Daily Archives: November 25, 2014

Procurement Trend #14. Shorter and More Complex Product Life-Cycles

Eleven anti-trends from the pre-internet pundits still remain, and as much as we’d like to not give yet another reason for LOLCat to hate futurists, we must continue to make sure that no good deed goes unpunished and since the futurists’ advice is still as good as it gets, we must break it all down until you can look past the shiny new paint job and realize that it’s still a twenty year old Skoda you are being sold.

So why do so many historians keep pegging shorter and more complex product life-cycles as a future trend? I honestly can’t fathom this as the video console, cellphone, and apparel industries have been in this mindset for over two decades, but maybe it is because the futurists, who finally realized that the internet has given everyone a need for speed, are finally catching on or because:

  • consumers in some verticals, like electronics, expect major new releases each year
    because they’ve been conditioned by the manufacturers and the marketers to, and
  • they expect every release to contain more new and exciting features than the last one
    even though they don’t even use half of the current features, and
  • they also expect each new product to be smaller, lighter, faster, and more powerful than the one before …
    even though they’ll then complain about lack of battery life, screen resolution, or something else when you have are faced with an impossible choice between two incompatible feature requests.

So what does this mean?

Annual Release Cycles

No matter how good Procurement is doing, it has to do it better, faster, cheaper and keep doing it better, faster, and cheaper (relatively speaking) every year. To do this, it’s going to have to institutionalize its knowledge and process in a workflow driven sourcing suite with integrated analysis and optimization that will tell it if its method is still appropriate, the market is ripe for the preferred event structure, and the costs are optimized.

Constant Innovation

The product has to keep improving, which means the organization and its suppliers have to keep innovating and Procurement needs to manage that innovation. Knowledge management, team management, and project management is just the beginning. When the team hits a dead end, Procurement is going to have to bring an innovation methodology like TRIZ, FORTH, or Design Thinking to the table to help it get past the finish line.

New Market Identification

At some point the incremental improvement in the new product is going to be so minimal that it’s going to lose value to the market and if the organization doesn’t phase the product out, the market will. So the organization not only has to constantly identify potential new versions of its products, but new markets for which it can design new products for. Preferably blue oceans, but open seas are a good start.