5 Things To Know When Looking for a Job Abroad

Moving and finding a job abroad is something that many people do during their lives. But what do you need to know before you start looking?

Job Abroad

Leaving your home, friends and family behind and moving to another country, where everything that surrounds you is completely different from that to which you are used to, is not an easy task.

New countries have different people, different cultures, different food and sometimes even a different language.

However, for some people leaving their country of origin and traveling to settle down for a while on the other side of the planet represents a personal goal or even a milestone they need to achieve.

In order to get established in a new country, there are some important things you will need to take into account: finding a job, a house, a room or an apartment, learning the native language, basic cultural norms, and so much more! But let’s focus on finding a job for now.

Follow these simple recommendations and you will be well on your way to successfully finding a job abroad:

1. Do your research

Before applying for a job abroad, you need to be informed about how they manage resumes in the country you are moving to. Do you need a cover letter? Short or long resume? Do you need to attach your certificates? Or is your resume acceptable as is?

In some countries including a photo is the norm, in others it is frowned upon. In some cases, you will need to translate and notarise your degree and other certificates, so it is very important to do your research.

2. Spread the news

Once you make a decision about the place you are going to be living next, tell every single person you know. This way, you will probably meet people who went through a similar experience or that are native of the country you chose.

Your aunt will always have a friend of a friend who spent their summer in a far away and exotic country.

3. Consider all your possibilities

Before quitting your job and booking the first ticket to Timbuktu, find out if the company you are currently working for offers exchange programs, or if you have the possibility of being transferred to another branch.

Other options are searching online for a job abroad, as well as searching your alumni networks and social network connections. Volunteering is also a great way to work abroad – it’s also a very rewarding experience.

4. Be smart

Always let the employer know, in your cover letter or during the interview, that you have done your research about the different aspects of their country and that you are willing and prepared to start working. Furthermore, assure them that you are flexible enough so as to adapt to a foreign environment.

5. Don’t be scared, relax

You have done your research, and have talked to every person you know about working abroad. You have looked for jobs online, and you know everything there is to know about your target country. And you have saved enough money to survive at least two months without a job. You are officially ready.

Of course it is scary to live somewhere completely new, but it will probably be the most exciting adventure of your life. So go for it!

Vanessa Fardi is the Leader of US, Central America, and Latin America Team for Canadian startup neuvoo. Neuvoo is a job search engine that indexes jobs available online in one unique platform, without any charge for the source of the job. It was created in 2011 and is currently available in more than 60 countries.

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #5 – Eliminating Supplier Enablement

Gabe Perez believes that procurement needs to move towards real-time services, and eliminate traditional supplier enablement processes.

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, we challenged our thought leaders to share their Big Ideas for the future of procurement.

From ideas that have the potential to change the very nature of the procurement profession, to ones that got the assembled minds thinking about the profession’s impact outside of the organisation, the response we received was amazing.

Gabe Perez, Vice President, Strategy & Market Development at Coupa Software, believes now is the time for procurement eliminate supplier enablement, and move towards the real-time services we have in our personal lives.

Gabe also believes that it’s now time for procurement, and the wider corporate world, to refocus their objectives to place value at the centre of all activities, as well as create and participate in open networks where collaboration can thrive.

Catch up with all the thought leadership and ours delegates’ Big Ideas from the 2016 Summit at the Procurious Learning Hub.

If you want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016, and what we have planned for 2017, you can visit our dedicated website!

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today, and connect with over 15,500 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

5 Price Analysis Methodologies to Apply to Negotiated Costs

How can you find out if you’ve got a good deal from your negotiation? Here are some price analysis tools that could help you out.

Volume Price Analysis

One of the key performance measures that invariably arises at the end of a negotiation is if the final price achieved is a good one or not.

If we, as buyers, have purchased the product or service for a number of years, we can rely on our experience. But we have all faced a situation when we have to deal with an unfamiliar product. What do we do then?

I have outlined the pros and cons of some different approaches to price analysis. There’s no magic formula we can apply to confirm if the negotiated cost is accurate to the market price.

Each price analysis method has its own strengths and weaknesses. Knowing them will help us to understand which one to apply in which situation.

Price Comparison

The most basic method. You take the final price, and compare it against the prices quoted for the same product by other suppliers in the market place. This is the most common method, and it’s usually applied to common products, or those with transparent pricing.

