Procurious announces #webringthedonuts campaign

Can we tempt you with a sticky, sugar-coated treat?

Join Procurious image

What’s not to love? (Apologies to all those diabetes sufferers out there).

We hope you’re enjoying Procurious so far, and benefitting from the discussions, learning resources, news, comment, not to mention the members who make-up this insightful, friendly community.

There are already a number of ways to introduce new people to the network, [here are a few handy reminders] but if you’re looking for an introduction on a bigger scale then our #webringthedonuts campaign could be just the ticket…

We appreciate how hard it is to commit to something (yet alone a new social platform), and actively engage in a community you have little-to-no knowledge of, that’s why our campaign acts an introduction to the network (and if it escaped your mind… mmm donuts).

Yup we’re hitting the road… Procurious is travelling the length of the breadth of the UK to connect with procurement teams (and those of a curious disposition), to brief you on the benefits of jumping onto the site and engaging with your peers. We’ll also provide you with a primer on social media, so you won’t be diving head-first into the unknown!

A few caveats apply: your team/department must be a minimum of 15 people strong, and availability of sessions will be subject to change (as will flavours of donut. Sorry).

You should allow 45–60 min for us to present and answer your questions.  A giant screen is always helpful too! But there’s no charge for our visit, so don’t worry about that.

So if you’re thinking of requesting a session, obviously we’d love to hear from you. Just drop our relationship managers a line, gather your troops, and we’ll #webringthedonuts.  See you there!

Donut make plans for 2015

But the Procurious roadshow won’t end in the UK… We want to come out and see as many of you as possible (in such cases donuts may be substituted for a local delicacy). So don’t feel left out, get in touch and we’ll adjust our sat-nav accordingly…

Negotiation is no game… but here’s how to win at it (anyway)

Welcome to the first blog in a monthly series from John Viner-Smith.

I have spent my career negotiating. I’m guessing that you have too. I’ve worked in procurement as a buyer, a manager and consultant for over ten years but it was only when I left procurement and worked as a consultant and trainer working with procurement and sales people and focused solely on negotiation that I really came to appreciate negotiation as the core commercial skill.

Children negotiating marbles
Negotiate hard (like these children – over marbles…)

People have some funny ideas about what negotiation is. Let’s start by talking about what it’s not;

1.    Negotiation is not the price discussion that happens at the end of a sourcing process.

  • The entire sourcing process is the negotiation. Every conceivable variable (what are we buying? To what spec? Under what terms? Delivered where? When? How? Etc.) is negotiable.
  • If you park all of those early and plan to negotiate the price at the end, you’re either going to sleepwalk into a very competitive haggle or (assuming you’re negotiating with someone who knows what they’re doing), maybe you’ll just get the deal they wanted to give you all along.

2.    Negotiation is not comfortable

  • Negotiation is a tool for resolving conflict. It is therefore rooted in conflict, which is inherently uncomfortable.
  • If you fail to acknowledge and embrace that discomfort, you may find it becomes a factor in the outcomes you achieve. Ever held back from pushing for a little more in a deal because you didn’t want to be that person? That was your discomfort. And your failure to manage it costs you. Macchiavelli said “Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times”. Become comfortable with assessing and doing what is necessary.
  • As buyers, we have developed techniques and technologies that serve to insulate us from the discomfort of direct, face-to-face confrontation. The assumption that this is a good thing is deeply flawed.

3.    Negotiation is not compromise

  • The task of every negotiator is to get the most they possibly can get from each negotiation for themselves and their employers.
  • Compromise is what happens in the absence of effective negotiation.
  • Your goal is not to give the counterparty anything. Gifts are a sign of generosity.
  • If you are perceived as being generous, your counterparties won’t reciprocate with gratitude. They will become greedy. They will want more from you the next time.
  • Instead of conditioning people to expect free gifts, condition them to expect positive outcomes only if they earn them.

