January 2021

In today’s business environment it difficult for most corporations to remain competitive absent a focus on continuous improvement, a commitment to digital transformation, and the ability to react to market stimuli with agility. In other words, successful businesses need to be prepared and equipped to make constant changes fluidly with minimal loss of productivity. As such, we are seeing increased standardization of change management into project management practices. That said, one mistake frequently committed is waiting too long to integrate change management into the project plan.

As a change management practitioner, one of the most frequently asked questions I receive is: “What is the best time to begin working on the change management strategy?” Every time I receive this question, my answer remains the same: “Day 1.”

Often, I am met with shock and resistance. It is easy to delay change management when the change remains undefined. That said, this is a mistake. It is never too early to begin preparing end users and stakeholders for change. There are many benefits to beginning change management as early as possible.


Improved Scoping and Analysis

The sooner we begin to think about the change and its impact on the organization and stakeholders, the more likely we are to develop an effective strategy that will result in adoption, thus accelerating time to value. I recommend starting off by conducting the below types of analysis.

  • Risk Analysis – completing assessments designed to quantify the amount of risk a project will introduce in relation to the scope of the change and current organization characteristics. When considering the scope we need to get a clear sense of what % of the organization is being impacted, and how much variation from the way things are done today the change will introduce. From an organizational characteristic perspective we need to be concerned with end user capacity to process the change, leadership and middle managements bandwidth to lead the change, and what the general culture and climate towards change is like at this time. Quantifying these criteria will allow us to effectively determine the appropriate scale of change management needed to ensure success.
  • Stakeholder Impact Analysis – the purpose of the stakeholder impact assessment is to gain an understanding about the different ways stakeholders will experience changes and determine which groups will be impacted most severely. This will equip the change team with an understanding about which components of the change strategy can be delivered to broad audiences, and where targeted engagement will be required. This process should start by first creating a list of all internal and external stakeholders, and then identifying the different types of impacts each group will experience. Impacts that should be considered include changes to policy and process, new technology or tools, required attitude and behavior changes, etc.

Of course, both these types of analysis will require tools to properly quantify and assess. If your organization does not have its own change management resources, I recommend hiring a firm to provide change management for projects impacting more than a handful of employees. The consequences of not completing this type of discovery analysis up front include miscalculating the necessary scale of change management, and underestimating the impact or overlooking a particular group all together. The outcomes in any of these situations will be a serious lack of adoption.

Integration into the Project Plan

Developing the primary elements of the change management strategy early allows for integration into the master project plan. This is important because it provides immediate visibility into the change management requirements and makes it clear to everyone on the project team what their role will be in supporting the change workstream. Furthermore, early planning ensures change management has a seat at the table from the start. Often when change management is brought into the fold later in project implementations the requirements are viewed as secondary, thus fostering a lack of cooperation.

More Effective Engagement and Reinforcement

There is no such thing as communicating the news about change too early. Impacted employees should know change is coming as soon as possible. Even if the specific details of the final solution are unknown, there is other important information to be shared and your employees will appreciate being considered and informed in advance. Outside of just knowing what the solution is, end users and stakeholders need to understand:

  1. Why is this change being made – what internal or external factors are creating this need for our organization to change, and why is now the right time?
  2. How is the solution in the works intended to solve our current pain points?
  3. What aspects of how end users do their job today are expected to change? For example, process or technology?
  4. What is the timeline of the change and what will be expected of impacted stakeholders during the process?
  5. What type of training and additional support will be provided to end users to help them make the transition successfully?

The earlier we begin to communicate and share this information; the more comfortable end users will be, and this will neutralize resistance down the line. Also, communicating before final ideation gives us a chance to have two-way conversations and collect feedback or input from end users. This will create a sense of ownership in the outcomes and cause end users to embrace the changes more willingly.


As discussed, waiting to begin executing change management until full details about the solution are known can be tempting. This might seem like the smart approach to remain efficient, avoid rework, and keep stakeholders accurately informed. However, holding off on change introduces problems that will result in project delays and ineffective change management results. Some of the more notable issues include:

  1. Ineffective change management positioning – the change management strategy will not be integrated into the master project plan. As a result, change management will operate in a silo, and the other workstreams participating in the project will ignore their responsibilities.
  2. End user resistance and lack of engagement – waiting until final decisions are made and providing a short timeline will result in end users feeling as though they were not considered in the decision-making process. This is a sure-fire way to increase employee resistance, resulting in lagging adoption and project delays.
  3. Inadequate time for planning – holding off to engage change management limits the time practitioners have to complete required analysis. This results in uninformed strategy development and poor execution which will create a very dissatisfying experience for end users.

I hope the insights shared in this blog have provided clarity about how to begin planning and delivering change management when operating with incomplete information. The key take away is that when it comes to organizational changes, there is no such thing as communicating and engaging impacted stakeholders too early. For more information about the about how change management can help your organization effectively manage change, please see our change management homepage.

