Incendiary Tidbits Content

ISM 2017: The Spend Slayer

At a big procurement conference, how do you get a procurement manager into your booth? The answer is simple (and somewhat sexist, I might add). Find an attractive female — maybe we’ll see a guy one of these years — and a gimmick. In the past, AECSoft, a former vendor in the space, was one that was successful in driving traffic by bringing a model — I think she was Miss Lebanon — to the conference and having her circulate around the floor and hang out at the booth. This year, Jaggaer continued this tradition with the “Spend Slayer,” an archer — or ”archerette,” if you will — who circulated around the exhibit hall with a bow.

Emptoris: A Eulogy for a Great Company

When the dust settles from the death of Emptoris, many people will quickly forget the debt of gratitude we owe to its founders, managers, software developers and various owners over its many years. Perhaps more than any other company from the first generation of procurement technology firms, Emptoris had a greater impact on the sector than even, I would argue, FreeMarkets, my former employer, or Ariba, for that matter. While others on the Spend Matters team will no doubt have additional comments about Emptoris on a personal level, I wanted to be the first to put some words to paper this morning.

Selling Kids on a Career in Procurement is Impossible — Here’s a Better Option

supply chain

Let’s face it. No child ever says, "I want to be a purchasing manager when I grow up.” Honestly, the term procurement itself draws blank stares from kids — and even adults. The best I can do is tell people that I try to help companies “buy better.” They usually nod politely, and even murmur an “uh-huh” if I give some B2C consumer analogies of how people try to shop online for supplies, home services, mortgages, travel and so on. So, perhaps the solution isn’t to try to sell kids vocationally on procurement at all but rather introduce the area of the broader supply chain.

Why Is There a Dearth of Female Supply Chain Students? A Conversation with UT-Knoxville’s Wendy Tate

When I wrote to Dr. Wendy Tate, associate professor of supply chain management at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, asking her to give a piece of advice for women working in supply chain for an International Women’s Day-themed article last month, she gave five. “I could probably go on for a very long time,” she wrote back. “This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart and I spend a lot of time with women students going into supply chain positions!”

Something strange has been happening to the highly regarded supply chain program at UT-Knoxville. Over the past few years, the program has seen a significant drop in the number of female students, even though overall enrollment is as high as ever. I talked to Dr. Tate recently to find out why, as well as learn about how young women can succeed in supply chain and her thoughts on the conventional wisdom regarding women’s supposedly innate professional qualities.

Bad Procurement: A Roundup of Recent Procurement Scandals

Procurement scandals haven’t been a priority coverage area on Spend Matters, but that may change soon. Monday's Afternoon Coffee column covered the news, broken by the New York Post, that the chief procurement officer for New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has been fired for allegedly soliciting bribes from a contractor. There is of course a “lady friend” involved in this saga too, but I’ve gotten ahead of myself. But this got us wondering: How does this compare with other procurement-centered crimes? Here is a roundup of recent scandals, some more salacious than others.

Dispatches from Cuba (Part 2): On Transactions and the Cuban Supply Chain

Cuba

Ginny Smith presents live science shows to schools, science festivals and other groups, and is also an author, journalist, radio and film presenter. As well as science, travel is another love, and as a neuroscientist by training, she is interested in the psychology of negotiation, which she discussed in her previous article about her recent trip to Cuba. In Part 2, she looks at queuing psychology, and touches on Cuban supply chain issues, too!

It wasn’t just navigating taxis that was a challenge in Cuba — shopping was a fascinating experience, as well. While it is often said that the English form the best queues in the world, I would disagree — the Cuban system is far better. When entering somewhere like a bank, you may think there is no queue at all, just one person at each desk and a number of others hanging around, sitting on sofas, chatting.

Spend Matters Book Club: Must-Read Books for Procurement Professionals

A recent good read on how data, algorithms and internal biases affect our lives caused me to wonder: what other books, while not nominally related to procurement, have pertinent takeaways? To find out, I asked around. Responses ranged from the rare oddity to the classics of the business canon, with suggestions from the Spend Matters team and practitioners alike. Welcome to the first meeting of the Spend Matters Book Club.

Dispatches from Cuba (Part 1): On Negotiation and Supply Markets

Cuba

In a country where you can earn more handing out pieces of toilet paper outside a toilet in a tourist cafe than by being a neurosurgeon, the Cuban economy is certainly a strange one. After decades of strict regulations, the system has begun to relax, and the country has opened up more to tourists, and my partner and I were among them on our self-organised three-week trip at the end of 2016.

The Millennial CPO: How Will the New Generation Transform the Supply Chain Profession?

In one of my conversations with a “30 Under 30” winner who’s about to hit 10 years in the procurement profession, I realized the in hindsight highly obvious fact that millennials are growing up. They already make up a third of the workforce. The older among them are stepping into managerial positions. They’re hiring and mentoring younger employees. They’re giving talks at conferences and industry events. And a decade from now, they could even be CPOs.

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.”

Will Trump Deregulate Employment to Create New Jobs, Gigs or What?

President Donald Trump recently said, “Now, we’re going to have regulation, and it’ll be just as strong and just as good and just as protective of the people as the regulation we have right now. The problem with the regulation that we have right now is that you can’t do anything… I have people that tell me that they have more people working on regulations than they have doing product.”

So considering the evolving and heavily regulated labor market, how should we read these tea leaves?

The Untimely Demise of FMS: Gone, Buried and All But Forgotten

When the idea and prototypes of what was called the Freelancer Management System (FMS) appeared at the end of 2013, it was met with much excitement and interest, which continued well through 2014 and 2015. Though propped up into 2016, FMS — after a long struggle with confusion, rebuttal and lack of adoption in the market — finally succumbed, quietly and without much notice. Scarcely a tear was shed, and barely a whisper was heard, not even from investors who poured millions of dollars into their progeny.