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.

pancakes

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.

Best of the Procurious Discussion Forum 2015

In 2015, Procurious members started over 400 discussions, and provided an amazing 2000+ answers for these burning questions.

Discussion Forum

These discussions covered a vast range of topics, from Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and professional qualifications, to eSourcing and if there is a typical Myers Briggs profile for procurement professionals. We’ve picked out the most popular Discussions of 2015 to have another look at, and perhaps inspire you to start your own.

KPIs for Procurement Function

We frequently talk about the concept of KPIs or metrics, both for procurement to measure, and for procurement to be measured by. There were a few discussions started on the subject of procurement KPIs, but one in particular that generated some interesting debate.

The Discussion asked for the community’s thoughts on the top KPIs that could be used for measuring procurement performance. While the KPIs and metrics mentioned by the respondents didn’t throw up too many surprises, what was surprising was what the most common answer was.

In fifteen of the responses a savings KPI was mentioned as one of the key metrics. At a time where procurement departments are looking to move away from savings targets, it is surprising that such a high percentage of professionals would highlight it as a key KPI.

A number of respondents highlighted value as a key KPI, however it was much lower than savings, and also lower than total spend managed. Even within the small sample, it’s clear that the traditional mindsets of procurement professionals still have to be changed.

Other key KPIs highlighted were:

  • Percentage of on time delivery
  • Total Spend
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Stock Turnover
  • Quality
  • Supplier Consolidation
  • Supply Chain Security & Risk
  • Cost Avoidance
  • Customer of Choice
  • Procurement Engagement
  • Time
  • Inventory
  • Sustainability
  • Ethics
  • Agility
  • TCO

Within the other discussions on the site, it was recommended that there be a limit on the number of KPIs in use, with 6 being a good number that could be effectively used and reported on. As well as this, the KPIs needed to be meaningful to both parties in order to be successful.

How Did You Get Your Start in Procurement?

One of the more popular discussion from earlier in 2015 concerned how members of the Procurious community had come to be part of the procurement profession.

Traditionally, many professionals have ‘fallen’ into procurement, and only recently has the trend shifted towards graduates actually setting out to have a career in procurement. Within the community, there were certainly a few who ended up in procurement by ‘accident’ or ‘fell’ into the profession, but also many who had been moved into procurement by their organisations.

It was interesting to see that a number (including one of Procurious’ own!) moved into procurement to escape another profession. As well as this, there were professionals who had either made a conscious choice at the outset of their career, or chosen to move following exposure to procurement activities.

There were also a number of success stories from people who ended up in procurement despite this not being their qualification and then succeeding in adding value or creating savings for their organisations.

It just goes to show that there are a number of ways into the profession, but the vast majority of professionals stick with it once they are there!

Is there a ‘typical’ Myers-Briggs profile for procurement pros?

People’s interest was certainly piqued by this question, and it was one of the most answered discussions of the year. As it stands, there is no one profile that is most common for procurement professionals, although there are some trends that have emerged.

A full breakdown of the responses shows:

  • ENTP – 10
  • ENTJ – 6
  • INTJ – 6
  • INFP – 3
  • ISTP – 2
  • ENFP – 2
  • INFJ – 2
  • INTP – 1
  • ISFJ – 1
  • ENFJ – 1
  • ESTJ – 1
  • ISTJ – 1

The most common trait across the network was for N (Intuiting), which appeared in 30 of the profiles. In theory, this meant that we have a group of professionals who are good at spotting patterns and plan well for the future, who also like to acquire new skills.

Whether this is what you perceive procurement professionals as or not, the concept certainly provided some very different viewpoints. One other idea that was mooted as part of the question was whether our profiles change over time, and if we have the profiles we do because we are in procurement, or the other way around?

Other Popular Discussions

There were other great, popular discussions on the topics of vendor management best practice, definitions or first thoughts on hearing the word eSourcing, whether or not professional accreditation and courses were worthwhile in procurement and responsibility in organisations for the drafting and issuing of a specification or brief.

You can also catch up with our Discussion Wraps from 2015 on the Procurious blog by following one of the links below:

And don’t forget, you can always start your own discussion on any topic you can think of from procurement and supply chain. Let’s keep the Discussion forum just as busy in 2016 and continue sharing the knowledge!

