Contract Management

03 March 2017


One of the aspects of consulting we undertake is assisting clients with the overhead of managing their supplier contracts.  Why on earth would you pay someone else to manage contracts for you?   Surely, they are just the bi-products of the services you buy that you “stick in the drawer and never get out again”?   Well that beautifully summarises the problem.

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How to pay for Procurement Consulting

24 February 2017

I run a consulting business.  Some would say I am probably not best to give impartial advice on commercial constructs for buying consulting advice.  But the reality is the industry is going through some shifts and I think it’s worth debating the pros and cons of the different approaches.

Consulting at its simplest form is paying someone to do something.  Generally speaking, that person is either doing what you tell them, or working on an outcome.  Is there a better way of getting access to consulting skills though?

Procurement consulting, e.g. paying someone to help you buy something, has several models.  Below are the 5 most common in my view.

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Size matters - Cultural alignment

03 February 2017

As part of Embedded’s profiling of the suppliers we work with, we have asked some general demographic question of the supplier about turnover, profits and number of employees.  A few of the suppliers were less than keen to share this sort of financial information, which is quite telling, but I think it’s a key part of a client’s selection criteria.  This probably sounds obvious, but so many people ignore this.

Clearly understanding a prospective suppliers financial position is good practice from a risk management perspective.  Knowing whether a company has reasonable revenues is a simplistic, but good start, indicator of their likelihood of going bust.  Probably more importantly it can give an indication of the relevance of your spend to their business – too small make you “just another customer”, too big makes you potentially responsible for their downfall if you leave.  Neither is a good thing.

The one aspect that I think needs to be discussed as part of any supplier selection process is cultural alignment; which is to, a large extent, driven by a company’s maturity, but also considerations such as geography, size etc.  I find this aspect one of the most interesting.

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Man Shopping

10 February 2017

I am fortunate enough to be happily married and have four kids, of which two are teenage ladies.  I am therefore qualified to write a small piece about the difference in shopping habits between men and women.  I make no excuses for the generalisations, as I don’t think I have found any exceptions.

I have a requirement for clothes.  I travel the least possible distance to the clothing establishment that is likely to stock my requirement, walk through the door, avoid all eye contact with sales people, pick up something “that’ll do”, maybe try it on, buy it and leave.  The process of shopping is not in my psyche. Why think about it too heavily when a simple answer is right in front of you?


My wife, and daughters, clearly have a fundamentally different psyche.  They have a requirement for clothes.  They spend hours, researching the range of garments they could acquire and book out days of time to travel around various establishments that stock their required garments.  They subscribe to magazines (paid advertising), take inspiration from “celebrities” (paid advertising), consult all knowing social media advice gurus (generally biased if not paid advertising).  Once in a general retail area, they enter an establishment and chaotically trawl around the shop, stroking things, talking to shop assistants, looking in the mirror, facetiming their friends, and then leave – with no garment in hand.  This drives me NUTS!!

So, imagine my surprise and delight when a “brokered” shopping experience came along and made my life easy.  Apologies for the blatant plug, but you should all try either or The Chapar, (or both! prepare to part with your cash).  They are both addressing the market need for men to buy clothes in the easiest possible way.  I shall explain.

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The RFP: Procurement's answer to "Blind Date"

27 January 2017

I am a child of the ‘70s, and have most memory of the ‘80s.  Lucky for me then, my formative years took me through some of the most “interesting” periods of popular television, as Channel 4 was born and ITV started to compete with audience participation shows rather than relying on TV celebrities to entertain us.  Shows such as “Game for a Laugh” became a thing, and then on 30 November 1985 a new format was trialled called “Blind Date”.

For those who were not fortunate enough to be part of this movement, the show was built upon a simple premise.  3 single “contestants” were lined up behind a screen and an appropriate suitor was brought in to ask them questions to assess their suitability for a love match of some description.  A decision on whether prospective match is available was made on the basis of their answer to some inane questions, usually not at all related to their requirements, and a summary of each contestant was provided by “Our Graham”, who picked and chose the points he wanted to present for comedy value.  After choosing one of the contestants, the couple were whisked off to some destination and filmed in awkwardly staged poses, for presentation back to the show the following week to see if they are likely to form a long term beautiful relationship.

The show ran for 17 years, in 18 series and over 370 shows.  According to Wikipedia, 4 couples achieved married bliss, with the rest just passing it off as their 15 minutes of fame.  So in short, about a 1% success rate for long term relationship forming.

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