If you're in the logistics business, procurement is probably a key part of your operations, but unfortunately many companies don't do all they can to ensure they manage those efforts effectively. For that reason, now is the time for companies to take a holistic look at how their purchasing employees (or departments) operate, and see if there are new standards to put into place that can help everyone get a little more out of their efforts.

The following suggestions should help you do just that:

1) Hire people who specialize in this kind of effort

Perhaps more important than anything else is ensuring the people in charge of purchasing have a background in such work, especially if you are expanding, according to CIO magazine. Even if your current workers have served you well in this role, they might still be able to do their jobs more effectively. Training or continuing education (on the company dime) can be a great way to keep moving in the right direction.

Is your purchasing department set up for success?Is your purchasing department set up for success?

2) Connect with more, better vendors

The novel coronavirus pandemic laid bare many of the weaknesses in companies' supply chains, and if you haven't done more to partner with a larger number of vendors in the past few months, now is  the time to do so, CIO added. In short, such an effort will help you stay agile and give you options to pivot to new fallback positions whenever a problem arises.

3) Digitize everything you can

The more you can do to get insight into your purchasing processes and continually review that data to improve workflows, the better off your entire organization will be, according to Kissflow. Often, a lack of data collection results in you not even realizing the ways in which you may be running into the same obstacles over and over again, so making this a priority in 2021 is a must.

4) Identify ways to reduce and control spending

Along similar lines, it's a good idea to look at how you've spent money over the past few years and see if there are any ways to tighten that up, Kissflow said. Every dollar you save with a more efficient purchasing process can then go back into other aspects of your operation.

5) Create a hierarchy of vendors

When you are bringing more supply chain partners into the fold over the next several months and beyond, it is advisable to rank them so you know which company to turn to in Situations A, B, C, D and beyond, according to Acctivate. Some vendors may be great for certain orders, and poor options for others, so understanding how each can meet you needs will be highly valuable.

6) Make strategic tech investments

Finally, it's wise to make sure your purchasing professionals have the latest and greatest when it comes to tech, Acctivate noted. That not only aids in data collection and analysis, but also helps everyone interact that much more efficiently going forward.

Digitization is the trend that's taking hold in just about every industry, no matter what corner of the broader economy in which it operates. Given the sheer volume of data in the logistics and supply chain spheres, it's no surprise that companies even tangentially associated with them are getting onboard with such efforts these days.

This is a trend that has been underway for many years, but the momentum behind it seems to still be building slowly but surely, to the point where it has become impossible for any company to ignore, according to CIO Review. Put another way, even the businesses that would have had little incentive to embrace supply chain digitization a few years ago are now pushing all in on these kinds of investments, from the most basic inventory tracking systems to artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Not only does this help companies operate more efficiently within their own walls, but it also makes them better partners with others up and down the supply chain, in addition to saving money and reducing emissions through more efficient operations, the report said. This, too, is a trend that is only likely to gain additional traction in the months and years ahead.

Can you get more out of your company's data?Can you get more out of your company's data?

Getting it right
As with many other things about the supply chain, however, it's important for companies considering strategic investments in digitization to recognize that "No business is an island," to paraphrase Ernest Hemingway. To truly succeed when it comes to rolling out these efforts and getting the best possible return on investment, companies have to work with their supply chain partners to ensure everyone is on the same page, according to Freightwaves. For instance, if Company A makes an investment in an inventory tracking software that is not totally compatible with what Company B has been using for some time, that disconnect could actually fuel further inefficiency.

Moreover, it's important for decision makers to keep in mind that the longer they wait on such investments, the more likely they will be to fall further behind, and have a greater digital distance to cover to catch up, the report said.

What's at stake?
All too often, as it relates to companies that are still on the fence, or unsure of which kind of investments to make, the reason for their delays is that they don't know what they don't know, according to EPS News. By some industry estimates, more than half of all business data is actually hidden from the organization whose operations create it, and with a greater handle on digitization overall, it becomes easier to illuminate that "dark data" in a meaningful way. In doing so, it becomes easier to find actionable information that improves your firm's direction.

The more you can do to digitize a growing number of aspects of your operations, the better off you will be when you have to identifying problems and crafting unique solutions that speak to your organizational needs overall.



I began working from home before working from home was in vogue. 18 years ago, my daughter was 5 and I was a single mom, the first virtual employee for a 300+ staffed company located in New Jersey. 9-11 was the catalyst to request the move to Florida, to live near my largest client that I flew to visit one week each month. In the early days I worked 60+ hours a week but took one day a week to have lunch with my child at her elementary school (thinking that was work – life balance). My half of the kitchen table was my office (the other half was for dinner). Since my early work at home days, I have moved and upgraded my office environment, updated the equipment and eliminated owning a fax machine. My self taught "Time Management" skills have been revamped more times than I can count over the years.

