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There is sometimes some ambiguity when it comes to words like procurement, purchasing, and sourcing. Although the terms are similar and occasionally interchangeable, each has a unique meaning.

To better comprehend the sourcing process, you must thoroughly know the distinctions as procurement or business executive. So let's identify the differences without further ado.

Acquiring necessities for an organisation's operations is often the focus of procurement. Procurement is responsible for procuring high-quality products for the business at an appropriate time. The procure-to-pay cycle is streamlined by the procurement process, which also helps you get insight into and control over your company's spending patterns, reduce mistakes and fraudulent expenditure, and increase efficiency.

The procurement process involves a variety of procedures and actions, including:

  • Needs recognition: A business or organisation must recognise or identify the requirement of a product, commodity or service
  • Requesting goods and services: When the requirement is identified, a formal purchase request, also known as Purchase requisition is made
  • Review and approval: The purchase request goes through review and approval by various departments to ensure it is a valid purchase
  • Sourcing: Once the requirements are defined and the purchase request is approved, the team finds the best vendor and submits a request for quote (RFQ). The final source is determined after reviewing at least three quotes followed by negotiations if necessary
  • Purchase order: A detailed purchase order is sent to the supplier
  • Receipt of goods or services: Goods or services delivered are carefully examined to ensure all requirements are met, as per the purchase order
  • Receipt of invoice: Accounts payable conducts a three-way check by comparing the purchase order, order receipt or packaging list and the invoice to ensure no payments are processed against inaccurate or incorrect invoices
  • Pay invoice: Once the invoice has been reviewed and approved, a standard process for payment is followed to ensure payments are made on time, thereby ensuring good supplier relationships

On the other hand, the goal of sourcing is to identify the finest suppliers of products and services and to negotiate the best possible contract conditions.

Sourcing includes:

  • Defining the need
  • Researching the market
  • Running sourcing events
  • Vetting suppliers

The procurement manager's main source of income is sourcing materials. Every procurement team should be certain and educated about how both sourcing and procurement operate since it is the lifeblood of the organisation.

We'll offer you an inside look at what it is, how it may benefit your business, and how to design the ideal strategy for locating the material source.

Typically, sourcing entails locating the best acceptable supplier who can deliver high-quality goods or services at a price that allows the business owner to make the necessary profit margins. Sourcing and procurement management are as if they were made for each other. However, before you can purchase items, you must first:

  • Locate potential suppliers
  • Establish a strict screening procedure.

This guarantees no errors are made throughout the material sourcing process, as going back might be costly. While most company executives focus on strategic sourcing and cost-cutting benefits, in today's competitive market, leading organisations have begun to focus on producing value while not disregarding cost and waste reduction.

The following three elements are crucial to the sourcing process:

  • Cost structure
  • Profit margins
  • Competitiveness

All three elements have an impact on companies of all sizes. The sourcing process entails:

  • Gathering information on high-quality suppliers of goods and services
  • Negotiating contracts
  • Conducting market research
  • Quality testing of products
  • Considering outsourcing for items
  • Formulating company standards

Keep in mind that procurement is the ultimate purpose of sourcing. It includes the following steps:

  • Logistics
  • Communications
  • Negotiations

Various sorts of sourcing

To successfully utilise material sourcing, you must have a solid grasp of your whole company plan, including what resources are necessary to achieve that goal, market dynamics and unique risks associated with particular approaches.

The sole purpose of sourcing should not be to obtain low-cost goods and services. Procurement teams should instead focus their sourcing efforts on building mutually beneficial relationships. You can opt to engage directly with wholesalers, manufacturers, or distributors, depending on your sourcing needs and the items you're looking for.

So, what kinds of sources should you consider?

1. Outsourcing

The most basic and practical example would be engaging a third party to provide services or make commodities that were formerly conducted in-house. Moving operations to a different country or collaborating with a domestic provider can help accomplish this task. Outsourcing is possible for both back and front office activities.

2. In sourcing

You delegate a job to someone or a team within your firm in this sourcing. When this option is available, most corporate executives choose it since it is an excellent cost-cutting approach that allows for on-the-ground inspection of the quality of the goods and services necessary.

3. Near-sourcing

Near-sourcing entails locating some of your activities where your finished goods are marketed.

