The secret to long-term career planning

In this second part of a two-part article, Hamish Petrie – former VP of People and Communications for resources giant Alcoa – reveals the secrets behind nurturing a long-term career.

Hamish currently writes for the Business Times in Melbourne. Read more about his story here.

Planning your career path

Time is a critical factor in any career planning process. Most futurists agree that a large proportion of jobs even ten years out have not been invented yet.

To try to conceive the sort of job that you might have in the latter half of a 30+ year career is impossible. Your personal situation and your career anchor will usually change often through your career. For example, major life changes can greatly alter your priorities. Some consultants recommend breaking your career into five year terms, however, my experience would suggest that this is too long.  Too many things can change your situation in even two years, so a three-year plan seems more appropriate in our rapidly changing world.

In making this sort of plan, most people identify that they want to do their boss’s job, as they know that they can do it better than the current boss. Whilst this may be true, it can be restrictive as people can lock onto this and lock off on other possibilities. This “lock on: lock off” thinking can prevent a person from thinking about lateral jobs that may ultimately prepare them for bigger future roles.

I always suggest that a medium term career plan should exclude their immediate boss’s role, as this stimulates broader thinking. Getting some breath of experience during the first half of your career is always wise and it doesn’t matter in the long term if a particular job is not your ideal one at the time, as long as you keep learning about yourself.

Companies and jobs are always evolving and changing so it is important to learn how to adapt to change and to help drive change in a positive direction for you and your company. There is an old adage that “ tomorrow’s power comes to those that solve today’s problems”. Demonstrating that you can creatively solve problems and stimulate others to help can be a great adjunct to your career.

The bottom line is that it is impossible to develop a realistic long-term career plan, but you can prepare yourself for possible future jobs. You can develop a short to medium plan and this can be very helpful as long as your include all of the opportunities for broadening your experience. When considering how to develop your career, it is much more important to focus on the company rather than the job. If you can join a company that is right for you, then they will help you grow, become active in a dialogue about your future and help you be happy, and rewarded in whatever job comes along.

Action Planning Questions: 

  1. Have you investigated your own career anchor or taken one of the self-assessment tests available on the Internet?
  2. Have you developed a three-year plan, excluding your current boss’s job?
  3. When considering candidates for a job, do you give try to identify their career anchors to determine the best long-term fit for your needs?
  4. When considering a job, do you focus much more on the company rather than the specific job?

Read part one: Hamish Petrie asks: ‘Can you plan your career?’

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Are we the golden children of procurement?

When the CEO of one of the world’s largest resources businesses, Sam Walsh, says he believes procurement has entered a “golden age”, it certainly makes you think – could this really be one of the most prosperous periods of our profession’s history? And, if so, what are we doing to capitalize on this opportunity?

Remind yourself what Sam Walsh said on Procurious

Are we the golden children of procurement?

From the perspective of my 15+ years in the profession, I am confident in saying procurement professionals are in the midst of some very exciting times… and here’s why: 

  1. Our roles have never been so complex and therefore as interesting.  Today’s procurement professionals must manage all the expectations of their 360-degree stakeholders, up-skill and engage their teams, deliver an advantaged supply base, and all the while, keep their own careers prospering.
  2. Our old tools still work. Even though our roles have become more complex, most of the tools we have developed and used during the last decade are relevant today – strategic sourcing, category management, SRM etc. are all valued by the business and deliver outcomes. Everything old is new again, and most importantly, it still works.
  3. Digital is already disruptive. As customers, we are already online and procurement is about to explode into this space – drones, social media, 3D printing etc. are all transforming the way we think about everything from supply and demand; professional development; collaboration and sourcing.  The challenge is to ‘digitalise’ our ancient tools for this brave new world.
  4. We are a rare breed. Couple demand for our expertise with the rate the profession is growing, and you’ll see there are procurement opportunities exploding all over the world. Go and grab them!
  5. Our image is golden. As more talented people enter the profession and we are called on to tackle issues of core business importance, our image as a profession has grown stronger than ever. Gone are those outdated aspersions that find procurement stuck in the “dark ages”. That’s where Procurious comes in – Procurious is reimagining the image of the modern procurement professional – with the core of its members proving themselves to be a smart, upwardly mobile, and commercially savvy breed. 

