Spend Matters hits the nail on the head

When it comes to procurement, Peter Smith is a man who knows what he’s talking about.

The Managing Director and Editor of Spend Matters UK/Europe is among the profession’s top influencers so I was particularly delighted to read his review of Procurious.

The assessment was balanced and overall, very positive: “Procurious is a well put together, professional and attractive site, with some people behind it who clearly know the procurement world pretty well”.

In questioning whether the niche environment of Procurious will offer members value beyond that of broader networking platforms such as LinkedIn, Peter hits the nail on the head.

While social networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter offer scale and reach, they tend to be noisy, overcrowded and the content often lacks relevance for procurement. If you were looking for genuine career guidance, LinkedIn can rarely offer the in-depth answers needed.

As Procurious continues to evolve (We are currently in a soft launch phase – the full site will be launched in September 2014), we believe the key differentiator from other broad networking platforms will be the ability to connect and learn directly from people operating in the same industry or managing the same categories.

The quality and level of Q&A activity in the ‘Discussions’ section of Procurious, as compared with many of the stagnant discussion groups on LinkedIn, seems to confirm our belief that people feel more inclined to seek advice and share in a highly specialized and credible environment.

While Procurious is by no means the first niche vertical network out there – Oil Pro, set up to cater to professionals in the Oil and Gas sector, has attracted over 50,000 users in just 7 months – it offers procurement the opportunity to take a real leadership position within the business: Demonstrating how social media can redefine the way modern professionals work, connect and collaborate.

Just this week, TechCrunch featured an article on the rise of social professional networks – read it here.  I’m extremely proud that Procurement, via Procurious, is at the leading edge of this trend.

Procurious just might be a game-changer for Procurement because despite the undisputed progress made internally, frustrating and dated misconceptions persist externally. It doesn’t help that as a community, procurement professionals are still largely disconnected.

By coming together on Procurious, we can support the next generation of procurement leaders and empower them to change the face of the profession from the inside out.

In little more than a month, we’ve registered 1000 members from 48 countries. So the signs are looking good but we’re not about to stop here. To achieve our goal of becoming the global hub for procurement, we need your support.

If you haven’t already done so, we’re asking you to logon or refer a colleague to www.procurious.com – there is no cost to become a member or access any of the online training. We’re hungry for your feedback as to the direction Procurious should take and what value we can provide to you as members.

By coming together and supporting your fellow peers, we will demonstrate the strength and reach of this incredible global community.

Tania

Sergio Giordano: How to successfully negotiate with an Italian? Play poker

Sergio Giordano reveals that the procurement profession in Italy is not your average Italian job…

Sergio has brought some much-needed Sicilian sunshine (not-to-mention a sense of infectious enthusiasm) to the Procurious network. With over 30 years of experience in industrial procurement, Sergio is now founder (and general manager) of ProcOut s.r.l.

You can read his full story here.

Our #firstmovers series profiles those members who we feel truly embody Procurious, and go to show just how “rich” and global our network is becoming.

Procurious asks: How do you think procurement differs in your country, as opposed to elsewhere in the world?

Sergio: Once Procurement in Italy was “emotional price negotiation” the Italian Procurement professional was one of the best negotiator in the world … but nothing else. Today in Italy things are partially changed, there are two distinctly separate worlds in procurement management

  1.  The large national and multinational companies in which the concept of Procurement has evolved (not just negotiating the price but the TCO, the knowledge of local and global market, management of the relationship with suppliers, the use of e-Procurement, Lean Procurement approach, etc…) they use the same “tools” and strategies of the most competitive and advanced European nations.
  2. SMEs (92% of the Italian companies …), in which almost nothing has changed in the way we manage procurement. In fact they follow two directions:
    1. Search for the Lowest price
    2. Trust to a single supplier without constant monitoring of market

Today, however, SMEs are realising that joining in network can help to become competitive to the market as large companies and things are changing also in the Procurement management.

However, in my opinion, one distinctive difference will always remain and it depends on our Latin nature, during the negotiations Italians tend to play “Poker” instead of “Bridge”…

Procurious: Do you know how many other procurement professionals are in your country?

Sergio: I have no idea.

Procurious: Are you usually an early adopter? (Perhaps you’ve been a “first mover” with something else…)

Sergio: Not usually, the choice depends heavily on the personal interest I have in the product or service and not just because it’s “new”, for example I think I was one of the first Italian Procurement Professionals to join Procurious! Right?

