Tactics for solving data collection headaches

As procurement professionals will be aware, achieving cost reduction is a core function which relies…...

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As procurement professionals will be aware, achieving cost reduction is a core function which relies on having trustworthy spend analytics. However, what do practitioners do when their requests for data from suppliers aren’t heeded? The Strategic Sourceror offers some pragmatic tactics to “cure a data collection headache.”

Suppliers who fail to respond to data requests have either neglected to follow through on the request after agreeing to it because it proved too time-consuming or difficult. Less often, they’ve refused to pull the data because it’s too difficult to retrieve, or they are anxious that their pricing isn’t competitive – a bad relationship with a supplier won’t help.

There are some remedies:

Give the supplier a template:detail precisely what data you seek. It eases the communication process and eliminates unnecessary back-and-forth.

Supply a clear timeline:after submitting your request so that suppliers can prioritise it well, it’s good practice to follow up, as it reminds suppliers that you’re serious.

Develop working relationships with internal users:by, for instance, asking for a primary sales rep or a new contact in the business unit who can assist you with pursuing your data request.

Know when to approach a more senior manager:most procurement pros know when a supplier is proving difficult. Don’t keep banging your head against that particular wall if it proves futile. Approach the next person up in management instead. Only do this as a final resort as it often causes conflict with the original supplier contact.

Play the ‘rival’ card:late suppliers might benefit from a gentle reminder that you are considering other options, such as a competitor who would provide the data you’re looking for. The prospect of not having a contract renewed can sometimes work wonders for supply relationship management if the supplier is falling short of expectations. Again, this is a ‘last resort’ tactic.

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