The Procurement Strategy & Planning Category

Supply Chain Flexibility: Does Your Design Pass the Proactive Test?

Global Risk Management Solutions

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Eric Robinson, senior project engineer at Kenco Group.

When your supply chain encounters a roadblock, how does it respond? Does one problem spiral into another, leaving you without visibility into the causes? If so, your supply chain design is reactive. Instead of showing and slowing the roadblock as soon as possible, your design left you wide open. As an overseer of your supply chain, you want to do whatever you can to arm it against slip-ups. You need to play the offensive to ensure your design (and your team members) are fully prepared for bumps in the road.

Strategies Every Procurement Professional Should Know to Reduce Inventory Levels and Cost

warehouse

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Ana Sofia Gómez, a manager at GEP.

In an organization, the challenge for optimizing costs goes beyond getting the best prices in the market through the procurement function. The challenge also involves implementing strategies, or acquiring added values and services that allow the organization to improve their process administration and get benefits from those improvements. With manufacturing companies, one area of opportunity is inventory management.

Strategic Technology Planning: A New Imperative for Contingent Workforce and Services Procurement (Part 1) [PRO]

For many years now, planning for CW/S technology has been largely tactical, focusing almost exclusively on the capabilities and effectiveness of one VMS solution or another. Technology planning at a strategic level has been rare in CW/S procurement functions, in main part because it has not been necessary in a relatively static technology and supply chain environment. Need a core contingent workforce technology to manage processes, compliance, risk and cost? Adopt a VMS (or work through your MSP to get one). Seeking a specialized category solution? Work with the business owner (e.g., legal, telecom, facilities) to engage a vendor that meets everyone’s needs.

But in recent years, many aspects of the environment in which CW/S procurement executes its mission have begun to change significantly. Under these conditions, strategic planning becomes necessary. Because technology is now and will be presenting CW/S procurement functions with new opportunities to add value to their organizations in a variety of ways, allocating time and resources to conducting strategic technology planning is now an imperative. In most cases, this will mean starting from scratch. But foregoing strategic technology planning opens CW/S procurement to missed opportunities, core mission failure and possibly disruption.

In short: procurement, HR and IT organizations — not to mention line of business owners — need to work together to create their own CW/S technology information architecture through a strategic technology planning process. In Part 1 of this series, we build the case for strategic technology planning and provide an overview of what strategic technology planning means for a CW/S procurement function. In Part 2, we flesh out a targeted approach to CW/S procurement strategic technology planning and practical approaches for implementation within an organization.

Business Process Management for Procurement: A Spectrum of Choices [Plus+]

category management

BPM stands for business process management. If the business process is procurement (i.e., a collection of processes), then the concept is about managing procurement processes — including process design/definition, performance management (e.g., process outputs/KPIs, monitoring) and resource management. Of course, in the IT world, BPM has its own body of knowledge regarding the topic, focused mostly on “process workflow/integration on steroids.” This is the “system of process/interaction/engagement” that may sit on top of multiple systems of record (e.g., ERP, source-to-pay suites).

In this Spend Matters Plus article, we define BPM components and offer practical ways for applying BPM to procurement, keeping the topic on a business level and issuing both warnings and best practice tips for companies deploying or considering BPM technology adoption within the function. But how can you approach this topic without your eyes glazing over? Wikipedia does a good job explaining the concept, but we will try to define an evolution that procurement organizations can use to start doing IT-enabled BPM in a simple way, and then get more sophisticated.

“What’s the Best Procurement System?” That’s the Wrong Question

Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series on digital disruption from a procurement professional’s perspectives. Read Part 1 here.

This morning I heard someone utter the question that elicits an almost primal response for anyone who works at the intersection of business process and technology: “What’s the best procurement system on the market?” Every time I hear it, my brain immediately flashes — That’s the wrong question. Someone who tries to tell you what solution to buy without first trying to understand your goals and certain factors about your environment deserves a solid side-eye.

Procurement and Travel: How Healthy is Your Relationship?

travel

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Katie Virtue, director of category management, travel, at Corporate United.

You probably know that corporate travel programs offer a significant cost savings opportunity and, as a result, are a high priority for most organizations. What you may not know is that the successful management of your travel program relies heavily on the relationship between procurement and travel teams. Although financial goals are important to all organizations, you must not forget the customer experience component that comes into play with these offerings, and also make sure that company travel policies protect employees.

Don’t Lose Your Shirt: American Apathy to Reshoring

Made in USA

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Oliver Everhard, an associate with GEP.

