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Does Your Small Business Utilize Mobile?

This infographic is a bit dated, but the information and purpose is still every bit as important for today as it was a few years ago. But the purprose for sharing it today is to look and see how the predictions for 2012 are lining up with mobile usage in the small business for today. So what do you think? Do you use mobile devices in your business? Do you utilize apps and tablets for busines purposes? As a customer of other businesses do you see a more prominent position and use of such items in other businesses? What about your purchasing department? Do you make full use of mobile access to approve POs, track shipments, and become more efficient?

How Small Business Has Gone Gaga for Mobile [INFOGRAPHIC]
via: How Small Business Has Gone Gaga for Mobile [INFOGRAPHIC]

April 29, 2014
BY Bellwether
What Cliches Should Purchasing Managers Never Use

Cliches Purchasing Managers should Never Use

You will come across lots of business cliches in the business world. Many times they are used as an excuse for something you should be doing. It’s time to get rid of the crutches. Here’s a list of some of the most common clichés which purchasing managers should never use:

  • There is no I in team: Sure there is. As an individual member of a purchasing team you have an important role to play. Don’t try to hide behind the team. Stand out and strive to help be a valuable member of the team.
  • Work smarter, not harder: Lazy people use this as an excuse; they claim to be working smarter when in fact they are barely working. You’ve probably heard the slogan “work hard, play hard.” Working hard and smart is not an either/or scenario. Word Hard, Work Smart. Do both.
  • Going forward: Going forward can sometimes be an excuse to procrastinate. It’s a way to avoid dealing with changes today or the consequences of mistakes from yesterday. When you make a mistake take ownership and take action today to make it better.
  • Open the kimono: This popped up a few years ago as an alternative to “revealing information.” It is one of the business cliches which are awkward in any sense. If you are trying to keep this one alive, don’t.
  • Blue sky thinking: This can be used with a negative or positive connotation. If an idea is too unrealistic this cliché would imply that the thought was not grounded in reality. On a more positive note it would be more along the lines of dreaming big. In this case it may be better to say what you mean.
  • Synergy: It is one of those words that has been used in many applications. It can be used to describe businesses working together, but it has so many applications from drug synergy, pest, toxicology to biological sciences. Because it has been used so often in so many ways it may give the impression that you yourself are a little dated.
  • On the Same Page: This one has become very common, almost everyday language. How do you feel when someone asks you this? Does it annoy you? Maybe consider going back to regular explanations and simply asking if it makes sense or if everyone is in agreement on how to proceed.
  • With all due respect: This is because it’s a sneaky phrase. It often brings the opposite effect of disrespect. It’s like a liar who has to qualify his statements by saying “Honest.” Or maybe you’ve heard someone lay out an insult and then tack on “just sayin’” at the end as though that makes it alright. If you are acting with honesty you don’t need to vocalize it and say “honest” and if you are speaking with respect you don’t need to try and qualify it by adding “with all due respect”. Let your actions and tone of voice carry the meaning.
  • Giving 200%: No one is able to give 200%. It’s baseball season and little boys are out there learning and the coaches are saying what? “Do your best.” You want to personally do your best and inspire others to do their best. You can’t produce or give beyond your capacity to do or give.

We’ve all said them. That is how they become clichés. That is also why you should stop using them. As a professional you have the opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition. Rather than making use of these out dated clichés, just get straight to the point or use witty alternatives. You should also follow up with solid examples when necessary. Doing this is a subtle way to elevate your status and professionalism.

April 24, 2014
BY Bellwether
Overcoming Boredom in Your Procurement Job

Last week we discussed how easily we can find ourselves bored and dissatisfied in our procurement jobs. This week we will look at how we can find new life and enjoyment in our jobs.

How Will You Keep From Getting Bored? Virtually every job, with time, can be expected to lose part of its enjoyment. Think about your favorite food; if you eat it every meal of every day for weeks or months it won’t taste as good. Did the food change or did you? It is not necessary for your purchasing professional’s job to get boring.

