7 Reasons Why WFH Is So Damn Difficult Right Now

WFH can be a struggle! So what can you do about it?


Even experienced WFHers are struggling. So why can’t you get anything done?

And what can you do about it?

1. TOO MUCH ANXIETY:

Stress and worry makes it harder to concentrate because you don’t have headspace for anything else.

TIPS:

  • Switch off the constant Covid-19 newsfeeds – you need a mental break or you risk having a mental breakdown.
  • Set yourself clear deadlines to achieve specific small targets in a short burst of time. So, 1 hour to finish a pitch. This will help you focus on one task at a time. Don’t look too far ahead – nobody knows when this will end. Just plan a day and or a week at a time. You cannot control the coronavirus, so focus on what you can control.
  • Every time you achieve a small goal you will boost your dopamine levels (the reward centre of your brain). So, make sure you have plenty of them in a day.
  • Combine this with regular exercise to reduce your cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

2. A LACK OF ROUTINE:

Without the daily rhythm of the commute, lunch breaks, meetings and an evening spent winding down, you might feel lost.

TIPS:

  • Ever heard that saying 90% of what we do is habit? Well, we are creatures of habit…you just need to create new ones. Get up at the same time each day, shower and dress, “go” to your workspace, plan your day – including your breaks – and you will put yourself into work mode.
  • Plan your downtime too – it will give you something to look forward to. For example, at 5pm I will switch off my computer and sit on the balcony/decking/lawn and have a nice cool drink while chatting to friends on the phone. A clear differentiation between work and rest, will enable you to ‘get away’ from work even if you are still in the same physical space.

3. FEELING ISOLATED:

If you are used to a busy office, constant interaction with colleagues and clients, demanding deadlines and a mountain of things to do, sitting at home in isolation can leave you feeling flat.

TIPS:

  • Recreate the office vibe at home. You and your colleagues can use apps like HouseParty or Microsoft Teams so you can all see each other during office hours – and get input from the team (remember to mute your voice if you don’t want everyone to hear everything going on in your home). Or Skype or WhatsApp so you can “see” people and work collaboratively.
  • Work is not just about work – for most people it’s also about socialising. Recreate Friday night drinks on HouseParty or have a virtual lunch break each day when you sit and eat or snack while chatting.
  • Also boost your network – sharing with others is key. Procurious has a great feed that you can follow either online or on twitter. The added bonus is that you will link to more people and that could lead to more opportunities or great ideas for doing things differently.

4. TOO MANY DISTRACTIONS:

While some are struggling to stay focused because their home is just too quiet, for others the opposite is true. Noisy children, several TVs all blaring at once from different rooms or flatmates/partners who want to chat all day, make it impossible to achieve anything.

TIPS:

  • Have you have spotted people conducting conference calls in their cars while still parked on the driveway?  It’s probably the only quiet place they can find during lockdown. Do the same, find a quieter space… even if it is the car/shed/basement.
  • If you can, agree a “quiet” time for you to get work done. Also, consider when you do tasks that require concentration – for example, do your report writing in the early hours or later at night.
  • Either invest in noise-cancelling headphones or listen to music on your earbuds to drown out background noise.

5. YOUR TECH IS NOT UP TO IT:

This is a difficult one to deal with – while tech stores might not be open, you can order plenty online. However, there’s probably very little you can do right now to upgrade your internet connection. This can not only be frustrating but leave you feeling that you just can’t get anything done.

TIPS:

  • Keep your work tech for work – if you are spending your day laughing at silly memes or watching funny videos, you might (inadvertently) download a virus or click on a link that gets you hacked.
  • Ask your employer – can someone send a laptop to your home? Or can you be provided with remote access to office servers?
  • Restrict your household’s use of the internet during your peak working hours – so that your internet access does not lag (or lag too much).

6. YOU DON’T SEE THE POINT:

You might not have a job next week or next month and you could fall sick and end up on a ventilator. So, completing a project or meeting a deadline might not seem worthwhile.

TIPS:

  • Focus your energy on doing something positive. Set yourself some interesting, challenging and achievable goals. Do a 75-hour coding course, build a personal website or even KonMari your house…anything that will give you a sense of achievement and purpose. It’s highly motivating, so try it.
  • If your job is under threat, online learning is a must. Many courses are free and you might have plenty of free time to complete them. Pick courses that lead to recognised qualifications – the ones in demand by employers.

