Last week I spoke with Donna Wilczek, Coupa’s VP of Strategy and Product Marketing, about the mid-January announcement that Coupa had acquired Contractually, described in the press release as “a cloud innovator based in Vancouver, Canada that helps reduce businesses’ reliance on antiquated processes or inadequate technology tools to version control or redline contracts.”
Earlier this week, I joined Jon Hansen on Blog Talk Radio for the next installment in our series of ‘Point Counterpoint’ discussions. You can listen to it on demand here.
This month our topic was social media and how procurement is – or isn’t – incorporating it in our work. Professionally, I look at the potential of social media in two ways:
Note: This post originally ran on Design News.
There’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room. It’s called Amazon. Yet not everyone sees it as inevitable that the e-commerce and distribution giant will dominate electronic component distribution.
In a recent interview with Tom Galligani, global vice president of supply chain for distributor Future Electronics, I asked for his views on Amazon’s invasion of the B2B space. Given the size and power of Amazon, you might expect distributors like Future Electronics to be prepared to be put out of business, but that is not the case. In fact, Amazon’s entry into the B2B marketplace creates a unique set of opportunities for buyers as well as suppliers or distributors.
Nevertheless, like others in the electronic components distribution industry and beyond, Galligani and his team are keeping a close eye on Jeff Bezos’ $90 billion e-commerce behemoth. Amazon may have gotten its start with an unbeatable B2C experience, but it has made inroads -- both organically and through acquisition -- into the B2B market.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Phillip Ideson, the founder of ProcureChange, a new Procurement-as-a-Service (PaaS) provider. You can listen to the entire interview on BMP Radio.
My first reaction to PaaS – one that I think is quite natural – is concern about what it will mean for today’s procurement practitioners if it catches on. Will we be outsourced the same way we have outsourced so many other formerly in-house capabilities?
As it turns out, however, the news is better than I expected. PaaS, far from being a threat to procurement, may be one way for us to achieve the strategic status we crave.
In September, Procurement Leaders ran an article by Tyler Chamberlain, Coupa’s global head of spend management, on the benefits of getting a solid procurement function established earlier in a company’s growth curve.
As he stated in the article’s title, “If it ain’t broke, don’t wait until it is.” The premise is that making investments in procurement talent and technology before problems arise prevents many problems from ever arising. Supplier records that are managed well from day one never need a massive clean up. Processes that have been in place as long as anyone can remember don’t have to overcome compliance hurdles. Spend that is managed centrally never has the chance to break between direct and indirect.
Perhaps more importantly, and as I had an opportunity to discuss with Chamberlain (click here to hear the conversation on BMP Radio), procurement has control of their internal image from the outset and can build their brand around positive results rather than problem resolution. When we hear Chamberlain’s message from this perspective, all organizations and procurement teams benefit from his recommendations, not just the start-ups.
Click here to read this post on the Social Contracting blog.
The Finance team manages the finances of the enterprise. Marketing people market services and solutions to the purchaser (or customer). Human resources manages… well humans.
Given those examples, you would think that Procurement handled procurement. In an ironic twist, this is becoming less and less true—especially as technology evolves and blurs the line between Procurement as an entity and procurement as a process.
Elliot Epstein, CEO of Salient Communications, has partnered with organizations such as CIPS in the past to help sales and procurement professionals better understand each other. He has also done a series of podcasts on Sales vs Procurement with Paul Rogers – a three decade procurement professional that Epstein describes as the leading procurement coach in Australia.
He talked about the podcast series as well as the sales procurement divide in a YouTube interview titled Dealing with the Rising Power of Procurement.
The sales vs procurement divide has always been an interesting one. Who is really in the power position? How accurate is each side’s understanding of the actions and motives of the other?
Suzuki and Volkswagen have finally completed their ‘divorce’ or the breakup of their 2009 partnership that was supposed to bring market, manufacturing, and technical expertise together for the benefit of both parties. This true story sadly illustrates the dark side of collaborative business relationships – and that is the fallout for all parties if and when they fail.
As sad as the state of the relations between these two companies is today, the partnership started with high expectations on both sides. In 2010, VW purchased a 20% stake in Suzuki, worth approximately $2B US, indicating that this deal was no informal initiative.
