3 Reasons Why Supply Chain Professionals Are Excited About Industry 4.0

The Industry 4.0 revolution is firmly under way. And it’s something for supply chain professionals to be excited about.

industry 4.0

Over 200 years ago, the first industrial revolution was ushered in by the roar of the steam engine. Now, thanks to advances in automation and computerisation, a new revolution is underway – Industry 4.0.

Also known as the fourth manufacturing revolution, Industry 4.0 marks the convergence of physical and digital manufacturing capabilities to create “smart factories.”

These factories empower supply chain professionals and manufacturers to digitally plan and project the entire production lifecycle. This can help to increase efficiency, minimise risks and, ultimately, drive revenues.

In fact, 35 per cent of companies adopting Industry 4.0 technologies expect to generate revenue gains of more than 20 per cent over the next five years

Picking Up Steam

The revolution is already well underway in countries with large manufacturing footprints, such as the United States, Germany and Japan.

However, now it’s starting to pick up steam around the globe. That’s because more companies want to take advantage of the tremendous business opportunity presented by Industry 4.0 adoption.

So what specific Industry 4.0 technologies have the supply chain so excited? Here are the top three:

Predictive Maintenance

Big data is playing a big role in the revolution. Predictive maintenance is one example of how it is being used.

Within smart factories, sensors are installed on every machine. These sensors produce data that can be used to accurately monitor key performance parameters. This knowledge is used to assess the probability of machine failure while allowing stakeholders to prepare accordingly.

The manufacturing personnel in the factory, as well as the supply chain professionals who are relying on them, receive continuous, up-to-date status alerts.

Armed with this information, MRO employees can make more precise repair calculations in order to prevent non-scheduled outages. At the same time, procurement and supply chain professionals can identify potential risks well in advance, allowing them to be more responsive and agile.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is not a new phenomena. For decades, the process was used to prototype new products before they were put in production on factory floors.

Today, however, thanks to the improved capabilities and reduced costs associated with 3D printing, additive manufacturing is being conducted on the factory floor itself.

As a result, manufacturers in smart factories need little to no lead time to fulfil spare part requirements, and design improvements and upgrades can be made on the fly. Supplies that were previously too heavy or too cost prohibitive to ship can be created on-site, reducing costs and logistic headaches for supply chain professionals.

This expansion of additive manufacturing has reduced required inventory levels and provided procurement teams with greater flexibility than ever before.

RFID Tags

Intelligent radio frequency identification (RFID) tag technology helps supply chain professionals track the status and location of each piece of inventory throughout the entire supply chain.

This technology provides procurement teams with the peace of mind that no piece of inventory will go unaccounted for. It also improves efficiency by making it easier to find specific items, no matter where they are located within a warehouse.

Lastly, RFID can prevent products from being counterfeited by verifying the authenticity of goods and products as they move through the supply chain. This helps to combat a growing concern in the industry.

Just as it has in the United States, Germany and Japan, Industry 4.0 will revolutionise the supply chain around the globe. As it does, procurement professionals will be able to understand their operations better than ever before and be empowered to make more strategic, agile decisions.

Ed Edwards is Audience Outreach Manager at THOMASNET.com. He leverages his extensive experiences in engineering, manufacturing and procurement, to educate procurement and engineering professionals on how to streamline and improve their work.

Ed provides customised training to organisations’ engineering and sourcing teams and helps buyers with their challenges and finds them new opportunities.

5 Reasons Why Your Organisation Needs to Offer Sabbaticals

Sabbaticals were once confined to a few professions such as academia and the clergy, but are increasingly working their way into the HR policies of businesses across every sector.

quitting-job sabbaticals

You’ve just lost one of the most valuable members of your team because your organisation’s inflexible HR policies meant she couldn’t take six months off to travel with her family. Offering a sabbatical would have saved you the time and expense needed to recruit and train a replacement.

Does this sound familiar? How many of your best workers have quit for this reason? Where once sabbaticals were only offered to a select group of people, more and more organisations are offering them as part of their employment strategy.

Here are five reasons you need to offer sabbaticals to your team. 

  1. Retention

Let’s face it. Businesses across the board are struggling with retention, with millennial staff generally jumping ship every 2.5 years.

A sabbatical policy might just be the magic bullet you’ve been looking for to increase retention and longevity of employment. For example, you could offer a short sabbatical (paid or unpaid) after 5 years’ employment, a longer sabbatical after 10 years, and so on.

