Category Archives: Generation Procurement

What if Savings Didn’t Matter in Procurement

There are countless articles and blogs on the value procurement brings to an organisation.

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This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Most say that savings are just one component of this value proposition and that we need to look outside of savings into other areas of value like stimulating innovation, supporting the organisation’s corporate social responsibility goals and reducing risk throughout the supply chain. Everyone agrees with these articles and, as we map out KPIs for our procurement department or individual team members, we ensure savings is just one, albeit important, metric that their value will be evaluated on.

What happens though when you remove the value of savings altogether from a procurement department and it’s individual team members? Even from the offerings of procurement consultancies which often focus on savings as a way of convincing CPOs to purchase their services?

Other Value Opportunities

This is a question I first grappled with in Singapore where I came across organisations so cash-rich that they did not seem to value savings, were not actively looking for savings within procurement or from external suppliers, and they actively pursed other types of value like corporate social responsibility as mentioned earlier.

Interestingly, the procurement team members in these organisations also seemed to be grappling with this issue as when savings are off the table the value procurement, and individual procurement professionals, brings becomes harder to demonstrate.

I came across a great quote recently in an old article on the SpendMatters website which is from a technical stakeholders view and sums up their view on savings well: “Procurement is like a UFO — here one day, gone the next. Zapping savings here and then going off to the next project.”

It is interesting that this technical stakeholder wanted his procurement representatives to focus on areas of value outside of savings as well. It seems then that in some of these organisations in Singapore that do not value savings, other areas of procurement value get their time in the spotlight.

Here are some brief observations on three of the many areas of value these organisations focused on rather than savings. I think these are valuable as they are complementary components of value and can be applied in organisations with and without a focus on savings:

1. Compliance

For a number of the organisations I met with in Singapore a key area of focus for the procurement team was on how they supported compliance within the wider organisation. A large part of their value proposition therefore was based around maintaining the quality of the goods and services being purchased, managing supply chain risk especially around continuity of supply and ensuring that supply chain practices around labour and bribery complied with applicable legal requirements like the UK Bribery Act.

Compliance is an area that all procurement teams focus on, however outside of Singapore I have not come across many compliance related KPI’s from a procurement team or individual view other than basic ones like non-acceptance rate for raw materials or supplier certification rates. By raising awareness of the way procurement supports compliance and measuring teams against it, procurement can grow its brand away from the traditional savings agent.

2. Innovation

Singapore has a focus on pioneering advances in innovation and driving competitive advantage for growth according to Teo Lay Lim, MD, Accenture Singapore and ASEAN. I found this to be true with most of organisations in Singapore I have met with recently bringing innovation into our conversation and wanting to discuss methods for using procurement to stimulate and support innovation.

Outside of Singapore, innovation is increasingly being recognised as the key to sustainable growth by companies around the world and as Capgemini research points out, innovation has evolved from a purely internal capability to a collaborative process with the external network of supply partners. Therefore the ability of procurement to work with suppliers to identify and execute innovation within existing contracts and to stimulate innovation outside of existing arrangements is a key part of the procurement value proposition.

Some simple observations from Singapore include having incentive schemes in place relating to innovation in supplier contracts, having innovation as an agenda item on regular meetings with key suppliers as well as internal stakeholders and having KPI’s in place which reward procurement team members for focusing on innovation rather than relying purely on traditional savings or throughput metrics.

3. Corporate Social Responsibility

Research conducted by the Harvard Business School found that organisations who focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) significantly outperform their competition in terms of stock market and financial performance. One Singapore-based organisation, Fuji Xerox, describes their view of CSR very clearly, “…forging a link between long-term competitiveness and the sustainable development of society and the company…” which seems to be a view echoed by many of the organisations I have met with in Singapore.

Each of these organisations had different ways of using their procurement team to support their organisation’s focus on CSR. Some common examples included the standard inclusion of evaluation criteria on environmental, social and ethical standards, educating suppliers on CSR principles and supporting suppliers to implement improvements in their manufacturing processes to reduce environmental impacts.

An IBM IBV CPO study found that 97 per cent of successful and influential procurement teams are significantly involved in their organisation’s CSR initiatives compared to 61 per cent of average procurement teams.

Regardless of the current maturity of a procurement team though, or if it is the organisation driving these initiatives or procurement lobbying for them, clear KPIs (results driven rather than process orientated ideally) will allow procurement to demonstrate the value it is providing to the organisation.

In summary, regardless of whether your organisation is cash-rich and based in Singapore, a not-for-profit based in South Africa or is financially and geographically somewhere in between, your procurement team needs to deliver value beyond savings.

Whether the area of value is compliance, innovation, CSR or any other area, having good stakeholder communication and clear KPIs will help ensure the value your procurement team brings is clear and you avoid the sobriquet UFO unlike the unfortunate procurement team in the SpendMatters article. 

Supplier Relationship Management – Cavalry or Surgery

In my first article I consider whether buyers resort to blunt negotiation too much, arguing that a significant amount of value is ignored by not appropriately committing resources to the early and later stages in the procurement cycle.

Surgery or Cavalry

In this, my second article in a series of five, I address the issue of SRM and some of its potential pitfalls.

