If your company has a supply chain project, who are the top 5 companies you would call?

Given the core competency of your organization (Forte), the basis for the question is worth understanding.

Here is an excerpt from an article that I wrote late last year titled the Bands of Public Sector Supplier Engagement (see the link below). While the focus is on public sector clients, it is very much applicable to the private sector as well. In fact more so in that the transparency requirements are not necessarily as onerous as those assoicated with public sector engagement.

Excerpt Start:

“To really leverage vendor partnerships, solution providers need an in. For the public sector, that entre has to go beyond the program to the individual behind it who understands the market nuances and challenges that can hold partners back.”

From the article 25 Public-Sector Channel Leaders (ChannelWeb Network, March 19, 2007)

In one simple statement within the confines of a single article there has never been a better or more succinct explanation of what plagues public sector procurement practice today. Especially in the area of supplier development and engagement!

As you review the backgrounds of the “leaders” featured in the ChannelWeb article, one cannot help but note that 11 of the 25 individuals listed have at least 20 or more “years in the public sector,” and for the most part all represent large, multinational suppliers.

While experience is not the sole domain of the corporate giant, the relationships that are developed over a period of two or more decades combined with the high level of what I refer to as “cross pollination employment” activity certainly provide the needed “in” referenced in the article. An “in” which is by its very nature exclusive and therefore is not extended to include the vast majority of the supply market.

Excerpt Conclusion

This "in" or lack thereof presents a significant barrier to all but a few select vendors regardless of expertise or historic track record.

The point was recently driven home in a conversation I had with a internationally recognized Six Sigma author when he said (and I paraphrase), "no matter what degree of buy-in or enthusiastic reception my methodologies and teachings receive at the operational level, I have had very little success in breaking through to the senior executive level. This is needless to say frustrating as my expertise would most certainly have a significant and positive impact on their current operations."

The fact is, when you ask a question regarding the top 5 companies a client would call, there are two distinct answers and groups in which the organizations listed would not be interchangeable.

The first would consist of organizations whose main attributes are more relational versus overall competency. These are likely to be companies that are large and "connected" through a variety of mechanisms including what I had earlier referred to as cross pollination employment activity.

The second group would be comprised of smaller, more innovative organizations whose only real limitation is the fact that they have not achieved membership in the "executive club."

Given that 85% of all ERP/Supply Chain-related initiatives fail to achieve the expected results a change in mainstream executive decision-making would seem warranted.

And at least in the public sector this appears to be happening with the U.S. Federal Government's proactive efforts to unbundle contracts, making them more accessible and more mangeable for Smaller-Medium Enterprises.

Within this context, the individuals (and the organizations they represent) who respond to your question will be as interesting as the answers themselves.

Links:

To obtain a copy of the corresponding materials, please contact the author.

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Personal Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jwhansen

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