Why Social Media Will Play a Role in the War on Terror

Social media can help to facilitate global communication and information gathering, but it can also be used for illegal means such as terrorism. With Twitter being fined for non-removal of “terrorist propaganda”, we investigate what countries are doing to stem this particular use of social media. Social Media for Terror

As we reported last week, Twitter was fined in Turkey for failing to remove content that the Turkish Government said was “terrorist propaganda”. The major social media platforms have been very careful in the past to strike a balance between removing materials, while at the same time trying not to inhibit or stop legitimate political debate.

However, in light of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Lebanon and the USA, organisations and legislators are now looking at what can be done to limit access to social media for terrorist organisations, both for communication and publication.

Pressure on Platforms 

Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have recently come under more pressure from governments to closely monitor, and remove, posts, accounts and videos that are either violent or contain terrorist propaganda. However, all three platforms take a reactive stance on this, relying on their users to report content like this before it is removed.

Extending the powers that the platforms operators have to carry out removal and tracking activities on these posts has been discussed. This has raised concerns among free-speech campaigners as to where these powers would end and as to what would fall under the categories for removal, as this is frequently hard to define.

New legislation was passed last week by the US House of Representatives, which now requires the Obama administration to produce a strategy to combat terrorists’ use of social media. The legislation was passed in response to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, and aims to allow for more close scrutiny of social media activities as part of visa application consideration.

Rights and Freedoms

At the same time as the legislation went to vote, the UN was holding a special meeting of its Counter-Terrorism Committee, where preventing terrorists from exploiting the Internet was also on the agenda. Prominent in the discussion was how to carry this out, without impinging on the rights and freedoms of global citizens to legitimate debate and activities.

It is suspected that ISIS/ISIL has used social media to attract over 30,000 foreign terrorist fighters, from over 100 countries, to join their fights in Syria and Iraq. However, all parties were keen to assess how terrorist activity could be halted, while at the same time ensuring that any restrictions did not create grievances that would play into the terrorist groups’ hands.

Jeffrey Feltman, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Committee, “It is precisely [the] exploitation by terrorists and violent extremists that can easily result in us restricting human rights and fundamental freedoms”. Feltman went on to say that the intention was to put “young people at the centre of these efforts”, with this generation both most comfortable with social media, as well as the most susceptible to extremist propaganda.

Immature Business Sector

In the UK, the social media companies have also been reprimanded by the county’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, Mark Rowley, who, in describing social media as an “immature business sector”, criticised some of the organisations for not co-operating fully with police investigations.

Legislation similar to that discussed in the USA doesn’t exist in the UK, creating concerns that the police are missing important intelligence on terrorist activities, and falling behind these organisations by not being able to operate in the social media environment as well as the people they were tracking.

It will be interesting to see how legislation is developed, as well as how the platforms themselves can deal more effectively with pages and information relating to terrorist activities, and having a better solution for dealing with the spread of information.

Do you think social media could or should be more closely monitored? Is there a line that can be drawn between freedom and public safety? Get involved on Procurious and join the discussion. 

Meanwhile, we have been keeping an eye on all the major headlines in procurement and supply chain this week for you to share with your friends…

Apple Price Falls on Supply Chain Concerns

  • Concerns about Apple’s supply chain data and predicted sales for the first half of 2016 have caused its price targets to be reviewed
  • Investment firm RBC Capital Markets cut its price target for Apple to $140, down from $150 (already a decrease from earlier in 2015)
  • The firm cited slower than expected sales of the iPhone 6 in the first two quarters of 2016 as the reason
  • This was also due to key organisations in Apple’s supply chain cutting estimates for business in the same period

Read more at Apple Insider

French Courier Companies Fined for “Collusion”

  • 20 competing package delivery firms in France, as well as their professional trade union, have been fined €672 million by the French Competition Authority for price collusion
  • The authorities stated that the firms had shared sensitive information about price increases during group meetings with the transport and logistics trade association, TLF, between 2004 and 2010
  • 8 of the companies, including DHL Express France, Norbert Dentressangle and Royal Mail’s French arm, General Logistics Systems, comprised 71 per cent of the French market during this period
  • The authority concluded that French SMEs had been hit hardest by the collusion activities, as they did not have the negotiating power of the largest clients to reject or renegotiate the price increases

