Monthly Archives: August 2016

Key Questions When Selecting a Multi-Criteria Supplier Sustainability Monitoring Solution

In our last post on why Supply Risk Management Can Not Be Siloed, we noted that the average organization was not properly managing risk, and this was not only costing the organization time and money, but putting it at significant risk. We noted that there were a number of reasons for this — which included a lack of time, resources, and even immediacy — but the biggest reason was because there is a lack of cohesion in the fragmented risk management approach employed by many organizations. But we also noted that there was something the organization could do, namely, take a holistic approach to sustainable risk management.

In a holistic approach to sustainable risk management, risk management is centralized through a Centre of Excellence (CoE) that holistically manages risk for the entire organization. This CoE will put together policies and procedures that not only ensure that

  • every supplier is covered
  • on all relevant dimensions
  • but not on irrelevant dimensions
  • without any duplication of effort

but also ensures that

    • there are no false positives in the risk assessment and
    • there are no false negatives

Part of these procedures will include regular monitoring for risk and the regular re-examination of risk and sustainability of organizational suppliers and potential suppliers. And best practice will dictate that part of this monitoring and review will be automated by a multi-criteria supplier sustainability monitoring solution and supported by a provider that specializes in this type of platform as the monitoring will need to be maintained and adjusted as new data sources become available, old data sources go offline, and the depth of data changes over time.

But how do you select a good provider, and, most importantly, how do you select a good platform to meet your multi-criteria sustainability needs? The first thing you do is understand what makes a good platform and what the platform needs to do to take away your risk and sustainability management and your risk and sustainability monitoring pain.

To help you achieve this goal, the doctor recommends that you download Sourcing Innovation’s latest white paper on 5 Essential Criteria for Selecting a Supplier Sustainability & Risk Monitoring Solution, sponsored by Ecovadis, that will help you understand what a good sustainability and risk monitoring solution needs to do, not just what features or functions need to be in the brochure.

What is ARM, and why should I care?

Today’s guest post is from Peter Portanova, a Senior Project Analyst for Source One Management Services that specializes in the marketing spend category decision support for clients seeking to enhance their strategic marketing efforts and drive valuable agency relationships.

Relationships. Is there any institution more complex known to humanity? Whether between a group of people, or between a group of businesses, relationships are complex, messy, and often times, toxic. As businesses struggle to remain relevant in a volatile and fast-moving environment, the push to do more with less has never been so evident. In a well-circulated and often-rebuffed article from 2015 titled “Your Agency Hates You and You Don’t Even Know It“, the author attempts to identify the reasons relationships seem to fail (that is, if you are an agency and you are comfortable placing the majority of the blame on your client).

Consider the state of the marketing and advertising industry in 2015. Buzzwords like “Reviewmaggedon” and “Mediapalooza” dominated headlines, and the year ended with marketers parading through the streets when Pepsi decentralized their marketing procurement team. Fortunately, Pepsi’s decision does not indicate a trend, and an ANA survey to marketers reaffirms the value of procurement in the marketing process. To summarize the findings, many executives see value in procurements process, as long as it does not hinder the fluidity marketers require. However, the overarching question remains: How does procurement adapt their process to become more accepted by marketing stakeholders?

Enter, Agency Relationship Management, or ARM for short. Like Supplier Relationship Management (“SRM”) ARM works on the client’s behalf to ensure a fair and equitable relationship. There are many processes and services that fall under the umbrella of ARM, and procurement is well tooled to operate simply as a mediator, or as the manager of a full sourcing event. The ultimate goal of an ARM program is to enhance the relationship between a client and agency, and to ensure that expectations are clearly communicated and campaigns are integrated and executed seamlessly. Whether working with an internal team or an external third party, ARM programs ensure a best-in-class contract, and enable the client and agency to react swiftly when the market shifts.

