Best Practices from SIG University Part II: The Real Deal

by Jamie Liddell, Editor, Outsource and Co-Head of EMEA, SIG

In our second installment in the discussion on the value of education and more specifically a SIG U education, we discuss preconceived ideas and expectations. After the first class of students completed the training, SIG and Outsource’s Jamie Liddell interviewed students from Honda North America, PNM Resources and Florida Blue for candid opinions.

Preconceptions and Prejudices

Any prospective student contemplating a particular course will have preconceived ideas – however inaccurate – of that course and the institution providing it. In the case of this first cohort of students, of course, there was no existing commentary available to them from previous graduates of this specific course which could colour their expectations; nevertheless, the students could build a certain perspective on the reputation enjoyed by SIG itself – and for Tammy Way, a Sourcing Consultant for Generation at PNM Resources, this in particular gave rise to high expectations indeed: “Given SIG’s buy-side focus and collaborative knowledge sharing approach to just about everything, I fully expected the program to involve trainers from very diverse buying experiences who encouraged others to engage in discussions, share experiences and knowledge, and freely exchange tools and templates aimed at making the work a little lighter for all of us.” Thankfully, she added, “The course did not disappoint.”

Esteban Valenzuela, a project manager with Honda North America Indirect Procurement, on the other hand approached the course with minimal preconceptions. “I had a very open mind at the beginning of the class with little expectations. I understood that the coursework was still in its infancy and I was just grateful I had the opportunity to continue my learning.” While Allison Brown – a ten-year procurement and vendor management professional working for Florida Blue, the Blue Cross Blue Shield entity for the state of Florida – was, if anything, prepared to be disappointed: “Honestly I thought it would be a few CBTs (computer-based training) and a test at the end. I expected to have already known the majority of the information and wondered if this course would really be able to cover the many components of a successful procurement organization.”

The Real Thing

Three months on, and having arrived at the end of the course, how near – or how far – from these expectations had our students found to be the reality of their time at SIG University?

For Allison Brown, it was clear that the Certified Sourcing Professional program was a very long way indeed from “a few CBTs and a test at the end.” In her words, “This course really did provide the foundational information for every aspect that we coach our employees on…from the tactical components, such as contract language and how to perform an RFx, all the way to the strategic components of how to communicate with stakeholders and how to gain buy-in from the customer. For someone that knows procurement I would say that it was a great refresher and there were some helpful tips on some items I have not had in the past. There was a lot of information shared and thus a lot of information to absorb.” In what represents a glowing endorsement of the scope of the course, she concluded: “After taking the course I recommended to our leadership that if we have someone start our organization with little to no procurement experience they go through this course to gain foundational knowledge on all of the elements.”

For Tammy Way, initially, “The overall volume of materials weekly was a little overwhelming…however, overall it was an enriching experience that allowed me to think about different approaches to analysing opportunities and solving problems. Often, the material was a simple review of basic theory and concepts–many of which I had foolishly failed to implement into my daily work routine. The courses were a great reminder of the value of getting ‘back to basics’ and to stop trying to ‘reinvent the wheel.’ The instructors and facilitators were wonderful, responsive, clear and engaging. The audio presentations are short and cohesive. The platform is easy to use and access. The most successful aspects of the program are certainly the delivery of large volumes of information over a short time in a concise, well-organized, and meaningful way. It felt like a mini MBA with a supply chain focus was condensed into only those things that were more significant in the daily tasks of a working professional: all the fill, none of the fluff.”

Esteban Valenzuela, too, was “pleasantly surprised by breadth of the coursework…I felt that the range of topics contributed to the value of the course and brought to light new areas I had not explored. Additionally, the organization’s enthusiasm for feedback and user recommendations, along with speed to implementation really impressed me.”

For more information or to enroll in the third semester, click here.

Jamie Liddell is the Co-Head of SIG EMEA and Editor of Outsource, the leading global publication for the outsourcing, business services and business transformation space. During his five years at the helm, Outsource has grown from a compact UK-centric quarterly print magazine into a multi-faceted, globally facing content and event brand, delivering high-quality, high-level thought leadership to senior professionals the world over. Holding a Masters degree (in English) from the University of Cambridge, Jamie lives in London and is a proud parent, a published poet, and a terrible (if enthusiastic) singer.