Remember, the alternative is having the employee quit to pursue their dreams, while you’re left with the expense and trouble of finding a replacement.

  1. Rejuvenation

There are so many reasons employees may want to take a sabbatical: study, travel, volunteering, health, family and so on.

But one of the underlying motives for people to take a career break is that we’re not machines – after a few years in the same role it’s natural to start feeling burnt out or stuck in a rut.

That’s why sabbaticals are essential for revitalisation, giving employees an opportunity to rediscover their mojo, rebuild their enthusiasm for their career and come up with new ideas.

  1. New ideas

As mentioned above, sabbaticals are traditionally associated with academia, wherein researchers take a paid break to spend time on activities related to their career or research, usually in a different geographic location.

The reasoning behind this is that people can’t be expected to come up with new ideas or creative thinking by simply sitting in their office – they need to find inspiration in other parts of the world and meet colleagues who are approaching shared challenges differently.

There’s no reason why this same concept shouldn’t apply outside of academia. A sabbatical will give your employees the opportunity to bring new thinking and creative ideas back to your organisation, even if they didn’t engage in any strictly career-related activities on their break.

  1. Expect career breaks to become increasingly popular

According to Elizabeth Pagano, cofounder of YourSabbatical.com, “the concept of working for 40 years and then retiring is outdated. People should be able to inject bursts of time off into their career paths.”

Putting off the pursuit of dreams such as travel or studying until you’ve retired (and over 60 years of age) can mean that you run the risk of no longer having the health or energy necessary to do those dreams justice.

Another reason sabbaticals will become increasingly popular is the security they offer for people taking a career break. Knowing that your job is being held for you is immensely reassuring.

The alternative is to quit your role, which could mean you’ll worry about your financial future during your precious time off and spend the last three months of your break on the phone to recruiters.

  1. Win the war for talent with attractive sabbatical offering

As sabbaticals become more widely accepted, expect job-seekers to ask about your sabbatical policy as they consider if your company is right for them. I

f a star candidate is choosing between your company and a competitor, a generous sabbatical policy might just be the factor that gets them over the line.

Remember, sabbaticals will not only help you attract talent, but retain people for years longer than the rapidly shrinking average term of employment.

Five tips for HR when building an offering for sabbaticals

1. Create a policy

A sabbatical policy will help you attract and retain talent, give employees a goal to work towards, and lay out a clear framework about how sabbaticals work.

It’s important to be absolutely clear on what activities would constitute a paid sabbatical, but keep in mind that for unpaid sabbaticals, the reason for the employee requesting the career break isn’t relevant.

2. Be flexible

A sabbatical could be your best way to retain a valued team member who was otherwise likely to quit.

Flexibility is key – even if that person hasn’t met the criteria such as the minimum period of employment, offering a sabbatical may still be a better alternative than letting them go.

3. Plan ahead to fill gaps

Ask the employee for a detailed handover plan well ahead of their career break, and consider involving them in the hiring process if a replacement is needed to fill the gap while they are away.

4. Discuss contact during the sabbatical

Many sabbatical-takers would choose to have zero contact with their workplace while away, and that’s fine.

Others, however, may want to retain a level of contact through regular emailed updates, or simply through social media.

5. Organise a return-to-work interview

Bring the employee up to date on organisational developments, projects, and new goals and targets that have occurred while they were away. A return-to-work interview will also enable you to capture any new ideas they will bring back to the team.

Does your organisation offer sabbaticals? If not, how would you convince your boss to offer one? Leave a comment below!

The Accidental Procurement Engineer

What makes the exciting world of procurement the perfect place for a curious engineer?

Procurement engineer

Some people begin their procurement careers with a big bang. Others start theirs with lots of sweat and toil. I started mine with a freak event. I was an Accidental Procurement Engineer.

Since this freak event, I have never looked back. I went on to have a fifteen-year career that would take me across North America, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Now I work on improving the Procurement experience with the software solution, POOL4TOOL.

Procurement is an ideal career for an engineer at the beginning or in the middle of their career, especially if you’re looking for a little more from life.

Procurement by Accident

Let’s start with the freak event. I was working for a large multinational company headquartered in France. My job was based in Turkey and was technical. It also happened to be the first job I had after the completion of my engineering degree in France.

Following Turkey’s 2001 economic crisis, the stock market crashed and the interest rate shot up to 3000 per cent. There was an immediate slowdown in our business activities and an immediate impact on my income.

The Turkish Lira lost approximately 50 per cent of its value against foreign currencies which meant that, in one day, I had lost 50 per cent of my salary against the French Franc.

