Get the basics right. Or else – life will play bowling with you and you are not going to win

Julie Andrews in The sound of music was singing that “a very good place to start / when you read you begin with ABC…” In our jobs, we begin with basics. Or, at least, we should. Many of us (of course, NOT (!!!) you and me. The Others) get distracted and attracted by smart sounding words, strategically filling gaps with meaningless sentences, Important Projects, executive slides populating, you-name-it-things. All supercalifragilisticexpialidocious things. Because simple is no longer in fashion. Because simple is not executive enough. Because simple does not make you look “high society”.

Needless to say, it is all wrong to me. Most important part is to get the basics right. My only sin, I have to admit, that sometimes I want it done fast. Really fast. Almost to skip it and jump to those other – “important” – things. The other day, I was reminded the lesson, that it takes time to get things done right. And if you rush through, you have very high chances of getting things wrong. Really wrong.

It was 7.56 pm. I was running to catch the train in Euston to go home. Did not have pre-booked tickets. The day started just before 4 am, the last meal I had was 9 hours ago and I was exhausted. On the way up from the tube I quickly opened train ticket app, found a train at 8 pm. I picked my eyes onto the screens in the station – 8 pm train is on platform 15! You can imagine there was some running involved. There were no ticket inspectors – everyone was already on-board. I get onto the train, put the earphones in and dive into the virtual world on the screen of my phone. Train starts moving and I send a text to my family with estimated time of arrival.

10 minutes in, conductor comes over and asks to show the ticket. He takes the phone. Silence begins. Then I realise, that something is not right. Pick up my eyes and see the conductor. His face does not promise anything good. That’s right, I am on the wrong train. I started laughing. Because “it never happens to me” myth is shattered into pieces so quickly and harshly, that I do not even bother picking up the pieces. Strike #1.

I got out of the train 100 miles away from my home, on completely other side. 21.35. Only to hear the announcement, that there has been a fatality and there will be no more trains coming in or out of that station that day anymore. Strike #2.

Little chaos in the station, bigger chaos in the head, trying to figure out what to do next. “Get a snack!” – my brain screamed – “you are not you, when you are hungry!”. Easier said than done: everything is closed by this time. I find a snack machine. With my luck that day, it steals two pounds before giving me the so much needed piece of chocolate. Strike #3.

I like Virgin. Their customer service is great – they got a taxi for me to take me home. I get into the car, tell the driver where to go. We start moving when he informs me, that he desperately needs fuel and he will stop at the first station. Which he does. Except that the station is not serving any fuel. Closed. At this point I burst into laughter. Somehow the driver did not think it was funny. I told him about my luck that day and he then decided it was even less funny. Strike #4.

There was enough fuel to reach the next station. What else could go wrong? Well, just when we were to join back the highway, we saw nice yellow signs “ROAD WORKS”… By now the driver was looking suspiciously at me. He said “if something more happens, you can take the car and go”… We did 15 miles de-tour. Strike #5.

5 hours late, after midnight, I was home. Having revised the lesson of getting the basics right the hard way. The lessons I had to repeat that day:

  • Exhaustion and overworking only lead to mistakes.
  • If you get the basics wrong, the chance of further failures only increases. Never ever underestimate the importance not to only properly do basic things, but also the quality level of it.
  • Do not give up. Never give up. Things can and will go wrong. As long as you have more persistence than Mr. Murphy and his laws, you will win.

Happy Friday Everyone! Let’s finish the work week properly as basics, so that next Monday does not turn into chaos!


Get the basics right. Or else – life will play bowling with you and you are not going to win

Make Procurement Great Again

Does it not frustrate you, when you think you are doing everything that’s best out there, and you still end up in conflict situations with other business stakeholders?

You implement best tools – you hear noise, until people stop using them.

You write best-in-class policies – and the Pareto works against you: 80% of time people do not comply (versus anticipated 20%).

You achieve “improvement” in processes, that procurement controls – but overall business results are worsening.

You hire best negotiators – and they leave the business faster than you manage to pay recruitment bills.