Procurious: Why did you join Procurious?

Sergio: Great place to exchange knowledge and experiences in particular between the old and the new generation of Procurement Professionals and, as Chantelle Genovezos said: “being in touch with the global Procurement community”!

Italian Sergio Giordano talks procurement and supply chains

Procurious: How did you find out about us?

Sergio: From an article on http://www.supplymanagement.com/
[
The now-infamous SupplyManagement article can be read here]

Procurious: What are you hoping to get out of the network?

Sergio: Expand my reputation but never stop to learn about Procurement from other people experiences

Procurious: Are you going to invite your peers?

Sergio: I’m doing my best to involve the entire Italian community of Procurement Professionals that I know…peers, LinkedIn contacts etc.

Many thanks to Sergio for taking time-out to answer our questions and for all his support so far.

If you would like to be considered for a future profile, please drop Matt Farrington Smith a line – he’d love to hear from you! (Bribes may or may not be encouraged…)

Meet our other #firstmovers:
Harold (Hal) Good
Farshad Bahmed

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How to develop your skills in just 5 minutes

Ahead of some fairly-sizeable changes to Procurious next week, we thought we’d take a moment to highlight some of the smaller things that might have passed you by.

Learning resources

Have you seen what’s behind the ‘Learning’ menu?

There are two different types of learning material available on Procurious. Free and paid. You’ll be able to immediately differentiate between the two – as all paid videos will clearly display their price upfront.

However, all paid videos offer a short 30 second sampler (so you can see what you’re getting before you commit).

From the Learning homepage simply select a video of your choosing

Watch training videos on Procurious

Click the ‘Free enrol now’ button to add the selected video to your basket and unlock all the lessons associated with it.

Should you select a paid video instead, you’ll see a ‘Add this class to cart’ button.

If a video is made-up of multiple parts (or lessons), you’ll see the contents of the video in the handy ‘Lesson tree’ to the left of the player.

Discussions on ProcuriousDiscussions

Discussions can be accessed from the ‘Discussions’ button on the main navigation – you’ll also see the latest conversations appear to the right of your ‘Community’ feed too.

We’re working making the hottest topics even more discoverable around the site, but it’s encouraging to see that more and more of you are getting involved!

Twitter

Did you know that we’re also on Twitter?

You can find Procurious tweeting regularly, so head on over and follow @procurious_ for all the latest.

Supply chains need to take action to fight ‘fast fashion’

Young women working in a sweat shop

The fast fashion dilemma

The move toward ‘fast fashion’ is putting major pressure on those working in the procurement departments.

Fashion can cycle in and out of retail stores across the globe in a matter of weeks; putting those in procurement under constant pressure to ensure their supply chain is clean.

For many professionals working in this field, it’s a perpetual battle to balance the insatiable appetite for the latest dirt-cheap fashion with the constant demand that retailers stop the rag trade. Though perhaps not surprisingly, it’s pretty much impossible to find anyone willing to go on the record about how they tackle this issue to ensure their fast fashion supply chain is clean.

There are industry whispers that many procurement missions to places like China can result in more questions than answers. Often, a myriad of ‘agents’ acting on behalf of other sections of the supply chain make it extremely difficult for those in procurement to truly understand who they’re hiring, and whether they’re the sort of ethical supplier you’re hoping for.

This cry for help was found sewed into a Primark garment earlier this week.
This cry for help was found sewed into a Primark garment earlier this week. Darren Britton/Wales News Service

Most recently in Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a warning about a dangerous dye found in jeans on sale in Australian stores.

Tests uncovered clothes with high concentration of the dyes, which sparked recalls of more than 121,000 items from retailers including Myer, Target, Rivers, Trade Secret and Just Jeans. A number of children’s clothes, including jeans from Myer, Just Jeans and Target, were included in the recall.

This situation will no doubt have caused major headaches for someone working in procurement, somewhere along the line. It’s also an example of why it’s so important for those in procurement to know where and how garments are being made.

After all, it doesn’t take much more than a few questions to be asked and some information to be shared on social media for a major brand to cop a beating over a supplier that’s possibly a long way down the supply chain.

However, some of the big brands have been working hard to clean up their act.

H&M, which is now in Australia, wants to prove to consumers that it’s doing the right thing. According to media reports, H&M has put a plan in place to avoid sourcing fabrics from endangered forest and also promote the use of fabrics that come from Forest Stewardship Council certified plantations. The company will also work to build traceable and sustainable production of these fabrics in its own supply chain.

