With apologies to our growing contingent of Chief Procurement Officers and other readers based in the southern hemisphere who are hip-deep into winter – please set a reminder in your calendar and bookmark this article for use in February.
For the rest of us, the dog days of summer are here, (literally, for many; figuratively, for all) – amidst the heat and humidity, between the fun and sun, lies August, a month, where not much gets done (Seuss-ian?).
The rotating vacations in the US and other countries or the more significant holidays of our EU brethren (Sidebar: I have never understood why some Americans are so critical of their superior holiday custom) have seemingly combined with more casual work clothes, school vacations, and an ability to cook out or swim after work to make the dog days of summer a less productive time in the workplace. And that’s ok. It is ok to let the staff cheat a little and cut out early on a few Fridays or work from home a little more often in the dog days. It is ok to push that important meeting into early September; the person trying to meet with you really doesn’t want to prep for a big meeting in the dog days either.
This doesn’t mean you can phone it in – dazed for all days – no sir! There may be big concerns to address now and mounting pressures to prepare for now (our next article). You can be productive; you should be productive – just ask the readers in Bolivia, Ecuador, Estonia, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, and Uruguay who will all rightly tell you that the patriots in their respective countries did enough in at least one distant August to claim it as their country’s month of independence (No disrespect, but I prefer July as the month for revolutions!).
For those CPOs who are staying close to home and staying focused on value during the dog days, here’s a little “guide” to get you through.
CPO Dog Days: Things to See and Do
Summertime blues? Actually, there is a cure – Procurement departments during the dog days can be an activity-packed destination. Whether you’re into numbers, people, or savings, we’ve got something for you. Come and see what this exciting area has to offer.
1. Budget Prep (Us) – If you’re on the calendar cycle, final budget reviews and approvals are just around the corner (go ahead, pinch yourself!) Whether your enterprise takes a top-down or bottoms-up approach to budgeting, the budgeting process can seem more like high school (where the cool kids get all the breaks) or Boston’s Big Dig (Why are so many people spending so much time on this? and why is it taking so long?) than a process to define a key underlying element of next year’s strategic plan.
What to do: Revisit last year’s budget process with the team that led the charge to review the good, the bad, and the ugly of the process and results. Architect your game plan now. Need a place to start? – What technology gaps exist in your source-to-settle process?
Who to see: If your budget process resembles high school, you have to play the game. Start “friending” all key budget decision-makers and influencers, especially the CFO (much more on the CPO/CFO relationship this fall). Remember, budgets are a zero-sum game – start positioning the ROI on procurement investments as ‘way cool’ (i.e. much higher than investments made by other functions – I can help you validate this if you need external support – just shoot me a quick email).
2. Budget Prep (Them) – By many estimates, budget performance is the largest factor in a manager’s bonus. Budget performance is determined by revenues and expenses costs. Revenues? Enter sales; Costs? Enter procurement. Knock-knock!
What to do: Identify the budget planners in the businesses where you have less impact and engagement. If you track your spend under management, identify the owners of the spend that you are not managing. Set up some coffee and lunch meetings with these executives/managers/budgeters. No hard sell, just a casual reminder that you can drive great value for them and help them hit their budget numbers (and get their bonuses).
Who to see: The prospects who can best help increase the percentage of spend under the management of your department.
3. Student Outreach – “CPO Rising” is a website, but CPO Rising is also a movement or meme that is much bigger. If you are a CPO or Supply Management executive that buys into the value of your craft, it is incumbent upon you (and your organization) to get the word out.
What to do: Have someone on your staff do a quick scan of the major colleges and universities in your area and identify the list of professors that chair the different business departments or teach the different business (economics at liberal arts schools) classes like Operations and Finance that could benefit from hearing about life as a CPO. Invite yourself to be a guest lecturer to a class, group, or club. While there giving the lecture, make sure to meet with the team in the University’s Career Center to develop a relationship, arrange for job postings to be placed on campus, conduct or schedule interviews, etc. This is a worthwhile pursuit. If you can’t commit to it personally, send a lieutenant.
Have fun planning your dog days tour and good luck with August and everything after….