Leadership & Collaboration

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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Last week I was interviewed by Scott Luton, host of the Supply Chain Now podcast, for their ‘Full Access’ series. (You can listen to the podcast here.) Scott and I go ‘way back’ so it was easy to find things to talk about, but he also asked me some great questions about how I reached this point in my career and what advice I would give to people just getting started.

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Sometimes a post on social media connects with people such that it takes on a life of its own. That happened this week in the wake of the Ivalua NOW event in Paris.

Philip Ideson shared a picture of Duncan Jones from Forrester Research sharing a striking statistic about procurement’s self-assessed v. actual maturity. You can see the image above, but here are the raw numbers:

  • Procurement organizations who self-assess as at the beginning of their maturity curve: 4%
  • Procurement organizations who are actually at the beginning of their maturity curve: 60%
  • Procurement organizations who self-assess as advanced: 65%
  • Procurement organizations who are actually advanced: 16%

While it is fair to ask questions about the Forrester methodology and maturity framework that might explain away some of the discrepancy, the fact remains that procurement’s perception of our own maturity is significantly skewed from reality. As a profession, we are significantly overestimating our organizational maturity by a huge margin.

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“Managing others is not for the faint-hearted or the inattentive.” (P. 147)   The Self Determined Manager: A Manifesto for Exceptional People Managers by David Deacon is exactly the kind of book ...
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In a new Art of Procurement podcast series, Philip Ideson and I will  stop each month and take a look back at the podcasts, news, and topics of the previous four weeks. You can hear the January episode here:  Leveraging Storytelling To Better Connect With Your Stakeholders.

It’s interesting how different an idea can look when you consider it in the context of other information. Most of us read a few articles and posts and listen to a podcast of two during the month. When you have to look back at them, two things quickly become apparent:

  1. Even the best ideas fade from your memory much faster than you might expect. Something you read four weeks ago will practically seem new if you read it again.
  2. The best ideas live in the space between pieces of content. When you compare, contrast and summarize, you end up with an independent point of view that is much more valuable than any one source piece.

The links to this month’s podcasts are below, but here are some of the insights I found ‘in between’…

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These are tough times to be in business. Costs are rising but selling prices are not, mainly due to global competition. The arithmetic is simple: profits are being squeezed. Finding ways to drive down costs lower than your competition's has become more important than ever – but value and customer service can’t be ignored either.

I like to take an approach to supplier negotiations that I believe will help you gain an edge in these tough times. It starts by finding an answer to the ‘procurement conundrum’.

Many procurement pros are handicapped by having to wear two hats:

First there's the tough-negotiator hat. Driving down costs is a fundamental part of the job; that's why we spend so much time negotiating.

Then there's the good-relations hat. Production requirements and customer needs are constantly changing. Procurement needs suppliers to react quickly to fluctuating demands. As a result, we need to cultivate give-and-take relationships to make sure this happens.

It's easy to see how the two ‘hats’ conflict. Imagine phoning a parts supplier on Friday to coax him into running an unscheduled weekend shift, then on Monday asking for a better price. It’s hardly a recipe for long term success.

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I recently read about ‘Broken Windows Theory’ from a 1982 Atlantic article by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson. It is a criminological theory that suggests small but visible signs of public disarray, such as broken windows, abandoned vehicles, litter, and disorderly behavior, create an environment that encourages more serious crime and a systemic breakdown in orderly conduct. Kelling and Wilson note:

“This is as true in nice neighborhoods as in rundown ones. Window-breaking does not necessarily occur on a large scale because some areas are inhabited by determined window-breakers whereas others are populated by window-lovers; rather, one unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, and so breaking more windows costs nothing.”

This means that no matter how affluent or destitute the neighborhood, no matter who inhabits it, a non-compliant action will inevitably inspire further non-compliance.

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“…we need to be prepared to think the unthinkable, even if we subsequently have no plan to deal with it now, as we may have in the future.” (p. 62) Soft Skills for Hard Business by David Loseby (FCMI,...
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A Guide to Positive Disruption: How to Thrive and Make an Impact in the Churn of Today’s Corporate World by Joanna Martinez delivers a striking combination of advice, tough love, and hope. With this o...
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Procurement organizations often note one pursuit above all else: getting a seat at the table. I think we have coined this phrase more than any other in the procurement space in the last decade. If you’re not familiar with this concept, it is the desire for procurement to been viewed as a valued asset in strategy building and decision making by its customers: the broader organization. Put simply, procurement wants to be heard early and clearly by their internal peers.

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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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Can buyers create value for customers and reduce costs?

 

The two main objectives of a buyer in most organizations are:

  1. Reducing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) or Life Cycle Costs (LCC)
  2. Creating value for Intermediate or Final Clients

 

Reducing Total Cost of Ownership or Life Cycle Costs

Often involves lowering prices, but not always; sometimes to save more you need to spend more on a per item basis. If you buy a razor for $1 and you can use it for 10 shaves, it is 100% more expensive than a razor for $2 that you can use for 40 shaves. This example is simple but true and captures the distinction between price and cost.

