Could North Sea Cod Be Back On The Menu?

A recent assessment of fish stocks indicate that cod might soon lose its ‘fish to avoid’ status as the fish’s population is growing at a near-sustainable rate.

Cod levels in the North Sea have returned to healthy status

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has delivered an overview of the status of a host of fish and shellfish stocks across the Northeast Atlantic.

The Marine Conversation Society introduced tight controls on cod and plaice in 2006 owing to dwindling supplies, but those limits look set to soon be lifted thanks to the healthy numbers revealed in the new report.

The general picture indicates that the level of exploitation brought about by decades of overfishing has now been reduced. This has been determined in accordance with the advice provided by ICES and in line with management objectives for sustainable fisheries.

​​​​​​​​​​​The Chair of ICES Advisory Committee, Eskild Kirkegaard, said: “Over the last ten to fifteen years, we have seen a general decline in fishing mortality in the Northeast Atlantic and the Baltic Sea. The stocks have reacted positively to the reduced exploitation and we’re observing growing trends in stock sizes for most of the commercially important stocks.”

For the majority of stocks, it has been observed that fishing mortality has decreased to a level consistent with Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) – meaning levels that are not only sustainable but will also deliver high long term yields. The information encompasses around 150 stocks, of which cod and plaice were among their number.

In technical terms North Sea cod has seen a downturn in fishing mortality and an upturn in Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB) – which [crucially] means cod stocks are increasing, whereas North Sea plaice is now considered to have reached record high levels.

According to various sources the Marine Conservation Society have welcomed the news and are currently looking at improving cod’s rating in the coming weeks. It was originally feared that the diminished supplies, coupled with the increase in demand, would result in significant price-hikes come fish Friday. With the healthier picture coming out of the North Sea, it now looks like the UK (at least) will escape such a fate. However it’s a different story for the Mediterranean where latest estimates claim 91 per cent of the region’s stock is overfished.

20 Most Promising Procurement Solution Providers in 2015

Which companies have been recognised among CIO Review’s Twenty Most Promising Procurement Solution Providers?

Who's made it into the Top 20?

CIO Review has published their list of the ‘Twenty Most Promising Procurement Solution Providers in 2015’.

The list of best in class providers features supply chain qualification leader, BROWZ along with other industry favourites; Ariba, SciQuest and Zycus to name a few.  A complete listing of recognised providers can be found in this month’s edition of CIO Review.

CIO Review is a US technology magazine that informs readers on the enterprise solutions that will define the businesses of the future.

According to the publisher: “We present you with the 20 most promising procurement solution providers of 2015, featuring the best solution and service providers offering tools and services on the procurement landscape. The companies featured in this issue, have exhibited extensive business process knowledge combined with innovative strategies. A distinguished panel comprising of CEOs, CIOs, and analysts including the CIO Review editorial board have selected the top companies that are at the forefront of tackling challenges in the procurement landscape.”

Elaine Beitler, BROWZ, CEO, says “As a former CIO, I valued this magazine as a resource for information on new innovative technology solutions that could be applied strategically to advance the business. I’m proud of this accomplishment and congratulate all of those being recognized in this impressive list of companies.”

In addition to being named one of the ‘Twenty Most Promising Procurement Solution Providers in 2015,’ BROWZ is highlighted in a four page article of the magazine. In the article, Beitler discusses the challenges organizations face today when hiring and qualifying contractors and suppliers.

“Contractor screening is only one part of the equation,” says Beitler. “We’ve created a global compliance network that connects buyers and suppliers of goods and services. We work to ensure buyers have the solutions in place, to not only screen, but manage the ongoing compliance of their supply chain. Most organizations don’t have the resources or tools necessary to do an adequate job, especially once a bid has been awarded. We’re working with the world’s largest companies – ensuring they have safe, qualified and socially responsible supply chains. This is only possible when you have an end to end solution to address the risk that exists at all levels of the supply chain.”

Scenario Planning: A Field Guide (Back) To The Future?

Back To The Future

A flash of light as the time machine lands outside Marty’s house, it crashes into the trashcans and out steps a futuristic looking Doc Brown looking panicked as he reveals part of the future to Marty.

“It’s your kids Marty, something has to be done about your kids.”

If only we could see the future we could be better prepared. If I had known that was going to happen I would have made a different decision. Refrains you may have heard (or even said) but fear not, there is hope, there is a thing called Scenario Planning.

Scenario Planning (sometimes called “scenario and contingency planning”) is a structured way for organisations to think about the future. These scenarios are meant to help us recognise and adapt to changing aspects of our present environment. They form a method for articulating the different pathways that might exist for you tomorrow, and finding your appropriate movements down each of those possible paths. (The Art of the Long View – Peter Schwartz).

