10 for 2010: Ideas for the New Year

Posted by Andrew Bartolini on January 11th, 2010
Stored in Articles, General, Lists

I’ve agreed to make a return appearance and present at NAPP’s Annual Conference in L.A. this February. My presentation will focus on the “Top 10” ideas for P2P professionals to thrive in the new year (and new decade). This article will serve as the outline for that presentation.  If you are interested in the visuals that will accompany these ideas, just leave a comment below and I will send you a copy of the final presentation after the conference. Slides to last year’s keynote can be found here.

Top 10 Ideas for 2010

  1. Actively seek alignment with your executive team. A quick search of earnings reports in 2009 will identify many CEOs and CFOs actively engaged in discussions with the investor community about cost containment initiatives that are or should be procurement-led. The only better time to engage your executives than when they are currently focused on cost containment and procurement-driven matters is when they are not focused on cost containment and other procurement-driven matters. (EDITOR’S UPDATE January 29 – The earnings call trend continues in 2010, see the second paragraph of the CEO’s opening statement.)
  2. Work to embed your staff with line of business operations. 2010 will be another year where budget overruns will not be tolerated and your department can help the different P&L owners hit their numbers. Seek out the budget-holders, engage in proactive planning discussions, and formalize the level of interaction for 2010.
  3. Improve the level of collaboration with key suppliers. Near-catastrophic events shouldn’t be the only source to draw supply chain partners together. Whether the economy ramps up, drops south, or goes sideways in 2010, the health of your key trading partners is remains a crucial element to Best-in-Class supply management.  Seek out key suppliers, engage in proactive planning discussions, and formalize the level of interaction for 2010.
  4. Link your processes. Unfortunately, it remains the exception, not the rule for enterprises to have a holistic view of their source-to-settle process, much less have its sub-processes fully-automated. Process and technology gaps in the process enable greater inefficiencies, human error, and savings leakage. Closing current gaps across the source-to-settle process can yield significant returns.
  5. Develop and expand your professional network using social network tools. In an age of economic uncertainty and diminishing employer loyalty, professional networking is as valuable as ever. Social networking has now shifted well beyond “trend” status (for example, I am blogging and recently signed up for a twitter account) and already the line between social and professional networking has blurred. This line will only get blurrier, so test the waters on a few platforms and see what you can find. You can start by joining LinkedIn, if you have not already, and inviting me to connect. I am serious.
  6. Expand your sourcing initiative into new categories. With many of the best sourcing opportunities in recent years previously targeted in the last 18 months, many teams will have to broaden the list of potential categories to source in 2010 if they hope to meet this year’s numbers. (Note: As part of this “10 for 2010” series, I’ll include a list of 10 categories to source in 2010.)
  7. Change bad behaviors. If your enterprise lacks visibility into data and processes, it will not remain this way for much longer. Without some level of scrutiny, it can be easy to fall into the trap of poor (or lackadaisical) practices. If that’s the case, now is the time to improve your team’s RFP development, supplier performance reports, and savings and compliance tracking. Get your house in order so that when the visibility initiative is eventually introduced, you can be its chief advocate instead of its primary opponent.
  8. Become indispensible.. to your department ….. to your executive team… to your internal customers… and take control of your destiny. There are several macro trends that make a 30-year career that ends with a pension and a gold watch increasingly doubtful, as many CPOs displaced in 2009 can attest. There’s not one clear path to success here. Start by asking yourself if what you are doing is aligned to your main constituents and adapt accordingly. Be flexible and work deliberately to avoid becoming expendable
  9. Improve your product placement. Marketing the procurement department and developing a brand will be one of the themes that CPO Rising will come back to many times in the years ahead. For now, consider the idea of product placement within your organization. As a service provider, one of your primary products is your people. How many functional staff meetings or business or product planning meetings do members of your team regularly attend? If the answer is ‘not many,’ you are missing one of the easiest and best ways to establish your procurement brand. Do you think Mars regrets passing on the opportunity to have M&Ms included in “E.T.”? Failing to do so gave an opportunity to a chief rival to establish a newer brand and drive sales in what is considered by many to be the greatest product placement ever. Product placement works, make it work for you.
  10. Develop and expand your professional skills and knowledge using professional and social networking tools. There is a group on LinkedIn that focuses on contract chemical synthesis and process chemistry in the pharma industry that has more than 1,300 members. What are your specialty areas or areas of expertise you’d like to develop? There is probably a sizable group of people already meeting, tweeting, blogging, and discussing the topic. And if there isn’t, start one.

Sidebar: For those of you that don’t know the National Association of Purchasing and Payables, but are involved in either function, you should check them out. In their own words:

The National Association of Purchasing and Payables is an organization dedicated to providing Purchasing and Payables Professionals and their technical colleagues with new and innovative ideas for improving both the PO and AP functions. The NAPP seeks to improve the critical interaction between the Purchasing and Payables disciplines and is the only national organization that focuses on the entire requisition to payment and reconciliation process.

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