I will be leading a webinar with the Sourcing Interest Group next Nov. 12 at 2 PM, based on a study I have been working on with some folks at IBM. The webinar will also include Howard Richman, a colleague I have known for many years, first at Merck, and now working at Citrix as their Chief Procurement Officer. Also joining us will be Michael O’Leary, Director of Procurement Solutions at IBM.
What kicked off this inquiry was a discussion I was having with a former NC State student, Alex Zhong, who is now at IBM. We were talking about a recent IBM study of over Chief Procurement Officers which discoverd that three key activities defined procurement role models: stakeholder engagement, aligning with business strategy, and use of advanced tools and technologies. I emphasied to Alex that I had seen a similar trend – that purchasing executives seek to drive procurement value transformation, many find themselves struggling to make progress in these three areas of change. In particular, there is a noticeable gap between procurement executives’ explicit intentions of driving value for the business, and documented results as they pertain to improved engagement with internal business groups, ability to drive innovative analytical tools, and the resulting gap in alignment with business strategy.
Such gaps are often attributed to a lack of data documenting historical spending, contracts, and supplier life cycle performance metrics. This problem is compounded by the stress executives feel when put under pressure that causes them to revert to type, do what they’ve always done (even when they know it isn’t right), which then reinforces the status quo rather than catalyzing change. As a result, procurement is often brought in at the last minute as an afterthought, often as a big “surprise” with little advance time for preparation. Similarly, enterprise annual budgeting is often a guessing game, with little input solicited or provided by procurement. The question has to be asked as to whether the problem is rooted in the lack of data or Procurement’s inability to take the lead and anticipate and gather the data required.
So how can executives get started with the process of building relationships with stakeholder groups, supporting business strategy and bringing analytical insights to the table? This question formed the basis for our study, in which we conducted lengthy interviews with 23 senior procurement executives across a broad range of industries. These individuals provided key insights into the nature of procurement transformational change, and the role of analytics in driving strategies that supported the business and which aligned with stakeholder requirements. In the webinar on November 12 at 2 PM EST, we’ll explore some of these insights, and provide ideas on how procurement executives can get started in the new and exciting world of procurement analytics.