The Cost of Breaking Health and Safety Laws Just Went Up

It might seem like a fairly obvious objective for organisations, but ensuring the health and safety of employees pays off.

Health and Safety Worker

As of the 1st of February, Crown and Magistrates Courts in England and Wales are bound by tough new guidelines when sentencing offenders who have been convicted of breaking health and safety law.

For the first time, courts in England and Wales will be required to follow comprehensive sentencing guidelines. They will be required to take into consideration a new set of factors to determine the level of fines for offenders: the degree of harm caused, the culpability of the offender, and the turnover of the offending organisation.

The new legislation has been described as the biggest change in Health and Safety legislation since the introduction of the ‘Health and Safety at Work Act’ in 1974.

Increasing Fines

The changes will also result in increased fines for offenders, although not across all organisations and all prosecuted cases. Instead, fines will be proportionate to the size of the organisation and their financial means.

For large organisations with a turnover of £50 million or more, penalties for health and safety breaches could total in excess of £10 million, with companies found guilty of corporate manslaughter facing fines of upwards of £20 million.

Neal Stone, Policy and Standards Director at the British Safety Council, said: “We broadly welcome the new guidelines and in particular that in future that three factors will be key in determining fines for health and safety offences: the degree of harm caused, the culpability of the offender, and the turnover of the offending organisation.

“Having consulted our members we were able to say in response to the Sentencing Council’s proposals that there was overwhelming support for this change which would help ensure greater consistency in the sentencing practice of our courts and a level of fines that fit the crime.”

Long Overdue

Stone continued by stating that there was a consensus that the changes to the regulations were “long overdue”, particularly when in the past the fines that have been handed down have not matched the seriousness of the offence.

In the UK, the largest fine handed out for breaking existing health and safety legislation is £15 million, given to Transco in 2005, following an explosion in Larkhall, South Lanarkshire, which caused the deaths of four people. With these changes now in place, this fine may be exceeded in the near future.

Business have been urged to make changes to the way they deal with health and safety procedures, especially to those firms which have cut training budgets as a way of cutting costs. As a result of potentially larger fines, businesses can no longer rely on paying a small fine occasionally versus proper investment in H&S training.

Stone concluded, “The new guidelines, which will in some cases, result in far greater fines than courts are currently imposing, reflects a shift in not only public opinion but concerns among certain members of the judiciary, including Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice. As he has made clear in recent appeal court decisions the purpose of fines is to reduce criminal offences, reform and rehabilitate the offender and protect the public. 

“If the changes in sentencing practice do not help achieve these objectives – particularly ensuring compliance and discouraging law breaking – then they count for nothing. What we will need to see is clear evidence that the new guidelines have played their part in improving health and safety. Extra money through increased fines going into Treasury coffers should not be the name of the game. The objective must be to reduce the deficit of fatal and major injuries and occupational ill health.”

5 Must-Have Attributes of Successful Procurement Leaders

Not all successful procurement leaders have the heady designation of Chief Procurement Officer (CPO). Forget the title, it is just a label. What is important is that for any person to lead a procurement organisation, he or she requires a basketful of skills and abilities.    

leaders

The good news is that no one person in a leadership position in procurement is in possession of all these skills. Most technical skills, such as strategic sourcing and contracts management, can be learned over time through training and experience. The jury is still out on whether behavioural traits, like the ability to lead teams and communicate effectively, can be developed.

Many recruitment advertisements ask for attributes using undefined phrases such as “good communicator”, “visionary”, “innovative”, “collaborative”, without knowing what they really mean. Here are five main attributes that procurement leaders need:

1. Ability to Drive Change

Many mid-sized organisations are grappling with the transition from a tactical function within the Finance Department, to a strategic function within the supply chain. The main objective will continue to be cost reduction, sometimes combined with or expressed alternatively as value creation.

Managing change is difficult. It needs a firm hand and a strong will, while being calm under pressure. The ideal person to manage the transformation may be a new hire from another industry, or a seasoned executive from another function in the business. What is important is that he/she has a track record of influencing top management and internal stakeholders across all functions.

Dapo-Ajayi

Dapo Ajayi, CPO at AstraZeneca, came into procurement management from the sell-side of the business. She has paid her dues, having worked in a variety of senior marketing and branding roles in multiple countries over a period of 10 years.

2. An Affinity for Leading People

It is generally accepted that a collaborative and participative style is a preferred trait. Although traditionally successful, an autocratic approach now doesn’t work, particularly with the under 30’s. Retaining top performers is a constant battle.

Leaders will spend a fair portion of their time on competency development and building teams, as well as understanding what subordinates want and need from their managers to perform well. Because cross-functional teams are established features of best-in-class procurement organisations, leaders also need to nurture non-procurement members and earn their trust.