“Study the past if you would define the future.”
― Confucius

History of Procurement

Procurement is one of the fastest growing professions in the world. For those of you new to procurement, here’s a “short history of the world” which may give some perspective on whether we are indeed in the “golden age”.

The Dark Ages

OK, so we all know our forefathers started in the backroom.  Clad in their brown cardigans, they executed contracts, processed purchase orders, accepting the odd bottle of scotch from suppliers at Christmas time.

Enlightenment

The forefather of modern procurement is widely accepted to be Gene Richter, who worked at IBM in the 1990’s.

The major US companies soon followed IBM by leveraging their global volumes and introducing standardized procurement processes. Not so long ago, the seven step sourcing process was being implemented, centralized procurement teams were formed, followed by supplier relationship management, and more recently category management.

The dot-com boom

The dawn of the new millennium was a time of rapid organization and maturation for the profession.

Many large companies made significant investments (such as $1M+ board approvals) to invest in cross-company procurement exchanges.

Now referred to as Procurement’s dot-com boom, these group-buy investments got procurement quickly on and then just as quickly off the Board agenda. Investments in group buying (and the associated technology) all “became a bit too hard”.

Despite these high profile, public failures, procurement continued to flourish and today, the “dot.com boom” represents the time we moved from the back room – in our brown cardigans – to the boardroom, where our Chief Procurement Officer’s increasingly find themselves either sitting, or at least contributing, today.

Globalisation and the extension of the supply chain

Once all the large companies had leveraged their spend globally, the hunt was on for the most cost-effective country to manufacture goods.

All of a sudden we were managing suppliers and their suppliers in foreign and often remote, locations. This is where the profession became, and continues to be very exciting…

Globalisation has brought with it significant advances, and made our profession  much richer as a result.

Today, its universally accepted that procurement has moved beyond just cost – we now play an integral role in areas of risk management – including supply, quality, innovation and mergers & acquisitions (M&A); new product development; and corporate social responsibility.

The Digital Age

As if our jobs weren’t “interesting” (aka challenging) enough, now we have to account for social media too… Not only are we expected to manage a worldwide network of suppliers and contractors – we are exposed to dangers like customers or shareholders posting a “Tweet” or “status” about how we are managing the supplier.

Yet, this is why working in procurement today is so incredibly interesting and why the profession continues to flourish. We’re working at the interface between the business and all its stakeholders – be that the community, customer, shareholder, supplier, and employee. We need to manage all these stakeholders with the highest integrity in order to protect our brand.

How to make the most of the golden age

If Sam Walsh is right, and we are in the ‘golden age’, how do we take advantage / don’t let this golden opportunity pass us by:

  1. Market yourself and your ideas!  You are your own brand, and nobody knows YOU better. Leverage your good name and use your influence to promote the profession.
  2. Stay connected. With the world and with your peers. Identify risks and opportunities, learn from others.
  3. Keep learning. Every minute of every day we are learning. Whether that be learning from our peers, our customers, and suppliers. And by doing this we are able to identify issues for procurement as they emerge.
  4. Enjoy!  Make the most of being in this profession at this prosperous point in history.  There are so many career opportunities right now – you should be grasping every opportunity to learn and grow.

Conclusion

Although an unlikely comparison for our profession, I use Madonna as an inspirational metaphor/analogy for managing your career.  Even though she’s been in the same role for more than 30 years, she keeps “reinventing” herself for her target audience.  She’s still a pop singer, but she is constantly changing her branding to ensure she stays relevant. As professionals we need to be doing the same!

And that’s what I believe Procurious can bring to the profession – a place to stay current, and stay connected. A place where all procurement professionals can get ahead and thrive in this golden age and beyond!

The term Golden Age (Greek: Χρυσόν Γένος Chryson Genos) comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five (or more) Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and then the present (Iron), which is a period of decline. By extension “Golden Age” denotes a period of primordial peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity

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5 green initiatives to improve your supply chain

Pretty much each & every one of us (as individuals and organisations) now make a conscious effort to do our bit for the environment and “Go Green” wherever possible. Not only do our “Go Green” actions benefit the world we live in and potentially reduce costs for us but also makes us feel good inside – giving us that feeling that we, as the superintendents of our ecosystem, are making a difference.

