Every day, my inbox is bombarded with requests for feedback. Most requests I honor because I am a data nerd and I know there's some fellow data nerd behind the scenes who really needs the insight for their business case. Also because my husband is a PhD and we spent several years of our marriage dedicated to quantitative assessments - I have seen tears spilled over empty questionnaires.
Many survey requests I archive for later because I want to see how our partners and competitors collect data and use it to shape their programs. But mostly, I just think it is incredibly important to share your opinion when asked. (I could write a whole different blog on when NOT express your opinion, mostly from first-hand experience.)
This is a list of the top 7 reasons why I think people should respond to SIG surveys in particular and surveys in general.
SIG Member Input Drives Content Creation
As sourcing professionals, you are really good at understanding the value of your partnerships and ensuring you realize that value -- that is why we have strategic sourcing, negotiations, performance measurement and things like vested sourcing. Providing your input to SIG about what you need from our partnership is critical to us delivering the content, the speakers, the tools, the connections and the awareness you expect from us. You are paying for it, so let us know how we can serve you!
Expressing Your Opinion Is Good for Mental Health
Get it off your chest, share your concerns and join a community of people who are facing the same problems as you. We know your leadership, your customers and your team are all leaning on you to make 2021 successful. Telling someone about this can be extremely helpful, because it means someone is in your corner listening.
Mary Zampino, Vice President – Content, Research & Analytics
Career procurement professional turned author Peter Smith, MA, FCIPS, FRSA, recently joined the Sourcing Industry Landscape Podcast to lift the lid on some of the worst procurement scams in history, offers practical advice on avoiding embarrassing mistakes, and shares how to make sound, strategic procurement decisions.
If you're going back to 2019 is when you wrote the book, can you share some of their global disasters or the big stories that you included in the book back then?
When it comes to procurement failures, there are many areas, and some of them do not really understand what you're buying. And that can be something very simple, like the printing equipment the Irish government bought that didn't actually fit into the building they were putting it in. Or much more complex technology failures and so on.
But then, there are some interesting areas we perhaps don't think about so much in supply chain procurement, and I believe getting incentives wrong is a fascinating one. So, how do you incentivize suppliers to do the right thing?
And some of the failures there are clearly failures, but when you ask the question, "Well, how would you have done it, so it wasn't a failure?" those answers are not simple. Just something as straightforward as, "How do you get the incentives right for somebody running an outsourced call center for you? They're handling customer queries, doing inquiries or complaints. How do you incentivize them to work efficiently but give excellent customer service to the people calling in?
To be able to see where you’re headed, you’ve got to look back at where you’ve been.
I just looked back at my December 2019 blog post and I was spot on, but for all the wrong reasons. I predicted that we would continue to elevate the role of strategic sourcing, broader adoption of technology, and a focus on upskilling sourcing and procurement teams.
I did not predict that a global pandemic would make the world talk about “supply chains,” albeit with a focus on toilet paper, Clorox wipes and a shortage of personal protective equipment. People came to realize that strategic sourcing professionals were the heroes who protected their sources of supply or quickly adapted to secure new sources.
While the pandemic continues to rule our lives in one way or another, we still see shortages on components for home gym equipment, bicycles and even casters for home office chairs. So, while some supply chains still have issues, many industries are experiencing a boom year and outpacing sales over any year in the past.
Looking back at the news of this year, many of us vaguely remember the Australian bushfires, and I distinctly remember racing go karts when news broke that Kobe Bryant died. I know some people were distracted by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walking away from the royal life and Parasite swept the Oscars. This was all immediately non-news and forgotten quickly when the pandemic became a reality. (Personally, I am glad of one “trend” that did not last through the pandemic, which was padded shoulders and puffy sleeves.)
To wrap up 2020, we highlight the top 10 SIG Speaks blogs of the year. From sustainable sourcing to mastering the art of negotiation, this year has been filled with thought leadership to help weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Guide to Understanding Category Management
By drilling down on spend categories, procurement can become established as a trusted advisor to the business. Check out our guide for a category management template to build your business case.
