Daily Archives: September 23, 2014

The “Future” of Procurement: Ongoing Blues Part I

Wow. One week and fifteen (15) “future” trends later we’re finally getting to trends that are recent enough to be classified as “we should be mastering this” as opposed to “we should have mastered this (a) decade(s) ago”. You’d think this was good news, but considering that it’s going to be eleven (11) more trends and three (3) more days before we get to a “future” trend that’s actually recent enough to classify as “like new remanufactured shoes”, it’s not. It’s sad and almost pathetic when you think about it.

So here we go again. Or should the doctor say here I go again because, like David Coverdale, it seems, from the doctor‘s point of view, that here I go again on my own, going down the only road, and, like a drifter, apparently walking it alone. You see, instead of taking the easy way and walking the well-trodden, down-beaten path, the doctor is opting to forge a new road to see what lies on the other side of the unexplored territory, because tried-and-true doesn’t mean best-for-you.

(the doctor knows it’s harsh, but the reality is just because you’ve been doing it that way for thirty years doesn’t mean you’ve been doing it right. And if you’ve been preaching the same end-game for thirty years in the consulting world, you definitely aren’t doing it right. The world evolves and your playbook should evolve with it.)

But maybe we should get back at it as we still have a long ways to go, but before we continue, let us reiterate that these posts are categorized as rant for a reason. Just like the doctor has no restraint when it comes to rubbish, he has literally no patience for puff-pieces, which he has recently read a lot of while researching this series. As a result, the doctor is letting loose and not pulling any punches. So if you have a habit of reading, sharing, or promoting these pieces, unless you’re still up for a rumble, you might want to go hop over to Spend Matters for a few more days (and come back Thursday when we get to trends meaningful enough to at least be mentioned). The fact of the matter is that the doctor is going to continue to call a duck a duck, a spade a spade, and a poser a poser. the doctor will continue to do his very best to continue keep the language Safe for Work, but the bile will bleed through where it is well deserved, and we have to cover a couple of very hot topics that make the doctor go cuckoo for cocoa puffs. You have been warned repeatedly. You continue to read at your own discretion.

18. Improved Supply Management Skill Set & Skill Specialization

The need for improved skill sets and improved skill set specialization has been around at least since the invention of the hammer, but has probably been around longer than that. After all, the early hunters had to learn to use their spears. Every time technology or business processes have progressed, new skills were required to appropriately use the new technology or business processes. And every time new processes or technology were introduced in Supply Management, new skills and skill set specialization were required. This is really, really, really old news but has been promoted to the ongoing blues category only because, last decade, progress came fast and furious and, for the most part, the professional associations, training companies, and big consulting co’s just didn’t keep up (or come anywhere close to keeping up) — so how could you? The ISM only upgraded to the CPSM in 2008 — almost five years after Next Level Purchasing introduced the SPSM! (Hmmm … wonder where the ISM got that idea, eh?) Plus, the later half of this decade could see a few more innovations that rock the Supply Management world, decimators* permitting.)

17. Talent

Due to the steady increase in the size of the skill set required to excel in Supply Management, we’re at the point where, as SI has been stating for years, you have to be a jack of all trades and master of one. There’s a reason the traditional saying is “jack of all trades and master of none” because it’s hard to do everything and yet be good at anything. But that is what’s required to excel at Supply Management. You have to be good at dozens of different things, and good enough to combine them more effectively than your peers from the perspective of designing and managing global supply chains. This is going to be an issue for decades to come. It’s not only going to be a constant challenge to find appropriate talent, but to design and deliver training programs that elevate that talent to the top of their game and keep them there.

16. Stronger Supplier Relationships

Now that we’ve went from buying pre-manufactured third party products to outsourced manufacturing to outsourced product design, we need much stronger supplier relationships than we used to require. And when you add the constantly increasing risk of supply chain disruption, dwindling raw material supplies, and ever decreasing product life cycles, the importance of strong supplier relationships is skyrocketing. But this has been the situation since the outsourcing craze began in the 1980s. Nothing new here, except the strength of the relationship, and the frequency of interaction, has to keep increasing, and even more visibility is required.

That’s 3 more down and only 15 to go. And, most importantly, only 3 more days until we get to remanufactured shoes! We might just make it!

* The innovations will happen. Some are already in progress. It all comes down to two things. One: whether there are any VCs forward thinking enough to invest, as true innovation takes years, not quarters, and the short-term thinking of Wall Street has conditioned us that it’s all about next quarter, not next year, or, more importantly, next decade (and this has resulted in the end of long term strategic plans and put a big damper on ground-breaking innovation). Two: whether the patent trolls will let it happen. There are a number of 800 lb gorillas that haven’t invented anything in almost a decade and their only chance at maintaining superiority in the space will depend on squashing the competition and putting them out of business. In order to support this anti-progress strategy, these companies have built up war chests of patents (which, even if garbage, can be used to get multi-year injunctions until the case is decided) and big bank accounts (to buy, and subsequently bury, the willing).