5 Ways to Accelerate Sourcing Agility

Michael Zimmerman & Mike Rockett
Michael Zimmerman & Mike Rockett

Michael Zimmerman, Partner at Kearney, brings deep logistics, procurement, and operations expertise to clients globally. His supply chain consulting expertise covers logistics, network optimization, transportation, procurement, software implementation, change management, and team building.

Mike Rockett is a sourcing and bid optimization specialist and has been helping Coupa customers find value with Coupa Sourcing Optimization the past 3.5 years. Before that he spent 6+ years at LLamasoft (now Coupa Supply Chain) in services, product management, and sales after stints in industry with Boeing and J.Crew.


Read time: 4 mins
5 Ways to Accelerate Sourcing Agility

What’s the one thing businesses, carriers, brokers, and shippers want? Consistency. But in today’s volatile logistics environment, this can be hard to achieve. Large swings in capacity, pricing, lead times, and inventory lead too often to strained relations and contracts. For carriers, this means supply chain snares like lack of equipment, port congestion, and fluctuating demand are putting them in tough spots. For shippers, shipping rates, tender acceptance, and optionality are top of mind to avoid customer letdowns.

So, how can we begin to bring the consistency everyone wants? Efficient collaboration. While this answer may seem simple, it requires a commitment from both sides and an agile solution to enable that collaboration. It also requires quickly translating successful annual sourcing events into what we’ll term here as minibids. Here are five steps to help you accelerate your sourcing agility while balancing consistency for your external partners.

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The following steps discuss specifics around logistics events and carriers, but the process can be applied to any category or event.

Step 1: Determine your essential data

Annual bids often have huge amounts of data of different types. The first step is determining which data you need to replace, refresh or maintain, and eliminate for your minibids. For data that requires replacement, such as the lanes and volumes needed to source, Coupa Sourcing Optimization (CSO) can easily build a template for importing, cleaning, and prepping data. This makes it easy to quickly share essential data with your suppliers. For data that needs refreshing or maintaining, CSO can connect to external systems for up-to-date data or centrally store reference information like FX rates or carrier KPIs. And too often, multiple sourcing events lead to hundreds of unnecessary columns of data. Use minibids as an opportunity to simplify your data and process.

Step 2: Import your sourcing event structure

Your event structure is your secret sauce: it enables collaborative optimization and awards the business according to stakeholder constraints. Placing the structure in a template not only maintains your best practices but also automates them. It does this by bringing the entirety of the event structure over during the templating process. From filling in basic fields at step one to adjusting formulas for things like cost or tailored competitive feedback, automate key processes across bidforms, scenarios, and reports. With CSO, create a minibid in just a few clicks.

Step 3: Let automation help you

The key for minibids is speed to market. With CSO’s templates, automation, and guided workflows, shippers can publish minibids in a matter of minutes. With predefined scenarios and award notifications, shippers can also quickly design routing guides and designate optimal backups for each lane. The goal is to speed up the source-to-award process, and CSO does this every step of the way by automating your lane creation process, bid cleansings, aggregation and costing procedures, and creation of scenarios and reports.

Step 4: Make your bidders’ job easier

One of the best ways to increase participation — and ultimately competition and optionality — is to make bidder input easier. If a carrier has replied to you frequently, CSO can import their previous bids and make it simple for the bidders to just alter the rates they need to, or accept all previous rates to still participate in the event. The same can be done for any carrier-provided data — RFIs, equipment information, discounts/bundles, etc. Minutes for buyers, minutes for bidders. It’s that easy. Time saved here can be invested in having richer conversations about the best fit between shipper and carrier.

Step 5: Streamline all communication

Communication is the key for both the buyer and the bidder to get what they want. CSO enables greater communication with email-like features, chat, and any type of attachment of bid files. It also provides automated and tailored competitive feedback at the moment that makes the most sense.

For instance, a common scenario is when a carrier wants to ensure they reduce empty miles by winning backhaul lanes in addition to inbound lanes. With CSO, they can offer creative bids or easily highlight where they want to win your business. Buyers can then bundle less “desirable” items or lanes with more desirable ones to ensure they receive bids. Everybody wins.

Buyers can also highlight what’s important to them, including capacity, availability, time in transit, age of the fleet, contract terms, payment terms, sustainability, diversity, and more to ensure that bidders provide the best Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) bids.

From annual tenders to minibids in a matter of minutes

Time and again, Coupa customers have talked to us about collaborating with suppliers for better results. This five-step process to convert annual events to minibids is one way to do that. Minibids create value and help you navigate the volatility of today’s transportation markets.

Make complex sourcing less complicated.

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