The Procurement Commentary Category

A 21-Question Health Check to Score Your Procurement Scorecard (Part 3) [Plus+]

As the old business adage goes, “what gets measured gets done.” This is certainly true in procurement. If you want to do the right things for yourself and your stakeholders, you need to measure the right things and do it efficiently. You also need to ensure that you are measuring what your stakeholders want and what you are in fact delivering. It’s a foundational competency. In fact, in the most recent Hackett Group procurement key issues study, “value contribution visibility” ranked third in terms of procurement key capabilities that were viewed to be major or critical. This is the last post in a three-part series providing a 21-question “health check” for your procurement scorecard, this time covering questions 16-21.

CRM for Procurement: Lessons from the Sell Side [Plus+]

In a world where everything is quickly becoming a service (XaaS), perhaps the single most important differentiator is being customer-focused and aligned in order to allow you to deliver value to them over the long run. It is a simple principle, but procurement is not so easy to implement. Everybody who spends money in the enterprise has the potential to get more value from their spend and is a potential “customer” for procurement to help. Given procurement’s limited resources, adopting and adapting CRM principles, practices, and tools can help. As we get started, note that CRM for “supply” and suppliers is not the buy-side of “SRM” or supplier management – it’s a much bigger, hairier, and more encompassing beast.

So who are the customers? And should they even be called customers?

Many procurement organizations do not like the term “customers.” Some use the term “clients,” and others use the term “stakeholders.” Still others use the term “internal partners.” It doesn't really matter as long as the organization defines the nomenclature that works best for them. That said, it is important to understand who all the various stakeholders are within the procurement process, so that they can be appropriately targeted to drive more value out of the process. In fact, if you think of the term "stakeholders," it means anyone who has a stake in the process and who consumes the outputs of that process: information, materials, services, cash, goodwill, etc.

So, to be a stakeholder in a procurement process means to be a customer of that process. This means that procurement needs to be explicit in defining and working with 10 key stakeholders – and reconciling which of these will get the most attention.

Let’s get to the list (and beyond that, 14 critical areas of CRM begging to be addressed).

Breaking Down Global Silos (Part 1): Did Rio Ruin Houston’s New ERP Launch?

I sat in front of a camera that appeared to pan around the office — even though it was powered down.

As I tinkered with three remote controls, attempting to connect our virtual conference room to one in the southern hemisphere, I could not suppress my most paranoid instinct that perhaps our headquarters in Rio de Janeiro bugged our equipment to allow them to monitor the movements and voices of their North American employees.

My supply chain counterparts in the Brazilian corporate headquarters of one of the world’s largest oil and gas exploration companies called an ominously last-minute conference on a particularly sweltering spring day, which was already packed with activities for our impending ERP “go live.”

Rethinking Sourcing Suites and Their Sub Components — Gartner’s 2017 Magic Quadrant

Gartner recently came out with their 2017 Magic Quadrant for Strategic Sourcing Application Suite review. There was material movement from this year’s quadrant compared to the previous one that was published two years ago, and in this post we offer our commentary on it.

Without question, Gartner has some of the best minds in the technology research sector. But given the pace of technology providers’ innovation, our perspective is that the notion of publishing a report every two years is not terribly useful outside of the point-in-time snapshot — which may in fact be six months old by the time a report is published — that a comparative analysis provides. In the end, for better or worse, the Magic Quadrant becomes ubiquitous with IT professionals to shortlist vendors (and sometimes more) and often a CYA for procurement.

Why Procurement Is a Vital Seat at the Executive Table

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Stan Garber, president at Scout RFP.

It’s no secret that handling large enterprise costs in a siloed, departmental manner is detrimental to the business. Not only is it inefficient, but it also reduces the organization's overall competitive edge and increases its operational expenses. With the office of finance putting more emphasis on cost reduction, vendor consolidation, and impactful suppliers, strategic sourcing has emerged as a top priority in 2017. As such, CEOs are looking for procurement teams who can execute cost effective strategies and manage operations and outsourcing with aplomb.

