I went into my review of Fashion Logistics: Insights into the Fashion Retail Supply Chain by John Fernie and David Grant (Kogan Page, November 2015) with pragmatic acceptance of the fact that it would contain more logistics than fashion. I could not have been more wrong. Far from being a dry, flat examination of the global garment industry, this book is a well rounded representation of an industry that is facing not only challenges but an increasing pace of change. The case studies and historical context are as indulgent as many of the brands the authors cover.
With the increased pressure to offer viable advantages over their competition, telecom giants like AT&T and Verizon have recently placed greater emphasis on how well equipped their networks are for the rapid increases in data consumption by consumers. While carriers show promising advances in “future proofing” their networks’ ability to accommodate such changes, it ultimately depends on how well their new network is designed to adapt to the rapidly changing technology available to meet increased demands.
The way we do business is changing rapidly. Workplaces are virtual – with employees working flexibly: at any time, from any location, and using many different devices. In the face of such continuous change, it is important to ask if your network infrastructure truly “futureproof.” Whether your organization is national or global in scale, it is imperative to execute any infrastructure related improvements based on both immediate and future goals.
I recently interviewed Magnus Carlsson, the author of Strategic Sourcing and Category Management: Lessons Learned at IKEA. You can listen to our conversation on demand on BMP Radio.
Although the book centers around the how and why of IKEA’s approach to procurement and supply chain, its content is not limited to large multi-national corporations or companies in the furniture and home goods industries. IKEA is a company that competes on brand and low costs, which makes its approaches to spend and supplier management absolutely critical to its ability to operate.
IKEA has been able to accomplish many things that other companies have not because it is necessary for them to remain competitive. As a result, their team members – and former team members, for the sake of including Carlsson – approach complex and strategic procurement with a striking clarity of purpose. There is no other way for IKEA to work, and therefore there is no reason to resist or bemoan the uphill strategic path.
This post was written by Michael Hinkley, an intern at Source One Management Services. If you are interesting in hearing his perspective on procurement as a career and as a part of the larger business, click here to listen to our conversation on BMP Radio.
Whether you’re preparing for a sourcing engagement or looking to improve supplier relationships, effective forecasting and planning is key to staying ahead of your supply chain and formulating a procurement blueprint. When buyers and sellers aren’t on the same page about expected volumes, usage schedules, and run sizes, both may experience surpluses or shortages. This, in turn, can lead to dire consequences for operational efficiency and the bottom line – yours and your suppliers’. For instance, the over unitization of warehouse space, as a result of a constant excess of inventory, will lead to increased effective unit prices. However, with accurate forecasting and improved supplier communication, you not only optimize your internal processes but allow your suppliers to run a more efficient operation with better turnover rates and proper resource allocation.
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.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Mark Larson, the vice chairman of electronic component distributor Digi-Key Electronics. The company was founded in 1972, and Larson joined only four years later to what is now one of the largest such companies not only in North America but the world. He led the company as president for an astounding 39 years, just recently stepping down in July.
In the four decades during which Larson ran Digi-Key, there was considerable change -- in the electronics being sold, in whom the products were sold to, and in the supply chains the products traveled through. The other thing that has changed is the way Digi-Key interacts with different points of contact at each customer. Although it has always aimed its marketing efforts at design engineers -- and continues to do so -- it has had to adapt to the growing role of centralized procurement in managing purchases.
Since the interactions between engineering and procurement have not always been naturally easy, the insertion of a third party into the electronic component purchasing process has brought some benefits. When looked at from an outsider’s point of view, the two teams may have more in common than they realize.
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.
These notes are based on attending an October 13th webinar hosted by HfS Research. The event can be viewed on demand here.
The panel included two HfS team members (Phil Fersht and Charles Sutherland) and two executives from Cognizant: Robert Hoyle Brown and Matt Smith. I listened to the event end to end twice – once live and once on demand. The topic of automation is fascinating and it was well covered and discussed in this webinar. My challenge was to figure out what this growing trend means for procurement.
