Procurious Big Idea #2 – Revolutionising Procurement Recruitment

Andrew MacAskill, Managing Director at Executives Online, wants to revolutionise procurement recruitment.

Andrew says: Why don’t we flip the procurement recruitment process on its head? Start with reference checks and psychometric testing to find out if the candidate matches the skills and experience needed for the role before investing in an interview.

See more Big Ideas from our 40 influencers

Big Ideas Summit 2015: what the press said

Last week the world’s brightest procurement minds all collaborated at the Big Ideas Summit 2015 – powered by Procurious.

What the press were saying about Big Ideas 2015

Here’s what press and professionals alike have been saying about it…

Spend Matters:

UK editor Peter Smith reported: “Meeting Goddard was a highlight for me…

“Given it was the first Procurious event, and one that tried to do something a bit different compared to most conferences, we thought it was a real success. More to come on the day, well done to their team and I’m sure it won’t be the last Procurious event we’ll be reporting on.”

Peter’s US colleague Jason Busch added – “The Soho Hotel has a truly great small conference facility – the event, being simulcast live online, kicked off with Professor/emcee Jules Goddard, a wonderful host, facilitating an icebreaker to get the audience engaged…

On first keynote speaker Sigi Osagie, Jason commented – “I was left wanting for Sigi to flesh out his ideas a bit more as the topic is a clever one. He’s a truly gifted speaker”. If (like Jason) you want to hear more from Sigi, let us direct you in this direction: Sigi Osagie’s Big Idea on Unlocking Our People’s Passion

Jason also had the following to say about McKinsey’s Theano Liakopoulou:

“Immediately following lunch yesterday at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit, Theano, a partner and procurement and operations expert at the consultancy, woke everyone up by delivering a presentation on measuring and exploring procurement value.”

Thank you Peter and Jason!

Supply Management:

CPOs: Remember everyone can be extraordinary – Paul Snell leads with a story on Sigi. Read it here.

Three customer service lessons procurement can learn from Uber – spotlight on Chris Sawchuk’s keynote (The Hackett Group). Read it in full

Giles Breault:

We’ll just leave this Tweet from The Beyond Group’s Giles Breault right here…

giles

Lance Younger:

Lance Younger, CEO of Statess writes on LinkedInBig Disruptive Ideas – RIP The Procurement Function.

“There were some fantastic themes and insights from the participants… The debate around procurement 2030 during the Big Ideas Summit also helped to push our thinking about procurement.

Lance continues: “In reality, many big ideas merely shape the agenda, and the speed of change is limited by aspiration and ambition.  Culture and innovation within individual companies also will shape the direction and procurement’s role.” Before concluding… well, you’ll just have to pay his article a visit to find out!

Notes from ISM2015: `The future demands us to innovate!`

phoenix convention center for ISM2015

This article is part of a series about Hugo’s visit to ISM2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Here Hugo swaps sweeping desert for expansive conference floor…

First impressions? The Phoenix Convention Centre is spectacular, both on the inside and outside. Architecturally stunning like most of downtown Phoenix, the building looks like it could easily absorb ISM2015 three times over with room to spare, though I’m yet to see what it’s like with every delegate crowding into the building. The Exhibit Hall remained tantalisingly closed today while the exhibitors set up their displays, so I wandered around the accessible areas with my lanyard around my neck and showbag full of procurement-related goodies in my hand. I even stepped into the neighbouring performing arts centre to get a glimpse of the concert hall but was hustled out by security.

As a guest blogger, I have a ‘media’ badge attached to my lanyard, which I think is pretty cool. I’d like to stick it in the ribbon of my hat the way reporters wore their press IDs in old movies, but a) people might think I’m strange, and b) I don’t have a ribbon on my hat. I’ve been invited to the press room tomorrow morning, which I envision as filled with tobacco-smoke and weathered reporters tapping furiously on noisy typewriters (I know, I watch too many old movies). It’s more likely to be a plain room with PowerPoint capabilities and a handy Wi-Fi connection.

The crowd waiting for the first keynote speaker was buzzing with chatter, making me appreciate that aside from the huge line-up of events, perhaps the single most important aspect of this conference was the networking. ISM has put plenty of time aside to dedicate to networking – there’s a welcome reception tonight, two networking breakfasts, two “dessert receptions” over the lunch hour (I like the sound of that) and networking receptions in the exhibitor hall at the end of each day, for which I am the excited holder of two complimentary drink vouchers. Everyone in the crowd before me is chatting – and I mean everyone. No one is standing by themselves looking lost or awkward, which can be attributed either to the fact that everyone in procurement knows each other, or perhaps they’ve all been to ISM conferences in the past, or maybe it’s just the convivial American temperament that makes it so easy to meet new people. I can pick out a few different languages and accents in the crowd – a fair number of Chinese attendees, some UK accents, French and Spanish speakers and the full spectrum of regional accents from all over the States. I haven’t picked up any Aussie accents just yet, but I’ll keep my ears open tomorrow.