Due to Covid-19 the “home office” has taken on new meaning, with millions of employees working remotely, as the Disney Aladdin song is titled - “A Whole New World”. According to PwC*, 55% of the work at home employees expect this will be a long term or permanent situation. How can these situations be a success for the employee and the employer?

According to Glassdoor that surveyed 1,000 American Employees in March 2020 - during our early days of the pandemic, 32% said TV was the top distraction and 27% said childcare was a huge distraction. Now, as we approach a year under these stressful conditions, those percentages have increased two-fold.

How can we each be successful in this new norm?

Create a self-care plan – mental and physical health are of most importance*

  • Exercise.
  • Go outside and breath fresh air.
  • Plan healthy meals and snacks – schedule workday eating times for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
  • Shut off and shut down from work.
  • Socialize with family and friends.
  • SLEEP!  - keep a regular bedtime/do not short-change your sleep hours.

 Work at home employee responsibilities:

  • Get dressed!  Wearing sweatpants and slippers creates a different state of mind than putting on office casual attire.
  • Set office hours (with an alarm if necessary)
  • We can all easily begin work at 8am and before we know it – 7pm has arrived!
  • Prioritize your day.
  • Do not overbook your time.
    • Keep an impeccable Calendar – include family appointments**
    • Use your calendar and schedule your time for tasks not just meetings**
  • Let go of what you cannot control – No employee can control the response time of a vendor/client/co-worker.
  • Fight the urge to multitask** 
    • We all know that person who appears to do two things at one but in review, were those items done to their best?

I once prepared a client presentation; my daughter was home sick and told me we were out of milk. I thought I wrote it on a piece of paper, without thinking I typed it into a cell on the excel doc “buy milk”. When reviewing the project with the client someone suddenly said, “Did you remember to buy milk?” … we all laughed – thank goodness!

  • Keep your workspace organized and segregated from “family” – ex: work docs should not be mixed in a batch with family papers, mail received etc.
  • Be conscious of how you spend your time.
    • Pomodoro Technique – states 25-minute work blocks with a five-minute break.
    • The Ultradian Cycle suggests we try testing our focus by setting a timer and see how long we can each focus on task before feeling “burn out”.  Most people can handle peak productivity for about 90 minutes, after which they will need a 20-minute break for a less intense task. *****

During the workday:

  • Stand up and stretch every hour.
  • Roll your head, roll your shoulders back and forth.
  • Blink many times to reset/refresh the neurons in your brain.***
  • Stay hydrated – water must be included as a beverage (tea, water with fruit, seltzer etc.).


  • Create a dedicated “office” space – your own place to stay focused.
  • Use a comfortable chair and proper posture – perhaps invest in a lumbar chair support or switching to sitting on a yoga ball throughout the day.
  • Get your family involved – explain to all household members why and what it means to work from home.
  • Create boundaries of what it means to have an “Office” at home.
  • Create a schedule for your children who attend school virtually.
  • Schedule time to have breakfast and/or snack with them during each day… School is their “workday.”


  • Schedule time to take the dog outside (which provides yourself a mental and physical break) 2-3 times during your 8-hour period.
  • Take advantage of these moments of down time during the busy workday; take deep breaths, walk briskly to circulate your blood to revitalize your muscles and shut work off in your head to declutter your brain.

Do not:

  • Do Not put the TV on for background ambiance.
  • Do not eat lunch sitting at your desk!
  • Do not do laundry or other household chores during business hours.

In 2001, I was a member of an educational support group for the women working from home. We met for lunch once a month a local restaurant. Each member worked for a different company. We discovered through the luncheons we were experiencing common problems, each month a different woman was the guest speaker on a topic/situation many of us faced... This group was amazing and the skills I learned “back in the day” have become the foundation for working at home success.

We are starting a “Corcentric Virtual Lunch Bunch”. This group does not promote or sell business services. The focus revolves around work at home topics/challenges and how to overcome them.

If you would like information, please contact me (twankoff@corc
entric.com) – all are welcome to attend and/or be a guest speaker on a topic related to working remotely.


*CNBC.com 3/31/2020 on-line - transcript of interview with Julie Morgenstern

**Published on-line by Moneycrashers.com, written for Fast Money Magazine

***Research completed by Vanderbilt University Psychologists published that when we blink it is a shift in our attention and breaks the activity of the neurons in the visual cortex of our brain. 

**** According to Rover.com - 54% said they feel less anxious because they have their pet with them. Two-thirds said they feel happier working from home because they have the company of their pet. Most pet parents (70%) said working from home helps them get more exercise by walking or playing with their pet.


