Indirect Sourcing Projects - Lessons From Tiki-Taka .

Category managementSupplier relationship management

In this guest post, Procurement Leaders invites Reliance Industries' Amit Verma to look at how a sports philosophy can have fascinating application across sourcing projects. 

Tiki-taka, if you'll accept a definition from Wikipedia, is a style of play in football (soccer, for clarity with our North American readers) characterized by short passing and movement, working the ball through various channels, and maintaining possession. The style, which has been primarily associated with La Liga club FC Barcelona, moves away from the traditional thinking of formations in football to a concept derived from zonal play.

Now what does this have to do with sourcing projects? A lot and I'll explain why (though there's another interesting Harvard Business Review article on the more general application of the philosophy available here).

The success of sourcing depends on proper planning, good understanding of projects goals and deliverables by all stakeholders; creating a well-defined scope and execution plan; working with competent suppliers and having robust contracts to deliver results. Traditionally, different departments have worked together in a linear manner and within their limited roles on such sourcing projects.

For example, in a typical indirect sourcing project, let's say providing e-learning courses to employees, the learning & development department would identify training needs, assess media suitable for same and conceptualize the solution, sourcing teams would then find partners who could deliver it and finally award contracts.

However, the current Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA) environment has challenged our sourcing practices. Today's needs are fluid and complex, expectation of time from ‘ideation to implementation' has shrunk, knowledge of the market and suppliers is scattered through the organization and not available with any one stakeholder. In this VUCA environment, the traditional silo mentality of departmental self-interest and linear sourcing processes seems out-of-sync.

The tiki-taka philosophy technique offers us interesting lessons to cope in this environment:

  1. Maintaining ball possession while passing rapidly – Instead of a linear sourcing approach which starts from defining needs to finalizing contracts, the new sourcing flow can be non-linear, iterative and yet quite controlled. It could start with a vendor sharing new capabilities, leading to definition of needs, defining a solution, going back to vendors with modified ideas etc. The process ensures that all stakeholders have a better understanding of the goals and solution and hence lower chances of misalignment.

  2. While football players have primary responsibilities, they can all attack or defend as situation demands In sourcing projects too, while every stakeholder has a formal role and responsibility e.g. User, Buyer, IT, and finance; won't it be great if they could pool resources to tackle pressing problems, for example finding new suppliers, value engineering specifications or brainstorming on potential risks. This means developing an organization culture of ‘collective objectives' while still retaining accountability of the primary roles.

  3. Instead of individual intelligent stars, the full team plays together to develop swarm intelligenceAs the team works together, they develop a unique team style that gets the best value for the company. Sometimes the best concessions are given by vendors to users in a non-negotiating environment. This works best when a non-threatening yet competitive environment is created within teams.

  4. Focus on process and not the end goalSometimes great results are achieved without following a process however consistently great results can only be achieved by method and process. Hence we should assess if we hit process goals after each project completion.

So next time you tackle a sourcing problem, think a little like former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and get your teams to try a little tiki-taka.

Amit Verma is SVP head of procurement shared service at Reliance Industries Limited. Find him on LinkedIn here and Twitter using the handle @amit_verma00.


This contributed article has been written by a guest writer at the invitation of Procurement Leaders. Procurement Leaders received no payment directly connected with the publishing of this content.



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