Purple Squirrels, Vinyl Records, and UberX: Best of Friday Rants

With Labor Day in sight and Jason Busch somewhere in Vermont, we’re digging into the virtual archives of Spend Matters for the “Best of” series without which no August is complete. Every day for the rest of this week, we’ll feature the best posts from the past year. And today’s category is—

Why be redundant, you say, the category is already in the title. Reader, you are completely right. Moving on, then.

Tightrope walking bird

Looking for the Purple Squirrel in Procurement is Nuts – Procurement organizations recognize that “it’s all about the people.” The result? A job spec looking for a sourcing manager with deep knowledge of five spending categories, fluency in three languages, experience in China, certified as a master black belt and CPSM, holding a master’s degree, responsible for over 10 staff members and $500M in spend, knowledgeable in your industry, and immensely competent in driving strategic change. Oh, and I forgot: a willingness to be paid $75,000. This is the job specification for the proverbial purple squirrel, something that doesn’t appear to exist in nature (even though there have been rumors). – Pierre Mitchell

Audiophilia – Optimizing Spend on Turntables – If you’re not an audiophile and have grown up listening to data compressed music from CDs, MP3 players and downloads, only read on at the risk of discovering a new fascination that could drain your discretionary hard earned cash at the same level as owning a boat. Despite the apparent technological “advances” of the past few decades for storing music for playback, we are among increasingly millions of music lovers who have either re-discovered the sonic analog superiority of vinyl records or never stopped listening in the first place. – William Busch

Shaving Money Off Your Barbershop Spend – Early on I shaved with electrical shavers, which are ok if you don’t wear a shirt (they leave too much irritating stubble) and don’t need a particularly close shave. One might say, “Electric shavers are great, as long as you use a razorblade afterwards.” In other words, they are mediocre at best. I thought I would share some of my experiences and close with some purchase recommendations that will save you money and give you better results. – Thomas Kase

Should Procurement Organizations do a “Magic Quadrant”…on Themselves? – When I changed careers in the late 90s to get off the road as a management consultant mercenary (basically to prevent divorce with the arrival of my first-born son), and landed at AMR Research as an ‘industry analyst’, I learned about the Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) and eventually thought, “I wonder why we don’t do this with our user clients.” So I asked Jim Shepherd, the wisest of all the old ERP analysts, and he squinted his eyes, shook his head, and said “We do not do that to our user clients.” I walked off mumbling to myself that it was a lost opportunity and didn’t think much of it until a few years later when “industry exchanges” were de rigeur.            – Pierre Mitchell

Cut Traveling Costs: UberX Gets You to the Chicago Airport for Less than a Taxi – Chicago taxi drivers also wouldn’t know a direct route if it smacked them over the steering wheel. And few drivers have access to traffic information. Almost weekly, I’m in a taxi where the driver suggests an extra 0.75 mile detour into heavy traffic on Lake Shore drive – versus a direct route – back to my apartment, which would have saved 5-10 minutes and at least a couple of bucks. By my calculations and experience, UberX is at least 20% — and sometimes even 25% or more – cheaper than a taxi.            – Jason Busch

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