Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #4 – Effective Technology Utilisation

Justin Sadler-Smith believes that procurement must improve its technology utilisation, or risk being left behind by the organisation.

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.

Justin Sadler-Smith, Worldwide Sales Leader at IBM, believes that, in the past, procurement’s technology utilisation hasn’t been effective or efficient enough for the profession to access its full value.

Justin also believes that too many procurement professionals and leaders believe they still have time to build capability. However, many don’t realise that technology change, such as cognitive technology, is already upon them, and their technology utilisation needs to improve fast in order to keep pace in the marketplace.

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.

Has Procurement Got Its KPIs Right?

As the Procurement function evolves, its KPIs remain old-fashioned. Bertrand Maltaverne explores the surprising results of a Procurement KPI survey.

Procurement KPIs

In a rather interesting coincidence, just as ProcureCon Europe was releasing a benchmarking paper called Procurement Challenges, we released a white paper that also focuses on one of the most fascinating challenges in the industry: The Direct Material Procurement Challenge.

More than a coincidence, this is a sign of the times as the role of Procurement and its position in organisations rapidly becomes quite a recurring hot topic.

Before going into the specifics of ProcureCon’s report, the challenges that Procurement faces stem almost entirely from the transformation Procurement  is going through as a function.

Value vs. Cost reductions

“As businesses emerge from the recent recession into a fragmented supplier ecosystem, a normal approach to creating value through cost saving alone is no longer relevant.”

ProcureCon’s report is not the only one to highlight the current gap between a value-­based Procurement approach and the actual KPIs that most organisations track, specifically:

  • 91 per cent of surveyed organisations have cost savings as a KPI;
  • 76 per cent have cost avoidance as a KPI.

KPIs for value metrics like quality, risk, and cycle times languish respectively in 5th, 8th, and 12th place! Fewer than 50 per cent of companies track these measures.

More troubling: only 30 per cent track Procurement ROI as a KPI. ROI (Return On Investment) or VFM (Value For Money) is actually the main KPI that all organisations should aim for as it synthesises the ratio between value generated and energy or resources employed. Or, in other words, a measure of the effectiveness and efficiency of a Procurement organisation.

Supplier Management Core Procurement Activity

Among the many interesting insights in the report, there are two aspects related to supplier management and stakeholder management that are kind of interesting. They both relate to the qualification of suppliers and are quite revealing.

Procurement still operates too much in a silo

“Procurement typically take the lead when it comes to the qualification of contractors and suppliers during the bid process.”

Decisions regarding sourcing have to be cross-­functional. Not only to ensure that all aspects have been looked at but mostly to ensure adoption of the decisions. Involving other departments in the decision-­making process is critical.

Even better, involving them in the early stage of defining a category’s strategy is vital to define the value that they expect suppliers to deliver. This may not be low prices alone.

Procurement still sees suppliers as trading partners, not business partners

There are also a couple of surprises when it comes to the dimensions Procurement looks at when assessing new potential suppliers. We assume this also reflects the KPIs tracked afterward.

Not surprisingly, financial stability comes first. As a former purchaser, I can say this fits with the practices I have seen on the field. This is not without inherent risk: “conducting a single financial stability check (e.g. D&B check) before engaging a supplier could provide a false sense of assurance.”

More surprisingly, CSR-­related themes like sustainability and safety stand squarely in the middle of the list. Around 50-60 per cent of respondents say they include these factors in their assessments. A notable exception is diversity, which comes last on the list with only 20 per cent of respondents taking this into account.

Issue of Supplier Innovation

But, very surprisingly, competent advice is a criterion that is at the bottom of the list, covered by only 29 per cent of respondents. This is especially surprising considering the focus on the role of Procurement in organisations, and its impact on innovation. The lack of attention on this area is rather troubling.

As we understand it, if organisations do not measure if suppliers could be a source of new ideas and suggestions, it means that they do not expect suppliers to be able to participate in their innovation process. This quite a self­-centred view of innovation!

In conclusion, there seems to be a consensus within the Procurement community that Procurement is not in the place it deserves to be, and that, in the future, its importance will grow. For example, ProcureCon’s report says that 62 per cent of respondents to their survey estimate that Procurement will move towards making board-level decisions in the next 3 years.

But, as far as their report and many others show, there is still a gap in capabilities and delivery that needs to be bridged before we get there.

Now is the time for Procurement to evolve!

British Businesses Need to Respond to Brexit Now

British businesses can’t afford to wait before they take action and respond to the post-Brexit situation in the UK.