One of the biggest sources of inefficiency within businesses that even have a passing relationship to the broader supply chain crops up when companies don't have a holistic look at their needs. If one department is ordering from a supplier, and then a second department makes an order from that same supplier a few days later, you're likely to pay more for shipping and you will likely see increased difficulties in tracking both orders.

For that reason, it's important to make sure your company either has a centralized procurement department, or that its strategies on this front are aligned from the top down, according to Purchase Control. What often happens within companies that don't have a holistic vision of their purchasing needs is one hand often doesn't know what the other is doing, and you lose both efficiency and insight into your overall processes as a result.

Typically, your teams will work together on all sorts of collaborative projects, so forming a committee or an entirely new team to oversee procurement efforts for your whole company can go a long way toward keeping everything pointed in the same direction, the report said. Often, these efforts fall apart because individuals or teams feel other participants are only looking out for themselves, or there is not enough accountability. When you centralize these processes, those concerns can dissipate quickly.

Does your company have a centralized procurement process?Does your company have a centralized procurement process?

Where to begin
When you are forming this kind of team or committee, it's important to first lay out what the procurement processes they follow in Situations X, Y or Z will be, and what the overall effort should look like in an ideal scenario, according to Supply Chain Dive. Once you have that kind of standardized practice in place, you can then focus on getting the right people who have the necessary skills related to procurement and teamwork involved in further fleshing out the process based on their teams' unique needs.

This can also be an opportunity for further training or skills development so everyone is operating from a place of understanding, if not fully on the same page from the outset, the report said. Once that happens, you can push your carefully laid plans into motion; processes can be perfect in concept, but in actual practice, you will almost certainly need to tweak things here and there as time goes on.

Why it matters
The kind of communication and teamwork that undergirds an overall procurement strategy for your company will be highly important to your long-term success for a number of reasons, according to ProcureAbility. These include avoiding conflict and waste (both in terms of time and money) and increasing visibility into various processes that rub up against one another to potentially create friction. Furthermore, you will likely gain the benefit of tapping a lot of different perspectives on challenges and potential solutions your organization faces in the months and years ahead.

With all this in mind, now is the time to start building your team or committee so you can start realizing the above benefits as soon as possible, making you more efficient and cost-effective in short order.

It wasn't so long ago that there were mass shortages of key supplies seen across the U.S., from toilet paper to hand sanitizer, in large part because supply chains were rocked by the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The question everyone in the logistics sector should have is how to build stronger and more resilient supply chains that set everyone up for success.

As one might imagine, this is an effort far more easily said than done, and even with proper, effective planning in place, there's little to guarantee a successful rollout that can be verified before another major shock to the system. For example, even as many within the sector worked diligently to recover from initially being caught offguard by the pandemic, many of the same problems seen in the spring are once again returning to store shelves, albeit to a lesser extent, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Demand for critical items like tissue paper is on the rise once again, and while stores aren't as choked by lack of supply as they were months ago, companies are shifting strategies and expectations, the report said. The problem is obviously that even as companies try to pivot out of the just-in-time inventory model that has dominated for years, it's a slow process to reset more than a decade of strategy.

Is your supply chain ready for tomorrow's challenges?Is your supply chain ready for tomorrow's challenges?

Getting it right
Indeed, many major retailers have started adding what one might describe as "safety stock," according to the Connecticut Mirror. That is, retailers are now building a bit of cushion into their inventory needs, so that if demand rises unexpectedly, they have some extra supply on hand to avoid having their shelves cleared by unpredictable outside forces.

However, because just-in-time processes have been in place for a long period of time, and overall demand for shipped goods, it's projected the U.S. would need to add some 750 million square feet of warehousing space to supply the extra "safety stock" retailers may need. That may represent a relatively small fraction of the square footage of industrial space currently in the U.S., but it would still take a lot of time and capital to build up.

The government's role
At the same time as supply chains themselves need to be re-envisioned, experts also say the government may need to reconsider its regulations around the supply chain, especially in light of the pandemic, according to Material Handling & Logistics. These issues were apparent even early on in the outbreak. While some changes were made relatively quickly to accommodate the rapidly changing landscape at that time, others may still serve as unfortunate and unwanted roadblocks to ensuring logistics firms, manufacturers and retailers can all come together to meet the nation's needs even in the most trying of times.

The more companies can do to ensure they are maximizing their effectiveness as members of the supply chain — and engage their partners in those efforts simultaneously — the better off all involved will be when it comes to getting through any number of difficult periods down the road.

Every business that's on the lookout for top-level talent to supplement their existing teams has the same concern: How do we ensure we find the exact right person for the job? It's typically easier said than done, even in a job market that highly favors employers these days.

