Category Archives: Book Review

Finding Your Procurement Mojo and Gettin’ Sigi Wit’ It – Part Deux

This spring, in Finding Your Procurement Mojo and Gettin’ Sigi Wit’ It (Part One), we began our review of Sigi Osagie’s Procurement Mojo, an important book for many procurement professionals and organizations. Unlike most books which attempt to teach you how to do the job (that you already have a decent grip of), Sigi’s book attempts to teach you how to explain to the organization what Procurement does, which is a critical issue that needs to be addressed since:

  1. Procurement is still the Rodney Dangerfield of the organization (and still don’t get no respect) and
  2. most Procurement Pros don’t know how to sell the organization on the unrealized potential that Procurement can bring.

In our first post we discussed how Sigi noted that a key to success was the Procurement brand, but in order to address the Procurement brand, one needed to:

  • build an effective organization,
  • deploy process enablers,
  • manage the supply base, and
  • apply performance frameworks.

Then we discussed some of the key points Sigi made with respect to each of these preliminary steps to building, and most importantly selling, the Procurement brand, but stopped short of discussing any of the game plan because some of his readers would get to hear the man himself and Get Sigi Wit’ It at Trade Extensions’ London event in October. However, now that the event is over, we’re going to discuss the final part of the book and complete the book review.

Sigi outlines three main areas that need to be addressed to build — and sell — your Procurement Mojo:

1. Procurement Positioning

Make sure Procurement is positioned in the organization in the manner and place that will allow it to be the most effective in both delivering its functional obligations and adding value. This involves addressing both reporting structure and enterprise involvement. Not all organizations require a CPO who reports to a CEO, some can do fine with a VP that reports to a COO (who is the CEO’s right hand). For example, if the organization is a manufacturer and most of the spend is direct materials, this can work fine, as long as Procurement is also involved in other key spend categories by the CMO (for agency management), CFO (for back office spend), CIO (for systems spend), and other executives that also have large spend categories. As long as Procurement understands key company purchases and is able to convey the importance of those key purchases to the right stakeholders in a way that elicits their involvement, the reporting structure is not as important as general Procurement involvement.

2. Stakeholder Communication

Every other key Supply Management activity requires stakeholder engagement and support to be successful, so why should brand management and promotion be any different? The key to building, and selling, the Procurement brand (and making your mojo work for you) is regular, effective, stakeholder communication that provides messages relevant to them. Make sure you understand what your stakeholders value most — and address that. Cost savings? Innovation? The relationship? If you can’t talk to their needs and report on value in their terms, it will be hard to break down the silos and sell the value, and brand, of Procurement. Sigi offers some great advice on how to effectively communicate with your stakeholders that most books don’t, and this is a great section of the last chapter, which includes a discussion of how to create a stakeholder map to keep your communications on track.

3. Procurement PR

Good companies make good products. Great companies create a great brand image that people want and instill desire for products even before the products are released or, in some cases, people even know what the products are. Look at Apple. The brand made people want the iPod and the iWatch even before Apple even announced them.

But good PR isn’t easy, especially for a function focussed on hard value and not soft messaging. However, once you know the right formula, it isn’t that hard either. As long as your messaging consistently addresses activities and issues that are:

  • Important,
  • Sustainable, and
  • Credible

and relevant to the audience being addressed, the PR will improve and the brand will grow. How do you do this? Sigi provides a number of examples of efforts that various organizations have used to achieve this goal. While not all will necessarily work for you, some will, and the book is a great aid here as well.

Again, we highly recommend that you check out Sigi Osagie’s Procurement Mojo and Get Sigi Wit’ It.

Finding Your Procurement Mojo and Gettin’ Sigi With It!

As per my last post, my readers on the other side of the pond are probably well aware that Sigi Osagie’s Procurement Mojo has been available since late last year, but since Amazon UK had it well before Amazon USA and Amazon Canada, my readers on this side of the pond may not have noticed yet.

