What Type of CPO Would Donald Trump Be?

Donald Trump

Coming off the heels of this week's historic presidential election, Spend Matters presents this Friday Rant, originally published in November 2015, exploring what President-Elect Donald Trump would bring to the table as a chief procurement officer. 

There’s been an awful lot of debate among both liberals and conservatives on what type of president Donald Trump would be. But I think there’s an even more fun question to ask: If Donald Trump were a chief procurement officer (CPO), what would he be like?

I actually think we can begin to arrive at the answer from looking closely at his views on policy — and candidly, it looks like he’d actually be a somewhat effective, if unloved, CPO. Let’s look at why.

Be more efficient AND effective in identifying and mitigating commercial risk: Contract Management: Understand How to Focus on the Right Thing

He’d Protect No Sacred Cows

Trump understands that when spend is protected and is not benchmarked or bid out that bad things happen to most of those around it. As he notes on rent control in New York City— truly “protected” spend, if you will — the act of keeping granny in a one-bedroom apartment on Park Avenue for $500 a month only “benefits the privileged minority.”

Under a Trump procurement agenda, there would be no category “sacred cows.” Granny would need to move to Jersey.

He’d Get Paid on Time

Trump does not like extended payment terms — especially payment terms extended out over, well, 30 years. He once predicted a 35% boost to the economy if we eliminated the national debt, which is really just extended payment terms if you boil government borrowing down to its essence — you just pay those loaning you the money versus those suppliers whose services you’re actually consuming at the time.

Perhaps with Trump as a CPO, supplier performance levels would increase, as would overall value, from shortening payment terms.

He’d Make Procurement Great Again

Trump does not like losers that sit around and take advantage of those working around them. Procurement organizations of old are often criticized for carrying “dead weight.” I have one phrase for that: “You’re fired!”

Suppliers might not be held to the same standards, though. Trump might be a little too quick to give them a get out of jail free card and drive up supply risk in the process. As Trump noted earlier this year, he has “used bankruptcy laws to do a great job for [his] companies.” Hmmm...  

But, on the flip side, for suppliers who may have been jilted on monies due to them when Trump washed his own firm four times through Chapter 11, he’s not exactly a “customer of choice” for many. He also likely runs a very “tax efficient supply chain” and would be very supportive of that in procurement.

He’d Bring our Jobs Home

As a CPO, Trump would be all over reshoring — not even near-shoring, for that matter. In fact, he’d probably build plants to take on China rather than sourcing from the region.

His quotes on trade are quite humorous, in fact clearly suggesting a “buy American strategy” as a CPO: level a “35% import tax at the Mexican border”; “place a 20% tax on imported goods”; “stupid people negotiate our trade bills.” That said, I think you know where 90% of the furnishings in his hotels come from.

At the end of the day, he’s in business to make money. It’s sort of like GE saying it loves reverse auctions in procurement but having a policy not to participate in them as a supplier.  

He’d Trim the Fat

Trump appears cognizant of the role of automation — what business process outsourcing (BPO) zealots like to call “robotics” — and its impact on jobs. Take, for example, how within accounts payable (A/P), we need fewer jobs to do still a better job with the right procure-to-pay (P2P) systems.

As Trump observes, the “real unemployment rate is 20%; don’t believe 5.6%.” Trump would no doubt carry The Hatchet – oops, Hackett – Group flag and use it to get rid of fat. And he’d use some real KPIs versus those foisted on us, like those savings numbers from procurement no one believes.

He’d Sell the Heck Out of His Agenda

When it comes to stakeholder collaboration in complex categories such as marketing, Trump would have a hard time earning the respect of stakeholders based on looks at first glance. I mean, seriously, with that combover and suits that fit like a Jos. A. Bank remainder special rather than an Oxxford or something cut by a Savile Row expert, superficial marketing millennials and their bosses would be less than impressed.

But, heck, he might win them over after cracking a joke or two and making fun of himself after the initial impressions wear off. Besides, as a CPO, you need to be able to sell even more than being able to buy — and The Donald can sell! He also knows a little something about branding and how to align his style to stakeholders he’s courting.

He’d Speak his Mind

In the area of supplier and gender diversity, well, let’s … not quite go there. At least we know from how he treats Fox anchors during debates that he follows an equal opportunity mantra that “all women will be harassed equally.”

Fine, I’ll come clean. I really did this little exercise to make myself not have to think for a minute what type of president Donald Trump would be. And I took a few liberties, as well.

My overall verdict is that Trump would be an effective but likely polarizing CPO. I’ll leave it that.

Please follow Jason Busch on Twitter @jasondbusch

Share on Procurious

Voices (2)

  1. Jason Busch:

    Reading this again made me laugh … especially given where the election ended up. I’m actually more optimistic following last Tuesday than I was before (or that day). Who knows where this might lead …

  2. bitter and twisted:

    He’d piss off the CEO, CFO, and COO in a week and be fired.

Discuss this:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.