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  • Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 10/5 – 10/9: Getting out ahead of challenges and opportunities

      Unlock Working Capital with Predictive Analytics ( October 6, 2pm EDT I’ve long believed that mastering analytics skills and systems are the key for procurement moving forward – especially when predictive analytics is the goal. This webinar combines analytics with the objectives of CFOs to allow them to better manage cash flows and inventory management by studying the inflows and outflows of payments and receivables. Since procurement is in the position to estimate demand and put contracts (with payment terms) in place, we have a strategic role to play if predictive analytics catches on in Finance. According to Aberdeen Group research that will be explored during the webinar, best in class finance organizations are 78% more likely to implement predictive analytics.   What Procurement Doesn’t Know About Accounts Payable (and May be Afraid to Ask) (SAP/Ariba, SIG) October 6, 2pm EDT In another Finance related topic, Ariba takes on accounts payable from procur ...

    by Kelly Barner
    Monday, 05 October 2015
  • Lessons from the Ultramarathon Trail to Prepare for the Category Management Journey

    Hopefully that sets the stage for just how challenging it can be to put an effective category management program in place. Of course, it just easily proves that you can do anything you set your mind to – and more importantly – that you plan and train for. One of the comments offered almost as an aside in the webinar is the notion that Denali has made significant investments in their category management capabilities and training offerings because it is one of the questions they frequently field from CPOs. If I were still a practitioner, that fact would be enough to make me sit up and take notice. I would also fight to be part of any program to roll-out category management, whether purely internal or involving third party support. The main bridge between category management as a theory and category management in practice seems to be having a plan. Since it is often not a well defined concept, organizations have difficulty getting their category management efforts off the ground. Acco ...

    by Kelly Barner
    Friday, 02 October 2015
  • Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 9/28–10/2: Unique Perspectives on Familiar Topics

      What Your P2P Vital Signs Are Telling You (Hackett Group, Zycus) September 29, 2pm EDT In this event, Hackett Group and Zycus have taken a cool concept – the biometrics information we gain access to through wearable technology such as the iWatch – and applied it to procurement’s performance metrics. The best take away is that while we likely compare our performance on KPIs against market leaders and overall best practices, the most important improvement to show is over the baseline. Calculating a solid baseline can be just as hard as generating the results themselves, as we often see in sourcing projects. This webinar will provide an in-depth look at an exhaustive list of 50+ metrics and ways to excel against them.   Margin, Risk, and Prices, Oh My! Price Optimization: How Best-in-Class Sales Organizations Win (Aberdeen) October 1, 1pm EDT I have a soft spot (and a strong curiosity) for sales events, and the combination of margin and optimization makes this an easy ...

    by Kelly Barner
    Monday, 28 September 2015
  • Guest Post on the Social Contracting Blog: P is for Procurement... except when it isn't

    It used to be that every company had buyers; they were the people managing contracts and placing supply orders. Then strategic sourcing was introduced and dedicated buyers suddenly became a thing of the past, especially as eProcurement systems allowed supplies to be ordered by approved users through online catalogs. Being able to provide people in the organization with a convenient way to buy the right items from approved suppliers at contracted prices was a huge improvement. It also reinforced the notion that procurement could be managed more effectively through technology. If more is more, then getting the entire procurement process into a closed loop must be the ideal. This led to a desire for solutions that could handle full end-to-end integration. This vision connected spend analysis to sourcing to contracts to eProcurement through to Accounts Payable and back to spend analysis again. Now that P2P systems—meaning either purchase to pay or procure to pay—are more common, organi ...

    by Kelly Barner
    Thursday, 24 September 2015
  • Would Sales Describe Your Procurement Approach as ‘Peter Price’ or ‘Valerie Value’?

    There are a couple of Epstein’s points that are worthy of further consideration. One is the temptation many sales people feel to go around the rules set out by procurement on behalf of the organization. A standard part of any sourcing process is to make clear that going around procurement in any capacity once the process begins is grounds for elimination. Epstein makes the valid point that if you know your value proposition is not being heard because your procurement representative is a Peter Price – in other words a tactical buyer – what do you have to lose? You aren’t going to get selected by going through the front door, so you might as well venture a pass at the back. More important, and harder to address, is the case of the value that has not yet been identified or earmarked for sourcing by procurement. As the interviewer asked, and as Epstein logically pointed out, if the organization has not yet defined a need, they won’t have assigned procurement to the spend (because it doe ...

    by Kelly Barner
    Tuesday, 22 September 2015
  • Book Review: Category Management in Purchasing (3rd Edition)