4. Low-cost Country Sourcing

This sort of sourcing focuses on lowering an organisation's overall operational costs. Materials for LCCS are sourced from nations with cheaper labour and manufacturing prices. China has become the go-to location for most multinational firms for this sourcing approach.

5. Global Sourcing

The entire planet has become one massive bazaar. Purchasing products and services from worldwide markets across geopolitical borders is now simple. This strategy has several advantages and exposes your company to other markets; you also receive insight into how business is carried out worldwide.

You can also gain access to new abilities and resources that aren't available in your nation.

6. Prime/Subcontracting Arrangements

A contract between a contractor and a subcontractor to undertake a component of work that is part of a more significant project is known as a subcontract. Because the arrangement is between two offshore organisations, all contracts are governed by offshore law. Procurement teams can make import and export limitations easier to cope with.

7. Captive Service Operations

Some companies even go so far as to set up and run a totally or partially owned subsidiary in another country. This solution offers for more control and allows you to manage concerns like confidentiality and security. Your economies of scale, on the other hand, will suffer.

8. Professional Service

Professional services of vocations in the service industry that require special training can be considered.

9. Manufacturing

The process of creating new goods from raw materials or components as per demand is another sourcing option.

10. Vertical Integration

Involves the merger of enterprises in the same industry at various production and/or distribution phases. Backward integration occurs when a firm buys its input provider; forward integration occurs when a company acquires companies in its distribution chain.

11. Few or many Suppliers

A multi-supplier strategy is usual for commodity items, and purchasing is often based on price. Single-source purchasing, on the other hand, refers to purchases made from a single provider, even if multiple vendors offer equivalent items. Sole-source procurement describes transactions with a single supplier.

12. Joint Ventures

This is a legal entity formed by two or more people. Shared ownership, returns and risks, and governance are all common characteristics.

13. Virtual Enterprise

When a network of independent enterprises (i.e., suppliers, consumers, and competitors) is linked by information technology, they may share talents, costs, and market access.

As you can see, there are a variety of sourcing options. Because of the many alternatives, the administration of these partnerships varies greatly.

Responsible Sourcing

Responsible sourcing has become a prominent subject in today's global supply chain industry. This sourcing is a voluntary commitment by businesses to manage their supplier relationships with social and environmental factors in mind.

The ethical development and sustainability of a product are becoming increasingly important to modern consumers and investors. They are more inclined to invest in socially sustainable goods and services than ever. To be competitive and defend their brand, sourcing teams and company executives must include social, environmental, and ethical principles into their operations, assuming responsibility for the whole product life cycle and safeguarding employees' rights during the manufacturing process.

This, however, is easier said than done. Because of the complexity of global supply chains, it may be difficult for businesses to be aware of or appreciate the possible risks to their operations and suppliers.

There is, thankfully, a remedy. Your organisation must be able to track a product or service through each stage of the supply chain and collaborate with their company and suppliers to guarantee that working conditions are fair and that environmental practices are long-term.

Why is Sourcing Important?

As we previously stated, sourcing marks the start of the supply chain. As a result, if the beginning is already hampered, the entire process will soon be compromised. Due to the consumers' contentment, this will reflect poorly on your organisation and have an impact on business growth.

The management of costs and your interactions with suppliers are impacted by sourcing. Comparing suppliers' prices to see who would get the contract is a requirement of sourcing. You may benefit from this since some suppliers will reduce their pricing in order to get the contract. The provider will profit from this as well because they now have a reliable market for their goods.

In a corporate environment that is changing quickly, developing strategic buying procedures can aid an organisation in maintaining or enhancing its competitive position. Actually, managers have only lately used the terms "Strategic" and "Purchasing" in the same phrase. Lives of buying professionals were convenient and predictable before the twenty-first century.

The first step in setting up a successful supply chain is to find suitable products and services. There is also a requirement to balance the product quality and the raw materials required. Furthermore, product cost is an essential factor to consider when sourcing because it directly influences the bottom line.

A well-executed sourcing strategy enables your business to develop reliable and predictable supply chains, resulting in well-stocked shelves and pleased consumers. In addition, when sourcing is done correctly, it may improve your business's image and build brand loyalty.