7. YOU HAVEN’T GOT ENOUGH/ANY WORK:

This is almost worse than having too much work. You might find that it takes you all day to complete what you used to achieve in a few hours. Or you are forced into job creation mode – trying to come up with useful things to do from clearing out your inbox to updating your online profiles. Without a little bit of adrenalin pumping through your veins you feel like you are just plodding.

TIPS:

  • Take on a few extra commitments: Volunteer in the community – it will force you to complete your work more quickly. Or set yourself a home fitness challenge. If you are a bit of a deadline junkie, it will give you the motivation to get your work out of the way.
  • Relish this time – in a few months, you may be firefighting at work to get things up and running and might look back on this time and wonder why you were stressed about not getting enough done. Perhaps we should all learn to enjoy living at a less frantic pace.

Want to share WFH tips and tricks with other procurement & supply chain professionals around the world? Join our Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group and connect with professionals all around the world in the same position as you.

Webiquette: Webcam Woes Procurement Professionals Must Avoid

8 simple steps for improving your webiquette while working from home


Washing drying on a radiator, all that junk you thought was hidden away on top of the wardrobe and the unmade bed in the background… all within screen shot. Yes, your webcam will show it all! Not very professional, is it?

While the hashtag of webcam #covidiots is going viral online, the chances are that you too are guilty of revealing more than you realise when you hold your virtual meetings with colleagues and co-workers, clients and customers

It’s not something new (check out this BBC TV interview from a few years back which went viral).

Judging from some of the experts broadcasting live to the world during this COVID crisis, many pundits are still getting it wrong.

Is it just me, or do you too get distracted by a crazy pattern on their curtains, the peeling wallpaper, strange colour scheme or whatever else these talking heads have in the background? I love looking at their books (I’ve read that too), their DVDs (who’d have thought they were a sci-fi fan?) and critically judging their taste in home décor. Yet I should be listening to what they are saying!

It’s also incredibly irritating to hear their phone pinging constantly (presumably their friends WhatsApping them to say “I can see you on TV”).

So how do you get your screen performance right?

STEP 1: LINE QUALITY IS EVERYTHING

If you keep cutting out, nobody can hear you etc. it’s not going to work. If this is an issue, when you have important meetings switch off everything else connected to your internet router.

STEP 2: WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?

Dress for the office – it will put you in the right frame of mind to talk business.

Don’t forget basic personal hygiene too. Wash your hair, shave/make-up (which ever is appropriate) and check your top is clean (yes marks show up on webcams). You don’t have to wear a suit and tie – something suitable for dress-down Friday is fine.

STEP 3: WHAT’S IN THE BACKGROUND?

The easiest way to get round piles of washing and stacks of junk is to blur the background something that’s easy with Microsoft Teams and Skype etc.  For example, for Skype simply hover over the video button and select “Blur my background”. Or why not chose a virtual background feature during your Zoom Meeting – a forest perhaps or maybe an image of busy office? You probably don’t have a green screen at home (for that TV look) but will need uniform lighting for Zoom to detect the difference between you and your background.

Alternatively “stage” a background –  scholarly tomes and framed academic certificates (to make you appear intellectual), an electric guitar and framed vinyl album covers (to give the impression that you are a serious muso) or posters from art exhibitions and museums (who knew you were such a culture vulture?).

STEP 4: GET YOUR POSITIONING RIGHT

If you are looking down at your laptop it’s not only incredibly unflattering, you will find it harder to have a natural conversation. So put your laptop or screen up higher so you are looking straight into the camera.

Think about lighting too. A bright overhead light might cast a shadow over your face and the same applies to side lighting. Just watch the pundits on TV… often the light colour is all wrong and they appear either washed out or slightly yellow. So you might want to experiment with different light bulbs.

Also make sure you are comfortable. Constantly fidgeting is distracting. You need to be sitting up straight to appear interested and engaged in the conversation. Leaning forward to prop yourself up with your hand under your chin or looking away to constantly check your phone will just scream “I’m bored with this”. At least try to appear interested.

STEP 5: TEST IT OUT

Enlist a family member to sit in front of your screen and talk – you can then get a good idea of what you might look like. Perhaps your chair might need changing or adjusting. Or is the light from the window casting an unflattering shadow? Is your camera now so high you can only see the top of your head?

You will never know unless you try it.

STEP 6: DON’T FORGET THE MICROPHONE

People can hear more than you realise – the screaming spouse shouting at your children to “shut up”, the washing machine and of course your phone.

But you don’t have to worry about background noise if you use the mute button. Keep it on at all times – other than when you want to speak.

And to make it easier to hear every word, consider headphones. Wireless earbuds are best as you won’t have to worry about an unsightly wire.

