Category Archives: Market Intelligence

We Need Integrated Business Planning (IBP); But it Won’t Work Without Proper Organizational Structure and Roles – And Definitely Won’t Work Without a CRO and CPO!!!

There’s been a number of articles lately, which we’ll likely discuss in later articles, about the need to move to integrated business planning (IBP) as a means to combat, and minimize, supply chain disruptions. While those articles have a point, there are two things they are missing, at least so far. One, while IBP can minimize certain types of preventable disruptions, it doesn’t help much in mitigating disruptions that are unexpected. Two, it requires end-to-end modelling of, and monitoring of, overall business processes, and without the right representation of the right stakeholders in the process, this never happens.

And the right representation usually doesn’t happen because, as we kind of hinted at in our last article on why You Need A CPO, most organizations don’t have the right C-Suite, and, thus, the right people aren’t included, or at least properly represented, in integrated business planning (IBP), and, as a result, the right processes, or at least the right assumptions and data, aren’t included, and the planning fails.

If you look at the goals of Integrated Business Planning, which include, but are not limited to:

  • aligning strategic objectives with operational and financial goals
  • aligning product strategy, R&D, and manufacturing with objectives and supply chain
  • ensuring demand forecasting is influenced by market research and historical sales data and connected to procurement
  • ensuring procurement strategy aligns with demand forecasting, risk management, and the organization’s current supply chain network
  • ensuring network and logistics changes and optimization takes into account procurement, risk, regulatory compliance, and ESG goals
  • ensuring marketing and sales focusses on current product availability and aligns with the product strategy dictated by market research
  • creating an all-inclusive profitability analysis that takes into account true end-to-end lifecycle costs
  • ensuring inventory is balanced with logistics times and disruption risk so that overall cost (balanced between inventory cost and losses from stockout) is the most appropriate for the organization
  • creating a cash-flow analysis that considers not only all inflows and outflows but the timings so the organization can balance debt/loans, on-time payments, early payments, and investments to maximize the return on every dollar

and the expected results which include, but are not limited to:

  • enhanced revenue growth
  • faster and better (data-informed) decision making
  • improved customer satisfaction
  • better product lifecycle management
  • faster supply chain disruption responses
  • increased target ownership and the ability to rapidly revise, and commit to, plans
  • better planning efficiency

you cannot

  • align objectives with goals unless you have the owners of all objectives, impacted operations, and finance involved … and this dictates a complete C-Suite with all the key parties, including, but not limited to the CEO, CFO, CPO, CRO, and, if present, COO, CTO, and any other CXO role NOT fully owned by another CXO
  • align strategy without the marketing & sales perspective (CRO), the market research (CRO or COO), the R&D/Manufacturing owner (COO or CSCO), and the procurement perspective (CPO)
  • you need the CRO, COO, and CPO to agree on the demand forecast as all parties need to deliver
  • … and the CPO needs input from the Risk Officer and the CSCO to finalize the strategy
  • the CSCO cannot optimize the supply chain network without the CPO, Risk Officer, Compliance Lead, and ESG Expert
  • the CRO needs to continually monitor input from the CPO and CSCO to ensure that products are marketed and sold at the right time as manufacturing challenges, logistics delays, inventory hiccups can change product availability daily
  • profitability needs to take into account all organizational costs, which means you need to look at procurement costs (CPO), operational costs (COO), HR costs (CFO, COO, or Head of HR), logistics and tariffs (CSCO), etc. it’s way more than revenue minus COGS minus overhead
  • and, while the cashflow belongs with the CFO, the CFO needs insight into organizational wide costs and commitments to figure it all out

and you will not

  • reliably enhance revenue without a CRO;
  • be able to make better data-informed decisions with missing data;
  • improve customer satisfaction without market research, procurement input, manufacturing quality;
  • better manage lifecycles without integrated input from market research to warranty repair and all steps in between;
  • respond quickly to a disruption without all of the integrated data to make an alternative decision as a mitigation response;
  • have all of the target, and task, owners in the same system; or
  • plan better with partial data. Never.