4.    Negotiation is not about securing a win-win outcome

  • Negotiation is about you getting everything you can get, not to be fair to the other party.
  • Win-win is a myth. If you assume you negotiate with rational, competent people, you must further assume that they won’t do a deal that has zero or negative value to them.
  • Therefore, they won’t do deals where they “lose”.  If your counterparty criticizes you for acting in a “win-lose” fashion, they are trying to influence how you feel about the deal. They may be genuinely aggrieved, or they may want you to think they are (it’s a backhanded compliment, designed to make you feel good about your “prowess”). If you have genuinely taken everything they could give you well, they still did the deal. So they’re winning something.
  • Conversely when your counterparty exhorts you to do a deal because “It’s a win-win”, one thing is clear; they’re winning something and want to close the deal. You may be doing ok, but could you do better?

5. Money never gets left on the table

  • I have heard countless negotiators tell me about the times they left money on the table.
  • No money ever stays on the table. If you didn’t take it, the other person did.
  • If the value is there to be had, your job is to get it. In a simple, one dimensional negotiation (typically price), that means you take everything and leave them just enough to close the deal and leave the table. In a complex, multi-variable negotiation that means you identify every conceivable source of value to them and to you and ensure you trade them to create a deal that’s bigger than the sum of it’s parts.

6.    Negotiation is not a game and it is not optional.

  • I meet (and negotiate with) people who’ll say “I’m not going to play games with you, the price is X”
  • If you have all the power in the world, and the counterparty has zero option but to do the deal with you on those terms, they will do it. But they will devote time and energy to clawing back some satisfaction in the deal. If and when the balance of power swings their way, you will be punished.
  • What if you’re counterparty was willing to settle for a price of X – Y? You just overpaid by Y, at least. Chances are that the counterparty will get you to move on your price, so you’ll pay more than X.
  • Negotiation is a necessary and important ritual to help you gauge and attain the best possible outcome every time.
  • Fail to negotiate and you just fail. If you closed a deal without negotiation you either created a risk for yourself down the line, or you got exactly the deal they wanted to give you.

I consult for and train procurement teams and sales forces. Effective negotiation training is not cheap, but it is also essential and an investment in people that delivers great returns in short order.

Twitter experiment in favorited tweets reveals dark side of social networking

In my best Carrie Bradshaw voiceover, I have to ask: are we all just social network test-subjects?

A lot of criticism has been levelled at Twitter over its new, stealth, timeline experiment.

Matt Farrington Smith talks about Twitter favorites experiment

In an effort to engage newbies, Twitter has been sharing users ‘favourite’ tweets in the timelines of people they follow. The offending tweets appear as retweets, further adding to the confusion.

Let’s get this straight, we make the choice to actively follow people on Twitter that we have an interest in. We enjoy reading their tweets, along with any retweets they make. We don’t expect to start seeing tweets from accounts we have never followed appearing in our timeline.

I don’t really see the benefits of favouriting tweets, why favourite when a retweet proves more effective? But I appreciate there are occasions when all you want to do is stick a pin in something (or need to acknowledge a Tweet). For these reasons alone Twitter’s favourite function is tailored more towards private use, moreover than consumption by the masses.

Of course by their very nature social networks need to adapt and grow. Changes are inevitable, but many users have been left puzzled as to why Twitter didn’t provide a heads-up out of courtesy. In-fact the last time Twitter spoke about its experiments was back in 2013: https://blog.twitter.com/2013/experiments-twitter

At the time of writing there is no discernible way to turn this ‘feature’ off. Plus it transcends all Twitter-supported platforms, meaning you’ll encounter it whether you’re on mobile, tablet, or desktop.

Facebook’s psychology experiments

“I’m not a lab rat!” Just a couple of months back, the Internet was awash with similar cries from Facebook users after it was revealed that Zucks’ and company had secretly carried out experiments on a sample of 700k.

The experiments involved manipulating users’ news feeds to control the emotional expressions they were subjected to.

It’s possible to view this as part of a wider ethical debate – is Facebook really allowed to play with our emotions and purposefully make us feel sad?

Facebook makes 600,000 users sad

In its defence, Facebook did speak-up about the experiments. Adam Kramer, a data scientist at Facebook revealed:

“Having written and designed this experiment myself, I can tell you that our goal was never to upset anyone. I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my coauthors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused.”

He went on to explain the rationale behind such a study: “We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out”.

“At the same time, we were concerned that exposure to friends’ negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook.”

Social networks are fragmenting over time

You could argue that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (and other networks of their ilk) are so far-removed from their genesis, they’re almost unrecognisable.

