November 2018

It's probably not very hard for drivers to imagine the ways in which self-driving cars could radically alter their own lives.

For starters, drunk driving could become a thing of the past. And daily commutes could become much more pleasant once you have the ability to take a nap or watch a show during your trip to the office. In fact, every trip into a bustling city will feel a lot less stressful once you no longer have to spend time hunting for a parking space.

While it's easy to daydream about how autonomous vehicles could improve one's personal life, it may be harder to predict the various effects such technology would have on industry. To that end, Supply Chain Dive recently reached out to three experts and asked them to make the business case for autonomous vehicles in the supply chain. Here are some of the biggest takeaways.

Autonomous vehicles could have a bigger impact on businesses than individuals

Most of the news we hear about autonomous technology concerns the various automakers that are working to create self-driving cars. While the futuristic-looking concepts being unveiled at auto shows may grab the headlines and capture the imagination, the effect that autonomous vehicles could have on the supply chain is potentially a much bigger story.

"Autonomous vehicles have a much more serious and quantifiable impact on supply chain logistics and operations than their potential for transporting people," says Mike Ramsey, senior research director of automotive and smart mobility at the global research company Gartner.

Ramsey cites the Swedish transportation company Einride, which believes there is a $1 trillion market for autonomous logistics that will move goods inside of factories and between warehouses. While he admits this vision of the future of automation "isn't as sexy as a fleet of 80,000 Waymo cabs picking up passengers around the globe," he still finds it more likely.

It's already happening

These sorts of speculative conversations can sometimes be dismissed as the stuff of science fiction, but Ramsey is quick to point out that there are already some examples of autonomous vehicles being successfully integrated into a supply chain.

For starters, the aforementioned Einride has already begun using its own autonomous electric truck to run pallets on a 10 km stretch between warehouses in the Swedish city of Jönköping.
"It's a small step, but it makes business sense, solves a problem and can be easily adapted to any business,"' says Ramsey.

And in Australia, the Rio Tinto Group has more than 80 autonomous mining trucks, which in 2016, operated an average of 1,000 more hours than conventional haul trucks, and did so at a 15 percent lower load and haul unit cost.

Ramsey cites both companies as real-world instances of autonomous vehicles being used more frequently and efficiently than their human-operated counterparts could function.

On the other hand, both of these examples are still a long ways away from a world in which every eighteen-wheeler you ride next to on the interstate has an empty driver's seat.

A truck driving down a highwayThe thought of driverless trucks may fill you with terror or excitement, depending on how you feel about the future of the supply chain business.

It could still take a while to catch on

"Autonomous vehicles in the supply chain still have many more hurdles to clear before anyone gives them room to pass on local roads or highways," cautions Sean Maharaj, director of transportation, logistics and retail practices at the business management consultant AArete.

Maharaj cites the negative media reaction to Uber's various autonomous vehicle accidents when speculating that autonomous vehicles could be one industry "disruption" that society .
Other potential roadblocks include government regulations, legal risks, uncertainty surrounding questions of liability and the sheer cost and technical support required for the continued maintenance of the technology.

In fact, because of the many headaches that could arise during the pioneering stage of introducing autonomous vehicles to the supply chain, there are probably very few benefits to being an early-adopter of the technology, says Cort Jacoby, a partner at the global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

Jacoby goes so far as to estimate the only a 1 percent of companies today would reap financial and operational rewards from pursuing the early adoption of autonomous vehicles.

"For the vast remainder of the companies depending on logistics to move good across their respective supply chains," Jacoby says, referring to the other 99 percent, "there are many opportunities to extract efficiencies and further optimize current operations through commercially available and proven technology, for example backhaul optimization, carrier visibility and rapid load/unload, that are not even close to being extracted."


The appeal of self-driving cars and trucks is obvious, both for private and commercial use. But there are many steps that will have to be taken to go from our current world to one in which autonomous vehicles are the norm, and the companies that take those first few tentative steps will have to assume a lot of risk in doing so. For that reason, many companies may continue to utilize existing supply chain solutions rather than chance a high-tech solution.

Furthermore, even if early-adopters do end up paving the way for the rest, there are still other considerations to be had when contemplating the widespread commercial implementation of autonomous vehicle technology.

While the rewards for industry are obvious, so too are the disadvantages for workers. Just a few months ago, the Wall Street Journal reported on a new research paper that projected nearly 300,000 long-distance truck drivers could have their jobs replaced by autonomous driving technology over the next 25 years. In the same way that factory closures have led to talk of tariffs, this threat to workers might inspire a backlash that, when combined with fears over the safety of self-driving vehicles, may inspire some form of anti-autonomous legislation.

Still, the supply chain world is one which even the most marginal of savings are valued, and in which driver shortages and labor wages are frequent issues. For those reasons alone, future fleets of self-driving trucks may already be inevitable, even if the experts disagree on just how soon they'll start showing up on the road.

Robust consumer sentiment and a healthy economy informed retailers that they could safely anticipate a busy start to the holiday shopping season, making a well-stocked supply chain indispensable to sales success. The nation's largest e-commerce destination had a banner kickoff.

Amazon announced that Cyber Monday was record-breaking for the company, selling more products than it ever has before over a 24-hour period. Worldwide, when combined with Black Friday, at least 18 million toys were purchased online and an additional 13 million fashion products.
"Cyber Monday was record-breaking for Amazon."

Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke said the results speak to people's love for online shopping, appreciating the fact that they can purchase goods quickly at rock bottom prices thanks in part to a reliable supply chain.

"Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to break records on Amazon year over year, which tells us that customers love shopping for deals to kick off the holiday shopping season," Wilke explained. "With curated gift guides, convenient shopping experiences, incredible product selection, and free shipping with no minimum purchase amount, Amazon offers customers tremendous value - sure to deliver smiles all season long."

Biggest shopping weekend of the year historically
The long Thanksgiving holiday - dubbed the Turkey 5 - is a make-or-break one for the retail industry. It started with Black Friday, described as such because store operators aim to turn a profit as the year concludes, going from the red - deficit - to the black. Retailers stimulate demand on this day by slashing prices.

Over time, however, Black Friday has been accompanied by Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Retailers use these days to drive sales through discounts and other incentives. Although mailers and advertisements may denote deals are only while supplies last, stores aim to keep shelves as sufficiently stocked as possible to reward buyers for their patronage. This year, more department stores and small businesses decided to open their doors on Thanksgiving to give consumers a jumpstart on holiday shopping.

SMB sales up 20 percent
Their strategy appears to have paid off, as sales by small and medium-sized businesses worldwide surged by more than 20 percent on Black Friday compared to 2017, according to analysis done by Amazon. And for the e-commerce giant in particular over 180 million items were ordered online during the Turkey 5.

