C-Suite reluctant to stick their head in the Clouds

UK businesses are reluctant to stick their head in the Clouds, says KPMG.

Businesses scared of the Cloud

A global study of almost 2,100 contracts covering deals worth £7.8 billion suggests that Cloud-based services are failing to capture the popular imagination of UK businesses.  It also suggests that organisations are increasing the level of IT services they outsource to improve service delivery, with many investing budgets saved over the past few years on HR, sales and finance support.

Published by KPMG, the 8th annual ‘Service Provider and Performance Satisfaction’ study includes detailed analysis of current corporate IT spend in Britain, by examining more than 330 UK-based contracts.  It reveals that 71 per cent of UK organisations are spending a mere 10 per cent, or less, of their IT budget on Cloud services. Many organisations are also continuing to rely on ‘tried and tested’ outsourcing models and the survey shows that favoured destinations for IT support services remain India (51 per cent), Poland (8 per cent) and South Africa (8 per cent).

Asked why they are reticent about employing Cloud services, the top 3 reasons cited by UK C-suite respondents centred around data location, security and privacy risks (26 per cent), concerns over regulation and compliance (16 per cent) and cynicism around the ease with which Cloud services can integrate with legacy IT systems (15 per cent).

“Despite widespread acceptance that Cloud services offer access to the latest technologies, and make IT more accessible, adoption remains relatively sluggish.  While concern about the security risks surrounding new technology is understandable it may also be disproportionate, as Cloud options are just as safe as other outsourcing solutions.  Of course, investors and stakeholders will welcome caution on the part of the buyers, but they also want to see innovation, meaning that UK plc will need to find the right balance to remain competitive,” says Jason Sahota, director in KPMG’s Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory team.

The survey goes on to reveal that, despite the economy picking up, some companies across the UK are still nervous when it comes to committing to long-term investments.  Asked about their IT outsourcing plans for the next two to three years, just 43 per cent said they plan to increase spending.  This figure contrasts with 77 per cent, this time last year.

However, where budget has been set aside for outsourcing, it is clear that organisational thinking is maturing.  When the survey was first undertaken, respondents focused primarily on cost savings as their reason to outsource – but this year’s survey shows that the search for quality improvement (20 per cent), access to skills (16 per cent) and a desire to reduce the time it takes to ‘get things to market’ (6 per cent) are driving the rationale behind IT outsourcing decisions.

The findings also suggest that satisfaction levels remain high in the UK, with 77 per cent of respondents reporting that they are comfortable with the support they receive.  Worryingly, however, the research shows inconsistencies in how businesses are approaching integration and governance of the services they outsource.  The majority (70 per cent) said that their IT function currently performs the role of service integrator, whilst only half (50 per cent) have partially met the expected benefits of service integration and management.

Sahota concludes: “As IT forms an inseparable part of the wider business strategy in many organisations, technology decisions are now rarely left to the CIO alone.  It means that, with the potential for conflict over the choices being made, organisations should dedicate a greater level of investment towards governance than they may have in the past.  If they fail to do so as they move towards more complex delivery models, poor governance can impact their ability to provide quality services, increasing risks around cost, service quality and delivery.”

China removes world’s leading technology brands from approved state purchase lists

China blocks tech brands

A Reuters report released on Friday has confirmed the Chinese government has implemented procurement restrictions on its agencies preventing them from buying US produced technology products.

The report outlined that US Companies like Apple and Cisco no longer appear on the list of approved technology vendors Chinese government agencies can purchase from.

But Why?

Two theories exist as to why these steps have been taken. The first relates to security concerns that have arisen between the US and China, particularly pertaining espionage activity between the two countries.

In 2013, the now exiled, Edward Snowden released a series of leaks that suggested the US government routinely accessed the internal data of US owned companies to gather intelligence on other nations.

Snowden also accused the NSA (an organisation he used to work for) of intercepting routers produced by Cisco that were being shipped to China and inserting surveillance devices inside that would relay data back to the agency.

Cisco remains adamant that it was unaware of this practice, however the Chinese government, with good reason, responded by removing all 60 of the previously approved Cisco products from its purchasing list.

The spying allegations prompted serious privacy concerns from the Chinese who, if the allegations are true, have every right to minimise the impact such espionage.

