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Is your procurement prepared for the winter?

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Lessons supply chain can learn from the show Game of Thrones

The biggest lesson the world of Game of Thrones teaches us is that great nations are not formed because they have the largest armies or resources. More often than not these armies are killed and their resources destroyed when the leader shows lack of proper management.

People and process management is the key to building a successful supply chain. There could be a few lessons one can learn from the 7 seasons that have been aired till now.

Beware of your resources

The lack and quest for resources are mostly the reasons why great battles take place. In this universe the show focuses so much on the battle itself, that the search for the resource part is mostly overshadowed.

However, in season 1 when we had Ned Stark come to King’s Landing,  he figures the crown is almost 6million gold dragons in debt, half of it was to the Lannisters the rest of it to the Iron Bank. Since Westeros has no bank of its own, the Iron Bank could overthrow rulers in case they are unable to pay their debt. This was a very serious situation for the crown, and the king was almost ignorant to this.

In the present procurement world, one has to be very mindful of their spending, since corporate fraud, invisible spend, manual mistakes are rather common problems in procurement. One has to be aware of where the money is coming from and where it is finally going.

Staying oblivious to things around you

A large part of the series has gone on making the Westeros people believe that the Dragons exist and that they have come back because of Daenerys Targaryen. The 3 dragons that Daenerys has are capable of burning cities and bringing her back in power, but for the most of the series people ignored their existence, and now that Daenerys is back with her army in Westeros, most people are completely unprepared to fight the Dragons.

Now let’s compare these dragons to technology, in the procurement world there is technology available to bring transparency into spend management, make buyer-supplier relationship more collaborative, have a completely automated eSourcing process, basically eradicate any kind of manual labor from the system. Staying oblivious to these technologies can make your organisation tumble its growth.  Predicting and embracing high-end best in class procurement solutions will mark the rise of organisations.

Collaboration is the way to move forward

Throughout the series, we have seen how different houses have collaborated with each other to maintain, defend or increase their power. During Robert’s rebellion House Stark, House Baratheon and House Arryn fought together to overthrow the mad king Arrys Targaryen. House Lannister betrayed House Targaryen to bring peace into the system. Later Robert Baratheon, who won the rebellion and became king, had to marry Cersei Lannister because House Baratheon had no resource to run the country and House Lannister was the one with all the gold. Through this collaboration, King Robert found the resources to run the country. Even later into the series, we have seen many houses leaving and taking different sides for their own personal agendas to stay in power.

In procurement world, every organisation has many stakeholders, and it is necessary to maintain an effective relationship with the vendors/ suppliers, customers and with employees. Supplier management has become a topic of major consideration over the years because maintaining strong supplier relationship can not only deliver major business impact it can also give you a competitive advantage. Collaboration can be turned into a core competency, and that is a skill every procurement organisation must learn from “Game of Thrones”.

The Unknown

Have you ever thought of the indirect spend in your organisation, on which you have no control because you lack transparency and hence have zero clues about it? Stuff like this can mitigate organisational risk, without your knowledge you might walk into a pile of debt before you even realise it.

Just like in the series, for last 6 seasons, there is a full grown army of White walkers approaching beyond the wall, and the entire Westeros has no clue about it. It is possibly the biggest threat the entire continent has ever faced, but even now a part of them are unaware and hence have no preparation on how to tackle the threat. Going by the present scenario, there is every possibility for the dead to win this giant war.

The enterprises which remain unaware of their procurement functions and have no visibility into the system have all the chance of extinction in the near future.

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