A Time for Giving Thanks

Today, I'd like to welcome Bart Richards as a guest blogger to Spend Matters. Bart is a Principal at The Claro Group. I've known Bart for some time, but my wife has known him even longer (they go back to the old Arthur Andersen pre-Enron days). Given AA's old reputation for a "think straight, talk straight" type of approach, I thought Bart would be perfect to shoot-from-the-hip and comment on what he is thankful for on this important holiday.

I thought it would be appropriate to write about a few things on which spend management professionals should reflect and give thanks on this Thanksgiving day.

First, thank you to Peter Kraljic. I understand that Peter, a retired McKinsey partner, in 1973 created what I refer to as the Procurement Mission Matrix. I'm sure that you know it or have been introduced to it by a friendly consultant. It is the 2x2 matrix that usually compares total cost of ownership/spend of a category on the Y axis to supply market risk/operational criticality or some other measurement of that same spend category on the X axis. We have been using this simple but powerful tool for years. I see it used by consulting firms and clients all the time now. As the story goes, Peter was working on an engagement for BASF. He was challenged with showing how the company should focus on its diverse and large spend. He thought of the matrix as a means of communicating the strategic importance of certain commodities relative to others. So, the next time a consultant tells you to help him or her populate a matrix, don't get upset. Think of Peter and thank him for his role in providing some clarity into the spend management world.

Second, we should all thank our clients and customers (whether internal or external to the organization). Without them, our hard work and dedication would most likely go unrewarded and unnoticed. Over the years, I have had the good fortune of working with great people. I've worked at Andersen, BearingPoint and now The Claro Group. Regardless of where I've worked, I always have had the opportunity to serve good organizations and great people. A mentor of mine once told me that a good consultant is made by a good client. I find it interesting that the projects where I've had real bottom-line impact are the ones where I have enduring relationships with good clients. These individuals also share similar characteristics in terms of integrity, smarts and work-ethic. So, thank you Tim Walsh, Peoples Energy, Bruce Ruhl, Worthington Industries, Mark Power and Scott Dever, Hewitt, among others.

Finally, we should all thank our mentors. If you haven't spoken lately to a person key in your professional development, go ahead, reach out and give them a call. I'm sure they will enjoy hearing from you. Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with so many outstanding professionals. I'd like to acknowledge one in particular. Jim Kent is a recently retired spend management consultant. Jim was a partner at McKinsey, worked in industry for several years and then was hired to help start the logistics practice at Arthur Andersen. I reported to Jim for many years when I worked in that fine organization. Probably the most enduring thing Jim taught me was the importance of client service. Jim always reinforced that we were in this business to serve our client. That simple notion has provided me with clarity in moments of confusion. Thank you, Jim.

And thank you, Bart, for your words of wisdom on this Thanksgiving day! Jason Busch

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