These circumstances, of course, made me consider leaving Turkey. I got help from the local management who took my CV and forwarded it to their network in the company.

Among the proposals was the offer of a position in Procurement for manufacturing plants in France. I knew nothing about Procurement so I rushed to the office of the Purchasing Manager in the Turkish plant and within two hours had made my decision.

I was going to become a Procurement professional! It was a perfect career move: an ideal profession for the Curious Engineer.

The Curious Engineer

In recent years it has become evident that Procurement is an ideal professional path for engineers. Many people choose to embark on this path at the start by studying Supply Chain Management.

More and more mechanical engineers are coming into the profession and the Head of Material Flow & Logistics at the famous Fraunhofer Institute has even campaigned for there to be educational opportunities for Procurement Engineers.

What makes Procurement a great career path for engineers? The field of engineering attracts curious people and, whilst many engineers are curious about how things work, some have an even broader scope of curiosity.

They are interested in a wide range of fields and want to pick up skills outside of what is normally associated with engineering.

Procurement and Supply Chain gives these people the opportunity to exercise their technical knowledge but also allows them to follow market and business developments and develop networking and people skills. It’s a place to use both your right and left brain.

The Pros of Procurement

1. Procurement is a Great Place to Use Technical Knowledge

A technical background is a clear advantage in direct procurement, in fields such as discrete manufacturing. It’s important to understand how your company’s product is made and what material properties and specifications are needed and why.

Moreover, a technical background gives you insight into quality management and standards. Be it consumer goods or automotive industries, understanding quality standards is useful when it comes to sourcing parts and selecting the right suppliers.

2. Procurement Satisfies Your Analytical Side

Engineers are trained to be analytical and data-driven. We design and then we implement – with analysis being a key preparation process of the design. Procurement and supply chain produces a vast amount of data to analyse.

In this profession, you collect and analyse data to then be able to make optimum sourcing decisions, be it operational or strategic. You also need to calculate hidden costs and incorporate business priorities and market behaviour into your decisions.

3. Procurement Takes the Curious Engineer Into an Exciting World

Procurement gives you the chance to add to your knowledge and skills well beyond traditional engineering. It requires you to hone your people and networking skills.

This means managing not only suppliers, but also relationships with other departments. It requires sales skills: selling change and ideas to your colleagues across the organisation. And, of course, a whole new set of skills comes in with Change Management.

I’m a huge advocate for engineers considering procurement careers as a serious option. It will be interesting to see if more educational and training opportunities come up for this kind of talent in the future and how that changes peoples interest in the function.

Bertrand Maltaverne is Senior Business Consultant and Product Marketing and Content Manager (Int’l) at POOL4TOOL. POOL4TOOL is the market leader for electronic process optimisation in direct procurement. 

Not Worth The Money – Will Entrepreneurs Avoid Business in Britain?

The Great British Pound is in trouble again this week and it’s making budding entrepreneurs think twice about their business plans.

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Talk of a Hard-Brexit Sparks Global Concern

The pound plummeted to a 31-year low last week sparking global concern. The crash followed Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement on Sunday 2nd October, which revealed a firm timeline for triggering Article 50 and the beginning of Brexit. Extra fuel was added to the, already well-stoked, fire when the media reported that she would opt for a complete break from Europe- a “hard brexit”. Reports  already suggest that a “hard brexit” could result in a loss of 70,000 jobs and cost £10bn in tax receipts.

With the pound sitting at $1.27 against the US dollar, chancellor Philip Hammond scuttled to New York with the hope of reassuring America’s biggest banks about the consequences of Brexit. He will try to convince the Wall Street powerbrokers that London will maintain its position as the world’s leading financial centre once the break from the EU is complete.

The pound is also falling against the euro this week, hitting a five-year low and continuing to escalate concerns.

Weak Pound Triggers Rise in UK Services Sector Prices

The dropping value of the pound is already affecting the UK services sector as input prices rose to a three and a half year high in September 2016.

David Noble, group CEO, CIPS, said: “Firms raised their prices in response, to counteract increased costs for fuel, food and elevated wage bills and as the weaker pound had an effect.”

Companies demonstrated their concerns at the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit implications through their reluctance to forge ahead with confidence.

“It’s clear that the pace of expansion has cooled since the first half of the year, reflecting widespread concern about the potential future impact of Brexit”, David commented.

Is Brexit Scaring Off Entrepreneurs?

