Benefits of early engagement

Pektron explains how early engagement in the development process can help purchasing professionals achieve the best results for their manufacturing businesses.

It all starts with a close relationship with the engineering team. Engineering should be coming to purchasing early, with a wish list or specific required part. The purchasing department should never see a part on a BoM they don’t already know about.

A wish list is a great opportunity to go to the market using experience and knowledge to engage with suppliers—new and existing—and present back a range of options.

With enough time, this approach gives the purchasing function the scope to explore: new technological developments; alternative options; availability/potential exclusivity; pricing structures; obsolescence/long-term supply; and due diligence, particularly regarding new suppliers.

Consider using applications that help engineering identify and select parts. With so many new components entering the market, options can be overwhelming and keeping up-to-date challenging. Apps such as Silicon Expert can help engineers shortlist components. Engaging engineers this way shortens the list of potential parts that purchasing needs to investigate. This approach has contributed to making the component selection process much quicker and slicker in Pektron’s business.

If engineering has designed-in a specific part or has a specific part in mind, early engagement remains important. In this situation there may be a limited number of suppliers the company hasn’t worked with before and require more due diligence, looking at: availability, reliability, sourcing and more.

How long all this takes varies from a day to a month, depending on experience and the part required. Sometimes it’s a quick call to a known contact who can turn it around in a day. In other circumstances buyers might be looking for something specific, that they haven’t worked with before and that known suppliers can’t help with. This highlights the importance of early engagement.

Establishing and maintaining a positive relationship with suppliers is equally important. They will also appreciate early engagement and, as well as helping structure deals and reliable supply, can also influence product development based on desired part functionality.

It would be remiss not to acknowledge recent and current supply shortages. In a way it has become the new normal and highlights the need for even earlier engagement.