Sometimes involves reducing unnecessary or excessive consumption (i.e. waste). If companies roll out a course that trains employees with company cars to drive more economically and ecologically, it is possible to save money. A trained driver whose vehicle only consumes 7 gallons of fuel per 100 miles instead of 7.7 allows the company to reduce their fuel costs by 10% (excluding the costs related to the training, which are to be deducted).

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I created the Lavergne Management Matrix to make it possible to share and discuss ‘Benevolent Leadership’.

The managerial aptitude of a person can be evaluated according to two criteria:

  • The satisfaction of her/her employees (whether trending down, stable, up)
  • The performance of his/her employees (whether trending down, stable, up)
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Editor’s note: March 8, 2017 has been designated International Women’s Day. This year’s theme: #BeBoldforChange is a call to women in all walks of life to push boundaries and recognize the inspiring women in their lives. In honor of this day, Buyers Meeting Point welcomes Odesma Marketing Executive Ashley Brennan and UK Marketing expert Annie Spilsbury to celebrate the accomplishments - and discuss the opportunities still to be seized – in the following post.

To celebrate this years International women’s day campaign, #beboldforchange, Annie Spilsbury talks about why it is important to her and what women have inspired her to become who she is today and strive to achieve in the male dominated industry of Procurement.

Annie Spilsbury is a leading UK based expert in the procurement of Marketing services, and has a long association with Odesma, and with Odesma’s founders. She has extensive above and below the line procurement experience in the acquisition of marketing services and has provided support most recently to Odesma’s client Brambles across the World.

Annie is mum to two young children (under 5), who more than significantly keep her on her toes! When she has some spare time Annie loves horse riding, the gym, swimming, yacht racing, gardening, socialising and having family fun. This year Annie plans to test the tribe on music festivals so as life grows, so do their experiences.

Odesma offer a new breed of procurement advisory which ensures you stay ahead of the market and improve more than just your bottom line. With nearly 100 years in the procurement business and experience in every industry imaginable, Odesma offers procurement as a service by bringing together leading subject matter expertise, technology, governance and leadership in a way that is tailored to the needs of any organisation.

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Editor’s note: Scott Jancy is a multi-faceted professional, with experience as a historian, an architect, a Naval Officer, a planner, and a consultant. He blogs often on innovation, leadership, and design thinking. In his first guest post for Buyers Meeting Point, Scott takes on the topic of leadership through times of change. For procurement teams this might mean greater contact with procurement, a new organizational mandate, or the role out of different technology. Regardless of the source of the change, procurement must have a vision for the desired outcome and the messaging to build support and spread understanding.

Change of state is the physical process where matter moves from one state to another. Examples of such changes are melting, freezing, evaporation/boiling, condensation, sublimation, and deposition. Shifting temperatures and increased pressure are the usual causes of this kind of phase change in matter.

People and organizations can also change their state when subjected to stress. Typical causes include, but are not limited to, poor leadership, low employee morale, an ineffective or excessive office management, and possible job uncertainty. A team of people can either break apart or fuse together depending on how they react to the stress.

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I live in the Boston area, so when the 2016 Nobel Prize for Economics was awarded to Dr. Bengt Holmstrom, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dr. Oliver Hart, a professor at Harvard, it made a considerable splash in the local news. I love economics in action, so I started reading more - but I never expected to find contracts as the center of their work.

Each of the newly selected Nobel laureates has a different area of focus, but both are relevant to procurement and supply chain professionals.

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This guest post is part of The Procurement Revolution. To share your thoughts or join the conversation, use #ProcureRev on Twitter or use the comment functionality below.

 

I'm Ovidiu Slimac and I am from Timișoara in the western part of Romania, a beautiful town which was just declared the European Cultural Capital for 2021. 

 
I have worked in procurement for 15 years now. And yes, I'm human. I'm a human being. And if we believe what the researchers and scientists say, all of my purchasing activities and buying decisions are made with an emotional input – even the ones I made for my company. The question is: does being human disqualify me as a good procurement professional?

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“There’s a false dichotomy between cost and safety. Are we willing and able to account for the many costs of not having a quality operation: lack of cooperation, poor leadership, waste, and incidents and accidents? If we really and truly account for them, then safety can pay for itself. Getting it wrong is more expensive than doing it right the first time.” – Capt. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger

 

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Procurement is undergoing a transformation, moving away from process and price and towards undertaking initiatives that demonstrate value for the business. Therefore, when the opportunity arises for procurement to demonstrate its value, you would expect them to seize it in both hands… or maybe not!

We want to share with you a real life situation undertaken this month. We have removed the names of those involved to limit embarrassment; both company names are fictitious, but the scenario is real.

 

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Special thanks to longtime BMP friend Charles Dominick, SPSM3 of the Next Level Purchasing Association for this guest post.

Welcome back to this series on improving procurement capability.  In the previous post of this series, I covered how to find candidates for your procurement jobs.  But finding procurement talent is easier than whittling the talent pool down to that one, perfect candidate.  Let’s talk about how you do that.

Behavioral interviewing has become a classic interviewing technique.  According to Virginia Tech University, behavioral interviewing is “a technique used by employers to learn about your past behavior in particular situations…Past behavior is a better predictor of future behavior than is speculation” about how a candidate would act in a hypothetical future situation.

 

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