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

Recommended Webinars February 24-28: Beyond Benchmarking, Global Risk, and The Decade of Data

This week started out looking kind of bleak, and then at the last minute there were several excellent additions to the events calendar. I’ve recommended what I see as the best below, but you can look at the full calendar to see what else is scheduled this week and into March.

If you are planning your webinar schedule further ahead, I recommend “Top 10 Supply Chain Risk Trends in 2020 – The Big Reveal” from Supply Chain Now and Resilience360 on March 5th at 11am ET.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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Providing Real Value in Data Analysis

Data analysis has an image problem. Despite the fact that data collection is priority one, regardless of how common “big data” buzzwords have gotten, and setting aside all the calls for data-centric decision making… The boots on the ground, those of us who manage this analysis daily, have a problem.

Too many analysts are viewed as tactical cogs in a machine. We aren’t brought in to own and manage projects. We aren’t consulted on big ticket company objectives beyond the reports we’re asked to push out. Why? Because we aren’t doing enough to show value. 

If we want to grow and improve, for the good of our own careers as well as for the benefit of the companies we work for, we need to figure out how to turn this around. So, how do we do it? By graduating from tactical resources to strategic powerhouses.

The DIKW Pyramid

The first step on the way to graduation is to reevaluate the DIKW pyramid. We’re all familiar with it, yet too many of us focus on the lower levels and never make it to the top. The top is, unquestionably, where we need to be.

As a brief refresher, here’s a quick example:

2019.12.17 Image

Too many of us focus on wrangling data, and “polish it up” by adding a little information-based context. Many of our reports don’t make it beyond the Information stage above. But widget-producing organizations don’t live or die based on how much they can talk about past widget sale activity. They survive by selling more widgets. 

If data analysts want to elevate their position and perceived value, they need to align their deliverables to this business directive. Don’t focus solely on the D/I past; spend your time worrying about the K/W future. Beyond what our historic view shows, how can your company leverage it moving forward?

Presentation is Key

Now that we understand what we should be talking about, we need to address how we talk about it. Data analysts often earn the reputation of being all but indecipherable when talking to team members who aren’t steeped in facts and figures. Improving how we communicate will go a long way in graduating to strategic powerhouse.

  • Develop a central idea.We know what we want to talk about – Blue widgets and increasing sales by targeting green widget customers. What about red and yellow widgets? What about the dozens of juicy KPIs (let alone hundreds of metrics) that describe all four flavors of widget? Forget them – they are for another day. Here and now, it’s all about increasing blue widget sales.
  • Stick with that idea.As early as 1908, John Henry Jowett nailed effective public speaking after getting some sage advice from a fellow veteran preacher: “I take my text,” he said, “and divide my sermon into three parts. In the first part I tell ’em what I am going to tell ’em; in the second part—well, I tell ’em; in the third part I tell ’em what I’ve told ’em.” Anything you present up the ladder needs to be ruthlessly focused on supporting your central idea, but you also need to reiterate that idea and show how your content backs it up.
  • Focus on your idea’s business-critical elements.Don’t make assumptions or gloss over details. State very clearly and specifically: Why should the audience care about your idea? What should the audience do? What can they expect from succeeding? If you can’t convey these answers clearly and concisely, your central idea will fall flat.

Prioritizing your Work

Our widget example is obviously oversimplified. In this case, there was a clear call to action and few variables to consider. Real life doesn’t work that way. As such, we need to consider how to spend our limited time. We need to prioritize projects that will give us the biggest bang for our buck.

  • Prioritize big impact.We knew early on that blue widgets sold well. But how critical would our plan be if they didn’t? What if blue widget sales were only 5% of total sales, even with the green buyer boost? We would instead focus on higher selling items.
  • Prioritize active projects.Some organizational initiatives attract big budgets, big teams for support, and have upper management’s eye. In other words, they’re in the spotlight. You want to be in the spotlight, too. That’s a match made in heaven – focus your resources there.
  • Prioritize those who… prioritize data.Let’s face it: Some people don’t get data, won’t get data, and may even be hostile towards data. Don’t fight uphill battles that you don’t have to – prioritize teams with big impact, spotlight projects that dovalue data.