One of the most difficult parts of attending ISM2015 is the sheer volume of events that run concurrently. For example, if I attend a two-and-a-quarter-hour “Signature Session” tomorrow morning, I’ll be missing out on no fewer than twenty-four other sessions – just incredible. It demonstrates the sheer size of this event and makes selection a hand-wringing process, but ISM comes to attendees’ assistance by offering Learning Tracks and audience levels. The Learning Tracks create a clear pathway through the bewildering array of sessions that you can choose to follow, or to mix and match as I have done. The Tracks are:

  1. High Performing Value Chain Management
  2. Best Practices in Procurement
  3. Strategic Partnership
  4. Risk Management
  5. Leadership Strategies
  6. Delivering Financial Results
  7. Strategic Profitable Growth

Each event has a Learning Track listed against it and also a recommended audience level:

  • Essentials (for professionals new to supply chain management)
  • Experienced (next level up)
  • Leadership (professionals in executive and leadership positions with more than ten years of experience).

ISM has also created a handy App to select events, create a schedule, give feedback and other features. I’ll definitely need it tomorrow when I’m dashing from session to session all over the massive convention centre.

ISM in the spotlight

ISM knows how to put on a show. Even though the grand opening is tomorrow morning and the conference crowd is not yet at full size, this keynote speech is the first official event of the conference. The lights suddenly dim in the cavernous hall (massive, but not even the biggest in the building), the crowd falls silent and a single figure stands on stage in a spotlight. “The future demands us to innovate!” he begins, sharing a vision of the future for procurement. He is followed by five other illuminated figures, all beginning with the formula “the future demands”.

This is the theme of the conference. ISM turns 100 this year, but the CEO Thomas Derry tells us that the organisation is looking to the future. Derry introduces the crowd to the innovative snap poll system where we used our phones there and then to vote on a question put to the audience. As a researcher I was very impressed to see the bar graph on the big screen rapidly changing as responses flowed in to the question: “What global threats are most likely to disrupt your business or supply chains?” Results were:

  • Economic collapse abroad: 39%
  • War or terrorism: 5%
  • Direct or indirect cyber-attacks: 30%
  • Natural disasters: 20%
  • Other: 6%

The surprises for me here were the low score for terrorism and the high score for cyber-attacks – a flick through the program confirmed there’s an entire conference session devoted to protecting against cyber-attacks, so this is certainly front-of-mind in the procurement world.

After a few more preliminaries, the audience bursts into applause as the familiar figure of Robert Gates, former Director of the CIA and US Secretary of Defence, steps onto the stage. It’s not often you get to hear from someone who has directly shaped the history of the modern world, and he didn’t disappoint.

Chris Lynch: `You’ve shown me the money, now show me how we’ll get there`

Rio Tinto’s CFO, Chris Lynch offers: when you’ve got a big idea that you believe in, then don’t waste the chances you get to convince others – communication will be key.

Chris Lynch talks communication

Remember that people at the top of organisations are time poor, therefore Big Ideas, backed by courage, resonate.

So if you get the opportunity to present your idea, make sure it’s punchy and grabs their attention.

Don’t overcomplicate it. And make sure you frame it so they can quickly see how it will solve their business problems.

What should give you confidence is that pitching a Big Idea should be a lot easier than a small one.

Because you are passionate about the topic, and you have sized the prize. If not, you better make sure that you are, and that you have.

We all have our own way of communicating, but two things stand out – rehearse, prepare and test.

We can all write our best ideas on a page, and even all convince ourselves we have every angle covered.

My tip is don’t just believe in yourself, test your concept first, with family, or a friend or colleague.

They will give you the feedback, and the confidence, to make sure you have properly stress-tested your idea and your plan.

If you were presenting to me, I’d want to know: what’s different about your idea? How come we haven’t been able to capture this value before?

What resources will you need to get it done, and how long’s it going to take? Don’t underestimate the time and effort it can take to drive change through an organisation.

And importantly, make sure you know how you’re going to measure success.

So the art of communicating in procurement, as it is in any field, is, once you have shown me the money, show me how we will get there.

Communicating within your own organisation, be it up or down, is one thing, but communicating across boundaries or outside to others may help you create wealth.

For it will probably be outside our own walls that new ideas are flowering or taking hold. We need people on the inside with visibility of the outside.

To act as intrapreneurs for our business and help re-invent it.

At Rio Tinto we have 60,000 people and operations in 40 countries over 6 continents. So for us social media provides a global platform to communicate and share.

I think there is a real opportunity in eLearning. You can imagine as a CFO, I see a better ROI on that than bringing hundreds of people together for training.

