Top Strategic Sourcing Articles by Source One:

Top News

As a consultant in the procurement space it is my job to listen to my client’s goals and identify strategies to help achieve and exceed those targets.  Hands down, the most common need a client has is to achieve hard dollar cost savings in a particular time frame.  They often come to us with aggressive savings goals set by upper management with no clear direction on how to hit those numbers.  While there are countless strategic sourcing strategies that can be executed to achieve these results, the fact of the matter is that a focus on only hard dollar savings can negatively impact the bottom line in the long run.

Let me back up to define what I mean by “hard” and “soft” cost savings.  A hard cost saving is a cost reduction metric that is quantifiable and traceable.  For example if you purchased 1000 widgets at $2.00 last year and we negotiated the cost of the widget down to $1.00, that is a $1,000 (50%) savings achievement.  A “soft” cost saving is an improvement that cannot be tied directly to a quantifiable dollar amount such as a reduction in lead time.

Focusing on hard dollar savings is typically viewed as a slam dunk for both upper management and procurement.  Upper management is able to accurately track the impact these savings are having on the bottom line, Procurement can accurately measure their departmental ROI, and shareholders are pleased.  The issue arises when these hard goals become so aggressive that soft cost savings are completely ignored because they are not feeding into meeting a direct requirement.  Cost savings will always have diminishing returns year over year unless a large event like an acquisition or unexpected organic growth occurs to increase spend leverage and shake up the supply base.  A well-oiled Procurement machine will not achieve 5% cost savings annually, yet targets set by some organizations require exactly that.  So how can an organization ensure continuous improvement in supply chain and procurement functions without exhausting resources chasing dollars that simply are not there? The answer is giving soft cost savings a seat at the table.

Process improvement and innovation should be at the forefront of any Procurement strategy.  While the cost to process an invoice, or execute a contract, or extended payment terms aren’t as black and white as a price on a catalog – these things still have associated costs and value.  Assigning goals associated with these types of improvements will ensure that your organization is maintaining an edge, even when pricing in the market is undergoing increases or remaining stagnant.  Whether you are General Motors or a mid-market fleet repair shop, the price of a hammer can only be reduced so much.  What will happen when you are paying the same price for that hammer as your competitors?  Where will your competitive edge come from at that point?  Could it be an industrial vending machine that ensures the lack of hammer inventory will never stop production?  Could it be strengthening the relationship with your suppliers to ensure that in a stock-out your organization takes priority in getting the hammers?  When price is no longer a factor, it is important to understand how your organization measures up.

The fix for this is easy.  Management should take on the challenge to include these initiatives within annual goals.  Make process improvement, relationship building, supplier introduced innovation, or other activities that may not impact the bottom line in a way that is quantifiable mandatory.  Award achievement in these areas the same way it is done for hard dollar cost savings.  This is what takes an organization from being a “performer” to being best in class.
With the Institute for Supply Management's Annual Conference less than a month away, it's the perfect time for professionals at every level to brush up on their networking best practices. Whether you're headed to ISM2019 or any industry conference this year, these dos and don't should help you navigate the exhibit hall with confidence. 

As we gear up for another exciting year of ExecIn, a sub-conference exclusively for procurement leaders at ISM2019, it’s time to introduce another one of this year’s prestigious guest speakers: Janet Yellen, also known as former chair of the Federal Reserve.

A classically-trained economist hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Yellen gained her degree in economics from Brown University in 1967, later gaining her PhD from Yale in 1971 under the supervision of Nobel Laureates James Tobin and Joseph Stiglitz, known for their Keynesian and Georgist public finance theory respectively.

In her economic profession, Yellen served at Harvard University, the London School of Economics, the University of California at Berkley, as well as the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, American Economic Association, and Bill Clinton’s Board of Economic Advisers during his presidency.

From 2004 until 2010, Yellen served as CEO of the San Francisco Federal Reserve, later being appointed as Head of the Federal Reserve in 2013 by then-president Obama; succeeding former chair head Ben Bernanke in his role. Besides becoming the first female to head the Federal Reserve, Yellen was also the first democrat to head the reserve since 1979.

