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.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that has been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
Categories

Recent posts from this category

Recent posts from this category

  • Featured

    Posted by - 1 Comment

    “Procurement’s role shines particularly when strategic cost management receives the highest priority for many executives.” (p. 197)

     

    Leading Procurement Strategy (Kogan Page, 2014) is a group study of the ‘brave new world’ of procurement. The three primary authors, Carlos Mena, Remko van Hoek, and Martin Christopher (and three guest authors), address an ambitious list of trending procurement and supply chain subjects. Rather than causing problems with voice or style continuity, this large group of contributors makes it possible for the book to cover a wide range of information in depth without losing momentum or focus.

     

    Although the authors have decades of experience in procurement, they are not mired the ways of the past. In fact, they discuss many of the new approaches being considered by procurement (e.g. agility, supplier collaboration, non-savings performance metrics). They also acknowledge the objections procurement is likely to face in response to attempts at evolution and provide methods to constructively overcome them.

     

    According to Martin Christopher, who wrote the chapter on Global Sourcing, procurement can expect an increased emphasis on agility. This translates into a shift in how supplier relationships are built and how contract management strategies are executed. In fact, agility may provide an escape route from the savings trap that confine many procurement organizations. When operational agility is prioritized over cost savings, supplier selection and agreement terms must change. “The guiding principle should be that the best sourcing decisions are those that keep the most options open. There will usually be a price to be paid for these options but that price should be seen as an investment in supply chain flexibility.” (p. 90) In other words, if the entire organization can see (and quantify) the opportunity associated with agility, they will not only request for procurement to change their priorities, they will demand it.

     

    Helping other functions focus on total cost rather than price elevates the perspective of the entire organization and brings the internal implications of supply decisions into greater focus. For instance, procurement may want to start initiatives by demonstrating the relative costs associated with non-flexibility or lost opportunities in research and development or new product introduction. “Strategic cost management should be part of new produce and service design, so that the most cost effective highest-value products and services are introduced in the marketplace.” (p. 104)

     

    If procurement expects to expand the perspective of their internal stakeholders, they must be willing to do the same themselves. More procurement activities should be tied to consumer and market demand. Just as wanting to collaborate with a supplier is not enough to make the effort a success, wanting to bring procurement into closer contact with the consumer side of the business will not make it so. The organization must be open to the idea and positioned to benefit from the resulting changes.

     

    In my opinion, the best quote from the book is a definition of complexity, found in the chapter on Supply Chain Risk Management:

    “‘Complexity’ describes a condition of inter-connectedness and interdependencies across a network where a change in one element can have an effect on other elements – often in unforeseen ways.” (p. 134)

     

    The role of complexity, and procurement’s ability to make positive contributions to how the organization handles it, will be a primary driver of how much access procurement will be given to customers and whether or not it therefore makes sense to take a less cost reduction focused approach.

  • Posted by - 0 Comments

    Supplier Relationship Management (Kogan Page, available Oct. 28, 2014) is the third book I have reviewed by Jonathan O’Brien, a Director and co-owner of Positive Purchasing with over 20 years experience in purchasing. As we have come to expect of O’Brien’s work, this book provides an extensive look at the metrics, relationships, and change management considerations associated with supply base collaboration.

     

    It is true that supplier relationships, innovation, and collaboration are among the topics du jour in procurement, but O’Brien proves himself well versed in the associated opportunities and challenges.

  • Posted by - 0 Comments

    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.

  • Posted by - 0 Comments

    “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!)

     

  • Posted by - 0 Comments

     

    Supply Chain Risk, by John Manners-Bell, provides a structured look at risk by establishing a series of intersecting dimensions. First the author outlines external risk categories: Environmental, Economic, Societal, Security, and Technological. Each has several sub categories that provide additional detail and clarity. Then he delves into a number of industry sectors to consider their resiliency factors and concerns: Automotive, High tech, Consumer goods/retail, Food, Fashion, and Pharma/healthcare.

    The coverage from both perspectives is equally detailed and illustrated with numerous case studies. In their intersection, for instance where Economic risks intersect with the Automotive industry, any supply chain professional will find the information they need to quickly come up to speed on key areas of concern as well as strategies for assessment and mitigation.

