Should you ever rehire an ex-employee?

When you rehire an ex-employee, especially one that was a star, it looks like you are getting a great deal. What you see is what you get. They understand your business and its own unique culture, are immediately productive and bring industry knowledge and new ideas.

Should you ever rehire an ex-employee?

The best-case scenario is when an employee wants to return because he has had time to learn new skills and has gained in-depth work experience somewhere else that he can share with you.

The good news about rehiring top performers

Rehiring former employees often costs much less than hiring from scratch, especially since you can cut out the extremely costly recruiting and interview process. When budgets are tight, you can explore this avenue using social media, alumni groups and word-of-mouth to find out who is actively looking.

The potential rehires, also known as boomerangs, are easier to assimilate into the organization and you will save you orientation time. The thinking is that since they know exactly what they’ll be signing up for, they will be likely to stay longer the second time and therefore be less risky, more productive and better for your retention statistics.

There’s also some thought that a rehired person can provide you with a fresh perspective, innovative ideas and some industry intelligence.

So what can go wrong? Quite a lot

Not all former employees are worthy of rehiring. Let’s hope they left for the right reasons and of their own accord. Obviously, you will exclude anyone who was fired, incompetent or unproductive or suddenly has accumulated a criminal record.

Here are a few of the main disadvantages of rehiring former employees:

  •  Current managers and co-workers may feel threatened if the employee returns with a new set of skills, and especially irritated if they come back onboard with a higher remuneration package, which is quite likely. They may feel an employee already had their chance.
  •  The reason that they left in the first place may still be a problem: the boss from hell, lack of benefits, poor promotion prospects and/or lack of opportunities to learn.
  •  There may be unintended consequences if the rehire is appointed at a higher level than his previous role. It may trigger other departures if promotional prospects are blocked, i.e. waiting to fill “dead man’s shoes.”
  •  Returning employees may just not fit in. The climate and culture of the company may no longer be the same. In this case, their new presence may be disruptive and cause tension.

Develop a rehiring policy

A definite success factor is having a firm policy that is applied fairly to all potential “Comeback Kids.” Who is eligible to be rehired should be agreed upon internally and be legally defensible.  Two important elements to include are how long after leaving an employee can return, and  what’s a reasonable maximum time to be away.

In some industries, some employers also refuse to rehire an employee who left to go to a competitor. Other organizations may welcome the broader experience and give preference

to ambitious ex-employees who went off to try their hand at consulting or starting their own business.

Booz Allen Hamilton, a leading U.S. consultancy, is such a staunch believer in rehiring that it sponsors a Comeback Kids program, through which it actively reaches out to past employees and those from the military.

A few more things to consider when rehiring

  • Make sure the conditions that caused that person to leave are not still barriers. Exit interviews are notoriously unreliable. so it’s best to work out why the employee really left. If he undervalued the company before, has anything changed?
  • Is this person really the best candidate for the job? It should not be a quick fix — don’t take the lazy recruiter’s solution.
  • Are you overlooking quality internal candidates? Someone else internally might be just as qualified to do the job. Think about the message you’re sending and the possible repercussions of rehiring instead.

Don’t forget to brief the new employee on how things have changed since he left and any new projects that have come up since.  A “welcome back” interview shows that your company is open to hiring the best people, whatever their job history.

Would you rehire a great former employee? Let us know by commenting on the story below.

Supply chain finance schemes: a worrying new trend?

Diageo under fire for increasing payment terms

Diageo under fire for increasing payment terms

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has this week launched a scathing attack on beverage giant Diageo over its plans to extend supplier payment terms from 60 to 90 days in its UK business.

Diageo let suppliers know, via a formal letter, that the payment terms changes would come into effect as of February 1st 2015. The firm announced that the new terms make up part of a “different procurement process” the company plans to implement for future tenders.

Diageo justified the move by stating:

“Diageo continually looks for ways to enable us to invest in the growth of our great brands. This activity supports the long term sustainability of our business and yours.”

Speaking on Diageo’s move to extend payment terms, Phil Orford, the chief executive of The FPB said: 

“We are very concerned, but sadly unsurprised, to learn that Diageo is yet again extending its payment terms, a practice that is hugely damaging for small businesses.”

Countering criticisms that lengthening payment terms will be highly detrimental to small and medium size enterprises in the company’s supply chain; Diageo announced that it would offer supply chain finance programs to any businesses adversely impacted by the new terms.