Tu Xinquan, the Associate Director of the China Institute of WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing highlighted Chinese concerns over the espionage allegations. “The Snowden incident, it’s become a real concern, especially for top leaders. Some sense the American government has some responsibility for that; (China’s) concerns have some legitimacy” he said.

An interesting side note that must be mentioned when discussing this case is that Chinese owned Huawei; the world’s largest network equipment provider, is banned from bidding for US government contracts over similar concerns that the firm may use its technology to spy on US government interests.

Protecting Local Interests

The second potential motivation for removing foreign companies from the approved supplier list is to strengthen China’s domestic tech industry.

IDC (a market research and advisory firm) suggests that the Chinese ITC sector is set to grow by 11.4 per cent to $465.6 billion USD in 2015. China’s technology sector is currently trailing the US both in terms of maturity and product capability, however it is understood to be catching up rapidly.

The Reuters report quotes an unnamed executive of a western technology firm who claims “There’s no doubt that the SOE segment of the market has been favouring the local indigenous content,” He went onto claim that the Snowden security concerns were merely a ‘pretext’ to support the development and growth of the Chinese technology industry.

Close the Windows

Despite these claims, Chinese government officials have pointed to weak product guarantees and poor support offered by foreign firms as the driving reason as to why the products have been removed from the list.

In 2014 the Chinese government announced that its offices would no longer be allowed to purchase any technology that runs the Windows 8 operating system, a move that was prompted by Microsoft electing to suspend support for Windows XP, a system used most in Chinese government offices. According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, the government was keen to “avoid the awkwardness of being confronted with a similar situation again.”

Whether the motivations for this move were based on security concerns or out of a desire to protect and promote local industry, we’ll likely never know. However, Chinese officials do seem to have created a policy that will support the growth and development of Chinese owned tech firms. Furthermore, it seems that US government policy, combined with the Snowden leaks, has provided ligament justification for making such moves.

Zero Hours Contracts have “protected UK from European unemployment levels”

Zero Hours Contracts have “protected UK from European unemployment levels”

Recently-released figures show the number of people reporting to be employed on a Zero Hours Contract has risen to 697,000. That’s 2.3 per cent of the workforce, in 2014…

We’ve been provided expert comment from Christian May, Head of Communications and Campaigns at the Institute of Directors – here is what Christian has to say:

“There doesn’t appear to be much difference between the Coalition and the Labour Party when it comes to Zero Hours Contracts. All parties now support a tough clamp down on the use of exclusivity clauses, and the IoD led the charge in calling for this change during the consultation process. After all, it’s the flexibility that makes these kind of contracts so valuable to the labour market and there’s nothing flexible about restricting and controlling an individual’s freedom to seek work.

“Given the consensus that now exists on ending the exploitative use of exclusivity clauses, what remains of the debate is largely semantic. Those who wish to hold up Zero Hours Contracts as a symptom of an unfair economy will continue to do so, but they must appreciate that for hundreds of thousands of workers and employers these contracts represent an extremely attractive proposition. Despite efforts to portray all those on such contacts as exploited, the truth is that there are plenty of engineers, contractors and professionals whose willingness to be flexible adds significantly to their market value and, therefore, their earning power”.

Christian adds: “It’s also worth remembering that a flexible labour market, of which Zero Hours Contracts are a vital component, has protected the UK from European levels of unemployment. Indeed, the UK’s labour market has been singled out for praise by the OECD. The alternative is a rigid labour market and high unemployment. 

“With a focus on best practice and a commitment to ending the use of exclusivity clauses, Zero Hours Contracts will remain, for some people, an attractive and convenient way into work.”

Negotiations needn’t be tricky – how to best prepare

How to best prepare for negotiation

Negotiation is a critical skill, not just in business, but also in our personal lives. Whether it’s readjusting contract terms with a supplier, discussing your next pay raise or organising where to go on your upcoming family holiday, the way we negotiate has a direct impact on where we’re headed in life.

However, entering into a negotiation situation can be a daunting thought. For many of us, the word negotiation is closely linked with feelings of awkwardness, compromise and conflict. We feel often feel ill equipped to manage the unknown, especially when negotiating with someone more senior, more powerful or more stubborn than ourselves.