British Businesses Brexit

With uncertainty still abounding, and business implications not yet fully understood, two separate reports have confirmed that British businesses need to be taking action to prepare themselves for the Brexit.

Slowing UK Economy

The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Indexes for both construction (weakest performance in seven years), and services (lowest growth in just over 3 years) showed that the UK economy was already slowing down before the Referendum took place.

The economic uncertainty following the June 23rd vote is likely to lead to further falls for July. Experts have advised that businesses need to take immediate action to mitigate these falls, particularly in the service sector.

And despite a fall in purchasing associated with these industries, companies also reported on-going supply chain pressures, including lengthening lead times linked to transportation delays, and lower supplier stocks.

Challenges for British Businesses

At the end of last week, the Institute of Directors (IoD) launched a paper outlining a wide-ranging assessment of what the Brexit means for British businesses.

While the IoD suggested that the UK will most likely retain access to the single market for goods, albeit with some concessions, the real concerns raised were also for the service industry.

The report highlighted that 83 per cent of IoD members had a link with Europe, whether via export, import, supply chain, staff or otherwise, and that these businesses needed to begin conversations with EU clients and supply chain to clarify what these changes will mean.

However, the IoD paper also offered the following thoughts:

  • The UK is unlikely to be able to deal with new trade partners whilst re-negotiating with the European Union and amending existing third-party arrangements.
  • Passporting for financial services will be difficult to negotiation, as remaining EU members will see this as an opportunity to shift business to European cities.
  • The IoD expects EU nationals living here to be able to stay once the UK has left the EU, but called on politicians to clarify this status as soon as possible.

In the immediate aftermath of the referendum vote, IoD members considered the key priorities for the Government to be:

  • Take steps to stabilise the economy in the face of any negative reaction in financial markets.
  • Securing a new trade agreement with the European Union.
  • Prioritise new UK trade agreements with high growth markets and ensure preferential market access to third countries (via existing EU trade deals) is maintained
  • Clarifying the status of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens elsewhere in the EU.
Coherent Response

Simon Walker, Director General at the Institute of Directors, stated: “In the wake of the EU referendum vote, we now need politicians to respond coherently to provide stability as we work out our future path. We must not lose faith in the ability of British businesses to overcome these challenges. 

“The IoD is resolutely positive about the opportunities that globalisation brings. We were promised an open and outward looking country after Brexit. Whoever ends up in charge must deliver on that pledge – a Britain that continues to play an outsized, global role in a world that is coming together, not moving apart.”

Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors and author of the report, added, “In the wake of the referendum, the most pressing concerns for businesses are responding to the short-term consequences stemming from disruption to financial markets, and preparing for longer-term ramifications, and maximising any opportunities that a post-Brexit landscape stands to offer.

 “With such a high degree of integration into EU markets, British businesses need to consider the possible outcomes of negotiations and whether we have access to the single market. There are a number of areas outlined in this report where we can forecast a range of potential changes to policy that firms should take into account when making any adjustment plans in the wake of Brexit, with both short and longer-term perspectives in mind.”

Throwback Thursday – 4 Challenges Procurement Faces & How to Overcome Them

Ask the question, “What are the challenges procurement faces?” and you’ll get the same responses time and again. So how do we overcome the key challenges and move on?

4 challenges procurement faces

We’re looking back at some of Procurious’ most popular content from the past 12 months. First up, we revisit an article on the 4 challenges procurement faces, and how to overcome them.

Why? Well, the nature of these challenges never seems to change, so by shining a spotlight on them again, we aim to start a conversation on how to finally put these challenges to rest!

Challenges Procurement Faces

Results from a newly published study shine a light on an assortment of internal challenges facing the procurement function, as well as its changing role as we enter an uncertain future.

Xchanging has issued the first results from its 2015 Global Procurement Study of more than 800 procurement decision makers. 

These first set of results look at internal challenges and the new role of procurement, covering misaligned KPIs, lack of internal engagement, capacity issues and skills gaps.

Challenge #1: Misaligned KPIs

Despite the now wide ranging responsibilities of procurement decision makers, 47 per cent name ‘cost savings realised’ as their number one KPI. The top four KPIs listed are all cost related. CSR/Sustainability impact, by comparison, is ranked as the least important at just 1 per cent.

Chirag Shah, Executive Director, Xchanging Procurement comments: “These results strongly indicate that there is a problem with the current KPI structure. Procurement teams are responsible for many business critical functions. From risk management to sustainability impact, procurement is engaged in activities that far surpass its cost-cutter legacy.

