No sooner do I talk about a study spanning several decades which concluded that generally speaking executives perceive the buyer role as a low level position, in which “one strategic business thinker with the right skills and capabilities is worth 10 or 12 of your normal, run-of-the-mill purchasing people,” and (not surprisingly) IACCM demonstrates their forethought in terms of getting ahead of this curve so to speak.
For those who may have missed the original February 7th, 2010 post (According to study conducted over three decades buyers warrant little consideration in terms of value to the organization), I provided my take on the results of a study presented by John Pooley and Steven C. Dunn which brought to light something that we have in the profession for some time suspected but never openly discussed . . . that our value to our organizations may not reflect our understanding of the work that we do.
In addition to the key points raised in the above post, results associated with other studies such as the 2007 Aberdeen survey of Chief Financial Officers which found that 83% of all savings claimed by purchasing are routinely discounted by CFOs as being irrelevant, does little to dispel the perceived absence of value offered by procurement professionals.
It is important to point out that I am not talking about the recognized strategic value of the purchasing function here, as more and more organizations today acknowledge the significant impact purchasing and supply chain practices have on the bottom line. What I am talking about is the gap between the role of purchasing in the emerging global economy, and the perception regarding the capabilities or skill sets of those who work within the field.
Let’s face it, and according to the CPO Agenda Roundtable referenced in my February 7th article, the majority of executives believe that the best people to run a purchasing department are those who do not have a purchasing background! Upon even a cursory reflection, this is a serious problem for the profession. The question is, what do you do about it?
Well to start, you ask yourself the tough questions such as the one’s posed by IACCM CEO Tim Cummins in the following e-mail blast regarding their upcoming America’s Conference which will take place in Orlando, Florida between March 1st to 3rd:
Do you ever wonder what will happen to your career, what demands you will have to meet in the next few months or years?
The good news is that, with so much uncertainty and such turbulent economic conditions, the need for high quality contracting and management of trading relationships has never been greater.
That is one of the key conclusions coming from research and meetings with executive management; But those meetings also highlight how poorly equipped many professionals are to cope with that demand.
So if you are wondering how the role of contracting is changing; if you are seeking answers or ideas on how to improve your ability to manage uncertainty through new contract structures and terms; and if you are thinking about the effect on skills and process as you seek to manage greater agility and flexibility – then you will certainly want to attend the IACCM Americas conference on March 1st – 3rd.
Talk about timing!
Of course IACCM has seen this paradigm shift relative to skill sets coming for some time and are thus in the position to address it beyond a simple cosmetic change in name or corresponding launch of a social media site.
Against this backdrop of change it seems appropriate to make reference to a line that is repeatedly delivered by Sean Connery’s character in the 1987 movie The Untouchables regarding the onerous and at times overwhelming challenges faced by the protagonist Elliot Ness . . . what are you prepared to do!
As purchasing professionals this is a question that we need to ask ourselves. It is also a question to which perhaps associations such as IACCM have a ready answer.
After all, and as industry intelligence is telling us . . . we are definitely not “Untouchable!”