I recently read an op-ed piece on the Sourcing Journal by Sigi Osagie that stood apart from other procurement perspectives I’ve come across recently. It observed that soft issues — issues based upon the fundamental mindset of employees — are holding businesses back from realizing their full potential. Although procurement practitioners often have a desire to better their effectiveness, they do not always recognize that these soft issues are the answer to their desire for increased influence and prominence. So how can procurement improve in line with existing performance metrics without loosing perspective of the larger organizational perspective?
Along with corporate services, capital procurement is often the last part of the procurement organization to mature.
It’s an opaque category that doesn’t immediately get attention for a number of reasons. It’s usually non-repeatable spend. It’s often decentralized and managed by folks at the site level. It’s sometimes assumed by management that these folks know this technical category best and meddling in their business will cause problems.
Because it’s often the domain of engineering, procurement must sometimes wedge themselves a seat at the capex table.
Sustainability is a word you seem to hear everywhere today, as consumers become more conscious of the environment. As you would expect, sustainability plays a significant role in the food supply chain. As an example, the commercial fishing industry has ramped up their focus on providing a more sustainable product. Sustainable seafood suppliers employ methods that simultaneously reduce bycatch, promote both small and large business distribution, and improve seafood quality. All seafood harvested within the United States is, in fact, sustainable, as the U.S. has developed a comprehensive process to ensure quality as well as monitor and improve the programs fisheries have in place.
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.
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.
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.
Editor's note: on July 24th, I wrote a post 'On Storytelling and Procurement' in response to an executive leadership and communication post by Chip Scholz. Dr. Tom DePaoli, an author and management consultant, offered up some comments based on his own experience that were far too good to leave buried in a comments string. They are as follows:
One of the oldest methods of passing down knowledge is oral storytelling. Usually an ancient sage would be the keeper of the stories and pass them down to other tribe members. I highly recommend this method for supply chain professionals.
Supplier diversity programs have been a hot topic for some time now. While the need for minority-owned and diverse supplier programs at most companies has only recently begun to take shape, the growth has been astronomical. In fact, a study done by CAPS Research states that 71.79% of organizations expect their total supplier diversity program spend to increase greatly within the next two years. ('Measuring Supplier Diversity Program Performance', March 2012)
Even though support for diversity programs has been rising, there is still some hesitancy from businesses to develop them. This reluctance is often due to inaccurate perceptions regarding the value they can offer a company, but these myths are often easy to debunk.
It is often challenging, sometimes nearly impossible, to gain access to real time market intelligence that can provide you with insight into your industry or supplier relationships. Without access to this information or knowledge of best practices, it can be difficult to ensure your company has a competitive advantage. When delving into benchmarks it is important to understand the components of benchmarking, its benefits, and how the involvement of the spend owner is critical for the benchmark to provide the most value.
Editor's Note: On May 1st, Buyers Meeting Point issued an Open Call for predictions about the future of procurement as part of the #FutreBuy project I am working on with Jon Hansen (Procurement Insights, PI Window on the World). We welcome all predictions, either as comments to our posts on the subject, guest submissions, or posts on Twitter flagged with our #FutureBuy hashtag.
This guest post is a team effort from Source One Management Services. If you would like to comment, you can do so by posting below, contacting them on Twitter @GetSavings, or contacting them directly here.
The outlets for procurement and supply chain news have no shortage of recommendations for improved business processes, new ideas, and technologies your department should implement to “modernize” or “optimize” or any number of other “-izes”. If you have read any of Source One’s contributions – here, on other publications, or on our own blog – we make just as many recommendations.
In a recent Buyers Meeting Point guest post Bryan Robinson asked What if the US Government Embraced Strategic Sourcing?
Cynically upon reading the title my first thought was... "Nothing."
The issue isn't FAR and it isn't the people doing the sourcing, like nearly all things it comes down to incentives.
Editor's Note: The application of strategic sourcing and strategic procurement in the public sector have generated a significant amount of discussion from practitioners, thought leaders, and solution providers. If you are interested in reading more about the opportunities that may exist, we recommend Generating Economic Benefit and Growth Through Smarter Public Sector Procurement, a white paper by Colin Cram.
There has been a lot of focus in the past year on Supplier Relationship Management, and rightfully so. As the efforts of Strategic Sourcing initiatives begin producing diminishing returns, SRM is heralded by most to be the next step: focusing more on delivering value to the organization and developing relationships that can produce competitive advantages in the market. However, an SRM policy is only effective if the proper suppliers are in place, which is why it is routinely classified as the next step after strategic sourcing. There is little value in curating and managing relationships with suppliers that are not firmly aligned with your organization’s strategic goals.
This is the last in a series of posts on performance reviews and objective setting for the start of the New Year. Click here to read my recent posts on performance reviews from the manager’s and employee’s perspectives, as well as objective setting for procurement managers.
Are you just joining us? We’re working our way through a series of posts on performance reviews and objective setting for the start of the New Year. Click here to read my recent posts on performance reviews from the manager’s and employee’s perspectives.
If your company works on a calendar year financial close schedule, your Annual Operating Plan (AOP) for 2014 is probably well-developed by now. While these AOP objectives will form a large part of your staff’s goals and objectives, a more comprehensive approach is required for achieving great things in 2014.
Developing and effectively communicating goals and objectives to your staff may be the most crucial thing you can do as a manager.
Just joining us? Last week we looked at performance reviews from a procurement manager’s perspective. This week we are looking at the same topic from the perspective of the person being reviewed.
You will likely have a performance review coming early in the New Year. Some people see performance reviews as “facing the music” while others see them as an opportunity to “toot their horn”. For the sake of your own career, I recommend thinking in terms of the latter.
Review time is an opportunity to display your accomplishments, demonstrate your capabilities, and discuss potential opportunities with your manager. At a higher level, this is also a good time for introspection to honestly access your future with the organization.
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.
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.
- 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.
The following question and response are in the ISM – Purchasing & Supply Chain Professionals group on LinkedIn. If you would like to join either the group or the ongoing discussion, click here.
Click here for part one of this series.
“SciQuest, originally an e-market exchange, went public in 1999 with a $2 billion market cap. Two years later, SciQuest was on the verge of shutting its doors: the gross profit margin was running at 2% and the company was burning $25 million a quarter. With only $50 million in its coffers, this prototype for the dot.com era was on track to run out of cash by year’s end.”
The above excerpt from The American Business Awards 2008 Winners website made considerable references to the areas upon which I touched in my 2005 white paper on SciQuest. Specifically, was the SciQuest value proposition scalable beyond the cottage industry success that enabled it to grow to the point of going public with a $2 billion market cap in the first place?