Again and again, you find ways how to “make procurement great again”, but nothing seems to satisfy the business… I was talking about ways to assess the situation and adapt procurement strategy to meet the business needs in a conference and am sharing the material here.

I would gladly share working files and templates to those willing to use them. Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing.

Make Procurement Great Again

Procurement Is More Than Just Buying

Negotiations or digital buying tools? Ups and downs of linking achieved savings to salary size. Importance of different experiences and learning. Similarity to other functions.Those were the questions I shortly (I promise, I tried!) answered to Procurement Network (interview).

“Procurement Network interviewed Vaida Maksims, a qualified member of CIPS (MCIPS) and PMI (Project Management Professional). Vaida holds a bachelor’s degree in International business management and EMBA qualification in Applied Organizational Psychology. Vaida held many different roles in procurement (from buyer to Chief Procurement Officer), in project and in supply chain management. She had the opportunity to lead teams and businesses in different countries and now enjoys the opportunity to share her knowledge and experience speaking in conferences, teaching CIPS evening classes and writing her blog (

These are Vaida’s thoughts about procurement’s role: “The best buyer is the one that does not like buying for the sake of buying – like me. I am known for being able to first question everything on demand side: types of spend, quantities, processes and buy only what is really needed. And once you buy it – it has to serve the purpose and meet all current and potential future business purposes. Procurement is not only about buying. Proper buying means you need to know your customer, sales and marketing, technical capabilities to manufacture and definitely logistics – the whole supply chain. That is how procurement can bring benefits to the business: by giving insights of proper buying.”

 In our digital era, how important are negotiation skills in procurement?

I think these two things are not alternatives – as in, you cannot have one or the other. No matter how many pencils, canvases, frames or types of colors the artist has – they are only tools. The most important things for the artist are brain, imagination, emotions, and creativeness – everything that constitutes the art itself.

In procurement you will have a lot of different strategies, which can be implemented using many different tools. Digital tools and digital information are a part of procurement’s toolset. Do not get me wrong – a very big and important tool, but still – only a tool.

When it comes to comparing negotiations as a tool and digital tools, I consider the question in a wider perspective. Negotiation skills is something people can apply every day in every aspect of their life – personal as well as professional. Negotiation skills is a part of communication skills (a big one!). I am a strong believer that good communication is 80% of your success – whatever it is that you do. After all, you will need negotiation skills to agree on what kind of tools and how to use them!

How would you react to the idea of linking savings to actual salaries of procurement experts?

 Depends – that is the shortest answer that I could come up with. Just like everything in life and business – it is relative. Depending on the arrangement, it can have positive and negative sides. Positive:

·        Better reward (% of savings) would motive procurement specialists better;

·        Better rewards would attract better specialists to the field;

·        Clear cost structure would motivate business to use the specialists and implement their proposals better;

·        Good TCO and business needs understanding would help making better business decisions.

However, if the reward system design is poor, you might get the opposite:

·        Buying only “like for like” – to get comparable “price savings”;

·        Short term savings which might affect long term business results negatively;

·        Reduced quality and service levels;

·        If a company does not embrace change and does not support procurement specialists, they run into the risk of “underachieving”. Then all the motivation system will start working against them (and against the company).


The best short word I can think of to describe how it should be done – balance. Proper balance in setting goals, rewarding achievements, supporting actions would be the best outcome for everyone.

How important is it to have procurement experience in different industries and/or countries?

 It is important (I would even say crucial) to have different experience. Full stop. The more different it is, the better. 

Firstly – to be able to analyse anything, you need to understand background (benchmark). Various philosophers and anthropologists call it relativism, and there are various forms of it. There is no such thing as completely only “good” or “bad”. It is more about perceptions and what is suitable for the situation (business, including) at the moment in time and space you are in. How do you know if administration costs of £300 per PO is good or bad? How do you know, if route-to-market of 12 months in food manufacturing is competitive? How do you know, if £50/hour for data entry is a reasonable amount? The answer is – only by comparing it. Comparing with something: other companies, other industries, other countries.

