Each year, Next Level Purchasing conducts research on what thousands of purchasing professionals consider to be the most important purchasing skill and compiles the results in our annual Purchasing & Supply Management Career & Skills Report. Year after year, negotiation and communication duke it out for the top spot.

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But there is one important skill that is never among the leaders, yet is as equally important in my opinion. What is that skill?

New supplier integration/implementation.

A couple of things have gotten me thinking about this.

First, we “eat our own cooking” here at Next Level Purchasing. We use smart purchasing as a driver of profit improvement just like we teach our customers to. So, this year, we have taken advantage of it being a buyer’s market, sourced aggressively, and are replacing some old suppliers with new suppliers who offer better cost, service, delivery, and quality.

Because we obviously have lots of good purchasing experience, I expect these transitions to go smoothly. But I’ve observed many cases where amateur purchasing departments unseat incumbent suppliers for a lower cost and then all heck breaks loose. With Purchasing being counted on to help cut costs in these challenging economic times perhaps moreso than ever, I expect lots of heck to break loose in a lot of companies.

Doing a good job of sourcing and finding a new supplier is only half the cost reduction battle. The other half of the battle is actually implementing and integrating that new supplier successfully so that there are no disruptions or unpleasant surprises.

Another thing that got me thinking about the importance of having skills in new supplier integration/implementation is that some of our new suppliers have “New Client Implementation Specialists” that are our single points of contact during the transition period. It’s a good idea for them and gives me a lot of confidence as a customer. I think that Purchasing needs an equivalent.

I’ve googled “supplier integration specialist” and “supplier implementation specialist” and only got about four results total. I think that this is a position that all large companies should consider.
Just as strategic sourcing is a repeatable, multi-step process based on best practices, supplier integration/implementation should be, too.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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