With this in mind, I’d like to share with you a series of articles and propose some steps that will help you to prepare for your next negotiation.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll address what you can do to better understand the person you are negotiating with and why you should always consider external interests when you are preparing for a negotiation. But today’s topic centres on how to personally prepare and position yourself for a successful negotiation.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail

The most successful negotiators have a clear understanding of what they want to achieve during a negotiation. If you can’t succinctly sum up what you want out of a negotiation, how can you possible hope to achieve it?

One strategy that can help to focus your efforts in this phase is to make a list of what you want, but also why you want it and why you think it’s reasonable that should you get it. Doing this in advance of your negotiation will help you to clarify your thoughts and provide you with answers to some of the tough questions that are likely to surface during the discussion.

Move beyond the dollars

When you are establishing what it is you want from the negotiation, it’s important to keep an open mind and think beyond mere dollar figures.

While monetary benefits are undoubtedly important, they needn’t be the sole determinant of success in a negotiation. Ask yourself what would constitute a good outcome for you. Could working from home or having the flexibility to spend more time with your family provide a similar level of happiness to a higher salary? If so, introduce these points into the discussion.

It’s important to keep your financial goals in mind and to push for them; however, good negotiators understand there are a number of ways to arrive at a good outcome.

Understand there may be more than one good outcome

As is often said, there is more than one way to skin a cat. When preparing to negotiate, try to think of a number of outcomes that you would deem to be acceptable. If you want, you can rank these outcomes in order of preference, but by understanding that the negotiation could have a number of good potential outcomes, you increase your chances of reaching an agreement.

If you enter into a supplier negotiation with a single viewpoint of what you consider to be an acceptable outcome (20 per cent price discount for example), you close yourself off to finding other innovative, potentially more lucrative solutions. Furthermore, any result other than your single viewpoint will feel like a failure. Looking at your interests (and those of your company) more holistically will naturally give you more flexibility and increase your chances of reaching an agreement that fully satisfies both parties.

Understand your walk away point

While negotiating is meant to be about reaching agreement, sometimes it is best not to. Not reaching an agreement allows you to explore other, potentially more lucrative options.

To this end, it’s important to take some time to understand your walk away position and to be prepared to put it into practice.

In their best selling book ‘Getting to Yes’ Roger Fisher and William Ury put some structure around this process and introduce the concept of BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement). Your BATNA essentially outlines what will happen if you fail to reach an agreement during the negotiation.

In order to fully understand your BATNA, you need to understand what your next best options are. This requires a good understanding of the external market. What would another employer pay you? What price and service level would a competing supplier offer this product or service for?

By understanding your BATNA and walk away position, you enable yourself to make an informed decision about what the other party is offering. This process goes a long way in determining the balance of power in the negotiation.

What other tips have you got for preparing for a negotiation? Share them below and stay tuned for next week, when we delve into the steps you can take to better understand the person you are negotiating with.

Late payments are forcing directors to take salary cuts

A new report has revealed that businesses are being paid at least one month later than agreed, and company directors are taking salary cuts to mitigate the impact.

Late payments are forcing directors to take salary cuts. Image Shutterstock

One in five directors has been forced to take a salary cut to avoid their firm going out of business due to late payments.

Tracy Ewen, managing director of IGF Invoice Finance, comments on the news: 

“The enforced wage cut taken by one in five directors is a worrying development that shows how delayed payments are bringing many small businesses close to failure. This latest news provides further evidence that urgent action is needed to force improvements among late payers. If the Prompt Payments Code isn’t working, then perhaps more stringent legislation is necessary.”

Tracy continues: “However, until this happens, there are funding measures firms can take to cover breaks in their cashflow without resorting to slashing salaries. Consequently it is important that firms thoroughly review their options and make use of any free financial advice that their own financial partners and suppliers can offer before pressure from large customers impacts their growth or operations.”

Know someone who is curious about Procurious? Share our ‘What is Procurious?’ video

As a member of Procurious, you have shown yourself to be one of the first-movers of the procurement and supply chain profession: You’re globally connected, you’re innovative, you’re influential and you’re in-the-know.  

We want to send out a big thank-you for being a part of Procurious – a healthy community thrives on its members, their knowledge, curiosity, and desire to share. Without your support this widespread procurement community of ours would still be lost, we hope that since becoming a member you’re of the belief that Procurious is helping to fix the disconnect inherent in our profession.

But perhaps you’ve struggled to explain the Procurious concept to your peers? Well we’ve just finished the wrap on our ‘What is Procurious?’ animated video – a video we’d love you to share with others!  It conveys all of the benefits that will already be well-known to you – our Procurious ambassadors.

