The Supply Chain Entrepreneurial Spirit is Alive and Well

The Supply Chain Entrepreneurial Spirit is alive and well

When analyzing my connections on Twitter, one of the biggest words in my tag cloud describing my followers, next to business, marketing and supply chain, is “entrepreneur.” I can understand the desire to associate oneself with this word as it is often linked to success-oriented character traits such as tenacity, optimism, passion and creativity. Luckily for supply chain processes, the boom in creative thinkers and doers has flooded into the industry, and new ways to achieve supply chain excellence are sprouting up all around us.

I partly credit the hit reality series Shark Tank (or Dragons Den for those in the UK) for the explosion of entrepreneurs out there today. During the show, businesspeople pitch their unique ideas to “shark” investors in hopes of receiving funds to help bring their new product or service ideas to the market. The majority of questions asked by the investors come back to supply chain processes (Where are you producing? What does your distribution network look like? How much stock do you have on hand?). In more recent episodes, people have been pitching their supply chain as a competitive advantage, including messages of transparency and promises of speedy delivery.

In recent weeks I have personally noticed the impact of the entrepreneurial spirit on the supply chain industry and want to share a few examples:

Procurious – Sharing is Caring

The final encouragement to write this article came after being asked by Procurious to contribute to the platform’s blog. This platform, designed exclusively for procurement and supply chain professionals, embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of next generation managers and encourages the sharing of information to increase collaboration and learning opportunities. Founding Chairman, Tania Seary, recognized a need (a fragmented industry in need of a makeover), gathered a small team of professionals, and created a platform that has now grown to over 6000 users worldwide in just over one year. The role of social media in supply chain processes will continue to grow, and Procurious has established itself as an early-mover.

Logistics: Who can deliver faster, and cheaper?

As consumer expectations grow, especially in the field of E-commerce, so too does the stress on logistics processes. Today’s “I want it now (and cheap)” culture has led to an influx of crowdsourced delivery service start-ups in the logistics industry. Basically, people bring items to other people while en route to a particular destination. This concept follows in the footsteps of car sharing, apartment sharing and other aspects of today’s sharing economy. The first company name that comes to mind when discussing this topic is Uber, which started as a ride-sharing service and has since expanded into a multi-faceted transportation company, with tests such as Uber Fresh (food order delivery) and Uber Rush (courier package delivery) under its belt.

Creative delivery solutions are however not just limited to startups. Back in April, Amazon and Audi announced their plans to develop a service that would allow for the delivery of a package directly to a car’s trunk.

This is definitely a sector to keep an eye on in the coming months.

BlueBlox & Coke Life

Back in June, I had the privilege of meeting two supply chain entrepreneurs at the European Supply Chain and Logistics Summit in Barcelona. It was great participating in an event that encouraged innovative thinking and included industry entrepreneurs.

The first encounter was with Dorothy Diedericks, founder and CEO of BlueBlox. Dorothy recognized a need in the supply chain industry, namely the closure of the gap between the potential in emerging markets in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe – and multinationals that want to conduct business there, but can’t due to numerous challenges. BlueBlox takes a modular approach to addressing these cross-border challenges, creating more visibility and increasing compliance.

Secondly, I sat-in on a presentation by Simon Berry from ColaLife. Back in 2008, Simon Berry and his wife Jane started an online “movement” which turned into an official charity in the UK in 2011. Essentially, Simon found it hard to believe that Coca-Cola was available in the majority of developing countries, but access to basic medicines was scarce. He had the idea of tapping into private sector supply chains to distribute anti-diarrhoea kits in Zambia, where 1 in 9 children die before their 5th birthday due to preventable causes such as dehydration from diarrhoea. After years of progress and innovation, it is safe to say that the entrepreneurial spirit of Simon and his small team has saved many lives.

WalMart Buyers meet “made in the USA” suppliers

In an attempt to improve its image and product assortment, Wal-Mart recently set-up a “shark-tank-like” pitch process that connected entrepreneurs with company buyers. Obtaining shelf-space at retail is not easy, let alone getting face-to-face time to pitch a product, so many businesses took advantage of this opportunity.

The pursuit of U.S. suppliers helps Wal-Mart gain some transparency in its supply chain and gives consumers more options both online and in U.S. retail locations. After all, according to Matt Kistler, Wal-Mart’s head of global customer insights, where a product is manufactured serves as a major deciding factor in purchasing decisions, second only to price. This forward thinking buyer-supplier set-up truly embraced the entrepreneurial spirit.

Closing Words

It is great to see the entrepreneurial spirit take over an industry that can use some more excitement and positive press coverage. It is safe to say that the supply chain industry has come a long way thanks to the tenacity, optimism, passion and creativity of industry professionals. The emergence and proliferation of connected devices, smart factories, and the sharing economy are sure to set the stage for more exciting times in supply chain and logistics.

