Category Archives: About us

Top Posts of 2016 … From the Archives!

Before we countdown the top posts of the year, let’s start by counting down the top twenty viewed posts from the archives. We’re doing this because, believe it or not, the top eleven posts of the year, based on direct page-views (as most visits are homepage views, not direct page-views) were from the archives, going all the way back to 2006! This is because SI posts, which focus on education and not entertainment, truly do stand the test of time!

Runner Up:

The Z-Score … or ZZZ-Score

20. Vendor Day Reprise!

19. Blogger Relations Part II: Fire Your PR Company!

18. It Took 40 Years But BPOs (Bank Payment Obligations) are now Truly SWIFT!

17. Common Negotiation Ploys: Some Basic Counter-Tactics

16. The Advantages of Multi-Tier Supply Chains Come at a Price

15. Economic Damnation 04: Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z

14. How an Online Marketplace Can Improve Equipment Rental Procurement Part I

13. Do You Know the Difference Between Direct and Indirect?

12. Source To Settle – The Sourcing and Procurement Kettle

11. A Strategic Sourcing Plan Outline

10. The Advantages of Decentralization

09. Smock on Sourcing Strategy

08. Best Practice Vendor Selection for True Multi-Nationals Part V: Stuck with an ERP? You do have options!

07. The Importance of the Job Description to Your Talent Management Strategy

06. The Purpose of a Contract is Easy to Define

05. Supply Management in the Decade Ahead VI: Developing Category Strategies

04. The Evolution of Purchasing

03. How BizSlate is Bringing Sexy Back to ERP

02. Five Types of Supply Risk and How to Mitigate Them

01. RFX Defined

What does all this mean? Come back tomorrow for our analysis.

Top SI Posts: What Are You Peers Reading? Part II

SI doesn’t do many top X lists, because not many are useful — but every now and again it’s informative to look at what is being read and ask why. In yesterday’s post, we summarized the top 11 posts from the first half of 2016. In today’s post, we discuss potential reasons as to why the indicated posts were the top posts from the first half of 2016.

If we analyze the top x posts, we see the following overlapping subjects, in alphabetical order:

  • Automation
  • Marketing
  • Platforms
  • Procurement Strategy
  • SRM
  • Supply Risk
  • Tail Spend

All of these revolve around platform, strategy, risk, and spend with (strategic) suppliers. Basically, your peers, enlightened as they are, are concerned with making the right decisions when it comes to identifying products and suppliers on which to allocate spend. This right decision revolves around a combination of cost avoidance, risk avoidance, and waste avoidance. The wrong decision can cost too much, come with too much (potentially devastating) risk, and cost the organization a lot of resources and effort over the long run to manage and control. All of this wastes time, money, and effort.

A Procurement organization with the desire to (someday) be best in class realizes that the only way it can do so when it is constantly under-resourced and under-funded is to be as efficient and effective as possible. It realizes that it has to build and maintain a sustainable value engine and focus on what matters — reliable supply, quality products and services, cost control (not savings), and value generation — and that this requires the right talent, technology and transformation from a laser focus on savings to a broad value focus on the organizational goals. A focus that understands and manages risk; that forms, adopts, and implements strategy; that gets all spend under management (even if that management is simply 3-bids and a buy or automated auctions for tail-spend so that the organization never spends more than market average and never gets less than market average quality); and that realizes that platforms provide power, but not solutions. Human intelligence is still required.

In other words, what SI has been focussed on since day one.

And that’s probably why these posts rounded out the top 20.

Top SI Posts: What Are You Peers Reading? Part I

SI doesn’t do many top X lists, because not many are useful — but every now and again it’s informative to look at what is being read and ask why. In today’s post, we’ll summarize the top 11 posts from the first half of 2016. Then, in tomorrow’s post, we’ll discuss potential reasons as to why these are the top posts from the first half of 2016.

#11: How Do You Find the Right Platform for You?

In this post we proposed an introductory four step process that could be used to help an organization identify the right Supply Management platform(s) to help it in its operations. This followed our two-part series on “what is a platform”.

#10: Ditch the Pepsi Blues, Already: Become a Marketing Procurement Asset Part II

In part II of this 2-part guest-post from Brien Seipel of Source One he noted that the next step for a Procurement organization that did not want to be ditched was to realign priorities and put the “marketing” into marketing Procurement. What does this mean? Check out the series!

#09: Can Your Platform Handle Direct? Take the Direct Procurement Challenge!