These impressive figures are in line with what the National Retail Federation expected, forecasting a growth in holiday sales of 4 percent year over year. All told, around 165 million Americans shopped in store or online during the Thanksgiving holiday, 1 million more than the total number the NRF projected along with Prosper Insights & Analytics.

They didn't spend quite as much as they did last year, however, averaging around $319.29 over the five days, the NRF said. That's down from $335.47 in 2017. Xennials and Generation Xers outspent everyone, paying roughly $413 on gifts and decorations.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said the sales results prove that both retailers and customers lived up to their ends of the bargain.

"This year's research clearly shows that the investments made by retailers are paying off in a big way," Shay said. "Over the last couple of days, what I heard in discussions with retail CEOs across all categories and segments was very positive, driven by macro conditions of low unemployment and rising wages combined with the right mix of merchandise at great prices."
He added that the strong start bodes well for a stellar finish.

The grocery distribution supply chain took a major hit with the announcement from health officials that all romaine lettuce should be thrown out due to concerns over E.coli contamination. Although the government hasn't given the all clear sign just yet, the supply chain is on the cusp of normalizing now that experts have a pretty good idea of where the tainted lettuce originated.
In separate statements, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Federal Drug Administration announced that they believe the more than three dozen people stricken ill ate romaine lettuce grown in the central coastal region of California. This means that so long as Americans know that their leafy greens came from somewhere other than the Golden State, there's no harm in eating romaine lettuce.
"The O157:H7 strain was detected in at 12 least states."
43 people sickened by E.coli
This latest development comes approximately a week removed from when the CDC and FDA issued memoranda that advised families - as well as grocers and restaurateurs - to dispose of the Caesar salad staple after at least 43 people were affected by E.coli. This bacterium, which is potentially lethal, usually derives from farm animals and can impact the food supply through cross contamination. Classic symptoms of E.coli - which has various strains - include bloody stools, diarrhea, gastric bloating and stomach cramping. Health officials said the O157:H7 strain was detected in at 12 least states. Epidemiologic evidence from Canada and the U.S. indicate romaine lettuce is the source.
Prior to Nov. 20, however, health officials didn't know where the tainted lettuce originated. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the answers started to fall into place while families around the country gathered for the fourth Thursday in November festivities.
"Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the FDA continued to investigate the outbreak," Gottlieb explained. "Our investigation at this point suggests that romaine lettuce associated with the outbreak comes from areas of California that grow romaine lettuce over the summer months, and that the outbreak appears to be related to 'end of season' romaine lettuce harvested from these areas.  The involved areas include the Central Coast growing regions of central and northern California."
Romaine takes longer to harvest
Although romaine lettuce isn't a typical component of the traditional Thanksgiving feast, health officials' Nov. 20 advisory sent shockwaves throughout the retail supply chain, not to mention that of growers. This lettuce variety takes longer to harvest than others, so farmers may have more invested in its sales performance than iceberg or butterhead given the time and space required for the crop to bear fruit.
It's unclear just how much romaine lettuce was thrown away, but the CDC and FDA are putting together a plan that may prevent something similar from happening in the future. Moving forward, likely to start in 2019, romaine lettuce products will be labeled with more specificity, so buyers not only know what state their produce was grown in but what harvest region.
"It may take some time before these labels are available," the CDC advised in a statement. "If the romaine lettuce is not labeled with a harvest growing region, do not buy, serve, sell, or eat it."
To maintain an uninterrupted supply chain, restaurateurs should check the labels on the romaine lettuce they receive from suppliers. If they don't see these descriptions, don't hesitate to ask, the CDC counseled. Romaine lettuce sold in whole heads, hearts, bags, boxes, precut and salad mixes are included in this advisory statement.
Even in small and mid-sized organizations, Procurement has a lot on its plate. Balancing a tactical workload with evolving strategic responsibilities, they often find themselves overwhelmed.

Mistakes are inevitable. When they become an everyday occurrence, however, even the smallest can have a huge impact on Procurement's bottom line. With end of the year quickly approaching, now is the perfect time for your organization to take a look at its operations and identify room for improvement.

Are you making these costly mistakes?


The big reasons behind Amazon's under-the-radar move to Nashville

Amazon's selection of New York City and Arlington, Virginia, as the site of the company's two new headquarters has attracted a great deal of media attention, and for no small reason.

In the statement announcing that New York and the Washington, D.C. metro area would be joining Seattle as the online retail giant's second and third North American headquarters, Amazon said that the new facilities represented a $5 billion investment that would create more than 50,000 jobs, with 25,000 at each location.

Much of the media narrative was also driven by the backlash that Amazon faced from residents of the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, who expressed concerns about the arrival of Amazon HQ2 driving up rents, and anger over the billions of dollars in city and state tax breaks that the corporation was receiving.

Going Country
Somewhat lost in the national conversation was Amazon's concurrent announcement that the company would also be opening an Operations Center of Excellence in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, with hiring set to begin in 2019.

Amazon says it plans to invest $230 million and create 5,000 high-paying jobs at its new Nashville location. While those figures are fractions of the numbers being promised to New York and metro D.C., it's still exciting news for Music City, which is also set to benefit from an estimated incremental tax revenue of more than $1 billion over the next 10 years.

While Amazon is poised to receive up to $102 million in performance-based tax incentives for its investment in Nashville, there are a host of other relevant factors that helped the city land such a big fish.

A centrally located hub
As is the case with almost all real estate, location was one of the biggest determining factors when it came to Amazon's decision. And while Nashville is known to have a vibrant downtown, that wasn't the only reason for the company's move there.

"The location is really important," Murat Arik, director of the Middle Tennessee State University Business Economic Research Center, explained to Supply Chain Dive. "Nashville is at the heart of population centers, and whichever angle you look at, you can reach half of the U.S. population within a single day drive."

You can also reach two of the largest logistics providers in the country in about a three-hour drive, according to Julie Niederhoff, an associate professor of supply chain management at Syracuse University. Three hours west is Memphis, which boasts the largest FedEx Express Hub in the world, while three hours to the northeast is Louisville, which is home to the largest automated packing handling facility in the world, UPS Worldport.

Nashville's central time zone location also helps the business cater to clients on both the east and west coast.

Daytime photo of downtown Nashville, TennesseeNashville's centralized location could make it a strong link in the Amazon supply chain.
A pool of home-grown talent
The Nashville Center of Excellence is not a warehouse facility, which makes sense, given that despite its proximity to major logistics providers, the bustling downtown location would not be ideal for frequent truck traffic.

"This isn't going to be 5,000 people working on packing up people's Amazon physical orders. It's going to be more of a managerial, strategic operations," said Niederhoff. "From my understanding, the New York and D.C. offices are going to be looking at where can we develop new services, acquire new startups, and what's next. The operations team is 'how do we make that happen.'"