Have you recently come across some exciting new projects? What are some examples of entrepreneurship you have seen in the industry?

How To Quit Your Job In Style

Breakin’ up is hard to do…

How to quit your job in style

The crooning Neil Sedaka lyric rings in my ears as I think of the last time someone gave me the news of their resignation.

Let’s face it – it’s never a pleasant situation, and it can, in the worst case, literally end in tears for the employee or the employer – or both.

But that doesn’t need to be the case if you, the employee, take a measured approach to resigning.

Just like an employer generally has to give two or three formal warnings before they can fire someone, I think it’s good practice for an employee to also give two or three warnings on their journey to resignation.

Following a structured process could increase your chance of turning around your existing job situation, perhaps even leading you to stay put. It could also maximise your chance of a civilised and potentially positive departure from your employer, with a glowing reference in hand.

OK, so you’ve decided to quit your job. That’s it, you’re out of there. Now what?

Wait two weeks.

You are probably thinking, ‘what do you mean? I want to go straight in and tell them what I think of them!’ That might be the case, but that wouldn’t be very strategic, would it?

The most important thing to remember is that you’re trying to build your career, not stick it to your boss. People often quit in anger as a result of something their boss or company has (or has not) done.

A dramatic departure typically ends up causing more trouble for the employee than the employer. It may sound harsh, but your company will replace you faster than you think. As one of my mentors says: “Leaving a company is like taking your hand out of a bucket of water … it may make a small ripple, but within seconds it’s like you were never there.” So don’t think ‘I’m going to show them’, because your departure won’t make a huge difference to the company, but it will make a huge difference to you. That’s why you need to be strategic in resigning.

If your career is important to you, take control and manage the outcomes. That same wise mentor of mine says: “The only common denominator in your career is you.” So ensure every boss you have had, no matter how bad you think they are, is an advocate of yours in some way. To be successful, you need as many people as possible in your corner, promoting you and your skills.

That’s why I recommend resigning in five smooth, strategic and stylish steps:

1.   The ‘I need more’ meeting

This is the first shot across the bow, where you put forward your personal business case for change. This is where you highlight the skills you have that you feel should be further leveraged by the company, or the experience you need the company to provide you with, in order to advance your career. You and your manager should agree on goals and a timeframe for this to happen. This is more than likely part of your regular performance review.

Now … this is where it’s important that you really reconsider whether you still want to resign. One of the big mistakes many employees make is that they assume just because their boss isn’t talking specifically about their development, that they aren’t thinking about it. There are often discussions and planning taking place behind the scenes about high potential talent – your employer may not make it obvious. Give your boss and employer the benefit of the doubt. Give them the opportunity to share their thoughts, or at least get motivated on an action plan for your development.

2.   The ‘it’s not happening’ meeting

This is when you meet with your boss to explain that the support or guidance offered in the ‘I need more’ review meeting is insufficient. This should spell out what you need, and by when. You should also ask what else you could or should be doing to help the company help you. There is a fine line you need to walk here … you need to be the squeaky wheel who needs growth, not the high-maintenance employee who needs to be placated.

3.   The ‘you need to know I’m looking’ meeting

This is the reciprocal to what an employer would call a final warning meeting. This is when you explain that you appreciate the efforts the company is making to help facilitate your professional growth, but the efforts are not hitting the mark. Importantly, your language should not be threatening and should focus on the facts about what was agreed and delivered or not delivered following previous meetings.

4.   The ‘I’ve accepted another offer’ meeting

This is the big one – the meeting when you resign. If you have done your job well in the first three meetings, this meeting will be relatively painless. You have been really open with your boss and given them every opportunity to respond to your professional development needs, so the resignation should come as no surprise. You may need to be prepared for a less-than-professional response. Hold your own and take the high ground. Remember, your goal is to be the most professional person in the room. You have followed a really transparent, structured process and given the company every opportunity to retain you. Now’s the time to stand proud.

5.   The ‘Let’s shake hands and be friends’ moment

I might be slightly optimistic about this one, but at least you should finish this meeting on the grounds of mutual respect. In the weeks that follow you will have numerous opportunities to do the right thing – getting your handover notes in order, briefing others in your team, sending the right messages to external and internal audiences about the reasons you are leaving, and the list goes on. This is your opportunity to ensure you leave on good terms, and you and your boss could be either advocates, or at least referees for each other.

In my experience, my worst bosses have been the ones that I have learnt the most from. So, if your boss was Mr Last Minute and his tardiness drove you clinically insane, you will be able to say: “In this job I learnt the importance of punctuality.” If your boss never met, called or emailed his team, you could say: “In this job I learnt the importance of communication in building employee engagement.”

Do these five steps all sound tedious and time consuming? They should, because if you do this properly, it could take up to six months. The reality is that you probably started applying for jobs at meeting number two, and even if you were outrageously lucky and expedient in the job application process, filling the role from start to finish will be three months anyway.

