When you enter into a sourcing relationship, you are making a long term commitment to work with a provider as a team. Like any relationship there are steps to take and practices to adopt in order to keep it healthy. Over time, needs and expectations on both sides of the relationship will change. Below are the 5 key elements of a healthy and productive sourcing relationship.
Both planned and unplanned communications are key to successful sourcing relationships. Planned communication brings stability to the relationship and a cadence to the business. Unplanned communication allows for unexpected issues that come up to be communicated before the next planned meeting or status report. Communication should be carried out using multiple channels, don’t email exclusively. Instead you should schedule phone calls and video sessions as some people communicate differently in different formats. Video provides the added benefits of visual cues. You should communicate even if there isn’t anything of note to relay. Stay practiced of communicating, make it a habit.
Both sides of the relationship have to trust the other. That means more than just telling the truth. Don’t mask the truth or hide anything, be transparent. Do what you say you will, when you say you will do it. Be giving, show genuine concern and help the other party even when it doesn’t benefit you. And be consistent in these behaviors. Trust is not given instantaneously, you have to earn it and then maintain it.
In any sourcing relationship, you are committed to the other. You are naturally invested in the success of the other’s business, so treat the relationship as an asset. If you disagree do so privately but always support the other in public.
Team members within both organizations should understand how the sourcing relationship fits into the overall scheme of things, what the goals of the relationship are. Most importantly they should understand what value the relationship brings to each organization. If they understand how these goals are aligned with the broader company mission, vision and values, they will be able to make better decisions. You should share your corporate goals including major initiatives annually with your team. Test alignment in the interim and refresh alignment goals and messaging periodically.
Your sourcing relationship exists to reach specific goals and outcomes. Your desired targets need to be defined, you need to agree on how to measure success so you are measuring the same things, the same way. Review results together and if you miss the target, ask why with true curiosity. As the client it is up to you define your needs and desired outcomes. As the provider of a service your sourcer needs to represent their capability honestly. The two of you can then agree on requirements.