The 5,000 white-collar employees tasked with figuring out "How do we make that happen?" will be earning somewhere in the salary range of $150,000 per year. Nashville offers a rich talent pool for Amazon to draw from, as the city is already playing host to the corporate headquarters of companies like Nissan North America, Dollar General Corp, Mars Petcare, Tractor Supply and Caterpillar Financial.

A draw for out-of-towners
Amazon will not just be confined to Nashville's home-grown talent pool, though, as the city is fast becoming one of the more popular destinations for young people.

From 2000 to 2017, the Tennessee capital's population expanded by a whopping 45 percent. And although housing values have shot up an even more remarkable 75 percent over the last 10 years, the National Association of Realtors lists the city's median house price at $262,600, which is still just a little over half of the median house price in Amazon's native Seattle.

Workers recognizing how far their six-figure salary could go in a town like Nashville might jump at the chance to move there, especially when considering the area's rich cultural benefits. While some may still associate the city with the Grand Ole Opry and a general honky-tonk personality, that's not the Nashville that new transplants are likely to discover.

With an average of 100 new folks moving in each day, Nashville is currently one of the biggest boom towns in America, according to Forbes contributor Peter Lane Taylor. That huge surge in numbers is creating a hip food and bar scene, and also building up increasingly trendy neighborhoods. Nightlife attractions scored with live music are a big selling point for millennials, who also appreciate the fact that the town remains relatively affordable when compared to big cities like New York and D.C.

Nashville's political leaders also pitch the city as being progressive yet pro-business, which helps explain the perpetual sight of cranes downtown building new additions to the skyline.

While not every aspect of a town can be imitated - especially not geographic location - there are many ways in which Nashville can serve as a model for other cities looking to reap the economic rewards of becoming valued links in a supply chain.
GM closes 5 North American plants and lays off thousands

General Motors has announced that it will be shutting down two U.S. assembly plants, one Canadian assembly plant and two U.S. propulsion plants in 2019.

The impacted facilities are ones that have been manufacturing some of the automotive giant's less popular models, including the Chevy Cruze, Impala and Volt electric sedan, as well as the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS.

GM is touting the realignment of its manufacturing capacity and reduction of its workforce as a streamlining measure that they expect will increase annual adjusted automotive free cash flow by $6 billion by the end of 2020.

"The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future," GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. "We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success."

Major cuts to salaried and hourly employees
The plan calls for a 15 percent reduction of salaried and contracted staff, including a 25 percent decrease in executives. The combination of cuts to both white- and blue-collar workforces will lead to approximately 8,000 salaried workers and 6,000 hourly workers being laid off or reassigned.

Many have expressed concern about the devastating impact these layoffs could have on the affected areas, which include GM's hometown of Detroit, along with communities in and around Warren, Michigan; Warren, Ohio; White Marsh, Maryland and Oshawa, Ontario in Canada. In addition to the spike in unemployment, such closures tend to have a ripple effect on restaurants and retailers, especially in smaller cities where such an economic shock is felt more acutely.

A number of workers also expressed anger after learning about the closures from news reports before the plan had officially been announced. The secrecy surrounding the decision to close plants and cut jobs could signal that there are more closures to come, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Chevy VoltThe slow-selling Chevy Volt is one of the vehicles that will be discontinued following the plant closures.
For GM, there's also a political toll to be paid, as many elected officials have expressed obvious displeasure with the company's decision. Chief among them is President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a platform of keeping manufacturing jobs in America. Trump criticized Barra shortly after the news was announced, calling General Motors ungrateful for the government assistance it has received in the past. The president also threatened to impose tariffs on automobiles imported to the United States, with U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer stating that the administration is examining options to raise tariffs on Chinese vehicles to 40 percent, which is the amount Beijing charges on imports of American-made cars.

China is currently GM's biggest market, which helps explain why the automaker is continuing to manufacture vehicles in Asia while shutting down factories in North America, despite the president's complaints.

Reading the tea leaves
GM has referred to this plan as a proactive measure being taken in anticipation of a potential downturn in car sales. Whether the economy is actually headed for a slowdown is a subject of considerable debate among economists, although rising interest rates have traditionally been viewed as a harbinger of sluggish automotive sales.

Barra has developed a reputation for "leaning out GM," even when not necessary, according to Supply Chain Dive. Before assuming the role of CEO in 2014, she was the executive vice president of global product development for the automaker, purchasing and supply chain.

Considering her background in supply chain management, it's highly possible that Barra is simply preparing for a worst-case scenario, rather than actively predicting one.

November 30, 2018

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

Whitepaper Series
MRO Demystified Part IV: Long-Term Spend Management 
The final installment of Source One's latest whitepaper series is here. Offering tips and best practices for long-term spend management, it provides readers with the insights they need to take a more effective, sustainable approach to MRO. The Maintenance, Repair, and Operations category is an inherently challenging one, but it doesn't have to be a headache. Download all four parts today to learn how your organization can set itself up for long-term success.

New Podcast:
Taking Control of Procurement's Timelines
Strategic Sourcing initiatives drag on, stall, and totally fall apart all the time. Procurement professionals are painfully familiar with this fact. On this episode of the Source One Podcast, Brian Seipel suggests these issues can all be traced back to one thing - timing. All to often, organizations wait until initiatives are well underway to finalize and begin actively managing their timelines. Working backwards from implementation, Seipel looks at each stage in the sourcing process to provide tips for building an effective timeline and realizing optimal results.

Initiatives drag on, come up short, and even totally collapse all the time. Procurement and Supply Chain professionals are painfully familiar with this fact. On the latest episode of the Source One Podcast, Brian Seipel suggests organizations can trace headaches throughout the sourcing process down to one fatal mistake - poorly planned timelines.

All too often, organizations wait until their sourcing initiatives are underway to finalize their timelines and begin actively managing them. The troubles that begin at the RFP administration stage then continue through contracting and supplier on-boarding. All the while, drawn out processes and unrealistic deadlines will cause promising supply chain partners to jump ship.

"Of all the dates you know," Seipel says, "your implementation date is the most critical and easiest determine." That's why he works backwards from there in offering best practices to listeners.

At the implementation stage, Seipel recommends the Procurement reach out to every front-line stakeholder to gather their insights. With additional input from suppliers who live and breath implementations, Procurement can ensure they don't wind up missing deadlines and settling for their incumbent vendors.

Gathering as much information as possible is also essential throughout contract negotiations. By asking for standard terms and conditions up front and entering into a dialogue with Legal, Procurement can make more informed, strategic decisions.

Constant communication, too, is key. During the RFP administration stage, Seipel encourages Procurement teams to adopt a "firm-yet-forgiving" attitude when it comes to its timeline. "Each time you communicate with suppliers," he remarks, "reference the next milestone, its deadline, and the deliverables owed to you." He takes care to remind Procurement, however, that offering wiggle room is almost always necessary.

For more tips for timeline optimization, subscribe to the Source One Podcast today.

