New CPOs: Start in the Finance, Sales, and Marketing Departments, Not Procurement!

Last week Spend Matters Netherlands welcomed a new guest blogger who is well known in the Dutch sourcing and procurement community, Dick Bartelse. He is the Purchasing Director of AkzoNobel’s Powder Coating division. In his role as Purchasing Director, Dick is always looking for new strategic challenges in the world of commodity buying. AkzoNobel is one of the leading companies in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Dick introduced Supplier Support Visits for Far East suppliers at AkzoNobel, and he is seen in the Netherlands as one of the best strategic thinkers in supply management. Later we will share with you the whole idea behind these Supplier Support Visits and the business cases Dick made.

In Dick’s blog post this week, he started with the challenges new CPOs might come across and what to do when you start in a new role. The first thing Dick suggests in his blog is to start at the front end of your company! Don’t let yourself be forced to start in the procurement department, where you will be buried in loads of paper and the same amount of problems to be solved immediately.

Instead, start in the finance, sales, and marketing departments. There you will learn what your strategy for the coming time should be. Go to important clients and find out what they think of your company. What do your customers think of your company? What is your company’s image? You will learn about the products or services they use, how they use these, and what the customer’s real needs are. Learn about the markets in which the company’s products are bought and what the competition looks like.

Furthermore, you will understand what the role of procurement is in your organization by spending time with the sales, marketing, and finance teams. Do you buy specialties or commodities? What are the revenues and the margins? What is the spend versus the sales price? Is the added value in the hands of your suppliers, or in the hands of your company? These will all contribute to the quality of your sourcing and procurement strategy, and moreover, you will be able to align your strategy with those of the business.

When you’ve learned what Sales, Marketing, and Finance have to tell you, you’re not going back to the procurement department just yet. Where you will have to go, we shall tell you in the next post.

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