3. Talk Less, Listen More

For many CPOs, one of their goals is to gain the trust and support of their main internal customers or stakeholders. The key to understanding their problems is to listen intently and absorb their concerns without making knee-jerk assumptions and providing instant solutions. The desired result is to develop open relationships with peers and provide workable solutions for their users in line with corporate objectives.

The successful leader will develop a high level of skill in influencing the more difficult stakeholders and persuading them of the value that professional procurement adds.

Opening two-way communications, across all available channels, can increase cooperation and support from peers in other functions or divisions.

4. Global View, Local Focus

It is becoming increasingly important for procurement leaders to have had global business exposure. This can either be from working in virtual teams or preferably by having completed international assignments. Progressive firms are looking for those with process-driven experience, often in similar sized companies from other countries.

When recruiting from outside, people from management consulting firms, and those with re-engineering experience within the supply chain, are regarded as attractive candidates. Know global, think local.

5. Expertise in Procurement

Last, but not least. To have any credibility with top management, internal and external stakeholders and subordinates, leaders need to have some or all of the following knowledge and experience:

  • Category Management – By understanding the concept of leveraging spend across multiple commodities to deliver cost savings and create value, the leader who has shown results this way will be ahead of the competition.
  • Problem solving – Our prospective leader needs to be able to focus on the root cause of an issue and devise and test various possible solutions.
  • Procurement technology – A familiarity with the relevant available systems and tools will provide opportunities for speeding up and automating some routine functions or even outsourcing them.
  • Negotiation skills – Everyone has some experience of negotiation in their everyday lives. Upgrade those skills and get as much practice as possible.

What is likely is that you did not make the decision to become a leader in the procurement function, but guess what? Here you are, ready to launch! Opportunities are emerging for new types of leadership roles that did not exist a decade ago. Find one that suits you.

Building Capabilities to Do Business in Diverse Cultures

How an Australian Procurement and Supply Chain Management specialist has built the qualities and capabilities to do business in diverse cultures.

Diverse Cultures

With incredible business opportunities offered to Australia by a growing regional supplier base, developing the capabilities required to drive personal and business conversation with traders from diverse cultures is key in enabling successful negotiations.

Ahead of the 2nd annual Women in Procurement 2016 conference, we have interviewed Nelli Kim, an Australian supplier management specialist based in Hong Kong (and keynote speaker at the event) with up close and personal experience operating in a very different and challenging culture.

Nelli has excelled in her career and in 2015 was nominated as the CIPS Young Procurement Professional of the Year. She will be sharing her experiences at the event on 21 – 23 March 2016 in Melbourne. Read her interview below:

WiP: How have you approached your career progression? And what qualities and capabilities have you built that supported you in doing business in a male dominated culture?

NK: “My approach to career progression has been to ensure that I propagate my own agility, allowing me to not only respond positively to opportunities as they present themselves but also to seek opportunity in my chosen directions.  The qualities and capabilities that I have built over the last twelve months in particular are resilience, flexibility and boldness.”

WiP: What are the biggest challenges you and your organisation are facing in procurement at the moment?

NK: “The biggest challenges I face in procurement at the moment are about ensuring that my responses to situations, requests, requirements and demands of my position are proportionate to the potential outcome.  It’s not just about prioritising but also about the amount of time I can realistically assign to each task while maximising returns for Telstra and our stakeholders.”

WiP: How can attendees benefit from your presentation at the Women in Procurement 2016 conference?

NK: “Attendees can benefit from my presentation at the Women in Procurement 2016 Conference by coming with an open mind about my interpretation of working in an environment that may be perceived as male dominated.  I hope to challenge attendees to connect with each other and grow support networks that will enable rather than block their future development.”

To read Nelli Kim’s bio and find out more about Women in Procurement 2016, please visit the website here.

Is Procurement Ready for the Mobile Revolution?

The Mobile Revolution is firmly upon us, but procurement seems to be behind the curve when it comes to adapting. Why is this?

Mobile Revolution

Download GEP’s white paper on the role of procurement in the mobile revolution here.

“In all my time in procurement I have never seen a procurement person using an app.”

This was a quote passed to me by a colleague who was discussing our mobile procurement software strategy with the prospective customer.

You might be forgiven for thinking that this was some sort of dismissive statement, indicating perhaps an underlying Luddite tendency, “We’ve never used procurement software like that before so don’t see why we should start now”.

But, as it turns out, quite the reverse was true. This particular comment was made by someone enthusiastic about the prospect of a different way of employing technology, and the subtext was really, why is procurement so far behind the mobile revolution curve?

