Category Archives: Friday Rant

Rant: When Best Practices Become Useless

- April 18, 2014 1:11 PM | Categories: Friday Rant, Procurement Commentary, Public Sector

Here is one example from sugar policies affecting the food and beverage space – the protectionist U.S. sugar tariff system (from the mid to late 1970s) that has forced US manufacturers to switch to taxpayer subsidized domestic high fructose corn syrup instead of buying on the global market. And now our politicians are implementing rules to stop companies from selling so much sweet foods and so many sugared beverages (in larger than 16oz containers at that!) to children of all ages. Sure, if you buy sugar, you might do it according to best practices, but ultimately you are arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic – decoupled from market forces on both buy-side and sell-side.

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The New ABCs for Your Career: “Like It or Not, We’re All in Sales Now”

- April 18, 2014 10:07 AM | Categories: Commentary, Friday Rant

In the words of Daniel Pink, "like it or not, we're all in sales now." And so if we are all in sales, we all have quotas. Yes, they may not be performance measures that directly equate to actual sales, but all work today is done in an environment where systems help deliver performance metrics in nice charts and graphs with the click of a mouse and make items measurable that were formerly immeasurable. This data presents a world of opportunity for self-improvement - and for managerial attention to make sure that improvement occurs. Indeed, today we can find our job performance evaluated in far more precise ways than ever before. Whatever side of the supply chain we find ourselves, from those in the businesses of procuring, delivering, warehousing, paying for, or selling the trillions of dollars of “stuff” that makes the world go ‘round, we should be aware of the measurable world we all work in.

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Reflections on Sourcing and Procurement Awards (and a Solicitation for Reader Input)

- April 18, 2014 6:02 AM | Categories: Commentary, Friday Rant

boxing_awards I spent last week in Europe with Mr. Peter Smith, the fearless leader of Spend Matters UK/Europe. After a dozen meetings, much good conversation, classic London pubs, two great curries, and collectively speaking at the Dutch Sourcing Awards, which our colleague Gert van der Heijden hosted, we ended up talking philosophically about the concept of sourcing and procurement awards. If Spend Matters were ever to host one, it'd probably be at a pub.

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When Supply Risk and Big Brother Policy Cancel a Half Marathon

- April 11, 2014 3:39 PM | Categories: Friday Rant, Procurement Commentary

I'm back from the UK, having just missed being able to watch this Sunday's London Marathon (I might run it one day myself, but this year I'm focusing on a personal best for the flat and fast Chicago course). But one topic that came up in multiple conversations was actually the Sheffield Half Marathon, which was thwarted by procurement problems. Even though people continued to run, the race was technically cancelled in the middle because “the original water order was not delivered” to meet the needs of an official race requirement to have an “appropriate amount of water” available for participants every three miles.

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Could SAP, Ariba Build a New ‘Services Network’ with Fieldglass?

- April 4, 2014 10:40 AM | Categories: Analysis, Ariba, Friday Rant, Industry News, SAP

SAP/Ariba's acquisition of Fieldglass has provided plenty of fodder for the Spend Matters crew for the last couple of weeks, but in today's rant we take on a somewhat inquiring perspective. What does the future of networked services procurement hold? Extending the application capability of the Fieldglass VMS to a network-based model targeting new types of value could change the procurement discussion entirely.

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When Purchase Price Variance Turns Deadly

- April 4, 2014 2:31 AM | Categories: Friday Rant, Industry News

Don't be a slave to PPV! What has the fallout from GM CEO Mary T. Barra's recent testimony on Capitol Hill taught us? That the challenge of measuring total costs and defining a balanced scorecard of supply is daunting, yet crucial. It's essential to align that scorecard to corporate/customer objectives rather than an old-school purchasing-led focus on just one of those metrics.

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Home, Rental, and Vacation Property MRO: Project Photos Equal Big Savings

- March 28, 2014 2:34 PM | Categories: Commentary, Friday Rant, Spend Management

I've spent decades maintaining, repairing, and rehabbing houses. And when it comes to working on pre-existing structures, no two are ever alike. Building codes change continuously, a great deal of past work is performed by do-it-yourselfers (DIY), handymen and even general contractors are frequently not licensed in all trades, and all too often time-saving shortcuts are taken before infrastructure work is closed up. So if the job gets accomplished at the right price, why does any of this matter? Because future problems are unlikely to occur within the first year or two following completion.

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Long Live Services Procurement! The World is Made Up of People, Not Widgets

With the announcement of the Fieldglass acquisition this week, SAP has clearly put its hat into the services procurement ring in about as serious a manner as possible. We’re incredibly excited for this move because we think it has the potential to give the buying and management of third-party services the attention it deserves. Now more than ever, services are what make the global economy go around. People matter more than ERP has ever cared to imagine (if it did at all) – until now.

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Supplier Management: “Real” or “Desperate” Procurement Housewife in 2014?

- March 21, 2014 6:44 AM | Categories: Friday Rant, Supplier Management

I’m not a huge fan of reality TV. There’s a reason studios exist, in my view—to create Game of Thrones, True Detective, and House of Cards, duh. But the truth is that reality TV calls it as it sees it. As “scripted” as it can be, it’s untamed and rough around the edges, lacks manners, can’t do small talk well, and generally leaves a negative impression (we’re looking at you, Honey Boo Boo and Mama June). Such is life outside of Hollywood. The same is true of supplier management inside most companies. Like most reality TV, it’s not ready for primetime - or if it is, it’s something of a sh*t show.

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Forget the PowerPoint: B2B Sales are Quickly Migrating to Tablets

The future of business is quickly moving to a tableted future, and in the B2B arena, we are seeing this as well - just not perhaps as fast as in consumer-oriented markets. Tablets are becoming not just an accessory for sales representatives, but rather a vital tool that can be used in imaginative ways to enhance their interactions with procurement professionals. While anecdotally we have seen this trend developing for some time, it has accelerated over the past year in particular as prices for tablets have come down dramatically (well, except for one Cupertino -based company’s offerings), a new study provides interesting insights into how tablets can and are being used effectively - and imaginatively - by the sales forces of B2B companies.

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Rant: Singapore’s Taxicab Problem and Lack of Modern Payment Systems

- March 7, 2014 9:04 AM | Categories: Friday Rant, Travel

IMG_8698 Gleaming, polished buildings, well maintained landscaping, even slick subway stations with swipe cards that are a pleasure to use—the last one clearly not a Ventra design. You can find food from all over the world and see high-end fashion both in store display windows and paraded about on smartly dressed people everywhere. Singapore is a cleaner version of New York, with thinner people in a Tokyo designed setting with a bit of Hawaiian greenery incorporated. But expect to be frustrated if you need a cab between the hours of four and six in the afternoon.

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Total Cost of Independent Schooling: Indexed Tuition, Limited Diversity, and Mental Health

- February 28, 2014 2:52 PM | Categories: Commentary, Friday Rant

To say that the quality of U.S. public schools varies tremendously is the understatement of our times. But most families with school age children – given that the country's median annual household income (with two wage earners and two children) is about $50,000 – are more or less locked in to sending kids to their local public school. And the pure economic argument that we can all vote with our feet and relocate to a neighborhood where the schools are above average -- as is the cost of housing and real estate taxes that largely fund the schools -- is specious and unrealistic.

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