Two years ago, we posted our review of ‘Common Sense Purchasing’ by Dr. Tom DePaoli. In September 2012 he published a new book that reflects a broader perspective on his experience and our profession. By taking a step up – or back – however you chose to see the difference between purchasing and supply management, Dr. Tom takes a new look at the challenges and opportunities in supply management and presents them by sharing many of his own experiences as an independent management consultant in 'Common Sense Supply Management'.
We’ll be delving further into Dr. Tom’s perspective in an interview with him in February. His short segment writing format allows the reader to get through a number of mini-cases quickly in the first section of the book titled ‘Tales from the Supply Management Trenches’. Dr. Tom then spends the remaining chapters of the book taking on one subject at a time in greater depth. There is something for everyone, including Six Sigma, negotiation, governance, bureaucracy, and strategy. Supply management professionals will also appreciate his checklists and glossary of terms.
Looking back on Dr. Tom’s time spent ‘in the trenches’, I particularly appreciated his desire to meet a goal and then go one step further for the sake of achieving optimal performance. In one of his engagements, he was working with an integrated paper company to transform their purchasing group into a supply management operation. Using Six-sigma methodologies, they reduced workload and errors before completing a successful supplier rationalization effort. Rather than considering the transformation complete just because expectations had been met, he and his team took the additional step of putting a p-card program in place for their ‘superusers’, eliminating nearly all paperwork.
Other themes of note include the need to have empathy for suppliers in order to establish collaborative relationships and balancing the importance of social media with the effectiveness of face-to-face communication. Technology has its place somewhere behind enabled people and process. As Dr Tom puts it, “The procurement must come before the e”.
Dr. Tom’s deep experience and long career in the supply management space make this a book best related to by practitioners with some experience in the field rather than a primer for those new to the game. As to which trenches you currently find yourself in: supply chain, procurement, and purchasing professionals in any industry will benefit from Dr. Tom’s experiences and honest retelling of both successes and lessons learned.