In procurement we have access to a wealth of information about what may happen in the future, we get this from regular meetings with our suppliers and total supply chain. So we have access to lots of information (or can do if we schedule the above) but what do we do with it?

The concept of Scenario Planning is not new, Shell has been using scenarios for over 40 years and here is a link to what they think may happen to 2025.

So how should we start putting these plans together? We first need to understand the different types of uncertainty that there are and how these relate to our organisation so we can identify and prioritise the critical uncertainties (business, industry, environmental etc.)

KPMG outlined their Scenario Planning process a report called mapping the future and Jay Ogilvy writing in Forbes magazine has also suggested a process. I have summarised and tried to give some specific practical suggestions of how to conduct below:

1. Scan your external and internal environment for emerging trends and issues

  • Meet with incumbent and non-incumbent suppliers regularly to understand trends and what their strategic plans are.
  • Meet with key internal stakeholders are regularly to understand the future business needs. It’s also imperative to identify which issues to focus on (i.e. the ones that will have the most impact).

2. Select the most realistic alternatives and develop deep responses

  • By focusing on the critical uncertainties, achieved by the group discussing and agreeing which of the issues need more attention this allows for a matrix to be developed and the potential scenarios to be placed within them. This will then give you focus on the areas that are most likely.

3. Build scenarios of the future using one or more of the quantitative multi-dimensional tools

  • PESTLE and Porters five forces are excellent tools that you can use to help build profiles and give you a framework for data collection.

4. Identify the early indicators

  • What are the attributes of the scenario?
  • What are the catalysts that would indicate that one of the scenarios is likely to happen?

5. Update and constantly review based on the early indicators

  • This isn’t a static model. It’s constantly evolving and therefore the need to update your scenarios with more information as it becomes evident is imperative. Consider:
    • What RSS feeds do you subscribe to?
    • What meetings do you have set up
    • How are you collecting information?
    • What social media sites are you using for information?

Mckinsey identified some great tips and tricks for the use of Scenario plans, which also contains some cautionary advice about them namely:

  • Analysis Paralysis
  • Poor internal communication
  • Too narrow an outcome
  • Consider the more outlandish ones as well as the ones relatively close to the “norm”
  • Know when to use and when not to

To get you started here are some examples around future thinking:

As an example of future thinking the Faculty in 2013 produced future ready white paper which identified the following areas and conducted in depth reviews of them.

Geopolitical uncertainty will impact how we look at and calculate risk; shifting demographics will change the way we look at talent; digital revolution will change the way connect and social awareness will impact and change the supply chain.

Scenario planning is important to us and our organisation as we can’t all rely on a friendly scientist coming back from the future to tell us what is going to happen.

Great Scott Marty, this is heavy…

What Are We Doing To Create Communities Of Practice?

Watch the Procurious Big Ideas Panel Discussion on working together to elevate procurement.

The fourth of the Big Ideas Summit panel discussions built on Tania Seary’s keynote speech and the idea of collaboration across the procurement profession. David Noble, Tania Seary, Diego Barilla and Sue Steele discuss what can be done to bring a dispersed community together.

Watch a sample below

From spend entrepreneurship to professional accreditation and certification, the panel threw up some interesting questions and answers and got the wider group thinking about how we can help to map our future.

Procurious members can view the full panel discussion here. Not a member yet? Register for free.

Procurious talks to Kylie Towie – ‘Procurement Leader of the Year’ 2015

Procurement Leaders 'Procurement Leader of the Year' Kylie Towie

They say that Texas is big. If you’ve been to Western Australia (WA) you’ll know that ‘big’ is a relative term. Western Australia’s size is so vast that Texas would fit within its boundaries three times, with still enough room left over for California and Connecticut to come visit. For the Europeans out there, Western Australia is as big as France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Ireland combined.

It is from this vast part of the world that the 2015 Procurement Leader of the Year hails.

Kylie Towie is the Chief Procurement Officer of WA Health, the government agency responsible for providing health care to this enormous state and was recently awarded the prestigious title of ‘Procurement Leader of the Year’ at the Procurement Leaders Forum in London.

Kylie graciously took some time to catch up with Procurious to discuss her achievement.

Procurious: Kylie, first of all, congratulations. It is a huge honour to have been recognised as the Procurement Leader of the Year. Can you tell us what it means to you to take out this coveted award?

Kylie: Thank you. To be completely honest, it was a huge honour just to be nominated for the award. The other nominees (Kellogg’s, ITV), along with companies in the room such as Kimberley Clark, Unilever and IBM are global industry leaders and to be mentioned in the same breath as such high calibre organisations was a great achievement.

