The Point

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 Guest Posts

This is the first in a two-part series. Part 2 will run on Thursday, September 11th.

These days, with tightened budgets and enlarged job expectations, it’s important for CPOs, purchasing managers, and buyers to know how to prove their strategic value to the organization. This can be a huge challenge for most people. Knowing how to market yourself is extremely important, particularly if you want to move up in your career. We’ve all seen less talented people get promoted, simply because they are better at managing their image to supervisors and internal stakeholders.

Posted by on in Blog Picks

None of us can read minds. Sometimes we try to based on our knowledge of the situation or the individuals involved. It is obviously much easier if it is clearly communicated on a timely basis but that is not always the case.


From time to time it is important to understand what the executives in your organization and in your industry are thinking. What issues keep them up at night? Some leaders will communicate to their associates on strategies and goals and others do not.

This article, 8 things on the minds of Supply Chain Executives was in the Material Handling and Logistics publication last week. Here are the highlights from the article.

  1. Talent: Finding and retaining the right people is critical to a company’s success.
  2. The customer: Understanding what your customer’s needs are and help them know where the costs are to comply with their requests.
  3. Agility: There is a strong desire for increasing agility in the supply chain.
  4. Technology: Keeping their team equipped with the latest technology and processes is very important.
  5. Cost: This continues to be a focus for supply chain and procurement. However, in addition to containing or reducing costs, the expectation is for creativity and improved service.
  6. Regulations and Infrastructure: The list keeps growing and the need to stay current is critical.
  7. Risk: With global sourcing, there are many more risks to the supply chain. Unexpected interruptions can occur and organizations need to have a plan to manage them.
  8. Sustainability: This is an area of concentration for many supply chain executives. What is the strategy and how should it be implemented?

Do any of these items surprise you? Did your team concentrate on any one in particular in 2014?

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint

Posted by on in Book Reviews

Warehouse Management: A Complete Guide to Improving Efficiency and Minimizing Costs in the Modern Warehouse, 2nd Edition (Kogan Page, 2014), by warehouse management and logistics specialist Gwynne Richards, is a comprehensive guide to all considerations for managers looking to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their warehouse operations. In fact, that title does not do the book justice, and “Complete” is a term not to be brushed over in this case. A Guide to Modern Warehouse Safety, Automation, Sustainability, Outsourcing, Systems, Picking, Equipment, and Performance Management Strategy is more accurate but not concise or catchy enough.

 

I can remember as a teenager having a bad attitude about something. It could be homework, a chore of some kind or even a social engagement that I did not want to attend but I had to. I often got the “your attitude will determine the kind of day you have” message. I did not believe them but of course that was very accurate. It was better if I made up my mind for it to be better.

 

As our summer season is winding down, the weather is cooling off and the school busses are rolling again. New clothes, new supplies and new routines all become part of the process. Even for those without school age children, you can’t help but notice this event.


For Procurement, this activity was the focus months ago in order to prepare for the product or service being available at this time. It is second only to the winter holiday volume. According to an article in the Jacksonville Business Journal, the back-to-school market in the US is worth $75 Billion. That is big business by anyone’s definition.

The ripple effect of this season goes through marketing too as the advertising agencies and circular print providers are promoting various trends and gadgets for the upcoming year. Restaurants around schools, particularly high schools and colleges are extremely busy and thrive after a quieter summer. The Auburn Journal discusses the excitement and benefits of all the “swarms of teenagers” coming to local establishments for lunch and after school gatherings. I know there is an ice cream shop near our school that is packed with young customers right after school, especially on Fridays.

How does back to school impact your role in procurement? Does your organization benefit from this autumn ritual?

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint

This week’s webinar notes are from an August 21st webinar run by CPP Inc, the provider of the Meyers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator Assessment. The webinar was presented by Pamela Valencia, a CPP Solutions Consultant. The event is available on demand on CPPs site.

 

Being a better negotiator is a topic that you would think had been completely covered by now, but this event offered some new thoughts – even in a compressed 30-minute format. Because CPP is focused on personality, knowing yourself and your fellow negotiators was the core message to this event. Also key was understanding when two dynamics are at play at once so you can divide your reactions to them, and the attitudes they foster.

 

We have talked about how Supply Chain finance can benefit everyone in the supply chain. In order for processes to be sustainable long term, they need to have solid benefits for those involved. Otherwise, at some point it will break down. However, we are referring to your suppliers and customers, NOT your competitors!

Posted by on in Blog Picks

If you are like us, you ask that question frequently. We have just returned from a wonderful trip for summer vacation. We had a glorious time and found it very relaxing. Now that we are home, we are asking that same question even louder! We did not really spend THAT much did we? How could we?


The same holds true in our professional lives. We spend a great deal of time forecasting and budgeting and then trying to understand where all the money is going.

