Can Procurement Professionals Learn from Farmers?

Can Procurement Professionals Learn from Farmers?
Can procurement professionals learn how to source more effectively by studying modern farming methods?

I was recently reading about modern farming methods in The Costco Connection.

The lead article describes how a farmer in Nebraska is using a GPS guided combine to harvest his corn.

The combine doesn’t just harvest the corn, it collects numerous data points that help him measure the productivity of each acre and to map the topography of the land.

Efficiency and effectiveness are the driving factors to this highly automated approach.

The data points help protect the environment through water and fertilizer management. Rather than putting the same amount of water and fertilizer on each acre, only the amount needed is applied.

He manages his 1850-acre farm with himself, his dad and one other employee.

Impressive.

What was the big takeaway for me?

The results achieved through data collection and analysis.

Conversations I have had with procurement pros in the last several months highlight some of the challenges they face in this area.

They all know that better information will help drive competitive advantage but at times the obstacles can seem overwhelming.

Some of the most common ones that have been shared with me include:

  • Procurement systems based on spreadsheets and email severely limit the amount of data that can be collected and analyzed.
  • Systems that can’t share data points require additional steps to collect the information and then the analysis is often done on spreadsheets. This cumbersome process creates frustration. Stakeholders need information at the time of decision, not weeks or months later.
  • Acquisition is a common way for many companies to grow and enhance their competitive position. If the acquired companies aren’t folded into common systems, the advantages that can be gained via consolidated buying will be lost.
  • Stakeholders that don’t want to relinquish control over certain spend categories.
  • Business units that fear sharing of data may expose weaknesses in their operations or in the processes they are using.
  • In house or purchased systems that haven’t delivered as promised.
  • Budget constraints that make getting anything approved seem more like winning a war and leaves you exhausted or frustrated or both.

The story about the farmer is one of many I have read that detail how companies are using data and data analytics to control spend while driving competitive advantage.

I wrote last week that CFOs and CPOs want to drive positive change in their organizations.

They face resistance to change from stakeholders and budget constraints.

Looking around and seeing what is possible with the right data, perhaps an internal education and marketing approach could change minds in your company.

A good question to start with might be: “What information and evidence will make people believe in the possibilities that great data can deliver?”

If you can’t convince your current company to change, I am quite certain you can find another organization that will welcome you.

Ask better questions, make changes and 2018 will be your best year ever.

Action Step: If you are uncertain where to start the process of change, a procurement professional like myself can provide guidance and expertise to help your organization achieve the results you want.

If you want to go explore this topic in greater detail, please contact me. I invite you to request 30-minute discovery conversation. In my experience the next step will be apparent at the end of the call. I never assume that what I have to offer will be right for everyone, so don’t expect a sales pitch. You can reach me at (973) 718-7071 x875. The call will be forwarded to my mobile phone if I am not in my office which is pretty likely.

If you would like to know more ways to reduce costs without changing the way you do business, simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact information and the best time to reach you.

You Won’t Drift to Success©

Commit to taking the next step.

Until Next Time, I Wish You Great Success in Your Business and in Your Life

Mike Jeffries