Supply chain finance programs allow suppliers to access money they are owed more quickly by leveraging the favourable credit lines of larger buying organisation.

In response to this move Mr Orford claimed:

“The practice of big businesses using a supply chain finance scheme in order to extend payment terms and protect their own cash flow is a worrying trend that is spreading across sectors and industries.”

The FPB is now working with the Institute of Credit Management and Department of Business Innovation and Skills to have Diageo’s status as a signatory to the Prompt Payment Code revoked.

Why do we question, comment and discuss?

To answer this [question] we’re going to reflect on findings from a number of social network-specific research papers that have made themselves known to us.

Why do we ask questions on social media?

The Arma International Educational Foundation published its theories around ‘Social networks and their impact on records and information management’ in January 2011.

For clarity, records and information management will be shortened henceforth to RIM:

Arma said: “there is a value in the speed of distribution of questions and answers that can be seen on various Social Networks. RIM professionals who have questions can post them on Social Networks and within minutes—if not seconds—receive answers from other RIM professionals. For the individual, this removes the feeling that may exist of being all alone on the job. This type of Social Network where the topics are specific to RIM professionals creates a community of commonality.”

Now this could be written for any cross-selection of people, it needn’t be profession exclusive (as seen here applied to RIM professionals).

Similarly, a report put together by the European Commission in November 2010 said the following on human-powered community question answering and expert finding:

“Human powered (aka crowdsourcing) systems gave promising solutions to problems that were unsolved for years. The research community should continue working on leveraging human intelligence to solve critical problems and answer questions that otherwise would be impossible to answer automatically. Social networks contain immense knowledge through their users. However, it is not trivial to find the one that has the knowledge and is also available to share it.”

Just look towards the healthy ‘Discussions’ area on Procurious to see this thinking in action.

Discussions on Procurious

From here you are free to browse any open discussion topics, or create your own to pose to other Procurious members.

Start by filling in the ‘Ask a question or start a discussion’ field, then expand in the ‘Add more details’ area. This is the perfect place for any additional details,  or URLs you might want to share. Then you’ll need to select a topic/subtopic from the respective dropdown menus (this will help signpost your discussion to those members with similar interests).

Those dropdown menus will come in handy if you want to dip straight into discussions that touch on your specialty. Use the filters on the main Discussions page to show questions by topic/subtopic, or order by those latest/trending.

Alternatively you can get a heads-up (of the two most recent discussions at least) from the Community homepage. Can’t see it? It’s to the right of your Community Feed.

The European Commission report also touched on a topic it called ‘Personalisation for social interaction’, in which it explains as “In order to improve social interaction and enhance social inclusion, personalization engines that locate peers with possibly common likes, dislikes or developing trends should be engineered. Towards more efficient search engines that will be able to serve the users only with relevant content, personalisation algorithms have to be studied in a greater extent.”

Could we go as far to call Procurious a ‘personalization engine’?

We’re always keen to hear your thoughts so why not add to the discussion by leaving a comment below?

In logistics? Take the ‘joined-up’ approach

Maritime places Fargo at the heart of its approach to doing business

Thanks to Maritime Transport and Fargo Systems for providing Procurious with this case study.

The decision to implement Fargo Systems’ TOPS system back in 2004 was a turning point in the way the UK’s largest container transport company, Maritime Transport, approached its IT business model.  Fast forward ten years and Fargo Systems’ technology yields benefits across almost all aspects of Maritime’s business.

Tim Goddard, IT director at Maritime Transport takes up the story: “I was initially brought in by Maritime to oversee the introduction of TOPS.  The decision to invest in this new ‘off the shelf’ technology was made to replace an outdated and inflexible system currently in operation and to equip the business for growth.

 “From the outset, what was appealing about working with Fargo Systems was the team’s understanding of our business; a result of their logistics background, and their commitment to work with us and further develop their systems to meet our evolving needs.”

Managing over 10,000 shipments a week, an impressive 90 per cent of Maritime’s work is now received via EDI directly into TOPS from customers, forwarders and shipping lines’ systems.  TOPS helps to efficiently meet customers’ reporting requirements by sending automated job acknowledgements, status updates and PODs back to the originating systems, and where required can also provide electronic invoice transactions via EDI, which speeds up the process of issuing invoices and of invoices being approved.