We live in a world of instant communication, from email to social media, but let us not overlook face to face communication, be it real – or via satellite to save money!

You can learn a heck of a lot by picking up a phone, and you can speed up and broaden your connections through social media – it can often be the shortest route to an answer and can expand your breadth of knowledge.

In a relatively small but specialised field of procurement, communication is even more important.

Accountants, well, I hate to admit it, but there are a lot of us…and we all kind of do the same job.

But if you’re a procurement professional, you may be specialised and isolated.

Social media platforms [like Procurious] may well be your best way to connect and share learnings and the experiences of others in similar circumstances.

The short distance between two points, or a knowledge gap and a solution, maybe just a phone call or email away.

ISM2015 Annual Conference: A near-death experience on Camelback Mountain

In the first of a series of articles, The Faculty’s Hugo Britt takes us on a journey to the Institute of Supply Management’s annual conference. But first he must contend with Camelback Mountain…

Camelback-Mountain

Today, in Phoenix Arizona, I climbed the stairwell of the Empire State Building. Well, not the Empire State itself, but rather its equivalent – the Echo Canyon Trail to the peak of Mount Camelback. That’s what the colourful sign at the trailhead told me, anyway, along with a dire warning (unheeded) about the difficulty of trail. But more on that later. I’m here in Phoenix to attend the ISM2015 Annual Conference, one of the premier events for procurement professionals internationally.

First off, I’d like to thank my hosts at ISM (for those not in the know, ISM is the Institute for Supply Management, one of the largest supply management associations in the world) for their generous invitation and my employer, The Faculty Management Consultants, for supporting my attendance.

Today was only a short day at ISM2015, with a keynote speaker and a single conference session, so for this initial entry I thought I’d set the scene with my experiences as a first-time visitor to the US (not counting Hawaii) and my near-death experience on Camelback. The conference’s grand opening is in fact tomorrow, which promises to be an action-packed day full of procurement gems that I’ll be sure to share with you.

To introduce myself, I’m a 30-something-year-old research consultant from Melbourne, Australia, who doesn’t do particularly well in the heat. I’m lucky to have landed in Arizona in spring, as a 30 o C day is much more bearable than Phoenix’s hottest-recorded summer high of 50o C. Even at 30 degrees, I’m dashing from shade patch to shade patch, wearing my battered old akubra that I thought may pass for the local cowboy hat (it doesn’t). As suggested by my job title, I’m a researcher specialising in procurement, but it’s early days yet – I only joined The Faculty in November 2014 and as such am in what I call “sponge mode”, soaking up everything I can on how procurement works with the long-term goal of becoming a procurement guru like my colleagues at the office. The sponge metaphor is actually quite apt, as my expectation that procurement would be a dry topic was very quickly overturned when I discovered the industry to be absolutely fascinating with boundless areas of investigation, a truly international outlook and incredibly passionate people.

I flew in on Saturday afternoon on a 50-seater jet out of Los Angeles. Bleary from the previous 13-hour leg from Melbourne, I was nodding off when a glance out the window jolted me into full wakefulness. The desert below me was just incredible – blinding white sands, abrupt rocky ranges, dried river systems spreading through the landscape like bronchioles, and patchwork clusters of irrigated farms around the two major waterways visible from the air, the Salton Sea and Colorado River. Phoenix itself swung into view and my first thought was how improbable its very existence seemed in such a hostile landscape. The sprawling suburbs hold 4.3 million people, with row upon row of identical terracotta-coloured rooftops and tiny pools glinting in backyards. The city centre itself (“downtown” in local parlance) seems very compact from the air and I strained in my seat to pick out the Phoenix Convention Centre, the venue for ISM2015.

downtown phoenix

Americanisms

Now, I know there’ll be some American readers of this blog who may be puzzled by my harping on certain parts of my experience, but some things seem so quintessentially “American” that I can’t resist including them here for non-US readers. Namely:

  • Tipping – so straightforward to Americans yet a minefield for foreigners like me. Who should I tip? Everyone that I make a monetary transaction with who isn’t a machine? How much? Have I offended by giving too little? Did I just give that waiter way too much?
  • American fare – my room service menu offers the following delights:
    • Jalapeno bacon and pistachio brittle
    • Tater tots
    • Sweet potato fries with marshmallow drizzle and candied pecans
    • Quico corn nut pie
    • Crispy chicken wings with blue cheese dressing
    • Fried whisky sour pickles with horseradish buttermilk dressing.
  • Super-friendliness – people from Phoenix (Phoenicians?) go out of their way to say hello to strangers – lovely!

