The Merger – Procurement Technology Should Be On The CPO’s Agenda

We recently published our “novella” titled The Merger, written by Peter Smith of Spend Matters and Steve Cobley of procurement software firm Ivalua. Rather than the usual discussion of procurement strategy, technology and organisation in an abstract sense, we thought we would frame it in the form of a fictional story of two firms merging and the impact it might have on two individual procurement leaders, Jim and Gabrielle.

We featured the instalments of the story on our website a while back, but for the downloadable version we have added some useful commentary about some of the specific procurement technology issues that get raised in the course of the story. Learn more about “best of breed” versus “integrated platforms”, for instance in terms of choosing the right system for your organisation.

In today’s extract from the story, Jim (one of the CPOs) has confessed to Gabrielle (the other one) that his firm’s procurement technology is – well, crap, frankly. Gabrielle explains why she feels this is so important, leaving Jim wondering whether he has a future in the newly merged business. But to find out whether he does, or whether he ends up selling the Big Issue on the streets of Brighton, you will have to download the whole thing here! (Free on registration). 


The Merger (an excerpt)

“Of course, people are important Jim, I know that. But I realised a few years ago that if we wanted to be the best in procurement, we had to have the best technology. It is as simple as that. Even if you have the best procurement people in the world, they are working with one hand tied behind their backs if they do not have the right tools, the best tools.”

“Our principle has been all about getting integration across our systems so that we have access to data that is easily available, timely and as complete as possible. If I want to develop a strategic relationship with my supplier, to capture their ideas and innovation, I must know what we are doing with them around the whole business, how they are performing. Even if we just want to have a tough negotiation, we must also understand the current picture. So we’ve invested to get that right platform to help us achieve that.”

Gabrielle was animated now.

“That is so important, it means the CPO has to get involved.  I think Louise is excellent from what I have seen, but the leadership must come from the top. You don’t have to be an IT geek – my degree was in History - but I think a good CPO has to understand what technology can bring. Sorry, I don’t mean to insult you Jim!  But it’s true.”

He could see why she had made CPO at such a young age – the obvious passion combined by the air of competence made him feel a little inferior suddenly. Gabrielle continued, now in full flow.

“OK, look, I was not trying to embarrass you. I am sure you do many things better than us. You’ve been a leader in category management in our industry, your SRM programme for instance looks very good. But it sounds like perhaps we have made better choices about the systems we need to support our work. But that is good – it means we will have more synergy opportunities when we put the two operations together.”

That’s all very well, thought Jim. But I’m not sure I’m going to be here to see that.

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