     

  • Show all entries from Book Reviews

Recent posts from this category

  • Posted by - 0 Comments

    “The skills for becoming a champion caliber negotiator are acquired skills. Nobody is born with great negotiating skills. You are born with the skills of crying and breathing, all other skills you acquire throughout your life.” – Soheila Lunney

     

  • Posted by - 0 Comments

    “The skills for becoming a champion caliber negotiator are acquired skills. Nobody is born with great negotiating skills. You are born with the skills of crying and breathing, all other skills you acquire throughout your life.” – Soheila Lunney

     

  • Posted by - 0 Comments

    Good old Kenny Rogers, he gave us some great advice through the lyrics of the ‘The Gambler’: advice that stands true beyond the gaming table. Sometimes the best advice comes from the least expected place, and I have some advice for procurement professionals – from sales(*).

    Every week, I take a break from supply management topics to learn about sales through webinars, white papers and blogs. Officially, I do it for ‘The Flip Side’, a Buyers Meeting Point resource that helps procurement professionals better understand their sales counterparts. Unofficially, I do it because creativity and objectivity can be elusive, and listening to sales’ perspective helps.

    This perspective has changed the way I see the role of the individual procurement professional, the role of the department, and how we should leverage non-traditional approaches in search of better than usual results.

    We are all in sales.

    I used to see sales people as professionals compensated for closing deals. But contracts are a side effect of an effective sales process. The core of the sales process is quickly and accurately diagnosing opportunities for improvement and then winning over prospects to the recommended solution.

    Procurement does this all the time – or at least we should. We ‘sell’ finance on a new opportunity to drive efficiency. We ‘sell’ the executive team on the strategic advantage we represent as an in-house dedicated function. We ‘sell’ internal stakeholders on the merits of a new supplier or a standardized specification that will save money.

    The key is to be a quick study, sometimes adapting mid-meeting, in response to organizational requirements. We must prove we understand the challenges at hand, sometimes to colleagues that don’t have a clear perspective themselves. Once you accurately articulate a problem, brainstorming can begin on solutions to be ‘sold’ to internal customers.

    Sales people believe buyers have the advantage.

    I benefit the most from the Q&A that takes place during sales webinars. What do sales people really think of procurement? What kind of advice do they get from their mentors?

    I’ll over-generalize to make a point: sales people see procurement professionals as a steely cold bunch. (One webinar participant commented that procurement conference rooms and offices are the coldest places on earth…) Our poker faces have apparently done the trick, because many sales people would like to check our backs for control panels to make sure we are human.

    Sales believes procurement holds all the cards in the negotiation process. I have heard our advantages repeated multiple times from different sources: “Procurement already has access to so much information that we struggle to appear well-informed about our own market.” “We can’t enter the sales/buying process until they decide it is time for us to start participating.” “Procurement is so active in their use of social networking during the purchasing process that we are outpaced by our customers.”

    Sales can compete on value creation.

    We know that negotiating cost savings is no longer enough. We need to create value for the organization. We hear it from executives, associations, publications, and thought-leaders. Knowing how to get started is a challenge because every situation and opportunity is different.

    Successful sales organizations evolved in response to the need for value creation a long time ago. With strategic sourcing came apples to apples comparisons on price alone. Suppliers couldn’t refuse to provide pricing, so they tried to influence the decision-making process by proving themselves of such value that they broke the mold.

    The time has come to recognize supplier innovation. The increased focus on value by our corporate leadership, and the ability of sales to speak their language, will either open a door for procurement or clear a path right past us. If a sales person sees an opportunity to bypass procurement and reach the right execs, they will take it. Capturing value does not mean surrendering in the battle over price, just balancing costs and benefits. In that scenario, I want to be the one holding the scale.

    Looking back and ahead.

    The big-picture realization from my year of visits to The Flip Side is that the procurement/sales relationship is not about us v. them but about all of us. They feel the same stresses we do, and often see us in the driver’s seat when we think they are driving. They aren’t terrible people (mostly) any more than we are bloodless cost reduction zombies.

    We can’t fully collaborate with sales in every category, but when the conditions are right, partnering with a supplier is the only way to a better solution. It goes against most of what we know about creating competition and harnessing the forces of the market, but recognizing opportunities for collaboration can be the difference between tactical and strategic category management. After all, ‘Every hand’s a winner, and every hand’s a loser … the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.’