For other major brands, the answer lies in innovation.

Stephen Denning, supply chain expert and author of the book Radical Management says brands like Zara have solved the problem of how to get disciplined execution with continuous innovation. “The way they lay out their factories, the design team is right in the middle of the factory, so that the whole process of learning from the manufacturers and vice versa is horizontal,” Denning was quoted as saying in The Business of Fashion.

People of Procurious, where do you stand on this “fast fashion” fixation? Make your voice heard and  leave your comments below.

What’s it like to be a procurement professional in Dubai? Farshad Bahmed speaks

Ladies and gentlemen please be upstanding for Farshad Bahmed.

Our #firstmovers series profiles those members who we feel truly embody Procurious, and go to show just how “rich” and global our network is becoming.

Farshad is a senior consultant for A.T. Kearney, and works out of Dubai. You can find out more about him – here.

Farshad Bahmed speaks of strong demand for procurement professionals in GCC countries
Farshad Bahmed speaks of strong demand for procurement professionals in GCC countries. Look at him go!

Procurious asks: How do you think procurement differs in your country, as opposed to elsewhere in the world?

Farshad: I work mostly for clients in the GCC. As opposed to other parts of the world, especially EU and US, the Procurement functions here are still in a developing phase. That’s why quite a lot of focus is on developing the internal capabilities i.e., people, processes, etc., Obviously driving cost savings is expected from any Procurement function and hence strategic sourcing programs are also picking up very fast.

Overall, I believe organizations in GCC are realizing the value of Procurement beyond their operational work and depending on them to create value in terms of cost savings, innovation, product development and other critical value generating areas.

Procurious: Do you know how many other procurement professionals are in your country? 

Farshad: The demand for Procurement professionals is immense in GCC partly owing to the fact that very few academic programs cater to Supply Chain / Procurement in this region and hence there is still a lot of dependency for “importing” this critical skill set from outside the region.

The Procurement teams are growing and becoming more influential, which is good news for the profession.

Procurious: Are you usually an early adopter? (Perhaps you’ve been a “first mover” with something else…)

Farshad: I work mostly for other companies (my clients) on Procurement consulting projects and usually “adoption” of global best practices has been a little delayed. But as I mentioned earlier, organizations are now waking up to the importance of having an efficient and effective Procurement function. And the fact that I can help different companies in their journey towards Procurement excellence gives me a lot of satisfaction.

Procurious: Why did you join Procurious?

Farshad: Procurious attracted me as it is probably the first genuine social network for Procurement professionals.

I believe it is important for Procurement as a profession to create a strong identity and social networks such as Procurious can go a long way in helping popularize Procurement and help it get the deserved due credit.

Procurious: How did you find out about us?

Farshad: I am a frequent reader of Supply Management (both the website and magazine) and this is where I got to know about Procurious.

Procurious: What are you hoping to get out of the network?

Farshad: Connecting with other like-minded Procurement professionals, share and learn more about the profession and contribute in any way I can to market this interesting profession further.

Procurious: And finally, are you going to invite your peers?

Farshad: I will try in a personal capacity.

Many thanks to Farshad for contributing and answering our questions.

If you would like to be considered for a future profile, please drop Matt Farrington Smith a line – he’d love to hear from you! (Bribes may or may not be encouraged…)

Meet our other #firstmovers:
Harold (Hal) Good

Are limes leaving a bitter taste in your mouth? Find out why…

*We never claimed to be experts of all-things green, but we can tell you a thing or two about supplies…

The past seven days has delivered bad news for Tequila fans… Beats headphones were banned from World Cup, and adidas have been eyeing-up sustainable solutions. It’s all going-off…

Here’s the news in-brief:

Prices of Mexican limes have quadrupled following poor harvest

Supply Chain Prices

· Heavy rains and a poor winter crop has caused a spike in the price of Mexican limes, quadrupling since the beginning of the year

· Mexico exports 467,000 tons of lemons and limes each year globally and these prices will affect the USA in particular

· It’s also bad news around the rest of the world for anyone who drinks tequila or Corona…

Read more at Spend Matters

Sustainability (Germany)

· The adidas Group announced a strategic partnership with bluesign technologies to drive sustainable solutions in their supply chain

· The partnership will include environmental auditing on chemical management processes, as well as provision of information on the use of sustainable materials in manufacturing

