Next Level Purchasing

Career Advancement in Procurement – Light at the End of the Tunnel

Greg Uhrlen 8/15/2014 6:14:00 PM

Do you sometimes feel like no matter hard you try to negotiate the best terms possible with a supplier you still don’t get the deal you are looking for?  Sure, you may get some sort of “discount” but is it really beneficial to your organization?  Are there terms somewhere else that need to be addressed that would make it a much better deal for your business?

Well, let me tell you, there is hope…a light at the end of the tunnel so to speak to becoming the savvy purchasing professional that earns the respect of suppliers and colleagues.

At the Next Level Purchasing Association, we speak with students and potential students every day regarding the challenges they face as procurement professionals.  While our knowledgeable, experienced team of professionals can answer any questions you may have about purchasing certification, sometimes it is better to hear from someone who, like you, decided they need to improve their procurement skills.

When Catherine Shaw SPSM3 first enrolled in the Next Level Purchasing Association’s SPSM® program, she characterized her skills in regards to procurement as “weak” and that her results from negotiating were typically unpredictable.

As a result of earning her SPSM® Certification, Ms. Shaw has mastered essential procurement skills, global procurement management and enterprise-wide procurement influence.  Today, Ms. Shaw, who resides in Los Angeles, CA, holds the role of purchasing manager.  Ms. Shaw's ability to get the best terms possible for her organization in negotiations has led to greater responsibilities, including negotiating a particular deal that has been extremely beneficial to her co-workers.

Read Ms. Shaw’s in-depth, compelling procurement case study and find out how the SPSM Certification can transform you into a trusted, world-class procurement executive just like Ms. Shaw.

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The Sharks Are Swimming Around Procurify – And That’s a Good Thing!

Greg Uhrlen 8/13/2014 8:48:00 PM

Dallas Mavericks owner and notorious start-up investor Mark Cuban has placed his hands into the “shark tank” so to speak that is the treacherous waters of the procurement solution field.  This high-risk, high-reward field for software and cloud solution developers is right up Mr. Cuban’s alley, especially when it comes to start-up investing. Mr. Cuban’s target in this area is Procurify; a relatively new entry into procurement software industry that offers its customers a cloud-based purchasing management software system.

The sweet spot for Procurify currently is companies with 50 to 1000 employees with 10% to 20% of those employees having user accounts.  However, if you are a smaller shop with a single procurement employee, the system works great for you as well.

Procurify is a role-based procurement system that comes with many pre-configured roles for a wide-variety of users.  Examples of roles that come pre-configured with Procurify include approver and buyer. Thus, specific buyers in your organization can be set up to approve, for instance, up to X amount of dollars.  If the threshold is exceeded, a higher-level of approval is required (approver, manager, director, etc). If you are unable to find the exact role-set you are looking for, the system offers the ability to customize your own roles on-demand.

One of the slicker features Procurify offers is the ability to create bundle orders.  Say, for instance, you purchase the same setup when a new employee is hired.  You can go into the Procurify system, pull up the “new employee” bundle you previously created and instantly you have items you need to order already picked out.  Kurtis Warren, of Procurify’s business development team pointed out this capability, “works great especially for contractors working on new homes”, where the base specifications for particular models are often the same.

Another impressive feature of Procurify is the ease of adding new departments, budgets and approvers.  Within a couple clicks and by adding specific allotments for approvers, it can be completed with ease.

A critical upgrade to the Procurify system going forward is the ability to integrate with other ERP systems.  I think this could be a serious game-changer for the organization.  The ability to utilize a cloud-based and app-controlled system such as Procurify will save considerable money, time and resources for organization’s that are already overburdened with maintaining servers in-house.

In the Procurify business model, suppliers do not have to pay to add their catalog to the Procurify buyer / supplier portal.  Suppliers are able to login into their specific buyer’s portals to upload their catalogs.  Currently, Procurify does not offer Procurement PunchOut capabilities.

According to Warren, one area of Procurify that is currently being revamped for improvements is the reporting system.  At this time, the systems reporting abilities are somewhat basic, but this is an area where the scheduled improvements would make a notable difference.

Procurify is not ready for the Fortune 500 “yet” as a be-all, end-all eProcurement solution (although they do have several Fortune 500 clients utilizing their services), however they are taking small, but aggressive, steps, listening to the needs of their current customers and growing the product.  

Procurify is an attractive solution for small to mid-sized organizations that are behind the curve when it comes to integrating technology into the procurement department or for organizations that don’t need a full-blown eProcurement solution.

From my e-mails and conversations with the sales and marketing team, they are very hungry and are on their way to becoming a disruptive force in the cloud-based procurement services market. 

Besides Mr. Cuban, other investors in Procurify include Nexus Venture Partners and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). Procurify is also approaching their Series A funding (preferred stock) in the 4th quarter of 2014.

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Increasing Procurement's Credibility With Stakeholders

Charles Dominick 8/11/2014 8:16:00 PM

I hope that you have enjoyed the article "How To Increase Procurement's Credibility."

In the article, I shared three ways that leading procurement departments have increased their credibility with stakeholders.  In this post, I will share a fourth.

4.  Dispel the “Procurement only cares about price” myth.  Many stakeholders hate dealing with Procurement because they believe the stereotype that procurement professionals only care about getting the lowest price.  And if you don’t tell them otherwise, who will?  Leading procurement departments dispel that myth by clearly communicating the factors that Procurement considers in its decision-making, emphasizing the factors that are important to stakeholders and giving them the opportunity to participate in decisions involving supplier selection criteria and weightings.

To return to the article (including the Spotlight On Professional Development and Free Offer sections), click here.

To Your Career Success,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Co-Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

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Getting the Lead Right Out of the Gate

Greg Uhrlen 8/6/2014 2:53:00 PM

On the first play after the kickoff in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Seattle Seahawks scored a safety just 12 seconds into the game and never gave up the lead on their way to winning their first NFL championship.  The importance of scoring early and often in sports and in the business the world is critical to the success of your team.

“Getting the Lead Right Out of the Gate: The Decisions to Make and Pitfalls to Avoid in the First 6 Months of a Procurement Transformation” addresses the importance making the rightprocurement changes within your organization.  This business-changing presentation will be conducted by Michael DeWitt - Vice President of Procurement for a large healthcare insurance provider.

Procurement organizations are, or should be, in some state of transformation in order to prepare for the changing future.  Procurement transformation skills are becoming more important, but pulling off a transformation is not easy. 

  •        In the first 3 months of a transformation you need to be noticed. 
  •        In the first 6 months you need to have tangible progress. 

Mr. DeWitt’s presentation supplies you with the tips on where to focus your time (and where not to) during those critical first 6 months to improve your chances for transformation success.

Join us at the 2014 Next Level Purchasing Association Conference, “Where Procurement MVPs are Made!”. Learn about 10 additional skill-building workshops and more by downloading the conference agenda.  Seats for the conference are limited socall us at 412-262-1334 for exclusive pricing information using the special blog code “Getting the Lead” and ensure that you get access to this career-changing event!