When Facebook changed the algorithm that determined how often posts by pages were shown in news feeds, many felt like they were being unfairly penalized.

The change involved Facebook prioritizing content that it deems more relevant to users, but it also means page owners need to now pay should they want to reach the audience they once reached.

Sometimes less is more. This is especially true when it comes to the unending torrent of crap that spews forth daily in our news feeds. Important updates from your nearest and dearest are now punctuated by promoted or sponsored messages.

In some ways this barrage of promoted posts/tweets/statuses are like the pop-up adverts of old. The difference being your ad-blocking software proves resilient to this scourge…

Acting as Community Editor for Procurious I should point out that we take upmost care when it comes to our users’ privacy.  If you want to be part of an ethical online network that values its members, and won’t enforce experimental changes on you needlessly – then you should really stick with us.

Supply chain risk drops to 18 month low

Enjoy this week’s news bulletin on your chemical-free Apple device, while enjoying a bowl of cornflakes, before washing it all down with some refreshing coconut water.

Popularity of coconut water

The rise and rise of coconut water

  • Once the drink of exotic holidays and childhood funfairs, coconut water is now the de rigueur beverage available in food emporia, bodegas and hotel minibars from New Delhi to New York. Indeed, in North America – the biggest global market for coconut water today – sales of the top three most popular brands went from almost zero in 2004 to nearly $400m by 2013.
  • Yet far from lifting coconut farmers out of poverty, we’re left in a situation whereby farmers receive about $0.12 – $0.25 per coconut and earn anything between $72 – $7,000 a year, according to Fair Trade USA. In contrast, the average serving of coconut water sells for $1.50 in the US, or £1.85 in a UK supermarket for a 330ml carton.

Apple bans hazardous chemicals from supply chain

  • Tech giant Apple has banned the use of two hazardous chemicals in its production line, after investors urged the firm to better protect the workers in its supply chain.
  • The firm announced in a statement this week that benzene and n-hexane would no longer be used in its production plants, though it insisted it had found no evidence that workers had been harmed.
  • In an open letter to Lisa Jackson, vice-president of environmental initiatives at Apple, investors, asset managers and businesses therefore demanded that Apple eliminate all dangerous chemicals from its supplier factories. The campaign group Green America also launched a consumer petition, urging Apple to better protect Chinese workers.

Read more at Blue & Green Tomorrow

Read the full feature on The Guardian’s Sustainable Business pages

Kenya eyes e-procurement system to curb corruption

  • In a move expected to curb corruption and improve transparency in Kenya’s public procurement, the Kenyan government has unveiled a landmark electronic procurement and payment system.
  • The system, e-procurement, was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta with the promise of helping the Government eliminate middlemen and corruption in its much-tainted procurement process.
  • It is estimated that weaknesses in public procurement, including vulnerability to corruption, are a global problem with approximately KSh34.9 trillion reported as being lost to bribery and corruption in procurement globally.
  • Deputy President William Ruto said: “The system is significant as it will eliminate gatekeepers, middlemen and brokers who have made procurement a nightmare.”

Read more on East African Business Week

Kellogg’s says it’s crunch time for supply chain emissions

  • Cereals giant Kellogg’s has announced that it wants suppliers to disclose greenhouse gas emissions as part of an ambitious package of new environmental targets.
  • The manufacturer of brands such as Corn Flakes and Pringles unveiled its Sustainability Report featuring new goals for 2020 to expand the use of low carbon energy, reduce water use and eliminate waste, alongside a commitment towards more responsible sourcing of the company’s top 10 ingredients and materials.
  • A Climate Policy statement also outlines how Kellogg’s will for the first time set and disclose a greenhouse gas reduction target for its entire supply chain by the end of December 2015, using a science-based method consistent with the goal of keeping global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius.

Read more on BusinessGreen

Cases of ebola fever in Africa from 1979 to 2008.
Cases of ebola fever in Africa from 1979 to 2008.

Ebola outbreak and Ukrainian conflict have little effect on supply chains

  • Geopolitical and major disease risks have had less effect than widely believed on the world economy, with supply chains at their least risky levels for a year and a half.
  • According to the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS), supply chain risk dropped to an 18-month low in the second quarter of the year, having fallen for three quarters in a row.
  • The CIPS index attempts to take account of economic, social and political factors.
  • However, the group believes that there may be something of a downturn in the second half of the year, especially given the risk of an increasingly violent conflict in eastern Ukraine and frostier western relations with Russia.

