Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Fifty Years Ago Today …

Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 perform the first-ever docking of manned spacecraft in orbit and the first-ever transfer of crew from one space vehicle to another (which was also the only time such a transfer was accomplished with a space walk).

This was a historic event in space exploration as it is one of the capabilities necessary to have a(n International) Space Station and we’re not going to reach the age of extra-planetary supply management (Part II and Part III) unless we can build space stations and efficiently dock spacecraft with them on inter-planetary supply runs.

One Hundred Years Ago Today …

The UK began its effort to leave the dark ages with the first general election where women were permitted to vote and the first woman was elected to the Commons.

If only it would finish its exit of the dark ages in Procurement, which, sadly, in many organizations is still controlled by white males in their fifties.

While the doctor does not want to be stereotypical, he does want to be realistic — Procurement is simply better when there are multiple perspectives (and skills) at the table. And without the second gender, you’re clearly leaving half the perspective and skill off of the table (and that is simple, irrefutable, math).

M&A Mania – Will it Ever End?

As per our posts on Sourcing Innovation earlier this year, the M&A Mania has been in full swing for the past couple of years, and as per the acquisition news that came out Monday, it seems the mania hasn’t abated. But will it abate in 2019?

We hope so.

Sometimes M&A makes sense, but sometimes it’s too much too fast. The theory behind M&A is that it’s easier for the customer to have all the related solutions under one vendor’s roof than three, four or six when they need to build an end-to-end S2P support solution than to have to deal with six vendors when they have integration issues, support issues, or system errors.

It’s a great theory, but it doesn’t work any better in practice if all a vendor is doing is buying up smaller vendors to sell them under one roof. If all of the development teams are separate, all of the product management teams are separate, and all of the support teams are separate, you’re still trying to sync with six different groups in order to resolve integration issues, support issues, or system errors. What difference is it if they are under one roof, three roofs, or six? From your perspective, none at all!

The reality is that it doesn’t help you as a Procurement Practitioner at all if the solutions aren’t integrated, and we don’t just mean data-based end-point integration — where it’s easy to push data out of one tool and pull it into the next. It has to be a deeper integration that integrates process and workflow. And that type of integration doesn’t happen fast. It takes many months in the best of cases, and many years in the worst.

So when a vendor goes on a buying spree, without forethought as to how it’s going to integrate all those solutions into a cohesive platform in a reasonable amount of time, it’s just bringing the integration and support nightmare for its clients under one roof, and not adding any value.

The best M&A is when a company buys a company with a great complementary solution and then steps back, takes the time to get the teams fully integrated and the solution integrated at least at the process level with its solution (not necessarily deep workflow configuration but more than just end-point data integration), and only then thinks about the next acquisition.

Right now the big players have made so many acquisitions that the doctor thinks they are all at full capacity to manage integrations, and in a couple of cases, maybe beyond. So he certainly hopes that the M&A Mania winds down, at least until there is settling across the space.

Plus, any company that acquires too many solutions too rapidly puts itself at risk of acquisition by someone bigger still. Just look at what happened to CA Technologies — the Acquirer became the acquired … by a hardware company! The last thing we want is a big S2P play to be acquired by a big hardware or generic platform vendor that doesn’t understand the space.

Top Nine Posts of 2018 … From Years Gone By

As per yesterday’s post where we highlighted the top 10 posts from 2018, of which five were on GDPR, the top 9 visited posts of the year were actually from year’s gone by. Today we are going to look at those, and even speculate as to why.

  • 9. The Purpose of a Contract is Easy to Define Is it because people, for reasons that perplex the doctor , struggle with contracts? Is it because Lawyers have done a great job pulling a fast one over the majority of the population and convinced them contracts are difficult and must be worded in complex Legalese? Is it because no one believes that contracts are relatively easy to create and can be written in plain English. It’s all about defining what both sides want, what happens when things go wrong, who’s responsible, and how you get out. It’s predicting all the scenarios and accounting for them up front. In plain English.
  • 8. Common Challenges of Indirect Procurement Most people in indirect Procurement know these, but it’s always nice to be sure, right? Direct wants to know that the other side of the wall has similar problems? The reason for this post’s popularity is a conundrum.
  • 7. A Strategic Sourcing Plan Outline This is probably the most direct, to the point, article out there on what should be in a basic strategic sourcing plan, with a hat-tip to Robi Bendorf of Bendorf & Associates .
  • 6. The Evolution of Purchasing
    Who doesn’t like a good history lesson? Especially when it’s one of the few guest posts in SI’s history on the subject (from Lisa Nyce).
  • 5. Is There a Difference Between Strategic Category Sourcing and Strategic Category Management
    This is a confusing question, to this day. Both terms are interchanged, used, and misused on a regular basis. No surprises a lot of readers would be looking for some clarification.
  • 4. I Will Survive
    Wow! the doctor knows you like his lyrical humour — he often gets more “fan mail” on these pieces then deep expositions (which he knows you read to cure your insomnia), but how did an ode to vendors who need to be forgotten become the fourth most visited post of the year? At least one inquiring (but not Enquiring, Americans will get this) mind wants to know!
  • 3. RFX Defined This is obviously the de-facto definition of RFX on the entire World Wide Web.
    This is a top post year after year after year. Webster’s should just point to SI. Seriously. the doctor would be a top ten NYT best-selling author if everyone who read this post bought a book!
  • 2. Five Types of Supply Risk and How To Mitigate Them This is probably SI’s top-visited post of all times. Normally 10X the traction of a top 10 post after the top 3 posts of the year are discounted. Can no other source define supply risks so succinctly? the doctor wants to know! The secret sauce in this post is worth a fortune!
  • 1. Its My Blog This post is obviously mistaken for the about post. SI’s rant anthem is pretty damn good, but #1 good?