Procurement Mojo is an important book for many procurement professionals and organizations because it does not attempt to teach you what Procurement is, assuming you already know how to do your job, but instead attempts to teach you how to explain to the organization what Procurement does, which is a critical issue that needs to be addressed since

  1. Procurement is still the Rodney Dangerfield of the organization (and still don’t get no respect) and
  2. most Procurement Pros don’t know how to sell the organization on the unrealized potential that Procurement can bring.

The book addresses these issues by noting that the only way Procurement pros are going to be able to sell the organization on the true potential of Procurement and get the respect they deserve is to learn how to sell the Procurement brand. And this is what makes Procurement Mojo a great book. It gives you a how-to guide for building your Procurement Brand.

But before you build your Procurement Brand, as per our last work, you have to build the foundations — frameworks, process-based enablers, platform support, and good management. It takes time to get this all in place, but fortunately Sigi gives you a roadmap for this as well. In this post we’re going to discuss some of the key insights Sigi makes in the hope of encouraging you to check out his book and find your Procurement Mojo.

Sigi builds up to the plan to build your procurement brand by addressing

  1. building an effective organization
    because you can’t sell an ineffective one
  2. deploying process enablers
    people and platform powered
  3. managing the supply base
    because while you can fail on your own, you cannot succeed without
    the support of the supply base
  4. applying performance frameworks
    you have to measure, manage, and perform

We’re not going to dive into deals on how to do each of these tasks, as you can read them in the book, but highlight some key points on why these steps are important.

Building an Effective Organization

In many organizations, the average employee might not even know that there is a separate Procurement department — assuming that each department might do it’s own buying. It’s scary, but it’s true. And many of the employees who are sort of aware of Procurement won’t really understand what they do, believing they only buy office supplies, direct materials, etc. That’s why the brand is needed, but the chances of anyone taking notice are low if the organization is not effective.

And an effective organization is not necessarily one that does a lot of work, it’s one that appears to be effective. And this is often accomplished not by employing hard process and technology skills that allow the organization to do more, faster, but by employing soft processes that encourage communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution. That’s why effective organizations make sure that they have capability, rewards, and culture aligned with goals (not just processes and platforms).

Deploying Process Enablers

Once an organization does a competency assessment and gap analysis and identifies what it needs to get to the next level, the next thing it will have to do is deploy enablers, be they process or platform based, to get to the next level. But this doesn’t mean that they will employ “best in class” enablers. “Best in class” are not always best for your organization — it all depends on the maturity of the function and the need. Sometimes a good enough enabler, which is easy to use and understand and provides an immediate 80% to 90% return is much better than a best-in-class enabler which is difficult for a novice to understand, requires three times as much effort, and is avoided at all costs by the average employee.

Managing the Supply Base

Procurement is about maximizing the value chain — and suppliers are a vital part of that chain. You cannot succeed if they do not succeed. It doesn’t matter how great packaging and marketing in if the product or service is crap. It just doesn’t. That’s why relationship management and development is critically important and must be well in hand before you can focus on selling the brand (as they can tank your brand faster than an oil spill will tank an oil and gas company’s brand when the media has their frenzy).

Applying Performance Frameworks

That which is measured is managed, but more importantly, that which is not managed is a misadventure waiting to happen. As a result, appropriately defined frameworks must be in place to make sure the organization remains effective, deploys the right enablers, and nurtures the supply base.

And now that we’ve discussed the foundations we could discuss how you build your Procurement Brand and Sigi’s Procurement Mojo game plane. But since customers of Trade Extensions will have a chance to hear Sigi talk about Procurement Mojo live on October 7, 2015 at their customer event at Emirates Stadium in London, the doctor is not going to spill all of the beans on what Sigi says and what he thinks about it until then. But just like your favourite series comes back after summer hiatus, this series will return!

Real World Analytics – It All Depends on the Domain

Another book that was published late last year, and that has been sitting on the doctor‘s stack for review since about then, is Real-World Analytics by Michael Koukounas. the doctor has to admit that he was a bit hesitant to review this (and then lost it in the stack) because, as he just finished explaining to yet another individual before penning this post, Spend Analysis is not the same as Data Analysis, and that’s why so many companies without any understanding of the unique requirements of spend analysis for Sourcing and Procurement (who hire hard-core computer scientists who write trite like Spend Analysis: The Window into Strategic Sourcing (which is about the only book the doctor has ever reviewed that he has completely shredded) that, as it’s title suggests, gives you a cloudy window view that doesn’t give you the full picture (and often causes you to make the wrong assumptions about what is going on in the house).

