Next Level Purchasing

Procurement Trends That Become Procurement Goals

Charles Dominick 9/30/2014 3:21:00 AM

I hope that you have enjoyed the article, "Procurement Trends Today, Goals Tomorrow."

Last week, I delivered a presentation at a conference where I went into depth on the very topics covered in the article - the current trends that will be future goals.  I had an interesting question from an attendee at the very end of my presentation.

She asked:  "Because you've been in procurement a while, what previous trends have you seen turn into goals?"

I've obviously seen more than I had time to mention but, reflecting on what procurement looked like in the mid-90's, here are a few that I squeezed in...

  • Reverse auctions as a percentage of sourcing events (this has since gotten less frequently used as people have realized that reverse auctions are only appropriate for a subset of all sourcing opportunities)
  • Outsourced/offshored/global spend as a percentage of total spend
  • Percentage of compliance with eProcurement system usage
  • Procurement transactions completed by offshore contractors
  • GPO use that replaces unmanaged spend
  • Pcards (which, last year, I predicted would start to see a shift from plastic to digital)
While looking at these trends that became "the standards" since the mid-1990's, I think that the trends brewing today stand to more significantly alter the future of procurement.  It will be exciting to see what the procurement goals of tomorrow are!

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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Mine Untapped Opportunities To Realize P2P ROI

Greg Uhrlen 9/12/2014 9:25:00 PM

We would like to welcome back Roshnee Mistry who works with the content leadership team of Zycus. 

One of procurement’s main functions is to help organisations achieve excellent value from supplier relationships. Top performers deploy holistic purchasing and payables technology platforms to deliver breakthrough results from sourcing, purchasing and invoice processing. 

Deriving operating efficiencies and improving performance of working capital to deliver maximum value to internal business customers is only possible when internal processes and external supply relationships are managed collaboratively.

According to a study conducted by The Hackett Group, “Top-performing purchase-to-pay organizations outperform their peers nearly two-to-one when it comes to efficiency, while also delivering on the higher-level effectiveness objectives of the company. Such objectives include payment strategy optimization, compliance to preferred suppliers, spend visibility and internal compliance and control.”

The current business environment allows little margin for error. Business enterprises must constantly re-evaluate processes and cost structures and align CPOs’ agendas to top corporate priorities. Data shared in a recent white paper by Zycus titled ‘The P2P Payoff: Mining the Untapped Return from Procure-to-Pay’ demonstrates simple ways of maximizing savings opportunities by optimizing P2P processes.

Ø  Make your P2P system the only approved way to buy. By guiding users all the way through procurement processes, compliant buying for can be increased for all indirect purchase categories, boosting potential procurement ROI by a factor of three or more and eliminating maverick spending over time as user acceptance and spend visibility increases. In a service-friendly way, turn off all other order and payment vehicles – make it policy.

Ø  Guide requisition approvers by providing visibility into current budget consumption. Effective P2P systems ensure that all purchases are on-contract and enforce budget control at a line-item level, denying or deferring purchases that are not budgeted and providing complete, real-time visibility into spending versus budget. Such visibility creates individual accountability, engenders proactive management of corporate funds and aids in plugging savings leaks.

Ø  Achieve best-in-class P2P performance by accurately coding and classifying purchase transactions without burdening end uers. An Artificial Intelligence–powered platform assists in eliminating user guesswork, classifying transactions accurately and triggering pre-configured approval workflows, which improves overall P2P usability.

Ø  Streamline requisition-to-order cycles to enable reduced inventory and associated carrying costs. Seamless requisition approval and visibility into order status ensures that all indirect goods and materials can be purchased as and when required. Buying teams can provide outstanding customer service to each business unit and realize exceptional transactional efficiency.

Ø  Eliminate manual invoice processing. Best-in-class invoice processing is achieved only through automation. High first-time match rates feed through to other areas, resulting in greater productivity, lower costs per invoice and larger numbers of invoices paid on time.