Procurement Inertia

This is a fair point. Human Resources and Sales Operations have been blessed with state-of-the-art technology solutions for some time. SaaS, and now Cloud, are de rigueur for our colleagues elsewhere in the business. But procurement still largely lumbers along with an online/offline hybrid of on-premise systems, spreadsheets and email.

As the quote implies, the inertia in procurement is not a result of lack of innovation or drive amongst the community. There is certainly a desire for a better, more efficient means to execute many of the processes and tasks encountered on a daily basis by the procurement professional.

The lag in evolution of the use of procurement software is largely a result of the legacy of direct materials management and ERP systems. Direct categories are so mission-critical that the systems used to handle planning, inventory and production are fine-tuned and locked-down to make them robust. But this in turn makes them inflexible, and the business becomes totally dependent on them.

When indirect categories are procured using the same systems, this intractability becomes a hindrance to progress and innovation. However, the ERP companies have no real interest in breaking the mould.

Technological Change

Expecting a sea-change for indirect procurement to come from that direction is probably in vain.

Decoupling the indirect categories to take advantage of up-to-date procurement technology solutions is a start. Inevitably, this requires deep thought and the investment of considerable brain power, but the results can speak for themselves.

New levels of efficiency, innovation, opportunity realisation and, of course, savings can result directly from the adoption of a new way of working with procurement software.

In a sense, that quantum jump of improvement can result solely from a procurement software system being simply better than the legacy system. Certainly, smart, professional individuals are able to force old-fashioned and outdated processes into something workable. But unleashed from such restrictions, those same people can really start to motor.

The Mobile Revolution

Mobile, app-based technology is a part of that picture. The only reason our guest has never seen a procurement person using an app is because the procurement software industry itself has been mired in the same inertia and legacy of on-premise solutions.  Well, most of the procurement software industry.

Mobile technology is going to have a huge impact on business-to-business operations and procurement is a key part of that. To find out more about state-of-the-art procurement software visit www.smartbygep.com.

GEP have shared a white paper on procurement’s readiness for the mobile revolution with the Procurious community. Download it at gep.procurious.com.

Tackling Exploitative Conditions in Global Supply Chains

Hardly a week goes by in the world of procurement without news of slave labour, corruption and exploitative working conditions within supply chains and, sadly, this week is no different.

Exploitative Working Conditions

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has revealed that Syrian refugees, including children, are being exploited in the fashion industry in Turkey.  

The organisation has asserted that clothing brands are not doing enough to ensure supply chains are safeguarding Syrian refugees fleeing conflict into Turkey. It has urged companies to take further action, and ensure that desperate refugees are not escaping into exploitative working conditions.

No Targeted Approach

Last week, Turkey’s government decided to issue work permits to Syrian refugees in order to help minimise exploitative labour practices. However, many refugees will remain in Turkey illegally, and join the ‘informal’ workforce, where they will be at their most vulnerable.

Some of the clothing brands questioned in the survey are actively taking steps to prevent these exploitative conditions, for example, in cases of child labour. However, most do not have a targeted approach to the treatment of refugees.

The Centre has has urged brands to develop action plans, increase scrutiny, and work more closely with Turkish partners in order to protect vulnerable Syrians.

Palm Oil Supply Chains

The Guardian has also drawn our attention to the plight of palm oil workers in South-East Asia. According to research published by US-based NGO Verité, palm oil plantations are rife with exploitative practices due to their remoteness and size.

Workers on the plantations are often trafficked, undocumented individuals which makes them vulnerable to, amongst other things, being paid below minimum wage, having their passports removed, and physical abuse.

On the 17th of February at 10am, The Guardian are hosting a live chat on how to improve the livelihoods of these workers. As preparation, you can read what Procurious has written on the subject in the past.

Positive Signs

However, we are also looking to the positives, and fortunately there are a few! The UK is leading the way as one of the first nations to sign an agreement to combat exploitative conditions, such as forced labour, people trafficking and other forms of modern slavery.

The International Labour Conference’s agreement, which has also been signed by Niger and Norway, will require signatories to “take steps to prevent forced labour, provide victims with protection and access to effective remedies and to carry out due diligence to prevent and respond to the risk of forced labour.”

It’s hoped that the UK’s move will encourage other countries to get on board and sign the agreement. ILO director-general, Guy Ryder, believes that this “is a clear sign that global momentum is building in the fight against these abhorrent practices that demean and enslave millions around the world”.

Simplifying Sustainability

Alongside this, it is also fantastic to see the work that SEDEX are doing to drive change ahead of their  ‘Simplifying Supply Chain Sustainability’ conference next month.