Go Green in your supply chain

I’m sure that most of you will have already put practices into place within your home environs with regard to recycling and saving energy by switching to energy saving bulbs and turning off power that is unnecessarily left on stand-by, but have you considered instilling comparable measures within your logistics Supply Chain.

As our attitudes towards the environment changes, what methods could you implement to offer a “Greener” Supply Chain solution?

Here we take a look at 5 ways which could improve your Supply Chain’s eco-efficiency:

1. Take a view from a different prospective of your company and deliberate your current actions. Do you consider your company to already be embracing a good standard of eco-efficiency? How can we expect others that we collaborate with to hold and preserve a high standard of “Go Green” ethos when we, ourselves, do not follow.

2. Evaluate your current use of machinery and packaging and assess where you can make reductions by introducing more energy proficient equipment and the use of recycled packaging products as well as decreasing the volume of packaging your items require. Recent studies indicate that over 50% of goods on store shelves are packaged in recycled paperboard.

3. Use a comparison site to review your business energy prices and see where you could potentially make savings.

4. Inspire your staff to promote green resources and infuse systems which encourage a “Go Green” attitude throughout your workforce. Why not implement an “idea” box for your employees to make suggestions of how & where they feel changes could be made to reflect “Greener” processes.

5. Restructure & modernise your logistics to minimise emissions. Can you make better consumption of your vehicles by combining the shipments of more than one client on a particular route in each load?Could you deliver a higher quantity of resources per load to reduce your truck movements? Contemplate the use of low carbon transport such as rail, barge or sea together with hybrid vehicles for means of transport by road. Full information is available for advice on methods to “Go Green” within your business transportation methodologies via http://www.epa.gov/smartway/

Being environmentally friendly should be high on your list of priorities in the 21st century, but without the knowledge of how to shape a “Greener” supply chain, you can’t realistically or practically reach your end objective. Investigate how you can co-operate with other companies, within your circle of business, how working together could result in the reduction of waste. Details on how a business can contribute to a more sustainable economy can be sourced via the UK Government website.

This guest post was penned by Sarah Robey. Sarah represents a UK-based logistics finding service.

10 years of supply chain CSR

We’re leading this week’s news headlines with a decade of supply chain corporate social responsibility presented in an easy-to-digest infographic. It’s like Christmas has come early…

Ten years of supply chain’s corporate responsibility

  • A new infographic which highlights the high-profile events that have driven global momentum for business and supply chain responsibility over the past decade has been created by the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex).
  • From the Morecambe Bay tragedy in the UK in 2004 to the horsemeat scandal which rocked industry last year, the Sedex infographic puts the spotlight on the events that have driven global momentum for CSR and supply chain responsibility.

View the infographic in full below (thanks to edie.net):

Infographic: 10 years of supply chain CSR

 

Carlsberg pours Office 365 into supply chain operations

  • Danish brewer Carlsberg has deployed Office 365 in a bid to help the company manage its supply chain operations around the world. The Carlsberg Group is deploying Office 365’s integrated productivity and collaboration services to underpin the Carlsberg Supply Chain (CSC), an initiative to help streamline the company’s global supply chain operations.
  • Since 2000 the company has expanded from a local production base of just six markets to servicing pubs and restaurants in over 140 markets, and the company has launched what it calls “GloCal,” an attempt to improve its operational efficiency by centralising management of its procurement, production, logistics and planning functions.
  • Etienne Dock, vice president of IT architecture and sourcing at Carlsberg said the company is using Microsoft Exchange Online for email and calendaring; Microsoft Lync Online to connect via web conferencing and instant messaging; teams are collaborating on projects using Microsoft SharePoint Online; and employees are adopting the Yammer Enterprise social networking platform for messaging and collaboration.

