Monday, November 28, 2011

How To Develop Leadership Skills Within Your Procurement Department

I hope that you have enjoyed the article "How To Develop Buyers' Leadership Skills."

In the article, I gave three ways that you, as a procurement leader, can help develop the leadership skills of your buyers. I also promised to share a fourth way on this blog, so here it is...

4. Give Buyers The Opportunity To Judge Character – Effective delegation is a two-sided deal: the leader has to be comfortable delegating but subordinates need to be cooperative and competent, too. With that second aspect in mind, it should be infinitely clear that it is important to hire the right people. Hiring the right people involves being a great judge of a candidate’s character based on limited interaction with that candidate. If a buyer doesn’t have supervisory responsibility, they may never get the opportunity to judge a candidate’s character. You can help this situation by allowing buyers to be part of a panel that interviews candidates for other buyer positions. Candid conversations and coaching after these interviews can help cultivate buyers’ character-judging skills.

If you came to this blog post from the original article, click here to return to the article.

If you want more good guidance on leadership within the procurement function, download our whitepaper "Purchasing Leader's Guide To A More Successful Team" by clicking here.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Procurement Manager's Thanksgiving Prayer

Tomorrow is the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US. While Thanksgiving is often associated with traveling to be with family, eating turkey, watching football, and, this year, going out late because Black Friday shopping has bled into Thursday, a central tenet of Thanksgiving is to think about and express how much you appreciate the good things you have in life.

So, what does a successful procurement manager's Thanksgiving prayer sound like? How about this?:
  • I am thankful for my internal customers, who are open-minded and eager to learn how their needs for goods and services can be satisfied while complying with corporate procurement policies
  • I am thankful for my suppliers, who provide high-quality goods and services on time and with excellent service and occasionally going above and beyond the call of duty to keep my organization's operations running smoothly
  • I am thankful for my buyers, who effectively and ethically achieve impressive cost savings and consistently exceed the targets for their key performance indicators
  • I am thankful for my management, who gives my department the support necessary to drive change through the organization
  • I am thankful for other departments, such as Legal and Human Resources, who work quickly and diligently to ensure that the procurement department is properly supported in its more complex initiatives
  • I am thankful for my peers, who help me to stay current on emerging practices and technologies in the profession
These represent key relationships necessary for maximum success in the procurement profession. If you've laughed or scoffed at reading one or more of these because the situation is different in your organization, please understand that, if you want change, you have to be the catalyst of change. Take action to build any subobtimal relationships over the next year. Then, next Thanksgiving, this list can be your list.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

Monday, November 21, 2011

Procurement Parable - A Procurement Certification or MBA?

Everyone that knows Gary had noticed that his mood had changed. Always known to be chipper and talkative, Gary was seemingly distracted in recent weeks.

After watching Gary be aloof for so long, Chas had to intervene. Chas, like Gary, is senior buyer in Fictitious Company, Inc., a mid-sized engineering firm. Both Gary and Chas started out as buyers for Fictitious in the late '90's and both got promoted to senior buyers when the company went public five years ago. They both report to Jim, the procurement manager.

One day, Chas said to Gary, "Hey bud, what's up with you lately? You haven't seemed like yourself. Is everything alright?"

"I'm just mulling over some decisions I'm thinking of making," Gary replied.

"Anything I could help you with?" Chas asked.

"Well, here's the deal," said Gary. "You know how Jim has been procurement manager since before we started?"


"And how he'll always be procurement manager til they haul him out in a body bag?"

"Haha, yeah!"

"Well, I need advancement," explained Gary. "I want to be a vice president of procurement some day and that isn’t going to happen here at Fictitious.”

“You’re probably right about that,” nodded Chas. “So you’re trying to decide on another job offer?”

“I wish,” sighed Gary. “I’ve been sending out resumes and I’ve even been on a decent number of interviews. But every procurement management job I’ve applied for requires either a purchasing certification or an MBA.”

“By MBA, you mean a masters in business administration degree, right?” asked Chas.

“Yeah,” answered Gary. “And I’m having trouble deciding which one to go for.”

“Why not get them both?” Chas asked. “They’re not mutually exclusive, you know.”

“Yeah, I know that,” Gary declared. “And if I didn’t have a wife and kids, I probably would go for both at the same time. But they both cost money and they both take time out of your week for studying. With my responsibilities, I can only do one at a time and I’m not sure which to do first.”

“Wanna know how I’d decide?” asked Chas.

“Sure,” said Gary. “I need something to break the tie.”

“Well, I’d look at my financial situation,” Chas replied, speaking slowly as if he was thinking up his answer on the spot. “If I could afford the most expensive option right now, I’d do it. Yeah, the economy is going well now, but it’s been so unstable over the last decade or so, you never know if you’ll have the money to do the most expensive thing at a later point in life.”

“Hmmm,” said Gary, aloud. “That’s…a….different way of looking at it.”

“But doesn’t it make sense?” Chas retorted, not giving Gary a chance to respond. “The problem with saving your pennies for a rainy day is that when that rainy day comes, something else has already come to take your pennies. If you can afford the more expensive option now, do it. Then, if you want to do the less expensive option later, you’ll need less time to save.”

