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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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Recent blog posts
Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 11/23 – 11/27: A Veritable Feast of Talent and Value

I thought for sure that this week would be devoid of events – between last week’s early schedule and the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. on Thursday. To the contrary, there is a full slate of webinars on a series of hot procurement topics. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

Best Webinars 11/16 – 11/20: Taking Procurement from Good to Great – Finance and Risk Notwithstanding

With the Thanksgiving holiday ahead in the U.S. next week, this week is like two weeks of events in one. 11 events in three days provides plenty of options – and my three picks are below. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 11/9 – 11/13: Healthcare, the Tech Agenda, 3rd Party Management

This week’s picks are definitely for big thinkers. Big as in big challenges and big opportunity for the organizations that get it right. In addition to the webinars below, Directworks is running a live demonstration of their 2.0 solution on November 11th from 2-3pm EST. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

Being a leader doesn't mean everything comes easy - it means not expecting them to be easy

I recently interviewed Magnus Carlsson, the author of Strategic Sourcing and Category Management: Lessons Learned at IKEA. You can listen to our conversation on demand on BMP Radio.

Although the book centers around the how and why of IKEA’s approach to procurement and supply chain, its content is not limited to large multi-national corporations or companies in the furniture and home goods industries. IKEA is a company that competes on brand and low costs, which makes its approaches to spend and supplier management absolutely critical to its ability to operate.

IKEA has been able to accomplish many things that other companies have not because it is necessary for them to remain competitive. As a result, their team members – and former team members, for the sake of including Carlsson – approach complex and strategic procurement with a striking clarity of purpose. There is no other way for IKEA to work, and therefore there is no reason to resist or bemoan the uphill strategic path.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 11/2 - 11/6: CLM and Analytics as the Ties That Bind

And… we’re back to a packed week of webinars. There is a little something for everyone - some risk, some contract management, and some analytics. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.


Techniques for Accurately and Efficiently Forecasting Demand

This post was written by Michael Hinkley, an intern at Source One Management Services. If you are interesting in hearing his perspective on procurement as a career and as a part of the larger business, click here to listen to our conversation on BMP Radio.

Whether you’re preparing for a sourcing engagement or looking to improve supplier relationships, effective forecasting and planning is key to staying ahead of your supply chain and formulating a procurement blueprint. When buyers and sellers aren’t on the same page about expected volumes, usage schedules, and run sizes, both may experience surpluses or shortages. This, in turn, can lead to dire consequences for operational efficiency and the bottom line – yours and your suppliers’. For instance, the over unitization of warehouse space, as a result of a constant excess of inventory, will lead to increased effective unit prices. However, with accurate forecasting and improved supplier communication, you not only optimize your internal processes but allow your suppliers to run a more efficient operation with better turnover rates and proper resource allocation.


Should Procurement Fear or Embrace Procurement-as-a-Service?

I recently had the opportunity to interview Phillip Ideson, the founder of ProcureChange, a new Procurement-as-a-Service (PaaS) provider. You can listen to the entire interview on BMP Radio.

My first reaction to PaaS – one that I think is quite natural – is concern about what it will mean for today’s procurement practitioners if it catches on. Will we be outsourced the same way we have outsourced so many other formerly in-house capabilities?

As it turns out, however, the news is better than I expected. PaaS, far from being a threat to procurement, may be one way for us to achieve the strategic status we crave.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 10/26 – 10/30: Two Types of Outsourcing and a Look at Supplier Engagement

This week may not be as busy as last week, but the topics are as diverse as the presenters. And since so many companies ran events last week, this week’s hosts and speakers offer a fresh diversity of perspectives on procurement topics. Remember that we are in daylight savings time season, so double check the starting time of each event in its host country as well as your own. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

The Power Triangle in Electronic Component Specifying and Purchasing

This post was originally run on Design News.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Mark Larson, the vice chairman of electronic component distributor Digi-Key Electronics. The company was founded in 1972, and Larson joined only four years later to what is now one of the largest such companies not only in North America but the world. He led the company as president for an astounding 39 years, just recently stepping down in July.

In the four decades during which Larson ran Digi-Key, there was considerable change -- in the electronics being sold, in whom the products were sold to, and in the supply chains the products traveled through. The other thing that has changed is the way Digi-Key interacts with different points of contact at each customer. Although it has always aimed its marketing efforts at design engineers -- and continues to do so -- it has had to adapt to the growing role of centralized procurement in managing purchases.

Since the interactions between engineering and procurement have not always been naturally easy, the insertion of a third party into the electronic component purchasing process has brought some benefits. When looked at from an outsider’s point of view, the two teams may have more in common than they realize.

Posted by on in Procurement
Actively Managing Procurement's Image

In September, Procurement Leaders ran an article by Tyler Chamberlain, Coupa’s global head of spend management, on the benefits of getting a solid procurement function established earlier in a company’s growth curve.

As he stated in the article’s title, “If it ain’t broke, don’t wait until it is.” The premise is that making investments in procurement talent and technology before problems arise prevents many problems from ever arising. Supplier records that are managed well from day one never need a massive clean up. Processes that have been in place as long as anyone can remember don’t have to overcome compliance hurdles. Spend that is managed centrally never has the chance to break between direct and indirect.