Another aspect to the question is learning. Procurement is not a rocket science. I know, it might sound cheap, but it is the truth. It is pure classic in management and most of the models, tools, templates or processes have been invented. You always have a choice to try creating something by yourself – but most likely, it will be highly time consuming and costly, unreliable at the beginning. While if you find a working model, you just need to adapt it to your needs.

Knowledge of other industries, other functions, other countries, other roles – everything contributes to a person being (becoming) a better professional. That is a rule and it applies not only for procurement.

What profession is the closest to procurement?

All functions (or professions, if you like) in business are very close. Procurement in one company is not the same as procurement in another, therefore, it is not that straightforward. Also, depending on a company size and industry, you will see different functions existing (or not) within the company.

Procurement can be close to an internal auditing. It can form a part of a finance department. Sometimes, it will be a part of the operations. Some companies have “commercial” departments and procurement sits within them. It is not uncommon, that procurement manages the whole supply chain. In cases of outsourcing, procurement specialists become business managers (consider outsourcing full packing services – part of production, for example).

What would you advise to junior procurement professionals?

 If there would be only one advice I could give, it would be: do not stop learning. Learn from mistakes you make – that means, you have to make them! Learn from colleagues within the company – that will teach you to cooperate and be more than just a procurement specialist. Learn from recognized industry or profession leaders – you will find lessons, which were not in your school books. Learn from politicians… or not – that is the expert judgement lesson that life will teach you. Sometimes in a really tough way. Learn from children – simplicity and unrestricted thinking comes from minds, which are not yet damaged by stereotypes. Learn from fighters – determination, persistence, focus is a very big part of success.

And, if you are still reading these lines – you are on the right path! Congrats!

Thank you!”

Procurement Is More Than Just Buying

Strategy Map for Procurement


The Reality of Strategic Planning

I wish I could say Dilbert is completely wrong (I had the best time ever trying to choose illustration for this post, I must admit). I wonder – if anyone was to carry out an anonymous survey of what people REALLY think about strategic planning process in THEIR companies (not OURS, please note), what would they find? (And, let’s assume, respondents would be on honesty and anti-political-correctness pills – not to distort the reality with interpretations)? I think that would be a wake-up call for many.

Strategy for Our Companies

Anyway, this post is about the strategy for OUR companies and OUR procurement departments, which have nothing to do with Dilbert.

treasure huntStrategy is about knowing where you are now, defining, where you want to get to (by the way, according to the definition of the strategy, it really has to be a better place) and deciding how you will achieve it. As you can see per the very informative map to the right of the text, there are a lot of things to think about when you are planning your journey. Thankfully, in business, there still are things you can plan. Procurement is no exception.

Classic Factors to Consider

There are quite a few classical models to analyse strategy for businesses and I would not want to re-write Wikipedia or Google. To understand your business (or department), you would be looking at marketplace, industry, your companies strengths and weaknesses (products, teams, organization structure and culture). The same is applicable for individual departments, including, but not limited, procurement. McKinsey’s 7s is very simple and clear tool to use. Combine them with generic business strategies (customer intimacy, cost leadership and differentiation), and you will have decent evaluation of where you are in comparison where you would like to be.

Strategy Map for Procurement

I wrote before about the importance of aligning Procurement’s strategy to company’s strategy. This time I would like to share a fuller version of checklist points that I use and a visual communication tool. I call it P4S – Procurement for Success.  Whenever I plan procurement’s, I think about these factors: p4s strategy wheel

