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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 Procurement

Many of us have played the telephone game as a child. You all sit in a circle. The first person whispers something into the next one’s ear. By the time it gets around the circle, the last person says what they heard. Almost always, it is completely different from the original statement.

Posted by on in Blog Picks

It's the beginning of a new year. Fresh starts and resolutions are all around. Typically it has to do with exercising more, eating less, going back to school, getting a better job, and so on.

This week’s webinar notes are from a December 2013 event presented by Coupa and with featured speakers from Deloitte and Blackstone Group. The event is available on demand on and if you are interested in the content, there are two Deloitte whitepapers you can download:

While the four trends defined by Deloitte’s John Mavriyannakis are new topics for procurement, he did offer some interesting updates, added to by practitioner commentary by Blackstone’s Scott Whitehill.


It’s that time of year.

Don’t shrink from the performance review process. It’s a time to reflect on the past year’s results, recognize accomplishments, and reset expectations with your staff for the upcoming year.

Purpose of the Performance Review

The primary purpose of performance reviews is to measure individual performance against the goals and objectives agreed to at the start of the previous year. I’ll dig deeper into this idea in a forthcoming post on Procurement Goals and Objectives.

Ask each employee to gather their final metrics and plot them next to their initial goals. This exercise reinforces the department’s goals and objectives to employees. Moreover, upon seeing their results, conscientious employees will honestly reflect about their performance before the actual performance review with their manager.    

Structure of the Performance Review

Companies use a variety of evaluation systems, but most follow the same basic format.

A rating is assigned to a small number of essential competencies such as “Accomplishments and Results”, “Planning and Organizing”, “Interpersonal Skills” etc. There’s often an area of the performance review reserved for Manager Comments (see Practical Tips below). Finally, an overall score or rating is assigned to each employee – often the most problematic part of the process for managers.

High-performers naturally want the highest scores. Anything less may lead to pouting or worse. But what if you are fortunate enough to have a whole staff of high-performers?   What if your company has implemented the controversial Forced Distribution or Bell Curve process for employee appraisals where you must assign 10% top score, 80% middle, and 10% bottom?

It comes down to judgment. If you’re hamstrung in the above situation, make it known jokingly to your staff that you can only award one ‘Exceeds Expectations” appraisal next year. Use it as an opportunity to introduce some good-natured competition among your staff, and make the metrics as transparent as possible along the way to avoid conflict later.  

Executing the Performance Review

Regardless of how warm your relations are with employees reviews should be formal; this is good time to remind both parties of the nature of the relationship and demonstrates how seriously you take their performance.

Allow sufficient time for each employee appraisal. This is the employee’s one on one time with the boss and it should never feel obligatory or rushed.  

Keep the conversation focused on the results. Methodically compare each metric or result vs. the objective. Make sure the employee understands your expectation for each measureable.  

Get Personal

The conversation need not be limited to cold metrics. It’s also an opportunity to have a personal discussion with the employee about their strengths, opportunities, and aspirations.

The good might be: “You’re excellent at managing a variety of personality types” or “I really like the way you break down complex information to cross-functional groups”.

The bad might be: “I’ve observed that you struggle to communicate with some Engineers” or “You have an opportunity to sharpen your presentation skills”.

For each improvement opportunity, have potential solutions as well as specific examples ready: “I think you would benefit from Extended DISC training so you are better prepared to deal with different personality types” or “ I want to review your next couple presentations with you in advance and show you how to keep slides / topics flowing smoothly”.

The best performance reviews are the ones where your employees leave fired up and motivated for the New Year; metrics alone rarely accomplish this outcome.

Practical Tips

  • Deploy a 360 or rounded feedback template to the employee’s key stakeholders; this is particularly useful for assessing interpersonal skills
  • Dump the essay format; use bullet points and semi-colons to string together short, sharp language when summarizing the employee’s performance; incorporate final metrics achieved in these comments
  • The performance review is not an occasion for “gotcha” moments. Like steering a ship, micro corrections are necessary throughout the year. Nothing shared in a performance review should ever come as a surprise.


