A Special Series: Transforming Detroit — Reforming Procurement and the Automotive Supply Chain

In the past few months, I've reflected quite a bit on what's happened with the US automotive industry. On some levels, we could have predicted the ultimate outcome of the major players. Ford, which wisely and somewhat quietly focused on R&D and quality control while rationalizing its product line for the past few years, managed to avoid bankruptcy. GM, with its massive pension and healthcare liabilities and wandering focus spread across too many product lines (not to mention dozens of other challenges), hit the Chapter 11 button, transforming itself into "Government Motors". And Chrysler proved out that if the majority of your product line is unreliable and uninspiring relative to the competition, you'll get exactly what is coming to you in the form of having your assets snapped up by the European car-maker better known for rust than performance or profits.

However, analyses like mine, above, are nothing but ruminations on the problem(s) at hand. What's needed is a wholesale re-evaluation of the Detroit supply chain that brings expertise, creativity and truly out of the negotiation box thinking. To start this dialogue, I've invited a few folks I know from the automotive industry (CPOs as well as some of the more experienced consultants in the industry) to offer their take on what it will take to transform Detroit's procurement approach and mentality -- and what an end-state for a new purchasing and supply chain ethos should look like.

These contributions will be part of an invited guest series about what it will take to transform Detroit's procurement and supply chain mind set, emptying the proverbial supplier skeletons from the closet once and for all. I think we'd all agree that there's a lot of corpses and supply chain road kill that need to be dispensed with. We'll get the series moving next week and look forward to the response and additional contributions from the Spend Matters community. If you have any specific topics you'd like to see us address in this series, please drop a line: jbusch (at ) spendmatters (dot) com. It's our goal to spark dialogue and conversation that can lead to tangible change. This series will not be about blaming unions or management for past mistakes. It will focus entirely on the forward-looking premise of what it will take to build a sustainable automotive manufacturing future in the US.

Jason Busch

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