We wanted to make our video fun, friendly and informative – and we certainly enjoyed putting it together, so we hope you love it as much as we do!

Want to tell others about this exciting community you’re a part of? Instead of reeling off a sales-pitch, why not direct them to the video and let the pictures do the talking!

Procurious fast facts

You have helped to push the number of our members to 4000+, and collectively you hail from more than 100 countries worldwide. This just goes to show that procurement is truly global!

  • You represent the world’s leading organisations including: Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Starbucks, Shell, Rio Tinto, Qantas, HSBC, SAP, NHS, British Airways and many, many more
  • You’ve started over 230 discussions and contributed 1000 answers, making Procurious a ‘braintrust’ for the brightest minds
  • Thanks to you we have amassed almost 2000 followers across our other social media channels including Twitter (@procurious_ ), LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+
  • With our collection of 50+ bite-sized e-learning videos from the world’s best trainers – we’re learning new skills together 
  • Procurious is home to a daily news service and guest blogs from leading global procurement experts (your peers)

If you’re reading this you’re probably already a Procurious member, so why not share the video with your peers, friends, family, the other businesses that share your building… Tweet the link, stick it on Facebook, post it on LinkedIn and spread the word!

Enjoy the video, and thanks for watching – after-all, we couldn’t have done this without you! Procurious HQ

New role for former Procter and Gamble CPO

Rick Hughes, the former CPO of Procter and Gamble, has accepted a new role at GEP, a procurement software, outsourcing and consultancy firm.

Rick Hughes P&G

After a stellar 31 year career at P&G, one of the world’s most recognisable brands, Hughes will take on an advisory role with GEP that will see him provide advice on procurement transformation, supply chain innovation and global risk management to the organisation’s clients.

Subhash Makhija, CEO and co-founder of GEP, said: “Rick Hughes is one of our industry’s true stand-outs and it’s terrific having him on the GEP team. Rick’s expertise, insight and experience generates tremendous value for clients and that is very exciting for everybody who cares about procurement.”

Speaking on his appointment Hughes said: “The GEP team is well-known and well-respected for the strength and depth of its people, for its passionate commitment to clients, and for delivering results that always move the needle. This is a period of great change and possibility in the industry. I am delighted to be working with GEP, helping our friends and colleagues overcome new challenges and seize new opportunities.”

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Jon Hansen on building your procurement social media footprint

Your social media footprint. Image Pixabay

Last week I received the following Tweet:

@piblogger1 Lots of #Procurement pros keen to build #socialmedia profile but not sure where to start. Any tips for #Twitter success?

The timing for the above query was notable because on the same day, I received a message in LinkedIn from an industry sales representative asking a similar question.  The sales rep – who works for one of the industry’s more dominant P2P providers – wanted to find a way to better expand her footprint in the world of social media.

Besides pointing out the obvious, such as using a proper photograph for your profile pic, at the end of the day I wrote back, you need to follow the 3Cs model.

Centered around the Know, Like and Trust edict for doing business, I directed her to read my post titled The 3Cs of Social Media Success.

For those unfamiliar with the Know, Like and Trust reference, it is based on the fact that people will ultimately work with or do business with someone they well . . . Know, Like and Trust.  In fact, in the purchasing world, the more complex or significant the expenditure, the more of a factor this becomes.  You simply have to listen to my interview with a former aide of Governor Cuomo’s , in which he states that more than 90 percent of all contract winners in the state are selected before the actual RFP is issued, to understand its actual importance.

The question is how do you get to this point in a relationship.  Especially given that fact that despite being more connected today through social media and the myriad of electronic devices, we actually seem to be communicating less?

This is where the 3Cs come into play.

We are all familiar with the three R’s associated with learning (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic).  Think of the 3Cs of social media in the same way.

In a world of increasing noise levels where it is becoming difficult to establish a distinguishable presence and brand, the three Cs are the foundation upon which to build a meaningful rapport within the virtual realms of the Internet.

So What Are The 3Cs?

Content: Your content is relevant with what is happening in the world right now

Context: You have something meaningful to share with the world

Contact: Your content is shared or cross-pollinated across traditional and electronic print mediums, radio and Internet TV, social networks and social network groups

There it is, I can stop writing this post now and wait to hear about your success.

