You go to the three-day SIG Summit to learn new practices, solidify standards and make business connections. The Denver Summit will be my seventh. The speakers are uniformly excellent, the first-class entertainment on Wednesday night is always a surprise, and the Thursday night event is fun-filled and relaxing. But it's Tuesday's Speed Networking event that tops my list for an informative and high-energy way to make new colleagues. If your goal is to meet as many Summit attendees as possible, then attending Speed Networking on Tuesday afternoon is a must. And no, I'm not just tooting SIG's horn here. There is a sense of camaraderie that you get at Speed Networking. Sure, it is a bit like speed dating at first...but once the buzz fills the room, the air is electric. Speed networkers are trying to broaden their connections by increasing their exposure – and this venue is the perfect opportunity to accomplish that. SIG used to host Speed Networking on Wednesdays during the Summit, and I was always a bit frayed by that – why wait for the second day, when everyone can meet on the first day?! Because what we do best at SIG is to brainstorm ways to continuously improve, we changed the venue to Tuesday, the first official day of the Summit. For those who have not attended, we fill the largest ballrooms with huge rounds of tables and place chairs on either side. Nearly everyone attends. The corporate buy-side attendees move around the perimeter. The sell-side attendees stay put. SIG staffers happily serve beer and wine to help break the ice. And as if we couldn't make this event more fun...there are REALLY great prizes for the buy-side attendees – just put your business card in the bowl that is passed around prior to the event beginning. The din that ensues is lively, productive and fun. You have a few minutes with each person, introduce yourself, your company, even your kids if you must.
"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get." - Warren Buffett So you think you've seen it all in sourcing and procurement? Have you tried to weed out real value beyond cost savings? Just because you are saving money doesn't mean you've driven value for your organization. It might seem to be amorphous and unaccountable, but the "value" of a deal or contract is definable by the stakeholders in your organization. Find out what they want, and you find what drives "value" in your company. When you know what someone wants, you can negotiate based on that. Maybe "value" is measured in time. Maybe it's measured in contract commitments. Maybe your supplier needs goods or services you have, that can be applied in barter or through profit sharing. Procurement has matured into more than just negotiating the best contract for the best price. The creativity and innovation that can spur both value and savings comes from doing deals that exceed the simple exchange of dollars for services. Here are a few things to consider when putting together a deal: Deal summary – create an overview of the deal:
"I've noticed that when I'm selling a lot of records, certain things become easier. I'm not talking about getting a table in a restaurant." - David Byrne How does YOUR sourcing or procurement team sell themself to internal stakeholders? The concept of "partnering" or "selling" internally to raise awareness of Procurement's value is becoming a conversation at higher levels. Marketing and Legal are two of the more challenging departments to convince that Procurement can help. Whether your story is providing more money in the budget because of savings or weeding the budget down, both these departments are substantial expense line items in a corporate P&L and Procurement can provide value on either front. The marketing department may well be your best bet at front-line partnership in lieu of creating a case study to sell corporate-wide. Why not leverage a strong relationship with them, and then have them "market" Procurement internally with case studies that prove value-add? Being able to provide the marketing department with well-qualified procurement professionals who have marketing category experience may be key. A marketing category manager will understand the necessary relationships between people involved in agency selection and negotiation versus the contract itself. This professional will also understand that cost, while critical in the equation, is not the only driver. The intricacies of strategic marketing partnerships can be a gray area, and the Marketing Department will be more apt to give up their contract-side negotiations to someone who understands this and can align priorities instead of using typical procurement tactics. 'Tis the season to take your CMO or Vice President of marketing out for a peppermint mocha...and align your strategy with theirs. In turn, you may end up finding your best advocate to internal stakeholders.
"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often." Winston Churchill's concept of perfection is easier said than done. Bringing change to a large organization takes more than philosophy. It demands buy-in from the top down, and an organization's willingness to be nimble. Large organizations enjoy longevity because they remain nimble and open to change. Take telecom companies, for example: in the last 20 to 30 years there have been multiple iterations of technologies implemented – and not necessarily by telecoms themselves. Change is rampant and necessary to stay in business, and nowhere has change been more evident than in the Procurement group. Although Procurement has always had a mission of controlling costs, partnering with other business units, such as Marketing, provides many opportunities for improved category management. The relationship between Marketing and Procurement has been proven to work best when each of the respective departments collaborate on budgetary and contractual needs. Procurement can provide Marketing with excellent support and take the negotiation and legal handshake over so Marketing can focus on their mission: to brand the company to the consumer and support product sales. Granted, it is easier to "perfect and change often" when all consumer-facing campaigns are under Corporate Marketing and one Vice President. Procurement can readily support Marketing's needs by creating a Marketing Category and dedicating a Strategic Procurement Manager and team to handle RFPs, contracts, renegotiation, score carding and vendor management for media buys, print buys, public relations and advertising agencies. The Procurement department can show Marketing how they can manage the spend and bring savings against the marketing P&L, as well as save time. The relationship between the two departments should be very collaborative, for example:
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said 'faster horses.' - Henry Ford It seems counterproductive to put Creatives in a box. They are meant to be thinking outside the box. Yet finding a way to work outside the box when it comes to sourcing the marketing function can be a challenge. At the SIG Global Summit in Fort Worth, I was lucky to be able to sit in on a session given by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and LogicSource. UFC's marketing production team was in a grudge match with managing terabytes of digital assets while attempting to responsively support a rapidly growing global brand. With over 31 major events in 2012 alone, the vast accumulation of assets and dramatic increase in workload put the creative and procurement teams in a stranglehold. The UFC's internal marketing department took off their gloves and took up the fight partnering with LogicSource's OneMarket solution to create a system that automated the end-to-end process from creative requests complete to sourced services. Contracts and pricing on the backend for services were negotiated and monitored within the cloud-based system, greatly decreasing time and money spent on the bid process out of the marketing department. The deals were in place, the pricing locked in, and at the click of a button, video production or print work could be bought and executed seamlessly. By taking a year to fine-tune, document process and implement the system, the UFC put chaos into submission through the integration of digital asset management and eProcurement, cutting significant time out of the creative approval and procure-to-pay processes while enabling a lean buying team to more effectively manage its complex marketing production spend categories. This was a marketing driven project, however, and its success was driven by the fact that they had buy-in from the marketing side to begin with.