Monday, March 31, 2008

Employee Handbooks

One of the things we have been working on because of our staff expansion is an internal employee handbook. As we grow, it is important that everyone have common understandings of the expectations of working here.

My plan was to launch the employee handbook tomorrow until one of my team members reminded me that it was April Fools Day. So, we'll wait until Wednesday (LOL).

You may have an employee handbook or may need one at some point. While ours has the requisite sections on topics like conflict of interest and sexual harrassment, I thought that I'd share some of the more atypical excerpts from ours.

Under the "Social Responsibility" section...

"When purchasing items, employees are asked to give preference to items that are not tested on animals or made from animal products. For example, when purchasing a chair, an employee should purchase a chair with fabric material rather than leather."

Under the "Cost Containment" section...
  • Unless color printing is required, employees should print in black ink.
  • When making purchases on behalf of Next Level Purchasing, Inc., employees are encouraged to ask or negotiate for discounts.

Under the "Protection of Financial Assets" section, we have a blurb about how to avoid phishing schemes.

Under the "Profanity-Free Workplace" section...

"Next Level Purchasing, Inc. strives to provide its employees with a pleasant, professional environment free of language that some may consider to be offensive. Because of the unpredictable nature of radio broadcasts and the occasionally coarse language used on such broadcasts, the use of radios in the office is prohibited. Employees should refrain from using profanity at all times in the workplace. This includes words that may be considered minor curses and words uttered to oneself."

In my research, I also found several pleas for businesses to incorporate language prohibiting texting and cell phone usage without a hands-free device while driving, so verbiage on that topic is in there, too.

I hope that this insight helps you if you're ever in a position to create an employee handbook for your purchasing department or company.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Weekend of March 27 - 30

We are working on some upgrades to our online classroom. Beginning at close of business on Thursday March 27, we will have a temporary delay for adding new students (and adding new classes for existing students) to our database until Monday March 31.

You can still sign up for our classes and programs during this period, but you will not receive your login information until Monday.

Current students will still be able to access their classes during this time.

We have some exciting things planned for our classes over the next year. So, while we want to give every student access when they want it, this weekend we'll be a little slower than usual.

However, this will be a temporary inconvenience, permanent improvement.

Thank you for your patience.

Respectfully,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Benefits Of A Recession?

Most people think recessions are bad for business. But I'm a silver-lining-in-the-cloud-type of guy. Here are a few things that represent the upside of a recession:

1. Competition Can Get Conservative. In recessions, many organizations look to cut costs. Some of those costs can be marketing costs. So, if your competition cuts its marketing and you sustain or increase yours, you can gain market share. It's even better when your competitors go out of business.

2. More Talent Is Available. Recessions are invariably characterized by higher unemployment. That means that more good talent becomes available. It's a great time to hire!

3. Suppliers Lower Prices. Many suppliers see their revenues drop during a recession. So they may drop prices in order to stay afloat. It is a great time to leverage that fact and lock in some good pricing for the long term, thereby improving your company's cost structure.

4. Recessions Don't Last Forever. Some organizations panic like it's the end of the world with cutting marketing, laying off their workforce, etc. Then they are poorly positioned to resume business as usual once the economy rebounds. The way I look at it, if the economy could withstand - and prosper after - 9/11, the dot com bust, and the Enron-type scandals all happening substantially at once, it can recover from anything!

As Next Level Purchasing continues its aggressive growth trajectory, you better believe we'll be led by these principles.

Recession, schmecession.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Monday, March 24, 2008

Target Pricing

I hope that you have enjoyed the article "The Target Pricing Controversy."

One argument that opponents of target pricing use is that "if you set a supplier's price, you may be leaving money on the table." In other words, the supplier may have offered a lower price if you gave them a chance to do so.

As I teach in "Powerful Negotiation For Successful Buying," in many cases you don't want to ever disclose your price targets to your supplier. But under the conditions described in the article, there are times when it is appropriate to do so.

Again, it has to be for the right type of purchase. Custom products that your organization has designed and internally-performed services that you want to outsource are two prime examples.

Do you have experience with or an opinion about target pricing? Share your comments here!

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Price Increases & The Economic Stimulus

Wow. The US government sure is working hard to avoid or emerge from a recession.

We all know that yesterday's relatively large rate cut by the Fed would have been larger had it not been for inflation fears. And then there are those stimulus payments coming in May.

I am glad to see this effort into growing the economy and preserving/creating jobs, but I am growing more and more concerned about what matters so much to purchasing professionals: price levels.

