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"The Point" is written by BMP Editor Kelly Barner as well as a diverse group of guest contributors.

Surviving Natural Selection in the Procurement ‘Wild’

On Tuesday, we ran a guest post from keelvar’s founder and CEO Alan Holland. In the post, he challenges many of the traditional notions procurement practitioners have about the solutions they use, what to expect from those solutions, and how to select which solutions to implement.

It is natural to follow the developments at the larger solutions providers in the procurement space. Acquisitions, especially notable ones, always result in an interesting news cycle before dying back down to become part of the new status quo. But there have been equally interesting changes and developments taking place at smaller solution providers. We owe it to ourselves to be as aware of those changes as we are of the big shifts.

In my view, there are several niche companies deserving of attention, and they represent not only a new or alternative take on what we currently have available to us, but also a new way of looking at the solutions that support procurement. As long as there are visionary entrepreneurs who are willing to apply themselves to the procurement space, we should encourage them and do everything we can to support them in their efforts – because in the end, we are the ones who benefit.

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Guest — Alun Rafique
Great article Kelly and many thanks for the mention. We certainly try to differentiate ourselves from the larger more traditional ... Read More
Thursday, 09 April 2015 09:34
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What negotiation skills does procurement need TODAY?

Listen daaahlings, let me tell you a little something about negotiating. Talking about money is so… GAUCHE. No no no, that won’t do at all. Today, enlightened procurement professionals collaborate. We innovate. We partner. We strategize. I do for you… you do for me… we have a relationship. No ugliness, no shoving. After all, there is no need to stoop to talking about dollars and cents. We have people for that. Right? Yes, well, have your people call my people: we’ll do lunch.

Oh please!

We can’t say that procurement no longer needs strong negotiating skills just because many spend categories are now being managed in a more relational way. Making that assertion demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding about what it means to negotiate. Negotiation is a phase, not an action. There are a myriad of skills required to be an effective negotiator, and they are different for each set of circumstances.

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Guest — Phil in Boston
I would imagine underneath each commercial agreement is "math". Both buyer and seller seeking commercial opportunity of some sort ... Read More
Tuesday, 31 March 2015 14:26
Guest — Laurie
It is important to know how to negotiate properly. You provided a great list of skills that are needed. Thanks for sharing!
Tuesday, 16 February 2016 21:02
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Keelvar’s Ability to Handle Complexity Based on Clarity and Simplicity of Purpose

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Alan Holland, CEO of Keelvar. Based in Ireland, this relatively small company reminds me of the way CombineNet used to fit into the overall solution space – before they were acquired by SciQuest that is. CombineNet was never intended to be the solution that addressed 80-90% of categories, but rather to be high performance enough to handle the requirements and scale of the largest or most complex 10-20%. But I think, to be fair to both companies, that is where the comparison must end.

Holland and I spoke about the Keelvar solution, not in terms of the number of line items it can handle, or the combined data points it can analyze as a result of the umpteen suppliers, items, and bid fields of a large event. We mostly talked about how it might change the way procurement thinks about optimization. After all, there are many more opportunities than just freight or location-based retail that would benefit.

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Manufacturing & Millennial Barometer Reading: High and Rising

Right at the end of 2014, I received a copy of report based on ThomasNet’s Industry Market Barometer (IMB) survey. As you might expect, given ThomasNet’s long-standing relationship with the manufacturing community, a large focus of the report was the recent trend towards reshoring. In some cases it is for the sake of moving final production closer to the source of demand, in others to shorten supply chains, trading cheap labor for reliability and agility.

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Guest — charlie23
Millennials are leaving indelible footprints on the marketplace. They are eclipsing Baby Boomers in numbers and importance. As a d... Read More
Thursday, 19 March 2015 00:47
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Who is not being honest in your supply chain?

There is a famous children’s story about Pinocchio. Whenever he would lie, his nose would grow longer.

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Looking in the mirror for organizational self-assessment

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways……Take a look at yourself and make a change”.

