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Procurement Transformation: Déjà vu All Over Again

A successful procurement transformation requires having the right parties, acting as partners, following a proven assessment and transformation methodology, with a well-defined set of measurable deliverables, and a detailed workplan that ensures that the deliverables are achieved in a timely manner and on budget.

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From the archive of blogs that I have written for the readers of the SCMR website, here is another of my favorites.

It’s becoming a trend – and a cautionary tale as well.

A few weeks ago I received an inquiry through our corporate website from a company wanting our help assessing the skills and processes of their procurement staff. On the surface, the inquiry was not unlike others that we receive. I arranged a mutually-agreeable date and time for a phone call, and then turned to other business.

A few days later, when the conference call happened, I recalled Yogi Berra’s famous quote: “it’s déjà vu all over again.”

Let me explain. The inquiry was from a company who wanted, and needed, a fundamental assessment of its skills, processes, and organization. Doing a comprehensive assessment (and then constructing a roadmap for improvement) is exactly what most companies should do (at least once). In my experience, it is a critical first step in creating the capability for sustainable change and improvement.

What was awkward about this company’s situation was the fact that just a few years ago they had hired – at considerable expense – a large consulting firm to do a high-profile “strategic sourcing program.” Today, in their own words, “we have nothing sustainable to show for the it.”

More of these painful situations are coming to our attention; thus the reference to Yogi Berra’s famous quote.

It’s easy to blame the consulting firm. After all, aren’t they tasked with creating a sustainable transformation for their client? Shouldn’t they be serious about transferring knowledge to their client? Shouldn’t they only use well-seasoned and qualified experts on the project? Shouldn’t their personnel actually know how to create sustainable change?

It’s also appropriate to wonder if the client is at fault. After all, aren’t they responsible for clearly defining expectations and deliverables? Aren’t they responsible for actively managing the project and the consultants on site, and measuring the success or failure of the project – as it is progressing - versus the defined deliverables?

I’ve written in the past about the success factors in “actively managing consultants.” Our latest book, Next Level Supply Management Excellence (the sequel to the original Straight to the Bottom Line®), has a significant piece on this topic. It’s worth your time.

But, to oversimplify: a successful procurement transformation requires having the right parties, acting as partners, following a proven assessment and transformation methodology, with a well-defined set of measurable deliverables, and a detailed workplan that ensures that the deliverables are achieved in a timely manner and on budget. And it also doesn’t hurt if the consulting team has some “grey hair” members.

 


About the Author

Robert A Rudzki
Robert A. Rudzki is a former Fortune 500 Senior Vice President & Chief Procurement Officer, who is now President of Greybeard Advisors LLC, a leading provider of advisory services for procurement transformation, strategic sourcing, and supply chain management. Bob is also the author of several leading business books including the supply management best-seller "Straight to the Bottom Line®", its highly-endorsed sequel "Next Level Supply Management Excellence," and the leadership book "Beat the Odds: Avoid Corporate Death & Build a Resilient Enterprise." You can reach him through his firm's website: www.GreybeardAdvisors.com

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Latest Whitepaper
Third Party Risk: Too Close for Comfort
You’ve got a handle on many of the potential supply chain "disrupters" that can paralyze your business. But the real risk is embedded in areas you may have overlooked.
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From the December 2017
This is a comprehensive guide to services, products and educational opportunities targeted specifically to supply chain professionals. As with years past, we’re also featuring several articles we trust will offer food for thought in your supply chain throughout the coming year.
Transportation Trends: The last mile, history repeating
Economic Outlook: A Complex and Uneven Scenario for Global Supply Chains
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