The aftermath of Britain’s Brexit referendum back in June 2016 saw a strong display of optimism from many entrepreneurs. Indeed, a survey conducted by the Financial Times confirmed that the majority of founders and investors had confidence in London retaining its status as Europe’s biggest center for start-ups. But, is there a change in the wind?

Diana Paredes, CEO & Co-founder at Suade Labs and passionate entrepreneur spoke with Business Insider last week about the effects Brexit will have on entrepreneurship.

She questions why anyone would opt to start a business in the UK given the current economic climate. Operating in London adds a premium in terms of housing and talent and people often see the many business opportunities on offer as a justifiable compromise for quality of life. However, with the future so uncertain, is it worth the risk and sacrifice?

Existing organisations might also be keen to relocate their bases to elsewhere in Europe where it is cheaper to operate, less isolated and they can continue to be regarded as a European company and not simply a British one. 

If you’re an entrepreneur, what are your thoughts? Is the dropping value of the pound enough to make you run a mile from UK business? Let us know in the comments below.

Find out what else has been happening in the world of procurement and supply this week…

Samsung in Trouble Again

  • It’s been a month since Samsung recalled its new flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 7, following several cases of it exploding and injuring customers.
  • The company have been issuing replacement devices to customers who bought Galaxy Note 7 phones.
  • However, a Samsung recently started smoking uncontrollably on a flight before takeoff, forcing the cabin crew to evacuate the plane. This could lead to a second recall and a disastrous outcome for Samsung.
  • Google announced its Pixel smartphone this week and could be well placed to steal a whole host of disappointed Samsung’s customers.

Read More at Business Insider

Uber’s Self-Driving Cars

  • Uber’s self-driving car pilot program may want to fasten its seat belts after the bumpy beginning it has reportedly gotten off to.
  • The cars have reportedly gotten into accidents and ignored traffic signs during testing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • Whilst it is still very early days for self-driving cars, it’s believed that they are, ultimately, inevitable given the overall, enticing end-game which should see the cars combatting road deaths.

Read more at Tech Radar

Supply Chain Leaders Pressured to Embrace Climate Change

  • Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) meets next month in New York with the current cri de Coeur being “bold climate action”.
  • Analysts have observed that multinationals must raise their ambitions by investing in climate finance, transition to renewable energy, and find more innovative was of ensuring resilient supply chains.
  • As well as encouraging change in organisational culture to embrace clean energy and other climate solutions, BSR insist that supply chain managers join Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) managers in becoming .intrapreneurs.
  • Supply chain managers can – and must – play a major leadership role in addressing the alarming consequences of aberrant global weather conditions.

Read more at Supply Chain 24/7

Drones Tested for Emergency Cell Service

  • Verizon Communications is testing the deployment of large-scale drones to provide mobile connectivity in emergency situations when the land-based cellular network has been damaged.
  • The drone which is being flown by American Aerospace Technologies, is nothing like the small, quad copter devices flown by amateurs at home. With a 17-foot wingspan, Verizon’s drone more resembles the types of unmanned aircraft used in the military.
  • Data gathered in Thursday’s trial will be shared with the FAA in order to help craft future rules regarding drones, Verizon said.

Read more at Fortune

Time Poor at Work? There’s An App For That!

We’re all aware of the concept of ‘time poor’. At least in a work setting, there’s an app or two to help you out.

app-for-that

Do you frequently feel like you’re short of time at work? Most people start the day with great intentions of how much they’re going to get done. But throw unexpected meetings, phone calls, e-mails and tasks into the mix, and all of a sudden time feels like it’s running out.

Happily, there’s a plethora of apps on the market that can actually bolster your efficiency levels at work. Everything from note-taking, file-sharing, to expense claims and networking can be easier with the help of an app.

And, of course, if you need an app to help with your procurement knowledge and networking, you can download the Procurious iOS app!

Dropbox

Digital storage and file sharing has been revolutionised by Dropbox. It has simplified the way people work together by allowing people to securely store and share files and collaborate on work, whether they’re working alongside each other or on other sides of the world.

Dropbox Business comes with as much storage as a company needs.

Slack

Slack is a cloud-based collaboration tool launched in August 2013. It helps teams communicate and carry out everyday activities like filling out expense reports or scheduling meetings.

As well as cutting down on inter-company e-mails, it also saves valuable time from switching around different applications to do everything you need to handle at work.

Locomote

Companies of all sizes use Locomote to simplify corporate travel and to save costs. Locomote enables organisations to ditch the long email threads and spreadsheets to authorise bookings and claim expenses on any device anywhere in the world.

