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MyPurchasingCenter was founded in 2011 to provide procurement professionals with the information required to keep their companies competitive in a dynamic global marketplace. In 2020, MyPurchasingCenter was acquired by Buyers Meeting Point.

A Career in Procurement Takes Twists and Turns

Editor's Note: There are all kinds of surprises waiting to be found in the MyPurchasingCenter archive, and this interview post is one of them. Joanna Martinez, is a good friend of mine and well known in procurement executive circles. When this interview was written in 2015, she aas the Executive Managing Director and CPO at Cushman & Wakefield. Today, she is the Founder of Supply Chain Advisors, LLC, and the author of A Guide to Positive Disruption (read my review here).

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Negotiating with Indices

The results are in for your RFP (Request for Proposal), now it’s time to pick the supplier(s), sign the contract, and place the orders (Woohoo!).  But, have you considered the next critical step in the process: Negotiating the price with market indices as a driving factor?

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Can Appreciative Inquiry Work for Purchasing?

Most purchasing professionals have never heard of appreciative inquiry. It is a systematic discovery process to search for what is best or positive in an organization or its strengths. These strengths are then improved upon to create an even stronger and more dynamic organization. Implementing change remains positive and thus springs from an organization’s strengths, not its weaknesses, or deficiencies.

Author: Dr. Tom DePaoliAuthor & CEO at Apollo Solutions

Editor’s note: This article is part of the MyPurchasingCenter content archive. It was originally published in 2015 and appears here without revision.

All too often in my purchasing career, I have experienced a new purchasing leader or consultant, who comes from an outside company, then sweeps into a purchasing department and castigates purchasing professionals for, “doing everything wrong, unlike their former company, that did everything right.” This negative reactive approach to change often results in people becoming even more resistant to change. Traditional reactive methods to implementing change emphasize fixing what is broken or weak in an organization. This approach almost never works and causes even more fear.

One of the tools of appreciative inquiry is the sharing of stories about an organization. Employees are asked to describe a time when they were really engaged and excited about their work. Employees are asked to list what was great or memorable about the time. The themes or actions that the organization used are carefully studied and grouped. Common themes of these stories may evolve or confirm a major strength of an organization. These strengths then become skill springboards from which the organization needs to use and embellish.

I previously discussed the storytelling techniques in a Buyers Meeting Point blog.

As a review, here are some of the advantages of storytelling:

  • The brain stores information by stories.
  • Stories are humanizing and stimulate creativity.
  • Storytelling improves listening skills.
  • Storytelling builds a team culture.
  • It encourages collaboration.

Appreciative inquiry takes storytelling to the next level. The memorable stories and positive results become the dynamic building blocks of an organization’s competitive edge. It makes the vision or mission become actualized or reach their full potential!

Here is an example: One of the strengths of a purchasing organization that I led was sourcing and the use of cross-functional teams. The vast majority of the team members felt good about the sourcing decision and the transition plan to the selected supplier. A systematic methodology was used and modified as needed. Team members were well equipped to defend the selection and present the reasoning to other non-team members. Most members could defend and justify the selection and did it consistently and with enthusiasm. To my surprise the non-purchasing team members were even better at justifying the selection. The metrics almost always supported the supplier selection.

I, like many purchasing professionals, was initially very skeptical of the appreciative inquiry approach. Who has the time for it? Purchasing spends an inordinate amount of time fixing what is broken like expediting orders, handling bad quality parts, fixing bad suppliers, chasing down supply chain interruptions and overall upsets. These are all in the realm of fixing what is broke. The fact is that purchasing spends too much time as a firefighters putting out fires. Living in this type of hectic atmosphere or culture does not encourage a different positive approach to change. In fact, it encourages skepticism and the avoiding of risk.

In conclusion, appreciative inquiry can be a useful approach for positive change in purchasing. The challenge to purchasing is to make the time to discover the strengths of the purchasing organization.  It requires patience and the gathering of memorable stories. Purchasing should build on its strengths rather than tear down its image by constantly fixing what is “broke.” In purchasing you are what you are perceived. Too often purchasing is viewed, as the harried firefighter who can never put out all the fires. Appreciative inquiry is a good approach to start to change this negative traditional image.