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Negotiating For Pennies (When Pennies Can Become Millions of Dollars)

Charles Dominick 8/5/2014 8:17:00 PM

I hope that you have enjoyed the article, "Smart Negotiation For Small Purchases."

I had put off writing this article for some time.  I was afraid.

Afraid of what, you ask?

Afraid of coming off as too simple.  Afraid of people saying, "You call yourself an advanced negotiation trainer?  Those are the most basic negotiation tips I've ever read!"

Well, you know what?

I decided to write the article.

You know why?

Because the tips work!

Will they work in a complex, multimillion dollar negotiation for custom-engineered equipment to be delivered over a 10 year period?

Probably not.  But they're not advertised to work in that situation.

But in negotiations as well as other things in life, it's important to use the right size tool for the job at hand.  The negotiation tips you'd use in a complex, multimillion negotiation for custom-engineered equipment to be delivered over a 10 year period would not be the same tips you'd use for buying, say, an office printer.

So, it's important to use the appropriate approach for each situation.  And I've seen too many small deals go unnegotiated, leaving money on the table, to feel that tips for these types of negotiating situations should be left unsaid.

There you have it.  Do you feel the tips are too simple?  Try them the next time you have a small purchase to make.

I feel confident in saying that they'll probably get you more of a discount than doing nothing, which is what most buyers do.

To Your Career Success,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Co-Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

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Playing To Win vs. Playing To Not Lose: Take the Offensive With Strategic Supplier Relationships

Greg Uhrlen 8/1/2014 10:14:00 PM

Successful baseball managers are always thinking multiple moves ahead to gain a competitive advantage against their opponents.  Are you using long-term strategic planning to get the most out of your supplier relationships? 

By popular demand the Vice President of Clinical Sourcing for a large healthcare provider, David Hargraves returns as a guest speaker for the 2014 Next Level Purchasing Association Conference, “Where Procurement MVPs are Made!”.  Mr. Hargraves topic, “Playing to Win vs. Playing to not Lose: Take the Offensive with Strategic Supplier Relationships” will give you the tools necessary to develop stronger bonds with the “right” suppliers for your business.  Features of this exciting presentation include:

  •  How to pick the categories where strategic supplier relationships are appropriate
  • How to choose which supplier, within a category, to deepen the relationship
  • How to make a 10-year commitment when you can’t forecast technology changes or even the supplier landscape

Mr. Hargraves promises to share a wealth of experience with you and show you how to stay on the offensive while playing to win!

To find out more about the 2014 Next Level Purchasing Association Conference, “Where Procurement MVPs are Made!”, download the conference agenda or call me at 412-262-1334 for exclusive pricing information using the special blog code “play to win”.

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Teambuilding Through Storytelling

Greg Uhrlen 8/1/2014 7:20:00 PM

Often times, procurement professionals are the real “unsung heroes” in their organization.  They work in the trenches, get banged up and abused (literally), are only noticed when mistakes are made, and receive little glory for their crucial contributions to the organization.  While leadership (aka the Quarterback) receives all the accolades, the men and women in the trenches nurse their wounds to prepare for another round of battle in relative obscurity.  Yet, the procurement team is the glue that holds the organization together!

Thus, it is quite appropriate that our one of the 2014 NLPA Conference’s keynote speakers is a man who readily identifies with all of these same traits.  For 12 years Craig Wolfley played Offensive Line for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings and readily identifies with the importance of being a supporting player within an organization.

Promising to be one of the highlights of the 2014 Next Level Purchasing Association Conference, “Where Procurement MVPs are Made!”, Mr. Wolfley’s presentation “Teambuilding Through Storytelling” promises to be a humorous and inspirational journey providing insight as to how procurement can learn from the realm of professional athletics in developing stronger, more successful teams.  For those unfamiliar with Mr. Wolfley, you will be delighted with his often times self-deprecating sense of humor and his ability to tie stories of his life as a professional athlete to modern business practices. 

Now, it is time for you to get off the sidelines and join us for the 2014 Next Level Purchasing Association Conference, “Where Procurement MVPs are Made!”

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Coaching to Win: How to Get Your Users to Drive Your Procurement System to Victory

Greg Uhrlen 7/31/2014 8:38:00 PM

Procurement systems can provide excellent process improvements and great financial return on investment, yet over 40% of software implementations fail to deliver expected benefits.

Learn the strategies you can put in place to ensure that your company gets the most out of your current and future systems while making you a valuable key to that success.

At the 2014 Next Level Purchasing Association Conference, “Where Procurement MVPs are Made!”, we will feature Ron Nawojczyk, Principal Solution Consultant for Oracle, for a workshop focused on the value of procurement systems to your organization.

Mr. Nawojczyk’s presentation promises to be one where collaboration between procurement and IT is discussed and how commodity teams can be beneficial to the software purchasing and implementation process.

Don’t miss out on this and other high-caliber presentations which will expand your procurement tool box.  Register now before the last seat is taken for the 2014 Next Level Purchasing Association Conference, “Where Procurement MVPs are Made!”

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Can IT and Procurement Play Nice Together? Yes! Yes! Yes!

Greg Uhrlen 7/28/2014 8:43:00 PM

For all the years I worked in IT management, rarely did anyone from the purchasing department ever approach me, except to challenge items I would purchase within my allowable budget that had peculiar, almost comic book-sounding names. (As if I really wanted to purchase a DDOS cloak from the Black Lotus!)

Typically, it was up to me to approach the purchasing department with my requests and wait for the immediate answers of “no” or “it costs too much”. In the name of equality (or getting even), when purchasing approached me for favors, they were typically told to get in line behind everyone else.

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt

From an IT perspective, the fear is always that purchasing will buy the cheapest solution and leave the IT department to make a gourmet dinner out of table scraps.  From a procurement perspective, the concern is that IT is wasting money on the “latest and greatest” new toy that will be obsolete in 3 years.  When this kind of mistrust is prevalent among departments within an organization, in the long run, nobody wins.

While these slightly exaggerated examples are based on my real-life experiences, I think the time has come for all IT and Purchasing people to declare a truce and hug it out, literally.  The reason; we can really help each other to improve processes and save money.

The area I am going to concentrate on today is in IT purchasing, since that is one area I know well.  Now, in the larger organizations that the Next Level Purchasing Association offers group training to, we train IT professionals who also have a purchasing background or are being brought up to speed on purchasing strategies and best practices.  However, for organizations with smaller (or even one person) IT and purchasing departments it is critical to be on the same page.

Beware of the Shady Supplier

Unfortunately, an unethical supplier will attempt to take full advantage of a purchasing professional who has no background in IT whatsoever and attempt to overload the IT solution with jargon-filled descriptions of superfluous add-ons and modules above and beyond the needs of the organization.  