As with your screen test, do a sound test too so you can check people can hear you and whether there is a nasty echo or your microphone is picking up too much background noise.

STEP 7: PRACTICE YOUR PERFORMANCE

Remember, when you roll your eyes, or smirk at what someone says, they can see you! The same applies when you scratch your face, pick your nose or lift up a buttock cheek to pass wind.

If you’ve been in self isolation for a while you might have forgotten how to behave in an office environment. You might need to practice your webiquette.

STEP 8: SET – OR ASK FOR – AN AGENDA

You want to reply to a point, but so does everyone else. You all end up talking over each other… and that does not make for great communication.

So, it’s best (as with any meeting) to have an agenda with a running order which is circulated before the meeting and a chair (who acts like the host of a radio phone-in).

Remember, the whole point is to be productive. That can mean limiting the number of participants or limiting the time for each question/point.

4 Reasons To Be Excited About The Future Of Supply Chain Technology

What’s next in supply chain systems? There’s plenty to be excited about


First-generation supply chains were good at automating and optimizing processes. But they were restricted to functional silos – and that’s not enough for what we need in supply chains today.

Advances in supply chain technology are needed if procurement teams are to manage supply chains that are dynamic, responsive and interconnected with ecosystems and external processes. The new tech needs the capacity to manage much, much more data (by several orders of magnitude). This in turn will make it possible for an individual procurement manager to make sense of entire supply chain ecosystems in real-time.

These demands are driving progress – which is why I am excited about the future of supply chain technology.

1. We’re actually getting fairly good at applying AI repeatably in supply chains.

In order to continue to maintain the labor ratios and level of service to which we’ve become accustomed, we need AI within supply chains – this is non-negotiable.

The IBM Sterling Supply Chain Suite gives end-to-end visibility, real-time insights and recommended actions to turn disruptions into opportunities for customer engagement, growth and profit. 

It’s an open, integrated platform that easily connects to a company’s supplier ecosystem. And that connection and openness provides the data necessary to build self-correction into supply chains.

2. With blockchain, we finally have a chance to change the way we manage multiparty sharing of supply chain data.

It’s clear that use of AI in supply chains will be essential. But it is important to start from the understanding that organizations are at different stages of maturity in this area. Nevertheless, companies can make dramatic improvements simply by deploying existing tech to digitize and implement an organizational commitment to information hygiene and managing data effectively. Being able to digitize, catalogue and normalize supply chain data means having real-time information in the right place to make decisions quickly.

One survival from the old-tech world of supply chains is the use of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems built to manage the data for each individual company. Each company’s ERP was its view of the world. The procurement team spent their lives comparing notes with other ERPs to reconcile differences. Everything from invoices to purchase orders had to be reconciled and supply chain processes were put in place to facilitate this.

For the old-world supply chain really to change, we need to recognise that we can’t each have our own copy of what we believe to be true. We need to have an accepted, shared view of the truth. This idea of multiparty shared data is a promising one. And technology such as distributed databases, shared ledgers and blockchain helps build these common views of the world.  


3. We are seeing the emergence and coordination of specialty ecosystems and networks that can be integrated in a ‘network of networks’.

Before hyper-interconnectivity and the opportunity to create ecosystems or a network of networks, we operated in a limited way – for example, connecting one value-added network (VAN) to another VAN in a logistics network with practical applications like document exchange for advance shipping notices and the like.

We’re now seeing that an interconnected ‘network of networks’ really adds value. People are using technology and data to work together to solve domain-specific issues like fresh food provenance with Food Trust and ocean-shipping visibility with TradeLens.

These specialized ecosystems can be seamlessly integrated into existing business networks to provide a wealth of information about previously opaque areas of the supply chain – where things went dark at critical moments.  

4. It’s possible to have personalized ‘control towers’ that can track the essential elements of global ecosystems but are tuned to what we each want to measure and act on.

Finally, we’re able to see the world the way we want to – from each of our perspectives – bringing together actionable recommendations from real-time intelligence to act on supply chain implications. 

From a simple example of inventory management that can have downstream supply implications for a logistics analyst, to the same information tracking financial implications and payment terms for a financial analyst, the varying views, insights and interrelated metrics stemming from core supply chain activity helps everyone across the organisation.  

Also knowing that no two supply chains are the same means the ability to quickly configure and personalize ‘control towers’ is twice as useful as simply having the static data.

So just when the need for a strong supply chain has never been greater, technology is increasingly proving itself up to the challenge of meeting this need. And what’s more, small changes can have big impacts.