The importance of real-time reporting

Interfaces to Maritime’s telematics system, assists the traffic planners by sending job details direct to the drivers in the cabs, who receive automated job updates, which are processed in real time into TOPS and by retrieving vehicle positioning data for use on the traffic sheet.  This data is also of huge benefit to the fleet department.  Creating an electronic process for defect reporting is vital for a fleet of over 3,400 truck/trailer assets.   Defects captured by the telematics are processed into TOPS, where fleet appointments can be scheduled and purchase orders raised.

The partnership between the two companies has strengthened over the last decade and today Fargo Systems works closely with Maritime Transport to develop systems which link together administrative IT functions across the business. Integration is the key to the successful use of technology and TOPS is integrated into Maritime’s accounting system, with plans to use data in other areas such as purchase order processing as well as the payroll and HR systems.

Tim continues: “The size of our operation today, which includes over 350 desktop users, 17 depots, 1,400 vehicles and 2,000 plus trailers, means it is vital that our IT systems maximise every piece of data.” 

MTL head office

Optimise systems for maximum potential

As pioneers of ‘joined up’ IT systems in the logistics industry, Maritime will be taking its integrated IT approach one stage further, when it launches a fleet vendor web portal shortly.

Tim continues: “It’s important that we don’t treat any aspect of our business in isolation. Our fleet and our employees are assets and it’s vital that all are achieving their maximum potential.  An example of the integration the new system will bring is when a driver reports a tyre blow out, the repair company will be notified immediately and will then receive instant approval to attend the breakdown and undertake the repair.  The system will pre-advise the driver of the ETA of the repair van and simultaneously raise a purchase order for the repair company to invoice against.”

Ten years on… the next ten… and the next

Looking ahead to the next ten years, Tim believes Fargo Systems’ CYMAN (Container Yard Management) will play an increasingly important role in the company’s IT portfolio. “Our acquisition of Roadways in August this year has provided us with the impetus to investigate how best to utilise CYMAN in our rail operations at Tamworth, but also within our other Intermodal facilities.  Again, it’s all about joined up thinking – this time with our train and planning functionality.”

When asked about the longevity of the relationship between the two companies, Tim is quick to respond: “Fargo Systems’ understanding of our industry has always played a crucial role in the success of our relationship.  I also believe there are instances when working with the ‘not such big guys’ brings real benefit.  Although both far bigger operations than back in 2004, I believe Fargo Systems’ size is still a key strength as they are able to deliver what we require whilst maintaining the personal touch, something that the larger enterprises miss. And finally, they’re agile, listening to our needs and delivering innovative solutions expediently and to our timeframes.  Fargo Systems definitely has a role to play in the future development of our IT strategies.”

Does bad weather have the power to impact procurement?

It’s too cold… I can’t work in here… my hands don’t work anymore.

So uttered my girlfriend last night. Despite frantically working towards completing her PhD, the current freeze enveloping Granada had halted progress.

As millions of people in the US Northeast braced for blizzard conditions accompanying Winter Storm Juno, Europe is freezing through another winter with record snowfalls posted last week.

Could Storm Juno affect supply chains?

The impact of weather on output

The effect the cold weather had on my girlfriend’s ability to work reminded me of a chart I recently stumbled across online. Produced by the Bank of America; it details the monetary impact that severe weather events had on the global economy in 2014.

The chart shows everything from a major drought sweeping across the Californian agriculture belt, to a snowstorm in Tokyo last February that grounded 9,500 airline passengers

More than anything though, this chart highlights our utter vulnerability to weather events. Events that, at least for now, are completely beyond our control.

Severe weather has the ability to stop the transportation of goods, close down production plants and leave office workers stranded at home (or worse still, stranded in the office).

The Bank of America chart was produced in order to stimulate climate change debate at the Davos World Economic Forum (an excellent run down of the event can be found here).

Climate change’s impact on supply chains

Despite some ongoing rumblings to the contrary, the scientific community is in agreement that climate change is indeed ‘a thing’, that it is already happening and that humans are largely to blame.

All of this got me thinking. Procurement is perhaps more vulnerable than any other business function to the impact of severe weather and climate change.

