By Ronald Hedley

It is really very simple. In order to be successful in virtually any endeavor, supply chain or otherwise, one must collaborate. The better the collaboration, the more success will be had.

In his Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management article entitled “The Science Behind the Growing Importance of Collaboration,” author Benjamin F. Jones explained why collaboration matters more today than ever. “Our individualized knowledge is becoming more and more specialized. There is more and more to know in the world, and you can only have so much in your head, so the share of stuff you know as an individual is declining in any field.”

What is the effect? Jones continued, “This increasing specialization of skills means that you need bigger and bigger groups, with more and more specialists, in order to be successful. Over time, this is an ongoing, never-ending phenomenon of increased specialization, which is ever increasing the demand for collaboration.”

Jones offered this advice: “Make space for people to meet potential collaborators they may not otherwise run into.”

Enter Procurement Foundry: the
brainchild of Michael Cadieux

Cadieux launched Procurement Foundry in June 2019. He explained why he chose the name. “A foundry is where metal is forged. I thought it would be cool to have that connotation. This is where collaborations are made. This is where networking is forged. This is the new beginning.”

Cadieux is proud of his new community, of which he said, “There is nothing like Procurement Foundry out there in the market today that focuses strictly on practitioners. We are a real-time collaboration community. We are a fully vetted community, where not everybody can get in. For me, foundry means building something from scratch. The name is a good fit for my vision.”

There is nothing like Procurement Foundry out there in the market today that focuses strictly on practitioners. We are a real-time collaboration.

The following question and answer session should give the reader a deeper understanding of Procurement Foundry, Cadieux’s realized dream for a “safe haven” where procurement people can gather, learn, share and grow:

Hedley: Who is your typical Procurement Foundry member?

Cadieux: People who are sincere about their careers and who are not promoting something else. They are practitioners who are looking to find like-minded practitioners to collaborate, communicate, and network with.

Hedley: Why are members vetted?

Cadieux: I have a lot of consultants and sales side folks who want to gain access to the community. I don’t let them in because I know that once they are in, they are going to try to sell consultancy services to the practitioners. The practitioners get enough of that on all the other digital access points. They are getting crushed with sale-side stuff.

Hedley: How did you know to establish a vetting process?

Cadieux: From experience. My background is procurement in advertising and marketing firms, I am very familiar with link dumping ads, placement ads, email marketing strategies and social media strategies. My goal was to find a place, to create a place where I could have a conversation with people that was outside of all that and assure members are who they say they are.

Hedley: What is expected of Foundry members?

Cadieux: The only expectation I have is that they join the conversation. Someone may have a question about a problem that they are facing right now. Someone may be new to leadership and need a 90-day plan to build out a procurement team. The conversation can simply be collaborating with others. Not only do members have the ability to engage in topic-based communication channels, they also have the ability to direct message each other and to have private conversations.

Hedley: What can members expect from Procurement Foundry?

Cadieux: Members are using Procurement Foundry as a real-time indicator for what they should be focusing on in the market. Examples include how important is sustainable sourcing? Or, is deploying ‘bots to reconcile invoices an important topic? Some people are coming in strictly for industry knowledge. Some are coming in for networking. Some are not ready to engage and are just lurking. The more people who are engaged in Procurement Foundry, the more sets of eyes are out there to potentially answer members’ questions when you have a difficult question to ask.

Hedley: What else can a procurement professional gain by joining Procurement Foundry?

Cadieux: You can find a community of like-minded people. I think you can find answers to questions that are difficult to find, without paying any money for it. There are a lot of consulting firms charging for answers they got from talking to your peers. Now our members can do that without the fees.

Not only do members have the ability to engage in topic-based communication channels, they also have the ability to direct message each other and to have private conversations.

Vignette de Cadieux #1

A member recently pulled me aside at a meet-up event and told me, “Listen, I don’t know if you’re going to monetize this thing or not, but I just want to let you know, I saved a million dollars on a contract negotiation last week in less than 24 hours, based on some connections and answers I got inside of Procurement Foundry. I saved a million dollars in less than 24 hours and my consulting company representative hasn’t even called me back yet.”

