SIG Speaks Blog

The Empathetic Role of Procurement Professionals

A model Sourcing Organization will exit this pandemic stronger and with even more influence at the Executive level.

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Jeff Piatt illustrates the importance of a supply chain that needs to be nimble enough to adapt, not just for the needs of the business but for the greater good.


Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, was quoted as saying, “Business cannot succeed unless the world succeeds.”

As corporations navigate the global health crisis created by COVID-19, the importance of balancing economic outcomes with social and environmental values has never been higher.

Before COVID-19, we’d already started seeing a mindset shift in economic thinking and consumer attitude. Sustainability and diversity are, arguably finally, being prioritized. Corporations are thinking more about shared values than simply shareholders’ value.

Social Responsibility of Sourcing & Procurement

2020 presents companies with an obligation, not just an opportunity, to prioritize social impact and corporate citizenship. Companies that are fortunate enough to be thriving during this pandemic, or even functioning as normal, have a duty to give back to their communities. The companies that win long term will prioritize social responsibility throughout this crisis.

As business leaders and procurement professionals, we must use this opportunity to demonstrate and elevate procurement's value. Sourcing and procurement have had their own paradigm shift over the past decade. We’re shaking the stereotype that being a strong negotiator requires being the bad guy or that one can be “too nice” for Sourcing. Now is the time to be the perfect combination of empathetic and strategic. Showcase the true value of Strategic Sourcing.

Jeff Piatt, Director of Global Travel & Expense, Zendesk

How to Align Procurement with Finance

All of these strategies are essential to help procurement succeed in collaborating with finance, but you have a far greater likelihood of success if you select the right tools. Choose a digital solution that offers robust reporting, enhances visibility, and enables real-time engagement.

Procurement is a business function that offers so much in the way of value. However, its not always easy to showcase the full spectrum of what procurement provides to other teams or get the necessary buy-in from sponsors or stakeholders to support procurement activities. In fact, one of the common pain points for procurement practitioners is the ability to align finance.

Finance is a critical business function. So much of what guides operations is based on the bottom line and therefore it is absolutely essential that procurement align with finance. Without this collaboration, procurement teams will struggle to gain credibility within an organization and will be less able to contribute to the overall success of the business. In order for procurement to truly be successful, it needs to align with finance. Here are some tips for helping achieve alignment between finance and procurement.

Develop a reporting structure that promotes collaboration

Reporting is essential for keeping different departments aligned. It’s only logical that the department in charge of managing money and the team that handles buying should coordinate. To really make the most of your collaborative efforts, try syncing on reporting structure to increase adoption. Ideally, procurement would actually fall under the purview of finance wherein the CPO reports directly to the CFO to increase that alignment. Benefits include:

Jason Treida, Head of Americas, Per Angusta

Complex Services Procurement and Technology: A Spend Matters and SIG Survey

Procurement technology

Each year, organizations spend over $20 trillion globally on all kinds of services, according to some estimates. Services in the U.S. make up, on average, nearly 60% of organizations’ total non-payroll external spend (and that can be significantly higher in some industry verticals). The effective management of services spend has been a perennial topic of discussion (and limited action) over many years. And technology used to address complex services in an organization is not well understood.

Spend Matters and Sourcing Industry Group have partnered to field a survey of procurement professionals (CPOs, procurement directors, category managers, etc.) that is described briefly below.

The purpose of the survey is to better understand how and to what extent procurement is using enterprise procurement technology and other solutions to process and manage an organization’s service categories and with what level of satisfaction.

For this survey, the term "services" encompasses a broad range of spend categories, like consulting, facilities management, legal, temporary staffing, marketing and so on.

>>Take the Survey<<

Procurement of Services — The Puzzle

Despite the size of this mega-spend category, procurement leaders we talk with have agreed that most categories of services are not, to put it kindly, optimally managed and there are few best practices.

There also seems to be agreement that purpose-built technology for specifically managing different services categories, strategically and tactically, is lacking.

Andrew Karpie, Research Director for Services and Labor Procurement, Spend Matters

The Future of Procurement and the Shifting Supply Chains: Reflections 2020

The future has to be about possibilities to reshape our supply chains.

With the passing of the year, 2020 became more than a hindsight. We saw the emergence of human resilience and world leaders stepping up to shape a sense of leadership in young minds – be it in the area of politics, entrepreneurship or grassroots movements. 

