Take Control Now

In a few years, e-procurement may have so permeated society that your office will be reverse-auctioning filters for the Mr. Coffee. But that doesn't mean every company will be an e-procurement winner


In reality, Aspuro's theft concept is a logical outgrowth of the postmodern, information economy. It's the neural network of the Internet and old-fashioned word-of-mouth brought to a practical level, with tangible results. So get out there and start thieving. It's your e-duty.

Axiom 6
IntegrateNo matter the quality of information you employ, if it's not integrated (you might even say saturated) throughout your organization you won't get the maximum ROI. If Team A's workers have the latest software and techniques, and their buddies over at Team B haven't even gotten the word that the company is now e-procuring, you could be worse off than if you'd never started e-procuring in the first place. Not only will there be two types of requisitioning going on, possibly at cross-purposes with each other, but there are those all-important human traits of jealousy and ego to consider. The employee filling out a triplicate stapler requisition form might feel a bit envious of her friend across the hall who clicks out the same request in a few seconds.

Regarding integration, Aspuro says, There has to be integration within the organization to capture knowledge, to do product development efficiency (and to me e-procurement is a product), and to be inclusive of their customers at all times. The best companies are the ones that somehow find a way of keeping the communication lines going. And this communication has to go beyond the stereotypical, but oh-too-true, Dispose of your ideas here, because we aren't listening anyway approach. Aspuro puts it this way: And integration, it's not only integration of knowledge that is facilitated by communications, it's facilitated by a less hierarchical organizational chart. Which means that empowerment has to be more than an overworked buzzword.

In e-procurement, like in every other aspect of business, you simply don't know where your company's best ideas are hidden. But you do know what will happen to those ideas if they aren't encouraged and then employed they die, and they usually take other burgeoning ideas down with them.

Axiom 7
Develop a tolerance for failureIn the blowing-and-going Internet economy, a tolerance for anything but headline-grabbing success seems out of place. But without a tolerance for failure, only the most stubborn will continue fighting the corporate inertia and keep searching for improvements. If you don't establish that there is a certain amount of leeway, there's hesitation. Also, once something does go wrong, that can undermine the relationship right there because people start going into defense mode versus problem-resolution mode, says Aspuro.

Tolerance for failure is part of valuing employees, and like communication, it must be more than a sound bite in a staff meeting rah-rah speech. When an organization is infused with the belief that people aren't punished for honestly trying to improve things, more things are improved. When things are improved, people feel more valuable. When people feel more valuable . . . It's like a vicious circle in reverse. There has to be an appreciation for the human element of an organization, because if you lose your best people, or if you can never even get good people into your organization you're never going to get anywhere, says Aspuro.

This tolerance for failure also keeps employees from looking over their shoulder for the cost-cutting ax. Even in today's strong job market, there is still an innate fear that software and computers will push workers out of jobs. According to Chimienti, replacing supply chain personnel with a Web site is a formula for disaster. The important thing is to get that fact out to everyone, and a tolerant atmosphere will do just that.

Axiom 8
Commit to succeed
It's true that terms like commitment and succeed have been reproduced in countless cubicle posters, usually featuring a soaring eagle or a runner straining to break a finish-line tape. While the pop-culture life of these terms may be at an end, the core concepts they represent are still sound. Think about the groans and winces the announcement of a new office development can produce. Bad experiences with previous revolutions and the We've always done it this way outlook can be hard to overcome.

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