In terms of the award itself, it is a fantastic feeling to know that the work we’ve been doing at WA Health not only positions us as a leader in the Australian public sector (the department has also been recognised for it’s performance domestically), but is seen by the profession globally as something that is contemporary and leading the way in transformational procurement.

Procurious: Can you give us some background to the projects you’ve been working on at WA Health?

Kylie: My tenure at WA Health hasn’t been a long one. I was parachuted in, back in January 2014, to address some identified issues with the department’s procurement processes.

My first task was to establish a picture of the WA Health procurement landscape. Despite an organisational budget in excess of $8 billion (AUD); there wasn’t a clear view of what was happening from a procurement perspective within the organisation.

The department was also in the midst of constructing two new world-class hospital facilities at a cost of seven billion dollars. So procurement and spending was at the front of everyone’s mind.

When you’ve got programs of that magnitude, it clearly puts pressure on the procurement environment. For us, it was a matter of understanding and determining the levers and mechanisms we could utilise, to ensure the business’s strategic goals would be achieved.

Procurious: You’ve just mentioned that you were able to link procurement activities directly to organisational goals; can you expand on that? 

Kylie: At WA Health, we refer to procurement as business leaders and strategy leaders rather than procurement leaders. We aim to act as enablers to ensure the organisation meets its business objectives.

I have found that if you spend too much time ‘talking procurement’ you quickly get labelled as ‘back office’ rather than being viewed as a strategic leader.

The way that I see it, procurement underpins any business decision you make. Any business strategy requires a solid procurement strategy to sit beneath it.

As procurement professionals, it’s our job to lift the conversation up a level. If you start to talk about business levers, value propositions and achieving strategic objectives rather than discussing supply, invoicing and cost savings, you’ll quickly change perspectives about the function and the value it can bring to an organisation. By making simple changes to your dialogue, you’ll find that business partners will see you in a very different light.

Procurious: How did you go about delivering the transformational change program at Western Australian Health?

Kylie: Stakeholder engagement was critical. Doctors, nurses and clinicians are rightfully concerned with one thing: Better patient outcomes. At times, business and procurement processes can be seen as a burden or a roadblock to health professionals getting what they need to do their jobs. Obviously in health, the ability to get the right equipment or product at the right time has the potential to save lives. It was critical, that in order to be seen as enabler, rather than a roadblock, we engaged closely with these practitioners.

At the beginning of the transformation process, I met with a number of the most senior clinicians from across the state to discuss their problems and determine how, with smart procurement, we could help to solve them.

I found that by shifting our conversations back to the patient, I got immediate buy-in. Everyone at WA Health is working towards better patient outcomes and a healthier Western Australia, that’s our modus operandi. So now, as a procurement function, every time we make a decision, we ask ourselves “how does this serve our patients and our community?”

By asking these questions we are immediately aligning ourselves with our organisations goals and our community’s expectations.

Once we had an overview of what needed to be done, I set out to instil four fundamental procurement pillars that would guide our team through the transformation. The pillars we revolved our operations around were, governance, capability and capacity, training and education, and monitoring and evaluation. I have used the same framework to great effect in every procurement transformation I’ve run.

Off the back of these pillars, we identified 24 strategic recommendations, which resulted in 62 separate procurement improvement projects. We took a systemic approach to addressing these projects and finally delivered all 62 by the 19th of July this year (a remarkable 12 month turn around).

The transformation process means that WA Health now has a very robust foundation for procurement processes and activities with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. It’s also helped us improve our relationships with our providers and vendors.

Procurious: How is Procurement now perceived within WA Health?

Kylie: I think the critical success factor here is that we now have a seat at the executive table and are viewed as essential in the strategic planning of the organisation. This shows that we’ve earned the trust of the organisation. We earned this trust by pointing out where the department was exposed from a legislative point of view, but more importantly, by pointing out the holes in their fiscal buckets and, providing value through robust strategic business advice through procurement solutions that meet our organisations goals.

We were quickly able to point out where financial leakages were occurring. But more than that, we were able to suggest minor changes that stopped these leakages. We also quantified the dollar impact that implementing the changes had made to the organisation. Needless to say, after this, we found that we very quickly got the buy-in we needed.

As I mentioned earlier, another critical factor that lifted our perception was changing the way we spoke about our work. We’ve lifted the level of our conversations up to a point where we are now addressing real business problems faced by the department. By speaking their language, we’ve earned their trust. The procurement department is now seen as a trusted business partner at WA Health.

