What Do Chess and Strategic Sourcing Have in Common?

When strategizing on the management of your team in a sourcing tool, you should think about building your players in the game of strategic sourcing in terms of pieces in a game of chess. Having pieces that move differently or perform different functions is essential to the successful implementation of the sourcing solution and critical to developing smooth business processes across the team. Having the fundamentals of chess in the back of your mind also allows you the flexibility and controls necessary to focus on the overall strategy and objectives.

Past issues with corruption and unfair practices in procurement have led the industry to require more controls within the team and its processes. The ability to prove access levels and permission controls can reduce these accusations and allow procurement to focus on the strategic portion of their jobs.

It’s important to recognize the power of permissions and use them to your benefit to mitigate risk and avoid potential issues. When thinking about these controls as they relate to pieces in a chess game, think about it this way:

  • The Queen – This piece is the most versatile and useful, and there’s only one. Think of The Queen as a system administrator, or the user who has the highest level of access to move around the system as needed. Taking a lesson from chess, try to keep the number of people who have this role to a minimum.
  • Pawns – These pieces have the least amount of flexibility and appear to be fairly insignificant to the game as a whole, but as you become more familiar with the game, you realize they can be very important to your strategy. Think of pawns as stakeholders, who are an integral part of the process but don’t necessarily need high access levels to perform their function.
  • Rooks, Bishops, and Knights – These pieces all are strategic but move differently. They could represent users who are important to the process in different ways, such as Contract Administrators, Buyers, or SIM Managers. All of these “players” will use the system differently and therefore need more or less access to different areas.

The King could be considered the most important and could represent your sourcing strategy as a whole. As long as all the other pieces are moving the way they should be moving, the team can focus on keeping that strategy as the focus so it’s always “safe”.

In the meantime, be sure to read our 4 procurement predictions for 2014.

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    One Response to What Do Chess and Strategic Sourcing Have in Common?

    1. I think flexibility and control are important because these help to focus on overall strategy and objectives.

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