cpo

The Magical CPO

Chief Procurement Officer

My first Op-Ed, Open Letter to the C-Suite, appealed to the C-Suite to hold Procurement accountable for not investing in technology.  The blog referenced a Gartner perspective that only 22% of procurement leaders have a long-term digital strategy.  I touched a nerve, invoking comments from a few readers suggesting there are procurement leaders - the Magical CPO - that understand how to navigate the C-Suite to get the budget for technology investments.

To give credit where credit is due, Nikesh Parekh, CEO of Suplari (Now Microsoft), is the source for the term Magical CPO.  It describes a procurement leader that understands how to build business cases and secure budgets for technology investments that improve their department's efficiency and effectiveness while supporting the needs across all business disciplines. The Magical CPO persona, by definition, is juxtaposed with the technology laggard. If you saw my first Op-Ed, I noted that 78% of procurement leaders are technology laggards without any digital automation strategy.

The Magical CPO persona

Let’s unpack the Magical CPO persona to agree on common qualities. My views are based on my observations and experiences over a 30+ year career in procurement. There is no Wikipedia page for Magical CPO nor a Google search that prompts any relevant hits - I checked.  While I understand there are more sources than Wikipedia and Google, the point is that there is generally no standard persona for the Magical CPO. Here’s my interpretation of what the Magical CPO must possess: 

Greg Tennyson, SVP of Strategy & Procurement, Fairmarkit

People And Process Transformation Before Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation

In this fourth and final installment in this Keynote Series, we talk about the "judicious deployment" of emerging technology without losing sight of the human side of digital transformation.

To achieve this "balance," Mattress Firm's VP of Indirect Procurement, Quave Burton, discusses the importance of motivation through employee recognition while challenging her team to "stretch themselves" to learn new and better ways to achieve strategic objectives.

Ground Zero

For Quave, the journey of transforming procurement at Mattress Firm started at ground zero.

When I say ground zero, there wasn't a procurement department when she started working with the company. As she explains it, she was immediately on a transformation journey, starting with getting the right people to do the right things.

Fortunately, and with the full support of senior leadership, the organization was ready and willing to make changes.

At this point, I think it is essential to stop and stress the benefits of having to build the foundation for procurement transformation, starting with people before introducing technology. As anyone who has been in our industry for some time will tell you, in the past traditional ERP-based procurement initiatives have generally failed to achieve the expected results. Many studies estimate that the failure rate is between 50% and 75% - some even put that number higher.

The three main reasons for this less than stellar performance are poor User Experience, data inaccuracy, and analytics.

Despite introducing more advanced and intuitive "by-the-drink" technology solutions, CPO's dissatisfaction with digital initiatives remains high.

Dawn Tiura, President and CEO, SIG

It’s Time to Take a Holistic Approach to Managing Procurement Risks

Holistic Approach to Managing Procurement

In what was traditionally a siloed function, separate from overall executive and organizational strategy, procurement professionals have more recently become integral to company operations and resilience. This prominence grew during the COVID pandemic, which broke down barriers between departments and raised attention to the importance of Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) and other procurement personnel, and the work they do.

The Power of Procurement

The procurement team is at the interface between the enterprise and the extended enterprise: the organization and its suppliers. Procurement professionals are in the position to understand the risks and the wider ecosystems their suppliers operate in. They, like no other function, can make predictive connections and be able to quickly identify risks specific to one supplier or those endemic to the wider ecosystem, and quickly pivot alongside the business accordingly. And it’s not just risk, but opportunity and innovation for the enterprise, such as identifying new products, materials, capabilities and offerings.

With this greater inclusion of procurement professionals into organizational strategy, CPOs and similar roles need to begin to reframe how the function can best serve the organization, and how other departments can serve them. One key to this new way of thinking is framing procurement around holistic risk management, particularly when it comes to managing third parties, suppliers and the supply chain.

Best Practices for Taking a Holistic Approach to Procurement

While not everything in this shift can be implemented immediately, there are general aspects of agility that should be on procurement’s agenda, including:

Hannah Tichansky, Marketing Campaign Manager, Aravo Solutions

Developing a Clear and More Certain Path to Digital Transformation Success

Digital transformation success

SIG and Globality, the world’s only AI-powered Marketplace and Platform for B2B services, partnered to produce a study looking into why B2B services remains one of the greatest untapped opportunities to drive business value


Almost 70% of Globality and SIG survey respondents indicate that they are either proceeding as planned or are now accelerating their digitization initiatives.

However, bridging the gap between intent, action, and a positive outcome has never been an easy endeavor. In fact, and as pointed out in her latest book, Trade wars, pandemics, and chaos: How digital procurement enables business success in a disordered world, Dr. Elouise Epstein talks about how people are coming clean about the challenges with their existing or historical tech. In other words, organizations need more than just a desire to digitally transform the enterprise if they hope to avoid the same pitfalls that have undermined initiatives in the past.

The purpose of this article is to leverage the insights gained from the Globality and SIG survey to create a clear and more certain path to digital transformation success.

Clear Benefits

According to most survey respondents, there are several priorities when it comes to digitization in critical areas. These top priority areas include the rapid identification, selection, and engagement of suppliers, the ability to react with speed to market dynamics, and the capability to drive revenue through innovation.

While varying degrees of organizational maturity regarding procurement processes may result in some differences in the priority of identified objectives, there is generally no argument that the benefits of a progressive digital strategy are clear.