But the doctor will have to admit that if you take this book as it is — a guide for building the foundation to do analytics (and not a guide for how to do them, which requires a completely different guidebook), it does a decent job. And the author — who is obviously an expert in data analytics in the Finance and Banking industry where a lot of effort goes into loan return models, credit risk prediction, and currency fluctuation models — really knows the core foundations for performing analytics quite well and does a great job discussing them.

As the author describes in various chapters, there can be no successful analytics, data nor spend, without:

  • Good Data Access
    and a Data Management Team
  • Talent
    as analytics cannot be automated
  • Operational Knowledge
    and, in particular, operational knowledge as it relates to the domain
  • Appropriate Trade-Offs Between Efficiency and Creativity
    and fine-tuning to the audience
  • an Analytics Continuity Plan
    in case something happens to top talent
  • the right teams …
    data management, analytics development, and analytics maintenance
  • … and the right team sizes
    since core development will usually only require a small team (because once the up front models are developed / implemented for the organization, new needs won’t be popping up every day), data management will require a team proportional to the number of data sources and their complexity, and maintenance will often require a larger team than you think as new data becomes available, new insights are required, and new reports are requested.

Moreover, at a high-level, the five-step game plan is correct:

  1. Define the Problem (and the end goal)
  2. Identify Touch-Points (where and when the analytics should be run)
  3. Understand the Touch Points (and the restrictions and requirements they place on the analytics)
  4. Select the Right Data (since garbage in means garbage out)
  5. Run the Analytics (and validate the results)

But when you start to descend from the 30,000 foot view, the details are vastly different in the spend analysis domain (and the author even implies this when he says that the analytic needs for engineers are vastly different than the analytic needs for financiers). But Real-World Analytics is a great guide to getting the precursor foundations right.

Gettin’ Sigi With It!

My readers on the other side of the pond are probably well aware that Sigi Osagie’s Procurement Mojo has been available since late last year, but since Amazon UK had it in book form well before COM and CA, my readers on this side of the pond may not have noticed yet.

Procurement Mojo is a bit of an uncharacteristic Procurement book in that it does not attempt to teach you what Procurement is, assuming you already know how to do your job. What it attempts to teach you is explain what Procurement does, which is a critical issue that needs to be addressed since

  1. Procurement is, in many organizations, still the Rodney Dangerfield (and still don’t get no respect)
  2. And most Procurement Pros don’t know how to sell the organization on the unrealized potential that Procurement can bring

Sure this topic has been addressed in such books as Charles Dominick and Soheila Lunney’s Procurement Game Plan, but never has an entire tome been dedicated to this topic and it’s a tome that’s badly needed. (Procurement people really should get sales training because it’s often easier to sell a freezer to an Eskimo than to sell the value of a Procurement Investment to anyone in the organization.)

The reality is that in order to even get noticed, you have to first build a Procurement Brand — and building a brand, especially for something that most people would rather stay invisible, is not easy. You can’t just decide to build a brand and start tomorrow. You need frameworks, process-based enablers, platform support, and good management — and it takes time to get all of this in place. Only then can you build what Sigi calls Procurement Mojo and get your message, and value, taken seriously.

SI will be doing a more detailed review later on, but for now, be it known that if you are looking for a way to build your Procurement brand, start by gettin’ Sigi with it!

The New Polymath’s Ten Rules for Success

Vinnie Mirchandani‘s The New Polymath is a riveting read. It’s SuperFreakonomics for us technophiles. Because, for better or worse, The New Polymath (who can be thought of as a modern Leonardo da Vinci) must also be an IT guru … as it is information technology that is paving the way for a new generation of polymaths that have access to unprecedented levels of information across disciplines.

