November 2020

They say we are approaching a dark winter ahead with COVID-19 cases on the rise. There is however a glimmer of hope with a few promising vaccines in queue to receive expedited approval. This week it was reported that United Airlines began its first shipment of Pfizer’s vaccine from Brussels to Chicago. There is an immense effort underway regarding vaccine distribution and supply chains are going to be tested to their limits. This is definitely an all hands on deck moment and it is going to take a herculean effort on the part of many parties. The challenges ahead really emphasize the need for robust procurement and procurement fundamentals on a few levels. 

First is relationships. There are many companies out there with complementing capabilities that allow for a full end to end delivery of the vaccine. Without everyone working together for the collective good we won’t achieve accelerated results. Procurement teaches us the value of relationships and relationship management. We are human at the end of the day and challenges exist in breaking down communication barriers to ensure we can work with others effectively. Oftentimes procurement works with many stakeholders throughout a business, building consensus and alignment. These fundamental ideas are core to collaborating both internally within an organization or externally with partners and competitors. It is crucial when the stakes are high to evaluate the strengths each party brings to the table and let them own those areas. Additionally relationship management throughout the supply chain must be achieved in the present to ensure success as well as into the future for long term sustainability. Each critical supply relationship must be evaluated and a strategy crafted to ensure an effective partnership.

Second is cost. Many might be thinking with the time sensitive nature of this initiative there is no time to think about keeping costs in check. Rather I would challenge to say understanding cost drivers can help build a sustainable and robust solution that does not cave to unsustainability over time. In procurement oftentimes we look to reduce costs however that is not the only factor. We help to identify value, right size requirements and optimize resources. Reducing cost is a by product of all of those endeavors and helps drive the right level of value and resource within a business. Helping to optimize cost of vaccine distribution not only allows for a more accessible vaccine to all demographics and populations but also ensures companies will not go in the red undertaking this effort.

With all pieces of the puzzle coming together through relationship management, cost optimization and full integration across the board we can ensure a successful distribution of this critical vaccine. It is important to note some key procurement fundamentals are at play and will propel success. Many of these fundamentals can be applied to other challenges but it is ever important with the current pandemic to leverage these practices effectively.

Many organizations in the manufacturing and industrial field often find themselves working tirelessly to ensure employee safety is practiced through the utilization and procurement of a wide variety of PPE equipment.  The immediate threat of COVID-19 to the workforce has also created greater visibility within the safety category to ensure employees are properly protected.  The purpose of this blog is to help establish a roadmap related to the processes and procedures that will help your organization improve its safety program while also establishing significant cost savings. 

Well before the process of aligning on safety SKUs should be made, the first critical step is understanding and agreeing on the key decision makers within your organization regarding anything safety related.  If an Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) department is not established within your organization, now is the time to do so.  A reporting hierarchy within your EH&S department should also be clearly established.  For instance, an EH&S Director should be the final decision maker for safety compliance and SKU standardization at all facilities across the organization, while an EH&S Coordinator should be responsible for compliance and enforcement at the local level.  This reporting structure is a critical piece of your overall safety strategy not only to ensure compliance across the organization but to also guarantee significant cost savings.  

Once your EH&S team hierarchy is built and properly aligned, the next step is to understand the “need to have” vs “nice to have” safety SKUs for your organization.  Any “need to have” SKUs should be rather clear – these would include OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) required equipment related to your specific field or any gear that is paramount for employee safety that should be identified and clearly defined (hardhats, fire retardant coveralls, COVID facemasks, etc.).  Working to solve for the “nice to have” category is often times a very difficult to define gray area between comfort and cost.  For instance, if your team works outdoors often, consider investing in the “nice to have” option of weatherproofing materials to ensure rapid moisture evaporation and rain proofing to help drive efficiency.  When addressing the “nice to have” category, there are usually significant cost ramifications that need to be properly evaluated before making any significant decisions.

Once the need vs nice to have discussion has been aligned on, the next step is to begin understanding and developing a SKU consolidation strategy.  This critical step is what often separates a good safety program from a great safety program.  The goal here is to fully understand what PPE categories need to be utilized by your employees, and to establish EH&S approved only SKUs within each specific category.  This process will lead to a custom internal catalog between your employees and awarded safety supplier to ensure ease of purchasing and compliance.  In addition, this custom catalog will protect your organization from “off-catalog” non-compliant PPE gear that would create additional costs while also putting your employees at risk for potential injury.