Many equate the COVID-19 pandemic to the 1918 Spanish flu. I see the similarities, but the impact today is much larger. Some basic statistics: Worldwide population in 1918 was ~1.8b, compared to ~7.8b in 2020 (4x larger). On mobility, estimates place ~23.5m travelers arriving on U.S. shores in 1918-19, compared to ~79.3m in 2020. Travel and military embankments were at close quarters in 1918, with distancing, tracing and lockdowns more the norm in 2020. On communication, wireless communication was the novel technology in World War I, limiting civilian communication to letters, postcards, newspapers, and some telephone and radio. Today, social media and the internet are primary communication modes today, with hand-held devices now reaching the farthest corners of the world.

With all this evolution in the area of mobility and communications, one would expect the mobilization of essential goods and services, inter- and intrastate communications, interlaced with the very basic of humanity, would be the norm of trade policies and corporate goals. 

Padmini Ranganathan, Global Vice President, Product Strategy, SAP Procurement

The Fear of Automation - Are We Prepared?

President Trump signed an executive order for the “American AI Initiative” to guide AI developments and investments in the following areas: research and development, ethical standards, automation, and international outreach.

SIG University Certified Intelligent Automation Professional (CIAP) Program graduate Jolene Checchin discusses how technology and automation have changed our personal lives and how it will continue to evolve the way we work.


When “The Jetsons” cartoon made its debut in 1962, we could not imagine the futuristic automation they created. We thought it would be unrealistic to have flying cars (Terrafugia), jetpacks (Hoverboards), video calling (Face Time, Skype), robotic vacuums (Roomba), and much more. Now, fifty-eight years later, their future is our present, and to some, this can be unsettling.

Evolution of Technology

As a Baby Boomer, our generation has watched the evolution of technology at such a fast pace. I sometimes wonder if we really comprehend the changes. Just looking at how we can communicate today, we have gone from shared phone lines to cellphones, and we thought call waiting was a big deal! We can communicate, on the road, in the air, via video, email, text, and our social media resources are endless.

We have the ability to do our banking, pay our bills, and do our grocery shopping from anywhere we are. Some think purchasing a TV requires a degree in IT; from SD to OLED, do we really have a clear understanding of what any of that means? Instead of getting up to change the channel, we just want the ability to talk into a remote and tell the TV what we want to watch. We have appliances that cook while we are at work, and our refrigerators can now make grocery lists and place food replacement orders for us.

Jolene Checchin, Procurement System Administrator, CDK Global

This Month at SIG – January 2021

Here's your monthly update on the latest thought leadership, networking events and training with SIG.

Happy New Year! We kick 2021 off with sustainable procurement for executives and training resources that will elevate your team to excellence for the New Year.


Sustainable Procurement Strategies for 2021

Executives are invited to attend SIG’s next CPO & Executive Virtual Series on January 13 for open-mic discussions on sustainable procurement, enabling growth through partnership and innovation, and how to nurture talent and culture.

Jumpstart Your 2021 Strategy

Sourcing and procurement professionals learned a lot in 2020: The importance of making supply chains and operations nimbler, how to digitize your processes and mitigating unforeseen risk were all key lessons. Get a jumpstart to your 2021 with a SIG University certification.

Delivered entirely online, a certification can be completed in five, six, 10 or 12 weeks depending on the area of study. Programs start in January and February. Prefer to go at your own pace? Inquire about the new self-paced option.

New Contributors Wanted

Future of Sourcing, SIG’s flagship digital publication, is looking for new contributors. Once you've reviewed the editorial calendar and the contributor guidelines, reach out to pitch us an article. You have the choice to submit articles on a regular cadence or you can submit whenever you feel inspired. Contributors are encouraged to subscribe to Future of Sourcing's email newsletter, which is delivered to readers twice a month.

Desmond Williams, Digital Marketing Coordinator

For Better or Worse, It’s Been a Year to Remember

To be able to see where you’re headed, you’ve got to look back at where you’ve been.

To be able to see where you’re headed, you’ve got to look back at where you’ve been. 


I just looked back at my December 2019 blog post and I was spot on, but for all the wrong reasons. I predicted that we would continue to elevate the role of strategic sourcing, broader adoption of technology, and a focus on upskilling sourcing and procurement teams.

I did not predict that a global pandemic would make the world talk about “supply chains,” albeit with a focus on toilet paper, Clorox wipes and a shortage of personal protective equipment. People came to realize that strategic sourcing professionals were the heroes who protected their sources of supply or quickly adapted to secure new sources.