Much of the recent procurement press, conferences and social media has been consumed with organisations promoting their methods of working with suppliers in a collaborative manner to create value and return greater profits for all parties. Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) is the most commonly used phrase.

I agree with the outlook that often suppliers are the experts in their field; more expert in that field than the buyer’s organisation. This should not be a surprise as, for the most part, the buyer’s organisation only expends a very small fraction of its resources in any area of supply, but for the supplier that same area may represent a very significant part of its entire business.

Who Are the Experts?

It follows, logically, that suppliers may know more about the upstream supply chains and its extant inefficiencies than the buyer. It also follows that any supplier whose business substantially relies upon a small number of goods or services will have greater capability, capacity and appetite to analyse and strategise over how to extract maximum value from the supply chain when compared to the buyers organisation.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule – particularly, in the case of new product/service launches or when the buyers organisation has a lot to win or lose. Generally though, I contend that such projects which are truly strategic to both the buyer and the supplier seldom occur and are even less frequently in the scope of the SRM blunderbuss.

Indeed, when such circumstances arise (true interdependance, or buyer dominance between buyer and supplier) then I will agree that full scale SRM can be appropriate. For a majority of buyers, I assert that they might never work on a project which is of enough significance to either their own organisation or that of the supplier to warrant full scale SRM and its associated direct and opportunity costs.

I also contend that if a SRM programme is pursued, unless buyers are aware of the dangers, the supply chain as a whole may become more efficient but that the buyers organisation sees little tangible benefit itself.

Who benefits most?

A core facet of SRM is the sharing of information in a collaborative manner. As we also understand from our first, rudimentary attempts at negotiating, information is a primary determinant of price and value. The party with better information is likely to conclude the negotiation nearer to their most desirable outcome.

As such the “players” in the supply chain (organisations in any supply chain are both buyers and suppliers) will seek to extract maximum value from the supply chain for themselves – as their shareholders oblige them to do. So, any high performing buyer needs to be aware of the impact of sharing any information and making sure that increasing their supplier(s) knowledge will not be detrimental to their cause – or if it is, to ensure that greater value is reciprocated.

Once information ceases to be confidential capitalist rules and human behaviours means that parties will, first and foremost, seek to extract maximum value for themselves, sharing the newly created value only when they are influenced to do so by the other players in the supply chain.

So far, so good, but repeated experience of working with major multi-national organisations has seen them under-state the investment necessary to ensure that at least their fair share of the value created by the SRM collaboration is retained by their own organisation, both in terms of direct costs and technical benefits.

Some organisations have recognised that and have invested heavily in a cavalry of SRM personnel (who often mis-practice SRM by performing Supplier Performance Management (SPM), which I will discuss in another article) and who impose a newly created SRM process on to unwilling suppliers who feel obliged to comply with the requests of the buyer as “building a relationship must be good for the two organisations as a whole, right?” Wrong.

Surgery, not Cavalry

In the circumstances I have set out above, building tight, well managed SRM relationships with key suppliers can be critical to the delivery of a project, even to the survival of a company however, no supply chain can survive the substantial costs which an ill-thought out SRM programme imposes; and well executed SRM relationships cost money, a lot of money. The substantial additional costs – and they need to be sustained over the medium/long term – can outweigh the benefits.

Furthermore, if those personnel are not skilled in controlling the information and understanding the dynamics of the relationships throughout the supply chain, and over a period of time, then organisations may only see a hefty number in the costs column while their benefits column remains meagre. The benefits are retained by others.

The opportunity costs of employing procurement’s scarce resources in SRM rather than other tasks can be significant. SRM may not deliver results quickly (although, it most certainly can) and small incremental improvements may be more likely produced as the parties feel their way around each other in the early stages.

Unless the supply chain dynamics are appropriate for implementation of SRM, organisations should prefer suppliers who simply perform to the required specifications – no more, no less. Commit resources to work on developing specifications to better reflect the needs of the business, but do not impose a wide-scale SRM programme that can be predicted to fail.

Instead of a SRM cavalry wielding blunt tactics and weapons, I favour a surgeon and scalpel approach. Firstly, identification of a small number of appropriate projects/supply chains on which to run (not impose) an SRM programme (4-8 is normally all except the very largest organisations can handle and/or afford).

Secondly, the selection or development of a small number of highly skilled individuals to perform the SRM and co-ordinate the efforts of the internal stakeholders. So the final element must be to have a medium/long term commitment, sponsored at a senior level outside of the procurement functions, and to have equally skilled surgeons willingly participating within each player in the supply chain.

Effective, sustainable SRM cannot be imposed.

Jim WillshawJim Willshaw (MBA, MCIPS, MIIAPS) is an experienced procurement professional acting as a consultant, speaker, coach and trainer to leading organisations all over the globe.

Getting it Right on Social Media – 10 Do’s and Don’ts

Even for a seasoned pro, or ‘Master’ as we like to say at Procurious, social media can be a minefield to negotiate.

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One wrong word, one misplaced link, or even something as small as a spelling mistake, can have you people clicking “Unfollow” in droves.

Like with reputation or trust, a social media following takes a long time to build, but can be undermined and disappear in the blink of an eye. But what can you do to ensure that you are getting social media ‘right’, and providing value for your followers.