I believe climate change has the potential to impact procurement operations in two main ways:

  1. Impact on the availability of raw materials. Most businesses rely on raw materials either directly or indirectly. Changing weather patterns will likely alter the ability of firms to secure a reliable, ongoing supply of these commodities. As the supply of raw materials becomes scarcer (even if only in the short term), prices are destined to climb.
  2. Impact on transportation links. We are seeing an increase in both the frequency and intensity of storms and severe weather across the world. These weather systems have a direct impact on companies’ ability to move goods across their increasingly globalised supply networks. Our drive for efficiency and appetite for lower inventory levels has left us all the more vulnerable to these delays.

So what exactly are we doing about climate change?

In 2013 a report was released that highlighted just how little some companies were doing to ensure their supply chains were prepared for the impact of climate change. The report showed that while 86 per cent of the 350 UK companies surveyed understood the risks climate change posed, only 14 per cent were taking a long-term approach to managing the phenomenon.

It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, climate change will impact your business.

A storm in Panama could double the cost of bananas in European supermarkets. If coastal settlements in the US Northeast continue to take battering’s from storm systems, insurance companies may be forced to rethink premiums. Oil producers need to understand the impact that storms and unsettled seas will have, not only on the production of offshore platforms, but also on the safety of their workers.

Does your business understand its exposure to severe weather and climate change? Is your supply chain at risk? Are you prepared for unforseen but inevitable events? Or are we about to see an increased prevalence of force majeure clause enactments?

5 disruptive forces that will keep CPOs awake at night in 2015

CPOs around the world may have some sleepless nights in 2015 as they defend themselves and their companies against powerful disruptive forces.

5 things to keep you awake at night

In the true spirit of social media, I’ll highlight just five of these disruptive forces and have created the convenient “METOO” acronym to cover – Markets, Ethics, Transparency, Optionality and Organisational alignment.

2015 is the time to make sure you have your bases covered in these areas:

Markets – We would be naive if we didn’t expect more market volatility in the coming year.  In 2014 we saw interest rates remain low, the Rouble depreciate 50 per cent, the Australian dollar depreciate 20 per cent, oil prices drop 50 per cent, iron ore prices drop 40 per cent and Chinese growth at its lowest since 2009.

As we are all exposed to the instability of global markets, CPOs will need to decide how to either protect or profit from this volatility.

Ethics – Some leading global retailers had their public reputations shattered last year with revelations about unscrupulous and bullying behaviour towards their suppliers. CPOs will need to have a clear conscience that they are using squeaky clean negotiation techniques and are taking demonstrative actions to ensure their team, and the entire organisation, has a healthy and ethical approach to managing suppliers.

Transparency  – Discovering that one of your third or fourth tier suppliers is involved in corruption, using child labour, unsafe work practices, or substituting lower quality ingredients or parts will be the stuff of nightmares for CPOs in 2015.

A focus on supply chain transparency will see a whole lot of quality assurance consultancies, and other intermediaries, busy in this booming sector of the services economy.  As one of my mentors has always said, “better to know you’re right, rather than hope you’re not wrong”.

Optionality – Talking recently with a federal government defence advisor and the CPO of a leading European telecommunications company, really brought home to me the dilemma of developing and managing suppliers as we move to operating in an era of the “Internet of Things”.

More than ever, we are actually buying technology more so than the actual product or service (think driverless mining trucks – we’re really buying the technology to manage and maintain these vehicles, more so than the trucks themselves).

As technology increasingly becomes the product, we need to keep our options open in order to take advantage of the frenetic pace of change. Our tenders and contracts will need to more broadly define the functionality and utility we require of a product or service, rather than the exacting specifications we know today.

We will also need to ensure we keep our minds, doors and sourcing processes open to engage new suppliers with break-through technologies.  With most contracts being around 3-5 years long, CPOs will need to build optionality into their contracts to ensure they have the agility and can be opportunistic in adapting and adopting new technologies.

Organisational alignment – Procurement teams today are well-versed at “finding the money” and negotiating great deals that should result in bottom line savings.  That’s 101 stuff – our traditional raison d’etre .The trickier challenge has always been to “keep the money” and make sure that contracted savings actually make their way to the bottom line.

Today’s CPO has to work harder than ever to make sure “everyone is on the bus”, utilising negotiated contracts and treating every dollar as if it were their own.

