Dispatch Two: Tracking the News and Happenings From IACCM Americas 2009

This morning I'd like to welcome back Ashif Mawji from Upside Software Inc. Ashif, who is founder and CEO of Upside, offered to guest blog from IACCM. Please join me in welcoming Ashif to Spend Matters. You can read his previous post from IACCM by clicking here.

The IACCM conference day 2 agenda had even more thought provoking content and I was surprised to see all the attendees bright and early, even after considering the evening gala dinner the night before which had the troops enjoying a lovely dinner and fine beverages. This tells me that the content presented was well worth the sleep deprivation.

The morning started with a powerful keynote from Roberto Magana, Vice President -- Purchases, Global Business Services, Proctor & Gamble Company discussing what P&G had done to help with innovation in supply chain. P&G has about 1,000 professionals in its global business purchasing services group and one of their key strategies has been to allow each unit to operate as an owner while leveraging the efficiencies available in a global structure, as Roberto put it "Go Global without losing the local touch". They have truly embraced collaboration at all levels and partnered with industry leaders like Cisco to implement tele-presence facilities in over 50 locations, allowing for agility while streamlining costs. They built strong partnerships with their suppliers and truly work in a win-win manner. I can speak personally to this as P&G is also an Upside Software client and it's been a great relationship. There's a lot others can learn from building a strong win-win partnership and structuring contracts to be very fair (their purchasing contract for license and services was one of the most amicable ones I have ever seen). But I digress… P&G is a very well respected business in the consumer / packaged goods industry and it was apparent from Roberto's presentation that they have very, very smart people leading the troops, which comes from the top with A.G. Lafley. Needless to say, I took a lot of notes and will try to leverage some of their strategies in helping my company and more importantly, our clients, where applicable.

With Roberto setting the stage for innovation, the next sessions and tracks were focused on this theme with intriguing presentations by Russ Edelman of Corridor Consulting, Tom Larkin of Credit Suisse, Nancy Jessen of Huron Consulting Group, a joint presentation by Mark Oman and David Barton of Agilient Technologies, Jonathan Hughes of Vantage Partners and Ioana Canescu of Tellabs. Again, picking sessions to go to was a tough endeavor so I basically threw a dart on the agenda page and off I went. I attended Nancy’s presentation which in essence stressed that technology is only part of the solution and before technology is brought in, take the time to understand and agree upon what the objectives, goals and desires/outcomes are. Then bring in technology that truly meets these criterion and implement the right methodology for deploying the technology. Which led into the next session led by Ioana that provided the details on how to successfully deploy contract management software.

Ioana spoke very honestly and talked about some of the mistakes and challenges experienced at Tellabs. She had the guts to recognize that the first solution they picked was not the right one and to stop that deployment. Now at that point, most would likely just abandon the initiative let alone make a recommendation to go out to the market to find yet another solution. She understood that it could have meant her job, but Ioana wanted what was right for Tellabs, irrespective of her personal fate. Wow -- I wish we had more Ioana's in the workforce -- when people put the greater good ahead of personal gain, we get excellence and leadership. So, she got management’s support, which also says a lot about Tellabs and the support they extend to their leaders. Well, the next selection they made worked out very well for them and they were able to roll out phase 1 and are on the way for phase 2. Ioana gave a very detailed blue print on the approach and techniques to deploy contract management successfully, which most consulting companies would charge an arm and a leg for. So, in terms of value for the attendees, there were definitely no complaints.

Next was Tim Cummin's, CEO for IACCM presentation and he keynoted on Managing Through a Time of Crisis... An opportunity for leadership. Now anyone who's spoken with Tim or attended one of his sessions will realize within 5 minutes that there's no one out there more passionate about contract and commitment management than Tim. In essence, Tim challenged the audience to be leaders and not take the obvious stance on increasing reviews and compliance but instead to think out of the box and focus on innovation and leadership. It was indeed an engaging discussion and the audience offered up ideas on what they have done in their organization and what's working and not working. Lunch was next but there was no hurry to feed the grumbling stomachs -- the presentation was just that engaging.

After lunch (again outside on a perfect southern Florida day), it was a different story. It was Friday, the last day of the conference, very nice outside, already received a strong ROI on their attendance, a stomach full of incredible food and wonderful iced tea... Well, you can understand why I saw a few slipping away to the whispers of the pool bar...(I managed to resist those calls)

For the die-hards, there were still a number of interesting presentations including one from William Deckelman, VP and General Counsel of CSC Corporation, where Bill talked extensively about bringing together the contracting, legal and sourcing groups in a much more collaborative and effective manner. He discussed how to foster teaming between these groups so there's no silos or competing agendas, understanding and defining the organization's core contracting capabilities to set the right expectations and fill any missing skill sets, and empowering these groups to instill innovation and positive change. Again, another timely and needed presentation for today's times and how corporations can take the opportunity to instill changes that ordinarily would not be accepted or could not be implemented in past years. Mr. Obama's theme of Change was definitely embraced at this conference and I for one am excited to be a part of this journey.

There was one more panel session followed by related tracks and with that came the end to yet another very successful IACCM Americas Conference. I heard some rumors about the location of next year's event and I do hope those rumors come true as the location is one that everyone will be simply amazed with. I will give you a few clues: Olympics, Picturesque, Ocean, Mountains, Hockey, Very Friendly People. I can't wait for it and will be working closely with Tim and team to help make it an even bigger success than this year, which will be hard to do, but I am up for the challenge.

- Ashif Mawji

Spend Matters would like to thank Ashif Mawji from Upside Software for sharing his experience at IACCM Americas 2009. As a final aside, Spend Matters is a big supporter of IAACM and Tim Cummins, an individual that truly brings a much needed collaborative voice to the area of contracting and buyer/supplier relationship management. If you have not checked out IACCM, you should!

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