“The metrics against which organisations track procurement’s performance do not line up with what procurement actually delivers.”

Challenge #2: Lack of Internal Engagement

63 per cent of procurement decision makers globally identify ‘internal stakeholder engagement’ as a challenge, with 14 per cent claiming it is as an extreme challenge.

Shah explains: “Procurement’s strategic capability isn’t being understood and because of that, it isn’t appropriately valued. Not only is this causing problems for procurement performance, it is also restricting business success. By not engaging with the procurement team and fully understanding what it can deliver as a strategic partner, companies are limiting their potential for growth.”

CPOs clearly feel more internally valued than procurement middle management. 60 per cent of CPOs feel that procurement is a C-level priority in their organisations, compared to 37 per cent of procurement middle managers.

Shah makes a number of recommendations based on the findings: “To improve internal engagement, and properly communicate the value of procurement, procurement departments need to consider tactics such as introducing governance boards, using score cards to track deliverables, leveraging analytics and reporting tools to demonstrate results and even re-labelling team members with non-cost centric job titles that relate to their roles, for example ‘Risk Manager’ or ‘International Consultant’”. 

Challenge #3: Capacity Issues

According to Xchanging’s numbers, 80 per cent of procurement decision makers identify ‘procurement team time pressures’ as a challenge, and 20 per cent as a major challenge. This implies that the majority of procurement departments are facing major capacity issues.

Surprisingly, in comparison, ‘talent shortage’ is considered an operational challenge by far fewer respondents, with 59 per cent citing it as a challenge, and only 12 per cent as a major challenge.

The number citing talent shortage as a concern drops to less than half (40 per cent) when asked if it’s a problem for the industry as a whole.

xchanging

Challenge #4: Skills Gap

The skills considered most important for procurement professionals are ‘relationship management’ (88 per cent consider important, 59 per cent very important) and ‘negotiation skills’ (88 per cent and 58 per cent).

Significantly, these are also the areas where procurement decision makers identify the greatest gaps in skill set provision; around a quarter cite ‘relationship management’ (26 per cent) and ‘negotiation skills’ (23 per cent) as areas with the greatest gap in skill set provision. 23 per cent also name ‘project management’.

Want to read more about the challenges procurement faces? You can download the full report here.

Use Every Sales Trick in the Book: Procurement’s Guide to Business Partnering

Procurement professionals know just about every sales trick in the book. How can we turn these tricks to our advantage in business partnering?

Sales Trick Business Partnering

As a procurement pro, you’ve seen it all – the pitches, the gaffes, the strategies, the crash and burns. You also have your long list of personal success stories – the sales people, and sales strategies, you have personally unraveled and re-engineered to meet your company’s needs.

But then there have also been the spectacular defeats, where an absolute master of the sales spin has left you feeling like mere putty in their hands.

These negotiation experiences have, perhaps unknowingly, left us with a rich repertoire of successful sales techniques, which we really should be leveraging to master our own destiny.

We need to leverage these important sales learnings, and improve how we ‘sell’ our services into our own organisations, in order to master the art of ‘business partnering’.

Procurement Business Partnering

Fortunately, I am able to call on the collective thinking of a dozen of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies as I ponder this question, because business partnering has been the hot topic at the last few Productivity in Pharma Think tank sessions.

The discussions have focused on what skills and characteristics lead to successful business partnering, and those skills that help the procurement function become a ‘connector’ inside and outside the company.

How to be Liked

But going back to my story, let’s look at what we have learned from the best salespeople we know, and how we can adapt this to our approach to business partnering.

Be a “playmaker” – Let’s face it, you have probably genuinely “liked” the salespeople who have been most successful in convincing you to buy from them.

So how do you go about getting your stakeholders to “like” you and “buy into” the service you are offering? Some global procurement teams are actually applying a bit of science to this challenge.

Heads of Procurement know, like many other things in life, if you get the relationship right, everything else will follow.

Novartis, for example, uses a very sophisticated business partnering framework. The first step of this is “knowledge of self”, whereby each procurement executive completes a personality profile analysis. These profiles are then considered against the stakeholder to find the “perfect match” for the business partnering relationship.

Stakeholder engagement skills are also become an increasingly important part of the procurement recruitment process. Heads of Procurement are looking for a somewhat elusive set of skills that will orchestrate the supply network and create a vital link between the various functions in the company.

They are looking for executives who can create that all-important “bond” with their internal stakeholders, as well as their supply base.