Also, the unethical supplier will attempt to lure the IT professional with promises of seamless integration and “world-class” support for only $$$ / month or $$$$$ / incident buried deep in costly legal clauses within the fine print.  Here is where the savvy purchasing professional is desperately needed; especially one with contract negotiation experience and one who negotiates aggressive service level agreements. 

Friends at Last: The Commodity Team!

On the other hand, ethical suppliers see the real benefit in IT and purchasing working in tandem as a commodity team.  Immediately, the ethical supplier realizes the opportunity to gain trust and business is much smoother when the concerns of both departments are addressed at the same time. This allows for more in-depth discussions of their product offerings as well as meaningful negotiations without intermediaries having to run messages back and forth between departments. 

This united front between the two departments also lets suppliers know ahead of time that they need to be on top of their game to earn the organization’s business.  The commodity team determines the project requirements and a well-defined supplier evaluation criteria (such as weighted average scorecards).  In turn, this saves time for the organization making the purchase as time wasters and poor-performing suppliers are immediately weeded out and serious suppliers are treated as potential business partners.  A definite win-win for the buyer and suppliers! 

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Learn About The Future of Procurement Technology Webinar on July 25

Charles Dominick 7/18/2014 8:31:00 PM

Innovation is driving massive change in procurement. What do you need to know to be prepared?

This month, the NLPA brings you an insightful webinar on the future of procurement technology, led by guest presenters from GEP.  Attend "The Future of Procurement Technology:  Portable, Powerful, Pivotal" to understand the 5 key drivers shaping procurement today and tomorrow. 

This webinar will be held on Friday July 25, 2014 at 11:30AM Eastern US time. This webinar is open to all members of the NLPA and a Basic Membership in the NLPA is instant and doesn't cost a cent! Here's how to secure your attendance for the webinar: 

If you're already an NLPA member: Head over to, log into the members' area, and navigate to the "Webinars" tab. There you'll find a registration link, be sure to enter a valid email address as attendance details will be sent to you by email.

If you're not yet an NLPA member: Register for your complimentary Basic Membership in the Next Level Purchasing Association at After doing so, you'll receive an email with information about how to log in. After logging in, navigate to the "Webinars" tab. There you'll find a registration link, be sure to enter a valid email address as attendance details will be sent to you by email.

Registration may be limited, so sign up soon to ensure access to this event. I hope that you will join me for this exciting webinar!

To Your Career Success,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Co-Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

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Spot Buys: The Nagging Little Things With Big Cost Savings Potential

Charles Dominick 7/15/2014 6:21:00 PM

I hope that you have enjoyed the article, "Negotiating Your Spot Buys."

This article was inspired after an NLPA member asked me for advice related to negotiating his spot buys.  He described his situation where his suppliers began reacting the same way to his negotiation attempts, saying "We're as low as we can go on this."

His reaction when he got this type of response from suppliers?

He placed the order anyway.  Every time.

What's wrong with this picture?

This behavior had two things wrong with it:
1.  It provided a reward for the exact opposite of the desired behavior; and
2.  It became predictable

Rewarding the opposite of what you want and doing it predictably are not the way to greater negotiation results.  And nothing will change unless this gentleman changes his approach.  There's a saying that goes something like "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."  This very much applies to negotiation.

The advice I provided to this gentleman was much of what I wrote in the article.  I hope that it helps him.  And, if you're in a similar situation, I hope that it helps you.  If you're not in that situation, I hope that it serves as a reminder to continuing thinking of new ways to approach negotiations, even for spend as seemingly insignificant as your spot buys.

Look, even if each spot buy order is only $2,000, if you save an extra $250 or so per day on your spot buys by applying the simple things you learned in the article, you can almost justify your salary on spot buy cost savings alone!

To Your Career Success,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Co-Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

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What Takes Longer: Training Cats and Dogs or Implementing a Procurement Solution?

Greg Uhrlen 7/14/2014 4:56:00 PM

Cats and Dogs

Have you ever tried to train a cat or dog?  Was your pet agreeable and quickly learned the desired behaviors?  Or did you have to pay for someone else to train (your dog) or just give up (your/my cat)?  Multiply that frustration by 101 and you now know the pain of a system rollout or implementation for most organizations.

So, leaving out the overall costs involved (that’s a whole different blog post!) how long does it take to implement software, SaaS, or cloud-based procurement solutions?

While this is a rather broad question, it is one of great importance.  I’ve witnessed firsthand the distractions involved with large ERP and CRM rollouts, the worst being a disastrous ERP implementation.  For the better part of 14 months, our entire corporate office (an energy company) was at the mercy of multiple outside consultants.  The accidental deletion of a critical financial database without a working backup was the straw that broke the camel’s back and chased the very expensive implementation team out the door permanently.

According to Aestiva Software, a basic software-based procurement system requires four to eight weeks for installation from specification stage to final deployment.  Even though this is considered a basic procurement system, I find this to be extremely aggressive. It does not necessarily take into consideration the size and skill set of the IT department at the client site.

Now, SaaS and cloud solutions offer much greater flexibility and security from such incidents as above, but they still can potentially put your business in a state of flux if you have not properly assessed and prepared for such an implementation.

Procurement Implementation Done Right

Recently, Maher Zebib, Vice President - Procurement at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, stated that their procurement technology, “jumped from software-based to straight into the cloud”.  Zebib added, “The decision was based on many factors, but the best thing was the speed of deployment”.  Using an Ariba procurement solution, it took Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank only eight days from the signing of the contract to running their first tender in the cloud. 

I would suggest there were vast resources available from both Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Ariba to make this solution come to fruition so quickly and successfully.  However, I think the most important comment Zebib made was in regards to customization:

“Keep it out of the box.  Don’t try and customize - the more you customize, the more you spend time and work drags on. Take the solution as is - configure it to your needs - but don’t try and customize. These are usually best-in-class solutions.”

Why "We're Unique" Doesn't Matter

The comment “we’re unique” has come from the mouth of every CEO or leadership stakeholder I have ever spoken to.  But, is your business “so unique” that it is worth the pain and misery of a customized solution?  My answer is a definite NO!  Regardless of all the time, effort and money spent customizing, you will still find people having to do workarounds for certain procedures somewhere down the road and sooner rather than later.

We here at the Next Level Purchasing Association would love for you to share your stories of the implementation of your procurement solution. Whether it was lightning fast and smooth sailing (hurray for you!) or worthy of a Lifetime Sunday night movie, we’d love to hear from you!

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Video: Your Invitation To The NLPA Conference - Where Procurement MVP's Are Made!

Charles Dominick 7/8/2014 4:20:00 PM

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NLPA Vendor Review: GEP Takes a SMART Approach to Procurement

Greg Uhrlen 7/7/2014 4:56:00 PM

SMART by GEPWhen a software vendor describes their product as “artfully designed and visually appealing”, my exaggeration detector is immediately activated.  Those are some mighty bold words to throw around in a world where many “modern” software, SaaS, or cloud offerings look like they were built from a nightmarish 1990’s GeoCities template that was virtually impossible to navigate.  