Sedex is a not for profit organisation, which strives to improve working conditions and encourage global supply chains to share ethical data more effectively. Next month’s conference will feature speakers from the Kellogg Company and Mars, and aims to help organisations take a fresh approach to managing supply chains issues.

CEO of Sedex, Jonathan Ivelaw-Chapman, spoke with Pioneers Post this week about supply chain sustainability, cleaner supply chains and his five-year-goals. You can read the full interview here.

It’s great to see different organisations and governments contributing to ending exploitative working conditions worldwide. Hopefully these positive steps can inspire others to make changes in their supply chains.

Meanwhile, here are some of the other stories making waves in procurement and supply chain this week…

Shanghai Moving to Greener Future

  • The city of Shanghai has launched a programme calling for enterprises from all industries to work out their own plan on a green supply chain campaign
  • The programme invites multinational companies, state-owned enterprises, and private firms in Shanghai, to submit proposals for their green supply chain projects to the city’s environmental authorities before March 31st
  • Fang Fang, deputy chief of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau, said “Promoting green supply chain management is an effort to use market forces to promote higher environmental standards among enterprises.”
  • Shanghai has set a goal of cutting down on the density of PM2.5 particles — a major contributor to air pollution — to 42 micrograms per cubic meter by 2020, down from 53 last year.

Read more at Shanghai Daily

New Solar Plant for Morocco

  • Morocco’s agency for solar power, Masen, has opened the tender for project developers for a 400MW solar plant in the centre of the country
  • The projected Noor Midelt site will cover around 6,000 acres 15 miles Northeast of the town of Midelt. Construction is expected to start in 2017.
  • The move comes just weeks after the completion of the first phase of the country’s ambitious project to generate half its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
  • Simon Gray, World Bank country director for the Maghreb said “apart from creating jobs, the construction of the plant and the development of Morocco’s Solar Plan will establish a future source of reliable green energy,” Simon Gray, World Bank country director for the Maghreb.

Read more at Supply Management

Amazon Targets Bookstores and Drones

  • Amazon dipped its toe into the waters of brick-and-mortar stores with the opening of a bookstore in its home city of Seattle in November.
  • The expansion of bookstores, which the company has not confirmed, would be a surprise reversal from the online retailer credited with driving physical booksellers out of business.
  • US regulatory impediments have made it difficult for the e-retailer and others to roll out drone tests. In April, the Internet retail giant sent the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) a letter that urged it to ease up on its drone testing regulations.
  • While the Dutch government may have agreed to allow drone testing, it has adopted an innovative approach to anyone that breaks the rules – white eagles!

Read more at Supply Chain 24/7 and Supply Chain Digital

Nigeria Introduces New Procurement Pricing Guidelines  

  • The Nigerian government hopes to save at least N12 billion annually from the services of the newly-established Efficiency Unit (E-Unit) of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
  • The head of the unit, Patience Oniha, explained that the government would introduce price guidelines and shared services policy among MDAs to increase transparency in the procurement process.
  • The E-Unit will aim to generate savings for the Government from procurement, elimination of wastage, excess capacity and minimising duplications
  • The head of the E-Unit said such savings would be channelled to priority projects, to improve infrastructure, encourage domestic production and attract fresh investors.

Read more at Premium Times

Working in a Freezer, Living in an Oven!

4 cool tips for managers to help their staff when working in a freezer and living in an oven.

Hot_road_mirage

In the real world, extremely cold climates are usually separated from very hot climates by a very long car drive, or a flight in a cramped seat with a budget airline.

However, in the world of working in the refrigerated or cold chain industry here in Australia, the two climates are separated by only a couple of very expensive doorways.

To watch video version click here.

Body Shock

Remember the body shock when you left a Melbourne winter and stepped out the plane and onto the tarmac at Bali’s Denpasar airport?

Well, it’s the same, except you’ve just finished your shift in a huge sub-zero fridge, and now you’re walking to your car on a 38 degree day, and the inside of the car is topping 55 degrees which could cook an egg on your dashboard!

You know this is hard on your body – you can feel it!

So it’s smart to take precautions to make the transition from the arctic cold to the desert heat!

  1. Take Proper Precautions INDOORS.

Being able to safely re enter the outdoors starts with taking proper care of yourself when you are indoors. Take care to protect extremities like hands, ears, head, and feet. Move around frequently because circulation is slowed in extremely cold temperatures.

If you’re glued to a forklift most of the day, do what the paraplegic Olympians do in their wheelchairs – wiggle often! Lift your butt of the seat often and get that blood circulating.

When able get off your machine and stretch even if it’s only for a few seconds- your back will love you…remember you’re got a long life ahead of you.

  1. Layers, Layers, Layers 

Not only do layers of clothing help keep you warm, they also make it easier for you to gradually remove layers as your body begins to warm up.