Giles Breault of The Beyond Group says, “If you are going to write ‘business partnering’ on your CV then you must have these skills: the ability to engage and speak the language of your internal customer; the ability to lead projects as an equal partner; and intrapreneurial skills that help you operate like you are the CEO of your own business.”

Applying Sales Tricks

The “Play Maker” is a personality profile identified in the Game Changer Index (GC Index). This type of person is interested in people and relationships. They take the view that how well things get done in organisations will reflect the quality of relationships.

As the Game Changers would say, procurement teams wanting to improve their internal business engagement should look for people who “get a buzz” from the challenges of managing the process of influence, or those people who see themselves as a potent agent of change.

But once we have recruited the right skill set and matched up the personalities as best we can, we need to revert back to those all-important learnings from our sales friends on the other side of the table. Namely:

Remember why we have two ears and one mouth – The best salespeople listen more than they talk. Is your procurement team remembering this important 2:1 ratio when they interact with your stakeholders? I suspect that most procurement teams could benefit from listening more to their stakeholders and really understanding their business needs.

Fight the battle on the number of fronts – As we all know, the best salespeople have a multi-level account plan. They align the various levels of people within their team with the decision makers within their customer’s organisation.

They implement a consistent, tenacious plan and stay on message to achieve their goals. Does your procurement team have an account plan for your stakeholders? Do they stay “on message”? Are they focused on sticking to the plan?

Have single point accountability – This was a topic raised at a dinner hosted by Lucy Harding at executive recruiters, Odgers Berndtson, in London late last month. Most organisations can’t afford to have a separate role, or full time staff member, dedicated to business partnering.

Delighting the customer needs to be part of everyone’s role, but who is ultimately accountable for satisfying each internal customer needs to be made clear.

Have a story to tell – a USP – Procurement spends a huge amount of time listening to the unique selling proposition (USP) of its sales people and suppliers. We need to craft our own stories about our service, how we can help the business, and why we will drive value for stakeholders.

Ultimately, it’s about making our stakeholders, (who are really our customers), feel the love. As I wrote in a previous blog, building credibility, listening to our customers, and translating this into knowing what they do and don’t want, is critical for the process of business partnering. 

The Productivity in Pharma Think Tank brings together a conclave of senior procurement leaders from the Pharmaceutical industry, creating a unique, mini-MBA style environment, where the most pressing issues facing the function are explored in detail and, from which, key insights and applicable takeaways are derived.

You can find out more about this event at The Beyond Group website, and connect with the event hosts and facilitators Giles Breault (@GilesBreault) and Sammy Rashed (@RashedSammy) on social media.

The Surprising Truth – Apps Are Not Enough for Enterprise Mobility

Apps are all the rage, and businesses realise the benefits of having one. But many don’t realise that they need to go beyond an app for true enterprise mobility.

Apps for That

This article was first published on the Coupa Blog.

Apps have been closely associated with mobility since they exploded onto the scene with the launch of the Apple iPhone in 2007, followed by its app store in 2008.

Soon “there’s an app for that” became a running joke, denoting that just about anything that you wanted to do could be done on your phone using an app. We hit peak “app for that” when the American Dialect Society voted app the word of the year in 2010.

There are now millions of apps, and while it’s still true that you can do an amazing number of things with them, it’s also become clear that they have their limitations, especially for business.

Enterprise mobility requires more than just apps. So, when I hear companies announcing a new app with great fanfare, and sweeping claims that this innovation makes their product or solution mobile, I want to sit them down for a chat.

Mobility is a work style, not an app

Here’s what I’d tell them. An app is a must have, but enterprise mobility is a work style, not an app. More than sixty percent of workers are now working outside of the office at least part of the time. Apps are just one way of enabling them. True mobility is about letting people do business in the fastest, most efficient way possible, wherever they are, and that’s not always by using an app.

Apps present opportunities and challenges for the enterprise. A really good app, one that transforms a business process and makes it dead simple, can be highly addictive.

For example, I am on the go constantly. I couldn’t live without the Amazon app, because I place an order almost every day. I don’t even have time to even go to a local store for books and scissors for my kids, so I use the app to order wherever I am when I realise I need something.

My friend Lynn is also an Amazon fan, but she works from home or Starbucks, and uses one-click ordering on her laptop. She has never even downloaded the app.

Real challenge of enterprise mobility

It’s the same in the business world. This is the challenge of enabling true enterprise mobility: it’s multi-faceted.

