Evolving the Value of Procurement

Ask Joanna

The CPO's Corner



For Canadian Procurement Executives, what are some key priorities for long term success in finding the value for your organization?

Joanna's Answer:

Congratulations on focusing on the long term. Particularly when you’re new to an organization and you want to make a great first impression, there’s a temptation to make the “quick wins” a primary linchpin of your time and efforts. But if you want to still be getting kudos from your executive team a few years from now, there are at least two other places that need your focus as well.

The first is to match the skillsets of yourself and your team against where the business is heading. There may be outstanding expertise in printed material, perhaps – but if your company has an email marketing strategy, that printed material category knowledge may soon be unneeded. Is recruiting moving inhouse? Then you need to have someone educated in the e-tools tools that are needed to accomplish tasks like candidate recruitment. And when the best story that the technology procurement SME likes to tell is about the day that the first PC was delivered to your firm, there’s probably some re-training required.

If you’re an individual contributor, not a manager, you have to take the initiative as well. You can’t rest on your laurels, on the expertise you have developed. You need to really understand the direction your internal clients are headed and how it will affect your categories. You have specific knowledge that helps the firm today, but if they’re not the categories of the future you need to be expanding your comfort zone.

This is tough. Especially if your company is small and the to-do list is already long. For some it means an investment in training. It may be having to let a valued employee go because they are struggling too much with making the needed changes, or they’re not interested in absorbing new categories. But until you are aligned with the strategic direction, until you have the expertise to support those new initiatives that your company is putting in place, you can’t rest.

The second thing you need to do is report on more than cost savings alone. You may very well have savings goals that must be met each month, but there is nothing stopping you with creating a report of your own. Mention the ways a supplier helped your marketing team take a new product to market, or the efficiency improvement that came from redesigning the packaging or making a process improvement.

If you can measure the impact, great. But if not, then just create an awareness of the broad list of projects where procurement helped in some way. You’re not trying to imply that you acted alone, but you are trying to highlight your role in supporting business initiatives. Even if it starts simply as a note to your direct manager, you are building awareness. That’s important, because the day will come when the savings get harder to achieve than they are today. And you want the business firmly in your court, understanding the many other ways you add value.

About Joanna


Joanna Martinez is a global procurement / supply chain leader and the founder of Supply Chain Advisors LLC. She is a frequent lecturer and blogger on procurement topics and also provides coaching, strategy development, training, and cost reduction opportunity assessment. Her clients range from Fortune 100 companies to technology startups.

As either regional or global CPO, Joanna has led transformation initiatives for companies in many different sectors: among them Johnson & Johnson (consumer products), Diageo (beverage), AllianceBernstein LP (financial services) and Cushman & Wakefield (real estate services, property management). She has also held client-facing roles, effectively giving her the opportunity to “sit on both sides of the table”.