In this post we discussed how the direct procurement lifecycle was considerably different from the classic indirect procurement lifecycle (which is, by the way, cost centric perfect for indirect), and that an organization that wanted to get a grip on direct needed to understand this. We also noted that for an organization to figure out what platform was right for it, it had to take the direct procurement challenge.

#08: Don’t Let Tail Spend Take You For a Tail-Spin!

Tail spend is starting to get attention, and by right it should as this bottom spend often contains an overspend as high as 30%! Getting rid of this overspend can be as effective as saving 7% on the top spend.

#07: How Does Your State of Flux Measure Up?

In this post we noted that, in many organizations, SRM — Supplier Relationship Management, is in a state of flux. Policies are undocumented. Processes are not automated. Critical interaction data is not captured. And the majority of your employees interacting with your suppliers on a daily basis cannot even identify five of your top ten strategic suppliers. (Finance might hazard a guess, but while dollars spent is an indicator, it’s not a guarantee.) Something has to be done.

#06: AI Will Not Save Procurement — Thought Leaders Will

In this post we noted that despite the fact that Procurement is at a crossroads, and despite grandiose claims to the contrary about the power of AI-powered predictive and prescriptive analytics, AI will not save Procurement. Better systems will make us more efficient and effective, and power our Procurement Value Engine, but they will never be able to make decisions for us. They never have all the data, they never see beyond the numbers, and they don’t have the insight to look beyond what they are given. Their proficiency might increase, but it will never be perfect … and automating your Procurement function with them will simply automate your way to failure.

#05: Ditch the Pepsi Blues, Already: Become a Marketing Procurement Asset Part I

In part I of this 2-part guest-post from Brien Seipel of Source One he noted that organizations don’t ditch marketing procurement, they ditch bad marketing procurement and if you’re organization wants to get Procurement spend under control, the only way to do so is to become an asset, not a roadblock.

#04: Driverless Delivery? Tantalizing Theft Target!

Everyone loves automation and everyone loves Google’s and promise to automate everything — but automating deliveries is simply automating theft. Don’t believe it? Read the post!

#03: the doctor doesn’t like lists either, but the 50/50 is as good as it gets

The title says it all — warts and all, the 50/50 is the best Supply Management Vendor List out there.

#02: Failure to Monitor a Supply Chain for Risk Can Tarnish Your Brand

Supply chains are fraught with risk, but the biggest risk of all is the brand impact from an unexpected supply chain disaster that can destroy the corporate bank account.

#01: Aligning Procurement Strategies to Business Goals, Part I

This guest post from Torey Guingrich of Source One talked about how to align Procurement strategies to business goals, a necessity for organizational success.

The Strategic Sourcing Lifecycle: A Free e-Book for You.

Last fall in our post on how the Trade Extensions Event Was Different, we noted two important things. The first was that the Trade Extensions event was different because, unlike many vendor events, not a single presentation was about their platform — it was all about the customer and the various types of value available to the customer (including a focussed vision, sustainability, and an understanding of how what comes next can generate value). The second was that their message was different. Unlike most vendors which focus on their key capability, their most powerful modules, etc, Trade Extensions only had one thing to say. It’s not optimization. It’s just sourcing.

And SI echoed this point in a series last fall because that’s the truth. It’s just sourcing. And sourcing is not just an RFX, e-Auction, or optimization-backed negotiation. It’s a process. A process that starts with the identification of a need and only ends after the last unit required by the organization has arrived safe and sound and is put to proper use or the last hour of service has been successfully completed.

This process covers the entire product or service lifecycle from the initial planning phase through the traditional sourcing phase (which includes the RFX, e-Auction, Optimization, Negotiation, Contract drafting and award) and the traditional execution phase (which includes performance, relationship, risk, task, and change management) to the analysis phase (which includes a formal review and opportunity assessment before the next opportunity is selected).

This process goes beyond what a typical platform will support, and what a typical vendor will tell you. Especially when the vendor’s platform will not support each and every step that you need to be aware of. But Trade Extensions will tell you (because only educated people can make proper use of a true optimization-backed Sourcing Platform), and to make sure they got it right, they commissioned the doctor to write an e-book that exemplifies the full end-to-end strategic sourcing lifecycle that makes it clear for one and all what it is, what it requires, and what you should keep in mind when looking for a platform to support one or more parts of the cycle. And that e-book has now been made available to anyone who wants it for FREE over on their site. Simply fill out a brief 5-box form and The Strategic Sourcing Lifecycle: A Brief Introduction, a 118 page e-book, can be yours today.