Yes, you have to have a mobile app, and you have to invest in making it awesome, but an app can never match the desktop experience for managing a complex business process end to end.

And, if people still need to log in to the desktop application for all or part of a process, there has to be a really compelling reason for them to also download and use an app. If they can do something in some other way that is easier and faster than installing an app, they will.

On the other hand, for people who have to perform a particular process every day, or multiple times a day, downloading the app will seem like a small price to pay for a big increase in efficiency. They will naturally want to use it, and they’ll be raving fans.

Outside of these power users, the app will be irrelevant and they’ll never even download it. That’s why you have to give them other mobility options, such as mobile responsive design for tablets, smartphones and wearables, and my favourite, actionable email notifications. Yes, email.

Killer apps

What’s so great about email? You’d be hard pressed to find a business person who doesn’t have it on their smartphone and use it every day. So, if you can serve up something in an email and the user can take action without logging into a software system, and without having to set up a new account or go to an app, that’s a great mobility experience for most users.

We see this reflected in platform usage data at Coupa. Approving purchase orders is a common mobile use case. Not requiring approvers to be in the office to approve purchase orders has a huge impact for most companies, cutting PO turnaround time from an average of two or three weeks to 17 hours, the average across all our customers. But our data shows that most approvals are done via email, not by app, even though we offer both choices.

The same holds true for suppliers. The vast majority of suppliers only get a few POs from a customer, and invoice once per month. For these suppliers, downloading an app to turn a PO into an invoice is an exercise that adds to enablement effort without yielding benefit. If you give your supplier an option to get all the data they need, at their fingertips via email, without requiring an app, the vast majority of suppliers will choose this option.

Does that mean the app is no good? No. But why go to another app to do what you could do in the app you’re already in? Most people won’t do it.

Quest for Innovation

But for people who do have dozens of purchase orders to approve every day, or business traveler who have multiple expense items to upload, it’s a different story. They use the app because it’s more convenient, and less error-prone, to have everything in one place and process everything at once.

That’s why for the enterprise, equating an app with mobility is wildly optimistic and naive. Innovation in 2016 is not about having an app. Simply having an app for this or that will never be enough.

In this age of personalisation and consumerisation, innovation means continually thinking about end-user experiences and using the latest technology to make business processes easier through any number of channels. It’s giving people options to work how they want, when they want and with as little friction as possible.

That is true enterprise mobility, and so far there’s no app for that.

Strategic Similarities of Football and Procurement

Understand your position and adapt to how the other player is performing – true of both football and procurement, says 30 Under 30 star, Logan Ferguson.

Football player

Logan Ferguson was one of the young professionals named in ISM and THOMASNET.com‘s ‘30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars‘ this year.

Procurious caught up with Logan to talk to him about his procurement career, what the award means to him, and his love for football (or soccer, for any non-Europeans…).

Logan Ferguson
THOMASNET.com and ISM 30 Under 30 Rising Star – Logan Ferguson
  • How did you come to choose procurement as your profession?

I have always been a strategic thinker, enjoying exciting opportunities to solve new problems. This passion led me into Operations Management in the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.

I had the opportunity to work two enjoyable internships with Marathon Petroleum Company during my college years as a Global Procurement intern, which initially sparked my interest in procurement. The experience I gained during college propelled me on to my current career path.

  • You’re a keen football (soccer) player and fan – can you draw any parallels between playing the game and excelling in your career?

One of the main reasons I like soccer is due to the strategic nature of the game, and the fact that you have to be thinking and planning your next move at all times while you’re on the pitch.

The scenario is always changing, so you have to constantly adapt to what other players are doing. There are very similar elements that exist in procurement. When preparing for a negotiation, it is critical to understand your market position and develop your strategy for capturing the best contract pricing and terms accordingly.

Due to constant market changes, there is always an opportunity to find new ways to add value for the organisation. This constant change and the challenge it presents is exciting and keeps me on my toes.

  • Do you think procurement is an attractive career for millennials?

I think it is a great time to start a career in procurement. Many corporations now understand the value that can be delivered to their bottom line by developing a high performing sourcing organisation. This revelation has created new demand for talented problem solvers that can effectively fill these roles.

  • What’s your advice for young people entering the profession?

Learn as much as you possibly can in a wide variety of experiences.

Saying “Yes” to a lot of diverse opportunities not only gives you a greater breadth of knowledge but also builds your credibility in multiple areas of the organisation.

  • What does it mean to you to be part of the 30 Under 30 this year? And what will it mean for your future?

