Thanksgiving, when celebrated properly, is an excellent metaphor for a well-managed and executed procurement and supplier management function. Perhaps the best illustration linking the two concepts together is turkey. Now, being the gourmet urban dweller I am, I've sourced Turkeys for as much as 4.59 bucks per pound from local free range, organic purveyors at the farmer's market. But trust me -- it's a complete waste when it comes to taste and overall guest for satisfaction. You can serve a much better turkey by buying a pre-frozen one that's already been injected with a brining solution -- saving you the brining process time, a critical step -- for 50% or less than the cost of a yuppie bird. And you'll feel all the better for it, getting a better result while saving your hard-earned dollars (or spending the difference on a donation to a local soup kitchen).
Along similar lines, procurement organizations should not just focus on buying to line-item specifications. They should also work with suppliers to develop substitute solutions that may in fact be a better fit, saving a bundle in the process. But perhaps a more important takeaway for this holiday is just as Thanksgiving is a celebration of peace and giving thanks with our family and friends, we should also celebrate and value the relationships we have with our suppliers (or at least those that are left after we've winnowed down the list to those that are the right partners to work with). After all, relationships and prosperity are a two way street. Rather than just reward the best suppliers with additional business, sometimes a simple thank-you or a company award can go a long way to helping establish the types of bonds and trust that we value in all of our relationships.
So don't just be thankful today, give thanks as well. Consider how Thanksgiving suggests a philosophy, a mindset if you will, that can carry over into how we spend time building and giving thanks for relationships and community with suppliers. After all, expressing gratitude, the original purpose of Thanksgiving, is something we should all do more often. And when those -- like suppliers -- who are not used to being on the receiving end of gratitude are given it, such graciousness can work magic in even more ways than you might think!
And by-the-way: Thank you for reading Spend Matters.