The Point by Buyers Meeting 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.

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Kelly Barner

Kelly Barner

Kelly is the Managing Editor of Buyers Meeting Point. She has a unique perspective on procurement from her experience on both sides of the negotiation desk. She has led projects involving members of procurement, supplier and purchasing teams. She has practical skills in strategic sourcing program design and management, opportunity assessment, knowledge management, and custom taxonomy design and implementation. She also has direct sourcing experience in a number of product and service categories including: inventory fuel, location-based services, corrugated, and corporate purchasing cards. Kelly has her MBA as well as an MS in Library and Information Science.

This week’s webinar notes are from an October 28th webinar hosted by Sourcing Interests Group and presented by Sherri Barnes, Director of Intelligence at Denali Group.

Posted by on in Book Reviews

“Although procurement has certainly evolved from its early roots, it still faces challenges in terms of executive recognition, talent management and organizational challenges. Modern enterprises are faced with a massive set of new challenges, including the forces of globalization, increased risk, complex supply chains, and the spread of government regulation on decision making, not to mention the tremendous strain of man’s presence on the earth’s natural resources.” (p. 1)

 

The Procurement Value Proposition (Kogan Page, December 2014) takes on some of the most pressing challenges facing procurement today and makes them seem both more comprehensible and realistically addressable. As acknowledged in the quote above, taken from the book’s introduction, procurement has evolved significantly since the early days when we got our start in the railroad industry. The problem we must own today is that the organizations we support have evolved faster and more dramatically than we have. What procurement needs is a better understanding of how to fuel our development.

 

This week’s webinar notes are from a October 15th webinar sponsored and hosted by Nipendo and featuring Pete Loughlin (Purchasing Insight) as moderator, Pierre Mitchell and Jason Busch (Spend Matters), and Ed Berger (Nipendo’s VP of Sales). The webinar is available on demand in its entirety here.

Posted by on in Book Reviews

“When you prepare an RFP, your goal is to elicit responses that meet all of your requirements so that you can move efficiently to awarding the contract and implementing the systems you need. But only a quality RFP will get quality responses. Not surprisingly, bad RFPs bring in bad responses.” (p. 13)

 

The Art of Creating a Quality RFP (PSM Advantage, 2014) serves as a valid reminder that if we don’t approach every task we undertake as valuable, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to do our best work before we have even begun. This book, written by career practitioners and consultants George Borden and Steve Jeffery, captures the ups and downs of decades in procurement. By focusing almost exclusively on the Request for Proposal (RFP) they are able to achieve clarity of purpose and message and cover a lot of ground in a compact book.

 

Tagged in: Book Reviews RFP

This week’s notes are from an October 16th Procurement Leaders webinar featuring the results of their latest research into procurement talent. It is not yet available on demand, but it should eventually be listed here.

This absolutely fantastic webinar was presented by PL Research Director Maggie Slowik. We all know talent is an ongoing issue for procurement contributors, managers, and executive leaders. In my recommendation of the event on Blog Talk Radio, I shared two sadly common views of procurement talent taken from the books I have reviewed:

“Some executives used to think of procurement as the place you send staff away in order to never see them again.”Leading Procurement Strategy, Carlos Mena, Remko van Hoek, and Martin Christopher

“You see, many procurement departments have been staffed in the same manner as the Island of Misfit Toys; when an employee did not perform elsewhere in the organization and the management didn't have the heart to dire him or her, that employee was sent to work in the procurement department”The Procurement Game Plan, Charles Dominick, Dr. Soehila Lunney

Posted by on in Procurement

“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

 

“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.

This week’s webinar notes are from an event run on September 3rd by Spend Matters EU/UK, Selectica, and IASTA. The event is available on demand here.

Once you get this classic Pink Floyd tune stuck in your head, it is likely to stay, and maybe that was the idea with this event title. Far from being a strategic sourcing solution ‘add on’ contract lifecycle management requires its own program considerations, including its impact on global supply chains, corporate strategy, and enterprise wide implementation and leadership. In other words, not allowing your next executed contract to be just another brick in the wall.

Posted by on in Procurement

As Jon Hansen and I work our way through our joint book on the future of procurement, we get the opportunity to consider what other thought leaders in the space have to say on the topic. In this week’s #FutureBuy resource spotlight, we will consider the major take-aways from KPMG’s whitepaper, FUTUREBUY: The Future of Procurement, which you can download here.

