SIG University

The Empathetic Role of Procurement Professionals

A model Sourcing Organization will exit this pandemic stronger and with even more influence at the Executive level.

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Jeff Piatt illustrates the importance of a supply chain that needs to be nimble enough to adapt, not just for the needs of the business but for the greater good.


Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, was quoted as saying, “Business cannot succeed unless the world succeeds.”

As corporations navigate the global health crisis created by COVID-19, the importance of balancing economic outcomes with social and environmental values has never been higher.

Before COVID-19, we’d already started seeing a mindset shift in economic thinking and consumer attitude. Sustainability and diversity are, arguably finally, being prioritized. Corporations are thinking more about shared values than simply shareholders’ value.

Social Responsibility of Sourcing & Procurement

2020 presents companies with an obligation, not just an opportunity, to prioritize social impact and corporate citizenship. Companies that are fortunate enough to be thriving during this pandemic, or even functioning as normal, have a duty to give back to their communities. The companies that win long term will prioritize social responsibility throughout this crisis.

As business leaders and procurement professionals, we must use this opportunity to demonstrate and elevate procurement's value. Sourcing and procurement have had their own paradigm shift over the past decade. We’re shaking the stereotype that being a strong negotiator requires being the bad guy or that one can be “too nice” for Sourcing. Now is the time to be the perfect combination of empathetic and strategic. Showcase the true value of Strategic Sourcing.

Jeff Piatt, Director of Global Travel & Expense, Zendesk

The Fear of Automation - Are We Prepared?

President Trump signed an executive order for the “American AI Initiative” to guide AI developments and investments in the following areas: research and development, ethical standards, automation, and international outreach.

SIG University Certified Intelligent Automation Professional (CIAP) Program graduate Jolene Checchin discusses how technology and automation have changed our personal lives and how it will continue to evolve the way we work.


When “The Jetsons” cartoon made its debut in 1962, we could not imagine the futuristic automation they created. We thought it would be unrealistic to have flying cars (Terrafugia), jetpacks (Hoverboards), video calling (Face Time, Skype), robotic vacuums (Roomba), and much more. Now, fifty-eight years later, their future is our present, and to some, this can be unsettling.

Evolution of Technology

As a Baby Boomer, our generation has watched the evolution of technology at such a fast pace. I sometimes wonder if we really comprehend the changes. Just looking at how we can communicate today, we have gone from shared phone lines to cellphones, and we thought call waiting was a big deal! We can communicate, on the road, in the air, via video, email, text, and our social media resources are endless.

We have the ability to do our banking, pay our bills, and do our grocery shopping from anywhere we are. Some think purchasing a TV requires a degree in IT; from SD to OLED, do we really have a clear understanding of what any of that means? Instead of getting up to change the channel, we just want the ability to talk into a remote and tell the TV what we want to watch. We have appliances that cook while we are at work, and our refrigerators can now make grocery lists and place food replacement orders for us.

Jolene Checchin, Procurement System Administrator, CDK Global

Importance of Stakeholder Management – Amplified in the pandemic

Anirudh Sundareshwar outlines how managing stakeholders is well-served via effective communication.

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Anirudh Sundareshwar outlines how managing stakeholders is well-served via effective communication.


A generic definition of stakeholder management is “Stakeholder management involves taking into consideration the different interests and values stakeholders have and addressing them during the duration of the project to ensure that all stakeholders are happy at the end.” It is important to understand that this may not always be true, especially in projects where multiple stakeholders and personal stakes are involved.

However, it is essential to ensure that most stakeholders are happy with the project's end result or initiative you are working on. That is not accomplished only by the end result but builds up along the project's lifespan.

As we have learned, one of the most critical tenets of stakeholder management is communication. It is vital to know what to communicate to whom, when to communicate and how to communicate, especially to senior stakeholders. This is an art and not easily achievable. Even more so in the current scenario where most people work remotely and do not have the advantage of picking up cues (verbal/non-verbal) as you would have in the pre-COVID era. Stakeholder management in our world involves both internal and external stakeholders, of course.

Communication Strategy

For important initiatives,  a procurement professional must invest time in building a communication strategy followed by a redesign of plans & templates to suit the virtual meeting format and eventually deploy. Since this is new to both you and the recipient, it is vital that you actively seek feedback to assess your communication effectiveness.

Anirudh Sundareshwar, Director & Head of Sourcing, BNY Mellon

An Open Letter to Procurement Sales People Who Want Their Products Bought

Best in class procurement people are astute in finance, law, analytics, project management, sales, negotiation, ethics, executive address, total cost of ownership, and return on investment.