With the falling dollar, a lot of the global sourcing that was the key to purchasing success in recent years is starting to show signs of having a downside when the home currency is on the decline (and proper hedging techniques weren't applied). Then, the stimulus efforts may heat up demand so much that prices have only one way to go: up.

On this blog, I've posted before about the debate over whether or not economic stimulus checks to taxpayers will work. Well, last night, I became even more convinced that they will.

I was visiting my parents, who grew up in the Great Depression era. When it comes to spending money, they are a couple of the biggest tightwads that I know. They grew up having to "do without" so even now when they can afford to be a little more carefree with their money, they voluntarily choose to "do without."

We were talking about the stimulus check that they stand to receive in May. I shared my opinion that senior citizens collecting Social Security and not paying taxes should not receive the checks. I feel that this money is intended to be spent so that the economy is stimulated. And I felt that seniors are the demographic group most likely to simply stash the money away until it is inherited or found under a mattress.

Well, was I in for a surprise!

I said this to my parents: "The question is this: will you use the money to buy something that you would have not bought otherwise?"

Though I expected to hear "no," they told me that they were going to replace the flooring in their kitchen.

I then asked: "So you wouldn't replace your flooring if you weren't getting the check?"

They said no.

Now, if my parents are planning to be carefree about spending their stimulus payments, I think a lot of people will!

But if there is such a blast of demand, won't that create upward price pressure across many industries?

With the price of gas on the rise and a typical gas price surge around Memorial Day (the same time the stimulus checks will be spent), could we see inflation like that we haven't seen in a long time?

I guess if the economy is growing, it might be a good problem to have.

But hold onto your hats...it might be very tough to achieve cost savings this spring and summer.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Are Suppliers Selling Your Contact Info?

I've been wanting to blog on this topic for a couple of years.

A few years ago, an interesting little Web site called jigsaw.com popped up. This Web site is where sales people can obtain contact information for decision-makers like you.

That alone wasn't a unique idea. But how that contact information gets into the system is where it gets interesting.

You see, the database of contacts is built by "members" (salespeople) submitting contact information for the decision-makers they know. They are incentivized to do this because they earn points for every contact they submit. Then, they can redeem points to "buy" contact information for the people they want to contact.

So if you've given a salesperson your business card, they may enter it into Jigsaw so that they can get more contacts. And your information is out there for other Jigsaw members to find.

I think that you can pay for contacts now but, if I recall correctly, in the past you could only get contacts by entering contacts.

Jigsaw has a slick way of keeping it's contact info accurate. The member who enters contact information gets penalized if that contact information is found to be incorrect. And members who correct bad contact information get rewarded with points.

It is a pretty novel idea.

But is it ethical?

How would you feel if a supplier walked out of your office with your business card and entered it on Jigsaw for the world to see for the sole purpose of being able to get other contact information without paying money for it?

My information is on there. I have no idea who may have traded it into the Jigsaw system.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Monday, March 17, 2008

SDCE Pros To Know 2008

Well, it looks like I've been named one of Supply & Demand Chain Executive Magazine's "Pros To Know" for the second year in a row. You can check out the list here.

There are some interesting stories on the page about how both practitioners and providers are making headway for their companies and the purchasing and supply management departments they lead/serve.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Friday, March 14, 2008

Commodity Prices: What's Influencing Them?

In one of my favorite email newsletters - The American Entrepreneur's Insider's Report - the CEO of a local wealth management firm linked to an article speculating as to why many of you are experiencing such major challenges with commodity prices lately and what you can expect in the future.



His analysis is fascinating to me but, honestly, I don't know whether or not it is 100% accurate without thoroughly personally researching it.



I'm having troubling linking to the Word document in this blog, but perhaps you can copy and paste this link -
http://m1e.net/c?30025998-NagHzXjkmscew%403181639-OzHN4oTMbNaRM , read the analysis, and make your own judgments.



Have a great weekend!



To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM

President & Chief Procurement Officer

Next Level Purchasing, Inc.

Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?

Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At

http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New Testimonials From SPSM's

If you've spent any time on the Next Level Purchasing site, you've likely seen lots of testimonials from our satisfied students. We really pride ourselves on being able to provide an educational experience so rewarding and results-oriented that our students want to publicly rave about it.

We rarely introduce these testimonials with much fanfare, but I'll simply link you to a couple of new testimonials from SPSM's that we added to the site a week or so ago.

Testimonial for "Basics of Smart International Procurement" (scroll halfway down the page)

Testimonial for the SPSM Certification Program (scroll halfway down the page)

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The SPSM Certification Story

Recently, David Bush gave a quick review of the SPSM Certification on eSourcing Forum and publicly invited me to share the story behind the success of the SPSM Certification.