During Yellen’s tenure as head of the Federal Reserve, she defended injecting $3 trillion stimulus funds into the U.S. Economy, later allowing monetary policy to revert to its traditional practices as the economy stabilized. Economically concerned with unemployment rather than with inflation, Yellen oversaw a record drop in unemployment, the greatest since 1948. As a Keynesian economist, she advocates for using monetary policy over business cycles in stabilizing the economy.

Interested in learning more about Yellen’s career and her astute economic advice for strategic sourcing and procurement professionals? Then join her keynote presentation at ISM2019!

For senior-level executives attending the Annual Conference, be sure to reserve your seat at ExecIn.

The two day sub-conference is designed specifically for senior leaders of non-consulting organizations with an annual revenue of over $1.2B. Including private keynote presentations and sessions centered on talent and supply management strategy and trends, You don’t want to miss ExecIn! To learn more about participating, contact Carole Boyle (

Digital Transformation is no longer optional. For any Procurement group looking to embed itself at the executive level - even survive into the near future - it's become increasingly urgent. While a staggering majority of CPOs expect to realize an evolution soon, a surprising few have identified how they'll do so.

Some areas look more digital-ready than others. Though a huge chunk of organizations still manage their supplier agreements and legal documents manually, Deloitte's CPO survey suggests that few organizations expect technology to impact their approach to this all-important process. 19% of surveyed Procurement leaders say it's the area least likely to see big, tech-enabled changes.

A New Emphasis on Contracting 

This is perhaps fitting given the structure of the typical sourcing cycle. The stereotypical idea of languished contracts, stuck at the bottom of a filing cabinet, is ubiquitous for a reason. Even organizations with a dedicated system for managing contracts generally leave negotiations as the last step in the sourcing cycle.

Treating negotiations as an afterthought often means running into additional roadblocks at the last possible moment. A foreign supplier, for example, might not meet Legal's regulatory requirements. Such a supplier would wind up disqualified even after 'winning' your business.

And that's just a worst case scenario. As 'soft skills' like negotiations become core competencies for Procurement, it's especially risky to leave contracting to the last moment.

Thought leaders including Nick Heinzmann of Spend Matters have begun to call for a more 'contract centric' approach to the sourcing cycle. He encourages organizations to place compliance alongside price and capability as criteria for evaluating suppliers. "Doing so," he writes, "will create significant opportunities for Procurement to reduce value leakage, guard against serious risks and accelerate the pace of businesses."

Heinzmann's argument is effectively an argument for introducing digital contract management tools. The new workflow he outlines relies on a "dedicated enterprise contract management platform" that can call on historic price points and other valuable data. Though so few CPOs view contract management as a target for digital innovation, he suggests it ought to take precedence.

A digital solution is not, however, absolutely necessary for taking a more informed, strategic approach to contracting. Employing new methods starts with making Procurement a more valuable ally to Legal teams. For many, this process could ultimately help build the business case for investing in a solution down the road.

Speaking Legal's Language 

Procurement professionals aren't lawyers. No organization could reasonably expect their purchasing team to develop faultless contracts or navigate the ups and downs of protracted negotiations on their own. Every organization should insist, however, that Procurement collaborate with Legal effectively. 

While your organization's size and maturity will affect how Procurement and Legal interact, every business can take the steps to ensure Procurement is capable to engaging with Legal on its own terms. Part of this process involves educating Legal on Procurement's goals and the intricacies of its supplier relationships. Equally important, the process should see the function develop a working understanding of essential legal terminology. 

Here are a few terms and clauses that everyone in Procurement should have in their repertoire: 

Continuous Improvement - Though they come in many forms, continuous improvement clauses are all constructed around the same idea. They state that a supplier will commit to reducing costs and/or improving service levels over the life of an agreement. While they might sound great on paper, these are generally cause for concern. In many cases, the onus falls on the customer to actually see cost reduction and process improvement through.

Early Termination - Early termination clauses detail the rules for calling off an agreement prior to the agreed-upon expiration date. One of the most common types is the 'default clause.' This applies to situations where one party fails to meet the obligations established for them.  

Force Majeure - This clause provides an exemption from liability in the event of so-called 'acts of God.' Typical examples might include natural disasters, war, or strikes. Though such events are - by their very definition - relatively unlikely, it's important to evaluate them carefully to mitigate risk.