We’ve pulled together a list of Do’s and Don’ts for you to remember the next time you are linking, tweeting or social networking.

Do

  1. Add Some Personality

Some platforms more naturally lend themselves to being a bit more creative with your profile, while others are very much more suited to a more professional outlook.

It’s important to make this distinction when creating your profile. You can still add some of ‘you’ to a professional profile, but try to get the balance right. Inject some personality into your profile and people will naturally engage more with it.

  1. Use Accounts Wisely

Use your profiles in a sensible fashion, but also in a way that suits you best. Want to use Twitter to gather information, rather than post yourself? Great – look for people to follow and stay up to date.

If you do post, do this in a logical way. Don’t post a dozen times one day and then nothing for the next week. It’s a sure fire way to stop people following you. Whatever you do, don’t create a profile and leave it to stagnate – it’s probably worse than not having a profile at all.

  1. Post Sensibly

Facebook is great for keeping up to date with your friends; Instagram is awesome for photos you want to share; Twitter is amazing for condensing your message; LinkedIn can help you get ahead professionally.

Your friends probably don’t need to see your CV, in the same way peers, and potential future employers, don’t need to see photos and videos of your children/pets/wacky family. Keep the message in line with the feel of the platform.

  1. Shorten Your URLs

There are few things more off-putting on Twitter than a post that is more URL than content. Long URLs are hard to read and interrupt the flow of your message.

There are great tools out there like bit.ly and tinyurl that can help with this – plus they’ll also help to steal a few characters back for you.

  1. Change Your Public (Vanity) URL

Surprisingly few people take advantage of this on Facebook and LinkedIn. When you first create a business account, your public URL will be a stream of unintelligible letters and numbers. However you can change this to your name, or the name of your business.

This will make it easier for people to find your profile and will be significantly easier for you to remember too.

Don’t

  1. Overuse Hashtags

People still use hashtags on Facebook, although they don’t work well, while Twitter and Instagram are the key platforms for them. Limit your hashtags to between 1 and 3 in each post, no more. Use too many and people will stop following you, or reading any of your posts.

Try also to fit them into a sentence or post so it makes sense and reads well. Don’t use them on LinkedIn. Ever.

  1. Connect with Everyone

You might want to seem like you are a master-networker and one of the most connected people on social media. However, you should be mindful of who you are connecting with. Are they going to give you value? Will you ever have a meaningful interaction with them?

Make sure you’re connected with key colleagues, peers, suppliers, even competitors, but keep it relevant.

  1. Auto-post Across All Platforms

Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite are brilliant. Using these tools wisely to schedule content can save you a huge amount of time and effort in getting your message on to social media.

However, remember that each platform displays messages differently, and a post good for Facebook probably won’t work well on Twitter. It’s worth creating tweets separately, as usernames and hashtags you have included won’t display well on other sites.

  1. Just Advertise

People have probably followed you based on the strength of your profile, or the value of your message. However, these people don’t just want to hear you advertise your own goods, services or brand.

Other people in your industry will have good messages too, and content that has value too. Help share it across your network and you might find that it increases your own following too.

  1. Give Up

Social media can be hard to get to grips with, especially if you are trying to do too much, across too many platforms. Pick the one(s) you are most comfortable with and build them up in order to get the most value from them.

Don’t worry if you aren’t getting hundreds of followers or connections either. Keep trying and posting good content and it’ll happen. Remember, even the best users started at zero.

There you have it – our 10 tips to get it right on social media. If you think we’ve missed something, or you disagree with any of this, please get in touch. We always love to learn!

What Does the Board Want From its CPO?

In the first part of a two-part series, we look at what organisational boards are expecting from CPOs and the procurement function.

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Purchasing, Procurement, Strategic Sourcing, Category Management, Spend Management, Supplier Relationship Management…the list goes on.

The Procurement profession has created a myriad of titles over the last decade, which can be confusing to those not involved in the function. To complicate matters further, the role of procurement varies by industry depending on its strategic dependence on third party suppliers.

Regardless, the “bread and butter” role of procurement remains a valuable function of any business – to source fit for purpose goods and services and to deliver on time, in full and at the right price to meet the business needs.

Procurement has been moving up the corporate structure, gaining visibility in the Boardroom over the last decade or so. Today, it is increasingly viewed as a function that can offer significant strategic value. Effective strategic procurement has become a Board priority.

Establishing Good Practice

For some CPOs, their focus is on limiting exposure to commodity price fluctuation and managing supply chain risk. This comes not just in the form of supply chain disruption but increasingly reputational risk, exacerbated by the social media phenomenon. For others, it is harnessing innovation from the supply base. In addition there is the ever present expectation to deliver cost savings.

The challenge is to deliver this within a complex matrix of geographical regions and business divisions. The Procurement Leader of today must exhibit a high level of leadership capability, personal gravitas and cultural dexterity. Creating the balance between global strategy and local need is an ever present conundrum.

Establishing good procurement practice is fundamental to building the trust with business stakeholders and the Board. Building strategic partnerships with suppliers can prove vital in stormy economic times and constrained supply markets, and will be a valuable competitive advantage in a more buoyant global economy. Increasingly important is the on-going management of suppliers in terms of service delivery and cost management.

