Category Archives: Friday Rant

What Type of CPO Would Donald Trump Be?

Donald Trump

There’s been an awful lot of debate among both liberals and conservatives on what type of president Donald Trump would be. But I think there’s an even more fun question to ask: If Donald Trump were a chief procurement officer (CPO), what would he be like? I actually think we can begin to arrive at the answer from looking closely at his views on policy — and candidly, it looks like he’d actually be a somewhat effective, if unloved, CPO. Here are some reasons why.

What Do Procurement and Saturday Night Live Have in Common? Cheeseburgers, Of Course


Do you consider your procurement organization to be customer-centric? Are you really concerned about it? The Hackett Group’s report, “The world-class performance advantage: How procurement organizations are reinventing the stakeholder experience,” enumerates some very compelling reasons why you should be. What about your customers? What do they think? Are they satisfied? Or while you are efficiently and relentlessly pursuing your business mission — reduce costs and risk to drive fiscal year profitability — do they think you are more like the Olympia Restaurant?

The Gig Economy: Have We Missed the Forest for the Trees — or Vice Versa?

gig economy

These days, one cannot swing a dead cat, as the saying goes, without having contact with the “gig economy.” The media are all aflutter — or shall we say, atwitter — about the “gig economy” or “on-demand economy,” both of which usually mean people doing low-skill, low-wage jobs on a contingent basis. The labor economics terms include “precarious jobs” and “casualization of labor.” Now, I’m not judging the “gig economy,” but have we lost our bearings? Has our attention been misdirected away from something much more critical?

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

home delivery

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


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


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?

Eye chart

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?


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!


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?


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?!


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.