If you find yourself in a boredom rut right now try to think back to the beginning of things so as to remember why you were passionate about it in the first place. Reminding yourself of the reasons you liked this job, thinking about all the good things instead of dwelling on the negatives can go a long way in helping to reshape your thinking. Another option is to request that your employer give you additional duties. Maybe you can even ask for a short-term, limited time transfer to another project, department or position. Some time in another role may help you to rediscover all the things you like about your job.

Revitalize a boring job with newly painted officeSee if you can paint your office a new color even if you have to go buy a gallon of paint on your own dime. Changing the color, decorations, or desk arrangement can make things feel new again and help bring a new energy to the day to day work duties.

Even things such as changing your working and eating habits can help overcome boredom. Consider a schedule change; if your job allows it see if you can come in an hour earlier and get out an hour earlier. Maybe with the extra time you can start going to the gym and adding an exercise routine. By including healthy eating and exercise you will discover increased energy and a better overall outlook. Or maybe you can arrange to do a split shift working a few hours in the morning with an extended afternoon break that allows you to be home when your children get out of school so instead of daycare they get extra time with you one on one. By having some extra interaction with your child, helping with homework, and then finishing up in the office after dinner you can increase your level of personal satisfaction. Or maybe you have the option to do part or even all of your job from home. 

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April 22, 2014
BY Bellwether
Is Your Procurement Job Boring?

procurement job boring?Over a period of time as a procurement professional your job may look boring. In such a scenario your comprehension of performing your duties so as to professionally interact with the other workers can be greatly reduced. Also the co-workers and clients may be forced to consider your actions when you’re bored as laziness which will also have a drastic impact on your career. Here are a few reasons why such a situation arises.

Not many challenges left: As a procurement professional, at any point of time you may feel that your job is not as challenging or mentally engaging as it once was and start to feel a sense of boredom creep in. Think back to when you first started in the industry or at your current company. New responsibilities, learning the ins and out of the company, and getting up to speed on current best practices was a challenge that you rose to meet. However, with the passage of time you may feel you have arrived and duties of your job are repetitious and don’t require much thought. Boredom, if left unchecked can lead to mistakes.

Job Satisfaction: Your job as a purchasing professional becomes boring if it no is no longer able to meet your professional expectations. Satisfaction is tied to feeling challenged and worthwhile, but it goes beyond that. It may also be that your employer hasn’t given the credit which you actually deserve. Another possibility is being assigned tasks that you feel are “below” you. Such feelings result in frustration, resentment or anger from these and other workplace issues.

Health/Emotional Issues: When you are facing health issues yourself or in your family your perspective on life changes. Or maybe there are emotional challenges at home. Before you know it those health or emotional challenges became the primary focus and importance in your life. Things that were once important are no longer. As you perspective changes your job becomes unimportant or boring. There is also a physical component to these issues. An example can be that you skip meals and don’t drink enough fluids while at work. Fatigue and boredom set in as a result of dehydration. 

If any of this describes you check back next week for some tips and suggestions on overcoming boredom in your procurement job.

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April 17, 2014
BY Bellwether
What does the Procurement Manager of Tomorrow Look Like? (Part 1)

The Procurement Manager of TomorrowA Procurement manager is also called the purchasing manager. They work for companies of all sizes. Typically in smaller companies they fill multiple rolls and may not have the title of procurement manager, but do all the same duties. The larger a company becomes the more likely they have a full-time position dedicated to procurement and in some cases may have an entire team with specialized rolls for different people. Managers are often responsible for coordinating and managing the work as procurement agents, purchasing or the buying agents. They also work on the most complex purchases for the company. Their task is to research and evaluate and then buy the products for the companies. These products may resold to the customers at retail, may be used for internal everyday operations, or may be parts that contribute to the whole of a final product.  The position is evolving and the duties are no longer confined to purchasing staples and pens, and paper; here are some of the skills which a procurement manager looking to the future should have:

Critical Thinking: As a procurement manager he or she should use logic and reasoning in order to identify the weaknesses and strengths for alternative solutions to problems.

