Who You Gonna Call? Procurement MythBusters!

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I go to a lot of conferences and have facilitated a lot of CPO panels, and what I always find surprising is not just how many of the same challenges exist, but also the extent that the same conventional wisdom gets bandied around. Perhaps it shouldn't be so surprising. When procurement leaders are looking for approaches or solutions, they will turn to their peers or to traditional sources of knowledge such as consulting firms, membership organizations and so forth.

Yet an approach or practice that worked well in the past, and in some cases, 20 years in the past, doesn't necessarily hold true today. We certainly enjoy identifying “next practices” for supply chain professionals to consider using, and it shouldn't be surprising that an increasing number of them are inextricably tied to enabling technology that is allowing them to be used. For example, you just can’t do “market-informed sourcing,” which is a strategy more akin to business strategy than a technology tool, without proper enabling technology.

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In fact, the old adage of “re-engineer before you automate, Sonny!” (which is a classic CFO response to forestall additional technology investment – I’ve seen that card played literally dozens of times) is itself a myth we’ll blow up later. But, what I really enjoy is learning from others how to think differently, to frame problems differently and to find new solution approaches differently – and then passing them on. And sometimes, God forbid, I even develop a few new concepts and insights on my own! To the old guard, many of the ideas might put me or others into the “pundit” (or even worse: futurist!) category, but I’m finding that the new guard of procurement leadership is more open to new thinking that can help unlock new value (I won’t use the clichéd “breakthrough value” term – you’re welcome).

Anyway, stay tuned for a multi-part series on SpendMatters Plus that begins sharpening (or discarding) the “old saws” and conventional thinking that are worth re-visiting. We will also be releasing them individually on our Chief Procurement Officer site, so if you can’t seem to scrape up $20 a month for a Plus membership, you can still continue to enjoy the benefits of Spend Matters. If you have any particular favorite conventional wisdom that you feel is ripe for putting out to pasture (e.g., the CIO misperception that a single-instance ERP solution is all you need to run procurement), we’d love to hear them! Thanks – and enjoy the series.

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