Social Media Fever Is The New Man Flu

Fret Not! Doctor Procurious is here to cure your social media fever!

Social Media Clinic

Social media has become a vital tool in both our personal and business lives. Conquering social media platforms can be difficult without the right knowledge and help.  Procurious is running a social media clinic at the eWorld Procurement & Supply conference in London on 2 March. The clinic will cover the following social media areas to give you the best tips and tricks of the trade.

Get noticed: Create Your Powerful Profile

  • Detailed Profile is Strong
  • Proof Read
  • Customise Your URL Profile
  • Have the right profile picture
  • Be part of the correct groups
  • Be aware of LinkedIn Applications
  • Bonus Tips and more on Procurious

Stay In Touch: Supercharge Your Market intelligence

  • Mastering Google Alerts  
  • Wonders of the Google Drive
  • Streamline content with Feedly
  • Must have marketing tools of 2016

Twitter 101: A Beginner’s Guide

  • Getting started – key terms and definitions of Twitter
  • Setting up an account – building the right Twitter profile
  • The Basics – Top tips and tricks
  • Using hashtags – what is ‘trending’?
  • Following Twitter influencers – information gathering

eLearning: Revolutionise Your Professional Development

  • Picking the right platform(s) for you
  • Podcasts and TED Talks – Introducing users to Soundcloud
  • Bite-sized Learning videos
  • Peer to Peer Networking
  • Fitting learning into your routine

Simplify: Make Social Media Work For You

  • Selecting the right platform for you
  • Why time doesn’t have to be a limiting factor
  • Introducing social media tools – Buffer; Hootsuite
  • Scheduling posts – when and where to do it; ensuring your posts make sense on all platforms
Procurious at eWorld
Social Media Fever…Get Cured with Procurious!

Don’t google your symptoms, fight them with Procurious. Come see us at eWorld Procurement & Supply conference!

It Takes a Perfect Procurement Programme to Cut Costs

How would you define perfect procurement? We’ve spoken a great deal recently about how saving money or getting the best deal is no longer the be all and end all in procurement.

Perfect Procurement

Customers demand and expect a more transparent, more ethical, and more sustainable supply chain. This ultimately means that procurement priorities vary globally, and across companies. This week, however, we are singing the praises of some perfect procurement strategising which has led to some serious savings.

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance announced savings of $139 dollars on the UK’s two new aircraft carriers, South Africa plans to reform public procurement to save R25 billion, and Australia’s fifteen-year-long infrastructure plan aims to to save the average Australian household $3,000 a year by 2040.

And, under the pressure of a slow economy,  sources have suggested that Russia plans to cut defence procurement by 5 per cent this year.

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance

The Aircraft carrier Alliance (ACA) have just announced savings of £139 million on the construction of two new aircraft carriers at the CIPS Supply Management ‘Best in Procurement‘ event in Manchester. Having initially been tasked with saving £86 million, the ACA significantly exceeded this thanks to their implementation of an effective procurement programme with PwC.

PwC supported a savings delivery team using their procurement cost savings methodology following a five week assessment phase and prioritising of opportunities to cut costs. Currently, savings have come from 67 areas but there are still three years to go on the project.

Ross Elliott, director at PwC said “We had a very robust process, but you have got to take your shareholders with you. As a result [of this project], we have got an organisation that looks for savings and is more cost aware.”

The ACA won 2015’s  Best Procurement Consultancy Project of the Year at the 2015 CIPS Supply Management Awards. The 2016 awards will be announced in April.

South Africa’s Public Procurement Plan

The South African Government is holding talks with suppliers, with the hope of reducing prices and renegotiating contracts for banking services, ICT infrastructure, health technology and learner support materials.

The reforms to public purchasing processes should save the Government R25 billion, out of an annual procurement spend of R500 billion.

South African Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, stated, “It is clear that we can achieve considerable savings to the government, while also ensuring that procurement processes are streamlined and service providers are paid on time.”

Australia’s Procurement Plan

Australia has launched its very first fifteen year infrastructure plan in which procurement has a key part to play.

A report from Infrastructure Australia has detailed a number of reforms to infrastructure to be undertaken by 2040. Among the procurement responsibilities is a suggested increase in competitive tendering.

The report cites how Sweden has increased competitive tendering in public procurement, leading to lower subsidies and 20 per cent cost savings, and calls for the same approach in Australia.

In addition to this, infrastructure projects should take account of the government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy which will “contribute to growing indigenous businesses and increasing employment through remote infrastructure procurements.”

