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Market Analysis Process Example: Gypsum

Gypsum was the first category I was asked to do research for – truthfully, it was very early in my career and I think my manager was trying to productively keep me busy. But the process was a good learning experience and I think I added real value to the team. For lack of a reason to pick any other product or service, I’ll start with gypsum here too.

Gypsum is used to make plaster and plasterboard – basically drywall. So if you are sourcing in the construction category, and your General Contractor is not responsible for materials costs/purchases, you might find yourself bidding this out.

Gypsum BoardTomorrow I will post my overview for you to provide feedback on, but in the meantime, here is the process I am going through. First, some level setting: other than having researched this category many years ago, I have no specialized knowledge. If your procurement group is based on a process discipline and/or high-level categories (rather than end user knowledge of products and services) this will likely be the case for you, too.

I am coming at this from the perspective of someone who has just been asked to lead a sourcing project on gypsum spend, but doesn’t know a whole lot about it. I need to set up an RFP, build a list of suppliers, and have some idea how I am going to evaluate the quality of the proposals and pricing that I receive. Sound familiar? We’re not looking to become analysts, there are plenty of very smart people doing that already. We just need to amass enough knowledge to be able to discuss this category of spend intelligently.

  1. Start by making sure you know what the product or service is. Your goal here is to get a better understanding of ‘it’ and all of the terminology that comes with it. Every time you encounter a new word that you don’t know, look that up too. Start a Word document where you can paste website links with notes to yourself. Google and Wikipedia are both good places to start.
  2. This process is about collecting facts, not writing something unique. Track the source for every fact you use. You don’t have to worry about using perfect citation techniques, but you do need to be able to revisit the source of a piece of information should it be questioned later. And trust me, you WILL NOT REMEMBER where you found any one piece of data.
  3. That being said, question your sources. You may not be fortunate enough to have access to a fee-for-use database of news and information, so make sure the site where you are pulling your facts passes the smell test. It’s not just a question of the source sounding credible, but also of objectivity. Are you reading a supplier’s site or an industry-wise site?

If you look at the Market Analysis article from Wikipedia we posted this morning, you’ll see that you can almost make a list of the things you need to look up:

  • Category definition/terminology
  • Market size (annual sales)
  • Cost drivers (a commodity or components)
  • Associations/Regulatory bodies
  • Large suppliers
  • Current events/news items

It is not always possible to find all of those things, particularly if your budget is limited, but getting some is better than not going through the process.

Check back tomorrow to learn all about Gypsum and to give us your feedback on the format and content of our overview. In the meantime, you may also want to read this whitepaper on Market Informed Sourcing by BravoSolution.

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