Creating cost-conscious cultures is a huge change management exercise that requires a vastly different skill-set from the CPO’s traditional tool kit.  This challenge, teamed with frequency and voracity of carpet-pulling and direction-changing that will go on in the boardroom and C-suite this year, will require a lot of creative thinking and schmoozing by leading CPOs.

Anyone need a Xanex? (Is that a sleeping tablet?)

If you agree with my thoughts or have want to comment on the forces impacting procurement in 2015 – please Tweet #metoo #bigideas @taniaseary or just respond “me too” on LinkedIn or Procurious.

Not your average product recall: improving retail safety

The safety expectations placed on suppliers in China are vastly different from those in the west. The growth of Internet giant, Alibaba has seen a new wave of  ‘made in China’ products reach the US, but are they safe?

Buckyballs craze - banned in the US

Buckyballs sweep the US

In 2009 a new toy stormed the US market. Buckyballs – tiny, highly magnetic spheres constructed of rare earth metals were a runaway success and registered $40 million dollars in sales over their first four years.

However, the same magnetic attraction that made the balls so much fun to play with, also made them incredibly dangerous if they wound up inside the human body. Despite only being marketed to adults, the small, candy like appearance of the product meant they had a habit of turning up in the digestive tracts of young children.

In his blog, Gastroenterologist Byran Vartabendian, gave the following horrifying rundown of what happens when the balls are accidentally swallowed.

“When two are ingested they have a way of finding one another. When they catch a loop of intestine, the pressure leads to loss of blood supply, tissue rot, perforation and potentially death.”

It was estimated that between 2009 and 2011, 1700 children passed through US emergency wards after having ingested the high-powered magnet.

In 2014 – the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a US federal agency established to stop hazardous products entering US homes – recalled the product, claiming a ‘substantial risk of injury and death to children and teenagers’.

While this ruling signalled the end for Buckyballs (a then multi-million dollar product), its five years of success and profitability had inspired a number of competitors to emerge. Many of these competitors were selling the same dangerous product direct to US consumers through the Chinese online retail platform Alibaba.

Not your average product recall

This disparate, multinational supply chain presented a significant challenge for the CPSC.

In the past the agency would have simply issued a recall, shut down warehouses and monitored local stores to ensure no substitute products appeared.

Today however, the supply market for the high-powered magnets (as well as thousands of other toys) stretches well beyond US toy stores. The proliferation of online shopping has meant that controlling the purchase point of these products has become infinitely more difficult to manage. The CPSC’s chairman Elliot F. Kaye highlighted this recently when he said:

“Long gone are the days when we could pull stuff off of shelves,”

“We anticipate the next frontier will be outside of US borders.”

Working together for Product Safety

In response to this new challenge, the CPSC has announced a partnership with Alibaba. The agreement, the first of its kind between the CPSC and a foreign owned website, will see the two organisations collaborate to limit the movement of hazardous toys into the US.

The CPSC has given Alibaba a list of 15 Chinese produced products (including Buckyballs) that have been recalled from US shelves and requested that retailers on the e-commerce platform cease selling these goods directly to customers in the United States.

At the time of writing Alibaba was yet to detail how it planned to carry out the promises it has made to the CPSC, but a spokesman from the online retailer did state the company’s intention to:

“work (sic) collaboratively with the chairman and his team to do everything possible to protect consumers.” 

2014 was huge for Alibaba in the US

This commitment to product safety from Alibaba comes at a time when the firm is making significant headway into the US market and arguably represents the company’s dedication to ongoing success in western markets.

In 2014 the online platform became one of the world’s most valuable companies and its owner instantly garnered the title of China’s richest man – after it raised $25 billion USD in its US IPO.

In September of 2014 the company had an estimated market cap of $215 billion USD, a valuation outshone in the tech space only by Apple, Google and Microsoft.

As well as its success on the US stock exchange, Alibaba opened 11 Main – its first website dedicated to US consumers in July of 2014.

Is its size a hindrance to growth?

The greatest challenge for Alibaba’s plans to smoothly and safely transition into western markets is the sheer size of its vast online marketplace.

Alibaba is not only the world’s largest e-commerce marketplace, but it is also the fastest growing. The company has hundreds of millions of users, hosts, and merchants.

This immense size, combined with the fact that Alibaba doesn’t actually own any of the products being sold on its website, makes it nearly impossible to ensure product safety measures are anything but reactive.