“My relationship is great!” “My agency does everything for me!” “My agency does nothing!” “My agency is terrible!” Relationships between clients and agencies exist on a spectrum from love to hate, and require regular maintenance to remain viable. Consider a married couple in their “honeymoon phase,” believing all is well and that the relationship will last forever, or consider the alternate feelings of disappointment and anger. ARM exists as the marriage counselor during rough patches, OR as the open lines of communication and responsiveness when everyone is happy. Simply believing your relationship is successful now, and therefore does not require proactive measures can be detrimental over time, and may lead to the ultimate dissolution of the union (which is expensive, time consuming, and disruptive).

Aside from mediating and working as the communicator, ARM is hugely useful is evaluating current relationships, identifying future opportunities, ensuring competitive rates, and developing a scope of work that is fair and equitable. While relationship management might connote issues, the beauty of ARM is that is works to ensure issues seldom arise due preventative and proactive measures undertaken to ensure the constant delivery of value. Whether there is concern over scope, rates, or capabilities, the objectivity of a third-party outside of marketing works to alleviate to concerns. Furthermore, as noted by the ANA, having a separate business unit working on negotiations is hugely beneficial, and allows those engaging in tactical work to remain focused.

Always remember that relationships are mendable. Unless seriously damaged with fundamental issues, replacing an agency partnership should be a last resort. While there are certainly benefits in doing so, alternative solutions should be the first consideration. A full search is time and labor intensive, and hugely disruptive to current operations. Typically, issues can be resolved through the rotation of resources, or the assignment of new teams to provide additional benefits. Similar drawbacks exist for agencies, which are forced to dedicate additional resources, which may distract from the execution of tactical work. By having an ARM team and process in place, the process is far more manageable, and can begin with simply evaluating the relationship and identifying both positive and negative aspects. After such an evaluation, a process for resolution can be created, ranging in both complexity and extensiveness.

An internal department is a viable solution is for managing relationships, but additional benefit is available through the utilization of a third party. Market data concerning rates and contract terms allow for a greater advantage in negotiations, and flexibility in resources ensures clear communication leading to a rapid resolution. Whether establishing an internal department, or looking for a wholly-outsourced solution Source One’s expertise and experience are ready to assist you in the implementation of your ARM program.

Thanks, Peter.

Only an Optimization-Backed Sourcing Platform will Answer a Buyer’s SOS

We all know the importance of a good Sourcing Platform to power our Procurement Value Engine. But even after multiple posts (on Sourcing Innovation) and (white) papers on the topic, one still might not be convinced that an optimization-backed sourcing platform is truly necessary. If the organization is still getting reasonably good results from its (last-generation) sourcing suite, has a large number of templates, workflows, and processes configured for its key/strategic categories, and has a consultancy/service provider that handles its tougher events (and they use an optimization-powered platform for those few really complex or high-dollar categories), it might think that everything is fine. And the reality is that everything is fine … until it isn’t!

from How Optimization-Backed Sourcing Platforms Save Our Souls . . . Or At Least Our Backsides

One has to understand that disruptions don’t only occur in the supply chain after the contract is signed, they occur during the sourcing process, and a significant disruption can result in an evergreen contract renewing at above market prices (which is bad) or a contract expiring and the organization left with insufficient inventory and no source of supply in a tight market (which is worse). And even if the disruption doesn’t result in an evergreen renewal or a (costly) inventory stock-out (that shuts down a production line), it can still result in increased costs, increased risks, and missed opportunities.

Sourcing events need to go smoothly, but in a typical sourcing platform, as may of you know, that’s not always the case. Sometimes suppliers change the rules, and sometimes the rules just change, and everything, as they say, quickly goes to hell in a handbasket.

For example, all of a sudden at the 11th hour, a fire happens or a border closes, and a supplier offers you a backup location, or pulls out, and you need to bring in a supplier at a new location. Your transportation bids are useless, your risk profile is unuseably skewed, and maybe even your whole event setup is useless, and you have to start over. And this is just one of a dozen scenarios that can flip an average buyer’s world upside down with an average sourcing platform.

