On the PI Window on Business’ second show back in April 2009 I welcomed along with McEvoy Galbraeth and Anne Phillips, Stephen Bauld who at the time was Vice President for the Ontario General Contractors Association and author of the books “Leadership Or The Lack Thereof” and “The Municipal Procurement Handbook (two editions).” For those wanting to take a stroll down memory lane, here is the link to the on-demand episode from that April 2009 broadcast “PI Window on Procurement.”
Of the many great topics that we covered during the 30 minute segment (that’s right 30 minutes versus today’s 60 minute format – the result of my belief in the early days of the show that I would rather run out of time versus running out of something worthwhile to say), what still stands out is Stephen’s comment regarding his Leadership book. Specifically that he had originally anticipated that sales would likely be confined to “his family and a few close friends.”
Well he did a little bit better than that as the book became a strong seller, something he had attributed to the paucity of procurement books on the market at the time. Of course notwithstanding a limited selection in the category, Stephen’s book did well because it was well researched and equally well written.
Jump ahead to 2011, and I am excited to say that the availability of books regarding procurement has kept pace with the market’s recognition that purchasing is not simply an adjunct of finance, but a critical strategic tool for both private and public sector entities. This is especially true in the public sector, where purchasing is also being viewed as an economic driver as much as it is a means by which to support the government’s ability to deliver services to the public.
I had actually referenced the growing financial problems within the public sector that are responsible for elevating procurement’s role in a December 6th, 2010 article I wrote titled “Government fiscal policies show telltale signs of subprime 2008 meltdown.”
With both Municipal and State governments on the verge of going bankrupt in 2011 – something that hasn’t happened at the Municipal level since the Great Depression, services are being cut back as administrations look for ways to bridge what appears to be an unbridgeable chasm in terms of budget shortfalls.
This has resulted in an increasing number of governments looking to re-engage the Small, Women and Minority-owned business community, one that has over the past few years drifted away from pursuing government contracts for a variety of reason including the belief that it was a colossal waste of time and energy. It is worth noting that the author of one of the new books about which I am speaking, Judy Bradt, estimates that it takes on average 18 to 24 months for s supplier to win their first contract in the public sector. That is a long dry spell, especially in a tough economy where a potential down the road payout 2 years into the future is hardly an enticement to get in the public sector purchasing game.
It is for this reason alone that Bradt’s new book “Government Contracts made Eas(ier),” and Mark Amtowers “Selling To The Government (What It Takes To Compete And Win In The World’s Largest Market)” are the essential must read bookends for any book shelf. In short, if you do not have these two books, then you have a gaping hole in your library!
On a side note . . . okay let’s call it a full digression, this is one of the reasons why the Ariba Dummies book is symbolic of the myopic and tragically out of touch IT/ERP vendor view of the government marketplace – one for which they have little if any real understanding.
The Ariba book in particular, which focuses on cloud computing and the related technological platforms, misses the point entirely relative to the urgency associated with effectively addressing the budgetary challenges government’s face in the real world. To put it another way, cloud computing in and of itself will do little to bring vendors back to the table. In fact, the Ariba approach, as well as those championed by SAP and Oracle may actually do more harm than good, because they continue to fail to recognize the key tenets of procurement, one of which is that people buy from whom they “know, like and trust.” Adding a few technological bells and whistles to a tired strategy will not build the required relationships to get to that necessary level of engagement.
It is precisely this understanding of how people interact and do business within the public sector – particularly during an economically difficult period, that makes both Bradt’s and Amtower’s books must haves and must reads regardless of whether you are buying for or selling to the government.
Mark Amtower and Judy Bradt have of course been guests on the PI Window on Business Show on Blog Talk Radio, Mark on the December 12th, 2009 segment “The Convergence of Success: The Alignment of Opportunity, Insight, Means and Action,” and Judy in what has become an incredibly popular 7-Part Series “Seven Steps To Success: Jump Start Government Contracts.”
In February and March of 2011, both Mark and Judy will be making a return appearance on the show to coincide with the month’s in which their respective books will be featured on the PI Window on Business (Amtower’s Selling To The Government book in February, and Bradt’s Government Contracts Made Easier in March). So be sure to stay tuned regarding actual broadcasts dates and times.
In the meantime, don’t wait for the segments to air and kick-start 2011 by purchasing these two books today . . . and no I do not get a commission on books sold, they are just that good!