Thursday, June 23, 2005

Spend Management Solutions

I hope that you have enjoyed the article "Spend Management Technology Trends."

Purchasing technology is a subject that I love. One of the most exciting purchasing projects I led was implementing an eProcurement system in the "early days" when dot-com fever was running wild.

Now, based on responses to our recent survey, it seems like many of you are implementing some of the modern systems. My advice would be to absorb yourself in the process and enjoy it. The experience will make you a more valuable asset to your current and/or future employer.

Speaking of the survey, one suggestion that people have made is to have an area for purchasers to interact with each other. That is precisely where the Comments feature of this blog comes in.

Simply click on the Comments link below to post your comment. Others are welcome to post and re-post in a discussion style format.

DON'T BE AFRAID TO BE THE FIRST ONE TO LEAVE COMMENTS! Someone has to lead the way, let it be you.

Currently, there are over 11,000 subscribers to PurchTips. There is a great deal of knowledge in this subscriber base. Let's share it starting right now!

Thanks for checking in...

Respectfully,
Charles Dominick, C.P.M., SPSM
President
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Purchasing. Procurement. Supply...


Purchasing. Procurement. Supply Management. Materials Management. Sourcing. Supply Chain Management. Acquisition Services. Spend Management. Enterprise Spend Management.

This constant renaming has become senseless.

Driven equally by software providers and consultants seeking to differentiate themselves and practitioners who somehow believe that a new name will confuse their superiors into thinking that they are more "cutting edge," this renaming is actually hurting the profession of intelligently exchanging your organization's money for the right product or service from the right source who performs flawlessly.

C-level executives have a lot on their plates. They oversee purchasing, accounting, operations, and dozens of other functions. They don't want to feel that they don't understand something that they are responsible for.

Plus, they don't have time to try to figure out what it is that you do. They want easy-to-digest messages in a short time so that they can address their many challenging responsibilities.

Using jargon does not give them what they really want.

So when they meet with their director of purchasing and are suckerpunched with jargon, they aren't thinking that you are a superhero. They are thinking that you don't have a clue how to communicate.

Have you ever had someone act like you have inferior intelligence compared to theirs? How did you feel about that person? OK, keep your four-letter words to yourself. But do you REALLY want your CEO to feel that way about you?

Purchasing can involve more than it did in the '70's. That's OK. You don't have to change the name of the function. Accountants don't do it.

Part of our responsibility as purchasers is to get more respect for the profession as a whole. Calling purchasing "spend management" just because you are now using analytical tools to identify continuous improvement opportunities doesn't get more respect for the profession. It makes people (including important types like CEO's and internal customers) confused as to what profession we are in or if there even is a profession at all.



Respectfully,
Charles Dominick, C.P.M., SPSM
President
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Email Guidelines

I hope that you have enjoyed the article "Email Guidelines For Purchasing Professionals."

Here's a challenge...look at five emails you've recently sent. How closely did they follow the guidelines? Where could you have used the guidelines to improve those emails?

I also think that examples are helpful. Here's a before-and-after example of an email I may send to someone...

BEFORE

Dear John,
You inquired about the SPSM Certification Program. Here are the answers to your questions. The SPSM Certification is recognized internationally as many prestigious companies from throughout the world have enrolled their purchasers in the SPSM Certification Program. You may pay for your enrollment in the SPSM Certification Program using a credit card, check, international money order or purchase order. Did you notice the bnoouses that you can get by enrolling on or before June 30? To enroll and get these bonuses, please visit
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com/registration.html no later than June 30. With regard to meeting in Chicago, I don't have my plans quite mapped out yet. My schedule won't be finalized for days. According to the tentative plan, I will be in town on June 14 & 15. I arrive into O'Hare about 1:44PM on the 14th. I have a meeting scheduled for 4PM. On the 15th, I am delivering a presentation from 9:30 - 11:00 AM and immediately leaving the hotel for my 1:25 flight back to Pittsburgh. Perhaps the best time to meet would be on the evening of the 14th. What do you think?



AFTER

Dear John,
Thank you for inquiring about the
SPSM Certification Program. Here are the answers to your questions.

The SPSM Certification is recognized internationally. Many prestigious companies from throughout the world have enrolled their purchasers in the SPSM Certification Program.

You may pay for your enrollment in the SPSM Certification Program using:
  • Credit card
  • Check
  • International money order
  • Purchase order

Did you notice the bonuses that you can get by enrolling on or before June 30?

To enroll and get these bonuses, please visit http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com/registration.html

I'll get back to you about my trip to Chicago once I have my schedule finalized.

Thanks again for your inquiry.

==================================

==================================

Which do you think is easier to read?

Do you have any other thoughts on this topic? Click the Comments link below and share them!

Respectfully,
Charles Dominick, C.P.M., SPSM
President
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Managing A Purchasing Project

Enrollees in the SPSM Certification Program often give me interesting feedback on the required course Microsoft Project For Purchasing Professionals.