Hear Vijay present in our recent webinar – 4 Supply Chain Capabilities You Need For The Decade That’s Going To Change The World here.

 

How To Lead Your Team In A Crisis: Covid-19 Procurement News

How should you lead your procurement team during a crisis? Here’s what you need to do

“The ultimate measure of a leader is not where they stand in moments of comfort, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was certainly onto something when he said that leaders are tested not in not the good times, but in the challenging times – and everyone can agree, we’re certainly experiencing the latter right now. All of us – literally every single one of us across every continent of the world – are experiencing our own unique stresses and pressures, and our leadership ability may not be our focus. But likewise, now is also the time when our teams need us most. 

So how do we lead amidst so much uncertainty? We talked to Justine Figo, People and Culture author, and Naomi Lloyd, Director Procurement and External Manufacturing Partnerships Asia Pacific at Campbell Arnotts, to get an insight into how to lead your procurement team during a crisis. 

Managing expectations

With the coronavirus situation changing weekly, if not daily, helping your team understand what’s expected of them, as well as manage the expectations of executive leadership, can be a challenge. But according to Justine and Naomi, what your team really needs from you at this time is a realistic challenge, and more clarity. 

Justine believes that leaders need to have the courage to challenge their team to be productive – but at the same time, understand that there might be significant barriers at the moment: 

‘Right now, it’s about taking stock of what is going on for everyone at the moment, and saying: “What is the best possible challenging standard I can set for myself and for my team?” 

‘Of course, you need to understand that people will be disrupted, but still have the courage to give them purpose, with compassion.’ 

Naomi believes while realistic challenges are important, what’s more important is that you realign your priorities with your team – and communicate your expectations clearly, with much more granular direction: 

Want to hear more of Naomi and Justine’s great advice? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group. We’ve gathered together the world’s foremost experts on all things supply chain, risk, business and people, and we’ll be presenting their insights and daily industry-relevant news over an 8-week content series via the group. You’ll also have the support of thousands of your procurement peers, world-wide. We’re stronger together. Join us now.

How COVID Could Kill Excessive Pay?

Mind the Gap? We most certainly do but will it finally start to narrow?


Funny memes, inspiring posts and far too much fake news – we are being inundated with information to entertain, amuse, inform and frighten us while we are in lockdown or self isolation. However, one post that really caught my eye was about the value of people’s work – it reflects a sea-change in attitudes towards excessive executive pay. 


To give them their due credit, a significant number of sports stars are taking pay cuts, several celebrities have announced vast donations to Covid-19 relief efforts and even Lady Gaga is giving a percentage of profits from her beauty brand to support food banks. 

Mass altruism is a global phenomenon. 

But what about businesses? Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it seems, is just a way to brand businesses as caring. So far, they are doing little sharing. 

With footballers deferring 50% of their pay and tennis ace Roger Federer donating 1 million Swiss francs to vulnerable families, why aren’t we seeing CEO after CEO lining up to do something similar? 

While “ordinary” employees are being laid off or furloughed, most of the C-suite seem to be keeping quiet on pay. 

WE WILL REMEMBER THOSE WHO GET THIS RIGHT – AND THOSE WHO DON’T 

There are few exceptions… and they will not be forgotten. Those executives who are sharing the pain are doing a fantastic PR job for themselves and their businesses. 

Take the CEO of hotel group Marriott Worldwide, Arne Sorenson, who will not be taking any salary for the balance of 2020 and whose executive team will take a 50% cut in pay. While Ford’s top 300 executives will defer 20% to 50% of their salary. 

However, considering the vast pay packets these top execs earn, a cut (or a lesser sacrifice of a pay deferral), seems pathetic compared to the generosity of sports personalities and stars of stage and screen.  

Yet as more and more leadership teams follow suit, other boards will be under pressure to make similar sacrifices on salaries – or they could fall foul of public opinion. 

When News Corp Australia announced that the executive team would take a “significant” pay cut in response to Covid-19 – showing that those at the top of the pay scale are sharing the pain of those at the bottom – it also added that executive perks such as entertainment and travel events were also being halted. It doesn’t look good to be seen to be enjoying the perks of a private jet at a time like this. 

It shows just how mindful organisations are of public opinion. 

There will come a point when bosses who haven’t budged on pay and bonuses will start to stick out…and it will be noticed. 