So you need all of the key roles, including the CRO and CPO that the majority of organizations are missing and, most importantly, you need the right structure — CRO and CPO at the top with the CFO and (if not done by the CEO) COO — with the other C-Suite roles reporting to the CRO, CPO, CFO, and COO as appropriate. For example, the CMO and VP sales under the CRO, CSCO and Risk/Compliance under the CPO, HR and R&D under the COO, etc.

In other words, all this push towards IBP is great, but you need a fleshed out, well oiled organizational structure, with all key roles filled, to support the processes with a collective holistic data view, or it just won’t work.

Less Than 1/3 of Organizations Have a CPO — How Will They Continue to Survive?

the doctor has yet to see a single study that said that more than 30% of (public) (listed) organizations have a CPO, and some have that number as low as 15%. He has to admit that he just DOES NOT get it. From a basic business point of view, if you go back to the first thing that they teach you in Business 101, it should be easy to see that it is one of the two most critical roles in an organization, and one of the four roles EVERY organization should have.

The first thing that they teach you is for a business to survive, it has to be profitable, and

Profit = Revenue – Expenses

This says that one of the two most important roles in an organization is the (acting) CRO, who is responsible for bringing the revenue in that is required for the business to operate. In a startup, the acting CRO could be the CEO who has to sell, sell, sell (or raise, raise, raise) until she has enough money to hire a CRO, but without revenue, there is no business.

This also says that the other most important role is the (acting) CPO, as the business will need products. Even a pure services business needs products to operate (equipment, software, office supplies, MRO, etc.), and those need to be obtained at a total cost that is less than the revenue available to pay for them. If the company is primarily a product company, then the majority of its spend will be on these products (and not products for operations or personnel), and the CPO is super critical. Now, in a primarily services company, this role may be fulfilled by the CEO (if the CEO is not sales oriented, but an ops or HR person), but will likely be fulfilled by the CFO or the HR Director/VP until the company is big enough, and spends enough on internal products, to hire a CPO.

Furthermore, this would imply that the third most important role is the CFO that ensures the money coming in and money going out are appropriately tracked and the budgets appropriately allocated and the financial reports and taxes appropriately filed with the government agencies. (But, if there are no funds flowing in and out, you don’t have a business, and, thus, don’t need a CFO.)

Finally, logic would dictate that the fourth most important role is the CEO that defines the strategy, direction, and enables each of these roles needs to be as successful as possible.

This also means that organizations that over-focus on the

  • CSO (Strategy): have their head in the clouds because strategy needs to be executed, and you don’t necessarily need a full time person in this role — a good exercise once every year to three (depending on your market) lead by a strategic expert could be enough
  • CMO (Marketing): are over valuing marketing because, while it’s important to get attention, you have convert leads into prospects into sales … and it’s the CRO that manages that entire process
  • C(R/C)O (Risk/Compliance): are putting the cart before the horses so they can’t leave the stables; while risk is critical, it has to be managed in a sales and procurement context
  • CTO (Technology): are not seeing the big picture; if you are a software organization, having a solid platform and infrastructure is critical, but if you are not selling the product, or you are not able to attract the talent you need to build the product (which may or may not be the CTO’s skillset), it’s suddenly less important

And, of course, this means that Head of Sales, R&D Director, VP Product, etc. also become secondary as sales is only part of the funnel, some R&D can be outsourced or acquired (since design can sometimes be one time), and without the ability to acquire the talent and goods you need, you can’t create the product.

But every organization has a CFO and CEO, the second most important positions. The majority have CMOs and CTOs, the third most important positions. And they all focus on Sales VPs, R&D, Products, etc. which are essential, but the fourth most important positions from a foundational and C-Suite perspective. But when it comes to CROs, less than 15% of organizations have them and when it comes to CPOS, less than 30% of organizations have them. It boggles the logical minds!

Now, the doctor knows he’s going to get a lot of flak for this for calling CMO, CTO, etc. third and fourth on the importance scale, because they are critical roles in many organizations, but if you go back to basics, logically they are not the most critical roles that must be filled.

The Prophet‘s 2024 Procurement Prediction Number 10

A “CFA-like” Credential Emerges in Procurement and Supply Chain B+.

