It is impossible to have a forward-looking discussion about procurement without digital transformation and automation coming up. That said, figuring out what their inclusion means on a company-by-company basis will differ drastically – creating a unique challenge for every CPO who decides to lead their organization on a digital journey.
I’m joined today by Kris Koneru, the Business Practice Head of Sourcing & Procurement at Infosys BPO. He was in the ‘hot seat’ for a dynamic AoP Live session in early April about all of the considerations beyond technology that organizations need to be prepared for before committing to transformation.
Since AoP Live sessions are driven by audience questions and comments – some submitted in advance and some submitted during the session – we never know quite where the focus will be on a given topic. For this AoP Live there was no question what procurement professionals felt the need to learn more about: they wanted to know how digital transformation will affect their performance objectives and metrics. Far more questions were submitted on this topic than any other.
Kris also discussed how digital transformation can be incorporated in broad change management initiatives, what impact it is likely to have on procurement’s internal and external relationships, and how talent management and leadership development priorities will need to shift to maximize a digital-first environment.
Saying that someone has or embodies the ‘spirit of entrepreneurship’ implies a lot of different drives and qualities. There is the willingness to take calculated risks, the need for self-accountability, contagious levels of energy and creativity, and a true understanding of the top to bottom impact of business decisions. Procurement can absolutely benefit from professionals with an entrepreneurial background – the question is how we can add them to our ranks.
I interviewed Jill Robbins, Senior Director of Global Procurement - Indirect Goods & Services for Elanco, a global animal health company. She is the perfect example of both an entrepreneurial spirit and a non-linear career path. In addition to working in procurement, she is the author of a children’s book, co-owns a small business with her husband, and has worked as a consultant.
Empowering procurement to make the maximum contribution to the business requires a combination of analytical and broader business skills. Starting with a solid foundation in data, the most valuable professionals add to their experience over time without worrying whether they are following the fastest route to the top, but rather doing the most important, and the most interesting, work.
In this conversation, Jill shares her perspective on:
• The importance of finding a mentor that you connect with, regardless of the company they work for, the function they work in or their gender.
• Whether certifications really matter, either in career investment or in hiring/recruiting.
• The time and place for rules and norms, and when decision makers should push boundaries for the sake of creating an advantage.
When you get right down to it, innovation is just solving a business need in an entirely new way. In order to do that, however, you and your team have to really understand the business and its customers. The most strategic suppliers – usually a select few – play an important role in the process of innovation, which creates an opportunity for procurement to guide their technical value potential to the point where it delivers operational results.
While I was at ProcureCon Indirect East, I interviewed Lawrence Kane, SIG Sourcing Supernova Hall of Famer and Senior Leader of Strategic Sourcing Functional Excellence and First Time Quality for a Fortune 50 company. In addition to NOT being the Zodiac Killer, he has spent over three decades innovating in various ways and keeping his perspective and deliverables in alignment with enterprise needs.
You may also remember Lawrence from his last Art of Procurement podcast (Episode 164, published in December 2017), where we discussed the active power of empathy – both in supplier negotiations and in internal relationship management.
In this conversation, Lawrence discusses:
• The critical role of governance and contracts (believe it or not) in innovation.
• The importance of making sure everyone in an organization – including the newest, lowest paid members – are motivated to contribute to brand value, especially when they have external contact.
• The tenuous balance between savings and innovation, and how procurement needs to invest in one without sacrificing the other.
Everyone wants to be seen as an innovator, and procurement leaders are no exception. The problem with this desire is that, much like procurement transformation, the definition of innovation can be hard to pin down. We all know it when we see it, but setting out in the morning with “innovation” at the top of your to-do list can be paralyzing… unless you have a master plan.
I interviewed Nancy Nicoll, Vice President of Not for Resale (NFR) / Indirect Strategic Sourcing, at ProcureCon Indirect East about everything from reporting to the C-suite to managing procurement through a huge corporate merger.
Although savings continues to be a high priority in the razor-thin margin grocery retail environment, they are not the horizon of procurement’s focus. For Nancy and the rest of her team, savings are the foundation – what gets them through the door and establishes their credibility – so that procurement can go on to deliver exceptional, sustained, big picture value.
When we hear about ‘fintech’ providers, most of us immediately think of a quickly shifting ad diverse landscape of startups – highly innovative companies, some of which are here today and gone tomorrow. If partnering with a fintech is even on your company’s radar screen, how can procurement develop a reasonable strategy for such an unpredictable industry?
I’m joined today by Andy Atkins, a professional commercial contract manager with a decade of experience negotiating and drafting complex financial, information technology and telecommunication agreements. He is an IACCM Certified Contract and Commercial Manager as well as a Certified Professional in Supply Management and Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). His broad array of industry experience has empowered him to become a subject matter expert in supplier management, including intricate multi-million-dollar transactional agreements.
Andy recently authored an article for IACCM’s Contracting Excellence Journal titled, ‘The ‘FinTech Five’ – Mitigate Risk by Focusing on Five Clauses’ (see link below). It caught the attention of the AoP team, and we brought him on the podcast to discuss the fintech industry (and more) for a broader procurement audience.
In this conversation, Andy covers points such as:
• What is fintech (or financial technology), and how mature are the providers in the market?
• How to perform due diligence on startups, regardless of the product or service they provide.
• What are the differences between procurement in highly regulated industries such as financial services and pharmaceuticals and managing spend in less regulated industries?
• The importance of understanding your customers’ perspective – no matter what industry they are in.
• How procurement can be seen as a value-add rather than an internal roadblock by earning the trust of stakeholders and decision makers.
Today’s discussion does not condone nor condemn the investment, business relationship, acquisition or trading of any equity directly related to a financial technology company or entity. This podcast discussion is strictly for educational purposes and is not for legal or financial advice. The opinions represented here do not necessarily reflect those of Andy’s current or previous employers and Andy is speaking today on his own behalf without further representation.