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

The April ISM-New York Report on Business: Lofty Long-term Expectations

The April ISM-New York Report on Business was released on May 2nd at 9:45am Eastern and is available for download here. Please see the end of this commentary for additional information on the ISM-New York Report on Business.

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When procurement looks in the mirror, what do we see?

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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The March ISM-New York Report on Business: Reversing Course

The March ISM-New York Report on Business was released on April 2nd at 9:45am Eastern and is available for download here. Please see the end of this commentary for additional information on the ISM-New York Report on Business.

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The February ISM-New York Report on Business: Moderate Ups and Downs

The February ISM-New York Report on Business was released on March 4th at 9:45am Eastern and is available for download here. Please see the end of this commentary for additional information on the ISM-New York Report on Business.

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The January ISM-New York Report on Business: Long Term Growth Without Employment?

The January ISM-New York Report on Business was released on February 4th at 9:45am Eastern and is available for download here. Please see the end of this commentary for additional information on the ISM-New York Report on Business.

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Forget Behavior: It’s all About Mindset

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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The December ISM-New York Report on Business: Downward Close to 2018

The December ISM-New York Report on Business was released on January 3rd at 9:45am Eastern and is available for download here. Please see the end of this commentary for additional information on the ISM-New York Report on Business.

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The Parallel Gifts of Hello and Goodbye

The end of the year is a happy/sad time. We say goodbye to another year while looking forward with great anticipation to a brand new unexplored one on the horizon. Year after year, hellos and goodbyes. The time seems to pass faster and faster, the seconds sometimes dragging while the months fly by.

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The November ISM-New York Report on Business: Outlook Stands Alone

The November ISM-New York Report on Business was released on December 4th at 9:45am Eastern and is available for download here.

Like ISM’s national report, the ISM-New York Report on Business is compiled as diffusion indices –we add the percent of positive responses to one-half of those responding that conditions remained the same.  A reading of 50.0 means no change from the prior month, greater than 50.0 indicates a faster pace of activity, and less than 50.0 a slower rate. Each month is not so much a reading of the current level of activity as it is an indication of growth or contraction from the previous month.

A note specific to the New York Metro area, where all of this report’s respondants are located: they are predominantly in professional services industries. It is important to keep this in mind when we think about the context for the trends being reported by these particular purchasing managers.

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Plenty to be Thankful For

We’re counting down the hours until turkeys hit tables across America, but there is no reason to postpone giving thanks until the gravy is at hand.

I’m keenly aware - on a daily basis – just how lucky I am to have a career in procurement at all, thanks to (a.) almost being laid off and getting re-assigned to “Not-for-Resale” and (b.) the magic of modern connectivity. I travel the world from my kitchen table all year long and I ‘meet’ the most amazing people along the way. I am thankful for this whole, crazy experience and everything it has taught me.

In 2019, I'll hit the 10-year milestone at Buyers Meeting Point. I had absolutely no idea I would ever reach this point.

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The October ISM-New York Report on Business: Hotter Jobs Under Cooler Conditions

The October ISM-New York Report on Business was released on November 2nd at 9:45am Eastern and is available for download here.

Like ISM’s national report, the ISM-New York Report on Business is compiled as diffusion indices –we add the percent of positive responses to one-half of those responding that conditions remained the same.  A reading of 50.0 means no change from the prior month, greater than 50.0 indicates a faster pace of activity, and less than 50.0 a slower rate. Each month is not so much a reading of the current level of activity as it is an indication of growth or contraction from the previous month.

A note specific to the New York Metro area, where all of this report’s respondants are located: they are predominantly in professional services industries. It is important to keep this in mind when we think about the context for the trends being reported by these particular purchasing managers.

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The September ISM-New York Report on Business: Help Wanted!

The August ISM-New York Report on Business was released on October 2nd at 9:45am Eastern and is available for download here.

Like the other ISM reports, the ISM-New York Report on Business is compiled as diffusion indices –we add the percent of positive responses to one-half of those responding that conditions remained the same.  A reading of 50.0 means no change from the prior month, greater than 50.0 indicates a faster pace of activity, and less than 50.0 a slower rate. Each month is not so much a reading of the current level of activity as it is an indication of growth or contraction from the previous month.

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The August ISM-New York Report on Business: Nowhere to go but down... except up

The August ISM-New York Report on Business was released on September 5th at 9:45am Eastern and is available for download here.