Bleeding on the Bayou: Procurement Near-Misses in Times of Price Volatility (Part 1)

Editor's note: This post kicks off a new Spend Matters series of personal narratives from practitioners in the field. Know someone with a procurement story to tell? Tell us in the comments below!

“2-3/8 pipe, 4-1/8 pipe, 6-3/8 aluminized, 6-3/8 anodized, 6-3/8 black vinyl coated, 6-3/8 green vinyl coated…”

Fred Farmer’s interminably slow drawl echoed off the rickety galvanized siding of his Louisiana based hot rolled steel tube factory, unfortunately located on the banks of a bayou threatened by frequent floods and the occasional alligator infestation. Farmer’s proud and emphatic articulation of his exhaustive product catalog called to mind a veritable Bubba Gump of the steel tube industry. He was born and raised in a rural Louisiana town called Ponchatoula about fifty miles outside of New Orleans, and rose up the ranks from maintenance, to line supervisor and ultimately CEO after his uncle Willy succumbed prematurely to a heart condition (most likely brought on by decades of fried alligator and beignets consumption).

It’s 2017 — Here Are 5 Key Areas Procurement Needs to Pay Attention To

Happy New Year, Spend Matters readers!

No crystal ball could have prepared us for the smorgasbord of change that this past year presented.

So, how should those of us in the supply chain and procurement sphere be preparing for the next 365 days? What should be top of mind? Read on to find out.

Using DMAIC 2.0 to Blow Up the N-step Procurement Process [Plus+]

An n-step chevron process is a siloed procurement-centered sourcing methodology geared towards supplier rationalization. It’s a fine start for procurement hitting cost savings goals, but it’s not a great way to align to the broader organization as procurement evolves. So, we’re proposing DMAIC as an emerging, superior approach, but it’s far beyond the DMAIC that you usually think of. The n-step sourcing process has had a good run, but let’s not try to make it do unholy things. Read on to see how other companies have used DMAIC.

Why You Need to Push Your Business Through the Pain of Transformation

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post by Conrad Smith, senior director of global procurement at Adobe. Like running, procurement transformation can be painful at first, but it’s worth it. Here’s how, and why, you should be pushing for transformation in your people, your processes and your systems; in procurement, or whatever else you own.

Becoming Social Curious in Procurement: Lessons on LinkedIn (What Makes it Sticky)

LinkedIn ProFinder

Like many Spend Matters readers, the “social” site and application that I spend the most time with these days is LinkedIn. Increasingly I’m spending more time on SpendLead and Procurious and as well — and, I admit, Twitter, too. While there’s a lot of spam and junk on LinkedIn — and I’m so tired of “expert-in-a-box”-type firms like GLG copies reaching out unprompted and without introductions — there’s no question it’s become the site we all gravitate toward. I believe this is in part because it draws us in through multiple ways.

The Shocking Confessions of a Procurement Industry Analyst

procurement industry analyst

When I tell people that I am a services procurement and contingent workforce industry analyst, I usually get either a glazed look or a look that betrays a kind of sympathy or pity. That is usually the time — after a moment of uncomfortable silence — to turn the tables and ask what they do. But given that I am an analyst, I have felt compelled to ask myself and try to answer these questions: What is an analyst? What does an analyst do? Here’s what I found.

The Folly of the Staples-Essendant Deal: If It Sounds Too Good to Be True…


Staples recently announced it plans to divest $550 million of corporate B2B contracts to one of its main suppliers, the wholesaler Essendant. Staples is trying to appease the FTC, which filed suit against Staples late last year to prevent its planned acquisition of Office Depot. As George R.R. Martin, author behind the novels that led to the HBO series Game of Thrones, once wrote, “When you play the game of thrones you win or you die.” And in this case, Staples appears to be fighting a battle to the breakup fee death, defending its own version of The Wall. But bad fantasy analogies aside, if you read what Staples CEO Ron Sargent says, it all sounds so good. And it probably is. But as the saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true…”