How I nearly died on Camelback Mountain

I only had one gap in my schedule to go on an outing, so on Sunday morning I took it. I was up bright and early to grab a hotel breakfast (Fruit Loops; don’t tell my wife), jumped in a cab and headed to Camelback via Paradise Valley. The aforementioned sign at the trailhead warned that the second half of the climb was rated “extremely difficult”, at which I scoffed merrily and started on up. Ten minutes later I was still scoffing about the overblown rating when the sun heaved itself above the range … and I was flattened. It was hot. Heat was beating down upon my hat, reflecting off the rock walls on either side of me, shimmering up from the rock face at my feet – awful. My steady trot slowed down to a sweaty crawl (literally a crawl in some sections that required hands as well as feet) and I cursed my hubris. But the heat wasn’t what nearly killed me. What nearly killed me was narrowly avoiding stepping on a Mohave Rattlesnake on the edge of the path. I’m pretty good at understanding American accents, but I wasn’t quick enough to interpret what the guy behind me was yelling. I thought he said something like “heaven’s sake”, but he was actually warning, “there’s a snake” just before my foot when down right next to its head and, thankfully, it darted under a rock rather than going for my ankle. I also saw two fat-bellied Chuckwallas (we call them goannas back home), the Saguaro Cactus (a local icon which grows up to 50 feet tall) and the squat Compass Barrel Cactus.

mohave rattlesnake

Standing on the top, I was rewarded with an incredible panorama of the city and surrounding peaks disappearing into the haze. Phoenix is greener than you’d expect, especially in the wealthier areas, and of course the city’s famous golf courses. I was looking down on a particularly beautiful course directly below Camelback, wondering if it was the location of the first event of the conference, the ISM2015 golf tournament. I’d chosen to climb a peak rather than play golf (I can imagine my golf-mad colleague Chris shaking his head in dismay as he reads this) but the rewarding view convinced me I’d made the right choice. Besides, I hadn’t packed my chequered knickerbockers (or whatever it is that golfers wear).

Tania Seary’s Big Ideas on shockproof procurement

Tania was talking at the Big Ideas Summit, the world’s first digitally-led procurement event. Join the Big Ideas Group to see how 40 influential thought-leaders aired their ‘Big Ideas’ on cost, risk, technology and people management.

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If procurement is to “shockproof” the profession, we need to move out of our silos and work together to solve potential supply chain disruption issues.

Most of these issues – slavery, child labour, unsafe work practices, exploitation and neglect for the environment, copyright – are too big for any one person – or even any one company – to solve alone.

The procurement community can build muscle, by continuously flexing and responding to each other’s calls for support.

Procurious, in particular, could support the development of the procurement community’s muscle by providing the forum for solving some of the biggest problems we face today –

  • Mitigating potential supply chain disruptions
  • Driving innovation
  • Winning the war for talent

Mitigating potential supply chain disruptions

Supply chain risk is now regularly quoted as the number one concern for many CEOs.

We also know from recent history that unethical practices can permanently impact corporate reputations and brand equity.

It is interesting to consider the powerful role of social media in both exposing, and educating, everyone in the supply chain about inappropriate practices. Consumers are very fast to share their discoveries through social media, but procurement and other supply chain professionals have been slow to leverage social media in their due diligence and reporting processes.

Alarmingly, many organisations cannot see past their first tier supplier and are unable to readily investigate the supply chain that lurks behind them, resulting in product recalls, disruption and, in some cases, death. As my colleague Gordon Donovan likes to say “we need to pull back the supply chain curtain

So Gordon has proposed a Big Idea on how we could use social media to solve one of our biggest threats – by creating a Global Supply Chain Tree.

As we all know, Wikipedia has used thousands of volunteers to create a free encyclopedia with a million and a half articles in two hundred languages in just a couple of years. This is the opportunity for procurement too!

Why couldn’t we use Procurious to build a detailed map of our supply chains? We could –

  • Record ownership structures
  • Detail parent/child supplier relationships
  • Rate supplier performances and compliance

This information tree could be fully built and self-governed by supply chain professionals as they uncover each layer in their supply chain.

This would dramatically increase our supply chain visibility and hopefully verify its purity – which would mitigate some huge risks we have in our supply chains today.

Leveraging growth and innovation opportunities

The second challenge we face is to deliver growth and innovation from our supply base. Today’s procurement professional is as much about contributing to the top line, as the bottom line.

Being able to actively seek out information is part of social’s beauty – and crafting a network of thought-leaders, influencers, and experts around you is an unquestionably valuable thing in identifying and developing growth opportunities.

One of our team members, Jordan Early, has put Barcelona-based Citymart forward as a great example of turning traditional procurement on its head. See what he has to say.

Citymart enables citizens to choose which city problems need solving and to provide less traditional suppliers with an opportunity to win the contracts to solve them.

This is an inspiring example of how we could use our global online networks to collaborate and deliver better outcomes for ourselves and our communities.

Winning the war for talent 

I have written previously that if procurement is going to win the war for procurement talent, we need to engage with Millennials on the platform they 
use the most: social networks.