Feedly

This app enables to you monitor content on industry websites using websites’ RSS feed. The site allows you to collate everything you need to be reading in one spot.

Google Drive/Google Apps

This is a safe place for all your files, photos and videos and include a suite of productivity tools utilised by executives around the world.

Asana

Team and task management tools such as Asana and Basecamp make it easier than ever to track who needs to handle what aspect of a project, and where each project is at. Give your team access and empower them to update the management tool at each stage of the project.

Evernote

A great place to capture what’s on your mind, whether that’s the minutes from a meeting, today’s ‘to do’ list and share your ideas on any device. Great for note-taking on your phone and then emailing to your PC.

Way We Do

This app helps businesses get teams to consistently and diligently follow procedures in their day to day workflow. The app allows you to organise one to 1,000 team members to create and use an operations manual, meaning you can make policies and procedures a daily routine.

LastPass

This is a great app to help you improve online security while also removing the hassle of remembering passwords. It allows you to create complex passwords that you don’t have to remember, with the app logging you in securely.

Buffer

The app that enables you to multi-stream content across social media. This is a great tool if you or your team needs to schedule company social media content for the month ahead.

Cozi

This app allows everyone in your team, or family perhaps, to access the shared calendar app. This means you can put appointments in the calendar that everyone can see, and you can see what others will be doing next Wednesday so you don’t double-book, for example.

Expensify

This app helps simplify your accounts by allowing you to import scanned receipts, which can be matched to expenses. This means you no longer have to manually type in expense details.

You can also import your cash, credit card and other billable expenses, or directly import your bank account details to manage your business and personal credit cards from your mobile device.

LinkedIn

A successful business owner needs to keep on top of your competition and networking. The LinkedIn app is a great way to do this.

You can network with people in your industry by connecting to other relevant people, businesses and groups.

BRiN

Created in collaboration with over 250 business experts around the world, this provides free business advice and access to a video and audio library covering 80 topics, with more updates to come.

This chat interface enables BRiN to understand and pinpoint your business problems and give you solutions and recommendations within micro-seconds.

Pocket Save

This app, previously known as Read It Later, allows you to ‘save’ an article or web page to read later. This means that next time you come across an article, video or link you really want to read, but you’re about to step into a meeting, you can save it to read later.

You can also save articles from your email and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

The Procurious Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #17 – Harness the Crowd

Stuck for innovation ideas? Need help with your next project? Maybe it’s time for you to harness the power of the crowd.

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.

Harness the Crowd

Lisa Malone, GM – Europe at Procurious, talks about how procurement can lead organisations in harnessing the power of the crowd, and the concept of ‘hackathons’ in order to drive innovation.

‘Hackathons’ provide an opportunity to work on the business, rather that in the business, and give employees the change to take time out and come up with new ideas, and communicate and collaborate with people they would not have the opportunity to do this with otherwise.

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

Want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016? And maybe what we have planned for 2017? You can visit our dedicated website!

Get Your Career in Harness

If you enjoyed Lisa’s Big Idea and you want to hear more from her, then you’re in luck! Lisa was one of the career coaches for the Procurious Career Boot Camp.

You can hear Lisa’s podcast on using social media as your secret weapon in your career, and how social media platforms are fast becoming an indispensable tool for procurement professionals.

Also, if you’ve missed the other podcasts, then all is not lost. Enlist here, and you can catch up on topics from becoming a CPO, to taking your conscience to work.

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today. Get connected with over 17,000 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

Working From Home – The Great Productivity Debate

Does working from home increase productivity at the expense of innovation? And does it suit you and your company? Join the debate!

working-remotely

Ten years ago, remote working or working from home would have been unthinkable for organisations. Advances in technology and connectivity have played a major part. But just as important has been changing attitudes to the concept of home working.

Gone (or perhaps going would be more accurate) are the days of the perception of home working as a way to skive off for a day. Earlier in my own career, people from my office who worked from home were viewed with suspicion.

The thoughts were that they would log on in the morning, go off to do other things, and return periodically to check e-mails to make it look as though they were busy.

While it absolutely wasn’t the case (the people needed an extremely good reason to be doing it), it might have come from a desire for parity, and knowing that the opportunity could be theirs too.

Seeing the Benefits

But as time has moved on so have attitudes. People are more receptive to the benefits of working from home.

Australian bank, ANZ, polled their employees, and 81 per cent of them stated that they believed that the quality of their work should be measured by what they do, rather than where they do it.

