Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lots of Meetings, No Action? Here Are Solutions!

 Prior to founding Next Level Purchasing, I worked at some big companies.  Today, I regularly visit big companies to discuss how they can improve their procurement results.

As I walk through the mazes of cubicles, offices, and conference rooms at big companies, I notice something that I used to take for granted but, upon reflection, find quite interesting:  almost everyone is in meetings.  From every doorway comes the yakity-yakity-yak of people talking, talking, talking.

And yet when I meet with management at these companies, I hear some common refrains:  "We are struggling to meet deadlines."  "We are understaffed and don't have the resources to do what we need to do."  "There is more work than ever."

In short, it isn't easy to accomplish the mission.  Or - let me rephrase that - it feels difficult to accomplish the mission.

It seems like there are lots of meetings, but not enough action.

What are some solutions to this problem?

Here are a few ideas...

Well, the first idea may be oversimplified, but it shouldn't be overlooked:  have fewer meetings!  If you're talking about working, you're more than likely not actually working!  And, unfortunately, most meetings are not true "working meetings."


Next Level Purchasing teaches the concept of value analysis in a procurement context, where materials, services, etc. should be evaluated to determine the viability of substitution or elimination in an effort to match function with cost and, ultimately, reduce costs.  A similar concept should be applied to meetings:  where the value of the meeting doesn't exceed the investment, it should be eliminated.

It's funny to think why some meetings occur.  I only have to look at myself to find a shining example of how meetings affect productivity.

We have several regular, themed meetings each month here at Next Level Purchasing.  Several of these meetings occur for one reason:  because I want them to.

Have you ever been to a meeting that existed solely because a manager wanted it to?

Well, as I was strategizing recently, I wasn't sure that a couple of the semi-monthly meetings were delivering value that matched the investment of time.  So, I reduced the frequency to monthly (i.e., eliminated one meeting per month for each of the two meeting themes).  Now, this move didn't degrade our performance at all.  But it did have an impact on our costs and productivity!  When I considered the "cost of a meeting" in terms of employee compensation for time spent in meetings, I saw that the "savings" of eliminating those meetings was almost 2% of payroll!

How awesome is that?  While some companies have to lay off employees to achieve savings equivalent to 2% of payroll, I was able to accomplish the same thing with a much more "humane" approach. Now, because Next Level Purchasing is a rapidly growing organization, no employee's hours got cut - they just now use that time more productively than spending it in meetings!


The business world has created for itself a culture that indicates that meetings shouldn't be questioned.  You get an Outlook invite, click Accept, and you are committed to a meeting.  I see many of our students who ask for extensions of their access to our online purchasing courses claiming to not be able to "find the time" to complete their training, yet they always find time for a meeting.  There's something "safe feeling" about blocking out time for meetings on your calendar that just doesn't feel as right when blocking out time for other things.

So, if you are in a position to influence meeting frequency - or even to do away with certain meetings completely - consider it!

Onto my second idea...

Now, we all know that getting rid of meetings completely isn't going to happen.  However, there is a way to increase the productivity associated with meetings.  Here's how.

Meetings are often used to set plans and distribute action items.  Then, follow up meetings are held to determine the progress on said action items.  And these follow up meetings too often reveal that people have done absolutely nothing related to their action items since the last meeting!

Why not?  Probably because they were too busy attending other meetings, right?

Regardless of what was being done between meetings, it wasn't working on the action items.  Look, you know a meeting is going to last a certain number of minutes or hours.  And you can reasonably expect to have action items assigned to you.

So, just do this:  every time you put a meeting on your schedule, block out the half hour immediately after the meeting to dedicate to working your action items.  Get them out of the way as soon as possible before the all-too-familiar "competing priorities" come along and sabotage your chances of progress.

If you're in a leadership position, try this out and, if it works for you, get your staff to do the same.  You'll be surprised at how much can get done!

So, there you have it...if your organization has lots of meetings and no action, reduce the frequency of or eliminate meetings and always schedule a half-hour after meetings to work your action items.  Want results?  Make the change.  Before the next meeting distracts you from getting some "real work" done!

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At
www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Asking Questions on a Procurement Interview

I hope that you have enjoyed the article "Procurement Interviews: Questions & Stories."

As alluded to in the article, hiring managers often don't limit their judgment of you to just how you answer their questions.  They also judge you on the quality of the questions that you ask them!

In the article, I gave examples of six questions to consider asking a manager hiring for a procurement position.  Here are a few more that you may want to consider:
  • Where do you see the procurement department going in the next several years?
  • How is the procurement department perceived by management and internal customers?
  • What mistakes has the procurement department made in the past that you'd like to avoid in the future?
Asking good questions can showcase yourself as an intelligent candidate who is focused on delivering measurable results and improving procurement performance.

One caution:  don't go into an interview and expect to ask these questions without back-and-forth dialogue.  Too often, I see people getting lazy and just using a template of sorts and not being prepared for what comes next.

If the hiring manager responds to your question by asking you "Why do you ask that question?" or answers your question then asks "What do you think of that?" be prepared to have a real, comfortable conversation.  If you just ask questions because you read them here and don't spend any time thinking through how the subsequent conversation will go, you won't achieve your goal of using questions to showcase intelligence!

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At
www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Monday, August 27, 2012

Free Negotiation Webinar This Thursday!