Read more at Sustainable Brands

Ethics (UK)

· The UK government has been called upon to create a program reinforcing the requirement for ethical standards in public service contracting

· The Committee on Standards in Public Life also called upon government departments to consider ethics as a “professional commercial capability requirement” in all contracts

Technology (UK)

· Procurement professionals should fully embrace new technology as part of the transformation from a transactional to strategic function

· ‘The Buying Game’ roundtable in Manchester said that there needed to be a shift in culture in order for professionals to get full benefit from the technology

Read more at Supply Management

Consumer News

· The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has won a court case against Australian supermarket Coles

· Coles’ claim that all their bread was baked fresh in store daily, was successfully challenged as some of their par-baked products were actually produced off-site

Read more at ABC News 

Technology (USA)

· Tesla Motors CEO, Elon Musk, has written an open blog to all companies allowing them to use the company’s patents in their own products

· Musk believes that by sharing the technologies it will drive more companies to produce electric cars to the benefit of the environment

Read more at Supply Chain 24/7

Beats have been banned in stadiums around Brazil

Brand Marketing

· FIFA have banned Beats headphones from inside stadiums at the Football World Cup in Brazil

· Beats, owned by Apple, are popular with public and athletes alike, but as Sony are a partner sponsor of the tournament, the move has been made to protect their market

Read more at CNet

World-class Procurement (Canada)

· Kurt Albertson of The Hackett Group has highlighted how organisations should be focusing on innovation to grow their revenue

· However, an issue cited was how innovation is being defined, with a number of different definitions offered by CPOs

Read more at Purchasing B2B

Child Labour

·  As World Day against Child Labour (12th June) was marked, Human Rights Watch challenged companies to prevent child labour throughout their supply chains

· Throughout the world, there are still organisations conducting business with companies using child labour either knowingly or through not asking questions of their own suppliers

Read more at Huffington Post 

E-Invoicing

· Billentis has released its 2014 e-invoicing report

· The full report is available on the Billentis website and covers, amongst other things, China’s attempts to use e-invoicing to combat tax evasion

Hal Good fills us in on procurement in the United States

Meet Harold (Hal) Good, one of our #firstmovers

Following on from our last infographic-filled blog post, this is the first entry in a new series that will profile selected members of the community. These are all members who we feel are truly embracing the site, and go to show just how “rich” and global Procurious is becoming.

Say hello to Harold (Hal) Good. Hal is a career procurement professional with over 30 years experience in venues including airport, convention center, city, county, emergency services, hospital, public safety, public works, state, utility and public-private partnerships.

Procurious asks: How do you think procurement differs in your country, as opposed to elsewhere in the world?

Hal at All Military Academies Ball held at Union League Hotel PhilaHal: I think that procurement has developed a bit differently in the United States because procurement professionals had to choose among paths to receive credentials and professional recognition.

Private sector procurement professionals were most likely to be influenced by the credentialing systems and continuing education provided by National Association of Purchasing Managers, (NAPM), now ISM, which relied heavily on manufacturing and supply chain roots.  State and local government procurement professionals tended to be drawn into the educational programs sponsored by the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, (NIGP), and its credentialing programs administered by the UPPCC.  

Contractors doing business with the US Federal Government, are committed to utilization of the FAR program which gave rise to the National Contract Association (NCMA) and its educational programs and credentials.  

This has spawned a difference in terminology and to some extent practices within the profession in the USA itself, as well as with the rest of the world.  That is probably due to the vast influence of CIPS in the international arena.

It should be noted that in the medical profession, procures are pretty much universally called the same thing.  In procurement however there is a wide variance in what is meant by something as elementary as tendering vs. bidding or tendering versus requesting proposals.  It is a situation ripe for someone to propose a universal standard that would be accepted by all. 

Procurious: Do you know how many other procurement professionals are in your country? 

Hal: No, I don’t.  It depends on the definition of a “professional”.  In 2008, according to the Department of Labor, there were 68,000 “purchasing mangers” employed in the US.  The latest Bureau of Labor statistics estimated 504,600 “jobs” for Purchasing managers, buyers and purchasing agents.

Procurious: Are you usually an early adopter? (Perhaps you’ve been a “first mover” with something else…)

Hal: I have always been an early adaptor! Example: I was head of the first city procurement department in the US to do online bidding.  I pride myself on being on the cutting edge of new technology and methodology.

Procurious: How did you find out about Procurious?