Of course, I obliged.

So, yesterday, David posted my informal story of the rise of the SPSM Certification. Check it out. I think that it is an interesting look "behind the scenes" of developing a new standard for excellence in purchasing and supply management.

If you have comments, I welcome you to return to post them here.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Friday, March 07, 2008

Your Purchasing Resume

I hope that you have enjoyed the article "Purchasing Resume Perfection."


Thanks to the contributions of Tonia Deal, I really think that this article hits all the major points for developing an effective purchasing resume. But be sure to also download the free podcast that accompanies the article as well as there are many valuable points that didn't make it into the article.


As we discussed in the podcast, even if you have a great purchasing resume, you can really blow your chances by not being careful in the way that you submit it. Here are some points to follow, based on real-world mistakes that purchasing professionals make with their resumes:



  • If you submit your resume as an email attachment, write something in the body of the email! With all of the computer viruses and spyware that exist, employers who get resumes may be reluctant to open an attachment without an explanation of that attachment even if you've named the file "john smith's resume.doc" or something similar.

  • Don't spam! It creates a bad impression if you send out your resume to several people and BCC everyone (or worse, include everyone's email address in the header). Hiring managers are likely to feel that you are treating them as unimportant if you cannot send a personal email. After all, how much time are you really saving? 15 minutes? Investing that extra few minutes in your purchasing career will increase your chances of being considered for the better purchasing jobs.

  • Follow instructions! If the job ad says to submit your resume by email with the subject line "Purchasing Manager Position," then do exactly that. Not "Supply Chain Manager Job." Not "Procurement Vacancy." Not "My Resume." "Purchasing Manager Position." If you don't do as employers tell you, they will think: "Geez. If he can't even follow simple instructions for submitting his resume, how can I ever trust him to manage $5 million in spend?"

Still, this advice just scratches the surface of what we covered in the podcast. So check out the podcast. In fact, check out ALL of the podcasts. We've had two great ones in the past two weeks and we're up to 13 overall. Unfortunately, SupplyNow hasn't released a podcast since Ariba announced its acquisition of Procuri, so I hope that the recently increased frequency of our Purchasing & Supply Management Podcast Series can help to fill that void to some degree.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com


Thursday, March 06, 2008

The SPSM Certification Goes More Global

Last month, I shared here that January saw the first SPSM Certifications awarded in Australia, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Uganda.

We didn't stop there!

In February, we kept the momentum up by awarding the first SPSM Certifications in Trinidad, Ireland, and Namibia.

This is humbling, but also not a surprise. After all, workplace results are valued no matter what country you call home.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Another ISM Index Contradiction

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

This morning, ISM released its index for the non-manufacturing sector. The index value was 49.3%. According to ISM's Web site: "A reading above 50 percent indicates the non-manufacturing sector economy is generally expanding; below 50 percent indicates the non-manufacturing sector is generally contracting."

So, on Monday, ISM reported that the manufacturing sector was contracting. Today, ISM reported that the non-manufacturing sector was contracting.

So it only makes sense that the overall economy is contracting, right?

Not according to ISM.

As I reported yesterday, ISM essentially says that a decline in manufacturing equals fairly healthy growth in the overall economy.

Yeah, that makes sense. Especially when ISM's own numbers suggest that manufacturing and non-manufacturing are both contracting.

Why am I bothered by this?

Because this poor work hurts the reputation of the purchasing and supply management profession. Having an organization with "supply management" in its title put out BS only ends up hurting the credibility of each and every purchasing and supply management professional who is struggling to prove to their management that we understand business at a high level.

I promise I'll get back to more educational and positive posts starting tomorrow.

Thank God ISM's next report doesn't come out until next month...

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Leadership Questions

Fellow Pittsburgh purchasing and supply management guru, Robert Rudzki, has posted a couple of interesting blurbs on leadership over on his blog. He is seeking opinions on whether the top US presidential candidates are leaders, managers, or both.

To share your opinion, go to his post from yesterday.

I'm a little embarrassed that I haven't kept as close an eye on the presidential bids so far (there is a downside to leading an organization that's been doubling in size every year for the past several years, but I'll gladly accept that). So I won't be responding. But, if you have an opinion, Robert would love to hear from you in the comments to his post.

Coming tomorrow right here on this blog: more shocking SPSM Certification statistics!

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The ISM Index Gets More Amusing By The Second...

Yesterday, ISM released its PMI numbers. And, again, we all have much to chuckle about.

