Friday Rant: What’s in a Title? Why Purchasing Titles Need to Reflect Emerging Needs

Earlier this week, I got an automated alert that someone had registered to download our research. Now, this is nothing exceptional. We get from a dozen to a few dozen new registrants per day that provide their details as part of the registration process. But candidly, most have the same title as everyone else. Here are just a few from "A to D" who have downloaded materials in the past year:

Associate Manager, Procurement & Planning Analyst, Applications Solutions Head, Assoc. Director, Finance, Associate Director - SAP SCM, Associate Vice President, Procure to Pay, Business Analyst, Supply Management, Business Development Director, Business Modernization Expert, Buyer, Category Buyer, Category Lead, Center of Expertise Lead - Source & Support, Chief process and systems architect, CIO, CPO, Commercial Manager, Contracts Analyst, Contracts Manager, Corporate Initiatives Lead, Corporate Purchasing Manager, Corporate Traffic Manager, Director, Global F/A, Director, Non-Trade Procurement, Director of Procurement Operations, Director of Supply Chain, Director, Global Purchasing Strategy, Director, Procurement and Subcontracts, Director, Strategic Sourcing, Director, Supply Chain Management, Director, Supply Chain Strategy, Director, Supply Management, DVP Procurement Engineer, eProcurement Specialist.

Now, the purpose of this list is not to bore you. Nor is it to show the great proliferation of titles and roles in procurement, supply chain and finance somehow touching on sourcing, buying or vendor management processes. Rather, I've included it to highlight the relative conservativeness, sameness -- though I will admit that some, like "Business Modernization Expert," have a good ring to them -- and generic descriptions in the spend management community without regard to changing organizational structures, technologies, requirements, priorities and above all, expectations more broadly of the function and individually of the contributor within.

To draw an analogy, we're living in the Cold War era of procurement and economic military conflict when the skirmishes and battles we're fighting look more like Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa (plus the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman)/pirates, Iran, and China (economic). Our proverbial enemy (or focus) is not as defined as before and the challenges we face are much more scattered and fragmented. Today in procurement, we must not only find needles in haystacks -- we must also identify the probability and potential for why they may appear in a particular stack in the first place. It's this level of forecasting, awareness, visibility and analytics that's needed to successfully manage commodity volatility, reduce supply risk, drive year-over-year implemented cost savings and pursue more strategic and visible categories of spend that were off limits in the past.

For this reason, I'm really excited about some of the new titles we see appearing within progressive organizations that are downloading our research. The person I mentioned at the beginning of this post is an ideal example of restructuring roles to take advantage of technology and process. To wit, this individual's title is "Director, Supplier Spend, Risk, Diversity". When the registration came in, I had to forward it to a few internal colleagues because it just makes so much sense to put spend analysis and supplier management under one roof (not to mention to have diversity and risk reporting into the same team leader). After all, these areas essentially represent different but related reporting and information fields in the same general vendor profile that one should collect in a single repository but that all too often, end up in various databases and excel sheets scattered throughout a company.

But perhaps most important, the ability to act on information and to see it in a single place can change and improve individual functions like supplier diversity. For example, being able to see that strategic diverse suppliers also happen to have a rising risk profile with enough lead time to take action through development initiatives can make the difference between losing a supplier (and potentially a supply disruption) or keeping a supplier in business and driving continuous improvement for the future.

No doubt, procurement titles must adapt to the realities of today's market needs. Before closing out this rant, here are just a few more that I'd propose (some of which I've heard about or seen):

Director/VP, Commodity/Category Sourcing and Multitier Management
Director/VP, Commodity/Category Forecasting and Intelligence
Director/VP, Supplier Enablement and Procurement Data Management
Director/VP, Procurement and Supplier Master Data
Director/VP, P2P and Working Capital Systems
Director/VP, Supplier Development and Supply Chain Risk Response

- Jason Busch

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First Voice

  1. Mike Oswalt:

    No thanks… I’ll stick with "Data Maverick". Wait…my role has changed some… make that "Business Processmeister". (and what’s with all the VP, Director, Chief stuff…really???… are those important these days? Let’s see… Jason Busch "Executive Editor and Contributor", "Partner", "Managing Director", "Owner", did I miss any?)

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