Q&A: Procurement Intelligence will save time, if used properly

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By: Sakthi Prasad -- Content Manager

16 May, 2017

Q&A: Procurement Intelligence will save time, if used properly
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In conversation with Eric van der List, Senior Director, Global Procurement & Sourcing –Future Pipe Industries

Procurement Intelligence

1) How do you differentiate between Intelligence and Information?

Eric: Information is data and Information in the right context is Intelligence. Having data is good, but putting it into the right context makes you able to analyse it. Intelligence helps you to consider your own position in the bigger context -- to take actions and make better decisions. Successful use of Intelligence would propel category teams to continuously reassess market landscape in order to improve all aspects of the value chain such as Total Cost of Ownership, risk mitigation, etc.

2) Why is market intelligence important for you and your team?

Eric: Market intelligence is extremely important to position ourselves so as to identify which strings we can pull to improve and get greater benefits for our company. Avoiding and mitigating risks are important as well.

3) How are you using market intelligence in your day to day work?

Eric: We use Market Intelligence right from macro to micro level. For example, the translation of geopolitical events into assessments of the impact on crude oil and derivatives, and further down the chain to pricing of our end products. On the other hand, we also use intelligence to understand the impact on labour and service costs.

4) On-demand intelligence vs research provided in PDF reports -- what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Eric: PDF reports are nice to read, but On-Demand Intelligence platforms provide contextual data and information on the fly. Also, on-demand service helps users retrieve relevant information at the click of a button.

5) Procurement teams always run a tight schedule. How an on-demand intelligence platform help you save time?

Eric: On-demand intelligence will save time for category managers as readymade context is available for most data points. However, whatever time is spent on the platform should be well spent. For example, we have a split between Fast Track initiatives and Deep Sourcing at Future Pipe; Fast Track initiatives are typically done in a week or two where on-demand intelligence platforms will be of great support as all relevant data and information is readily available and one needn’t spend much time on gathering inputs.

Deep Sourcing is done for more strategic categories where we would spend a lot of time to understand the market and market players, despite the fact that we know them very well.  This is done so that we are better positioned to form a mid- to long-term strategy and go into whatever kind of process to negotiate (competitive bid either through paper or on-line, strategic conversation, etc). During Deep Sourcing, market intelligence of varying depths is continuously sought in order to be prepared for negotiation and also to sanity check supplier input and arguments.

Hence, one should be clear about when and how to use market intelligence during the sourcing cycle. This would help save time for the sourcing teams. 

6) Would it be good to have peer benchmarks obtained via community discussions?

Eric: Yes of course it will, although some organizations might have restrictions in sharing info for obvious reasons. From my experience, peer benchmarks give a very good idea of your own position and in some cases offer levers for negotiation, but it will never be a like-for-like comparison. Company profiles are always different as well as demand, specifications, relationship history with the supplier, etc but this doesn’t take away the need for and support that benchmarks can give.