LPS’s purpose is to save its clients money throughout the P2P process. From the initial list of items, LPS asks its clients to specify whether or not alternative but equivalent products would be considered for their orders. The default answer we use is “yes.” However, when the initial orders are placed and the end user gets to see the alternative product that was selected, there could be pushback. People resist change. Is there a better way to manage the change?
How does LPS find and determine functional equivalency?
At LPS we use three primary methods to identify alternatives:
We utilize the cross-referencing tools integrated into large distributor websites.
We utilize the data we have gathered from other clients.
We use our own due diligence and scientific knowledge.
The first time a product is ordered carries the greatest risk of error.
Rather than tackle a long list of items and try and vet them all, the best strategy is to assign someone to verify the item(s) being purchased prior to the first order. Typically new orders have less than 10 line items, so this should be a manageable task.
If there are items that look like they may not be acceptable, resolve these issues prior to placing the order.
Once an item has been ordered for the first time and is acceptable, it will then be smooth sailing for future orders. A few minutes spent verifying items before the first order is time well spent.
No matter how qualified or experienced you may be, the human factor will always be present...
...at LPS. In spite of our best efforts, we make mistakes. The poorer the lines of communication we have with our clients during the initial sourcing, the more assumptions we will have to make. Involving the end-users during the sourcing process will lower the error rate dramatically.
...at the Client. The decision to engage LPS is often not a unanimous decision. In larger organizations, most people won’t even get to vote. Knowing that people are resistant to change as well as being left out of the decision loop is a recipe for failure. Their “vote” is registered when they say: “This item is unacceptable.” It may or may not be, but who has the final word? It doesn’t take many times for this to happen before the entire change effort is abandoned.
...at the Vendor. LPS’s proven savings strategy is to utilize shipments from multiple vendors and manufacturers. Many clients who were used to buying from big distributors may be upset that items arrive in more than one shipment or take a day or two more than they used to arrive. This change must be managed well within the organization.
Recommendations for managing change.
Involve your stakeholders during the onboarding process. Change is better tolerated when it is gradual. If end-users are able to give approval or denial to a proposed alternative product before the rollout, things will go much more smoothly upon ordering.
Trust but verify. Rely on LPS to make an accurate proposal of alternate item(s) for your needs, but make verification of the item(s) a part of your approval process.
Expect startup issues. Set the expectation within your organization to count on some issues during startup, and remind the team it will be worth the effort to save money for the organization and streamline ordering for them in the future. “Under-promise and over-deliver” is the goal of the experience.