Active Listening: The procurement manager of tomorrow should be able to give his full attention to what the other people are saying. He should also take time in understanding the points being made, asking appropriate questions. It is no longer one person’s responsibility, but the entire team and even other departments should all work together and that starts with listening to those around you.

Reading Comprehension: It is not simply looking at catalogs and prices, but reading large volumes of information including catalog prices, but going beyond into industry reports, worldwide economic conditions, and other areas that all impact even the most basic purchasing decisions. Reading, comprehending, and adjusting is a key component.

Decision Making: He should also be able to gather all the necessary information and come to a sound decision taking into consideration the relative costs and advantages of the necessary actions so as to arrive at the most appropriate one.

Management of Material Resources: Ensuring that all departments have the tools, supplies, and resources necessary to their jobs is of great importance. If resources are not available when needed entire departments can be delayed which in turn has a domino effect throughout the company. Managing these resources keeps everything moving and working toward profitability.

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April 10, 2014
BY Bellwether
What Does Good Procurement Look Like?

In the current business environment, with the changes, demands, and pressures facing small businesses around the world, what does good procurement look like? Good procurement looks like a challenge. There is a need to raise standards, reach a higher level of efficiency, and achieve greater savings all while delivering exceptional value for money, for every dollar spent. Some may say it is an uphill battle. Others may say it is an opportunity to transform procurement once and for all and for the better. In many ways both would be right.

Now is the time for businesses to elevate in every area, including procurement. Good procurement can elevate quality and value like never before. Together, every small business, working toward the same goal can impact the global procurement landscape in ways you would never have considered looking at your business alone. But do you operate your business in a vacuum? Of course not, we are all a part f this global economy. Both the good and the bad.

butterfly effect f purchasing changesTogether, as each and every one who makes up part of a procurement team, works toward best practices, continues studying and learning, we can all make a big difference. Sometimes it is hard to see so it is important t keep the big picture in mind as well. Do you remember the old analogy of a butterfly flapping its wings on one continent can start a hurricane on another several weeks later? Or maybe you’ve seen a movie with time travel where the character(s) travel back in time making one small change only to find when they return to the present how drastically different their life would have turned out and those whose lives intersected theirs.  Small changes you, as an individual make, add up to bigger changes for your entire team, and changes for your business, that result in industry improvements, and so on.  This is an example of the butterfly effect at work.

In the business world you may be more familiar with the term chaos theory.  According to Wikipedia:

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependency on initial conditions in which a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks earlier.

Although the butterfly effect may appear to be an unlikely behavior, it is exhibited by very simple systems. For example, a ball placed at the crest of a hill may roll into any surrounding valley depending on, among other things, slight differences in its initial position.

It’s time for the procurement industry to elevate and lead the rest of the business world. It’s time for you to exercise greater purchasing power by capitalizing on good procurement practices and the further development of professional competence. The journey ahead may look long and tedious, but with everyone working together toward the same goals, each little change can affect the greater good of all involved.

So what does good procurement look like? It’s about having quality, well-trained people in place at every level. It’s about following best practices through implementation of highly efficient processes. It’s about strategic leadership. It’s about maximizing partnerships within the industry and without. Good procurement looks like YOU because that is where it all starts.  


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April 8, 2014
BY Bellwether
Who is Responsible for the Financial Side of Purchasing Training?

Getting an advanced training and education comes with many benefits. The employee and the employer benefit in different ways. The trained employee will be an asset to the company and his services will bring about positive changes and progress in the organization. For instance, procurement training for the employees will result in better implementation of strategic procurement policies of the company. When employers require the employee to undergo certain training and ongoing education it is not unusual for the employer to take on the financial responsibilities for the purpose of receiving training including the travel expense, travel time, and training expense.

Even in the case where an employer does not have an official policy or budget for training the company managers may be willing to invest in additional training for your position. Don’t be hesitant or embarrassed about bringing this to the attention of your immediate supervisors and express your desire to pursue procurement training that would help your company. Progressive companies want their employees to become better and beat the competition in the market.

