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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For every action there is a reaction. We learned that in a high school science class. We have been talking about the buyer side of supply chain finance. Obviously what they do, impacts their suppliers, and vice versa.

 

Alibaba launched on the NYSE Friday which was a much anticipated event. They hope to be larger than Amazon and eBay combined. It is quite a story about an English teacher starting this company in 1999 from his apartment. Now they employ over 25,000 people.


When you look at Alibaba, they are changing the face of procurement. They offer services around sourcing, supplier research, as well as negotiation and purchasing. The sourcing professional can reach a broader network for their supplier and market place knowledge. It also reveals options from additional geographic regions that may not have been available in the past. The pick of the week is a page from Alibaba's site where they describe all their services that sourcing and procurement professionals can utilize.

They are promoting themselves as a one-stop-shop. You can purchase an individual item or in bulk. It can be used for personal purchasing or B2B commerce. The flexibility of offerings is amazing.

It is the number one mobile app in China and growing throughout the European market. The ease of use and accessibility adds to their success.

As a procurement professional, have you used Alibaba for your market research? How about getting pricing and transacting purchase orders? What has been your experience and has it become a major part of your toolkit?

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

 

 

This week’s event notes are from the September SIG Town Hall Teleconference. In this open mic event, Dawn Evans, SIG’s President and CEO, led a discussion about the metrics procurement can put in place to drive meaningful results from suppliers. These events, held monthly, are open to buy side members. SIG also welcomes first time buy-side non-members so they can experience the open nature of a SIG Town Hall Teleconference. These events are unsponsored and are never recorded in order to encourage open participation. For more information on SIG Town Halls, click here.

Posted by on in Procurement

Spend analysis solutions have long been critical enablers of procurement organizations. Over the last couple of years, however, the term analysis has gradually been replaced by analytics. In order to gather information on this transition, I reached out to Rosslyn Analytics, a company that has operated under the ‘analytics’ label since their founding in 2005, long before it was the prevailing term. I'd like to thank them for their help in putting this post together.

 

Let me begin by giving working definitions for both terms. According to BigDataCraft.com,

 

Analysis is the examination process itself where analytics is the supporting technology and associated tools.”

 

One of my father’s favorite sayings was “Less Jaw work and more Paw work”. In other words, enough talking, it is time to get moving!

 

There are approximately 80 million people in the United States between the age of 18 and 30, a group known as the millennials. Many believe that millennials bring a unique perspective to business as compared to other generations because of their tech savviness. Technology is one of the biggest drivers for globalization, but it also allows disparate locations to connect and communicate on various topics such as current events, special causes, and marketplace trends. Millennials have already started to drive major changes in the sourcing and procurement industry, such as green purchasing, the push for free and collaborative information, and updated workplace abilities.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. This is a very common phrase often used to describe a ‘change management’ situation. You can give someone all the resources but you can’t make them use them.

 


In procurement, we often have processes and technology to help complete our tasks effectively and efficiently. However, some of the staff may not be utilizing it as best they could to get the most out of it.

With new technology, people fall into four buckets. There are early adopters who wait in line for hours for the next generation of the iPhone. Then there are the early majority who probably get the new phone within the first month or two, the late majority and the laggards who may not even have a smart phone yet. As a procurement professional, your goal is to get your team through this curve quickly and have the organization reaping the benefits of the esourcing technology.

In the Tejari Blog, With best practice tools comes best practice use, they review the reasons that some are lagging behind in adopting the technology and give suggestions on ways to overcome it.

The first one has to do with change management. In many organizations, the staff is quite content doing their work the same way it always has been done. The author recommends gaining some internal ‘experts’ to help all the others understand the benefits and value. Offer a great deal of support so that over time, the new system becomes the ‘comfort zone’.

Another difficulty is when the staff waits until the last minute to load the Rfx into the tool. There is frustration and they give up. The recommendation is to create drafts a week or two before and put them in. Then you can always modify it as the time gets closer.

What have you experienced for obstacles and how did you resolve them? Do you have your 'team of horses' feeling refreshed after having reached the oasis and utilizing the new technology?

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint

Posted by on in Events

This week’s webinar notes are from an August 27th webinar hosted by the Next Level Purchasing Association and featuring Steve Burns from the Maxwell Team. Although only premium members of the NLPA have access to the event on demand, you can hear an exclusive audio excerpt in my September 8th weekly update on Blog Talk Radio.

The focus of the webinar was how to build influence for the purpose of becoming a more effective leader. Since leadership affects so many people, you might expect it to be a collective sort of topic, but it was the exact opposite.

Posted by on in Guest Posts

This is second in a two-part series. Part 1 can be found here.

Purchasing leaders must not only be great at managing the complex functions of their department, but they must also become savvy communicators who know how to demonstrate the strategic value that the department lends to their organization. In a world of competing budgets and the struggle to hang on to resources, knowing how to market your purchasing organization to power stakeholders is a skill that you must have.

As the Saying goes – Try, Try, Again. You learn from what you did wrong, make the necessary adjustments and try again. Of course, learning from others mistakes in the first place is even better and a highly recommended approach.

 

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.

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