When identifying the SKUs that will qualify for purchase in your custom safety purchasing catalog, it is important to do your due diligence and full evaluation of each SKU in the running.  For instance, when aligning on an item such as safety gloves, performing on-site testing and a comparison of cut-sheets for each product under consideration will help provide tangible data to help influence your decision.  The EH&S team can oversee this process by distributing the PPE gear under evaluation with accompanying surveys to select employees in the field, while also internally reviewing the safety standards and specs identified in each cut-sheet.  This process will establish both a qualitative and quantitative analysis of each pending SKU, which will prove to be tremendously helpful in guiding the EH&S team towards a final decision in establishing cost savings within an improved safety program. 

When you're running your company's procurement department, it's important to put together and perpetually foster the best team you can. After all, if you can get everyone on the same page and pulling in one direction, the benefits for your business as a whole will take a huge step forward.

How do you do that in a coherent and consistent way going forward? The following steps should help:

1) Clearly define everyone's role

Whether you're building a team from scratch, bringing on new members to an existing group, or just looking to revamp an old unit, it's vital to make sure everyone has their own unique roles and knows to stay in those lanes, according to ProcureDesk. You certainly don't want two people working on the same kinds of projects at the same time, so when everyone knows exactly how they fit into the bigger picture, the whole team benefits.

A good procurement department is all about teamwork.A good procurement department is all about teamwork.

2) Move everyone who does purchasing into the same department

If you have a purchasing team already, but there are people outside it who also primarily do that kind of work, it's probably better to bring them into the fold, ProcureDesk advised. That way, you never get into a situation where one hand doesn't know what the other is doing, and you may be able to find new areas of efficiency as well.

3) Train across the board

Training is vital for almost any professional, and there are multiple avenues you can pursue with such efforts for procurement, according to Scout Bee. That could include a solid mix of not only the technical skills that go into each person's job in and of itself, but also soft skills and those that help workers take the next step when it comes to engaging with the latest and greatest tech. Overall, you want your team to be well-rounded and growing all the time.

4) Don't micromanage 

No one likes to feel as though their manager is looming over their shoulders, and more to the point, when it comes to a procurement team, everyone is likely to keep a lot of plates spinning at the same time, Scout Bee said. Instead, it often makes more sense to assume your team knows what they're doing and can get the job done effectively on an ongoing basis.

5) Make collaboration key

The more information that is shared between team members and supply chain partners alike, the better, according to My Management Guide. If you're siloing off deals and data, it's only going to hinder overall performance, so opening things up may be key to unlocking your team's potential.

6) Cultivate leaders on an ongoing basis

Leadership skills have a lot of practical applications for just about every worker, My Management Guide added. As noted above, training is a great way to impart the skills you're looking for, and giving people the opportunity to advance within your team will help keep them engaged and working for you in the long run.

Even though it's only late-November, organizations up and down the supply chain would be wise to start crafting their plans for what they will do when the new year arrives. Of course, many companies have already taken at least some steps toward this goal, but now is the time to go whole-hog on the effort so that you can come back from the holiday season in a position to really hit the ground running.

The following suggestions are just a few of the things you should try to tackle during these efforts, so you can start off 2021 on the right foot:

1) Revamp your workflows

For your purchasing department, in particular, it's a good idea to look at your own internal processes and see what you do and do not do well, according to Four Business Solutions. No company is 100% efficient in their operations, so it's important to simultaneously lean into the things that work well (and identifying why they do) and try to minimize the impact of those that do not (and likewise getting to the bottom of those hang-ups). That kind of effort will go a long way toward smoothing out everything you do and making you a more streamlined department in the new year.

A new year may require new purchasing strategies and processes.A new year may require new purchasing strategies and processes.

2) Put together a Q&A document for partners

If you find yourself answering the same questions over and over with various suppliers or customers, it might be a better use of everyone's time to create a document that answers some of the most frequently asked questions in a clear (but not too specific) manner, Four Business Solutions added. That way, while there may still be some issues that need to be ironed out in a new deal, everyone enters with at least a baseline understanding of what your processes look like.