Pros:

  • Doesn’t require too many resources.
  • Relatively easy to find out if the cost is over the market average.

Cons:

  • It can only be applied to common products – it should not be used, for example, for the cost of a lab analysis service, or customised goods.
  • You have to work with updated costs – in some areas, like electronics, a 6 month old cost may be obsolete.
  • You have to compare exactly the same product, under the same circumstances – not, for example, two different mobile phones, or services from two different countries.
Cost Structure

If it’s not possible to find equivalent market prices for the products or services, procurement can use the approach of a detailed cost structure analysis.

In order to do it, we ‘only’ have to replicate the manufacturing process, and assign an estimated cost to each stage. We can then benchmark this result against the cost provided by the supplier.

With a service, rather than a product, the process requires disaggregation of the service into its constituent parts (salaries; materials; equipment), and a cost assigned to each.

Pros:

  • Provides a detailed view of costs.
  • Can be used as a basis for supplier partnerships, and to visit supplier facilities to look at the manufacturing process.
  • Allows for negotiation on each constituent part of the good or service, increasing potential for savings.

Cons:

  • In-depth knowledge of the manufacturing processes and costs is needed.
  • Resource heavy.
  • Without supplier input, manufacturing process costs will be estimated, increasing the error margin exponentially.
Price Index

If the product has a published price index, then it is logical that the index will be a good guide to check if the negotiated cost is a good one. It would then be a matter of comparing the negotiated and index price to see if the negotiated cost was good or not.

The process is a bit more complex than that, but for the purposes of this article, there is no need for further explanation.

Pros:

  • Price indices usually are available on the Internet under paid subscription. As an added value, these sites usually offer forecast analysis that could be helpful for ongoing procurement strategy.
  • Can show trends and provide a comparison to the cost the last time the product was purchased. For example, if a product index has decreased a 5 per cent, but the supplier has only offered a 2 per cent cost decrease, then it’s clear that there is room for further negotiation.

Cons:

  • The indices are just a guide, there is a more complex cost structure which has to be considered. For example, other factors, such as a trader’s fee, would not be expressed as part of the product cost.
  • Indices only have a partial influence on the final price. A drop of 30 per cent on a factor, such as petrol price in the plastics market, wouldn’t necessarily mean a 30 per cent drop in the product price.
  • Markets can fall victim to speculation, or an issue that distorts the index. Being unaware of these issues prior to a negotiation could lead to a higher than expected cost.
Unit Price Analysis (UPA)

The Unit Price Analysis (UPA) is a mathematical model which predicts the right cost that a product or service should have based on its specific properties or details. It’s like a price calculator.

Pros:

  • We have access to a goal cost before starting negotiations.
  • Companies have developed their own UPAs based on non-linear regression statistical analysis. You can hire their services in the same way as you sign up for Price Index sites.
  • They are quite helpful when calculating complex project costs, and provide an accurate cost result for EPC projects.

Cons:

  • Building this model from scratch is expensive. Nearly all companies outsource this service.
  • You must be sure that data comes from a trustworthy source before using it for a negotiation.
  • UPAs are unitary prices based on a specific volume. The data doesn’t support different volumes.
Conclusion

In addition to the price analysis tools outlined above, there are a number of other, less common, ones. They are less used as they can only usually be applied to very specific cases.

There is no, one correct method. The specific circumstances of each sourcing activity will determine which method can be best applied to the post-negotiation benchmarking activity.

Throwback Thursday – 3 Easy Steps to Become a Procurement Networking Guru

Are you a procurement networking guru? If you need some tips to help up your networking game, this is the place for you.

Networking Guru

We’re looking back at some of Procurious’ most popular content from the past 12 months. This week, we revisit an article that speaks to the fundamental core of Procurious – effective networking.

Becoming a Networking Guru

The benefits of networking are many. However, many people still struggle with the concept and the motivation to get going.

At Procurious, we want to create one huge, global network of procurement professionals, all of whom have the opportunity to learn from one another. We want everyone to realise the benefits of networking, so I thought I would share my three easy steps to becoming a networking guru to help everyone get started.

1. Network from the heart

Why from the heart? Because networking has to be authentic, and you need to have the other person’s interest as your priority.

