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One of the interesting things about consistently reading and hearing content from quality sources is that you start to notice trends. It is amazing how often the same topics arise at the same time in different places. We use this blog as a way to help you stay on top of the major themes in procurement and supply chain management.

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Posted by on in Blog Picks
Go Ahead - It won't hurt to network

Earlier in my career I was quite shy and not comfortable networking at various conferences and seminars. Everyone else seemed to be talking to someone and having a good time I did not know where to begin. It is still not like breathing but it is a bit easier. I learned to ask questions about their jobs, families and vacations. It was interesting to hear their stories and learn a few things along the way.

Networking seems forced, self-serving and artificial to me. Instead I approach these opportunities more along the line of meeting others in my industry. This week we chose the Strategic Sourceror, Why YOU should be networking. It outlines 3 reasons to network:

  • Open communication – share ideas and get feedback as well as hear other ideas
  • Best Practices – learn what and how others are doing the same thing you are
  • Opportunities - for new business leads or a new career opportunity

Another article by Amazing Business, Top 9 reasons of Business Networking, has additional benefits worth reviewing.

  • Advice – being around like-minded people is a good arena to gather advice for your business.
  • Increase confidence – like anything else, you get better with practice. I certainly did as each time I came out of the comfort zone to meet more people.
  • Satisfaction from helping others – Everyone has problems and issues. Perhaps you have something to offer that can help them.

What have you done about networking within your procurement profession? Did it seem difficult and first and get easier as you went along?

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint.

Webinar Notes: Inventory Management in a Market-Driven World

This week’s webinar notes are from an April 16th webinar hosted and presented by Supply Chain Insights. The webinar is already (!!!) available on demand.

Boy, did I pick a winner in this event. I originally attended to learn more about inventory management in the face of uncertain demand and fragile extended supply chains. What I came away with were some brilliant observations that will absolutely make their way into the book that Jon and I are writing on Procurement at a Crossroads in the form of quotes pulled from Lora Cecere’s Supply Chain Shaman blog.

Posted by on in Blog Picks
Procurement and Taxes

Today is April 15 and also TAX DAY in the United States. It is the deadline for citizens to file their income tax returns for both the Federal and States taxes. Yes you can get an extension but only if you fill out the forms needed. Plus if you owe taxes, then you have to pay them anyway by April 15 and the paper work just follows. Sometimes you have overpaid and get a refund. Then it seems really worth doing all the forms and filing early!

With that in mind, I came across this book, “Death, Taxes and Procurement, An Effective guide for Small Businesses”. The author, Robert D. Horesjh, takes a fictitious company through the steps necessary to do business with the US Federal Government. They are the one of the largest consumer of goods and services for businesses to sell to. Of course they are – they have just finished collecting everyone’s taxes so there is money to be spent!! The marketplace extends to include schools, towns and local agencies.

Full disclosure, I did not read the book but skimmed areas of it. It is an easy read and a primer of sorts to get you started. Many companies do not try to bid for the government business due to the reputation that it is too hard and overwhelming. Thanks to technology, it is getting easier to go through the process. There are definite rules and expectations but it is not as cumbersome as it once was.

Has your company bid on any government procurement projects? What did you learn along the way? Does it get easier the second time around?

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint.

Strategic Sourceror: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement’ book is “spot on”

On April 13, Joe Payne, Vice President of Professional Services at Source One Management Services, published his review of Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals on the Strategic Sourceror blog. You can read his full review here.

The book, which I co-wrote with Cottrill Research Founder Jeanette Jones, was published by J. Ross in late 2014 and can be purchased directly from them or on Amazon.

Payne, the co-author of Managing Indirect Spend with Source One’s Bill Dorn, described the take on market intelligence for procurement as “spot on,” saying, ““Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals” tackles one of the most important, yet least tangible aspects of the sourcing profession – how to get access to good, relevant information about supply markets quickly, and then maintain that information so that you have it when you need it.”

You can read the other reviews of Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals, including reactions from Susan Avery (My Purchasing Center), Jon Hansen (Procurement Insights), and Gerard Chick (Optimum Procurement) on the Cottrill Research blog here.

Webinar Notes: Mitigating Risks and Impact of Sanctions Regimes on Your Supply Chain

This week’s webinar notes are from an April 9th webinar hosted by ISM and presented by Mark Dunn, Lexis Nexis’ Due Diligence Segment Leader for Risk and Compliance. ISM’s previous web seminars are listed on the lower portion of this page on their website.