Read more at Business Cloud News

DHL Supply Chain wins new five-year contract with Volvo Cars

  • Under the new contract, DHL will manage four shared use local distribution centres. Deliveries will take place through the night using DHL’s Auto Alliance collaborative platform. During the day, deliveries are made through the same day service to all of Volvo Cars UK dealers. This service incorporates flexible driver departure times to even the most remote dealers, meaning an enhanced, more efficient delivery service nationwide.
  • Michael Martin, VP Business Development, Automotive, DHL Supply Chain added: “DHL is delighted to be working with one of the world’s leading automotive companies to drive forward innovative approaches for exceptional customer service. “This new contract heralds a new partnership between DHL and Volvo Cars, which will see us deliver an innovative service-level delivery network, resulting in increased efficiencies”.
  • A new fleet of increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles will be deployed, with more than 35 trucks that feature forward facing cameras, Microlise vehicle tracking to increase fleet performance, full closure tail lifts to maintain high safety standards and state-of-the-art double deck trailers specifically designed for working in the Aftermarket environment.

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

Huawei boosts European procurement spend to more than $4 billion

  • The Chinese IT company spent $3.4 billion on components, engineering and logistical services in 2013 but plans to increase this to $4.08 billion by 2015.
  • At its European Partner Convention in Germany the firm, which deals with more than 3,000 suppliers in Europe, said spending was “gathering further speed” as part of plans to expand in the region.
  • Kevin Tao, president of Huawei Western Europe, said: “Europe remains our top investment destination. “Europe’s fertile IT environment, and the trust of our valuable European partners, has enabled us to get us to get where we are today. As our engagement with the European business environment deepens, procurement will be continually increasing to fuel this expansion.”

Read more at Supply Management

Competition from China PC supply chain to remain strong in 2015

  • Although demand for PCs has started recovering recently and shipments in 2015 are expected to remain at the same level as in 2014, Taiwan’s supply chain is still facing fierce competition from China-based component makers, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.
  • The sources pointed out that the hinge industry is one of the major battlefields for Taiwan makers, as China-based manufactures such as GT Technology have been expanding their presences in the monitor and all-in-one PC industries. Although notebook hinges are still supplied mainly by Taiwan-based companies, China makers’ aggressive moves have created strong pressure.
  • In addition to hinges, the competition between Taiwan and China makers has also grown fierce for components such as batteries, cooling modules, cables and connectors.

Read more at Digitimes.com

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Jason D’Assisi

He may be a procurement superstar now, but after high school, Jason D’Assisi wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do.

Jason D'Assisi

With a little push from his family, he ended up in real estate, but when an opportunity to do something different came along, he jumped at it and took a role with an import/export organisation. He recalls working his way through the organisation and experiencing the different aspects of procurement, including commercial negotiations and sourcing strategies.

He knew he’d found his niche and in 2008 he began studying supply chain management full-time while also continuing to work full-time in procurement.

He went on to work for KPMG Australia as a procurement specialist and Myer as a category manager, where he gained valuable leadership and management experience.

These days, you can find him at Newcrest Mining, where he’s a supply specialist and category lead for engineering services, CAPEX and site services.

“I didn’t get to where I am today without having experienced teams around me to learn from and develop. Add a supportive wife to the mix and I’ve been lucky enough to have the foundations needed to help me succeed in this industry,” Jason says.

“I’m also ambitious and naturally competitive and both these traits have helped me achieve success in the last five years.”

Jason has worked with some great leaders that have helped him develop invaluable strategic sourcing, negotiation and procurement skills during his career. He’s now on the lookout for a formal mentor to ensure he reaches his full potential.

He’s been told he’s an outcome driven person, which he agrees with.

“I really enjoy reading a supplier and deciphering their real intentions in a negotiation. It allows me to expose their real needs and wants, which I can use in the negotiation process to deliver greater commercial outcomes for an organisation.”

Jason also hopes to be part of a mentorship program so he can share the story with young procurement professionals looking for guidance and career direction.

“Most of us can and do procure in some way in our everyday activities, but procurement for me is more than just the transaction. It’s about developing the skill and ability to get the most out of the negotiation in order to benefit the organisation.”

My three CIPS Australasia conference highlights

This is the fifth article in a fortnightly series from Gordon Donovan.