Fortunately, there are no such worries with SMART by GEP.  GEP has built an aesthetically pleasing, fluid to navigate and, most importantly, powerhouse full procurement suite that can be implemented into a large enterprise with relative ease as it is a device agnostic cloud solution.

GEP focuses on 3 areas of procurement:  procurement software, procurement services and procurement strategy.  Today, we will be focusing on the procurement software piece of GEP’s business which is called SMART by GEP. 

According to GEP, SMART by GEP is, “optimized for mobile computing and is the first and only comprehensive sourcing and procurement platform native to cloud, mobile and touch technologies.”  

Currently, SMART by GEP is available on the IOS platform.  GEP estimates that it will be available on the Android and Microsoft platforms later in 2014.

Tablet View SMART by GEPIn terms of being a procurement solution, SMART by GEP is a true suite, encompassing spend analysis, sourcing, contract management, eProcurement and supplier management.  Unlike other self-proclaimed procurement “suites” in the market that have one powerhouse module and only the most basic of capabilities in other modules, GEP’s solution possesses extremely strong capabilities in each of these modules.  

SMART by GEP has a fluid, seamless interface between its modules, giving the users the ability to “Flip to RFx” items on a contract and being able to place orders from items sourced through an RFx.  All the modules with SMART by GEP can talk to each other.

The GUI for SMART by GEP is very pleasing to eye with smooth fonts, appropriately contrasting colors and easy to read charts and graphs across desktop, tablet and mobile phone devices.  It is also a very process-oriented system, with chevrons (>) along the top of the various screens, guiding the user through each step of the process.  The user has the ability to go back and forth between screens without getting lost in a complex maze of selections.

Within SMART by GEP, suppliers can update particular elements of their information in the buyer’s system.  They have a separate login for each customer, though, because each customer may require different information (e.g., who the sales representative is, etc.).  While this may seem cumbersome to the suppliers, it works to the benefit of the buyers, further ensuring that the information and specifications they receive match their particular requirements.

The Supplier Performance Assessment form can more than adequately capture and report on the performance measures that every procurement department should use.  Its ability to be customized enables well-educated purchasing professionals to capture and store the wealth of information necessary to make informed decisions.

eProcurement capabilities in the market have matured and GEP certainly has all of the requisite capabilities necessary for an enterprise-based system.   The spend analysis capabilities are quite good with robust drag-and-drop customization and drill down features, way beyond the standard reports that others try to pass off as “spend analysis”.

While the spend analysis capabilities are quite good, there is room for further development so that procurement strategists can identify sourcing, savings, supplier rationalization, and other opportunities more quickly.  You are able to analyze spend from specific line items to enterprise-wide views in a single click.  GEP did share some plans that indicated a very strong vision for future versions.

The contract management module is everything one would want in such a module, with ability to employ templates, author collaboratively (between procurement, legal, sales and key stakeholders), compare versions, work offline, and more.  This central contract repository allows for an unlimited number of documents/versions, regardless of size.

SMART by GEP Platforms
GEP partnered with Hubwoo in the past year to utilize Hubwoo’s network of one million suppliers.  While GEP claimed that this partnership would facilitate procurement organizations’ access to any of those suppliers’ catalogs through the eProcurement module using list prices, I don’t think that the total value to procurement organizations of this partnership is 100% clear at this point in time.   

The sourcing module in SMART by GEP allows for users to rate prospective suppliers on multiple criteria with multiple weighting capabilities.  This feature really caught my attention as it gives the user the power to develop complex measurements and then save these scorecards to compare against other weighted criteria developed by themselves or another co-worker within the SMART by GEP system as opposed to cobbling together multiple spreadsheets or hand-written documents.  This flexibility enables stakeholder collaboration and excellent supplier ratings summaries with easy drilldown into user-by-user rating details wherever they are situated throughout the world. 

It additionally had an impressive interface that allowed the user to configure different views of supplier performance trends over time. 

Large organizations are typically not satisfied with having just one great procurement technology module – they want them all!  In years past, these organizations would have to engage with separate vendors for their sourcing, eProcurement, spend analysis and other tech needs in order to have the best tools available.  With its impressive development and organic growth over the years, GEP makes a compelling argument that large organizations may be able to get all the tech functionality they need for all areas of procurement from just one vendor.  For more information, visit GEP at

Greg Uhrlen
Marketing Manager
Next Level Purchasing Association
1315 Coraopolis Heights Rd, Suite 1001
Moon Township, PA 15108 

Phone: 1-412-262-1334

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Procurement Software Solutions: Never Assume You Know What You Want Before You Start Looking

Charles Dominick 7/2/2014 4:14:00 PM

I hope that you enjoyed the article, "10 Types of Procurement Software, Part II."

In preparing to write this two-part series and taking a fresh look at the offerings of software providers, one distinction between providers became clear:  there are two types of "combination solutions" and "complete suites."  One type is the solution/suite that has one really strong module and is weak in all other modules.  The other type is the solution/suite that is solid in all modules.

So, many times, software buyers will assume that they should go with one provider who "does it all."  The risk is that they will sell themselves short and not get the quality of capabilities they really need by allowing this self-imposed constraint to guide their selections.  If they would let themselves deploy, say, a best-of-breed contract management solution from one provider along side a sourcing solution from a different provider, they could really get the best of both worlds.

Of course, there are suites that have strength across the board.  But you may find that the cost of these power suites is more than you can handle.  Or you may not. 

In my mind, the key is to go into the software buy with an open mind.  Cast a wide net.  Then, whittle down your options as you compare capabilities, cost, provider stability, and more.  Don't block yourself from even seeing options that you may learn to like.

To Your Career Success,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Co-Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

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On This Day In Procurement History...

Charles Dominick 7/1/2014 3:26:00 PM

On this day ten years ago - July 1, 2004 - a bold move forever changed the way that procurement professionals get educated and become qualified for advancement.  The Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA), then simply known as Next Level Purchasing, launched the Senior Professional in Supply Management® (SPSM®) Certification that day.

In the 3-1/2 years of our existence prior to then, we simply provided online training for procurement professionals.  But there were some things that we kept hearing over and over from procurement professionals who completed our training.  Things like:  "I learned so much in these six courses, I should be certified" and "Your educational material is so much better than [the other guys']."

So, we decided to give that certification thing a try.

Today, 10 years later, the SPSM® Certification has become the most globally-recognized procurement certification, having been earned by procurement professionals in over 90 countries around the world.  The SPSM® Certification has become, and is increasingly becoming, a requirement in many procurement job descriptions.  People tell us over and over again that the SPSM® Certification is the best procurement certification available.

But despite this success, we never rested on our laurels.  This is perhaps best evidenced in our announcement last week, when we launched the Strategic Procurement & Supply Management Body of KnowledgeTM (SPSM-BOKTM) and revealed our plans to expand the SPSM® Family of Certifications from three (SPSM®, SPSM2® and SPSM3TM) to four (adding the SPSM4TM), truly giving procurement professionals the comprehensive portfolio of education they need for their entire careers.