Read more at Supply Management

Tech Companies Suffer Due to Supply Chain Disruption

  • The 2015 Global Cleantech Risk Survey has reported that 61 per cent of clean tech companies had suffered some form of supply chain disruption in the past three years
  • Of these companies, 84 per cent stated that their bottom line had suffered due to the disruptions
  • 75 per cent of the 300 organisations surveyed, who sourced products from China, said that they had suffered from a supply chain disruption
  • These disruptions resulted in delayed deliveries, eroded profit margins, brand and reputation damage and reduced revenue

See more results at My Central Jersey

Global Firms Tied to Slave Labour

  • A number of high-profile global grocery supply chains have been linked to slave and forced labour in the seafood processing industry in Burma
  • Shrimp from the suppliers is used in the USA by a number of companies, including the organisation that owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden, as well as retail chains Wal-Mart, Kroger, Whole Foods, Dollar General and Petco
  • Thai Union, the primary supplier to the American companies, has committed to cleaning up its supply chain and reduce reliance on poorly regulated contractors

Read more at The Indian Republic

Skills Shortage and Access to Finance Top Concerns for UK Entrepreneurs

Difficulty obtaining finance and a general skills shortage risk undermining Britain’s start-up revolution, the Institute of Directors has warned this week. skills_shortage

The first ever survey of the IoD 99 network – a group of more than 650 entrepreneurs under the age of 35, running businesses in every part of the country and every sector of the economy – has confirmed that finding skilled employees and accessing scale-up finance are the most important issues for Britain’s start-ups.

Barriers to Growth

Worryingly, two-fifths (42 per cent) of the entrepreneurs surveyed said they have trouble hiring people with the right skills, and 39 per cent cite difficulty accessing finance as a potential barrier to growth.

More than half (53 per cent) said that money from family members had been instrumental in getting their business off the ground, while 56 per cent had used personal unsecured finance, like credit cards, and a further 45 per cent had used money from friends.

The IoD has called for government to open up the ‘equity economy’ to make it easier for savers to invest in young companies and turn Britain’s fledgling start-ups into scale-ups. The business group has also warned politicians against imposing arbitrary restrictions on the UK immigration system, which will make it harder for growing firms to bring in skilled workers from around the world.

Positive Social Impact

The survey of 122 members of the IoD 99 network – entrepreneurs running companies across the UK in every section of the economy, also showed:

  • Six in ten (61 per cent) young entrepreneurs were in full-time work when they started their own business
  • One in five (21 per cent) said the primary reason for starting their business was to have a ‘positive social impact’, 22 per cent said they wanted to work for themselves and one-third (36 per cent) said they wanted to build a successful company
  • Difficulty hiring skilled employees was ranked as the top barrier to growth, cited by 42 per cent of entrepreneurs, followed by trouble accessing finance (39 per cent), the high cost of finance (33 per cent), business taxes (29 per cent) and personal taxes (26 per cent)
  • While money from family, friends, and unsecured loans are the most important sources of finance in an entrepreneurs’ early days, private equity, bank and non-bank debt along with private and public sector grants are all seen as important sources of scale-up finance.

The full results can be found here.

Start-Up Revolution 

Jimmy McLoughlin, Deputy Head of Policy at the IoD, said, “The start-up revolution has taken hold in Britain like nowhere else in Europe. With so many young, exciting and cutting-edge businesses having popped up in recent years, it is vital to harness their potential and create the next raft of world-leading companies. Finding people with the right skills, and tapping into the right mix of finance will be the biggest factors in achieving scale-up success. For start-ups, overcoming these obstacles can be the difference between success and failure. 

“It is a worry, therefore, that so many start-ups struggle to hire skilled employees. The push to teach children digital skills, like programming, at school is part of the long-term solution, but we must remember that start-ups face skills shortages now. Therefore, it is crucial that Britain’s immigration system is as open and easy to navigate as possible.

“The last few years have seen exciting developments in alternative finance. Businesses can access more sources of capital than ever before and innovations like crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending are quickly becoming mainstream options. Entrepreneurs see them playing a big role over the next decade. Regulation cannot stand in the way of this growing demand. We should strip back the layers of complexity which currently stand in the way of individuals investing through schemes like the Enterprise and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS/SEIS) to give more people across the country a stake in the success of British start-ups.”

 This view was backed up by Alex Mitchell, chair of the IoD 99 network. “More and more young people are growing up with dreams of being an entrepreneur, with millions rejecting the idea of a nine-to-five job in favour of the freedom, flexibility and control of running their own business. Little can compare to the feeling of taking an idea to market and building a successful company. With so many support schemes like the IoD 99 around the country, it has arguably never been easier to go it on your own,” said Mitchell.