With the dust having now settled, this won’t be a blow-by-blow account but instead I’ll share my key highlights from the event.

The CIPS Australasia conference took place across a jam-packed two days – here are my key takeaways from three of the highlight speakers:

CIPS Australasia conference 2014

David Noble, CIPS CEO

The key theme of this year’s conference encompassed the issues of change in business and the global economy. In opening David addressed the rapidly changing business environment and highlighted the key factors are affecting modern supply chains and that the conference would hinge upon. Namely: technology, talent, transformation, and tomorrow.

The advance of technology is constant, so it’s critical that today’s procurement professional has an acute understanding of what this key enabler can deliver. Complexity has rendered traditional tried and tested change management plans obsolete. This has called for a more innovative and creative range of solutions that are flexible, adaptable and agile allowing the organisation to change direction quickly to meet market challenges. Only one third of procurement professionals are ready for the challenges ahead according to CEOs.

In an unpredictable volatile world, the need to make sense of the future will be an important and critical competency for procurement leaders.

David demonstrated that CIPS is now a true global institution, boasting offices throughout the world and a truly worldwide membership base. The following was also shared with delegates from CIPS HQ at Easton House:

  • Licensing the profession is a multifaceted approach
  • Chartered status will follow from Jan 2015
  • Fellowship remains highest CIPS qualification level
  • CIPS is now holding regular CEO supply forums to both brief and be briefed by the C suite
  • There will be three routes to obtain chartered status which will require 30 hours of CPD to maintain annually
  • A new concentrated focus on ethics and walk free foundation

Sam Walsh, CEO of Rio Tinto

A detailed account of Sam’s key note speech “The golden age of procurement” can be read on Procurious here, but here’s a primer for those unfamiliar with his words:

Sam revealed that most companies are not making the most of the possibilities of procurement. In fact, research showed that when it comes to procurement, 50% to 90% of companies recognise that they do not employ best practices

“Shift your perspective.  Instead of spending your whole time obsessing only about the top line, and the bottom line, focus on the middle line as well.”

Sustainability was also a key focus for the Rio Chief: “So the saying goes, we are what we eat. In business, we are what we buy.”

A note on new talent struck a chord with the millennial’s in the room. Sam mused that today’s procurement professionals require a much wider skills-set than was needed when he first started as a trainee buyer.

Mark Donaldson VC, Corporal

The highlight of the conference for many… Mark’s keynote speech was about transforming you and your team – good leaders create other leaders and not followers.

He reminded delegates that knowledge alone rarely changes behaviour; behaviour changes behaviour with practice, and with repetition the knowledge becomes practiced and ingrained. Further adding that exposure to new things increases behavioural change. Longer-lasting change takes a great deal more time to properly bed in.

Mark warned against the dangers of becoming too emotionally attached to a plan – reminding all that plans often fail due to this blind spot. Letting emotions in also places limits on flexibility.

But Donaldson didn’t finish there, he instead went on to reminisce about the end of the day he received his VC: “I was a bit tired and hot and was running out of water, and as I sheltered behind a vehicle I noticed a young soldier returning fire whilst bleeding profusely as he had been shot in the head. ‘you don’t stop, so I don’t stop’. If we think we have been having a bad day, ask yourself the following: Have I run out of water? Is it over 40 degrees in my work environment? Have I been shot at for three hours? No, well not so much of a bad day then…”

Awards Dinner

Congratulations to the winners of the CIPS Awards – at The Faculty we were especially proud to see so many of our Roundtable members and their teams collecting accolades.  A complete list of winners is below:

Best Cross-Functional Teamwork Project

  • Alcoa of Australia

Best Example of Socially Responsible Procurement

  • Department  for Communities and Social Inclusion
  • Ministry of Social Development

Best Infrastructure or Capital Works Project

  • Transurban

Best People Development Initiative

  • Telstra Corporation

Best Process Improvement Initiative

  • Santos Limited

Best Supplier Partnership

  • Centennial Coal

Most Improved Procurement Operation

  • Thiess Pty Ltd
  • Fonterra Co-operative Limited

CIPS Australasia Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional of the Year

  • Kevin McCafferty – Fortescue Metals Group

CIPS Australasia Young Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional of the Year

  • Bree Pitcher – Stanwell Corporation Limited

CIPS Australasia Overall Winner

  • Santos Limited

CIPS Australasia Leadership Award

  • Sarah Collins – Roads and Maritime Services

Supply chain issues on the small (and silver) screen

According to an excellent commentary from The Guardian, viral YouTube hits and blockbusting movie releases are helping to shine light on pertinent issues affecting supply chains the world over.

