As per Wikipedia, (Strategic) Sourcing can be defined as a systematic corporate/institutional procurement process that continuously improves and re-evaluates the purchasing activities of a company. It is one component of supply chain management. While most organizations implement strategic sourcing initiatives for the purposes of saving money, other reasons for implementing strategic sourcing include improving supplier performance and minimizing risk.
Generally speaking, it's a multi-step process, and while the specific steps will vary depending on the services or solution provider you engage, all of the processes tend to have the following commonalities:
- Current Situational Assessment (What is being bought where, from who, and for how much?)
- Supply Market Assessment
- Total Cost / Total Value Analysis
- Supplier Identification
- Sourcing Strategy Identification
- Bid Collection
- Negotiation with Preferred Vendors
- Award and Contract
- New Supply Structure Implementation and Change Management
- Supplier Management
- Results Monitoring
e-Sourcing is the electronic implementation of the sourcing cycle, and e-Sourcing software refers to the software products and platforms that support the sourcing cycle. e-Sourcing software is typically associated with e-Auction and e-RFX software, but it also includes spend analysis, strategic sourcing decision optimization, contract management, online marketplaces, and (virtual) supplier networks.
For more information on the basic e-sourcing cycle and e-sourcing best practices, see the Strategic e-Sourcing Best Practices wiki-paper. For a distinction between e-Sourcing and e-Procurement, see the post on how it's sourcing and procurement. For some general strategies, see the Sourcing Innovation post archive on this blog. And for more information on each of the primary supporting technologies, see the appropriate glossary articles.