Halloween – A (Trick or) Treat for Supply Chains

It’s that time of year again. No, not Christmas (yet…), but Halloween.

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The ghoulish ‘holiday’ has, in the past, only truly been embraced by our compatriots across the Atlantic. However, in recent years it has gained a strong foothold in the hearts, minds and, importantly for retailers, wallets of the Brits.

In America, an estimated 157 million people will celebrate Halloween in some way this year, with spending set to total $6.9 billion. An increasing number of ‘pop-up’ stores focusing on Halloween is just one reason behind this level of spend.

Creating a Monster Spend

In 2014, total spend related to Halloween in the UK was estimated at £443 million, made up of the following spend:

  • £148 million on clothing and costumes
  • £132 million on Halloween themed food
  • £92 million on decorations
  • £70 million on entertainment and stationery

If you think that is scary, then further research has also found that in 2015:

  • 29 per cent of UK consumers plan on purchasing some form of Halloween related goods
  • Just 23 per cent of males will purchase something, but will spend an average of £48 each (£20 more than females)
  • 40 per cent of parents will spend on Halloween goods
  • 55 per cent of buyers will be purchasing clothing
  • 52 per cent of shoppers will purchase food and drink

Jack ‘No’ Lantern

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However, despite it being part of the traditional Halloween offering, only 45 per cent of people plan on buying a pumpkin this year.

The news gets worse for any amateur pumpkin carvers out there, as a wet August and less than ideal growing conditions has led to a shortage of pumpkins this year, with yields down to 50 per cent.

Nightmare on Supply Chain Street?

Supply chains will be well prepared for Halloween far in advance of actually getting products into the shops. But the variety of goods on offer could spook many organisations.

Going crazy with seasonal products can put a huge strain on supply chains, cost organisations considerable sums of money, but ultimately not provide a return should the product fail.

From a Logistics point of view, goods need to be delivered at just the right time to stop competitors ghosting in, but not going so early that consumers are trying to carve mouldy pumpkins.

Take into account planning this around Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas and it could suck your resources dry.

Trick or Treat

As these holidays continue to get bigger, it provides both manufacturers and retailers with some tough choices. Don’t get involved enough and you might miss out on that sales bump, make too much and you may end up discounting products you can’t use for another 365 days.

The most successful will asses the situation and work out the best way to be involved, while the consumers will just enjoy the ever-expanding list of products they can get their hands on.

But, if Halloween isn’t your thing, just think, it’s only 53 shopping days until Christmas…

Do Manners Matter for Motivating your Staff?

Manners maketh the Manager?

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Can you remember the last time someone genuinely said to you “thanks for doing that, good job!’?

I bet it felt good.

Even though you had to do whatever that task was, it was great getting that feedback.

I’ll double the wager and say that you thought something positive about that manager and then went about the rest of your day with a little more energy and positivity.

Which is what any good company wants…happy productive people!

Do you encourage your supervisors to be polite and respectful?

Too Soft or Too Friendly?

Are you worried about them being “too soft and friendly” and thinking that the workers will take advantage of them and “goof off”.

Your staff are people, and people at the most basic “human level”, want to feel safe and belong to a group they trust and respect.

And when that happens at the office or on the warehouse floor your business or company are onto a winner!

Those people, be it forklift drivers, pickers, packers or team leaders will be more engaged with their workplace.

I have yet to read a leadership book, or seen it in action, where manners cause sick leave, lower productivity or increase work cover claims.

So the lesson…give big genuine smiles, throw in some please and thank yous, and watch your staff transform.

It doesn’t have to be complicated!

Watch more video content from Productive Minds here!

6 Ways to Make Savings Stick

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The last article I wrote on The Faculty’s latest research paper ‘Making it Stick’ was very well received by you all, in fact, its one of my most read posts on Procurious. This strong response has encouraged me to dive back into the report to look for more gold.

As the report clearly states, more than 50 per cent of savings that are negotiated and contracted by procurement teams are not actually being realised in company accounts.

That figure staggers me a little more each time I read it.