THE BALANCE OF OPINION IS SHIFTING – AND IT’S GREAT NEWS FOR SOME ORDINARY WORKERS 

At the other end of the scale, there is beginning to be more appreciation of those in essential but poorly paid roles. Take Food City supermarkets in Chattanooga, Tennessee making headlines for giving its 16,000 employees a total US$3 million bonus reflecting their hard work ensuring people can still buy food at this difficult time. 

In Singapore, frontline healthcare workers – who are at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 – will be given a special bonus of up to one month’s pay.  

Across the world, there are similar stories of those at the bottom of the pay scale finally receiving some appreciation (in the form of hard cash).  

MIND THE GAP? WE MOST CERTAINLY DO BUT WILL IT FINALLY START TO NARROW? 

With trillions of dollars wiped off the value of the global economy – and the G20 pledging to inject $5 trillion to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic – any exec whose remuneration package is based partly on performance is in for a big financial hit. 

This could finally do something to narrow the phenomenal gap between pay at the top and bottom of organisations.  

CEOs in the USA earn 265 times more than the average worker according to Statista, while in S&P 500 Index firms this increases to is staggering 361 more for the top boss than the average rank-and-file worker. 

Yet back in the 1950s the typical CEO made only 20 times the salary of the average employee.  

SHAREHOLDERS MIGHT WIN THE DAY – AFTER SUFFERING SUCH HIGH LOSSES 

Shareholders have suffered some catastrophic losses. So they are likely to put significant pressure on executive remuneration committees to bring salaries back in line. 

Or, as global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson puts it: “there are reasonable expectations to see directional alignment in the change of realized executive pay relative to shareholder value”. 

BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY – IT’S PUBLIC OPINION THAT REALLY MATTERS 

In the UK new regulations requiring certain UK companies to disclose their executive pay ratios are also designed to shine a light on inequality. And it’s quite timely that the first reporting is this year. So, the requirement could not have come at a worse time for overpaid executives. 

With the UK’s Corporate Governance Code asking boards to create a culture which aligns company strategy with purpose and values – and explicitly requiring remuneration committees or RemCos to explain how pay policies for executives are appropriate in their annual reports – 2020 was supposed to be the year when the value of CEOs was brought into question. 

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in the UK for every CEO appointed, another 100 candidates could just as ably fill the position. 

In a world where you cannot find 100 nurses or doctors or first responders to fill every vacancy, it is going to be hard for these RemCos to justify pay excess. And it is not just an issue in the UK. As with the coronavirus, this is a global issue and very much one that will dominate the corporate world in 2020. 

Want to join in on the coronavirus discussions? We have procurement and supply chain professionals from all around the world crowdsourcing confidence in our Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group.

Has COVID-19 Pushed Sustainable Procurement Off The Agenda?

Is sustainability shelved for now?


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused several of the biggest issues facing the profession before February 2020 – sustainability, social procurement, and supply chain diversity – to plummet in priority while organizations refocus on cost and risk reduction.

Given that 78% of companies anticipate a financial impact due to the crisis, this sudden shift in priorities is understandable, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. Every profession, industry, and sector in the global economy is currently shelving sustainability projects while the crisis plays out.

Frankly, many companies are now in survival mode, and their sustainability programs are seen to have no place in that mode. Fine words such as “sustainability was once seen as a ‘nice-to-have’ but is now a business imperative” have been forgotten while corporations tighten their belts and CPOs urgently re-prioritize the two foundation stones of the supply chain: cost and risk.

We were making progress

Until a few weeks ago (which feels like a lifetime), sustainability was high on the agenda of procurement teams in organizations of every size. The global standard for sustainable procurement (ISO 20400) launched with great fanfare and has been gaining momentum, while major procurement conferences such as the now-cancelled ISM2020 boasted several sessions on sustainable or social procurement. Modern CPOs followed the mantra “value beyond cost reduction” while those who were solely focused on cost were seen as old-fashioned and unimaginative.

In the training space, most supply management qualifications and certifications offered by industry bodies such as ISM and CIPS included a sustainability module, ensuring that young people coming into the industry understood and valued this aspect of the job.   

The big unknown is whether sustainability initiatives are simply on-hold and will resume once this crisis is over, or if they will be shelved for the long-term as organizations slowly claw their way back to their previous levels of profitability.

Long-term consequences

It’s difficult to predict timelines as no country (except perhaps China) has yet moved onto the economic recovery stage of the COVID-19 crisis, but the big question is whether the world will actually move backward in terms of sustainability. Take, for example, a mine site that is considering powering its operation with renewable energy rather than fossil fuels. With profits and jobs under threat, the decision will likely be driven less by environmental concerns and more by cost and risk: decision-makers will choose to stick with what they know, for the lowest-possible cost.