“Interestingly, most entrepreneurs were employed when they launched their own enterprise, demonstrating the commitment and dedication it takes to build a successful company, often while working full-time. Young entrepreneurs also said they were motivated more by the vision of building a successful business, being their own boss and having a social impact than financial reward. This is a testament to the vibrancy and diversity of the UK’s start-up scene.”

The Institute of Directors has called on the government to make EIS and SEIS easier to use for small-stakes investors and encourage more people to invest in growing companies. The full recommendations can be found in the report, Opening the Equity Economy.

Procurious Big Ideas Keynote #4 – Ethics in the Profession

The growing influence of the procurement function in organisations has both positive and negative potential consequences.

David Noble, Group Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), provides a fascinating insight into the profession from the point of view of the chartered body.

Addressing and shifting some paradigms about procurement first, David then goes on to speak about the importance of ethics and compliance and how licensing the profession helps professionals in their day-to-day roles.

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.

Best of the Procurious Blog 2015

At Procurious, we pride ourselves on publishing high quality, original and interesting content on our blog. In 2015, we have produced, hosted and provided over 600 articles for our community to read.

Best of the Blog

We were honoured this year to receive a “Highly Commended Company” award in the UK Blog Awards 2015 for PR, Marketing, Media and Comms (we’re hoping to go one better in 2016 and win!) – this is a great achievement for us in our first full year of the Procurious blog.

As we draw towards the end of the year, we’re going to take a look back at some of articles that made a real impact with the community, and sparked discussions on Procurious and across social media.

Procurement Careers

During 2015, much of the focus in procurement and supply chain was on how to attract, retain and developing the best talent, but also on personal development and career progression.

Our most read article of 2015 was from our founder, Tania Seary, who let us all in on her Sure-Fire Tips for Becoming a CPO

We also featured an article on the new Apple CEO Tim Cook, himself a former Supply Chain Manager, and his rise to the top position at one of the world’s top organisations. It’s always great to see a procurement or supply chain professional take the lead in an organisation, as it helps to showcase the value of our function to the wider audience.

We also had top tips when considering a procurement role in Singapore, as well as the skills Generation Y or Millennials need to get a head start in their procurement careers.

Technology Trends

Another of our key themes in 2015 was on the increasing impact of technology on procurement and supply chain. The idea that both procurement and supply chain will be affected by technology in the coming years was a popular one, as well as how organisations could use these technologies to their advantage.

One subject that kept popping up during the year was 3D Printing and how this technology was changing the supply chain. We examined what the growth of 3D Printing meant for manufacturing and outsourcing, which generated plenty of interest and comments.

Entwined in the theme of future technologies was the concept of digitisation and the increasing use of digital currencies and payment mechanisms, such as bitcoin. We highlighted the use of these digital currencies as part of 5 “Megatrends” in technology, as well as how they can be used to assist with supply chain transparency.

Finally, we looked at how technology is disrupting industries and professions, including procurement, as part of an “Uberized” economy, and which technological ‘Unicorns‘ to watch out for in the coming years.

Social Media

No round up would be complete without a look at social media and it’s fast-growing impact on the world of procurement and supply chain. The benefits of social media aren’t clear to all, as we found out when looking at CPO input to networks and social media.

We also offered some insights into the potential pitfalls of social media when using it as part of your procurement and career activities, and examined the role of social media in breaking news events, both from a positive and negative point of view, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Best of the Rest

Our round-up wouldn’t be complete without having a look at some of the other popular topics from this year.

Early in the year we highlighted the disruptive forces keeping CPOs awake at night – it will be interesting to see whether these are the same in 2016.

One of our most popular articles from 2014 was also popular in 2015 – our list of procurement influencers. Stay tuned in 2016 to see our updated list!

And finally, late this year we focused on the role of women in procurement and supply chain. As part of this Tania Seary picked out the 10 women who had influenced her procurement career – check out Part 1 and Part 2 of her list again.

We hope you enjoy reading these articles again (or for the first time!). Have you got a favourite from this year? Why not let us know!

What Does the Board Look for When Hiring a CPO?

In the second part of this series on CPOs, we look at what Boards look for in their CPOs.

interviews-s

Read the first article on expectations of CPOs here.

