Login



For PLUS+ subscription assistance, contact customer service.

Not a PLUS+ Subscriber?

Become a PLUS+ Subscriber today and you'll get access to all Supply Chain Management Review premium content including:

  • Full Web Access
  • 7 Magazine Issues per Year
  • Companion Digital Editions
  • Digital Edition Archives
  • Bonus Email Newsletters

Subscribe Today!

Premium access to exclusive online content, companion digital editions, magazine issues and email newsletters.

Subscribe Now.


Become a PLUS+ subscriber and you'll get access to all Supply Chain Management Review premium content including:

  • Full Web Access. All feature articles, bonus reports and industry research through scmr.com.

  • 7 Magazine Issues per year of Supply Chain Management Review magazine.

  • Companion Digital Editions. Searchable replicas of each magazine issue. Read them in any web browser. Delivered by email faster than printed issues.

  • Digital Editions Archives. Every article, every chart and every table as it appeared in the magazine for all archive issues back to 2009.

  • Bonus email newsletters. Add convenient weekly and monthly email newsletters to your subscription to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry.

PLUS+ subscriptions start as low as $109/year*. Begin yours now.
That's less than $0.36 per day for access to information that you can use year-round to better manage your entire global supply chain.

For assistance with your PLUS+ subscription, contact customer service.

* Prices higher for subscriptions outside the USA.

PLUS+ Customer Service Support


Customer service for all PLUS+ subscribers is available Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm Eastern time.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 1-800-598-6067 (1-508-663-1500 x294 outside USA)
Mail: PO Box 1496, Framingham MA 01701-1496, USA



You have been logged out of PLUS+


For PLUS+ subscription assistance, contact customer service.

Need to access our premium PLUS+ Content?
Upgrade your subscription now.


Our records show that you are currently receiving a free subscription to Supply Chain Management Review magazine, or your subscription has expired. To access our premium content, you need to upgrade your subscription to our PLUS+ status.

To upgrade your subscription account, please contact customer service at:

Email: [email protected] Phone: 1-800-598-6067 (1-508-663-1500 x294 outside USA)

Become a PLUS+ subscriber and you'll get access to all Supply Chain Management Review premium content including:

  • Full Web Access. All feature articles, bonus reports and industry research through scmr.com.

  • 7 Magazine Issues per year of Supply Chain Management Review magazine.

  • Companion Digital Editions. Searchable replicas of each magazine issue. Read them in any web browser. Delivered by email faster than printed issues.

  • Digital Editions Archives. Every article, every chart and every table as it appeared in the magazine for all archive issues back to 2010.

  • Bonus email newsletters. Add convenient weekly and monthly email newsletters to your subscription to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry.

PLUS+ subscriptions start as low as $129/year*. Start yours now.
That's less than $0.36 per day for access to information that you can use year-round to better manage your entire global supply chain.

This content is available for PLUS+ subscribers.


Already a PLUS+ subscriber?


To begin or upgrade your subscription, Become a PLUS+ subscriber now.

For assistance with your PLUS+ subscription, contact customer service.

Sorry, but your login to PLUS+ has failed.


Please recheck your login information and resubmit below.



For PLUS+ subscription assistance, contact customer service.

“Shirt Pocket Notes” and Other Reflections

Can we find a way to build technologies from the bottom up – for the greater good – rather than relying on the “trickle down”?

By ·
By ·

Editor’s Note: Jim Baehr is group leader of Sourcing Strategies Group LLC


We’re approaching the time when we reflect on what’s happened, or hasn’t happened, during the past year.  This often is the result of sorting through what some old-time sports reporters referred to as “shirt pocket notes” - notions captured on a small notepad, scrap of paper or a matchbook cover - then stashed away for review at a later time.  For some, our impressions are written on a sticky note placed somewhere on or near the desk.  For others - the more technologically advanced - they record their thoughts electronically using a notes app or equivalent.  For me - I still carry a portfolio so I frequently write my observations on one of the last sheets of the accompanying ruled pad.

The observations that follow come from conversations, conferences, training, reading and a variety of encounters throughout 2018.  These are a few basic, but relevant observations regarding systems and their impact on Sourcing and Procurement Management:

The haves and the have nots – is this what Procurement is coming to? There’s much hype about digitalization yet most Procurement groups don’t have the time, money, inclination or opportunity to pursue the related technologies. These capabilities currently seem to be meant for only the top Procurement groups.  Understandable because that’s where the opportunity is.  It’s reasonable to believe that the top 20% of Procurement organizations handle 80% of the overall spend – both direct and indirect.  As the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto opined there’s a natural divide - the “vital few,” - the top 20 percent in terms of money and influence, and the “trivial many” - the bottom 80 percent.

An optimist looks at this divide and hopefully offers that at some point there will be a democratization of Procurement technologies – much like the position that’s been advanced by Coupa where end users have access to buying tools freeing up time for Procurement to attend to more strategic duties.  Another way to look at this democratization is that eventually there will be a realistic price point that will make the technology available for most Procurement groups.  “Are we there yet?”

