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The Art of Sourcing: Facilities From Afar

With Ana Duarte, Global Category Manager at Dell

ConnXus is publishing a new series that highlights the unique challenges procurement professionals face in the sourcing and supplier management industry. For our first blog, we feature Ana Duarte from our client Dell. Based in Panama, Ana is the global category manager (GCM) for facilities at Dell. Though her personal focus is sourcing for the Latin America regions, she also manages global strategies and goals for the facilities procurement category team.

Sourcing From a Distance

Dell’s GCM for facilities, Ana faces the unique challenge of sourcing from abroad. By nature, facilities are local, and different regions have different needs. Ana often buys something for a particular country she’s not based in. She states that Dell has evolving tools to streamline this process. “Digital transformation is an important element of our work,” she said. “It widens our scope of reach and allows us to more easily serve different locations. Smart analytics and cross-region collaboration streamlines [the sourcing] process and ultimately improves bottom line.” Ana works very closely with the business stakeholder and the collaborator based in the country of the purchase. She believes early involvement from a GCM is important.

For stakeholders in procurement, it’s vital to have open communication and an in-depth understanding of sourcing requirements. From a facilities standpoint, decisions on maintaining a product versus replacing it often relies on the business partner. When identifying products for a partner, Ana’s team looks for a variety of factors such as lead times, equipment depreciation, obsolescence, and failure rates. Before any decisions are made, the GCM will align sourcing criteria with a business partner’s needs to ensure a successful outcome.

Setting Vendor Expectations

Early in the fiscal year, the requirements for facilities are established, and a strategic RFP (Request for Proposal) is put into place. The nature of the RFP process should be fair and competitive when comparing vendors. To overcome the challenges of RFPs, Ana uses guidelines that invite vendors fit for the process. Dell has local, regional, and global processes, which help procurement teams narrow down the number of capable vendors at each scope. Sourcing with scope involves vendors that are able to comply with regulations, timeline, and expectations at each level. After the SOW (Scope of Work) is drafted, procurement teams pick vendors based on their execution proposals.

Ana notes that Dell’s RFPs are written in a “specs-oriented” manner rather than a “brand-oriented” way, to be competitive and support strategic sourcing goals. “Going forward into a partnership, we always try to focus on win-win situations,” she said. “We have to make sure we’re respectful of [vendors’] time.” Additionally, procurement considers the best value proposal between Dell and its suppliers, which includes cost savings, overall value add, and good commercial relationships. During the sourcing process, the procurement team also focuses on managing expectations, including vendor onboarding and risk assessment.

Inclusion with Intent

As part of its commitment to ensuring equal access to procurement opportunities, Dell has a comprehensive supplier diversity program, which includes a steering committee to help drive spend with diverse suppliers that varies by commodity and business function. Dell includes supplier diversity targets and RFP guidelines that require at least one diverse vendor in the bid process. The procurement team has an aligned sourcing strategy through a category management framework, supported by both global and regional initiatives. Internally, Dell has identified over 20 diversity champions–Ana being one of them–to ensure engagement and progress towards goals.

Samantha Brink, a supplier diversity advisor on Dell’s internal diversity steering committee, helps tie inclusive goals with procurement practices. “Beyond driving spend, we offer supplier coaching and mentorship to further support their growth,” she stated. “We set target goals, and have a team of champions and global ambassadors spreading the message.” Dell’s supplier diversity program is designed to drive the inclusion of historically underrepresented businesses in the supply chain. Dell values diversity and inclusion in its vendor base to provide innovative solutions and reflect the needs of their customers.

Innovation Moving Forward

As a technology company, Dell is constantly evolving. Ana acknowledges that she works in an ever-changing environment.

“I’ve been at Dell for five years,” she states, “But I’m often thrown into a new situation I haven’t come across before. My team is encouraged to think outside the box and come up with creative ways to source and innovate”.

Ana believes open communication and trust is vital to forming close, working relationships. Promoting diverse vendors and sustainability within the organization also helps align sourcing goals with bottom line impact. “In my procurement life, I’ve worked with many global companies”, she says. “Procurement has evolved in the last 30 years, to actually become a revenue-generating and savings area. The industry continues to face many challenges, but at Dell, we’re empowered to meet them.”

Dell develops strategic and sustainable relationships with a diverse group of suppliers. Learn more about Dell’s Supplier Diversity initiatives here.