The successful procurement leader today is expected to establish credibility by embedding the basics. Good financial data consistent with the reporting model of their business, robust controls across a lean supplier base, and well negotiated contracts that are fit for purpose. They must build a function that operates across international boundaries and divisional corporate structures.

Comments from Board level executives in the last three months include:

  • “I want someone smart, quick and innovative. In my business if we can make a 1 per cent saving on our cost base we will increase profit by 50 per cent. I will judge success by the MDs wanting to spend time with the CPO”
  • “I need someone who can sit with my Divisional MDs and help them create a profitable business. Procurement is absolutely critical to the operating model of our organisation. We are in turnaround, and its success is linked directly to the cost base”

How Do You Compare?

When you are invited to interview for a CPO role, be it an internal promotion opportunity or an external process, remember you are not operating in a vacuum. Assume your competition is the highly respected, experienced CPO in your direct competitor and ask yourself, “How do I compare?”.

It is most likely that an executive search firm would have been engaged to identify the best possible talent in the market and competition will be fierce. At this level, everyone is good. So, what makes the difference at the margin?

1. Business first, procurement second

This point was stated clearly in a recent discussion with a CFO of a global Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) company and experienced Non-Executive Director. When you get close to Board level, everybody is expected to know their “job”. The differentiating factor becomes what else you can contribute to help the company achieve its goals or solve its problems. The ability to understand the business strategy and its challenges, and align procurement to it, is essential and execution is non-negotiable.

2. Leadership 


The ability to build and lead a diverse, global team is vital to being a successful CPO. Generating energy, creativity, ambition, commitment and loyalty amongst the broader team are key attributes of a successful leader. This is particularly relevant in a complex corporate environment. Leadership amongst peers is also critical. Being seen as a credible and well respected leader by colleagues in other functions across your business is vital for your individual success and that of the function that you lead.

3. International Experience 


Many organisations operate in a global environment, from its operations to its supply base and customer markets. Those with experience of living and working outside of one region (Europe, US, Asia) will be more desirable than those who have not.

4. Breadth

Procurement can be viewed as quite a narrow skill set and, therefore, gaining experience across all elements of spend (directs and indirects) will be viewed positively. Exposure to pre- and post-merger acquisition work, integration and delivery of synergy benefits would be another tick in the box. Outsourcing is also on the list, along with experience gained in more than one industry sector.

5. Commercially Astute 


To be respected internally it is vital that your reported numbers and achievements are accurate. Many times, in discussions with CEOs and CFOs, they state that the reported numbers bear no resemblance to their data. They joke that if procurement saved as much as they said year on year, their spend would be zero in three years’ time.

You must be able to build a function that is aligned to the way the business measures and reports its numbers. They need to believe you. A recent McKinsey study stated, “Companies that have invested in developing best- in-class purchasing capabilities have nearly double the margins of those that have not”.

In a recent NED appointment, we specifically targeted the global procurement and supply chain community. The press comment from the FTSE 100 Chair on the successful appointment was “…their extensive expertise in driving efficiencies in manufacturing processes and procurement in global organisations will be of real value to us”.

And Finally…

The good news is that the momentum is building and procurement is getting on the Board agenda. Having been a headhunter in the procurement marketplace for the last 13 years I can confirm that the quality of talent at the top has improved significantly.

The reality however, is that expectations are higher than ever and competition is tough. If you want to reach the CPO role, it’s worth taking a little time to reflect how many boxes you can tick and take steps towards closing any gaps.

Top Tech Gifts For Christmas

Tech trends are changing…

71zy1-Fl6nL

A recent uSwitch survey suggests that the must-have tech from yesteryear is quickly falling out of fashion, with only 8 per cent of responders lusting after e-readers, and 9 per cent focused on digital cameras. With that in mind we’ve rounded-up what we deem to be the must-have gadgets for Christmas 2015.

Ten lords a-leaping on their hoverboards…

This wheely-wheely good gadget has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons during the past few months.

Commonly referred to as ‘hoverboards’, ‘balancing boards’ or, in this case, a ‘MonoRover’ – this new form of transport will have you zipping down the streets and rolling into your next appointment in record time.

This innovation in personal transportation relies on pointing your toes down to go forward, and transferring your weight to your heels to move backwards.

Prices and availability vary from country to country (as do transport laws!) so we suggest a light spot of Googling will soon have you on your way.

While shepherds watched their drones by night… DJI Phantom 3

Kids big and small have enjoyed the drone boom this year. But with technology advancing at breakneck pace, as well as decreasing costs, those tiny gnats they lost outdoors last Christmas have been replaced by bigger, tricked-out drones.