  1. People. McKinsey calls them “staff”, but, to me, it is much more than just staff. You should also consider suppliers, environment – people, who are not yet staff, but might potentially become one day. Also, most important part, before becoming role players and employees, they are people. Things to analyse: attitude, engagement, involvement, capabilities.
  2. Systems. What tools does the company use to run business? That includes everything: HR, P2P, ERP, project management, task management, document and knowledge management. I bet many CEOs would be surprised after a thorough system audit: about the quantity of different systems and the data quality within the systems, about how far from reality are the decision paths, designed on the system.
  3. Process. The way HOW company lives and breathes. Mapping out value chains, work streams will help to understand and improve – if needed – the ways of working. I consider various KPIs (efficiency, accuracy, discipline) and, also, the results. Not only hard results, but also, softer ones – like customer satisfaction. The company might be interested in Net Promoter’s Score, while procurement might focus on the internal stakeholder satisfaction and relationships with suppliers.
  4. Structure. You might want to examine structure of supply chain, structure of the wider organization, structure of procurement department. The smaller parts have to support the bigger picture and fit into the puzzle. AND!!! – they have to work well together! I would consider also the scope – area of responsibility and authority for procurement (directs / indirects / full cycle vs maybe only internal auditor’s function); empowerment – decision making points within management structure (usually, business decisions, based on financial threshold). Communication methods and channels (tools) are another important part of the structure.
  5. Strategy. The WHAT part of the organization’s existence. What is the strategy? What is the success? What is our unique selling point / differentiation? What is the message to the outside world? What is procurement’s role in all that?
  6. Values. Another important part to focus on, which will also influence procurement. Company’s core values might go into the supplier selection criteria. Team and corporate culture will define the way how procurement will work. It would be funny to observe a CPO trying to implement OJEU or legal company’s procurement policy in creative agency’s life. Possible, but highly unlikely.

Those are my main points I study to work out strategy. Companies are different and expert judgement is vital. In case you consider to run similar exercise at your department, I am adding a Procurement strategy map 2017 03 10 to make your work easier. I would welcome any different thoughts and opinions in comments!

Strategy Map for Procurement

Make Budgeting “Logic Friendly (-ier)”


Another routine task that we go through every year. Some more than others – but, admit, once a year a time comes when everyone starts looking into ceilings. Well, you know, for numbers. However you call it – budget plan, benefit plan, delivery plan, opportunity analysis, business plan, zero base budgeting – we all live and breathe numbers. Procurement HAS to deliver. But how do you decide what to promise?

Whatever your category / buying / supplier management plan is, once a year you will sit down to review what has been done, how successful it was and, most importantly – WHAT’S NEXT? I’ve had that question more than once and, to help me and others save time, came up with a small grid of assumptions and recommendations. It looks like this:


Looks scary? Actually, it is quite simple. Please read on for further explanation which criteria is being taken into account when deciding the numbers. Opportunity analysis should reply two questions: WHAT to target (to prioritize bigger opportunities) and HOW to do it. This time it will be more about the first question.

Category maturity

First criteria – category maturity. Basically, you have to consider, how well you know the category. It does not have to be copied word by word, but you will get the meaning. Category maturity abbreviations in the grid above are given in the first column. Here is what I use:

  • NA: Never addressed. And it means straightforwardly that – never addressed. Maybe you are trying to address your tail spend for the first time. Maybe, finally, you got the support and courage to address “we have always done it that way” spend and suppliers. Maybe it was never managed by procurement. Whatever the case – it should, as a rule, allow you to expect bigger opportunities. Signs: very big number of suppliers; or on the contrary – only one supplier who has been there for ages. Contracts, signed long ago (ten, fifteen years or more). Lack of internal processes in buying administration, big number or buyers. You might not be even aware that the category exists.
  • I: Immature. Categories, that were on someone’s radar, but still having some “grey” areas. Categories, where, if asked suddenly, you would not be able to remember contract start and ending dates or even contact people at supplier’s side. Or even – what is the full list of suppliers in the category. You know, that spend is there and someone some time somehow did something, but what exactly that was…? Well – potentially a nice opportunity.
  • SM: Somewhat managed. Here you might even know suppliers and their representatives! And the contract duration. But, most likely, procurement’s efforts to deal with prices were limited to pretty much one or two challenging questions about the price over the phone.
  • MTE: Managed to an extent. You know the items, services, SLA’s, specifications. You have been having tenders and negotiations. You have been buying “like for like”.
  • M: Mature. You know ins and outs: if needed, you could set up a business to become your own supplier. That is how well you know it. Demand management? Been there. Make or buy? Solved that. Outsource? You have outsourced, re-insourced and re-outsourced again. Face it – you’ve done it all.

A good tool to check how well you know your category – check how many of the 64 methods, proposed by A.T. Kearney, you have applied to the category. That should also give a good indication on how much is still out there to be done.

