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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
Time to Speak up and Be Heard, Procurement!

In my PI Window on Business Podcast this week (listen here), I shared audio of Mark Hager, an author and a professor at Arizona State University, talking about why people join professional associations and how that is changing.

The interview was loosely based on a paper he wrote on the same subject (you can read it here) and which digs deeper into the idea of private (individual) versus public (collective) motivations for joining an association.

Procurement Delivering on Best Value

When our children were ready to buy their first cars, they had saved up enough to get something that was safe for driving around town and within their budget. However, they did not take into account the total cost of ownership so we outlined it for them. It was not just the purchase price of the car but also gas, insurance and repairs. They were not excited about those expenses. Buying new tires or fixing an exhaust problem was not high on their list of ways to spend money. Believe me, it is not high on anyone’s list no matter what age they are!

This week’s article by Kate Vitasek, “Use Best Value to get Your Best Bottom Line”, discusses the role of procurement and shifting to focus not just on cost but on the full cost of ownership. It emphasizes that while most professionals understand getting to the TCO is the best value, many do not employ that methodology.

It is often about so many other things such as how soon a new piece of equipment needs to be repaired and how much do the parts cost when a repair is needed. How far away are the service centers that could impact the length of time a piece of equipment is out of service? When it is time to dispose of the equipment, what is the cost of that or is there some ability to recycle or sell it?

What success stories do you have around procurement and the TCO or Best Value approach? Is it easier to apply in some cases and not in others?

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

Webinar Recommendations for May 11 – 15, 2015: Vested Outsourcing, S&OP, More CPO Rising

The BMP events calendar is stocked for the rest of the month of May, and this week I recommend the following webinars… click on the title of each to connect to that event on our calendar and link to the registration page.

Webinar Notes: Defining Procurement’s Story to Inspire, Motivate, and Lead Change

This week’s webinar notes are from an April 30th event hosted by Sourcing Interests Group and presented by Denali’s Alan Veeck and special guest Paul Smith from ‘Lead with A Story’, a coach, speaker, and author.

The webinar explored how professionals can leverage the techniques of storytelling to build influence and communicate an important message in an effective way. In Smith’s terms, storytelling is simple, timeless, contagious, and memorable, and it works across demographics.

Within the context of procurement, Denali has been incorporating storytelling into the training they provide to category managers. With the wide range of responsibilities being handled by category managers today, they have to function within an operating model that allows for proper division of labor. Coaching them is like cross training, bringing together a range of diverse skills that will help them become more strategic.

The lessons from this webinar combine to create something like ‘communication theatre’ that you can leverage to get your message through – as long as you are willing to put in the effort up front. What the speakers did not directly address in this event, but that should not be underestimated, is the time and planning required to apply storytelling. You have to know your audience, craft a story in such a way that it has the desired effect, and choreograph the execution carefully.

New YouTube Video: A Positive Approach to Supply Chain Risk

This week at ISM, my Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals co-author Jeanette Jones presented a session on supply market intelligence specifically for risk. I couldn’t be in Phoenix this week, but I wanted to contribute to the session, so I committed to making a 10-minute intro movie. After all, I do a podcast every week - and I have a Mac - so how hard could a video be?

How Consumers Influence Your Procurement Team

Panera is in the news this week with their “No-No list”. They will be eliminating over 150 artificial ingredients from their recipes, beginning immediately with their salad dressings. This is in reaction to the increasing consumer demand to understand what they are eating and requiring heathier choices.

I was reading an article from Social Media Examiner, “5 Ways you can Influence Consumer Purchasing Decisions”. Obviously there are a lot of choices of where to eat and Panera is hoping to influence you to choose their establishment.

One of the suggestions is to appeal to millennials. Using social media, you can reach the millennials but it has to be done in the right way. They are not looking for generic messages but those that are tailored specifically to them. Being very aware of the environment, the move for Panera is more than likely to appeal to that age group so interested in sustainability and healthy choices.

So what does that mean for a procurement professional at Panera? It will require new supplier agreements, finding alternative sources of supply, including various lead times. The supply chain has been altered based on consumer demands. The purchasing group has to be consistently learning new marketplaces and sources for their organization.

Has consumer behavior changed your company’s direction and product offering? How did that impact you and your team? How did this impact your bottom line?

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

Posted by on in Procurement
Deem Shopping is Easy on the Eyes

If you are at ISM2015 in Phoenix this week, you may have seen Deem unveil their new Shopping application Monday morning. I got a sneak peek at it, and my primary take-away was that Deem Shopping is a highly visual experience. You can learn more on Deem's site

Shopping, which is primarily intended for use by the buying (rather than sourcing) colleagues in your organization, was designed to incorporate some of the key user-friendliness aspects of B2C shopping sites, including machine learning focused on tracking the frequency of use of templates and items. It also involves something I didn’t initially recognize the importance of – the space between graphics. Apparently, the amount of white space you incorporate into a display is connected to how user friendly an application is. And we all know what user friendliness leads to: ADOPTION.