For the pilot that must have everything, the forboding DJI Phantom 3 quadcoptor comes with 4K video shooting capabilities and can be controlled via a nifty iOS or Android app. A warning though… it’s not cheap, so crashes could prove costly – $1234.99.

OnePlus 2

OnePlus: The smartphone that’s invite only

If you’re growing tired of Apple and Samsung vying for your custom every twelve months then maybe you’re brave enough to try something a little bit different?

The Chinese smartphone manufacturer OnePlus has built an affordable range of phones that dare to challenge tech’s heavy-hitters.

Three handsets have been spotted in the wild to-date (the OnePlus One, OnePlus Two and OnePlus X) and each has required a special invite to be in with a chance to purchase. If the gamble was to up desirability and exclusivity then technology commentators have all but deemed it a success.

OnePlus has recently waived invites for purchases of the OnePlus 2, and also holds weekly sales for the OnePlus X.

Prices start from £289.

3D print your presents!

As we approach 2016 3D printing no longer needs to be confined to factory floors and workshops. If you’ve always fancied yourself as a bit of a designer and the idea of turning your own 3D designs into solid, touchable objects gets your creative juices flowing then a 3D printer could be a worthwhile investment this Christmas.

Home-friendly units are arriving in their droves, some of the more popular names in the 3D printing world include M3D, MakerBot, LulzBot and CubePro – prices start around the £1000 mark and advance into their thousands for larger, more advanced printers. The only limit is your imagination (and wallet).

gopro_hero_lcd_front

No more bad Christmas TV with GoPro Hero+ 

The ideal accessory for gadget afficados and sports enthusiasts alike. If you’re looking for a camera to accompany you on the slopes the rugged Hero+ will survive all sorts of knocks and bumps, while shooting at a constant 60fps.

If you’re more comfortable taking a backseat the Hero+ can also shoot in HD video and produce 8-megapixel stills, plus you can control it from afar using the dedicated iOS and Android apps. It’s waterproof too.

From £199/$199.

(Walking in the) iPad Air 2

If you’re in the market for upgrading your iPad this Christmas, the Apple iPad Air 2 is the absolutely must have gadget.

The iPad Air 2 has squeezed a few extra mm off its predecessors already-svelte frame, while bolstering it with all the technical innovations expected of an Apple flagship product in 2015 (like the new A8X processor and Touch ID fingerprint sensor). Grab the upgrade from $399.

On the other end of the scale and for those looking to supersize their life, the iPad Pro boasts an enormous 12.9-inch screen (2732 x 2049 pixels) and brings you tantalisingly close to laptop territory. Price from $799.

Don’t run out of juice this Christmas… Portable power

If you’re planning on having a gadget heavy Christmas then you’ll be wanting to eek out as much extra life from your devices as possible.

Clocking in at the smaller end of the spectrum, the Anker PowerCore+ mini could equally be at home with your lipstick as your smartphone. With 3350mAh at full charge and compatible with a myraid of personal devices, it’s nicely affordable ($40), and available in a range of eye-catching colours too.

Apple has made its first foray into the battery case market with a smart case that charges your 6S or 6 device.

The case extends your iPhone with 25 hours-worth of talk time, or 18 hours of 4G web browsing, and will set you back £79/$99/AU$165 respetively.

band2

Work off those mince pies: Microsoft Band 2

There’s a glut of wearable fitness trackers available today but Microsoft’s follow-up to its original Band is the most recent and it looks killer to boot.

At the time of writing you’ll be hard-pressed to find a gadget (that’s not a running watch) that’s capable of incorporating both heart rate monitoring and GPS. For that reason Microsoft’s Band 2 is worth a look-in.

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

And finally… an inexpensive stocking filler. Give the gift of music and curate your own festive playlist for family gettogethers and New Year’s celebrations.

For a limited time Spotify is offering 3 months Premium membership for just £0.99/$0.99. Sign-up using this link and enjoy unlimited, ad-free music for a full 3 months, a saving of £9.99/$9.99 per month. Couple this with the Acoustic Research Pasadena outdoor speaker and you’ll be able to entertain on the terrace or even down on the beach thanks to its 8 hour charge. It’s yours for $99.