Firstly, your networking has to be based on absolute authenticity – that is, a real friendship or genuine interest in what someone else is doing.

As a networking guru, if you want to form a relationship with another person, you first need to show them how they’ll benefit. If you focus on how you can help others, more than how they can help you, you’ll always be approaching people with the best motivation.

A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that workers who help others feel happier about their work than those who decide not to help. By asking someone for help, you give them the opportunity to display their skills and knowledge, and, at the same time, give their self-esteem a boost.

If the person asking the question wins, and the person answering the question wins, what’s stopping us from asking more questions. Despite all these  benefits, perhaps the fear of reaching out to someone and being rejected, is greater than the potential benefit.

When we face the fear of reaching out to someone else, we need to remember that networking is very much a two way street. Whether you’re at a face-to-face event, or on a social media platform, everyone is there for the same purpose – to network. So don’t be too self-conscious!

2. Be both social and formal

In the ‘old world’ getting to know someone and understand whether you had anything in common took a long time. You would meet someone at an event, follow-up via email and then organise a series of catch-ups to get to know them. You might have had to meet them quite a few times before you discovered the cross-over points.

In the world of social networking, the ‘getting to know you’ process is accelerated because you can see all this information on their profile. This fast-tracks the expansion of your network, because you can pre-qualify those people who you would like to join your network based on their experience.

Effective networking really involves a commitment of time, energy, and resources to produce meaningful results. Also remember that face-to-face meetings still play an important role in expanding your network.

You must also care for the network you’ve established (or are establishing). This includes personal contact through e-mails, telephone calls, scheduled meetings, or even a business lunch.

It’s only when we get to really know people through face-to-face contact, that we can understand both their motivations and their aspirations. You can then work out how you and other members of your network can help them achieve their goals. That’s when the magic starts to happen.

When you’re thinking about face-to-face networking, don’t just think formal meetings, corporate cocktail parties and conferences. A networking guru knows that you can literally network around the clock!

Just because you are “off duty”, doesn’t mean that you aren’t networking. Every interface you have is an opportunity to connect with interesting people who you can help, just as they can help you.

I once won a $1M contract from a wonderful woman I met at my son’s kindergarten parents’ evening. A few weeks back, I was at an Indian Ayurvedic Medicine discussion, and met a senior Facebook executive who has agreed to speak at one of our major events.

You always need to keep your mind and attitude open to these opportunities.

And once you have an established network, keep it active by using social media. The benefit to having an online network is that you can better maintain your network by keeping in touch much more easily.

By posting updates and information on your social media profiles, you are reminding people that you are still out there. Your posts also act as a prompt for them to reach out to you and connect. Or, even better, remind them to recommend you for a job!

3. Connect the dots

Once you have an established network, you need to understand the power of connecting the dots.

As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

Many people equate having a good network with having a large database of contacts, or attending high-profile professional conferences and events. But they falter at the next step – actually doing something to make the connection real.

In other words, to create commercial advantage from your network, there’s no point in just being ‘connected’ with all these amazing people. You need to know what to do with the relationship.

Your network will live and thrive only when it is used. A good way to begin is to make a simple request, or take the initiative to connect two people who would benefit from meeting each other. Doing something, anything, gets the ball rolling and builds confidence that you do, in fact, have something to contribute.

Other actions to cement your network can include sending through articles or other things that might be relevant or of interest to a contact. Or, drill down even further and remember birthdays, acknowledge important achievements, or determine a contact’s favourite hobby or sports team, and use this information to build the relationship.

The fact that you’re thinking about a new contact can, and will, pay huge dividends.

Don’t Work in Isolation

Unfortunately many people don’t reach out to their network until they need something badly. A networking guru does exactly the opposite. They take every opportunity to give to, and receive from, the network, whether they need help or not.

For these reasons, and many more, I believe in the power of networking – for yourself, your contacts and the profession. That’s why we founded Procurious.

Apparently there are more than 2.5M procurement professionals in the world. But there are probably less than 500,000 who we can readily identify.

Many procurement professionals are working in isolation, unaware that there is a whole universe of knowledge and professionals available to help them do their jobs better, and learn more effectively.

There are so many problems we can solve together if we use the power of connection and leverage our network. If each and every procurement professional becomes a networking guru, there is very little that we can’t achieve!