The effort may be even more important in the high-demand world of procurement, where even the slightest inefficiencies can show up in a big way on your bottom line. Fortunately, we have some suggestions that will steer you in the right direction:

1) Pay them what they're worth

The average procurement manager in the U.S. today makes nearly $28 per hour, and if your offerings don't meet or exceed that level, the odds that you will land top candidates for such a position are minimal, according to Indeed. Getting that salary offering to an enticing level and providing top-notch benefits should be a top priority for you before you even post the listing.

Want to attract top talent? Make sure you pay them what they're actually worth.Want to attract top talent? Make sure you pay them what they're actually worth.

2) Prioritize the right skills

Another thing to do before you post the listing is to make sure you have identified the skills you need to supplement your team, Indeed said. While there are ideal qualities almost everyone in the purchasing world brings to the table, think about whether you need someone to specifically help with client relations, data analytics or anything else. That should inform how you write the listings and who you actually look at.

3) Make it easier to apply

When you're trying to find talent anywhere you can, you shouldn't make candidates jump through hoops to apply for the job, according to Hays. The simpler it is to apply — as in, just sending their resume and cover letter as attachments through a single web page or to a designated email address — the better off you will be to connect with potential hires.

4) Strive for inclusivity

If everyone on your team has the same basic background in the industry or through their education, they may all have similar blind spots when it comes to processes and work preferences, Hays added. For that reason, it's important to have a diverse team that can approach all the same problems from different directions, so nothing ever slips through the cracks. This should inform your hiring decisions as well.

5) Have an ideal candidate in mind going in

This tip is fairly straightforward but extremely important: You shouldn't just wait for the right candidates to present themselves, you should be on the looking for someone to fill a specific gap in your organization, according to Purchase Control. Talk out the ideal version of your new hire and then wait for someone who best fits that mold.

6) Start with a big group and whittle it down

It goes without saying that you need to consider every applicant you get, but with varying levels of seriousness, Purchase Control cautioned. Start with a large group and cut that down to the people who deserve a phone interview, then a smaller group who needs in-person interviews, and finally one that requires you to meet again or dig into their references. That way, everyone gets due consideration, and you learn a bit more at each step of the process.

The new year is well underway and many businesses within the supply chain are trying to set themselves up for success in the months ahead. After a 2020 that was filled with ups and downs, to say the least, some firms may now feel as though they're in a better position to make strategic investments in technology that allow them to take an all-important next step.

When utilized and implemented properly, tech can be a great way to insulate yourself from some financial risk, even if it comes with some obvious adoption costs. The following suggestions could help you find a new type of technology to invest in and help ensure your long-term financial success in what's sure to be a year full of uncertainties:

1) Widespread digital real-time tracking

At this point, most companies within the supply chain have at least some kind of digital accounting of all the items coming into and leaving their facilities, but they may need to consider how modern those systems are, according to the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply and Supply Chain Digital. In 2021, more companies will likely move to track everything under their roof — and beyond — in more or less real time, giving them a bird's-eye view of their past, present and future inventory. That may require more collaboration with partners, but the benefits should be obvious to all.

2021 is the time for your company to put all your data to better use.2021 is the time for your company to put all your data to better use.

2) Edge computing

Along similar lines to keeping track of inventory in real time, edge computing allows your workers to quickly and easily scan and process information into your system as soon as they make that first or last touch, according to Gartner. Using the internet of things, there's no need to wait for data to be uploaded once a device is docked with a computer or similar device, and you get rapid updates on an ongoing basis.

3) 5G-enabled tech

In addition to all that, the proliferation of 5G could bring even more processing and updating power to your real-time data, because if you can keep everything visible no matter where it is on the map, you can make more informed judgment calls on all kinds of issues, Gartner said. The fact is that there is a lot of promise in 5G, and we likely don't even know how much it's going to revolutionize business processes; that may be is especially true when it comes to the supply chain sector.

4) Machine learning

Finally, once you are processing and tracking data in real time, it's important to put that information to use, according to Haslam College of Business. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can enable you to examine whatever data you collect and identify potential snags before they arise, so you can act quickly to keep all your processes as smooth as possible. The beauty of this technology is it continually improves on its previous improvements, meaning you continue to gain increasingly more efficient insights as time goes on.

Working within the supply chain seems to always bring more uncertainty than any organization would like. Sometimes that uncertainty can turn into a major problem for yourself and your partners. The key to avoiding those issues, as much as is possible, is to count on the fact that things aren't always going to go your way, and increase your ability to adjust on the fly and respond more effectively to roadblocks.

How can you do that? The following suggestions could help:

1) Leverage technology

First and foremost, now is the time to utilize as much new and emerging technology in your various supply chain processes as you can, according to Spend Matters. The more you can do to make sure processes are automated and you have visibility into everything you do, the better off you will be in identifying potential issues before they can truly wreak havoc.

Don't get crunched by an avoidable problem.Don't get crunched by an avoidable problem.