  1. Stay Hydrated 

We tend to think of the need to hydrate only in hot temperatures, but your body actually needs extra fluids in both the extreme cold and the heat. There are lots of little “thermos” like drink containers that can keep drinks warm and can fit into your pocket or storage tray in the forklift.

Drink cooler as you go back outdoors. Your body will better be able to absorb cool, as opposed to cold fluids, so resist the urge to down an ice packed beverage immediately upon going back into the heat.

  1. Slow and Steady 

After being in frigid temps for hours, it can be tempting to rush out into the warmth of the sun and “get some rays“. However a fast switch from hold to hot can “freak out” the body, especially if you are prone to low blood pressure.

Fainting in the carpark is not very glamorous! Instead, spend some time in a climate controlled room (maybe it’s the locker room or staff room) to allow your body to slowly warm up before being shocked by the baking heat of the outdoors.

Stay cool!

Will Online Video Trump TV Advertising at Super Bowl 50?

Global brands are beginning to question how worthwhile Super Bowl adverts are, thanks to the rising consumption of online videos.

Online Video Advertising

On Sunday, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, will play host to arguably the biggest event in American sport. Super Bowl 50, featuring the Carolina Panthers facing off against the Denver Broncos, is expected to draw an audience of over 114 million people.

Traditionally, and as we reported this time last year, TV advertising slots during the game are a much-coveted entity. And there is plenty of opportunity with the game lasting over 3 hours, with regular breaks in play and an extended half-time interval.

However, just as technology is disrupting industries around the world, it appears that online video is changing the advertising game.

Jaw-Dropping Prices

With the main event just a few hours away, a few brands have already paid for their advertising slots. This combined spend comes in at a staggering (and record) $377 million. Each 30-second slot is costing advertisers a jaw-dropping $5 million – just over an 11 per cent increase on 2015.

And many marketers will see this as money well spent. With the size of the global TV audience, and the Super Bowl being broadcast to all corners of the earth, it represents a unique opportunity to get their brand into the public consciousness. It is also frequently referred to as the last “safe bet” in TV advertising.

The adverts themselves can make or break a marketing effort for a brand or product. Come Monday morning, anyone not talking about the final score of the match will be discussing the adverts. Do it right, like this selection from 2015, and it can have a phenomenal impact on sales.

Changing the Game

However, in the aftermath of last year’s Super Bowl, research was released showing that over half of people who viewed a Super Bowl ad, viewed it exclusively online. The findings also showed that the adverts were shared online more than ever, with the best advert getting shared 9 million times.

This disruption of how we consume advertising could potentially spell the end for the huge advertising revenues that surround the Super Bowl. Brands have now realised that there is great potential in the online market, which at the same time, saves them considerable sums of money.

By moving away from the traditional TV advertising, marketers can put their money into creating more reactive, up-to-date campaigns, directly related to the game itself.

“Dunk in the Dark”

The first brand to hit the right note when it came to the online advertising around the Super Bowl was Oreo. Back in 2013, Super Bowl 48 was halted after the lights failed in the stadium. Within minutes, Oreo had created an advert that caught people’s attention:

Super Bowl 48

Simple, catchy and very shareable, Oreo’s advert was probably the most memorable that year. And it was only ever created for use on social media. Seeing the success of Oreo, other brands appear now to be trying to follow suit.

Christoph Pleitgen, Senior Vice President, Sales and Business Development, EMEA and APAC, of Wochit said: “Consumers, on average, watch more than five hours of video per day, making video the single most popular media activity. In addition to this, video advertising is starting to seriously threaten this status quo and is considered to be just as, if not more, effective as TV advertising, at a fraction of the cost.

“Ever since Oreo monumentally stole the online show with their simple ‘Dunk in the Dark’ Super Bowl stunt, other brands have been scrambling to follow. Many will forgo the huge costs associated with a paid-for super bowl ad-slot and instead put their budgets and efforts into ensuring they are ready to grab public attention with responsive video content, based around the game.”

 Game On

Super Bowl 50

Is this a sign of the times? Or will marketing and advertising cope with the disruption and come out stronger? It remains to be seen whether or not this will create a trend. There is always a possibility that savvy advertisers will work out how to best leverage both channels within their budget.

After all, it’s the biggest party of the year, and you wouldn’t want to be the only brand not attending.

Did the CFO set Procurement up for Failure in Marketing?

The news last year that Pepsico had disbanded its Marketing Procurement function has been met with mixed reactions.

Marketing Procurement

This article has been reproduced with kind permission from Darren Woolley, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 Marketing Consultants.

The ANA was quick to explain that this was not evidence of the failure of Procurement in marketing, which they said from their polling “was here to stay”. Likewise the WFA said that the Pepsico move was evidence of the need for a more responsive and customer centric focus to their strategy.

