From CPO to CRO (Chief Relationship Officer)?

It’s always a pleasure to connect with former Purchasing Editor Paul Teague, who is now the North America Editor for Procurement Leaders. I had the fortunate opportunity to catch up with Paul a few weeks back at the Procurement Leaders Forum in Chicago. He recently penned a blog post over on the Procurement Leaders site that caught my eye. He titled it “Not just a CPO, but a CRO.” What’s CRO, you ask? That would be Chief Relationship Officer.

Paul notes that for most supply management executives today, while “procurement is a big part of the responsibility … CPOs themselves rarely actually do the buying. They manage the people who do; they manage the process, and make sure that the operation is aligned with corporate and stakeholder objectives - just to name a few duties and responsibilities. They are, or should be, part of virtually every corporate function, from risk management, to manufacturing, to finance, to marketing, and to efforts to innovate through development of new products and processes.”

Paul later borrows a line from Starbucks SVP of Procurement, Rick Schneider, suggesting that he’s “sort of the chief relationship officer.” After all, he “meets regularly with the company CEO, and among the questions the CEO always asks is the status of relationships with the third parties the company works with.”

The role of partner or extended relationship management (as Deloitte uses the phrases) is becoming increasingly important for procurement executives. But relationships must extend down into the organization as well as out to supply partners! The big question we should ask after reading Paul’s post and Rick’s statement is whether or not we have the right internal talent mix to focus on stakeholder and supply partnering. The answer would not be a clear “yes" for far too many procurement organizations today.

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