2) Scout for more options

While you no doubt have great relationships with most of your supply chain partners, you can't necessarily rely on them 100% of the time — that's just the nature of the business, Spend Matters added. As such, you should always have fallback options for obtaining the goods you need when existing arrangements fall through. In fact, building contingencies for those contingencies, including what you might do if no suppliers can meet your needs, is probably a good idea.

3) Be more engaged with your partners

It's absolutely vital to have insights into not only your own processes, but also those of your supply chain partners, whenever possible, according to SupplyShift. That way, it becomes even easier to identify challenges on the horizon and work together to come up with workable solutions for all involved.

4) Incentivize data sharing

Sometimes, partners may be resistant to sharing some kinds of information, and that can be understandable in certain situations, SupplyShift noted. To get them more onboard with your vision, it might be wise to offer them incentives for hitting goals and otherwise setting you up for success. When they're given a financial stake in helping you, you probably won't be shocked to find how much other organizations are willing to help.

5) Get better at collaboration

As you're improving your efforts to improve collaboration with your supply chain partners, it's also important to make sure you're doing more to boost effective collaboration in-house, according to the Harvard Business Review. Something as simple as putting together a master list of agreements that multiple stakeholders can refer to when talking to supply chain partners can go a long way toward helping you work toward a singular goal.

6) Consistently tackle potential problems

You ought to know by now that there's no such thing as a set-it-and-forget-it, one-size-fits-all solution to ongoing supply chain success, but you may not be doing enough to ensure you're able to meet your goals continually, the Harvard Business Review advised. You should be scheduling regular meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page and are well-positioned to succeed individually and, of course, collectively.

Experts have long highlighted potential issues where the supply chain and cybersecurity intersect, and it seems that the threat of an attack catching organizations unawares is on the rise. A recent hacking attack shows just how much of a problem this may be, and how unprepared both the private and public sectors may be to truly handle these issues.

For instance, a recent attack against software developed by the SolarWinds Corp., shows just how much work needs to be done for companies at all stages of the supply chain to be better prepared for potential intrusion attempts, according to Bloomberg News. The extent of the damage caused by this hack is not yet fully understood, but there is evidence to suggest that it's quite significant and far-reaching.

The reason why is relatively simple: Since so many aspects of the global supply chain are interconnected, even a relatively narrow-focused attack can have a massive impact, the report said. Again, experts have been ringing this alarm bell for some time, yet preparedness seems to be lacking.

Cyberthreats may increasingly target the supply chain.Cyberthreats may increasingly target the supply chain.

Caught in the lurch
The federal Government Accountability Office recently issued a report on the effects of the SolarWinds breach, because it affected a number of government agencies, and it's more than fair to say the findings were not encouraging for the industry, according to Nextgov. Many of the issues that led agencies to be affected are considered "foundational" — and therefore more than a little difficult to sort out.

The GAO found that industry best practices for data security, recommended by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, are broadly not being followed, Nextgov reported. Of 23 civilian agencies the GAO examined, none had implemented all seven NIST recommendations, and 14 of them — more than 60% — had not implemented a single one.

"NIST came out with their guidance back in 2015," Carol Harris, director of GAO's IT and cybersecurity team, told the site. "In fact, they had updated their cybersecurity framework and their risk management framework to include supply chain risk considerations in 2018. So, the guidance was out there."

The private risk
With the above issues in mind, it's quite likely that similar vulnerabilities are lurking for private organizations that have not conducted an audit of their own preparedness, according to the Forbes Technology Council. Therefore, now is  the time for companies to look at the software they use, the data they share with their partners, and what they might be able to do to tighten up their unique security concerns.

That will undoubtedly require all significant stakeholders to look at your operations, the kind of software you use, data you share and so on, to determine what vulnerabilities could exist. This is hardly a set-it-and-forget-it effort, and you should be prepared to regularly conduct this kind of audit to make sure you are as prepared as possible for any threat that might arise.

In just about any aspect of business, to be truly successful, you have to be proactive about planning for both the short and long term. That's certainly true when it comes to your procurement strategies. While it's not always easy to account for every possibility in your plans, it is nonetheless important to have strategies and contingencies laid out on an ongoing basis. With that in mind, it's time to consider what your procurement plans are for 2021.

For the most part, a lot of this work was laid out (at least in part) over the final few months of 2020, and that's instructive, according to ProcureAbility. After all, the majority of last year was more or less unprecedented in a globally connected business world, and supply chains were repeatedly shocked by the various developments around the novel coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, companies have plenty of time to strategize for operating in a world still gripped by the outbreak, and potentially in the second half of the year, a post-COVID world.

A recent online poll the company ran found that 34% of respondents prioritized building a pipeline for saving money in 2021 over the final months of the year, while others worked on efforts like hitting remaining goals for last year, implementing technological and process-related improvements and renewing contracts with supply chain partners.

