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

Recommended Procurement Webinars March 11-15: Beyond Trends, CLM to Stand the Test of Time, and Gig Economy Spend

As we crawl towards spring, there are plenty of webinars taking place, but also some live events happening over the next few weeks. ProcureCon Indirect East is Florida on March 25-27 and Ariba Live is in Austin, Texas April 1-3.

If you are planning your webinar schedule beyond this week, I recommend a new listing from HfS Research on March 28th at 11am ET: ‘Integrated Automation: Why You’ve Been Doing It All Wrong’. This panel formal webinar will feature speakers from HfS, KPMG, and a ‘mystery’ Chief Data Officer “To be Announced”.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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Recommended Procurement Webinars March 4-8: After Due Diligence and Total Talent Management

This week is much slower than last week with only two events currently on the calendar. As of right now it looks like the reverse of the proverbial saying about March: on our calendar it is coming in like a lamb but shaping up to go out like a lion. If you are planning your webinar schedule further in advance, there are two different events I recommend looking at.

The first is an Ivalua sponsored event focused on The Hackett Group’s Procurement Key Issues 2019 CPO Report on March 26th at 11am. Philip Ideson (Art of Procurement) and I discussed some of the most interesting findings of the report re: procurement’s capability needs v. investment on last week’s This Month in Procurement podcast.

The other event you may want to check out is from ProcureAbility and SIG – also on March 26th. The webinar is titled ‘Category Management in Only 30 Days!’ (their exclamation point). It will help you anticipate the gaps and minefields that might otherwise prevent you from rolling out a category management program… yes, in only 30 days.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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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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Book Review: The Self Determined Manager

“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 busy fellow professionals tell me they like to read. It is straightforward, actionable, clear on a key central philosophy, and it is not so long that it can double as a door stop.

I come from a family of teachers, a profession that I would be very poorly suited for, and there was a connection between teachers and managers that came to mind as I read this book. Both roles are much harder than they look, require a certain kind of personality or demeanor in addition to training and experience, and there are far too many people in both roles that are lousy at them. I believe it is safe to say that anyone who has been in the workplace for more than a couple of years has had a bad manager, but very few of us can say we’ve had exceptional ones.

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Recommended Procurement Webinars Feb 25 – March 1: Contract Robots, Contract Economics, Sales and Use Tax in Contracts

We have another busy week on the calendar with a focus on - contracts! All three of this week’s picks take a completely different look at the topic, from automation to economics to the incorporation of taxes. If you are planning your webinar schedule further in advance, I recommend ‘What happens after due diligence? Don’t stop there.’ from LexisNexis on March 5th.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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Recommended Procurement Webinars Feb 18-22: Sourcing Optimization, Cost Transparency and 2019 Tech Trends

This week and next week are busy, with 8 webinars currently scheduled for each. One thing I’ve noticed since starting back up in January is that webinar hosts are posting events with a bit less lead time than usual – sometimes less than a week – so make it part of your routine to look at our full calendar each Monday (or Friday afternoon) if you’d like to see a complete list.

If you are planning your webinar schedule further in advance, I recommend The Future of Procurement: Apps, Talent, & Innovation from Ardent Partners and Tradeshift on February 28th at 1pm ET.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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Recommended Procurement Webinars Feb 11-15: CFO Sourcing, AI Game Planning and Organizational Psychology

The month of February is quickly filling up, and we had several last minute additions to the calendar for this week. If you are planning further in advance, I recommend ‘Vested for Success - An Innovative Approach to Complex Services Acquisition’ from Public Spend Forum and Vested’s Kate Vitasek on February 20th.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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Transforming the Perception of Procurement in your Organization

While the strategic vision of an organization is usually consistent across departments, each function’s strategies to achieve that vision do not always align.  Just as legal and HR are there to ensure that all actions and hires are made in the best interest of the organization and its people, procurement exists to ensure that all purchasing decisions are made in the best interest of the organization. 

As a strategic sourcing consultant, one of the biggest challenges I face on a daily basis is convincing the stakeholders in a particular category that we are not there to be an unnecessary roadblock to them securing goods and services.  As more and more companies are transforming the way they purchase, it is critical that internal perception of procurement shifts for the better.  It is time for procurement to become its own PR department. 

Below are some common perceptions of procurement and the truths we need to communicate to unite everyone in pursuit of overall organizational goals.

 

The Perception: Procurement is a necessary evil that delays the purchase of goods and services

The Spin: Procurement is a help desk function, similar to IT

The most common reason stakeholders avoid working with procurement is because they want to avoid a long, drawn out sourcing process that requires them to do a lot of heavy lifting. Procurement provides purchasing expertise to support the decision making process in any scenario. Stakeholders should feel comfortable reaching out for ad-hoc advice on supplier searches, negotiation tactics, service level agreement development, and supplier management. If stakeholders are able to tailor the level of involvement that procurement has, they are more likely to reach out and ask for advice and support.  This is a win/win for the organization as the stakeholders are less constricted and decisions are made in line with a strategic procurement mindset.

 

The Perception: Procurement only goes after lowest cost and does not know enough about the product or service to identify quality

The Spin: Procurement is a stakeholder liaison with expertise in negotiation and relationship building.  All final decisions are based on collaboration with and acceptance from the stakeholder team.

Procurement should not be positioned as an absolute expert in all areas of operation or categories of spend.  Engineering and quality departments often distrust procurement as they seem to exist just to cut costs. Procurement should emphasize their expertise in building mutually beneficial supplier relationships and best-in-class contracts. While the sourcing process does (and must) evaluate cost, it also looks at qualitative aspects of supplier capabilities and aims to align those with stakeholder needs.  Quality and competitive pricing can coexist.