Facts not Fear: The Impact of Brexit on US Business

Institute for Supply Management (ISM) CEO Tom Derry tells Procurious that people need facts, not speculation and fear, when it comes to understanding the impact of Brexit on US business.  

Brexit US Business

ISM took the unusual step this month of releasing a supplementary Report on Business, focusing specifically on the impact of the UK’s Referendum on EU membership on US business.

The decision was prompted by a flood of enquires from US business and media representatives about whether the data for this month’s highly anticipated and influential report would reflect the fallout from Brexit.

“We decided to go back to our panel of over 600 procurement professionals with a tailored series of questions about the net financial impact of Brexit on their organisations”, said Derry.

“More importantly, there has been an enormous amount of speculation about the impact of Brexit, fed by a sense of unease and uncertainty. ISM was in a position to gather real data and put the information out there so businesses can make informed decisions based on facts, rather than fear, concern or emotion.”

Negligible Impact

The report will serve to dispel much of the speculation around the impacts of Brexit on US business. The vast majority of those surveyed reporting that Brexit will have a “negligible” impact on their business. Only one in three thought their firm would be negatively, or slightly negatively, impacted.

The main concerns for those who do anticipate an impact include the exchange value of the dollar, changes in demand globally, financial market uncertainty, and currency movements.

“The report demonstrates that despite the speculation, the majority of US businesses feel that Brexit will have a negligible impact”, says Derry. “This is because the US has a comparatively low export economy at only 13 per cent of GDP, so we are relatively insulated from the impacts of currency movements and global demand. We’re not a huge commodity exporter, although the strength of the dollar is of course a concern for those who are in the exporting business.”

Derry says that in the short-term, trade relationships are stable. “For US firms doing business in the UK or EU, very little has changed. For now, we’re good – business is predictable, and we love predictability and certainty.”

Future Investment Shift

In the long-term, however, US businesses may not choose to invest additional dollars in the UK. Historically, a lot of companies (such as car manufacturers) have used the UK as their port of entry into the EU, due to its shared language and talented workforce.

Derry added, “That option may no longer be so attractive, and discretionary investment will probably shift to Eastern Europe – Poland or the Czech Republic – to have a presence within the EU, and take advantage of low-cost labour.”

Derry says that the Brexit referendum is a historical event. However, in 10 years it is likely to be seen as a political decision, rather than an economic one. “The ‘sky is falling’ scenario is certainly overdone”, he says. “I don’t think we’re going to see the fracturing of the EU over Brexit.”

“It’s important to keep our vision focused forward. As supply management professionals, we work in the global economy and a major shift, such as Brexit, forces each of us to recalibrate our global supply strategies and trade relationships. The EU is the largest single market in the world – we can’t ignore it.”

Click here to read the supplemental ISM Report on Business: Brexit Report.

How to Ensure High Performance Procurement Contracts

If you want your business to thrive, sticking with the status quo isn’t enough. Ensuring high performance in procurement is the only way to stay ahead of the competition.

High Performance

With a volatile economy, the need for superior supply management and increased organisational efficiency is vital. Organisations feel the pressure to contain costs while maximising results.

However, incremental improvement won’t work. For long-term success, a transformation of key processes is required. Supply chain managers must accept nothing less than adopting the methods that can make their organisation best in class.

How Well is Your Company Covering the Basics?

While innovative solutions will be important going forward, the foundation of high performance is mastering the basics. Ensuring contract procurement efficiency based on solid core processes will lead to savings in both time and resources, driving better outcomes.

According to data collected by the Aberdeen Group, 70 per cent of procurement executives cite addressing and streamlining indirect spend processes as a top focus for controlling and reducing costs.

While many procurement executives have found ways to rein in cost inefficiencies in direct spend, they are also finding that tried-and-true techniques for reducing costs aren’t working.

So, how can you ensure high performance in your procurement contracts? The following areas contain some of the most targeted ways to achieve success:

Making Use of Mobile Apps to Expedite Processes

Employing the use of mobile apps can help with contract execution.

Mobile apps allow your employees the ability to use real-time information. This will help managers rapidly adapt to the changing procurement environment around them.

Dole Foods is a prime example of how mobile technology can expedite key business processes. The company created a mobile app to streamline key components of logistics and workflows.