 

This event, titled “Mitigating Risks and Impact of Sanctions Regimes on Your Supply Chain,” specifically addressed risks that are outside of the norm for most supply chain and procurement professionals: money laundering, bribery, corruption, and diplomatic or economic sanctions. The sanctions, which might be in place as the result of violating international law or human rights violations, can be established against countries, organizations, companies, individuals – even specific vessels. The measures against these entities may be restrictive or coercive in nature.

Surviving Natural Selection in the Procurement ‘Wild’

On Tuesday, we ran a guest post from keelvar’s founder and CEO Alan Holland. In the post, he challenges many of the traditional notions procurement practitioners have about the solutions they use, what to expect from those solutions, and how to select which solutions to implement.

It is natural to follow the developments at the larger solutions providers in the procurement space. Acquisitions, especially notable ones, always result in an interesting news cycle before dying back down to become part of the new status quo. But there have been equally interesting changes and developments taking place at smaller solution providers. We owe it to ourselves to be as aware of those changes as we are of the big shifts.

In my view, there are several niche companies deserving of attention, and they represent not only a new or alternative take on what we currently have available to us, but also a new way of looking at the solutions that support procurement. As long as there are visionary entrepreneurs who are willing to apply themselves to the procurement space, we should encourage them and do everything we can to support them in their efforts – because in the end, we are the ones who benefit.

Posted by on in Blog Picks
Green is good

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, we are enjoying warming temperatures, Spring is on the way and everything is turning green. You can hear a collective cheer as another winter season has passed. A few weeks ago it was St. Patrick’s day and the color of attire everywhere was green. In the US, the currency is green, and obviously a focus for the procurement teams. Everywhere, their focus is on the financial impact (green or otherwise) that they bring to their organizations.

Another form of green is sustainable procurement practices. While it is beneficial for the planet and future generations, it is difficult for businesses to practice when the focus is on financial. This is especially true when it is more expensive to procure “green” products and services.

Procurement Insights article by Nick Ford, Sustainable Impact: Converting Environmental Impact into Financial Impact, shares some interesting perspectives.

One of the topics covered is for your procurement organization to set up rules on who to do business with. Similar to how suppliers have to have financial stability, business practices can be put in place with KPI’s on how their sustainability rating is. Based on that scorecard, procurement can decide who to award the business to. The ratings should take into account not only how green the actual product or service is but also how environmentally friendly the supplier’s manufacturing process is. For example, back in the 1960’s and 70’s, a manufacturing facility near my home was utilizing a nearby lake for their waste. While every other lake in the area froze solid in the winter, this one was steaming. Thankfully that practice has not been done in a very long time and the lake is quite clean at this point. What if one of your suppliers was treating the environment in this fashion today? Would you know it and could allocate your purchasing decisions elsewhere and influencing suppliers to make a change?

What has your team done with sustainability? Have you put a scorecard together for suppliers?

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint.

Posted by on in Guest Posts
Death of a Software Salesman

Arthur Miller’s 1949 play ‘Death of a Salesman’ is often listed as one of America’s finest and most influential stage dramas of the twentieth century. It was a tale that conveyed the American Dream but was interlaced with flashbacks that betrayed the contrast between illusion and reality. The Enterprise software sector echoes this drama in numerous ways and shares its inevitable ending.

Webinar Notes: CPO Rising 2015: The Agility Agenda

This week’s webinar notes are from a March 31st event sponsored by SAP/Ariba and presented by Andrew Bartolini of Ardent Partners. I assume it will be made available on demand on Ariba’s Resource Page – you can click Show Search Options and Search by Type to focus on webinar replays.

This is Ardent Partners’ 10th annual CPO Rising research and report. This year’s participant group included 318 CPOs (and similarly positioned procurement leaders) in the survey and a group of 26 who were interviewed for additional information and context.

3 Reasons Why You Should Consider Dual Sourcing Your Product Or Service

We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket.” Choosing to dual source a category means using two (or more) suppliers to provide identical copies of a product or service. Many companies choose to dual source a product to maintain quality levels of service to their customers and mitigate potential supply chain issues.

Posted by on in Blog Picks
When is the Joke on YOU

Today is April Fools Day. This day of practical jokes goes back to the 1300’s. Everyone has a story to tell about the joke that they pulled off. If you look at Google Maps today, the image is turning into a Pacman game that you are trying to win instead of following the directions.

