e-Sourcing Tools — Means to an End

Why process integration and usage guidelines are more important than the tools


Tip: Firmly establish criteria that define the qualifications for a project to be tracked in the system. Generally, some kind of materiality factor needs to be introduced to balance the desire to capture all projects in the system with the administrative burden of tracking immaterial projects.

2. Project Status — Designates the current stage of a project. Typical project status values include: Planned, In Process, Completed, Cancelled or On Hold.

Tip: Ensure that all staff keep the Project Status up to date, as this is a key filter used to generate reports for management review. For example, "In Progress" project reports can be used to identify current issues needing intervention, while "Completed" project reports may be used to book savings achieved.

3. Program — This attribute identifies individual projects that are part of a larger, over-arching program, such as a merger, acquisition or enterprise-wide cost restructuring, for which comprehensive reporting across all projects is required.

Tip: Staff must be able to universally understand all programs, and clear criteria should be used to qualify projects for a given program designation.

4. Savings — A number of variables must be defined to ensure that savings are calculated and documented such that they can be aggregated across projects. These should obviously also comport with the company's policy for defining savings. Key savings definition variables include: the methodology for determining baseline costs against which to measure, guidelines for determining the demand set for total cost of ownership (TCO) models and the types of savings allowed, e.g., unit cost reductions, cost avoidance, operational process efficiencies.

Tip: It is often helpful to establish a centralized savings definition and a financial modeling "center of excellence" that staff can utilize in developing TCO models and documenting savings. As savings is one of the most visible ways used to measure the value of a SCM organization, it is a wise investment to make sure that savings are reported comprehensively and consistently.

5. Vendor Diversity Opportunity — This field notes whether a diverse vendor is involved in, or considered for award on, a given sourcing opportunity. Applying this designation accurately and consistently enables tracking and reporting of statistics regarding the enterprise's efforts to enhance supplier diversity.

Tip: All staff must have access to an accurate and up-to-date list of diverse suppliers and understand the steps required to classify the vendor as diverse per the company's diversity policy.

6. Project Description — Provides a brief overview of the project scope. This write-up allows a reader to quickly understand a project and its parameters.

Tip: The description should be written so the reader (who it should be assumed is reviewing the project "cold," with no prior knowledge) can quickly gain an understanding of the project's scope and objectives from a cursory review of reports including multiple project descriptions.

7. Project Status Update — A periodic, qualitative description of the status of the project. The update should emphasize the major accomplishments and events since the last status update as well as key next steps in the project's progress.

Tip: The status update should be concise, but also written with the audience in mind. For instance, a manager who has little background on the project needs enough detail to assess the current and planned activities.

8. Risk Indicator — This attribute assigns the level of risk that the project is currently facing. A relatively simple structure for risk indication may include: "Green" — project is on track with no expected delays; "Yellow" — project may fall behind schedule; or "Red" — project is off track and requires management attention.

Tip: Use the Risk Indicator to prioritize projects for management review and escalation. Challenge whether users are being honest about their assessment of project risk, e.g., Green being used when the project is in jeopardy just to avoid the inevitable management attention.

9. Issue List — Provides a qualitative description of potential reasons for possible project delays or objectives that are in jeopardy.

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