3) Circle back to identify your supply chain risks

Generally speaking, companies operating within the supply chain will have a pretty good idea of what their risk factors are at any given time, according to Frevvo. However, if you haven't reassessed in the past few months — as issues around the novel coronavirus continue to shift and evolve — now is certainly the time to do it. That way, you can keep working on overcoming those issues throughout the holiday season and try to come up with a solution you can have in place shortly after the new year.

4) Try to work far in advance

Along similar lines, you should have a pretty clear picture at this point of what your holiday season is going to look like, but you might not have done all the same legwork for the new year, according to Supply Chain Game Changer. Once you are able to put together a near-comprehensive list everything you will need soon after the start of 2021, it becomes easier for your procurement department to ease into that time even with all the time off and other issues that typically accompany the holidays — and can hold a business back.

As one might imagine, the novel coronavirus pandemic has turned things upside down for hundreds of millions of people and businesses of all sizes across the U.S., and there's no end to the crisis in sight. Even as many have adapted to a number of aspects of this ever-unpredictable "new normal," it has certainly changed behaviors and attitudes in ways that will continue to affect many aspects of life and the economy — including the supply chain at large — for a long time to come.

In late October, the consulting titan McKinsey polled a large number of Americans to assess how they felt about the COVID situation, and how it has affected consumer habits. While there was a drop of as much as 40% in how much people are going to spend on discretionary purchases in the months ahead, there was also a desire to increase engagement with digital shopping channels by up to 50%.

Consumer sentiments are shifting a lot ahead of the holidays.Consumer sentiments are shifting a lot ahead of the holidays.

In fact, almost 4 in 5 respondents said they have changed their shopping habits in some ways, either switching to new brands or retailers, or even their approach to shopping as a whole, the survey found. Meanwhile, only about 1 in 6 households are expected to increase their holiday spending this year, with 84% saying they will either keep it at last year's level or pare back their plans.

Of note, however, is that while nearly two-thirds of Americans have not resumed normal, pre-COVID activities, a stunning 86% believe the economy will rebound from this shock to the system within the next 12 months.

Sentiment in flux
With the above having been said, much of that survey was conducted prior to the election, which dominated headlines and took bandwidth away from coverage of the coronavirus, during which time cases nationwide surged. Shortly thereafter, it seems, people took notice of just how dire things had become; the University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiments took a big step back between October and November, pretty much across the board.

While the view of current economic conditions was largely unchanged from October to November (and down more than 23% on an annual basis), expectations of an economic recovery slipped 10% month-over-month, and 18.3% annually. Consumer sentiment stepped back almost 6% from October, as well.

Richard Curtin, chief economist for the UM Surveys of Consumers, noted that the election and infection rates were largely to blame for all these setbacks.

The business side
The latest data from the National Federation of Independent Businesses reflects similar sentiments among company executives. While earnings were certainly on the rise in October — the latest month for which data is available — companies were certainly scaling back expectations for future improvements. Only 18% of companies said they planned to make more hires, and only about 1 in 4 expected to make capital outlays. Moreover, just 27% expected the economy to take a step forward in the months ahead, down from 33% a month earlier.

With all this in mind, companies in the supply chain and beyond have a lot to consider when it comes to how (and when) they will bounce back from the economic downturn.

It only stands to reason that many companies have been looking for ways to change their approaches to purchasing, and their involvement in the supply chain as a whole, over the past several months. It's certainly a reasonable response to the novel coronavirus pandemic and its attendant supply chain snags and hiccups, and it's a trend that's only likely to continue for some time to come.

Part of the reason for the somewhat slow-rolled shift is that more than 2 in every 5 companies in the supply chain told Deloitte, as part of an October survey, they are still working to respond to the new procurement issues. Indeed, there was an almost even split among companies that are working on those issues now, and those that will begin to do so in the near future. On the other hand, 57% did say they have already completed their efforts to adapt to the current situation.

There's a lot to consider when it comes to a great procurement approach.There's a lot to consider when it comes to a great procurement approach.

More than half are also now either working to recover from the financial blow they received in recent months, or have already gotten back to where they were before the outbreak, the survey found, and another 30% say they expect to be able to do so within the next six months. However, only 3% of companies report they are already "excelling in the 'new normal,'" and almost 1 in 4 predict it will take at least a year to reach that level.

