2015 Rewind – Best of Learning: How to Use Social Media to Win the War for Talent

We’re looking back at 2015 and the eLearning content that was added to the site during the year. 

In our second rewind, we take a look at the role of social media in the war for procurement talent. The ‘War for Talent’ has been a major topic in 2015, with organisations looking at the ways they can attract and retain the best talent.

In this video, Tania Seary talks about how procurement can leverage social media in order to reach the right audiences and attract the right people.

Although the focus here is on millennial talent, it’s sure to be useful for recruitment for any person in or new to the procurement profession.

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2015 Rewind – Best of the Blog: 3D Printing – The End of Outsourcing?

Our second blog rewind looks at the idea that 3D Printing will have a major impact on the way organisations manufacture their products and ultimately how their supply chains are set up for outsourcing.

From golf clubs to firearms, pharmaceuticals to trainers, 3D Printing is disrupting the manufacturing process of an increasing number of products. But what are the long-term implications for the supply chain as a whole?

It’s a common misconception that 3D printing is something new. Although the processes and thinking for it have been around for a number of years, it’s taken a while for the technology to catch up and allow wider functionality and usage.

As a procurement and supply chain professional, this opens up a world of possibilities – a world of potential cost savings as a result of lower manufacturing costs and a centralised supply chain. Of course this isn’t going to happen overnight, but organisations can start to think differently.

The End Outsourced Manufacturing?

Manufacturing in particular has the potential to see a big change. The advances in 3D Printing can allow certain products to be made in house, instead of being outsourced to ‘low cost’ countries. While good news for organisations bringing more jobs back home, it doesn’t provide a rosy outlook for countries like Mexico and China, traditionally strongholds for low-cost manufacturing.

By bringing manufacturing closer to home, it also gives organisations an opportunity to reduce risk in their logistics, reduce lead-times and make savings on transportation costs. Plus, there’s the lower carbon footprint of global activities as an added bonus. This is all illustrated in this neat infographic.

3d printing supply chain infographic

In the pharmaceutical industry, manufacturers are using 3D Printing to improve medicines delivery systems for patients. Printers are being used to produce pyramid-shaped pills, which provide a more rapid drug release than cylindrical pills, and layered tablets that dissolve quicker and more efficiently.

While these processes are still in their infancy, manufacturers are hopeful that technology and science will work hand in hand, lowering production costs, enabling local production and, in the long run, reducing the end cost for patients.

Changes in the Supply Chain

Beyond enabling organisations to bring manufacturing back to a local setting, lowering logistics and transportation risks and costs and even maybe reducing globalisation as a whole, there are other impacts in the supply chain to think about.

Organisations will be able to produce prototypes of designs much faster than before and facilitate testing by being able to print on site. Organisations will also be able to print packaging materials, more tailored to certain products, as well as tools, jigs and other aids for manufacturing.

Finally, the requirement to hold inventory can be reduced by having designs for applicable products and other parts held on a hard drive, ready to be printed on demand, rather than physically stored in a warehouse.

Beware the Magic Bullet

A word of warning, though. As great as all this sounds, there are still risks and issues that need to be considered with 3D Printing.

Protection of copyright and security of patents is a big deal when all the designs are held on a hard drive that could be hacked from outside the organisation. Some organisations have taken steps to protect their intellectual property, but can you be 100 per cent sure you’re safe from cyber attack?

On the environmental side, although footprints are lowered for transportation, the need for printers to run continuously to be cost-effective means increased energy usage and costs. This would lead also to increased carbon footprints for local factories.

Finally, with greater efficiencies in the supply chain, reduced transportation requirements and potentially fewer warehouses, where does that leave the supply chain manager? If parts are going to be printed on site as required, there isn’t going to be the need for someone to manage an end-to-end process.

Best learn how to use the printers then!

Do you work in an industry that’s seen an increase in 3D Printing? Do you work with printers – have we missed any big benefits? Let us know and get involved in the discussion! 