Unfortunately most of the online images of procurement are outdated and uninspiring. We need to encourage all CPOs and vested parties in the profession to quickly upgrade their online presence to make the whole profession more attractive.

By creating and
maintaining fresh and dynamic Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
company profiles, we can open the door to new recruits to our profession.

In addition to conducting a “social media audit” on our online presence and positioning, we should also consider online projects that appeal to Millennials such as PACE – Procurement Advice for Charitable Enterprises – which was developed by a group of participants in The Faculty’s Procurement Executive Program.

The PACE concept is to connect sourcing professionals with charitable enterprises to provide volunteer professional procurement advice.

Via a social media platform, procurement professionals, either independently or via their employer, register their interest, specific skills and availability. Not-for-profits then access the register and find a ‘match’ that provides timely advice and assistance to solve their procurement problems.

This is a great example of using our community muscle to ensure everyone wins:

  • For not for profits, it provides real, targeted assistance via ready access to procurement expertise on demand and an extra level of accountability and transparency, without spending a fortune on consultants.
  • For procurement professionals, it facilitates an opportunity to undertake meaningful work in manageable chunks of time, networking and a development opportunity of using existing skills in a different setting.
  • For employers, it can easily be incorporated into an existing Community Relations or Corporate Social Responsibility program, and offers a means of broadening community relationships and increasing good corporate citizenship beyond the traditional photo opportunities of planting trees or painting fences.

Whilst still in the conceptual stage, it shows the power of procurement working together and plays to the need of the Millennials to do something “meaningful” in their careers.

The opportunities for procurement to collaborate on-line to shockproof and enhance the profession are boundless. What is your BIG IDEA for our first collaboration project?

Chris Lynch on why the best Big Ideas might come from our suppliers

Rio Tinto’s CFO, Chris Lynch talks partnerships.

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Given the speed of change in business and procurement trends, no enterprise can afford to be an island.

Like the Internet, it is the speed of connection, and new partners bringing new ideas that will help define the pace of change and business reinvention.

Our partners, much like our friends, can point out things we didn’t see before.

That’s why partnership is so important, as is choosing our partners wisely.

Rarely do Big Ideas get advertised, for if they do they are probably now in the mainstream.

It is our partners who can help find the new ideas on the margins or periphery of our control that can help us reinvent business and create value.

On the hunt for the next Big Idea in the procurement world, we all know that the best ideas might come from our suppliers themselves.

I’ve always believed you should “reward the idea”.

If a supplier comes to you with a unique idea, do the best you can to work with them and recognise their suggestion.

Partnerships can be hard work, but they can also be more fertile and rewarding.

That is why we look to partnerships around the world.

The key to partnership must be a sense of shared value – even in tough times.

For example in the mid 90s when I was at Alcoa, we had to achieve a turnaround for an operation. If we could achieve this, it would be a win-win for us and our suppliers.

I called a town hall meeting… It was then that I confirmed the lesson, that suppliers want your business to survive, and even thrive, and are prepared to play a part in that success if they are brought on the journey.

Rather than seeing our suppliers as a cost that just needs to be controlled, recognise the value that can be unlocked by working together.

That might be changing a specification, introducing new innovations or standardising production processes, for instance.

Be clear about your objectives, and if you don’t have the expertise in-house to achieve them, then use them to help you choose the right partners, and build the strong alliances you need to succeed.

As Sam Walsh, our chief executive at Rio Tinto, said in a recent speech in Korea: “Innovate to grow, partner to succeed”. That is because solo genius is rare and partners make a difference.

There are inventors, and then there are entrepreneurs.

Look at the great entrepreneurs. They all had partners – be they in finance, technology, procurement, you name it.

At Rio Tinto our partners are behind our greatest successes – be it our customer partnerships for our Pilbara iron ore operations in Western Australia.

Or our supplier partners, such as Komatsu, who have helped lead the development of autonomous trucks.

These are huge 308 tonne, three storey-high robots that operate themselves, overseen from our Operations Centre some 1,500 km away near Perth airport.

They have hundreds of sensors that are continuously feeding information to the control centre. They are already some 15 per cent more efficient than our other trucks; they use less fuel and have less wear and tear.

They really are our version of big data in action. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The sensors are now appearing on all our equipment and potentially have huge benefits for the way we operate and our whole approach to maintenance and procurement.

For example, with the help of our IT experts in our Indian Excellence Centre, we can now sense the wear on individual components and better predict when a piece of equipment is going to need maintenance, rather than just using a standard hours schedule.

Ultimately the data and the role of procurement with our partners will become more important, and significantly enhance the value of the actual equipment we buy.

Technology is changing the way we operate and the way we do business, but ultimately we still need people and partners with big ideas and the commitment to getting them implemented.