Today I am going to outline the tips that The Faculty has suggested organisations take in order to ensure their savings stick.

1. Prove it

Savings come unstuck when projected benefits are not realised. As procurement teams, our role extends beyond merely drawing up contracts and holding negotiations with suppliers to lock-in preferable rates.

We have to take some responsibility for these savings eventuating, and this involves providing a road map for users to realise these savings and presenting management with a plan as to how savings will be captured and reported.

2. Collaborate

The great work done by procurement teams in negotiating favourable rates and contracts comes undone immediately if our internal customers in other parts of the business are not on-board with our new initiatives.

Only by creating a cross functional environment where the value of procurement’s work is clearly demonstrable to others in the business can we hope to get buy-in for our initiatives and ensure the savings we’ve promised will actually materialise.

3. Expand the Focus Beyond Costs

This point doesn’t cover new ground for procurement blogs, but the old ‘value over cost’ argument is as relevant today as it’s ever been. As we’ve already discussed, building a cost conscious culture within your organisation is critical for a benefits realisation project to thrive, but when you talk to your supply base, the focus needs to shift slightly.

This point is well summed up by Mike Blanchard, the CPO at Sydney Trains, “You can only pressure suppliers on cost up to a certain point before you risk compromising on quality and service levels. The key is to seek out different types of value in supplier relationships,” he said.

4. Align to Business Targets

By aligning your benefits realisation program directly to organisational success metrics, you increase your potential for success by an order of magnitude. Structuring your program in this way will mean that when you go to the business with new procurement initiatives, you’ll already be speaking a common language.

As David Henchliffe, CPO at Santos, stated, “How procurement measures success must be aligned to what the business views as success”.

5. Define benefits

How can you hope to measure benefits if they aren’t clearly defined? When creating definitions for your benefits realisation and savings methodology, it’s critical that you involve other functions from the business.

These are your internal customers, the people that will be using your rates and the contracts you’ve put in place, so its your job to work with them to create clear transparent definitions of what savings are and how they are realised.

6. Focus on compliance

Maverick spend and other contract non-compliance is a killer for making savings stick. The gurus at The Faculty have suggested the following steps to help improve compliance:

  • Establishing enforceable penalties for compliance breaches
  • Educating end-users during the handover process about consequences of compliance breaches
  • Creating a fool proof system (such as an ERP) that minimises opportunities for compliance breaches
  • Clearly defining roles and responsibilities
  • Monitoring and controlling maverick spend through an exceptions management signoff process.

Sharp announce Dave Dwyer as New Supply Chain Head

Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (SIICA), a division of Sharp Electronics Corporation (SEC) has announced that Dave Dwyer will be promoted to the role of Vice President of Supply Chain and Operations. Dave Dwyer

Mr Dwyer brings more than 20 years of logistics and supply chain experience to his new role, having previously held management positions with Nabisco Biscuit Company and Kraft Foods before taking the moving to Sharp in 2002 as the Director of Supply Chain Planning.

Mike Marusic the Senior Vice President, SIICA Marketing and Operations made the following remarks on Mr Dwyer’s appointment, “Dave has done an outstanding job in his previous role running the SEC Logistics Group, through his efforts in working with all of the SEC business areas, he developed strong relationships across the organisation and with third-party partners in driving improvements to the logistics process.”

Dwyer will hold responsibility for the end-to-end supply chain management at Sharp. A direct focus will be given to enhancing alliances with the firms supply chain partners in support of the Sharp Consumer and Business Products companies. As part of an efficiency drive within the firms supply chain, Dwyer will lead a consolidated team comprised of members from various functional departments.

Speaking on his new appointed, Mr Dwyer was quoted saying, “I am extremely excited to join a great team in SIICA, with their support, I look forward to enhancing the supply chain and operations processes across the organisation to achieve a more unified and efficient operation.”

How Productive Are Your Teleconferences?

A recent project has prompted me to focus this month on the efficiencies of teleconferences. 

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Lack of agendas, side conversations, inaudible background noises, late attendees, accent and language difficulties, alongside poorly facilitated calls that seem to go in circles, are just some of the everyday teleconference challenges.