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Madison Mobley discusses how to articulate value by utilizing hard savings, soft savings, and cost avoidance.


My first corporate job out of college was with EMC Corporation, now Dell EMC, notorious for its Sales Associate Bootcamp.

Picture seven weeks in a basement without food and water (tee hee, dead serious), and an exam every couple of days, 90% or higher to pass… Delicious.

The result? I learned how to talk technology very well – the bits, the bytes, the speeds, the feeds. And, at a time when the information age called for CIOs to reimagine how their company’s data was to be stored and protected, nothing was sexier than a storage array with fibre channel connectivity and two-factor authentication.

What’s more, I learned who best to engage at the individual contributor, mid-level management, and executive leadership levels. It was the same person(s) at every organization I prospected into 99.999% of the time for what I was selling.

Long preface short, knowing your product, knowing your ICP (ideal customer persona) and articulating that knowledge in your prospect’s “love language” made for a successful salesperson back then.

Fast forward to March 2020.

The day I joined Fairmarkit, the intelligent sourcing platform that revolutionized how all organizations buy the stuff they need (it doesn’t matter what the stuff is), I felt confident stepping into a sales role.

True, I had never sold directly to procurement people, but how different could it be?

The answer? Way different.

Madison L. Mobley, Senior Account Executive, Fairmarkit

Artificial Intelligence Can't Replace Human Interaction

Automation within procurement systems have developed.

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Katherine Smith shares how lessons in the CSP program informed her during her company’s digital transformation.


One of the many areas of the CSP program that I found to be of great relevance for my role as a Procurement Specialist at Fannie Mae was the Lesson on Artificial Intelligence. Being of an older generation, I can remember working as a manager when there were no computers. Inventories were taken manually and then extended using calculators or adding machines. It was a significant step forward when we could automate that process.

Gone are the days of spending long hours on the phone reading off SKU numbers and quantities needed when placing orders for products, such as the food and paper supply needs of a hospital foodservice department. 

Katherine Smith, Sr. Contracts and Procurement Specialist, Fannie Mae

This Month at SIG - October 2020

This month, we kick off SIG’s Global Executive Summit, introduce self-paced certification programs through SIG University, and have a host of exciting industry research and webinars to keep you up to date.

 This month, we kick off SIG’s Global Executive Summit, introduce self-paced certification programs through SIG University, and have a host of exciting industry research and webinars to keep you up to date.


The SIGventure Returns

SIG’s Global Executive Summit is where forward-thinking procurement leaders come to experience pioneering trends grounded in today’s new realities. SIG members and buy-side practitioners can register to attend FREE. Join for a few hours daily, get work done while engaging remotely.

But all work and no play makes for a boring Global Executive Summit experience. That’s why SIG is awarding over $20,000 in prizes from our sponsors! Register to attend today so you can begin earning SIGventure Quest points for the daily prize giveaways. You could be the proud new owner of a Peloton, The Mirror, an eBike, Varidesk Electronic Standing Desk, curved monitors and lots more high-tech prizes.

A Flexible (and Fast!) Way to Get Certified Now

Did you miss our 2020 open cohort start dates and can't wait for 2021? We have fast-track and self-paced options for all programs if open cohort semester timings do not work for your schedule! Have a large group from your organization interested in taking the program together? We also offer closed cohorts for groups of 20 or more that can start when it is best suitable for your team, and volume discounts are available!

How to Cut Costs & Boost Workforce Agility

Leaders should manage the balance between employees and contractors strategically. Beeline’s new ebook details how to create an agile workforce with a balance between employees and non-employees.

Desmond Williams, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Learning Why Third-Party Risk Management Matters

Implementing the Enterprise Third-Party Risk Management Framework

SIG University Certified Third-Party Risk Management Professional (C3PRMP) program graduate Jaclyn Seals discusses how taking the C3PRMP program has given her the resources to grow in her role and the expertise to be an asset to her team.


 When I first registered for this course, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I initially thought I would learn a lot of things that I was completely unaware of. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was learning the “why” behind the changes my organization has been implementing over the past two years.

This course took me deeper into what I need to know to be a successful third-party risk management professional (TPRMP). I will discuss how my organization has evolved, how it has impacted me, and how this course helped me see how I can grow more effectively through these changes.

Evolving into Third-Party Risk Management

My journey as a TPRMP started four years ago. At that time, we were known as Vendor Relationship Managers. My job was to perform the ongoing monitoring task. At that time, I did not know that I was performing a TPRM function under the Enterprise Third-Party Risk Management Framework (ETPRM).  

