2008 Supply & Demand Chain Executive Pros to Know

Honoring supply chain leaders building their companies' 21st century supply chains


By Andrew K. Reese and Sarah Murray

As the "push" economy of yesterday gives way to today's demand-driven "pull" economy, senior management is increasingly looking to their supply chain leaders to help build agile, responsive, global and customer-focused supply chains.

With the 2008 edition of our Pros to Know, Supply & Demand Chain Executive sought to identify those supply chain executives and supply chain teams who are helping build 21st century supply chains for their companies. In addition, as in the past, we sought to highlight leaders from the solution provider, consultant and analyst communities who are helping their clients build their own 21st century supply chains.

In the pages that follow, you can read about today's supply chain industry thought-leaders and their visions for the 21st century supply chain.

2008 Pro of the Year
The 21st century supply chain is... driving technology across the enterprise
James L. Polak, Director, General Purchasing, PPG Industries, Inc.
Jim Polak has always believed that the technology necessary to transform a purchasing organization starts with understanding where the spend is going, identifying opportunities to leverage the spend utilizing online sourcing technology, and then automating the transactions between internal users and suppliers.

In the early days of enabled spend analysis, around 2000-2001, segments of PPG believed that the project was a waste of capital and that there were no leveraged savings to be had. Polak made many internal presentations to business unit leaders regarding the benefits of the project and, later, on the savings that were being delivered. Rather than just having PPG purchasing people sourcing commodities, teams that included factory and functional non-purchasing associates were formed to leverage the known spend that was visible from PPG's enterprise-wide spend database. Each team was given an arbitrary target of 10 percent savings and a time limit of 90 days. The result: the combination of unexpectedly large savings, ranging from 11 to 32 percent, the positive word-of-mouth generated by the commodity team members, and the culture change that endures to this day have changed how purchasing is perceived within PPG. After many highly successful teams and millions of dollars in leveraged savings, PPG has emerged as a recognized "spend analysis star" and a model of best practice in spend analysis, as highlighted by analyst firm Aberdeen Group.

In 2003 PPG was ready for best-in-class sourcing technology and best-in-class data enrichment, both of which became an integral part of PPG's sourcing and analysis processes. In 2005 Polak was instrumental in selling PPG on pursuing transaction automation, but also worked internally and externally on the value of an on-demand hosted procure-to-pay technology solution. Today PPG has 24 locations with over 1,400 users conducting business in their PPG eBuy procure-to-pay requisition-to-invoice buying platform, with over 25 catalogs and over 350 suppliers enabled.

Over the years Polak has become an internal spend analysis expert and is infamous for sending his analyses to accountable buyers and managers. The message has become, "If Jim has time to look at my commodity and spot opportunities, then certainly I have the time to do the same." Polak also has attended the opening and concluding sessions of each commodity team and praised them on their results, which often have exceeded the team's early expectations. A policy was established that anything worth sourcing would go through the PPG's sourcing interface, which drove adoption. Finally, several years ago each buyer was expected to make an annual presentation on his or her commodity strategies, highlighting their use of PPG's various technology tools.

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