Although teleconferences are not a new phenomenon, somehow we tolerate the inefficiencies and frustrations that they entail.  Why is this?  Over time we become unconscious and unmindful of the bad habits and irritations that ‘creep in’. We often accept them as ‘normal’ and for the most part we ‘switch off’ and allow apathy and stagnation to set in, without us possibly even realising it.

For many global project teams teleconferences are the most common meeting format. They are a critical mode of communication where key decisions are made and everyday production, innovative and creative ideas are thrashed out. Something worth reminding ourselves of is that the success of teleconferences directly impact overall project outcomes, timelines and ultimately budgets.

Preparing Your Teleconference

Here are some simple reminders of things to be aware of when facilitating and participating in culturally dispersed teleconferences:

  • Ensure that the agenda has been circulated at least 24 hours prior to the meeting

It is particularly useful for those in other locations whose native language is not the language that the meeting is being conducted in.  This provides all participants an opportunity to plan what they will say or questions that they want to propose.

  • Be mindful of the dynamic

When most of the participants are in the same room it can be difficult for the remote participants to engage in the conversation.  They are not privy to the same group/room dynamic.

  • Be mindful of different cultures

Remember that in some cultures people wait to be invited to speak rather than speak up whenever they have something to contribute. Be specific and invite people to speak at various intervals.

  • Ensure everyone identifies who they are before they begin speaking

Don’t assume that everyone knows each other.  It is not uncommon for offshore project teams to have new staff joining the team at different times. Maintain the practice of introductions at all meetings.

  • Use diagrams and visual aids where possible

They can be of great benefit as an alternative mode of demonstration and explanation, especially for offshore teams.

  • Ensure Understanding

If you are having difficulty understanding language, accents, dialects or tone, speak up. Let people know.  Chances are that they are having difficulty understanding you also.

  • Don’t confuse silence with agreement

Take the time to ask each person one by one to give their opinion or share their concerns before making a consensus decision.

Please click here if you would like to read or follow our Cultural Intelligence Blog.

5 Ways to Beat the Procurement Blues

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“In a ditch calling for a shovel” is a favourite saying from my husband’s long repertoire of business expressions.

In my recent blog 6 sure-fire ways to become a CPO, I talked about the high levels of frustration people feel when roadblocks get in the way of their ambitions and career progression.

It started me thinking about the many times I felt frustrated as a category manager. Sometimes, there were genuine business delays or hiccups that de-railed my ‘perfect world’, but other times it was just the sameness, the daily grind, which left me feeling less than optimistic about my future in procurement.

Suspecting that some of you may face these challenges, I thought I would share five ideas to help you break the cycle, get out of that rut, and reset your career trajectory.

1. Get out of the office – Sorry, I’m not suggesting that you start working from home or have coffee with all your friends because you’re bored or frustrated with work.

If your contract negotiation or rollout has come to a standstill, why not try and re-ignite activity and the relationship by organising site visits to your supplier, their competitors and, ideally, their customers. Taking a different, and potentially more relaxed, approach to communicating with your suppliers or stakeholders will create a new atmosphere for collaboration.

You will also gain a lot of new ideas and information from these interactions, which will hopefully inspire you to take a new approach and alleviate the current stalemate.

2. Update your online profile and look at other jobs – Before you get excited and think I’m going to advise you to quit your job because you’re bored, I’m not.

My point here is that updating your profile is a great way to remind yourself all you’ve learned in your current job, and allows you to reflect on the progress you are making in your career. Even though you may be frustrated now, you need to see that you are building an impressive story with your career to date.

I’d also encourage you to just look at other jobs, although not to apply for them. I suggest this approach in order to help you realise two things. Firstly, that the grass is not necessarily greener; and the importance of continually developing your skills in order to be qualified for your next career opportunity.

So take some time to look the job you want (the aspirational one), understand what you need to develop to get that role and get to work aligning your skills. You’ll find this will spark your motivation back in the workplace.