Throughout the plan, whole-of-life costs will be accounted for in procurement when new infrastructure projects are commissioned, including future maintenance costs as well as initial capital expenditure. It is estimated that the plan will save the average Australian household AUD $3,000 by 2040.

Defence Procurement Cuts in Russia

Sources have suggested that the Russian government might be pushed to make a 5 per cent cut in defence procurement spending this year. Despite President Vladimir Putin making military growth a national priority, it seems that the slowing economy could put a halt to his plans.

Russia has entered into its second year of recession as oil prices continue to decline.  Four official sources have said that the cut proposals are to be put forward for discussion at a cabinet meeting.

The finance ministry have argued that Russia can no longer afford a multi-billion-dollar revamp of the armed forces, so will consider the realisation of this plan to be a significant victory.

In today’s current climate saving money is definitely the aim of the game. Perfect procurement might not be possible all the time. But, as proven by this week’s news, a methodical and meticulous procurement plan can make all the difference and ensure money is saved in the right places without compromising quality or ethics.

We’ve scoured the net to keep you updated with some more top procurement news stories from the past week.

Procurement Plans at the zoo

  • Hyderabad zoo animals are soon to find new partners thanks to the biggest procurement plan the state has ever seen.
  • The Central Zoo Authority accepted proposals put forward by the state forest department which permits animal exchange as well as procurement of them.
  • The Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) will soon be procuring a whole host of new animals to complement its existing residents including a pair of barking deer, an Otter, a hyena and an Indian wolf.
  • The NZP’S assistant director said “With the upcoming exchange and procurement, most of the single animals will be complemented with partners.”

Read more at New Indian Express

Deliv Partners with UPS

  • Same-day delivery startup Deliv Inc. is getting a funding boost from an unlikely source: United Parcel Service Inc.
  • As more and more commerce moves online, retailers must match the next-day and even same-day delivery speeds made commonplace by Amazon.
  • Surveys indicate that just by having the option of same-day delivery increases purchase conversion during the checkout process by 20-30 per cent.
  • Deliv, which offers enterprise-grade integrations into point of sale, has completed a $28 million Series B round of funding, adding a key strategic partner and investor in UPS. The company looks set to be the platform that powers this new on-demand future.

Read more at Supply Chain 247

Jacobs’ Procurement Pilot

  • California-based technical services provider Jacobs Engineering Group (Jacobs) has confirmed it is fronting a procurement programme in Australia
  • The programme features a new contracting model designed to enhance efficiencies in military acquisitions.
  • The model is centred on tasking original equipment manufacturers with overseeing project management activities from the funding approval stage through to programme closure.

Read more at Janes

Procurement to help ex-offenders

  • Procure Plus has been awarded a five-year contract to help ex-offenders access employment and training.
  • The not-for-profit organisation, which buys goods and services for several housing associations in the North West of England, will place 24 ex-offenders into employment, apprenticeships or training with contractors in its supply chain every year.
  • Ann-Marie English, senior regeneration manager at Procure Plus, said: “What’s different about our approach [to helping ex-offenders] is a focus on the long term, via sustained career opportunities and support.”

Read more at Supply Management

Are Your Suppliers Treating You Like a Cash Cow?

Businesses are at risk of being treated like a cash cow by their suppliers if they are not managing their supplier agreements and contracts with complete visibility.

Cash Cow

This article was written and has been shared with Procurious by Daniel Ball, Director at Wax Digital.

We’ve all done it. Stuck with the same old suppliers year after year, because they’re doing the job and, let’s face it, it’s far less hassle to stay put than to make a change. Whether it’s for banking, car or home insurance, or even utilities, as long as prices haven’t risen too significantly, and you’re getting what you pay for, why go to the effort of changing?

For the consumer, a failure to review supplier agreements means that, at worst, you’re potentially missing out on a more competitive deal (and a complimentary Meerkat). For a business it can have much more serious consequences.

A large organisation will typically have hundreds or even thousands of contracts in place. A lack of management of these contracts can have a huge impact on business performance, bottom-line and risk. So what can organisations do to make sure they’re not milked like the proverbial cash cow?

Lack of Clear Visibility

Auto-renewing ‘evergreen contracts’ are a problem we see frequently, and they cost organisations millions of pounds in wasted budgets or unintentional spend. With no system in place to effectively manage contracts, they can easily get ignored or forgotten about, and without realising it, you’re locked in for another 12 months.

Worst case scenario, a high value contract has auto-renewed just as you sign another with an alternative supplier offering a similar service, or decide that you no longer need this service at all. It’s easy to see how missed renewal dates, contract overlaps, timely supplier reviews or intended supplier terminations can be overlooked.