Case Study: Dole Foods

Dole Foods is currently the world’s largest producer of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as high-quality packaged foods. The organisation markets and sells their products in over 90 countries.

However, today’s economic conditions along with changing consumer preferences, rising competition, and new regulatory hurdles caused the company to seek new ways to support continued growth.

Their partnership with SAP for core operations was already proving extremely effective; however, accessing the tracking and management software from laptops and desktops alone was becoming cumbersome.

The solution was a user-friendly mobile app, allowing Dole employees to stay productive while on the go. Now, purchase orders can be addressed and managed on their smartphones and tablets.

The ready-to-use P.O. Approval app is fully integrated with Dole Foods’ on-site SAP system. The result is seamless performance.

Employing Multiple Communication Channels

While face-to-face meetings are ideal, they are not always possible. This is where communication software can be invaluable.

Its cloud-based capacity allows for instant communication, the inclusion of multiple collaborators, and permanent record keeping of all communications.

Internally, your team may want to use Slack. This ensures all relevant parties receive the information in a timely manner. And, when everyone is knowledgeable, the risk of errors and legal concerns are reduced.

Automation: Now is the Time

Companies should consider automating to help accelerate key processes. Automated template management can provide a major time-saving benefit. It deploys unlimited customised office templates to all employees.

A contract management template ensures that all the necessary language and concepts are included in your contracts. You can create boilerplate documents that can be easily personalised for special circumstances.

Seamless Supplier Onboarding

Document management is key to never misplacing a critical item. Create a central repository to store all important compliance and legal documents related to each supplier.

Establishing a contract repository provides organised storage of documents. Furthermore, contracts can be securely shared. Permission settings allow for even more in-house confidentiality.

Ensure High Performance

In today’s economy, high-performance procurement contracting is essential. Accuracy and efficiency can lead to significant time and cost savings. Take your business procurement performance to the next level.

Is it Worth Fighting for Sustainable Procurement?

Why procurement professionals must drive supplier innovation in order to keep up the fight for a sustainable planet.

Sustainable Procurement Fight

As a procurement professional it can sometimes be a little bit challenging to keep up the motivation to pursue a more sustainable planet. News headlines and science reports reflect a world which is developing in the wrong direction.

Oceans are becoming more acidic, with devastating results on coral and connected ecosystems. The air in major cities is full of high levels of dangerous particulates. Crop-growing regions for key commodities are shifting. Sea levels are rising.

At the end of the day, is there still hope for you, me and the planet? In this article I will put focus on some of the positive signs we can see. Let me be clear – it is still worth fighting for sustainable procurement, the planet and the generations to come.

Greater Transparency

Transparency is growing. It’s harder and harder to hide malfeasance. Carbon emissions are disclosed. Everyone is online everywhere, and we have easy access to information, and the ability to pictures of something that we dislike at any given time of the day. And if you fail, even as a company, the public will collectively judge and give the verdict.

Even in procurement we are working with tools, like the Ecovadis sustainability rating system, where the performance of the suppliers is evaluated. Not only for the sake of performance, but also because we want companies to change. To create impact driven approaches.

Regulators and Heroes Show the Way

It is obvious that the more transparent we get, the more the regulators act. More and more companies and public actors disclose their behaviour, and this leads to actions amongst regulators who create climate treaties, introduce carbon taxation, or hand down regulations to markets.

Investors have even started incorporating sustainability and ESG risk into their calculations on where to invest their money.

Heroes are among us. Alongside the great minds in science, many individual policy-makers, business leaders, farmers and consumers are making millions of decisions and taking small steps, every day, to reduce their impact or improve the planet.

The vast majority of people want to take care of their world, and science and the media are providing the tools and knowledge to help them do so. Lights are being turned off. Public transport systems are being built and used. Less food is being wasted. Each of us wants to be a hero.

Fostering Innovation and Collaboration

Innovation matters. Enormous investments are being made. These efforts, many of which are being driven by the best minds in academic and business labs, will without a doubt deliver solutions to many of our environmental challenges. It’s a question of when, not if.

Collaboration is happening. Competitors are talking to each other and to policy-makers around how to share best practices to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. Solutions to global sustainability problems are too big for any one country or company to solve.

