Leadership & Collaboration

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

As a procurement professional, you need to be good at finding suppliers who work out as good or better than you predict.  As a procurement leader, you need to be good at finding employees who work out as good or better than you predict.  In this post, I’ll share some traditional and not so-traditional ways to find high-potential procurement talent.

 

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Leadership is a rare and valuable attribute that will separate a good professional from a great one. A leader will possess a unique vision and the ability to transform this into a tangible reality. Most importantly, a leader should inspire others to do the same.

A united, forward-looking outlook is the best way to continue to propel the logistics industry forward. As a fast-growing sector affected by globalisation and advancements in technology, innovators must be a driving force. Having access to new ideas will play a fundamental role in building each leader’s influence and unique impact on the organization.

Check out these five key signs of a logistics leaders to enhance your own professional standing.

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Millennials are known for many things, and while there is no one ‘Millennial profile”, they are unquestionably natural with technology. Business technology is changing because providers are seeing demand trends from these digital natives. Since Millennials will make up 40% of the workforce by 2020, they are a group that will improve our current solutions because they have high expectations for technology. The challenge is to meet their expectations and bring more experienced users along with them.

 

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Earlier this week, I joined Jon Hansen on Blog Talk Radio for the next installment in our series of ‘Point Counterpoint’ discussions. You can listen to it on demand here.

This month our topic was social media and how procurement is – or isn’t – incorporating it in our work. Professionally, I look at the potential of social media in two ways:

 

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Another year done, another 11 book reviews added to the Buyers Meeting Point cache. When I reflect back on this year’s new titles it is the authors rather than the books themselves that really stand out. This is particularly important as procurement is well into a time of significant evolution. In that context, the authors we read are more important than just the content they share. Their experiences and their qualifications set the bar for the rest of us – and the higher that bar is, the better.

Sure, procurement is in the midst of a change that may render the function unrecognizable over the next few years. If we can continue to attract the minds and engage the imagination of people as bright and visionary as the ones spotlighted here, we’re going to be okay on the other side – no matter what.

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I recently interviewed Magnus Carlsson, the author of Strategic Sourcing and Category Management: Lessons Learned at IKEA. You can listen to our conversation on demand on BMP Radio.

Although the book centers around the how and why of IKEA’s approach to procurement and supply chain, its content is not limited to large multi-national corporations or companies in the furniture and home goods industries. IKEA is a company that competes on brand and low costs, which makes its approaches to spend and supplier management absolutely critical to its ability to operate.

IKEA has been able to accomplish many things that other companies have not because it is necessary for them to remain competitive. As a result, their team members – and former team members, for the sake of including Carlsson – approach complex and strategic procurement with a striking clarity of purpose. There is no other way for IKEA to work, and therefore there is no reason to resist or bemoan the uphill strategic path.

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In September, Procurement Leaders ran an article by Tyler Chamberlain, Coupa’s global head of spend management, on the benefits of getting a solid procurement function established earlier in a company’s growth curve.

As he stated in the article’s title, “If it ain’t broke, don’t wait until it is.” The premise is that making investments in procurement talent and technology before problems arise prevents many problems from ever arising. Supplier records that are managed well from day one never need a massive clean up. Processes that have been in place as long as anyone can remember don’t have to overcome compliance hurdles. Spend that is managed centrally never has the chance to break between direct and indirect.

Perhaps more importantly, and as I had an opportunity to discuss with Chamberlain (click here to hear the conversation on BMP Radio), procurement has control of their internal image from the outset and can build their brand around positive results rather than problem resolution. When we hear Chamberlain’s message from this perspective, all organizations and procurement teams benefit from his recommendations, not just the start-ups.

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These webinar notes are from a September 24th webinar hosted by SIG and presented by Chris Eyerman and Alan Veeck at Denali Sourcing Services. The webinar is available on demand and can be viewed after a quick registration here.

In case you’re wondering, an ultramarathon is an INSANELY challenging combination of long distance running and trail running. Technically, they include any marathon over the traditional 26.2 mile run, but from the sounds of Eyerman’s description, they are also usually off road excursions that can be as long as 100 miles. And he should know – he has run them.

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This week's guest audio comes from Dustin Mattison. His Future of Supply Chain podcast series offers weekly interviews with leading supply chain thought leaders. The podcasts can be seen on YouTube and his blog is part of the Kinaxis Supply Chain Expert Community.

In this podcast Mattison interviews Julio Franca, a Director at the global, boutique management consulting firm Spin Consulting. The excerpt we are about to hear is the first question of the podcast and in it Franca addresses where procurement should report in the organization relative to supply chain. The full interview can be heard on YouTube.

You can hear the full podcast on Blog Talk Radio or on Sound Cloud.

