Are you still operating in the Buyer Bubble? by Jon Hansen

Posted on May 16, 2014


Have you ever read an article or post in which you wanted to say something but then decided maybe it is not worth it.  Perhaps not being worth it is the wrong term, but you know what I mean.

Then, and quite unexpectedly by way of another information channel, a different yet relevant comment or comments relating to the previously referenced post’s subject matter pops up and you just can’t ignore it any longer.  Well this is one of those times.

Dawn Sig

Back in January Dawn Tiura Evans wrote the following in her SIG blog about the new American Council of Sourcing and Procurement Executives (ACSPE);

“Do we really need another association in the sourcing space? Although it is tempting to sit on a board with a potential “competitor,” I’m not sure I agree with the methodology behind this organization. Why would I join the board of an organization that appears to include more sell-side members than buy-side?”

Generally speaking I found Ms. Evans’ tone to be a tad condescending and obviously dismissive.  The fact that she referred to her prose as being a Jason Busch type rant spoke volumes to me.  Of course I am also not quite sure of who she would classify as being a sell-side member.  I mean are we talking about software vendors, suppliers or as one person told me anyone who isn’t a “practitioner.”  Either way there is definitely an elitist undertone in her viewpoint.

Now just to provide you with a bit of background as to how I stumbled on to the SIG blog, I was introduced to the ACSPE through a mutual acquaintance.  Having never heard of them, I decided to do some homework.  In a Google search the Evans post came up.

By the way, I like the ACSPE.  I think that they are a welcome addition to an industry in which the emphasis that has been placed on the buyer side of the equation has led to a somewhat solipsistic view of the procurement world.

I will get into this last point in greater detail momentarily.

However, what stirred my interest in revisiting the SIG post was a couple of comments that were posted in the IACCM LinkedIn Group regarding my question; How important is supply chain finance and why?

One of the answers I received is as follows:

“My philosophy is to engage with the best suppliers. One of the criteria is financial strength, or at least stability. A supplier in financial trouble is unlikely to be the best one.Getting into financing of suppliers brings you close to a de facto owner-subsidiary relationship where your finances become at risk if you reduce business with the supplier”

Think about the above answer for a moment.  Then consider the growing number of articles this past week alone that have been highlighting the importance of supply chain finance as it relates to streamlining the P2P process and the need to establish quicker payment terms so as not to create undue financial pressure on suppliers.  The above perspective has completely disregarded the broader role that procurement plays in establishing the very stability he indicates is critical.  In short, this individual’s point of view reflects the buyer centric mentality that has undermined the profession and our ability to do the best job possible.  The second response to which I referred while using different wording, also reflects a similar attitude.  This of course brings us back to the Evans comment regarding what she referred to as being the questionable seller-side representation within the ACSPE.

I know it sounds harsh but sometimes you have to tell people that there is a much bigger world beyond what they seem to envision.

Ultimately what I am talking about is the fact that we in the procurement profession are finally starting to emerge from operating in a buyer bubble, realizing that the industry is shifting its focus beyond traditional practice areas such as cost reduction/avoidance.  This means that we now have to see the world through a new lens of relational interaction that includes all stakeholders (and their respective interests) both within and external to the enterprise.

Based on the Evans post and the comments from the IACCM Group, we obviously still have a ways to go.  Hopefully the ACSPE will be able to both facilitate and expedite this process regardless of their membership makeup.


Posted in: Commentary