3. Organise a team event – Many of our workplace frustrations are focussed on our interactions with our peers, direct reports, or bosses. Often the root cause of these frustrations are that neither side really understands where the other is coming from.

Social events are the ideal way to break down some of these barriers and better understand your peers. A team event could take many forms – a volunteering day, a fun learning exercise, an activity, a party. The important thing is that it is something that most of the group would be interested in and is appropriate for endorsement by the company.

4. Offer your services to your CPO – Hopefully you have a very open and positive line of communication with your boss. If so, you should broach the concept of you helping complete one of the many “team development” projects they have on their plate.

There is always some work to do on the performance management process, or the SRM framework, or some communication material that needs updating. I would be surprised if there wasn’t something that you could help with.

Your CPO should be delighted with your initiative and provide the opportunity for you to demonstrate how you handle this type of leadership project. Completing such an assignment is a brilliant way for you to ensure that your name stays on the radar as a high potential employee – so make sure if you volunteer for this, that you give it 100% and complete the project on time and to specification!

5. Get connected – The best people to consult when you are having a tough time are people who understand your role, but are not closely involved and can therefore act as an unbiased third party to talk through your challenges. If you have a mentor, this is the perfect time to be talking regularly with them to work your way out of your rut. If you don’t have a mentor, it’s time to get one!

Make sure you reach out to the right contacts in your network – either through your professional association (CIPS, ISM), the Roundtables or networking groups your company subscribes to (Faculty, Hackett, Procurement Leaders, PSC), or your on-line networks (Procurious, LinkedIn).

There will be a number of people within your broader network who can provide invaluable advice on how to get out of your current career gridlock. This is an invaluable, yet free, source of support for you and it’s only a click away!

Search for Ladders, Not Shovels

The suggestions above may be nothing more than temporary diversions away from your negative thought-trains and frustrations. Throughout my career I have found that by occupying my mind with another task, even for an hour or so, helps to reinvigorate my motivation and allows me to step back and see the big picture. This perspective means I can return to task at hand with a new drive.

It’s normal to get frustrated about your role from time to time, particularly if you are ambitious and have plans to succeed and progress. What’s important is that you look for ladders, rather than shovels, to get yourself out of these holes.

Good luck!

Gender Balanced Leadership – Token Representation to Critical Mass

For gender balanced leadership, moving from 10 per cent to 30 per cent representation doesn’t happen ‘naturally’.

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In a couple of recent posts on LinkedIn, I’ve explored the areas of women’s representation in politics and on boards, and have been pondering why achieving a critical mass of women seems so challenging.

Here’s a summary of the three key barriers to critical mass.

1.  Token numbers lead to complacency and stall progress

The existence of women in token numbers creates a belief that the glass ceiling has been breached. ‘Token practices’ lead to a form of complacency – women perceive that as long as one woman has made it, their own mobility is possible.

Once at least 10 per cent of board members are women, men also view hiring practices as equally fair to men and women.

Even where the number of women in senior roles doesn’t change over time, women still tend to believe that hiring is fair. They view their organisations as providing them equal opportunity. Men are aware that they have a greater chance of promotion under token conditions. And under token hiring practices, men feel that their status as the majority is legitimate.

Recent research into the gender balance of the five highest paid executive roles in 1,500 US firms between 1991 and 2011 found that once one woman had been appointed, the chance of a second woman joining this group dropped by about 50 per cent.

The researchers had expected to find that the introduction of one woman into this top echelon led to a snowball effect. That did not occur over this 20 year period.

2. Homophily restricts network reach creating gender stall

Networks are the traditional basis for and continue to influence board appointments. Homophily is the tendency to associate with those like ourselves.  At token representation levels, the density of the female director network remains subcritical.

Token conditions mean that women already in the system can’t develop a strong network that enables them to invite a sufficient number of other women onto boards. Men’s tendency to network with other men also means that prevailing conditions don’t change.

Without intervention, critical mass cannot be generated. Too many boards with no women, and too many boards with token numbers, equals gender stall.

