I've been spending the past two days at Corporate United's Synergy event in downtown Chicago. Like last year's get together, Synergy is on much more personal level -- albeit with fantastic speakers -- than virtually all other industry and vendor-sponsored conferences. Personally, I've enjoyed really getting to know some of the attendees -- many of whom come from smaller Fortune 500 and larger middle market organizations.
One question that I've been asking many folks is how they see a group purchasing model (GPO) fitting into their overall spend portfolio. For some, a GPO is about getting quick wins in categories which they won't tackle on their own because of resource constraints or a lack of category specific knowledge (or those in which they don't have enough leverage or clout without a GPO to negotiate on their terms). But for others, a GPO is not only about identifying decent pricing arrangements. Rather, it is about ensuring that high quality service levels are built into the contracting arrangements. A great example of this is in HR categories such as relocation -- a category where services levels are highly variable across the board. In categories such as this, working with a GPO is as much about piece of mind -- and making procurement look good to the rest of the organization -- as it is about cost savings.
I look forward to continuing to report on Synergy in the next week. I'm in the process of queuing up a number of posts which will touch on a number of observations from the event. Some of these will include highlights from Theresa Metty's fantastic discussion on reducing complexity and using Sarbanes-Oxley to catapult procurement. And I'll also post on Orville Bailey's view of the technology and marketplace landscape. So stay tuned as these blog entries start to trickle out in the coming week right after I do a Sapphire wrap tomorrow morning with parting thoughts on SAP SRM and E-Sourcing.