Plenty of Procurement team man-hours go toward tactical execution – there’s a lot that needs to be done to keep the trains running each day. However, Procurement pros are in a unique position to become higher-level strategists within their organization, guiding business forward. To take this position, Procurement teams need to become agents of change.
The Law of Life
Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” I don’t usually kick off an article with a quote, but this one speaks too well to the reasons for becoming a change agent (and the risks of not doing so). Our competitors grow and evolve. One of the great killers of an established market player is the inability to keep up. I’m not saying anything new here, and the change-or-die edict is nearly cliché these days. So why are so many companies bad at shaking things up? More to the point, how is Procurement supposed to be the catalyst here?
The answer to the first question can be boiled down to a simple answer: Companies are bad at change because change is risky, expensive and time-consuming. The bigger the company, the heavier the lift. And, hey, all of our success came from doing things the way we did them last month, last year. Change introduces an unknown variable.
The second question requires a little digging.
Brian Seipel, Consultant and Spend Analysis Practice Lead, at Source One, a Corcentric company
Wow, who would have thought that I would leave a conference hosted by a supplier and feel better about the world and the impact we can have on it? That is exactly the way I felt not once, but twice, at SAP Ariba Live in Texas and in Barcelona. While I adore Tifenn Dano Kwan’s influencer team, particularly Amisha Gandhi, who is the Vice President of Influencer Marketing, and Gale Daikoku, the Global Communities and Ambassador Program Lead, the person who struck a chord most deeply with me was Padmini Ranganathan. She’s the Global Vice President of Sustainability and Risk with SAP Ariba. What first struck me as odd was the combination of “sustainability” and “risk” in her title.
Often when people think of sustainability, they think of one of these two definitions:
Many companies are on missions to improve their procurement processes. One technique that caught my eye is an approach used by the U.S. government, which started in 2011 when the Office of Federal Procurement (OFPP) , a unit of the Office of Management and Budget began disseminating a series of “myth-busting” memos.
The concept is interesting because it is aimed at helping procurement people (many of whom have been in their jobs for their entire career) realize that policies and practices are much different than what they have learned over the years. The first memo explains that “with expenditures of over $500 billion annually on contracts and orders for goods and services, the federal government has an obligation to conduct our procurements in the most effective, responsible, and efficient manner possible.”
So what are some of the common myths? One is a major misconception that the government can’t meet one-on-one with potential suppliers as they seek the best way to develop a strategy or prepare for a competitive bid. Sadly, many in government procurement believe this is not allowed, because talking to one supplier can unfairly disadvantage other suppliers that are not also called into meetings.
The myth-busting memo sets it straight, pointing to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), in Part 15, which actually encourages exchanges of information with interested parties during the solicitation process; this then ends with the receipt of proposals. “There is no requirement that the meetings include all possible offerors, nor is there a prohibition on one-on-one meetings,” the memo says.
Kate Vitasek, Educator and Expert, University of Tennessee
The SIGInnova Product Forum is today at 3 pm. Buy-side attendees will interact with the latest sourcing technologies and see how they can drive strategic impact, improve profits and mitigate risk. Participants will be exposed to innovative and disruptive products that can help shape the future of Procurement.
Jeanette Nyden is an internationally recognized contract negotiation expert. She’s written and co-authored three books to date. Jeanette provides tactical, customized contract drafting, negotiation and management training, coaching and mentoring programs to both sales and purchasing teams.
Jeanette has taught at major corporations, Seattle University and the University of Tennessee’s Center for Executive Education. While no longer practicing law in a traditional manner, she is a lawyer and holds a license to practice law in Washington.
Your presentation at the Western Regional SIGnature Event is about reducing value leakage in complex contracts--why is this such an important topic?
Industry studies demonstrate contract value leakage is from 17% to as high as 40%. Typically, value leakage comes from things like low adoption rates, non-value-added change orders, lack of innovation, etc. Performance- and outcome-based contracting best practices can dramatically reduce value leakage.
Additionally, businesses are seeking greater returns from their customer-supplier relationships at the same time many younger professionals are entering the field. This is a perfect time in the market to emphasize ways to implement performance- and outcome-based principles to reduce value leakage.
It’s no secret that technology, data analytics, globalization, and other factors have completely changed many aspects of modern business. Supply chains are wider than ever, sales and procurement strategies are increasingly predictive thanks to advance data approaches, and more companies are outsourcing work and relying on contractors.
Amid all this, the C-suite has seemed relatively stable. A business might have a CEO, a COO, a CFO, or other executives, but they tend to focus on business processes within their domains of expertise. But increasingly, it looks like those widespread shifts in other departments have reached the C-suite.
Whether through collaborations or new roles, the executive level in many companies has been adapting to new realities. Here’s how they’re doing it.
