Monthly Archives: July 2015

Two Hundred and Forty Years Ago Today

Benjamin Franklin was named as the First Postmaster General of the United States, during the second continental congress in Philadelphia, an office that is older than tooth the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. In the beginning, the postal system mainly carried communications between Congress and the armies. This was the beginnings of the modern postal system in the US, which was later officially organized as the Post Office Department in 1792, and then replaced by the independent Postal Service in 1971 (by the Postal Reorganization act which was signed into law by Nixon, one of America’s lesser loved Presidents).

Even though the postal system is far older than many essential services we use on a daily basis, it is still a vital service and one we often take for granted. Direct mail, Magazines, and even invoices in and cheques out still flow the mail in the millions on a daily basis. We might be in the digital age, but we still haven’t given up our paper.

Contract Lifecycle Management IV: Neither Sourcing Nor Procurement Are Enough.

In Part I of this series, we argued that CLM, short for Contract Lifecycle Management, while arguably one of the most blah-blah-blah acronyms in the Supply Management space, is also one of the most important. This is because, as summarized in Part III, it overlaps S2C, P2P, and, as a result, S2S/S2P as well as intersecting with risk management, performance management, change management, and supplier (relationship) management. In other words, CLM touches almost every aspect of Supply Management and is taking a central place in your Supply Management organization.

We also argued that while the common definition of CLM was correct, as it stated that CLM required the right processes and the right platforms to support those processes, it was not useful because while an average organization has a decent understanding of a good contracting process, it does not have a good understanding of what the right platforms are to support them.

Why? Because most organizations don’t have anywhere to turn for a good, solid, stable definition of what a good supporting CM system is. Vendors only educate on their platform. Analysts only educate on the definition that is common across the cross-section of the market they are covering. Peers can only educate you on what they have, which might have been chosen randomly. And professional organizations stay out of the mix by focussing on process.

That’s why for the first time, Sourcing Innovation and Spend Matters have come together in a joint effort led by the prophet, the maverick, and the doctor to, once and for all, define the core Supply Management platforms, starting with CLM, the most misunderstood of the Supply Management misfits.

In our last post we asked if you knew where contract lifecycle management came from because one can’t move forward until one understands where the space is today, why existing platforms on their own (and Sourcing and Procurement platforms in particular) don’t meet all of an organization’s contract management needs on their own, and how what is out there now currently fits together.

That’s why Part IV: The Traditional Platforms of the landmark series over on Spend Matters Pro [membership required] by the prophet, the maverick, and the doctor examines all of the core Supply Management platforms out there today: e-Sourcing, e-Procurement, 3PM/SRM (Third Party Management / Supplier Relationship Management), GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) and traditional CM; describes their core capabilities; indicates how they address different parts of the contract lifecycle; and sets the stage for our discussion of what defines the core of a(n integrated) CM platform that actually meets an organization’s contract management needs.

One might be tempted to think that just because their e-Sourcing platform (or P2P platform) contains a Contract Management module, that their contract management needs are met, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is because Contract Management (CM) is not (traditional) Sourcing, which is the process of identifying a source of supply. As a result, such platforms mainly focus on contract archival and meta-data management, and maybe contract authoring, but contract management is more than authoring and signing, it’s also execution and implementation. It’s making sure each party meets their obligations, complies with identified regulatory requirements, minimizes risk, and collaborates when issues, or disputes, arise. Remember, contracts not being executed as intended is a large reason that 30% to 40% of savings identified during the sourcing process never materialize.

The situation is similar if you have a P2P system with a CM module, a 3PM / SRM platform with a CM bolt-on, or even a first generation CM solution that was written to please the lawyers and not the day-to-day buyers and relationship managers. (But to understand why, you’ll have to check out our full post on The Traditional Platforms over on Spend Matters Pro [membership required].)

The Six Commandments, err, Philosophies of Procurement, Hindu Style

A few weeks ago, on Canada Day, while LOLCat was proactively learning the pledge of allegiance (which LOLCat will need when Canadians re-elect Harper), Mr. Smith asked what were The Ten Commandments of Procurement that you adhered to that were absolutely, unarguably, true under all conditions.

To get your creative juices flowing, two weeks ago, Sourcing Innovation gave you the Ten Commandments of Procurement, Christian Style. And in case that wasn’t enough, last week SI gave you the Ten Commandments, err, Precepts of Procurement, Buddhist Style and told you that SI was going to tackle at least one more style, because everyone deserves equal opportunity. Today we’re going back to the third most followed religion on the planet and give you the six commandments, err, philosophies, of Procurement, Hindu Style.

6. I will not make assumptions on prices, demands, or needs before collecting the appropriate information and market intelligence.

We all know the saying about people who make assumptions, and what they make of themselves. I know this to be true so I will always select categories for sourcing events, estimate demand, and negotiate, based upon research and fact and not upon gut feeling or inflated GPO claims.