In procurement it will be our partners who will help shape our future. We don’t have a view on what the future should look like, because with great partners we aim to always be one step ahead of it.

Chris was speaking at Procurious’ inaugural Big Ideas Summit as one of 40 most influential commercial thought-leaders. Learn more about the Big Ideas Summit and how to access exclusive content from the event.

David Hames: `Big Data?` Organisations should sort out their `Small Data` first

big-data

One of the overarching themes at our Big Ideas Summit was that of technology. We quizzed Dr David Hames, Executive Chairman of Science Warehouse on e-business, Big Data, and social media. Here’s what he had to impart:

Procurious asks: E-procurement and e-business sectors have seen a surge in growth over the last few years, what advances do you predict for the next five, ten (and beyond) years?

David: We see a growing demand for user-friendly cloud-based e-procurement solutions that are easy for users to access over a wide range of technology interfaces. Users are demanding the same intuitive, fast and responsive solutions at work that they already enjoy in the B2C world. Purchasing online is now the norm in the B2C world and is fast becoming the norm at work as well. This makes sense for employers too – cloud solutions that are delivered without costly infrastructure, a workforce that needs minimal or no training to use the e-procurement solution, and active engagement by staff driving a common process and delivering process efficiencies.

But just as in the B2C world where a user quickly moves onto the next website if the current one does not have the required content, so we see content as core to delivering the full benefits of e-procurement in the business world. Good content will become an increasingly key differentiator for e-procurement success.

Looking ahead, we expect B2C and B2B (e-procurement) to continue to converge, both focusing on maximising engagement with end users. Less  B2C or B2B, more a unifying ‘Business to User’ approach – B2U!

Procurious: How can e-procurement services help CPOs manage their spending more sensibly?

David: By giving up-to-the-minute visibility of real spend – on demand and at multiple levels right down to individual order level, facilitating better planning, better informed operational management and accurate and comprehensive spend data for contract negotiations.

To deliver this successfully needs not only powerful technology but also great data.  Quite simply, spend analysis is only as good as the data being interrogated – and delivering accurate detailed spend data requires rich, consistently-classified, QC’d  product information as the source. That’s why Science Warehouse offers a fully managed eCatalogue service, producing rich accurate data to fully inform user choice at the point of purchase and to allow users to analyse spend data in a way never available before.

Procurious: As a function procurement is always under pressure to deliver results. You covered some scenarios in your recently-published Trends Survey – can you share the biggest findings with us?

David: We have seen a substantial increase in departments achieving more than 80 per cent of spend under management, but no increase in those who believe they are delivering strategic procurement – that is still stuck at a third of respondents.

Most respondents (68 per cent) see the cloud and data analytics as the future. 

Looking at e-procurement solutions, ease of use and data quality are increasingly rated as key criteria for success; up 51 per cent and 21 per cent respectively over the last 3 years.

The biggest challenge in 2015 (reported by 40 per cent of respondents) is a lack of procurement resource – mirrored by a 22 per cent increase in intentions to recruit to new roles.  This is great for candidates but bad for CPOs – concerns over talent acquisition and development have doubled since last year. 

Procurious: Is there a disparity between technology and engagement?

David: Done well, there is no disparity at all in that the technology should drive user engagement – not be a block to it.  Unfortunately, some e-procurement solutions have offered technology without the necessary engagement – proving themselves to be clunky and hard to use, or usable but without discernible benefit.  That drives users to find a way around the technology rather than engage with it and be empowered as a result. It follows that only solutions which fully engage with users and drive strong user adoption can deliver the promised efficiencies and savings to the buying organisation.

Procurious: How can procurement use Big Data more effectively, will Big Data analytics help drive a change?

David: The fact is that many buying organisations need to sort out their “small data” first. All too often the data sits in multiple silos and is not rich enough or properly quality checked to deliver detailed and accurate analytics. The lack of consistent data categorisation also often makes meaningful analysis difficult if not impossible. 

High quality consistently-mapped data is essential to delivering spend analysis that can be relied on to drive successful change.

Procurious: Let’s talk social media… What can social offer to the procurement professionals of today, and is it helping win the War for Talent?

David: Social media such as YouTube are popular for procurement training videos and demos but by far the most useful platform to date has been LinkedIn with procurement professionals collaborating, following trends, news, opinions, advice, etc.  Procurious looks set to raise the profile of procurement still further. 

In the War for Talent, social media can both help an individual get noticed (building a strong personal reputation) and create awareness around a company seeking top quality employees. Without question, fast growing companies need to harness social media to advantage.

Chris Lynch: the BIGGER the idea, the greater resistance you will face

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Lions are known for their courage – and courage is something that Rio Tinto’s CPO, Chris Lynch wants to share with Procurians today.

People whose big ideas become reality are people who have the courage of their convictions.

It’s important to persist to see your ideas through.