Much to the chagrin of every Internet huckster peddling a service or product that proclaims to know the secret of your success (i.e. SEO), the formula for connecting with an audience or market is quite simple.  You have to take an interest in the world around you!

This is the inescapable starting point.  There are no techniques per say, nor hidden paths to establishing the kind of meaningful rapport that is necessary for you to increase your virtual presence.  We are not talking about the recipe for Coca Cola here, or the secret herbs and spices that go into making the Colonel’s world famous chicken.

To be part of the conversation, you have to join the conversation, and in the process add value that is unique to your view of the world.  It is the only way for people to really get to know you, like you, and trust you to the point of actually wanting to make a meaningful connection with you.

To get to that stage however, you have to say something worth hearing before people will listen to you. And if they listen to you, they will get to know you and, as is often times the case, to know you is to like you.  From there, trusting you is just a short walk down the street.

Now for those out there who simply cannot believe or accept that building a strong social media presence is this simple, it is.

To start, ask yourself these three basic questions; 1. what is it I have to say that is meaningful to the world, 2. how does it relate to what is both interesting and important to the world and, 3. what are the venues through which I can best connect with the world around me?

While there are certainly demographic considerations with each venue – LinkedIn is more business oriented catering to the 35 to 55 age group, while Facebook is more personal focusing on the younger generation – the answers to the above questions are applicable across the board.

In short, what value are you bringing to the relationship?  Are you providing real knowledge and useful insight, or are you just trying to reach as many people as possible in an effort to make a sale.  There is a world of difference between the two.

In a future post I will talk about social media in terms of the procurement process itself, and how you can use the various platforms to become more strategic.  In the meantime, start building your personal footprint using the 3Cs and watch both your presence and influence grow.

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The iCar cometh: Is Apple about to diversify its supply chain further?

First the iMac, then the iPod, iPhone, iPad and the smartwatch – is the iCar next?

Will we see driverless cars on the roads of our future?

It might seem a bit far-fetched to think that the company that has revolutionised the way we communicate would expand into the electric car market, but reports in the past week suggest that we might see an Apple car as early as 2020.

Although much of this remains speculation (Apple are refusing to comment on any of the reports), there seems to be strong evidence that the tech giant may be getting ready to enter a completely new field.

Head-hunting

Apple has reportedly brought on board senior executives from both Ford and Mercedes-Benz to head up a new team at its HQ. Moves have also been made to hire employees from Ford and Tesla in the fields of car safety, renewable energy, battery and hybrid technology and car software systems.

As ever, none of this has come without issues. Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla, has been quoted as saying that Apple has been tempting Tesla employees with huge signing bonuses and salary increases, while A123 Systems, a battery technology company, is reportedly suing Apple for ‘aggressively poaching’ its senior engineers.

Busy Market

So, will Apple diversify its supply chain further? With the organisation rumoured to be spending $1.7 billion building a plant with Japan Display to allow it to produce its own OLED displays, is there funding available to bring a car to market inside 5 years?

There are a few big players in the electric car market to contend with. Alongside Musk’s Tesla, arguably the innovation leader, automotive giant Toyota is currently top of the tree with its Prius and Lexus brands. Other notable competitors include Nissan, Porsche and Daimler, with either fully electric or hybrid vehicles.

With traditional manufacturers taking more notice of new entrants, the electric car market is wide open for innovation. Even if it took Elon Musk sharing all his designs to try to prod competitors into action.

User Experience

However, entering into this market with a vehicle is very risky. Sales of electric cars are low and margins are tight, leading people to question why anyone would want to get into the market right now. Instead, Apple may choose to focus on the user experience, something that it already has a strong reputation for.

Procurious has reported on recent developments in driverless, autonomous or technologically enhanced vehicles. As there have been for Google, there would be opportunities for Apple to develop user systems that could be fully integrated into cars. This would mean Apple was using its existing expertise, and therefore lowering its exposure and risk.

This would also open up the possibility of a partnership with one of the established players in the market, sharing innovation and development costs, plus opening up a new market for Apple. Just think how marketable a car would be with a fully integrated Apple operating system.

Even without the ‘iCar’, Apple can certainly play the role of disruptor that it does so well, and maybe bring the rest of the industry along too, to the benefit of the consumers. These are exciting times in the car industry and we wait with interest to see the next move.