What's the issue?
Of course, many companies had problems with their approaches to procurement even before the pandemic hit; that international crisis just made clear the many issues that were pre-existing, according to Risk Methods. For instance, nearly half of the industry executives polled by the company said that their organizations had no formalized way to assess suppliers, despite the fact that nearly as many had experienced at least one "major" disruption in their supply chains in the previous 12 months.

Furthermore, 39% said their attempts to automate risk assessment were "low to moderate," the survey showed. Only 20% had any kind of structured plan in place for mitigating such risk.

Room for optimism?
At the same time, many companies both inside and outside the logistics sector were thrown for a loop, and it's only understandable that many have taken months to recover. Procurement is obviously important, but there are many other pressing needs for companies to consider. The good news is purchasing departments in general have been improving their operations for some time, according to a recent Ardent Partners survey. In fact, 90% of chief procurement officers at businesses in the supply chain say their teams have had a consistently growing positive effect on their larger organizations' success across the last three years.

The key, then, is to understand that no business process is perfect in and of itself, and with the market continually shifting, procurement pros must always be ready to pivot and work on areas of improvement.

Much like the rest of the global economy, the supply chain and logistics industry was certainly thrown for a loop by the novel coronavirus pandemic that has been affecting at least some parts of the world for months, and with no end in sight. The question many experts in the sector may have is how long it will take for the supply chain as a whole to fully get back to its previous capacity.

It's worth cautioning that, in some ways, the pandemic has changed the game for everyone in the supply chain permanently, because even if things do go back to exactly how they were before — an unlikely scenario to say the least — there will be more fallback plans and emergency scenarios in place. Nonetheless, a recent survey found that about 1 in 3 supply chain professionals in North America say that they think it will take between six and 12 months, according to IndustryWeek. Another 20% said it would take at least 12 months to as much as two years. 

The market is changing significantly, but are you ready to adapt?The market is changing significantly, but are you ready to adapt?

That survey was conducted in August and September, so more than half the industry sees the supply chain getting back to normal as soon as January 2021, or as far out as September 2022, the report said. In the meantime, issues related to manufacturing delays, shortages of materials and logistics snafus will all continue to persist on some level or another.

What to do?
Of course, a range of 18 months in which the supply chain could return to something resembling normalcy is fairly broad, and how quickly that happens depends as much on what those within the industry do as it does outside factors, according to McKinsey research. For instance, when businesses do more en masse to create transparency throughout their own supply chains, the entire industry benefits, and the same is true of being more accurate when it comes to keeping tabs on inventory.

There are other aspects of these efforts, such as getting a better handle on demand for their offerings, increasing data security, managing cash flow and so on, the report said. However, it may be important to focus more specifically on your own operations and do what you can to make yourself a better partner, then turn to encouraging others to do the same.

A little planning goes a long way
To achieve those ends, you need to look at every aspect of your operations and do what you can to plan out what the next several months (and beyond) will look like, according to Kinaxis. Everything from plotting out supply and demand projections to looking at your own opportunities to ride the wave of sales you might see over the time should inform your decisions, and put you in the best possible position for success.

A holistic look at your operations should help you uncover aspects that previously went unnoticed, and that could be especially important when it comes to identifying and addressing risk as the supply chain continues to evolve and change post-COVID.

The request for proposal (RFP) process is critical to making successful business decisions and investing in the future. The RFP process allows IT stakeholders to determine which vendors are best qualified, cost-effective, and able to meet the companies desired end-state. The first step to carefully selecting vendors to participate in the RFP is to gather the appropriate vendor selection criteria. I have outlined key factors to consider before finalizing whom to invite to participate in an RFP.


The discovery process should encompass discussions with key stakeholder(s) to identify specific business goals, establish budget, and ensure the current state is clearly defined. It is important to understand the current state of spend, account management, usage, bandwidth, licenses and subscriptions, contract terms, etc., as it applies to the category under evaluation. To ensure the current state is accurately captured, I’d recommend gathering any required data collection items that may be valuable, such as a copy of the contract with their incumbent, pricing agreements, quotations, usage reports, current invoice(s), and any other important information that may be useful. Additionally, the documentation within the discovery process should help to define challenges, priorities, and encompass the stakeholder(s) wish-list for the desired end state.