Like the other ISM reports, the ISM-New York Report on Business is compiled as diffusion indices –we add the percent of positive responses to one-half of those responding that conditions remained the same.  A reading of 50.0 means no change from the prior month, greater than 50.0 indicates a faster pace of activity, and less than 50.0 a slower rate. Each month is not so much a reading of the current level of activity as it is an indication of growth or contraction from the previous month.

A note specific to the New York Metro area, where all of this report’s respondants are located: they are predominantly in professional services industries. It is important to keep this in mind when we think about the context for the trends being reported by these particular purchasing managers.

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Survey Chair Commentary: The July ISM-New York Report on Business

The July ISM-New York Report on Business was released on August 2nd at 9:45am Eastern and is available for download here.

Like the other ISM reports, the ISM-New York Report on Business is compiled as diffusion indices –we add the percent of positive responses to one-half of those responding that conditions remained the same.  A reading of 50.0 means no change from the prior month, greater than 50.0 indicates a faster pace of activity, and less than 50.0 a slower rate. Each month is not so much a reading of the current level of activity as it is an indication of growth or contraction from the previous month.

A note specific to the New York Metro area, where all of this report’s respondants are located: they are predominantly in professional services industries. It is important to keep this in mind when we think about the context for the trends being reported by these particular purchasing managers.

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Survey Chair Commentary: The June ISM-New York Report on Business

The June ISM-New York Report on Business was released on July 3rd at 9:45am Eastern and is available for download here.

Like the other ISM reports, the ISM-New York Report on Business is compiled as diffusion indices –we add the percent of positive responses to one-half of those responding that conditions remained the same.  A reading of 50.0 means no change from the prior month, greater than 50.0 indicates a faster pace of activity, and less than 50.0 a slower rate. Each month is not so much a reading of the current level of activity as it is an indication of growth or contraction from the previous month.

A note specific to the New York Metro area, where all of this report’s respondants are located: they are predominantly in professional services industries. It is important to keep this in mind when we think about the context for the trends being reported by these particular purchasing managers.

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Survey Chair Commentary: The May ISM-New York Report on Business

The May ISM-New York Report on Business was released on June 4th at 9:45am Eastern and is available for download here.

The ISM-New York Report on Business (like the other ISM reports) is compiled as diffusion indices –we add the percent of positive responses to one-half of those responding that conditions remained the same.  A reading of 50% means no change from the prior month, greater than 50% indicates a faster pace of activity, and less than 50% a slower rate. Each month is not so much a reading of the current level of activity as it is an indication of growth or contraction from the previous month.

A note specific to the New York Metro area, where all of this report’s respondants are located: they are predominantly in professional services industries. While I’m sure that does not come as a surprise, it is important to keep in mind when you think about the context for the trends being reported by these particular purchasing managers.

With that background, let’s transition to this month’s report.

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Will new startup NewsGuard address Fake News in Internet Research?

L. Gordon Crovitz recently wrote a ‘Commentary’ piece for the Wall Street Journal in which he simultaneously tackled the pervasive problem of fake news and announced the coming launch of his new company, NewsGuard.

The premise of the NewsGuard value proposition is interesting – Crovitz detailed the challenges caused by what has become a ‘news supply chain’. In many cases, we don’t get our news directly from the publisher, like we did in the olden days of newspapers. Instead we get news from another platform that is probably not dedicated to news: Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. This obscures our awareness of the actual source and increases the risk of reading and sharing fake news.

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Giving second tier data the second degree

Earlier this month we ran a collaborative piece by Jeanette Jones (Cottrill Research) and I on the alleged manipulation of agricultural data in the chicken supply chain. You can read that post here.

Right after I started researching for the chicken story, I came across yet another great example of why we all have to be so cautious when we cite the source of a piece of information – only this time the main culprit is: PEPPA PIG.

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Which came first – the chicken or the data?

I recently covered a fascinating story of present-day industry intrigue… centering around allegations by food distributors Sysco and USFoods that chicken producers (including Tyson and Perdue) have been colluding to raise the prices of chicken for a decade. This story has everything that makes supply chain an exciting place to work: razor thin margins, collusion, and federal intervention.

But an easily overlooked component of this case is that industry data sources were (allegedly) manipulated by the producers.

The Sysco and USFoods lawsuits accuse chicken producers of justifying increased prices by constraining supply (i.e. ensuring less available chickens) and inflating market rates through the manipulation of industry benchmarks. The Georgia Bench pricing system had to be shut down and replaced in 2017 because of questions about the reliability of their data.