By following these five steps, you will have provided your employer with every opportunity to compel you to stay so you can feel comfortable that you’re making your next career move for all the right reasons.

How To Start A Discussion Topic On Procurious

Today we’re going back to basics and revisiting one of the most popular areas on Procurious – namely, Discussions.

How to start a discussion topic on Procurious

At the time of writing over 400 discussion topics have been started on the site, with a colossal 1700+ answers from the Procurious community.

For those yet to dip their toes into the Discussion waters we present a few quick tips so you can start creating topics with ease.

Select a Topic

First thing’s first, begin by selecting a topic that best represents your chosen Discussion area. We’ve provided quite a broad selection to choose from, including: Technology, Sustainability, Supply Chain, Professional Development, Procurement, Industry Groups,  Indirect and Direct Categories, Big Ideas and Lifestyle.

Select a Subtopic

Depending on your topic of choice you’ll be presented with corresponding subtopic options here.

Now comes the important part…

Look to the ‘Ask a question or start a discussion’ field. We recommend beginning your question here, but limit it to a maximum of 20 words. Why? We display the very latest Discussions on the Procurious Community page – you can see an example here.

Procurious Discussion

Because of this, resist the urge to pop a URL in here. Instead pop it in the optional ‘Add more details’ section if you feel a URL is relevant to your Discussion.

Please note that this isn’t a place to post ‘sales-ey’ or promotional messages.Your job here is to encourage lively and thought provoking debate.

Then all that’s left to do is hit ‘Post’ and your Discussion will be live and appear on Procurious.

How to contribute to a Discussion

Once you’ve headed to the Discussions page and chosen a Discussion that takes your fancy, click ‘Answer’ to add your reply and don’t forget to hit ‘Add Answer’ when done.

How to upvote a reply

Whenever you reply to a Discussion, other Procurious members can choose to ‘upvote’ you. Answers/replies that are deemed the most worthy by your fellow community members will likely get the most votes and appear at the top of the Discussion. No pressure…

Obviously please refrain from openly abusing the platform or fellow members – we rely on you (the community) to report any inappropriate posts or sales pitches, which neatly takes us too…

Reporting a Discussion

You can choose to report a Discussion topic or individual reply by clicking the ‘Report’ prompt located next to the offending item.

Share a Discussion

Want to encourage more Procurious members to weigh in? Just click on ‘Share’ to promote the Discussion topic in your Community feed.

How To Get Ahead: 5 More Key Skills For Generation Y

5 more skills for Generation Y

If you are part of Generation Y (born between the mid-1980s and 2000) and have ambitions to get ahead in procurement, you can expect great opportunities ahead. In Part 1 of this article we suggested five critical skills you can acquire through training and experience.

This time we look at other important abilities that are concerned more with communication, and your approach and attitude to your job. Success in procurement is not only about systems and processes; it’s about how we handle people.

Recently, a leading chief procurement officer said that up to 80 per cent of his time is spent influencing internal stakeholders. What does that mean for the ambitious young procurement professional? It means, besides having top class technical skills and experience, to get ahead you need to be a sales person as well.

1. Listen more, talk less

Sales training includes advice on how to be an active listener. In addition to giving your full attention to the speaker, it is important that you are also seen to be listening. You can convey interest to a speaker by maintaining eye contact, nodding or uttering regular words of encouragement to continue (such as “uh-huh”, “yes”, and “go on”), even if you do not fully agree. By giving this verbal and non-verbal ‘feedback”, the person speaking will communicate more easily and openly with you.

Inter-personal relationships with internal customers and stakeholders can always be improved. You can develop a reputation for being approachable and for solving your users’ routine problems. Ultimately, attitude speaks volumes.

2. The power of persuasion

It is important to position yourself as a credible, trustworthy and knowledgeable person if you want people to follow your way of thinking. Understanding human nature and the principles of persuasion and influence can help create better working relationships.

Persuasion means presenting your case so that you can sway opinions or motivate a decision, usually by appealing to people’s emotions and sense of logic. Dr Robert Cialdini, the author of the popular book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, talks about reciprocity. Your internal customers are more likely to be persuaded if you can give them something personalised or unexpected in return. Remember the old adage: under promise and over deliver.

3. Change management

Much of a procurement professional’s time is spent in managing change, sometimes without realising it, Conventional wisdom says 20 per cent of people will embrace change, 60 per cent will go along with it, but 20 per cent will outright reject it. Knowing how to handle the bottom 20 per cent can save you time, money and stress.

The implications of ignoring stakeholders that have a vested interest in a given solution cause extra work, aggravation and a poor result. Remind yourself that they are always thinking of this acronym: WIIFM – what’s in it for me?

