By Jim Baehr
Pittsburgh Chemical Day (PCD) is a well-established, prominent chemical industry event that presents a forum for idea sharing and insight into current key issues affecting the chemical industry. The attendees come from Sales, Marketing, Purchasing and other related disciplines. Because of the Purchasing connection, the PCD committee has invited the Institute for Supply Management Pittsburgh Affiliate to be part of the event’s educational program.
On October 4, a presentation team comprised of Pittsburgh ISM Board members addressed the topic of “Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) – Is the Procurement Side There Yet? Is SRM as effective as Customer Relationship Management? And, What Can be Done Better?” Before going into the presentation there was an informal poll of the approximately 100 people in the attendance. The result – roughly 80% of the participants represented the Sales side of the equation.
The presentation went quickly - too quickly. There were no questions from a respectful but stoic audience. This led to asking “Why isn’t this topic resonating?” Again, polite silence followed by - “This isn’t what’s happening.” It became painfully apparent that the Sales contingent in the audience wasn’t buying into the purpose and value of SRM. “It doesn’t work.” “It’s not what the Purchasing people do.” The harshest remark - “It’s punitive.”
Okay, not necessarily a precise survey but the point was clearly made – “Purchasing people are out of touch – you think this is working but it isn’t.” “Purchasing says one thing and then does another.” To be sure, there are many good examples where SRM works and works well. But, obviously from the feedback during this presentation there’s room for improvement – a lot of room.
As the Buy side of the equation – we need to work at Selling the value of SRM. The sooner we do this, the better!
Jim Baehr is the Lead for the Sourcing Strategies Group LLC (SSG) supporting the supply management needs of clients in both the public and private sectors. Prior to forming SSG, he was an independent advisor for several years.
His most recent corporate roles were as Vice President of Global Information Technology Procurement for Reed Elsevier, and Director of Technical and Services Procurement for Bayer Corporation. Baehr has extensive experience in senior management positions and an accomplished career in sales.
Currently, Baehr is the President of the ISM – Pittsburgh Affiliate, a member of the Board of Governors of the Joint Chemical Group of Pittsburgh and a member of the Visionary Council of Coupa Software Incorporated based in San Mateo, Calif.
He is a blogger, a frequent presenter at meetings and conferences and a contributing author to the book Next Level Supply Management Excellence: Your Straight to the Bottom Line® Roadmap.
George E. Krauter
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