In this episode, AOP Host Philip Ideson and Kelly Barner (AOP Content Director and Owner of Buyers Meeting Point) discuss their major take-aways from March’s news, industry topics and podcast interviews.
In March, Louis Bastone (Indirect Category Manager at ASML) talked about making the move into procurement from another function or later in one’s professional career. Sammeli Sammalkorpi (co-founder of Sievo) provided some grounded advice about AI, making clear that if we want it to generate real results, we have to apply it wisely. Finally, David Loseby (author, Soft Skills for Hard Business) reminded us that as long as people are still at the heart of business, we need to be aware of our choice of language, their perspective on decisions, and the impact of small decisions compounded over time.
Don’t miss out on upcoming opportunities to connect with us in person at ProcureCon, Ivalua NOW, Ariba Live and the upcoming SIG Summit. We also have two AOP Live sessions scheduled in April, one with Kris Koneru at Infosys and one with Anthony Clervi at UNA. Make sure you are subscribed to our mailing list to receive notice once those events are open for registration.
This month’s discussion topic comes from a Harvard Business Review Article: ‘Digital Transformation is Not About Technology’. It reminds us that our technology may have changed, but implementation and adoption challenges remain the same – especially for organizations that are trying to significantly change and improve their operational capabilities.
In a era when we emphasize the importance of ‘soft skills’ in the face of the hardest business challenges, the human element is impossible to ignore. While most of us tend to focus on developing our own interpersonal skills (or the absence of desired interpersonal skills in others), an equally important element is behavior. What are people doing and why? If we can understand behavior, we are in a far better position to deliver results and build sustainable relationships.
I’m joined today by David Loseby, FAPM, FCMI, FCIPS Chartered, FRSA - CPO of Aquitaine Strategy Limited, Global Board of Trustees Member of CIPS, advisor and author of ‘Soft Skills for Hard Business’ (2018). He has spent 25 years at the senior executive/director level driving value and change through procurement, organizational transformation and change management in the public and private sectors.
As David explains, the importance of remembering what while we all expect others to exhibit ‘rational’ behaviors, rationality is in the eye of the beholder. In cases where we think others are acting against their or the enterprise’s best interests, it is likely that we either do not have access to the same information they do, or that they are interpreting that information differently than we are. Getting to the root of that disconnect is the most effective way to address unexpected behaviors and achieve alignment.
Automation can only be as good as we program it to be. If we want innovative, industry-leading support from emerging technologies, we need to be informed about the potential applications of AI and machine learning.
I’m joined today by Sammeli Sammalkorpi, Co-founder of Sievo, in a discussion that was driven by the engaged audience that joined us for February’s AOP Live session. We gathered questions in advance and fielded spontaneous ones during the event rather than wading through a conventional slide-driven talk on AI use cases.
One topic everyone kept coming back to was how to know when you are ready for an investment in AI and whether procurement is a good use case.
According to Sammeli, there are an increasing number of examples of how AI and machine learning add value in procurement. They include spend classification, capturing supplier information from public sources, and parsing the key terms from lengthy, complex contract documents. Automation can be implemented as a pilot project or an enterprise-wide effort, and it can improve legacy processes as well as parts of the business that have been deliberately re-worked to leverage the unique advantages of AI.
We often discuss the impact that procurement talent has on current results and the role it will play in determining how our function evolves in the future. The procurement community is vibrant, diverse and defined, but we need to remember that some of our best future team members are currently either in college or working in other functions. How we represent ourselves to them will determine how soon and how willingly they join our ranks.
I’m joined today by Louis Bastone, Indirect Category Manager for ASMC, a manufacturer of chip-making machines in the semiconductor industry. 9 out of 10 times when you ask someone how they ended up in procurement, their answer involves some an unexpected career twist. Not Louis. He took procurement courses in college while pursuing a degree in Integrated Supply Chain Management.
In this interview, Louis shares the role that creativity, enthusiasm and influence have on performance and job satisfaction as well as our elevation from tactical to strategic work. He also provides interesting insight into the entrepreneurial appeal of working in procurement and how newcomers can balance an affinity for their adopted function while not losing the critical edge of a broad, cross-functional point of view.
As Louis explains, we’re all on a journey. How far we get is mostly a matter of perspective. His advice is to focus on the professional experiences you want to have rather than the title you’re hoping to get.