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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
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?

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 9/21–25: Pushing the Envelope to Elevate Results

This week, each of my picks is pushing a boundary in some way – whether through more advanced approaches to risk, the collaborative frontier, or… well… running an ultramarathon to prepare for better category management. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in the events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

Three Unexpected Topics That Should Make You Think of Contract Management

Last week I attended the IACCM/Exari webinar on ‘Converting Your CEO into a Contract Management Champion in 3 Simple Steps.’ I came away with three topics, but they weren’t the ones I was expecting to get. Rather than ways to sell the CEO on contract management, I was surprised by the broad range of connections back to contract management that were offered up by Exari’s Founder and Chief Product Officer Jamie Wodetzki.

The Suzuki Volkswagen ‘Divorce’ – What Not to Do or a Case Against Partnerships Altogether?

Suzuki and Volkswagen have finally completed their ‘divorce’ or the breakup of their 2009 partnership that was supposed to bring market, manufacturing, and technical expertise together for the benefit of both parties. This true story sadly illustrates the dark side of collaborative business relationships – and that is the fallout for all parties if and when they fail.

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

As sad as the state of the relations between these two companies is today, the partnership started with high expectations on both sides. In 2010, VW purchased a 20% stake in Suzuki, worth approximately $2B US, indicating that this deal was no informal initiative.

Unfortunately, it also started with ulterior – or at least secondary motives – that may have doomed the effort from the outset.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 9/14–18: BYOI – Bring Your Own Imagination

This week’s events represent a wide range of topics as well as some of the companies we don’t hear from quite as often. Interestingly enough, I’m starting to see the old players of Ariba (now SAP) and Emptoris (as IBM) making a comeback in events and marketing. One thing all these topics have in common is the idea that imagination is a key component to a sustainable vision for the future. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in the events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

Posted by on in Events
Webinar Notes: Key Trends of Advanced Analytics

These notes are from a September 2nd webinar presented by Alexander Linden, Research Director at Gartner. The event is available on demand and can be viewed here. You don’t have to be a hard core analyst to benefit from this event – the take aways were interesting and applicable to procurement even though it wasn’t a procurement-specific event.

Guest Post on Design News: Should Approved Vendor Lists Be More in Line with Design Cycles?

According to joint research done by Design News and Exploration and Insights in 2014, 67% of companies have design cycles of 3-12 months. The remaining 33% of survey participants are almost evenly divided between design cycles requiring longer than a year and those taking less than three months. Regardless of their length, we can be sure all of those teams are looking for ways to shorten them, without sacrificing quality or functionality, so that they can be first to market and get the greater share of customers.


While the need to speed up design cycles is top of mind today, it is not a new initiative. In fact, 20 years ago, Design News published what you might call a “multi-generational design engineering retrospective.” As stated in “Engineering Megatrends,” published on Aug. 28, 1995, “Since the first caveman decided to capitalize on his best idea for a new club, businesses have operated on the principle that the first to get to market owns the market — at least for awhile.” With increased competition from all corners of the globe, and the nearly universal consumer fascination with having the latest, most innovative products, cutting time to market is now a critical element of competitive advantage.”

Despite this pervasive emphasis on “faster, sooner, better,” the same organizations that have multiple design cycles a year only update their approved vendor lists (AVLs) on an annual basis.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 9/7–11: Can the CEO be a Contract Management Champion?

Webinars are back with a vengeance now that the summer vacation season has officially ended. There are over thirty events already listed on the calendar for this month, which has just barely begun. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in the events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

Posted by on in Events
Webinar Notes: The Pulse of Procurement 2015

These notes are from an August 25th webinar hosted by Sourcing Industry Group and presented by Zycus. The two speakers were Ian Hinke, Vice President of Sourcing and Vendor Management at PHH Mortgage, and Richard Waugh, Vice President of Corporate Development at Zycus.

This event showcased the results of Zycus’ annual Pulse of Procurement study. This year, the participants included 400 respondents, 80% of which were from large companies (<$500M in annual revenue) in North America (68%). Three quarters of the respondents were in procurement management positions.

Although most of the questions were the standard ones about performance metrics, maturity, and technology adoption, there were some very interesting findings between the lines…

A Deep Dive into the Cost Drivers of a Direct Mail Program – Part 2

Direct marketing is not a new advertising strategy, but the associated tactics often change with the latest trends and technologies. Direct mail is one tactic under the direct marketing umbrella that has stood the test of time despite the shift to digital in most other areas of the advertising space. This post is the second in a series of two that discusses direct mail as a tactic and the cost drivers that impact the cost of executing one of these programs. You can read part 1 here.

As we described previously, there are four main cost components of a direct mail program: mail lists, creative and design, print and lettershop, and postage. There are different strategies for each of these and managing the costs of some are more complicated than others. Mail lists and postage are the two components that require more than a standard sourcing process in order to identify areas of cost reduction.

Previously, we took an in-depth look at gaining access to mail lists as a cost driver for direct mail campaigns and the strategies that can be executed to manage those costs. This post will take a deep dive into postage as a cost driver and the different postage optimization strategies that can be implemented to reduce costs.

Three Things ‘Rock Star’ CPOs Know About Procurement Influence

Last month I had the opportunity to speak with Dave Bowen, Xchanging’s US Country Manager and CEO of MM4. Xchanging has now released two parts of the research they conducted into procurement and supply chain. You can read my coverage of the first two parts here and here.

