The 97th Annual International Supply Management Conference was held May 6-8 in Baltimore, Maryland.
"We were proud to return and sponsor this year’s ISM conference and expo," exclaimed Hamp Wall, CEO of Perfect Commerce. "We enjoyed meeting the supply chain professionals that stopped by our booth, and learned a lot about their day-to-day issues as it relates to our business. Overall, it was a great event!”
Last year, we noticed that the focus of conversation heavily revolved around economic recovery and the increased pressure from upper management for supply chain professionals to control spend with existing tools and practices.
But now that both the economy and employment rates are on the rise, there is a shift. Purchasing departments are starting to reorganize and reevaluate not only the purchasing processes, but also supplier relationships and the tools used by their organization. Perfect Commerce exhibited at the conference and fortunately was able to meet a great deal of individuals that are in various roles throughout their organization. Here are several key themes we found that are top-of-mind for CPOs, purchasing directors and managers and other purchasing professionals:
1. Spend Visibility.
Purchasing organizations are trying to determine how to increase spend visibility throughout the managers and users of purchasing tools and processes to answer questions such as:
- What goods are we purchasing?
- What are our top commodities of spend?
- What is the total spend over a period of time?
Answers to these types of questions will help the organization improve the decisions to source and control spend company wide.
The topic of negotiations was quite the buzzword this year at ISM. Not only was it a learning topic, but also it came up in conversation frequently. As companies continue to look for ways to operate more efficiently, new supply professionals are trying to tackle the art of negotiation with their suppliers to establish the most cost-beneficial and successful relationship. Learning the most effective negotiation tactics for pricing and terms was top-of-mind.
Additionally, supply professionals are seeking assistance with the negotiation process in the form of tools and technology. They wanted to know what tools will help them gain leverage in the negotiations, where they could get competitive information, and what technology can help streamline the process.
3. Contract Management.
Though not necessarily legal eagles, purchasing personnel need easy ways to not only negotiate contract terms but also to build, store, and track purchasing contracts. For those new to their purchasing career, this can be as daunting as it is critical.
ISM provided several classes on this topic including best practices for managing index-based contracts. Again, the theme here was efficiency. Supply professionals particularly were interested in what contract authoring and tracking tools were available to automate the more tedious tasks involved with contract management.
4. Catalog Management.
Finally, the last major topic we heard at ISM was regarding catalog management. We heard from several individuals that were challenged with ways to improve the buyer/supplier relationship from their supervisors and chain of command. Some mentioned that they were looking for ways to expand and improve content that the supplier provides in catalogs to the purchasing organization and their system users—more photos, better photos, better product descriptions—in a more timely manner.
That’s what we learned from you at ISM 2012. Thanks for stopping by our booth and sharing your insights.