The Dog Days of Summer

Posted by Andrew Bartolini on August 14th, 2017
Stored in Articles, Chief Procurement Officers, People, Strategy

[Editor’s note: it has become somewhat of a tradition for us at CPO Rising to bring you “The Dog Days of Summer” in August, so we thought we’d re-publish this great post from years’ past so that new readers of our site can enjoy it, as well. As we prepare to head into the autumn months, let’s enjoy these last few weeks of summer, and soak up the sun while it’s still around. Cheers, everyone.]

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 (that is my best Theo Geisel impersonation).

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 Europe’s vastly superior vacation policies) 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 – no sir! There may be big concerns to address now and mounting pressures to prepare for now. You can be productive and 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!).

Anyway, whether you’ve been going non-stop all summer or just cruising along, here’s a little tour book from CPO Rising to help guide you through these final August days.

Procurement Department: A Few Things to See and Do During the Dog Days

Summertime blues got you down? Don’t worry, there is a cure. And it can be found in that activity-packed destination, the procurement department. Whether you’re into numbers, people, or savings, we have got something for you. Come and see what this exciting department has to offer over the next few weeks. You won’t want to miss it!

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 like Boston’s Big Dig (Why are so many people spending so much time on this? and why is it taking so long?) than the process that is used 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 and review with them, the good, the bad, and the ugly of the process and the final results. Now is the time to architect your game plan for next year’s needs. Need a place to start? –

  1. What technology gaps exist in your source-to-settle process?
  2. How can you justify hiring new staff?

Who to see: If your budget process resembles a high school cafeteria, you have to start playing the game so you can get invited to the “cool table.” Start “friending” all key budget decision-makers and influencers, especially the CFO. Remember, budgets are a zero-sum game. Start positioning the ROI on procurement investments as ‘way cool’ (i.e. ROIs are much higher than investments made by other functions. BTW, I may be able to help you validate your case if you need some external support or research – just shoot me a quick email).

2. Budget Prep (Them) – By many estimates, budget performance (i.e. profits or net income) is significant factor in the executive managers’ bonuses. Budget performance is determined by (a) revenues and (b) expenses. For Revenues? Sales should be driving the bus; For Expenses? Procurement should be at the helm.

What to do: Identify the budget planners in the businesses where you have had less impact and engagement. For example, if you track spend under management, identify the owners of the spend that you are not managing. Set up a few coffee and lunch meetings with those executives/managers/budget staffers and offer a casual reminder that procurement 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 procurement.

3. Student Outreach – “CPO Rising” is a website, but CPO Rising is also a movement or concept that is much bigger – and it is a movement that is taking hold within the largest enterprises in the world. 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. If you haven’t bought in yet, it is time to Think Different about procurement, Steve Jobs did, and now, his successor the CEO of the World’s Largest Company is a former CPO [Sidebar: The last three links are to articles that highlighted the importance of procurement at Apple Inc. I believe that any procurement pro who reads these three stories will fully buy into the concept of procurement as a rising function.]

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.

Who to see: College professors; Directors of Career Service Centers; Students (aka prospective hires)

Have fun planning your “dog days” tour….


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