The Prophet says that the procurement and supply chain industries, similar to most others, excluding finance, are lacking any certifications/credentials, by those “in the know,” as a superior qualification for a job than even a top degree from a world-class or specialized university which is totally true.

The Prophet also says that organizations such as CIPS, ISM, SIG, etc., might disagree with this viewpoint which is also totally true. The Prophet does note that he supports all of these organizations, which the doctor does as well, and that he believes their training materials are highly valuable, which the doctor doesn’t across the board. (the doctor has seen some of their training materials. While some of their training materials provide a very good foundation, some of their training materials are not so good. Most of these organizations are very weak when it comes to analysis, tech-backed processes and practices, government/industry specific compliance requirements, risk management in today’s increasingly fragile global supply chains. etc. But when so many Procurement departments are struggling with the basics, understanding what their role is, and how ethics should enter the equation, we do need these organizations and that is why the doctor supports them while reminding you to do your homework when it comes to training. Use them for their strengths, not their weaknesses.)

The Prophet then suggests that in 2024, credentials will take on new meaning, and the best ones, particularly those challenging to obtain and requiring rigorous exams (which many fail), similar to the CFA in finance, will begin to take on a new significance in Procurement.

the doctor agrees with the principle, but does not agree it will happen this year, or even next year. Why? This will only happen with industry regulation, and that only happens in two situations.

  1. when an industry-led body gains enough support from the majority of professionals in an industry to make it a de-facto requirement in any employer of any size to get a high-level procurement job; no organization yet has that weight, and we’re not going to see the NLPA, SIG, APS, etc. all fold into the ISM, and definitely not into CIPS, which is pseudo-global (as it has made progress in some of the Commonwealth); this means that we’d need to see a new industry initiative that gave all parties representation and allowed them all to contribute to the standard and exam — for this to form, a certification to be adopted, and a test accepted will take years
  2. when a government forces a requirement that can only be met by a certification (and either creates their own or adopts one); governments move slow, and when we have the situation in the US where
    1. the republican focus is on ripping democrats apart for what they didn’t do, rolling back human rights to the fifties, and installing a wannabe dictator as President-for-Life
    2. the democrat focus is on shaming the republicans, selectively protecting the human rights they want, and taking up the former republican war mantle (since Trump just wants to be a dictator, which doesn’t profit the military complex) and doing everything they can to back Ukraine and Israel (including risking World War III with their Middle East bombing of Yemen vs. just destroying every Houthi vessel launched into the water)

    and the situation in the UK where

    1. the conservatives are too busy trying to keep Dishy Rishy from making them the laughing stock of the political world (as he’s so far disconnected from the common person he has no clue)
    2. the liberal (democrats) are too busy trying to counter the conservative support for the global wars and lack of focus on the situation at home by being extra woke (and we know how that fared in America) …
    3. when we look at the NHS mess and postal service mess and their apparent unwillingness to do anything meaningful about it (for longer than should be humanly possible to ignore a crisis), it seems that good procurement is the last thing on their mind

which are the two countries that would need to lead such an effort (as the EU is very focussed on climate change and AI and struggling to hold itself together now with active protests in about a third of its member states on any given day; heck it’s too focussed on attacking the farmers, already forgetting what happened when Stalin called the Farmers the enemy of the state. (See this article, for example).

Thus, while such regulation is sorely needed, it’s not likely to happen, if it happens at all, until the later part of the decade (unless, of course, The Prophet and the The Public Defender want to once again band together and take up the charge and lead the effort to bring all the necessary parties together).

The Prophet was dead on with three of the primary reasons we need it.