Geoff Talbot, Chief Growth Officer, SIG

For Better or Worse, It’s Been a Year to Remember

To be able to see where you’re headed, you’ve got to look back at where you’ve been.

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.)

Dawn Tiura, President and CEO, SIG

2021 – The Year of Bringing Buying To the Board Room

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. 

Sam Vail, Managing Partner, LogicSource

This Month at SIG – November 2020

Here's your monthly update on the latest thought leadership, networking events and training with SIG.

After wrapping up the 59th Global Executive Summit, we are excited to bring you even more resources and connect you with a network of people to help you be your best.  


Summit Resources On-Demand

Following each Summit, we publish an anthology that provides a snapshot of every Summit presentation and also includes speakers’ contact information if you’d like to follow up with them. The 2020 Global Executive Summit hosted over 40 keynote and breakout sessions.

This is a great resource for an overview of the content to share with your team members who were not able to attend and to demonstrate key takeaways and ROI to your executive team. This is a benefit of membership, so if you’re not a member inquire today!

Finish the Year Strong

As we near the end of 2020, one lesson is clear: Sourcing and procurement teams equipped with advanced skills, technologies and best practices not only weathered supply chain disruptions but were able to pivot and innovate.

As we enter 2021, the rehiring wave will focus on procurement professionals with modern and diverse skillsets based on today’s best practices. Understanding the current business landscape will be essential to secure your future.

SIG University is enrolling for programs that start in January and February. The free curriculum guide will provide you with detailed information on all four programs, including strategic sourcing, supplier management, third-party risk management and intelligent process automation. Prefer to go at your own pace? Inquire about the new self-paced option.

Stacy Mendoza, Senior Marketing Manager

This Month at SIG – August 2020

Virtual trainings, webinars and industry research updates for SIG members in August.

This month, we continue with the monthly CPO and Executive Virtual Series, welcome a new round of students into the virtual classroom, and have exciting industry research and webinars to keep you engaged and up to date.


August CPO & Executive Virtual Series

Senior executives are invited to join SIG and Scout RFP, a Workday Company, for an interactive event on August 12 from 1 pm to 3 pm ET. The format is open mic, collaborative and topic will focus on shifting from reactive to proactive as we move into the second half of 2020. The featured speaker is Karen Coker, Head of VMO & Strategic Sourcing at University Federal Credit Union.

To join this event, RSVP on our website. There is a cap on attendance to keep the conversation flowing and to build connections with other buy-side industry executives.

Set Yourself Apart from the Rest

An area that has seen an uptick in hiring amid record unemployment are jobs in sourcing, procurement and supply chain management, but the skill sets required for these positions are now more specialized than they were pre-COVID-19. 

With more people working from home, SIG University is offering an additional semester to help sourcing, procurement, risk and supply chain professionals earn an industry certification. Certification programs are a cost-effective alternative to lengthy degree programs, especially in an economic recession.

Stacy Mendoza, Senior Marketing Manager

Calling all CPOs

New research delivers groundbreaking insights into services procurement.

What’s keeping you up at night? CPOs today are under continued pressure to reduce costs and find new sources of value – and of course, manage risk.

At the same time, CPOs want to become more strategic advisors to the business. We’ve found the perfect opportunity to help you achieve those goals and more.

As a CPO, you probably manage millions of dollars’ worth of spend on services. Think of all the money your company spends on consultancies, IT services providers, marketing agencies, law firms, accounting firms, facilities management companies and more. These services providers operate across the enterprise, perform vital work and deliver enormous value.

You manage the contracts and rates for these services, but beyond that, how much attention do you pay to that spend? Do you know whether these services providers are delivering high-quality work? Do they hit deadlines? Is your business getting good value for money?

Most of us are guilty of under-managing services providers. That’s one of the key findings from a groundbreaking new research study published by SAP Fieldglass in collaboration with Oxford Economics, titled Services Procurement Insights 2019: The Big Reveal.

>> Build a world-class risk management team! Learn emerging practices, take control of critical relationships, spearhead effective governance. <<

Molly Spatara, Global VP, Brand Experience, SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass

Love and Hard Data

Two hands in the shape of a heart with the sun shining through the middle.

A CFO-CPO relationship, like any other, is not perfect and is often rooted in a lack of trust and miscommunication, which, at times, makes it seem beyond repair. The CPO promises savings and talks about adding value, but the CFO only sees costs and finds the P&L showing increased spending. This obvious gap between what procurement claims and what finance sees deepens further because the language and terminology used are not aligned. As a result, misunderstanding and communication breakdowns happen. 

The webinar ‘Prove Procurement’s Contribution to Finance with Love and Hard Data’ is designed to help procurement professionals turn their CFO’s hate into love. With Johan-Peter Teppala, a seasoned procurement expert and Bruno Duréault, an experienced CFO, this relationship dynamic between finance and procurement is discussed. With more than a decade of experience in their respective fields, they address and uncover the practical ways to improve this partnership.

Before exploring how to make the relationship between procurement and finance work, it is crucial to note how procurement has evolved from having the penny pincher reputation to becoming the heart of supply chain management. Organizations are now starting to see it as a key driver for competitive advantage. With various value-adding superhero functions, it has emerged from being just a cost-cutting function to having its own voice with a newfound organizational influence and corporate visibility. Mastering its potential and knowing its strategic and critical contribution will ensure a competitive advantage in today’s dynamic global business landscape.

Ericka Pineda, Product Marketing Specialist

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