We're doing some exciting things to celebrate the SPSM's 10th anniversary - a landmark day in procurement history.

We have added a Pinterest profile at

We have added an Instagram profile at

And on all of our social media including these two new profiles, today we are debuting our "SPSM-BOKTM Memes."  Most of us who spend any amount of time on social media are familiar with memes - those pictures that have text added and get shared among online friends.

As a cutting-edge organization, we think that memes can also be a great way to proliferate procurement education in today's world.  So, our SPSM-BOKTM Memes will each feature a photo with its text being an educational excerpt from the SPSM-BOKTM.

Each SPSM-BOKTM Meme will feature a bible-esque "chapter and verse" citation in the format firstnumber-letter:secondnumber (e.g., 1A:1).  The first number will correspond to the "level" of the SPSM-BOKTM (1 through 4).  The letter will reference one of the 18 "competencies" of the SPSM-BOKTM (A through R).  The second number will reference the lesson (1 through 8) of the online course for the applicable competency.

But today is not as much about us, as it is about you - the procurement professional.  Why the NLPA does what we do day-in and day-out is to help you grow and get closer and closer to reaching your potential.

Before founding the NLPA, I sat in your chair as a procurement professional.  I encountered the same challenges you do.  I know how you feel when things go wrong and I've experienced the glory that you can achieve when you succeed in this challenging profession.  I think of you every day.  I lead my team to focus with laser-like precision on making your life easier, giving you the resources you need to succeed, and providing you with the skills and qualifications that will get you where you want to go in your procurement career.

So, rather than simply celebrating the wildly successful 10 years of the SPSM® Certification, I also want to raise a toast to you for all of your hard work in procurement.  I hope that, on the SPSM's 20th anniversary in 2024, we can celebrate how far you've come in 10 years and that, in some way, the SPSM® Family of Certifications contributed to your success.

Thank you for being the motivation behind 10 years of building the world's best procurement certification - the SPSM®!

To Your Career Success,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Co-Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

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Mobile Procurement Security - Can You Afford the Risk?

Greg Uhrlen 7/1/2014 1:52:00 PM

My goal today is to make you squirm.  I want you to feel a little uneasy.  Most importantly, I want you to think, hard, about a subject with the questions I am about to ask.

The questions I pose to you are these: 

  • What happens if you are the unlucky person who loses their mobile device at the airport, at the gym, or at the office? 
  • Will you miss your electronic tether immediately or will the freedom from rings, dings and, vibrations take you back to a simpler time in your life? 
  • Will your phone end up being sold at a pawn shop? 
  • Will someone steal your personal information? 
  • Will someone who isn’t your biggest fan at the office place and approve a 3 million dollar order with a specialty steel plant in China? 

Do you think such incidents could not possibly happen to you?
I'm afraid I've got some bad news!  

Bad News Barrett (Copyright WWE)

According to the 2014 Consumer Reports infographic shown below, 1.4 million people lost their smart phone in 2013 up from 1.2 million 2012.  However, a more chilling tale is that 3.1 million smart phones were stolen in 2013 up from 1.6 million in 2012. 

ConsumerReports infographic where is my smart phone

So approximately 4.5 million smart phones were lost or stolen in 2013 and of those, according to the ConsumerReports survey, 34% of these phones had no security measures activated on the device whatsoever.

Mobile Procurement on the Rise

Now these are some very sobering statistics, but wait a minute, I have some more numbers that should make you, as a procurement professional, think even harder:

According to an article on that quotes a 2013 study by AnPresence, Inc. based out of Reston, VA, “31.5 percent of respondents have deployed or will deploy mobile apps for procurement, among other functions, in the next 12 months. An equal proportion will do the same with apps for supply chain partners and shipping and distribution”.

So think about this topic in very rough estimates, approximately 1/3 of all businesses will be utilizing mobile apps for procurement by the end of 2014.

Now, chances are if you are using mobile procurement apps, you are needed to review and approve purchases when you are out of the office.  Perhaps you are a road warrior or work between multiple buildings on a large campus.

It would be nice to assume that a mobile procurement app requires the user to login anytime the app hasn’t been used for x amount of minutes.  The reality is that many people don’t want to be bothered logging in and out constantly (guilty as charged here) and find their own ways around it. Thus, this creates yet another layer of security risk. 

Mitigating Risk

So, armed with all the data presented here today, it is your turn to ask, no, make that insist, your procurement software or cloud provider answers, in detail, some serious questions about the security features built into their mobile apps.  

If you are not sure which questions to ask, get your Information Technology team out of that freezing server room and get them involved in the process. (Believe me; they will appreciate the chance to offer their input!).  

Refuse to accept answers that skirt your line of questioning and probe deeper when you feel the answers are clichéd and thin on content.  That way, you’ll sleep much better at night!  Don’t risk being on the receiving end of the blame when your stolen phone places and approves a 3 million dollar order.

Greg Uhrlen
Marketing Manager
Next Level Purchasing Association
1315 Coraopolis Heights Rd, Suite 1001
Moon Township, PA 15108
Phone: 1-412-262-1334

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The SPSM-BOK: How Procurement Professional Development Just Got More Strategic

Charles Dominick 6/27/2014 4:10:00 PM

Most procurement professionals go through their careers learning a little of this and a little of that throughout each year of their careers.  While any type of continuous learning is helpful, this "issue of the moment" approach to professional development in procurement is far from strategic.

It's time for a change.

If you've always wanted an approach to procurement professional development that takes a long-term, big-picture view, you're in luck!  Yesterday, the Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA) introduced the Strategic Procurement & Supply Management Body of KnowledgeTM, or SPSM-BOKTM for short.

The SPSM-BOKTM is a collection of educational materials and documented best practices designed to help you succeed in procurement.  The SPSM-BOKTM is organized into four "levels," and each level is comprised of 4-6 "competencies" required for success at that level.

The educational materials of the SPSM-BOKTM are accessed through online courses offered exclusively by the NLPA.  Mastery of each level is validated via the SPSM® Family of Certifications:

  • The SPSM® Certification validates mastery of the SPSM-BOKTM Level 1
  • The SPSM2® Certification validates mastery of the SPSM-BOKTM Level 2
  • The SPSM3TM Certification validates mastery of the SPSM-BOKTM Level 3
  • The SPSM4TM Certification validates mastery of the SPSM-BOKTM Level 4
By providing the SPSM-BOKTM, the NLPA has given you a veritable roadmap for professional development in procurement.  You will have a clear picture of what competencies to develop, in which order, and can plan in a more organized way than ever.  You can set goals by answering questions such as:
  • What level of procurement excellence do I aspire to?
  • By when do I want to achieve mastery of each level?
  • What competencies will I have mastered when I get to the level to which I aspire?
If you feel that it is time for you to take a more strategic approach to the professional development of yourself or your procurement team, here's a next step.  Download the SPSM-BOKTM Framework from the NLPA home page:

Welcome to a new era in procurement professional development!