Knowing how to approach people and make them feel important is a skill that will work for you forever. Stakeholder management is developing into a core competency. Dale Carnegie wrote a classic in 1937 called How to Win Friends and Influence People which is still completely relevant today. He teaches the principles of dealing with people so that they feel important and appreciated. He also emphasises fundamental techniques for handling people without making them feel manipulated.

4. Networking

Networking is about creating sustainable relationships over time, and the best ones involve considerable up-front investment. It helps to see your network as a living organism that needs food and nurturing to sustain it. You need to be proactive in helping it flourish. Technology can help in this, but ultimately it is a human process. Making time in the canteen, corridor or coffee break to grow your network will be time well spent.

Learn to help others with contacts, experience and knowledge before helping yourself. Many people fail at networking because it’s obvious they are only after what they can get out of it.

Networking is a two-way street. The potential rewards are high. We all know how our work grinds to a halt when the ‘network is down’, so make sure yours is up 100 per cent of the time.

5. Be a Team Player

Working in teams is a fact of life in procurement. It can be rewarding but at times, it can also be difficult and downright frustrating. Whether you are the leader or just an active participant, you can improve the experience for both yourself and other team members by expressing your thoughts clearly and directly in a positive, confident, and respectful manner.

Good team players, despite their differences, figure out ways to work together to solve problems.

Much of the communication within teams takes place informally. Keep other team members in the loop with information and expertise, this helps get the job done and prevents surprises.

Elaine Porteous is a B2B freelance writer with specific focus on careers in procurement and supply chain.

Read part 1: Five key skills for Generation Y

5 Recommendations To Get The Haulage Industry Back On Track

Shortage Of Drivers Puts Transportation Industry At Risk.

5 recommendations to get the haulage industry back on track

Comensura has revealed to Procurious that the UK transportation industry could become gridlocked due to a growing driver shortage.

Newly-published research claims that a shortage of UK driving staff could bring £74bn transportation industry to a standstill.

Half of specialist driver recruiters cite a low candidate availability, coupled with the rising demand that creates a staffing gap in the sector. Around half of recruiters claim that the time it takes to fill a driving role has increased by over a week compared to 12 months ago, suggesting that the increasing lack of candidate availability is consuming more time for the sector and reducing efficiency.

The situation is being compounded by an ageing workforce (the average age for an LGV driver stands at 53) and the high costs (£2000) facing young candidates applying for their Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC).

Over half of recruiters also say that it is a challenge finding drivers able to do manual work: another factor that dissuades young people to enter the profession, in addition to uncomfortable working conditions, such as lack of lavatory facilities, and the lifestyle impacts of long and difficult shifts.

Commenting on the findings, Jon Milton, Business Development Director at Comensura, said: “The entire logistics industry is worth more than £74 billion to the UK economy and employs around 2.2 million people in over 196,000 companies, so it’s playing a big part in helping our economy recover. It seems vital that the sector attracts more young people and equips them with the skills to become competent professional drivers so that it isn’t held back in the future by a lack of skilled workers.

Comensura has therefore set out five recommendations that it believes will better help businesses narrow the gap between the supply of drivers and demand:

  1. Find a balanced pay rate: Establish what the average pay rate is for drivers and try to match it for your staff. But equally, determine how much you can afford to pay them. By finding a balance between the two, you can attract candidates while not paying them over the odds. 
  2. Look at the long-term: Forecast your needs over the next 12 months, taking into account workers’ holidays and times when demand is high. 
  3. Consider the company’s wider picture: Ensure that you have realistic expectations of your drivers and don’t promise your clients anything that the driving staff can’t deliver. 
  4. Contact recruitment agencies promptly: Procure the candidates you need as early as possible to maintain a constant flow of staff. 
  5. Look within the organisation: Instead of looking externally for candidates, see if there is anyone internal to fill the vacant roles. Carry out in-house training to make individuals who already work for you suitable, which you may be able to do by gaining support funding.

ISM CEO Tom Derry on Innovating From Your Supply Base

ISM CEO Tom Derry speaks to Procurious
ISM CEO Tom Derry speaks to Procurious

Last week Procurious was fortunate enough to catch up with Tom Derry, the CEO of the Institute for Supply Management. In this, the first-part of our three-part interview, Tom discusses the changes he’s witnessed in the function over recent years and highlights the unique opportunities that make procurement and supply chain such great fields to work in.

Procurious asks: For those of us that aren’t familiar with ISM, perhaps you could provide some background to the organisation and its goals.

Tom Derry: ISM is the world’s first and largest procurement and supply chain network. We’ve recently celebrated our 100th anniversary. We specialise in providing training and development for the procurement and supply chain community.

We provide customised training to organisations to guide them through their procurement and supply chain strategies.

While we’re based in the US, we are a truly global organisation. The second largest group of ISM certifications holders are in China, followed closely by South Korea. Our global growth is impressive with more than 50 per cent of certification now coming from outside of the United States.