  • GPAs are no longer a measure of academic performance in many universities.
    The Prophet notes that, according to the Yale Daily News, “Yale College’s mean GPA was 3.70 for the 2022-23 academic year, and 78.97 percent of grades given to students were A’s or A-’s,” including the hard sciences and engineering! He also notes that the Michigan State Broad Business School (which includes the Supply Chain and Procurement degree programs) also experiences significant grade inflation, with 80% of students in 3 out of 5 undergraduate classes earning a 4.0. (Source)
    The situation is even worse in China where you don’t even get accepted to some Universities unless you are an A- or better student, and where you are under intense pressure to maintain that A, to the point where a student will drop out (or commit suicide) rather than risk being thrown out for not maintaining it. Now, this would be great except for the fact that As are often contingent on rote memorization and learning to do the work the “state way”, not always with any free thinking whatsoever. (And then graduating ONLY if they think you’ll agree to share what you learn when they allow you to go outside China for that Post-Doc/Professor position).
    The situation is better in Canada [except Quebec], but there are some Universities / Departments that are under great pressure to remain competitive to maintain grant and industry funding, and others where the professors are so overworked that they don’t even bother to confirm that a Master’s student in Engineering can manually calibrate an oscilloscope or a Master’s student in Computer Science can appropriately identify and test for all boundary cases in a simple procedure. (Remember, the doctor has been a Professor, and maintains regular contact with Professors and knows this to be truth.) How could you trust either to validate your equipment or your code? (He couldn’t!) (Regarding Quebec, the current premiere is taking Quebec’s status as a nation within a nation and essentially discriminating against anyone who is not French and willing to speak French as a first, and only, language. [See this article, for example.])
  • DEI/affirmative action preferences, which still exist (despite the supreme court ruling and their illegality if they enforce admitting or hiring a less qualified candidate), have removed objective academic criteria in both degree-based programs and industrial training programs. This has resulted in candidates who might only be a D being admitted to programs because of their minority status while non-minority candidates with Bs were excluded.
  • The best talent may no longer be pursuing traditional college or graduate programs. There needs to be an objective means of evaluating hard and learned skills for those who cannot afford or do not wish to invest time in university studies, especially those who have taken industry training programs or annex courses specific to what they need as well as obtained relevant real world experience under a mentor. (There’s a reason there used to be apprenticeships; some learning onlly happened under the guidance of a mentor.)

The only other reason that needs to be mentioned in the doctor‘s view is

  • without a certification, how can you know that any candidate, no matter how experienced and skilled they appear, knows all of the foundations you need them to know? With so many different definitions of sourcing, procurement, and purchasing; so many different thoughts on what an individual should know about analytics, supplier identification, supplier vetting/onboarding/management/development, negotiation, contracting, global trade, logistics, risk identification and management, compliance, finance / finance support, etc., how can we have a solid baseline with a (multi-level) certification program?

It would be great if 2024 is the year that we saw this certification, but while we desperately need it, the doctor believes that, unfortunately, it’s still years away. (But he will challenge The Prophet to step up and make it happen!)

The Prophet‘s 2024 Procurement Prediction Number 9

SaaS Management Solutions Start to Eat Services Procurement Tech A+

More specifically “vendor management systems” (VMS) that are all about the billable hour.

As The Prophet asks, what happens when that billable hour becomes an SOW (either to skirt worker classification requirements or because it really is a complex SOW) especially when consultants, managed services or outsourcing providers need to blend and leverage AI, tech, data and other capabilities to deliver an outcome? You get joint SaaS/[IT] Category (management) solutions that become the new new norm of solutions for taking on certain business functions. And they won’t look anything like today’s VMS or SOW solutions, and will, as The Prophet notes, likely be new generation of todays SaaS/IT Category solutions which will either blend in more services or merge with / be acquired by new-age MSPs that build the offering around the new tech, and not the old tech.

But what will these solutions look like? Good question (that The Prophet did not answer).

More importantly, as The Prophet notes, this convergence will raise a ton of questions.

  • What metrics do you use to set up ideal outcomes in a blended services/tech/AI/data world?
  • “What” is negotiated (hint: it’s as far from the billable hour or a weekly “team” rate as can be)?
  • How do you capture and validate demand?
  • How do you reduce contract risk (including indemnifying (or not) for IP considerations, given recent AI lawsuits)?
  • How do you benchmark (drumroll please) an outcome?
  • What happens when an outcome becomes continuous, a metered service (like telecom) so to speak?