Perhaps more importantly, and as I had an opportunity to discuss with Chamberlain (click here to hear the conversation on BMP Radio), procurement has control of their internal image from the outset and can build their brand around positive results rather than problem resolution. When we hear Chamberlain’s message from this perspective, all organizations and procurement teams benefit from his recommendations, not just the start-ups.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 10/19 – 10/23: Social Media, the Digital Pivot, and Supplier Centricity

This week is ridiculously busy – there are 15 webinars taking place: five on Tuesday, one on Wednesday, and NINE on Thursday. Given the wide range of choices, it wasn’t easy to pick the best ones, but my recommendations are below. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

Webinar Notes: The Raw Truth About Intelligent Automation

These notes are based on attending an October 13th webinar hosted by HfS Research. The event can be viewed on demand here.

The panel included two HfS team members (Phil Fersht and Charles Sutherland) and two executives from Cognizant: Robert Hoyle Brown and Matt Smith. I listened to the event end to end twice – once live and once on demand. The topic of automation is fascinating and it was well covered and discussed in this webinar. My challenge was to figure out what this growing trend means for procurement.

Conversation with the Author: Jonathan O'Brien on Why His Revised Editions Add but Don't Remove Information

Jonathan O’Brien, CEO at Positive Purchasing, has written a number of weighty books for procurement and supply chain professionals: Category Management in Purchasing, Negotiating for Purchasing Professionals, and Supplier Relationship Management make up the ‘big three.’ Not only has he written these books, he regularly revises them – I know because I’ve reviewed all of the originals and many of the revisions.

I write all the time (including two books of my own), and yet the sheer volume of content O’Brien has pulled together in these books makes my head spin. In fact, I once asked someone at his publisher Kogan Page if they had him locked in a room somewhere hunched over a laptop.

What that suggests to me, is that there is something about the process of writing, and his relationship to the content, that is important for him as a practitioner and thought leader. Somehow, O’Brien inexplicably maintains a successful consulting practice in addition to his writing habit.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 10/12 – 10/16: Data, Intelligence, and Insights

This week’s event picks come from a fresh variety of hosts – all looking at data, intelligence, and insights that procurement can use to improve decision making and results. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

Webinar Notes: Supply Chain Risk Management: How to Turn Worst Practices into Best Practices

These webinar notes are from an October 8th webinar on ‘Supply Chain Risk Management: How to Turn Worst Practices into Best Practices’ hosted by SIG and presented by Rolf Zimmer and Laura Enny at riskmethods. The webinar can be viewed on demand here.

The event opened with a look at what riskmethods considered to be the top megatrends: globalization, outsourcing, digitization, and climate change. Running through all of these trends is the changing role that suppliers, and therefore the supply chain as a whole, plays in our ability to understand complexity and the elevated risk levels and additional risk types it leads to.

Procurement has a tendency to think of supply chain complexity as improving the flow of goods, services, funds, and information between suppliers or tiers of the supply base. Although this expanded perspective is an improvement over where we have been in the past, it is still too simplistic. As Zimmer pointed out in the webinar, supply chains are not just lines from point A to point B, but complex networked structures where half of all disruptions take place beyond the first tier of the supply base.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 10/5 – 10/9: Getting out ahead of challenges and opportunities

This week I’ve picked two Finance-oriented events and one on supply chain risk. All three of them allow procurement to look outside the box of their own environment for ways to positively impact the enterprise as a whole. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

Lessons from the Ultramarathon Trail to Prepare for the Category Management Journey

These webinar notes are from a September 24th webinar hosted by SIG and presented by Chris Eyerman and Alan Veeck at Denali Sourcing Services. The webinar is available on demand and can be viewed after a quick registration here.

In case you’re wondering, an ultramarathon is an INSANELY challenging combination of long distance running and trail running. Technically, they include any marathon over the traditional 26.2 mile run, but from the sounds of Eyerman’s description, they are also usually off road excursions that can be as long as 100 miles. And he should know – he has run them.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 9/28–10/2: Unique Perspectives on Familiar Topics

There are so many events this week that it was hard to pick which ones to recommend. The ones that I did actually pick offer something unique in terms of perspective or ‘angle’. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

Guest Post on the Social Contracting Blog: P is for Procurement... except when it isn't

Click here to read this post on the Social Contracting blog.

The Finance team manages the finances of the enterprise. Marketing people market services and solutions to the purchaser (or customer). Human resources manages… well humans.

Given those examples, you would think that Procurement handled procurement. In an ironic twist, this is becoming less and less true—especially as technology evolves and blurs the line between Procurement as an entity and procurement as a process.


Would Sales Describe Your Procurement Approach as ‘Peter Price’ or ‘Valerie Value’?

Elliot Epstein, CEO of Salient Communications, has partnered with organizations such as CIPS in the past to help sales and procurement professionals better understand each other. He has also done a series of podcasts on Sales vs Procurement with Paul Rogers – a three decade procurement professional that Epstein describes as the leading procurement coach in Australia.

He talked about the podcast series as well as the sales procurement divide in a YouTube interview titled Dealing with the Rising Power of Procurement.

For my podcast on the topic, including guest audio from YouTube, visit Blog Talk Radio or Sound Cloud.

The sales vs procurement divide has always been an interesting one. Who is really in the power position? How accurate is each side’s understanding of the actions and motives of the other?

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