Friday Rant: CSC, Supply Chain Management Review, CSCMP and MSU Discover the Obvious

Psst ... don't tell anyone -- the recessionary economic climate has driven a majority of companies to set savings targets in procurement to drive cost savings. Yes, you read that correctly (hard to believe, isn't it). Sarcasm aside, it's a shame that some of the top-level findings from a recent CSC, Supply Chain Management Review, CSCMP and Michigan State study aren't more useful or original. Tell us what we don't know, please. Seriously, doesn't it go without saying that "88 percent of respondents" to the study "have set objectives for purchasing to generate cost savings in the next 12 months" or that "the global economic downturn has impacted every aspect of business operations, and supply chain is no exception"? Maybe not. But it should.

If you want to read the full results of the study -- which I don't recommend prioritizing unless you have some free time on your hands -- you can head over to CSC's website. Personally, I feel it's unfortunate that such a collection of research, functional and publishing groups couldn't tackle questions that we didn't already know the answers to. After all, what we need right now is not validation that procurement and supply chain activities matter more and more to the business. No, what we need to learn are tactics that leaders are deploying to make procurement and supply chain programs more effective and relevant in the current climate. While the report touches on some of these, it does not go into sufficient detail to lend itself to actionable levels of insight.

In my view, companies can easily be led astray by quantitative research based on web-collected information without significant levels of insight and validation behind it. What's more effective, in my view, are customized programs delivered by organizations like Hackett which don't just point out what we know already, but show us -- based on proven and significantly more robust research methodologies -- what we need to do. After all, tuning out unimportant news is often more important than dialing in to what we think we want to hear. At this point, if you need external justification and validation to invest in procurement and supply chain cost cutting initiatives in the current economic climate, please tell me what company you work for so I can short your stock.

Update -- Not trying to zero my sites in on CSC here as a consultant or integrator. The material that another consultancy (Accenture) shared at Empower was equally as wanting for deeper analysis.

- Jason Busch

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