This isn’t being pejorative about the 80%, in fact it’s a call to improve support for these underappreciated professionals.  Way too much is being expected of them.  They work long hours and they’re subject to intense pressure.  They receive too little attention when it comes to training and development.  Here’s where matters become somewhat convoluted.  The trivial many are expected to deliver results and value, in the same way as the vital few. This doesn’t happen and can’t happen until we find better ways to support these professionals – giving them the attention they deserve.  The result is that in many cases Procurement’s desired brand identity doesn’t synch with its brand image held by stakeholders.
This 80/20 assessment could be the greatest challenge facing Procurement as discipline.

One size doesn’t fit all – building on the first point – the tools and technologies designed for the high-end organizations aren’t as scalable as needed.  Too many small to mid-sized Procurement groups become enamored of a solution that they’re not able to pursue.  Many don’t have the reliable data needed as a starting point.  Can we find a way to build technologies from the bottom up – for the greater good – rather than relying on the “trickle down”?

Information as outside-in versus inside-out – while not a new topic, this one seems to be receiving much attention.  Enabled with at least some technology, organizations can develop a sense of where they’ve been - or better – where they are.  This is good inside information, but it needs to be complemented with outside information to be meaningful when it comes to Procurement initiatives.  High end cognitive sourcing tools are being developed accordingly. 

Currently, too many Procurement groups go to market with only their inside information in-hand and without much understanding of the outside picture.  If you disagree, this means you’ve taken the time to do some Porter’s Five Forces modeling – right?  Unfortunately, there are many Procurement professionals who aren’t knowledgeable of this simple model.  You don’t need the most advanced technology to prepare and “outside-in” view. You need the Porter’s model, internet access and a search engine. 

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is the other side of SRM (Supplier Relationship Management) … and as technologies go it’s in control -  ask any Procurement professional and they can tell you about the importance of SRM.  Follow-up by asking what they know about CRM and you might receive some thoughts, but not many.  Most Procurement professionals can’t identify CRM brand names like Pegasystems or Salesforce. 

Per Gartner in 2018 CRM was expected to be the fastest growing software market - tracking for a growth rate of 16 percent.  Salesforce.com foresees that within the next five years leading companies will use advanced analytics and machine learning to address fundamental Sales decisions like what sales opportunities to pursue; what resources to allocate to which accounts; and, what behaviors to prioritize to drive sales productivity.  In the meantime, SRM continues to be plagued by failure rates and limited adoption.

Agreed - a soundly implemented SRM program can deliver great value. But, consider this scenario – the VP of Sales and the VP of Procurement go before the CFO and the CIO to request funding for CRM and SRM respectively.  Who receives the funding?

What does this mean for Procurement?  It means that Procurement professionals need to learn more about CRM – what it is, what it does and how it impacts the relationship between Sellers and Buyers.

Lessons learned - from the Procurement related systems advancements during 2018?

  • It’s a given that the pace of change will continue to accelerate
  • Many systems advancements projected for after 2020 are already in place
  • Accept the reality of limitations – it may be better to master some digital basics - something like P2P - before taking on more advanced systems
  • If you can’t acquire a system do what you can for your people with the tools available – it’s a great way to develop talent and it’s better than longingly staring into the toy store window
  • Now is the time to learn more about CRM - waiting could be risky
  • Finally, buckle-up - there’s a lot more change coming in 2019!

Subscribe to Supply Chain Management Review Magazine!

Subscribe today. Don't Miss Out!
Get in-depth coverage from industry experts with proven techniques for cutting supply chain costs and case studies in supply chain best practices.
Start Your Subscription Today!

Latest Whitepaper
2019 Top 5 Trends of Enterprise Labeling
This year’s sixth annual Top 5 Trends in Enterprise Labeling report outlines significant shifts in labeling that are impacting businesses and global supply chains at an unprecedented level.
Download Today!
From the January-February 2019
If history is our guide, economies take a turn every nine years. Yet time and again, a strong business cycle and fading memories convince us the good times will go on forever. Ten years after the great recession, we surveyed 100 manufacturing firms to find out if businesses are ready to fight through the next recession.
Truck Driver Shortage: No one behind the wheel
Intermodal to the rescue
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!


Latest Webcast
Leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) in Manufacturing
Is Digital Transformation a risk or an opportunity? This webinar will detail Manufacturing industry challenges and how using IoT can address these challenges through optimizing logistics, improving processes and gaining meaningful insights.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Supply Chain Management Issues Confronting Us This Year
A variety of fresh challenges will surface for global traders in January and beyond
Global Supply Chain Pricing May Face New Pressures in 2019
The global economy started 2018 with strong, synchronized growth, but the momentum faded as the year...

IHS Markit’s New Economic “Predictions” for 2019 and Impact on Global Supply Chains
The U.S. will remain “above trend,” while other key economies will experience further...
Global Kuehne + Nagel Indicators Signal Global Supply Chain Resilience
So far this year, international merchandise trade has risen by 10.6%. Emerging markets and North...