This can be an inconvenient truth for large organisations whether they have a procurement function or not, left grappling to manage the contracts they have in place without clear visibility of them.

Aside from wasting money, with no control over contract terms, how can you be sure that your contracts are delivering what was originally agreed with the supplier? If you’re not in the habit of reviewing or monitoring your supplier contracts, the service you are receiving may have gradually moved away or deteriorated from what was originally intended.

The supplier may have been providing alternative quality products (substitutes), changed services levels or personnel (in the case of professional services), or altered other factors from the original terms agreed. All of this could potentially reduce the value of the original agreement.

Factoring in Change

It’s also necessary to consider the changes that will undoubtedly have occurred in your business since your contracts were first put in place. Throughout the lifecycle of a contract, it’s highly likely that your business will have changed in some way, whether that’s changes to pricing, or other things which may affect the terms of the original contract, or your organisational needs.

For example, the sum you spend with a supplier may have quadrupled since the start of your contract, putting you in a far stronger buying position. This of course should mean you are in a better position to negotiate discounts or lower rates, but it is difficult to do this without having the facts at your fingertips.

The first step towards managing contracts effectively is to have a clear and in-depth understanding of them. This won’t happen if they’re stuffed in the top drawer of a filing cabinet, or indeed held by each department that owns the supplier relationship.

The last thing any department head wants is to be going into a new budgetary period with a legacy of unwanted supplier costs to justify and accommodate. It’s one thing to have to field tricky conversations with your CFO, but another entirely using up valuable budget on historical services that are no-longer essential to you.

Your suppliers’ contracts themselves hold the answers to many of the key things you need to know in order to effectively manage them. How often do you actually review your suppliers’ contracts? And how do you get the information you need to effectively monitor, manage and measure the value they are delivering to your business?

Avoid Being a Cash Cow

Contract control gives you sight of which contracts are up for renewal in the next few months. If you’re unhappy with that supplier then you have the time to put them on notice, or appraise their performance and renegotiate a better deal. Or if you wish to invite new suppliers to bid for the contract, you have time to factor in this work and consider your options.

Effective contract management is an essential part of the supplier management process. It is only made possible if they are held in a central repository so that they are accessible for all key stakeholders.

Such a repository enables all contracts to be reviewed periodically to determine if changes are needed or even if it should be renewed at all. The growing realisation for this process to be automated has led to the adoption of contract management systems.

These systems deliver a simple and secure way to store contracts which are easy to audit and provide automated alerts and reminders if an agreement is due to expire. A full contract management system within an integrated source to pay process can further streamline the process by automatically adding newly sourced suppliers’ contracts to the repository for future tracking.

So don’t risk becoming a cash cow to your suppliers because contracts were signed and filed away years ago. A structured and more formalised approach to contract management is the key to unlocking operational efficiencies, compliance and savings.

The Ultimate Stress Busting Tip for Procurement Pros

Workplace stress getting the better of you? You need the ultimate stress busting tip to help level out, settle your jangling nerves and combustible temper.

Workplace Stress

Does this sound like your day? High pressure deadlines, the constant juggling of priorities, demanding customers and suppliers, and the never ending dramas of your employees or colleagues!

Do you ever get yourself so worked up that you become short tempered, irritable, and go home exhausted and not ‘available’ for your partner, kids or friends?

Do you dislike what’s happening to you? Well, it’s called Workplace Stress, and you have some control over how your body reacts to it.

What do I do?

Have you ever drawn a breath – I’m sure you have. But have you done it to slow yourself down? You know, when your heart is racing, your muscles tighten up, and your stomach is contracting or about to bring lunch up?!

What about when your teeth start to grind and your head feels like it’s about to explode like a bag of overcooked microwave popcorn bag? Then I guess you know all about anxiety!

These feelings and responses were developed in us over thousands of evolutionary years. We needed to have these responses to enable us to be wary of really scary things that wanted to  eat us!

When our brain interprets danger, adrenaline and cortisol go nuts in our bodies to help us to run away or fight the danger. It’s known today as the Fight, Flight or Freeze response. Check out our infographic below:

Stress Busting Tip

But where are the Sabre-Tooth Tiger and T-Rex when you’re in a procurement negotiation, or dealing with difficult clients or team members?

All this stress is in our head, and our mind being such a powerful machine makes these fears real…well sort of!

So What’s the Stress Buster Tip, O Great Wise One?   

Breathe. Yes, that’s it. But let me explain all the really technical moves:

Slowly breathe in through your nose, filling your lungs up with the good stuff called air. Breathe as deeply as you can, hold your breath for 2-3 seconds, and then slowly breathe out through pursed lips.