3. Gender bias limits women’s perceived legitimacy for leadership roles

Leadership continues to be associated with agentic characteristics such as dominance, competitiveness and ambition. The pervasiveness of this set of beliefs means that decisions about legitimate leadership are routinely biased against women and in favour of men.

Women face a dilemma. They’re damned for being competent as leaders, or doomed to support roles when they demonstrate gender-associated warm and communal behaviours.

It is well researched (e.g. Bhonet et al 2014) that hiring and selection decisions are impacted by unconscious bias based on candidate gender. Males are more likely to be selected even where experience, skills and abilities of male and female candidates are identical.

Targets, quotas and other methods are required to to counter-balance these forces, and achieve critical mass.

Make sure you come back for the second part of this article next week.

Dr Karen Morley is an Executive Coach, Associate Dean at Mt Eliza Education, expert on gender-balanced leadership and registered psychologist.

Can Good Procurement Lead to a Successful IPO?

IndiGo, a budget Indian airline, may well have procurement to thank for a successful IPO launch today.

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It has been suggested that a frugal business strategy, including a strict focus on reducing costs has primed the airline for success in the hugely competitive Indian aviation market.

India’s aviation market is growing at roughly 18% a year and offers huge opportunities for investors looking to cash in on this demand spike.

Despite this boom in demand, high operating costs and taxes have hindered the progress of many airlines operating in the subcontinent. A debt-racked Kingfisher airline was recently grounded and Spicejet, another Indian carrier, is facing similar issues.

Cost Conscious Culture Drives IPO Interest

Aviation experts point to IndiGo’s cost conscious culture as the leading reason as to why the business is performing so well. IndiGo’s procurement strategy is simple – they buy just one type of plane from one supplier (the company’s recent order with Airbus was the largest single order in the manufacturers history). This simplicity allows the firm to save time and money on maintenance, and reduces the amount of effort that needs to be allocated to supplier management.

IndiGo also has an enviable record when it comes to punctuality. This has not only encouraged more passengers to fly with them, but has improved the airline’s forecasting and reduced fuel costs, ultimately contributing to a more profitable operation.

Interest Domestically and from Abroad

The IPO is has been seen by investors as a huge opportunity to capitalise on growth of IndiGo. The firm’s market share has increased from 12.5 per cent five years ago to 34 per cent at the end of March. The funds raised in the IPO are earmarked for the purchase of new planes that are expected to further spur the growth of the firm.

Interest from both foreign and Indian firms (including Goldman Sachs and Singapore Sovereign Wealth Fund) in the IndiGo IPO has already been strong. The IPO will be launched today.

Disruptors and Global Networks in Procurement

Last week, Procurious founder Tania Seary was the special guest on a webinar hosted by Procurify, speaking on the subject of ‘Disruptors and Global Networks in Procurement’.

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If you weren’t able to join the webinar on the day, then worry not. Catch up with the full webinar below.

During the discussion, Tania highlighted some of the key facts and figures around several major forces having an impact on procurement professionals, including markets, ethics, transparency, and optionality.

She went on to explain why global networks, like Procurious, and social media are key to CPOs and procurement professionals understanding these issues and best mitigating the risks associated with them.

 

If you have any thoughts on these topics, or would like to engage Procurious to help you get your social media activities moving, get in touch with one of the team, or send us a message at info@procurious.com

Is the UK’s position as a global innovation leader at risk?

New research shows that a majority of UK organisations suffer from “innovation inertia” or a lack of consensus in where to invest their resources. Does the UK need to re-focus its efforts so as not to be left behind?

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The research from Hitachi Data Systems found that 75 per cent of organisations are being hampered in their investment decisions by a lack of clarity and access to business data. Additionally, a staggering 90 per cent of IT leaders believed their organisation was not in a position to respond to rapid change in it industry.

Although there is a much-increased volume of data available to business leaders, it appears that many are not being able to leverage this effectively. From a long-term point of view, this leaves British organisations potentially lagging behind their global competitors.

Lack of Investment

Alongside the “inertia” caused by a lack of organisational investment appears to be a significant decrease in investment in innovation at a national level.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has revealed that the UK spent the least on innovation and science of any of the G8 nations in the past year, with only 0.49 per cent of GDP invested back in these areas.