By giving benefits to both buyers and suppliers, strategic sourcing aids in cost control. The cost of items is reduced by negotiating a lower unit price for big volume purchases. It enables the company to maintain a competitive pricing strategy. On the other hand, suppliers profit from having a continuous outlet for their goods, making planning and cash flow more reliable.

Benefits of Sourcing:

1. Cost-Saving

The first and most well-known advantage of strategic sourcing is the money businesses may save by picking suppliers that will provide the best value at the lowest cost. This will have a snowball effect that will boost your revenue.

2. Selection of the best providers

Effective execution of a sourcing process lays its basis on the quality of the providers involved. Therefore, the procurement team should be familiar with the fundamental competencies of the vendors they select and have access to supplier profiles. This enables you to align the goals of your business with those of your preferred supplier, resulting in maximum value generation at the lowest cost.

3. The development of enduring connections with suppliers

Suppliers will feel encouraged and improve their performance to fulfil the goals of your firm when they are recognised and taken into account in various sourcing choices.

4. Inclusion and Diversity in Sourcing and Procurement

Creating varied supply chains might be quite advantageous for your business. Diverse and inclusive supply chains boost profits and innovation, open new markets, and have a positive socio-economic impact in the operating markets where they are used.

What is Strategic Sourcing?

The degree of competitiveness in the corporate world has increased due to globalisation. Therefore, it has become crucial for businesses to harness the forces of globalisation and boost productivity. As a result, it is now essential to effectively source products and services from suppliers.

The global market volatility has heightened the demand for an efficient and strategic sourcing strategy that improves an organisation's performance and efficiency.

Therefore, the process of determining your spend profile and supplier base to make sure that the suppliers meet your business requirements is what strategic sourcing really refers to. The sourcing operations in your company are being evaluated and reviewed in a proactive, comprehensive, and ongoing manner.

Strategic sourcing forces procurement teams to establish solid and gratifying relationships with their sourcing partners to reduce supply chain risk. The supplier is seen as an essential value partner who works with the company.

The customer-supplier loop is also more closely monitored with strategic sourcing at every point of its lifetime. This means that the following activities are necessary: Spend analysis, supplier assessment; supplier relationship management; and thorough market research.

This implies that in order to succeed, strategic sourcing requires qualified employees, appropriate technological platforms, and tools.

Strategic Sourcing Advantages

  • Finding and choosing suppliers who will deliver the most value at the best price increases the amount of cost savings.
  • It enables purchasers to bargain for cheaper unit costs when making large purchases, lowering the cost of items supplied.
  • It increases cost reductions and enables your company to maintain pricing competition.
  • The suppliers who guarantee stable orders and long-term cash flow visibility gain from this.
  • Strategic sourcing allows businesses to spend more time concentrating on their core competencies.
  • Particularly for companies that depend on disruption-prone products and services, strategic sourcing aids in developing solid supply agreements.

Strategic Sourcing Process Steps

There are seven essential actions you must follow in order to successfully execute strategic sourcing in your company, including

  • Building a sourcing strategy
  • Analysing the supplier market
  • Requesting supplier information and establishing selection criteria
  • Selecting suppliers and carrying out the contracting process
  • Measuring and routinely monitoring supplier performance
  • Implementing supplier relationship management
  • Determining and Categorising Spend Profiles.

1. The Category Profile

The first stage in the process is to determine the sourcing category or commodity, such as the amount, varieties, and sizes of the items, and then calculate how much was spent on goods and services, as well as the current costs and vendors. The building of user-profiles is also a part of this process. For instance, their names, locations, and the departments engaged in the supply chain.

2. Supply Market Analysis

To establish the sourcing strategy, you must first understand your category and buyer power. Then, to identify which strategic method best matches the kind of service you're sourcing, you must first do a market study.

Kraljic's matrix is a helpful tool for classifying your vendors. This two-by-two matrix is mapped against two critical dimensions: risk and profitability, where risk shows the chance of unforeseen occurrences occurring and potentially disrupting operations, while profitability shows the potential for influencing the bottom line of the business.

You'll have a clearer idea of how a product or service will affect your organisation once it has been divided.

3. Develop a Sourcing Strategy

You must choose where and how to acquire in this phase while reducing risk and expense. It would be best to consider current and future suppliers to get the most out of your supplier pool. Make sure you define your company's objectives and the minimal standards for suppliers.