It wouldn’t be until two years into my role that ETPRM was introduced to us. I remember being told that things were changing, and my role was going to evolve quickly. My leadership team was not kidding! Not only have I have learned more than I ever imagined, but my role has also significantly changed during this time. 

Implementing the Enterprise Third-Party Risk Management Framework

The change to my role is largely due to heightened regulatory requirements that my organization has put in place. We were never really that “big” to have all eyes on us. Due to our significant growth over the past several years, we are now seen as a large financial institution.

Jaclyn Seals, Third-Party Relationship Manager, USAA

Benefits of a Strategic RFx Process

RFx is a term used to describe multiple types of requests.

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Karina Swanson discusses the RFx process and how it allows you to analyze real-time market dynamics to ensure you are receiving the right service or product.


There are several reasons you may be considering  an RFx strategy as the correct process to pilot for your business. If so, I highly recommend taking a closer look at your portfolio and ask yourself these questions:

-        Have you seen a pricing change in the last 12 months?

-        Do you have a diverse number of suppliers?

-        Do you see small gaps in pricing from dual or multi-sourced products or services?

-        Is your portfolio consolidated?

-        Have you eliminated all risk factors from your portfolio?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions, then launching an RFx will bring value to your business.

Defining RFx

RFx is a term used to describe multiple types of requests. Choosing the right requests for your business is dependent on your end goal. Start by having discussions with your team and stakeholders to identify what you aim to accomplish.

If you are looking for a general understanding of services or products, you can launch a Request for Information (RFI).  Most people use this as the first step in their RFx strategy to evaluate their suppliers’ capabilities. An RFI is a useful tool to involve new suppliers on a new project, assess the market for better suppliers, create a short list of suppliers for your portfolio or the next phase of your strategy.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is sent to specific suppliers (possibly your short list) requesting a solution for specific problems and gives suppliers the opportunity to bid on your services or products.  This request also allows you to evaluate the supplier’s skills.

Karina Swanson, Sourcing Manager, Sherwin-Williams Corporation

The Relationship Manager – The Nucleus of Third-Party Risk Management

The Relationship Manager is the first line of defense in third-party risk management.

SIG University Certified Third-Party Risk Management Professional (C3PRMP) program graduate Sandra Ilogu discusses how critical the relationship manager is to third-party risk.


The Relationship Manager is the first line of organizational defense, tasked with ownership of relationships and risks. The overall accountability of these risks, the performance and the cost management for the supplier through the life of the relationship are also key focus points.

I will discuss how the Relationship Manager (RM) functions as the nucleus of Third-Party Risk Management (TPRM) activities for a supplier with the following points.

Provides Information for Reviews and Decides on Risk Acceptance for a Third Party

It is understood that the liability of our third parties is ultimately ours. This means that the liability of the third parties of our third parties (i.e., our subcontractors) also becomes ours. An effective framework in which risk is indicated and mitigated is essential for our suppliers and subcontractors.

In such a framework, exit strategies and termination processes are set in place for cases in which the risk cannot be mitigated or when a contract needs to be terminated. These are defined by the Relationship Manager, who provides information on the supplier and finds out if there are subcontractors involved. Responses provided will trigger due diligence risk areas for information from the supplier. 

Once the relationship is fully defined and risks are highlighted, it is the responsibility of the Relationship Manager to determine whether or not to accept the risk and contract with the supplier.

Sandra Ilogu, Vice President, Third-Party Risk Management, Credit Suisse

Digital Disruption in Sourcing and Procurement with Intelligent Automation

Intelligent automation in procurement

Procurement leader Canda Rozier and senior sourcing veteran Lawrence Kane recently joined the Sourcing Industry Landscape Podcast to discuss the new age of intelligent automation, based on what they learned in SIG University’s Certified Intelligent Automation Professional (CIAP) program. They outline how intelligent automation can be a powerful tool to promote an organization’s growth and prosperity, and how – when implemented correctly – it can be targeted to improve areas holding back the enterprise.


What is a simple definition of intelligent automation?

Canda Rozier: I think intelligent automation is a fully holistic approach for business transformation that lets companies start to analyze data, provide analytics on the data and deliver digital solutions to optimize business processes and tasks. I think one of the things that has really struck me as I've learned more about and become engaged with intelligent automation is that it's as important to understand what it's not as to understand what it is.

 A lot of intelligent automation projects fail or don’t provide results – why?

Lawrence Kane: It's not a panacea, and it really needs to be implemented systemically because it's a program. It shouldn't be a one-off, because you have to look at your tools and processes and how the enterprise creates value and understand where are the places that you want to go and automate. Where are the places you want to stop doing things, where are the areas that you need to change doing something, right?

Desmond Williams, Digital Marketing Coordinator

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