More focus is required to harness supplier relationships that drive innovation as an enabler to improved quality, productivity and speed to market.

In the second half of this series, we will be looking at what a Board looks for when hiring its CPO, and what they are expecting from these individuals once they are in place.

Why TMCs Need a Dramatically Different Sales Approach

Ever notice how Travel Management Companies (TMCs) have a hard time selling their value?

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This article was first published on WordPress.

It’s not a complicated value proposition.  “We’ll help you book travel at low prices and help your travellers on the road, so you’ll save money and sleep better.”

That’s a pretty easy benefit statement to grasp, right?  So that’s not really the problem.

Two Big Problems

TMCs compete on the wrong metric, and they sell to the wrong people.

First, the metric they compete on is price, namely the transaction fee.  Price may be the metric of choice for the procurement crowd, but it is the worst metric for those TMCs who add real value.

On to the second problem. TMCs sell to travel managers and procurement managers.  Is it traditional? Safe? Expected? Sure, but still wrong – in this way:

Travel managers are very important stakeholders, and they need to have a clear understanding of how one TMC differs from another. Same goes for the procurement managers – these folks are charged with negotiating contracts that deliver real value to their organisation.

And yes, it’s hard to imagine how a TMC could win much business by ignoring either of these VIP stakeholders. So it’s not about ignoring or minimising these key parties.

Find the VVIPs

Instead, it’s all about selling to the VVIP stakeholders – the men and women who manage big travel budgets – the folks who are fully accountable for making the tough decisions about whether or not to trade down to a harsher travel policy, knowing they’ll lose good people by doing so.

These are the people TMCs need to sell to – the guys and gals who own the travel budgets.  It’s their necks on the line for making good decisions about sending Sally to Sydney in Coach or in Business. They wrestle with the tradeoffs of higher airfares and hotel bills in return for more loyal road warriors.

Which brings us back to the first problem.  Instead of price, TMCs must sell the value of their expertise.  But not in the current/classic/me-too way that passes today’s RFP 101 test.

Sell the Bigger Picture

Instead, TMCs must sell their ability to deliver broader business value.  Value that goes way beyond that measured by traditional travel metrics.

TMCs must learn to sell the kind of business value that P&L owners care about.  Hint – it’s not about your best in class online adoption rate.

TMC execs, you gotta think and then sell in terms of travel impact on metrics that P&L owners care about.  Of course they worry about their travel budgets.  So showing how to conserve them is necessary – but it’s not sufficient.

Focus on the Total Cost of Travel

The other part of the equation is that of the impact of travel on road warriors.  All that wear and tear has a cost – a real, quantifiable and significant cost.

So it’s simple – TMCs need to show travel budget owners how good their TMC is at helping them to minimise the total cost of travel.  Not just the supplier costs, but also the real, quantifiable and significant costs of traveler wear and tear.

Getting a company to minimise the combination of these two costs is true travel program optimisation.  Any other claim about “We’ll optimise your travel program!” is typical TMC marketing hooey.

The Better Approach

Let’s make this easy.  If you’re a TMC sales exec, and you have a prospective account in mind, find out who manages the biggest number of their road warriors.  Say it’s Joe, their EVP of Sales. Here we go:

You get into Joe’s business.  “So, Joe, which of these issues regarding your road warriors are you having any trouble:  Retention? Recruiting? Productivity? Health? Safety?”

The beauty is there is no dead-end answer.  If Joe calls out one of these issues, off you go down the trail of explaining the options for improving that part of the traveler’s experience.

If Joe says “Nope, we’re good on all that”, then you’ve got license to ask about old-school ways of controlling travel costs, and hopefully bring up a few new-school ways to keep things fresh.

The point is you, the TMC sales exec., get to – need to –  have a much more relevant discussion about how travel is impacting the guy’s business.

This is a much better way of framing the value of a TMC. You’ll be talking to, and quietly selling, to the real decision makers, and I’ll bet dollars to donuts that they never ask about your price…at least not in that initial conversation.

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Scott Gillespie is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at tClara, helping travel and procurement managers build more valuable travel programs, as well as the author of Gillespie’s Guide to Travel+Procurement.

Five Gems from Eva Wimmers’ Innovation Workshop – Part 2

The Faculty’s Hugo Britt recently attended a one-day workshop with Eva Wimmers, former CPO of Deutsche Telekom, on innovation in Procurement.productivity-innovation

Last week I shared the first two of five ‘gems’ I took away from Eva Wimmers’ thought-provoking working on Innovation in Procurement. Read on for the remaining three insights from this world-class CPO:

  1. Make time to discuss innovation with your “ideas suppliers”

As part of her “dialogue rich” approach to Procurement, Eva recommends that category managers make the time with suppliers to talk exclusively about innovation. That means there’s no talk about contracts or pricing; just ideas and brainstorming. Visit your suppliers and make an effort to personally meet the brains of the operation.

This means you’ll be making valuable direct contact with engineers, programmers and other boffins and can chat with them directly about their ideas. Importantly, making this contact will start them thinking about what they can do for you. The key, Eva tells us, is to think of your vendors as “ideas suppliers”, make time to discuss innovation, and always be willing to listen and learn.