Read more on City A.M.

Americans to manage MoD military procurement

  • Unions and industry insiders are up in arms because two US engineering companies have been asked to oversee the way in which the Ministry of Defence runs the £14bn arm that buys military kit.
  • The Independent can reveal that San Francisco-based Bechtel and Denver’s CH2M Hill have bagged the programme management contracts for the Bristol-based Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S). This agency buys and looks after everything from forklift trucks to Astute class submarines, but is being overhauled by the Government so as to get better value for the taxpayer.
  • Sources said around half of these experts will be flown in from the US. This would cost around £5m more than just using British staff, with the remuneration including food and accommodation expenses.

Read more on the Independent

Don’t forget you can register to receive daily Procurious news-alerts using our brand-new News service.

Is this the world’s most connected man?

Say hello to “the most connected human on Earth”.

Chris Dancy - the most connected man in the world
Copyright: Chris Dancy

The name Chris Dancy probably doesn’t mean much to you now, but after watching this video you’ll find it hard to pass him in the street…

Here Chris talks to The Wall St Journal candidly about how tracking his life has helped him, and whether he envisions a day when everyone will do the same.

Chris Dancy has been tracking his life for the past five years and is now often connected to as many as 700 sensors, devices, apps, and services at a time.  With these he is able to monitor, analyse, and optimize every minutiae of his person to alter the way his body works.

Chris is a fascinating (if bizarre) half-man, half-machine. However we can’t help but wonder if he’s gone a step too far. After-all, it is a hell of a commitment, and you wouldn’t want to be stuck behind him in the queue for airport security…

An education in supply chain management

This week we shine a light on Nils van de Winkel – a Procurious member who’s decided to incorporate the network into his studies. Without further ado we’re handing the floor over to Nils so he can tell you more about himself…

Nils van de Winkel talks about procurement in education

Procurious asks: What attracted you to the profession when you were originally settling on an area of study?

Nils: My interest in supply chain management and procurement in particular has been shaped by two key events during my business studies.

The first was the practical insights gained into the global workings of supply chain management whilst studying a semester in Indonesia for my bachelor in international business and management.

The second was an internship with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok where I was exposed to the aftermath of the 2011 monsoon floods. Many companies with direct or indirect links were adversely affected. Through information sharing seminars it became strikingly clear how companies with supply chain risk management processes accomplished to mitigate disruptions. 

Procurious: How much focus is there on supply chain management and procurement in general business studies?

Nils: In my bachelor program the main focus was on finance, marketing and intercultural aspects of global business operations. It has been more so during my master program that I have gained deeper insights into specific functions of supply chain management. Procurement in specific has not had a deep focus, however important areas such as negotiations and drawing up contracts has had a great deal of attention.

Most interestingly I found that in business studies Porter has an important place. His Value Chain model (Porter, 1985) has received considerable attention throughout both my bachelor and master degree. This model was mainly used to analyse a firm’s activities and compare these with competitors to identify competitive advantages and guide strategic planning. Procurement is depicted as an important support function together with accounting, financial planning and human resource management. Given the importance of the procurement function, as this model acknowledges, I find it surprising that there was quite little focus on procurement during my bachelor and master degree compared to finance, marketing and human resources.

Value Chain model (Porter, 1985)

Procurious: Tell us a little bit more about your thesis, and what you hope to achieve with it.

Nils: As part of the GGSB MIB program a thesis is to be completed during your second academic year whilst employed. As a result of the exposure from my internship with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce my research will take place within the field of supply chain risk management. The focus will be on the purchasing function and how these professionals contribute to risk assessments, creation of contingency plans, and risk management.

My goal is to provide an overview of how procurement professionals have evolved in their risk assessment, creation of contingency plans, and risk management over the past decade. In addition to this I hope to identify whether there been a shift in the importance placed on certain risk categories.

Why did you join Procurious?

