7 Countries in 7 Weeks: Purchasing Knowledge I Gained That You MUST Know

by Omid Ghamami

Purchasing Training: Global Purchasing and Procurement Best Practices

7 Countries in 7 Weeks:  Purchasing Knowledge I Gained That You MUST Know

(Scroll all the way down for a Black Friday Bonus Special)

 

In the last 2 months, I did keynotes, seminars, and consulting in Turkey, Brazil, Canada, Malaysia, and Dubai, and Texas.  I managed to find a weekend somewhere to visit Phuket, Thailand to unwind just a little along the way.

All in all, it was quite the whirlwind tour overall.

In the process however, I learned something.  I learned what I already knew, but it reaffirmed what I’ve been telling people in our profession for 20 years:  We all have the same problems.

Our profession has evolved immensely, and at the same time, it hasn’t evolved at all!

Our profession, regardless of geography or industry focus, is plagued with the same problems, to varying degrees.  Let me count the ways:

  • End users cutting deals with suppliers or pushing their agenda on purchasing; purchasing viewed as a roadblock when the don’t comply
  • Corporate management that doesn’t recognize the true value of purchasing
  • Corporate willingness to embrace the idea of TCO, but lack of corporate willingness to accept or appreciate TCO metrics like cost avoidance and soft cost savings
  • Recognition of purchasing as an administrative function that enables the success of other departments instead of as a value added center of profit that enables the company’s success
  • Little budget for training and staff development, because purchasing is not viewed as a revenue generator (only revenue generators have fat budgets)
  • Understaffed and overwhelmed legal support functions
  • The overriding belief that “negotiations training” is all that’s needed to bridge the skills gap in purchasing
  • Driving increasingly sophisticated strategies to bring supplier prices down, but doing little in the realm of design for TCO and taking costs out of the supply chain
  • Spending 80% of every day in unplanned activities, none of which show up in status reports or performance reviews
  • Tracking many, many, many metrics, most of which are difficult to track and many of which are unrelated to TCO, but we are obligated to track regardless
  • Lacking quality systems and tools, and the ones that do exist were developed with someone else’s convenience in mind (finance, accounting, etc).
  • End users doing so much customization of specs and SOWs that the number of viable suppliers shrinks, often putting us in “supplier jail” with sole source situations
  • All of us landed in purchasing by accident, and report to people who landed in purchasing by accident, and eventually report to someone who doesn’t understand purchasing.
  • And on and on

Now if you think I’m trying to paint a black picture, I’m not really.  You see, part of my job is what I call “twisting the knife”.  I have to make people in this profession realize how much pain they are really in.

Without pain or without the recognition of pain, there is little motivation to improve.  So here’s the good news: Purchasing is the easiest profession in the world to become a hero in, because the gap between current state and desired state is so large.

And it’s not because purchasing professionals are inept.  Far from it.  This profession is filled with some of the brightest people, and I can say that, because I work with thousands of them every year.  If you are reading this blog, you are probably a pretty intelligent person, one who is thirsting to become even better.

Now I’ve enjoyed an incredible career path, from the beginning.  There were three factors that I attribute to this success.  I wanted to share them with you.

Key Factor #1: I always looked at what was most broken in the department, what people struggled with most, and I took the initiative to become a subject matter expert in that arena, and I would bring the whole department up to my level.

Soon enough, I’d be de facto operating at a higher level than my grade or pay, and management would see this and fix that by bringing my pay and grade up to my performance.  I made things a “no-brainer” for them, because I left no room for speculation.    I got many out of cycle promotions and raises in this fashion actually.  Management didn’t want to wait until the performance review period.

Key Factor #2: I never stayed comfortable.  I never pursued any assignment or responsibility that I knew I could do with my existing knowledge or skill sets.  I always took on things that were slightly outside of my comfort level, and I just busted my tail to make sure I succeeded.

Then when that challenge became easy, I moved onto the next uncomfortable opportunity.  If you don’t do this, you’ll find out one day that you don’t have 20 years’ experience, but you actually only have one year experience twenty times.  By the time you figure that out, it’s too late to do anything about it.  Never get comfortable.

Key Factor #3: I never waited for anyone else to crown me.  I always crowned myself.  I took on initiatives and proclaimed I was going to lead them on behalf of the larger purchasing organization.  Nobody else was doing them, so whose feet could I be stepping on?  Everything was greenfield.  I could only improve things when nobody else was doing anything about them.

If you are going to wait until someone else crowns you, then you are relinquishing total control of your career to other people who are focused on other things.  That’s a lousy way to manage your career.   Take control, take risks, and don’t be afraid to crown yourself.

I hope the messages above really help you.  Pretty soon, you’re going to see me post a powerful video on “The State of Purchasing” – it’ll be much like the President’s State of the Union address in concept, except I won’t window dress anything.

This State of Purchasing video will launch around the end of this year or the beginning of next year, and it will be an annual video proclamation that I’ll make, in an effort to help make our industry and our profession better.

As a globally recognized purchasing thought leader, I want to set the stage for where we are and where we need to go.  Look for that soon.

I also have another big announcement.  Today is Black Friday, and I’m going to do something I’ve never done before.  All of my online training products are 50% off right now.  

My products are the best in the business, not only because of the content and approach, but also because they are online, on demand, and you hear my voice and see the materials.  In some of them, you see me too.  Don’t miss out on this unprecedented Black Friday Special!!

50% off all of the world’s most powerful purchasing online training programs.  Click on the links to find out what you will learn from these game changing online training programs (don’t forget your coupon codes if you want to invest in these career development tools!):

Power Purchasing Pro:

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Power Secrets of Purchasing Contract Law:

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21st Century Buying for Public Purchasing Officers:

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Negotiation Strategies for BREAKTHROUGH TCO:

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Put your energy into it, people.  We are in the best profession in the world.  Let’s make it count.

Be your best!

Omid G

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