Research, Analysis, and Identification:

Once the information has been received, analyzed, and reviewed with all appropriate parties, the next step is to identify suppliers who meet the specified criteria. First, additional due diligence must be performed to understand the suppliers that are currently being leveraged in the marketplace for the specific category at-hand. Based on the category under evaluation, there may be many suppliers that are capable of meeting the client’s needs. To winnow down the pool of suppliers to align with the organization’s needs, I have outlined a few key areas to consider below:

  • Key offerings and capabilities
  • On-going support (if applicable)
  • Experience, certifications, and relevant partnerships
  • Year company founded
  • Total Revenue
  • Global / National presence
  • Typical Client Size (e.g. Small vs. Large Corporations)
  • Size of the company (Total number of employees)
  • Customer reviews and current new updates

In most cases, it is standard to include the incumbent as a participant in the RFP. Nonetheless, launching an RFP gives insight into the current market and supplier offerings as it evolves. This insight can be utilized as negotiation levers if the client wishes or selects the incumbent to continue services for a desired term.

Through the information described above, this will help to exclude specific vendors based on the information gathered in the discovery process and additional knowledge revealed in the due diligence phase. By advancing only those suppliers who meet the defined criteria, this will limit the amount of time spent in future processing and maximize the chance of finding the best match.

Everyone in the logistics sector knows by now that it's important to have as much solid data as possible, from every aspect of their operations. That is, of course, easier said than done, and it takes buy-in from a large number of people and organizations to pull off properly. Getting across the importance of that kind of buy-in isn't always easy, but there's one aspect of such efforts that should be an easy selling point: It reduces procurement risk.

Risk in the supply chain arises in a number of ways, but mitigating that risk often requires one simple solution, according to Supply Chain Dive. When more companies have a clear picture of what their suppliers are doing at any given time, they are dramatically less likely to face that kind of risk and continue to operate as expected. That problem has become particularly pronounced during the novel coronavirus pandemic, obviously, and tying supplier problems to the lack of complete, clear data should be an easy A-to-B connection for supply chain professionals.

The right data will go a long way for your organization.The right data will go a long way for your organization.

This kind of effort requires not just further financial investment in things that help drive data creation and collection, but also strategies for how that data will be monitored and used, the report said. The more organization leaders and decision makers can do to create a holistic approach, the better off all involved are likely to be.

How do you do it?
Of course, even if you know what data you might need to reduce risk, experts note that it's not just a simple flip of a switch that enables you to actually collect it, according to PYMNTS. Not only might it take the effort to understand your own needs and working with existing suppliers to meet those needs, but it might also require a pivot to new partners as needed, especially if persistent efforts to get long-standing partners onboard just aren't working.

The fact is if partners aren't working with you toward these goals, there's nothing that says you need to stick by them, the report said. Instead, seek to work with companies that actively share your goals and vision.

"All procurement levers like cost, supply assurance, risk, flexibility or speed to market can be optimized either separately or as a balanced mix based on business requirements, only when actionable supplier data is credible, complete and a click away," Valekumar Krishnan, vice president at procurement intelligence company Beroe, told the site.

Getting it right
You can never afford to have a set-it-and-forget-it approach when it comes to data collection and risk assessment, according to Spend Matters. Instead, you have to make this an ongoing process that always looks to determine the weaknesses and strengths of all involved, then try to reduce the former and lean into the latter. That work will go a long way toward ensuring you have significant success.

The medical supply chain has gotten a lot of attention in the news in recent months, simply because of how important it will be when it comes to distributing the novel coronavirus vaccine and, previously, other supplies needed to treat those affected. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that federal lawmakers in the U.S. are now looking to change how this supply chain works so it can be more responsive and effective overall.

Legislators on both sides of the political aisle now fully realize the importance of making sure the nation's medical supply chain can withstand the strain it will face — and indeed, has already dealt with — amid the outbreak, according to The Hill. As such, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (a Michigan Democrat) and other lawmakers recently brought forth six bills referred to as the Made In America Medical Supply Chain Initiative, which would include a program to incentivize companies to produce more medical gear within the U.S.

