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"The Point" is written by BMP Editor Kelly Barner as well as a diverse group of guest contributors.

Guest Post on Design News: Should Approved Vendor Lists Be More in Line with Design Cycles?

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.

CLICK HERE TO READ THIS POST ON DESIGN NEWS

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.

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Three Things ‘Rock Star’ CPOs Know About Procurement Influence

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.

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Procurement Perspectives Podcast: Where should procurement report?

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.

You can hear the full podcast on Blog Talk Radio or on Sound Cloud.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the CEO Pay Ratio

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?

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Procurement Perspectives Podcast: Panel Discussion on The Politics of Procurement

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.

The full video – Procurement for the 21st Century - is available on their YouTube channel. You can listen to the podcast on Blog Talk Radio or on our Sound Cloud page.

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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.

You can listen to the podcast on the PI Window on Business Blog Talk Radio channel or on our Sound Cloud page.

 

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Guest Post on Procurement Insights: Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day, and Neither Was its Supply Chain

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.

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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.

 

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Guest Post on Design News: Your Supplier is Not Your Friend

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.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON DESIGN NEWS

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Keeping Procurement Moving at the Speed of Modern Communications

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.

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Guest Post on the Social Contracting Blog: Contract Management: Yours, Mine, and Ours

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.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON THE SOCIAL CONTRACTING BLOG

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Guest Post on the Ivalua Blog: Can Technology Cure Procurement’s Budget Blues?

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.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON THE IVALUA BLOG

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Which sequence best represents your buying process?

Professors Michelle Steward and Jim Narus at Wake Forest University in North Carolina are learning about the B2B buying process. In particular, they are interested in the buying process that you find fits your current job. Please select one of the six models (below) that best fits your buying process. Feel free to note any differences or customized aspects if what you see does not match your job exactly. The collective findings from the study will be used for academic journal articles that are aimed at explaining how the buying process has changed over time. All participants will be sent a copy of the final paper. No names (personal nor company) will be used in the publication, only general findings will be reported.

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Procurement as a ‘Worldly’ Profession: What are your news habits?

In May I covered the first chapter of Xchanging’s 2015 Global Procurement Study. (You can read my notes here). The primary take aways were that capacity is more of a constraint than capabilities, KPIs are very diverse, and that practitioners may be getting the wrong idea about the field from media coverage that steers them one way when they need to take another.

The new chapter: External Threats Plaguing Procurement (available for download here after a brief registration) looks into global risk factors. The report couldn’t have been more timely, given how much coverage the Greek banking crisis has been getting.

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Guest Post on the Social Contracting Blog: Is there “Tough Love” Embedded in Your Budget Process?

It is the worst question Procurement ever faces. C'mon – you know what question I'm talking about. That horrible, terrible question from Finance for which there is no good answer…

If Procurement worked so hard and saved all of this money, WHERE IS IT?

Ugh.

The problem is that the space between negotiated and realized savings is full of pitfalls: unexpected requirements, inaccurate demand, and budget holders who see an opportunity to unofficially reallocate savings elsewhere. Even when additional value is created, many times by the end of the year the savings have all but evaporated.

This is a problem that has to be handled by the top level of the organization. If the strategic vision of the leadership team requires that all uncommitted funds be returned to a central account, they have to be willing to support Procurement by issuing a mandate. Declaring that all funds saved by Procurement are to be removed from line of business budgets is a tough love decision. But all that really matters is whether or not it is the right decision for the company as a whole.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON THE SOCIAL CONTRACTING BLOG

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Procurement Perspectives Podcast: Hear from the 30 Under 30 Supply Chain Stars

This week our audio comes from the ThomasNet and ISM 30 Under 30 Supply Chain Rising Stars program. They hosted a panel-style interview and discussion with some of the 2014 award recipients at this year’s ISM conference. The full hour-long conversation is available on Sound Cloud if you want to hear it.

The podcast starts with each of the participating recipients and program mentors introducing themselves and then moves on to a press-conference style question and answer session with some of the most recognizable names in procurement media – including the Hackett Group, Manufacturing Talk Radio, and Spend Matters.

The excerpt I selected to share starts with a question from Supply Chain Management Review’s Editorial Director, Bob Trebilcock, as he asks how these rising stars ended up in supply chain.

You can listen to the podcast on the PI Window on Business Blog Talk Radio channel or on our Sound Cloud page.

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Guest Post on Design News: Understanding the Differences between Strategic Sourcing Goals, Objectives, and Requirements

Early in the course of a product design and manufacturing organization’s strategic sourcing project it is common to have a kickoff meeting that includes the engineering team. It is the opportunity for the sourcing project team to lay the groundwork for the rest of the effort. One of the most critical discussions that should be a part of the kickoff is around the goals, objectives, and requirements for the project.

This is an effort to be taken seriously by both procurement, which should facilitate the discussion, and engineering, which provides critical inputs. Unlike a mission statement, which is often dismissed as being an overly soft (and largely meaningless) feel-good expression of early-stage enthusiasm, goals, objectives, and requirements are tools that will be used actively in the sourcing project once it reaches the decision-making stage.

When I worked as a consultant at a procurement solutions provider, I held workshops on kickoffs for the procurement teams I coached, as part of their project management skills development. There are two tricky lessons to be learned about goals, objectives, and requirements: how to formulate them and how to tell in which category an idea belongs.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON DESIGN NEWS

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Trans Fats Replacements: A Moment on the Lips, a Lifetime in the Sourcing Pipeline

On Tuesday, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that by 2018 all partially hydrogenated oils (the primary source of trans fats in the American diet) must be phased out of the food supply chain. The many costs associated with this change will give procurement an opportunity to have a positive impact at a time of transition. When you add up the costs of experimenting with replacement oils and reprinting/redesigning packaging and labels, Roger Clemens, a pharmacology professor at USC, estimates it could cost companies as much as $200K per product.[1]

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Guest Post on the Ivalua Blog: Looking at Procurement's Assets with Fresh Eyes

Sometimes the best ideas are right in front of us. This can be evident when you look at a situation with fresh eyes, much like what the United States Postal Service recently did.

The USPS is a large organization facing unprecedented changes that are challenging long-held assumptions about how to operate efficiently and effectively. Ideas to improve their declining financial situation were mostly variations on past strategies: closing branches, stopping Saturdaydelivery or raising prices. Not surprisingly, those approaches did little to improve the situation.

But the tide may be about to change. On May 21, the Inspector General of the USPS issued a report with some bold new ideas such as exploring ways to better leverage an under-appreciated asset: their national network of localized offices. Rather than pursue tired old approaches, they are exploring ways to increase the financial services they offer and create new revenue streams without making significant additional investments into infrastructure or personnel.

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Guest Post on the Social Contracting Blog: Whole Foods Markets Shifts Their Cost Model as They Target Millennial Shoppers

In March, I wrote a post for this blog about the Whole Foods grocery chain in which I asked the question: "How Much Can Procurement Change on Their Own?" I looked at how Whole Foods has defied the low margins commonly seen in grocery retail by employing an operational strategy that merges brand reputation, consumer identity, and high-quality products in justification of higher prices. Their procurement team is part of a top to bottom approach to creating the right value proposition for their customers.

Although they have been successful to this point, Whole Foods has found it difficult to expand their market share beyond their existing customer base. Whole Foods has never professed to be the supermarket for all shoppers, or even for most shoppers. They choose their markets carefully, making sure that the demographics in each area fit their business model. They do, however, need to find a way to build loyalty in other shopper segments that can later be channeled into the primary chain.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON SELECTICA'S SOCIAL CONTRACTING BLOG

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