Despite more than a decade of strategic progress, outdated tools and technology are still holding Procurement organizations in the tactical past. Without the appropriate level of automation and insight, purchasing teams leave themselves vulnerable to unexpected disruptions, undermine their internal authority, and limit their ability to generate value.

Managing a supply chain is all about steady innovation and adaptation. Even within small organizations, Procurement should strive to identify and introduce new tools. Tools for electronic sourcing, contract management, and vendor engagement all make it possible for the function to move away from its historically tactical workload and accept a more high-value role.

Navigating the technology landscape, however, is never as simple as tracing a route on a map. Hoping to land on a new solution? Check out our tips for traveling through the market.

1. Build the Business Case

Procurement's efforts to identify and introduce next-generation technology will go far more smoothly with executive leadership on-board. Before setting out on a technological journey, the department needs to educate its peers within the organization. By identifying the right metrics and developing resonant methods for reporting on them, Procurement can begin to frame itself as an enabler for business-wide growth.

Stakeholders throughout the organization need to understand that what's good for Procurement is good for the business as a whole. It's not enough for Procurement to identify how a new solution will help them. They've got to tell a compelling narrative that presents new technology as the missing piece they need to better serve IT, Marketing, and every other business unit. This could mean working against old misconceptions, but the effort will prove worth it when Procurement accepts a more prominent seat at the executive table.

2. Define Your True Requirements

In all likelihood, Procurement does not require the most robust or most expensive solution on the market. Bells and whistles are certainly nice, but they're often little more than a distraction from the function's real needs. Sourcing teams are used to differentiating between 'must haves' and 'need to haves.' They draw this distinction almost every time they send out an RFP or negotiate a contract. They've got to the same before looking into the market for solutions.

A thorough, honest assessment of both requirements and capabilities will help Procurement more confidently make a strategic selection. This period of self-reflection could make all the difference in avoiding the disappointment of either an overly simplistic or needlessly complex solution.

3. Look for Outside Help

Selecting and implementing Procurement technology is often a multi-year, multi-million dollar investment. It's imperative that organizations make the right decision the first time. Both job security and year-over-year performance could depend on Procurement's selections.

Going it alone is often more risk than Procurement can afford. A dedicated, well-vetted technology consultant could provide the appropriate level of guidance. Before engaging a consultant, however, it's important for an organization to determine where and when it will require assistance. Companies may find that assistance throughout the technology selection process is not enough. Where necessary (and possible), Procurement should identify third-party experts who'll provide support as the function assesses its needs and implements new solutions. Such end-to-end technology support will keep Procurement from hitting snags and ensure they realize their new solution's maximum value as efficiently as possible.

. But . . . Take Recommendations with a Grain of Salt

Even organizations that make a point to look for outside help don't always do their due diligence. After all, there's a lot of hype out there and the conversations around disruptive tools are only growing louder. Procurement can find it tempting to take sales pitches at face value and mistake 'too good to be true' for 'too good to pass up.' Many don't realize they've made this mistake until it's far too late.

Publications like Gartner's Magic Quadrants only complicate matters. Though they provide a less-than-comprehensive look at the provider landscape, they're often the first and last source that organizations consult. Before leveraging a so-called 'magic document,' before placing trust in a consultant, organizations need to truly understand what it is they need and why they need it. Without this period of self-reflection and realistic forecasting, they could find themselves falling prey to flashy rhetoric and selecting mismatched solutions.

Reach out to Source One's Procurement Technology advisers today to learn more about how you can equip Procurement for the function's digital future. 

In a perfect world, each successful sourcing initiative would result in years of effective, hands-on spend management. In reality, however, a single event is little more than a good start. While identifying new suppliers or retooling existing relationships might provide savings and efficiency in the short-term, it's all too easy for organizations to forget the 'management' side of spend management. Many find themselves boosting visibility and regaining control only to slide back into the same old bad habits.

'Set it and forget it' is no way to approach MRO spend - or spend in any category. Generating value and maintaining control in the long-term means taking proactive, decisive action. It means never settling for 'good enough' and never relying on old methods 'just because.'

While MRO is most definitely a complex category, it's far from unmanageable. There's no reason any organization should find the joy of a successful event supplanted by the pain of maverick spend, poor communication, or a lack of visibility. Luckily for Procurement, they've got a lot of options for approaching the category more strategically.

1. Punch Outs

Punch Out catalogs connect a buyer's personal eProcurement system directly to their supplier's website. Buyers 'punch out' of their internal systems and gain access to their supplier's online catalog. Without such a system in place, Procurement creates far more work for itself than necessary. Whether it's loading individual items into a cart or verifying pricing against a pre-loaded master catalog, the function is wasting valuable time and resources.

A punch out's real-time, dynamic catalog provides Procurement with live updates on thousands of line items. This ensures that purchasers only select products that adhere to contract terms. In addition to expediting the purchasing process, punch outs make it possible for Procurement to devote its time to more high-value, strategic activities.

2. Vendor Managed Inventory Programs

The MRO spend area includes parts and components that keep an organization and its facilities running. As such, emergency, one-off purchases are an unfortunate (and unavoidable) reality in the category. The sort of incidents that might inspire an emergency purchase are far more common when organizations don't maintain open lines of communication with their supply base. Waiting on a delivery - or a response - could even mean contending with stalled production for an extended period.

Vendor Managed Inventory programs promote communication and optimal supply levels by making inventory the supplier's responsibility. Like punch out catalogs, they cut out a considerable piece of Procurement's tactical workload. Certain VMI programs will see a vendor set up operations on the site level. With direct access and insights into your company's resources, they can set optimal purchasing levels and automate the reorder process.

It's worth remembering, however, that VMI programs run on trust and close oversight. It's not enough to select a supplier and trust they'll make a positive change. Some vendors will make mistakes. Others will behave unscrupulously and look for opportunities to serve their own interests. That's why it's so important to vet vendors thoroughly and establish a management framework that will guarantee reliable service.

3. Supplier Consolidation

One of MRO's most prevailing challenges is the category's breadth. Whereas certain spend categories include just a handful of products and services, MRO compels even small organizations to manage hundreds of SKUs. Things are doubly complicated when these diverse products come from an equally diverse set of suppliers. That's why supply base consolidation is so often the answer for organizations looking to get a handle on their MRO spend.

Carrying out a strategic sourcing event can help a Procurement team uncover hidden opportunities to cut down the size of their supply base. Once they've done so, they can work to build relationships that offer more competitive pricing and better serve their unique needs. Instead of a few dozen 'good enough' suppliers spread far and wide, they'll begin to develop a bench of best-in-class providers who'll serve them on the local level.

Be careful. Organizations should not indiscriminately cut ties with their suppliers. Like any sourcing initiative, a consolidation effort requires effective planning, a wealth of information, and an apparatus for long-term monitoring.

