Yesterday, the Institute for Supply Management's 2018 Conference drew to a close.

For Source One's team of cost reduction experts, the day provided the perfect opportunity to make a few more connections, engage in a few more conversations, and absorb a few more pieces of thought leadership.

Director Diego De la Garza offered thought leadership of his own to ISM attendees in his featured presentation: Overcoming Procurement's Internal Image Problem. De la Garza, a veteran of ISM's Annual Conference, joined Global Business Consultant Donna Chappas to present tips for changing the conversation surrounding Procurement.

The pair opened their presentation with an alarming (if unsurprising) statistic. 80% of CPOs, they reported, still consider cost reduction their primary objective. Within many organizations, Procurement's focus on cost reduction has alienated internal stakeholders and made it challenging to achieve executive buy-in. It's (at least partially) to blame for the department's image problem. What's more, emphasizing cost reduction alone tends to obscure the true strategic value Procurement can provide.

From there, they transitioned into a discussion of what Procurement should set as it's goal and how it can better communicate these goals. To distinguish itself as a strategic partner, Procurement has to shift its focus from cost reduction to value generation. The department also needs to emphasize that its goals are the same as any other department within in organization. Pursuing a shared mission will help the department dispel any misconceptions about its role. It will help Procurement stand out as a partner rather than an adversary.

Other morning sessions focused on keeping pace with digital transformations in Procurement, breaking down silos between Procurement and other departments, and successfully integrating artificial intelligence.

John Rossman - who spoke at Day 2 of ExecIn -  closed the festival with a wide-ranging and insightful keynote address. The former Amazon executive captivated ISM2018 attendees with some of the lessons he learned in his time with the eCommerce giant. In particular, he focused on becoming agile and customer-centric in an evolving supply management space.

"The best customer service," he remarked, "is not customer service - because the best experience happens when the customer never has to ask for help." He went on to suggest that Procurement and Supply Management professionals are perfectly equipped to promote customer service best practices across their organization's supply chains.

Rossman's presentation reminded the supply management leaders in attendance that taking a page out of Amazon's book is perfectly doable. Companies of any size and maturity level can borrow its customer service best practices as they strive to evolve their Procurement operations.

It's never too early to start preparing for ISM2019. Source One's spend management team will be there in Houston, but don't wait that long to say hello. Call the Procurement specialists today to start refining your operations.

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