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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

As any “true love” knows, the Twelve Days of Christmas can be a nightmare for the Professional Buyer. But companies which are connected to Business Networks should have an easier time of it this year.

On the First Day, already we see that the requestor has tried to combine two different commodities together, when they obviously come from different suppliers.  The Partridge and Pear Tree need to be split into two separate lines. A Procurement solution can allow bundling and un-bundling, so that the livestock and horticultural components can be separated.

The Pear Tree should be done as a spot, or off-contract buy. This uses an extended network of suppliers or aggregators, as pear trees are unlikely to be a strategically managed category.  Also, when I enter the fact that I am buying a Pear Tree, a network-based solution using Big Data analytics to tell me “Other people who bought this item, are also buying this: 1 Partridge.”


On the Second through the Fourth Days we are acquiring birds: in fact French Hens, Calling Birds, Turtle Doves. We should construct a multi-line RFP, with the specified quantities and delivery dates and publish this on a Business Network.


Pleasingly, this gives a rare opportunity to use the first UNSPSC code 10 (“Live animals”). We can use a Network Discovery service to reach out to avian suppliers who meet our certification requirements.


The request for five Gold Rings is more problematic since the price of gold is likely to fluctuate over the period: so the supplier should consider index-linking their price to the London Metal Exchange spot price. This is a an example of a Network of Networks, allowing you to reach out to a different Network to set up a hedging strategy, to reduce exposure.


On the Sixth and Seventh Days we need yet more birds, but this time we need services, not goods . Both the Swans and the Geese are examples of Complex Services and they should have performance-based contracts to hold the supplier accountable if they do not “a-lay”, or “a-swim up” to the expected standard. The contracts can be negotiated on the Network, and the supplier can review and monitor the laying and swimming KPIs agreed upon.


On the Eighth and Ninth Days we are finally finished with birds and are moving into other Labour-based contracts. For this we will need a network based contingent labour tool from Fieldglass. It is possible that the Ladies could also be encouraged to double up as Maids since the “a-milking” is done in the morning and the dancing is done in evening. It might be worth doing a CV search on the Network for Dairy Workers with appropriate Ballroom skills. The good news is that these enterprises are likely to be women-owned, so this will increase our supplier diversity.


However, employing Maids gives rise to the possibility of under-age labour, so we will need to review our suppliers for Child Labour violations: and there's a Network for that too. Ariba is proud to have a partnership with anti-Slavery NGO Made in a Free World. We can be sure that our Maids are well looked after.


A total of 21 Pipers and Drummers seems a little excessive. As Purchasing Agents know, often requesters have little idea of the quantities needed when a request is placed. We could suggest that a smaller number could be sourced initially, and the quantities increase later in the contract. The old Proverb says that you "must pay the piper", and there's a Network for that too, a partnership with Discover allows payment to occur directly.


Twelve Lords-a-Leaping is probably the most challenging line item on this requisition. Lords can only be sourced from the UK, and are therefore subject to EU labour regulations regarding the amount of leaping allowed per week. In addition, with leaping not being covered by our workers comp insurance, a review of the suppliers’ safety certificate is suggested. Good news is that Network Solutions allow suppliers such as the House of Lords to specify their certifications. The Lords will be required to travel from the Palace of Westminster to our facility, and will want to choose their own travel, being careful to make sure their wigs and coronets are looked after. Good news is that the Concur network allows their Lordships to book their travel simply, and compliant to our travel policy.


Happy Christmas,