These answers may or may not dictate what the blended deliverable looks like, as the developments are just as, or more likely, to be developed taking into account whatever regulations currently exist or get introduced around the services, data, technology, and/or AI utilized. Plus, the smaller players will likely try to build off of whatever is getting traction from the big players but in a more innovative, effective, and cost effective fashion. (Remember, the big players like to charge you way more than a service can be profitably delivered for. Case in point: spend analysis. Large engagements, which usually start with a massive data cleansing effort, require a lot of analysis and reports, and modern solutions, will usually get quotes starting in the 7 figure ranges when there are a number of mid-sized, niche, consultancies, that can usually do the same work, faster and better, for 250K or less. [Remember, analytics is one of the the doctor‘s area of expertise, he knows the vast majority of vendors, and talks with the best regularly. Solutions 10X better than anything a Billion Dollar Suite or ERP will throw your way cost 1/10 of what they did a decade ago — but we’ll save this rant for another day.] The point is, they’ll let the big players create a market around a new offering, and then swoop in with a better, more cost effective, alternative.

the doctor has to admit this is one area where the answer has not yet revealed itself, one of the few areas where he’s not sure what the first solutions will look like (beyond a blend of current SaaS tools pre-integrated with third-party data feeds, semi-dedicated personnel performing regular tasks, account managers monitoring progress, and consultants doing quarterly checkups and advisory), and how long it will be before new workforce regulations get passed that change how such services can be offered (or how workers must be paid).

It will be an area to watch, and the doctor bets that Andrew Karpie will be watching it closely, so be sure to read anything he writes about it. It will be the first shakeup the VMS industry has had in decades.

The Prophet‘s 2024 Procurement Prediction Number 8

The Tech Office of the CFO is Coming … Finally A

Yes, it is.

And while The Prophet thinks the naysayers will call him a fool, all the doctor can say is, join the club! There’s lots of room … only a few of us have been correctly calling the future for almost two decades, and all of us who have been have also been called foolish, crazy, and worse. I’d rather be right than popular. At least I’ll be ready for what’s coming …

COVID started a big push into “FinTech” investments as everyone realized that no-travel, and even no offices, meant you needed online/SaaS payment systems, contract systems, financing systems (as you couldn’t walk into a bank), etc. The CFO slowly realized there was more to modern Finance Tech (FinTech) than online spreadsheets. Plus, as they realized they needed visibility into Legal and Procurement, they wanted companion contract, risk, and P2P systems and/or customized interfaces for them.

As a result, we will start to see the rise of Finance suites that, as The Prophet points out, will integrate:

  • FP&A
  • AR & O2C
  • AP
  • Treasury
  • Payments
  • SCF
  • Expense Management
  • Commodity Management
  • Risk
  • Corp Dev / M&A
  • P2P

as well as

  • Contracts
  • Spend Intelligence (with all data/reports updated at least monthly)
  • Inventory Management (with visibility into overhead costs vs. depreciation)

Moreover, as The Prophet has pointed out, each of these areas is very complex. Spend Matters considers AP alone as including the following areas: core AP workflow, dynamic discounting, e-invoicing compliance, fraud detection and prevention, supply chain finance, tax compliance, tax management and working capital management.

When you get into AR/O2C, you then get into PO receipt and tracking, shipment tracking and notification, invoice generation and transmission, invoice receipt acknowledgement, payment receipt, etc.

Expense Management may or may not include P-cards and/or virtual cards, and may or may not include catalogs, travel management, integrated airline or hotel bookings, app integration for auto-expense report generation (snap & go), etc.

Risk breaks down across multiple dimensions across supplier and supply chain risk, and for more information, see the doctor‘s Source-to-Pay series (especially Parts 15 to 20) and the first 9 parts of the doctor‘s Source-to-Pay+ series which are all on (primarily) supply chain risk.

Contract management breaks down into Negotiation, Analytics, and Governance, and each of these area has a lot of baseline functionality that is required (as covered in the Source-to-Pay series referenced above in parts 21 to 25).

And so on … it’s a mega-suite that goes far beyond your average S2P mega-suite.

However, before writing off the effort as too intensive or too expensive, one must remember that Finance is ultimately responsible for cutting the cheque, so they are going to want visibility into where the money goes and how it is supposed to be used. Not to mention, sometimes the only authority they need to cut the cheque is their own, so it might be an easier sale to sell or joint-sell to the CFO as well as another C-Suite exec. So a great FinTech Suite could be the easiest sell a new back office tech start up or aggregator could have!