Incendiary Tidbits Content

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.

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.

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.

Beware the 4IR and AI — Or Should Procurement Embrace It?

The myriad technological and security risks posed by hacking flow all the way from sensitive government agencies on down to less sensitive national political committees, to corporations and even internal departments such as procurement… and the Internet makes it all possible.

I’m reminded of how everyone viewed the Internet — certainly by the time the year 2000 was coming around, but especially earlier in its nascent consumer-facing days in the mid-1990s, when the talk surrounded regulation — much as we’re talking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and artificial intelligence (AI) today.

How I Left the Corporate Office to Run My Own Consultancy

At that point I decided that I wanted to work for myself as a career. I had a network of consultants that I had met during my time in corporate roles and I leaned on them for advice, contacts and my first couple of gigs. I also kept my options open for permanent corporate roles. I had recruiters tell me that I needed to make sure I was putting “real” work on my resume or I would not be taken seriously. I interviewed with companies that felt that “consulting” was a resume filler in between real jobs. Screw it. I’ll show them all.

And Now in Risk Management: Trump Tweets

Ford. Macy’s. General Motors. Lockheed Martin. Carrier. Rexnord.

What do these companies have in common? Well, one thing is that each has been rebuked on Twitter by President-elect Donald Trump, mostly for using foreign-made materials or having operations overseas or “moving to Mexico.”

Automating Contract Creation, Without Help from Legal: Test-Driving LISA (Part 1)

In the midst of our ongoing research on how AI is changing contract management, we encountered an intriguing tool that allows users to create an NDA from scratch — without a lawyer.

Created by AI Tech Support Ltd. and powered by Neota Logic, LISA (Legal Intelligence Support Assistant) “has been programmed to help you and ‘the other side’ (the receiver) find a commercially sensible middle ground for your NDA.” Instead of the usual back and forth over small points, led by biased human lawyers, LISA allows you hash out an agreement fairly quickly (10–15 minutes) through a web app.

Defining Disruption and Innovation: A Cranky Editor’s Critical Take

disruption

Working at the nexus of enterprise technology and procurement strategy, we see the words “disruption” and “innovation” a lot here at Spend Matters. So often, in fact, that every time I come across either of these words, whether in a press release or marketing copy, the letters begin to blur together and a strange ringing noise fills my ears. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. But I do know that the increased appearance of disruption and innovation in my daily reading has caused me to question whether some writers pick those words for their specific definitions or just to liven up a sentence with an adjective that surely means only good things.

Bleeding on the Bayou: Procurement Near-Misses in Times of Price Volatility (Part 2)

Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of a post kicking off our new Spend Matters series of personal stories from procurement professionals. Missed Part 1? Read it here.

Another supply chain related crisis resulting from Fred Farmer’s antiquated approach to P2P had to do with controls around costing of finished goods, which were arcane to most of the organization and yet vital for ensuring profit. The weaknesses in Farmer’s costing update processes became obvious during this period of particularly high price volatility. As a manufacturing organization tied to an inflexible legacy ERP, Farmer’s company was based in standard costing, which required frequent maintenance in the form of bill-of-material cost rollups and updates to transfer prices. Typically, this would not be a problem if the organization had not been adding product offerings at a rate of about 300 per month. With a bloated material master, in which only about 4% of finished goods contributed 80% of its revenue, the process for updating bill-of-material costs became severely bottlenecked.

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).