Many organizations use spend analytics to categorize their expenditures and then monitor for compliance. It certainly helps in that regard. The blog pick this week is from Rosslyn Analytics, “Five Things You Didn’t Know Your Spend Analytics Could Tell You”. The five things you might not be using your spend analysis solution for are:

  • Contract compliance – are associates buying from the proper source? Do you need to re-communicate the preferred suppliers and contracted pricing available to them?
  • Cash Flow – are you taking advantage of payment terms when it makes the most sense? Does it improve your cash flow?
  • Tail end expenditure exposure – a few months ago we posted an article, “The last 20 percent”, highlighting the benefits of giving some attention to the tail spend.
  • Overpayments – It happens. The key is catching it and resolving the issue.
  • Supplier Diversity – Spend analytics can help you identify what types of suppliers you are working with.

Have you found spend analytics to be helpful in the ways listed above? Was one area more impactful for your team? Was your 'wallet' looking healthier at the end of the process?

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint

Posted by on in Book Reviews

“By 2020, procurement’s role will have become even more important for sustaining constant supply, best cost, reduced volatility, faster and improved innovation, and clean corporate-brand image.” (p. 179)

 

Procurement 20/20: Supply Entrepreneurship in a Changing World is a team effort by four members of McKinsey’s Global Purchasing and Supply Management Practice: Peter Spiller, Nicolas Reinecke, Drew Ungerman, and Henrique Teixeira. If you were at the Institute for Supply Management’s conference in Las Vegas this May, you might have even picked up a copy for free. (Thanks to Cottrill Research’s Jeanette Jones for grabbing my copy!)

 

There is a phrase of "win, win, win" where the buyer, the supplier and the customer all benefit. With Supply Chain Finance, that is just the case.

We have a golf driving range near us that had gone out of business. They have now turned it into a solar farm with acres of solar panels. I am guessing it is more profitable than the driving range business was and certainly is a sustainability initiative.

This week’s webinar notes are from a July 31st event hosted by ISM and presented by LexisNexis. The event is available on demand on ISM’s site. If you are interested in more on the topic, LexisNexis has made available a white paper and accompanying infographic titled “Leveraging Market Intelligence to Better Manage Supply Chain Risk.

The presenter, Eric Walsworth, LexisNexis’ Director of Supply Management, illustrated each of his points about risk management by drawing comparisons to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I won’t embarrass myself by trying to recreate any of that – if you’re interested in the soccer angle you’ll have to watch the webinar on demand.

Walsworth took a need – risk management - that is overwhelming for many procurement teams and broke it down into very clear phases and efforts. Although each of these elements is important to a supply risk management effort, they must all work together in order to be effective. Additionally, although the following seem to be a linear process, they must all be executed in parallel.

Posted by on in Procurement

How an organization manages its money is critical. That is nothing new. However, there are trends in procurement influencing how that is done.

Posted by on in Blog Picks

In Massachusetts there is a small supermarket chain known as Market Basket. They are currently in a dispute over the leadership. The employees are so loyal to the ex-CEO (Arthur T) that they have walked off the job at the warehouse, at the office and at the stores. The customers are also boycotting the stores. Without deliveries, the shelves are empty. This has been going on for several weeks. It is amazing that employees are giving up their livelihood and their paychecks for this executive. Clearly he is adored by the associates.

This week’s webinar notes are from a July 25th webinar hosted by the Next Level Purchasing Association and presented by Santosh Nair, GEP’s Vice President of Client Services and Innovation. Although the on demand version is only available to NLPA premium members, you can read what they had to say about SMART by GEP in this recent blog post.

Despite the changes being seen in the consumer technology marketplace, enterprise solutions have been slow to take advantage of the growing availability of mobile technology. As demand increases for Smartphone and tablet solution accessibility, enterprise solutions in general, and procurement solutions in specific, will need to change at a rate faster than they have in the past.

The entire professional community, procurement included, is bracing for the impact of the Millennial generation. Managers and executives want to position their company or department as a team that will appeal to the brightest, best upcoming achievers. ISM and ThomasNet recently joined forces specifically for the purpose of gathering nominations for their ’30 Under 30’ Supply Chain Rising Stars program. Corporate leadership teams are concerned about being flexible enough, mobile enough, and ‘sexy’ enough to compete for young talent. Professional associations are scrambling to make sure they demonstrate their relevance on an ongoing basis.

 When new software is being implemented, so much of the focus is negotiating the price of the software itself. There are many components to an implementation and associated costs. One that is often overlooked is training. How will your organization get trained on this new process and technology? Will you hire someone to train? How much will that cost and how will it be handled ongoing?

 

This is (probably) the last in what became an impromptu three-part series on The Point about the value of storytelling for procurement. Part 1 considered applications of the idea in general. In part 2, Dr. Tom DePaoli provided a real world example and some further guidance. The post that started it all, on Executive Presence by Chip Scholz, can be found here.

Posted by on in Blog Picks

Do you save coins in a jar? Over time, the jar can become full to overflowing. It won’t necessarily lead to early retirement but it can make a difference. Sometimes we have then cashed it in for something special which would not have been done otherwise. A little here and there, without using up much time, can add value to your bottom line.

 I was involved in a project many years ago documenting the current procurement process across many divisions within a large international company. It was tedious and detailed work. I was frequently surprised by the various ways stuff was purchased. I was also surprised at what needed approval and what did not. For example, a cell phone needed Senior VP approval but a multi-million dollar purchase order for a For-Resale item did not.

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