It is such an honour to be a part of the 30 Under 30 program. I’m extremely grateful for the recognition, and it wouldn’t have been possible without such a great support structure around me to recognise my accomplishments, and take action to nominate me.

The award is a testament to the opportunities I have had the privilege to be a part of so far, but I think the best part about the experience was getting to meet so many other successful young professionals through the program.

The greatest benefit the nomination has for my future is being a part of a network of high achievers, who I can contact to discuss work challenges and new, innovative ideas.

Why Indirect Procurement Fails to Deliver Savings to the Bottom Line: Fear

Fear of numbers, and using the language of finance is holding back indirect procurement teams from delivering real value and bottom line savings.

Fear

This article was first published on LinkedIn.

One thing you hear at every procurement event is how hard it is to really achieve indirect savings and bring them to the bottom line. Then the discussion inevitably moves to how finance and business heads just don’t understand the real value impact of the procurement team.

If you could fix this, all would be solved. However, this completely misses changes that procurement itself needs to address first.

While leading a major transformation of a large global indirect team, I was completely surprised by two blockers of a talented and motivated team. While they loved tough, numbers-focused supplier negotiations, there were two hidden fears about numbers that jeopardised their capturing savings.

1. Fear of Using the Language of Finance

The team’s comfort zone for numbers was in spend analysis, supplier pricing, total cost of ownership and benefits from a given negotiation. However, many had bad experiences with finance and business heads who were not interested in cost avoidance and best-negotiated prices, making the procurement group feel unappreciated, misunderstood and not part of the team.

There was immense cost pressure, and through the CFO and other senior leaders, this translated into a drive for year-over-year savings that could be translated into budget reductions. As the leader, I thought this was reasonable and went back to the team explaining that the measure of our performance from now on would be hard savings.

But two issues became clear immediately:

  • The team’s lack of basic financial acumen and the ability to understand and speak about numbers in the same way as the finance colleagues.
  • Their resulting discomfort and fear of not looking knowledgeable.

The journey to addressing this gap started with working together with finance to define the company’s accepted savings definitions. This handbook became the bible for all of the savings and budget reductions. It was also:

  • A training tool for procurement, finance and the business clients.
  • A way to take out the emotion and bad feelings via clear rules and definitions.

Learning by doing was a key part of the change process for the team. With regular and granular numbers reviews, the team had day-to-day opportunities to become familiar with the calculations and fluent in financial language and concepts.

This led to greater confidence in speaking with colleagues and became the new common language of how procurement contributed to the bottom line.

2. Fear of Committing to Accurate Numbers

Although procurement people will tell you that they like being measured on the numbers, what they also often say is ‘it’s better to under commit and over-deliver’. Unfortunately, what this really means is, ‘I can’t predict my performance so I will low-ball my guesstimate’.

This fear of not meeting targets was going to be even more problematic with the sharper focus on year-over-year targets. But it had to be urgently addressed:

  • As savings were being directly linked to and partly taken out of budget up front, being very accurate was an imperative.
  • While it is less bad than under-delivering, over-delivering in November usually means the money has already been spent on something else.

Over optimistically, I thought it was just a matter of explaining why accuracy was so important, and using a sales pipeline approach to enable it all. But as we got into the details, a few things became clear:

  • There was a lack of understanding (back to the topic of financial language) of how to organise projects at a ‘material’ level.
  • The team wasn’t used to thinking about their projects in terms of a pipeline over a longer horizon.
Addressing the Gap

The key to addressing the gap was again to improve the collaboration with finance as well as commit to senior management to deliver against the planned pipeline of projects. In turn, team and individual targets were set accordingly and we got two benefits from this effort.

  • Creating the pipeline got procurement involved in the business discussions much earlier than previously
  • The team learned how to set up a clear and material set of projects which reinforced their new financial knowledge

At the end of the first year, and for the very first time, the team got recognition from all sides. They felt new confidence in speaking about numbers and the increase in visibility from ‘real’ savings based on the clear pipeline. They couldn’t conceive of going back to the days of estimated benefits, fuzzy savings calculations and unclear targets.

Implementing both the formal processes between procurement and finance as well as the needed change management for the procurement team need to be fit for purpose to how the company really works. It might be as simple as agreeing the basic savings definitions or as complex as introducing a full workflow supported process.

Conquering these fears is worth the financial results!