Given that many companies in all industries are now looking to shorten their supply chains and reduce reliance on foreign manufacturers to get them the supplies and products they need, it's well-established that the pandemic laid bare some serious shortcomings in the U.S., the report said. Consequently, these bills are seen as a broad, bipartisan effort to shore up American responsiveness to these problems.

Is the U.S. ready to handle a coronavirus vaccine?Is the U.S. ready to handle a coronavirus vaccine?

Responding appropriately
While the outcome of the presidential election is now clear, industry experts also previously noted that no matter who won, companies were already in the process of bringing supply chains out of China, and with a greater dependence on more regional partnerships, according to CNBC. Tim Ryan, the chair of PricewaterhouseCoopers U.S., told the network that while other nations in Southeast Asia will see some benefit from the American shift away from Chinese manufacturing, it's also believed that there will be big benefits for factories in the U.S. and Mexico, as well.

In fact, nearly half of respondents to a PwC poll conducted in September said they believe the government should play a role in boosting production of mission-critical products to simultaneously be more responsive to national needs and buoy the economy, the report said.

Getting the job done
However, this is not the kind of work that can be done overnight even if literally everyone in Washington's corridors of power believed it was necessary. A recent Supplyframe survey found that more than half of those in the supply chain sector believe it will take at least six months before the global supply chain is once again operating at its full capacity, including 1 in 5 who believe that it will take more than a year. The good news is that two-thirds of those polled also believe that the medical supply chain will be fully able to produce and distribute a vaccine within a year of its approval.

Certainly, then, these are all trends those in the medical supply chain — and beyond — will have to monitor carefully in the months ahead, and strategize appropriately along the way.

You have no doubt heard a lot of the buzz about 5G in the past year or two and, as a professional in the logistics industry, you might wonder what exactly it means for the supply chain — and the world at large. Obviously there is still a lot that's up in the air about a widespread 5G rollout and what it will mean for people and organizations at every single step of the supply chain, but there is considerable promise in the technology.

To give you an idea of just how big of a step forward 5G represents from current data networks, 4G allows for a maximum of about 10,000 devices to connect within an area of a square mile, Amit Gautam of the Forbes Technology Council wrote. For 5G, that number grows to about 1 million. Moreover, 5G networks are "smarter" insofar as they can better determine what kind of energy needs a connected device has and tailor that connection to those needs. Under 4G, every device gets the same amount of energy, no matter what their unique needs may be.

5G is coming. Are you ready?5G is coming. Are you ready?

What it means for supply chains specifically
With the above in mind, the broad strokes of a national or global 5G network should be immediately obvious, but there are specific benefits to the supply chain, according to T-Mobile. First and foremost, companies should be able to more effectively track shipments at a granular level and collect more data from partners to make better, more effective plans and decisions.

That kind of flexibility may be especially important for companies that are trying to shorten their supply chains and gain more visibility into how their operations have generally worked in real time, the report said. That, in turn, only fuels continual improvement of processes for supply chains, whether they stay largely based in your backyard or stretch around the world.

A world of e-commerce
The widespread rollout of 5G networks may be particularly important for companies that specialize in e-commerce, because of how much this portion of the logistics sector has come to the fore in 2020, according to Forbes Technology Council Member Julie Song. However, 5G carries with it an implicit promise not only in tracking shipments, but also tracking individual items within your warehouse before they're even sent out to consumers or other businesses.

That, however, is the big proving ground for the technology; a vast network stretching from one coast to the other is obviously important, but if it's not effective indoors, it probably doesn't serve the supply chain all that well in the end, the report said. With that in mind, some aspects of the rollout are still very much wait-and-see, and those in the industry will have to keep a careful eye on developments in this regard before making big investments in this technology.

The more you, as a decision-maker in the logistics sector, can do to understand your company's unique needs when it comes to 5G, and what you can do to better prepare yourself for widespread adoption, the more likely you will be to catch that first truly big wave in the field.