To Your Career Success,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Co-Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

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NLPA Vendor Review: Puridiom eProcurement is Solid Where it Counts

Greg Uhrlen 6/23/2014 5:00:00 PM

Based out of Mechanicsburg, PA, Technical Services Associates (TSA), better known today as Puridiom, has been serving their clients by specializing in procurement software for over 30 years.  Puridiom’s customers include Mutual of America, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, Western & Southern Financial Group and Kroger.  Puridiom has clients with 5 users to 40,000 users and the organization has been recognized by Gartner Reports, Supply Demand Chain Executive and Ardent Partners.

Puridiom is named after their eProcurement software suite which we recently had the chance to demo courtesy of Dennis Toohey, Puridiom’s Director Procurement Solutions.

Puridiom eProcurement has a look and feel, while retaining superior functionality.  While Puridiom’s eProcurement solution won’t win any awards for aesthetic beauty within its software GUI, it is very easy to navigate, especially thanks to the clickable, numbered workflow on the screen at all times during most processes.  Having worked with many complicated ERP systems in the past, we can’t stress enough how convenient and helpful having eProcurement’s labeled workflow available on-screen is. It allows you to easily review workflow processes and make changes as you go along without getting yourself lost in a complicated maze of screens.

A huge plus Puridiom eProcurement offers is integration that fits easily into a customer’s ERP or HR system, allowing for a single set of data to be used.  Thus, Puridiom eProcurement works with the customers current data without the need for a separate, standalone database.  This type of real-time availability from a single data source is a great selling point of Puridiom eProcurement.

The user doesn’t have to worry which cost center they are in or particular commodity codes.  Business rules interact with the AP/ERP system, which can be checked against a cost center or budget.  These budgets are loaded by a spreadsheet, web service or regular interaction.

Puridiom offers a supplier portal where potential vendors can be searched for by various criteria, including commodity code.  Buyers are able to easily convert an approved requisition into a sourcing event or order.  The sourcing capabilities includes a reverse auction option, with supplier notifications routed through the system.

While Puridiom does maintain relationships with a network of suppliers that they make available to their buying organization clients, the suppliers are always chosen by the buyers.  These buyer-selected suppliers can then sign up to be included within Puridiom’s catalog offerings free of charge to the supplier.  Suppliers can self-register on the supplier portal and manage their own particular settings and codes such as Walmart certification, W-9, insurance certifications, etc.

According to Toohey, Puridiom eProcurement  is “a fully auditable ‘procure-to-pay system’ and very much a spend management system”, used to control administrative spending or services.  The audit trail includes tracking by user, date, time and IP Address.  He further elaborates that, “every good or service that is being requested and acquired in the system is trackable, traceable and reportable in a variety of different ways for everyone within the organization (with the appropriate permissions) from the requester, to the buyer, to AP and to management”.  Toohey believes the high levels of visibility, intervention and control based on these analytics are a big difference between Puridiom and other spend management systems. 

Configurable workflows are permissible depending on how customers want to enforce control of spending from requesting, approving, procurement and review by the legal department through contract stages.

The goals of the Puridiom eProcurement system include:

·         replacing manual processes
·         achieving procurement best practices
·         gaining efficiencies
·         reducing maverick spending
·         changing operation processes to support policies, procedures and controls
·         aligning procurement, AP and operations
·         allowing customers to collaborate with suppliers  

Overall, we view the Puridiom eProcurement system as a “source-to-pay” system with a strong eProcurement component and basic sourcing capabilities. 

Puridiom eProcurement also has many reports available and those reports are highly configurable, which is especially useful for executives who love to run detailed, unique reports.

Puridiom is ahead of the curve of some of its competitors by offering Puridiom Mobile, an app that allows the user to approve requests, order, acknowledge receipts and enter invoices from their mobile device.  This app is offered for Apple and Android devices.

The use of a real-time single data source is a huge win in our book.  By offering this flexibility to integrate with any ERP or HR system, Puridiom sets themselves apart from many vendors (beyond the procurement realm) who are unable to offer such seamless integration

By far, our favorite part of the system was the numbered workflow on the screen at all times during most processes.  At the end of the day, eProcurement is all about achieving compliance with procurement policies.  And achieving compliance is all about making things easy for the end user.  We think Puridiom eProcurement is solid where it counts in the areas between “req” and “check.”

Greg Uhrlen
Marketing Manager
Next Level Purchasing Association
1315 Coraopolis Heights Rd, Suite 1001
Moon Township, PA 15108
Phone: 1-412-262-1334

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NLPA "Conference Preview" Webinar - June 30

Charles Dominick 6/19/2014 7:29:00 PM

The second annual NLPA Conference is fast approaching!  The NLPA Conference, with its “Where Procurement MVP’s Are Made!” theme, is sure to be a valuable, educational and entertaining procurement conference like no other (except our first one, which absolutely rocked)!

This “NLPA Conference Preview” webinar will feature a selection of speakers from the conference who will provide brief and educational excerpts from their presentations.  You’ll get a taste of the high-quality presentations you can expect at the conference.  The topics on this webinar include procurement project management, supplier relationship management, and winning over stakeholders.

Whether you are (a) already registered for September’s NLPA Conference (in Pittsburgh, PA) and are excited to begin learning soon, (b) considering registering for the conference but want to evaluate the value of the conference first, or (c) can’t attend the conference but would like to get at least some glimpse of its educational content, this webinar should not be missed!

This webinar will be held on Monday June 30, 2014 at 11:30AM Eastern US time. This webinar is open to all members of the NLPA and a Basic Membership in the NLPA is instant and doesn't cost a cent! Here's how to secure your attendance for the webinar: 

If you're already an NLPA member: Head over to, log into the members' area, and navigate to the "Webinars" tab. There you'll find a registration link, be sure to enter a valid email address as attendance details will be sent to you by email.

If you're not yet an NLPA member: Register for your complimentary Basic Membership in the Next Level Purchasing Association at After doing so, you'll receive an email with information about how to log in. After logging in, navigate to the "Webinars" tab. There you'll find a registration link, be sure to enter a valid email address as attendance details will be sent to you by email.

Registration may be limited, so sign up soon to ensure access to this event. I hope that you will join me for this exciting webinar!

To Your Career Success,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Co-Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

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Self-Motivation For Procurement Professionals

Charles Dominick 6/18/2014 9:30:00 AM

Procurement is a rewarding job.  You get to work in a fast-paced profession, creatively solve problems, and have a measurable impact on the success of your employer.

Procurement is also a challenging job.  Sometimes, you feel caught in the middle of suppliers who just can't get the right thing done and internal customers who seem impossible to please.

Procurement can wear you down over time.  "Back in the day," people used to cruise into retirement in procurement.  Today, only the strong can survive.

So, how do you keep yourself motivated when the going gets tough?

I recommend always reminding yourself "why you do this."

In other words, why do you choose to get out of bed and drive to work where you do?

The knee-jerk response to that question is "for the paycheck."  But look beyond that.

What makes that paycheck worth it?