Kylie, once again, we would like to congratulate you again on this fantastic achievement and thank you for taking the time to share your story with Procurious. This there anything else you’d like to add?

Kylie: I would like to give some praise to my team here at WA Health. They have been remarkable; there is no other word for it.

We are only a small team, but they are the most outstanding, passionate, committed, driven group of individuals you are ever likely to meet. You simply can’t achieve things like this alone; you need people who share your passion and your drive. I really can’t speak highly enough of them.

Apple Pay ushers in a new dawn of payments on the go

Apple Pay has launched in the UK amid increased demand for smart wallets and connected services.

Apple Pay has launched in the UK

Apple Pay is now live in the UK – the first country outside of the US to offer the contactless payment service.  For the launch both Visa and MasterCard have announced they will offer cardholders immediate access to the new service, granting them the freedom to use their cards where and how they want with a seamless experience.

Security and privacy is at the core of Apple Pay. When you add a credit or debit card to Apple Pay, the actual card numbers are not stored on the device, nor on Apple servers. Instead, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in the Secure Element on your device. Each transaction is authorised with a one-time unique dynamic security code.

Mark Barnett, President of MasterCard UK & Ireland, said of the launch: “Innovation in UK payments means it’s fast becoming the most advanced market in the world and the arrival of Apple Pay heralds this new era. We will see more change in the next five years than we’ve seen in the last 50, bringing even more convenience and security for consumers.”

Steve Perry, Chief Digital Officer at Visa Europe, comments on the rollout: “Apple’s entry to the market represents a critical piece of the mobile payments jigsaw. This is a pivotal moment for digital payments and one that demonstrates the momentum behind mobile and contactless services.

“Visa Europe has led the rollout of NFC payments ever since we launched the first contactless cards and terminals in 2007. Today there are more than 1.5 million Visa contactless terminals in stores across Europe – all ready to take mobile payments. Apple’s decision to enter the market reflects the scale of opportunity that exists in digital payments today. Its support will drive awareness and usage of contactless services around the world – we anticipate a “halo effect” that will benefit all players in the mobile payments ecosystem.”

Are there other players too?

Indeed. It’s not just Apple innovating in the digital payment sector… Elsewhere, Android Pay is also vying for dominance in this lucrative space.

Android Pay is Google’s direct response to Apple’s mobile payment system, and a successor to Google Wallet, which (notably) has gained little traction over the past four years. Samsung Pay is also set to debut this September in both the handset maker’s own territory and the US.

And although Apple has dominated the lion’s share of the headlines, banks, card providers and retailers are keen to ensure they don’t get left behind – with each championing a digital payment system of their own. Zapp will soon allow those with older smartphones to make bank debit payments, Barclays’ customers can use Pingit and PayM, while Visa card holders are also able to take advantage of the V.Me service.

Of course if you’re after a complete card replacement then you’d be wise to look at Wocket is doing. Wocket has been designed to protect your identity and replace your old wallet. It can save all of your cards to one place, securing their details with a combination of pin and biometric voice print technology.

But it’s not just your wallet that’s getting an upgrade… At Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2015 – Visa unveiled its first foray into connected car commerce. The proof-of-concept solution is powered by Visa Checkout (and other innovative mobile technologies) to create in-car purchase experiences that are secure, convenient and easy. If successful it is envisaged to be applied to quick service restaurants, petrol stations, car hire and parking services.

Is a lack of collaboration to blame for procurement perception gap?

Is a lack of collaboration between procurement and critical business functions to blame for squandering budgets of UK businesses?

Are procurement rule breakers squandering UK business budgets?

Procurement’s true value is held back by restrictive corporate cost saving edicts according to new research published today.

The ‘Procurement Perceptions’ study was carried out by Redshift on behalf of Wax Digital. It took into account the views of 200 procurement, finance, IT and sales & marketing department decision makers in medium to large UK organisations.

The main brunt of the report aims to address the scale of rule breakers using risky suppliers and spending without necessarily seeking permission from decision-makers.

Daniel Ball, Director, Wax Digital, says: “Business functions are not working effectively and closely with procurement experts to source the right suppliers, strategically manage their spending and ensure they are following compliant purchasing processes. This suggests a high level of maverick spending behaviour which can lead to poor value for money, cash flow issues and contract risk.

Daniel continues: “Procurement wants to control and influence departments’ supplier choices and spending, however, many of these other departments are pushing back, seeking more supplier and spending freedom and believing that procurement just gets in the way.”

The comments are backed-up by figures that reveal 24 per cent of procurement respondents said that supplier selection was a joint decision with the department in question. This is in stark contrast to the 8 per cent in IT, 6 per cent and 2 per cent in sales and marketing.