  1. Diversify your supply base to include SMEs and startups

Deutsche Telekom is an enormous organisation, and before Eva’s tenure as CPO it had fallen into the same trap as many similar-sized companies: big only deals with big. This mindset is driven by concerns that only large organisations have the capacity to meet your needs, while risk-mitigation policies around team size and insurance are often put in place that limits Procurement’s ability to engage with smaller organisations.

Eva reversed this mindset at DT by declaring that innovation Procurement requires vendors of every size and shape. The benefits of working with SMEs and startups include:

  • faster provision of products and solutions
  • new idea generation (“ideas suppliers”)
  • customised and specialised solutions
  • getting a glimpse of future disruptive technologies
  • app solutions to fix your legacy IT problems
  • cost control and cost savings
  • savings in personnel costs
  • relationships with individuals at the supplier.

In Eva’s words, “We do not care how big an organisation is, as long as both the solution and the organisation are scalable and financially solid’”. She uses Dropbox.com as an example of a small organisation with less than 50 staff that wouldn’t even have shown up on many organisations’ radar, yet now it has world-wide take-up.

  1. There are risks, but they can be managed

We know that small vendors are often faster, more flexible and more cost-effective, but what are the risks? Eva says that CPOs need to equip their teams to work with SMEs and startups to overcome the following negatives:

  • Higher financial risk than big suppliers
  • Risk of takeover slowing down the process
  • Smaller account teams
  • Often no international linked account team and support
  • Under-developed processes
  • Lack of scalability
  • Increased risk of bankruptcy through illiquidity
  • Change of key people endangers product
  • Continuity of solution depending on engineers and programmers/individuals.

Eva worked with her team to mitigate the risks of interacting with SMEs and startups at DT by implementing the following:

  • Requesting financial due diligence including detailed revenue overview. Invite the CFO to explain the finances in detail to ensure full transparency.
  • Requesting an overview of concurrent projects with other customers.
  • Using incentives rather than penalties to ensure you don’t cripple your suppliers.
  • Spending significant time on explaining your product needs and definitions as SMEs may be unused to the needs of large organisations.
  • Requesting counter-proposals from vendors, such as “What would you change to save 30 per cent on cost? What would you change to gain speed?”
  • Locking-in the availability of key individuals from the vendor teams by name in the contract.
  • Contractually requesting key engineers’ availability by name.
  • Including a first right of refusal to buy company (in case of bankruptcy) – sometimes buying is cheaper than migration to any supplier (talk to your legal team about insolvency law).
  • Defining termination rights in case of a supplier takeover.
  • Reducing the amount of interfaces at the supplier.
  • Defining one overall point of escalation at the supplier.

In summary, Eva argues that CPOs can’t afford to limit their supply base to large organisations if they wish to drive innovation. Use risk mitigation strategies to protect your operation and focus on having the right level of contractual protection for each innovative supplier. Make the time to convince your risk-averse stakeholders of the benefits of working with smaller suppliers of products, solutions and disruptive ideas.

Procuring innovative products and profiting from the ideas of innovative companies requires behavioural change in your Procurement teams. Concentrate on driving early involvement, deeper knowledge of your products and vendor landscape, closer alignment with business stakeholders, and true dialogue where you see eye-to-eye rather than just pressing for the best price.

Innovation needs to be driven with and by smaller new companies as much as by larger incumbent organisations. In short, it’s about having “an idea that pays”.

The 99 Names You Can Call a Procurement Professional

And can you guess why #30 is my favourite?

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This article was first published on LinkedIn.

It would appear (some) people in Procurement are very sensitive about their job title!

So, what’s the difference between job titles?

Not a lot by the looks of it; call yourself what you want when you want! No doubt, with many, it is an image issue. With others it’s trying to capture the essence of the job.

The fascination is the likely impact on non-procurement people who must be confused about the nature of the procurement role. Some see it as an administrative role, not engaged in any policy or strategic decisions. Others see it doing what Procurement is told to do by others who can select suppliers, negotiate and deal with contracts far better than Procurement.

A Definitive Answer

If you are looking for a definitive answer as to what to call a Buyer you will be seriously disappointed.

There isn’t one.

I’ve been doing research into job titles for a project we’re involved with – and checked our client database and a quick google – and came up with these 99 different titles. Proliferation is the word, or perhaps obfuscation (an increase in the muddying of the waters – did you see what I did there?).

You might see why I like #30 so much ;)!

Set out below is a range of job titles used by Procurement professionals. As you’ll see there’s no commonality in them and they may clash with role descriptions other employees have who have nothing at all to do with Procurement. If you’ve come across any other Procurement job titles, let me know or add them in the comments.