Environmental consequences aside, the thriving network of small to medium-sized suppliers that has sprung up in response to organizations’ wish to source from sustainable, ethical, social, and diverse suppliers will now be in dire trouble. With sustainability no longer a priority for their customers, their market is disappearing as we speak.

Rebuild the foundations, but don’t neglect sustainability

Realistically, we cannot expect organizations to reanimate their sustainable procurement programs until they feel like they are back on solid ground in terms of cost and risk. The feeling I have received in the past two weeks when talking with Una’s members is that sustainability is once again a “nice to have” that will have to wait patiently while the building blocks of the procurement pyramid – cost down and risk mitigation – are cemented back into place.

It is possible, however, to do both at once. Joining a Group Purchasing Organisation (GPO) can complement and amplify the strategies organizations have in place to tackle immediate cost and risk concerns such as:

  • dealing with inevitable price rises as the supply/demand equilibrium changes
  • securing access to high-demand goods and services as suppliers are overwhelmed
  • connecting with $100 billion in buying power to help ensure suppliers prioritize your organization when volume is running low.

Beyond these immediate concerns, a GPO can work on your behalf to maintain and improve critically-important relationships with suppliers. Already, supplier relationship management (SRM) is proving to be a defining factor in maintaining continuity of supply amid massive global disruption. It is also a channel through which sustainability discussions can continue.

An increase in buying power means more choice: sustainability and social procurement will not necessarily have to fall by the wayside, while ensuring diversity in the supply base is a key strategy in reducing risk and increasing resilience throughout the supply chain.

Una’s lights are on for our customers during the COVID-19 crisis. Click here to access our COVID-19 updates and information about supply chain disruptions. 


Coronavirus: What You Need To Know According To These Procurement & Supply Chain Thought Leaders…

What do these thought leaders think about covid-19 when we asked them recently at Big Ideas Summit London 2020?


As of yesterday, the number of coronavirus cases topped 500,000 worldwide – doubling in just over a week.

While we can all do our part to stop the virus spreading, there is an added pressure on procurement & supply chain professionals with the business world on our shoulders.

So, we seized the opportunity recently at our Big Ideas Summit London to ask some of our favourite thought leaders what we can do when it comes to coronavirus.

This is what Group Procurement Director at Just Eat, John Butcher had to say when we asked him ‘What’s been your #1 risk with the coronavirus and how are you mitigating it?’…


Procurement Digital Transformation Lead at Diageo, Amit Sheth had a slightly different response when asked the same question…


Strategic Supply Chain Risk Expert and Professor of Supply Chain Management, Omera Khan had this brilliant bit of advice when we asked her ‘How can companies manage supply chain risk in times of crisis?’…


We’re living in extremely uncertain business and economic times at the moment with many sources indicating that a deep global recession is coming. So, what should procurement be most worried about? This is what Rachel Stretch, Consultant at John Lewis & Partners suggests…


Pressure is something that procurement & supply chain professionals everywhere would be feeling right now. So, last, but certainly not least, we asked legendary Rugby coach, Sir Clive Woodward ‘How do you work under pressure?’

Want to stay ahead of the curve with all things coronavirus and supply chain? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group. We’ve gathered together the world’s foremost experts on all things supply chain, risk, business and people, and we’ll be presenting their insights and daily industry-relevant news via the group. You’ll also have the support of thousands of your procurement peers, world-wide. 

Crisis Mode: What Will My Procurement Career Look Like This Year?

It’s been a disastrous year, but still, we’ve all got one big question: What will my procurement career look like this year?


Over the past month, many of us have been glued to our phones with a sense of dread, waiting for the next phase of the coronavirus crisis to hit. But with many countries now in lockdown, things in China slowly returning to normal, and early signs that the infection rate is declining in Italy, we can all breathe easily, knowing that life will, at some stage, return to normal. 

But what will that ‘normal’ look like, especially for our careers in procurement? There’s no denying that this year will be like no other year when it comes to what we might experience at work and what our career trajectory might look like. To find out exactly what this might be, we spoke to someone on the true frontline of procurement careers:  Imelda Walsh, Manager of The Source recruitment, a specialist procurement recruitment agency. Imelda’s insights are both fascinating and optimistic. In this uncertain world, it seems like procurement professions may have the opportunity to shine … here’s why. 

