market research companies shying away from sharing category maturity curves.

The fact still remains, that most Sourcing or Procurement Peers are hesitant to share their best practices. For what purpose? There is nothing to stop me from finding out what the leading companies in any category have been doing to move the needle.  Are we all being greedy in trying to get paid for this information or am I truly missing something big? Then again, my tagline is “The Naked Truth”, so maybe there’s something more to it.

In my humble opinion, I still go back to the fact that what we do isn’t rocket science. It’s very logical and well documented. There isn’t a magic wand that can get a supplier to concede to your position no matter the size of your spend. Nor is there a negotiation tactic that both sides aren’t aware of. That’s what levels the playing field in all of our work.  How and when you use them to your advantage, is always key (and let’s not forget using them correctly!). But again, it’s not Harry Potter conjuring up a Patronus spell, now is it?

So then what drives the secrecy or lack of sharing best practices? I’m hoping you can tell me.  What drives you to not share your best practices?  And I’m not talking about which suppliers you use that could effectively give away your supply chain secret sauce.  I’m talking about professional services, IT, consulting or any other good/service that 99% of other companies use. And what causes you to be so tight-lipped.  Is it management? Is it your general nature?  Or do you really view it as a competitive advantage?

Someone, please share some tidbit of information ….  because quite frankly – I’m just DYING to know the “why”! (Besides the obvious answers). Please comment in the section below! I am always curious to find out new things and love a healthy debate. So don’t be afraid.

Transparency is key. Transparency is key. Transparency is key.
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