It is hard to believe 2021 is at our doorstep, and while the immediate future is uncertain, the mid-to long-range outlook is virtually unknown. What we thought would be a ‘two-week’ work-from-home in March, has turned into a full-blown pandemic, and with it, the uncertainty surrounding it. Now, with a new wave of COVID-19 outbreaks breathing down our necks, tough times are here again.
As procurement professionals, we are, by nature, resilient. The toughest of times takes the strongest leadership and most innovative strategies. The pandemic and the consequences of it provided a proving ground for the often-overlooked sourcing and procurement team. Over the past year, sourcing and procurement became the lynchpin for many organizations’ survival, securing critical business and PPE-related goods and services to keep businesses afloat and employees protected. Throughout, procurement professionals were working tirelessly to create innovative cost savings and expense reduction opportunities when other departments went right to cutting staff and payroll.
At a time when the needs of the business are buoyed through critical sourcing and procurement activities, there is, perhaps, no more important function to a business.
Procurement Myth Versus Reality
Unfortunately, not everybody understands that. Many business stakeholders still think of sourcing and procurement as tactical purchasing and contract administrators, or bottlenecks that create delays in the buying process and upset suppliers. In reality, sourcing and procurement is really about negotiating critical multi-million-dollar contracts and finding the right supply chain partners to mitigate the significant risk in today’s market. Critical, not just in savings, but in the essential value and impact you have on the business.
SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Madison Mobley discusses how toarticulate 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
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
Amy Fong is a Vice President in Everest Group's Strategic Outsourcing and Vendor Management practice. In this role, she advises enterprises on maximizing value from strategic provider relationships in outsourced services categories. She is a featured presenter at SIG’s upcoming virtual SIGnature Events taking place throughout the fall of 2020. Virtual SIGnature Events are free to all qualified buy-side practitioners and sell-side members.
What is your role and what are your day-to-day responsibilities?
I work with our procurement members to ensure they are getting the research and support they need to maximize value in outsourced services categories. We have 200 analysts focused on the outsourcing, global services and intelligent automation space. My role is to work across those content areas to bring it all together and ensure we’re helping procurement.
For instance, developing category strategy templates with the market intelligence we provide, facilitating briefings and peer discussions, and designing surveys that answer top of mind questions. I’m available to our members to answer their questions or guide them to the right expert analyst to dive deep into their challenges.
In the time of COVID-19, this also means helping procurement teams understand how service providers are reacting and what they can expect. Also, helping them identify cost takeout and risk reduction opportunities for the “next normal.”
“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it's less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you've lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that's good.” – Elizabeth Edwards
When I was a kid, we never said the word resilience, but we did use the word tough. Being tough is just what we need right now; toughness is our ability to spring back, even when the world around us crumbles (think COVID-19). Our resiliency grows every time we flex – just like a muscle in our body. Developing a resilient procurement team likely means you are “starting over” – or creating a fresh start in some areas of your procurement ecosystem. If you’re feeling stuck or unsure where to start, you aren’t alone. Below are five ways that Procurement can help improve business resiliency:
SIG is always asking our event attendees, current and future members, and readers about their current issues and concerns. I have been tracking and analyzing their responses for almost 10 years now. While cost savings and value-add remain consistent and strong priorities, there's no doubt many are very concerned about meeting pandemic-related needs.
We are blessed to have a community of thought leaders and generous, experienced professionals who are willing to share their experiences and describe their wins.
We offer the following resources in your quest for COVID-19 related items specific to sourcing, procurement, and workforce management. SIG members can continue to search for related articles here.
In the resources listed here, you can learn how to set up crow's nest and a war chest, hear how Sprint/T-Mobile are managing the crisis using AI for their spend analytics, specific procurement best practices for today's market, how technology enhances continuity in your workforce and what happens if and when this is "all over." Plus, so much more.