For decades, conventional wisdom has said that anything you can manufacture offshore — in particular, less skill-intensive products like clothing — will end up costing your company less. From a cost perspective alone, this is likely true. Yet “reshoring” — the process of bringing manufacturing back into the United States — has become an increasingly popular option for American companies.

Commodity Management: Drilling into the Supply Chain and the Technology Landscape [Plus+]

My colleague Jason Busch and I have written earlier about how, with the exception of a few top procurement organizations, procurement is failing to deploy the right sets of strategies, tools and tactics to bridge commodity management, sourcing and broader procurement activity.

In this Spend Matters Plus article, I want to dive into some of the details around commodity management and its relation to the broader supply chain, as well as the different solution approaches being used to tackle it. In a value-chain mega chart in the article (which basically follows a design > source > plan [supply] > deliver [inbound] process flow from left to right), I’ve outlined the various processes (brown rectangles) and some supporting solution types (blue ovals) for commodity management.

Catching Up with a Marketing Maven and Talking Vertical Procurement Solutions

Last week, I had the chance to sit down with Jaggaer’s Steve Lundin at our office in Chicago, to talk verticalization in regards to procurement solutions. As Steve said, “I've been dabbling around the supply chain space for years, and know that software companies have dipped their toes in an out of developing targeted products. What's happening now, with industry targeted vertical procurement solutions, reflects what we've seen in the consumer market, with B2C being the tail that wags a B2B dog."

The Collective Intelligence of Supply (Part 2): The Evolution in 10 Steps

tech

In Part 1 of this series, I outlined its intent and why procurement and supply chain organizations should understand how the evolution toward a digital “collective intelligence” within supply chains and supply markets will affect them.

If you think about the Star Trek series from the 1980s (not the 1960s), the “Borg” was a collective of cybernetic beings that were part of a “hive mind” that would assimilate humans and other species into their collective digital intelligence. Now, consider the ecosystems being built by companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, IBM and others. They are becoming commercial collectives, of sorts, that seek to assimilate you into their walled gardens and extract maximum information from you in order to personalize their services (and those of the suppliers that your information is sold to) for you. You don’t just buy their products — you often are the product.

This trend certainly isn’t a bad thing on the whole in terms of the digital services that consumers now enjoy, but it’s traveling up the supply chain into B2B in a big way. So, the question becomes how can you create your own benevolent Borg that creates a collective intelligence with/about your customers, within your organization (think knowledge management on steroids), and, of course, to your upstream suppliers and supply chain. You want to be a platform, and not just a pipe. We’ve written extensively about platforms on our site, but platform/network effects are just a piece of the puzzle.

In Part 1 of this series, I did a quick general outline of the series and also included 20 domain areas that are key to this evolution. Even so, I didn’t really “tell the story,” and it basically is a story told in 10 discrete evolutionary steps. Once procurement organizations understand these 10 key progressions, they will be able to understand digital evolution in a more straightforward way that ties to business fundamentals while also bringing in newer operating models.

Verisk Maplecroft Releases Latest Geopolitical Risk Outlook: Keep An Eye on Emerging Markets

risk

Emmanuel Macron’s win in the French presidential election was a temporary boon for geopolitical stability, as was Moon Jae-in’s election as the new president of South Korea. U.S. president Donald Trump, however, has managed to become even more of a wildcard. In addition to the above, many emerging markets are at risk of growing instability, according to global risk research firm Verisk Maplecroft, which recently released its 2017 Geopolitical Risk Outlook.

The Collective Intelligence of Supply (Part 1): Introduction

As you may have guessed by the title, this blog series is not going to be a tactical how-to guide for implementing low-level procurement techniques or comparing software providers. Rather, I’m writing this as the supply strategist’s guide to digital business.

There is a lot of content out there on digital “disruption,” including for procurement, but I personally find most of it laden with jargon, and not very instructive on what to do about it. This is a shame, because the fundamental transformation and evolution of value chains offers so many opportunities that supply professionals can seize upon if they understand the changes and how to harness them.

This series will be written as a series of short essays that will (hopefully) help readers understand these detailed drivers behind this digital evolution and what that means from a supply chain and supply management standpoint. Most important, I’ll try to give some practical insights and recommendations on how to best tap these innovations as we all evolve toward higher levels of machine intelligence.

Before we dive in, it’s important to realize that the “collective intelligence” story isn’t about artificial intelligence (AI) per se but really about a convergence of methodologies, strategies, techniques and technologies that are converging.

Read on to see this series’ outline on the successful supply professional’s journey to this collective intelligence that’s being built in the supply chain and how to begin preparing for it.