 

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Implementation of new suppliers

As a child at the dinner table, we were expected to try at least a bite of something. Like anyone, we often did not want to try something new. It was not comfortable and it was easier to skip it or default to what we knew we liked. There is an old commercial for Life cereal where Mikey tries it and the famous tag line – Try it, You'll Like It.

 

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More Strategies for Supply Chain Resilience

A few years ago we were hosting a holiday gathering for 7 family members. As the holiday got closer, more and more of the family had their plans change. The four days before the holiday we were expecting 7 and then it became 30 by the day before the event. Needless to say, we had to be flexible and resilient in order to make it work.

 

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What do you do just in case?

 We have a small closet at home in a spare bedroom that acts as our overflow pantry. It is not anywhere near as organized as the picture above. In some ways it is our ‘just in case’ inventory. Usually it is stocked with staples that were on sale so we got two. Some of it however is ‘just in case’ we want to bake a cake or cookies or had an urge for some salsa and chips. This past Halloween we bought candy for 200 and only had 30 visitors. Oops!! I am sure it will get consumed somehow!

 

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Building Stronger Supply Chain Relationships

The saying goes that you know who your friends are when the going gets tough. Those are the ones that show up when there is work to be done, visit when someone is sick, or to just be around for support. That is a test of a strong relationship.

 

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Is underdog Deem ready for a Cinderella story?

I do love a good story – and fortunately, in the case of Deem, I get to enjoy the ride knowing in advance that it has a happy ending.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Deem’s VP of Product Management Roger Blumberg. He took me back through the journey Deem has been on and where they plan to go from here. They started as Reardon Commerce in 2000, acquired Ketera in 2010 and rebranded as Deem in 2013.

I feel fortunate that I was not asked to predict the outcome of this story back in 2010, when a legal injunction prevented Deem from doing anything more than maintaining their current customers. I am sure I would have made the wrong call. Four years is a very long time to survive without customer base growth. The fact that Deem is still around to tell their tale demonstrates not only perseverance, but validates their value proposition. They announced their re-launch yesterday (read the press release here).

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Supply chain risks and chocolate

Halloween was a few days ago. We have quite a bit of candy around the house due to that holiday. In our weekly blog, Protect your supply chain like it is your last piece of chocolate, we spoke about the supply chain risk for the candy industry involving cocoa.

 

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Electronic regulations around the globe

We live in a technology age. That is not big news. In some areas, the electronic record is considered official and binding. For example, for the last 4 or 5 years we have filed our taxes electronically and that has been adequate and official. In other areas, they still want an original signature on a paper, with multiple copies. I know when we have gone to refinance our house, the banks require paper copies.

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Sarbanes-Oxley for Dummies

I love the “For Dummies” books. We have used them many times. What a wonderful way to simplify everything from travel to home improvements to technology. Obviously it has become quite successful along the way so they must be doing something right.

 

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Is Procurement Crate Trained?

“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

 

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Understanding International Trade

 More and more procurement organizations have some component that involves global trade. Understanding the intricacies of this can be mind boggling.

 

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Rules and Regulations make the world go around

About 90% of goods are transported with ocean freight for global commerce. With all that activity, there has to be some way to control the comings and goings.

 

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#FutureBuy Resource Spotlight: KPMG

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.

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Guest — Bill Kohnen
I would agree that the primary focus on cost savings can be limiting and also with the view that purchasing should be free to tran... Read More
Thursday, 02 October 2014 10:46
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James Bond, The Living Daylights and Customs

In The Living Daylights movie, James Bond and his most recent female companion are escaping the “bad guys” by sliding down a snow covered mountain on a cello case. As they cross the border into Austria, the customs agent asks “Do you have anything to declare?” James Bond’s response is “Only this cello!”

 

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The Supplier Side to Implement Supply Chain Finance

For every action there is a reaction. We learned that in a high school science class. We have been talking about the buyer side of supply chain finance. Obviously what they do, impacts their suppliers, and vice versa.

 

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