Procurious: You’ve held the role of CEO at ISM for three years now, how have you seen the profession progress over that time?

Tom: There are a couple of obvious themes here. The first is that, it’s true that the role of procurement and supply chain professionals has become more strategic. Companies are competing more and more on the basis of how well they run their supply chains. I think it’s fair to say that the 20th century was the century in which marketing was the driving force behind organisational success. More recently, we’ve seen the ability to outcompete in the supply chain space as the critical factor for achieving business success. This is particularly true in our increasingly globalised economy.

Another shift I’ve witnessed is a move away from our focus on pure cost reduction. Over the last 30 years, as global economies have developed, manufacturing has become more globally distributed. The clear motivation for this was to find lower cost producers, lower labour costs, labour inputs and lower cost of materials. It was obvious that, for a time, we were all focussed on cost reduction. We’ve done a great job of capturing that opportunity but now it’s time to shift our focus.

Now, we need to focus on how procurement and supply chain can impact the top line. The answer appears to be through the innovation that lies within our supply bases.

A major change in the way that companies are doing business today is in the way they are organised. Today’s firms aren’t vertically integrated any more. If you’re going to get innovation in a modern business, it’s going to come from your supply base.

Some companies still do it the old fashioned way, but the new model is – we are a marketing company – we’ve got a brand and we don’t manufacture anything – we outsource manufacturing.

In this model, innovation really does have to come from the supply base. To that end, there needs to be a shift away from beating-up suppliers on cost – towards working with them on generating innovation and growth.

Procurious: Now looking to the future, what is it that most excites you about the procurement and supply chain profession? Where do you think our opportunities lie?

Tom: If I was 25 again, I couldn’t think of a field that I would personally find more fascinating than a corporate career in procurement and supply chain.

Here’s an opportunity to be based in almost any region you choose. You’ll learn new cultures and dramatically impact the success of the business that you work for. You’ll be working on some of the most interesting and creative projects your firm is involved in.

In other professions, like accounting, you have a strong understanding of what you’ll be doing every day. In supply chain, one day you’re going to be making the business case for locating a manufacturing facility in a new location. The next day, you may be dealing with political risk and its impact on operations in a given geography or getting an opportunity to talk to a prospective new supplier with some amazing new technology. So you’re really on the forefront of the business, both in its current positioning and also in the way it plans for the future.

This means that new skills need to be deployed. The level of business acumen has to be much higher than it was historically. You have to understand how markets are moving and what is happening with the commodities you source and the services you buy in a global context. You have to understand the trends of foreign exchange. You have to understand where your company is headed, and what markets you want to compete in in the future and position your company to be able to do that in three to five years.

In the past, procurement and supply chain have been seen as backward looking functions. It was our job to get the most effective pricing put in place to support the existing legacy business processes. Now we are thinking about and acting on the future of our businesses. Business acumen, understanding and strategic planning are three skills that I believe are critical for successful procurement professionals.

Look out for Part 2 of our interview with Tom Derry next week.

Hold On To Your Glass Balls

Hold On To Your Glass Balls #inspiration

I used to flake off and daydream in most corporate training programs, but I’ve never forgotten the lesson I learnt from one speaker who likened life to juggling balls.

Obviously, the trick is to keep all the balls in the air at one time – work, family, health etc. But the important point he made was that some balls were rubber, but others were glass. Work is a rubber ball, if you drop it, it will bounce back, but others – like your health and family – are glass. If you drop them, they are difficult to recover.

This week I have to drop the work ball – and I hope it will bounce back.

I am writing this en-route to London from Melbourne. I have called short a three-week business trip to go home to my Mum. No, not because I needed a cuddle, but because she has been hospitalised. I won’t share too much here, but it’s her heart, and it’s not good.

With three businesses (two of which are on the other side of the planet), two beautiful sons and a busy husband, my scheduling capability and mental bandwidth do get stretched… but I like it that way. The only catch is – when things come unstuck – they really come unstuck – and have a big ripple effect across my family and business – such is the case this week where I have to cancel and re-schedule around 15 meetings and presentations with some of Australia’s best and brightest procurement professionals.

Before I even left for this trip, I was fretting about leaving my already-sick mother and two boys for three weeks (especially during the school holidays). My husband went into coaching mode and basically told me to “man-up” and commit myself to the business trip. He would be fine. The boys would be fine. Mum would be fine. Just go.

So let me tell you how good things were going before they came unstuck.

I hit Singapore with a bang and was thoroughly inspired and energised by the debate around the first CPO Asia Roundtable. I had some great discussions with some long-term clients and Austrade. Unfortunately, meanwhile at home my husband inadvertently gave the whole family food poisoning by cooking some out-of-date sausages. Everyone was down for the count, including the babysitter, which meant that my husband had to take his first-ever sick day off work. Not good… but, then again, nobody was seriously injured.