Then repeat the performance for 2, 5 or 10 plus minutes periodically throughout the day.

Stress Busting Tip - Breathe

As Easy as That!

So, go and sit somewhere comfortably and close your eyes. If you’re self-conscious, go somewhere private, or close your office door.

Of course it’s not advisable to do this when driving a forklift! And, for those of you who have smoked a pack a day for the last 20 years, you will need to adjust the tempo accordingly.

Keep at it. When you have mastered this you can add some ‘fancy thinking’ techniques to help you really sort this stuff out, but that’s for another article.

So give it a go, what have you got to lose, apart from maybe lots of stress!

To view this as a video click here.

Dynamic Purchasing Systems and the Death of Frameworks

Will the use of Dynamic Purchasing Systems grow as a result of amendments to EU Procurement Directives? And will they provide a solution to problems of both buyers and suppliers?

Dynamic Purchasing Systems

As procurement professionals we are familiar with the use of frameworks as a contracting mechanism. The 2015 amendments to the EU Procurement Directives have sown the seeds of change, but will this result in a growth in the use of Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS) and a decline in framework agreements? Could DPS be the panacea to the problems of both buyers and suppliers?

Dynamic Purchasing Systems are a relatively marginalised process and have been under used due to their complexity. The up-dated EU Regulations have seen four changes around the use of the DPS, which has simplified the process.

Benefits

Use of a Dynamic Purchasing System seems to offer several benefits and, as we operate in an ever-changing environment, it seems perfectly sensible to adopt increasingly dynamic procurement methods. Many of these benefits could lead to savings and supplier growth, which are high priorities on the government’s agenda.

  • Gives Suppliers Another Chance

DPS gives suppliers another bite of the public sector cherry if at first they are unsuccessful. Many contractors are not poor suppliers, they are poor tenderers. The use of frameworks unnecessarily locks these suppliers out of the market for up to four years. DPS offers a solution where if they don’t succeed at first they can try, try, try again.

  • Increased Competition & Competitive Pricing

As the mix and number of suppliers on the Dynamic Purchasing Systems evolves, it is likely that this will lead to an increase in competition. A report by PWC in 2011 noted that ‘Dynamic Purchasing Systems are the most successful type of procedure in terms of attracting a large number of bidders’.

Direct award also isn’t permitted, so the decision on best value can only be decided at tender stage. This is likely to result in more competitive pricing from suppliers.

  • Development of Long-Term Relationships

A dynamic purchasing system can now run for more than four years. A review of ‘live’ Dynamic Purchasing Systems found examples with a proposed duration of a decade! As austerity measures remain in place, and procurement professionals are constantly required to do more with less, DPS could be a solution to expensive re-procurement exercises.

It has been said that the EU regulations can make developing long-term, value generating supplier relationships difficult due to strict time limits on contracts, and the mandatory competition required over the threshold values. However, if suppliers are no longer looking over their shoulder at a looming re-procurement, DPS could support the development of these relationships with key suppliers.

  • Fully Electronic

As DPS is conducted solely through electronic means, the various advantages of e-procurement are present here. However, it is imperative that the infrastructure is there to support the process. The maturity of systems and the change in the EU regulations may serve to create an environment where DPS can flourish.

Current systems can also be adapted to run a DPS so there should be no significant change management or training required unless new systems are adopted.

  • Bridge Talent Gap

Currently public sector purchasing is experiencing a talent gap. Greater use of DPS could go some way towards alleviating this, as it could potentially reduce the number of full EU processes an organisation is required to undertake. Further efficiencies could be made if dynamic purchasing systems were used as part of collaborative or consortium purchasing.

  • Spreading & Minimising Risk

The public sector has been branded as a risk averse creature. Therefore, one may imagine that the use of a variant on a procurement procedure may strike fear into the hearts of procurement professionals. Public sector professionals are becoming far more innovative, but the risk averse nature of the public sector could be a reason why, despite the simplification and flexibilities added, the DPS may remain under utilised.

Risk of challenge to a procurement is never far from the minds of  procurement officers. One wonders that if suppliers knew that they would be able to re-apply to join the DPS, whether this would reduce the number of unsubstantiated challenges that contracting authorities have to fend off.

Finally, a DPS is likely to have more suppliers awarded into the system than a framework agreement. This would serve to spread the risk for authorities.

Drawbacks

Conversely, there are a number of reasons why the changes in regulations may not result in an increase in the use of DPS.