The CBI also argued that more Governmental support was required in order to make innovation more attractive for businesses, a stronger framework and a re-thinking of business rates two of its key suggestions.

Industry leaders have also warned that innovation could be harmed should the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills change innovation and R&D grants from the UK Government, to loans.

Representatives of the aerospace, automotive and pharmaceutical industries have warned that this could lead to fewer R&D projects in the UK, and organisations shifting new R&D projects abroad.

Falling Behind?

Although there is much talk about the UK falling behind, the situation is perhaps less perilous that it seems.

The 2015 Global Innovation Index (GII) places the UK as one of the world’s top five most-innovative nations, both from a volume and quality point of view. This ranks the UK alongside economic peers such as Sweden and the USA, as well as being ahead of Germany and growth economies such as China and Brazil.

It could be argued, based on the comments from the CBI, that an increase in investment in innovation is required to keep the UK in its current position, rather than have the country play catch up with its global peers.

Ambition is Key

Yet, the UK and UK-based organisations need to continue to innovate and create in order to maintain its position. How best, though, to kick-start more innovation projects?

Richard Jones, pro-vice chancellor for research and innovation at the University of Sheffield, believes that universities will play a major role in rebuilding the UK’s innovation programmes.

In a speech to the Association for University Research and Industry Links’ annual conference, Professor Jones argued that universities needed to see what they could contribute to wider society and be more “ambitious” to achieve their goals.

Lead by Example

In the past 12 months, two of the UK’s most famous innovators, James Dyson and Richard Branson, have both invested in programmes to help boost innovative and entrepreneurial activities in the country.

Having figureheads leading by example, as well as investing time and money into this, could potentially give the UK the lift it needs in the coming years to keep its place at the top of the tree.

Do you think the UK needs to be more innovative? Is the country at risk of falling behind, or are the reports over-stated? Start the discussion on Procurious!

Stuck for a conversation in the coffee queue this morning? Procurious has gathered all the big headlines in procurement and supply chain for you…

Talk Talk Boss Warns of ‘Arms Race’

  • Talk Talk Chief Executive, Dido Harding, has warned that all UK companies are under threat of a “cyber security arms race”
  • The hack on the telecommunications company happened last Wednesday and has affected millions of customers, although no losses have been directly attributed to the hack as yet
  • Harding warned that any company in the UK could be vulnerable to a cyber attack
  • She went on to say, “This is happening to a huge number of organisations all the time. The awful truth is that every company, every organisation in the UK needs to spend more money and put more focus on cyber security – it’s the crime of our era.”

Read more at BT.com

London Mayor Contradicted on Garden Bridge Procurement

  • Claims that the procurement process behind the Garden Bridge was ‘robust’ made by London mayor Boris Johnson have been directly contradicted by TfL’s director of internal audit
  • Clive Walker, the man who oversaw mayoral body Transport for London’s internal investigation, conceded that the process was neither ‘open’ nor ‘objective’
  • Critics have suggested that TfL made attempts to ‘water down’ the audit and introduce elements which reflected well on its performance

Read more at Architect’s Journal

Technology Means Traffic Jams Could Be ‘Thing of the Past’

  • Motoring and technology engineers are hard work on the next generation of connected vehicles, which could completely transform British roads.
  • The concept revolves around cars talking to the city and guiding drivers through the busy streets with minimal delay
  • Siemens and NXP are in the process of designing the in-car chips and infrastructure to build ‘intelligent road systems’, allowing drivers to be kept up to date with conditions in real time
  • The technology giants believe the systems will be ready to go in the UK by 2020

Read more at The Express

Hyperloop Test to Start within ‘Weeks’

  • Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has announced it will start work on the $6bn Hyperloop test track within the next two to three weeks
  • The Hyperloop system, originally the concept of Elon Musk, has had to overcome a number of issues to get to this stage, aims to create super-fast, cheap transportation between major cities
  • The system, which will be solar powered, could transport over ten million passengers during testing