Ø  Increase discount capture. Both suppliers and buyers benefit when financial supply chains operate efficiently. Discounting is an effective way for buyers to generate returns on surplus cash and for suppliers to boost cash flow. Automated and accelerated invoice approval cycles enable greater capture of prompt-payment discounts while maintaining appropriate controls.

Ø  Improve spend visibility and enable advanced analytics with P2P automation. Provide insights into suppliers, categories, prices, supply lead-times and contract compliance to promote and maintain strong supplier relationships and to proactively manage supplier performance and improve contract utilization.

Seamless integration of a procure-to-pay automation solutions with existing systems is critical to ROI and employee usability. End-to-end process management approaches are required to transform and realize ROI from automating P2P processes. It is imperative to track successes, report and follow up to prevent leakage and to improve controls and compliance. Corporations must understand that usability, customer centricity and vision are key differentiators for maximizing adoption of P2P systems across organizations.

Each new dollar of spend brought under control can yield significant total cost savings for organizations. As the old adage goes: "A penny saved is a penny earned." Read the whitepaper to learn about more ways to save.

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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A Bellwether of Change for Procurement Departments

Greg Uhrlen 9/11/2014 5:10:00 PM

Are you one of those unfortunate procurement professionals who spend the end of every month putting on your detective coat and becoming a sleuth in a never ending quest to find paper spreadsheets and those who created these monstrous disasters?  If you work for a small to mid-sized organization and are tired of chasing after people every month for their purchase orders, Bellwether Software offers a viable alternative for your business, ePurchasing Management Xtra or ePMX for short.

ePMX is a cloud-based, procure-to-pay system that is really geared towards small to mid-size businesses and is local government-friendly as well.  Dan Ross, VP of Sales & Marketing for Bellwether, said that the typical user counts for their customers are less than 50 end users and 10 procurement department users. 

The current version of the ePMX system does not offer any real-time integration with ERP systems, but can export data to them. The next version of ePMX will allow for integration with Open API’s and is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015.  According to Dan Ross of Bellwether, “the next major version release of ePMX will be a significant upgrade to the current version.  It will include a new UI, notification center, WYSIWYG work flow & approval process builder, and report builder”.  However, current ePMX users are able to import/export data to AP or into an existing ERP system.

While the more recognizable names in the procure-to-pay space target huge customers who want better procurement system performance than their ERP systems are able to provide, Bellwether’s solution is more targeted at smaller organizations who are replacing manual processes with a more formal process that gives them the control over procurement that the big companies already have.

One feature of ePMX that we found appealing was the fact that you are able to only license the actual modules that you will be using as opposed to paying for modules that are irrelevant to your organization.  This is a great cost-savings opportunity for organizations just getting their feet wet in the online procurement world without causing an aversion to due to price.

Bellwether is up-to-speed with the trend of “approvals by email” where no logging into the system from a desktop is required for approvals.  As we often mention, this particular capability can cause stress on IT in terms of security concerns.  With respect to security, Mr. Ross states, “those users on mobile devices still need to log in with a user name and password at least once.  After they authenticate them self once, they can do additional approvals until they log out or the system logs them out.  The client chooses the length of time a user is allowed to be logged into ePMX in the configuration settings based on their security requirements”.

The requisitioning module is fairly simplistic, but also very intuitive. Requisitioners have the ability to PunchOut to a vendor website, select their items and ePMX will download all the order information.  Then they follow the ePMX requisition workflow for approvals and continue the process.  In our opinion, it is impressive that a small company can utilize PunchOut capabilities.

The quotations module does a nice job of organizing and automating the creation of the type of basic RFQ’s that smaller companies do and allows procurement departments to compare bids in a unified location.  It accepts quotations in sealed bid format only – no reverse auctions or dynamic bidding events are facilitated by this particular module.