    (*) Note: This post originally appeared as a guest post by Kelly Barner on Procurement Inisghts.

  • Posted by - 0 Comments

    If you watched Peter Faulk play the character Lieutenant Columbo in the thirty years ‘Columbo’ was on television, you undoubtedly saw him break a case by turning back at the last moment and asking, “Just one more thing…”, a question which always ended up breaking the case.

    Maybe procurement need to stop and ask another question or two as well. In a recent blog post, ‘What Questions Should Your Clients be Asking’, sales blogger S. Anthony Iannarino talked about the challenges sales people face when they are not able to communicate the value of their solution because the buyers they work with are not asking the right questions. His advice provides some techniques for redirecting the conversation or asking the missing questions so that the necessary information gets across.

    While we want to have a complete picture of each solution so that we can accurately compare our options, we’ve all made the mistake of asking questions that are so open ended that sales people talk ad nauseam about something we can't compare across the suppliers in contention. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t pieces of information we are missing out on.

    Buyers Meeting Point’s long time advisor The Sales Guy has always advocated asking sales people something about their compensation package or their company's business development priorities so those factors can be brought into a thorough evaluation. What else should we ask?

    Here are a few questions that The Sales Guy suggests working into your face-to face supplier meetings. Some are relevant for incumbents and some for new companies you are evaluating, but all of them will allow you to put together a better category management strategy and contract.

    1. “If you are selling to my competitors what products and services are they buying more of and what is the value provided?”  “What are they buying less of?”
    2. “We are spending $XXXK dollars with your company on an annual basis.  If I was to spend that same amount differently what changes would you recommend and why?” 
    3. “What can our companies collaborate on that would help your company bring new products to market and provide competitive advantages for my company?”
    4. “What business model changes is your company introducing and how might they be advantageous to my company?”

     

    If you have a question for The Sales Guy, click here to submit it and we will get you an answer!

  • Posted by - 0 Comments

    “Reverse auctions are loved by corporate purchasing managers, loathed by suppliers, and rarely discussed publicly by anyone involved.”

    – Max Chafkin, Inc. Magazine

  • Show all entries from The Flip Side

Recent posts from this category

Recent posts from this category

Recent posts from this category

Recent posts from this category

Recent posts from this category

  • Featured

    Recently, there was a task that I was to follow up on. I missed it and several months passed. The customer was quite agitated. I contemplated how to respond and repair the situation. I decided the best option was to accept responsibility and sincerely apologize.

  • Featured

    I returned from a 3 day business trip to a day with back to back meetings. It can make anyone dizzy. Does that sound familiar to you? Thankfully, not every day is like that. Sometimes I actually have a full day with no meetings….shhhhh ….don’t tell anyone!

  • For a very long time, procurement has been challenged with keeping costs down, finding a quality product or service at the best possible price. The impact to the bottom line was the critical measurement. And it still is, but there is more we can do!

  •  We are in a small project of replacing our shed which is over 30 years old, had a major patch job about 10 years ago and now it is time to start over. Like any project, it is more involved than you plan. Surrounding the shed on two sides is a lot of brush, saplings and infiltration of the forest bordering our property. Today we ‘pushed back the tundra’ to make room for the bigger, better shed.

     


     In essence, we had a deforestation project on our hands. With that on my mind, I came across this article about sustainable practices on the Supply Management website, Its time for all Businesses to Adopt Zero Deforestation Policies.

    This article discusses that consumers are requiring companies to utilize sustainable practices while providing quality goods at a reasonable price. It suggests that in order to maintain a sustainable consumer base, organizations must adopt sustainable business practices throughout their supply chain. One major practice revolves around zero deforestation. Asia Pulp and Paper is highlighted as one organization that has stopped forest clearance for the last 18 months. That is not an easy task for a paper company.

    This week Cargill announced at the United Nations climate Summit that it would extend their deforestation policies to all product lines. Previously, it was only for the palm oil line that it produces. Now it is for sugar, soy, cattle and cocoa as well. This policy will lead the charge for improving the environment and fighting climate change.

    What has your organization done for sustainable practices? Have you instituted a zero deforestation policy?

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

     

     

     

     

     

  • 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.

     

     

  • Show all entries from Blog Picks

Recent posts from this category

Recent posts from this category

Contact Us

Please provide your feedback by filling out our contact form