2015 Rewind – Best of Learning: Where are Procurement’s Blind Spots?

We’re looking back at 2015 and the best of the eLearning videos, podcasts and interviews new to the site during the year. 

In our first revisited video, we take you back to the Big Ideas Summit, where we hosted a fantastic panel discussion on the subject of risk, and where procurement’s blind spots are.

The panel included procurement influencers and thought leaders including Tim Hughes, Olinga Ta’eed, Chris Lynch, Giles Breault, Nic Walden, Jason Busch and Lance Younger, who all gave their opinions on the risks the profession will face in the coming years.

With hot topics like social value, procurement transformation, procurement moving away from Finance and leveraging external innovation, the conversation got a little heated… But suffice to say this is one discussion you don’t want to miss out on!

See all the keynotes and panel discussions from the Big Ideas Summit, plus Big Ideas from our 40+ Influencers.

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Why New Year’s Resolutions Suck…and What You Can Do About It!

You’re on the way to the big New Year’s Eve event at your friend’s place or public gathering and the anticipation is giving you those little jolts of pleasure and pre-party nerves…all good of course!

Catching up with friends, family, work colleagues or even meeting someone new and interesting, is all part of the New Year’s Eve ritual for many people.

Throw in some good food, champagne, fireworks or even the odd out of date Emergency Flare, and you’re bound to have a good night!

That’s how it goes…right? But what about some of the things that your friends, and even strangers, say to each other over the course of the night…or specifically just before the midnight countdown?

You know, those big fat audacious statements that you’ve said or heard before.

Ones like, “I’m not eating chocolate or junk food again”. Or “I’m going to lose 20 kg in weight and get into that size 12, I saw at the boutique the other day”.

You may even declare “I’m quitting the smokes, alcohol, and cutting up my credit card”. It could even be spending more time with the family and less time at work.

Have you ever heard about the “shoulds”?

You know “I should do this” or “I shouldn’t do that”?

So what happens with all these “shoulds”? Well, often they just stay like that. Most people have all the good intentions in the world, especially after a glass or two of the bubbly stuff.

Proclaiming with almost religious fervour, that there “should” is going to happen…starting tomorrow! Tomorrow comes and the realisation of you acting on your “should” becomes overwhelming, and just too damn hard.

So what do you usually do?

  1. Beat yourself up with the entire negative self talk – how you’re hopeless, you can’t carry anything through, you’re no good, blah, blah, blah. Feels great doesn’t it? Really gets your confidence right up there!
  1. Or you just say, “Well…it was a stupid idea anyway”, and just keep carrying on with those behaviours and choices you hate anyway!

Mmmm, that works…not!

What if there was a way to make those “shoulds” into “shalls”?

For example, instead of saying “I should lose the spare tire around my stomach” or “I’m dropping 3 dress sizes in the next month”, you made it a realistic goal?

Wouldn’t it be better to say “I shall tighten my belt by one or two notches” or “drop one dress size” over the next 6-12 months?

These things just don’t happen overnight. Small incremental successes work well in maintaining our motivation to stay on track and reach our targets.

“Small incremental successes work well in maintaining our motivation”

So get rid of that “I must do this right now” mentality!

For example, if your alcohol consumption is excessive, and is affecting your world, then making a commitment to reduce the amount, frequency and alcohol content will often work for most people.

You could say, “I shall have one glass of wine at night with dinner”, as opposed to your usual 3-4 glasses. You may need to vary this depending on your circumstances of course…

The “Giving Up Should” will dissipate, as you are actually working on this change effectively.

What about “I should spend more time with my family instead of always being at work”?

How would it be if you said, “I shall spend more time with my kids/partner instead of watching mindless sitcoms or whatever on TV…?

It’s about balancing what needs to happen now to get what you ultimately want.

So this New Year’s Eve, as you make your way to that big event all suited or frocked up in your finest, take a moment to reflect on your desired New Year’s Resolution.