Successful supply management professionals must possess championship-caliber negotiation skills in today's tough economic environment.  "Championship-Caliber Negotiation" is a free webinar that will provide participants with the details on how to develop winning negotiation strategies and tactics appropriate for various circumstances.  It also includes creative negotiation techniques for win-win outcomes.  

This webinar will be led by Soheila Lunney, Ph.D, SPSM. who - along with Next Level Purchasing Association President and Founder, Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2 - authored the best-selling book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies and Techniques for Supply Management Professionals."
The webinar will be held on Thursday August 30, 2012 at 11:30AM Eastern US time.  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 members' area at
http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com/login.html 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 http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com/procurement-association.php. 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 Association
Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At
www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Friday, August 24, 2012

67% Salary Increase: A Procurement Certification Case Study

In addition to the existing batch of over a half-dozen SPSM® Certification Success Story videos we have on the Next Level Purchasing Association site, we are beginning to add written case studies as well.

We have recently launched our first such case study and here's a little summary/excerpt...


Jjuuko Moses found himself in a seemingly hopeless situation. He had spent nearly six years with an employer and had been passed over for promotions without explanation. He remained in the role of logistics officer with no clear path to advance.

In researching how he could improve his career, Mr. Jjuuko learned about the SPSM® Certification and estimated that he only possessed 30% of the capabilities that are taught in the SPSM® courses. He enrolled, applied what he learned to improve his workplace results, and earned the SPSM® within 10 months.

After earning his SPSM® Certification, Mr. Jjuuko began looking for higher-level, management positions. He leveraged his new qualification, obtaining an interview for a leading cosmetics manufacturer just three weeks after becoming certified, and was hired as a Transport/Fleet Manager. His new salary was 67% higher than his previous one.

Want to read all of the details?  Download the entire case study (no registration required) at http://nextlevelpurchasing.com/procurement-case-studies.php.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At
www.NextLevelPurchasing.com



Thursday, August 23, 2012

The NLPA Dedicated Member of the Month for August 2012 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 August 2012 is...

 Thomas Purath, an Operations Manager in Germany.  In July, Thomas completed all six of the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program courses!

"I've been working in several management positions in marketing, sales and operations for 15 years. In my latest position, I was responsible for operations at Philips Consumer Lighting in the German, Swiss and Austrian market. For further career development, I was looking for condensed training material on strategic purchasing that could be "digested" within a manageable time frame. Finally, I selected the SPSM® Program, because it was perfectly sized for that purpose. It gives a nice and handy framework even for experienced supply chain professionals who frequently got in touch with purchasing as an interface but had little experience in conducting the function by themselves"

Next Level Purchasing and the procurement community around the world congratulate Thomas and his dedication to having a more successful purchasing career!

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At
www.NextLevelPurchasing.com

Monday, August 13, 2012

How Suppliers Negotiate Price

I hope that you have enjoyed the article "How Suppliers Defend Price in Negotiations."

In the article, I shared seven things that suppliers often say to try to defuse procurement negotiation attempts.  I encouraged readers to come up with their own responses to those supplier salvos.  However, because you are such a valued blog reader, I am going to help you out a little more.

In the last example, I shared this common supplier line:  "We already factored a discount into the price we proposed."
 
What can you say to that?

Here's one of the ways I would respond if certain conditions existed...

"I'm sure you did.  But you know as well as I that there is always wiggle room when it comes down to the difference between winning a deal and losing it over a few pennies.  So, let's get your most aggressive numbers on the table so you can either earn the business or lose it without regrets."


Why did I say "if certain conditions existed?"

Any time you communicate with anyone, you always have to take multiple things into consideration.  So, you have to be careful not to simply "cut and paste" words into an inappropriate situation.  Therefore, I used that little caveat.

Still, I encourage you to think through the supplier defenses in the article and prepare your responses, considering the context of the relationship and marketplace.  The supplier may not use all - or any - of those defenses but, if it does, you'll be glad you prepared!

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer - Next Level Purchasing Association
Author - The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At
www.NextLevelPurchasing.com



Friday, August 03, 2012

Get Procurement Templates, Tools & Training On-Demand With New NLPA Premium Membership!

With procurement professionals increasingly being tasked with doing more and achieving better results in what little time they have each day, authoritative and essential procurement resources and advice has never been more crucial.  In response to this growing procurement information crisis, the Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA) yesterday launched a new Premium Membership option.  The NLPA Premium Membership builds on the free, basic membership available to all procurement professionals, and offers a comprehensive resource center, the NLPA Library, featuring a collection of supply management templates, checklists, slide decks, archived webinars, transcripts from interviews with industry experts, and much more.  NLPA Premium Members also have access to all of the NLPA's online Express Courses which cover topics including negotiation, services contracting and procurement ethics

“Procurement professionals are under increasing pressure to find and implement effective solutions quickly,” said Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2 – the President and Chief Procurement Officer of Next Level Purchasing, Inc.  “With the new Premium Membership to the Next Level Purchasing Association, procurement professionals will finally have quick access to authoritative tools, templates, and education that enable them to implement those effective solutions.  Plus, that access will cost them less than half of what they would pay for membership to a traditional association, which offers little more than a membership card.

Procurement professionals interested in becoming Premium Members of the Next Level Purchasing Association can learn more at: http://www.nextlevelpurchasing/premium-member.

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