Indemnification - Also called the 'hold harmless' clause, this outlines the financial responsibility one party will accept if the other party is sued. For example, an office supplies contract may include an indemnification clause barring you from suing if an employee is injured by a pair of scissors. 

Renewals - While the term is self-explanatory, it's important to keep an eye out for specific details related to the renewal process. Organizations without a dedicated contract management system could find themselves in big trouble, for example, if important contracts have 'silent renewals.' Auto-renewal could prove costly, too, if an organization is locked into a less-than-ideal relationship.

Right to Audit - The right to audit empowers the customer to audit their supplier's internal documents to ensure they have honored the terms of an agreement. While these are typically built around pricing, other factors like service level metrics could play into them as well. 

Right of First Refusal - A kind of termination clause, this allows the customer to terminate an agreement early if they discover a lower price option in the marketplace. Remember, in markets where pricing is specialized and suppliers offer distinct services, this clause could come off as unethical. 

Taking a Strategic Approach Together

Even if your organization cannot afford a robust contract lifecycle management solution, a more effective approach to supplier agreements is well within reach. Integration between Legal and Procurement will ensure both smoother negotiations and a more risk-averse approach to managing contracts in the long-term. 

Though Procurement and Legal should work as allies, it's important Procurement maintain control over its supplier relationships. After all, they're the ones tied to the end result. Functioning as a project manager, Procurement should stay active throughout contracting to ensure timelines are met, service levels are consistent, and messaging is clear. 

Building the confidence and internal clout to play this role could be as simple as cracking open that legal dictionary. 

March Madness is aptly named. With more than 70 million brackets filled out every year, college basketball's championship fills America's schools and workplaces with an intense sense of competition. While the office pool is often a boon to workplace culture, it's less helpful where productivity is concerned.

WalletHub reports that American businesses can expect to lose more than $4 billion as employees turn their attention court-side. That's not to say watching basketball is a total waste of time. This year's top-seeded coaches have a lot to teach Procurement professionals about effective leadership and talent development. Check out some of their thoughts below:

Duke University - Coach Mike Krzyzewski 

"The most fundamental thing about being a good leader is the ability to communicate in a trustworthy manner. You only establish that when you look each other in the eye and tell the truth."

With nearly forty years of success behind him, Coach K is often as easy to dislike as he is to admire. After all, even Duke fans probably get tired of seeing the Blue Devils excel every year. You don't have to like someone, however, to learn from them. Anyone who's ever conducted competitor research will understand the importance of borrowing insights from their adversaries. 

Speaking to Championship Coach's Network, college basketball's all-time wins leader revealed that one quality in particular has contributed to his success: trust. He trusts his players and they trust him

When team members trust their leaders, they are willing to fearlessly embrace change and identify opportunities to innovate. When they don't? Results tend to grow stagnant and culture tends to suffer. While leading through fear or intimidation might help secure a single victory, long-term success depends on transparency, honesty, and mutual respect. 

Coach K shows off trust by letting his captains and assistants speak their minds. You could do the same within your business. Recognize that leading is as much about listening as it is about providing direction. Welcome team members from across Procurement (and the organization as a whole) to offer constructive feedback and share their expertise. It will create a culture where ideas are freely exchanged and creative solutions are an everyday occurrence. 

Gonzaga University - Coach Mark Few 

"Sometimes this thing becomes bigger than life itself. It isn't."

College basketball's biggest month tends to inspire heightened emotions. Even casual fans sometimes find themselves overcome when things don't go their way. Coach Few reminds players and fans alike that it's important to keep things in perspective. Even a loss on the championship stage isn't the end of the world. 

His words should appeal to veterans and emerging professionals alike. Countless surveys have suggested that employees of all ages are eager to improve their work-life balance. Respondents cite a balanced lifestyle as advantageous to their relationships, their mental health, and even their productivity. While this thinking still strikes some as lazy or entitled, leading businesses are increasingly willing to shake things up. 

Part of becoming an effective leader is recognizing that your team members have a life outside of the office. Rather than treating flexible work options as a privilege for a select few, consider making your entire team's well-being a part of your mission. 

University of North Carolina - Coach Roy Williams 

"Don't halfway do somethingIf you're going to be a basketball player, be the best player you can be. If you're going to be a defensive player, be the best you can be. Don't cheat yourself."