A Sea of Counterfeits

This sort of criticism is not new for Alibaba. As recently as last year the company’s inability to effectively control the standards of its sellers came under fire. This time for the way counterfeit or ‘fake’ products sold by its merchants had been managed.

Haydn Simpson – a product director at counterfeit-tracker NetNames, claims his clients (mostly well known international brands), estimate that 20 per cent to 80 per cent of the products listed on Taobao (an Alibaba owned site) with their nametag are in-fact fakes.

In response to these claims, Alibaba last year spent more than $160 million USD attempting to remove fakes from its website. However even the briefest look on the platform shows that this initiative was entirely fruitless and counterfeit products can still easily be found on the website.

So how then is the CPSC – a US federal agency with a 2014-operating budget of $117 million USD, supposed to ensure product safety in this vast marketplace?

One thing is for sure, if they plan on tackling the problem15 products at a time, they’ve got a long road ahead of them.

The WEF 2015 – where, why and what happened?

“Social media has created a historical shift from the historically powerful to the historically powerless. Now everyone has a voice.”

Sheryl Sandberg, COO and Member of the Board, Facebook at the WEF, Davos, 2015

The World Economic Forum in Davos

The World Economic Forum

Unless you have been deliberately avoiding the news over the past week, you’ll be aware that The World Economic Forum has just taken place in Davos.

What is it?

According to the founder, Professor Klaus Schwab, the Forum is “a platform for collaborative thinking and searching for solutions, not for making decisions”.

What this means is that business leaders, thought leaders and politicians, as well as some celebrities, gather together to share ideas with the intention of bettering the world.

Does it work?

The jury is still out for many people. A lot of people look upon the event as a who’s who, rich-list party in the Swiss mountains, others that there isn’t enough tangible output from an event able to gather together a group of individuals with sizeable clout.

However, if these leaders leave Davos with fresh ideas on how to solve the major issues in the world, then, for the rest, the Forum will have fulfilled its purpose.

What were the major topics this year?

Key topics on the table this year included the falling price of oil, the Greek election, a growth agenda for Africa, how technology is changing our lives and what the future holds for Iraq. Check out www.weforum.org for the full programme.

Is there anything we take away?

From a Procurement point of view, we know that there were discussions around procurement efficiency on the agenda (as part of wider topics), as well as the business role in environmental sustainability. We should hear some details coming out over the next few weeks.

As we also reported on Procurious, the WEF raised the issue of cyber security. It certainly got people talking about what they needed to be doing and even came close to a consensus on an idea for a global body that sets cyber-security standards.

Otherwise, we would encourage you to check out some of the video content on the WEF website. For one thing, we’ll probably never have the chance to see Pharrell Williams on stage with Al Gore again!

Read on for more of the biggest stories commanding headlines right now:

DHL Express launches helicopter delivery service

  • DHL has launched a helicopter delivery service in the UK that promises next day delivery on packages from New York, Boston and Chicago. The new service, a first for the UK, will ferry up to 300kg of packages between London’s Heathrow Airport and major London business district Canary Wharf.
  • Fully operational from February, it follows similar operations launched in New York and Los Angeles.
  • “This new service from DHL Express offers even greater speed and reliability to our customers,” John Pearson, chief executive of DHL Express Europe said. “For the financial and professional services sector in particular, time really is money, so we are always looking for innovative, more efficient ways to move our customers’ shipments.”

Read more at Arabian Supply Chain

FSB tackles supply chain bullying at Whitehall

  • The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has hosted a cross-party group of MPs to identify possible solutions to the deterioration of payment practises in the UK.
  • Recent research by the FSB revealed that almost one in five small businesses had been subject to some form of poor payment tactics recently.
  • FSB national policy chairman Mike Cherry said: “It is simply unacceptable for any company to exploit its market position to enforce unfair and unreasonable payment terms. The money outstanding in late payments is in the billions and has consistently grown larger and larger. We need greater leadership from all parties competing to be in the next government to toughen up the prompt payment code and improve the UK’s payment culture.”

