Process and Best Practice Content

How to Smooth Manufacturer-Supplier Relationships Through AP Automation

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Howie Hahn, senior sales engineer at Esker.

Success in manufacturing depends on the mutually beneficial relationships between manufacturers and suppliers. Each party relies on the other to live up to its obligations, if either expects to move towards long-term success and growth. But business, like life, doesn’t always go as planned. Even relationships based on trust and mutual benefit can get rocky.

The key is to make sure that the inevitable bumps in the road don’t morph into ill feelings, mistrust or, worse, lawsuits. One tool that can help ensure that manufacturers and suppliers maintain smooth relationships is accounts payable (AP) automation.

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

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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.

Scouting and Retaining Young Supply Chain Talent: A (Millennial) Recruiter’s Experience

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Did you know that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials will comprise nearly 75% of the U.S. workforce by the year 2030? Yes, I’m talking about those tech-savvy, feedback-craving 20-somethings that have recently entered the workforce — myself being one of them! Even if the demographic shift hasn’t yet affected your company, I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise, considering how infatuated the media has been since the turn of the decade with millennials. The million-dollar question, however, is this: What are corporations doing to adapt to this change in workforce?

Picture Your Procurement Strategy as a Pyramid

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Conrad Smith, senior director of global procurement at Adobe.

A few years ago, a consultant introduced me to a strategy tool that changed the way I do business. The strategy we developed became the “business hierarchy of procurement needs." You may already be familiar with psychologist Abraham Maslow’s traditional hierarchy of needs. In Maslow’s model, basic health and physical safety comprise the essential day-to-day building blocks at the base of the pyramid — and the fulfillment of those needs creates the stability necessary for the understanding and fulfillment of “higher” needs, such as belonging and self-esteem, all the way up to self-actualization at the pyramid’s peak.

Must-Know Practices for Adopting Contingent Workforce/Services Procurement Technology

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Many organizations are beginning to adopt new contingent workforce/services (CW/S) procurement solutions. Why now? In short, it’s because new underlying technologies are available to enable new solution approaches and organizations are compelled to make use of these technologies to address changes in talent supply, whether it’s skill shortages, generational shifts or changes in attitudes and behaviors.

Procurement as a Service (Part 2): Learning from Service Providers in Other Industries

In Part 1 of this series on Procurement as a Service (PRaaS), we outlined numerous reasons why procurement organizations should consider adopting a service-oriented operating model. In this next installment, we'll explore how procurement organizations are learning from other industries and other world-class services organizations.

Procurement as a Service (Part 1): Should Procurement Really Be a “Service Provider”?

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Many procurement organizations may wince at the idea of being called a "service provider.” The term seems very transactional and low impact. Most procurement organizations are striving for much deeper spend influence and usually prefer a term like "business partner." Yet the world is moving to a service orientation, not just in the consumer world but also in the business world, which in turn is becoming a digital world. Whether procurement groups choose to use the “service provider” terminology or not (e.g., the principles can be adopted without using the explicit terminology with stakeholder), they will need to consider a services-oriented operating model, or “service delivery model,” if they want to improve their delivered value. Here’s why.

Deriving Competitive Advantage from a Sustainable Supply Chain

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Suhas Apte and Jagdish Sheth, authors of The Sustainability Edge: How To Drive Top-Line Growth With Triple-Bottom-Line Thinking.

The focus of supply chain management has historically been cost reduction and risk management. Therefore, much time tended to be spent on maintaining transactional supplier/buyer relationships that entail dictating supplier policies and mandating supplier compliance auditing. Doing so has only ensured that businesses become incrementally “less bad.”

The State of Sustainable Procurement: Latest EcoVadis/HEC Barometer is Released

EcoVadis released its seventh and latest Sustainable Procurement Barometer on Tuesday, a joint study with HEC on supply chain sustainability that was first carried out over a decade ago. These studies measured sustainable procurement practices in global procurement organizations and aimed to provide a landscape view, including “sector and geographical differences, industry strengths, improvement areas [and] new frontiers for innovation.” In short, companies worldwide are now investing in sustainability practices across the supply chain, and sustainable procurement has become vital for revenue and costs, risk mitigation, brand reputation, and innovation and growth.

3 Insights for Procurement from aPriori’s Cost Insight Conference

Spending the last 24 hours surrounded by design and cost engineers has taught me quite a bit about operations beyond procurement and supply chain management. Those in the buying and sourcing profession often spend a lot of time thinking about cost, and they sometimes get a bad rap for it. But based on my discussions with attendees, it’s clear to me that procurement is far from the only organizational unit worried about helping revenue get to the bottom line.

Yet procurement struggles with its image: it’s slow, it’s a roadblock to progress, it’s not knowledgeable enough to be valuable in new product development. The practitioners in attendance at Cost Insight, however, have worked doggedly to change perceptions such as these at their firms — to great success, in many cases. Here are three insights for procurement I’ve gleaned from various sessions.

4 Habits That Can Sink a Procurement Consultant’s Career

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So you told the corporate world that you’re going to go do it your way. (Congratulations, and cue inspirational theme song.) And for the purpose of discussion, let’s assume that you have taken care of the basics in going freelance: building an emergency fund, buying healthcare insurance, setting up retirement contributions, getting the right business insurance and so on. I have been on all sides of the client-consultant relationship. I have engaged and managed consultants as a corporate client, I have engaged consultants for my own clients and I am also a consultant myself. So, I’ve seen where the landmines are and learned how to avoid them. Here are the top temptations that can send you straight back to a corporate role — the “fateful four” — definitely in order of importance.

ERP or Best-of-Breed (BoB)? Here’s How to Quickly Settle That Whole Thing

Even though Spend Matters declared the "ERP vs. Best-of-Breed" debate dead way back in 2014, the issue has a funny way of rearing its head. Sure, IT organizations are still somewhat biased towards ERP suites and business units/functions still prefer BoB solutions that will help them accomplish their goals, but asking "ERP or BoB?" is fundamentally a losing proposition. Why?