You can easily apply Williams advice to Procurement. If you're going to work as a Procurement professional, be the best you can be. Failing to do so isn't just going to hurt your organization. It's going to stymie your own professional development and ultimately keep you from reaching your full potential.

While everyone defines success differently, Roy Williams suggests every team should pride one KPI over all others: effort. If every member of your team is working to the best of their ability, you'll not only win big, but your culture will benefit from an influx of enthusiasm and energy. 

From interns to the c-suite, everyone within an organizations should assess their performance honestly and work to distinguish themselves as a model of hard work. When anyone cuts corners or makes excuses, the entire business suffers. 

University of Virginia - Coach Tony Bennett

"Be thankful certainly when there's great success, but also be thankful for what you've learned through the hard times, because there's great wisdom in those experiences."

Any great leader will speak to their formative successes. More importantly, they'll speak to the lessons they've learned through disappointment or failure. There's a reason so many coaching cliches revolve around the value of losing graciously, of getting back up after getting knocked down. 

Devising innovative strategies is nothing if not an exercise in constructive failure. Even perennial number one seeds don't win every game. They do, however, look at wins and losses alike as opportunities to learn and grow. 

In Procurement and Supply Chain Management, it's the leaders duty to ensure no one on their team is afraid to fail. When failure occurs, each and every team member should feel empowered to regain their composure, reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, and collaborate to ensure success in the future. 

It's also the leader's duty to remind everyone of their own fallibility. When a leader communicates an air of perfection, they do little to inspire confidence. Recognizing their own shortcomings, on the other hand, encourages team members to put aside their fears and communicate with one another in a vulnerable, transparent way. 

In this week's edition of Mentorship Monday, we're taking an unconventional approach to the way we think about leadership with Jan Griffiths and a couple of our own stars here at Source One.

Professional Development is like Skydiving

When it comes to thrilling experiences few top that of skydiving. Imagine the exhilarating and eye opening ability to transition from sky to earth at incredible speeds. Through it, you’re forced to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, push your limits, and trust the people around you. There are parallels to be drawn between skydiving and professional development. 

The truth is, without knowing you have a trained professional behind you, or a properly functioning parachute to rely on, you're not going to have the guts to jump out of a plane. Your confidence and comfort comes from knowing you have reliable support. The thrill and lessons learned by taking that leap are halted without that feeling of safety. The same is true when it comes to innovation and taking risks in the workplace. A culture of safe and confident risk taking, one where no one’s afraid to take a leap, begins at the top with strong leadership.

According to Jan Griffiths CEO and Founder of Gravitas Detroit – a leadership consulting firm focused on helping companies nurture the next generation of innovators – and moderator of ExecIn, the premier executive-level supply management subconference at ISM2019, great leadership means providing a safe environment for encouraging employees to grow and innovate. 

Innovation is what keeps businesses and supply chains especially, alive. No supply chain professional should operate in fear of failing, since innovation is "by definition," says Griffiths, "trying and failing and trying again." It is every leader's responsibility to ensure employees feel the support they need to try new things, that's how companies succeed and grow. 

According to Gallup, one in two employees have left a job to get away from a bad manager, and just two in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. Managers play a huge role in an employee's daily experience and engagement level, so they should be great motivators.

Ahead of ISM2019, we caught up with Griffiths, as well as Elizabeth Skipor and Kaitlyn Krigbaum, two Source One Consultants who’ve earned spots on ISM’s 30 Under 30 list. We asked them to identify the leaders who have had the biggest impact on their professional development. Here's what they had to say:

Remembering Formative Leaders 

“My first boss believed in me and threw me into new and challenging situations at every turn, he supported me and always had my back. He made me feel unstoppable.” --- Griffiths

“My mom. She is crushing it in a male dominated industry as a biomedical engineer. She's brave and a free thinker.” --- Skipor

“An external consultant I used to work with in a past role. He was just so engaging and has an uncanny ability to connect with people that I respect and aim to emulate. He once told me that he wants his tombstone to read 'Here lies Marshall. He never met a stranger.' and that is so him.” --- Krigbaum

True leaders leave a lasting impression on their teams - even if their team members move onto new positions in new organizations. The right advice from the right leader has the potential to resonate throughout the life of an employee’s career. That’s why it’s so imperative for the leaders of the future to remember the power they hold. By functioning as mentors and coaches rather than managers, they’ve got to power to fundamentally change lives.  