Make it a realistic plan for small steady incremental successes and praise yourself for those small wins. You’re going to have some setbacks, guaranteed, but those can be turned into momentum to continue.

So at midnight when the champagne corks pop, revel in the knowledge that your “should” will turn into a New Years Resolution “shall do”!

Chuck out the “all or nothing mindset” – remember, slow and steady wins the race!

Procurious Big Ideas Keynote #5 – The Business Case for Creating a Procurement Network

Procurious’ founder Tania Seary rounded the day off at the Big Ideas Summit with a keynote focusing on why procurement networks are an incredibly valuable tool for the profession.

Tania started off with a statistic that there are 27 indigenous tribes in the Amazon region that are entirely disconnected from the rest of the world, comparing that to the often isolated procurement profession.

She then looked at the impact of social media on the profession, and how it can help to create the community for procurement to allow us to work together, solve problems and ultimately create value for businesses. One of these platforms is Procurious.

Watch the full keynote here.

See all the keynotes and panel discussions from the Big Ideas Summit, plus Big Ideas from our 40+ Influencers.

Like this? Join Procurious for FREE and meet like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

The Procurement Professional Twelve Days of Christmas

What do you want from your suppliers for Christmas?  12-days-of-christmas-thumb1-f

In the spirit of the season, here’s a Procurement professional’s Twelve Days of Christmas:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my suppliers gave to me:

Twelve new-signed contracts

Eleven costs avoided

Ten tenders pending

Nine on-time deliveries

Eight service improvements

Seven ways of working

Six demand reductions

Five innovative ideas!

Four value-ads

Three free pens

Two risks assessed

And a brand new SRM strategy!

Merry Christmas!

Supply Chain Best Practice – What We Can Learn from Santa

With just over a day to go before Father Christmas needs to leave the North Pole to start his annual delivery run, we look at why Santa’s Supply Chain is the best of the lot.

Frequently overlooked when it comes to the annual awards, Santa has been running his supply chain with precision and incredible efficiency for as long as we can remember. And with 2016 planning not far around the corner, there is plenty that we can learn from Saint Nick!

Communication

Communication across the supply chain is critical for success, and Santa manages to keep a two-way flow of communication both inside and outside his organisation.

Children’s letters to the North Pole are requested to arrive in time to allow for any last minute alterations to the loading list for the sleigh. In the UK, the Royal Mail help to facilitate this particular part of the supply chain, with all letters required to be mailed by the 6th of December.

Inside the organisation, in order to meet the tight deadlines and short timescales for production, Santa is sure to be in constant contact with his direct reports in order to ensure that all the products will be ready. How do we know his communication is good? Well, you never see mistakes being made, do you?

Stakeholder Management

Santa is also an expert at stakeholder management. He always know which children are on the nice list, and which are on the naughty list, and always works to ensure that his customers are satisfied with the end product.

He has clearly fostered strong relationships with the various suppliers he needs for raw materials, as they are able to keep him stocked with what he needs. Santa also works well with external agencies, such as the Royal Mail, in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Demand Planning

How can you manage supply vs. demand when the trends and demands are likely to change over the course of 12 months? Not only does Santa keep track of the trends, but he can also predict the overall demand for all these items and make sure he has enough of the most popular toys.

Delivery

Which other organisations can boast a record of 100 per cent success in delivering the right product, to the right person, at the right time? There are few, if any, who can rival Santa for his ability to make on time deliveries.

Logistics

Santa is a one-man logistics operation, taking on all the delivery duties himself, along with his team of trusty reindeer. His routes are clearly planned in advance to minimise the potential for getting lost and to make sure that the right deliveries go to the right house.

Additionally, all the presents are loaded in exactly the order they are to be delivered in. Without any spare time to root around in the sleigh for a missing toy, Santa’s logistics and warehousing operations must be second to none to pull this off.

Inventory

Finally, along with the demand planning, Santa is clearly a fantastic inventory planner. There is no question of holding excess stock when the trends and demands change from one year to the next, and nothing gets delivered for another twelve months.