Source One's MRO specialists discuss these best practices and more in the fourth and final installment of MRO Demystified. Download the whitepaper today to develop the hands-on, strategic methods that MRO spend demands.

ICYMIM: November 26, 2018

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.

Number of U.S. Freelancers Dropped in 2018, But Talent Pool Still Deep 
JP Morris, Spend Matters, 11/21/2018
2018 marks the first year since 2014 that the number of American freelancers has decreased. According to a report from Upwork and Edelman Intelligence, there are now about 600,000 fewer freelancers than at this time last year. Reflecting on the report, Morris suggests that an increasingly strong traditional job market has seen a number of workers transition into full-time positions. Despite the slight drop-off, it's clear that contingent labor is still an attractive option for employers and employees alike. In fact, the report finds that more than half of freelancers would not take a traditional job for any amount of money. 

David Trachtenberg, Future of Sourcing, 11/23/2018
"AI," Trachtenberg suggests, "is especially disruptive for the contingent workforce sector." What was once an area characterized by reams of paperwork and rampant process inefficiencies is now increasingly proactive and prescriptive. Arming hiring managers with 'match algorithms,' many advanced tools are helping organizations identify leading talent more quickly and eliminate manual aspects of the process. By cutting out time-consuming tasks, HR professionals can devote their efforts to more strategic initiatives like employee engagement and talent development.

Shifting the Public Perception of Supply Chain Careers
Staff Writer, ThomasNet, 11/26/2018
Thomasnet suggests that Supply Chain Management's talent shortage stems from a number of factors. Chief among these are the perception that the field in old-fashioned and a general lack of on-the-job training. Organizations need to refine their processes for recruiting, hiring, and developing talent to better attract the emerging crop of young professionals. Human Resources teams, for example, need to retool their methods. With more humanized processes, they'll reduce their risk of scaring away or exhausting top-notch applicants. 

November 23, 2018

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

New Whitepaper:
MRO Demystified Part IV: Long-Term Spend Management 
In the final installment of their series on MRO spend management, Source One's Procurement team shares a number of best practices for optimizing the category in the long-term. Addressing topics like punch-outs and vendor managed inventory programs, they help readers maximize the value of their MRO investments. 

New Podcast:
Making Spend Analysis Count
More and more Procurement organizations are recognizing the value of data. Too many, however, still fail to put their data to good use. This is particularly evident when spend analysis leaves organizations paralyzed. In this episode of the Source One Podcast, Brian Seipel offers his tips for turning information into action. A recognized expert on spend analysis, Seipel leverages his years of experience to steer organizations toward a high-value spend analysis.

New Blogs:
3 Reasons Organizations Should Hop on the Corporate Social Responsibility Bandwagon
Jaisheela Setty, Future of Sourcing, 11/21/2018
CSR initiatives aren't just good for the planet and its people. Consultant Jaisheela Setty suggests they can also prove beneficial to an organization's bottom line. It's a misconception that green business practices are more costly by default. In many instances, the sustainable option and the cost effective option are one and the same. Additionally, businesses that prioritize CSR reap additional benefits in the form of brand differentiation. This is particularly important as more environmentally and socially conscious young professionals enter the workforce.

Brian Seipel opens the latest episode of the Source One Podcast with a question every listener has heard a thousand times. "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it," he asks, "does it make a sound?"

No, he doesn't provide an answer to this age-old riddle, but he does identify a practical application for it. He suggests Procurement professionals would do well to apply its logic to their spend analysis practices. They should ask themselves, "If you a perform a spend analysis and it isn't being used properly, does it even matter?" Unlike its inspiration, this question most definitely has an answer - no.

Data is increasingly essential to Procurement's workload. Organizations realize this. They're collecting it, they're analyzing it, but far too few are putting it to good use. "Too often," Seipel remarks, "analysts get too caught up in data." Obsessively collecting, categorizing, and cleansing, they put in a whole lot of work to realize very little actual benefit.

Seipel reminds listeners that - by itself - data is utterly useless. It's up to diligent Procurement professionals to turn the raw information provided by data points into the actionable wisdom of cost reduction strategies. He says, "You can have the best spend analysis in the world, but it won't matter one bit if upper management approaches you for proactive wisdom and all you can do is hand them a stack of facts and figures."

He concludes by offering Procurement two missions:

  • Understand the value of data and where that value ends. 
  • Move beyond telling a story and start taking action. 
Interested in hearing more? Subscribe to the Source One Podcast today. 

As Procurement professionals, we've got a lot on our plates all year round. Juggling initiatives and straddling the line between various business units, it's not always easy to reflect on all we have to be thankful for. Honestly, we've rarely got the time. That's why we're using our day off to look back on 2018 and say thanks to everyone who's made it a banner year for Source One and Supply Chain Management. 

Here's what a few members of our team are thankful for this Thanksgiving.

I'm thankful for stakeholders who trust Procurement.
It's not just suppliers who'll push back against Procurement's recommendations. Internal end users are often just as likely to reject the function's influence. This is especially true where long-term relationships are concerned. The longer an organization has engaged an incumbent supplier, the harder it'll be for Procurement to step in. Things get even trickier when stakeholders view Procurement's actions as a judgment. No one wants to hear that their negotiation skills are lacking. These conflicts don't do anyone (save the supplier) any good. As initiatives stall, our revenue and their savings both suffer. When stakeholders respect our process and the reasoning behind it, however, things go more smoothly and we drive greater value together.

- Consultant

I'm thankful that more and more executives support Procurement. 
Over the years, a lot has changed about Procurement and its role within an organization. These changes begin and end with executive buy-in. The function cannot make a true impact, cannot fully support the business, without the trust of leaders at the executive level. This year's Deloitte CPO survey found that 73% of Procurement professionals believe they've secured this trust. Let's just say that consulting in the Procurement space much, much easier when clients already believe in Procurement's potential. Conversations have shifted. Instead of focusing on whether or not Procurement can produce value, we're talking about how much value it will produce.

- Senior Analyst

I'm thankful for new and innovative approaches to talent development. 
On this blog, we've talked a lot about Procurement's talent development paradox. Less than half of CPOs believe their teams have the skills necessary to deliver on their strategic objectives. Despite their lack of faith, organizations generally aren't investing in building those skills. Quite the opposite, in fact. 72% of companies devote less than 2% of their resources to training Procurement's people.

So, why am I thankful? Because people are starting to take notice. Organizations are looking for ways to develop more impactful, dynamic training programs and new resources are constantly emerging. I'm particularly eager to check out Phil Ideson's new CatalystCo platform when it goes live later this month. Built around a community of like-minded professionals, the platform prides micro-learning modules and looks to arm users with a diverse set of skills.