Pauline King is the founder of Rapid Results Procurement focused on working with a company’s existing team to deliver tangible financial results. She is a recognised expert in indirect procurement with deep operational experience in procurement transformation. Pauline also works closely with The Beyond Group AG where she heads up the Indirect Procurement Practice.

Why Supplier Segmentation Can Aid Risk Mitigation

Supplier segmentation could prove a useful tool for procurement in aiding risk mitigation in the supply chain. Sandeep Singh of Genpact explains.

Supplier Segmentation

In the first part of this series, we looked at the role of procurement plays in risk mitigation. In this article, Sandeep Singh, Vice President – Procurement and Supply Chain Services at Genpact, offers further advice on risk mitigation strategies, as well as how to create effective supplier segmentation.

What are good mitigation strategies for global supply chains in light of high impact factors like natural disasters and political instability?

To anticipate, prevent, and manage adverse events throughout their operations, global enterprises need enhanced visibility of their third-party risks. They need more efficient risk assessments to support targeted mitigation strategies, and the ability to predict potential outcomes throughout their operations.

Some of the mitigation strategies could include:

  • Having access to a list of risk assessed, qualified suppliers, who can serve as an alternate source of supply in case of an adverse event.
  • As part of a supplier selection process, adopting a multi-supplier strategy, where suppliers are located in multiple geographies, or where one supplier may have an ability to ship from multiple locations.

These mitigation strategies can easily be created by analysis of past trends and through leveraging digital technologies.

To increase the likelihood of third-party risk management (TPRM) initiatives achieving expected outcomes, organisations can adopt a Lean Digital approach, combining digital technologies, design thinking methods to focus on the end customer, and Lean principles that offer greater agility.

This approach tightly aligns risk processes to business outcomes, and helps overcome the challenges from legacy operations. This is done by driving the right choices end to end, rather than focusing on the individual parts of the process.

What is a good process to follow when carrying out supplier segmentation for risk management?

Multiple product or services, complex data structure and taxonomies, large supplier base across the globe and changing regulations makes supplier segmentation by risk a complex process.

Leading companies are increasingly relying on data-driven digital solutions, powered by the right set of business rules to conduct risk segment. The Lean Digital approach can make risk segmentation more efficient and effective. Typically to arrive at risk segmentation of suppliers, organisations can follows two broad steps:

Step 1

Segmentation based on:

  • Category or type of product or services suppliers are delivering or will deliver – an office stationery supplier may pose no risk, as compared a supplier providing IT services, or a supplier providing raw material for the manufacturing of an end product.
  • Location of supplier – a supplier located in a developing country can be prioritised first, as compared to suppliers located in developed countries.
  • Nature of supplier relationship – how strategic or critical is a supplier to an organisation’s business. It may be more sensible to focus on suppliers with a long-term engagement, versus a one-time purchase.

Step 1 can also be taken to understand and manage inherent risk. It can help organisations prioritise their needs around risk, and can save lot of time, effort and investment into managing risk.

Step 2

Organisations can assess suppliers’ relevant risk dimensions leading to their segmentation as low, medium or high risk. Risk dimensions, such as anti-bribery and corruption, and data privacy, need to be mapped with the category, or type of product or services, that supplier is responsible for delivering.

Further, a scoring methodology should be created, taking into consideration category and location of supplier, and then connecting it to an applicable risk dimension.

This scoring methodology should also consider weightings across various risk dimensions, so that the final output is a comprehensive risk score which can then be used for supplier segmentation into low, medium and high risk brackets.

Are there examples of good practice in supplier segmentation by risk, where organisations have mitigated their risks?

There is a good example of this through some of the work that Genpact has done with clients in the past. One pharmaceutical company wanted to improve its ability to assess its thousands of vendors and partners, particularly as regulators were taking a greater interest in third-party risk management.

The firm lacked standard processes for supplier risk management, could not provide timely or accurate risk reports, and could not keep up with the volume of assessments required. Genpact transformed the pharmaceutical firm’s TPRM operating model by defining and executing a scalable, five-step process for assessing third parties against its standards of excellence.

The organisation also introduced metrics, data-driven process management and technology to industrialise the process. This enabled more accurate and timely reports, reduced assessment cycle times by up to 40 per cent, and increased coverage to assess close to 100 per cent of the company’s third parties over a certain level of spend.

Genpact offers a number of procurement services that can be tailored to specific client needs, including end-to-end Source to Pay (S2P) services for both direct and indirect materials. Find out more by visiting their website.

Dubai Securing Its Future Through Innovation

Traditionally a prime hub for trade, logistics and communications, Dubai, the UAE, are looking to secure the future as a hub of business innovation.