Looking for Intelligence in the Risk Track at ISM2015?

If you happen to be going to ISM2015, be sure to mark your schedule to attend the breakout session being run by my Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals co-author, Jeanette Jones. She is in the risk track on May 6th – here are the details:

Supply Market Intelligence: Risk Assessment and Research Resources

Presented by Jeanette Jones, Founder of Cottrill Research 
Session JE | Audience Level: Experienced, Leadership
9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

The authors of Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals: Research, Process, and Resources, present an overview on how to design a supply market intelligence program, focusing on risk management and strategic sourcing initiatives. Various key third-party risk research resources will be covered, particularly those with supplier diligence/monitoring and geopolitical offerings.

Building a feeder program for supply chain

Many professions have minor leagues or feeder programs. In sports, it starts with kids playing sports in their schools or town leagues. Eventually some progress to college, minor league and perhaps event to the professional level. In academics, there is a feeder program for science and technology, called FIRST, the brain child of Dean Kamen. Utilizing a robotics game, students learn fund raising, marketing, communication, innovation, engineering and team work. It now is in thousands of middle schools and high schools all over the world.

In business, there is the Junior Achievement program that was founded in 1919. Their mission is turning the kids of today into the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. This program starts with 5 year olds and goes through high school, setting the students up to compete in a global environment.

For myself, I stumbled into a career in procurement and supply chain through a series of events. I know that is the same for some of my colleagues as well.

This week’s blog discusses a feeder program for supply chain. With a talent gap that is growing, it is exciting to see such programs exist. Robert Bowman, of Supply Chain Brain, writes an article titled “Teaching School Kids about Supply Chain”.

The program starts with students at the lowest levels and is planning to go through high school. They work with projects such as a lemonade stand, pizza manufacturing and paper airplane modelling. They learn about planning, customer service, problem solving, and math skills to name a few. It is really catching on and has the potential to become the feeder program for the next generation of supply chain professionals.

Did you do anything like one of these feeder programs in your early years? Are there any others that you would recommend?

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

And now for a few words from ISM CEO Thomas Derry...

Next week, professionals will gather in Phoenix, Arizona for ISM2015, the annual conference that marks the 100th anniversary for one of the most recognized institutions in all of procurement. There will be impressive keynote speakers, informative breakout sessions, fun giveaways, and plenty of chances to network. All of the resulting ‘brouhaha’ and ‘ballyhoo’ may belie the fact that procurement is in a time of serious transition right now.

Companies are spending more with suppliers than ever before. Supply chains are longer (or shortening) and are full of risk. The fixed cost of a high headcount procurement organization is starting to look less and less logical as the type of project we manage becomes increasingly long term and one-off. Baby boomers are retiring and Millennials are bursting onto the scene with their work life balances and crazy new ideas. Dare I even mention Procurement-as-a-Service?

Does this fluid set of circumstances really lend itself to a Centenarian association and old school networking? A couple of weeks ago, I don’t know how I would have answered that question.

What’s good for the goose… Why NIGP’s ownership is not just a public sector issue

For the last couple of weeks, Jon Hansen has been covering the unfolding story involving Periscope Holdings/BidSync and Perfect Commerce. You can access the entire string of posts here, but I’ll give you the Readers’ Digest version now…

In early 2015, the State of Missouri, awarded a contract for an eProcurement provider. Perfect Commerce and Periscope Holdings/BidSync were both in the running, but Perfect Commerce was selected. On March 11, Perfect Commerce received a letter from NIGP saying that their sublicense agreement for NIGP (the public sector categorization system) was being withdrawn. The problem here is that Periscope Holdings owns NIGP. In other words, the categorization structure is owned by one solution provider in the market.

For those of us in the private sector, this may not seem terribly interesting, and it might seem even less relevant. But it is an important story for all procurement professionals in all sectors to pay attention to. And here is why:

Social Media Intelligence for Real Procurement Professionals

Last week, Coupa ran a three part blog series based on a conversation I had with their marketing team about the role social media plays in supply market intelligence creation. You can read them here, here, and here. This is a subject that Jeanette Jones and I touched upon in our book, Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals, but it was certainly not our focus.

While social media is a great tool for news gathering and intelligence creation, it isn’t something that was ever part of my formal training – either in procurement or otherwise. I learned how to leverage the power of social media purely ‘in the wild,’ driven by the need to grow the footprint and brand recognition for Buyers Meeting Point. I am so glad that I did, both because we have seen clear benefits in our traffic, and because now I am in a position to apply what I have learned to the work that must be carried out by practitioners.

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.

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