It is more fun to deliver the joke than receive it. We can be good sports and laugh it off but in reality, we may not have appreciated it at all. This can be the same in your professional life if you are not prepared when dealing with your suppliers or your customers.

This week’s article is from the salesman’s perspective. The account manager that comes in to visit the procurement lead does not want to appear a fool. Sales About has an overview of the five elements of sales. As a procurement professional, you can spot them in the good salesman and appreciate that they have come prepared.

History: Know the company that you are visiting. Taking the time to do this research will be worth it.

Expertise: Know your products line and what it can do for the customer.

Appearance: Look professional, organized and confident.

Readiness: Have the tools, listen and understand your customer’s needs.

Teachable: Be willing to learn and keep an open mind.

The article discusses using these approaches to increase your profits and your business.Have you utilized this in working with your customers? Have you been able to avoid feeling like a fool?

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint.

What negotiation skills does procurement need TODAY?

Listen daaahlings, let me tell you a little something about negotiating. Talking about money is so… GAUCHE. No no no, that won’t do at all. Today, enlightened procurement professionals collaborate. We innovate. We partner. We strategize. I do for you… you do for me… we have a relationship. No ugliness, no shoving. After all, there is no need to stoop to talking about dollars and cents. We have people for that. Right? Yes, well, have your people call my people: we’ll do lunch.

Oh please!

We can’t say that procurement no longer needs strong negotiating skills just because many spend categories are now being managed in a more relational way. Making that assertion demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding about what it means to negotiate. Negotiation is a phase, not an action. There are a myriad of skills required to be an effective negotiator, and they are different for each set of circumstances.

Webinar Notes: Why Vendor Management Must Change: 3 Most Common Dysfunctional Aspects of the Current Model

This week’s webinar notes are from a March 25th webinar presented by the Outsourcing Institute and Alsbridge. This is too soon to expect the on demand version to be available (assuming it will be) but here is the link to the page where OI posts their on demand events. There was also talk of a whitepaper related to the webinar content, and I will post the link to that’s as soon as I am sure which one it is.

Posted by on in Blog Picks
Benefits of a Supply Chain in China

The world is getting smaller every day. We have so many ways to connect at a moment’s notice. We can reach thousands and millions of people using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and so on. Look at the firestorm that took place in 2014 with the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness and funds for ALS.

Over the past twenty or so years, the desire to utilize the labor force and factories in China has grown significantly. With the better communication methods, it has been easier and provides an option for cost savings. It became quite attractive to move a significant component of your supply chain to China. However, that has come with some issues such as lead time and maintaining the expected level of quality.

This week’s article, Is Sourcing in China still Competitive covers several interesting aspects to consider while looking at sourcing trends in China.

Labor costs are rising in China but they are still lower relative to labor in other areas. When you look at the exports from China, the growth is still quite strong year over year. That is a clear indication that global organizations are finding it beneficial to have some of their production and supply chain in China.

This article gives some good advice on how to achieve the savings and maintain a quality product. The first thing is to find a reputable supplier and build a strong, long term partnership. This can take time. Some successful organizations have found it beneficial to help their supplier become stronger and producing goods at the level that is required.

When evaluating a potential supplier, they suggest taking your time to look deeper at the supplier. Take an audit, research their history and their workforce. This is similar to the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Don’t select a supplier on first or surface impressions.  

What has your company done to extend the supply chain into China? Do you have any pointers for others trying to do the same?

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint.

Continuous Improvement for Procurement Leaders

As parents, we make sure our children have regular visits to the doctor and dentist. This is a routine checkup to ensure everything is on the right track and progressing as expected. In our professional lives, it is good for an organization to have a ‘healthy checkup’ as well.

This week’s article is highlighted by Pymnts. It is a study by IBM after surveying over 1000 CPO’s across 41 countries. This highlights the behaviors of strong procurement teams. New Study separates the World's Procurement Leaders from the Followers outlines 4 differentiators. Reviewing material such as this regularly is akin to having those checkups at the doctor’s office.

One of the differentiators is working closely with the stakeholder. If procurement works in a vacuum or with little interaction, there is less of an opportunity to get it right or improve. In the example below, this is a classic example of the customer wanting a simple tire swing, did not explain it very well and it was designed completely wrong. If there are iterations and fine tuning through the process, the result is most often what the stakeholder requested.

tire swing cartoon

Another differentiator is technology and data. That seems hard to believe in today’s world of being totally plugged in at all times. However, many organizations are still operating with decades old systems and processes. For the world class procurement team to flourish, the resources have to be available in staff, processes and technology.