 

The Perception: Procurement still runs lengthy RFPs when I already know which vendor I want

The Spin: Procurement can ensure best in class pricing with any vendor, and can assist in building a business case to warrant an award or a switch

There are plenty of justifications for switching and selecting suppliers that go beyond price, from increased service levels to superior reporting capabilities and product mix. Procurement is actually focused on the total cost of ownership within each category. When a stakeholder receives a proposal from a prospective supplier and does not engage procurement, the result may be an increase in cost beyond the unit price of the product.  By bringing procurement into the conversation, they can evaluate soft cost savings and value adds outside of price, and assist in building a business case to justify the transition. If the total cost of ownership is above market, procurement can take the lead in negotiating better pricing, leading to a win for the stakeholder and the organization’s bottom line.

 

The Perception:  Engaging procurement will only hurt my future budget allocation

The Spin: Procurement exists to stretch your budget dollars

The final perception needs to be tackled by procurement, stakeholders, the finance team, and enterprise leadership. Reducing costs should allow for the creation of emergency funds to be used throughout the year, and reinvested back into the department.  Procurement should be engaged in the annual budget planning process and optimize all spending.

The key to addressing all of these perceptions is exposure, consistency and familiarity.  Procurement needs to be proactive in establishing their value proposition and communicating it to other departments.  Once traction is gained, success stories should be communicated via newsletters and case studies to further drive engagement and reinforce improved perceptions. Alignment across all teams is critical to organizational success, and procurement can play a huge role in increasing the bottom line.

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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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Recommended Procurement Webinars Feb 4-8: Engaging the Business for Digital Transformation and Cloud Solutions Beyond the Bolt

As we start the month of February, events about 2019 planning are starting to give way to events with broader themes: specifically digital transformation and AI. In fact, 2019 may just be the year of ‘More of What We Saw in 2018’. I’ll continue looking for a new topic, but until then: transformation and automation it is!

If you are planning further in advance, I recommend an upcoming event from Philip Ideson at Art of Procurement: AOP Live. It is all about getting participants to engage with subject matter experts rather than zoning out or dozing off during an overly scripted slide-driven webinar. In February, AOP Live will feature Sammeli Sammalkorpi (Sievo) in a discussion about Establishing Your Procurement AI Game Plan.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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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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Recommended Procurement Webinars Jan 28 – Feb 1: 2019 Trends and Predictions, Leadership Lessons Learned from 2018

If you have a tendency to look ahead to Friday every week, just a warning: Friday is the start of February. (What?) On the bright side, industry webinar hosts seem to have gotten back into the swing of things after the holidays, as I added 7 new webinars to the calendar this week.

If you are planning further in advance, I recommend 'The Psychology & Business Case for Workplace Organization' on Feb. 15th from Supply Chain Now Radio, Talent Stream, APICS Atlanta, and Beau Groover, Founder & President of The Effective Syndicate.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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Recommended Procurement Webinars January 21-25: Controlling Contingent Labor and Stand Out Sourcing

Although the two webinars I’ve recommended below are generally applicable, this week’s webinars also include a two specific applications of procurement process and technology in Higher Ed. Check out the full events calendar if you are interested. If you are planning beyond this week, take a peek at Tradeshift’s event on e-Invoicing and supply chain finance on January 31st or Coupa’s webinar about strategic sourcing optimization on February 19th. Both of those are good bets for expanding your knowledge.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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Recommended Procurement Webinars January 14-18: AP Excellence and the Digital Transformation of SRM

Welcome back – and happy new year! We are officially kicking off 2019 with this week’s webinar recommendations. If you are looking for a longer term recommendation, check out ‘Hey Nineteen: Procurement’s Playbook for 2019’ from SIG and Zycus on January 29th at 1pm ET. It will feature the findings from The Hackett Group’s 2019 “Procurement Key Issues” survey, including key topics such as the acceleration of digital transformation in procurement and a look at the ongoing strategic initiatives and technology adoption trends that support it.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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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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Data & Socially Responsible Procurement

CSR is No Longer an Option . . .

In an evolving landscape of regulations, social values, and consumer preferences, the Triple Bottom Line has become an essential framework of business design. The concept underpins Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by asserting that growth and profitability should not have negative social and environmental impacts. CSR is becoming an imperative for success, one that procurement plays a central role in. Socially responsible procurement aims to ensure that suppliers are adhering to quality practices in key areas such as diversity and inclusion, environmental protection, health and safety, and human rights.

Adherence to the Triple Bottom Line is more than just the right thing to do; it also comes with a number of competitive business advantages. In particular, it reduces the risk of both supply chain disruption and negative publicity.

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The Procurement Conundrum: Savings or PR?

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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Recommended Webinars December 10-14: A Transformation Framework, Sleep Number’s Negotiation Advice, Looking Back at 2018

So… this is it. This is the last week of webinar recommendations for 2018. There are no less than 12 events taking place this week (and one on the calendar for next week). My official events coverage will start again for the week of January 7th, but I’ve already started adding events to January, so feel free to peek ahead. If you are planning your webinar schedule beyond this week (or year!), I recommend ‘5 Steps to Reach AP Excellence in 2019’ from basware and Ardent Partners on January 15th.

BTW: If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to be sure you get my weekly recommendations in your Inbox each Monday.

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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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