Japan Display – http://finance.yahoo.com/news/apple-spend-1-7-billion-163417908.html

Innovation – https://hbr.org/2015/02/what-happens-if-apple-starts-making-cars

Meanwhile in related news:

Qatar inks deal for Doha Metro driverless trains

  • A consortium of five companies has signed an agreement to build and deliver a full-automated driverless metro system in Doha. The group consisting of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Corporation, Hitachi, The Kinki Sharyo Co and Thales said it has received a letter of conditional acceptance from the Qatar Railways Company for the systems package for the metro project which is slated for completion in October 2019.
  • The package calls for turnkey construction of a fully automated driverless metro system. Included are 75 sets of three-car trains, platform screen doors, tracks, a railway yard, and systems for signaling, power distribution, telecommunications and tunnel ventilation.
  • The package is also expected to include maximum 20-year maintenance services for the metro system after its completion.

Read more at Arabian Supply Chain.com

West Coast port nightmare may start to end

  • More than seven months after the previous contract expired June 20, and after more than three months of alleged work slowdowns by West Coast longshoremen that contributed huge delays in moving containers, a tentative deal between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMI), which represents West Coast ports and terminal, was at last reached over the weekend. “Normal” port operations were said to have started back up Saturday night.

  • The tentative agreement came just three days after US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez arrived in San Francisco to broker a deal with the help of a federal mediator who had joined the talks six weeks earlier. An agreement on the last remaining issue – a rather obscure one relating to use of arbitrators to settle disputes – was successfully resolved, leading to the agreement.
  • The contract, however, will still need to be ratified by rank and file union workers and all the companies and entities represented at the ports and terminals by the PMI. Reports are the union vote may not be held until sometime in April.

Read more at Supply Chain Digest

Companies wasting billions every year by not sharing supplier information

  • Global companies are wasting more than $30 billion (£20 billion) a year because they do not share information about suppliers, according to business information provider Achilles.
  • It says only a third of global firms across the UK, USA, Spain, Brazil and Nordic countries work collaboratively with other similar businesses to manage information about suppliers. This is despite 88 per cent of them saying domestic and international ‘arms’ of their company require the same details from suppliers in terms of health and safety, environment, quality, sustainability and ethics, according to a survey of supply chain professionals from 300 large businesses across the oil and gas, manufacturing, construction and utilities sectors.
  • Achilles chief executive Adrian Chamberlain said: “It is much more efficient when whole industries agree common standards required of all suppliers in terms of health and safety, ethics and compliance, then share the administrative burden of collecting, checking and auditing information,”
  • He added there was no need for firms to be nervous about sharing supplier information, as it was not commercially sensitive.

Read more at Supply Management

Citi and Etihad Airways sign supply chain finance partnership

  • Citi, the leading provider of cash management and trade services in the MENA region and Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, today announced the signing of an agreement to provide a Supply Chain Finance (SCF) solution to pay select suppliers.
  • The innovative financing program will enable Etihad Airways to unlock liquidity and pay its suppliers almost immediately through funding provided by Citi. It also offers a highly customised structure that will cater to the airline’s supplier segment across the globe, and will facilitate access to liquidity across businesses of all sizes.
  • James Rigney, Etihad Airways’ Chief Financial Officer, said: “Our suppliers are an essential part of the success of our business and we are happy to provide the tools that offer new credit and liquidity sources and accelerate their access to cash flow.

Read more at eTurboNews

In surprise move, Honda Chief to step down

  • Honda Motor’s chief executive, Takanobu Ito, will step down in late June after six years in the top post and be succeeded by Takahiro Hachigo, a low-profile engineer with global experience, the company said in a surprise announcement on Monday.

  • Honda, Japan’s No. 3 automaker, behind Toyota and Nissan, has hit a rough patch during the past year with quality problems that have led to multiple recalls of its popular Fit hybrid subcompact, which Mr. Ito said this month could have been caused at least in part by an aggressive sales target. Such self-inflicted setbacks were compounded by multimillion-vehicle recalls to replace airbag inflators made by a top supplier, Takata, that have so far been linked to six deaths, all in Hondas.

  • For the past three years, Mr. Ito, 61, a feisty former supercar engineer, has shaken up Honda’s tightly knit supply chain as the automaker has sought to trim costs and find more cutting-edge technology. “I think this move is an attempt by Honda to tread a different course, with someone who upholds harmony,” said Takaki Nakanishi, an auto analyst and chief executive of Nakanishi Research Institute.