Convince the employer

Some employers may need a bit more convincing than some others to cover the training cost for its employees. There may be the concern about paying for the additional training and then as a result of the additional qualifications loosing you to another higher paid position. There is a lot that an employee can do to assure the employer that his education would be beneficial to the company. They want to attract and keep quality employees. You can’t guarantee you won’t ever be in the market for a new job, but the fact that your employer would be willing to invest in YOU as an employee is very valuable. You know your managers so take the time to think about what is really important to them. Build your case for education professionally. Help them see how important the training is to your company and remind them that the employees are the company’s greatest asset and cannot be ignored.

Remove the Fears

Depending on the timing and format of the training, you will want to ensure your manager that pursing these education courses will not hamper your performance and if necessary, you will work nights and weekends for either your job or your training, for the short term, to make sure you don’t fall behind in either. Show that you are serious and your level of commitment is what it needs to be. You will have to use your judgment about whether it is important to address the fear of your abandoning the company upon completion of the additional education and training. Be up front that while you cannot guarantee you will never consider employment elsewhere, you are very happy where you are and appreciative of the company’s belief and investment in you as an employee. And even if a change should occur at some point in the future, the value your company receives until that point will far outweigh the cost of the training.

Prepare beforehand

Before approaching the employer to pay for continued education or to work out a reimbursement schedule be sure you research other precedents for education reimbursement either within your company, your industry or even your competition. This will enable you to be ready to make your case and handle any objections the managers may have. If you prepare ahead of time and anticipate the questions or concerns you will be in a much better position to have your request granted. The answers must convince the employer that it will be to the benefit of the company. But the bottom line is that you are responsible for you and if your company does not see the importance or simply does not have room in the current budget don’t view it as a door slamming shut. Try again when the new budget is created or consider financing it yourself knowing that you may  not get reimbursed from the company directly, but indirectly through raises or a better job within the same or a different company will give yourself a good return on your investment.


April 3, 2014
BY Bellwether
Is Advanced Procurement training Really Worth the Investment?

One of the reasons a company employs a purchasing manager is that they need a person with specialized skills for the implementation and development of plans and strategies related to purchasing and procurement. Companies need to get the best out of their procurement managers. One of the best ways to enhance and get the best from your entire procurement team si through advanced procurement training. This training will help your team to augment their skills and learn new and better means to carry out their job. However, not everyone is as enthusiastic about training considering the costs involved. Employers have to decide if the investment of time and money is worth the additional skills and unfortunately the answer is not always yes in practice.

The benefits it can impart:

Advanced procurement training can provide the entire procurement team with skills that the procurement professionals need to know. These skills go beyond the core knowledge acquired through higher education and degrees into the latest industry trends and concepts. One of the most important benefits of advanced training is, simply put, staying current. Over time technological advancements, economic conditions, and the rise and fall of suppliers can impact the most effective strategies and techniques.

The training can bring a greater understanding of the way procurement affects the organization’s finances. Procurement managers staying current in their training can work more efficiently and that can result in a decline in the expenses pertaining to cost of services and materials. The training can also make all your procurement professionals more confident in their own abilities. Working from a place of confidence can help everyone to achieve the objectives set by the procurement strategy of the company.

Well trained professionals would know the importance of teamwork and the way it should be carried out. The importance of teamwork and good interpersonal skills can be enhanced through advanced procurement training. The training would elevate the leadership skills of the procurement manager through which he would be in a position to assist fellow employees in a better way. Training could even help the relationship between the supplier and contractor; it would strengthen it by making the manager well equipped with the necessary skills.

Possible challenges of procurement training:

Although there are many benefits of advanced procurement training the fact is that it does involve some cost. In the long run the training will help the organization, but the company has to look into its finances and matters pertaining to short term investment before making advances. The potential candidate must also be assessed before investing in his training. There is risk of the employee getting the additional training and using that to advance his or her career into another company. The beneficial factors must outweigh the risks that are associated with it. Purchasing manager’s existing skills must be evaluated what additional training is needed and the appropriate path to get there. Alternative training sources may also be looked at to keep costs down while determining the level of commitment the employee has to both the training your company.


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April 1, 2014
BY Bellwether

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