Griffiths recalls the moment she realized just how much a great leader can do. "Leaders don't always think about the impact they have," she says. "I once had an employee say 'you’ve changed my life.' He had a manager that made him miserable and depressed. So much so that it was affecting his home life. I gave him the opportunity to lead a team in a particular category and the opportunity and success he experienced changed his life."

Innovation drives business, but all creativity is stifled by fear of failure. In addition to great power, Griffiths suggests leaders have an equally great responsibility. It’s their duty to provide a safe environment for professionals to make the leaps and bounds necessary to advance. Without this support, they’ll remain stagnant and so will the organization.  

Join Supply Chain Leaders at ExecIn

Not many leaders consider the legacy they will leave behind, but a truly excellent leader always thinks about the impact they have. Long-lasting legacies are one of the many topics Griffiths will discuss with Supply Chain leaders at ExecIn next month. Senior-level executives from non-consulting organizations with an annual revenue of over $1.2B are encouraged to contact Carole Boyle ( to express their interest and learn more about this exclusive opportunity.

ICYMIM: March 18, 2019

Source One's series for keeping up with the most recent highlights in procurement, strategic sourcing, and supply chain news week-to-week.  Check in with us every Monday to stay up to date with the latest supply management news.

Latest Procurement Technology Not Adopted Very Fast, LevaData Finds
Tom Cosgrove, Spend Matters, 3/18/2019
LevaData conducted a study proving most procurement professionals understand the advantages of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), but seems to drop the ball when it comes to implementing or adopting these tools. LevaData, a cloud-based cognitive sourcing platform that offers market intelligence and supply chain cost management solutions, reports statistical findings from their study on how companies are underperforming using old methodology and where they should be. Visit Spend Matters, as Cosgrove breaks down key takeaways from their study.

How Time Critical Does Your Transport Need to Be???
Michael Lamoureux, Sourcing Innovation, 3/13/2019
Lamoureux is motivated to revisit time-critical transport after the promotion of real-time logistics visibility by some vendors. He explains the few cases where it is necessary to expedite shipping, like JIT (Just In Time Manufacturing) and the circumstances in which the need is low. Click and find out if your supply chain is equipped to avoid time-critical transport.

Potential Pitfalls of the Food Supply Blockchain
Staff Writer, ThomasNet, 3/13/2019
As blockchain's already large footprint continues to grow in the food industry, it is important for professionals to examine some potential pitfalls and keep them in mind to ensure efficient use of the technology. Blockchain has thusfar provided safer, speedier and more efficient food supply chains, but to increase the longevity of its success, workers throughout the process must learn to leverage the technology--from supplier, processor, to truck driver, and so on. Visit ThomasNet to learn more on the future of blockchain's place in food supply.
Over the last decade, Elizabeth Skipor has distinguished herself as a uniquely flexible and collaborative Procurement professional. With a diverse background and an uncommon ability to drive savings in the Marketing category, she's emerged as an asset to Source One and the consulting space as a whole.

Recently, Elizabeth's expertise helped earn a pair of prestigious awards. In February, she was named a Procurement Pro to Know by Supply and Demand Chain Executive. Just a few weeks later, she earned a coveted spot on the Institute for Supply Management's 30 Under 30 list of Supply Chain Rising Stars.

She sat down with the Source One Podcast to discuss her journey from purchasing to consulting and offer some of the advice that's proven especially meaningful over the years. Subscribe on iTunes today or check out a transcript of the conversation below.

Bennett Glace: Hey everybody, welcome back to the Source One Podcast. I'm here today with one of ISM’s 30 Under 30 Supply Chain Rising Stars - Elizabeth Skipor. How's it going, Liz?

Elizabeth Skipor: Good, how are you?

BG: I'm not too bad. I’m glad to have you on the podcast and super excited that Source One earned not one, but two spots on the 30 Under 30 list this year.

ES: Yeah, it's definitely an exciting time.

BG: And even more exciting with the ISM conference almost underway. So, to jump right into things, the theme for this year's ISM conference is ‘Spark.’ I'm hoping you could speak to a few of the sparks from your career in Procurement. When did you determine that this was the field for you.

