Episode 17: A Lesson in Perseverance with the Classification Guru
By Katherine McCleery | March 8, 2021
Now—more than ever—data is becoming a focus in the procurement and supply chain industry. The global pandemic led to every business tightening their spending and attempting to track every penny and every piece of data. That’s where Susan Walsh i.e. The Classification Guru steps in. We’ve never had anyone on this show that specializes in data like Susan Walsh. Listen to this episode of The Sourcing Hero to hear why a focus on data is so important.
[1:26] Susan Walsh: The Classification Guru
[3:15] Growing a business during a pandemic
[6:38] What facilitated the data deep-dive?
[8:57] Susan’s unique perspective of a sourcing hero
[12:34] Believe in yourself above all else
[14:57] Resources from The Classification Guru
Growing her business during a pandemic
At this time last year, Susan was talking with a friend about how she hadn’t had work for months and she was worried she couldn’t pay her bills. People were interested in what she was doing but she wasn’t getting clients.
Within two weeks of that conversation, she had five projects come in at once. During that time, she started her biggest project to date and she got to classify over 2 million pieces of data. It took her business to the next level.
Since December of 2020, she’s been consistently busy. People have been interrogating their data and are realizing it’s a mess and they need help. She realizes that her year has been challenging in a different way than other businesses because she has been busy. Growing a business is hard work.
What facilitated the data deep-dive?
Susan agrees that disruption in the supply chain facilitated what seems like an industry-wide deep-dive into data. Previously, cleaning up data wasn’t seen as something worth investing in. Now—with things being much tighter—every penny needs to be accounted for.
Susan notes that you can spot a lot of fraud, irregular spend, irregular ordering, etc. with accurate data that is tagged and categorized correctly. You HAVE to maintain your data and if you look at it regularly you can spot things that aren’t right.
Susan’s unique perspective of a sourcing hero
To Susan, a sourcing hero is every client that has come to her wanting to make a change and improve. They are forward-thinking. She isn’t a large organization or a safe bet—but she will deliver something far beyond what they’d get from a large consultancy or analytics company.
They get a personal touch. She looks at every line of data manually. It is NOT automated. You get to know the data on a personal level. Seeing what’s going on in the data gives you a better picture.
You never really see case studies around data transformation projects because people don’t want to admit they were a mess in the first place. But if you’re taking that step to admit your process and your data is flawed—and you’re doing something about it—it’s a step in the right direction.
Believe in yourself above all else
Regardless of what you do, Susan emphasizes that you have to enjoy it. It shines through your work and leads to more success. Whatever category you’re in, she recommends getting to know the data. You don’t have to be an expert—but be familiar with it. It will help you be better at your job.
If you don’t have experience in a certain field, go for it anyway. Don’t be afraid to try new things and follow your gut. Susan had a business that she knew early on wouldn’t work out. She racked up debt, determined not to give up too early.
It wasn’t like that with The Classification Guru. Susan didn’t want to give it up because she knew she was close to something good. She firmly believes that you have to have faith and hope in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself—no one else will.