Once that process is complete, you must create selection criteria based on the providers that best meet your needs, talents, and resources.

4. Choose the sourcing strategy

The moment has arrived to request bids. Typically, the Request for Proposal is widely used by corporations (RFP). This document requests proposals, which are frequently used in the course of a bidding procedure. Your procurement team has authored it internally. It describes the needs, pricing split, legal and financial terms and conditions, and assessment standards for the product or service.

5. Select and bargain with suppliers

Your RFP will often receive responses from a large number of providers. Therefore, you must ensure that you identify the most prospective providers before interviewing them and, if necessary, seek further clarity or information. Your selection will be more informed with more details from each source.

Additionally, all information can be quickly accessed when required, cutting down on or eliminating the need for long conference calls and lengthy email chains.

6. Integration and Implementation

Selecting the vendors you wish to work with in partnership comes after discussion. Just remember to let the vendors know who will participate in the implementation stage.

During the implementation phase, you must include your suppliers in meetings or talks to keep them informed.

7. Benchmarking

It is crucial to assess the supplier's performance throughout time, beginning with a benchmark of the product's present state, followed by ongoing outcomes monitoring and target verification. By doing this, you can easily see any implementation-related problems and alert your supplier so they can fix them in a way that has the fewest adverse effects on your business.

How should sourcing be done?

Consider your supplier as a business partner since the supplier you select has the potential to enhance or detract from the reputation of your company. As they significantly influence your business, you must have faith in and depend on that provider. Having said that, there are some qualities that you ought to consider, and these are:

  • Delivery times
  • The range of products and/or services offered
  • Traceable customer reviews
  • Accommodating customer service
  • The supplier's ability to negotiate prices
  • The length of time the supplier has been in business and their experience
  • The supplier's ability to adapt when order quantities and delivery time frames change
  • And the supplier's financial stability.

Researching and obtaining a contract is the next step after choosing the provider. In order to negotiate prices, this entails meeting suppliers in person. With strategic sourcing, it is crucial to reach an agreement that benefits both parties. It is essential to have conversations about turnaround time, payment conditions, cancellation policies, and minimum order amounts.

Must include items in your vendor contract:

  • The supplier's agreement to offer a description of the goods or services.
  • The required level of excellence for the goods or services
  • The length of the contract period.
  • The payment conditions.
  • The indemnification clause if carelessness results in loss
  • And the penalties for contract violations.

The payment conditions may impact the cash flow of both firms. Thus this must be determined. You will receive deal points if you can guarantee payment within shorter time frames. Furthermore, delivery dates and places must be explicitly agreed upon since misunderstandings and delays might result in expensive interruptions.

Always pick a provider whose delivery model suits your needs. You can choose the Continuous Replenishment Model, in which the provider delivers supplies in accordance with an arrangement and timetable that have been made in advance.

Alternately, you might select the Just In Time Delivery Model, in which the business purchases materials just when required. The provider delivers things as needed or desired by the client under the final delivery model, known as on-demand.

Developing a Sourcing Strategy.

How can you find reliable suppliers? Developing a sound sourcing strategy is always the first step.

In general, procurement teams want a long-term sourcing strategy that explains how the firm will set up and maintain the steady flow of the desired products and services to your supply chain. The plan also has to explain how you'll beat out rivals vying for identical products and services.

But is a sourcing strategy indeed necessary? Yes, is the response. How do you begin, then?

1. List and describe what needs to be purchased.

The sourcing teams must list the resources, products, services, raw materials, and functions that should be part of your sourcing strategy. Ensure that both current and future demands are taken into account.

2. Record the sourcing strategy you use now.

This phase entails carefully examining who currently provides you with the items or the service. Keep a record of the supplier's performance and your interaction with them. Finally, review your present spending and the value you receive from that source before moving on.

3. Select a sourcing model.

Determine the importance of your intended products and services to your business using the list you created in step 1 on a scale of 1 to 10. Decide if they support your flagship product or an add-on product, and classify them as critical or non-critical. You should be better equipped to choose an appropriate sourcing strategy.

4. Compare the performance of current and intended sources

Compare the effectiveness of your intended and present sourcing models. You must now assess how well your existing sourcing strategies are achieving your objectives and determine if they do so both now and in the future.