The Guardian cites such cinematic successes as Blood Diamond, alongside indie-documentaries like Blood in the Mobile (an expose on mobile phone production methods that are financing war in the DR Congo), and The Price of Sugar (at what human cost is sugar produced?) But there’s also a growing glut of online-only, YouTube short films – each aiming to achieve the same goals.

The Story of Stuff is a great example, as well as being something of a YouTube success story… Originally released in 2007, it’s been watched by over 44 million worldwide.

The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

Can you recommend any other videos that are making similar waves in these areas?

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Language barriers: the dangers of Google Translate

Procurement Professionals on LinkedInThis guest blog was written by Marcia Thompson and originally posted in the Procurement Professionals LinkedIn group. It has been redistributed with their permission.  Read more on Procurement Professionals LinkedIn group at: http://linkd.in/1uupe8p or Twitter: @ProcurementProf

Many years, in a restaurant in Ankara, Turkey, I made a faux pas when I was offered tea, or çay in Turkish. I replied in the little Turkish I had learnt. What I said was “no tea”, which I meant as no tea for me thanks. But apparently this was interpreted as “there is no tea”. This caused major confusion as saying there is no tea in Turkey is the same as saying there is no pizza in Italy or no vodka in Russia. The more the waiter tried to convince me that yes, there was tea in his restaurant, the more I said “no tea”. It took a few minutes to sort it out and my friends, the staff and I laughed about it.

google-tranlate

Whilst this example of a language misunderstanding was minor with no harm done, how many mistakes are made on a regular basis without people being aware.   Compounding this lack of awareness is “Google Translate” where people blissfully assume that the translation of words is correct and that the other party to the communication meant to say those words.

According to Wikipedia, effective communication occurs “when a desired effect is the result of intentional or unintentional information sharing, which is interpreted between multiple entities and acted on in a desired way.” (source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication). Now I have to stop and wonder if readers with English as a second or third language – for the purpose of this article, I will say “ESL (English as Second Language) readers” – can understand that sentence. In “plain English” (English that is easily understood), effective communication is when the message received is the same message as the one that was sent.

Lost in translation

“Google Translate” is a translation tool that should be used with some caution. It ignores tone, regional differences, gender bias, perception, history, jargon, abbreviations and noise, et cetera.  Basically, all of these factors filter the information received and are potential obstacles to effective communication. I deliberately chose noise as the last factor.

Many ESL readers, and even some native English readers, would read “noise” as something we hear but actually “noise” can also be used to describe irrelevant information. The Oxford English Dictionary defines one meaning of noise: “in non-technical contexts: irrelevant or superfluous information or activity, esp. that which distracts from what is important” (source: http://www.oed.com).  Interesting that this definition uses “esp.”, which could create some confusion, or indeed “noise”. Esp. could be interpreted as an abbreviation for Espana for Spanish readers and if you google “esp.” extrasensory perception is ranked the highest definition. In a google search for “what does esp. stand for: http://www.abbreviations.com/serp.php?st=ESP.&p=7, there is a list of 158 meanings for esp., but the one that the Oxford English Dictionary meant, “especially”, is listed on the 7th page.  It could be a real challenge for ESL speakers to work out something as simple as this one abbreviation is (for native English speakers) and it is a great example of how Google Translate, or even Google Search, can’t be relied upon to assist with complete understanding.

English is the most commonly used language for business purposes between people from different countries.   As more interactions and transactions are carried out, esp. (J) online, it can be easy to assume that everyone that is communicating in English has a common understanding. Even native speakers can have trouble communicating with each other.