Rather than tell you that this fresh and inviting (Benjamin Fried, CIO Google) book is filled with incredible examples of passionate entrepreneurs (Marc Benioff, CEO, that I am inspired by this book (Maynard Webb, CEO LiveOps), or that Mirchandani is one of the few technology analysts to realize that technology doesn’t come in neat bundles anymore (Thomas H. Davenport, President’s Chair Babson College), I’m going to talk about The New Polymath’s ten rules for success which pop out at you if you read between the lines.

Why? One of the Polymath’s chronicled in Vinnie’s masterful manuscript is Brian Sommer, technology consultant extraordinaire of TechVentive and renowned ZDNet blogger, who asks “where are the 10 commandments for technology” as he struggles with the challenges of cyberethics that few dare to address. It’s a good question, and one that I believe we are not yet ready to answer. Which leads me to ask, “how do we get there”? Well, the first step is to obviously become learned, and successful, polymaths well equipped to ask, and debate, the question. To this end, we need a guide … a guide that, if you dig deep, is found within Vinnie’s terrific tome. To get you on your way, and to inspire you to (pre) order your own copy of The New Polymath, I give you:

The New Polymath’s Ten Starting Rules for Success

(because, in reality, there are more than ten … but these are the biggies).

  1. 1-1-1

    Adopt’s 1-1-1 model: 1 percent employee’s time; 1 percent equity; 1 percent product donation. A true Polymath operates in his community, not out of it, and makes a difference.

  2. 80 for 20

    Aim for solutions that deliver 80% of the value of previous solutions for only 20% of the price. A new Polymath is about true innovation, not overstated renovation.

  3. Invisible UI

    If your product requires a manual, it’s not a product at all. A true Polymath produces solutions with UIs so seamless and so obvious that no manual is needed.

  4. Traceability

    Every component can be traced back to the source … even if it’s software. (And if it is software, every data element can be traced back to the source.)

  5. Keep Score

    Polymaths are responsible and drive for sustainability … to the point where they keep track of how well they are doing and how much better their inventions are compared with predecessor technology. If it’s not more environmentally friendly (and more cost effective, because true green keeps more green in your wallet), it’s not revolutionary.

  6. Semantics

    It’s the age of “big data”, and to make sense of it all, we need to find the data that is relevant to us.

  7. Decisions, Not Data

    Because, in the end, the entire point of finding the semantically relevant data is to enable us to make better decisions than we could before.

  8. Adopt the “Shamrock” It’s Lucky for a Reason

    A “shamrock” organization, as envisioned by Charles Handy, is one that encompasses “core management, a long-term but contractual talent pool, and a transient, flexible workforce”. We are in the age of networked person, who is used to working on the move, and tomorrow’s polymath’s will be flexible at the core.

  9. TiaS

    Technology-is-a-Service. A Polymath moves beyond SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) and TaaS (Technology-as-a-Service) and embraces the concept that, like power and water, information technology must be delivered only as a service in the world of tomorrow. Just like the utilities deliver our power and water, tomorrow’s technology enterprises will deliver our apps, data, and information on-demand as that is what is needed for businesses to truly reach the next level of operations, as technology is not the core competency of most businesses that make use of it today.

  10. The Turing Oath

    Brian Sommer notes that we need a Hippocratic Oath for technology, and I agree. We all need to agree to respect and uphold the privacy of our users and their data to the utmost above all else. And I’m calling that the Turing Oath, after Alan Turing who gave us the first test to determine whether a machine had reached intelligence (and, would thus, need to be instilled with ethics from the get go … and, hopefully, the the three laws of robotics.)

I strongly encourage you to read Vinnie’s groundbreaking debut into the world of publishing (other than his prolific blogging over the years over on Deal Architect and New Florence. New Renaissance.) and do what it takes to become The New Polymath. The world of tomorrow needs you, and in fact, so does the world of today. If, like the polymaths chronicled in this book and Nathan Myhrvold (who was the cloth the new polymaths chronicled in the book were cut from), I encourage you to join the Humanitarian Technology Challenge. The world needs you!

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