You see, now that financial analysts are looking to the ISM index for economic guidance (an ill-advised move) and the index is being criticized by myself and a growing number of financial analysts, ISM is trying to backdoor its way into making its numbers seem relevant no matter how much of a stretch it is.

Here's what I mean...

The PMI is supposed to measure economic activity in the manufacturing sector, completely independent of the services sector (which, essentially, makes it independent of the majority of the US economy). But now, they are trying to correlate manufacturing activity with overall economic activity in a rather non-sensical way.

The PMI for February was 48.3%. According to ISM's Web site: " A reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50 percent indicates that it is generally contracting."

So that is bad news, right?

Hold on.

ISM's Web site continues: "A PMI in excess of 41.1 percent, over a period of time, generally indicates an expansion of the overall economy. Therefore, the PMI indicates the overall economy is growing and the manufacturing sector is contracting at this time."

So let me make this clear to the readers.

The PMI only surveys activity in the manufacturing sector. Not the service sector. And, therefore, not the economy as a whole.

The GDP is measured in dollars and the PMI survey does not gather monetary data.

And a decline in the manufacturing sector equals growth in the overall economy?

So the stock market should have gone up yesterday, right?

As I've said before: BS!

On ISM's Web site, the chair of ISM's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee said: "The past relationship between the PMI and the overall economy indicates that the average PMI for January and February (49.5 percent) corresponds to a 2.6 percent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP). In addition, if the PMI for February (48.3 percent) is annualized, it corresponds to a 2.3 percent increase in real GDP annually."

This is such a lame attempt at trying to correlate the index with the GDP.

Let's face it - ISM's index never correlated to the GDP. ISM is now under more scrutiny than ever to prove that its index is valid.

So, what do they do?

They try to fudge the numbers so it seems like it works. Kinda like those unethical purchasing departments that have a supplier scorecard prior to sending the RFP but, once responses are in, they change the criteria and the weighting so that they can get the result that they want and create the perception that everything is above board.

So if ISM's index says the overall economy is growing at 2.3% (certainly not a recession and better news than every other economic indicator), then why are reports covering the index values so bleak (like this example)?

Shame on ISM.

My last post on this topic inspired some passionate comments both here and on Spend Matters. I welcome more comments but challenge all commenters to share your real names.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Saturday, March 01, 2008

New Computer Lessons Learned

This blog post isn't about purchasing and supply management, so please excuse it. But if you're buying a new computer, it shares some lessons learned that you may benefit from.

Last week was a crazy one on so many levels.


One of the many things that muddied up my week was getting a new computer (a Dell, of course). Specifically, getting my software to work on my new computer.


The thing that really killed me was buying a product called PCmover. This product claims to move all of your files AND applications onto your new PC.


It was "Dell recommended." The online reviews were mixed: some said it worked exactly as promised while others said it failed miserably.


I have a great IT guy, so I figured that maybe other people just weren't using it right and I'd have no problems. My IT guy was skeptical saying it sounded "too good to be true."


But, hey - I'm a risk taker! Sometimes I lose. But I win big a lot. And when you win big, you accept the occasional loss.


Well, using PCmover was one of those occasional losses.


Sure, it did move some applications well. But some things that should have been a slam dunk, like moving "My Documents" and Internet Explorer Favorites, didn't work out so well.


But there were some major - MAJOR - problems transferring our accounting software and our CRM software. In particular, the CRM software didn't fully install and then wouldn't uninstall so we could install it "old school" style.

In fact, even after buying a new license for the CRM software (which we were going to do eventually anyway once we got a new person in who would inherit my old computer) and having that software vendor's support on the phone for two hours, we still couldn't get the software to work. Something about needing Microsoft to help make a modification to .NET on my machine. I'll leave the details to my IT guy.

Suffice it to say that it would have been easier - A LOT EASIER - to just install the software CD by CD rather than using PCmover and doing all of this troubleshooting.

Another "lesson learned" in this migration was with iTunes. When I went to sync my iPod with my new computer, I got the message that I had hundreds of protected files (that I bought from the iTunes store) that would not be transferred to my iPod.

I did some troubleshooting online myself and retransferred the files using this long, drawn out process. After doing this, I realized that I probably didn't need to do this.

If I clicked on one of the songs that I purchased through iTunes, I think it would have prompted me to log into my account and authorize these purchases on the new computer. Once done, access and synching would have worked seamlessly as it did on my old computer.

So I'm hoping we'll soon solve the CRM software problem and that this week will be a lot smoother...

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM Certification Online At
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

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