  • Administration of Suppliers

Although there are efficiency savings found in not having to re-procure every four years, these could be eroded by the fact that buyers may have a regular stream of suppliers requesting to be accepted onto the DPS. This is likely to be exacerbated in certain markets and by the fact that documents have to be evaluated within ten working days.

The authority also has no possibility of restricting the maximum number of operators. Constant applications by serial tenderers could be mitigated by providing detailed feedback on the reasons why they were unsuccessful.

  • Risk of Obsolescence

If a DPS has been running for too long it may become obsolete. Over the course of several years the requirements of an authority may change significantly. However this could be overcome by good contract and category management as well as an annual review.

  • Up-Front Costs

There are likely to be additional costs the first time that an authority uses this process in the form of e-systems development, training and preparing the market. Procurement policies and internal processes will also need to be up-dated. However, removing the four year limit should go some way towards alleviating these costs, as they will be spread over a longer contract term. Up-take may also depend on how DPS is viewed by internal customers.

Have you worked with a Dynamic Purchasing System in public sector procurement? What were your thoughts? If you’re looking for evidence of benefits in DPS use, make sure you keep a look out for the second article in this series.

Is There a Case for a Leap Year Public Holiday?

It’s a leap year this year, meaning that on the 29th of February we have a whole extra 24 hours available to us.

Leap Year Day

However, looking at it in a different way, as the extra day this year falls on a Monday, work gets an extra day from all of us. For salaried workers this pretty much means employers are getting an extra 8-10 hours for free. According to some calculations, this means workers lose out on around £113 on average.

Now, before you all run off and demand either a day off or an additional day’s pay from your employer, we should examine if there is a case for an additional, global public holiday.

What is a Leap Year?

Just by way of context, a leap year occurs once every four years. An additional day is added to the end of February in order to ensure that our clocks and calendars remain in sync with Earth’s seasons.

Scientifically speaking, the Earth takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete its orbit of the sun. However, the Gregorian calendar only runs to 365 days. These additional quarter days are added together, and, once every four years, a leap year occurs.

Due to the rarity or novelty of the 29th of February, a variety of ‘traditions’ have come into being during leap years. One of the most famous is that a woman can propose marriage to a man at any time during the year. Tradition also dictates that, should a man turn down the proposal, he needs to pay a fine. This can be anything, but around the world it ranges from 12 pairs of gloves (Denmark), to fabric for a skirt (Finland).

Additional Public Holidays

There is precedent around the world for the creation of an additional public holiday. The most famous in recent years was the UK public holiday for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It was estimated that the holiday brought an additional £500 million into the UK retail sector, with another estimated £2 billion boost from tourism.

However, not all the economic stories from the day were positive. There were concerns at the time that the additional holiday was bad for the economy, which was still recovering from the financial crisis at the time. Leading economists had predicted that the proximity of the wedding to the Easter weekend would reduce growth by between 0.1 and 0.2 per cent.

In Australia, the Victorian Government is facing additional costs of AUD $405 million (£200 million; US $287 million) through the addition of two new public holidays to the calendar. Even factoring in economic benefits such as increased shopping, travel, and complimentary spending, PwC have stated that the costs will ultimately outweigh any benefits.

Bank Holiday Mondays

When compared to the rest of the world, the UK actually has fewer bank and public holidays (a total of 8) than many other countries. In Japan, the total is 15, in Spain, it’s 14 and there are 11 in China. But there is still hesitance, from both the UK Government and business leaders, to increase this number.

Recent figures from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) might go some way to explaining why. The CEBR estimates that each bank holiday in the UK actually costs the economy in the region of £2.3 billion. There is also the argument that the close proximity in the calendar of bank holidays can have an impact on businesses.

The accuracy of these figures could be debated, as it has also been argued that any loss of growth due to holidays is recovered later in the year. There is also the argument that by spreading the holidays out, the overall cost to the economy may actually drop.

There are also many positive trends for businesses see around the Easter weekend. Many people will use the weekend to start their annual DIY attempts in the better weather. In fact, it is estimated that 15 per cent of businesses see a positive result from bank holidays.

So, the 29th of February…

The truth is, no-one is entirely sure whether or not bank holidays are good or bad overall for the economy. This also goes for the argument for the UK having more bank holidays, including the potential for a leap year one.

The goodwill impact of an extra day off is hard to measure, particularly if employees return to work refreshed and ready to work hard. Plus, as the 29th of February only appears once every four years, surely it couldn’t have too great an impact.