So what is the solution? Well, basically all of the parties to the communication need to check that they have understood the communication. It is better to do this sooner rather than later.   How depends on the type and purpose of communication. In Procurement, it could be that the supplier needs to demonstrate they have understood the specification of a good or service.   This could be a sample, photo, drawing or anything that clearly shows they are delivering as required by the specification.

A second opinion could be helpful, for example someone else reading a contract to ensure understanding of the terms and conditions.   Calling the other party to discuss the contents of a written document can also be useful. Whatever the situation is, don’t assume that Google Translate will be able to translate your words 100% effectively. There are many words in English that have two or more meanings. Native English speakers are used to it and don’t realize how many there are.

As an example, I am going to leave you with my interpretation of the word blue:

  • colour like as the sky, feeling sad, fight or argument, genuine (as in true blue), mistake, the name of someone with red hair (also known as Red), and royal (English royals are said to have blue blood).

Is collaboration really necessary?

If you’re a procurement professional, then you probably hear the word collaboration more than you’d like to. Collaboration has rightfully earned its place in the hall of fame of executive buzzwords. But as most practitioners know, the reality of collaboration is often unglamorous.

Is collaboration really necessary?

So why this gap between the ideal world and reality? One root cause is that very few people actually follow collaboration best practices. The side effects of ineffective collaboration are further magnified when different departments within an enterprise have to work together, which is often the case when procurement is involved.

The truth is that collaboration works if and only if the answer to all of the following questions is a resounding YES:

1. Is collaboration necessary?

Too often, committees get formed and the overhead of having to communicate to several (overextended) people often outweighs the benefit of their participation. Ask yourself whether you really need others’ help or input.

2. Does everyone know what they’re doing?

How many times have you been in a meeting where half the participants look disengaged or confused? Collaboration is an active process and everyone needs to be all in and know what they are responsible for delivering. And this needs to be true at every point throughout the project lifecycle.

3. Is the end goal clear to everyone?

Often, collaborative projects kick off with a grand vision, but weeks later, the harsh realities of having to deliver by a certain deadline often muddle that vision. This causes confusion (at best) and severe productivity loss and frustration (at worst). Ask yourself whether you know where you’re going. If you don’t, then the odds are that you’re not the only one.

4. Does everyone know what the action plan is?

This is especially critical to complex projects with multiple stakeholders from various departments (which covers most Procurement projects). This type of project requires constant reallocation of resources and more than a few last-minute changes to the grand plan. Has the entire team been made aware of these changes? And more importantly, does the entire team know what the plan of action even is?

5. Are we actually using the right tools?

Despite the recent rise of collaboration and social media tools, most procurement professionals rely on email and Microsoft Excel to manage an increasing number of highly complex projects. Whatever the tool, it must be easy enough to understand at first or second glance, and it must add value immediately. The benefits of leveraging social technologies to collaborate effectively are huge.

A recent McKinsey study titled The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies makes the case that social technologies can aid collaboration and improve the productivity of interaction workers by 20 to 25 per cent.

Bottom line – collaboration can be incredibly valuable and almost always results in a superior work product and better outcomes for all if practiced correctly. Next time you start a project, don’t forget to review the five questions above!

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Procurious debuts slick new homepage

If you go down to the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise… Yes we’re mindful that Halloween is creeping ever nearer, but that doesn’t mean it’s a scary treat!

New Procurious.com homepage

Our homepage has enjoyed something of an epic refresh – we hope you like it!

This is the first thing you’ll see when you visit Procurious.com – to all of our members, you’ll be able to log in as usual. To those newcomers among you, it’s still super simple to register and get involved. Just follow the appropriate buttons.

Look beyond the pretty exterior and you’ll discover an interesting personality too.

New Procurious.com homepage

We’ve helpfully broken down the site into its respective sections – a sort of interactive tour if you will…

The aim of the new homepage is to tell prospective members (and media) exactly what we’re about, as well as promoting the benefits that Procurious provides to the profession.

What are you still reading this for? Take the new homepage for a spin, head back to Procurious.com (you may have to sign out first) and tell us what you think.

We’ve created the perfect primer so it would be rude not to share it with your wider team and colleagues. If they’re not onboard yet, why not share Procurious.com with them too?

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