Our member had requested that an analyst from his consulting firm call him to talk about his needs. While waiting for a response, he got into Procurement Foundry, and posted a message stating, ‘Hey, I’ve got a problem with this negotiation, who can help?’ He got six answers in the specific channel. He then received a call from one of our members. They talked about a negotiations strategy, which resulted in a million-dollar savings on a ten-million-dollar deal. All that was done before his consulting firm called him back.”

Hedley: Are college students part of your community?

Cadieux: Yes. We’re reaching out to four-year accredited universities to create educational alliances. We believe we can help universities promote their programs and, at the same time, help their undergraduates get internships and mentors in the industry. I was on the phone this morning with a couple of MBA students from Rutgers University, who are Procurement Foundry members. They are in the supply chain management school, and they’re coming into our industry completely green. They don’t have jobs yet, but in the Procurement Foundry they get a front row seat to the entire industry.

We’re reaching out to four-year accredited universities to create educational alliances.

Vignette de Cadieux #2

A mentor reached out to me recently. He told me, “Listen, these mentor programs are a two-way street. It’s not just me mentoring a kid, this kid is telling me about some of the more emerging technologies that are available. These kids have the time and desire to mine things like the Procurement Foundry, or a really good repository of data, or new vendors that play in this space, or a new tax strategy.” Practitioners don’t have the time to be out there doing that every day. A lot of mentors are a decade or two into their career, and they must find a way to stay relevant. It really is a two-way street.

Hedley: Are Foundry members finding employment?

Cadieux: I’m sure they are. Recently someone said they are posting all new openings in Procurement Foundry due to the caliber of the members.

Vignette de Cadieux #3

We did a compensation and salary survey back in the May time frame. I released the survey out to the members. If you’re a member, you get a 42-page presentation on the salary and compensation survey results. I got feedback from a woman this week, who told me that she was able to negotiate a 30% pay raise by moving to another company. She got stock options that she never had before, and she increased her annual bonus by 50%, all through the compensation and salary survey that we put together. She located, targeted, and landed a job in the company that she wanted through connections in Procurement Foundry.

Hedley: There seems to be a lot of moving parts. Is Procurement Foundry running smoothly?

Cadieux: Yes. We have a 3-tiered content strategy. The collaboration between all our members is the first tier, our foundation. The second layer up is what we call the “Original Content Series.” The “original content” is any article, AMA, or Webinar that we create. Soon, we’re going to have guest writers be content contributors. CPOs and industry thought leaders will write articles specifically for Procurement Foundry. That will improve our content base and build the writers’ brands as well. The third tier of the content is what we call “Squad
Up Events.”

Procurement Foundry is a way for me to give something back to the industry.

Vignette de Cadieux #4

On Monday, we had a Squad Up Event in one of the collaboration channels. We had a virtual dial-in brown bag lunch on Squad Up associated with some cost increases in a major software publisher. One of the members had just gone through the renewal and had seen some significant licensing increases and wanted to educate the rest of the members about it. This person put together 4-5 quick slides, opened a Zoom channel on a Monday at 12 o’clock, and had 30 people log in to listen to him. We recorded the session, and now it’s sitting in that channel for everyone else to listen to. And it’s free.

Vignette de Cadieux #5

I used to go to the conferences and collect business cards. On the plane ride home, I’d say to myself, “I’m going
to reach out to these people and talk to them.” When I got home, I would have 300 emails, and I’d completely forgotten about the contacts I was going to make.

Hedley: What have you gained personally from founding and running Procurement Foundry?

Cadieux: Empathy for what procurement people struggle with, and respect for their willingness to help peers. It’s inspiring. It pushes me to grow Procurement Foundry every day now. I’ve been in this industry for a couple decades, and it has provided me with a wonderful life. It really started off as a way to give something back for all the help I received, and now I’m all about adding value to our members.

Final Thoughts

With Procurement Foundry, Cadieux has created a safe space where procurement collaborators can meet, a space where access to information is the foundation for success. Cadieux concluded, “I think the backbone of any good sourcing and procurement exercise is knowledge.”