Procurement perception gaps

The study found that part of the problem lies in the perception of procurement amongst other departments. Procurement is typically viewed as being more administrative than strategic, while in reality the balance lies somewhere in the middle. In Wax Digital’s research Just 15 per cent of other department respondents saw procurement as mainly or wholly strategic but 46 per cent saw procurement as mainly or wholly administrative.

Other findings include: 54 per cent of procurement respondents say departments follow a formal tender process, compared to 24 per cent in sales and marketing.

36 per cent of procurement say they shortlist suppliers on behalf of these departments against their business requirements, but only 12 per cent in IT agree.

In conclusion Daniel offers a few recommendations: “This research indicates that there is still some distance to go by procurement, or a need for improved communication, before other critical departments understand the benefits of procurement, stop breaking the rules and close the perception gap.”

Businesses See Risky Supply Chains As Top Challenge

New survey says risky supply chains are a challenge for 77 per cent of businesses across North America and Europe.

Xchanging report says 77% of businesses see risky supply chains as challenge

Xchanging have recently issued the results of the second portion of its Procurement Study.

The survey polled 830 procurement decision makers regarding what they view as the top threats in the Procurement space.

Procurious covered the previous research here.

Xchanging’s research reveals the greatest external challenge for businesses’ operations is supply chain risk, with more than three quarters (77 per cent) of respondents claiming this is a challenge, and 17 per cent an ‘extreme challenge’.

Around two thirds of respondents claim to be challenged by regulation and audit (71 per cent); lack of supplier innovation (63 per cent); and fluctuations in currency (58 per cent) in their business operations.

Owing to the high number of respondents challenged by supply chain risk, Xchanging dug further into the specific supply chain threats faced by European and North American businesses.

Greek debt crisis and oil prices are both causes of concern

More than a quarter of respondents (28 per cent) see currency and exchange rate fluctuations as a significant external threat. This jumps to 35 per cent in respondents from mainland Europe, with the Euro still under pressure against the Pound and other major currencies, and nervousness in the region over Greece’s debt negotiations. 

Similarly more than a quarter of respondents (26 per cent) also cite oil prices as a major external threat to their businesses. Notably global oil prices having fallen sharply in recent months (by more than 40 per cent since last summer), leading to significant revenue shortfalls in many energy exporting nations and concerns about oversupply in some markets.

Coupa Software has acquired Australia’s InvoiceSmash

To the cloud! Coupa acquires InvoiceSmash to drive B2B commerce transformation.

Coupa has acquired InvoiceSmash

Cloud-based spend management provider Coupa last week acquired InvoiceSmash, an Australian company that manages the accounts payable and invoicing process.

The motivation for the acquisition is thought to be the fact that the data extraction capability of InvoiceSmash will facilitate further automation of Coupa’s invoicing and accounts payable offerings.

At the announcement of the acquisition it was claimed that the move was: “Designed to help enterprises of all sizes digitize and automate the often painful accounts payable and invoicing process, the InvoiceSmash innovations will be embedded into Coupa’s organic cloud-based platform to instantly convert emailed invoice attachments into the field formats required by Accounts Payable.”

Rob Bernshteyn, CEO of Coupa, said: “Our acquisition of InvoiceSmash is a huge step forward for the industry. The InvoiceSmash technology will help businesses large and small transact faster and easier than ever before with significantly less manual intervention,” said Bernshteyn.

“The InvoiceSmash technology will be a hugely value-added extension to our organic suite of capabilities and will drive immediate value, supporting the very essence of Coupa’s Savings-as-a-Service approach.”

How does InvoiceSmash work?

According to company’s website (which is now jointly branded with the Coupa logo), InvoiceSmash works in the following way:

  1. Get it to InvoiceSmash – Send invoices to InvoiceSmash via your unique email address or upload it. InvoiceSmash extracts the data and prepares it for posting to your accounting system.
  1. Your Approval – During approval you set the purchase just the way you want it. Contact, General Ledger, Job, Item and Inventory coding is fast and easy. Contact / inventory creation is just one click. Hands free auto-submission is also possible for repetitive invoices!
  1. It Remembers! – After the invoice is posted to your accounting system, InvoiceSmash remembers your choices and will apply them to future invoices. Submitted invoices are archived in the cloud. No more data entry!

The InvoiceSmash system is said to be an intelligent learning solution that can detect changes in supplier invoice formats. New invoice layouts are memorised by the system, so that if they appear again they can be quickly processed.

At the time of writing, the terms of the acquisition had not been announced. Coupa did state however, that it expected to make the InvoiceSmash capabilities available to a select customer group by the end of 2015.