Top Posts of 2018 To Date … A Breakdown

Stats are not something the doctor obsesses about. This is the second oldest continuously running niche blog in the space, and if you broke Spend Matters into its constituent blogs and measured them individual, there are many weeks this blog would get more hits.

And while the statistics have not been interesting to the doctor since SI reached #1 on all the ranking engines many years ago (when Spend Matters was just one blog and not a family) and stayed neck and neck for a while, it is interesting to the doctor to see what people are reading (and figure out why).

It’s also interesting to see if any posts of they year make the top 10 visited posts of the year. One thing about taking an educational and informative focus is that posts on this blog stand the test of time. The most visited educational post of the year is actually from 2007! In fact, only one of the top ten visited posts this year is from this year. (But that’s a subject for our next post.)

The most visited post of 2018 was a GDPR post and, in fact, five of the ten most visited posts of 2018 were on GDPR back when it was coming into focus. It seems no one was really ready for the new EU data tax and were scrambling to figure out how to comply. (And it is a data tax. If you don’t keep someone’s private data private or can’t expunge it to the extent legally required when asked, you get a big fine. But if the government exposes millions of records in a data breach, nothing happens. Companies, and even individuals, can get penalized while governments can continue to keep poor privacy standards to no ill effect. Sounds like a tax to me!)

The other five posts were:

  1. Maybe You Can Be a Procurement Hero
    Let’s face it, it sucks being stuck in the dungeon of the The Tower of Spend day in and day out. It sucks that sales and marketing get all the glory when every dollar you save is ten times as impactful as every dollar they bring in. It sucks that the C-Suite is telling you to cut 10% across the board on already lean categories while they still fly business class, have no restrictions on meal spend, and upgrade their perfectly functioning laptop and phone every year while you have to wait three. Of course you want to be a Procurement hero!
  2. One Hundred and Fourteen Years Ago
    This was a surprise! A short post on the construction of the Panama Canal, an important development in the history of Ocean freight (as it cut two to three weeks and 7,872 miles off of Atlantic-to-Pacific (and vice versa) voyages.
  3. Ariba Live Europe Needs a Mascot
    This was also a surprise! Of course Ariba is still a significant player and of course news from Live is always sought after. But a mascot recommendation? Maybe the doctor is right and smart, talented, sexy Procurement people do prefer cats to dogs!
  4. Is TCO a No Go Without Optimization
    This is a bit of an odd-ball for a top 10 post. The holy grail for most Procurement professionals is TCO — Total Cost of Ownership — minimization (so of course the topic is popular), but many Procurement professionals still feel they do not need, and sometimes even fear, strategic sourcing decision optimization, because it is heavy math and early solutions were extremely difficult to use (and, despite the doctor‘s insistence since the beginning of this blog that you need it, it is often avoided. But new solutions hide the math, walk the user through scenario (and constraint) construction, and are often easier to use than first (and even second) generation e-RFX solutions which, as pointed out last week, are often (still) kicking you when you are down (Part I and Part II).
  5. Of Course Catalogs Cant Be Trusted to This was about the only no surprise. Catalogs are a staple. Low value spend is a pervasive problem. And the doctor‘s rants are his most popular posts.

Come back tomorrow to find out the nine most visited posts of the year which, as per above, were not actually published this year! Proving that, unlike blogs that focus on news (or, in some cases, speculation and rumours) of the day, blogs that focus on education and explanation really do stand the test of internet time. Even if they maintain an old-school look! (Because, sometimes in unglamorous Procurement, we’re lucky to have old school tech. Unlike modern tech, it always works! And being the world’s second oldest profession, we know how to make old-school work!)