ES: Of course. My career started in retail and I quickly grew interested in getting to the bottom of how and why consumers purchase their products. I thought the best way to do that was to explore things from the retailer’s perspective, to learn how and why they provide what they do. To get these insights, I transitioned into the role of a buyer.

That’s when I started to get a taste of supply chain management. Following my interest in apparel, I joined a private company that sourced fabric from designers. I got to travel the world sourcing for a lot of major brands and, from there, I moved into category management. That enabled me to handle the actual purchasing while gaining a more holistic look at our supply chain.

I found that I was pretty good at identifying what our clients needed, how to make those purchases, and how to market these products effectively. It was a constant learning experience, but it only made me want to learn more. 

BG: I’m also interested in the moment that spark really started to become a flame. Is there a key milestone or big win from early in your career that sticks out as formative?

ES: So, that was probably when I was traveling for work. You have a lot of time to think when you’re on a plane flying over to China. I don’t know if I can explain the feeling, but I felt that I was on my way to being where I was meant to be. I wanted to keep following the path I was on. More specifically, I wanted to broaden my expertise and learn more about purchasing products other than apparel.

I started moving into more CPG categories and I think the experience played into a natural interest of mine. I really love examining why people do what they do. That passion has been a real asset. I think it provides fuel during the information gathering process and it encourages me to consider multiple perspectives. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment, but flying to China was when I realized I had a passion.

BG: And could you relate any advice, any words of wisdom, that have helped shape your approach throughout your career?

ES: The best advice I’ve ever gotten is just be honest. If you’re honest with your work, if you’re honest with your suppliers, if you’re honest with your team, then can you collaborate to drive the results you need and sustain mutually beneficial relationships. Without everything on the table, you can’t expect to find success.

BG: So, as part of our Communications team, I’m often writing about the changing face and shape of Procurement. In your decade in the space, I expect you’ve seen a lot of those changes and maybe played a role in bringing some of them about. In a nutshell, how would you say the Procurement space has evolved throughout your career?

ES: Sure. Simply put, I think people are purchasing on a more holistic level. They’re looking at the full picture and seeing things from the top-down rather than the bottom-up.

We’re starting to apply more strategy to purchasing rather than just purchasing and dealing with the repercussions later. Professionals are going into engagements with a clear plan and a definite goal in mind. That’s been a huge change.

BG: Is there anything you would credit with bringing about those changes? What’s encouraging organizations to think differently about how they source and procure their products?

ES: I think a lot of it is just simple economics. A lot of organizations have seen the commodities they need get more expensive. They can’t afford to just reduce headcount or ship labor overseas either. The best companies are responding to changes by nurturing the talent they’ve got and encouraging them to approach purchasing more strategically. They’re recognizing that cutting costs isn’t just about identifying a lower price. It’s about seeing things from end-to-end – identifying the best suppliers, carrying out effective events, and working to enforce compliance.

BG: Have changes in the Procurement space helped change the definition of what it means to excel as a Procurement professional?

ES: Yeah, I think it’s only become more important for Procurement professionals to stay ahead of the trends and keep their eyes open to whatever’s coming next. You’ve got to have that vision in you’re going to adapt to disruption and set your clients up for success in the long term.

BG: And are there any new skills you see becoming more important as Procurement continues to evolve?

ES: Obviously we all know that Procurement professionals need to be well-versed in math and finance, but I think the human aspect of Procurement is becoming more and more important. You’ve got to be able to interact with people and communicate expectations and recommendations effectively.

It’s especially important for consultants in the space. Assessing the client’s needs and delivering on their objectives involves a ton of communication and people skills.

BG: So, as we’ve sort of implied, it’s a particularly exciting year to discuss the future of Procurement and its professionals. 2020 is right around the corner. For what seems like forever now, we’ve been talking about ‘Procurement 2020’ – it’s come to represent our idea of the future. I’m interested in learning how you’d advise a professional who’s just getting started in their career during this exciting time. In your opinion, how can an emerging professional set themselves up to mature into a rising star of the profession.
ES: Earlier, I spoke to the importance of staying ahead of trends. I want to reiterate how important that is for emerging professionals. You want to make sure that whatever recommendations you’re providing to clients is informed by what’s going on today as well as your expectations for the future. I’d also recommend they make an effort to attend presentations and industry events that are relevant to their category or vertical. That’s the best way to make yourself a part of the conversation. It’ll also give the next generation of professionals an opportunity to make connections and start to broaden their expertise.

