Arena Blog

Procurement Managers Are Born to Be Wild

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Penny the Procurement Manager RockstarA “persona” is a behavior-based, user archetype you can use to make decisions about your product. They have names, beliefs, demographic attributes and behaviors that help create relevant marketing messages — think of these fictional character archetypes as “stand-ins” for real prospects and customers.

In the imaginary but very real world of a certain product lifecycle management (PLM) company there’s Donna the Document Control Manager, Melinda and Meredith the Medical Document Control Managers, Elvis the VP of Engineering, Ozzie VP of Operations, Pradip the Principle Electrical Engineer and Penny the Procurement Manager.

I want to focus on Penny, whose file I snagged from the secret files of this PLM company’s marketing PowerPoint deck. It gives us demographics, psychographics, tastes and preferences—essentially the entire DL on Penny. Here’s what I discovered:

“Penny is responsible for negotiating the best cost on components at the forecasted volumes across all the product portfolio. Her job has changed over the years because contract manufacturers (CMs) purchase most of the parts now. Now she only purchases specialized components and customer mechanical parts. She also keeps checks on the contract manufacturing billed costs. For boards, she needs an accurate bill of material (BOM) and approved manufacturers’ lists. For mechanical parts, she needs accurate, current drawings. After work, she is just as likely to go out with a bunch of friends as she is to enjoy a family meal at home. She likes long walks on the beach with her dog which seven out of ten times will be a Labradoodle.”

While I believe the traditional responsibilities of a procurement manager to be accurate, I feel the description of Penny’s lifestyle perpetuates unfair stereotypes of procurement managers.

The procurement managers I know don’t just simply “go out with a bunch of friends” — they’re rollin’ all night in the black Jaguar limo. They are at the Hollywood Marriott hotel, droppin’ TVs into swimming pools. They are in the club poppin’ bottles in the VIP section or getting backstage passes to meet Slash. And when procurement is out, the party doesn’t stop when the club closes; nay-nay, for procurement there’s always the after party, and then after that there’s the hotel lobby.

You see: the procurement managers I know are straight up outlaws. Outlaws who are wanted…dead or alive, especially by petty cash haters. They’re engaged in a crazy turf war, stepping hard to the busters both in accounts payable and in accounts receivable who dare try put procurement on lockdown for some trumped up accounting charge.

Nah, procurement don’t play that.

To wit, here’s Penny’s rock ‘n roll story: Penny started her career in purchasing for a large high tech company. Twelve years ago, a few of her colleagues left the company to start a new company. Once they started purchasing parts for their new device, they recruited Penny to join the company.

At this new company, Penny uses an accounting system, which does not include an (MRP) system, but does have an item master. Since Penny is a rock star, she can see where getting accurate information to suppliers is critical and also labor intensive. She can see around corners and understands the risks of inaccurate and late design data. She knows that other OEMs use PLM to communicate with their CMs and sees this as a potential point of negotiation on the contract.

Penny sticks it to the man with a material aggregate demand solution that gives her a view of the total material demand on each component, portfolio-wide, using forecasts and bill of materials. This solution gives her uber-negotiating power whether she’s buying the parts directly or is having the CM do it. Ya see, Penny is a renegade, who certainly isn’t going to be swindled by an MRP system.

Procurement managers like Penny were born to be wild, riding free as a bird now out on the open road; and that steel horse isn’t a Harley chopper — it’s a cloud-based PLM solution and the sidecar is a material demand aggregation assessment tool to run game on archaic material resource planning (MRP) systems.  And that’s right—those tat-tears are for real, signifying the number of MRP systems she’s schooled up, taken downtown and introduced to the knee of knowledge.

If you’re a rockstar like Penny, heading out on the highway looking for adventure and whatever might come your way, I’d love to hear your procurement story. Let me know what’s click clackin’.