5. I will take a holistic logical view of cost and return and use the appropriate tools to understand the true costs and build a realistic picture of the expected value of a product, service, or supplier relationship.

Cost is more than just the price. It’s the transportation. It’s the import and export duties. It’s the temporary storage. It’s the utilization. It’s the reclamation and return (under warranty). And the value of each product is not just limited to the cost I pay, but the quality, reliability, and other intrinsic value in the mind of the consumer. I will understand both before pursuing a product, service, or even a supplier relationship.

4. I will not be vain or assume that just because I am the expert, I am always right. I will listen with an open mind and continuously seek to learn and better myself.

I am the expert in Procurement process, and will generally know more than my peers, but I am not necessarily the expert in the product being bought, the market being bought from, the market being sold to, all of the transportation options available, or the intricacies of production or utilization. Moreover, I recognize that the market research I acquired may not be fully up to date or take into account unusual characteristics of the organization’s needs, the suppliers capabilities, or sub-markets. I will listen to others in the organization who have this knowledge and consider all relevant input before making any decisions.

3. I will be socially responsible and only work with suppliers who have the same views.

I am not just a lone Procurement professional in an ivory tower, I am a human being and a citizen of this planet and every decision I make will have a ramification on others that could go beyond just my coworkers, my suppliers, and my customers. Moreover, every effect I create has an effect on me as well and I will have to live with the effect I create on others and my self, so I will endeavour to create the best effects I can.

2. I will not succumb to pressure and make hasty Procurement decisions because any mistake I make will cost the organization in the long run.

All organization suffering results from mistakes made in the past that were produced by activity that was the result of insufficient knowledge or a lack of (social) responsibility. As a result, I will not rush a sourcing decision and cut a contract or make a buy without adequately considering all of the facts and options available to me in order to make sure I make the best decision for the organization that can be made at the time I make it.

1. I will not act without forethought and planning for what I do dictates what I will get.

The effect I get is pre-existent in the action I take. So not only will I make the best sourcing decision I can, but will also ensure that all of the actions I take with respect to contract management, performance management, supplier management, and risk management are carefully considered and made in line with the organizational goals and carried out with responsibility, respect, and an open mind.

Contract Lifecycle Management III: Do You Know Where it Came From?

In our first post, we introduced you to CLM, short for Contract Lifecycle Management, which is arguably one of the most uninspiring acronyms in the Supply Management space, but also one of the most important as it overlaps S2C, P2P, and, as a result, S2S/S2P as well as intersecting with risk management, performance management, change management, and supplier (relationship) management. In other words, as succinctly stated in our last post, CLM touches almost every aspect of Supply Management and is taking a central place in your Supply Management organization.

And, in our last post, we tried to define where CLM starts and ends, but, as per our first post, the key questions are: what exactly is CLM, why do you need it, and, most importantly, what defines the core CM (Contract Management) platform that powers CLM? And why?

As per our first post, to answer these questions in a standard, and open, manner that will allow for common, comparable, measurements across the vendor-base that will not change from quadrant to quadrant or wave to wave, Spend Matters and Sourcing Innovation have come together to create common definitions for critical Supply Management technologies, starting with CLM. This effort, led by the prophet, the maverick, and the doctor, has resulted in an initial, landmark, ten-part series on CLM over on Spend Matters Pro [membership required] that begins in Contract Lifecycle Management Part I: An introduction and that will continue until CLM is made clear.

In the first part of our ten-part series we defined what CLM is, discussed some critical requirements, and indicated future posts would detail what technological capabilities were required to support them. But before we can get to that, we have to understand where the solution space is today and why existing platforms, on their own, don’t meet all of an organization’s needs, and how what’s out there currently fits together. That’s why Contract Lifecycle Management Part III: The Solution Space examines the space and helps you understand where CLM fits.

While Contract Management solutions have been around for a while, they weren’t the first set of solutions in the Supply Management space, with e-Sourcing (and e-Auction) and e-Procurement (and e-Invoicing) solutions taking they lead. Early Contract Management solutions materialized in the Supply Management space as a result of gaps in process support left by the other solutions. But as Supply Management matured, many of these first generation systems showed gaps themselves, and Contract Management is now much more than just a contract authoring, signing, archiving, indexing, and searching platform that first generation vendors will make it out to be. And this starts to become clear when you examine the solution space as a whole and see where all the pieces fit, or don’t fit, together.

The reality is that the Supply Management space is big, the full CLM process is involved, and CLM knowledge gaps are very common — but they don’t have to be! Head on over to Spend Matters Pro [membership required], check out the latest piece by the prophet, the maverick, and the doctor, and understand how the The (Supply Management) Solution Space currently fits together. You won’t regret it.