That’s if you can get through the 99 here…

  1. Head of Procurement
  2. Chief Procurement Officer
  3. Head of Category
  4. Procurement Director
  5. Resourcing Director
  6. Category Acquisition Director
  7. Procurement Lead
  8. Resourcing Lead
  9. Category Acquisition Lead
  10. Procurement Partner
  11. Resourcing Partner
  12. Category Partner
  13. Category Sourcing Lead
  14. Category Sourcing Partner
  15. Procurement Manager
  16. Resourcing Manager
  17. Category Acquisition Manager
  18. Sourcing Manager
  19. Category Sourcing Manager
  20. Strategic Procurement Lead
  21. Head of Procurement Operations
  22. Head of Procurement Strategy
  23. Chief Category Officer
  24. Sourcing Specialist
  25. Resourcing Specialist
  26. Procurement Specialist
  27. Procurement Operations Manager
  28. Head of Procurement Projects
  29. Vendor Manager – Procurement
  30. Buyer
  31. Senior Buyer
  32. Sourcer
  33. Principal Procurement Specialist
  34. Service Delivery Manager
  35. Procurement Business Partner
  36. Resourcing Business Partner
  37. Procurement Consultant
  38. Executive Buyer
  39. Executive Procurement Manager
  40. Manager – Procurement
  41. Executive Category Sourcing Manager
  42. EMEA Executive Sourcing Leader
  43. Global Program Manager – Employer Branding
  44. Principal Delivery Consultant
  45. Strategic Procurement Manager
  46. Resourcing Advisor
  47. Sourcing Advisor
  48. Category Acquisition Advisor
  49. Lead Buyer
  50. Head of Projects – Category Acquisition
  51. Procurement Marketing Manager
  52. Resource Consultant
  53. Graduate Buyer
  54. Procurement Advisor
  55. Programme Manager
  56. Programme Lead
  57. Manager – Category Systems
  58. Internal Buyer
  59. In-house Buyer
  60. Global Category Selection Manager
  61. Corporate Buyer
  62. Technical Buyer
  63. Corporate Procurement Lead
  64. Technical Procurement Lead
  65. Category Buyer
  66. Lead Sourcing Consultant
  67. Executive Category Acquisition
  68. HR Manager – Procurement
  69. Lateral Buyer
  70. Lateral Procurement Manager
  71. Deputy Head of Procurement
  72. Director – Executive Procurement
  73. HR Purchasing Specialist
  74. University Purchasing Consultant
  75. Hybrid Buyer
  76. Direct Buyer
  77. Indirects Buyer
  78. Direct Procurement Specialist
  79. Category Sourcing Lead
  80. Category Scout
  81. Relationship Manager
  82. Director – Strategic Resourcing
  83. Category Identification Manager
  84. Procurement Strategy & Planning Manager
  85. Procurement Team Lead
  86. Procurement Team Leader
  87. Supplier Relationship Manager
  88. Category Attraction Consultant
  89. Procurement Officer
  90. Procurement Consultant
  91. Category Specialist
  92. Category Consultant – Executive Search
  93. Procurement Agent
  94. Procurement Executive
  95. Procurement & Engagement Manager
  96. Project Purchaser
  97. Category Attraction Specialist
  98. Lead Category Scout
  99. Resourcing Associate

If you think I’ve missed any of your favourites (and no doubt I have), please let me know in the comments – it would be good to grow the list and get your view.  Always learning!

 

4 Tips for Managing Your Supply Chain Career

My first hands-on experience serving as a link within the supply chain came very early in my career.

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This article was first published on Beet Fusion.

After flipping burgers for a year at age 15, I decided to take an afternoon job at a garden centre chain in California. When school was dismissed, I would head to the nursery to water the plants.

While watering, I decided to read all the labels and learn as much as possible about the wide array of greenery and flowers the company sold. After a while, I was able to help customers find the plants they needed and design the optimal set-up for their gardens. This led to a promotion to category buyer, and eventually associate manager.

I enjoyed my time working as a buyer, but it was very stressful. Excel sheets from various growers covering availability cluttered my desk. On-site supplier visits, daily truck deliveries with fresh product and quality control were all tasks I had to juggle. Then there were the external factors such as weather and competition. On top of all that, I was studying full time for my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Working as a link within the supply chain is no easy task, especially in today’s fast-paced, operating environment where customers want everything yesterday, and competitors are waiting in the wings for a supply chain slip-up. That being said, it is safe to conclude that a career in supply chain can be rewarding and exciting, especially with buzzwords such as industry 4.0, smart factories, same-day-delivery and digitisation floating around.

By no means, at the ripe old age of 30, do I consider myself a career expert, but perhaps these four tips can start a conversation on the topic and help someone find their way up (or onto) the supply chain career ladder:

1. Get your feet wet

For me, this phrase was literal. While watering the plants at the garden center, I had no idea I would be promoted to category buyer (but my socks were soaked by the end of the day). This experience, however, piqued my interest in supply chain, and I haven’t looked back since. In essence, I would encourage anyone thinking about a career in supply chain management to just jump in.

There has never been a better time to get involved in this fast-paced, innovative industry in need of some fresh talent. Your first job will not necessarily be your dream job, but it is important to use any and all job opportunities as a learning experience.  A great place to start your supply chain career and learn the ropes would be in a buyer or material planner role.

2. Be a sponge

Whether you are new to a company or have 30 years of experience at the same firm under your belt, there is always a chance to learn something new. A quote I like to keep in the back of my mind is, “Experience isn’t everything: it is possible to do something incorrectly for 30 years.” In essence, it is important to approach your career with an open mind.