Last year, a survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics found that one in seven people in the UK worked from home. In the USA, 67 per cent of employers were allowing occasional remote working by 2014, up from 50 per cent in 2008.

Companies have woken up to the fact that not only can they offer a better work-life balance to employees, but they can offer a more attractive package to retain their best employees. This is on top of the financial benefits that they can realise too.

Sun Microsystems’ telecommuting programme was saving them $64 million in real estate costs and $2.5 million on electricity each year. Additionally, employees were saving an average of over $2000 each on commuting costs.

Productivity vs. Innovation?

It came as a surprise to many, then, when Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer banned the company’s 12,000 employees from remote working. While agreeing that productivity was higher when people were at home, she argued that innovation and collaboration were suffering from people working separately.

Yahoo stood by their decision, and another big name, HP, followed suit soon after. However, more recently, both organisations have softened their stance.

In some industries or organisations, the concept of home working or telecommuting is considerably easier. In industries requiring more face-to-face interaction, or physical presence, things will, of course, be more difficult.

Ultimately, it’s going to hinge on how a job is performed, and whether there is even scope for remote working.

The Great Productivity Debate

But how much of a difference does working from home make on productivity? Speaking from personal experience, I would say that I’m probably more productive working at home than I was working in an office full time.

However, working from home suits both my job – a role that can be done from anywhere with a power socket and decent wifi – and me personally.

And that’s what I believe the productivity debate boils down to. Some roles don’t suit working from home. And plenty people will admit they couldn’t, or wouldn’t want to, work from home.

Some people are more productive when they can get their head down in isolation. Others are more productive when they have other people, and the buzz of an office, around them. And there are people who thrive in both settings.

The ideal situation would be where organisations are in a position to offer both home and office working. Knowing that working from home is an option may be enough for some people when the occasion arises that they need that flexibility.

Making it Work – And Maintaining Your Sanity

Even if you thrive on working from home, you need to plan your tactics in order to make the set-up work. After two and a half years working from home, here are some of my tips to help you stay sane!

  • Plan Your Tasks

Start the day with two to-do lists. One will be tasks you can do on your own, the other tasks you need you colleagues for. Doing this will allow you to line up your next task if you can’t get hold of people on the phone.

  • It’s Still a Work Day

Don’t get distracted, treat your day as if you were in the office. Take breaks and get up from your desk, but remember, you’re working in your house, not doing the housework.

  • Get the Tools

At Procurious, we use Slack and Skype to communicate, Google Drive to share documents, and a good, old-fashioned phone call (at least one a day in my case), to stay in touch. It’s allowed me to continue working remotely, while still feeling like part of the team.

  • Find a Third Place

You’ll inevitably need a chance of scenery at some point. Find somewhere local where you can work. It might be a coffee shop, or a library, but it’s going to help you stop staring at the same four walls.

  • Breathe the Fresh Air

Get out the house once a day, whether it’s a walk before or after work, or running an errand at lunch. Plan some exercise into your day too. You’re going to be less active when you don’t have to leave your house to go to the office.

  • Meet the Team

You might be a remote worker, but you still need to meet your team. Getting into the office once in a while will help you stay up to date and connected.

If you want to work from home, make sure you sell the how as much as the why. With all the tools on offer, there’s no reason that communication should be what’s stopping you.

The Procurious Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!

There’s More to Public Sector Procurement Than Red Tape

Public sector procurement frequently evokes the image of red tape, governance, and over-the-top bureaucracy. The truth is something else entirely.

red tape public sector

This article was written by Kate Brown, Head of Procurement for the Eastern Shire Purchasing Organisation (ESPO)

It’s that time of year again when the new students are heading off to University. And as usual, perennial favourites such as IT, law and sociology remain the courses in most demand for another year.

Sadly it would seem that procurement hasn’t made the top 10 most popular courses list again. I would imagine it would struggle to make the top 20. So what needs to be done to raise procurement’s profile and help attract new, exciting talent to our profession?

We all need to do our bit to help raise the profile of our profession. It’s not uncommon for those at graduate entry level to come for an interview with us with little understanding of what the role of a procurement officer actually entails.

So clearly there’s a job to be done to help educate school leavers and graduates as to what a career in procurement has to offer – beyond buying things and saving money. As we all know, it’s a challenging and varied career and CPOs are increasingly becoming important members of most boardrooms.