Conversation with the Author: Jonathan O'Brien on Why His Revised Editions Add but Don't Remove Information
Jonathan O’Brien, CEO at Positive Purchasing, has written a number of weighty books for procurement and supply chain professionals: Category Management in Purchasing, Negotiating for Purchasing Professionals, and Supplier Relationship Management make up the ‘big three.’ Not only has he written these books, he regularly revises them – I know because I’ve reviewed all of the originals and many of the revisions.
I write all the time (including two books of my own), and yet the sheer volume of content O’Brien has pulled together in these books makes my head spin. In fact, I once asked someone at his publisher Kogan Page if they had him locked in a room somewhere hunched over a laptop.
What that suggests to me, is that there is something about the process of writing, and his relationship to the content, that is important for him as a practitioner and thought leader. Somehow, O’Brien inexplicably maintains a successful consulting practice in addition to his writing habit.
These webinar notes are from an October 8th webinar on ‘Supply Chain Risk Management: How to Turn Worst Practices into Best Practices’ hosted by SIG and presented by Rolf Zimmer and Laura Enny at riskmethods. The webinar can be viewed on demand here.
The event opened with a look at what riskmethods considered to be the top megatrends: globalization, outsourcing, digitization, and climate change. Running through all of these trends is the changing role that suppliers, and therefore the supply chain as a whole, plays in our ability to understand complexity and the elevated risk levels and additional risk types it leads to.
Procurement has a tendency to think of supply chain complexity as improving the flow of goods, services, funds, and information between suppliers or tiers of the supply base. Although this expanded perspective is an improvement over where we have been in the past, it is still too simplistic. As Zimmer pointed out in the webinar, supply chains are not just lines from point A to point B, but complex networked structures where half of all disruptions take place beyond the first tier of the supply base.
These webinar notes are from a September 24th webinar hosted by SIG and presented by Chris Eyerman and Alan Veeck at Denali Sourcing Services. The webinar is available on demand and can be viewed after a quick registration here.
In case you’re wondering, an ultramarathon is an INSANELY challenging combination of long distance running and trail running. Technically, they include any marathon over the traditional 26.2 mile run, but from the sounds of Eyerman’s description, they are also usually off road excursions that can be as long as 100 miles. And he should know – he has run them.
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?
Last week I attended the IACCM/Exari webinar on ‘Converting Your CEO into a Contract Management Champion in 3 Simple Steps.’ I came away with three topics, but they weren’t the ones I was expecting to get. Rather than ways to sell the CEO on contract management, I was surprised by the broad range of connections back to contract management that were offered up by Exari’s Founder and Chief Product Officer Jamie Wodetzki.
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.
These notes are from a September 2nd webinar presented by Alexander Linden, Research Director at Gartner. The event is available on demand and can be viewed here. You don’t have to be a hard core analyst to benefit from this event – the take aways were interesting and applicable to procurement even though it wasn’t a procurement-specific event.
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.
These notes are from an August 25th webinar hosted by Sourcing Industry Group and presented by Zycus. The two speakers were Ian Hinke, Vice President of Sourcing and Vendor Management at PHH Mortgage, and Richard Waugh, Vice President of Corporate Development at Zycus.
This event showcased the results of Zycus’ annual Pulse of Procurement study. This year, the participants included 400 respondents, 80% of which were from large companies (<$500M in annual revenue) in North America (68%). Three quarters of the respondents were in procurement management positions.
Although most of the questions were the standard ones about performance metrics, maturity, and technology adoption, there were some very interesting findings between the lines…
Direct marketing is not a new advertising strategy, but the associated tactics often change with the latest trends and technologies. Direct mail is one tactic under the direct marketing umbrella that has stood the test of time despite the shift to digital in most other areas of the advertising space. This post is the second in a series of two that discusses direct mail as a tactic and the cost drivers that impact the cost of executing one of these programs. You can read part 1 here.
As we described previously, there are four main cost components of a direct mail program: mail lists, creative and design, print and lettershop, and postage. There are different strategies for each of these and managing the costs of some are more complicated than others. Mail lists and postage are the two components that require more than a standard sourcing process in order to identify areas of cost reduction.
Previously, we took an in-depth look at gaining access to mail lists as a cost driver for direct mail campaigns and the strategies that can be executed to manage those costs. This post will take a deep dive into postage as a cost driver and the different postage optimization strategies that can be implemented to reduce costs.
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.