Soak in your experiences like a sponge. If you have a bad manager, learn how you do not want to act when you reach a management position. If you are in management, be open to ideas from your staff. Always be looking for ways to expand your knowledge and expertise.

Within the supply chain industry, this could come in the form of master’s or bachelor’s degree programs or various certifications available to industry newcomers and professionals. Another exceptional method for expanding knowledge is engaging in online communities and being active across social media. There are some excellent sources of information that offer great insights into supply chain strategy.

3. Be the change you want to see

Nobody wants to be around a complainer. There is certainly a time and place for constructive criticism, but constant complaining and griping could create tension within teams. Instead of joining the complainer choir, start putting the change you want to see in motion.

There are many stakeholders along the supply chain within an organisation. Production teams strive for the efficient use of equipment. The sales team makes short-term delivery commitments, but the purchasing department didn’t buy enough material for the production process, so the delivery has to be pushed back. All of this is happening while top management is wanting to see a reduction in costs and increased liquidity. Therefore, warehouse managers are cutting back stock, but this will certainly have an impact on availability. With everyone working toward their own goals, it is no wonder tensions run high along supply chains.

In order for things to change, someone needs to be the first person to reach his or her hand across the table. Instead of complaining about the procurement manager who once again ordered too few screws, as the production manager, try inviting your colleague out to lunch to discuss some of the planning issues. Start working on developing goals that can be achieved together and that bring the company forward as a whole.

4. Know your operating environment

Managing a career can look a lot different depending on where you are in the world. After 6 years in the garden centre industry, I decided to study for my master’s degree in Germany (my wife is German). During my studies, I became fluent in the German language and got acquainted with the German culture. I quickly noticed some major differences.

While studying for my bachelor’s degree in California, everything seemed like a competition and a lot of emphasis was placed on individual achievement. In Germany, it was all about team work (at least at the university I attended). Another difference I noticed, while searching for a job in Germany after my graduation, was that more emphasis was placed on education and certification. In Germany, it seems as though you can get a certificate for everything. It is these accolades that employers want to see, whereas in the U.S.A., more emphasis is placed on practical experience.

You don’t have to be working in a different country to apply this tip. Understanding your operating environment is just as important when you are working for an international company. If you are sent to check-in on a certain supplier overseas, spend some time getting to know the culture before you arrive.

Closing Thoughts

When it comes to career advice, there is a lot I need to learn, especially since I have approximately 75 per cent of my career still ahead of me. Furthermore, there is still a lot to learn when it comes to supply chain management.

However, based on my experience to date, I have found that an eagerness to learn something new on a daily basis can go a long way toward advancing a career. Being a positive change agent who is willing to tackle new challenges will also open many doors along the way. And finally, understanding your operating environment will help you avoid embarrassing moments, and may even land you a job overseas.

Buyers Under the Duvet

In this first of a series of five articles, I consider the bedrock skill of our profession and consider whether we rely on it too much. feet-684682_1280

Firstly, some readers may be CPOs, Senior Category Managers, Global Vendor Managers or other similar title, for the purposes of this series of articles I’m simply referring to us all in our derivative term; buyers.

My experience of having worked closely within procurement teams of many small and large organisations – some award winning, others developing, is that I observe that the primary focus of buyers is principally on one thing. It is ironic therefore that my belief is that it is this same one-dimensional focus that holds back many procurement teams from tackling the age-old problems in our profession.

A Story of Failure?

These are the topics which we read about with countless repetition in professional publications; failure to be heard at the top of the organisation, failure to attract and/or retain top talent, failure to be seen as adding significant value, failure to be seen as anything other than a support function.

While many readers may argue with some of the topics on the list as incorrect for your own organisation, my experience is that there are very few, if any, procurement departments that could state with authority that they are not working on any of the topics set out above.

The buying process is governed by process, which in turn is often governed by a system – this is especially true within the public sector. This list of do’s and don’ts constrains swift action and creative thinking – all of course, “for the good of the organisation”.

Or is it?

My assertion is that, while necessary, the existence of process constraints makes it ever easier for buyers to remain in their comfort zone – to remain under the warm embrace of their duvet, too scared to poke a foot out in to the cold air outside of “the process”. Instead, they beat a hasty retreat back to the core competence of procurement namely, negotiation, which delivers an unwholesome, self-satisfaction of their own procurement targets, but which leaves stakeholders needing more.

Often, too, it is very blunt, poorly executed negotiation in which buyers seek their solace. Under the comfort of the negotiation duvet some buyers perform superbly well using all manner of techniques before and after the main negotiation event. Others flounder a little before concluding swiftly with a mediocre result for both parties – often beating a single item – normally price, before leaving both parties under-fulfilled.

Satisfying others, first.

For the high performing buyer, in order to resolve the exemplar list of topics that I set out in the first paragraph the shackles of “process” need to be made invisible when viewed from the businesses perspective.

A challenging yet empathic approach is required throughout the often ignored early and latter phases of the procurement process to avoid prematurely jumping “under the duvet” to negotiate the wrong thing(s) with the wrong supplier(s). Buyers too often spend too little time on managing specifications and the drivers of demand, before beginning to negotiate great deals, the value in which quickly ebbs away following poor contract management.

