Inkoop in ketenperspectief (2009)

Het wordt druk in de boardroom: een denkleiding voor inkopers

Inkoop heeft binnen organisaties de laatste decennia veel bereikt. Volgens de auteur van het boek ‘Inkoop, een nieuw paradigma’, Gerco Rietveld, marcheert inkoop van backroom naar boardroom. Maar de marsroute in de goede richting kan niet worden afgemaakt omdat er sprake is van een glazen plafond, inkoop wordt door de bestuurders niet als een serieuze gesprekspartner gezien. Rietveld laat het in dit boek niet zitten bij een analyse maar komt ook met een oplossing.

Wie is onze hopman in het slechten van het glazen plafond dan wel? Gerco Rietveld heeft een indrukwekkende carriere van 35 jaar in en rond de inkoop in diverse rollen en functies achter de rug. Rietveld eet en drinkt inkoop en hoewel ik niet eerder van hem had gehoord (zegt vooral iets over mij) zet ik hem hier maar weg als: we hebben hier niet te maken met de eerste de beste, Rietveld herken ik in dit boek als een helder en strategisch denker die zowel veel kennis heeft van de literatuur als van de rauwe praktijk van alledag, dus ‘mark his words’. Maar voor we tot overhaaste conclusies overgaan, laten we zijn redenering eens volgen.

Inkoop heeft zoals gezegd een groei doorgemaakt, maar vooral in de uitwerking langs de operationele lijnen. Inkoop is binnen grote organisaties een aparte afdeling geworden en, historisch verklaarbaar, inkoop staat gelijk aan besparen van kosten. Inkopers hebben dit imago deels ook aan zichzelf te danken: het zijn doeners eerder dan denkers, ze stellen de vraag ‘wat gaan we doen’ eerder dan ‘wat willen we bereiken’ en het zijn dienstverleners eerder dan leiders. Logisch dat inkopers dan graag voor bestuurders werken en steeds willen laten zien hoeveel ze nu weer bespaard hebben. Inkoop kan pas veranderen als de inkopers (als beroepsgroep, als soort) veranderen.

Waarom moet inkoop eigenlijk veranderen? Niet per se om in de boardroom te komen (daarover later meer). Om dat te snappen moeten we terug naar het oermodel van ondernemen. Dat bestaat uit slechts drie stappen: we kopen, we produceren, we verkopen. Een jonge succesvolle ondernemer snapt dat inkoop geen afdeling is maar een cruciaal onderdeel of functie van zijn bedrijf. Te prijzen in Rietveld is dat hij steeds terug gaat naar de basis en alles in heldere termen uitlegt (Rietveld beweert ergens dat mensen het vermogen hebben om zaken ingewikkeld te maken en heeft zijn vermogen wat dit betreft dus op een laag pitje gezet). We maken het oermodel een stapje ingewikkelder (daar gaan we al!), we gaan over op het denken vanuit ketens, ketens waarin waarde wordt gecreeerd van grondstof tot behoeftebevrediging van de consument. Eigenlijk kan de redenering van Rietveld aan de hand van dit schema (zie tekening uit boek) in drie stellingen worden samengevat:

    1.Een business-model draait om het creeren van waarde (dus niet om het minimaliseren van kosten of het maximaliseren van omzet).
    2.Het creeren van waarde gebeurt in ketens van toeleveranciers en afnemers.
    3.Vanuit onze organisatie (‘ons perspectief’) is er geen reden stroomafwaarts anders te denken dan stroomopwaarts. De redenering is spiegelbeeldig: strategisch moet je met je toeleveranciers net zo omgaan als met je afnemers of klanten.