Next stop was Brisbane – I met with some of our long-term clients, had dinner with the Brisbane Roundtable. Sydney was next – presentations to two procurement teams, fruitful discussions with clients. Tick. Meanwhile at home, a whole series of appointments (that had dutifully been put in my husband’s outlook calendar) had been missed… maths tutoring, dinner with friends, the list went on. Once again, not good, but, once again – nobody was seriously injured.

By now you’ve probably worked out that my husband is an absolute gem. And although I’ve just teased him here, and in my speeches on social media where I refer to him as the “pale stale male who doesn’t want to be poked or linked and doesn’t give a Tweet”, he is, in fact, the epitome of the ideal modern man.

He helps carry the domestic load and he is actively involved in our son’s lives.

Let’s face it – managing work-life balance is not an exact science – it’s a daily, weekly, monthly pursuit of excellence… well maybe in my case… definitely a case of juggling balls. And my husband is right there beside me.

So when the phone rang at the end of The Faculty’s two day strategy session and it was my husband telling me how he’d helped my mother when she thought she was having a heart attack and they were on their way to the hospital with my two boys in tow… I knew that I had to be with them.

I want to thank everyone who made time in his or her diaries to meet with me this week, quickly followed by an apology for any inconvenience I have caused by heading home to London.

I also want to thank Euan and Jordan in the Procurious team in Europe for their mastery in speech and PowerPoint, not to mention Marisa and Max for co-ordinating the visit. All your work will not be in vain!

It’s about an hour until we land at Heathrow. I can’t wait to see Mum. I want to be there to catch the glass ball before it hits the ground. I know I will.

Post-script – I’m home, she’s fine, procedure on Tuesday and hopefully she’ll be as good as new.

Watch Tania deliver the workshop she took to Australia on using Social Media to win the War on Talent:

Spotlight on Logistics and Transportation – The Unseen Supply Chain

Logistics and transportation services can sometimes be overlooked in the supply chain and seen as something that ‘just happens’. However the reality is that they play a vital role in the successful working of all businesses.

Logistics and transportation news

A greater focus from organisations can be critical for ensuring continuity of supply and saving time and money from disruption. However, organisations also have to contend with outside influences, as these news stories indicate.

Channel Disruption Headaches

Logistics organisations in both the UK and France are counting the increasing cost of Operation Stack after another weekend of disruption. Although cross-Channel services returned to normal yesterday, some lorries were forced to wait up to two and a half hours to cross the Channel on Saturday.

A combination of migrant activity and industrial action in Calais was to blame for the delays this weekend, making it a total of 21 days in the past 3 months that Operation stack has had to be enacted. And logistics companies are beginning to feel the pinch, with costs estimated at £750,000 per day.

James Hookham, Deputy Chief Executive of the Freight Transport Association (FTA), said, “Given the value of goods lost and the subsequent cost to business, these figures show that Operation Stack is not just an issue for Kent and the south east of England but a serious national strategic problem.”

The knock-on effect of disruption to the UK economy for tourism, holidaymakers and businesses in Kent is estimated at approximately £250m per day. In order to try to mitigate further disruptions, a multi-agency meeting was held last week to discuss the issue and make recommendations to the UK Government.

US Port Report

From disruption European ports to a report on disruptions at major US ports. Earlier in the year, Procurious reported on the strikes at ports on the West Coast of America, which forced the shutdown of 29 ports and caused a flotilla of vessels to be anchored off the Californian coast.

Now, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has released a report on the future of all American ports. The report outlines the requirement for investment in the port system to ensure an “efficient and reliable international ocean transportation system and the relevant supply chain”.

With US ports becoming busier and hubs for movement of increasing volumes of international freight, the report offers an overview of the causes of potential issues, as well as solutions that could be implemented.

It is hoped that the measures will help to ease congestion and get the ports operating as smoothly as possible. Download the full report here.

Concerns over New Transportation Bill

Still in the USA and there are increasing concerns over proposed changes to the trucking industry outlined as part of a new transportation bill from the US Senate.

Amongst the proposed changes are a lower age limit for interstate drivers (from 21 to 18) and a measure preventing the public from seeing federal safety rankings for trucking companies. This comes at a time when an investigation by FOX News has shown that one company, Davis Transfer, has had vehicles involved in three fatal accidents since 2014.

There are concerns that these proposed measures would adversely impact health and safety in the trucking industry with potentially more relaxed monitoring of driver logs.

Mazda and CEVA Partnership

Finally to Australia, where Mazda Australia has awarded two new contracts to CEVA Logistics, making them their sole national provider of transportation services.

CEVA, one of the world’s leading supply chain organisations, already hold contracts for transportation to dealerships from docks and storage and processing of vehicles in New South Wales and Queensland, will add the states of Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia to their books.