Innovation - Expo 2020

On the 27th of November 2013, Dubai was voted as the host city for Expo 2020, an event that aims to bring together a global audience to discuss issues pertinent to every person in the world. Based on central theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, Expo 2020 will also cover key sub-themes of sustainability, mobility and opportunity.

While the event will place the country at the heart of an event with an estimated 25 million visitors, it also helps to cement Dubai’s place as a centre for technology and business innovation.

Smart Cities

Dubai is already well on its way to becoming a ‘smart city‘, with huge sums of money being invested in making the emirate a hub for IT and technology. In September 2015, Dubai was named as the second-best city in the world for expats wishing to start a business, while the UAE was among the top 10 countries for expats to work in.

These titles run in line with Dubai’s aim to open its doors to the best and brightest technology innovators and entrepreneurs. As part of its investment in infrastructure during its ‘Year of Innovation‘ in 2015, provisions were made to assist small to medium-sized startups with technological assistance, aimed at creating growth in this sector.

And, as part of this drive to encourage more global technology organisations to come to Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced a $544 million fund to finance innovation in the city.

While the fund doesn’t actually go live in terms of investment until later this year, it is anticipated that it will provide funding to companies based in the UAE, as well as those providing “exceptional innovative ideas“, helping to drive growth and economic development across the region.

Innovation…and Procurement

All of this comes as part of the UAE’s ‘Vision 2021‘, which aims to make the country one of the most innovative in the world. And it’s good to know that procurement and supply chain have a key role to play in this process too.

In the coming months, a huge procurement and contracting effort will be undertaken to award build work for the site, infrastructure and transportation to support the hosting of Expo 2020. Dubai is forecast to spend around $8 billion on infrastructure mega projects in the build up to Expo 2020 including hotels, new metro links and malls.

Kicking it off last week, the RTA awarded a $2.88 billion contract for the construction of its Expolink metro. This will be followed by purchase of trains to service both the new, and existing, Dubai metro lines.

It’s estimated that Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) will look to 30 per cent of the project cost through private funding, with public-private partnerships mooted for the remainder.

Is it too much to ask for to have a little innovation in the procurement process? While traditional processes might still hold sway, we can only hope that the profession can get in on the act in the next few years.

Need something to chat about in the tea room? Or something to enjoy with your coffee? Here are the week’s big headlines…

States Come Together for Purchasing Agreement

  • TheNational Association of State Procurement Officers (NASPO) has been formulating a collective procurement agreement which is expected to benefit 34 states in America.
  • The Value Point platform will give states purchasing similar items cooperative buying power as one organisation, rather then by state basis. 
  • The Cloud-based platform will enable information storage and allow for different payment structures. 
  • The final agreement is expected to be signed off in August and will the states to move forward with a cohesive, cooperative approach to procurement.

Read more at Government Technology

Rolls-Royce Announce Robot Cargo Ships

  • The Rolls-Royce led Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA) presented their vision of autonomous shipping at the Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium 2016 in Amsterdam.
  • The group is working on a series of virtual decks, where land-based crew would control every aspect of the ship
  • There will also be drones and VR cameras to assist with spotting issues that humans cannot control.
  • Rolls-Royce aims to launch first remote-controlled cargo ship by 2020, with the aim for automated fleets to follow soon after.

Read more at Futurism

New World Bank Procurement Framework Live

  • The new procurement framework at the World Bank was officially launched on the 1st of July.
  • The new Procurement Framework will allow the World Bank to better respond to the needs of client countries, while preserving robust procurement standards.
  • The Framework also enables the Bank to work more closely with country partners in improving their own procurement systems.
  • Hart Schafer, World Bank Vice President for Operations Policy and Country Services, said, “The Bank can now offer a more modern and nimble procurement system to help promote sustainable development.”

Read more at The World Bank

US-Japanese Underwater Cable Goes Online

  • A 9,000km, six-fiber cable linking the USA and Japan, and backed by Google, went online at the end of last week.
  • The $300 million ‘FASTER’ cable is a project backed by a consortium of six companies including NEC, China Mobile, China Telecom, Global Transit and KDDI, aimed at better connecting the two countries. 
  • The cable can deliver up to 60 terabits per second (Tbps) of bandwidth, about 10 millions times faster than standard cable modems.
  • The cable will support Google’s Cloud Platform East Asia region, with dedicated bandwidth supporting faster data transfer and reduced latency.

Read more at Tech Crunch