Adding Value to Procurement Through Change Management

Rio Tinto’s procurement function is globally known for its high standards and principles. When it comes down to building a world class global procurement department, change management plays a key role.

change-management

Ahead of Women in Procurement 2016, Renae Rutherford, Director – Optimisation Delivery, Global Business Services from Rio Tinto, has shared some key insights with us, which will be presented as a case study at the conference. Renae has embraced change management as a strategy in all her roles to help Rio Tinto functions, including Procurement, achieve significant improvement on a global scale.

Challenges and Opportunities

We asked Renae to share the biggest challenges and opportunities Rio Tinto is facing in procurement at the moment. She says that Rio Tinto is in a moment of “more opportunity than challenge, with decreasing commodity prices, business units are depending on procurement to deliver significant cost reductions including managing working capital more effectively. The challenge is finding more value, as we have a mature global & regional category management model that has caught most of the quick win opportunities.”

Renae also identified a number of other challenges for Rio Tinto’s procurement team, including “achieving efficiencies through global process standardisation in Procure to Pay and master data management” and “identifying how best to evolve procurement as part of a cross-functional organisation that is moving towards an integrated business services model, where procurement will operate more closely with other global functions including IS&T, people services, finance services and property”.

Value in Change Management

When asked how change management is helping Rio Tinto manage these conditions, Renae responded: “Change management is a very broad category.”

“The very first module in my change management post-graduate course was self-management skills – and this was a revelation!  All leaders are change agents, and the most capable leaders have excellent self-management skills, which they apply to cope with job challenges and organisational change, as well as propel their own professional development (aka personal change!).”

“People change management skills are essential for identifying others’ reactions to change and helping them work through this fully, in the fastest way possible.  Resolving business challenges typically brings change impacts to our people and it’s important we help them manage this effectively.”

“Organisational change management skills are essential for taking a holistic approach to bringing about and sustaining the change, where changes will not achieve full benefits nor be sustained if they are not aligned with formal and informal people, process and organisational systems.”

Speaking at the Women in Procurement 2016 conference in March, hosted by Quest Events, Renae will be presenting a session focused on how to embrace change management to build a world class procurement function, including Rio Tinto’s approach, lessons learned, and being a change leader.

Leadership and Career Advancement

Women in Procurement 2016 is also addressing leadership and career advancement themes, so we asked Renae to share some useful tips of how she has approached her career progression.

Here are Renae’s 5 recommendations for those aspiring a leadership role in procurement:

  1. Take on every opportunity to learn and develop, especially when it’s different or daunting
  2. Put in the hard work early, to build that depth of diverse experience
  3. Recognise you passions as well as situations that bring our your strengths, and find more like these
  4. Big 4 consulting experience was a significant accelerator – taught me how to learn quickly, how to influence, and how to manage risks with engaging people and leading projects
  5. Be ok with not knowing everything or not feeling comfortable in your role (mistakes provide the deepest learning); when you do feel comfortable, it’s time to move on

To read Renae Rutherford’s bio and find out more about Women in Procurement 2016, please visit the website here or download the conference agenda.

Your Procurement Christmas Booklist

The Christmas holidays are great – plenty of time to relax, see family and relax in front of the fire with a glass of wine and a good book…

stack_of_books

If you’re like the team at Procurious HQ, you can’t get enough of procurement, supply chain and leadership related literature, then we’ve compiled a short list for you to add to your bookshelf/Kindle/eReader for the festive period:

Strat-Sourcing-IKEA

  • Strategic Sourcing and Category Management: Lessons Learned at IKEA – Magnus Carlsson
  • A Quick Guide to Procurement (for non-Procurement people) – John Bowen
  • The Procurement and Supply Manager’s Desk Reference – Fred Sollish and John Semanik

Procurement-Mojo

  • Procurement Mojo – Sigi Osagie (procurement capability)
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change – Stephen Covey (change)

Getting To Yes

  • Getting to Yes – Roger Fisher and William Ury (negotiation)
  • The Brand You 50 – Tom Peters (personal brand)
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (leadership)

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 12.03.39

  • The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users – Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick
  • Music Rights Without Fights – Richard Kirstein (marketing procurement)
  • Who Moved My Cheese – Spencer Johnson (change)
  • Winning! – Clive Woodward (leadership)
  • Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (leadership)

That should be plenty to keep you occupied when you are looking to escape the mayhem or avoid another couple of hours of dodgy Christmas TV.

Let us know if we have missed your favourite and put the title in the comments below!

Happy Reading!