So Santa must ensure that he has exactly what he needs before he leaves on Christmas Eve, as he knows that anything that is left over is likely to be left in stock for a year, without any planned demand for it.

Track Santa

There is a serious side to this piece. All the elements mentioned above are key to having a successful supply chain. In 2016, take a look at what you could be doing differently, and how you can make those improvements to your supply chain.

The bar is set very high, and it’s highly unlikely that any one organisations will be able to equal the record of Father Christmas.

And, if you find yourself with a bit of spare time, and you (and your children!) want to keep track of Santa’s progress around the world on Christmas Eve, check out NORAD’s tracker (now in its 60th year!) right here.

What Tinder Can Tell Us About Job Hunting – Part 1: First Impressions

In the first part of this series, we look at how to make a good first impression.

This series of articles was co-authored with Andy Storrar, Digital Marketing Specialist.

My friend Anna was a little surprised last month when the 6′ fighter pilot she’d arranged a first date with turned out to be 5’2″ and appeared to have grown a different face since posting his Tinder profile. The ‘date’ lasted all of 30 seconds. There won’t be a second one.

It’s the same with your CV. Just like Tinder, it’s vital that it leads with a short summary capturing the essence of who you are, but ultimately, it also needs to be truthful. Embellishment and downright lies might make you a potential match, and even get you a first meeting, but no matter how vibrant your personality, you’re not even going to get to first base if a couple of well-chosen questions, or, in Anna’s case, a horrified first glance, are going to destroy your work of fiction. It’s a waste of everybody’s time, and word can start to get around, landing you with a reputation you really don’t want.

And in the rare event that you do somehow pass muster with some seriously creative additions to your profile, you’ll still have to live with the possibility of being busted later. Remember Scott Thompson, the CEO of Yahoo who got himself fired after it came to light that he didn’t have the degree in Computer Science his CV claimed? He was massively qualified for the job in every other way, but trustworthiness was the issue. And nobody wants to work, or sleep, with a liar, right?

Accuracy Matters

Both employers and potential dates are looking for specifics. There’s really no point in pretending to be what you’re not, or applying for roles for which you simply haven’t got the skills. You shouldn’t be applying for a senior role interacting with suppliers and internal customers if the only stakeholders you’ve managed are your own knife and fork.

My little pun on ‘stakeholders’ above masks a serious point: spelling and grammatical accuracy matter. Sure, some people care about it more than others, but if you’re aiming for a high calibre outcome you should be sure not to exclude yourself from the consideration set through appearing not to care. As a recruiter, I saw countless CVs from “mangers”, “analists” and other “bussiness proffessionals”. Spellcheck alone won’t pick up all the errors, but first impressions count.

You wouldn’t (I hope) use a profile picture on Tinder that shows spinach between your teeth and food down your front. Make sure your attention to detail is at least as good for your CV. If you’re not sure, or even if you are, it’s a good idea to get a trusted friend to check it over for you. Better to have any errors pointed out in confidence than be rejected by your target audience for being sloppy.

Accentuate the Positive

Attempting to punch above your weight on Tinder is one thing – the worst that can happen is that everyone swipes left – but pitching yourself far too high in the job market can seriously reduce your credibility. That said, successful job hunting is all about taking time to accentuate the positive. View yourself in a positive light and play the hell out of the hand you’ve got.

So, how best to do this? Ironically perhaps, you’ll want to reveal a little more of yourself than you might do on Tinder. Summarise your key achievements. Quantify them too: if you’ve delivered a project of specific value or managed to achieve a notable saving or reduction in spend, make sure it’s shown. Recruiters like evidence of achievement.

That doesn’t mean you need to list every single thing, and as your career progresses you can start to leave some of the detail off your CV (School Recorder Club, Swimming Badges, etc). Your resume needs to represent the detail of what you’ve achieved in recent years, and what you’re good at now, as that’s where the match is made.

