As procurement professionals, we are always striving to achieve the best total cost of ownership with the products and services we purchase. We’ve seen the negative impact that bottom-dollar pricing can have with respect to quality and delivery. We’ve seen how over-engineered products with high price tags can erode our margins. Our constant aim is to look at each purchase holistically and measure its total value to the company we represent. So why don’t we look at our procurement teams the same way?
There was a time, not so long ago, when work was more of a place we went as opposed to a thing we did. Until recently, work-life balance wasn’t an aspiration, but instead, something most workers could more or less take for granted.
There existed an unspoken, unseen and ubiquitous wall separating the personal and the professional, with a distinct divide existing between our work lives and our home lives. Work began – and ended – at the factory floor or the office doors.
Much is being made about the need to attract and retain millennial talent in today’s economy. Companies that are focused on long-term sustainability are intently focused on those entering the workforce now, as they need to fill the void that will undoubtedly be left by the mass exodus that will take place in the coming years with the Baby Boomers retiring. But are companies becoming a little too obsessed with the Generation Y (millennial) workers and neglecting those who are set to lead their organizations in the nearer term?
Welcome to this new column. Every couple of months I’ll be getting on the proverbial soapbox and sharing my observations and opinions on all things ‘talent’ and how ‘work’ works. Please feel free to agree, disagree and add to the subjects via the comments sections below.
We’ve come a long way since the 1955 issue of Fortune which described the ‘successful American executive’ as someone who spent almost no time on politics, drank moderately, and only attended cultural events ‘because they must’. With a businessman in the White House and heads of Fortune 500 companies regularly appearing in the media as trendsetters, opinion formers and pundits, discretion is no longer the better part of valour.
By now everyone knows about outsourcing, the big issue of the 20th century that revolutionized the 21st century. But outsourcing didn’t start in the 20th century. In the 18th and 19th century Europe developed Imperialism, setting up colonies around the world. These colonies provided the language skills and education systems that made offshoring possible.
In ‘The Fog’ ("Mad Men" Season 5, Episode 3), SCDP’s creative director, Don Draper, delivers a memorable line for today’s procurement managers and professionals. After being endlessly nagged over the waste of office supplies, alcohol and time by the company's CFO, Lane Price, Draper levels this profound declaration:
"You came here because we do this better than you. And part of that is letting our creatives be unproductive until they are."
No business, large or small, successful or struggling, can expect to see organisational change on a large scale without creating – and embedding – a culture. Without a set of core values instilled into the workforce, the company is fractured and its employees are at odds. It’s up to HR to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The IT and tech sectors have long suffered from an epidemic of high turnover rates, shared by businesses that are great at acquiring, but terrible at retaining, these professionals. Prior research has found that factors such as low job satisfaction, poor organisational commitment and an abundance of alternative jobs on offer globally have contributed to an above-average rate of the movement of talent within these spheres.