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The Point

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

Recommended Webinars August 27-31: Partnering effectively, Tight labor markets, ROI driven analytics

For being the last ‘official’ week of summer, there are quite a few events listed – including two strong late additions, one from the Economist Intelligence Unit and another from IACCM. I’m not listing the EIU event on Mexico as one of my core recommendations, but I’ve already registered to attend – and for 2 reasons: 1. I’m a news junkie and want to get a business perspective on Andrés Manuel López Obrador (or “AMLO”), Mexico’s new leader, and 2. anyone in supply chain in North America owes it to themselves to understand the implications of such major a political shift.

If you’re planning a little further out, I recommend “Taming the Long Tail - The Strategic Opportunity in Indirect Spend” from SIG and Bonfire on September 13th at 1pm ET. This webinar touches on a theme I’ve been thinking and writing about for a while now, that the path to strategic procurement goes straight through (not away from) our tactical responsibilities.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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How to Maintain Your Seat at the Table (Even if you aren’t there yet)

Procurement organizations often note one pursuit above all else: getting a seat at the table. I think we have coined this phrase more than any other in the procurement space in the last decade. If you’re not familiar with this concept, it is the desire for procurement to been viewed as a valued asset in strategy building and decision making by its customers: the broader organization. Put simply, procurement wants to be heard early and clearly by their internal peers.

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Setting the Foundation: Preparing Spend Data for a Procurement Metrics Program

Metrics are a critical aspect of measuring the success of any business function. The importance of quantifying progress against goals and objectives cannot be overstated. Without a metrics program, underperforming organizations are unable to target functional areas that require improvement, and growing organizations are unable to set goals or scale resources to align with the changing state.

Because procurement organizations are often challenged by stakeholder resistance and a lack of executive-level sponsorship, metrics are key to demonstrating value. Sourcing efficiencies, cost savings, stakeholder satisfaction, and overall procurement ROI are just the starting point for capturing bottom line impact. While these are often viewed as the foundation for a metrics program, the final structure can’t be established without being certain of data quality and availability.

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Confronting Mr. Drucker: Are you getting what you need from your metrics?

Last week I presented a webinar (hosted by Supply Chain Now Radio, APICS Atlanta, and Talent Stream) on Managing Your Metrics: Making Sure Your Metrics Deliver the Desired Results. The webinar is now available on demand, and you can access it here.

The core idea behind my presentation is that metrics – as important as they are – can not be implicitly trusted to achieve an enterprise’s stated objectives. Procurement and supply chain are quantitatively driven functions. Metrics just feel right… which is why we need to be all the more vigilant to be sure we don’t follow a number down a rabbit hole.

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Recommended Procurement Webinars for October 9-13: IT Services and Superseding KPIs

With the Columbus Day holiday (for some) in the U.S. on Monday, this week is a little quieter than last. There are four webinars this week and the rest of the month is already busy – so plan ahead! Click on the title of each recommended webinar below to view the full description and register.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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Recommended Procurement Webinars for July 17-21: Digital Innovation, Private Suppliers, 3 Measurable Goals

After a two-week hiatus (because there have been very few events) our recommendations return this week with three great webinars. Click on the title of each webinar below to view the full description and register.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

 

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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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Perception vs Reality: The Real Root Cause of Procurement’s Challenges (UPDATED)

It’s been a good couple of weeks for research in procurement. Late last week, Proxima Group released their findings around how consumers perceive companies that find themselves entangled in supplier-related controversies. Then on Tuesday, Xchanging shared the first results from research they did with input from over 800 procurement decision-makers spread evently across the U.S., U.K., and mainland Europe.

While the complete research will be released one chapter at a time (starting with the New Role of Procurement), the high level findings suggest that the sources of procurement’s challenges aren’t what we previously thought.

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Book Review: Supply Chain Metrics That Matter

“The best operating strategies and metrics portfolios are built when companies translate business strategy into tactical plans.” (p. 47)

Supply Chain Metrics That Matter (Wiley, 2015) was written by Lora Cecere, founder of Supply Chain Insights and author of the Supply Chain Shaman blog. I am familiar with her work from the many webinars she has spoken on, as well as through the Supply Chain Index developed by her research firm.

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Is Procurement Crate Trained?

“Crate training uses a dog's natural instincts as a den animal. A wild dog's den is his home, a place to sleep, hide from danger, and raise a family. The crate becomes your dog's den, an ideal spot to snooze or take refuge during a thunderstorm.”

Humane Society

 

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Town Hall Notes: Designing a Meaningful Set of Performance Metrics for Every Contract

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.

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Procurement Goals and Objectives for Individual Contributors: You Get What You Measure

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.

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Procurement Goals and Objectives

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.  

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Performance Reviews for Procurement Managers

 

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.  

Get Personal

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.

Practical Tips

  • 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.

 

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Book Review: Sustain Your Gains

Sustain Your Gains, by Michael McCarthy, is ultimately a guide to human behavior in the face of change. Although the initial sections of the book serve as a primer to Lean and Six Sigma methodologies, hints of what is to come in later chapters pull the reader forward to see the application of Process Behavior Maintenance (PBM) in action.

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Are You Elastic Enough to Be a Top Performer?

IBM's Institute for Business Value (IBV) just released the largest, most comprehensive Chief Procurement Officer Study ever conducted, with participation from 1,128 CPOs from organizations with annual revenue in excess of US$1 billion. According to the study, “Companies with high performing procurement organizations have profit margins 15 percent higher than the average company and 22 percent higher than those of companies with lower performing procurement organizations.”

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Webinar Notes: Advancing the Procurement and Finance Partnership -- An Industry Veteran's Insights

This week’s featured webinar was hosted by Sourcing Interests Group and sponsored by Ariba. The ‘industry veteran’ referred to in the title was Lamar Chesney, former EVP and CPO of SunTrust Bank. His four-decade career in finance and supply chain spanned eight industries and eleven companies including Marsh McLennan, Coca-Cola, and Delta Airlines. He was joined by John Lark, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Ariba.

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Identifying Measurable Value when Sourcing

If you’ve read today’s eSourcing Wiki excerpt on Measuring Sourcing Value, then you know the core message is one of expanding scope in capturing the value that strategic sourcing brings to the enterprise.

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Kelly Barner
If you are interested in more on this topic from Puridiom and Ardent Partners, Puridiom is using their blog to share questions tha... Read More
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