The Future of Analytics

To be incredibly blunt – there isn’t a future in straight data processing. Machine learning is getting too good. Your boss won’t need you to manage the tactical elements of data stewardship moving forward. In fact, they can likely already take raw data, plop it in a prepackaged BI platform, and have simple analyses generated for them in a matter of minutes. 

What your boss needs from you (now, and increasingly in the future) is to step up and move beyond conducting the analysis to show what needs to be done as a result of that tactical work. Don’t just support change incrementally from behind your reports – be the catalyst for big ticket change.

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Recommended Webinars November 18-22: Procurement Vision, Digital Readiness and Next Level Contract Management

The pace of the year will really pick up from here… I won’t have any recommendations next week because of the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, and then there are just three weeks of events left in the year. December is starting to fill in, so take a look ahead – there are some great events up already.

In particular, I recommend “The Psychology of Change” being hosted by The Myers-Briggs organization on December 5th. While it isn’t specifically for a procurement audience, it is a great opportunity to think about change management from a group and individual personality perspective.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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Empowering Procurement to Drive M&A Activity

The uncertainty surrounding Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) can be frightening for all employees involved, but often overlooked is the potential a merger can bring for procurement to hit the “RESET” button – both with their internal procedures and with their suppliers. With common M&A buzzwords like “increasing shareholder value” and “synergies” thrown around by management, procurement is provided with an abundance of short term cost-saving opportunities.

In this post, I’ll outline the steps, tips, and strategies procurement can use to generate cost savings during M&A activity and boost that ever sought after shareholder value.

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The Material Cost Benefits of Full Workforce Visibility

Between the new technologies available and the tidal wave of talented individuals with people analytics experience, companies can now see their entire workforce in new and exciting ways. But while most organizations recognize the benefits of full workforce visibility, their efforts stall when those that need it can’t clearly articulate the benefits to company leaders and decision-makers.

While there are a number of ancillary benefits of full workforce visibility (e.g. worker quality improvements, access to talent, vendor performance comparisons) this article focuses on the different ways an organization can leverage new levels of visibility to drive cost savings.

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Setting the Foundation: Preparing Spend Data for a Procurement Metrics Program

Metrics are a critical aspect of measuring the success of any business function. The importance of quantifying progress against goals and objectives cannot be overstated. Without a metrics program, underperforming organizations are unable to target functional areas that require improvement, and growing organizations are unable to set goals or scale resources to align with the changing state.

Because procurement organizations are often challenged by stakeholder resistance and a lack of executive-level sponsorship, metrics are key to demonstrating value. Sourcing efficiencies, cost savings, stakeholder satisfaction, and overall procurement ROI are just the starting point for capturing bottom line impact. While these are often viewed as the foundation for a metrics program, the final structure can’t be established without being certain of data quality and availability.

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The Secret of the Procurement Director

It had been a particularly hard week for the whole team. Factory audits had been going on with the accuracy of a Swiss watch (plane, factory, hotel, plane, factory, hotel...). That Friday night we were isolated by a storm that had canceled our flight home and left us stuck in an airport hotel, not knowing what day it was or when we would get back. Our ‘batteries’ were very low.

Only Avi, our expert sales agent, strengthened by a thousand negotiations, seemed to be fresh as a lettuce.

Around the crackling of the chimney, while the storm whipped outside, we all tried to shelter ourselves in hot cups of coffee, seeking the strength to recover our spirits.

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Blockchain: Disrupting Procurement and the Supply Chain

If you have heard a lot about blockchain but don't really know what it is, you're not alone. The success of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has given blockchain a major leap forward. But cryptocurrencies aren't the only place where blockchain technology makes itself useful. It can completely disrupt procurement and supply chain operations. First, however, it's important to have a bird's eye view of blockchain.

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Recommended Procurement Webinars for Jan 23-27: Cash Flow, Data Speed, 2017 Trends and Predictions

There are a dozen events taking place this week – many of which seem to have been planned to incorporate a big picture vision for the new year. The really amazing thing is that even with so many webinars taking place, there is very little topical overlap. Scan the titles of this week’s webinars and you’ll have an appreciation of the full range of subjects touched on by procurement on a regular basis. Click on the title of each webinar below to view the full description and register.

 

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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