It is the job of the high performing buyer to invisibly navigate through the quagmire of procurement process and do’s and don’ts and still deliver fantastic levels of satisfaction to the business – leaving them desperate for more interaction; to robustly challenge what the business thinks it wants and differentiate this from what it needs in order to add value.

Leaving Savings Behind

It may surprise many of you to learn (as it did me) that perhaps the most effective procurement team I worked within had no savings targets. Upon being asked “so how do you show your value?” they answered, “why do we need to show value?” A telling answer later complemented by the explanation that their business (a division of a global brand with annual revenues of €500m+, by the way) would never enter in to a project of any kind without procurement being represented.

The impact of their previous success was a department unhindered by spurious savings targets. Instead the interaction between procurement and the business was truly mature with both parties seeking to maximise the satisfaction of the others. The procurement personnel were intrinsically part of the business who together strived for value creation.

Please don’t misconstrue my message. I am not suggesting that readers run back to the office and tear up their savings tracker or process manual, at least not yet. But I am suggesting that careful consideration is taken to ensure you are correctly targeting the complex, multi-dimensional objectives of the business and not simply self-satisfying.

To badly coin a well known quote (Hunter. S. Thompson) and song lyric (The Killers) are you business? or, are you procurement?”. And do you know how to develop the behaviours of your team to being not merely a process driven cost cutter, but a creator of value? 

Jim Willshaw

Jim Willshaw (MBA, MCIPS, MIIAPS) is an experienced procurement professional acting as a consultant, speaker, coach and trainer to leading organisations all over the globe.

10 Career Influencing Women in Procurement – Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend the ProcureCon Europe ‘Women in Procurement’ Breakfast in Berlin.

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The conversation over breakfast got me thinking about the women who have supported and influenced my career. In my previous article, I talked about the first half of my career, pre-children. This week, I’m focusing on the influencers I have met since I had my children.

Once I had children, managing my career became a lot trickier. For me, work simply couldn’t be my number one focus anymore – I had some other major commitments that were consuming my heart and my head (they still do!).

As I didn’t have any relevant role models for my situation at the time, I found my own path for managing my career (which could be the topic of another story…maybe even book!).

The Value of Mentoring

I believe there are some real strategies to mentoring, which I captured in this blog. I have always reminded people you don’t need just one mentor, you can learn from a whole array of people. It’s not only learning about what you want to do, but the kind of leader you don’t want to be as well. You can learn both ways.

Becoming an entrepreneur meant I chose a very lonely path full of second-guessing and self-doubt. For me, the women around me have provided me with the “courage to change” and have given me the confidence and self-belief to stay committed to my goals.

There are of course many fantastic women in Procurement – many of which I haven’t had the fortune to meet yet. The women profiled here have had an influence on my career and professional development.

Here are just five more who have left a lasting impression on me.

1. Eva Wimmers

Eva is the closest thing I have met to a procurement rock star! She has enjoyed an extremely successful procurement career at Deutsche Telekom, including being on the Supervisory Board for T-Systems International, and a Board member for both BME and Procurement Leaders.

She is an inspiring speaker on supplier collaboration and innovation. Most importantly, she has relentless energy, direction and is always forward thinking – all things I think are exactly what the profession needs.

2. Dapo Ajayi

Dapo’s enthusiasm for procurement, and her commitment to ensuring her leadership team embraces social media to win the war for talent, makes her an inspiration to me right now. Mostly because I am hoping all CPOs will soon start to understand the power of social media for the profession.

I am also a fan because Dapo comes from a non-procurement background, and has fallen in love with our awesome profession! I love it when others see the scope and opportunity for procurement.

3. Georgia Brandi

Georgia was recently named the CIPS Australasia Young Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional of the Year 2015, and, less than two weeks later, was then awarded her Juris Doctorate in Law (that is, of course, on top of her Bachelor of Arts AND Business).

Georgia’s energy and commitment to her career and professional development is a huge inspiration to me (and I hope many others). She is investing in herself, learning what she can and kicking goals at work. She is absolutely one to watch in the future!

4. Visna Lampasi

Visna is one of the most successful procurement professionals in Australia. She is on the CIPS Global Board of Trustees and has been recognised as CPO of the Year. Her success has been built on an uncompromising focus on process and results.

I meet with Visna as often as I can, to talk about developing the profession and how to win the war for talent.

5. Lisa Malone

Lisa and I have worked together for almost 7 years and are now focussing on building the Procurious community together. Lisa encouraged me to start blogging and is now working on convincing me to write a book. Once again, having someone in your corner pushing you on is absolutely invaluable.

In my presentations on social media, I recommend that every executive find himself or herself at least one ‘millennial mentor’. Lisa is my millennial social media mentor and has been the single biggest influence on me “getting out there” and sharing my thoughts for (hopefully) the benefit of the procurement universe!

One Final Challenge

And finally, another challenge for you. Who are you looking to for cues on how to best manage your career? If you don’t already have a mentor, why not start looking today?

To close, a quote from Sheryl Sandberg, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”:

“The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves. Acting like a coalition truly does produce results.”