Casey Fisher, MD of CEVA in Australia and New Zealand, said her organisation was delighted with the growing relationship, seeing it as “confirmation that our past performance and future plans are meeting their needs.”

Have you got any logistics or transportation headlines we have missed? Tell us about your success stories by getting involved on the Procurious website.

To round off, here are some of the other major headlines in the procurement and supply chain profession this week.

UPS said to be in talks to buy Coyote Logistics for $1.8 billion

  • United Parcel Service Inc. is in talks to buy Coyote Logistics LLC for about $1.8 billion, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
  • A deal for the Chicago-based provider of transport-management services could be reached as soon as this month, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. No agreement has been reached and discussions could still fall apart. Coyote is backed by New York-based private equity firm Warburg Pincus, which first invested in the company in 2007.
  • A deal between Coyote and UPS would be the third-largest logistics deal this year, as the industry goes through a wave of consolidation amid rising consumer demand. In April, FedEx Corp. agreed to buy Dutch parcel-delivery company TNT Express NV for $4.8 billion. Later that month, XPO Logistics Inc. agreed to acquire European counterpart Norbert Dentressangle SA in a deal valued at $3.53 billion including debt.
  • Representatives for Warburg Pincus and Coyote declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Atlanta-based UPS.

Read more on Internet Retailer

Supply chain professionals still not fully represented at board level

  • Almost 60 per cent of logistics professionals in FMCG feel underrepresented at senior board level. A poll by The Grocer of over 150 industry professionals at the Scala Annual Logistics Debate 2015 revealed the majority feel their function in logistics is not accurately represented within the rest of their company.
  • “Influence at this level is now needed more than ever as companies have the opportunity to make, or not make, critical decisions about how they operate their supply chains,” said Scala senior consultant Simon Eagle. “The companies that are successfully innovating in collaboration and demand driven are those in which logistics have significant ‘share of voice’ and this requires board level representation.”
  • However it would seem that the voice of those in supply chain and logistics is more audible than in recent years.“If you’d have posed that question three or four years ago, you would have had an even higher percentage,” said independent logistics consultant Paul Nixon.“I think the function is better represented today and people perceive it to be better represented. As the likes of e-commerce and business to consumer fulfilment continues to grow for many retail businesses the supply-chain and logistics efficiency and effectiveness will continue to grow in importance and representation.”

Read more at The Grocer

World Bank approves new procurement framework

  • The bank said the framework, which comes into effect in 2016, would allow it to “better respond to the needs of client countries, while preserving robust procurement standards throughout bank-supported projects”. The framework replaces the previous one-size-fits-all” procurement policy with one that is tailored to the needs of individual projects.
  • The changes will:

    • Allow contract award decisions to be based on criteria other than cost, such as quality and sustainability, for the first time.
    • Increase support to help countries develop their own procurement systems.
    • Allow the use of procurement systems from development partners or national agencies in certain circumstances.
    • Speed up the process as reviews of contracts will be limited to those with the highest risk and biggest value.

  • The bank said it would “allocate resources to provide hands-on help to fragile countries, small states or others in the greatest need to assist them in procurements financed by the bank”. The bank’s procurement system covers a portfolio worth around $42 billion (£26.9 billion), comprising more than 1,800 projects in 172 countries.
  • Hartwig Schafer, vice president for operations policy and country services at the World Bank, said: “A portfolio this size needs a modern and nimble procurement approach that gives our clients the best value for each dollar that we invest.”

Read more at Supply Management

Gibbs S3 officially certified as an EMB (Ethnic Minority Controlled Business)

  • Gibbs S3 has become the only corporate-level business to be officially certified as an EMB (Ethnic Minority Controlled Business) by MSDUK, the country’s leading non-profit membership organisation driving inclusive procurement.

  • The certification comes as Gibbs S3 celebrates record growth in its 10th year of business, with revenue growing 38 per cent to reach £41.58m, and on track to hit £46m this year. The company has also previously been certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) by WEConnect, the leading global supplier diversity initiative connecting women-owned businesses with multinational corporations.

  • Minority-owned businesses have established a clear track record in providing stronger value to their customers. Companies with established supplier diversity programmes that include SMEs and EMBs generate 133 per cent better return on their buying operations, according to research from leading strategic consultant The Hackett Group. Companies working with smaller and more diverse suppliers were also found to spend 20 per cent less on their buying operations and secure significantly greater value.

Bottled Water Makes A Splash As Popularity Soars

It seems that bottled water is making quite a splash…

Bottled water is on the rise

As summer temperatures invariably rise, keeping effortlessly cool and on top of your hydration game is certainly a challenge.

