Most people would agree that the business world has been constantly changing…and changing fast!

One merely needs to think of the hottest topics in the business world that weren’t mentioned much five years ago:  trade wars, rampant sexual misconduct accusations affecting the most visible of business moguls, social justice, the gig economy and more.

These things aren’t just technology evolutions.  They are not representative of a “new model of an existing technology,” like the iPhone XS versus the iPhone X.  They are representative of dramatic changes in the manner in which business is conducted.

With major changes to the way business is conducted, organizations are forced to consciously take actions that shape or reshape their cultures.  Just think about the sexual misconduct issues alone.  Their existence is representative of a corporate culture that – maybe didn’t encourage harassment, but – clearly didn’t do enough to prevent it.  So, concrete steps have to be taken to change the culture measurably.

With the outsourcing trend that caught fire nearly 20 years ago and the gig economy trend that became a thing around a half a decade ago, organizations are having many business tasks performed well outside of corporate headquarters.  That can make it difficult to ensure that the corporate culture is as integral a part of the organization’s product or service delivery as it should be.

What goes on within your suppliers’ span of control isn’t just supplier behavior.  It’s behavior within your organization’s supply chain.  Therefore, as a procurement leader, behavior by suppliers is your responsibility to a large extent.

In previous years, the scope of procurement may have been defined as contracting for goods and services, ensuring acceptable supplier performance, and ensuring that suppliers were paid.  That’s not enough today.

Today, procurement leaders must impart the organization’s culture to suppliers to ensure they are behaving as if they were employees within the four walls of the buying organization’s corporate headquarters.  Is it easy?  No.

Thinking of a similar situation, it’s not as easy to impart corporate culture to telecommuter employees as it is to employees that work at corporate headquarters.  Joined in a physical space, employees can observe model behavior from leaders, be caught in exemplary and correction-worthy behavior in real-time, and be exposed to tangible reminders of what the organization’s values are.

And just as it is more difficult to impart corporate culture to telecommuters, it is difficult to impart corporate culture to suppliers.  But, just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done.

It should.

It is one of today’s business world’s new roles for the ever-expanding procurement function.


Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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