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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I know when I took a test in school or when I have a test at the doctor’s, I am anxious for the results. It certainly would be frustrating if you never got the results back.As much as you may not want to hear it, it is better to know than to be kept in the dark.

In this Procurement on YouTube post, we will hear from Mikkel Larsen, Strategic Programme Executive at Rolls Royce. He recently gave a presentation at ProcureCon on ‘Focusing on the big wins and sustainable outcomes: using demand and specification management as the key tools in meeting tough savings targets’. When he talks about sustainability, he means lasting results through meaningful change versus environmental sustainability. In this clip, he describes the importance of reducing costs through demand and specifications as opposed to just consolidating volume for pricing leverage, bringing suppliers and internal stakeholders actively into the process to collaborate on a meaningful solution.


How safe is your data and how secure are your supplier interactions? 

Many organizations are interested in cyber security and protecting their business. It is a serious economic challenge and we need to be able to depend on having a secure cyberspace.

This article in Supply Chain Brain discusses the issues as they relate to supply chain and procurement professionals. There are very complex relationships in an organizations supply chain and it is difficult to know where the risks are. Data for specifications, consumer credit card information, legal matters are just a few areas that need to be protected.

There is a standard known as ISO27001 which can serve as a great baseline and starting point. There are 11 parts of the standard.

  1. Security policy - management direction
  2. Organization of information security - governance of information security
  3. Asset management - inventory and classification of information assets
  4. Human resources security - security aspects for employees joining, moving and leaving an organization
  5. Physical and environmental security - protection of the computer facilities
  6. Communications and operations management - management of technical security controls in systems and networks
  7. Access control - restriction of access rights to networks, systems, applications, functions and data
  8. Information systems acquisition, development and maintenance - building security into applications
  9. Information security incident management - anticipating and responding appropriately to information security breaches
  10. Business continuity management - protecting, maintaining and recovering business-critical processes and systems
  11. Compliance - ensuring conformance with information security policies, standards, laws and regulations

Have you done any of the list above? I know I have participated in exercises that involve many of them. What did you learn and which have you found to be most effective?


This week’s featured event was hosted by SciQuest and featured Spend Matters Lead Analyst Thomas Kase and a case study by German Torres of FMC Technologies, a $6B oil and gas company. You can view the event on demand here or register to download the accompanying white paper.

Small businesses begin when we are very young, selling homemade crafts at a yard sale or perhaps a road side lemonade stand. I know we ended up drinking most of our product and making very little profit.

I just read an article about the pending hurricane season will be one of the more severe on record.

Climate change is causing very intense weather patterns. Tornadoes, blizzards, floods and drought to an level never seen before. More than ever, now is the time to make changes. You can’t change the world but you can do something.

At home, we are a big recycling family. Some of our friends are also composting to utilize that as fertilizer in their gardens instead of chemicals. We are all working to reduce our personal carbon footprint.

In your procurement profession, going green in the sourcing process is another option. Another term for that is sustainable procurement, as described on the United Nations Global Marketplace

The article discusses why the United Nations has decided to move towards practices that encourage sustainability in the supply chain. They are sending a message to the business community to promote practices that are beneficial for the environment. Their goal is for climate neutrality so they do not have a negative impact on the environment.

This is a very helpful source as it has references for a tool kit and training for procurement associates and suppliers alike.

How is your organization working towards environmental neutrality? Have you put a green procurement process in place? What results and value have you seen from it?

This week’s featured event was hosted by Sourcing Interests Group and presented by Denali Group’s John Evans and Grant Dearborn. Their ‘Five Steps To Creating A Successful Procurement Strategy’ logically started with their working definition of strategy, one that is specific to procurement:

“[Strategy] Defines a plan for optimizing external spend, procurement operations and other value contributions in a manner that supports the overall corporate agenda.”

You are creating a supplier scorecard. Where do you get the data from and what questions do you ask?