It’s almost 2021 and if you’re a marketer, you’re likely working up a new plan for your 2021 marketing budget. With COVID-19, the chances are your marketing budget was slashed… and burned… and buried… and then somehow set back on fire again. While your 2021 budget will likely be significantly less than what you would like, that doesn't that you can't succeed and have highly impactful marketing activities

Quality over Quantity

If you are a football fan and watch the NFL, you know that all the teams have a salary cap to keep larger market teams from buying all of the best players. This concept doesn’t exist in many other sports leagues, and it shows. In the MLB, the New York Yankees team salary of $113.9 million is nearly double the median MLB salary of $64 million, while in the Spanish football (soccer) league, La Liga, FC Barcelona’s average player-salary is almost 4 times greater than Valencia, the team with the fourth highest average player-salary. With this in mind, money can’t be the dominating factor to win in the NFL. Teams that win in the NFL have a strategy and usually, the strategy involves dominating in one aspect of the game, like having a top notch defensive line or a strong running game. When you make a marketing budget, you should be trying to do the same thing: Dominate in one aspect of your game. 

In a typical year, you may have, for example, an event marketing budget for many events. Instead of trying to do those the same number of events with less money, you should do fewer events with the right amount of money.  Bring your “A Game” to these fewer events and make them count.

In some cases, doing fewer with the same amount of money won’t cut it. You’re likely going to need to eliminate certain marketing activities that aren’t contributing enough to the final sale. For example, if you’re going to advertise, you will want to make it count as much as possible. This means anything from eliminating an advertising channel such as OOH or TV to focus a stronger reach on digital, or removing all advertising in a market where a product is floundering to focus on a market where the product is more competitive. What you want to avoid is cutting evenly ac
ross the board. If your marketing activities are not wowing anyone, they are not worth your time, or your money.

Talk to Your Sourcing Teams

As a marketing your job is to make the marketing strategy focuses on activities that best contribute to ROI. When you partner with marketing sourcing experts, they can make those activities go as far as possible. If you have an internal team that can help you with your marketing activities, make sure to include them as early as possible to get them aligned on your plan so they can provide the proper advise, or sourcing needs to ensure that you’re getting the most value from your budget.

If you don’t have an internal team that can help you, reach out to our team at Corcentric. Our marketing sourcing subject matter experts have decades of experience working with all types of marketing teams and activities from large pharmaceutical companies and banks, to extremely niche brands that require overly-specialized services.   

The past several months have brought many ups and downs for procurement pros in the U.S. and, indeed, around the world. However, the issues that led to these problems are, by and large, probably not going to go anywhere for much of the year ahead.

With that in mind, the following trends will certainly be ones to watch in the procurement and supply chain sectors in 2021:

Outsourcing and global supply chains will become less common

One of the biggest issues many companies dealt with at nearly every step of the procurement process since the novel coronavirus pandemic began is the unpredictability of those supply chains, according to Finances Online. For that reason, businesses have increasingly tried to diversify and shorten their chains in recent months, and that's a trend that will continue for some time. Large percentages of organizations in various fields still have at least some reliance on outsourced work and supply chains stretching thousands of miles.

Good partnerships will be critical to ongoing success in 2021.Good partnerships will be critical to ongoing success in 2021.

More companies are putting tech first

At the same time as companies are trying to find new ways to meet their supply needs, they are also increasing their investment in technology that allows them to get increased visibility into their operations, Finances Online added. The pandemic seems to have shone a particularly bright light on issues related to businesses not having enough data from their partners up and down the supply chain; more are now moving to correct that.

COVID will continue to create problem areas

Of course, this all comes with the caveat that in some parts of the world, and the U.S. in particular, the COVID crisis is holding steady or even getting worse, and that will continue to have a major impact on procurement efforts around the globe, according to Spend Matters. Unfortunately, many of these issues remain highly unpredictable, meaning purchasing professionals will need to plan for a number of contingencies on an ongoing basis.

Relationships become even more important

Even as companies are beefing up their efforts to create and monitor tracking data throughout the supply chain, they also need to make sure their interpersonal connections are holding strong, Spend Matters advised. Having good relationships with suppliers and other partners will be vital to any company's ability to quickly and easily pivot when the need arises, and that will be critical to success as the new year progresses.

Regulatory changes could be coming

Regulations — including those related to international trade — have changed quite a bit in the past few years, and more changes should be in store, according to The News Hub. With the new year will likely come a new U.S. president, which itself represents a sea change. To be sure, procurement professionals will likely have to keep a close eye on these developments, but the good news is that many of them are likely to be at least somewhat predictable as the U.S. moves to normalize trade relations in 2021 and beyond.