- Associate Director

What are you thankful for this year? A successful initiative? A fruitful new partnership? Maybe you're thankful for the Strategic Sourceror. If that's the case, don't save your kind words for the dinner table. Take our first ever reader's survey and let us know how we can serve up even better content in 2019. Thanks!

This guest blog comes to us from Megan Ray Nichols of Schooled by Science.

Viewed end-to-end, your supply chain includes the steps, supplier engagements, and processes that cover the entire lifecycle of a product. From inception to shipping to marketing, each link is vital. A key step in taking a more strategic approach to Procurement is looking at the big picture and working to optimize the supply chain from end-to-end. Your organization's goal should be to go from facility to consumer as efficiently as possible by removing extra steps that might bog down the process streamlining those steps that are necessary. If you haven't taken a thorough look at your supply chain in a while — even if you have — consider the following best practices. They'll help you drive efficiency and value each step of the way.

Supplier Management
You may have a good idea where your spend is going, but if you don't actively manage your suppliers, or at least your relationship with them, you could lose when it comes to efficiency. Take the time build a mutually beneficial, transparent relationship with your suppliers. Not only does this give you visibility into things like lead times and availability, but you may also save money by negotiating for volume pricing. You could potentially also increase efficiency by consolidating all of your suppliers through one tier two supplier.

COGS (Cost of Goods Sold)
Regardless of what you produce, your cost of goods sold (COGS) will fluctuate over time. If you have an optimized system, this can be a good thing. Ideally, you want to try to lower your overall operating costs each year, and you can accomplish this by negotiating annual COGS price reductions with your supplier. A reduction of three to five percent doesn't sound like much, but if you buy thousands of pounds of a certain material every week or month, that reduction adds up quickly.

Negotiating these price reductions also encourages your suppliers to make their own systems more efficient, which translates into additional optimization for you and them.

Adopting new technologies could also potentially reduce your COGS and boost your overall efficiency. If you rely on CNC machining (computer numerical control) to craft your products, could your process become more efficient if you switch to 3D printing or vise versa? The answer will vary depending on the individual product. If your organization produces complex or custom components, for example, it’s worth investing in a 3D printer because the additive manufacturing process makes these projects easier. At the end of the day, you need to consider what is the best investment for your particular organization. Like any business decision, this one should follow a period of careful consideration and be made with the entire end-to-end supply chain in mind.

Inventory Management
Inventory management and control aren't only important for your finished products. Don't just keep track of the products that you fix to ship — keep a pulse on your supply levels for all of your products and the materials that go into them. Keep your supplier's lead time in mind too — if your demand suddenly increases, your suppliers might not keep up.

While it's always important to have enough supplies on hand to ensure you can meet the demand of your clients, having too much could easily prove a detriment to your bottom line. The same rule goes for your suppliers — if they've spent a ton of money manufacturing a surplus of supplies for you, those costs will find their way to you. This is the exact opposite of efficiency and optimization.

In certain instances, it might make sense to introduce a Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) program. This will allow a trusted supplier to assess your needs and take a more active role in optimizing your organization's inventory levels. Remember, however, to thoroughly vet suppliers before establishing such a program. An unscrupulous supplier might use the opportunity to over-sell and improve their bottom line.

Whatever your preferred method, more diligent inventory control will allow you to catch problems before they occur and rectify them before they can impact your supply chain efficiency.

Production Time
How much time do you spend to produce one product from beginning to end? With that number in mind, take a look at your production process. What steps could you improve or eliminate to reduce your overall production time?

Many of the processes already mentioned can improve your production time. Take a closer look at your production process to see what you can do to improve it. You might surprise yourself with how much fat you can trim away without cutting corners.

RFQ/RFP/RFI (Request for Quotation, Proposal, or Information)
This step is essential for building beneficial and efficient relationships with your suppliers.
RFP or Request for Proposal and RFI, or Request for Information, can be an invaluable tool, especially if you're having an issue somewhere along your supply chain. You don't even have to enter the market for a new supplier. Draw up an RFP or RFI and send it to your incumbents. Say, "Hey, I'm having this problem, how would you fix it?" The solutions they come up with might surprise you.

An RFQ or Request for Quotation is valuable if you want to establish a relationship with a new
supplier. An RFQ allows you to see what it would cost your company to switch from one supplier to another. These are time intensive and often costly, meaning you won't want to send them out every quarter or even every year. In most cases, RFQs and other similar requests are sent out every three to five years, depending on the needs of the product and the supplier contracts.

Risk Management
Whether you plan on launching a new product or re-evaluating an existing one, you need to remember the five P's of risk management: plan, plan, plan, plan and plan. Have a standard plan, and a backup plan, and a backup plan for that backup plan. Supply chain disruptions are an unfortunate reality, and this level of planning it's essential for ensure for maintaining production schedules and meeting customer demand.

Be prepared for any contingency and you won't lose money trying to keep up with demand when something goes wrong. Planning alternate routes and identifying alternate carriers will go a long way in the face of disruptions like extreme weather.

An end-to-end supply chain exists for every single product and service your organization offers. Taking steps to improve and optimize these chains today can ensure you have products available for your customers, and can save you both money and time tomorrow.

Thanksgiving is almost here to bring one of the Food and Beverage industry's busiest weeks to a close. Americans will consume an estimated 46 million turkeys and about that same number will travel over 50 miles to join family and friends.

Now that we've got fun facts out of way, let's turn to a few more sobering statistics. Though 79% of Americans claim to enjoy leftovers more than Thanksgiving proper, it's likely that most households will let at least some food go to waste. In doing so, they'll contribute to an escalating global crisis.

Every year, 1.6 billion tons of food worth 1.2 trillion dollars goes to waste. Experts expect both figures to continue rising over the next decade. These facts are all the more troubling when juxtaposed against food scarcity and world hunger. While Americans waste around 40% of their food, a staggering 850 million people worldwide regularly experience undernourishment.

Though fickle consumers typically attract most of the blame, the Boston Consulting Group suggests that all parties across the food and beverage value chain have played a role in this crisis. More importantly, however, they can all play a role in addressing it. BCG contends that the issue of food waste is not merely a crisis, but a massive opportunity for anyone ready to take the right action.

Check out the infographic below to learn more about how business leaders can enhance their operations and embrace new solutions to end the food waste epidemic.

With our charged political climate, families across the country are bound to discuss important (and uncomfortable) issues at the table this year. Why not turn the conversation away from politics to something we can all agree on? Across the globe far too many people go hungry and far too much food goes to waste. It's time stakeholders across the value chain did something about it. It'll take more than finishing a third helping of leftovers, but consumers and business leaders alike have the power to address this crisis head-on.

Whether you're in the market for a new position or hunting for a new hire, the job search is rarely low-stress. Unemployed candidates are scrambling to pay their bills, unhappy professionals are looking for greener pastures, and employers of all types are trying to stand out in a candidate's market.

