As famed writer and columnist Thomas Friedman said in his book, The World is Flat, global economies are coming together to provide an equal distribution of goods throughout the world. Anyone can participate on the world stage.
If you think about it, global sourcing has been in the works for centuries. Marco Polo went to China looking to trade goods. It can be argued that our own America was “discovered” by explorers who were really looking for a western route to India in search of spices when they bumped into our own continent on the way. It seems American might not even exist without global sourcing.
While we deal with the political angst of countries not getting along, we should also be celebrating the fact that trade and commerce between countries are a surer route to world peace than missiles and war heads will ever be. Despite the current geopolitical climate in the world today, I remain convinced that countries coming together to secure the best value in goods globally will go a long way in eventually quelling the hostilities that politicians enjoy fanning—mostly to the detriment of their people.
What I am trying to say here is that sitting down to dinner face-to-face with someone from China or Russia is a far more congenial experience than one would think after reading the headlines about each countries’ leaders hurling insults at one another.
In my travels around the world, the people I have met and worked with are the same as us. They want the same things we do whether they live in Mumbai or Moscow: peace and prosperity for their families. That is the premise I assume as I travel around the world creating international relationships and promoting partnerships between myself and my vendors. That is the basis of my philosophy when it comes to global sourcing.
Now, let’s get down to the business of global souring itself.
I have been doing this for several years and through my networking and my experience I have learned many useful things that I would like to share. So, let’s get started with the six key things to know about global sourcing.
- Know exactly what you want. What are you looking for? Whether you are looking for the best value in transformers, plastic moldings, batteries, or PCBs, you need to know exactly what you are looking for. What are the products you want to source and how much do you want to pay?
- Do your homework. Make a study of the sources you want to use. Where they are? What do they produce? Are they reliable? Do they have what it takes to become your trusted partner? Do they provide the best product value on the market today?
- Visit your sources. Go there in person. If you will be buying critical parts and products from them, you must make sure they are legitimate. There have been incidences of companies photoshopping their company name and logo on the side of any good-looking building and putting it on their website. Make sure you actually visit the factory where their products are being produced, so that you touch, feel, and sense they are the real thing.
- Get to know who you are dealing with. Not only ask for references but spend time with them. I believe that some of the most valuable time with a prospective supplier is socializing with them. When you break bread with people, you really get to know them, and know if you can trust them enough to do business with them.
- Survey their company. When visiting the company, conduct a formal survey. I have developed a survey form that I use when qualifying and visiting a new customer. I’m able to check off everything I want in a good supplier-partner, then I make sure to survey and requalify them whenever I visit.
- Start slowly. Ask for some samples, then do some calibration pricing to be sure they are competitive enough to use them as a viable source. You get the chance to check out their product and services and determine whether they’re a great global supplier for your portfolio.
Then and only then will you know you have the right supplier-partner to serve your company well both today and in the future. You’ll be on your way to successful global sourcing.
Bob Duke is president of American Standard Circuit’s Global Sourcing Division. He has spent over 20 years developing strong global sourcing supply chains. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.