For the time being, we’ll just have to content ourselves with what we have. But if you’re really desperate for a leap year holiday, you could always sign this petition

Manage Your Business Logistics like A Pro

How do companies make sure that their business logistics foundation supports all the qualities required to remain competitive in their industry?

Business Logistics

An efficient, responsive, understandable and, above all, dependable supply chain is crucial for business success and ROI in today’s on-demand environment. A company that gets their business logistics wrong, and runs a disorganised and ineffective supply chain, is ultimately going to less profitable than its competitors – no matter the business.

Complexities of Logistics Management

Mediocre resource management usually leads to an inferior final product. Companies need to explain to their customers where their supplies come from, otherwise they risk losing customers’ trust, and even more important, orders.

In addition, competing on price is very difficult if you do not have a strong and practical logistics process. Ineptitudes in supply and delivery chains lead to higher operational expenses and lost productivity.

Nevertheless, managing business logistics is easier said than done. It requires at least a fair amount of knowledge in order to be executed correctly. Therefore, here are a few tips for managing logistics at your company, all of which are worth taking into consideration.

  • Use the Newest Logistics Software

The only way for your company to compete with the opposition is to keep pace with them, or to be one-step ahead of them. New technology is becoming more and more available, and you need to take advantage of it. The market for SCM (Supply Chain Management) software has been growing steadily for the last couple of years.

Although automating the movement of merchandise through a warehouse does require a decent investment, the equipment will pay for itself over time. Moreover, by automating the procedure, you will eliminate human error and speed-up the movement of goods.

  • Maintain Strong Relationships along the Supply Chain

Always remember that your supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Make sure that you build and maintain a strong relationship with your vendors and suppliers, so that the goodwill you earn will keep your operation running smoothly for years to come. One bad relationship could potentially ruin your entire supply chain and cause failure.

  • Continual Logistics Monitoring

You could accomplish this by using shipment-monitoring software. This enables you to see what is happening at every step in the process, and take care of all blockages and problems before they affect your customers. Furthermore, monitoring and reviewing each move you make will help control your costs and find the way to deal with weaknesses in your organisation.

  • Utilisation is the Key

Being ready for seasonal changes and demand is second nature in every business. Using innovation and utilisation to plan ahead is the key. If you are managing a warehouse, you should certainly look into the best possible solution for your pallet racking.

Whether it is taking full advantage of every inch of your storage space with improved warehouse management, or using the latest fleet management software to make your mobile enterprise more cost-effective and efficient, you are making better business decisions when you insist on complete utilisation. In addition, making those decisions through better, up-to-date data, are the first step in planning future success. So always think forward.

Make Logistics a Competitive Advantage

Sometimes, your logistics may seem like a burden, but it is also a competitive advantage. By optimising your shipping and storing processes, you can reduce your shipping costs, and make your product as competitive as possible. By improving your logistics management you will have a meaningful impact on the management of your overall supply chain and, eventually, the efficiency of your business as a whole.

The Struggle Was Real For Social Media – Let’s Not Swipe Left

As social media has evolved, it has permeated all aspects of day to day life. However, during this evolution, a number of fears have arisen around the use of these platforms.

Social Media Icons

Computers in the early 20th century were the size of a room and the Internet was just a set of protocols for internet working.

Fast forward to the early 90s and the size of computers had decreased, and high speed internet was introduced.

By the late 90s, the internet was starting to impact culture and commerce, including the rise of email communication, two way interactive video calls and the World Wide Web.

Social Networking Services

The concept of Social Networking Services (SNS) emerged from the internet, and became defined as a platform to build social networks or social relations among people who have similar interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections.

Early forms of SNS included websites which allowed you to build your own online communities.

Twenty years ago social media began to make its mark by connecting users globally. Then, in 2004, the concept of a social networking service further evolved with the innovation of key platforms such as Myspace, LinkedIn and Facebook. New platforms were developing at a rapid rate and became known as social media technologies.

These take on many different forms including blogs, business networks, enterprise social networks, forums, microblogs, photo sharing, products/services review, social bookmarking, social gaming, social networks, video sharing, and virtual worlds.

Social Media and the Smartphone Revolution

The innovation of smartphone technology has recently been a catalyst for increasing the power of social media. There is a strong correlation between the increase of social media usage and the innovation of mobile technology.

Mobile devices are now more affordable than ever, and wireless networks ensure they are faster and almost ubiquitous.

Slide006

In 2015, there were 3.649 billion unique mobile users and 1.685 billion people actively using social media on their mobile. There are 1.79 billion social network users globally.

Facebook alone had 1.55 billion users and LinkedIn has over 347 million registered members. Over a third of the world’s population have an active social media account.  

