Daily Archives: March 18, 2008

Are Your International Procurement Skills Up to Snuff?

the doctor is pleased to welcome Dick Locke of Global Procurement Group back to Sourcing Innovation.

My guest post on the issue of keeping talent mentioned a ten-question quiz on global supply management skills. After the post, there was a surge of people who took the quiz. I have to say the results were disappointing. I graded the first thirty answers that came in after my guest posting. The average number of correct answers was 1.5 out of 10. Two people tied for top score with six correct answers. The average number of questions that were answered at all was 5 out of 10.

If I assume that the answers largely came from readers of this blog, I suggest some training is in order before you source outside your home country.

The quiz had questions on cultural differences, legal issues, customs and logistics, foreign exchange risk management and sourcing techniques. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not a perfect quiz. Two of the questions are US-centric, and one has some wording that misled a few people. However, there were many areas where basic knowledge was obviously lacking.

  • Two people out of 30 recognized my description of the U.N. Convention on the International Sale of Goods.
  • Two people out of 30 knew that forward contracts were the standard way to protect future exchange rates.
  • Five people out of 30 knew that the buyer has the in-transit risk of loss under the CIF Incoterm.
  • Estimates of the time it takes a container vessel to travel from Japan to the US West Coast ranged from 5 hours to 56 days. The average and median were about 18 days. Only one person came within 5 days of the correct answer (9 days for a Panamax or post-Panamax vessel). OK, that one is US-centric.
  • On the brighter side, twenty out of thirty recognized that Japan is a country where people have difficulty saying “no” or giving bad news directly. That question had the best result.

At the risk of appearing self-serving, I think it’s obvious that the people who took this quiz need a skill upgrade on global issues before they work outside of their home country.

As a final note, Dick’s company, Global Procurement Group offers training on international procurement issues.

Onegai shimasu, Dick.