Nils: [Procurious member] Matthieu Baril, a GGSB alumnus, introduced me to the platform and explained its potential. So far I’m definitely not disappointed. My belief is that the best way to learn is through the experiences of others. Procurious gives the ability to see what professionals are doing and on which issues they are focussing. These types of insights are difficult to obtain without a social network specified for this field. The exposure, ability to discuss and ask questions greatly enhances ones understanding at a speed that otherwise would not be possible.

How are you using online networks [like Procurious] to help in your studies? 

Nils: Firstly, in the beginning stage of my research in order to gain a practitioner’s insight into the risks that they feel are underestimated in their business and industry as well as how their perception of risks have changed over the past decade. This will help me frame my research and will ensure that the findings are of value to practitioners.

Secondly, in the later stages of my research I hope to test and validate my theories through interviews with business leaders. 

Procurious: Do you think it’s important to make a name for yourself in the social space?

Nils: Over the past year I have come across great examples of young professionals that have built strong personal brands through blogs and social networks, which set them apart in a competitive job market. Social networks have made it much easier to build a strong online identity to reinforce and market your knowledge and competencies. 

Procurious: Let’s turn this on its head… If you were the tutor would you make any particular recommendations to your students? 

Nils: In order to gain most from your studies it is important to relate theory to practice. As it is difficult to have a qualified job alongside full-time studies it can help to have discussions with practitioners as well as stay up to date with industry progress through company reports and other sorts of content.

One of these different content formats has been the valuable rise of online learning. There are great online classes such as Procurious’ Learning page that discusses a wide variety of topics, which can help in courses and general skill development.

So far I’ve already seen two master students that are using Procurious to gain insights from professionals. I hope to be able to reach out to people in time to come as well in order to gain a more thorough understanding of their approaches to risk management.

Procurious: Do you think enough is being done to promote procurement as a profession?

Nils: From the direction that I have come there was little promotion for procurement. Looking at my bachelor program today I see that supply chain management has received somewhat more attention. However, general business studies still tend to be more geared towards specific finance, marketing, and human resources functions.

Then again, there are a reasonable amount of programs specifically focusing on supply chain management where I presume that the profession of procurement receives ample focus. 

Procurious: How do you envisage securing your first job in procurement?

Nils: My goal is to gain hands-on experience and an understanding of how internal processes are created to assist in supply chain risk management. Through professionals I hope to come in contact with companies that place an emphasis on its procurement department.

Procurious: What’s your advice for younger students who show an interest in procurement and supply chain management?

Nils: Go out and talk to people. So far I have noticed that professionals in the field of procurement are very open and willing to share their experiences over a cup of coffee. Even through platforms such as Procurious it is easy to connect and have conversations with professionals from all over the world in order to get a deeper understanding of the specific activities in procurement. 

4 of the best productivity apps and websites

No matter how motivated we think we are, we all experience that productivity-lull – and it doesn’t just happen on Friday’s…

Thankfully we’re dosed-up on caffeine, and have ploughed headlong into the world of productivity apps and useful websites so you don’t have too.

Here are a smattering of our current favourites:

Best productivity tools: Slack messaging app

Slack

We’ve crushed on Slack hard here at Procurious HQ… We’ve had to tell Jack (Product Manager) off for making googly eyes at his screen, and the idea was to boost productivity!

Tony Conrad (founder of About.me) says the following: “I am basically in love with Slack. It took us less than 24 hours to get everyone on board (as you know, people are resistant to change), and it is amazing.” But this could come from any number of fresh Slack converts…

Slack brings all of your communication together in one place. It takes all the best bits from your MSN Messenger’s, Skype’s, and Lync’s, while leaving all the needless bloat behind. Its clean and uncluttered interface means nothing gets in the way of the meat and potatoes of

The best bit? Slack is completely free to use (for as long as you want), and with an unlimited number of people too. Go team go!
Yo app gets new features

Yo

Today we’re revisiting Yo – the simplistic, throwaway app has graduated to big-boy pants and somewhat surprisingly has attracted even more funding…

Remind yourself what we said about it first-time round. 

The #firstmovers among you may still have Yo installed – and if so you might like to know that its just received its first considerable update. But with it comes an extra layer of complexity, one we’re not entirely sure is needed.

Yo Link adds the ability to chaperone your ‘Yo’ with a URL – Or Arbel (Yo Founder) says this of the functionality: “News websites can now offer not only getting instant Yo notifications when a story breaks, but also attach the story itself and readers can open it in a frictionless and convenient way.”