De conclusies voor inkoop volgen hier rechtstreeks uit. Inkoop moet ophouden met kosten besparen. Het gaat om het creeren van waarde voor de business, om ‘business-gedreven inkoop’. Steeds moet inkoop de vraag beantwoorden wat richting haar toeleveranciers nodig is om de organisatie te helpen haar gestelde doelen beter of sneller te bereiken. In een keten maken leveranciers evengoed onderdeel uit van het business-model als je klanten. Het vermogen om samen met je toeleveranciers waarde te creeren geeft het bedrijf en de keten een onderscheidend voordeel. Bij het doorbreken van het glazen plafond gaat het niet langer om het uitknijpen van je leveranciers, inkoop relaties zijn niet langer competitief en steeds wisselend van aard maar cooperatief en langdurig. Inkoop moet haar eigen leveranciers kiezen en de de door haar gekozen strategische leveranciers verleiden tot een alliantie (ik had het al over het spiegelen van inkoop aan verkoop, vandaar de term ‘reversed marketing’).

Natuurlijk kun je dit niet zomaar stellen maar moet je het ook onderbouwen, liefst door met cijfers te laten zien dat het besparen van kosten per saldo niet leidt tot meer waarde, winst of hoe je je doelen ook maar hebt geformuleerd. Rietveld slaagt daar wat mij betreft prima in en structureert zijn boek met een eigen framework (zie bijgaand figuur uit boek). De middelste pilaar (de zogenaamde ‘backbone’) is hier leidend en verbindt (‘lijnt uit’) de strategie met de tactiek met de operatie van inkoop. Onderweg worden langs de lijnen van dit framework vele modellen en sjablonen besproken die de inkoper helpen zijn glazen plafond te doorbreken en waarde te gaan toevoegen.

Maar er is nog een lange weg te gaan, er zijn hobbels te nemen. Voorwaarde voor dit hele betoog is dat het bestuur van deze organisatie zijn strategische huiswerk goed heeft gedaan. En Rietveld laat zich in dit boek tussen de regels door regelmatig ontvallen dat hij ook hier zijn twijfels heeft. Bestuurders zijn zelf lang niet altijd bezig met het onderscheidend vermogen van hun organisatie, maar met producten, markten, marges en het maken van ‘interessante deals’. En ze kijken vooral naar financiele cijfers (de outputs) en minder naar cijfers die direct relateren aan hun business-doelstellingen (de outcomes). Oftewel: inkopers worden al niet serieus genomen door bestuurders, maar nu moeten ze ook nog eens gaan uitleggen dat ze niet langer bestaan om kosten te besparen aan een gehoor dat vooral kosten wil besparen. En dan nog zo’n hobbel die hier mee te maken heeft: Rietveld houdt een terecht pleidooi dat het bij waardecreatie niet gaat om kosten of omzet of zelfs winst, het gaat om vrije kasstromen die vanaf heden tot in de toekomst gegenereerd kunnen worden (in vaktermen: discounted cashflow DCF of netto contante waarde NCW). Rietveld laat zich ergens ontvallen dat bestuurders eerder gaan voor ‘cash is king’ dan voor DCF of NCW. In andere woorden: er is hier een conflict tussen korte en langere termijn met een ingebouwde bias van bestuurders om te gaan voor het korte termijn oppoetsen van de verkeerde cijfers met de verkeerde motieven.

Ik heb eigenlijk geen kritiek op dit boek, het is gewoon een must voor inkopers dit boek te bestuderen, hier is een man met een missie, met een visie, met een strategie en met een tactiek (geheel volgens de eigen opzet, the man walks his talk) en dan ook nog in duidelijke taal uitgelegd. Maar als ik dan een puntje moet noemen dan is het dit conflict bij bestuurders tussen korte en lange termijn. Gelooft Rietveld dat de marktwerking sterk genoeg is om dit probleem uit de wereld te helpen? Komen de strategen vanzelf bovenop de stapel te liggen? Rietveld laat overtuigend zien dat het verlengen van de betalingstermijn richting je toeleveranciers een niet ethische truc is die eenmalig de cijfers oppoetst. Met beschadiging van vertrouwen als gevolg, daarom niet duurzaam en aantoonbaar vernietiging van waarde in de keten. Maar kijk eens om je heen, het gebeurt weer volop. Zoals Rietveld zelf al zegt: ‘boardroom alignment’ is geen ‘strategic alignment’.

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