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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
Why it is Not Worth Preventing Every Disruption in Your Supply Chain

Supply chains are similar to humans—imperfect. Their successes within business plans are a product of accurately forecasting how to survive crises and minimize damage in high-risk scenarios. Balance is the key to surviving most situations. In a supply chain, the accord between supply chain efficiency and risk mitigation can be difficult to achieve.

Webinar Notes: Women Networking Group Webinar - Marketing Yourself through Social Media

This week’s webinar notes are from a March 9th webinar hosted by IACCM and presented by IACCM Resourcing CEO Susanne Birch. Before I share any of my notes from the event, I have a confession to make. It may not seem related, but bear with me.

I despise pink rollerblades.

Negotiation is child's play - or maybe not

When our daughter was in elementary school, she was a tough negotiator. She wanted her independence at a very early age. When it came time for bedtime, we came up with a plan. She could go to bed anytime she wanted up until 8PM. It was her choice. She loved that freedom and the rest fell into place. From our perspective, we wanted her in bed by 8PM anyway but it was all in how it was presented.

Negotiation is something we do every day – sometimes with ourselves and sometimes with others. Should I have dessert, that cookie, that extra glass of wine? Who on the team should do the analysis, the presentation, make that sales call?

In procurement, this is a key skill that constantly needs to be sharp and at the ready. In this article from Harvard, 10 Hard Ball Tactics in Negotiation, it goes through scenarios and areas to avoid.

One that I found interesting was “Trying to make you flinch”. In this case, the other party keeps making harder and harder demands, waiting for you to break. I remember one negotiation I was in, the other party kept trying a variety of tactics and behaviors to make me move or waiver. I stayed the course and eventually they became more reasonable.

Personal insults and feather ruffling” is another one that makes me wonder what are they thinking? We were buying a new car and the salesman insulted us about not being able to make a decision and needing to run home to Daddy. At the time we were married with children and certainly making our own decisions. Needless to say, we did not buy the car at that dealership. I wonder how often that works? It must or they would not do it.

Everything I read about negotiation says to do your homework and be prepared. Know what your BATNA is and stick to it.

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

Webinar Notes: Use Predictive Analytics to Help You Capitalize on Business Moments

This week’s webinar notes are from a March 5th webinar hosted by Gartner. Douglas Laney, a Gartner Research VP, who made the presentation, was a strictly no-nonsense guy. He opened the webinar by introducing himself as not being either a tech/tools or Magic Quadrant guy.

That combination definitely benefitted the audience, as the following presentation on analytics, data, and information, was application or function agnostic and offered real insight for any team in an organization attempting to harness the power of data for competitive advantage. Not all companies display the same attitude towards information and its potential perhaps because, as Laney pointed out, information is not yet a balance sheet asset.

Posted by on in Blog Picks
No Decision is a Decision

The Northeastern area of the United States has had a very harsh winter with heavy snow and very cold temperatures. Buildings and homes have been in danger of roof collapses due to the weight of the snow. There was a lot of communication about the issue for over a week about protecting your property and prevention activities.

Two schools about 100 miles apart were in danger of the roof collapsing. The official policy is to get three bids to select a contractor. One school followed that procedure and by the time that happened, another storm had occurred and the roof collapsed. The second school knew they did not have time to waste on the bidding process and used volunteers to get the job done.

Obviously no decision became decision. Now there is a much larger, more complex and expensive problem to solve in renovating the school.

In our professions we are often required to make difficult decisions, sometimes stretching the rules for the better good of the company. This article from Great Leadership, 8 Ways to Decisively End Indecision, gives great suggestions.

One that I have used before is “Step back and evaluate the impact of a wrong decision”. In this case, the impact was severe with damage to a public school. Other times, it won’t really matter so that is a good barometer to use.

A second pointer is “Set time bound parameters for making the call”. If you know another storm is coming, make a decision in time to get some of that snow off the roof!!

A great piece of advice I once received was “If you don’t know what to do, do something “. You can always make a course correction but you can’t do anything if you are stuck in park.

What do you utilize to make decisions? Have you found some things more effective than others?