Hashtags are also now supported.

The beauty (or madness, depending on who you asked) of Yo, was its purposefully limited offering. Has Yo’s visionary over-egged the pudding?

Best productivity tools: Timeful app

Timeful

Are you an iPhone user, and suffer from poor time-management? As luck would have it, we have the very app for you…  Timeful aims to take the weight off your heavy shoulders by helping you to get things scheduled and completed more effectively.

Timeful arrives in an already crowded market, but because it syncs with your calendars (Google, Microsoft Exchange, Apple iCal, etc.) it can use its intelligent time management system to help you make the best use of your time by suggesting things for you. The app also allows the user to add specific to-do items and ’habits’ they would like to turn into recurring activities.

What’s more, the more you use it, the better it gets. Over time, our algorithms will learn what you like to do and when you like to do it, which will help generate more accurate suggestions.

Android users fear not – a version is reportedly in the works, as is a web-based edition. So soon you’ll all have so much free time you won’t know what to do with it… Spend it on Procurious yeah?

Best productivity tools: Buffer app for iOS and Android Buffer

While we’re not playing around with the excellent IFTTT or Friends+Me services – we’re turning our eye to the equally-awesome Buffer app. It’s definitely worth a go if you find yourself juggling posts across multiple social networks…

By making Buffer part of your daily routine you don’t need to worry about lumping all of your social media updates together in one period. Just bash some posts out, save and schedule them to be pushed out throughout the day (or week).

Buffer will play quite happily with your Internet browser (Chrome, Safari, and Firefox are all supported), just install one of the browser extensions, then click the Buffer icon whenever you spot something shareable.

There’s integration with Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (and more) under the hood, plus it offers both web and mobile access so you can post and schedule updates even if away from the computer.

How connected are you?

Here on Procurious we’re making it even easier for you to connect…

If you’re of the opinion that social networks (and the content shared on them) is just a load of noise – and your colleague bullied you into becoming a member here, let us calm some of those fears.

I Can Haz Cheezburger and Kim Kardashian in a beautiful example of the riches the Internet brings...
I Can Haz Cheezburger and Kim Kardashian represent a beautiful contrast of the riches the Internet brings…

Believe it or not, it’s not all selfies on Facebook, cat videos on YouTube and a plethora of Kardashians on Twitter. OK those things all exist, but peer a little closer and you’ll see it for what it really is. Justin Beiber, Oprah and Grumpy Cat aren’t the only ones using social media – your peers, thought leaders, potential new contacts, and your competitors are all out there – they’re just waiting for you to reach out and connect.

Online networks (like Procurious) are the communication hubs of the future. Our lives  are increasingly becoming more digital, we live and breathe the online space. Procurious, LinkedIn, and Twitter all make it stupidly easy to communicate with people you wouldn’t normally reach – think of it as the world’s biggest Filofax!

Say you want to message the CPO of Glaxo Smith Klein, you don’t have her email on file but you CAN search Procurious.  This isn’t the Dark Ages, instead take the initiative and reach out to her – make the connection.

Size does matter

Take a look at your network – you can check this at any time by clicking on your profile picture and scrolling down to the ‘My Network’ area.

How many people are in your network? 100+ you’re doing very well indeed…

How big is your Procurious network?

There are a number of extremely ways to increase your standing: If you haven’t already, pay a visit to the ‘Build Your Network’ page (you’ll find it behind the green button, and it’s in the same place no matter which page you’re on).

Here you can see who you’re already connected to, how you connected (via Procurious itself, or LinkedIn), and a handy selection of search filters that makes finding new friends a piece of cake.

Don’t forget you can also invite existing connections from LinkedIn to join you on your Procurious pilgrimage. Click the blue invite button to select up to a maximum of 10 contacts per day.

Email is another option (if your address book is bulging), or there’s the personal invite link that’s free to be pasted anywhere you like. Think Twitter, Facebook, and your Google+ page.

While browsing Procurious you may have also noticed the ‘Get Connected’ area. This is our way of recommending other interesting members to you, just click the ‘Add To Network’ button to send a request to connect.

With all of these tips, your network will be booming in no time! 

How far would you go for charity?