BG: And what can organizations do to ensure they’re nurturing these rising stars?

ES: I think they should do everything they can to encourage their employees to attend these kind of conferences and give them every opportunity to learn from veterans within the organization.

BG: Well that covers it for my questions. Congratulation again, and thanks for taking the time.

ES: Thank you. 

March 15, 2019

Here's a look at where Source One's cost reduction experts have been featured this week!

New Podcast:
Becoming a Supply Chain Rising Star
In this week's podcast we catch up with Elizabeth Skipor, a Source One Consultant in the Marketing category. She was recently recognized as Institute for Supply Management's 30 Under 30 and named a Procurement Pro to Know by Supply and Demand Chain Executive. In this interview she brings us on her journey to becoming a rising star in the Supply Chain industry and offers advice that has proven useful to herself over the years. Visit our channel to listen and subscribe so you don't miss a beat.

Upcoming Events:

ISM 2019 | April 7 -10 | Houston, TX
Less than a month until ISM 2019, Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) Annual Conference, sponsored by Source One! Mix, mingle and learn from thought leaders and your peers in the Supply Chain industry. Get engaged in multiple breakout sessions and discover new solutions that are available with over 100 leading industry suppliers featured at the event.

ExecIn | April 8 - 9 | Houston, TX
The premier Supply Chain leadership experience is less than a month away! An exclusive sub-conference for C-suite Supply Chain professionals taking place the second and third days of ISM2019. This event entails elite keynote speakers, collaborative and thought-provoking discussions and insights on the relevant industry topics. If you have interest in this invite-only event be sure to reach out to Carole Boyle at
Bulk material handling began toward the end of the 18th century. America's coal-powered Industrial Revolution took place a few decades later. Lean Manufacturing emerged in the 1930s and entered the mainstream throughout the 1990s. Today, new technologies are powering another new generation of manufacturing. What changes can we expect to see in the coming years?

Rapid Growth and Innovation 

The last two years have seen Adidas AG make real strides. Trailing behind its rival Nike for decades, the German apparel company closed the gap throughout 2017 and 2018. They owe much of this progress to a new emphasis on the North American market. They've doubled their business in the region over the last three years.

While the company has long relied on endorsements from athletes, it stepped into new territory by naming Pharell Williams a spokesperson in 2014. Sporting a pair of Adidas Superstars across a series of ads, the music icon brought about a surge in sales. 15 million pairs left shelves in 2015 alone. They accounted for almost 10% of the company's revenue throughout the year.

2018 saw an even more rapid and dramatic up-swing thanks to a more controversial superstar: Kanye West. Over Q4, Adidas experienced 8.6% percent growth across the North American market. This was a 31% increase over the same period in 2017 and resulted in an additional 1.3 billion Euro in revenue. SGB Media suggests the speedy growth was due in large part to West's line of Yeezy apparel.

Speaking to GQ, CEO Kasper Rorsted remarks, "Kanye has repeatedly stated his aspiration to democratize the Yeezy brand. We share his aspiration and we are working hard to bring his vision to life." Their efforts included reducing prices and dramatically ramping up production for the embattled rappers line of products.

A Turn for the Worse 

Unfortunately, last year's enthusiasm is starting to look premature. 

This week, Rorsted told stakeholders that supply chain concerns have slowed his company's growth throughout the early months of 2019. Suppliers, he suggests, are having trouble keeping up with the organization's rapid expansion throughout North America. Asian suppliers in particular have lacked the volume to meet demand for the organization's mid-priced offerings. 

"The volume," he reports, "grew quicker than anticipated and we didn't respond quickly enough to that demand signal." These concerns are expected to eliminate between 1-2% of sales growth over the rest of the year. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, Adidas' new concerns have come at a particularly distressing time. The world's second-biggest sportswear company is already contending with stalled revenue throughout Western Europe. Low demand for athletic clothing has already forced the company to remove merchandise worth more than half a million Euro from store shelves.