Price / Market / Source flexibility

Another criteria to consider, while evaluating opportunity – how flexible are you to challenge the supplier, the product, market, and ways of buying? After all, it is not only about you and your wishes. There is a thing, called market outside of your office walls.

In the grid above, abbreviations are on the lowest line. My categorization is provided below:

  • SS: Single sourced. Wider explanation is in another blog post. Link here.
  • LS: Limited sources. In this case, you will be able not to only imitate negotiations, but actually have one. Surely, those two or three suppliers will know everything about each other and you will have a very slippery road to go, but, still, better than nothing. Right?
  • FCEC: Flexible, change with effort and cost. In these situations you might have more than three suppliers out there in the market, but any change will cost money and will require effort. In other words – no restrictions for “procurement show”, but quite a few restraining factors for real change.
  • FCE: Flexible, change with effort. There will be occasions, where market / prices / specification will be flexible. But you will still have to think about effort and resources that it will require. When prioritizing your activity plan for the upcoming year, proper planning is important. All in all – it is not just about identifying the opportunity – it is also about implementing it.
  • VFEC: Very flexible, easy change. Not much to comment. You will not find this very frequently, but if you do – it is all of your “quick hits”. If you have any of them, you should be hunting them right now – instead of reading this post. Seriously!

Ready, Steady, Go!

The process of budgeting will be exactly that: preparing data, analyzing it; making assumptions and decisions, which will, hopefully, lead to implementing them.

This time around, making logic assumptions, I hope, will be easier. Look at the maturity of the category and flexibility of the market (and some other factors) – and suggested savings’ number is just there. I am adding template with the grid in excel. The file also contains some more suggestions and formulas to make your budgeting process faster (opportunity-analysis-template). Numbers and category names are just suggestions – feel free to adjust according to your expert judgement.

Then choose methods of working and administration: simple tasks, project teams. Choose strategies and action plans (the HOW bit) – tenders / e-auctions / partnerships, outsourcing, etc. And go after the numbers! Happy hunting!


Make Budgeting “Logic Friendly (-ier)”

What Comes First: The Egg Or The Chicken?


Money. Fine, I am joking. Customer first. Then – money. And then – either egg or chicken. Or both. But ultimately it is all about money. In medicine, though, it can be a question of life or death. Sounds very cheap. Sounds like an attempt to scare. However, that is just a simple reality. Thankfully, only the brightest of us get to be doctors with knifes. Coming back to the life of “simple” people… how do you ask the wrong question and what might be the consequences?

5 Why’s many How’s

Sakichi Takoda was a very curious man. He wanted to find out all root causes of processes he was dealing with in Toyota. And yes, he is the man behind “5 Why” methodology to explore cause-and-effect relationships. There were other smart people, who developed the model (or, let’s say, adjusted) and made it only “3 why’s”. Some other models added the next steps: once you know what is wrong, you should be trying to figure out “How” to fix it.

Examples of questions

Let’s start with explanation, what I mean by “question”. It does not need to have a question mark at the end of the sentence. There can be a lot of situations in business daily life:

  1. I have production process wastage. How do I dispose of it in the most profitable way?
  2. Personal development plans, goals, objectives. A goal to “leverage benefits from different areas”, “use data proactively”, “strengthen resilience and realize potential”.
  3. Procurement KPIs: we need to achieve 100% process compliance. Or, another example, £1 million of price reduction savings. How are we going to do it?

Expert judgement – it’s what managers get paid for. You do not need to see a question mark at the end of a sentence to trigger the smart questioning process in the brain. Recognizing the situations and questions is a skill!


Why are the questions “poor”?


I know, first of all – “are they poor?” and only then – “why?”. Let me answer the second one first:

  • Because some questions do not encourage you to think.
  • Some questions are very strongly leading and restricting.
  • Some questions, on the other hand, can motivate someone to become extremely inventive. There are serious books which call some forms of extreme inventiveness criminal activity.

Let’s analyse the examples given above. A mind-set like in the first example can lead to the whole team wasting time, resources and effort looking for an answer. The team might come up with something. BUT! You know what is the secret? Maybe the focus should have been elsewhere? Maybe, first of all, we should have analysed the reasons of having the waste and addressed them?