The idea of being green is certainly not new to corporations or to purchasing professionals for that matter. That does not mean that the effort is easy, or that the path to sustainable purchasing is clear. ‘Green Purchasing & Sustainability’, written by purchasing professional, author, speaker, trainer and consultant Robert Menard, is a practical book that will help you get started down that road.

Graduation season is upon us. For our family, we have 3 high school and 3 graduate degree parties to go to this year. Incredible!

Of course the next step after school is finding a job. That is such a challenge and there is a great deal of competition. Some of the search is a numbers game and some of it is timing. I know some recent graduates have applied to over 100 various organizations. Eventually something breaks through.

This article by discusses the increase in hiring for recent MBA graduates.  There are opportunities in supply chain across all types of industries such as manufacturing and health care. Some of the graduates are getting a specialized MBA. They learn general management principles and focus on unique practices for a specific industry.

MBA’s are in demand for manufacturers. As the OnlineMBA article states:

“Hot jobs for manufacturing MBAs are in the fields of project management, business analysis, and supply chain demand in manufacturing.”

In our organization, most of the entry level sourcing positions are MBA graduates. They have developed some skills through their education. While analytical in nature, they also have had opportunity to evaluate the bigger picture.

Do you hire MBA graduates? What did you look for in your most recent hire? What value do you place on that advanced degree?


Tagged in: Blogs Education

In this week’s featured event, Bryan Ball and Bob Heaney, Abredeen research analysts, recapped the major findings from the 2013 Supply Chain Management Summit in Chicago. The event is available on demand, as are event highlights and approved presentations.

Eighty percent of your business is done with twenty percent of your suppliers. Pareto's rule in action.

Tagged in: eSourcing Wiki

As we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, there are many learnings that are gained in childhood that carry us through to our adult lives – both personal and professional.

This book is Life’s Lessons from Mom by Patrick Flaherty. Looking at this through the eyes of a career for procurement, there are several that hit home for sure.

You’re never too busy or too old to have fun.

  • We spend a great deal of time at the office. Are you too busy or do you see humor and laugh? How do you enjoy those you work with?

Never fear your competition.

  • Your competition makes you stronger and better. Playing against someone faster or better than you makes you improve your skills too. Also, there will always be someone better, faster, richer than you. The competition is against yourself and to improve YOU.

Take care of your equipment.

  • As a child, we were told to put our bikes in the garage at the end of the day. So easy to just leave them out on the grass or in the driveway. Well, we did put them away and they lasted longer and had a better resale value as we outgrew them. Same thing applies with your equipment and tools at the office. It will make a big difference with your effectiveness.

Make your bed and clean your room

  • Everyone has heard this one many, many times. Perhaps you have now had the opportunity to use it on YOUR children. It is amazing that we can hear our parent’s words coming out of our mouths about very similar issues. Well, this one is for order and discipline. As you learn those skills, it helps with application in your professional life as well. So much time can be lost looking for the appropriate document or misplacing that phone number. So go ahead and “make your bed and clean your room”!!

There are so many other good reflections. What did you learned that has helped you going forward? Any words of wisdom from Mom to share on this special weekend? If not, how about:

Thanks Mom!



This week’s featured webinar was hosted by ISM, sponsored by Hubwoo and presented by Spend Matters. ‘Doing More with Less in Procurement: a punch list of 25 items to improve your productivity’ was based on a snap poll taken to help participants benchmark themselves relative to their peers in this area. As you might expect, prioritization is key, and we will hear more in the ongoing discussion of tactical versus strategic efforts and how to keep the machine cranking efficiently.

The world is changing.

Today’s eSourcing Wiki-Wednesday topic is Aligning SPM to your Firm's Goals.

The esourcing wiki articles are focusing on Supplier Management. With good reason – it is becoming more and more important to make sure this activity is part of the process with your procurement team.

This article from makes the point of how things have changed. Individuals are no longer just managing an internal team but often very complex external team members as well. They could be suppliers or outsourced functions being performed by service providers.