Tailoring Counts

Finally, remember what’s appropriate. There are some pictures that (most) Tinder users just don’t want to see – you know what I mean, don’t make me spell it out. Unlikely though you are to put such a thing on any job application it is worth remembering what you’re applying for, and emphasising the appropriate parts of your experience to ensure you fit with the role profile.

Take the time to tailor your CV for each job application. This isn’t Tinder, where you’re putting yourself in front of a pool of millions of different requirements and may be a perfect fit for one, or some. Job hunting is all about making sure you’re the perfect fit for a particular suitor.

A little extra time and care to ensure your resume is appropriate to your application may pay dividends in the end. It did for Anna. She’s getting married next week, but not to that guy.

Procurement Systems – a Panacea or Pancake?

In a far off world, our intergalactic cousins may have a procurement systems panacea, but in my world I’ve yet to see it.

Of course they can help manage the process flow, speed up the approvals, assist contract management and supplier performance. Some even claim to manage relationships. (Really? Systems manage relationships? – that’s news to me!)

Of course, systems have their place and are a necessity in most organisations. I am not suggesting a reversion to having no procurement systems in place. It would be folly in today’s ever-global world, with increasing expectations on corporate governance, to do so. My issue is not with procurement systems, per se, my issue is with systems being used as an excuse for under performance.

The ‘Panacea’ Menu

A commonly held view is that the system’s deficiencies are a core reason of procurement’s inability to deliver the business’ requirements, and a conclusion is drawn (sometimes hastily, sometimes protracted) that a new procurement system is needed.

Procurement software companies pitch for the new and the panacea, complete with all manner of whistles and bells is selected. Rather like my own children at a pancake house selecting from the menu, this is their most fun part, seduced by all manner of options – it is often all downhill from here.

Having made the significant investment commitments, the intricacies of software become known and the integration of the selected system panacea hits trouble and is scaled back, perhaps even being stacked alongside or on top of previously selected ‘panacea’ systems.

Often bells and whistles become either un-implementable or unaffordable. The panacea has turned in to a pancake; or moreover, a large stack of pancakes complete with sickly, unpalatable toppings upon which the consumer looks and questions why such a large, unappetising feast was ordered. Appetite quickly disappears and nausea kicks in. When half of the stack is consumed, cries of “I’m full” resound.

Make Systems work for you

In a previous article, I set out my thoughts on procurement personnel too often remaining in their comfort zone, failing to challenge themselves or their stakeholders.

My point in this article is simple – expecting a procurement system to play too large a role in any procurement transformation is madness. Systems are only systems. Systems are nothing without the people who use them. Buyers who dislike the old system will, in time, learn to dislike the inevitable deficiencies of the new system.

The skilled buyer needs to master their system and make their system dance; using the system to assist, not hinder, meeting the most strategic requirements of the business; to not be constrained by its imperfections. During implementation care needs to be taken to not impose distractions on to the business which reinforce any misconceptions that procurement is only interested in cost cutting.

Clever configuring of almost any well maintained (up to date) reputable system can deliver necessary controls without the unnecessary frustrations and costs of a wholesale re-implementation. Systems should save time for the procurement team and for the business users. Systems should perform for us, not the other way around.

I hope that it is needless to say, that of course, systems need to be maintained, developed and users professionally trained to extract value from the system, not be constrained by it. I simply urge all who are considering a procurement transformation not to over-estimate the criticality of their system, and to correctly consider the manner in which its personnel use existing tools. Systems can become the rule by which we are measured, but they should never become our ruler, nor our excuse.

The scarce resources of your organisation are at stake, and along with it the reputation of the department. Previously, I have contended that buyers are too narrowly focussed in their practised skills – I simply favour investing in the flesh and blood that use the systems ahead of investing in the systems themselves.

Read more articles from Jim here.

Jim WillshawJim Willshaw (MBA, MCIPS, MIIAPS) is an experienced procurement professional acting as a consultant, speaker, coach and trainer to leading organisations all over the globe.