Second example describes very restrictive thinking. Especially, when the goals are given from the “top” (management of the company). People get goals, that they do not believe, that do not motivate them (you know, objectives, which are not SMART), and ask a question: “so what do I do now?” And, as you can imagine, there are many alternatives:

  • Not even attempting to achieve what they are asked;
  • Cover up in excuses “I tried”;
  • Leave the company…

And the last example given above… A very smart CPO draws up best-in-class procurement processes. Implements them. And, to his (her) surprise, starts getting reports, which show big non-compliance. Let’s call the person Ryan. Ryan spends few sleepless nights and comes up with policy enforcement tools: reporting, grievance and all the rest of it. The KPI improves. Furthermore, Ryan implemented interesting price reduction targets. Now his team members are whispering. They know, that bringing the function in-house (making vs. buying) would cost less overall. But if they do that, they will not achieve their targets – price savings. Therefore, they keep on buying the same things over and over again. BUT! Every story has a “but”, right? At the same time, the CEO notices sharply increased spend in other areas, lost clients and, overall, reduced business results… What happened? Ryan asked “How?” before asking “Why?”…

What came first – the egg or the chicken?

Not sure if that question is “the right” one, but it makes you think. And that is the main purpose here: right questions make you think. I think biggest issues are not with the questions themselves. All questions are good. It is much worse when you do not have questions. Most important thing is – sequence (or timing, if you like). To first of all understand the causes and only then address them. Whether it’s procurement or anything else.

The main goal of the business is to satisfy customers and stakeholders. For customers – it is the right products, the right services. For stakeholders (shareholders) – it is about profit, and sustainability. As a part of that comes cost control, cost reduction, best items (services) to be bought. Well, simple (???) procurement’s job.

So, to sum up, what can you do better?

  • Recognize (identify) questions.
  • Take time to think about the real needs and root causes.
  • Speak up.
  • Ask questions about the questions themselves (challenge them).
  • Use expert judgement and critical thinking.
  • Resist to prioritize small and urgent tasks over long-term, strategic work.
  • Know the rules, but improvise.
  • Make decisions and fix the wrong ones.
  • Try. Again and again.

And yes, it is valid to procurement (because, as the t-shirt sellers say: Procurement manager – because a miracle worker is not a profession). Cheers to us!

What Comes First: The Egg Or The Chicken?

New Year’s (fine, Chinese New Year’s) resolutions


Guilt is a bit like emotional hangover. New Year’s euphoria is fading and you are left with the scraps of yesterday’s overstated intentions.

I came to the office today and realized, that it is almost the last day of January. And the online radio DJ’s just won’t stop reminding that, too. Feels like they are doing it on purpose. And that does not help with not feeling guilty.

Why is it bad? Because one of my promises to myself was to write more. One month is gone and I did not write anything. Outrageous! But hey… I am ready and willing to rehabilitate and get back to the rhythm of keeping my promises.

There are loads of “Tips how to…” out there on the vastness of the internet. One of them suggests to announce publicly about your intentions. Then the pressure of peers, expectations from others will motivate to stick to the promises just a little bit more.

So here it goes… This year main subjects I would like to write about and share with you all are:

  • To consolidate or not to consolidate the supplier base? What is the right answer to this question?
  • How do you switch from supplier-centric to category-centric category management? Sounds quite simple, but it is not always like that.
  • Spend analysis DIY: where do you start and what are you looking for (at)? A list of tips of how not to get lost when you are looking into a spreadsheet with data in 30 000 lines and 50 columns.
  • Once again about rebates, prebates, strike ratios and recovery audit. How much does your money cost you?
  • Procurement project progress monitoring and control: borrowing some indicators from project management. How to apply earned value management to procurement – schedule variance, budget variance, and earned value.
  • Recognizing sales’ BS and not buying things you do not need or do not exist: story about contactless car wash.
  • Strategy evaluation and selection tools.
  • Budgeting and business plan creation for procurement function. Some guidelines and templates to ease up CPO’s and category managers’ life.
  • Cost Of Doing Nothing Different – revisiting the subject of total cost of ownership and it’s hidden factors – processes, procedures. Can you put a price tag on them?
  • A lesson which I learned at school in Year 8: price of money.
  • Critical Success Factors for Procurement. Are they (and how) different from KPI? Which ones are more important?
  • Good quality raw data: you have everything, if you have that!
  • Can lean six sigma be a helpful tool for procurement?
  • Slide deck from a procurement leader’s conference, where I will be talking about strategic procurement management.