In these health-concious times more and consumers appear to be shunning the carbonated drinks of old, in favour of healthier bottled alternatives.  If researchers are reading the market correctly it’s time for us to fight the sugar cravings, as the well-publicised links to obesity, not to mention dehydrating effects of our favourite sugary beverage mean the signs this year suggest sugar is out and h20 is very much in…

This comes just as Coca-Cola has revealed its second-quarter results. The numbers show that its North American carbonated drink volumes rose just 1 per cent, compared with a 4 per cent increase in noncarbonated drinks, including double-digit growth in its Smartwater range.

According to beverage industry experts contributing to a report into the market conditions within the United States, taste-makers are convinced that the popularity of bottle water will soon make it the non-alcoholic beverage of choice.

However the report also observes: “The market for bottled water is also being roiled by a number of disruptive forces, even in the midst of this generally upbeat view of the bottled water category.  For one thing, as supermarkets stock their shelves with loss-leading cases of plain bottled water, simply competing on the basis of volume and price no longer seems to make sense to marketers of major brands.”

Flavour of the weak

The research highlights another potential area of resistance too and that concerns flavour. With consumers attempting to rationalise their lack of enthusiasm for the liquid saviour by bemoaning its lack of flavour.

In order to answer these detractors, marketers are introducing new bottled water products in an assortment of vibrant colours, exotic flavourings and fashion-forward packaging. Another relatively new innovation that could help boost the bottle’s appeal are water enhancers. Introduced by Kraft Foods in 2011, water enhancers can completely transform your otherwise plain water into something that little bit more exciting.

According to a marketing executive with the DASANI brand, around 20 per cent of households buying bottled water also buy liquid water enhancers. As liquid water enhancers multiply in terms of numbers and innovative characteristics, they are likely to play a major role in shoring up the bottom lines of major beverage marketers.

The report too highlights the buying power (and influence) Millennials hold over the fate of the bottled product, commenting: “While consumption of premium European sparkling water brands has long served as a status symbol for urban elites, premium still water packaged in designer bottles has become the fashion statement du jour for more and more Millennials and GenXers.”

The Rise And Rise of Amazon Continues – Now Bigger Than Walmart

It looks like Amazon’s ballsy initiatives have paid off after all… as the online retailer announces earnings surge.

Amazon's earnings skyrocket making it bigger than Walmart

Amazon has announced a whopping 20 per cent uplift in second quarter sales.

News outlets are reporting that the jump means Amazon was valued as high as $267bn (£172bn), that eclipses Walmart’s market value by $32bn (£21bn) – making it the most valuable retailer in the United States.

It’s been a busy twelve months for the online retailer as Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com reveals:

“We unveiled Amazon Business, opened Amazon Mexico, launched Prime free same-day, rolled out our ninth Prime Now city, broke our Black Friday record with the first-ever Prime Day, received 11 Emmy nominations for Transparent, debuted six new kids pilots, brought Echo to general availability, introduced the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service, opened FBA Small and Light, continued to double down on our fastest growing geography — India, launched 350 significant AWS features and services so far this year (ahead of last year’s pace), introduced AWS Educate, and entered into agreements for new solar and wind farms — enough to exceed our 2016 goal of 40 per cent renewable energy.”

In the past few days Amazon also announced it had sold more units on Prime Day than the biggest Black Friday ever. It saw more new members try Prime worldwide than any single day in Amazon history, with customers placing orders of 34.4 million items across Prime-eligible countries. Prime Day was also a great savings day – members globally saved millions on deals. Customers ordered hundreds of thousands of Amazon devices – making it the largest device sales day ever worldwide.

Prime Day could become an annual event

Despite commentators on social media critically panning the initiative, Amazon Prime Day was heralded as a “a huge success” by Greg Greeley, Vice President, Amazon Prime. “Customers worldwide ordered an astonishing 398 items per second and saved millions on Prime Day deals. Worldwide order growth increased 266 per cent over the same day last year and 18 per cent more than Black Friday 2014 – all in an event exclusively available to Prime members. Going into this, we weren’t sure whether Prime Day would be a one-time thing or if it would become an annual event… We’ll definitely be doing this again.”

“Prime Day was a record-breaker globally – it surpassed all of our expectations,” said Alexandre Gagnon, Country Manager for Amazon.ca. “This week has been the busiest ever for Prime signups and we saw more members shopping on Amazon.ca on Prime Day than on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. We can’t wait to do it again next year.”

Amazon Prime has an estimated 44 million U.S. customers, according to a study by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, a Chicago investment-research firm. That’s up from about 41 million at the end of 2014.

But it’s not all about Prime. Taking from the call to investors, the Wall Street Journal observes: “Amazon showed big growth in its cloud computing division, and rising operating costs suggest that the company is still investing in building its supply chain. Amazon is building sprawling warehouses in places like Kenosha, and pushing its bid to get anything to pretty much anyone in the U.S. in two days or less.”

You can view the full earnings call over at the Amazon Investor Centre.