I hope that you have enjoyed the article “Managing IT & Complex Category Purchasing.”

One of the prescribed practices for getting complex category purchasing under control that was shared in the article was “Consolidate Ordering Methods.”  In describing this practice, I suggested that you Provide your internal customers with a process where the standardized products and contracted suppliers are part of the first and easiest method of their product research.”

This implies something.

This implies that you know – or will learn – how your internal customers conduct their product research.  You need to truly understand what drives their behavior if you want to change it.  You need to be curious.

Understanding internal customer’s product research can begin by asking variations on the basic questions:  when, who, why, and how.

When?:  When is the very first moment when your internal customers determine that a product will be needed?  Hint:  It is not when the requisition is created and probably even happens well before the budget for the current year is approved in some cases.

Who?:  Which individuals are involved in determining that a product is needed?  Is it one person?  Is product identification delegated to someone?  Is a team involved?  Are there approvers of product choices?

Why?:  Why is the need for a product purchase determined?  What factors drive that decision?  Is it something like a new project?  Is it a new problem that needs to be solved?  Is it to take advantage of an opportunity that someone identified?  Is it simply to use budget that will be lost if not spent (it happens!)?

How?:  How do internal customers conduct research on determining a product that will fit the need?  Do they contact the first supplier they know who provides such products?  Do they go on the web?  Do they consult your internal purchasing system for standard items?

Once you know these things, you can start figuring out what you need to do to change behavior.  If it sounds like you’re being a psychologist, well…you kind of are!  Maybe some day “purchasing psychologist” will be a job title!

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is the Founder of the Next Level Purchasing Association. Charles is also the Co-Author of "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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