5. Evaluate

This stage entails identifying the supplier whose sourcing strategy is most aligned with your present sourcing technique and the intended sourcing approach.

6. Create a strategy for execution

It is now time to create an action plan and a roadmap for putting those changes into practice after determining the adjustments you need to make to your sourcing process to align it with your intended approach.

7. Examine, edit, and revise.

This stage entails ongoing data analysis to ensure your sourcing method is as effective as possible. In addition, you may use this data analysis to identify any areas that still need work if you want to make sure your supply chain is successful, competitive, and robust.

Increasing the Efficiency of Sourcing

Now let's look at how businesses might enhance the efficiency of their sourcing procedures. Important factors to consider if you want to strengthen your connection with suppliers and ensure long-term success for all parties. The following are these elements:

  • Treat sourcing as a continuous process rather than a destination.
  • Create contracts that are advantageous to both sides.
  • Recognise that the necessity for maintaining continuity increases with the number of bilateral dependencies and that each expense influences risk and price.
  • Develop protections to avoid defection
  • Minimise transaction costs with shared visions and anticipated alignments
  • Be trustworthy, foster trust, and keep it straightforward.
  • Ensure that the contract is a flexible framework rather than a legal weapon.

Trends in Sourcing and Procurement

A data-centric strategy to sourcing and procurement is necessary for corporate operations in the contemporary digital environment. The following are the current sourcing and procurement trends:

1. Risk management and flexibility are prioritised

The epidemic brought to light the value of flexibility in supply chain management and corporate operations. As a result, corporations started placing a high priority on the robustness and agility of supply chains.

Procurement experts aim to carefully assess and manage supply chain risks and create superior backup plans, such as building relationships with additional suppliers and increasing inventories.

Additionally, firms will be able to enhance supply chain management, become more flexible, and more effectively reduce risks thanks to digital transformation and the shift to cloud-based software solutions.

2. Sustainability in Purchasing

Organisations are more likely to start using a sustainable procurement strategy now that it is hard to ignore the effects of pollution and climate change. Local sourcing is taken into account when making sustainable purchasing decisions, suppliers are chosen who share these principles, and supply chains are switched from linear to circular to cut costs and decrease waste.

So, what does material sourcing look like in the post-Covid era?

Sourcing and procurement are anticipated to play a significant role in the majority of firms during the next 10 years. The demand for enhanced risk avoidance will be supported, experts say, and this will help corporations navigate some of their most difficult problems.

Let's examine some of these difficulties and consider how they may affect the development of these two procedures in the future.

1. Risk reduction

It is anticipated that procurement will shift away from a focus solely on compliance and adopt a more all-encompassing view. Organisations will be compelled by such a comprehensive strategy to assess their overall risk exposure, risk transfer pricing, and investment in measurable risk mitigation.

Companies will need to reconsider their supplier risk management practices in order to accomplish these goals. In an attempt to simplify important sourcing and supply decisions, new metrics will really need to be used. As a result, waste will reduce, and purchasing value will increase.

2. Sustainability

A quickly evolving market should not be underestimated. Millennials are a major purchasing force in the modern corporate world. Therefore, procurement departments will need to create supply chains that cater to this clientele.

Younger consumers are less concerned with price than earlier generations and are more inclined to prioritise sustainability and CSR above low-cost bargains; therefore, this process will likely include techniques beyond simple cost-cutting efforts.

3. Globalisation

Emerging markets will alter supply and demand dynamics over the coming years, which we have grown to rely on. China and South America are both expanding quickly and are vital regions to keep an eye on.

According to experts, large corporations are expected to begin developing their knowledge in this region and nations like Russia and India. As a result, recruiting remote "on-location" supervisors can be necessary for certain rising countries.


Developing the knowledge and abilities of sourcing and supply professionals, actively utilising information technology and automation throughout the supply chain, and pursuing strategies that fully exploit a top-tier supply base are all necessary for survival in an era of rapid economic and business model change as well as intense competition. To compete in today's market, sourcing and supply managers must actively contribute to the achievement of an organisation's cost, quality, time, agility, risk, technology, innovation, and sustainability goals, or else they run the risk of losing market share to rivals who are utilising supply chains that are of the highest calibre.

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