Even though the graphical user interface doesn’t have a particularly cutting edge look, it is actually pretty pleasing to the eye and thoughtfully designed.  We really like how various records (requisitions, purchase orders, RFQ’s, etc.) can be accessed via dropdown box in the various processes where they are needed. 

Though many eProcurement systems shy away from inventory, ePMX has an inventory module which would prove to be valuable for a smaller company that doesn't want to have to deal with a separate inventory system or worse – inventory kept in an Excel spreadsheet! 

ePMX offers  a very user-friendly help functionality.  Say you are in a particularly deep part of the inventory module and you are unsure of how to handle a particular process; all you have to do is click on the help function and a web page pops open that matches the particular area of the module you are in.  In our opinion, Bellwether hits a home run with this feature as it allows the user to quickly find information as opposed to crafting their own search terminology with respect to what they think their problem is at the present time.  This takes considerable stress away from the user and allows them to finish their tasks at hand much quicker and more efficiently.

Deployment of the Bellwether ePMX system only takes a 3-4 week implementation time frame and is for clients that choose the cloud option.  According to Mr. Ross, “currently 90% of Bellwether clients choose the cloud version.  Only organizations that have extreme security requirements choose the on premise version”.  Mr. Ross further states, “for clients that choose the purchase option for on premise installation, they can expect to add an additional 3-10 business days to the set up process”.  

Overall, Bellwether ePMX offers a great opportunity for smaller companies to professionalize their transactional purchasing process.  It is designed to provide a proven structure to most of the purchasing activities in which smaller companies engage.

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Supply Chain Social Responsibility Is Finally Within Reach

Charles Dominick 9/10/2014 4:00:00 PM

Are you aware of the risks of not having a socially responsible supply chain? Unless you are managing your supply chain in the most socially responsible way, you are risking getting your organization into more trouble than ever. Getting bad publicity, losing customers, and being subject to criminal consequences are just a few of the risks that your organization can face when its procurement professionals are unaware of constantly changing social responsibility principles.

Fortunately, the process of implementing supply chain social responsibility no longer has to be a mystery.

Today, the Next Level Purchasing Association has launched an online course entitled "Exemplary Supply Chain Social Responsibility."   This course will teach you the wide variety of details that can take a supply chain organization from clueless to industry-leading. You'll get more than just an introduction to social responsibility - you will become an expert at flawlessly executing and managing a supply chain social responsibility program.

Learn more about "Exemplary Supply Chain Social Responsibility" at

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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More Negotiation Steps For Optional Procurements

Charles Dominick 9/9/2014 5:30:00 AM

I hope that you have enjoyed the article "7 Steps For Negotiating Optional Procurements."

In that article, I shared the first five of those seven steps.  Here are the remaining two steps...

6.     Offer to settle at an amount up to your organization’s maximum.  If you haven’t reached an agreement with your supplier at this point, it will require some back-and-forth conversation to reach a price that is less than or equal to your organization’s maximum.  At this step, you may need to disclose your organization’s maximum.  If you reach agreement, you don’t need to move on to the final step.

7.     Revisit the maximum your organization is willing to pay.  If you have executed the preceding steps well, you have pretty much determined the neighborhood of the supplier’s lowest price.  If you haven’t settled, you need to confer with your internal customers and/or management to see if there is a willingness to raise its maximum to meet the supplier at or near its most recent offer.  If not, then you’ll simply need to forgo the procurement.  It was optional, remember?

That's about it.  

Please click here to return to the article to read the "Spotlight on Professional Development Opportunities," "Latest Purchasing News" and "Free Offer" sections!

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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Last Chance To Register For The NLPA Conference This Month!

Charles Dominick 9/3/2014 7:30:00 PM

Time is running out to register for the procurement event of the year!  You only have until Monday, September 8, 2014 (or until the remaining 15 spots sell out) to register or you're going to miss out!