Posted by on in Procurement

On Christmas Eve, we received three deliveries of Christmas presents. One came via US postal service, the second from FedEx and the third from UPS. The gift givers were relieved that the packages arrived in time for the holiday gathering.


As another year comes to a close and we are looking at the start of a new one, we wanted to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a healthy and happy holiday season. We have enjoyed working together on your behalf to present information that we hope you have found useful this year.

We will be taking a break until January 6 while we plan our strategy for the coming year and have a few moments of wel-deserved rest and restoration. We are excited for the opportunities in 2014 and all there is to learn and share. Please check back with us in January at that time for updates.

Cindy Allen-Murphy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kelly Barner This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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This week’s webinar notes are from a December 11th event on direct materials sourcing presented by Directworks. The event replay and slides are available on demand here.

Posted by on in Procurement

There is a wonderful children’s story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. If it has been a while for you, it is about a young girl who stumbles into the bear’s cottage and tries out the porridge, the chairs and the beds.

I was at a leadership conference and heard some very motivational speakers. The main message throughout the day was to be the best YOU that you can be.

This week’s webinar notes are from a December 4th event presented by Ardent Partners on what they have dubbed “The New Procurement”. If you want to read more from Andrew Bartolini and his team, visit

I have read and reviewed a number of business publications, most of them directly related to supply management, but The CPO is truly a unique creation. This book captures the adventure of procurement by outlining principles and concepts for success – not through dry or prescriptive chapters – but through the very engaging story of a fictional CPO and the challenges he faces on the job and at home. Thomas Sutter, the main character (dare I say hero?), captured my attention immediately and held it right through the final pages. I’ll even admit (my apologies to the authors for cheating) that at one point I was so wrapped up in the interpersonal dynamics of the story that I peeked ahead to read the end so that I might relax and absorb the full message of the book as I went.

Posted by on in Procurement

When we embark on a home improvement project, it is good to have all the appropriate tools and supplies. We inevitably are missing something or several things and that requires multiple trips to go procure them. It slows the process and adds expense. Alternatively, we have gotten too much of something which is a waste of funds and adds to the complexity when we want to dispose of the excess.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Change makes people anxious and frustrated. When a grocery store decides to move their aisles around, the consumer can’t find things easily until they get accustomed to the new system in place. Sometimes, the marketing team also changes the packaging. That favorite cookie or cereal is now hiding on the shelf, similar to the game of “Where’s Waldo”.   


This week’s webinar notes are from a November 13th event presented by Aubrey Daniels, a clinical psychologist who is sometimes referred to as “the father of performance management”, as he was one of the first to make extensive use of the science of behavior analysis in business (Wikipedia). I did not get to listen to the event live because a week and a half in advance the registration for the live event was already full – a clear nod to the importance of the topic and the credibility of the speaker.

Posted by on in Procurement

Automobiles are a necessary evil. Whenever we have to have our car repaired, it can be quite frustrating. There is such a relief if something is fixed on time and right – the first time.

Posted by on in Book Reviews

When we think about the concept of branding from a corporate perspective, we think of the associations consumers and stakeholders have formed in response to our company, products, logo, etc. From a procurement perspective, brand or reputational risk is one of the most important things we are stewards of when we make decisions about the supply partners our company will form relationships with. But the value of building, having, and maintaining a brand extends far beyond the corporate level.


Over the last few weeks, we have been talking about recruiting and retaining employees. How about that same approach with your customers?

This week’s webinar notes are from a November 7th event hosted by ISM and presented by IASTA and LexisNexis. The full details of the event can be seen on ISM’s site.

Any company that has implemented a spend analysis solution knows first hand the difference between data and intelligence. IASTA and LexisNexis did an excellent job laying out a framework for bridging that gap in Supply Market Intelligence (SMI). Many SMI programs have grown out of the need to get better risk mitigation from supplier performance management programs already in place. The highest priority risk categories include supply chain continuity, cost, and reputation – the implications of which hit both revenues and stock returns.

Posted by on in Procurement


Why would anyone stay with your team? Do you offer a growth career path? Do you have a mentor program in place? How competitive is your compensation package?


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