The technological shifts and trend toward outsourcing have been a boom for bottom lines, but they have also made the nature of business decision-making more complex. Consider, for example, the role of a CIO. For years, information and technology managers chose and oversaw the implementation of network solutions for a company to use in-house. But now that many businesses hire outside firms to handle cloud storage, data security, and other essential IT functions, the CIO’s role has changed. Now they are having to think more about purchasing, contracts and third-party risks, like a CPO, and about strategy and long-term competitiveness, like a CEO.
As a result, the traditional walls between those positions have begun to break down. The CIO in the example above can’t move forward with new contracts or strategy without consulting their peers in the C-suite. Likewise, if a procurement officer or human resources lead want to implement new software solutions that can add value and intelligence to their departments—an increasingly common occurrence—they’ll benefit from consultation and buy-in from the CIO.
Patrick Gahagan, Director of Contract Compliance Audit Services at SC&H Group
“It’s not just about cost savings--which was the traditional mindset of the Procurement function. It's about continually improving and re-evaluating how we’re buying to make sure we’re getting the best business outcomes.” - Neil Aronson, Head of Global Strategic Sourcing for Uber
Across all industries, margin and growth pressures are heating up. By 2021, 55 percent of technology procurement staff will require additional digital and analytical skills to enable their desired business outcomes (Gartner 2017). To succeed in this environment, CPOs must focus on closely aligning their team’s strategy and objectives with broader company goals. That requires changing the way their procurement and sourcing teams operate.
Changes of this nature call for a clear blueprint for transformation. And it starts with taking a closer look into current Procurement processes--and determining how success is being measured. A key insight: when organizations evolve alongside new technologies and market trends, so must the metrics needed to track performance.
Evolving Beyond Cost Savings to Accelerate Change
Historically, Procurement and Sourcing teams have been accountable for cost savings as the ultimate measure of success.
But as teams look to transform, they need to reshape their success metrics to chart a path forward. While anecdotal and periodic measurements are helpful, they are forgotten without a consistent stream of key performance indicators (KPIs) to indicate the overall direction of progress.
Stan Garber, President and Co-Founder at Scout RFP
Shopping, buyers, shopping carts, savings, back office, JUST STOP DUMBING US DOWN!
As many of you know, my passion is to help elevate the sourcing industry to receive the attention, seat, respect (and yes, pay) that it deserves. So why do sourcing professionals keep self-sabotaging by using the term BUYER to describe ourselves? The only time this is a sexy title is perhaps if you are the buyer of fashion who attends runway shows and hobnobs with designers. Buying is what I do when I “shop,” like for groceries. We as sourcing professionals are NOT shopping.
So onto my next pet peeve, why do we have cute little icons that look like grocery carts to check out within our tools? Yes, it makes it seem like an easy process when pushing it out to our internal customers, but it connotes “shopping,” which, as we have just discussed, we are not doing. We are selecting items from a carefully sourced category after a lot of thoughtful processes have taken place. Why can’t we use an icon that better showcases the importance of this role?
Despite the disruptive winds of change brought by MoviePass, unexpected flops, and shifting release dates, the action in cinemas looked pretty familiar this summer.
Critics and audiences alike complain about Hollywood’s predictability, but studio heads and directors continue to rely on the same old tricks. Compare this to an inert talent manager in Procurement. Every day, these ‘directors’ are confronted with signs that their shopworn strategies need shaking up. The supply chain talent they manage to bring in-house is restless before the previews have ended. Soon, they’re making a break for the exits.
A simple reboot won’t cut it. Even in the era of digital transformation, people are still Procurement’s most valuable resource. To build the right team and reach Procurement’s potential, the function needs to fully remake its approach to casting and directing talent.
Ironically enough, this summer’s slate of retreads offers some valuable lessons in talent management. Grab a seat and check out what Hollywood’s biggest franchises can teach Procurement.
Look for Talent in Unexpected Places
One of this summer’s biggest disappointments, Ron Howard’s Solo is a case study in the law of diminishing returns. Even the promise of beloved Star Wars characters, it seems, can’t guarantee a hit. That doesn’t mean the film has nothing to offer talent managers.
Rosemarie Subasic is a Vice President with Hines, a privately owned, international real estate firm. She is a Procurement Executive with more than 30 years of experience in corporate and government facilities, real estate and operations management. For the past 12 years, she has been responsible for facilities operations for Morgan Stanley, with an annual operating budget of over $150 million dollars. She manages over 70 sourcing activities annually.
Rosemarie will be a featured presenter at the New York City CPO Meet and Eat event on September 12 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. This event is a three-hour breakfast meeting with CPO-only level delegates. The event topics are focused on current events locally, nationally and globally, and allow CPOs to seek input from the group on their own top-of-mind issues. By keeping this meeting very high level, CPOs are better able to share and network with each other.
Can you talk about your background and education--how did you get involved in facilities management?
I graduated as a marketing major with a business degree in 1985. My first job after college, as an Operations Analyst for the City of New York, involved collecting, reporting and using data related to real estate and facilities operations. From there I went on to manage real estate and support services for the Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) and decided to pursue facilities management as a career.