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A Tough Talk: Identifying Dysfunction to Clear the Way for New Ideas

In 2015, MyPurchasingCenter talked to William Moore, Senior Vice President, Sales and Channel Development at SKF USA. Moore sees value in frank discussions between procurement and suppliers, especially of the practices procurement has in place to implement and measure results of new ideas submitted by suppliers.

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What Is This Job Really?

Go on. Be honest. You’ve read the slickly worded job description and sat through an interview listening to animated energetic, buzz words and you‘re very interested. But at the same time, haven’t you heard your wise inner voice asking, “Do I really know what this job is going to be like? Have I been given a good picture of what it is going to be like reporting to this executive or working with this team?”

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Case Study: Chrysler Purchasing Changes the Supplier Diversity Landscape

Back in 2012, Chrysler Group allowed a modest-sized company to manage all of the chemicals and related supplies on a trial basis for one of its North American assembly plants. Like any Chrysler supplier, ChemicoMays had to prove itself on cost, quality and its capacity to deliver.

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From Buying Cheaper to Spending Smarter

Procurement professionals are instrumental to the success of organizations. They are accountable for innumerable initiatives ranging from solicitation to evaluation of suppliers plus everything that falls in between. Procurement has a significant impact on the organization as a whole – congealing its spot at the management roundtable.

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Engineered Products as Commodities? It’s Time to Rethink Procurement Metrics

Procurement teams that use the Internet to research highly engineered components and then select a lower-priced alternative product may think they’re doing a good job, especially if they are measured on how well they manage cost. Yet they may unknowingly be putting their companies at risk.

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How to Get to Cleverer Purchasing Decisions

Effective and efficient automation of Supply management and Procurement functions can yield fruitful results. Automation facilitates supply management and procurement professionals to make wise decisions through enhanced tools and visibility. It is definitely a reliable substitute for time consuming and costly manual tasks.

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How can you be a good negotiator if you have not read the contract?

That’s the question Attorney Mark Grieco asked procurement and supply management professionals attending a member meeting of ISM-Greater Rhode Island at Banneker Industries in North Smithfield.

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Sourcing Connectivity: Managing Wireless Spend

Connectivity is at the core of the modern business. Whether your organization is comprised of one small office with 10 people or a large multinational employing thousands, it is key to find the correct connectivity mix to support your business needs. 

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The Future of Procurement: Save, Innovate and Outperform

Over the past two decades, procurement has made great strides in transitioning from a transactional, back-office function to a strategic, value-adding organization. However, the hard work is far from over. Procurement has fought to get a seat at the table with c-level executives, but now it’s time for procurement to prove that it deserves that seat and can keep it.

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Can Purchasing Bootstrap and Lead the Transformation of an Organization?

Procurement’s role in an organization touches across many departments, suppliers, countries, and competitors. This situation requires that procurement professionals possess excellent communication skills and the ability to quickly adapt to different cultures, perspectives and crises. 

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How to Transform “No Thank You” Into A Productive Good-bye

There are times when “no” or “not interested” are positive words. If we contact a supplier and we find out that “no, we don’t owe money”, a “no” can sound lyrically poetic. If we are getting robo-called and the company finally understands that “do not call” means “not interested,” life is good and these words have served our purpose well. 

However, “no” or “not interested” are not our favorite words during a job search. Even if we decide that “this is not for me” and we don’t like the job, the team or the company, those words smart when we find out that the feeling is mutual.

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What Procurement Wants: Manufacturing Executive Roundtable

Leaders of procurement teams at manufacturing and process companies are decisive. They know what they want in a supplier. They want a supplier with a similar culture and competitive quality, service and delivered cost. They want a supplier to be involved early in the design process and to be forthcoming with new ideas. They want a supplier to collaborate to control costs over the life of a contract.

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As a Purchasing Professional Do You Need to Acquire Sales Skills?

Procurement and sales are two vital business functions with varied processes that are often described as opposites. Some companies may find these two departments at odds with each other as they argue which one is more important for the vitality of the organization.

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