Chas’ advice didn’t exactly resonate with Gary. Actually, Gary felt a little uncomfortable with Chas’ suggestion as it was quite a contrast to the way Gary usually made decisions.

Sensing Gary’s apprehension, Chas tried to comfort Gary: “Look, I know it’s a big decision. So, take your time and just think about it. I gotta run to a meeting.” With that, Chas patted Gary on the back and walked down the hallway.

“Stupid idea,” Gary thought to himself as he returned to working in his cubicle.

But later that night, Gary pulled out some paperwork from when Fictitious went public. All current employees got generous stock options at that time and, since then, Fictitious’ stock price had gone up, up, up with the rest of the market over the past couple of years.

Gary found that, by cashing in his stock options, he could cover half of the cost of the MBA. And with his savings – or at least the portion of the savings that he and his wife didn’t need to keep as an emergency fund – he could cover another ¼ of the MBA tuition. He thought that getting a loan to cover the last quarter of tuition would be more than reasonable. Maybe Chas did have a good idea after all.

Gary decided to go for his MBA. It wasn’t easy convincing his wife of his choice. His wife had a hard time getting past the idea that the cost of a purchasing certification was 30 times less expensive than an MBA. But she and Gary had always supported each other in their career decisions – she left her accounting job to be a greeting card illustrator to fulfill a lifelong dream – so she deferred to Gary’s judgment.

Gary enrolled in an executive MBA program at a local university, where he attended class on evenings and weekends. Within three years, Gary had his MBA.

One week after graduating, Gary had not one, not two, but three interviews for vice president of procurement positions at other companies. The job market, like the economy, was going as strong as it had in his memory, yet still Gary was pleasantly surprised at his success in securing interviews.

Though two of the companies for which he interviewed sent him rejection letters, Gary did get offered the position of Vice President of Procurement at the third company – Mean Business Construction. He accepted.

The day he accepted the job and turned in his resignation at Fictitious, Gary went to Chas’ cubicle and thanked him for the advice. “Man, that was some odd advice you gave me about getting my MBA a couple of years ago, but you know what? It led me to the right decision!”

Chas was glad he could help his friend. He had no plans to ever leave Fictitious, so he felt no competitive angst as many coworkers might. He was happy to see his friend succeed.

Gary was thrilled with how things were turning out. He didn’t exactly make the average salary of other procurement VP’s due to the fact that this was his first supervisory position, but he did get an office with a nice view and an assistant who catered to his every professional need. He had arrived!

Gary’s first few weeks at the new job were chaotic and perhaps a little surprising. He didn’t anticipate that the other senior executives would expect him to “rule with an iron fist.” Gary was a pretty low-key type of guy, so being tough with his employees was out of character for him. The company’s successful run of the past few years – as well as the economy – was beginning to be subjected to downward pressure, so the company’s leadership was feeling stressed. But Gary felt he was adapting.

However, things took a turn for the worst around the time that Gary was celebrating his three-month anniversary with the company. Waning sales combined with the fact that a major account canceled its construction plans the day before it was scheduled to sign a contract with Mean Business Construction put some severe financial pressure on Mean Business. It had no choice but to shed employees to stay near profitability.

Gary was called into the CEO’s office one day. The CEO explained that, because Gary was one of their most highly paid employees and he had the least seniority, that his job was being eliminated. Gary was devastated.

Yet, Gary remained confident. “I have an MBA and now VP-level experience,” he thought to himself. “I’ll be fine.”

But the more time went on, the less “fine” Gary felt.

The economy began to crumble before everyone’s eyes, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average shedding over a quarter of its value in a month’s time. There weren’t many available procurement jobs to be found on job sites. And the interviews that Gary did get didn’t go so well.

Gary would interview for senior buyer jobs, similar to the one he held at Fictitious. Yet, the hiring managers would tell him that an MBA and experience as a vice president overqualified him for them. Though Gary explained that he did a similar job for over 15 years and he would be happy to do it again, his pleas fell on deaf ears.

Gary would also interview for procurement vice president jobs, similar to the one he held at Mean Business. Hiring managers at those organizations told him that three months of leadership experience paled in comparison to the years of experience the many other candidates were able to offer. Apparently, Gary wasn’t the only procurement VP displaced by the bad economy.

Gary tried to keep his chin up. But, after nearly a year searching for a procurement job – any procurement job – Gary was still unemployed.

One day, Gary was entering the office building for the region’s largest employer, on his way to interview for a procurement manager job. As Gary was walking in, who did he see walking out but his old buddy Chas from Fictitious.

After exchanging pleasantries, they realized that they were both interviewing for the same job. Five weeks earlier, Chas was laid off by Fictitious.

Chas remembered his conversation with Gary years ago when Gary was trying to decide whether to get a purchasing certification or an MBA.

“Dude, you were so smart to cash in your stock options when you did,” Chas told Gary. “You probably got a fortune. I didn’t cash mine in until they canned me. Of course, with the stock market tanking, I only got pennies on the dollar. You were able to get an MBA out of it. Oh well, at least I got enough to get a purchasing certification. Looks like I’m gonna need it.”