It might take years for your idea to come to fruition, and so in the meantime, you have to keep to your plan and keep delivering.

There’s nothing more refreshing than a fresh perspective to old problems.

I really believe that younger professionals have an enormous contribution to make, so you shouldn’t be afraid to share your thoughts. In a way, we’re relying on you to do so!

And don’t take my word for it.

Steve Jobs said it best: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

If you have a great idea, supported by good research, and a vision of how you want to get to the next stage – you are almost there.

In procurement the ideas and opportunities will be all around us. Chances are, with colleagues and friends and robust reviews, the idea can evolve to a plan.

I’ve mentioned before that at Rio Tinto we operate in 40 countries and in procurement we have $13.4 billion contestable spend and relationships with 62,000 suppliers.

That is more suppliers than we have employees.

The talent pool of ideas from employees, contractors and suppliers is immense.

So clearly there is plenty of scope for reinvention, improvement and BIG IDEAS and relationships to share.

It you have a plan all you need is the courage to execute it.

The process of securing this support is tough, but not nearly as tough as getting the whole organisation to implement your idea…a blog for another time.

What you will need is tenacity.

Sometimes the better and bigger the idea, the greater resistance you will face.

That’s because your idea is really breaking the current perspective and challenging people to look at the world in a totally different way.

This was my experience when I became the CEO at toll road operator, Transurban, and I had to convince the market and the board of a new direction, one less reliant on high gearing.

I took my plan to the board, I had a convincing argument, and what gave me confidence was the plan was backed by data, based on strong financial reasons to move forward.

Courage is a whole lot easier when you have done your homework.

Often people at the top of organisations are very time poor, and therefore big ideas with courage resonate.

They will either see the potential and passion for your idea or they won’t.

If they do, you have opened the door to new opportunities for you and your company.

If they don’t, they will still be engaged by the fact that you bring forward new ideas, new ways of thinking, new possibilities.

Today we have so many opportunities to reinvent our businesses from the inside.

To borrow new ideas, turn them to our advantage.

To borrow a sporting analogy, the football match is not won or lost until the final siren.

It is lost when the courage is gone to follow a game plan, to take measured risks, or to continuing trying.

Chris was speaking at Procurious’ inaugural Big Ideas Summit as one of 40 most influential commercial thought-leaders. Learn more about the Big Ideas Summit and how to access exclusive content from the event.

CIPS Cath Hill’s Big Ideas on bringing professional procurement into the future

CIPS Cath Hill at the Big Ideas Summit

Ahead of the Procurious Big Ideas Summit that happened on 30 April, we quizzed guest Cath Hill, Group Marketing and Membership Director – CIPS, on the future of the profession and how the Institute is using social media to capture the young procurement professionals of today.

Procurious asks: Is the membership different now, than say 2, 5, 10 years prior?

For instance – we talked a lot about ‘Intrapreneurs’ at our Big Ideas Summit, would you say those seeking membership are bringing more and varied skills to the table?

Cath: CIPS membership has seen rapid growth in the past 10 years and we have a global community of 114,000 in 150 countries. The profile of our members have also changed as we are now seeing more women as well as young people in senior roles.

The reach and scope of procurement activity is ever increasing as procurement get more involved with business strategy, complex acquisitions, enterprise development, supply chain financing.

Purchasing and supply management (P&SM) are being measured beyond savings and more forward thinking organisations are measuring procurement success on issues such as:

  • Increased bid wins, and more profitable wins
  • Social value – job creation and enterprise development
  • Winning business from better business practices – being a customer of choice
  • Intelligent spending – moving away from a spend it or lose it budgeting culture (particularly in the public sector)
  • Managing enterprise wide risks, even the ones that no one takes sole responsibility for – e.g cyber security
  • P&SM need wider skills sets.  They must sell themselves more to the business and become story tellers.
  • New business models require new supplier relationships – the Uber model where little sits on the balance sheet.

Procurement and Supply professionals not only need to raise their skill sets for new challenges ahead, but they also need to sell themselves more to the business and become storytellers. They need to be more than just procurement.  They need to understand the language of their stakeholders and network more within their business. What procurement teams really need is to create a brand and build a marketing campaign to sell their wide ranging services into the business. I have worked in marketing my entire career and the mere talk of process and policies makes me switch off.  I’d like to see procurement teams talking my language and demonstrating creative thinking when they engage with me.  What will other parts of the business want from procurement?

Procurious: Why in 2015 is it more important than ever to have CIPS membership?

Cath: Recent supply chain crisis demonstrate that professional procurement is more important than ever – Rana Plaza, food scandal.

MCIPS is the globally recognised standard for procurement and supply.  It’s your professional passport to work anywhere in the world and more and more employers are insisting that their teams are MCIPS. MCIPS procurement professionals can expect to earn more than their peers without membership, which clearly demonstrates its value.