Integrating Sustainable Supplier Innovation

We should not forget that a company’s ability to build close partnerships with innovative suppliers is directly correlated with the firms successful innovation performance. Companies which include their suppliers in the innovation process seem to financially outperform their peers that do not.

It is a fact that 90 per cent of companies do not include their suppliers in their innovation processes. 69.9 per cent of corporate revenue is directed towards externalised, supplier driven cost. Suppliers should be viewed as an extension of the company and, as such, they should be incentivised, coached, sanctioned and rewarded to help achieve corporate objectives.

The message is clear: we need to keep fighting for sustainable procurement, the planet, and the generations to come. We can make a start by integrating suppliers closer to the innovation processes.

Debate Over Renewed Focus on Career Guidance

Inadequate career guidance and advice from schools is exacerbating the UK’s skills gap, says a report published in the last week.

Good Career Guidance

A new report published at the end of last week by the Education, Skills and the Economy Sub-Committee, has stated that the skills gap in the UK is being worsened by poor career guidance given to pupils by their schools.

It was argued that poor career guidance was stopping young people making informed career decisions, which in turn was harming the country’s economy.

The report, the first published by the Sub-Committee, also argued that there needed to be greater oversight over the wealth of organisations, service providers, and websites set up to offer careers advice.

The report concluded that schools needed to be held to greater account when it came to careers services, and that this should make up part of annual inspections.

“Big Stick” Approach Wrong

However, the report came in for criticism from head teachers’ leaders, who argued the “big stick” approach of downgrading schools for poor performance wouldn’t solve fundamental issues with the careers advice system.

Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that there were severe problems in the existing system that urgently needed fixed, while school budgets were frozen and under severe pressure.

It was argued by other leaders that the threat of downgrading and inspection was not an effective way of driving improvements in career guidance.

Effective Career Guidance

However, there was agreement that steps needed to be taken in order to better equip students and school leavers with the right advice for their careers.

As the business world continues to change and evolve, students need the best possible advice about experiences, qualifications, and training needed for chosen careers, or how to get involved with new and emerging industries.

And this is not necessarily about just encouraging school leavers to go on to higher education and university, a criticism which has been levelled at many schools, but also making them aware of apprenticeships and other work opportunities.

This could be done through giving pupils better access to employers while still in school, work experience opportunities, and career talks from former pupils and local business leaders.

Seamus Nevin, Head of Employment and Skills at the Institute of Directors, said: “The IoD welcomes the committee’s focus on careers guidance, which by all accounts remains an Achilles heel in the UK education system.

“Alarmingly, just 43 per cent of students currently receive any formal careers guidance before choosing their A-level subjects and yet the subjects they choose can severely restrict their employment options later in life.

“This is partly because only 83 per cent of secondary schools employ a qualified, full-time careers adviser, with many relying instead on other support staff to fill career guidance roles. The only way to solve this problem is to improve guidance, not punish schools for being poorly equipped.” 

Australia Next Victim of Political Uncertainty

The political environment in Australia is tense, even as the Liberal Coalition claims victory by the slimmest of margins. How the corporate landscape will be impacted by the outcome is merely a guessing game.

Political Uncertainty

It’s been something of a topsy-turvy year, and couple of months in particular, for political uncertainty around the world. The on-going US election campaigns ahead of the November election have polarised opinion, while in the UK the Brexit vote has individuals and organisations alike trying to uncover the full extent of the changes.

And while there is likely to be more instability in the coming months, the ongoing uncertainty around the Australian election has the business community and procurement leaders watching with baited breath, given that what elements of business trade could be impacted by this is anyone’s guess.

With 80 per cent of the vote counted, we do know that Malcolm Turnbull will be returned as Prime Minister, after opposition Leader Bill Shorten admitting defeat on Sunday, according to recent media reports.

The Liberal Coalition is expected to win just enough seats (76) to form a majority government. But the rest of the line-up could take weeks to finalise. And Turnbull has an uncertain and challenging year ahead, as he faces difficult negotiations with independent members of parliament, a hostile Senate, and potential mutiny within his own party.

Complicated Situation

The election was held against the backdrop of a particularly complicated political environment. Laura Tingle, the Australian Financial Review political editor, helped to outline why in her keynote address to the Asia-Pacific CPO Forum in Melbourne earlier this year.