Everyone's answer will be different.  I'll share the things that motivate me to show up every day and do what I do.

First, it's the love of helping others.  I spent many years in procurement departments.  I helped my employers.  I helped my subordinates.  I helped my peers.  I helped my management.  I helped my internal customers.  But I had a hunger to help as many people as possible with my work, so I left that environment to found Next Level Purchasing and teach procurement professionals in over 100 countries around the world - people just like me, doing the same work and facing the same challenges.

Second, it's the joy of giving employment to others.  This was an unexpected benefit of being an entrepreneur.  But, now that I see what entrepreneurship can do for others, it's pretty darn cool.  Knowing that I can provide a way for others to earn a living, to provide for their families, to prepare themselves for retirement, to treat themselves to the occasional luxury whatever that means to's heartwarming to know that one person's ideas can result in the financial security of many others.

Finally, it's knowing I can provide for my own family.  Sunday was Father's Day.  On that day, I got to reflect on how lucky I am to be a dad, and an entrepreneurial dad.  To know that I can raise my kids in a safe neighborhood, to know that they will have meals when they need them, to have the faith that I can some day fund their higher education so that they can pursue their  I know that there are plenty of children in third-world countries that don't even have what we consider necessities for survival.  And I feel fortunate.  Not for myself so much, but for my children so that they have never known such suffering.

Talking about my kids, as a proud papa, I have to share the "Procurement Preschool" videos they did some time ago...

That's why I go to work.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to think about what having your procurement job really does for you and your life.  It may make that supplier's faux pas not so aggravating, that internal customer not so unreasonable, and that boss not so...bossy.

All the best to you my friends!

To Your Career Success,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Co-Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

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The Evolution of Procurement Software

Charles Dominick 6/17/2014 9:30:00 AM

I hope that you have enjoyed the article, "10 Types of Procurement Software, Part I."

I didn't realize it, but it had been almost nine years since I had done my last PurchTips exploring the broad procurement software landscape.  That was with an article entitled "Spend Management Technology Trends," and featured some quotes from another procurement blog survivor and colleague of mine, Jason Busch of Spend Matters.

Though I have written articles about different types of individual procurement solutions, such as eProcurement and eSourcing, today's article was the first to cover the broader procurement technology market.  Back in June 2005, there were only about four major subsets of the procurement software market worth covering:  eProcurement, eSourcing, Spend Analytics (now more commonly referred to as Spend Analysis), and Supplier Management.  Today, in 2014, there are at least the 10 that I'll be covering in this two part series.

With this view, it is a beautiful thing that innovation continues with a full head of steam in the procurement profession.  Ours isn't the sexiest profession on Earth, but there isn't a lack of bright-minded tech entrepreneurs giving us better ways to get procurement work done.

Kudos to all of the innovators mentioned in the article!

To Your Career Success,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Co-Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

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Buyers Now Have More Excel Training Options Than Ever!

Charles Dominick 6/13/2014 9:30:00 AM

Here at the Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA), we are always updating and improving our purchasing training offerings.  We recently made a change to our Excel training that we think you may be excited about!

First, we revised our popular full-length course, Microsoft Excel For Purchasing Professionals.  Specifically, we added a full lesson on macros.  Macros are little programs that you can create to automate repetitively-done tasks.  In a procurement context, this means that you can free up time spent on clerical/tactical procurement work and use that time on more strategic procurement work.

Second, in order to make room for the lesson on macros, we took the most basic material from Microsoft Excel For Purchasing Professionals and made it into its own, brand new Express Course just launched yesterday:  Excel Basics For Buyers.  Excel Basics For Buyers is designed to get inexperienced Excel users in the procurement profession up to speed quickly with the terminology, foundational techniques, and eternally-used fundamental principles of Excel so that they can do the basics and be prepared for learning more advanced techniques later, if they choose.

These developments underscore a few of the philosophies of the NLPA that differentiate us from other sources of purchasing training:  we update and improve our education and certification material constantly as the business world changes (not every 6-8 years like some others, ahem) and we focus on practical, real-world applications of skills  (not broad, academic concepts written by professors who have never worked a day in their lives in a procurement department).

We hope that whatever level of Excel skills you seek, we can provide you with exactly what you want to learn.

To Your Career Success,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Co-Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At


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Seven Keys to Better Sourcing and Supplier Relationships

Greg Uhrlen 6/12/2014 3:40:00 PM

Today's guest blog post comes from Roshnee Mistry who works with the content leadership team of Zycus. 

In today’s competitive global scenario, to a large extent suppliers are your cornerstone to success. To remain competitive, it becomes necessary to source from the correct supplier. According to the Key Issues Study 2014 by the Hackett Group, 96% and 73% of respondents respectively were planning for investments in strategic sourcing and supplier relationship management programs to help meet their procurement objectives.

The modern CPO understands the impact suppliers and sourcing strategy can have on the operational efficiency of the business. No wonder improving collaboration with suppliers is one of the top three agendas for the CPO (43%) according to the 2014 study conducted by Ardent Partners. The other two agendas are to improve business collaboration (50%) and to improve the use of technology (45%).

With the significance of these responses in mind, let’s discuss the seven keys that can help you better your sourcing strategy and improve supplier relationships.

Key 1: Know your Spend
Procurement has come a long way, from tactical to being strategic, from being the purchasing department to the CPOs reaching C-level in the organization. Having said that, procurement can’t be strategic if there is lack of visibility in organization-wide spend – what is the organization buying, who is it buying from and at what terms?  An accounting department that doesn’t understand the reporting standards, or a sales team that doesn’t have a sales pipeline, are considered inept. Similarly, a procurement team with lack of visibility is not efficient.

So why is knowing your spend important? For starters, it helps procurement take action by making informed choices, identifying savings opportunities, discovering the big-spend suppliers and improving allocation of resources. Organizations today manage roughly 60% of their total spend. So with the remaining 40%, there is a vast pool of opportunity that is yet to be tapped.

Procurement can and should make use of the available spend technology to mine the data and use analytics to better manage the 60% spend, and tap into the remaining 40% of unmanaged spend.

Key 2: Engage Sooner
At what juncture procurement engages in the sourcing process, matters. According to the Bristol Myers Squibb analysis of 100 Sales and Marketing Projects “High-hanging fruit” by Anne Millen Porter, Purchasing Magazine, the figure shows the different levels of savings that were achieved, depending on the time procurement engaged in the sourcing project.

The earlier procurement engages in the sourcing cycle, the higher the savings. According to a survey carried out in a recently held SIG webinar for procurement professionals, 32% confirmed that procurement “often” engages in the sourcing process up-front before a supplier has been selected.
So how does procurement engage sooner? What are the strategies that can be used to communicate to the budget holder the importance of procurement’s requirement to engage sooner?

Procurement can participate sooner in the sourcing cycle by participating in the meetings of sourcing staff in specific departments or business units. This allows the procurement team to develop personal and professional relationships, to build trust and to communicate with the sourcing team, so they can understand the needs of the procurement team and react appropriately.