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.

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.

Posted by on in Procurement

Spend analysis solutions have long been critical enablers of procurement organizations. Over the last couple of years, however, the term analysis has gradually been replaced by analytics. In order to gather information on this transition, I reached out to Rosslyn Analytics, a company that has operated under the ‘analytics’ label since their founding in 2005, long before it was the prevailing term. I'd like to thank them for their help in putting this post together.

 

Let me begin by giving working definitions for both terms. According to BigDataCraft.com,

 

Analysis is the examination process itself where analytics is the supporting technology and associated tools.”

 

Posted by on in Events

This week’s webinar notes are from an August 27th webinar hosted by the Next Level Purchasing Association and featuring Steve Burns from the Maxwell Team. Although only premium members of the NLPA have access to the event on demand, you can hear an exclusive audio excerpt in my September 8th weekly update on Blog Talk Radio.

The focus of the webinar was how to build influence for the purpose of becoming a more effective leader. Since leadership affects so many people, you might expect it to be a collective sort of topic, but it was the exact opposite.

Posted by on in Book Reviews

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.

This week’s webinar notes are from an August 21st webinar run by CPP Inc, the provider of the Meyers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator Assessment. The webinar was presented by Pamela Valencia, a CPP Solutions Consultant. The event is available on demand on CPPs site.

 

Being a better negotiator is a topic that you would think had been completely covered by now, but this event offered some new thoughts – even in a compressed 30-minute format. Because CPP is focused on personality, knowing yourself and your fellow negotiators was the core message to this event. Also key was understanding when two dynamics are at play at once so you can divide your reactions to them, and the attitudes they foster.

 

Posted by on in Book Reviews

“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!)

 

This week’s webinar notes are from a July 31st event hosted by ISM and presented by LexisNexis. The event is available on demand on ISM’s site. If you are interested in more on the topic, LexisNexis has made available a white paper and accompanying infographic titled “Leveraging Market Intelligence to Better Manage Supply Chain Risk.

The presenter, Eric Walsworth, LexisNexis’ Director of Supply Management, illustrated each of his points about risk management by drawing comparisons to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I won’t embarrass myself by trying to recreate any of that – if you’re interested in the soccer angle you’ll have to watch the webinar on demand.

Walsworth took a need – risk management - that is overwhelming for many procurement teams and broke it down into very clear phases and efforts. Although each of these elements is important to a supply risk management effort, they must all work together in order to be effective. Additionally, although the following seem to be a linear process, they must all be executed in parallel.

“Great procurement professionals are not born, they are bred…"

- Dawn Evans, President and CEO, Sourcing Interests Group, July 2014 'Letter from the President'

I place a great deal of value in the fact that I have been able to work well and productively with all of the professional associations in our space. Each one is a little different and meets a specific need for a particular subset of the procurement professional community. I am not an active member of any professional association – including Sourcing Interests Group (SIG). My comments here have less to do with advocating for them in particular than being concerned about the resources available to the procurement community as a whole. I would have made the same argument on behalf of Spend Matters PRO or Procurement Leaders if they were the subject of some budgetary misclassification.

This week’s webinar notes are from a July 25th webinar hosted by the Next Level Purchasing Association and presented by Santosh Nair, GEP’s Vice President of Client Services and Innovation. Although the on demand version is only available to NLPA premium members, you can read what they had to say about SMART by GEP in this recent blog post.

Despite the changes being seen in the consumer technology marketplace, enterprise solutions have been slow to take advantage of the growing availability of mobile technology. As demand increases for Smartphone and tablet solution accessibility, enterprise solutions in general, and procurement solutions in specific, will need to change at a rate faster than they have in the past.

The entire professional community, procurement included, is bracing for the impact of the Millennial generation. Managers and executives want to position their company or department as a team that will appeal to the brightest, best upcoming achievers. ISM and ThomasNet recently joined forces specifically for the purpose of gathering nominations for their ’30 Under 30’ Supply Chain Rising Stars program. Corporate leadership teams are concerned about being flexible enough, mobile enough, and ‘sexy’ enough to compete for young talent. Professional associations are scrambling to make sure they demonstrate their relevance on an ongoing basis.

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