Agri Stats (a subsidiary of Eli Lilly & Co.) is actually mentioned in the lawsuits because the subscription-based data they make available to chicken producers allows the producers to determine the breeding potential (i.e. production potential) of their competitors and change their own volume in response.

Since many of procurement’s efforts – and contracts for that matter – are heavily tied to industry data sources and benchmarks, Jeanette Jones (my Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals co-author) and I decided to offer our independent advice (written in parallel and without discussion) about how to apply a critical eye to industry data.

Keep in mind that you can always get our insight on industry data at ProcureSearch - a free, online resource based on our book.

Jeanette Jones’ Perspective: Finding a Trusted Source

Two chicken pricing benchmark providers have been mired in recent events that have highlighted, in a profound way, the critical need for using trusted, credible resources. It should be noted our focus here is on one aspect and that these stories are complex as there are many factors involved with determining truthful pricing benchmarks for not only poultry, but for all agriculture commodities.

Agri Stats (a subsidiary of Eli Lilly & Co) is connected with the Sysco and US Foods lawsuits because its data made available information about chicken production that provided competitive advantage to a select few. The Georgia Premium Poultry Price Index (GPPPI), which replaced Georgia Department of Agriculture’s (GDA) Georgia Dock chicken price index in January 2017, is in the news once again as it ceased to operate this past week due to a lack of available data. The GPPPI, in response to inflated price reporting concerns, considered evolving production techniques and buying practices in the poultry industry, and included changes that measure the aggregate change in the price of poultry sold on contract over three periods of time, in addition to reporting that indicates the weekly change in demand (GDA website).

In the past year, a number of valuable articles on how to detect misleading and false data have been published. One of the emerging strategies in detecting false information is to track the leading data claim directly to the primary source. In these two stories, the primary source appears to be about as credible as you can get: self-reported data by chicken producers. The challenge presented is how do you know if the primary data is being reported and presented correctly? The damage caused by the use of misleading information is felt by the businesses that rely on the data the most. This is hard to grasp if the provider of the primary data is considered a trusted source. This is especially so if you believe, like some, that the most valuable business commodity is trust.

The answer to the trust dilemma can be solved by the implementation of transparency measures by both the provider of the resource and the primary data provider (in this case self-reported chicken producers). The provider of the resource becomes 100% transparent about where the primary data originates and how it is being used. Getting back to GPPPI, an interesting aspect of the new index is its statement on verification: All data provided will be subject to verification through a random review, done through a prescribed process that will confirm submitted prices and quantities with the buyers. All formulas and forms utilized in the calculation of the price indexes will be open source and available to all parties to allow for the opportunity for any individual or company to track their own price indexes in relation to the industry aggregate index. Company specific proprietary information will not be available to the public. Regardless of what happens with GPPPI, the GDA is on the right track in regards to transparency of methodology and data origination, which is the direct path to regaining trust of past users.

Kelly Barner’s Perspective: Putting the Fox in Charge of the Hen House

In an age where real-time data is the difference between leading an industry and lagging it, procurement would be wise to understand the connections between the sources of data and the companies that profit or not based upon what it indicates. In this case, chicken producers provided data on the price per pound they earned during the current period. That data would then govern the prices paid to producers by distributors. 10 chicken producers constitute 80% of the market – so it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they had an incentive to provide either good news or no news. And while not all of those 10 producers are based in Georgia (where the Georgia Dock pulls its data from), Georgia is the #1 producer of chicken in the U.S. The temptation was just too great to put a finger on the scale for their own benefit. Unfortunately, they grew too bold or too greedy and the Georgia Dock was ‘indefinitely suspended’ in 2016. The final death of the Georgia Dock was when, in response to concerns, the Georgia Department of Agriculture required producers to sign affidavits that their data was accurate. That quickly led to such a drop in data that the index had to be discontinued… draw your own conclusion.

The lesson for procurement in this is to consider which contracts you will use the data to govern, where the data comes from, and how much control or leverage  those parties have over their costs, profit margins, and the data they provide.

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Jaggaer and Pool4Tool: A Merger that Highlights the Fracturing of Procurement

I had the opportunity to speak with representatives from both Jaggaer and Pool4Tool last week in anticipation of this week’s ‘official’ merger announcement. We talked about geography, market share, and functionality and customer overlap.

By far, the most interesting part of our conversation was about the plans for their new combined go-to-market strategy. And while it demonstrates how thoughtfully this new entity is approaching the market as a whole, it also provides an excellent opportunity for procurement to reflect upon the increasing granularity of spend management.

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