ISM2016 wrapped up just a few short weeks ago, but the insights gained will surely resonate into next year’s event.  The 4-day conference consisted of several presentations, panel discussions, key note speakers, and interactive dialogue from global industry leaders, and brought together an astonishing 2,370 professionals, one of the more impressive turnouts in ISM history.

With four days of unrivaled networking and educational opportunities, these are the main takeaways summarized into three categories:

Relationships: The number one takeaway and resounding theme, was “relationships.” It was stressed that in order to become a stronger business partner, and to tap into new categories, it starts and ends with building relationships with your stakeholders. An interesting strategy that was shared was to start with small (even tedious) projects for a stakeholder and over-deliver to build trust, which will eventually lead to more work with them, and then use their testimonials to help build relationships with new functional partners. In other words, procurement/sourcing requires a sales-like mentality at times!
Cost savings vs value-add: It was also fascinating to hear how many functional leaders from top companies shared how cost savings was A metric but not THE metric that was paramount in judging their team’s success. Rather, there seems to be a much stronger focus on the overall value added to cross-functional partners. This represents a shift to a newer style of thinking, and of course ties back into the “relationships” theme.
Innovation: The conference boasted tracks and speakers that represented new industries and verticals, i.e. Private Equity Leaders talking about their Procurement expectations, and also offered several roundtable discussions with CPO’s and their Direct Reports highlighting their experiences and accomplishments. Attendees were enlightened by the very best in the industry such as Alan Mullaly, and often worked collaboratively to share best practices and the latest technology in the function.