SIG University

Intelligent Automation Implementation: A Matter of Discipline

Intelligent Automation for procurement

SIG University Certified Intelligent Automation Professional (CIAP) program graduate David Romo-Garza discusses how discipline and organizational changes will create efficiencies throughout the lifecycle designed to implement Intelligent Process Automation.


Automating processes is still a challenging endeavor for multiple organizations. Lines of Business (LoB) continue to struggle to understand the steps that it takes to implement and manage Intelligent Automation efforts effectively. Bringing discipline to an undisciplined culture creates a multitude of barriers that have a trickle effect that prevents organizations from effectively automating their processes.  

Navigating the Lines of Business and Processes

During my last position at my current organization, I experienced the pains and aches from both perspectives, the LoB and the Process Owner. On one end, I represented the LoB, who was trying to automate the due diligence procedures related to vetting our third parties.  While the process was considered automated, it was ineffective and broken. It required countless manual tasks, including requiring end-users to save their assessments in an excel spreadsheet.  

Additionally, the system design contained a detrimental limitation that prevented users from partially completing an assessment and returning later.  The system did not have the ability to save progress prior to completing and closing their official assessments.  Further, the system did not effectively introduce business controls designed for preventive nor detective error/compliant applications.

David E. Romo-Garza, Director of Business Risk and Controls

The Soft Skills of Successful Stakeholder Management

stakeholder management

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Candace Masuda, outlines how soft skills evolve procurement professionals into successful stakeholder managers.


As procurement professionals, we are required to wear many hats. We are consultants, analysts, problem solvers and project managers.  All these qualities are necessary but not as crucial as having internal personal/soft skills. Interpersonal skills are the key to success in leading teams, negotiating and maintaining great relationships with our internal and external customers.

Several years ago, I was fortunate to attend a management training class. Something really resonated with me in that class about leadership and styles. There was a survey that reached out to several Fortune 500 companies. The goal of the study was to determine the most favored management style amongst their employees.  

What Makes a Leader

Employees were asked to think of their favorite manager, past or present.  What were the skills this person exhibited which made them great to work with? The survey results were interesting. The typical characteristics were technical, analytical and on-the-job experience. However, though these skills were at the top of the list, they were not the most significant.  The most valuable skill was the manager that had strong people skills. The employees worked harder, enjoyed their job and were highly motivated. 

Candace Masuda, Procurement Specialist, American Honda Motor Co.

Lessons Learned in Sustainability and Process Controls

business sustainability

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Kevin Schofield details why business leaders need to maximize communication within the company while focusing on strategic and sustainable sourcing to further educate team members on process controls and root cause analysis.


Merging the focal points of a diverse corporate system with the outside world's needs while managing a profitable business is always a challenge. Given the additional issues with value stream, inventory management, and transportation in the era of globalization during a worldwide pandemic make it even more challenging. Corporate leaders need to maximize communication within the company using new and different platforms while focusing on strategic and sustainable sourcing to further educate team members on process controls and root cause analysis.

Streamlining with Effective Communication

The first step in developing a more efficient and effective business is better managing people and communication. By clearly laying out responsibilities and dividing our individual and group tasks, we can more easily interweave those lines with other groups and branches. One of the issues in defining supply chain duties is developing a logical means of resupply and inventory management. Because each separate project has long been viewed as an “island” unto itself, the build-up and inventory waste that comes with it have grown.

If the supply chain team can be seen as a series of bridges between these islands or a fleet of ferries, companies will save millions in unnecessary waste. Using the techniques we discussed in the course, you can create a corporate system to increase teamwork and present ideas to management in ways that they will accept and benefit from.

Kevin Schofield, Manager of Supply Chain Management, ONEOK

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

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