Critical business changes – and how work is being impacted 

With news that 94% of the world’s supply chains have been disrupted, there’s certainly been a lot going on at the organisations Imelda partners with, which include some of the world’s largest mining companies, banks and health organisations. Imelda says that the situation has been an ‘eye opener’ for many of her clients: 

‘There’s been so many risks they now need to focus on, including mitigating risks from their supply chain, working with local suppliers, or even workplace health and safety relationships with suppliers.’ 

Yet supplier risks haven’t been the only risks that businesses have needed to manage. With the majority of the world now working from home, Imelda says that her clients have been extraordinarily busy sorting out the logistics of what this might look like for their people: 

‘With clients moving to working from home, it has put a strain on their hardware and systems, which they are sorting through. But fortunately, many of them have invested in good technology over time.’ 

Is anyone still hiring?

If we’re in an industry that’s been affected by the coronavirus, which, realistically, is most of us, we all want the answer to the million-dollar question – is anyone hiring?!?

Want to hear more of Imelda’s fascinating story? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group. We’ve gathered together the world’s foremost experts on all things supply chain, risk, business and people, and we’ll be presenting their insights and daily industry-relevant news over an 8-week content series via the group. You’ll also have the support of thousands of your procurement peers, world-wide. 

We’re stronger together. Join us now. 


Working From Home? WFH Is More A Case Of Warring Family Hell

What are the perils of working from home?


Many of us have dreamt of this moment. No commuting. You can work in your PJs. Watch daytime TV. Do a spot of gardening. Eat your lunch on the sofa. And still get all your work done. Yes… it should be heaven.

Instead, your internet speed is something out of the dark ages – remember the days of dial-up modems?

With everyone online, all-the-time, forget video conferencing with the office… buffering is back!

This is just one of the stresses and strains of self-isolation, which are compounding the crippling anxiety of financial fears and job insecurity.

With millions of people worldwide being forced to WFH, many are also being locked up 24/7 with their partners/families… and the two are just not compatible.

WFH is fine, when it’s just you. Trying to do it whilst also looking after children, foraging for those elusive items such as toilet rolls, while remaining well and healthy, checking in on loved ones, and keeping the boss happy, is virtually impossible.

Aside from slow internet speeds, there are just too many distractions.

Space invaders: keep them out

Even if you don’t have children fighting over food or bellowing into their headsets (why do they have to shout as they game?), there will be plenty of your neighbours whose offspring are going stir crazy.

A kick around in the garden sounds like they are playing a real-life game of Fortnight rather than football particularly when it is magnified a dozen times (who knew there were so many children living so close?).

Along with the continuous squeals from trampolines and parents shouting in frustration ‘stop fighting’, you will need more than noise-cancelling headphones.

Finally, there are the space squabbles.

You like working from the dining table or breakfast bar? It’s close to the coffee machine and normally quite peaceful. However, every inch seems to be covered with unfinished homework, half-built Lego sets and crayons and paints. It’s great that the kids want to be creative, but you need peace and quiet. You certainly don’t want someone to scribble a picture of a rainbow over your end-of-year report.

You need boundaries

So, it’s time for some rules. The sooner you set these the better – before everyone else has got set in the new routine.

  • Set your own ‘office hours’: Tell everyone “I’m going to work”.  This will put you in the right mindset – and also give you some demarcation. When you finish for the day, you want to be able to “leave” the office, shut down your laptop, and put work out of sight, and out of mind. Also, it should signal to your partner that just because you are at home, now is not the time to mow the lawn, put up a shelf, or chat endlessly.
  • Limit screen time: Keep the rest of the household’s use of the internet to a minimum during your critical working hours. It will be good for them!
  • Ask for some quiet time during the day: Even if you’ve shut the office door, you will probably find the household noise a distraction. If you need to concentrate or make calls, you cannot have a blaring TV or toddler tantrums in the background, so try to set a few hours a day when the house is quieter.
  • Claim some space:  In my household there is a current battle over the best office chair – and who gets the biggest desk. So, claim your own home office space (even if it is in the corner of the bedroom) and make it as work-friendly as possible: this might be your workplace for several months.
  • Find a lockable cupboard: Your printer paper will vanish, the family will use up all your printer ink, you will find someone “gaming” on your office laptop – or worse spilling a soda into your computer. Keep work tech for work only.
  • Invest in some protection: Make sure your anti-virus is up-to-date and all of your online devices are secure. Working from home might be designed to protect you from the coronavirus – but what about computer viruses.

But remember, it’s not forever

At some point people will return to work, schools, colleges and universities will open their doors and your home will no longer be for work, rest and play.

