Category Archives: Training

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!)

If You Want Good Procurement People …


A common problem among all Procurement departments is their ability to find good, educated, experienced people. The reason for this is simple: there just aren’t enough good, educated, and experienced people to fill all the Procurement positions that should exist among corporations world-wide.


1. Procurement isn’t Sexy

People go into careers that are attractive. These are careers that are held in high regard (like doctors and lawyers), careers that pay well (like finance and tech), careers that are currently in high demand where unusually high premiums can be found in the right locations (like nursing or remote mining/O&G positions), or careers that bring fame (like acting, entertaining, and professional sports). People don’t go into careers that no one’s heard of, careers that have a negative stigma, or careers that don’t pay well. Guess what bucket(s) Procurement falls into? The latter three. No one’s heard of it (who even advertises their world class Procurement, yet alone makes it sexy — that’s right, no company on earth). It’s still thought to be the Island of Misfit Toys. And many people think back office purchasing pay scales are akin to entry level AP clerks.

2. There are No Real Procurement Programs

Prestigious Universities have prestigious business schools. These focus on executive management and basic operations. The best of these will also teach classic logistics. There are only a few Supply Chain Management programs globally, and none of these teach modern Procurement platforms and processes as a general rule. A few have brief introductions to modern spend analysis or e-Auction or RFP platforms, but that’s literally two decades old tech in our field. No one coming out of University has any real understanding of modern procurement processes, best practices, or platforms.

3. Most Procurement People Have Very Narrow Skill Sets

When you’re in Procurement because you get put there, fall there because there was nothing else at the time and you needed a job, or voluntarily move there to help the company because you demonstrated a knack for buying certain categories and without you, the company would be suffering and possibly have to layoff your friends, you didn’t go there because you had the right education and experience and knew it was the best job for you. Furthermore, when companies don’t invest in the education you need to learn end-to-end processes, best practices, and category specifics outside of the area you came from, you end up developing, usually by trial and error, a very narrow skill set in terms of applications you can use, processes you know, and market interpretation to determine if the offer is reasonable in current market conditions. This makes it very hard to jump to another job and be a good buyer in another category, or even a similar category where you would have to buy a whole new set of parts from a whole new set of suppliers in a whole new geography.

Thus, it’s going to be very hard, for any intermediate position, to find the right person who can walk in and do the job at market average performance day one.

However, Procurement is not rocket science, open heart surgery, or CPU design. It’s not hard to find very smart engineers, mathematicians, technologists, pharmacists, chemists, etc. who can, with focussed training in best-practice procurement processes and platforms, very quickly pick up the basics of Procurement and use their deep knowledge of products and R&D/Engineering/Manufacturing needs to identify the best products, suppliers, and partners for the organization. These highly educated individuals will also have a decent background in mathematics, algorithms, and logic to learn the spend analysis / market intelligence platforms and quickly identify market average prices and costs for products and parts and be able to analyze bids against current organizational prices, market prices, and should cost models to identify those suppliers offering fair quotes as well as additional service-based value.

With a few weeks of focussed training on key processes and platforms, these resources can often be up and running effectively, and with a few months of training over their first few years, quickly progress to a top-tier performer. All you have to do is bring back the Learning & Development budget and train them by hiring appropriate analysts and consultancies to design/deliver the courses they need to be effective for your organization. And even though custom courses can cost considerable up-front dollars, 10K is nothing if it helps a top-tier resource identify a 10% savings on a 10M contract, as that’s literally a 100X return on your investment. (Remember this the next time someone considers cutting the training budget for Procurement as the return on proper training for a good resource will always exceed the investment many times over.)

The 10 Worst Innovation Mistakes In A Recession (Update and Repost)

Are we in a recession? No.

Could we be in one real soon? Yes.

Regardless of what “the experts” tell you, two things are true.

  1. Trade Wars are BAD for the economy.
  2. Economic Alliance Breakdown (like Brexit) is BAD for the economy.

Both of these events can spark recessions, and are very statistically likely to at least spark localized recessions in some industries in some geographies. And while it’s hard to say which geographies and industries and to what extent due to the proliferance of alternative facts on even the major media outlets (which is what happens when you let party oriented moguls conglomerate holdings and reduce journalist headcount), it’s still not hard to say the risks are rapidly increasing.