While the pandemic continues to rule our lives in one way or another, we still see shortages on components for home gym equipment, bicycles and even casters for home office chairs. So, while some supply chains still have issues, many industries are experiencing a boom year and outpacing sales over any year in the past.

Looking back at the news of this year, many of us vaguely remember the Australian bushfires, and I distinctly remember racing go karts when news broke that Kobe Bryant died. I know some people were distracted by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walking away from the royal life and Parasite swept the Oscars. This was all immediately non-news and forgotten quickly when the pandemic became a reality. (Personally, I am glad of one “trend” that did not last through the pandemic, which was padded shoulders and puffy sleeves.)

Dawn Tiura, President and CEO, SIG

The Top Webinars of 2020

a round-up of the top webinars of the year

2020 was a great year for thought leadership sharing as everyone suddenly experienced the same issues all at once. Many of the innovations and trends we saw emerge will continue to be essential as we move to 2021. To keep you informed, we bring you a round-up of the top webinars of the year!


5 Procure-to-Pay Trends to Watch in 2020

With the new year upon us, it’s the perfect time to take a look at look at the future of procure-to-pay (P2P).

 

The State of Procurement’s Value Measurement: Evolution and Best Practices

Today, successful value measurement in procurement requires understanding the mindset of stakeholders and leveraging the trove of procurement data that's available.

 

The Future of Procurement Technology

Industry-leading procurement technology has one job: providing a robust yet easy-to-use system for transforming needed goods and services into value for a company so that it can excel at its own business.

 

Coronavirus Town Hall - Leveraging the Power of Procurement to Address COVID-19

Leaders in the business and nonprofit space share how organizations can -- and should -- bridge the gap between businesses and beneficiaries for the wellbeing of the world.

 

Desmond Williams, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Top 10 SIG Speaks Blogs of 2020

To wrap up 2020, we highlight the top 10 blogs of the year.

To wrap up 2020, we highlight the top 10  SIG Speaks blogs of the year. From sustainable sourcing to mastering the art of negotiation, this year has been filled with thought leadership to help weather the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Guide to Understanding Category Management

By drilling down on spend categories, procurement can become established as a trusted advisor to the business. Check out our guide for a category management template to build your business case.

20 Questions About Life Post-COVID-19

SIG CEO & President Dawn Tiura discusses the future that lies ahead post-COVID-19.

Sustainable Sourcing 101

This guide provides a basic overview on sustainable sourcing, including links to resources.

7 Sourcing Business Models to Improve Sourcing Effectiveness

This article outlines seven sourcing business models that organizations should consider to improve their sourcing effectiveness and get the best results from supplier relationships.

Measurable Success: 7 New KPIs to Optimize Your Procurement Pipeline

This article outlines seven sourcing business models that organizations should consider to improve their sourcing effectiveness and get the best results from supplier relationships.

Desmond Williams, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Importance of Stakeholder Management – Amplified in the pandemic

Anirudh Sundareshwar outlines how managing stakeholders is well-served via effective communication.

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Anirudh Sundareshwar outlines how managing stakeholders is well-served via effective communication.


A generic definition of stakeholder management is “Stakeholder management involves taking into consideration the different interests and values stakeholders have and addressing them during the duration of the project to ensure that all stakeholders are happy at the end.” It is important to understand that this may not always be true, especially in projects where multiple stakeholders and personal stakes are involved.

However, it is essential to ensure that most stakeholders are happy with the project's end result or initiative you are working on. That is not accomplished only by the end result but builds up along the project's lifespan.

As we have learned, one of the most critical tenets of stakeholder management is communication. It is vital to know what to communicate to whom, when to communicate and how to communicate, especially to senior stakeholders. This is an art and not easily achievable. Even more so in the current scenario where most people work remotely and do not have the advantage of picking up cues (verbal/non-verbal) as you would have in the pre-COVID era. Stakeholder management in our world involves both internal and external stakeholders, of course.

Communication Strategy

For important initiatives,  a procurement professional must invest time in building a communication strategy followed by a redesign of plans & templates to suit the virtual meeting format and eventually deploy. Since this is new to both you and the recipient, it is vital that you actively seek feedback to assess your communication effectiveness.

Anirudh Sundareshwar, Director & Head of Sourcing, BNY Mellon

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