Get off of the bench and into the game by attending the 2014 NLPA Conference - being held September 15-17, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  This valuable and exciting procurement conference is designed for what today's procurement professionals like you need:

* Dynamic speakers providing insights into critical issues and challenges

* Workshops on the latest procurement strategies and techniques

* Networking opportunities with influential procurement thought-leaders

At the NLPA Conference, you'll get the procurement insights that you simply can't get anywhere else! You'll hear 3 keynote speeches covering the most cutting-edge business topics. Plus, you'll get to choose from 11 skill-building workshops and attend an interactive panel discussion sharing insights to help you to deliver better procurement results for your organization.
In addition, your attendance can earn you up to 16.5 Continuing Education Hours (CEH's). Not only will you learn, but you'll also have fun and get energized about procurement.

Procurement professionals from around the world have already secured their spot at the 2014 NLPA Conference. Companies sending their procurement team members include:

* Alcoa
* Bayer Healthcare
* Boston Scientific
* CB Richard Ellis
* Fidelity Investments
* GUESS, Inc.
* Honda
* Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems
* Select Medical
* Wood-Mizer
* And more!

Register today for the opportunity to network with these leading procurement professionals and others while learning from them what is and what isn't working in procurement.

Secure your spot at the 2014 NLPA Conference by visiting:
and selecting "Add to Cart" next to your preferred registration option. 

If you prefer to use a method of payment other than a credit card, please download and complete this form:

If you have any questions regarding the 2014 NLPA Conference, please respond directly to this email or call 1(412) 294-1990 and a member of the NLPA team will be happy to assist you.

Registration will officially close on September 8, 2014, unless the conference sells out before then. There are only 15 seats remaining, so don't wait until the last minute if you are considering attending.

Again, the link to register is:

I look forward to meeting you in Pittsburgh later this month!

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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Why All the Buzz Around Coupa Software?

Greg Uhrlen 9/3/2014 4:48:00 PM

In the 3/20/2014 Wall Street Journal blog, it was reported Coupa Software raised $40 million (US) dollars in venture capital in less than 48 hours according to their CEO Rob Bernshteyn.  Perhaps it is because, according to Mr. Bernshteyn, “Coupa has been beating SAP AG”.  Now that is a pretty big claim to make, so we decided to take a look at Coupa and see what all the buzz is about!

Coupa Software offers a cloud-based procure-to-pay system. Being well-regarded throughout the industry as having a user-friendly eProcurement system, we did not notice any significant surprises in the Coupa software eProcurement portion of the demo, which was more pleasant than earth-shaking in a sector that is rather mature. 

One thing that wasn’t resolved was whether the system had the capability of showing items from hosted catalogs and “PunchOut” catalogs in the same search results.  It didn’t appear that was possible.  We could see that being a problem in cases where their preferred suppliers have the more tech-savvy ability to provide PunchOut, but their products are less easily found than those in hosted catalogs based on what the demo had shown. 

One nice thing in their eProcurement system that we haven’t seen elsewhere was a line-by-line budget thermometer in their cart which allows the buyer to know how much they have left to spend or are permitted to spend.

A big differentiator in our opinion is their Expense Management capabilities.  Expense Management is a module that many other suites do not include as it is often considered in the accounting realm more than the procurement realm.  More so than just including it, we loved how they integrated the expense concept with the procurement concept via reports and other features, with the goal to migrate future out-of-pocket expensed spend onto purchase orders.

Within the Expense Management module itself, we were impressed with the ability to dump corporate card data into the system.   Users can take a picture of a receipt and use the Coupa app to automatically add it as a line item to ease the administrative burden of creating expense reports.

We were impressed with the ability for managers to approve requisitions, orders and expense reports from email and/or the app (available now for both iOS and Android) without the need to log into the system itself.  Once a request is approved by individual(s) at a particular level, the approver ( or approvers, as the case may be) at the next level receives a notification either via email or the mobile app.  While this convenience is greatly appreciated by those at approver levels, it in turn can raise questions for those in IT as to the security of such applications.