Challenging the Public Perceptions

In the public sector, we have a reasonable pool of procurement talent available. However, attracting new and experienced professionals from outside of our sector has always been a challenge. It’s fair to say that in our experience, we see limited movement from private to public sector or vice versa.

There’s always been the perception that the public sector is less challenging, but far too bureaucratic. The Government’s continuing spending squeeze isn’t helping things either. Many candidates are keen to avoid the public sector altogether because of fears over long-term job security.

However, the public sector has a lot to offer both those starting out in their procurement careers, and experienced practitioners alike.

For example, as a professional buying organisation for the public sector, we work with and provide national solutions for a wide variety of customers. These include local and central government, schools, universities, hospitals and charities, through to unique organisations such as the House of Commons and the Royal Opera House.

Our procurement officers procure a vast range of goods and services. From asbestos removal services to biomass, from catering equipment to domiciliary care, from training services to wheeled bins, and everything in between. So it’s a diverse and challenging environment in which to work and requires a whole raft of commercial skills.

Of course, salaries are always going to be part of the debate for anyone considering taking a role in procurement, but there are obvious advantages here too.

As you would expect, everything in the public sector is transparent. There’s a published salary for each pay grade, and a clear pathway for moving up the career ladder. And flexible working is offered to allow for a better work-life balance.

Growth and Success

In a bid to attract graduates to ESPO and grow our own talent we launched our graduate recruitment scheme in 1984.

Each year we take three or four individuals on to our graduate programme to train to work as procurement officers. Each trainee is assigned to a team and is given a mentor to support their progress through the scheme.

Our graduates work with us full-time and one day per week they attend university to study for their MCIPS qualification. This training is funded by us and our graduates are also given time to study and sit for their exams. We currently employ 30 of our past graduates and five current trainees. This makes up a total of 74 per cent of our procurement staff.

I am a graduate of the scheme and worked my way up to my current position as head of procurement. Our first ever trainee is now our head of catalogue and supply chain, so we’ve both proved that career progression within the public sector is possible.

Hope for the Future

There are many advantages to working in public sector procurement. It can be an attractive place for people to come and learn the trade, receive the support they need to further their training, and enjoy a diverse and challenging career.

Business and management was the most popular university course chosen this year. Surely there’s hope that procurement’s popularity will start to rise in future.

Clearly its profile needs a shake up and regardless of whether you choose to be in public or a private sector organisation with the right focus and enthusiasm, both paths will offer a challenging and rewarding career for those starting their working life.

The Procurious Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!

How To Win The Web – Spin a Kick-Ass Personal Brand That Will Get You Noticed

Think you don’t need to worry about how your personal brand appears online? Think again!

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There’s no escaping your online personal brand. Whether you like it or not, all your social media accounts are a direct reflection of you – and your organisation. The content you share, or lack thereof, will be under scrutiny from colleagues, employers, employees, suppliers and influencers.

It’s crucial to take ownership of your online presence by defining your own brand. Take charge of what your profile says about you and reap the professional benefits!

Why Does My Personal Brand Matter So Much?

Online connections are the new business currency.  We all prefer to do business with people that we like and deem trustworthy. In developing a stellar personal brand and building your network, you invite connections to get to know you, observe your integrity and build trust before you’ve even met them in person.

As a prospective employee you can bet that your interviewer/future employer will have already scoured your LinkedIn, Twitter and any other accounts they can access. All of these give an insight into who you are both personally and professionally. Make sure you stand out for the right reasons.

It’s just as important to have a killer online profile as a manager. People want to work for bosses who are well connected, and therefore influential. If your profile is underdeveloped, you appear ‘un-connected’ and risk deterring the best talent. People aspire to work for great bosses that can help grow their careers and they will make the first assessment of this by your online brand.

As a procurement professional, the impetus to have a strong online brand is even more important. Before any business development meeting or negotiation, you can be sure your supply-side counterpart will have looked at your profile, seeking information on what matters to you and your experience.

Where Do I Start?

If you know that your online presence could do with a bit of a revamp but aren’t sure where to begin, it’s self-auditing time!

Spend some time considering how you come across as a person. Are you consistent and authentic across different profiles? Would your network be interested in the things you are saying or sharing? What could you change to get yourself noticed by the right people?

Top Tips For Building Your Brand

Once your initial self-audit is complete, there are some key things to remember as you work on expanding your online presence.

1. Leverage Your Key Influencers

To be noticed online, you need a large network of followers. In the early stages of brand development, building an audience is easier said than done, no matter how brilliant your content is.