In addition to a detailed definition of each of the four phases (planning, sourcing, execution, and analysis), the e-book also takes you through the evolution of strategic sourcing, Supplier Relationship Management (SRM), the next level of sourcing, complex tenders, and the evolution of strategic sourcing platforms as well as providing you with a detailed sourcing glossary that will define the most common terms and abbreviations. This is essentially a print-book in e-book form as it even includes a full index!

Whereas the most an average vendor will give you is a long white-paper disguised as an e-book, just like the Spend Visibility Guide (still FREE) was the first true e-Book on Spend Visibility and Spend Analysis, this is the first true e-book on the full strategic sourcing lifecycle. Download the The Strategic Sourcing Lifecycle: A Brief Introduction today. It will be worth your time.

Is it time to Plus-size?

By now, you’ve probably noticed that the doctor has been contributing on a regular basis to Spend Matters CPO and Spend Matters PLUS, the first of which, like SI and Spend Matters classic, is free, and the second of which is paid (and costs 19.99 / month).

You’re probably wondering why, as SI has always been, and has always been free, as Spend Matters basic, and the doctor will not promote any blog that is not free, because of his belief that if you’re going to have a blog with the intention to inform and educate, you make sure its accessible to all.

However, Spend Matters PLUS (a subset of their PRO business offering) is not a blog, and, sometimes blogs are not enough. Why?

Unless a blogger has a large amount of sponsorship money, or is independently wealthy, (s)he can only spend so much time on the blog on a daily basis, and only impart so much knowledge and wisdom to you. (And if a blogger does generate such a significant income from sponsorships, you have to question how complete the material is as many sponsorships come with a high price tag*.) But, as SI has clearly explained over the past year, you are in Procurement hell, facing dozens of damnations on a daily basis, and the knowledge and wisdom you need to get smarter and more efficient is much, and the amount any one blogger can impart is minimal.

When it comes time to select a new solution, define a new process, or define the next challenge, you need a lot of knowledge and a lot of wisdom, and the chances that any single blog, or blogger, will have recently written everything you need is slim.

You could go to a big analyst firm or a niche consultancy to get a customized report or recommendation, but that costs a lot of money, and if you’re not sure what you need, it could be a waste of money. But if you have more knowledge and insight on the topic, you can narrow in on what you need and if you do need to hire an analyst or a consultant, you can focus them in on your needs, spend less, and get more.

Over on Spend Matters PLUS, the prophet has assembled a team of experts who are contributing detailed pieces on technology, process, and relevant topics that you as a Procurement professional will need deeper insight on, at some point over the next year, on a regular basis. In addition to the prophet, who is an expert on P2P, marketplace analysis, M&A, and solution evaluation, you have regular contributions from:

  • the maverick who is the top analyst and supply management framework developer in the space,
  • the anarchist who is one of the leading operations research, supplier management, and process evaluators in the space, and
  • the public defender who is an expert on procurement process and public sector procurement and an international correspondent

among other experts who chime in from time to time. And the articles are deep. The average length of the articles that the doctor has been contributing on are 4 pages. That’s about 3 times the average length of an SI post. And most of the articles are part of in-depth multi-part series that give you more information on a topic than most analyst firms will.

Now, is it right for you? That depends. If you are a lucky one who works for a progressive Procurement organization, then you might have subscriptions to analyst firm research and market intelligence firm publications or training academies that provide you with a wealth of knowledge and not need much more. But, if you work for an average organization which frowns on you taking the time to even fill out a subscription for a free publication, it’s more than you could ask for given the price.

SI’s recommendation is that it’s worth it. And the recent series the doctor has collaborated on, including multi-part series on Contract Lifecycle Management (platforms), Supplier Relationship Management (platforms), Marketing Spend Management, Direct Material and Commodity Spend, among others, are among the most in-depth and encompassing series on the subjects you will find anywhere. It’s not a replacement for SI or Spend Matters (CPO), but a resource that fills in the gap when your organization won’t pay for the knowledge you need and you’re forced to acquire that knowledge yourself. As this is only the second paid resource SI has ever recommended (the first being the NLPA for new Procurement professionals who still need the foundations), you know there has to be something there.

* It’s sad to say, but some companies won’t sponsor unless they get one or more of the following: final say over what is said about them, final say about what is said (or not said) about their competition, the right to guest post whatever they want on a schedule, the right to whatever marketing or registration lists you have, and/or the right to write their copy and have you stamp your logo on it (and both SI and SM have seen examples of this on “blogs” in the past — sometimes the copy wasn’t even edited and was clearly written by an internal PR person of the company the “brief” was about who couldn’t even run a simple spell check), etc. Finding sponsors who will support pure education, and not request anything more than a simple fact check on pieces on them, is a lot harder than a reader or aspiring blogger might think.