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  • 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
  • Guest Post on the Ivalua Blog: The Annual Budget Process as a Contact Sport

    If your company closes its books with the calendar year, there is a good chance the budget review process is quickly approaching. With it come the games departments play – and they are not child’s play by any means. The annual Budget Games are at minimum a contact sport, and at their most extreme a blood sport. The rules are timeless and well known: The largest budget carries with it the most influence in the organization. We are expensive, so therefore we are valuable. Requests for increases indicate big plans and are intended to communicate vision, while a group that can do the same or more with less lacks ambition and imagination. Perhaps the most dangerous rule for procurement is: if you don’t spend it, you lose it. This unfortunately equates realized savings with a loss of influence, a frustrating indication of how our efforts are often perceived. Procurement’s role in the process varies greatly from company to company. As cutthroat as the Games can be, there is no such t ...

    by Kelly Barner
    Monday, 03 August 2015
  • Webinar notes: Taking Charge of Your Career

    The idea expressed in the event’s title – that each of us should take control of our own career – was prevalent throughout the webinar. This included the idea that the best way to break down functional silos is through individual cross-functional development. So rather than attacking the silo itself, or its walls, provide opportunities for managers and leaders to expand their own range of understanding and experience and the silo will dissolve on its own. So what are we supposed to do if we want to take charge and advance our career?   Be open to possibilities you haven’t considered before. Many of us are working jobs today that hadn’t been invented or defined when we were in college and setting an early career path. Rather than focusing on the progression of job titles you want to hold, aspire to something more goal oriented and prepare your skills for that. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, even if (or especially if?) it isn’t on your ‘plan.’ In a ...

    by Kelly Barner
    Friday, 31 July 2015
  • A Deep Dive into the Cost Drivers of a Direct Mail Program – Part 1

    Overall, there is evidence that direct mail is still holding strong as a marketing tactic and this is reflected in companies’ marketing strategies. However, before you begin executing a direct mail campaign, it is important to understand the components and factors that influence this marketing strategy’s cost. There are four main cost drivers to any direct mail program: Mail lists (who and where the mailer is being sent to), Creative and design (the messaging and layout), Print and lettershop (producing the mailer), and Postage (mailing the mailer). While the costs of creative/design, print, and lettershop can be managed through a standard sourcing process, mail lists and postage are a bit more complex. While mails lists and postage are commonly overlooked when it comes to identifying cost saving opportunities, there are options available for navigating the cost drivers of these two components. In this first post of a two-part series, we will cover some basics on mail lists ...

    by Megan Connell
    Wednesday, 29 July 2015
  • Book Review: Strategic Sourcing and Category Management: Lessons Learned at IKEA

      Category Management The first question that might come to mind is ‘how does the author suggest we segment our spend or supply base to get the best results from category management?’ He advocates segmentation by manufacturing process – and yet he introduces the idea that the processes he is accustomed to are different than the ones most commonly seen. The steps in any process must be allowed to influence each other – not just downstream, but back and forth. This philosophy brings the entire process to life and pushes those managing it to emphasize agility and flexibility. Several of the take-aways I detail below provide examples of where learning something or changing a requirement must be allowed to affect the trajectory of the project no matter how far through the process it is. That being said, Carlsson does not suggest that processes should be ‘loose’. In fact, he explains that the difference is in the details – the difference between mostly getting a process right and ...

    by Kelly Barner
    Monday, 27 July 2015
  • 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 ...

    by Kelly Barner
    Thursday, 23 July 2015
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“There is no shortage of challenges in procurement, which means there is no shortage of opportunities to be heroes.” – Charles Dominick

Throughout the month of May, Buyers Meeting Point has covered ‘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.

charlesdominickOur review of the book is available on our Endorsed Publication page, and over the last few weeks we have done a Q&A with both authors about the book and an interview with Soheila Lunney (Part 1 and Part 2).  This week we wrap up the series with a look at Charles Dominick’s view on the procurement profession.

Buyers Meeting Point: The Next Level Purchasing Association (of which Charles is the President and CPO) is a global organization. How does this perspective allow you to perceive trends in the spread of procurement competencies around the globe?

Charles Dominick: The Internet has enabled us all to make connections that were not possible before. The result is a global community forming and best practices being shared across borders. The surveys we conduct among our members reveal how things are changing and different, and which countries are the leading growth areas. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia both have strong enrollment bases. One interesting statistic - India has the second greatest number of SPSM’s (Senior Professional in Supply Management) after the United States.

BMP: Since the Next Level Purchasing Association uses an eLearning model, how often and in what way do you get to have contact with your students and other procurement practitioners?

Charles Dominick: We have an instructor access feature that allows for interaction with current students, as well as a forum on the association website. I believe in active networking through many channels – social media networking like Twitter and LinkedIn as well as in-person networking through the Institute for Supply Management and conferences. About half of the Next Level Purchasing Association’s of business is with clients and large groups, which allows us to travel and meet with them in person.

BMP: How do you make sure your forward vision for procurement is represented by your training courses?

Charles Dominick: We do formal updates of all of our courses annually and spot updates as they are needed. We are also always adding new courses. For instance, we recently added inventory management and control.  I believe that the procurement function is being added to more than it is changing. There are still core components of the function that don’t change rapidly – managing purchase orders, following up with suppliers, and managing contract terms. We have built the training to cover tactical, strategic, management, and global perspectives. We are also placing an increased emphasis on enterprise integration – procurement is a ‘gear’ that needs to spin synchronously with the others in the organization like finance and inventory management.

BMP: As a procurement educator/coach, what is your perspective on the typical character or personality of purchasing/procurement professionals and how well that is suited to the future requirements of the role?

Charles Dominick: There is no one mold that every procurement professional fits into. Some are good analysts, some are good at relationship building, and some are good with technology. Ultimately, we need to have all of those aspects as part of our skill set. We have a ways to go to become more well-rounded, particularly in the face of the broad array of skills we need.

BMP: How do you stay motivated and connected to procurement life 'in the trenches' but also objective from your position as a third party educator and industry thought leader? Where does the content come from for your blog posts and other publications?

CD: My ideas come from the challenges I discuss with my network, and with students. Often when someone asks about the challenges they are facing one of two things happens – either we have material on that issue already or we are surprised because we have experienced the same thing but never realized it had value for anyone else. Based on the maturity curve all organizations follow, one client will be facing a challenge that another just solved.

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