Since we published this story, the #IceBucketChallenge has spread to front pages the world over. To view an ever-updating list of participants visit this exhaustive Wikipedia page.

What’s the idea behind it? To raise awareness (and money) for the ALS Association, who research the motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However in Britain this money instead goes to Macmillan Cancer Support.

From 29 July 2014 the challenge has generated a whopping $22.9 million in contributions.

Updated with Bill Gates Ice Bucket Challenge:

Question: Have you ever seen Mark Zuckerberg pour a bucket of ice-cold water on himself?

Answer: Yep, now you have.

Microsoft’s CEO – Satya Nadella, previously stepped-up to the ice-cold mantle. By completing the Ice Bucket Challenge, Zuck’s got to nominate three people of his choosing, namely: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Netflix CEO Read Hastings, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Not high-profile choices at all then…

Those nominated have just 24 hour to give themselves a dousing, or donate to the ALS Foundation. Of course they can always choose to do both.

Are you inspired by Zuckerberg’s show of charity, and would you do the same? 

Bite-size procurement takeaways for the time-poor

Gordon Donovan provides his insights into procurement-related articles and news stories.

I am a principal consultant with The Faculty a management consultancy specialising in procurement. I have been involved with the profession for 25 years as a practitioner, consultant, trainer and coach. I am passionate about procurement, and am one of the few that made a conscious choice to go into procurement. It was a choice made when I witnessed my father (who was a sales manager for many years) dealing with buyers –  and I thought I’d much rather be on the other end of that conversation. In later years it made for some very interesting dinner conversations…

Gordon Donovan on procurement

In this blog series I will trawl the news and provide you with my personal procurement take-aways.

First up is an article I found on LinkedIn on why the supplier selection process is dying [read it here]. It is written for selecting marketing or creative agencies, but I think its just as relevant for selection of any strategic supplier of goods and services.

To summarise it suggests that the “traditional way” of selecting (RFI, Shortlist, RFT, Shortlist, Presentation/trial, Award) isn’t working and fails to find a supplier that’s best suited for the organisation about 50 per cent of the time.

This reminds me of an article written some time ago which stated that 80 per cent of the things we buy are from distorted supply markets, yet 80 per cent of the tools we use are for competitive markets.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that RFT/P/Q are great tools, but we should use them where they are the most effective, or at least do some groundwork to ensure that they are effective when we use them. They rely on competition (or the illusion of competition) to be successful. The worry for me is that ignore can be bliss; we don’t really know when we don’t get the value unless our preparation is good enough.

Talking about preparation brings me to the second article that caught my eye. This is for a podcast I subscribe to by AT Kearney (yes it’s a procurement podcast, don’t judge me!)

Download ‘Wave of the Future’ from iTunes

This episode is all about why Googling isn’t enough. It hits a nerve with me as I hear a lot of my workshop delegates chime “well we will just Google it”.

The podcast says that while Google has made things quicker and simpler, it doesn’t give you the breadth or depth of information that you really need to fully understand supply markets.

According to ATK, 60 per cent of information is in commercial online databases. Some tips provided within include:

  • Use the advanced search feature rather than the vanilla search. Click the cog icon to select this mode.
  • Disable the personal settings. As a default it will look at your previous searches and location and customise the results – especially useful if you’re trying to source a supplier from overseas.
  • Compliment with other more traditional methods (such as interviewing subject matter experts.
  • When reviewing a web site think about who wrote it, for whom and why.

Finally, I came across an interesting article from Mckinsey about different sourcing strategies.

It’s not ground-breaking but contains some interesting insights.

My main takeaways are:

  • The vast majority of onshoring initiatives were in manufacturing.
  • A two-thirds decline in the US price of natural gas since 2008 is attracting some manufacturing industries that use gas as direct fuel or feedstock.
  • Strategic offshoring of IT and business processes retains the promise of reducing costs, hedging production risk, and increasing access to talent by employing a network of offshoring locations.
  • American International Group (AIG), is moving ahead with the creation of nearshore centres in multiple regions.
  • Many companies are discovering that sourcing decisions cannot simply be made based on the notion that ‘noncore’ business activities can be offshored.

I trust that you find these articles and insights useful, and if you wanted to discuss please feel free to contact me via Procurious, join my network, or follow me on Twitter @gdonovan1971