Academy Insider Vol 4 – Spring 2016

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Upcoming Denali Academy Training



Message from the Editor

Somewhere between winter holidays and summer vacation is “conference season”—the time where procurement professionals gather to share the latest and greatest thought leadership and network with one another. And, from what we’ve seen so far, Category Management is one of the hot topics being discussed this year! So, we attend the conferences, we get inspired, and then we return to our respective organizations re-energized and full of ideas for improvement. And then what? Sure, you can put some of these amazing PowerPoint presentations on SharePoint or some other internal shared folder. But honestly, there just isn’t much impact there. Most colleagues are buried in their own work, so to take time to read a presentation that they didn’t attend will not likely be a priority. Given that, here are some other options when it comes to sharing the thought leadership and insights you’ve experienced that may help inspire others within your organization:

  • Encourage conference attendees to share their conference learnings. For example, hold a Lunch ’n Learn or Brown Bag session—not all training needs to be formal. Let your team members share insights into the latest trends in supplier management, or the latest in best sourcing practices.
  • Derive meaningful projects and initiatives from those insights. One approach is to create a forum on your intranet to create visibility into approved and supported initiatives. You don’t want everybody to work on their pet project, but rather these initiatives should help you reach key business imperatives and procurement goals.
  • Create a discussion forum, for example on Yammer or similar corporate social media, to share conference materials, TED talks, and other thought leadership. Communities of practice (also called “birds of a feather”) can encourage informal networking and knowledge sharing of best procurement practices.

Susanne Wrage
Director, Denali Academy



Breaking Down Procurement Silos with Cross-Functional Collaboration

When it comes to driving greater value for the organization, it’s essential that procurement step up its game to become a strategic business partner, rather than being perceived as an administrative function. The best way to do this is to work together in cross-functional, collaborative teams, that leverage a variety of skillsets and expertise. Cross-functional collaboration is not something that comes easy to many procurement professionals. Individuals may not have the skillset or incentive to collaborate. For example, many procurement organizations employ engineers and technical people who may not be trained in soft skills, such as communication and collaboration. Or their goals and KPIs are so narrow that they don’t encourage reaching out to stakeholders.

So to drive change, this shift to collaboration needs to be supported at the leadership level and reflected in incentives. Good Category Management creates value above and beyond cost savings, however, most of that value creation requires working closely with stakeholders, understanding what motivates them, learning their pain points, and talking their language. This is where learning soft skills become critical to engage with stakeholders in a meaningful and productive way. So how do procurement professionals engage better with their stakeholders and get their messages across?

We recommend that they learn basic communication concepts, including hands-on exercises for written and verbal communication. Our training does not only target the “sending” party — targeting how to improve formulating your message — but also addresses the “receiving” side by covering active listening skills. Denali Academy’s curriculum specifically addressed soft skills, such as effective communications, stakeholder management, influencing techniques, change management, and team building. Click here to read more about Denali Academy’s soft skills modules.


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Serious Games–Are You Kidding?

CategoRise BoxThis might sound like an oxymoron, but it isn’t. According to Wikipedia, “serious games are simulations of real-world events or processes designed for the purpose of solving a problem. Although serious games can be entertaining, their main purpose is to train or educate users…” For our purposes, we’ve found that these “serious game” simulations provide great value in that:

  • They condense what have traditionally been long processes into a manageable amount of time. For example, Denali Academy’s category management game, CategoRise, condenses a process that usually takes 2-3 months into 45 minutes.
  • Simulations uncover the underlying patterns. They reduce “noise” and allow participants to understand the mechanics of key methodologies.
  • They don’t require knowledge, like a quiz would. Instead they test mindsets and behaviors. Training only fulfills its purpose and provides ROI, if it changes the participants’ behaviors in a consistent way. Trying out new behaviors in a safe, supported environment is an effective way of learning.
  • Games are fun and encourage interaction. This makes the content more memorable, as it creates an experience that is more likely to stay in participants’ minds.


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What Procurement Can Learn from Sales in Terms of Negotiations

Recently, we conducted a negotiation training session for a client that included Procurement participants along with their colleagues from Sales. From the start, it was clear that the session would focus on negotiation from a Procurement perspective. However, having input from Sales was invaluable¬— as they are typically the counterpart of Procurement in negotiation sessions and have often been trained in methodologies required to build and maintain stakeholder relationships. From that training session, we observed a few areas in which Procurement could learn from Sales professionals to drive greater value for the organization:

  • Sales is usually MUCH better prepared. Procurement could benefit by doing the homework, and do a better job with preparing negotiations and developing a strategy. It’s critical to set goals and have a good understanding of your BATNA (Best Alternative to the Negotiated Agreement).
  • Sales can tell a good story. Storytelling can also be an effective tool for Procurement when it comes to building relationships with stakeholders and persevering in negotiations. Salespeople are trained to look for clues and build relationships. Procurement should recognize that Sales is often trying to influence you. Know this, and be aware that it can work against you.
  • It’s important to note that negotiation is only one tool in your toolbox, and not the most powerful one in terms of value creation. In fact, it usually contributes less than 5 percent of the total value that Procurement can create. Other levers include specification management, demand management, early stakeholder involvement, along with sourcing methodologies such as cost analysis, and supply market analysis.


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Did You Know?

Trends for corporate training delivery methods for last year were as follow:

  • 47% of training hours by instructor led classroom only setting (3% increase)
  • 29.1% of training hours with blended learning methods (0.8% increase)
  • 28.5% of training hours via online or computer-based technologies (no instructor; 2.6% increase)
  • 15% of training hours via virtual classroom/ webcast only (instructor from remote location; 1% decrease)
  • 4.2% of training hours via social learning (0.9% increase)
  • 1.4% of training hours via mobile devices (0.5% decrease)


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Featured Whitepaper:

Tale of Two Companies: Delivering Bottom-Line Procurement Value

This whitepaper discusses two practical approaches our clients used when sourcing the temporary staffing category. While this area of spend may have been fully explored in previous strategic sourcing initiatives, don’t be too quick to dismiss the familiar. All too often “comfortable categories,” such as temporary staffing, deserve a second look and often offer extra saving opportunities.

Read now >




Defining Procurement’s Story to Inspire, Motivate, and Lead Change

In this Webinar, Alan Veeck, Vice President of Denali Sourcing Services is joined by author Paul Smith to discuss how storytelling can improve leadership and how it applies to helping category managers becoming more strategic.


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Denali Academy e-Learning Modules

Click here to try a sample of Denali Academy’s eLearning Modules


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Continuing Education Hours

Denali Academy training is eligible for Continuing Education Hours (CEH) for any of ISM’s certification programs, such as CPSM or CPSD. It is also eligible to earn CPP points for the American Purchasing Society’s Certified Purchasing Professional program.

Your certificate of completion can also count for 16 CEHs towards maintenance of your SPSM Certification from the Next Level Purchasing Association.


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Buzz About Denali Academy Training

“This training got our Procurement leadership team off to a great start. I hope that we’ll continue training across the category management base with a deeper cut into category management and strategic sourcing.”

Director, Strategic Sourcing