Key 3: Tighter Specifications
One of the benefits of early engagement is the ability to build and rationalize end user specifications. No organization wants to continue manufacturing products that are not in sync with the current market demands. Before inviting supplier bids for the new project or for that product component, it would serve the organization better if the procurement and sourcing team got a chance to analyze the product/service market. Better understanding of the business need and the use allows for opportunities for the procurement and sourcing teams to add value to the process. The team could send RFIs to suppliers and get their feedback on the current trends and new ways or approaches that are being adopted for a specific item or service.

Research like this would ensure the end product/service specifications are exactly what the consumer is expecting.

Key 4: Better Upfront Communication
Better upfront communication, to a large extent, translates into better sourcing and supplier management. Markets are moving fast which means that the incumbent supplier may not be the one to always rely on. Innovation and competition is driving the shift in the industries. The sourcing team needs to ensure that they are engaging with the best qualified bidders. Thus it’s important to have a structured RFP process with clear-cut, simple communication – what you want, when and how you want it, and how you are going to evaluate the supplier bid. Often the sourcing professionals use RFPs that are old and not in sync with the current project requirements, resulting in incorrect information submission by the suppliers. Technology can avoid such a scenario by helping procurement standardize and centralize the RFP process.

Key 5: Efficient Evaluations
One of the things that should be communicated upfront to the suppliers is “how are you going to evaluate them?” and the time frame for performing the evaluation. From the vendor’s perspective, one of the most exasperating things is to fill in the RFP/RFI, send it to the client and wait for client’s response to find out where the vendor stands in the bidding process.

The sourcing team which has to make a decision should have a plan, a general framework for the turn-around time to evaluate the bids, for evaluation criteria, and most importantly, what the organization is looking for. The plan should be well-defined, upfront and put out to suppliers during the RFP stage. The sourcing team should also get the stakeholders together to make an early decision regarding the supplier bids. This shows that the organization is respectful of the supplier’s time and efforts. Suppliers add value to the company and so it’s important not to disappoint them.

Key 6: Warm Welcome
The reason for awarding the contract to a particular supplier is that both parties find value in the alliance. Once the award is made, and both the supplier and the procurement team have gotten through the sourcing, negotiation and contracting stages, it’s time for a warm on-boarding process that is cognizant of the supplier’s requirements.

It doesn't have to be sending flowers to your suppliers, but perhaps a standardized note acknowledging that they are an asset to the organization. A warm welcome takes a step back and resets the conversation that may have gone askew during the negotiation or contracting stage. It’s important to do so because the winning supplier could be your partner for the next 5 years or for that important new project. Or the one you’re going to heavily rely on for innovating and driving value. Simple etiquettes like these go a long way in building a successful supplier relationship/partnership.

Key 7: Proactive and Ongoing Supplier Outreach
Companies today are operating in a competitive landscape. It’s more like the supply chain of one company competing with another. In times like these, it’s important for the organization to keep the dialogue going with its supplier/s on a regular basis. For instance, LG has a global supplier day to reinforce the fact that they think of their suppliers not just as providers of items/services but also as strategic partners.

Similarly, organizations need to show they value the suppliers and their expertise. Organizations can do so by giving suppliers an idea of the product road map and how suppliers can fit into the vision of the company.

Companies can regularly track supplier performance against the pre-decided KPIs and help suppliers improve if the performance is lacking, or collaborate with them to innovate. According to a survey carried out in a recently held SIG webinar for procurement professionals, 43% confirmed that procurement measures supplier performance (score carding) on a “Quarterly” basis.

There are many ways of forging a better sourcing strategy and building supplier relationships, and they are not limited to the 7 keys discussed here. What’s important is to have visibility into the organization-wide spend and to engage with suppliers in a proactive way, sharing with and building trust with them.

Roshnee Mistry
 from Zycus
 regularly writes on procurement-trends and best practices, sometimes taking the off beat path to bring in a fresh perspective.  She also drives the branding activities of her company.

In her free time she enjoys hot cuppa coffee with the latest fiction book.

She is an MBA in Marketing and a commerce graduate.

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How to Supercharge Your Procurement Resume: 3 Quick Tips from a Procurement Recruiter

Greg Uhrlen 6/10/2014 5:15:00 PM

This guest blog post comes from Argentus Talent Acquisition, a specialized recruitment agency in the areas of Procurement, Supply Chain, Logistics, Distribution, Operations and Planning.

As a recruitment firm that specializes in Procurement, a big part of what we do at Argentus is helping candidates craft effective resumes that brand themselves as strategic, skilled professionals. Over the years, we’ve built up quite a bit of Procurement-specific resume advice that we offer our candidates. We’re very pleased for the opportunity to share some of that advice with the Next Level Purchasing blog readership!

Hiring managers see dozens of resumes for any given position. It’s well-known that they typically give a resume less than 30 seconds of their attention before making a decision. That means that, as a candidate, you have to make an impression FAST. But how do you achieve this when writing a Procurement resume?

1.       Think in terms of accomplishments, not “duties.”
This is the biggest piece of advice we give to Procurement professionals in our network. Procurement is becoming a much more strategic function than in the past, and hiring managers want to see the strategic and cross-functional value that you provide to your team, not just your ability to execute a series of assigned tasks. So you don’t want your resume to read like a job description, and you don’t want to come across as a transactional “caretaker” employee.

When writing your resume, don’t think about what your “responsibilities” were in each role. Instead think about what you delivered. What cost-savings initiatives did you implement? How much did those initiatives save? What are some examples of your particular successes with vendor management? What negotiations did you participate in and what was the result?

 This type of approach shows that you’re both passionate about your career growth and able to speak to your strengths. So many hiring managers look at a resume and see lots of description, but no concrete information they can take into an interview. But an accomplishment-based resume puts your successes in the spotlight.

2.       Make sure you identify your category expertise:
This one is straightforward. Many Buyers and Category Managers neglect to include their category expertise on a resume or social media profile, hoping to avoid being pigeonholed in one category (for example Professional Services, Real Estate, Marketing, etc). But omitting this information makes it harder for a hiring manager to evaluate your experience. And if you neglect to mention the categories you’ve worked in on Social Media, you won’t appear in hiring managers’/recruiters’ searches for that category!

3.       Consider including a “Fast Facts” for each position you’ve held with relevant metrics:Procurement is a numbers game, and hiring managers love to see metrics. It helps them evaluate the scope of your previous roles. For example, what was your spend? How many suppliers did you work with? If you’ve managed inventory, how many SKUs did you manage? If you managed other people, how many direct reports did you have? These key metrics show your career progression and responsibilities in a way that makes an instant impact. In your resume, think about even including a sidebar for each job that includes these vital stats at a glance. 

There’s so much more to say in terms of how you can craft a resume and brand yourself for Procurement success, but hopefully that’s enough to get you started. Please feel free to head on over to Argentus’ blog which offers Personal Branding and resume tips to help you land that great next Procurement Job! 

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