Both sides could benefit from some extra help in the form of a dedicated recruiter. Acting as an advocate for candidates and employers alike, recruiters work to staff organizations with best-fit talent.

Well, that's what they do in theory.

Unfortunately, not every recruiter is an asset to Procurement. Discouraged by misconceptions, rumors, and past experiences of their own, many organizations neglect to work with them altogether. What is it about recruiters that some hiring managers find so off-putting?

1. Costs
There's no getting around this one. Oftentimes, conversations with recruiters begin on the subject of price and end before any other topics are addressed. Sticker shock is sometimes warranted, but it's always important to weigh the costs of employing a third-party recruiter against the potential costs of a mismatched hire. According to a CareerBuilder CFO survey, 40% of organizations lose at least $25,000 a year due to such staffing decisions. Not every recruiting and hiring effort requires a recruiter's support. That being said, just about every organization could benefit from broadening their definition of 'costs.' 

2. Inconsistency
Shifting schedules and spotty communication are sometimes inevitable. When they become the norm, however, you are right to feel concerned. It's (ostensibly) a recruiter's job to take an interest in their candidates. Consistent follow-up is an easy way for them to show that they're dedicated and invested even when placing a candidate becomes a protracted process. There's no reason that, "I'll get back to you on Monday" should mean anything other than just that. Any recruiter worth their fee - or interested in preserving their reputation - will make a point to maintain constant contact. They won't waste your time with courtesy calls, but they'll ensure all relevant parties are informed throughout the life of the engagement.

3. Ghosting
Even worse than dragging things out, a recruiter might disappear altogether. Vanishing without a trace like this is just as unpleasant in the professional world as it is on dating sites. It's especially harmful during the high-stress hiring process. Like everyone else, recruiters have round-the-clock access to email and instant messaging. There's no excuse for irregular communication let alone total radio silence. Dependability is one of the first qualities organizations are looking for when they pursue new hires. It should figure just as heavily into their vetting process for third-party recruiters.

4. Lack of Research
When you leverage a recruiter's services, you're paying for their subject matter expertise. Even if your industry is totally foreign to them, they should take pains to quickly develop their understanding. Otherwise, they can't be expected to identify truly excellent candidates. A good recruiter will also make a point to learn the ins and outs of your organization. Assessing your common pain points and the unique nature of your workplace culture, they'll better identify the type of applicants that you would consider a fit.

Have recruiters burned you in the past? Don't let a few bad experiences keep you from collaborating with a supply chain staffing expert. Source One's staffing and recruiting team has the experience and expertise necessary to pair your organization with world-class talent. Reach out to learn more about how we're redefining Procurement recruiting
Several industries (medical and manufacturing, for example) are being impacted by the newly implemented tariffs, and many companies across the country are fearful of the potential impact. Those industries who have not been impacted yet, will be affected with time. To begin the trade war earlier in March of this year, the US announced tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum imports, drastically hindering the manufacturing industry as material costs have concurrently been on the rise for the better half of 2018. Not only have these particular tariffs impacted the manufacturing sector, they impact a significant amount of companies who rely on manufacturers for products and services for their own business, such as automotive or medical device companies.

There are many types of companies that are being influenced by the trade war, and the tariffs appear to be implemented in waves. Tariffs on metals appeared first at approximately 25% on imports, and continue to be placed on thousands of other core commodity groups. It is difficult to say what commodities will be impacted as the coming waves of tariffs that are put into effect, however it is possible to develop strategies in an effort to be proactive as the trade war progresses.

The trade war can present several challenges when it comes to developing strategies to mitigate risk and save business operations. Being proactive and thinking ahead is going to be a large component in identifying a feasible strategy to manage the impact of the tariffs. Performing quick, yet comprehensive research on areas such as if and how the business is potentially going to be impacted by the tariffs and identifying and qualifying alternate suppliers in other countries is going to be a crucial starting point for American companies. This will allow the company to gain a strong basic understanding of how the tariffs impact them and be able to piece together components for a suitable go-forward strategy.

Identifying alternate suppliers in other lower-cost countries and transitioning manufacturing operations away from China is a viable strategy that many companies are exploring as a result of the trade war. In order to maintain current costs and product quality, extensive supplier identification and qualification is going to be required as part of this strategy. Determining suitable countries that can businesses can migrate operations to, comprehending supplier capabilities in relation to the business needs, and analyzing costs associated with transitioning the business are going to play an important role in this primary strategy to operate around the tariffs. Additionally, it is important to maintain a level of diversity and refrain from putting all operations in one country, as it allows for more risk associated with having all Procurement's eggs in one basket.

Though there has not been one strategy that fits all scenarios regarding the tariffs, there are common elements to keep in mind as companies develop the strategy that best suits their company’s changing needs. The trade war has certainly become a challenge to work around, however it is important to identify the challenge it may pose on your company, and take action to develop a strategic plan to implement in order to limit the excess costs during this time.

ICYMIM: November 19, 2018

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.

Focus on Supply Risk Management Can Aid Supplier Relationships, State of Flux Reports
Jonathan Messinger, Spend Matters, 11/15/18
Drawing from a recent State of Flux report, Messinger suggests that organizations are missing out on a valuable opportunity to emphasize risk mitigation in their Supplier Relationship Management programs. The report reads, "Having a management model in place to ensure compliance with minimum standards is not the same as risk management." Messinger suggests that training and technology will hopefully enable organizations to evolve their risk management efforts. Only a slim 7% or organizations, he writes, are completely satisfied with their current solutions. 

Michael Lamoureux, Sourcing Innovation, 11/14/18
"Just about every vendor," Lamoureux writes, "is claiming they have AI, even if all they have is RPA." Procurement's favorite buzz acronym is still only partially understood by many professionals. This is perhaps why so many are bamboozled by providers. Lamoureux attempts to clear up some confusion by walking readers up the ladder of available solution. Most of what passes for AI, he suggests, is really a semi-intelligent mix of RPA and Machine Learning. Cognitive AI, however, does not yet exist. For now, this final wrung is still purely theoretical.

The Forest for the Trees: Understanding Sustainable Forestry 
Kristen Manganello, ThomasNet, 11/16/2018
Though they're important to the health and continued existence of our planet, trees are constantly under attack. Both legal and illegal deforestation pose a threat to the global ecosystem and build the need for sustainable forestry practices. Manganello a number of supply chain best practices that could potentially make a positive impact. For example ,she encouraged readers to engage directly with suppliers to ensure all timber is ethically sourced and identifying opportunities to use alrernate materials like composites or recycled wood. 
There can be a use for the Magic Quadrant, but make sure you use it correctly.

This series has discussed flaws with the Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ). Part One looked at how Gartner unnecessarily limits those who can appear on the MQ. Part Two demonstrated how Gartner clients can use their analyst time to gain a better position on the Quadrant. Part three investigated one company that scored high on the Quadrant and compared this ranking to its low user scores.