Unfortunately, it also started with ulterior – or at least secondary motives – that may have doomed the effort from the outset.
According to joint research done by Design News and Exploration and Insights in 2014, 67% of companies have design cycles of 3-12 months. The remaining 33% of survey participants are almost evenly divided between design cycles requiring longer than a year and those taking less than three months. Regardless of their length, we can be sure all of those teams are looking for ways to shorten them, without sacrificing quality or functionality, so that they can be first to market and get the greater share of customers.
While the need to speed up design cycles is top of mind today, it is not a new initiative. In fact, 20 years ago, Design News published what you might call a “multi-generational design engineering retrospective.” As stated in “Engineering Megatrends,” published on Aug. 28, 1995, “Since the first caveman decided to capitalize on his best idea for a new club, businesses have operated on the principle that the first to get to market owns the market — at least for awhile.” With increased competition from all corners of the globe, and the nearly universal consumer fascination with having the latest, most innovative products, cutting time to market is now a critical element of competitive advantage.”
Despite this pervasive emphasis on “faster, sooner, better,” the same organizations that have multiple design cycles a year only update their approved vendor lists (AVLs) on an annual basis.
Last month I had the opportunity to speak with Dave Bowen, Xchanging’s US Country Manager and CEO of MM4. Xchanging has now released two parts of the research they conducted into procurement and supply chain. You can read my coverage of the first two parts here and here.
This week's guest audio comes from Dustin Mattison. His Future of Supply Chain podcast series offers weekly interviews with leading supply chain thought leaders. The podcasts can be seen on YouTube and his blog is part of the Kinaxis Supply Chain Expert Community.
In this podcast Mattison interviews Julio Franca, a Director at the global, boutique management consulting firm Spin Consulting. The excerpt we are about to hear is the first question of the podcast and in it Franca addresses where procurement should report in the organization relative to supply chain. The full interview can be heard on YouTube.
In August the SEC adopted a measure that will require public companies to publish a CEO pay ratio in their financial statements. The ratio, which compares median worker pay to the CEO’s salary, is a provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank act and it takes effect in January 2017.
Some of the early, albeit unofficial, CEO pay ratios seem to demonstrate an enormous pay disparity between the leadership and workers in a company. In other cases, it calls attention to CEOs with strikingly low compensation for the position they hold. For instance, Apple’s Tim Cook has a CEO pay ratio of 43:1, Ford’s Alan Mulally has a 113:1, and Goodyear’s Richard Kramer has a whopping 323:1 ratio. IBM and Intel have ratios of 25:1 and 30:1 respectively.
Any time procurement is evaluating a publicly traded company, we naturally make use of their financial statements and annual reports, which are valuable sources of information. But is this new ratio relevant to the evaluation of a supplier for financial stability, risk, and collaborative potential? Should procurement take this information into consideration when ranking and selecting suppliers?
This week's guest audio comes from a panel discussion moderated by Code for America. They create open source solutions and facilitate a collaborative community around their use. Code for America also hosts an annual summit that brings together public sector innovators and the organizations that collaborate with them – and that is where this particular recording was made: at a 2014 summit panel on public sector procurement.
In this exchange, the panel responds to an audience question about the politics of procurement and facilitating cross-functional communication for the sake of gaining buy in.
Procurement Perspectives Podcast: Trusting Internal Team Members and What That Should Teach Us About Supplier Partnerships
This week our audio comes from Acquire Procurement Services, a consultancy based in Australia specializing in establishing and re-negotiating contracts across sectors. Their video is titled 'Why do we treat employees and suppliers differently?' and is available on their YouTube channel. In it, they draw a contrast between the information companies share with their employees and how they handle sharing with suppliers who might perform the same or similar functions on their behalf.
Note: This post oritinally ran on the Procurement Insights blog.
“Without a good mental model you won’t survive in business for long.” – M. Hugos, SCM Globe
At the end of 2014, I came across an extremely interesting use of modern supply chain modeling. Michael Hugos, author of Essentials of Supply Chain Management and co-founder of SCM Globe, applied interactive supply chain modeling and simulation to the supply chains of ancient Rome – the olive oil supply chain to be specific.
