Next Level Purchasing (NLP) recently released a new four-part express course on Procurement KPIs and Business Acumen that is available to all premium Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA) members for free (and to all free NLPA members at a one-time price of 54.99*). The express course series is designed to cover the essential lessons required for a procurement department to strategically contribute to an organization, including what business acumen is and why it is essential for procurement success and how synergistic Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be used to create a compound effect on business result. In SI’s opinion, it delivers one of the key lessons a Procurement department needs to master to be seen as strategically contributing to the organization given the current view of Procurement’s role, does a great job of defining business acumen and relating it to a function Procurement should understand well (Sales), and does a deft job of indicating how properly defined synergistic KPIs can generate compound effects and deliver greater results than non-synergistic KPIs.
However, what SI really liked about the course is that it introduces a new concept poorly missing from the Procurement world that should be adopted by EVERY organization on the planet. And for this reason alone I would recommend you become a premium NLPA member. It is the most innovative encapsulation of a core idea that I’ve seen from a purchasing organization, analyst firm, or consulting organization in years! And we’ll get to it before the review is over.
The course starts off by noting that it is big news when a CPO rises to the top and becomes the CEO of an organization. Why? Because it is a rare event. Why is this the case? SI believes there are a number of factors but agrees with NLP that one of the reasons is a lack of business acumen (beyond the procurement and supply management function). What is business acumen? The Financial times defines business acumen as a keenness and speed in understanding and deciding on a business situation. People with business acumen are able to obtain essential information about a situation, focus on the key objectives, recognize the relevant options available for a solution, select an appropriate course of action and set in motion an implementation plan to get the job done. And if they discover that changes are required to adapt to unforeseen circumstances, they make the adjustments as necessary and keep the activity moving forward. And, most importantly, they are more often right than wrong (at least when it really matters).
The definition also goes on to state that people with strong business acumen use an explicit or implicit business framework to ensure completeness and integration as they assess a business situation. This is a key point that cannot be overlooked. Because, as they also state, business acumen is learned and a key part of that learning is the tools, processes, and frameworks you need to make good decisions. In the Procurement KPIs and Business Acumen, NLP develops a basic, generic, framework that ties together the key synergistic KPIs for any Procurement organization that can be used by an Procurement Professional. What is this framework? We’ll address that in Part II.
* Note that premium NLPA membership is only 99.99 annually and grants you access to all nine express course series (of one or more courses) as well as the full NLPA library. SI would recommend that you consider premium membership if you are interested in multiple resources as it is much cheaper than paying by the drink.