About Tony Colwell

Tony Colwell is a UK-based Executive Interim Manager & Consultant, and Director of Acuity (Consultants) Limited. A specialist in procurement & supply chain, logistics and change management, Tony is passionate about stakeholder engagement, collaboration and effective process.

How to Build a Strong Procurement Function

This blog entry is inspired by Leo King, independent journalist, who recently asked three questions and interviewed me for an article in The Times, 21 January, “Building a First-Class Procurement Function.” These are my notes in preparation for the interview, with a few additions and corrected grammar for this publication.

Q1:  What are the key factors required for a strong procurement function?  Why are these so important?

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Some cautionary advice on the use of Supply Positioning

A recent discussion with procurement consultant, Bill Young, caused us to reflect on the use of ‘supply positioning’ as a model for developing strategies to add value through procurement. We considered the possibility of positioning procurement projects rather than purchase items or supply categories. I concluded that this application had potential but also had practical difficulties. The use of supply positioning by Procurement, without the engagement of other stakeholders, is dangerous. As supply positioning is often misapplied, I thought I might share my thoughts here. Continue reading

Supplier Classification – How to show suppliers where they stand

Recently I commented on a LinkedIn discussion,  “Presently I am looking to devise a simple classification structure for my supply base – something that will allow my suppliers/providers to know where they presently stand from an engagement/expectation perspective and that shows them what they can work towards…. Does anyone have examples of such structures that they can share?”

My reply (edited): Continue reading

Can leaders dispense with collaboration?

Today, on seeing @HarvardBiz’s tweet, “We respect leaders more when they don’t need co-pilots,” I was compelled to read the corresponding article in Harvard Business Review, “Why Command-and-Control Leadership Is Here to Stay.” The article comments on the Vroom-Yetton model of leadership, which identifies five different decision-making styles, ranging from autocratic to consultative to group-based decisions. I found the tweet and headline provocative (although the article rather less so). Continue reading

Supply chain: a cross-functional collaboration… or the blinkered approach of functional silos?

A recent post in Purchasing Insight, “What can game theory teach us about Financial Supply Chain Management?” highlights the overall financial impact of paying suppliers as late as possible. The key point is that the working capital cost to supplier usually far outweighs the savings to the customer, thereby increasing the overall cost to the supply chain. The post got me thinking about a much bigger issue: how businesses manage their supply chains – a cross-functional collaboration or a collection of functional silos? Continue reading

Change Management: How to overcome stakeholders’ resistance to change

Following up on some recent tweets on employee motivation and engagement, I was reacquainted with Gleicher’s Formula for Change, published by Beckhard and Harris (also known as Beckhard and Harris’s Change Equation). Although I agreed with the formula when I first saw it several years ago, I rather dismissed it as a statement of the obvious. On reflection, it is a more powerful tool in change management than I first gave it credit. Continue reading