This discussion focuses on FAQ’s but more importantly what skills do your associates need in order to perform this function well. Do they need training and how do they get that? Here are some common concerns for your team:

  • How do I get share of mind? We are not their only customers.
  • How do I make sure that they deliver against the standards that are agreed?
  • What happens if they do not perform against the KPIs? How do I escalate the issue?
  • We do not want to get to the point of waving a piece of paper, shouting "breach of contract"
  • How much time do I need to spend measuring their performance?
  • How do I make supplier reviews an effective forum?
  • How much time do I invest in developing the relationship?
  • Do I want a supplier or a partner relationship?
  • They are critical to our business, who has got the greatest leverage?

The message here is to make sure your staff has the proper tools in the toolkit to build the relationship to become a true collaborative partnership.

Have you found any training materials that are helpful for Supplier Management? What was the most useful tool and what would you recommend?  

Negotiation is a core skill for procurement professionals. Actually, it is really something everyone does every day. When you really look at it – EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE. Some if it is so minor, you don’t even notice it like where to have dinner tonight.

So you want to run (AKA negotiate) with the big dogs? The ones who have succeeded? What can we learn from them and adopt to our own situations?

This article from 9 Negotiation Tactics from Famous CEO’s offers interesting approaches that proved very effective. They may not all fit your style but there are a few here that could be beneficial in your toolbox. Here are a few that were discussed.

Make everyone else look lousy

In other words, make your proposal so compelling, the others fall by the wayside. Steven Jobs bid for the company that was to become iTunes was 8 times more than the next bidder. That got their attention as you can imagine.

If cooperation isn’t on the table, overthrow the whole thing

Teamwork is critical in business today. Individuals have to be bought in to the broader goal, not just their own personal agendas. At Twitter, when the team was not focused, the CEO took action and that behavior changed.

Take a look at the article and see if there is anything that strikes a cord with you. Some of them may not appeal to your style but it is certainly food for thought.

Have you had an opportunity to run with the big dogs? What did you do differently and did you learn how to negotiate in a different manner?


Tagged in: Blogs Negotiation

Each week I attend two or three webinars. Usually, I pick the most interesting event to share in this Friday webinar notes post. This week, there were two events on procurement transformation: one from Procurement Leaders/CombineNet/Kellogg and another from Sourcing Interests Group/Zycus/Capgemini. Both were good events in their own right, but combining what I heard in the two events provides a rich look at one of the hottest trends in procurement today.

Posted by on in Procurement


A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.   Lao-tzu

Last Saturday, Cindy highlighted a blog post by John Maxwell, a leadership coach, on how to fail successfully. There is much to be learned from our failures, and in many cases they are the price of admission to the victory celebration at the end of the journey. Thomas Edison is a fantastic, if complicated, example of success despite setbacks. We all know how many tries to took to make the light bulb a reality, especially because of the quote Cindy used to open her post:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas A. Edison

Notice I did not title this as do you want to SUCCEED like Thomas Edison. Of course we would like to get to the answer on round 1. Most time that does not happen - ever is more like it. If Edison had not taken a chance, and kept at it , would we still be reading by candlelight?

When I read this blog by John Maxwell, Traits of a Successful Failure, I got thinking about procurement applications. How can I take more risks, fail, learn from it and eventually succeed. Perhaps with a different spec, supplier or process.

Maxwell talks about the four traits of a successful failure. I think we can agree that Edison certainly has those characteristics.

1. Optimism. Find the benefit in every bad experience.

2. Responsibility. Change your response to failure by accepting responsibility.

3. Resilience. Say goodbye to yesterday.

4. Initiative. Take action and face your fear.

We do often fall into patterns of work and comfort with various suppliers. However, taking a chance to try something different or offer a new idea is an opportunity to fail like Thomas Edison. And when you succeed, the value and results to you and your organization can be quite significant.

What have you tried differently this month? Did it work? Have you tried a revision and a new approach? Can you describe what your learned?

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