What's Next? 

Rorsted and company intend to double-down on their new Yeezy-centric business model. While they will continue to produce certain products in deliberately limited quantities, they will also introduce more and more to the mass market. "In a normal year," Rorsted says, "we'll have between 20 and 30 launches of Yeezy products, where it used to be around two and three."

He goes on to suggest the company will address its European concerns with a renewed focus on Marketing. They will not, however, divert their focus from athletic apparel. Rorsted elaborates, "We want to be the best sports company in the world, not the best fashion company." The company recently inked a sponsorship deal with Arsenal and is eager to establish additional partnerships.

Adidas stock has dropped by just under 3% since Rorsted delivered the bad news to shareholders. Investors and executives hope they'll pick up the pace and take the lead back from Nike before the year comes to an end.   

Companies improving their inventory management, data shows

Much like the weather, the supply chain is an inexact science. Regardless of the industry, businesses must walk an ever increasingly fine line in order to ensure that they have enough product to deliver to satisfy demand, but not so much as to lead to monetary losses caused by unsold inventory.
But thanks to advancements in technology, it appears that companies are getting a better read on their buyer behaviors, and establishing a more well-oiled distribution supply chain as a result.

"The nation's inventory-to-sales ratio has progressively dwindled over the past several decades."
The nation's inventory-to-sales ratio has progressively dwindled over the past several decades, according to data collected by Supply Chain Dive from the U.S. Census Bureau. This ratio traces the value of sales on a monthly basis versus unsold inventory. The lower the number, the more efficient the supply chain is presumed to be. For example, a ratio of 2.3 at a computer goods and accessories store is an indication that the company has around two months and three weeks' worth of merchandise to satisfy the rate of demand.

Scott Scheleur, assistant division chief for the Census Bureau's retail and wholesale indicator programs, told the online publication the inventory-to-sales ratio serves as a barometer of how adroitly companies are maintaining their supply chain.

"It's been a measure we've tracked for years to give an indication of how much inventory [retailers] have on hand," Scheleur explained.

Ports saw more container volume in November, December
The ongoing tariff dispute between the U.S. and China, among other major countries, has made the inventory situation a bit more difficult to assess, given the unknowns and various price fluctuations that trade wars typically create. However, retailers have largely been able to find the proper balance. According to the most recent month for which data is available, U.S. trade ports processed around 1.9 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit cargo containers) in December, based on estimates from the National Retail Federation. That's up close to 9 percent in comparison to the previous month and a near 14 percent increase on a year-over-year basis. The growth was largely a function of December serving as the height of the holiday buying rush for retailers and improved consumer sentiment.

Much of the inventory delivered was snatched up during the Christmas and Hanukkah buying blitz. Indeed, sales rose just shy of 3 percent last year compared to 2017, based on the NRF's data. That was lower than anticipated, but economists attribute the somewhat underwhelming growth to the partial government shutdown, the length of which was longer than originally suspected.

Businesses are better leveraging technology
Of course, when merchandise doesn't get sold, it goes back into storage for the time being, but the advancements in logistics and computational analysis has given companies more insight into buying trends, thus making better use of what space they have.

Mark Cohen director of retail studies at Columbia Business School, said the declining inventory-to-sales ratio is evidence of this.

"Technology has enabled the retailers and suppliers to shorten the supply chains to enable retailers to hold less inventory at any moment in time," Cohen told Supply Chain Dive during a recent interview.
Cohen added that while an insufficient amount of supply is certainly inadvisable, an overabundance of product is inherently risky because most things have a shelf-life - in the literal and figurative sense of the term.

"Inventory is frangible," Cohen further told Supply Chain Dive. "It's obviously perishable if you're a grocer, but it's also perishable if you're a fashion retailer."
Speaking of which, grocery items as well as clothing and fashion accessories have fared well in recent months. Clothing retailers witnessed a 4.2 percent uptick in sales during the all-important

Christmas holiday shopping season, and grocery store locations also experienced growth in customer traffic on a year-over-year basis, up just shy of 2 percent, the NRF reported.

Cohen said that so long as technologically continues to improve and retailers maintain a constant flow of communication with manufacturers, they should be able to optimize their supply chains even further in the months and years to come.