I’m a history buff, so this was right up my alley, but trust me – it is worth your time to read the three part series. The case study is set in the Roman Empire in 300 A.D. Olive oil is in high demand because it can be used for cooking, light, cosmetics, and healthcare. Its value is second only to gold. Between demand and value, the conditions are right for exporters in the remote corners of the Empire to innovate, and they do not disappoint. Using the Romans’ expertise in water management, they alter the conditions of previously unfarmable terrain and make it both productive and profitable.
Procurement Perspectives Podcast: Procurement Career Development - Is MBA vs. Certification a False Choice?
This week our audio comes from a Financial Times conversation with Ian Clark, Dean of the University of Edinburgh Business School.
The core question behind their conversation is whether MBA programs provide professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to have competitive careers in today’s business environment. The full video is available on YouTube.
You can listen to the podcast on the PI Window on Business Blog Talk Radio channel.
Companies should never confuse a supply relationship with friendship. In fact, part of the role of any good provider is to challenge its clients in a productive way. Many times, companies outsource in order to transfer the majority of risk to suppliers.
In June, Design News hosted a webcast on product lifecycle management presented by team members at Sparton, a firm that handles the both design and manufacturing efforts for low/medium-volume, high-complexity components. Their presentation, “Why Product Lifecycle Management Is an Emerging Trend,” included all of the cost, timing, and supply chain implications of PLM.
During the webcast, Sparton presenters spoke about the importance of building relationships with key suppliers. That emphasis makes sense because, in Sparton’s role as an outsourcing provider to manufacturing companies, the company sees advantages realized with those that they are able to partner with versus those that hold them at arm’s length or push back on project recommendations.
Good suppliers will bring their interests into alignment with those of their clients and make sure that the risks they are being asked to bear do not come back to bite their clients in the end. They understand that there are costs associated with each risk and, in order to service their customers efficiently, suppliers need to help them root out the causes of those risks.
Many thanks to the Market Dojo team for their cooperation and collaboration on this post - proof that they have attention spans longer than goldfish.
Everywhere you look, there is evidence that the pace of the world is picking up. We share our status instantly in 140 characters or less. Meetings are routinely scheduled for 30 minutes rather than an hour. We check email, make phone calls, catch up on the news, etc. while walking from one place to another so we are fully informed when we arrive. Saying, “Oh, I hadn’t seen that yet...” is likely to be received with skeptical looks and rolled eyes.
As an active part of this constantly updating, clipped environment, procurement professionals need to be aware of the general pace of interaction between people and organizations. We have to be both purposeful and accurate if we are going to hold people’s attention long enough to get from them what we need.
In his recent book Global Supply Chain Ecosystems, Mark Millar wrote, "…today's supply chains encompass complex webs of interdependencies, frequently spanning the globe, designed and deployed to optimize critical attributes – such as speed, agility, and resilience – that drive competitive advantage."
His point plays out on a daily basis through the contract management strategies and practices in many organizations. Because our supply chains are no longer linear or consecutive, we may be buying from and selling to the same company at the same time. This puts our organization in the role of being simultaneously both buyer and supplier.
While there is no problem with this, it does raise complexities for the procurement and sales teams if one or the other is unaware of something going on. I can honestly say I have seen this happen firsthand.
Budgets are concrete things, based in fixed numbers. But it’s amazing how much time is spent discussing budgets subjectively. Much like the spend procurement brings under management, finalizing a budget can be managed with the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of the time should be dedicated to discussing 20 percent of the spend. The trick is to discuss the right 20 percent!
Procurement technology can play a bigger role in budgeting than it does today. When spend categorization aligns with projects and line items in a budget, the whole process becomes more fact-based. Past budgets can be compared to actual spending for an improved understanding of where forecasting was the most (or the least) accurate. Projects that never took place will be easier to spot, as will overages by cost center or supply requirement.
Predictable categories of spend shouldn’t be the main focus. Assuming the need was properly anticipated, only minimal changes (if any) are likely to be required from one year to the next. Instead, more benefits come when discussion centers on investment opportunities with upside, or those that carry specific risks.