It’s also not hard to say that, based on past behaviour, most organizations are bound to do the wrong thing when it starts. So, to this end, SI is reposting this classic piece from 2008 to remind you of what not to do if things get tight (which is based on a great piece on the 10 Worst Innovation Mistakes in a Recession that appeared in Business Week in January, 2008.

Moreover, making these mistakes creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that spirals you towards hardship.

  1. Fire Talent
    Talent is the single most important variable in innovation. And innovation is the single largest lever you have to increase productivity and decrease costs.
  2. Cut Back on Technology
    The rise of social networking and consumer power means that companies have to be part of a larger conversation with their customers. This requires technology. Furthermore, the best way to insure you are getting the best price is to tackle the right categories, as identified by spend analysis, with strategic sourcing decision optimization to make sure you are making the award with the lowest total cost of ownership. It’s also important to make sure that all of your invoices are submitted in an electronic format that can be automatically matched against contracted rates to make sure you are being overcharged. This requires leading-edge technology.
  3. Reduce Risk
    Innovation requires taking chances and dealing with failure. Although it’s important to control risk, trying to eliminate it entirely will just end up eliminating any chance for innovation at your company.
  4. Stop New Product Development
    This hurts companies when growth returns and they have fewer offerings in the marketplace to attract consumers. And with today’s rapid pace of technological change, you could even lose customers in a recession to a competitor who keeps innovating while you stand still.
  5. Replace a Growth-Oriented CEO with a Cost-Cutting CEO
    Most recessions only last two or three quarters and, these days, are relatively shallow. Penny-pinching CEOs don’t have the skills to grow when growth returns. Plus, a penny-pinching CEO is the most likely individual to fire your top talent.
  6. Retreat from Globalization
    Emerging markets are sources of new revenue, business models, and talent. And, like it or not, emerging economies like India and China are soon going to have more buyers for your product than the countries you’re currently selling to.
  7. Replace Innovation as Key Strategy
    … With Systems Management and Cost-Cutting. Once focus shifts away from innovation, it can be very hard to get the focus shifted back.
  8. Change Performance Metrics
    Shifting employee evaluations away from rewarding riskier new projects toward sustaining safer, older goals. This leads to risk-averse behavior and stifles innovation.
  9. Re-inforce Hierarchy over Collaboration
    A return to command-and-control management. This alienates creative-class employees, young Gen Y and X-ers, and stops the evolution of the corporation. In today’s world, companies that don’t evolve die – and they do it quickly. The average life-span of a Fortune 500 company is shrinking every year.
  10. Retreat into Moated Castles
    Cutting back on outside consultancies is seen as a quick way to save money. Yet, one of the key ways of introducing change into business culture is to bring in outside innovation and design consultants.

Remember that winners always emerge out of recessions and they always win on the basis of something new. If you don’t always have something new in your pocket, you’re not going to win. And if it is a recession, and you don’t have something brand spanking new to pull out of your pocket when the recession is over, you could literally be toast. Furthermore, even a recession provides growth opportunities. People still spend money. They still need to eat, maintain their homes, and their life-styles. The difference is that they don’t spend as much money and look considerably harder for the best deal. This means that they’re much more likely to waver on brand loyalty if you can provide them a better product on a better price – and this means that you can still grow by taking market share away from your competition.

So don’t make the innovation mistakes. If it is a recession, then whether you come out of it a winner or a loser is up to you.

Furthermore, if it is a recession, and your company supplies sourcing and procurement technology and services, then this should be a major growth period for you! After all, how else is your average blind-in-one-eye company going to save money? This means that not only do you have to make sure that you don’t make any of the top 10 innovation mistakes, but that you invest for a growth period because, if you play your cards right, it will be.

GDPR 8 – Security

Today’s guest post is from Tony Bridger, an experienced provider of Procurement Consulting and Spend Analysis services across the Commonwealth (as well as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt) who has been delivering value across continents for two decades. He is currently President of UK-based TrainingWorx Ltd, a provider of a wide range of Procurement and Analytic business training programs (inc. GDPR, spend analysis, project management, process improvement, etc.) and focussed short-term consulting solutions. Tony can be contacted at

One of the key changes in the GDPR is around the clauses and legal framework that surrounds the processing of personal data.