Read more at The New York Times

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What’s procurement like in Wales? Helen Rees answers

Procurious members and networker extraordinaire – Helen Rees, fills us in on what procurement is like in Wales. Helen, over to you!

The Welsh Dragon - what's procurement like in Wales?

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

Personally I think that the Welsh approach to encouraging Small to medium enterprises (SME’s) to tender for public sector work is commendable and something that makes us stand out from other countries. As a consequence of recommendations from the Welsh Government led Barriers to Procurement Opportunity Report in 2009 (which investigated what SME’s perceived were the barriers to them tendering for public sector work) the Welsh Government have developed an unique qualification questionnaire that replaces the various lengthy Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQ’s) that were previously used by organisations across the public sector.

This document is called the Supplier Qualification Information Database (fondly known as SQuID!) and it adopts a more risk based approach to tender qualification, based on the value of the contract you are tendering and the risk to the organisation if it failed. Using what is known as the Squizzard you answer a few basic questions about the procurement which results in a suggested list of questions being produced which you can then customise as appropriate.

This enables a more sensible and proportionate approach to each individual procurement exercise thus reducing the amount of work having to be undertaken by tenderers. As an example, our previous PQQ was 23 pages long whilst the majority of SQuID’s now range from between a page or two for a simple procurement exercise to no more than 5 or 6 pages long for more complex projects. This has had a significant positive impact on SME’s who have limited resources to complete reams of tendering documentation.

Another huge benefit is that all supplier responses are banked within the Welsh electronic tendering portal, meaning that if they are asked the same questions again by another buyer they are banked from the previous time so they can either use the same responses if they are still relevant, thus saving them time, or they can make amendments if necessary.

The Welsh Government has also set up the National Procurement Service (NPS) which is a new approach to collaborative procurement in Wales whereby they will set up National Frameworks for common and repetitive spend commodities for use by the public sector. Buyers from organisations within the public sector are able to influence the way the frameworks look by participating in category stakeholder groups, and as such are more likely to get frameworks that are more likely to meet their requirements.

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

There are currently 558 CIPS (Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply) procurement professionals within Wales.

How did you get started in procurement?

I fell into procurement by accident more than design after securing a post as Stores assistant in my existing organisation some 13 years ago! The Stores was overseen by our then Procurement Manager who must have seen some potential for me as I was moved into the Procurement department a couple of years later as an administrative assistant. It was at that time I decided I quite enjoyed procurement work and would like to progress in this area.

I was very fortunate as my employer paid for my studies and I became MCIPS qualified in 2008 after leading on the implementation of an electronic purchase-to-pay system within the organisation. It just proves that you don’t always have to have a career in mind when you leave school as sometimes these things happen by chance and you can study later on in life to become professionally qualified after having valuable experience within the workplace.

What do you see in procurement’s future in your country and how can social media play a role?

I can see procurement in Wales going on to even bigger and better things once the National Procurement Service is more well established. Social media could have a valuable role in terms of improving communication and expanding procurement networks globally rather than just across our own country.

Why did you join Procurious?

I joined Procurious right at the start after reading an article about it in Supply Management. I’m an avid Social Media user and was already on LinkedIn but I felt that Procurious was just what I was looking for in terms of networking with like-minded professionals who specialise in procurement rather than business in general and being able to learn from others’ experiences via the Blogs and articles that are posted on the site.

What are you hoping to get out of the network?

I am hoping to make a lot of new procurement contacts (I’ve already connected with well over 1900 members so I think I’m already progressing well on that point!) *We think you are too Helen!

I’m a firm believer in not reinventing the wheel and if someone has done something before then what better way to learn than from that person’s experiences and lessons learnt. As well as learning from others across the World via the blogs and articles that they post I also aim to share my experiences if I see any questions submitted that are relevant to things I have been involved in myself.

My motto has always been “Share the learning!”

How are you going to get your peers involved?

I promote Procurious at every opportunity and tell all my peers what a valuable tool it is for networking and knowledge sharing. I am also in the process of arranging a Procurious workshop with Euan Granger for colleagues both within my organisation and within a neighbouring Fire and Rescue Service. It’s all about spreading the good word!