Read more at PRW.com

China smartphone supply chains estimate demand to pick up in March

  • China smartphone supply chain makers estimate they will begin shipments for new devices following the Lunar New Year period as local handset vendors remain concerned over clearing out inventories through the early part of first-quarter 2015.
  • Smartphone shipments were lower-than-expected in the China market during the second half of 2014, which many makers attribute to lagging 4G development and a lack of smartphone subsidies from local telecom providers in China. This led to a pile up in inventory, which vendors are now trying to tackle throughout the 2015 Lunar New Year period when sales are expected to get a boost.
  • Supply chain makers are optimistic, however, that shipments will pick up by March, and estimate that most handset replacement demand from consumers in China during 2015 will be for handsets sized 5-inch and above. Shipments will further pick up going into the second quarter, the makers noted.
  • Many supply chain makers believe that China handset vendors’ shipments will increase 17 per cent in 2015 as the vendors tackle low-priced solutions in emerging markets. Global smartphone shipments in 2015 meanwhile are estimated to grow 12 per cent to around 1.3 billion.

Read more at Digitimes

Top 10 supply chain CEOs of 2015

Supply Chain Digital has published a list of its top 10 supply chain CEOs for the year ahead.

[In ascending order] it named Nills S Andersen of Maersk, Dr Frank Appel of Deutsche Post DHL, and Frederick W. Smith of Fedex in its top 3.

To see the full list (along with selected career highlights from those included) head over to http://www.supplychaindigital.com/top10/3800/TOP-10-SUPPLY-CHAIN-CEOs-2015

How Tesco uses the cloud to work with its suppliers

  • Tesco is using online trading partner community solutions to embrace and extend its Oracle ERP and procure-to-pay systems and has significantly increased automation levels in their B2B e-commerce network during the last twelve months.
  • As a result Tesco has reduced the time to set up and approve new suppliers by 66 per cent.
  • With the help of GXS, Tesco has tackled the challenges that have, in the past, prevented some of its trading partners from adopting EDI. Tesco has significantly increased automation levels in their B2B e-commerce network during the last twelve months.

View the full findings of this case study at Supply Chain 24/7

 

How to use Big Data to inform your commodity strategies

Have you ever wondered what all the fuss about this thing call “Big Data” is all about?  Of course we all have access to spend data don’t we?  So why are people getting themselves in such a lather about the whole Big Data thing?

The importance of Big Data

WARNING: ONCE YOU’VE PLUNGED INTO YOUR BIG DATA YOU MIGHT NEVER COME UP FOR AIR!

Well first of all I need to share my guilty secret with you.  Big Data is addictive.  We’re lucky to have the national procurement information hub, which we lovingly call Spikes after it’s creator Spikes Cavell, to play with up here in Scottish public procurement.  Rather than being prickly and difficult to love, Spikes is cuddly and warm.

Plunging in can tell me about my spend, what category I spent it on, whether there was a contract for that spend, whether the suppliers were local, whether they were small, whether they were from the region… and on and on.  Knowing that you can find out all this stuff can leave you craving for the next Big Data hit.  Be careful, the addiction is frightening!

Next up is the fascination with the data.  Once you plunge in you can drill down and the fascination builds.  OK so we spend 5 per cent on a particular category like building supplies; who was that with, what type of products did we buy (we have classification codes on Spikes to help us there), how many invoices did we pay, which department was buying that?  Then off you go to find the line item detail from your purchasing system.  “I need to find out more… and more…and more” It can be as captivating as watching Professor Brian Cox explaining the Wonders of the Universe this plunging into Big Data thing.

Having all that Big Data also really helps on a practical level.  We use it to inform our commodity strategies.  We recently did some research to identify what we’d spent with suppliers of security systems.  Knowing what we’d bought helped us drill down into line item detail and then forecast what we needed to buy.  This was really powerful when it came to developing a strategy to secure a great contract going forward.  Forecasting based on our Big Data something we really need to do more of.

Big Data can ask us some difficult questions.  If 34 per cent of our spend is on construction then why are we focussing all our contract management effort on something else?  Why do we pay over 10,000 invoices a year to our catering suppliers?  Is there a better P2P process we could put in place to save both sides costs?

In this age of infographics and instant reporting Big Data is just what we need to help us present information to our senior management teams, operational managers, Boards or, in our case in public procurement, our elected councillors or Government Ministers.  It’s not good enough these days to say we don’t know the key procurement metrics for our organisation.

So all in all Big Data has the power to suck you in, pull you under and never let you go.  There’s so much potential, there’s so much we can find out.  The key is to make sure you have a plan to get out of Big Data and TAKE ACTION on what you find out today.