So try not to stress too much about poor internet speeds, a lack of space (both headspace and physical space) and too many competing demands.

You may never get an opportunity to spend so much time with the ones you love – even if, right now, you are hating being with them day and night. So try to enjoy WFH.

Need crowdsourced confidence during this crisis? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid 19 group and get access to expert advice, news, views and the ability to intimately connect with procurement professionals worldwide. 

AI: Threat Or Benefit?

Will AI kill the purchasing function? (Spoiler: this is far from certain.)


Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to scare many buyers and procurement teams. They wonder if “machines” are going to replace their jobs.

AI combines: 

  • big data – the availability of vast amounts of data
  • machine or deep learning – an ability to predict based on the past
  • robotic task automation – the automatic execution of business processes, based on rules.

It’s certainly drastically changing how procurement teams work. And automation and AI are eliminating some jobs, mostly task-oriented chores. 

But at Determine, a Corcentric company, we don’t see AI as a threat. 

We see that new technologies have made the purchasing processes faster, more compliant and more efficient for all parties. They have transformed the entire purchasing function.

They have saved a lot of time, supported strategic initiatives . . . and created new job opportunities.

Remember the old times? 

Times that those under 40 don’t know. Times, before digitalization . .

Remember how purchasing processes were carried out? They were manual, lengthy and we couldn’t rely on technology . . . Weeks, sometimes months, were necessary to write tenders (with a pen), place orders, track delivery . . . and so on. 

All this manual processing resulted in costly errors and long approval and exception-resolution cycles, which resulted in late fees and missed discounts.

Then there were compliance and security risks, high paper storage needs, time-consuming supplier inquiries regarding invoice and payment status – and difficulty implementing operational best practices.

To name but a few of the non-digital process challenges . . .

Fortunately, those times are over. Cloud technology, full source-to-pay solution, AI, machine learning . . . Information technology and innovations have revolutionised the way purchasing teams carry out their job, eradicating silos and increasing team productivity. 

No more friction

AI helps eliminate friction from the source-to-pay life cycle. By analyzing data sets and patterns, AI automates menial, time-consuming tasks, such as document classification, data extraction, invoice approval routing and exceptions resolution. 

According to industry surveys, 83% of business leaders believe that AI and other digital technologies provide an opportunity to reposition their overall business strategies. 

One of our customers, a real estate company, was looking at justifying the purchase of our solution. We came to the conclusion that the platform could replace an entire team working all day long to scan and manually enter invoices that were being received by fax or in the mail from suppliers. 

By being able to manage the PO process entirely online, including modifications and PO flipping, we were able to guarantee more than 90% of touch-free invoices. 

AI helped this company eliminate friction from the procure-to-pay lifecycle. 

Lower costs, better customer experience

By analyzing data sets and patterns, AI automates time-consuming tasks, such as document classification, data extraction, invoice approval routing and exceptions resolution.

The technology reconciles data, for instance, by finding the supplier from fuzzy names and addresses, or categorizing goods and services based on descriptions. 

Applying AI to specific operational tasks enables businesses to remove friction and reduce operational costs, enhance the customer experience and inform strategic decision-making. 

Our procurement solution offered a great opportunity for the company to move the people from doing invoice entering to the customer support team. 

And that is exactly what happened.

In less than a year, several employees moved from accounts receivable to business support. The feedback was that they seemed to enjoy building customer relationships much more than spending the day receiving, scanning and entering invoices. 

Overall, in this regard the company is ahead of its time. They are very successful in the market and have a much better customer satisfaction rating than competitors. 

Ease worker anxiety . . . communicate 

AI presents an enormous opportunity to improve job functions in procure-to-pay by eliminating mundane tasks. And freeing staff to focus on strategic work that adds value to the business. 

But that doesn’t mean that staff won’t worry about the impact of AI on their job security. 

Reduce potential anxiety around the technology by:

  • keeping staff informed of AI initiatives
  • involving staff in identifying tasks to be automated
  • conveying key benefits of the technology, and
  • providing training to staff with skills gaps.

In the short term, AI is going to be mainly used to help employees do a better job. In the medium term, it will replace job repetition with a lot of new career opportunities.

So – in summary – the more automation and value we provide through our solutions, the more business our customers are able to do. We shouldn’t consider AI, machine learning and smart applications to be a job threat.

But we need to manage change as machines continue to keep doing more and more to help businesses run more efficiently.

Visit corcentric.com to learn more about Corcentric, a leading provider of procurement and finance solutions that transform how companies purchase, pay, and get paid. 

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