“Procurement, acquiring goods and services, touches every single aspect of personal and business life.”
Although it wasn’t that long ago that procurement was seen as a back office transactional function, for Jenti Vandertuig, its unsung potential has always been strategic impact.
“It’s a massive business driver,” says Vandertuig who recently retired from a 17-year stint as head of procurement for the County of Santa Clara. There, she oversaw an annual budget of more than $2.5 billion.
Vandertuig, our newest addition to the Procurement and Supply Chain Management certificate program instructional team, is teaching Effective Procurement Strategies, one of the core courses in the certificate program.
She recognized procurement and supply chain management as a true business driver long before The Wall Street Journal heralded supply chain management as “The Hot New M.B.A” six years ago.
“Procurement, acquiring goods and services, touches every single aspect of personal and business life,” she says.
The professionalism of procurement
The internet, the global economy, as well as localization and sustainability commitments have all added complexity to the role. It requires that professionals managing an organization’s supplies, goods, and services develop a higher level of business acumen.
In her recent former position, Vandertuig held almost daily trainings to help her team grow their skills, learn the latest policies, rules, and regulations as well as what it takes to negotiate effectively.
“Being smart and being able to procure goods and services effectively builds a bottom line success into the company,” she says. “Procurement means cost savings.”
In this Effective procurement Strategies, she is laying a similar foundation of knowledge.
“I’m pretty excited to be teaching the basics,” says Vandertuig. “When you’re laying the foundation for a career, you want to get the fundamentals clear.”
She traces the shift to the dotcom bust in the early 2000s. Executives were working to sustain operations by looking within and began really seeing how effective procurement practices were more than cost savers; they were value drivers. They began asking: how can you provide value-added services?
“They began to see it not just as a control function, but as a service function with a lot of capabilities as a service provider that can add value to the operations,” she says. “Today’s supply chain manager needs to have a cohesive and comprehensive understanding of how to be involved in customer success.”
Growing her vision
At the county, where she put together an unprecedented procurement team that became one of the most important organizations in the county, she re-invented county processes and systems to make better use of taxpayer dollars.
She implemented a digital vision that transitioned the county from manual paper-based processes to automated cloud-based solutions, developing end-to-end processes and a user interface that optimized a procure-to-pay process. She focused on compliance, reduced cycle time, cost savings, and improved client experience.
Vandertuig led the county’s procurement department through continuous innovation. She grew her team from 24 to 74 and saved the county more than $250 million.
“I was able to hire and train people, add value during times of economic crisis, and then to strike at the right time.”
Skills to drive business value
At the end of the day, there are specific skills that drive business value:
- Consolidation of services
- Effective customer service
- Reduction in cost
- Performance management
- Utilizing latent talent
- Bench strength—the most important of all—to advance other people’s knowledge to become linchpins in the profession
Students discussing many of these issues in her course, Effective Procurement Strategies.
JENTI VANDERTUIG, BA, a highly sought-after procurement expert and speaker, served as chief procurement officer for the County of Santa Clara for 17 years overseeing a $2.5 billion annual budget. As CPO, she steered one of the largest government procurement divisions in the region into a strategic and value-added operation and implemented a successful digital initiative that automated processes. Previously she headed up e-procurement initiatives for the City of Sunnyvale, streamlining processes that resulted in a savings of $900,000. Recent professional speaking engagements include the Technology Procurement Symposium in Washington D.C., the Public Procurement Technology Symposium in October 2017, and the Women in Leadership or “Leading Change and Diversity in Procurement” at SAP Ariba Live 2017. She has a bachelor’s degree from Madras University in India and has completed leadership training programs from Stanford Center for Professional Development and Harvard Kennedy School, Executive Education.