Misconceptions and Fears

Social media is growing, changing and evolving at a rapid rate. Unsurprisingly, misconceptions have arisen which can scare companies and individuals away from actively engaging with social media channels. These may include the concern that:

  • All channels and platforms need to be used, not just one or a select few.
  • It’s “for the kids.”
  • Managing your company’s accounts requires you to hire someone.
  • Social media completely removes the need for traditional channels.

These misconceptions have created barriers which have influenced and hindered the user’s experience and overall willingness to actively participate.

To investigate this further, Procurious, together with the eWorld Procurement and Supply conference, is launching a survey which aims to establish ‘What frightens you about social media’?

The survey examines what factors influence our practices, the fears that come into play when using social platforms, and if individuals notice the lack of their own social media presence.

The survey will only take a few minutes to complete, and by completing it, you can help us understand what people need to know in order to dispel these rising fears and misconceptions.

Social media has become a critical part of our social fabric. These sites are where we go to interact with people, inform ourselves and most importantly, to aid our businesses.

By understanding the barriers to full social media use, we can help to make sure everyone can get involved.

Click Here to Complete the survey: ‘What frightens you about social media’?

The Value Companies See With Sustainability Standards

As societal responsibilities grow, many organisations are turning to sustainability standards in order to demonstrate their supply chain transparency.

sustainability standards

The discussions on Procurious reflect a number of questions procurement professionals face when trying to implement a sustainable procurement policy. Just what is sustainable procurement? Does it cost more to source sustainably? Have I got the time and resources to meet my own or my company’s targets? What value will sustainable sourcing bring to the business?

With the focus extending beyond environmental and sustainability issues to fair and ethical treatment of labourers and producers, the responsibility can be broad.

Increasingly, procurement managers are recommending sustainability standards as a way to ensure independent, transparent assurance of their supply chains. Partnering with a sustainability standard can help companies, which do not have the knowledge or capacity, to manage all aspects of responsible sourcing on their own.

Certification can work as a tool for managing the full range of issues. This is particularly the case for commodities, where environmental and social sustainability can be complex, and where the producer can be many links down the value chain.

Changing Procurement Process

However, making changes to well-established procurement processes is easier said than done. Businesses need to be clear on the value of choosing sustainability standards to meet their sustainable sourcing goals.

ISEAL Alliance interviewed existing users of sustainability standards – retailers, manufacturers, traders and others – on what they saw as the value of working with credible sustainability standards (certification systems), like those that are members of ISEAL.

It became evident that the value of certification was high, but it varied depending on the type of business, the sector, the geography, or other factors.  The interviews also showed that certification was not always valued in the way one might expect.

While market differentiation and increased sales were mentioned by a few companies, the potential value of a visible ‘ecolabel’ was never the primary reason for the partnership.  Instead it was often about supply chain challenges.

Companies revealed the value of sustainability standards to their business in five key areas:

  1. Making complex supply chains more understandable. This included providing better traceability, simplifying what is asked of suppliers by using agreed standards, and generating better relations with producers.
  2. Mitigating risk. Rigorous auditing, transparency of origin, and outsourcing assurance of responsible practices to local experts, helped companies mitigate risks of sourcing from complex supply chains.
  3. Ensuring sustainable supply for the whole industry. Several companies noted that by their investment in certification, they were strengthening the reputation and ensuring a sustainable future for the whole sector.
  4. Meeting consumer expectations. By communicating compliance with sustainability standards, companies said they were increasing consumer awareness of sustainable sourcing and creating market differentiation for their products.
  5. Reflecting a company’s values and heritage. As well as aligning companies’ goals with their values and maintaining trust, certification also provided a way to engage more deeply with employees.

Click here to read interviews with M&S, IKEA, Mars, Woolworths, Wilmar, De Beers, Domtar, Bumble Bee Seafoods and Tetra Pak.

Strengthening Commitment

ISEAL also recently created an online tool for companies to understand what good labels look like.  The site, called Challenge the Label, explores five universal truths of a credible claim or label. It aims to help procurement professionals have deeper conversations with their suppliers and partners, before choosing to develop or use a green claim on or off product.

Many companies also use their own codes of conduct or auditing programmes, and they see these as complementing their use of certification. While those interviewed agreed that the sustainability landscape is changing dramatically, they also said that their company’s commitment to certification will only deepen over time.

The goal for procurement professionals has to be to embed sustainability into everyday business. Using sustainability standards can help to deliver cost savings, address supply chain risks and ensure transparency. Making procurement decisions today in a manner which preserves resources for future generations as well as for future business makes good sense.