Get ready for the entirety of 2021.Get ready for the entirety of 2021.

What does it take?
When you're putting together any strategy, for any aspect of your company, you need to have the best possible data at your disposal, and that information should inform whatever decisions you make, according to Kissflow. That means compiling data from your own business operations, information about your supply chain and the economy, as well as your company's finances, then synthesizing it all into action items and projections.

For instance, you should have a fairly clear picture of procurement costs, business needs, and market conditions all at the same time, and those data points should inform realistic objectives for the next month, quarter and full year, the report said. After that, you can craft all the right policies for your employees to follow and tailor your workflows and software utilization to help you achieve those goals on an ongoing basis. It's not necessarily an easy task, but it is relatively straightforward.

Getting everybody onboard
Once you know what the objectives are and how you will reach them, it's vital to communicate them effectively to not only the people within your organization, but also potentially relevant stakeholders outside it, according to HCMWorks. Think of it like a trickle-down effect: Your executives put the plan into place and communicate it to managers, who then pass it along to staff, who then pass pertinent information to your supply chain partners. In this way, everyone is on the same page and able to act and react in a way that helps you meet those short- and long-term goals.

This is certainly a process that should be continuous and ongoing, but if you haven't laid out your entire roadmap for 2021 quite yet, now is the time to start.

The novel coronavirus pandemic, along with the various shutdowns and slowdowns it caused, taught a lot of people whose jobs rub up against the supply chain some valuable lessons in 2020. As millions of businesses worldwide look to the new year, one thing procurement experts believe will happen as a direct result of the pandemic is more companies will bring as much of their supply chain operations as they can back to the U.S.

To be fair, this was a process that was largely already in place before the pandemic hit. A 2019 survey from the Reshoring Institute found that more than half of companies in the supply chain were at least considering reshoring as an option even prior to 2020, according to Material Handling & Logistics. Moreover, nearly all respondents believed they should at least consider a domestic supplier if they were competitive with foreign companies in terms of price and quality.

Those that hadn't yet looked at the efficacy of reshoring said it was because of concerns around things like higher labor costs, lack of extant facilities within the U.S., finding skilled workers and so on, the report said. However, it seems that more recently, many of those concerns have been overtaken by the shortcomings laid bare by the COVID pandemic.

Are supply chains shifting back to the U.S.?Are supply chains shifting back to the U.S.?

Striking the right balance
At the same time, some within the industry would caution that they've seen this song and dance before, and it didn't necessarily go well, according to The Economist. When there was a H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009, many companies rushed to reshore various aspects of their supply chain. When demand shifted back to its pre-outbreak state, many were left holding the bag — and suffered major financial losses as a result.

Of course, COVID has been a much bigger issue than the swine flu, for a lot of reasons, and even if companies are a little gun shy about reshoring as a result of the problems suffered more than a decade ago, some may now be strengthened in their resolve to shift back to American operations, the report said. Even if estimates on the lower end of industry surveys — on the order of 15%, give or take — come to pass, that's still about 1 in every 7 U.S. companies saying they will give reshoring a hard look.

Beyond the supply chain itself
That having been said, the fact is that some of the issues discussed above are outside the hands of supply chain professionals, according to IndustryWeek. Surveys conducted in early 2020 (here too, before the outbreak gripped the U.S.) showed that reshoring for the manufacturing sector was already heavily underway and that likely didn't stop when China and other foreign nations effectively shut down to control the spread. As such, existing supply chains had to be shifted, and new ones built from whole cloth, to accommodate the "new normal."

Will that continue even after COVID has largely dissipated? The smart money is likely on at least a slow trickle of reshoring, even if there won't be a massive wave of such activity. Nonetheless, supply chain professionals would be wise to prepare for either scenario.

In recent years, many companies in the supply chain business have had to at least consider ways they can make their internal processes more efficient and their entire organizations better partners. Increasingly, these firms are identifying and following through on a great way to do both simultaneously: by hiring a chief procurement officer to oversee their efforts.

For some companies, this may seem like "a hat on a hat," just another hire that does the job someone else has been doing — without the fancy title — for months or years. However, the following benefits could help even the most skeptical companies see the light on how vital a CPO can be:

They continually gather insights

One of the reasons a CPO whose only job is to streamline and improve procurement processes can be preferable to just making it part of another manager's duties is self-evident, according to CFO magazine. When even the most attentive managers are tasked with just another thing on their plate, other issues they're overseeing can fall by the wayside. By making this one person's job, nothing will slip through the cracks.

Understand what a CPO can do for you.Take the time to understand what a CPO can do for you.

They can whip partners into shape

It's not just internal efforts that can improve when you hire a CPO; it's those of your partners as well, CFO said. When you have someone dedicated to finding internal efficiency, you may often find that problems aren't necessarily your problems. Once that's happened, it's easier for a CPO to work with partners and get you all on the same page.

