Koble Questionnaire – Are You A Dinosaur? or A Forward Thinker?

We mentioned Koble last week here. The platform, which supports engagement between buyers and suppliers, and helps buyers find interesting new suppliers, is extending its user base steadily. However, when I spoke to the founder, Fabrice Saporito last week, he told me that many procurement folk “still don’t get it”.

“They don’t seem to understand the importance of being open to new and innovative suppliers”, he says. They seem fearful of moving away from traditional suppliers and processes, and he fears that those procurement executives won’t survive as budget holders themselves become more commercially aware and understand better what they need from supply markets.

So we thought we would run a quick (fun) questionnaire, to help you decide if you are one of those “dinosaurs” yourself – understanding that you might be just that is of course the first step in changing! Just choose which response most closely meets your opinion.

1. Which statement best sums up your attitude towards your current suppliers?
a. I suppose they are a necessary evil. But basically, I hate them.
b. They can cause problems, but I wouldn’t have a job without them, and we wouldn’t have a business either.
c. They are an essential source of competitive advantage for my organisation – arguably more important than any other factor.

2. How do you feel about bringing new suppliers into the organisation?
a. Why on earth would I want to do that? Better stick to the devil you know… new suppliers just mean more work.
b. It can take a lot of work to identify a new supplier and get them on board, but I do know that they are essential for a number of reasons.
c. A constant flow of new suppliers is essential if we want to capture innovation, new ides and indeed improve performance of current supplier portfolio.

3. How do you find new suppliers, particularly smaller and less well-established business?
a. I don’t. I already told you that. New suppliers bring nothing but work, pain and risk.
b. It’s a bit random, to be honest. Some contact us, I meet some at events, sometimes a recommendation comes in from a friend or another business we work with … but we don’t have a real process.
c. We’ve got well established mechanisms and use tools like Koble to identify and link up with potential new suppliers in a controlled manner.

4. How do you engage with new suppliers once you’ve identified them?
a. Letter. Nothing wrong with the post. Get everything in writing - I try and avoid speaking to suppliers wherever possible.
b. It might be email, some calls, the occasional meeting – it’s all fairly unstructured. I know we could do better.
c. We’ve got a documented process to go through the initial engagement stage, all the way to onboarding in our ERP system – we use Koble for the earlier engagement and then we onboard into SAP Ariba / Coupa / Jaggaer…

5. What would happen if you left the business - in terms of current activity with suppliers and new suppliers in particular?
a. It’s all written down in a file that’s in this drawer… well, it was last week… who’s taken my file? Jenny, have you seen it? Paul? Hey, who’s taken my file?!
b. Well, there are emails, some hard copies of key documents, but I’ve also got some contacts on LinkedIn, even Twitter - the firm will lose those when I jump ship of course.
c. All the key interactions are in Koble and that’s a company account, so it stays if I go.

So, how do you rate?

Mainly ‘a’ – You haven’t exactly moved with the times, have you? If your nickname in the office is “Tyrannosaurus”, you know why. Suppliers are basically the enemy, you hate engaging with them – let’s face it, anything for a quiet life. Unfortunately, you will be replaced in the next wave of digitisation if you don’t change your approach. Have a look at Koble, for a start - you will find it on this thing called the “Internet”, which you might find interesting too …

Mainly ‘b’ – You aren’t working at the leading edge of procurement, but you are aware of that and you do realise that things need to change. Maybe you don’t know all the answers, but at least you know you need to look at improving processes and practices before the machines come for you! You should take a look at Koble too, if you haven’t already.

Mainly ‘c’ – Congratulations! You are either Fabrice Saporito himself or you are a very forward-thinking and acting procurement professional who sees suppliers as a key resource and source of competitive advantage, and technology as a key enabler to achieve that advantage.

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