And while I do not believe this is the end, it does concern me that in the past 15 years there are a number of examples which suggest procurement has often been set up for failure when it comes to marketing. And I believe the person responsible is usually the Chief Financial Officer. The CFO is, after all, responsible for the financial management of any organisation, and is often the C-suite executive the procurement team report to.

Not the first marketing procurement function to disappear

While the Pepsico decision is the most high profile example of a marketing procurement function disappearing, it is not the first, and likely not to be the last. During 2007, we were working with a procurement team of a food company, who were recruiting to build a specialist marketing procurement function within procurement.

The team of three were very successful in the first year of engaging with marketing and identifying a number of major projects that resulted in significant savings including packaging design and print, media and agency fees.

In the second year, the team delivered only moderate savings as their focus shifted to process optimisation and risk mitigation as further cost cutting alone was agreed to be potentially detrimental to marketing effectiveness. In the third year they were disbanded. The reason given was the projected savings did not justify the cost of maintaining the procurement team.

The short termism of a savings focus strategy

I remember one of our procurement clients providing me with their contract that they were intending to use with the successful agency of the tender they were managing. They asked us to review the contract to see if it was suitable.

I noticed that there was a clause that the agency was responsible for identifying and delivering a 5 per cent improvement in efficiency each year of the contract with a corresponding reduction in fees and costs.

When I bought this to their attention and the fact that the efficiency of the process depended on the brand team as well, considering it was a co-creation process, they looked quizzical. They explained that this was a fairly standard manufacturing clause and wasn’t the agency manufacturing advertising?

In our discussion I was able to highlight where this metaphor did not hold up to interrogation. If you consider it to be a manufacturing process, then it is one where the product goes through iterations of design until the final product design is approved. Then a prototype is produced which again goes through iterations of approval before the project is delivered. Then the whole slate is wiped clean and the process starts again from scratch.

Ultimately, while I made the point well, it failed, as the 5 per cent reduction was already budgeted by finance to be delivered no matter if the agency was able to deliver it or not.

Is there no value in performance management?

We have found that where procurement is focused on delivering cost reduction, either to justify their existence and ensure their survival, or to deliver the objectives of the CFO, there is an underlying belief that the marketing function is a cost and not an investment.

But the fact is that technology, and especially digital marketing, means there are increasing ways to be able to track and manage the performance of the marketing plan against marketing and business objectives.

Giving procurement a broader commercial focus, and not just a cost reduction focus, would position the function as the ideal commercial partner in this accountable marketing world. The procurement team could be aligned to marketing, to manage the measurement and optimisation of the marketing function, to improve performance and return on marketing investment.

Who is focusing on risk management and contract compliance?

Technology has had another impact on marketing and that is an increase in workload. This comes as marketers are often increasing the number of specialist agencies and suppliers to implement the marketing plan across and increasing number of channels.

With a growing roster of suppliers, it means that the marketers also have an increased burden in managing the agencies and their contracts. Compounding this is the increased burden of managing issues such as intellectual property issues, consumer legislation compliance and the like.

Again, procurement as a commercial partner is ideally placed to assist marketing manage these issues to minimise risk by ensuring compliance to contracts and government legislation. It means that instead of just counting savings, there is an opportunity to account for the avoided costs that would arise through poor or non-existent compliance management.

Before anyone says it is not a big issue, most commercial lawyers will tell you that these issues are on the rise, it is just that the advertisers involved will pay significant sums and take extraordinary measures to ensure the issue does not become public.

The role of Math Men and Mad Men in marketing today?

There has been a lot of discussion about the rise of the Math Men, replacing the traditional Mad Men (and Women of course) of advertising. This conversation usually relates to rise of data scientists and econometric modelling. But in fact there is a role for a more commercially focused function within marketing.

Procurement is usually positioned within organisations as the sourcing function, but increasingly procurement has a broader role of identifying commercial opportunities to improve the financial performance of the organisation, while identifying and mitigating risk and ensuring compliance.

That is until it comes to marketing, where it appears that the CFO agenda is to use procurement simply as a razor gang on the marketer’s budget. The problem is this focus on costs is, as we have shown, is a short term strategy and overlooks the wider opportunity of having procurement act as the analytical and commercially focus partner to the marketing team. In a way they become part of the Math Men within marketing to complement the Mad Men.

Procurement is a commercial function not simply a financial one

The increasing complexity of marketing and the impact of technology has already seen the rise in the need for a more analytical approach. Rather than the CFO using procurement as a razor gang on marketing, beyond the first cut to remove obvious excesses, the role should be to assist marketing in managing and measuring performance.

