Discovering Supplier ‘Category Jumpers’

March 9th, 2017

Every strategic sourcing project procurement runs includes a step for supplier discovery. Usually it takes place early in the process, and may even be run in parallel to spend analysis. The goal of both efforts is to understand what the current and potential suppliers are – known and unknown, internal knowledge and external information – so that sufficient competition and potential for innovation are embedded in the sourcing project from the outset.


  • Spend analysis (Internal): Provides procurement with information on incumbent suppliers. Who are they? How many of them are there? How much has been spent with them in the past? This may also lead to a list of internal stakeholders that need to be consulted and contracts that should be reviewed. The goal is to create as a complete a picture as possible about the status quo in the spend category and factor it into the project moving forward.


  • Supplier discovery (External): Provides procurement with information on alternate suppliers in the market, a list of companies that will go through an initial round of qualification before they are invited to participate in an RFx, etc. Many times, procurement will generate this list by searching for the incumbent suppliers’ primary competition. The goal is to make sure fresh perspectives and alternate methods/materials are incorporated in the project so that the new contracts reflect the best solution available at the time.


The combined information from these two tasks tells procurement who the current suppliers are and who the alternate suppliers in the market are. Internal information + external information = complete picture, right?

Not so fast. There is a third segment of suppliers that need to be uncovered during discovery: incumbent suppliers from other spend categories that also have the ability provide the product or service being sourced. These companies combine prospective suppliers’ promise of improvement with incumbent suppliers’ lower levels of risk and potential for disruption. Neither spend analysis nor external supplier discovery will locate this third critical group.

Part of the problem is that this information often does not live in one place. Unless procurement or an internal stakeholder already has knowledge of a supplier that should be invited to ‘jump’ categories, the strategy becomes one of luck or hope. Procurement can hardly search all of their incumbent suppliers to see who has the ability to expand their business. Or do they?

This is one of the key advantages of tealbook. Because suppliers control the content in their profile, the information reflects their full range of capabilities – not just what your company knows them for. Suppliers have an incentive to be as comprehensive as possible. Simply search for the product or service you need and your current incumbent suppliers – whether they currently have your business in that category or not – will be ranked at the top of the results.

Even if you don’t have other incumbent suppliers ready to jump categories, your industry peers may, and their endorsed suppliers will appear at the top of your search results instead.

By taking a broader approach to  supplier discovery, procurement can ensure that the most capable and trusted suppliers are given the opportunity to win the business.

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