But if you had a flexible optimization-backed sourcing platform, instead of going back to square one, you’d just keep on truckin’ with an optimization-backed sourcing platform as they are designed, from the gorund up, to support dynamic, complex, cost models, dozens of what-if scenarios, and ever changing real-world requirements and made for change.

A factory and associated lanes disappears, no problem, it is just removed from the model with a single click. A new one is added? No problem, define the associated end points, the lanes are automatically populated, and a partial bid survey can be resent to all incumbent suppliers for revised bids. These are then loaded into the model, amalgamated with current bids, and the model is solved. No starting from scratch, creating new RFPs, creating a new model structure, etc. Just a few simple changes, a few new bids, and everything keeps on going like nothing ever happened.

And this is only one way optimization-backed sourcing platforms save a buyer’s behind. For more, check out the doctor‘s latest paper on How Optimization-Backed Sourcing Platforms Save Our Souls . . . Or At Least Our Backsides, sponsored by Trade Extensions, and realize that if you don’t have one, you need a proper sourcing platform today.

Societal Sustentation 44: Education Quality

Supply Management is hard. Real hard. And it’s only getting harder. SI has said it before, and it will say it again … and again — in order to excel at Supply Management a Sourcing or Procurement professional has to be a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-one.

But this is not an easy thing to do. The skill set required by today’s Procurement professional is longer than Santa’s naughty and nice lists put together and is growing by the day. And that’s just the basics. The EQ, IQ, and TQ required for an average Procurement professional to get through the day is enormous. It’s to the point where a person of average intelligence can’t cut it. It used to be that only the best and brightest could do law and medicine and engineering but now only the best can do supply management. And, to make matters worse, just EQ, IQ, and TQ is not enough.

A modern Supply Management Professional needs knowledge — and lots of it. With constantly changing market conditions, new inventions, and new modes of operation, whatever a supply manager knows today is unknown tomorrow. As new methods of production come online, old methods become cost prohibitive. As new products are invented, old products become obsolete. As market conditions change, old plans become irrelevant. And so on. And what you need to know changes by the day.

But where do you get that knowledge. Most universities have a curriculum that is still mired in old-school logistics and operations research. Most professional associations are still teaching you old-school negotiating tactics. Most blogs are mired in the noughts and still preaching the gospel according to Ariba and Emptoris (which no longer exist on their own). And the analysts … well, we’re not too sure just what they are inhaling before they do their preaching, tragic quadrants, and dangerous graves.

And education quality in general in North America is bad, with the US ranked 14th, and getting worse. Only one in seven people can do math. Potheads have a higher IQ than twitterers. And spelling and grammar? The best case is whatever the iPhone autocorrect feature suggests. So what do you do?

1. Find curious people.

Find people who want to learn and get smarter and more efficient on their own. That will seek out the nuggets of knowledge, internalize them, and try their best to incorporate those nuggets into their work.

2. Seek out those that have a higher than average IQ, TQ, or EQ.

Those with a higher IQ will be able to quickly grasp, internalize, and utilize new theories and methodologies. Those with a higher TQ will be able to master new technology faster and find ways to simplify it and train the rest of the organization on the key features. Those with a higher EQ will be able to work better as a team.

3. Make sure you hire people that excel in each area.

Having a mix of high IQ, TQ, and EQ people will create a well balanced team that can work together, adopt and exploit leading technology faster, and learn about new options ahead of your peers.

4. Encourage continual learning … and pay for it.

Bring back the training budget, and pad it well. Even though you’re going to pay more for these well educated, smart, tech savvy, team-oriented, curious people, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay even more for training. In what other organization can a $1 of training take $100 off of the bottom line when the sourceror takes 5% off a category expected to be at rock bottom, gets the supplier to throw in a value-add warranty for free, or finds a new production method that shaves 50% off of overhead cost? Find people that want to learn, and continually educate them. The cost is nothing compared to the ROI you will generate.