Back in 2013, Australian voters wanted to get rid of the Labor government, with many viewing it as a “soap opera“, as Julia Gillard first took over from PM Kevin Rudd in 2010, before being challenged by Rudd twice, resulting in Rudd leading Labor again at the 2013 election.

However, Tingle explained that the ‘coup’ in 2013 from Rudd isn’t the only reason the electoral situation was in flux.

“Voters have been utterly disappointed by the Coalition under Tony Abbott, and confused and angered by what has happened since Malcolm Turnbull took over,” she says.

The highly respected journalist and political commentator told forum attendees that it’s rare for there to be a uniform swing across seats in an election, and that she can’t think of an election where there are so many unknown factors at play that could create wild outcomes.

For example, the Melbourne seat of Batman, once considered technically the safest Labor seat in Australia (with margins of 21 per cent), was only just held by Labor during the election. The significant change is due in part to rapidly changing demographics in the seat.

In addition, there was a lack of clarity in the state of Queensland as to how the votes would be cast, with independents including the hard-right Pauline Hanson picking up support from dissatisfied voters.

Political Instability Ahead

Tingle argued that Australia was heading into a period of instability.

“When I say ‘uncertainty’, I mean it in the sense that we really don’t known what the election outcome will be if we judge it purely by the numbers.”

Prior to the election, the question was really about whether or not the electorate really wanted yet another change in prime minister.

“Ironically, I think it is the Coalition – the current government – which is more of a policy unknown that the Labor Party.

“The Coalition has been thrown off course in the last couple of years. First by its political incompetence and lack of policy savvy. The 2014 budget has become the byword for this, but there was much that proceeded it in terms of policy towards business even before the budget was brought down,” she says.

Complex Issue Resolution

Even if the government is returned to power, and it looks likely that it will happen, Tingle argued that the major issues, such as health funding, schools funding, and universities funding, would have to be sorted out one at a time, due to the complexity of the issues in the political environment.

“None of this, in reality, leads you to think that either side of politics can have a real breakthrough moment. There has already been a lot of commentary to the effect that much will depend on the size of the majority Turnbull is able to command in the House of Representatives.”

The most basic measure Tingle has learned covering politics and policy making for so long is the capability of politicians to react to the issues of the day.

“When I say that, I mean it is assessing what you believe their underlying capability is to deal with the stuff that comes along every day when governing a country, rather than the set piece policy positions you draw up beforehand.”

Government Procurement

However, it’s not all bad news, particularly from the point of view of public sector spending and government procurement. Even in the midst of the political upheaval and turmoil, it appears to be a case of “business as usual” for procurement.

The Federal Bureaucracy, which is unelected, and as such unaffected by the election until a result is declared, has assured people that the chaos is mainly isolated to the parliament itself. 

They have stated that since the election, there have been a large number of state and local government authorities calling for tenders, announcements of grants, and new public works projects. In addition to this, there are tender notices still being issued for on-going projects, suggesting that business will continue however the final few seats fall.

What are your thoughts on the Australian elections? How will your business be impacted by the political uncertainty?

Meanwhile, we’ve been keeping track of the all the major procurement and supply chain news headlines this week…

China Cosco to invest in Port of Piraeus

  • One of the largest seaports in the world, the Port of Piraeus, was sold to China Cosco Shipping Corporation for €368.5 million in April this year,
  • The deal represented a major privatisation and was a central plank of the €86 billion bailout deal agreed with Eurozone partners.
  • This week, China Cosco announced its plans for the site, including an investment of over €500 million in the port over the next five years. The company will focus on developing the cruise and shipbuilding industry.
  • Chinese president Xi Jinping said this week, “We are certain that Piraeus will open new prospects for the broadening of Greece-China cooperation in transport, infrastructure, telecoms and shipping”.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Estonian Startup Tests Robot Package Deliveries

  • Robot maker Starship Technologies has launched a test programme for their self-driving robots.
  • The test will involve the robots delivering packages, groceries and goods in the UK, Germany and Switzerland.
  • The robots drive autonomously in a 2-3 mile radius and are monitored by human operators. 
  • Rolling on six wheels, the robots find their destination using GPS, radar and camera, and are able to navigate around obstacles and follow traffic rules. Customers open the secure compartment to access the delivery using their phone.