Part 4: Understanding How the Magic Quadrant Can Be Useful

The Magic Quadrant does several things:
  1. It provides an overview of the big players in an industry. Gartner’s requirements for revenue, number of billion-dollar clients, and global presence help determine who the largest players are.
  2. It helps provide some analyst context into how they think these companies perform now (Ability to Execute axis) and  how they'll perform in the future (Completeness of Vision axis)
  3. The Strengths and Cautions (Euphemisms for Pros and Cons) for each product give a very high-level overview of what the company does well and where it needs to improve.
Where the GMQ comes up short is when it is used to find the best solution for a specific company. To illustrate this, we created our own Strategic Sourceror ‘Mystical Square’. If you want to find an entertaining movie released last year, look no further:

This chart has only one qualifier: The movie had to have been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in the most recent Academy Awards.

We have more details at the bottom as to our thoughts on each and why they placed as they did, but you can see how this is flawed. All of these movies are good, even great, but if your goal is to find the movie from 2017 that will entertain you the most, the answer might not be on this chart. Someone who loves superhero movies might prefer Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman, or Justice League. Fans of the Star Wars and Fast and the Furious series might feel similarly underserved. In fact, fans of 2017’s thirteen biggest box office hits will likely wonder where their favorite is.

Again, that’s not to say the chart is useless.

In the days leading up to the 90th Academy Awards, the Los Angeles Times responded to the usual anti-Oscar grumbling by publishing an essay from Kenneth Turan. In the persuasive piece, Turan argues in favor of the annual ceremony. His words sum up why the Oscars (and the Magic Quadrant) are at once highly flawed and undeniably valuable.
The awards don’t represent any absolute standard of excellence or quality and they never have. Rather, they demonstrate the particular taste of a finite group of people at a specific point in time... although the group’s taste is not always mine, what it has to say matters because it’s speaking from a place of knowledge and experience, that continuum is part of what keeps the award relevant.

He goes on to suggest that the Oscars couldn’t possibly qualify as completely meaningless. If that were the case, we wouldn’t bother to question their relevance at all. You can easily apply his argument to Gartner’s Quadrants.

The Magic Quadrant and the Academy Awards have a lot in common and need to be used similarly. They can get you a list of products that are least likely to disappoint, but they simply cannot be used to determine the best product for your organization or to gain a comprehensive view of what’s available. Just as genre films and tiny indies miss out on Oscar night, there are organizations left off the Magic Quadrant because they didn’t meet revenue, global presence requirements, or because they service a specific industry. The one-size-fits-all approach favored by both Gartner and the Academy mean that unique needs and tastes are rarely accounted for. They’re both far from useless, but they’re equally far from serving as a true gold standard.

Source One’s Procurement Technology advisers know there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for an organization’s concerns. That’s why we embed ourselves within a client’s Procurement department to assess their needs and work directly with them to develop roadmaps for successful implementation. Reach out today to discover the world of solutions that so-called ‘definitive’ rankings might ignore.

Mystical Square: Analysis of Entertaining 2017 Movies

  • Shape of Water
Situated in a unique region between Hollywood tradition and auteur-driven experimentation, Guillermo Del Toro’s Best Picture winner had something for everyone. Not only were audiences and critics impressed, but the film earned a heap (13!) of both major and below-the-line nominations. The film’s runaway success makes it a perfect fit in the top-right of our chart.
  • Dunkirk
Like Shape of Water, Dunkirk blended the familiar with the far-out and experienced a heartening level of success. Despite featuring about a paragraph of dialogue, an anxiety-inducing approach to sound, and very few recognizable faces, the film still enjoyed months of prominence at the box office. It even managed to defy the odds and carry its summer momentum all the way to February. Though it came up short in the major categories, Christopher Nolan’s film certainly earned its spot on the Mystical Square.
  • Get Out
Despite its tiny budget and relative lack of star power, Get Out became a box office hit and a zeitgeist sensation. Even more impressive, the film was released a full calendar year before the Oscar ceremony. Writer-director Jordan Peele’s vision was so complete, his cast’s execution so excellent, that Get Out remained a fixture of the cultural discourse for month-after-month. It even lent itself to a couple of memes! Thanks to its success, Peele has become one of Hollywood’s most in-demand artists and the horror genre has managed to shed some of its negative reputation.

  • 3 Billboards
It happens every year. An Oscar front-runner emerges from festival season only to suffer through backlash, reappraisal, and another backlash. In 2017, 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was that film. Coming out of Toronto as the Best Picture favorite, the film’s controversial politics soon threw doubt on its Oscar chances. Though the film ultimately executed by picking up the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor trophies, its inability to maintain public affection and take home the big prize speaks to a lack of long-term vision.
  • Darkest Hour
Darkest Hour faced many of the same complaints that dogged The Post. Labeled stodgy, old-fashioned, and even retrograde, the film nevertheless earned Gary Oldman the first Oscar of his storied career. Though it’s no more visionary than Spielberg’s film, it certainly executed more effectively on Oscar night.

Critic's Picks:
  • Phantom Thread
Visionary director Paul Thomas Anderson added another feather to his cap with this psychosexual masterpiece. A critical favorite, Phantom Thread provided a fitting coda to Daniel Day Lewis’ career and introduced the world to the considerable talent that is Vicky Krieps. Though it earned a surprising 6 nominations, the film still came up short on Oscar night with just one win. Had it managed to take home some more hardware, Anderson’s film might have earned itself a spot amongst the ‘Leaders.’
  • Call Me By Your Name
A darling of the festival circuit, Luca Guadagnino’s romance rode its early momentum to four Oscar nominations. Though the film inspired memes, controversy, and nationwide affection for its young star, it failed to connect at the box office and missed out on key nominations for its director and supporting cast. For that reason, it’s a textbook example of vision over execution.

Niche Players:
  • The Post
Speilberg’s film had a lot going for it. Meryl Streep turns in a predictably excellent performance, the supporting cast is wonderful, and the film’s historical narrative resonated with our current political climate. That being said, the film could hardly be called visionary. When The Post’s unremarkable trailer dropped, the question on many lips was, “Really, another historical drama from Spielberg?” In a lineup featuring films like Phantom Thread and The Shape of Water, Spielberg’s straight-laced drama couldn’t help but look a little boring. That’s why it went home empty-handed and finds itself in the bottom-left of our chart.
  • Lady Bird
It pains me to place my favorite film of 2017 among the niche players, but our methodology is what it is. Though it scored with critics and audiences, Lady Bird couldn’t connect at the Oscars. Greta Gerwig’s debut feature ran into much the same trouble that Spielberg’s film did. As easy as it was for voters to dismiss The Post as ‘just another historical drama,’ it was even easier to dismiss Lady Bird as ‘just another coming of age movie.’ Those sentiments, however small-minded, secure both films the niche player label.