We are working hard to encourage organisations to self regulate and insist that their teams are professionally qualified to safeguard themselves against supply chains risk such as fraud, corruption and scandals such as horsemeat or Rana Plaza.

CIPS members all sign up to our professional code of conduct and have access to our two hour elearning on ethical procurement.  Those that complete the learning annually receive the CIPS Ethical Mark.  Employers can search our website to check whether candidates are members of CIPS as well as whether they are up-to-date with their ethical training. 

Procurious: What is CIPS doing to ensure it continues to be relevant in the face of other competing institutes?

Cath: At CIPS we are constantly driving standards in procurement and supply.  The business environment and supply chain risks change at such a pace that no one can afford to stand still and think that they are relevant.   

This year we completed a piece of work where we mapped out the necessary skills and competencies required for the modern procurement team.  The CIPS Global Standard is available for anyone to download and use free of charge.  This important piece of work allows procurement leaders to determine what skills are required in their teams and the on-line tool helps them to write job descriptions and create organisational charts. No other organisation has taken this global view in one document and given it away for the good of the profession.  This is the core of our existence – to support the procurement community.  

We also received permission from Her Majesty The Queen to award Chartered Status to our members.  This membership status is recognition for those members that need to keep up-to-date with current thinking.  A professional with Chartered Status will lead procurement teams and have influence at board level as well as across supply markets by delivering innovative sourcing solutions. A higher-level status than MCIPS, those with Chartered Status will be qualified up to postgraduate degree level and be able to understand institutional risk and contingency approaches in all parts of the organisation, how the supply chain affects innovation, and risk sharing strategies throughout the business. Professionals who hold this status will be the most sought-after talent and those who will take the profession beyond its current boundaries.

Procurious: With more and more focus being placed on social responsibility, it is of the upmost importance that the profession promotes a healthy image. Should we (and can we) be doing more?

Cath: Procurement teams need to be measured on the impact of their business practices on winning business and getting the best suppliers in place, demonstrating that they are the customer of choice.

We have developed an ethics e-learning and test package for our members to complete and be awarded the ethical mark.  This is fundamental to demonstrating that our profession acts responsibly. 

The CIPS Sustainability Index helps organisations to have an overview of who responsibly their supply chains are acting.

Procurious: As a profession procurement is only now waking-up to the use of social media. What is CIPS doing in this field? (Using it to attract and retain, promote the Institute further etc.)

Cath has provided Procurious with a list of things that CIPS has done and what it’s using social media for. These include:

  • Signed up and active for a number of years on main networks
  • Response on items of topics interest, proactive activity on campaigns, partnerships support
  • Using content from networks to inform our own articles and knowledge documents to be the voice of our profession and members
  • Attracting new members by operating mostly open networks
  • Responding quickly to issues of the day and proactive campaigns e.g Chartered Status
  • Positioning Institute as a thought leader in the profession and so retaining members
  • Developing a community of anyone interested in procurement, not just members
  • Offering free resources and  other resources specifically for members
  • Use of networks to link peers in the profession
  • Promoting products and services, links to sales
  • Using networks to link with media and bloggers
  • Using networks to understand issues in the profession, community and business and answer questions in a timely and truthful, informal way
  • Offering real-time service to our customers

Procurious: How can social media be used to reimagine and refresh Brand Procurement?

Cath says that it can be used in the following ways:

  • For consistent two-way engagement with stakeholders
  • Positioning as a thought leader in the business, global economy and governments around the world
  • A useful sources of insight and topical developments in the profession and business and public sector
  • As an agile responder to real issues faced by professionals and senior business people as well a those starting out
  • To highlight a relevant profession, useful in the world, for public good as well as business
  • It’s an attractive option for young people to join the profession as it’s viewed as a mature and elite profession compared to others
  • A human ‘face’ tackling real issues, informal style
  • It can act as a consistent commentator on important issues such as fraud and slavery
  • To promote more channels to market services
  • To amplify social channels used to bring commentary and insights into the profession
  • For choosing channels carefully as managing these networks will be all you’ll have time for
  • To show procurement as a community to solve collective problems

Procurious: And finally – look forward to 2030, what’s your BIG IDEA for the profession?

Procurement will have to get a handle on big data to support their organisations and add value.

Understanding their economic environment and its impact – ie potential Eurozone triple dip.

Understanding their demanding customers – new market opportunities with new tastes, understand what these customers want and build customisable supply chain to cater for their differing needs.

Understanding their role in new business models – high tech, Uber style organisations where very little sits on the balance sheet, but network relationships are key.

And understanding the ever changing regulation and legislation demands, as well as culturally expected business models – Ethics and compliance will become more and more important to business and their customers will watch how businesses operate through the eye of the media.

Cath (and a host of other influencers) appeared at the Big Ideas Summit on 30 April.