    Far from this 3rd being a simple re-run of the same old information, O’Brien has added some significant sections to the book that make it relevant for a larger audience. A considerable new section is dedicated to governance via the 5 P’s of people, proficiency, promote, payoff, and programme. Part of how the governance model plays out organizationally is through a steering committee that reports to the C-suite and facilitates all category management projects in the organization. O’Brien also specifically addresses category management for small and medium sized enterprises, making the point that while they may not be able to achieve the same level of leverage and scalability through category management that larger companies can, there is still significant opportunity for improvement. Like anything O’Brien has published, the case studies and visuals are key. Of particular value are the detailed competency charts for those in category management positions. In addition to the new are ...

    by Kelly Barner
    Wednesday, 05 August 2015
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“When you are open to share what you know with other people, good things will happen for you.” –Soheila Lunney

Throughout the month of May, Buyers Meeting Point is covering ‘The Procurement Game Plan’ through a series of interviews with Charles Dominick and Soheila Lunney – both about our questions in response to the book and the trends they observe in supply management as a whole. Our original intent was to interview them about the book, but as we got further into conversation, we found that it was impossible to separate the content of The Procurement Game Plan from their ‘day jobs’. This book is not a retrospective look back or an encapsulation of their careers, but a snapshot from two very dynamic contributors to the procurement community. I highly recommend it as an addition to your professional library.

Our review of the book is available, and this week we’ll share the second half of our interview with Soheila Lunney. You can also read the first half of our interview, or a Q&A with both authors.

SLunneyIn addition to being an author, Soheila is president of the Lunney Advisory Group, a provider of coaching and mentoring for procurement professionals in various industries to improve their processes and practices, to significantly reduce the cost of acquiring products and services, and to contribute to the bottom line profitability of their organizations.

Buyers Meeting Point: Risk management is an area where many supply management teams are seeing increased attention and responsibility. Is risk management (or assessment) a specialized skill set or is it something that any well trained procurement professional can learn with the right tools and processes?

Soheila Lunney: Any well-trained procurement professional can assess risks and take the necessary steps to mitigate them.  Additionally, procurement professionals need to team up with their counterparts in other functions such as Finance, Taxes, Treasury, Legal, … to address risk management. Procurement professionals often forget about their internal resources!

BMP: Obviously, procurement understands the rationale behind preserving their role as the gate-keeper to the organization, putting themselves between business users/stakeholders and suppliers. If a supplier sees procurement as more of a wall rather than a gate, they may be willing to bypass procurement in pursuit of a sale. Do you have any recommendations for getting (and keeping) internal stakeholders on board?

Soheila Lunney: Educating the stakeholders is the key.  Members of sales force are trained on “back door selling” concept.  This is a practice that hurts the buying organization if the end-users/stakeholders are not educated.  Procurement professionals need to raise awareness and educate their counterparts in various functions about this practice and the harms that it brings to the organization.  Speaking with one voice should be the motto of every employee.

BMP: With regard to consciously developing relationships in the organization to increase respect, much thought has been given recently to the need for better dynamics between procurement and finance. What other less covered functions benefit from procurement making an active relationship investment in?

Soheila Lunney: Legal dept, Taxes, Engineering, Treasury, HR, ………..

BMP: You have mentioned that procurement often forgets to leverage internal resources. Can you give us an example or illustration?

Soheila Lunney: This is a lesson that many procurement groups learn the hard way; they put a contract in place for the organization that represents good savings but still get criticized by of other stakeholders such as the controller. Usually the cause of this is bringing stakeholders into the process late or not at all. For example: one Lunney Advisory Group client negotiated a new contract for copiers. They negotiated savings for the organization but did not bring finance into the loop until after the contract was signed. When finance finally got involved, they questioned not only the cost analysis but also the negotiated results. Further consideration revealed that the contract offered a short-term impact but created longer-term issues. 

Procurement should try to address all projects in a cross functional manner from the earliest stages so other departments can provide input and have the opportunity to ask questions and provide solutions. As a result, the final contract will be accepted by larger part of organization, positively impacting implementation and compliance. Even when stakeholders in other departments are not interested in taking an active role in an ongoing project, it is important to keep communicating so they stay in the loop.

When I am working with a company, I always ask for other departments to be included in discussions. It is important to see the interaction between procurement and other departments in order to understand the culture of the company. If it is evident that they don’t get along, then a lot of additional work needs to be done. It is important for companies to act as one and speak with one voice in order to realize the full benefit. This requires not only top down communication and support, but also training for anyone who will come into contact with suppliers. This extends beyond the sourcing teams to top level management, administrative assistants, and even building security personnel.

On May 31st we will finish up our series on ‘The Procurement Game Plan’ with our interview of Charles Dominick.


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