After all, who better to work in partnership with marketing and help report the effectiveness of the marketing investment to the CFO and the C-suite than the procurement team? The best procurement professionals are commercially aware and analytical and able to work with their marketing colleagues to provide the increased level of analysis required in this digital and data driven world.

Ultimately it achieves the longer-term goals of any business in driving profit as no-one is able to slash their cost to growth.

Chinese New Year – Avoid a New Year Dip in Profits

Chinese New Year is just around the corner, but is your supply chain prepared for the impact of a national holiday like no other?

Chinese New Year

First here are some facts about Chinese New Year 2016:

  • Chinese New Year will be celebrated on February the 8th
  • Estimates forecast 350 million people will travel in China during this period – an increase of 8.2 per cent over 2015
  • It’s the largest migration of people in the world at any one time
  • Many workers started their holiday before February 8th and many will extend it until after February 13th
  • Effects from reducing production during January, as well as ongoing issues, run until March
  • The event is calculated on the lunar calendar and dates change each year (Chinese New Year 2017 is January 28th)

You cannot avoid Chinese New Year – you have no other option than to plan ahead. The event is often a topic of conversation when companies are hiring Supply Chain Specialists. There is a lot to discuss, plus details on steps to take to avoid supply problems. Here are some of my observations and recommendations.

What are the Effects?

The Chinese New Year celebrations run from February 7th to February 13th. This period is also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. It is the most important Chinese celebration of the year. But its effects can be seen over a far longer period, and these add significantly to any financial impact. 

Travel for the 2016 celebrations started on January 24th and will last until March 3, meaning your supply chain will almost certainly be disrupted. Production sites will be closed for the entire week, but disruptions will last significantly longer.

Most workers travelled far to find their work, and their families still live far away, so they extend their holiday to spend more time back home. Travel by these workers to their home regions creates an enormous movement of people, and places huge strain on the rail network in China.

Companies often allow staff to leave work well in advance, sometimes up to two weeks before the New Year. Some companies also allow a holiday extension for a further week after New Year. This means many factories are not up to full production until late February or even March. This can mean 4 weeks or more of production outages.

There are also reports of workers not returning following the celebrations. This can lead to reduced production runs, as well as product delays and production quality issues.

Delivery Delays, Price Rises, No Product

Global carriers expect a reduced volume over this period. This is reflected in their shipping capacities, which can be cut by nearly 40 per cent. You should contact your logistics company and reserve space for your needs.

Companies who completed this task in advance, and secured their products at the port ready for shipping by no later than the middle of January, prevented many problems. Ports do stay open over Chinese New Year, but only with a skeleton staff. Prior to New Year congestion grows.

Review your other delivery options – even if they are more expensive, at least you can supply your customers and retain their goodwill. However, airports will look abandoned as ground staff and air crews are at home. No freight company can get over these issues. All the while you need to watch carefully for changes in transport rates. If there are price rises in this period, check they return to ‘normal’ in due course.

Lessons learnt from Chinese New Year also apply for holiday periods in other parts of the world. After all, supply chains often demand a global focus. Here, while we normally see the well oiled just-in-time ordering system working well, there is a spike in production (and demand) as New Year comes closer.

Production staff work hard to get ahead of demand and attempt to reduce future supply problems. Suppliers in the USA have taken more notice of Chinese New Year recently, as other labour issues in China, such as overall costs and labour shortages are amplified at this time. Unfulfilled orders damage profits – so ordering well in advance is important.

Cashflow

Like anyone else, Chinese workers value their holidays. They are seen as a really good benefit, especially when compared to US companies. Workers’ journeys home can take a number of days, but employers pay a bonus of one month’s salary. However, this may also impact your organisation, as your suppliers in China may ask for payment of all invoices before Chinese New Year.

You should also be aware that any e-mails you send to suppliers during the week of the celebrations will go unanswered. Senior staff do usually live closer to the workplace, but nevertheless you should plan for this email silence.

The Holiday Cost

Putting a cost figure on the national economy for a holiday in any country is not practical. It depends a lot on the sector. Production revenues suffer, but leisure, travel and tourism should benefit. In the retail sector, there may be purchases that are just delayed to the next day. There is also a potential positive result when workers work faster in the run up to the holiday in anticipation of the closure.

It also depends on the number of holidays per year in individual countries. In the UK, estimated costs for one extra national holiday vary – some predict a loss of £3 billion, while others showed a gain of £1 billion.

Long term impact for China?

There are those who report a change in demand, moving away from Chinese manufacturing. This is often reported to be due to increased prices and/or issues during and after Chinese New Year, which disrupts deliveries. But it is hard to quantify the real cost for this period.