The economic difficulties seen so far in the 2020 calendar year are well-publicized and felt by millions of people and businesses across the country and around the world. However, anyone hoping for a big turnaround in the year to come may be in a tough spot, as many experts — including those in the procurement sector — believe there will be further economic downturn in 2021.

In fact, a recent survey from Suplari found that 55% of procurement professionals polled said they think the U.S. will officially enter a recession before 2020 comes to an end. The good news is that this includes 61% that believe their organizations are prepared to weather any financial ups and downs associated with a downturn, if and when one arrives. However, another 30% who foresee one arriving at some point within the next 24 months feel their companies are not set up to handle those difficult times.

As such, it should come as no surprise that a growing number of companies are interested in finding more ways to cut costs in the year ahead. The survey found that 82% of companies want to start doing so during this fiscal year, up from the 76% that felt the same way 12 months earlier.

The predicted economic downturn may have already started in earnest.The predicted economic downturn may have already started in earnest.

Economists have a similar view
Earlier this year, Reuters conducted a number of polls involving more than 50 economists in North America, at different points. As recently as March, these experts came through with a median forecast of global GDP growth a shade under 2%, down somewhat sharply from the projection of about 3% seen in January. However, by April, the median expectation had dipped significantly, to a projected decline of more than 1.5%. That's a lot of ground to lose in the space of a single month, but it highlights just how bad some experts believe the global economy could become.

Indeed, the lowest predicted GDP change slipped from growth slightly more than 2% to a loss of about the same number from January to March, but in April, the most pessimistic economist polled projected loss of global GDP in excess of 6%, Reuters reported. One respondent said that things were going negative so quickly because they viewed the present conditions as being "considerably worse than the 2008-09 recession."

What's the impact?
While there may be disagreement about just how dire conditions may become, there is a general consensus that they will become dire, according to American Express. As such, companies in the supply chain should take some of the lessons they learned in 2009 and apply them to current circumstances, as best as they can. For instance, the more companies can do to shorten their supply chains — a process already underway thanks to the pandemic — the better off they may be when it comes to controlling costs and finding predictable paths forward.

It can be difficult to nail all of these issues down at a time when things are still very much up in the air, but planning will be a key part of success in 2021 and beyond.

It's only early November, but the holidays are just a few short weeks away. With that in mind, you should already be in full preparation mode, getting ready to cross every T and dot every I so when the rush arrives in earnest, your logistics firm is adequately prepared.

The following tips should serve as an effective checklist to ensure you're all set once the holidays arrives:

1) Get your teams up to speed

Given everything that's going on, it's vital to understand what your staffing needs are, and what will be expected of every team once the real crush of work starts, according to Parcel Industry. At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of what you need, but a last-minute once-over will help you see where you stand in relation to your projections.

Do more to ensure your labor needs are met.Do more to ensure your labor needs are met.

2) See if you can make layout changes

Before things get truly hectic, it might be wise to see if you can rearrange any aspects of your facility to ensure a better flow of people and products, Parcel Industry advised. If you can make even incremental changes that open the space up or allow for a better picking and packing process, the cumulative effect on your output could be considerable.

3) Complete seasonal hiring as early as possible

If you're still trying to pull together your seasonal workforce, you need to get that effort wrapped up as soon as you can, according to Redwood Logistics. That way, you can do more to onboard those workers and make sure they really know the ropes before the going gets a lot tougher.

4) Train everyone

When you're thinking about getting your new hires up to speed, it's never a bad idea to re-train even your longest-tenured workers for how best to handle their jobs during the holiday season, Redwood Logistics added. When you do so, you have done more to ensure you're all on the same page and you will have greater organizational success as a result.

5) Make sure your ducks are in a row for all orders

Once you have a good handle on your labor issues, it's important to also collaborate with both suppliers and other partners up and down the supply chain to ensure everything you're expecting will arrive on time throughout the holiday season, according to Material Handling & Logistics. When you do more to increase visibility, everyone benefits, and you can help ensure you're not going to be the weak link in your overall supply chain.

6) Set a maintenance schedule

A lot of your equipment is likely to get quite the workout over the next eight weeks or so, and as such you need to make sure that stuff is up to the task, Material Handling & Logistics said. Scheduling regular maintenance throughout the holidays to go above and beyond what you normally need is going to be a good idea.