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Last month I had the opportunity to speak with Dave Bowen, Xchanging’s US Country Manager and CEO of MM4. Xchanging has now released two parts of the research they conducted into procurement and supply chain. You can read my coverage of the first two parts here and here.

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In August the SEC adopted a measure that will require public companies to publish a CEO pay ratio in their financial statements. The ratio, which compares median worker pay to the CEO’s salary, is a provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank act and it takes effect in January 2017.

Some of the early, albeit unofficial, CEO pay ratios seem to demonstrate an enormous pay disparity between the leadership and workers in a company. In other cases, it calls attention to CEOs with strikingly low compensation for the position they hold. For instance, Apple’s Tim Cook has a CEO pay ratio of 43:1, Ford’s Alan Mulally has a 113:1, and Goodyear’s Richard Kramer has a whopping 323:1 ratio. IBM and Intel have ratios of 25:1 and 30:1 respectively.

Any time procurement is evaluating a publicly traded company, we naturally make use of their financial statements and annual reports, which are valuable sources of information. But is this new ratio relevant to the evaluation of a supplier for financial stability, risk, and collaborative potential? Should procurement take this information into consideration when ranking and selecting suppliers?

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This week our audio comes from a Financial Times conversation with Ian Clark, Dean of the University of Edinburgh Business School.

The core question behind their conversation is whether MBA programs provide professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to have competitive careers in today’s business environment. The full video is available on YouTube.

You can listen to the podcast on the PI Window on Business Blog Talk Radio channel.

 

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It is the worst question Procurement ever faces. C'mon – you know what question I'm talking about. That horrible, terrible question from Finance for which there is no good answer… If Procurement worke...
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These webinar notes are based on a June 17th event hosted by Puridiom and presented by Andrew Bartolini from Ardent Partners. If you are interested in viewing the full event on demand, you can do so here after a quick registration.

Based on Ardent Partners’ CPO Rising 2015 Report (which you can read more about here) this event focused in on the CPO’s agenda around collaboration, which is arguably one of the highest priorities for everyone in procurement. Even more interesting are the observations we can make when you look at the relationship between collaboration and influence.

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This week’s guest audio is brand new – it was only posted to YouTube last week. In it, Tim Cummins, CEO of IACCM, addresses the NEC user group at a recent seminar. NEC is a provider of contracts used ...
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One of the most powerful things you can do with broken windows management is to empower your employees to fix their own issues whenever possible.” (p. 35)

In his fifth business book (seventh overall) Dr. Tom DePaoli takes broken windows theory and combines it with liberal doses of lean methodology and his own no-nonsense approach to process improvement. While this is not a long book, just 70 pages long, it is a working book. This is emphasized by the pages at the back that are specifically designated for “Doodles, Notes, and Ideas.”

 

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These webinar notes are from a May 19th event sponsored by GEP and presented by the Hackett Group’s Kurt Albertson. If you are interested in viewing it on demand, GEP has it up on their site, accessible after a free registration.

This event was very ‘man-moment-machine’ in its approach to procurement’s current status and future potential. Albertson opened the event by talking about the facts that net margins have not returned to their pre-recessionary (2007/2008) levels and revenue growth is down. While this sounds like bad news and more bad news, it is really a confirmation that procurement’s search for something new is right on target. Companies as a whole are going to have to make changes in order to be successful going forward. Innovation and expanding into new markets have become the priorities as companies strive to improve their growth rates and potential.

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This week’s webinar notes are from an April 30th event hosted by Sourcing Interests Group and presented by Denali’s Alan Veeck and special guest Paul Smith from ‘Lead with A Story’, a coach, speaker, and author.

The webinar explored how professionals can leverage the techniques of storytelling to build influence and communicate an important message in an effective way. In Smith’s terms, storytelling is simple, timeless, contagious, and memorable, and it works across demographics.

Within the context of procurement, Denali has been incorporating storytelling into the training they provide to category managers. With the wide range of responsibilities being handled by category managers today, they have to function within an operating model that allows for proper division of labor. Coaching them is like cross training, bringing together a range of diverse skills that will help them become more strategic.

The lessons from this webinar combine to create something like ‘communication theatre’ that you can leverage to get your message through – as long as you are willing to put in the effort up front. What the speakers did not directly address in this event, but that should not be underestimated, is the time and planning required to apply storytelling. You have to know your audience, craft a story in such a way that it has the desired effect, and choreograph the execution carefully.

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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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I recently read an op-ed piece on the Sourcing Journal by Sigi Osagie that stood apart from other procurement perspectives I’ve come across recently. It observed that soft issues — issues based upon the fundamental mindset of employees — are holding businesses back from realizing their full potential. Although procurement practitioners often have a desire to better their effectiveness, they do not always recognize that these soft issues are the answer to their desire for increased influence and prominence. So how can procurement improve in line with existing performance metrics without loosing perspective of the larger organizational perspective?

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