How would you have responded to this type of survey? Would your CPO have indicated your team has worked towards being leaders? Or would you say that you have some catching up to do? What type of swing would you have built for your stakeholders?

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint.

Why it is Not Worth Preventing Every Disruption in Your Supply Chain

Supply chains are similar to humans—imperfect. Their successes within business plans are a product of accurately forecasting how to survive crises and minimize damage in high-risk scenarios. Balance is the key to surviving most situations. In a supply chain, the accord between supply chain efficiency and risk mitigation can be difficult to achieve.

Webinar Notes: Women Networking Group Webinar - Marketing Yourself through Social Media

This week’s webinar notes are from a March 9th webinar hosted by IACCM and presented by IACCM Resourcing CEO Susanne Birch. Before I share any of my notes from the event, I have a confession to make. It may not seem related, but bear with me.

I despise pink rollerblades.

Negotiation is child's play - or maybe not

When our daughter was in elementary school, she was a tough negotiator. She wanted her independence at a very early age. When it came time for bedtime, we came up with a plan. She could go to bed anytime she wanted up until 8PM. It was her choice. She loved that freedom and the rest fell into place. From our perspective, we wanted her in bed by 8PM anyway but it was all in how it was presented.

Negotiation is something we do every day – sometimes with ourselves and sometimes with others. Should I have dessert, that cookie, that extra glass of wine? Who on the team should do the analysis, the presentation, make that sales call?

In procurement, this is a key skill that constantly needs to be sharp and at the ready. In this article from Harvard, 10 Hard Ball Tactics in Negotiation, it goes through scenarios and areas to avoid.

One that I found interesting was “Trying to make you flinch”. In this case, the other party keeps making harder and harder demands, waiting for you to break. I remember one negotiation I was in, the other party kept trying a variety of tactics and behaviors to make me move or waiver. I stayed the course and eventually they became more reasonable.

Personal insults and feather ruffling” is another one that makes me wonder what are they thinking? We were buying a new car and the salesman insulted us about not being able to make a decision and needing to run home to Daddy. At the time we were married with children and certainly making our own decisions. Needless to say, we did not buy the car at that dealership. I wonder how often that works? It must or they would not do it.

Everything I read about negotiation says to do your homework and be prepared. Know what your BATNA is and stick to it.

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint.

Webinar Notes: Use Predictive Analytics to Help You Capitalize on Business Moments

This week’s webinar notes are from a March 5th webinar hosted by Gartner. Douglas Laney, a Gartner Research VP, who made the presentation, was a strictly no-nonsense guy. He opened the webinar by introducing himself as not being either a tech/tools or Magic Quadrant guy.

That combination definitely benefitted the audience, as the following presentation on analytics, data, and information, was application or function agnostic and offered real insight for any team in an organization attempting to harness the power of data for competitive advantage. Not all companies display the same attitude towards information and its potential perhaps because, as Laney pointed out, information is not yet a balance sheet asset.

Posted by on in Blog Picks
No Decision is a Decision

The Northeastern area of the United States has had a very harsh winter with heavy snow and very cold temperatures. Buildings and homes have been in danger of roof collapses due to the weight of the snow. There was a lot of communication about the issue for over a week about protecting your property and prevention activities.

Two schools about 100 miles apart were in danger of the roof collapsing. The official policy is to get three bids to select a contractor. One school followed that procedure and by the time that happened, another storm had occurred and the roof collapsed. The second school knew they did not have time to waste on the bidding process and used volunteers to get the job done.

Obviously no decision became decision. Now there is a much larger, more complex and expensive problem to solve in renovating the school.

In our professions we are often required to make difficult decisions, sometimes stretching the rules for the better good of the company. This article from Great Leadership, 8 Ways to Decisively End Indecision, gives great suggestions.

One that I have used before is “Step back and evaluate the impact of a wrong decision”. In this case, the impact was severe with damage to a public school. Other times, it won’t really matter so that is a good barometer to use.

A second pointer is “Set time bound parameters for making the call”. If you know another storm is coming, make a decision in time to get some of that snow off the roof!!

A great piece of advice I once received was “If you don’t know what to do, do something “. You can always make a course correction but you can’t do anything if you are stuck in park.

What do you utilize to make decisions? Have you found some things more effective than others?

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint.

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