Daily Archives: September 22, 2011

Nothing for Nothing

After reading this recent article over on Chief Executive on how 66% of CEOs Plan to Freeze or Downsize Workforce Size which also pointed out how the majority of CEOs expect capital expenditures to remain flat, as per Chief Executive’s monthly survey of CEOs’ perception of overall business conditions (that garnered 247 responses), I can’t help but think of No Sale, No Store by the Arrogant Worms:

This week!
This week only!
We pay the GST!
We pay the PST!
We pay for delivery!
We pay for everything!
How do we do it?
How do we offer these fabulous deals?
We got the most!
The best!
The worst!
We've got it all!
We’ve got everything!
Except one thing...
What’s that?
We've got no store!
No products!
So come on down!
This week!

Every week!
Every year!
No money down!
No payment ever!
That’s nothing for nothing!

Simply put, no new investments into new technology to increase productivy to give current staff time to create new products and services and no new staff to create new products and services creates an innovation free company. An innovation free company has nothing to offer. And you get nothing for nothing. It’s a lose-lose all the way around (as new technologies sit on the shelf and talent sits on the couch.) There’s no sale, as there’s no store.

You Don’t Need to Fish to Identify Savings Opportunities in Indirect Procurement

A recent article in the SIG Newsletter on How to Identify Savings Opportunities in Indirect Procurement gave a fisherman’s perspective on how to identify savings. It wasn’t bad, and went something like this:

  • The “big catch” comes from understanding the entomology
    Just as an angler must understand the feeding opportunities created by a trout’s main source of food – bugs – a Procurement Professional must understand the current business climate and the opportunities provided that, when intersected with the right plan at the right time, will create success.
  • Match the Hatch
    Trout opportunistically feed at the time of the hatch (when fly larva emerge and float to the water’s surface to dry their wings). A skilled angler will know when a bug hatch is occurring and match the fly to the hatching bugs to increase the catch. Similarly, a skilled procurement professional will identify which business trends are hatching and what elements need to be considered to create a category “catching” opportunity. She will start by prioritizing categories by ROI, developing a change management strategy, and focussing on internal and external adoption requirements.
  • Fish With a Guide
    There’s a big difference between traditional spincasting rods and fly rods and moving from one to another can be intimidating even for an experienced angler. The best way to move from one to the other is through a guide — an expert who already made the transition, learned from past mistakes, and who can help you overcome your fears and take you forward. In Procurement, a good guide will help your company create a strong indirect program through:

    • Analysis (Opportunity Evaluation)
    • Strategy (Best Practices)
    • Implementation (Adoption)
    • Management (Sustainability)
  • Approaching Indirect Procurement Services is Just About “Getting it Done”
    Intimidation and uncertainty can create a paralytic environment. Be empowered. If fish are analogous to categories, then plan where you want to fish and what kind of fish you want to catch. Determine where the fish are and if you can access them. Then, set out with clear goals and enlist the help of a good guide. The results can be that “big catch” or a series of smaller fish that add up to a great day or quarter.

And it overviewed some of the more common reasons why companies are not taking a more aggressive approach to indirect services expenditures, which include:

  • Fragmented buyer base
  • Difficult to transactionally manage (no comprehensive systems — too many point/niche solutions)
  • No detailed, real time visibility
  • Big change management issues
  • Not properly staffed to ensure adoption & sustainability post sourcing
  • Focused on direct materials & services
  • No internal expertise
  • No executive sponsorship

And it even indicated the most common indirect categories organizations were going after.

So it wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t that good either. It didn’t dive into how to detect a business climate that was prime for “a big catch”, how to detect “hatching” trends early in the game to be ready for an opportunity that is about to become prime, how to identify the right “guide” for your business, or the best way to “Get it Done”. As we indicated in a recent post, this will require stakeholder involvement across the board — and this is where the fly fishing analogy breaks down. You fly fish alone. You need to source indirect categories in a team. Furthermore, the right “guide” might be category dependent (as IT [targeted by 76% of businesses surveyed] and Travel [targeted by 84% of business surveyed] require very different knowledge bases and skill sets), trends are often very dependent on a sector, and a “big catch” will vary depending on business spend patterns, industry, and the overall economic climate (and the supply / demand [im]balance). And while these answers may be organization specific, they need to be answered to insure success.