Hal: I found out about it from Stephen Ashcroft of Brian Farrington Ltd.

Procurious: What are you hoping to get out of the network?

Hal: An opportunity to improve the procurement profession globally. Proactively do what it takes to make it more strategic and less function based, more emphasis on overall value and contribution to the organizational mission, less cost driven.  Also become an influential global driver for the standardization of terminology, methodology and position descriptions.

Procurious: And finally, are you going to invite your peers?

Hal: Yes!

Procurious would like to thank Hal for his time, and for answering our questions.

If you would like to be considered for a future profile, please drop Matt Farrington Smith a line – he’d love to hear from you! (Bribes may or may not be encouraged…)

Somebody just paid $1 million to say “Yo”… Is this the most pointless app ever?

Can a simple “Yo” change the way we communicate? This new Android/iOS app thinks it can…

YoApp

‘Yo’ describes itself as a “single-tap zero character communication tool” – yes, it sounds impressive when you put it like that – but peer behind its faceless purple façade and you might be left scratching your head.

What is a ‘Yo’?

Good question. When we delved into the Yo app, we initially questioned how it has managed to amass a whopping $1 million in funding (yep, you read that right). Its simplicity is clear from the start – its kaleidoscopic colour scheme reinforces this playful, carefree aesthetic. In-fact the hardest part is probably downloading and importing the unlucky recipients of your Yos (your contacts).

When you send a Yo, your contact is alerted via a push notification on their mobile, along with an audible ‘Yo’ greeting. The first few times it’s kind-of funny.

A Facebook ‘poke’ for a new generation?

While Facebook’s pokes could be easily ignored, Yo has the potential to get in your face. And as you might have guessed – this could get old, real fast.

Still, it must be doing something right. For an app that took 8 hours to create, it’s already home to 50000 users, who’ve collectively sent four million Yos (plus there’s that $1 million in funding in-case you’ve forgotten…) So as well as rising up-and-up the app charts, it’s forging ahead in the venture capital rankings too…

It’s easy of course to write it off as some trivial, throwaway app – but Yo does cause us to ponder the validity of push notifications and their potential usefulness both inside and outside of the workplace.

Jesse Pinkman - Breaking Bad. Copyright AMC
Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman was known for yelling “Yo!” a lot. We reckon he’s downloaded it already.

The importance of push notifications

Push notifications (sometimes known as push messaging) are nothing new – if you own a mobile phone then you’ll have no-doubt come across push services at some point. Push is linked to a publish/subscribe model – so if you’ve ever signed up to a news service (or channel), it’s highly likely you’ll have received the content through push messaging.

Could an app like Yo therefore be used to our advantage? Imagine this, what if we could send a Yo (or push alternative) to a buyer/purchaser/supplier to inform them of the following scenarios: Stock is low – need to re-order, alert to quality issue, goods have been delivered, goods have not been delivered, etc.

Of course there are other potential uses for good – we think it would work effectively in emergency situations, with Yos being sent to relevant parties to take action.

What do you make of Yo: Is it just another flash in the pan, or is there the potential for interesting use elsewhere?

Yo can be downloaded for free from both the Google Play and iOS store  – there appear to be two listings however, look for the one made by Life Before Us LLC.

Procurious is like the 2014 World Cup – so is your country represented?

Copyright: Flickr
Procurious truly has World Cup fever…

Here from our crow’s nest at Procurious HQ it’s clear to see that London has gone football crazy. Fever for the FIFA World Cup 2014 is infectious, sweeping the nation, leaving many a hangover in its wake. But it doesn’t just end there… It’s traversing oceans, hot-footing over deserts, grappling-up mountains and more.

We’d be foolish if we didn’t liken Procurious to this major global event… although wholly different in context, we are quietly spreading our membership far and wide, and making headlines for all the right reasons.

After a star-turn in Supply Management, we’re happy to report that Procurious has enjoyed a surge in sign-ups (that’s over 250 new members) – so thanks to all who’ve hopped onboard of late.

Read the Supply Management article

Procurious goes global – 83 countries in 36 days

Procurious-Insights-infographic-v02
Click on the infographic to view full size.

We tasked our design wizards to come up with something that perfectly charts Procurious’ global reach – and we think this infographic speaks volumes about our growth to-date.

Please feel free to share this across social media (whether that be Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or even here on Procurious).

That’s not all – over the next week we will be running profiles on selected members of the community to show just how “rich” and global Procurious is becoming.