The e-Invoicing module was also very impressive.  What stood out most to us specifically were the analytics that showed the discount opportunities, the list of top savings opportunities (for taking discounts for early payment, missed discount, no discount available, no payment terms), and the various ways that invoices are added into the system (electronically via cXML, created via a “flip PO to invoice” feature, and emailed into the system by supplier).  The list of top savings opportunities (listed by invoice #)immediately jumped out at us and this feature should prove invaluable to those who utilize the Coupa Software system.

Coupa also makes it easy for buyers to buy the right products they are allowed to purchase.  If there are particular technical specifications for a certain product, the required specs will show up on the screen when the buyer performs a search for the product.  Also, the software allows for users to read reviews and rate suppliers and products in detail. 

Other features of the Coupa Software system we liked include:

•          Internal forms can also be created for time off, temporary laborers and other situations
•          The ability to handle transactions in multiple currencies and languages simultaneously
•          Suppliers are not charged a fee to be included in the Coupa Software catalog system
•          Coupa's plan to add asset tracking to the system

For those procurement departments whose #1 technology priority is obtaining an eProcurement system, Coupa deserves a very close look.  While Coupa’s sourcing and contract management capabilities aren’t quite strong enough to stand on their own, they would be nice bonus add-ons for procurement departments who want a world-class eProcurement system with a little extra.  

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Read Procurement Advice & Predictions In Spend Matters' Interview With NLPA Founder

Charles Dominick 8/29/2014 4:27:00 PM

This week, Spend Matters UK/Europe published a fun and informative interview with me.

Lots of ground was covered in this short, but info-packed, interview.  I share my thoughts on advice for young procurement professionals, why organizations should even care about procurement, and the one criterion that may become more way important than price in future supplier selections.

You can read the entire interview at

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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Types of Procurement Expertise

Charles Dominick 8/26/2014 5:16:00 PM

I hope that you have enjoyed the article, "5 Types of Procurement Expertise."

My main goal with the article was to give some perspective about how broad one's capabilities must be to be successful in procurement today.  I think that the article did that.  But...

Are there only five areas of expertise that a procurement professional must have?

Nope!  There are even more.

I can think of at least one more right now:  business acumen.

In our online Express Course series, "Procurement KPI's & Business Acumen," we share a definition of business acumen from the Financial Times.  An excerpt from that definition is "[b]usiness acumen is keenness and speed in understanding and deciding on a business situation."

Some of the smartest people in the world don't have business acumen.  They wouldn't be able to come up with a way to increase an organization's revenue or market share.  They wouldn't be able to grow profits at will.  They wouldn't be able to develop a new strategy that can take a business to heights it never achieved before.  They can't talk to a senior executive on the same level and have an equal, mutual respect for each others' ideas, concerns, and hopes.

Business acumen is a unique type of expertise.  One that is increasingly being required of procurement professionals.

As you can see, being a successful procurement professional isn't being good at one thing, like knowing how to get an invoice approved for payment or even executing a sourcing process on time and without challenges.  It's many things.

How many of these areas of expertise are you working to improve?

Hopefully all of them.

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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Procurement Pros: Learn Leadership Techniques in This Webinar on Wednesday!

Charles Dominick 8/22/2014 8:52:00 PM

"Leadership is influence" - John Maxwell.

Once you understand your influence, only then will you be able to become the leader you're meant to be.  Discovering your leadership style advances your influence.  By developing your awareness of the symbiotic relationship with these two skills, you will in turn grow, and grow others.

When you're done with a project, don't you wish to leave a legacy?  Do it by influencing.  In this webinar, entitled "The Leading Influence" and led by Steve Burns of the John Maxwell Team, you'll gain the understanding of how to influence, lead better, and leave a lasting impression on those you associate with.

This webinar will be held on Wednesday August 27, 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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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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