They will typically have a lot of technical skills other execs don't

While it's a relatively new job description, CPOs are already developing some characteristics as a group, and that includes the fact that they tend to have a lot of technical training or degrees, according to Ardent Partners. That can help them tackle issues other mangers — even those in the C-suite — aren't equipped to deal with, especially those unique to the supply chain.

They've trained for the job

Along similar lines, you may have promoted some managers up the ladder from an entry-level job to overseeing a department, and that often means their long-term focus has been specifically on improving procurement and supply chain obstacles, Ardent Partners advised. That kind of added attention to detail and specialization can help them identify issues that even other supply chain veterans might miss.

They can lead to long-term sustainability

Finally, if your company is balking at the idea of adding another potentially high-paid executive position, you might be wise to look at it in terms of return on investment, according to the Future of Sourcing. Tightening up even a few areas of inefficiency can lead to tremendous savings in time and money, which in turn, means the CPO position is effectively paying for itself in relatively little time. Then, as months or years go by, those benefits only continue to build as your entire supply chain operations become more sustainable.


If you have a fleet, you have a need for tires. With a limited life and a key component to driver safety, procuring tires wisely can make a big difference in the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of your fleet. Tire pricing is typically based on volume and negotiating discounts is difficult at best. So how do you control costs if you do not have a massive fleet? There are a few simple avenues that can help your company save time and money procuring tires.

As a fleet manager, or a procurement professional purchasing tires for your organization, there are a few upfront decisions to make. First, you must decide what tier of tires you are searching for. This is a loosely defined rating on quality, engineering, price point, and markup. Although slightly arbitrary, typically, a tier 1 tire has the backing of a large organization. They have built up a lot of trust to get to that level, so their product can be trusted. Tier 2 tires will typically be lower in quality, price, or markup, and so on for Tiers 3 and 4. Finally, will you want to buy direct or through a distributor? Both have their pros and cons. Distributors will mark up the price but may have better service options. OEM tires often are cheaper, but the manufacturer may not have locations to install the tires you purchase. Be sure to consider what is most important to you.

Now, on to how to procure them!

1.      GPO’s (Group Purchasing Organizations)

Perhaps the simplest way to get high quality tires for your fleet at a fair price is through a GPO. A Group Purchasing Organization leverages the buying power of many organizations by combining the spend of multiple fleets to negotiate better pricing. This can especially benefit small and mid-size fleets. With a lower volume, negotiating pricing is very difficult as the scales are tipped against you. With a GPO, many small and mid-size fleets are combined to tip the scale back to your side. The best part is the work is already complete. Simply signing up with the GPO warrants you all the benefits with none of the work. It is the easiest way to receive a quick win and can save your company a surprisingly large amount.

To put this in perspective, Corcentric has over 160 group purchasing programs. With an 800,000-unit fleet under management, the pricing within these GPO’s is much better than a small or mid-size fleet can obtain. Tires are just one of the programs that we offer. Many different maintenance parts and fleet related products, including fuel, can be purchased using this buying power. We also offer multiple tire brands. You can choose form Goodyear, Michelin, Continental, Bridgestone, and more! Whomever you choose, GPO’s are the quickest way to get immediate savings on your tire purchasing.

2.      Back-End Rebates

Another simple and effective way to save on tires is to negotiate back end rebates. A simple explanation is you spend so much with the supplier, you get a specified percentage back. The lower the spend figure and the higher the percentage rebate, the better the savings. Rebates may be difficult if you do not have a large enough fleet. However, if you do not have a large enough fleet, you should be purchasing through a GPO like we spoke about earlier.

3.      Maintenance Mindset

Do not let your tires bald before replacing. It may sound counter-intuitive but replacing on a specified schedule is important. In the long run it will save your business money. The costlier repairs for damage that can occur if your tires tread or blow are not worth the risk. Replace them before they cause the larger issue. Also, the consistency of spend can help with negotiations and spend commitments to supplier partners. Finally, you will change fuel consumption and put your drivers in potential danger. As a side note, maintenance parts of all kinds can also be purchased through a GPO!

4.      Outsource

If the analysis, contracting, negotiation, and many other tasks that come with wise fleet procurement are more than you care to take on, outsource the work. Corcentric, for example, can manage your whole fleet. We not only source the suppliers, but we also take care of the maintenance, lifecycle management, and even remarketing. This may be the simplest way to avoid the vast amount of work that comes from fleet management. The best part is you can afford it! You will actually end up saving money in most cases.

Hopefully, this will help in purchasing tires for your fleet. These suggestions also apply to other maintenance related parts. Fleet management is one of Corcentric’s bread and butter. We have been working in this space from the very beginning of our company. With many subject matter experts, we can give you the advice and service your fleet requires!