Category Archives: Friday Rant

Friday Rant: Home Delivery Dystopia – My Own Nightmare on Elm Street

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In recent months I have noted a disturbing phenomenon: the increasing number of delivery people bringing packages of all sizes to different addresses along my home street. Online retail purchasing of just about anything and delivery of those purchases to residences has created an unprecedented influx of delivery vehicles, all containing a range of different items wrapped in a large amount of (not environmentally friendly) packing materials. Shouldn’t we consider the consequences of our new consumer culture, especially what entails, downstream, in the “last mile”?

Visionworks Customer Service Gets it Right on Second Try

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Good customer service goes a long way and I commend businesses that realize this, even if it takes a couple of tries to get it right. Such was the case for Visionworks, which recently righted a major wrong I wrote about back in June. When the scratch coating on glasses I purchased in spring 2014 began to flake off for the second time in 1 year, I learned the problem was a well-known supplier defect. At first my local store refused to replace my lenses because my warranty had expired. But after I took to Spend Matters to address the issue, Visionworks began to take a different tone.

Friday Rant: Upstream and Downstream Without a Paddle

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I'm not sure exactly when, but around a few years ago, terminology began to appear in the procurement technology provider community that labeled transactional purchase-to-pay (P2P) processes as “downstream” – meaning post-contract processes – and strategic sourcing processes as “upstream.” It has become a convenient shorthand naming convention – and also seemingly harmless. But, recently, I saw a provider trying to create some thought leadership about upstream value creation and downstream value capture and decided it was time to say something. Or a few things…

When Companies Continue to Work with Problematic Suppliers – Is This Normal?

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I learned a surprising and fairly upsetting lesson about sourcing this week. Call me naive – I am still a rookie in the procurement world, after all. But, what I learned is that companies knowingly work with suppliers that provide defective products and services. Or at least one company does: Visionworks. I bought a pair of glasses from the company last spring, and since then I have had the lenses replaced when the anti-scratch coating began chipping off. However, the coating is again flaking off my "replacement" lenses, and Visionworks says I am out of luck, despite admitting their suppliers sometimes create batches of scratch coatings that are "defective."

Sustainable Procurement – Is ‘Right-to-Work’ the Preferred Sustainable Sourcing Criterion?

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By the very nature of the word "sustainable" we can hear that it refers to the longer term – to what can be continued over time. Many companies want to support this approach (or at least be seen as doing so), but what can tangibly be done? I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that whether a company or a supplier is in a right-to-work state or not (i.e. not unionized, or unionized) can make a big difference in local economic conditions over the longer haul.

PeoplePerHour Seems Like They Need a Few More People Themselves!

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Recently, Team MetalMiner (a sister publication to this one) decided to revamp its regular monthly sourcing and pricing forecast report on the basis of discussions with large metal buying organizations. Several Spend Matters and MetalMiner team members (our parent company is called Azul Partners) suggested I try a freelance website such as PeoplePerHour. I did. Check out what my experience was like. Sneak peek: the product I got from working with PPH created was great. But the customer experience? Much less so...

CSR: Do You Use Environmentally Friendly Laptops? Can You Replace Batteries?

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My Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display (aka MBPr) is losing its charge – otherwise it's largely been a champ so far since Jason and I each bought one the very first day they came out in 2012. There have been some bugs along the way (e.g. WiFi and Bluetooth don't always like each other, and some unexpected crashes), but overall it has been a good relationship. As is expected with all battery-powered devices (remember that prospective electric car buyers!), eventually the charge doesn't last. Early on, I got a solid 8 hours out of my MacBook battery, maybe even 10 hours or more sometimes, especially on dark planes with the screen dimmed down. Now, however, 3 hours or so, and it’s shutting down.

Consumerization of B2B Payments Being Led by Tech, Not Banks

Spend Matters welcomes this guest article by Karla Friede, CEO and a founder of Nvoicepay, a technology company providing one- touch strategic B2B payments. Innovation in consumer payments is rapidly taking place. For decades, there was little change, and then all of a sudden it went crazy, with disruptive new technologies like Square, Stripe, Google Wallet and now Apple Pay. Along with these changes comes the consumerization of B2B payments. Our experience with technology as consumers is changing our expectations for what's OK in business and payments will be no exception. And, as with consumer payments,innovation in B2B payments will also come from technology companies, not from banks.

What Does The CFO Think Of Procurement? Why Aren’t We Asking About Finance’s Impact on Procurement?!

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There’ve been numerous studies that have asked finance executives to rate procurement effectiveness, with a focus on the credibility of the procurement-cited savings and whether the results are dropping to the bottom line (I even led such a study over 5 years ago). Not surprisingly, there are clearly some capability gaps here. But, is this really the right question to be asking finance folks? First of all, you have to consider why these gaps occur at all. We take a look at this issue in this post and also will be conducting a study in partnership with ISM on the topic.

Procurement Technology Tip: When Ariba/SAP Plays the Executive Card, What Should You Do?

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We’ve been in touch with a lot of folks going through procurement technology selections. And, the good news is there’s lots of activity – more than ever, actually. More procurement teams than ever, too, are investing the time – often with other stakeholders such as AP and IT – to gain intelligence on the market and their various options rather than jumping to conclusions in selection processes. But on the negative side, one trend we’re seeing is executive sponsors outside of procurement making a play to work Ariba (and other SAP cloud solutions – Fieldglass, Concur, etc.) into a process that circumvents a traditional sourcing process applied to technology.

Careful! Don’t Auction Away Your Supplier Relationships

Spend Matters welcomes this guest article by Jim Kiser of GEP. There comes a point when management tasks procurement to save money quickly due to some recent poor performance or profit results to the financials. Either raise sales, cut staff or reduce cost of goods sold in order to get profitability back on track. One way to drive savings quickly is through the use of e-auctions or online electronic bidding events. These events can help to save money but also can have a big trade off; loss of relatively healthy supplier relationships or creating more “arm’s length” styled commercial ties to the supply base for large spend categories.

Which Procurement Conferences Should You Attend? Start With Procurement Leaders

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It’s almost that time of the year again (at least we hope), when the freezing winter thaws into spring and the many feet of accumulated ice and snow in Chicago and the East Coast is replaced by, well, mud. Once this transformation starts, you know procurement conference season is right around the corner. That and the Chicago Cubs starting to once again migrate their way into last place (which usually happens around the end of April). Indeed, spring is nearly here, along with the dozens of procurement shows that kick off the warmer months. I am often asked by just about everyone in the market: Which procurement events should I attend?