September 20 - 22, 2021
The CPO's Corner
I’m having a tough time prioritizing my initiatives, and I’m only a team of one – how do I determine what to address?
It’s easy for a team of one to feel they are being pulled in too many directions to be effective. And its difficult, if not impossible, to begin any significant initiatives if you don’t have people who can help you, or handle the day-to-day needs if you devote yourself to a big project.
Typically, procurement leaders are guided by spend. Big spend areas get attention because that’s where we assume the biggest positive impact to the organization will be. But projects in large dollar, complex areas require resources to pull off – probably more than you can do as a team of one.
I’d like to suggest a different approach. Look for something that isn’t working, and fix it. Maybe the travel program is outdated. Is your company having cash flow problems where something like dynamic discounting would be helpful? Is the supplier of a key commodity habitually late with deliveries?
Don’t know what the issues are? Get out and ask. Put your focus on the procurement/ supply chain related areas where there is a problem. Don’t worry if there’s little spend involved, you will generate enormous good will by making the problem go away.
This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Some of the world’s best known companies have relatively small procurement spends, particularly if they provide a service instead of manufacturing a tangible good. The CPO of one firm says that he doesn’t report on savings at all. He reports on the things he’s done to make his fellow employees lives easier. He understands that with modest savings as measured by dollars he is likely to underwhelm based on the traditional procurement measurements. He relies instead on reporting back on the technology he and his team have introduced or the supplier performance they’ve improved. Or the inhouse process that’s running more smoothly today based on their intervention.
Instead of being guided by the Pareto, be guided by the pain points. And you may be so successful that it opens the door to getting more headcount approved after all.
Joanna Martinez is a global procurement / supply chain leader and the founder of Supply Chain Advisors LLC. She is a frequent lecturer and blogger on procurement topics and also provides coaching, strategy development, training, and cost reduction opportunity assessment. Her clients range from Fortune 100 companies to technology startups.
As either regional or global CPO, Joanna has led transformation initiatives for companies in many different sectors: among them Johnson & Johnson (consumer products), Diageo (beverage), AllianceBernstein LP (financial services) and Cushman & Wakefield (real estate services, property management). She has also held client-facing roles, effectively giving her the opportunity to “sit on both sides of the table”.