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Strategic sourcing and the rise of co-creation

image of Brian Farrelly Brian Farrelly
Brian Farrelly 6 Mar 2024 Time to read: 

According to an African proverb: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together’. 

In strategic sourcing, the rise of ‘co-creation’ is one of the most interesting trends of the moment, especially when it comes to the development of new agreements between organisations and large service providers. One of the key reasons for this is that complexity has increased; according to Gartner research, 73% of deals are now complex. See Focus on Buying Jobs Rather Than the Chaos of Buying Journeys, Gartner (March 2023).

In the modern business landscape, where we need to be capable of changing course quickly and adapting to new situations, it makes complete sense to first explore the ‘art of the possible’. More stakeholders are now participating at the early stages of the buying cycle and unquestionably enriching the overall process. Gartner has found that success increases if there are multiple functions at the table, and notes that buying is now very much a team game. [Focus on Buying Jobs Rather Than the Chaos of Buying Journeys]. 

New technologies and processes will form the answers, but what are the questions? Are we posing the right challenges to ourselves and to our prospective partners? In our experience, spending time refining the problem statement and associated target outcomes at an early stage will reap rewards later in the process. Crafting a compelling problem statement and taking the time to debate and get stakeholder alignment is an excellent first step. Make your sourcing strategy clear internally, and support this with a positive narrative (internally and externally) to raise the stakes.

These foundational steps set the context for solution exploration, which can take the form of co-creation workshops and brainstorms. Your organisation can then invite prospective partners to the table to discuss the possibilities, options, and ideas. It is vitally important to invest time in understanding the unique perspectives that large technology organisations bring based on their long heritage, learnings from other clients, collaborations within their ecosystems, and their deep R&D investments.

These co-creation activities build positive energy and momentum. This is an opportunity to refine the requirements by understanding what’s possible, feasible, and proven. The chemistry between organisations is an essential ingredient in a successful partnership, with the co-creation process providing the catalyst for shared understanding and stronger relationships. How people show up in a more natural, unconstrained environment is noticeably different to traditional ‘exam like’ presentations, where they respond carefully (and safely) to narrowly framed RfP questions.

This type of process is not an answer to all situations, but wherever co-creation or similar approaches can be incorporated it makes sense to do so. The pace of the process increases, as does the quality of the solutions and ultimate outcomes. This is an environment where the cream can rise to the top. 

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