Procurement Perspectives Podcast: Where should procurement report?

This week's guest audio comes from Dustin Mattison. His Future of Supply Chain podcast series offers weekly interviews with leading supply chain thought leaders. The podcasts can be seen on YouTube and his blog is part of the Kinaxis Supply Chain Expert Community.

In this podcast Mattison interviews Julio Franca, a Director at the global, boutique management consulting firm Spin Consulting. The excerpt we are about to hear is the first question of the podcast and in it Franca addresses where procurement should report in the organization relative to supply chain. The full interview can be heard on YouTube.

You can hear the full podcast on Blog Talk Radio or on Sound Cloud.

My Recommendations for Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars August 31 – September 4

As we round the corner to Labor Day weekend, the number of weekly events is picking up. My recommendations for this week are below, but be sure to look at the rest of the month of September as it is already completely packed with great procurement and supply chain webinars. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and connect to their registration pages.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the CEO Pay Ratio

In August the SEC adopted a measure that will require public companies to publish a CEO pay ratio in their financial statements. The ratio, which compares median worker pay to the CEO’s salary, is a provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank act and it takes effect in January 2017.

Some of the early, albeit unofficial, CEO pay ratios seem to demonstrate an enormous pay disparity between the leadership and workers in a company. In other cases, it calls attention to CEOs with strikingly low compensation for the position they hold. For instance, Apple’s Tim Cook has a CEO pay ratio of 43:1, Ford’s Alan Mulally has a 113:1, and Goodyear’s Richard Kramer has a whopping 323:1 ratio. IBM and Intel have ratios of 25:1 and 30:1 respectively.

Any time procurement is evaluating a publicly traded company, we naturally make use of their financial statements and annual reports, which are valuable sources of information. But is this new ratio relevant to the evaluation of a supplier for financial stability, risk, and collaborative potential? Should procurement take this information into consideration when ranking and selecting suppliers?

Procurement Perspectives Podcast: Panel Discussion on The Politics of Procurement

This week's guest audio comes from a panel discussion moderated by Code for America. They create open source solutions and facilitate a collaborative community around their use. Code for America also hosts an annual summit that brings together public sector innovators and the organizations that collaborate with them – and that is where this particular recording was made: at a 2014 summit panel on public sector procurement.

In this exchange, the panel responds to an audience question about the politics of procurement and facilitating cross-functional communication for the sake of gaining buy in.

The full video – Procurement for the 21st Century - is available on their YouTube channel. You can listen to the podcast on Blog Talk Radio or on our Sound Cloud page.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars August 24-28

This week’s calendar filled up last week with some new additions. I’m leaning towards the first three as this week’s best bets for thought leadership and professional development. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and connect to their registration pages.

Webinar Notes: The End of Outsourcing? RPA is Here to Stay

These notes are from an August 18th webinar by the Institute for Robotic Process Automation (IRPA). The primary speakers were Barry Matthews Managing Director at Alsbridge, and Eric Shander, Vice President of Global Technology Services at IBM Global Services.

I’ve been covering all of the Robotis Process Automation (RPA) events based on IRPA’s recently released ebook meant to educate people about RPA. The most important things to know are that RPA is best suited to logic-based, repeatable tasks currently performed by in house employees or third party outsourcers. In some cases, robots can even provide governance or oversight of other robots. The other thing to know is that these aren’t mechanical robots – they are software robots: programs designed to handle tasks and learn over time.

The piece of this particular event that I found the most compelling was the potential for negative impact, or the ‘bad and ugly’ as they put it in the webinar. Let’s face it, as much as people decry the impact of offshoring, RPA’s cost structure and scalability raises a significantly larger concern about job loss. The honest truth is that RPA will have an effect on jobs, but it may not be quite what people think.

Book Review: The Lean Supply Chain: Managing the Challenge at Tesco

The supply chain may be the best organized in the world, but if trust and transparency are not there the commercial results will not materialize.

- The Lean Supply Chain, p. xxiv

The Lean Supply Chain: Managing the Challenge at Tesco (September 3, 2015, Kogan Page) by Robert Mason and Barry Evans is fascinating – for its timing as much as the overview it provides into one of the world’s most prominent retailers. The book’s timing is impressive (and critical) given the turbulent few years Tesco has had: including the horsemeat scandal in 2013, and an accounting scandal in 2014.

While this book is not solely about the scandals and their exact aftermath, it acknowledges them right up front and includes as many details as the publication timeline would allow – and probably a few more than that. The Preface is an absolute must-read and would stand as a B-school case study in its own right.

Procurement Perspectives Podcast: Trusting Internal Team Members and What That Should Teach Us About Supplier Partnerships

This week our audio comes from Acquire Procurement Services, a consultancy based in Australia specializing in establishing and re-negotiating contracts across sectors. Their video is titled 'Why do we treat employees and suppliers differently?' and is available on their YouTube channel. In it, they draw a contrast between the information companies share with their employees and how they handle sharing with suppliers who might perform the same or similar functions on their behalf.

You can listen to the podcast on the PI Window on Business Blog Talk Radio channel or on our Sound Cloud page.


Webinar Recommendations for August 17 - 21, 2015: RPA is Here to Stay, Supply Chain Index Update, Why Due Diligence Matters

This week there are seven webinars being run, and I’ve taken the opportunity to recommend three on topics that are very different from each other while all still providing access to compelling thought leadership. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and connect to their registration pages.

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