The list is not finite, surely. Many of them will come with sample tools and templates. If any of the subjects seems urgent or important – drop me a line – I will prioritize them.

So here it goes… No turning back now, right? February, bring it on!




New Year’s (fine, Chinese New Year’s) resolutions

Procurement Wears Strategy


If you think Procurement is a forgotten orphan in an evil witch tale

Read this article, if you think Procurement (or any other function, for that matter) in your company is not being taken seriously enough and you want to change it. If it is not considered important enough and you would like it to become a strategic function. If you think, that company does not give your department the opportunity to prove it’s worth. If everything you are expected to do is just have one more price negotiation, chase another late delivery, not issued invoice or resolve errors in delivery. Read this, if you feel like other departments have a big dissatisfaction with procurement. If, no matter what is it that you suggest, it causes more resistance than buy-in from people.

Poser Effect

It actually has got a name: the effect is called Poser effect. And you probably have heard about it in few situations. When talking about the clothes, it basically says that you should wear clothes to fit the role you are after, not your current role. It is a fact, that the clothes you wear, change the way other people perceive you. The effect also was observed in experiments, where it showed, that your outfit also changes YOUR perception about yourself. Scientific name to it is enclothed cognition . So what, you are asking?

You will be perceived the way you behave

And that is the answer to anyone saying “I would do more and bring more benefits to the company – but nobody lets me. Nobody thinks of us seriously.” You will be perceived the way you act. A little part of the overall impression will be your clothes, too (especially for the first impression), but I strongly believe that actions speak louder. It is up to you to show initiative and start acting strategic, prove you’re worth the place at the top table – or – “wearing strategy”.

How do you try on strategic outfit? Choose clothes

It’s slightly easier with clothes, right? But how do you check how (and if) procurement is aligned with company’s strategy? My suggestion is to refresh some classic business management concepts and apply to procurement function in your company.

Most important part – company’s vision and strategy. Firstly (and do not be surprised by the question) – do you know the vision and the strategy of the company? Because not all companies communicate it clearly. Some of them don’t even have one. Anyway, do not panic if you do not know it by heart. There might be a lot of variations on a very detailed level, but on a high scale, there are only three main possible strategies:

  • Cost leadership – price strategy;
  • Customer intimacy – service strategy;
  • Technology/innovation – product strategy.

A company can be relatively good in all of them, but one of them must be the most important. Here are the main differences of main strategic directions.


Looking like this, you will agree, that procurement will have to be different in different companies. There is no “one fit for all”. If you are trying to implement extensive processes in a company that needs speed – do expect a lot of resistance and no buy-in.

How do you try on strategic outfit? Wearing it

Once you have established, what the company is trying to achieve, you have to measure it on your department or function. Again, there will always be a lot of aspects, but business classics focus on three main areas:

  • People;
  • Processes;
  • Technology

Here are the main keywords to look for while checking the application of different strategies in different layers of organization using different strategies:

Wrapping up

Knowing the strategy is the key. Checking, how procurement’s work, goals and strategy is aligned to overall company’s strategy is a first step. If you find any gaps – act on them. Most of the time it means simply getting out of the table and start talking to everyone: business users, suppliers, management. You do not need to change organisational chart to be able to talk to people, do you? Listening to people, identifying improvement opportunities. Looking for answers internally and externally – who, if not procurement, has access to suppliers’ sites and to other, non-competing companies? Start noticing solutions and benefits for the business other than price reductions and bringing them to the table.

Start acting strategic

Once you embrace company’s goals and strategy – and start wearing it – everyone in the company will start considering you strategic.