Many of them have never even heard of Microsoft Project before.

It made me wonder...is the idea of using Microsoft Project intimidating? Would more people seek to become SPSM's if Microsoft Project wasn't required?

The minute that I begin thinking that maybe a few more people would pursue SPSM Certification if it weren't for this purchasing course, I recall what my job is.

My job is not to cater to the way most purchasing is done today. It is to lead purchasing into the future. And that future has purchasers not processing transactions. Not dealing with day-to-day supplier issues. But managing projects. Purchasing and supply management is becoming a project management function.

So, yes, Microsoft Project For Purchasing Professionals should be required of tomorrow's purchasing leaders. Getting project management skills should be on every purchasers agenda.

At least every purchaser who wants to be employed in the 2010 - 2019 decade.

Respectfully,
Charles Dominick, C.P.M., SPSM
President
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.

Construction Purchasing Magazine

Construction Purchasing Magazine featured my quoted advice in an article entitled "Puchaser's Guide To Survival" in its June 2005 issue.

I had not previously heard of this magazine, but it is a really classy publication for those of you in the construction industry.

In case you are an editor or a writer for a newspaper, magazine, or other publication, I enjoy sharing my thoughts and will make time for you in my schedule. So please feel free to contact me.

Respectfully,
Charles Dominick, C.P.M., SPSM
President
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Customized Purchasing Training

I have been approached by a number of large companies who have inquired about having our existing purchasing training customized for them.

I am noticing a trend.

Not one of them has actually followed through with their entire vision. All of them get buried in more pressing matters.

Customized online training is a unnecessarily big job for companies. These companies put together a committee to think about the content. To think about the appearance on the Web. To think about the technology.

One wise man coined the phrase "In all of the parks and cities, there are no statues of committees." That's because committees generally don't get things done, at least not in a timely manner. All it takes is one member to be required to move the project from the front burner to the back burner and the project is dead. Dead. Dead. Dead.

So, these companies kick around the idea and do a bunch of work and then the invariable happens - someone gets caught up in another project and doesn't have time to work on the customized training project.

People - this is PURCHASING! There will always be unexpected high priorities. Emergencies. It is always going to be busy. You are never going to have free time!

Let's put this into perspective.

In terms of online training, where does the benefit lie? Is it in having your company's logo on the screen? No. Is it in having the material loaded on your own servers? No. Is it in having a committee spend hours reviewing material only to find areas in which to insert your company's name? No!

The benefit lies in the content.

So why waste time and money on little customizations that make little to no difference? Your competitors are getting standardized training and making improvements. Should you really be waiting?

Just take a look at the customers of our purchasing education. These people are learning and getting things done TODAY. If standardized training is a perfect fit for them, why is customized training such a necessity for some?

If you are still considering customized online procurement courses, I would suggest this. Enroll one or two of your purchasers in our purchasing classes. Then review their experience. Did they learn something? How much more valuable would their experience had been if there was customization. If the answer is "not much," you may want to consider the faster and less expensive route like the rest of the world.

Don't get me wrong. I'll be happy for Next Level Purchasing to quote on customized training. But I'd rather see your company follow a path that has proven to be successful than one that typically falls victim to other priorities.

Respectfully,
Charles Dominick, C.P.M., SPSM
President
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.

Friday, June 03, 2005

How To Write An RFP

It isn't uncommon for me to receive a frantic call from a purchaser asking how to write an RFP.

I'm happy to help. But what concerns me is the emergency focus on successfully completing a document. An RFP isn't just a document. It is a process. And no matter how well-structured the document is, the end result has a high probability of being a failure unless the entire RFP process was as equally well-structured.

This means asking the right suppliers to bid, prequalifying them when necessary. This means working closely with internal customers to ensure that the right selection criteria is in place. This means having a step-by-step sourcing strategy so you are prepared to handle the tasks that follow the issuance of the RFP.

So, if you find yourself in immediate need of help for RFP writing, slow down and make sure you are properly managing the entire process. In the long run, it will actually save you time and help you avoid sloppy mistakes that will embarrass you later.

Good luck!

Respectfully,
Charles Dominick, C.P.M., SPSM
President
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Purchasing Training: Where Does A New Purchasing Agent Begin?

There are currently 10 purchasing classes available on NextLevelPurchasing.com.

While this number of classes helps purchasers who are looking to fulfill a certain need, I understand that so many choices can cause confusion. I often get the question: "I am new to purchasing - where do I begin?"

If you are new to purchasing, I recommend that you begin by taking the introductory purchasing training course entitled "Mastering Purchasing Fundamentals."

This class covers the basics from terminology and procedures and frames basic purchasing in a step-by-step process.

I love to welcome new faces to a wonderful profession. If you'd like more information, please feel free to contact me.

Respectfully,
Charles Dominick, C.P.M., SPSM
President
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.

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