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

Webinar Notes: Collaborative Contract Management: Procurement’s Role in Enhancing Compliance and Mitigating Risk

This week’s webinar notes are from a February 18th event presented by Selectica and featuring Ardent Partners‘ Andrew Bartolini. The event is available on demand on Selectica’s site.

Posted by on in Blog Picks
Strategic Sourcing in Higher Education

Everyone knows that cost of college education is escalating and becoming quite a burden for families and students. Determining how to get that piece of parchment can be an economic challenge that many are finding it difficult to achieve.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to speak with someone in the procurement area at a large university. They were putting a strategic sourcing team together and implementing the supporting technology. It was refreshing to hear that the goal was to reduce overall costs and try to mitigate some of the tuition increases for students.

When I did a search on “strategic sourcing in universities “, it was encouraging to see how many had teams and processes in place. For example, Boston University has posted almost $6M in savings since 2012. They have information publicly available on who are the current suppliers, what are the procedures used in procurement and who to contact on their procurement team.

The blog this week is from Strategic Sourceror, “How are Universities using Spend Management Assets”. It begins by acknowledging the challenges faced by the colleges and universities and then reviews some of the areas benefiting them and the students through spend management.

The article highlights the importance of putting a process in place that can be used across the disciplines and departments whether it is for meal planning, housing, or the research labs. There is also the use of technology to support the process. Many of the universities have SciQuest to fill that requirement.

Do you have any exposure to procurement in the educational field, either as a student, employee or suppler? What have you found for trends in this area? How does it apply to other businesses you are involved with?

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

Webinar Notes: Driving Excellence - Global Auction Trends & Best Practices

This week’s webinar notes are from a February 18th event presented by Scanmarket. The event is available on demand (click here).

It has been a long time since I attended an event that even mentioned auctions. Trends in procurement today are so focused on collaboration and value creation that talking about straight leveraged price reductions seems somewhat gauche by comparison. But the fact remains that auctions are a valid negotiation method for a number of spend categories and competitive markets.

Posted by on in Blog Picks
Global warming and your supply chain

I think my neighborhood is beginning to look like this! The Boston area has had two blizzards and two major snow storms in 3 weeks. The snow accumulation is record breaking and reached over 100 inches (254 cm). That was followed by high winds and bitter cold. And we still have a lot of winter to go.

Weather like this causes all kinds of delays in the supply chain. Flights are cancelled, businesses are closed, and governors declare states of emergencies. There was a multi-car accident that included a FedEx truck and packages ended up all over the roadway. Not sure if those will get to their final destination!

Some people are commenting that global warming is not happening. However, this is exactly what global warming looks like. Since the oceans are warmer, there is more moisture available to become snow with cold temperatures. This article from Climate Central, What A Warming World Means for Major Snowstorms explains in layman’s terms what we are experiencing. It also discusses that once the land temperature gets warmer, the snow will become more rain which will cause different issues. Even now, coastal flooding is a more significant threat as the ocean levels continue to rise.

As a procurement professional, events like these can wreak havoc as you plan your deliveries and production lines. This blog, written by Jim Fulcher, Blizzards, forecasting and the supply chain is only a few weeks old and discusses the disruption in New York City for the first blizzard. Little did he know this was just beginning!

What is your company doing about supply chain delays due to global warming? What is your company doing to reduce those risks and also reduce your own carbon footprint? Have you thought about a new pet?polar bear

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

Webinar Notes: ePayments: Big Trends & Predictions for 2015

This week’s webinar notes are from a February 12th event hosted by Bottomline Technologies and presented by Andrew Bartolini of Ardent Partners. Once it is available on demand (assuming it will be) it should be listed on Bottomline’s website.

Posted by on in Blog Picks
A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned

One summer, I saved up all my earnings in order to buy a special bike. It was something I had wanted for a very long time and meant that most of that summer, I focused on the prize and did not spend anything without serious consideration of the consequences. I have taken very good care of that bike and still have it many years later. Certainly I was saving every earned penny!