Is Procurement Serious About Sustainability?

When price is king, and procurement is often accused of “bullying” suppliers, can we really say procurement is serious about sustainability initiatives?

Procurement Sustainability

This article is by Gerard Chick, Chief Knowledge Officer, Optimum Procurement Group.

As we entered 2016, many of us will have made New Year’s Resolutions. It strikes me that this is as relevant to our professional lives as it is to our personal lives.

Eating or drinking too much is as unsustainable as exercising too little. The above all have outcomes that are bad. We know they are bad, and we also know that to change them is hard.

Last year, the newspapers and other media outlets were teeming with stories about procurement professionals using “bullying” tactics against suppliers, and with claims that big brands were using their power to squeeze suppliers. Inevitably a breakdown of trust (amongst other things) began to emerge, and this clearly needs to be resolved.

We read about farmers protesting against Morrisons’ terms of contracts. We read about Majestic Wine dropping their chief buyer after its pre-tax profits dropped by almost half, and supply chain relationships became tense after it asked suppliers to give them cash towards new warehousing. We also read about Carlsberg facing hostility from its suppliers after it extended its payment terms to 93 days.

Regrettably, such practices are all too common. The tactics used by big business towards suppliers have become a standard feature of today’s marketplace, where price is king and any means of reducing costs seems to be considered valid.

Contemplating Behaviours

And yet procurement frequently claims it is in the van when it comes to issues regarding sustainability. Some supply managers are, but many aren’t. A more sustainable supply chain is needed, but it will only emerge when the breakdown in trust between suppliers and procurement is resolved.

Let’s take a step back. The word frequently used in the media was ‘bullying’, but perhaps if we are to put this right we should contemplate ‘behaviours’. A better word, I feel, and one we can focus on in a more professional manner.

Perhaps these behaviours reflect that many of these people are simply unskilled and, even worse, unaware of it. The difficulty being that it is hard for them to recognise their incompetence, which in turn leads to inflated self-assessments of their skills and abilities.

Bad relationships are not just about negative publicity and brand damage, but also impact on the ambitious sustainability targets many businesses are now setting themselves.

Take climate change. Up to 90 per cent of the greenhouse emissions linked to a company are generated outside its immediate operations, with the lion’s share often occurring in its supply chain.

Collaboration Over Compliance

Moreover, business’ struggle for economic survival must not come at expense just about anything else! Big business characteristically operates in a top-down manner. Supply managers issue suppliers with codes of conduct and environmental targets, and oblige them to comply. The result is an exploitative game between suppliers and auditors sent out to verify farms, factories, working conditions and so forth.

Not only is compliance difficult to achieve, especially beyond the second tier, but it’s only half the story. A more effective solution would be for procurement professionals and suppliers to work together to develop innovative solutions to supply chain issues and to help ensure each others’ sustainability.

It strikes me too, that the smaller, more agile supply organisations (as well as procurement organisations) are more likely to be able to innovate than the behemoths of big business, stuck in their cycle of annularity and the need to satisfy shareholders at all costs.

Tapping Supply Base Creativity

So how can companies looking to become more sustainable tap the creativity of their supply base? The first and most obvious answer is to cut the double-messaging. Corporate procurement teams are frequently blindsided by a ‘cost-out’ mantra. The risk this poses is it frequently supersedes all other agendas and that is simply not sustainable.

The perennial issues of time, cost, quality and service will always feature in procurement decisions, but social and environmental considerations must be factored in as well. Alignment is key. For example, Marks & Spencer prohibits its procurement teams from purchasing any product that can’t meet at least one of the goals of its corporate sustainability plan.

This often leads suppliers to view such demands as a box to tick. To remedy this, suppliers need to be incentivised. New ways of working need time, resources and dedicated attention – all of which are at a premium for small suppliers.

Changing Behaviours

What is needed is a change in behaviours and the development of more trusting relationships. Ideally procurement organisations need to co-invest in the long-term research and development with their key suppliers.

As mentioned above, annularity dominates the mind-set and behaviours of many large companies. They simply focus on the short-term and would rather sit back and wait for proof of concept, than stump up the cash and experiment.

Ultimately, talk of sustainability-focused supply chain innovation will only ever begin to take effect when the breakdown in trust between suppliers and buyers is resolved. That requires a shift from a model based on adversarial brinkmanship, to one of mutual interest and transparency. The more open and honest a corporate customer is about its sustainability challenges, the higher the chance of generating innovative solutions.

Perhaps now is the time for procurement professionals to make a New Year’s resolution.