Procurement Wears Strategy

Short daily negotiation skills’ refreshers

My son: Mom, let’s talk about hair.

Me: I am listening…

My son: It is too long! Look!

Me: We discussed this yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before that. 

My son: Yes. But that was yesterday. Then the hair was shorter! 

Me: One day is not enough to reach the required lenght for cutting.

My son: But it is enough for you to change your mind! Can we cut it? Please?

Five minutes every day CAN make you better. Better negotiator, better professional, better mom (or dad). This one is for our best teachers – our kids!

Short daily negotiation skills’ refreshers

Tips for ladies: how to use procurement techniques with beauticians


This one goes out to all the ladies. I know, I know – we are all beautiful naturally. And (almost) never need any beauty supplies or treatments. But if you accidentally (!!!) find yourself in one of such places – here is what I learned recently.

First and most important – they are all businesses. Smaller or bigger – everyone is in business for business. Therefore, the goals, that they have; problems, that they face and methods, that they use in every day work are the same as you have at work.

New customer attraction

Go there only if you really need or want a specific procedure. Beauty shops, which have more ambitious growth targets, will be more aggressive to get new customers. They will be more flexible with pricing of the first procedure – or even offer it for free. It is good if you, as a service buyer, already have a firm opinion if you need the procedure. Also, if this is a series of procedures – if you are going to use all of them. Then getting one of them free of charge, negotiating prices of the other ones – everything will be beneficial for you.

If you are only curious to try, you might find yourself in a trap, spending money when you had no intention in doing so.

There are some beauty specialists, who do not need any new clients. Or, to be more precise, do not need them at a specific moment in time. Everything changes. If you really want to get there – be persistent and / or patient.

Building dependency

Just like in “normal office business”, service providers like to create dependency. The same rule applies with beauty stores and services. You might be sold:

  • Very exceptional service (“only available in this shop in this country”);
  • Completely innovative product (and there are oceans of those – every store will have at least few of them. The “newer”, the better).
  • Follow up procedures: once you to have the procedure you came for done, you are told, that “follow up refreshers” are needed. Otherwise, “it won’t work”.

A quote from one beautician I know: “they have to need us. They cannot just stop coming”.

Cost and pricing strategies

Oh, yes, they are flexible! A lot. And these are the things you should know to be ready for the price conversation:

  • Rent of premises. Services in London will be more expensive than in Grimsby – sounds logic, right?
  • Investments into equipment. Service providers, working with old or no equipment at all, will have lower prices.
  • Investments into trainings. Self-educated “YouTube specialists” will have different pricing structure. I am not saying the latter is bad – on the contrary: I know some specialists, who are amazing at what they do without any fancy certificates. Instead – they have passion for what they do.
  • Ingredients, technology and materials used. The same beautician told me a story of a hardcore negotiating customer of hers: the customer convinced her not to use the local anaesthetic cream (because “she is very brave”) and reduce the price of the service…
  • Efficient time usage, bundling. Recipe changeovers for production lines are expensive due to cleaning, downtime. The same here: setting up for a new customer, cleaning up after – it is not efficient time usage, nobody pays for it. I mean – it is not a separate line on the bill. But someone must pay for it. If you can – consider doing several procedures in one go and do not forget to ask for price improvements. If you came to a tanning shop to buy your monthly pass – ask, if they are planning any promotions. Buy when the promotion is on (some places will apply it immediately for you not to run away with your wallet).
  • Perception. That works for both sides. Marketing is a very strong tool here. You might be ready to pay higher price because of references or the image that the beauty shop has. On the other side – beauticians are good sellers, too. They will evaluate how you look and will set the pricing based on that (do not overdress the first time you go there). They will observe your body language: if you show signs, that the full set of several procedures is too much for your budget – they will react and adjust to your budget. If you manage to sell the perception of bigger future business (“after this, I will want to do this and the other and then a little bit more”), they will adjust prices.

Easy for me to say. I learned all this already being on the procedure chair. Knowing things is not the same as being able to apply and applying them in real life situations. Care to try the tips next time you are in the beauty shop? Please share experiences!

Tips for ladies: how to use procurement techniques with beauticians