We will cover this in some detail in the next post (although we did hint at this one!). However, please bear with us as we also have to address cyber security to complete the background for displaying the processing requirements. Security will be a key component of the overall legal framework.

One of the key requirements in processing data is the cyber security that surrounds managing this type of information. The UK Supervisory Authority, the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) issues a wide ranging, practical advice for companies on their website. Given that many procurement analytics providers are now mature IT companies, many will have little to do cyber security wise. Many companies (including high volume email suppliers) have certified to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework and the Swiss-U.S Privacy Shield Framework. This is an excellent start as we have mentioned previously. The cost of doing this is comparatively small – and we understand that many small US companies have managed to achieve this – around 3000 software enterprises.

On a broader security level, the ICO recommends that companies implement at least the ten steps to Cyber Security model. This can be found on their website. For much smaller UK based data companies, they can achieve Cyber Security Essentials plus certification. This is around $400 USD.

However, it is highly likely that many web analytics provider security arrangements are already in place and exceed the basics. Logically, it may be worth pursuing ISO 27001 accreditation or higher. Like most certification, it can become an expensive and a time-consuming exercise. Many large suppliers may already have CCMv3 (Cloud Controls Matrix), NIST CSF (National Institute of Standards and Technology Cyber Security Framework) or PAS 555.

Is it really worth it? If we had a crystal ball, companies both within and outside of the European arena will come under increasing pressure to prove these controls are in place – and standards are likely to become a key selling point for winning European business. To that end – it is going to be part of the cost of doing business. The alternative is a breach and investigation. Cyber criminals have all the key attack elements in their favour – a confirmed breach could become a costly and damaging PR disaster.

Once vendors combine cyber controls and certification with the extensive legal requirements, it is likely to become a major differentiation point between suppliers. Question is … are vendors ready?

GDPR: What is Required of Processors / Controllers? (Part VII)

Today’s guest post is from Tony Bridger, an experienced provider of Procurement Consulting and Spend Analysis services across the Commonwealth (as well as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt) who has been delivering value across continents for two decades. He is currently President of UK-based TrainingWorx Ltd, a provider of a wide range of Procurement and Analytic business training programs (inc. GDPR, spend analysis, project management, process improvement, etc.) and focussed short-term consulting solutions. Tony can be contacted at

In our last article we noted that a key concept under GDPR (with respect to any data that potentially contains data that could identify an individual person) is the difference between a controller and processor, and what requirements are placed on each. Generally speaking, a spend analytics (service) provider will be a processor and may meet the requirements of a controller (and may not). [It all depends upon whether the customer provides them an ability to determine the purpose and/or means of data processing. In most cases, the provider will have some leeway and will be a controller as well.]

So, what does the regulation require of a processor/controller?

The first fundamental change is around where either the controller or the processor is not established within the Union.

In this case, suppliers will need to designate in writing a representative within the European Union.

“The representative shall be mandated to be addressed by supervisory authorities and data subjects for the purposes of the Regulation. Designation of a representative does not absolve controller or processor from legal liabilities”.

Simply, it means if you are outside of the EU, and you process any personal data that originates from within the EU area, you must have a representative within Europe.

This creates a range of issues as it may well imply that any provider that services data from multiple countries may require multiple representatives. It is likely that multiple representatives may be required as each supervisory authority within each European Country may require a representative.

However, given the volume of suppliers that are involved in managing and processing personal data outside of the European Union for EU clients, how well Supervisory Authorities can manage and track these volumes of suppliers is questionable. However, the fundamental shift in the regulation is that legally, suppliers must now declare that presence. If there are data breach problems later, and an investigation is required, it may well generate a much wide range of breach elements. Like unpicking the thread on a sweater, the Supervisory Authority has wide ranging investigative powers.

For those that opt to process or control personal data from the European-Union, the new Regulations contain a suite of additional procedural requirements. We will start to cover these elements in the next article. However, if you are unsure around the legal elements, as we have said on several occasions, we suggest you consult a Legal firm who specialises in the Regulations.

Thanks, Tony.