6 Questions on the Minds of Every Chief Procurement Officer

I spent some time working with IBM this past month on a slide share that covers 6 key questions on the minds of many of the Chief Procurement Officers I’ve spoken to in the last year.  Many of these questions relate to comments that you’ve read before (if you keep up with this blog), but they are all focused here in a concise way.

Most of the questions have a common thread:  the importance of data an analytics as a key component of the operating environment we find ourselves in.  The topic of procurement analytics was covered in-depth at our last SCRC meeting in December, and the research paper “Procurement Analytics:  Enabling the Journey to Value” that I developed with IBM around this meeting is also posted on IBM’s website.

The inability to engage with stakeholders that is so often experienced by supply chain professionals are often impeded by alack of credibility, due to a lack of metrics and data, and the resulting absence of a business case. As a result, procurement is often brought in at the last minute. Annual budgeting becomes a guessing game, with little input solicited or provided by procurement. Whether it’s due to a lack of dataor to procurement’s inability to anticipate and gather the data required, this disconnect is causing significant challenges for businesses.  This problem forms the basis for the slide share, and also provides reasons why data is becoming such a big issue for organizations.

The other important characteristic of data is the ability to creatively employ it to “visualize” what is going on in your supply chain.  Visualization ensures that large amounts of data can be interpreted quickly and decisions on how to allocate our attention can be made.  Every executive has limited amounts of time in the day and too many complex issues vying for their attention.  The real objective of data processes in supply chains to make acquisition of data easy, but more importantly, to determine the right data that should be visualized, and ensure that we are plugged into those key data streams and KPI’s to ensure we are plugged in to those events and issues that are most important for us to focus on.  Think of a dashboard of a vehicle.  Nor every function of the vehicle is critical – but you sure as heck need to pay attention to your speed, your distance, and your fuel levels.  If there are other issues that pop up and need your attention (tire pressure or oil light) than they only come on as necessary.  If only procurement could get to this!