A global view is required. This annual event has been clearly marked in diaries across China, but it is now recognised by more companies worldwide. The solutions to Chinese New Year logistics issues are not hidden and complex, but measures do need to be implemented.

We wish all those travelling a safe journey and a wonderful Chinese New Year.

How e-Learning Is Changing the Face of Professional Development

From online video, to communities of learning and peer to peer networking, you’ll find a learning method most comfortable to you.

eLearning-Interactivity-Guide-eLearning-Professionals
Learning is no longer something reserved for the young, With career progression never far from our minds and competition for roles at an all-time high, now is the time to suss out the tools we need to to better ourselves.

Buoyed by John Green’s fascinating TED Talk – ‘The nerd’s guide to learning everything online’, we set out on a mission to locate the web’s best learning aids. Be it through online videos, podcasts, social media, or likeminded communities, the majority of the learning resources you’ll discover are available to access from anywhere at any time. Plus the majority of e-Learning is either free or cost effective, so you don’t need to worry about splashing the cash.

The Internet is a great place to sharpen your skills and expand your horizons (if you know the right places to look). Whether you’re putting aside as little as five minutes, squeezing in some time between meetings, or want a more productive commute – learning doesn’t have to be hard work, when applied correctly it can even be fun.

Bite-size training videos

One of the most diverse e-Learning platforms on the web is Lynda.com – itself a LinkedIn company. Unlike some of the more procurement-focused examples in our list, the teaching straddles design, development, photography, video, audio, 3D and business categories – truly something for everyone!

Whether you decide to train individually or as part of a group, Lynda.com lets you set the pace, plus it lets you practice with samples and files provided by the instructor themselves. If you’re looking for something with less of a technical focus then perhaps you’ll consider Khan Academy? The online learning takes in subjects including math, art, history, science, medicine, finance and more.

Procurious also has a number of training videos from experts around the world on a number of subjects, including negotiation, SRM and risk. Happily you’ll find that all are currently available completely free of charge.

TED Talks

TED started life as a set of conferences and fundamentally designed to share ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’. Since its inception it has gone on to spawn TED Talks and smaller, locally-run TEDx events – to-date you can access an archive of 2100 videos on the official website.

With such a large global footprint you can find a TED Talk on just about any subject, but we’ve chosen to highlight Simon Sinek’s inspirational “Start With Why” as an example of the platform at its best.

The beauty of TED videos also lies in their relatively short running time too, with each clocking in at around the 18 minute mark. Brevity is key to their effectiveness – its curator Chris Anderson explained this is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold attention. It turns out that this length also works incredibly well online as it’s also the length of a typical coffee break.

If you haven’t already, be sure to digest our videos from our very own, self-styled TED Talks at the Big Ideas Summit and hear from some of the most influential voices in procurement.

ispace

Soundcloud and podcasts

You’d be forgiven for thinking e-Learning is all about video. Audio is also a very effective medium in its own right and in many ways considered even more versatile. It doesn’t matter whether you pop in your earphones on a commute home, or listen to it during a car journey, unlike video you’re not tied to a screen.

One of the most popular audio networks for learning is Soundcloud. A search for ‘procurement’ on the platform returns a selection of over 300 podcasts (from 75 procurement accounts), spanning countries all around the world.

Soundcloud is easy to access via the web or using an app on your smartphone, so recordings are easy to listen to on the go as part of your personal development.

Peer to peer networking

The need for peer to peer networking was highlighted at Procurious’ very own Big Ideas Forum back in April last year. Whether it be through discussions on LinkedIn, Tweets exchanged on Twitter, discussion between members of The Faculty’s CPO Forum, or right here on Procurious. It doesn’t matter which level you’re at in your professional development, being able to utilise such networks as potential learning environments is a great habit to get into.

With the advent of the Internet learning communities have been made a reality. Through peer to peer networks you are able to learn, problem solve and benefit from the experience of others. One of the biggest examples is Rio Tinto’s learning academy – launched in 2014, the platform offers its 35,000-strong workforce learning materials and training modules at a pace chosen by the individual.

Such initiatives are slowly putting an end to soul-destroying, organisation-wide orientation days and sessions. The upshot? Freeing-up more time for employees to get on with their jobs, while leaving personal development to their own time.

At this juncture we’d also like to remind you that Procurious isn’t just a place to learn! Don’t forget to utilise the online network of procurement professionals we’re gathering right here in our community.

Has your organisation got something to offer?

Alternatively if you (or your company) wants to jump onto the e-Learning bandwagon there are plenty of variety when it comes to choosing a software package/learning platform to create your own learning resources.

Adobe Captivate 9
Oracle Taleo
Brightspace
Articulate Storyline 2
iSpring