I interviewed Erwin Scholther who discussed Supply Chain Decision Making.
Please provide a brief background of yourself
Dear Dustin, Firstly I would like to thank you for reaching out ,I am glad that I can be apart of the people that had a chance to speak with you ,to be on the list with huge names of the industry I have a still… ,from my point of view short career of 7 years in procurement, 7 years but in a company that gave me an opportunity to evolvefreely, when I was 21 years old I have send my CV to this company in my home town and was contacted for interview ,originally applied for IT job I have arrived by chance to Purchasing department,(as 99% of us ), well for me as a young professional was a huge chance I did not arrive to a strict department , I have arrived to a department that was in full evolution and I had a huge chance of learning and experiencing,I have understood the consequences of my mistakes and actions the hard way , In a way I was thrown in deep water this is why I consider this 7 years of experience ,It is 7 years and not 1 year 7 times , I have evolved with this company and I was in many projects and had the chance to experiment a lot, I am currently purchasing responsible, trainer and learner ,a self-learner ,I had to overcome that I only had experience at one company ,we as purchasers are researchers now and we have to learn constantly, also I had a chance to work with people that I always had to learn from and I am of opinion that we have to make benchmarking with our suppliers too , we deal with various fields, but they are experienced in their ones so we have to take advantage of this , Also I have recently started the project of training others, I am of opinion that we have to take and give back to the world, this is why I will make a lot of Pro-bono trainings My great goal Is to change procurement, or change the BUSINESS through procurement , lot of companies have huge potential, we have to establish clear lines and to underline the importance of procurement and supply chain in every company, we have to have a seat at the TABLE especially in this financially rough times . My main field are now raw materials, packing and chemicals, but thru the years I have managed all fields including service, technical purchases and procedures. I am fortunate that I had a chance that not all of us have.
What is your experience with supply chain decision making?
Considering my background I had a lot to do with decision making , and I have struggled to find the golden path of decision-making , there were times that decisions were taken only by people above me and there were times that decisions were taken together or alone, my company Is putting accent on the personal experience in decision making , we are all responsible for our decisions ,normal within some limits, limits that again we have established together with top management based on our experience ,
Why is this important to understand?
We take decisions all the time and we have to take the good ones , all of our decisions have consequences positive -negative and maybe both , we have to take tough decisions daily , hourly some days (in procurement), all of our decisions have to be objective and have to be transparent , whenever I take a decisions I always try to see things from a distance , I always check my decisions by putting myself instead of a stranger or auditor and ask myself :is this decision the right one , can be traceable is it objective and if it was another purchaser ,the decision would be the same ? Sometimes it is tough to not be absorbed by routine, each PO is a decision, we decide the supplier and we negotiate the terms but at the end we decide if we accept them or not ,so negotiations is in the end a decision too ,but it is important to understand and always take the right decision for our company and you have to be able to explain your decision objectively even if you areawaken in the middle of the night, no doubt should be left, every option should be explored.
How can it be done more effectively?
Well I stated before, effective in my opinion is to establish some ground rules (call them approval steps, most commonly used and values) and try to make as few decisions as possible, I always remember Mark Zuckerberg and why is he always wearing the same T-shirt ...it is one decision less to take each day, little stress eliminated.
One of the important things we have to understand itsthat we all have our limits and we can find ways to evade certain decisions that may affect us but are not our responsibility, for example in supplier negotiations we all have our limits and as I use to say 80 % ofnegotiations are made before the meeting , 80 % of decisions are taken before you enter the meeting room , so why not prepare yourself , I consider a great Idea the supplier negotiation card that I think is perfect for low and mid management, Is a card that you fill with the content you need or want to negotiate , you establish the sums and conditions you want to negotiate and you can set targets and marginsthat you need to respect, before meeting you can present this to your superior and they can modify /comment and approve ,so this way you can negotiate the terms between the lines and your reasonabilityis limited, it is very stressful to make decisions that are with huge responsibility and also maybe you do not have clearance to make them , It is a great tool I recommend . For me where applicable I use Benjamin Franklyn’smethod, keep it simple keep it lean and objective I write pros and cons and in the end, I have a clear result. Also we take more complicated decisions , write them down, priorities and try to SEE the results , because decisions should be simple to take and should be easy for others to understand, make It lean if you do not have a clear decisions, ask for further info, try to reach the point everything is clear and take decisions only when you have a clear view or other approval.This I what I teach in my trainings too, decisions should be MADE simple to take.
About Erwin Scholther
Procurement professional | Procurement trainer |Future speaker | Constant learner