A more efficient approach is to leverage key influencers in your industry. Promote and share their work, cite them in tweets and reference them in your content to gain access to their audiences and encourage them to, eventually, return the favour. It takes time and commitment but your efforts will be noticed – just one retweet can make a big difference to your social media clout.

2. Don’t Be a Social Media Robot

You’re a real person so don’t shy away from showcasing the more interesting sides of your personality. If we were all to manage our online accounts with a strictly formal and robotic approach, the social media sphere would be a colourless and dreary place to hang out.

It’s the unique quirks of your personality that people are interested in so it’s unsurprising that the most individual posts with eye-catching photos on Procurious or Twitter are the ones which earn the most likes, shares and retweets.

3. Connect, connect, connect

Building a network is a never ending task so make it part of your daily routine.  Invite friends, colleagues and other connections you meet through events to join you.

On Procurious, we strongly recommend connecting with any and all of the members across our 140+ countries who interest you – perhaps they work in the same industry; manage the same category or perhaps you’d just like to know more about procurement practices in Fiji!

4. Don’t fool yourself – Worlds collide!

Particularly when it comes to Twitter, I’m often asked about whether it’s better to maintain separate personal and professional accounts, or opt for a single social media profile.

In my view, aside from the time management benefits of having just one account to feed, your personal brand is the sum of everything you do – or that is said about you – online.

Trust grows from authenticity. So regardless of how you structure your profiles online, both personal and professional will reflect your overall brand.

If in doubt when posting online, follow this checklist:

  • Does this add to the conversation?
  • Are there any spelling mistakes here? 
  • Does it make sense, would you really talk like that?
  • Would I care if my boss or, more importantly, my mum, read this?

5. Lose the Mask

 Unless you’re batman, you don’t want to keep your identity an online secret. Make yourself searchable on social media by using your full name and your current role. Add up to date photographs so people can put a face to a name.

And make sure your Twitter handle (or gmail account) isn’t some obscure, irrelevant gabble from your teenage years!

Who’s Getting It Right?

If you’re still in need of some further inspiration, look no further than Marie Forleo, entrepreneur, writer and creator of a socially conscious digital empire, enjoyed by millions. Whilst you don’t have to develop your online presence on quite such a large scale, Marie’s website might inspire and motivate you to better your brand!

The Procurious Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!   

Network Your Face Off

Don’t underestimate the importance of your network to your career. It could make the difference in landing your dream job.

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The importance of networking in procurement, be it face-to-face or on social media, can’t be overstated. Apart from getting your name and personal brand out there, there is also a wealth of information waiting for you when you interact with other procurement professionals.

During Procurious Career Boot Camp, we’ve had Career Coaches and high-profile CPOs sharing their thoughts on the importance of networking for a full career.

Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of The Muse and The Daily Muse, began a piece for the Harvard Business Blog Network with this sage advice: “Network Your Face Off.”

The truth and value of this statement cannot be underestimated.  Here are 7 reasons why networking is essential and why connections matter.

1. The larger the network the larger the salary

A recent study of 6,000 executives in over 3,000 firms found that the more connections an employee has, the greater their salary.

Specifically, the study found that a 50 per cent increase in network size accompanies a 3.8 per cent increase in salary with respect to the average.

2. Networks beget jobs

survey conducted by The Adler Group found that 46 per cent of active candidates and 49 per cent of passive candidates found employment thanks to networking.

Similarly, a study conducted by Banque de France and the University of Toulouse noted that half of all jobs in the United States are filled through personal contacts.

ABC News cites an even higher number – according to ABC News, 80 per cent of jobs are landed through networking.

3. Wider networks can lead to better paid jobs

Research conducted by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis economist David Wiczer, found that employees who found jobs through individuals within their network got paid, on average, 6 per cent more than employees who found their jobs through direct contact with a firm.

4. Networks provide security

People who are well-connected are more likely to stay in their jobs longer and have shorter periods of unemployment than people who are not well-connected.

5. Networks bring opportunities

The opportunities networks can bring include: partnerships, invitations to events, introductions, and invitations to give talks and presentations.

In short networks bring opportunities that benefit and feed your career, professional development, and personal interests.

6. Networks make you smarter

Knowing what is happening in your field and industry is vital.  When you have a strong network you are more likely to be “in the know” than those who do not have a strong and active network.

7. Networks make you happy

Minshew writes: “Networks are powerful, and when done right leave you surrounded by a core of individuals who are all rooting for your success and happy to help you.”  So true.

Networking is essential.  Get out there and build your network.

The Procurious Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!