So come on, share with me the times when you’ve taken the plunge into Big Data!  Did you find your way out?  What tales can you tell of good savings and great outcomes?

How to break out of the mould and become an entrepreneur

We’re kicking off our #procuriousactive profile series with David Lawrence from Sydney. We’re profiling (and celebrating) some of our most-active members – Procurious thanks David for all of his support to-date! 

Want to see your name in lights like David? New members should follow our primer to get more out of the site, while existing users can extend their enjoyment with these tips.

Procurious member David Lawrence

Having taken a much-needed career break in June 2014, David looks back to his time at Sensis where he was responsible for National Logistics, Distribution, Publishing & Print.

Procurious asks: What excited you most about your role?

David answers: A number of things to come to mind. Firstly, getting a great result for the business (not always the lowest price) is always satisfying after a long process. In addition, working with and developing suppliers to improve their business to benefit the entire supply chain and by providing leadership through working with the team to develop “our” skills and competencies are also rewarding.

I say “our” as I am continually amazed at what I learn from those around me. I don’t pretend to know it all and enjoy learning from others, even if they are a new starter straight out of university. In summary, it is the people side that excites me, as without relationships, the business world would stop. 

Procurious: When did you decide on procurement as a profession, and what attracted you to it?

David: Around 10 years ago, I was working as an operations manager with FedEx. Well known for their training and development of people, which is based on a People, Service, Profit philosophy, I felt that at the end of my tenure I was hamstrung to a certain degree, more number cruncher than entrepreneur. I felt that I was missing the interaction with suppliers and the ability to run my own process from start to end. I probably wanted to break out of the mould that FedEx developed and become more of an “entrepreneur” in my career.

While the Procurement profession still offered me the opportunity to build on my people skills it also allowed me to develop a more strategic approach to business. Within the procurement cycle I was afforded the opportunity to build business cases, to develop strategic plans and to make my own mark on business success. With cost of goods and general expenses being a significant percentage of business spend, what better way to contribute to business success than getting your hands dirty in influencing these areas.

Procurious: Can you recall a moment you’re been especially proud of professionally?

David: In 2013 after a two year process spanning the globe my team delivered significant savings to the business. While the business was extremely overjoyed at this result I was more circumspect. It wasn’t the savings that satisfied me, it was the way in which we worked with the incumbent supplier. A large number of people were made redundant and a plant was shut down, however the professionalism and strong relationship between my team and the supplier was evident in the way they worked with us; to reduce our costs at their own expense. We always treated the relationship on a strategic level and in the end  it led to both of us decoupling that relationship.     

Procurious: How did you first find out about Procurious, and what prompted you to become a member?

David: From memory I think it was the “a new website coming soon” campaign. I became a member as it was another avenue to learn from others. The news articles and questions are a great way to interact and gain knowledge. As I noted above, I don’t pretend to know it all so reading others opinions is enjoyable. 

Procurious: What are you doing to help spread the word?

David: I believe that I have encouraged two people to join up. Discussing the site is easy as it is not a personality contest nor a place for producing the best one liners or clichéd sayings. Getting people interested is easier when the discussions on Procurious are based on fact and real world experience.   

Procurious: Some would argue that procurement suffers from an image problem; do you feel that there needs to be more education around the profession?

David: I believe that it is more the dynamic of the business world rather than procurement itself. Image problems stem from the functional silos that exist. Operations versus Sales, Customer Service versus Logistics, Marketing versus Procurement, (Everyone versus Finance!), are traditional sore points in business relationships.

As Deming noted, silos and management are the biggest inhibitors to improving business performance. To fix the image problem requires fixing the dynamic within your business. Procurement leaders need to build internal relationships, demonstrate what value they add, operate cross functionally and support the business strategy. Image problems will exist if Procurement cant demonstrate how it is contributing to the business.

Procurious: Do you foresee any particular challenges in 2015 for the profession?

David: Making sure that Procurement remains relevant to the business with demonstrable results. With the global economy still stagnating, procurement professionals need to be agile and innovative in their approach to delivering on these results.

Procurious: And finally, if you had to sum procurement up in three phrases – what would they be?

Innovative and Agile

Internal and external Partnership building

Quantifiable and strategic results

Thanks David! We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.