“Yeah,” Gary thought to himself. “Now that stinkin’ MBA is actually doing me more harm than good.”

Chas ended up getting the job for which both he and Gary were competing. However, the story does have a happy ending. One month later, Gary got a buyer position making almost as much money as he had when he was working at Fictitious during good economic times. The part that Gary was bitter about, though, was the strategy he had to use to get it: he actually excluded his MBA work from the “Education” section of the resume he submitted.

Whenever the topic of graduate education came up at family gatherings, Gary would always half-heartedly joke “For every job that an MBA qualifies you for, it disqualifies you for a million other jobs.”

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

Friday, November 18, 2011

The NLPA Dedicated Member of the Month for November 2011 Is...

Every month, the Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA) recognizes a purchasing professional who has made impressive progress in learning more about his/her field. We are excited to announce that the NLPA Dedicated Member of the Month for November 2011 is...

Vicky Schuler, an Associate Buyer for the Kenton County Airport Board located in Hebron, Kentucky, USA. In October, Vicky completed five Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program classes! Vicky says:

"I had been looking for on-line classes to take for certification in the supply management field without having to have a Bachelor and/or Master Degree. That is when I came across the Next Level Purchasing website. Your website gave me the incentive and 'push' I needed to move forward in my career.

"I enjoyed all of the courses and found them to be challenging and insightful. I am in the process of reviewing all of the material so that I can schedule the SPSM® exam. I hope my dedication and hard work pays off. If so, I will definitely enroll in the SPSM2® Certification program.

"Thank you again Next Level Purchasing."
Next Level Purchasing and the procurement community around the world congratulate Vicky and her dedication to having a more successful purchasing career!

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Free Procurement Training Budget Tool

Ah, November and December. That wonderful time of year where procurement leaders have to put together their budgets for the next year.

One of the budget line items that procurement leaders have traditionally struggled with is the procurement training budget. If you're like most procurement leaders at this time of year, you're asking yourself questions like:
  • What training does my team need?
  • Do I train everyone on the same thing or customize the plan for each individual?
  • How much will that training cost?
Coming up with answers to these questions has always been challenging...until now!

The Next Level Purchasing Association has a solution for you. We are offering our "Procurement Training Budget Planning Tool" for free!

Not only is it free and will help you quickly arrive at the answers you need to have when planning your procurement training budget, but it is easy to use! It's just an Excel spreadsheet with some intelligence built into it to help you identify what training is right for which employee, see how much that plan will cost, and then tweak until you arrive at a number your CFO can live with!

Click the link below to open the spreadsheet.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Free Procurement Innovation Webinar This Thursday!

This Thursday - November 17, 2011 - at 11:30AM Eastern US time, Next Level Purchasing and Denali will be leading a webinar entitled "What's Next for Procurement: Innovating to Drive Value." This webinar is free to all members of the Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA) and membership in the NLPA itself is free and instant.

Here's how to register for the webinar:

If you're already an NLPA member: Log in to the association at and navigate to the "Webinars" tab. There you'll find a registration link, be sure to enter a valid email address as attendance details will be sent to you by email.

If you're not yet an NLPA member: Sign up for your free membership in the Next Level Purchasing Association at After doing so, you'll receive an email with information about how to log in. After logging in, navigate to the "Webinars" tab. There you'll find a registration link, be sure to enter a valid email address as attendance details will be sent to you by email.

Registration is free but may be limited, so sign up soon to ensure access to this event. I hope that you will join me for this exciting webinar!

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.

Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cleaning Up Your Supply Chain Resume

I hope that you have enjoyed the article "4 Words Your Supply Chain Resume Needs."

Sometimes, I write a PurchTips article and, immediately after it gets emailed to our 220,000+ members, I thought of something I would have liked to add to it. Such was the case with this article.

But thank God for this blog!

Here's what I wanted to add...When you use those four words mentioned in the article - saved, increased, reduced, and improved- you need to follow those words with an answer to the question "How much?" or "By how much?"

For example, if you improved the productivity of a department, it's not enough to say "Improved the productivity of my department." You should say "Improved the productivity of my department by 12%."

In most cases, it is best to list monetary amounts (in Dollars, Euros, or whatever currency you use). However, I recall a purchasing class that I took quite early in my career and an incident that happened that made me realize that it may not be appropriate to list monetary amounts in all situations. Another student was talking to the instructor about rewriting his resume and thought that he could get any job he wanted because he saved his employer $19,000.

The instructor, who worked for a large, Fortune 500 company, said "Uh, that's not really a lot of money." This statement shocked my fellow student, who thought he was worthy of induction into the procurement hall of fame.

While a $19,000 cost savings is nothing to sneeze at, the instructor's point was well-taken: if you've worked for a small company and are applying to work at a big company, you have to take the employer's perspective into consideration. The lesson here is that, in these cases, it may be best to express your achievement in terms of percentages rather than currency.

Having situational awareness is never a bad thing. Especially when you are trying to secure a new purchasing job.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At