Predictive Analytics in Procurement: The Logic Behind The Hype

Wouldn’t it be nice to know the future for certain? There are few fail-proof ways to see shifts in the business landscape before they occur, but there are ways to ensure your goals stay on the correct path regardless of what direction the future takes. Procurement departments, for instance, have objectives that require analysis of factors beyond historic trends—considerations like supply market volatility, supply chain disruption, regulatory changes, and a whole slew of other unpredictable situations. Unless corporations start adding fortune tellers to the payroll, successful procurement groups will continue to optimize their function from the insight gained through predictive analytics.

Webinar Notes: Securing the Future of Procurement

This week’s webinar notes are from a February 4th event hosted by Zycus and presented by Peter Smith (Spend Matters EU/UK) and Richard Waugh (Zycus). Once it is available on demand (assuming it will be) it should be listed on Zycus' website.

Keelvar’s Ability to Handle Complexity Based on Clarity and Simplicity of Purpose

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Alan Holland, CEO of Keelvar. Based in Ireland, this relatively small company reminds me of the way CombineNet used to fit into the overall solution space – before they were acquired by SciQuest that is. CombineNet was never intended to be the solution that addressed 80-90% of categories, but rather to be high performance enough to handle the requirements and scale of the largest or most complex 10-20%. But I think, to be fair to both companies, that is where the comparison must end.

Holland and I spoke about the Keelvar solution, not in terms of the number of line items it can handle, or the combined data points it can analyze as a result of the umpteen suppliers, items, and bid fields of a large event. We mostly talked about how it might change the way procurement thinks about optimization. After all, there are many more opportunities than just freight or location-based retail that would benefit.

I am Late, I am Late, For a Very Important Date

Alice in Wonderland is a classic story, written in 1865. The Rabbit is very late and is in a hurry, as seen in this short video.  Similar to the rabbit, some individuals are chronically late. Others seem to have an internal clock and they just know how long things take and walk in the door at the exact moment, or even a few minutes early. It can be frustrating when two opposites are working together, or living together.

An Unplugged Conversation with the Authors of Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals

Last month, my co-author Jeanette and I had a conference call scheduled with Jon Hansen for an introductory conversation about our book, Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals (shameless plug here). For some reason, Jon’s Canadian location prevented him from using my conference call account and we ended up in the virtual green room of his Blog Talk Radio studio. What that means is that, for better or worse, the call was recorded. (You can listen to it here.)

Webinar Notes: 5 Unexpected Benefits from Your Source-to-Pay Solution

This week’s webinar notes are from a January 28th event run by Ivalua and presented by Corey Roberts, Project Director at CACI International, and Michael Lamoureux of Sourcing Innovation. The full replay is already available on demand after a quick registration on Ivalua’s site.

Dealing with Supply Chain Peaks and Valleys

Online shopping was made for me. I do not like anything about traditional shopping (the time, the money, the effort). Therefore, online shopping is a dream: with just a few clicks, it is done! The delivery method is often by UPS and occasionally FedEx. That is how I did 90% of my holiday shopping this past year. I was in heaven!

CPP’s Purchasing Assessment Does a Difficult Thing Well

Purchasing Assessments, a new offering from Purchasing Practice, is a procurement skills assessment for procurement professionals and organizations with a strategic focus.

While many assessments just measure a practitioner’s familiarity with tactics, this assessment was designed to measure strategic strengths and weaknesses across a broad range of capability areas. That is what is so difficult about what the assessment intends to do – it takes a set of context sensitive subjective capabilities and puts standards in place that make it possible to differentiate a right response from a wrong response. And while the assessment isn’t perfect, because no assessment of this type ever could be, it comes really close and will only get better as more organizations and individuals take it.

Webinar Notes: Big Data, Big Impact on Procurement

This week’s webinar notes are from a January 13th event run by ISM and presented by IBM. It is available on demand on ISM’s website. The presenter was Steve Peterson from the IBM Institute for Business Value, and he spoke about the findings of their 2014 CPO Study, the results of which were released by IBM in December. The focus of the study was on procurement role models – or leaders – and what they are doing differently than the rest of the pack. There were three ideas that appealed to me as new ‘angles’ on familiar problems presented in this event.

Tagged in: Big Data CPO IBM ISM Webinars
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