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To Harmonize, or Not to Harmonize

The Challenge: The orchestration of supplier management processes spanning global, local, and cross-functional organizations.

More often than not, we hear from organizations that they want to establish a “global process” as it may relate to specific supplier management initiatives; however, the “one process fits all” concept is never realized, as decentralized/local (e.g., country, business unit/division, plant, etc.) requirements create a large number of variations and permutations to the “global process”.

Can you imagine one workflow to handle all the permutations, regardless of supplier management initiative? Take an onboarding as an example. How would the process start to vary based on:

·       The supplier type (e.g., long-term, single buy, etc.)?

·       The commodity/service being purchased?

·       The requestor?

·       The business unit, or location, using the supplier?

·       The supplier location?

The list goes on, and on – and, if each represents a branch in a workflow, how quickly will this process flow become overwhelming? Better yet, what happens when there is a change in process, even minor, or an organizational restructure?

I wonder if Heraclitus was thinking about business when he stated, “the only thing that is constant is change”? One process cannot fit all, and trying to harmonize all the global and local needs under one umbrella is a prime example of futility, like trying to build a sandcastle between waves.

What if…

Processes were managed in a matrix, and the intersection of the nodes represents the various needs: by region, by country, by business unit, by commodity, etc.

What if…

Supplier Information Management solutions could leverage global processes which automatically inherit to lower levels, yet enable the local organizations to easily extend with their requirements (nodes) without affecting others?

Would it be possible, then, to: enforce global requirements; adapt for local needs; and easily change your processes, as your needs/organization changes?

There is a better way – and an attempt to harmonize is just futile.

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