“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.
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.
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.
“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!)
Supply Chain Risk, by John Manners-Bell, provides a structured look at risk by establishing a series of intersecting dimensions. First the author outlines external risk categories: Environmental, Economic, Societal, Security, and Technological. Each has several sub categories that provide additional detail and clarity. Then he delves into a number of industry sectors to consider their resiliency factors and concerns: Automotive, High tech, Consumer goods/retail, Food, Fashion, and Pharma/healthcare.
The coverage from both perspectives is equally detailed and illustrated with numerous case studies. In their intersection, for instance where Economic risks intersect with the Automotive industry, any supply chain professional will find the information they need to quickly come up to speed on key areas of concern as well as strategies for assessment and mitigation.
Can China Lead?
Reaching the Limits of Power and Growth
Can China Lead?, by Regina M. Abrami, William Kirby, and F. Warren McFarlan, asks a question that can not be definitively answered but is well worth asking. The authors seamlessly combine their knowledge of China’s history, people, and politics to advise companies looking to engage in commercial interactions with one the world’s second largest economy (As ranked by GDP by the United Nations, 2012). As the authors state in their Introduction, “Chinese businesses compete globally, now going head-to-head with North American and European corporations in telecommunications, heavy machinery, and renewable forms of energy.” (p. x)
Negotiation for Purchasing Professionals is the second book by Jonathan O’Brien that we have reviewed. Earlier this year we reviewed Category Management in Purchasing. While each of the books has a different focus, they have more in common than just an intended audience. The most striking similarity is a clear desire to improve the knowledge and capabilities of purchasing professionals by capturing O’Brien’s considerable experience and communicating it in a straightforward manner.
Buying and Selling Information, by career salesperson Michael L. Gruenberg, is a guide to help buyers of information services (think subscription-based online databases). Beyond this very specific case, Gruenberg has good advice to offer buyers and sellers of any product or service. He is a salesperson who ‘gets it’ – or understands the need for buyers and sellers to work together for their mutual benefit, and for the benefit of their organizations. In his own words, “It’s all about equal footing, momentum, and success” (xviii).
One of the best things about having good relationships with publishers is that I end up reading and reviewing titles that range beyond procurement or spend management. And yet, there is no question that the value and competitive advantage of a well-managed supply chain runs right through the center of all business strategy books.
The rise of mobile technology requires that procurement solution providers and practitioners be innovative about potential opportunities for improvement and problem solving. Through virtual team models and global supply chains, the applications and requirements of mobile technology are coming, whether procurement drives the implementation or not. In a July 2013 article on ThomasNet’s imt Procurement Journal, Pat Toensmeier referenced a study about the expected adoption rates for mobile technologies in procurement. “A study by AnyPresence Inc., a Reston, Va., company that specializes in mobile business processes, products, and services, finds that 31.5 percent of respondents have deployed or will deploy mobile apps for procurement, among other functions, in the next 12 months. An equal proportion will do the same with apps for supply chain partners and shipping and distribution.” As we approach the end of that 12-month period, no developments have surfaced that look likely to reverse the trend.
The Moment of Clarity was a joint effort by ReD Associates founding partners Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel B. Rasmussen. Their careers have focused on studying human behavior, problem solving, and innovation. In this book, they apply what they have learned and observed to the challenges faced by businesses today. It is apparent to the reader that they are avid readers in their own right, and their bookshelves clearly hold titles representing a wide array of fiction and non-fiction topics.
Kaizen Kreativity is the fifth book by Dr. Tom DePaoli, and the third one I have reviewed. Like his other books, Kaizen Kreativity combines examples from his diverse professional past with easy to comprehend definitions and background. His lack of pretension is particularly appreciated since he often relates cases about Lean and Six Sigma. For anyone without experience using these methodologies, the terminology can be off-putting at best, and in the worst case scenario may deter people from realizing their benefits altogether.
Despite the fact that Marcy Phelps’ Research on Main Street is not necessarily written for a procurement audience, it offers invaluable advice as well as links to the resources required to carry that advice out. The idea of ‘local’ is not limited to the location of the researcher, but rather the information being sought. Another way of looking at it is point-point information, highly specific to a business need and detailed enough to motivate a decision.
“Very few organizations manage sourcing so well that there is no room for big gains. Category management is about changing sourcing in a radical way or a way that gives radical improvements.” (p. 33)
This quote from Jonathan O’Brien’s Category Management in Purchasing neatly sums up not only the idea of category management as he defines it, but also the full use of the content in his book, which is to support purchasing or procurement teams with a desire to significantly improve the way they manage sources of supply. The book provides all the background, strategy and tactics to stage a successful procurement transformation along category lines.
I have read and reviewed a number of business publications, most of them directly related to supply management, but The CPO is truly a unique creation. This book captures the adventure of procurement by outlining principles and concepts for success – not through dry or prescriptive chapters – but through the very engaging story of a fictional CPO and the challenges he faces on the job and at home. Thomas Sutter, the main character (dare I say hero?), captured my attention immediately and held it right through the final pages. I’ll even admit (my apologies to the authors for cheating) that at one point I was so wrapped up in the interpersonal dynamics of the story that I peeked ahead to read the end so that I might relax and absorb the full message of the book as I went.
When we think about the concept of branding from a corporate perspective, we think of the associations consumers and stakeholders have formed in response to our company, products, logo, etc. From a procurement perspective, brand or reputational risk is one of the most important things we are stewards of when we make decisions about the supply partners our company will form relationships with. But the value of building, having, and maintaining a brand extends far beyond the corporate level.
Sustain Your Gains, by Michael McCarthy, is ultimately a guide to human behavior in the face of change. Although the initial sections of the book serve as a primer to Lean and Six Sigma methodologies, hints of what is to come in later chapters pull the reader forward to see the application of Process Behavior Maintenance (PBM) in action.
Supplier Relationship Management in the Supply Chain by Stuart Emmett is accurately titled – it is in fact a book about the importance and execution of supplier relationship in the supply chain. But because so many organizations do not have SRM programs (or would benefit from being more supplier-centric) it is more importantly a book about change. In order to get different results, we must think and act differently. This is a simple enough idea, but bringing about such changes in an organization is complex enough that few of us have reached our desired level of SRM maturity.
For anyone who has read the other books in the Vested Outsourcing series, Getting to We (published in August 2013) is the logical next step in the pursuit of more collaborative, value-based relationships between supply partners. A better way to think of the book might actually be as a ‘prequel’ to the others, stepping back in time to explain how to reach the point where you are working in a Vested relationship. Getting to We is the connection between the vision of Vested Outsourcing and the negotiating tactics necessary to turn the vision into a reality.