Read more at Engadget and Watch the Robots here

Hackers Use Social Media for Identity Theft

  • The number of victims of identity theft in the UK rose by 57 per cent in the past year, with more than 148,000 victims in the UK in 2015.
  • According to Cifas, the fraud prevention service, hackers are now using social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to harvest information on individuals.
  • Names, addresses, dates of birth, and names of banks are some of the information fraudsters are able to piece together from social media profiles.
  • Cifas has urged individuals to look at what information their profiles have on them, and to ensure that security settings on all networks are correct.

Read more at The Telegraph

Hyperloop “Proves” Cost Effectiveness

  • Hyperloop, the high speed transport solution and brainchild of Elon Musk, has released a feasibility study which makes the case for the affordability of the system.
  • The study examines the cost of connecting Stockholm and Helsinki using Hyperloop, and compares it to California’s high-speed rail project.
  • Hyperloop estimates this project to cost $40 million per km, while the rail project is estimated by The World Bank at $56 million per km.
  • The report is considered a significant step in proving the validity of the Hyperloop concept, with the technology due for its first test before the end of the year.

Read more at Engadget

Anti-censorship Campaigners Launch New Site to Test VPNs in China

A new website, launched by anti-censorship group GreatFire, will help users in China test how well VPNs work in the country.

VPNs Test China

Anti-censorship group GreatFire launched a new service on Tuesday that will help internet users inside China live test how well different virtual private networks (VPNs) are working in the country.

VPNs, which create direct links between computers and offer a way in which to gain unrestricted access to the internet, are vital for business in China as well as for accessing information.

The country actively censors the internet, with users having to use circumvention tools in order to access over 18,000 websites including Google, Facebook, the BBC and the New York Times.

Testing VPNs

“There is a commonly held belief in China that if you have a VPN that works then you should keep quiet about it,” said GreatFire co-founder Charlie Smith. “In terms of freedom of access to information, the problem with this approach is that it keeps useful knowledge secret.

“We hope this project will destroy that model and give people accurate information so they can make informed choices. The public need to be able to get online quickly, reliably and free from state censorship.”

Chinese authorities have stepped up their attacks on circumvention tools over the past 18 months and GreatFire’s new testing site is part of the group’s attempt to fight back. The site – Circumvention Central (CC) – provides real-time information and direct access to both free and paid-for censorship-evasion tools that are working in China.

Constantly updated using information from within China, all VPNs (including GreatFire’s own circumvention tool FreeBrowser) are measured on both speed (how quickly popular websites are loaded) and stability (the extent to which popular websites load successfully).

Reflecting Real User Experience

Speed tests typically measure download and upload speed by sending a few requests to a speed test server. That means reported speeds do not reflect user experience because normal browsing involves frequently sending lots of requests to many different servers.

In contrast, GreatFire’s speed test aims to reflect real user experience by downloading resources from the ten most popular websites in the world, including Google, Facebook, YouTube, Baidu, Amazon and Yahoo. If the contents returned are incorrect, or if the download fails to complete within 40 seconds, the test is marked as failed.

Besides speed, stability is also tracked. Typically not taken into account by other services, the stability test reflects the likelihood of a connection failing. Although any connection, anywhere should deliver 100 per cent stability unless unplugged, VPNs on the ground in China regularly fail.

Testing happens in real-time, which is essential to an environment where VPNs get blocked and unblocked continuously. Visitors to the CC site can purchase any paid-for tool currently tested. GreatFire will act as a reseller of these tools in China and as such be given a portion of each sale by the VPN providers themselves. Users need not be based in China to purchase a circumvention service.

Digital Activism

Any revenue generated through the site will be used to support the ongoing digital activism of GreatFire, which earlier this year won an Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for its work fighting online censorship in China.

“At the moment, GreatFire relies on the kindness of individuals who send us donations and a limited number of grant-making organisations around the world,” said Smith. “We want to reduce our reliance on these organisations and raise enough funds to properly end internet censorship in China as soon as is humanly possible”.

Smith hopes the new site will revolutionise VPN use in China. “Until CC, nobody has provided public information about the effectiveness of circumvention tools in China. Many have provided misinformation,” he said.

“Some VPN providers have also famously encouraged their customers to “keep quiet” about the effectiveness of their solutions. On the contrary, we encourage everyone who hears about this project to share this information with those who they think could benefit.”