As per our authoritative damnation post on the board of directors, they can be your best friend or your worst enemy, but they’ll probably be your ongoing nightmare because their dictates can drive your daily duties even more than the wacky whims of the CEO.
If all the board does is chant “savings, savings, savings”, then guess what the CFO has to chant. That’s right! “Savings, savings, savings.” But this isn’t the only craziness the board can throw your way. They can get razor-focussed on outsourcing. They can decide that the organization should have no FTE obligations and try to make as many jobs as possible contingent labour. Or they could decide the organization has to acquire or merge with someone soon and task you with supply chain analysis of the most likely candidate organizations.
So what do you do? Dance to their tune every time it changes? Well, you have to — but we’re no longer in the age of the folk, ballroom, or line dance, so you should do your best to make sure those aren’t the dances that come your way. How do you do that?
Stop waiting to follow the leader and start planning to lead the leader. What do we mean? Regardless of any lip service the executive or the board may throw towards the press about a desire to do support minority businesses, increase overall sustainability, or focus on innovation, they profit when the company profits, and profit, which they generally associate with higher revenues (which they demand of sales) and lower costs (which they demand of Procurement), is all they really care about.
So if you want to stop looking for illusive, and possibly non-existent, savings, then start focussing on how you can increase profit and come up with value-generation plans that you can sell to the board.
For example, Procurement can add value by:
- helping Sales sell into new markets
maybe the problem is high distribution costs, which Procurement can rectify as it’s already sourcing from the market and knows the lowest cost shippers;
- helping Finance improve working capital
as it’s understanding of in-depth cost modelling and (strategic sourcing) decision optimization can help it work with finance to create an optimal payment plan model that optimizes early payment discounts, invoice factoring, and supplier interest charges or late fees
- helping Engineering improve quality and lower costs during NPD
as a leading Procurement organization has expertise in Supplier Management
And Procurement can bring a plan to do so to the board before the board gives it a plan that would take it back to the Procurement dark ages.