Would You Have Managed the Piper Ethically?

No one involved behaved particularly ethically in the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. How can consumers and organisations ensure that all practices are above board? 

piper 11th day

 

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.

“On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…eleven pipers piping.”

There’s no doubt that the most famous piper in the history of piping is the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Renowned for his hypnotic musical talent, he successfully led away an entire town’s population of rats and, following lack of payment for his efforts, children. Can you begin to imagine the power that could be yielded by eleven of them all piping at once?!

We’d hope that, in this instance, the true love would have been extremely careful and ethical when it came to paying the pipers for their efforts; fairly, ethically and on time.

And if they hadn’t? Would the pipers be forgiven for leading away something precious to the true love? Perhaps they would have taken away all the gifts from the previous ten days!

It all begs the question, who is most responsible for the horrible outcome at the end of the tale, the townsfolk or the Pied Piper? Neither behaved entirely ethically.

Ethics is an issue readily discussed in procurement with regards to the supply chain and the consumer buying an end product or service. Both are, in part, responsible for ensuring that processes, pricing and staff-management are ethical and sustainable.

Where’s Your Consumer Conscience?

At this year’s Big Ideas Summit, Lucy Siegle, journalist at The Guardian, discussed the importance of consumers supporting sustainable fashion.

Fast fashion can be extremely enticing thanks to its competitive pricing and the consumer’s desire for on-trend clothing.  But what is the true cost of this industry? If you purchase an item of disposable fashion at a cheap price, have you considered the working conditions for those at the end of the supply chain?

It’s possible you’re supporting a fashion brand that pays low wages to workers in developing countries in terrible working conditions and, at worst sweatshop labour.

Whilst it might have been easy to claim ignorance in previous years, in an age of ethics and transparency, ignorance and apathy are no longer acceptable. It’s easy to dismiss responsibility by expecting fashion brands themselves to ensure  supply chain purity. But defiant and principled consumers can make an important impact by refusing to buy these products.

Danielle Stewart, Head of Financial Reporting at RSM UK, discussed this point further at our Big Ideas Summit 2015.

And if you’re still unsure whether your fashion purchases are ethical or not, ‘Good On You’ can help!

Is the Future Bright for Green Supply Chains?

Of course, we’re not placing the burden of achieving ethical supply chains entirely on the consumer’s shoulders. Organisations themselves are under increasing pressure to “go green”.

The long-term benefits to procurement alone are indisputable. These include:

  • The achievement of significant savings by focusing on a “whole life costing” methodology for procurement.
  • The incorporation of the “three Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), to cut waste and improve the efficiency of resources.
  • The improvement of management information, a focus on business and supply chain risk, and better supplier relationships.
  • Competitive advantage as a consequence of the early adoption of practices, focusing on increasingly environmentally-focussed legislation.

Back in June, the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) recognised twelve organisations that are aiding the long term health and vitality of society, economies, and the planet through best practice. These organisations are doing a great job at setting a standard for the rest of the world.

David Noble, Group Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), discussed the issue of ethics in procurement at last year’s Big Ideas Summit:

Changes were also afoot in 2016 in relation to modern slavery in supply chains. New legislations were added to the Modern Slavery Act which came in to practice in April.  All businesses with a turnover of over £36 million must now  prove they have taken steps to remove slave and child labour from their supply chains.

It’s likely that smaller businesses will also be forced to step up to the plate. As the larger companies begin to investigate suppliers throughout their supply chain, everyone will be expected to prove they are slavery-free.

It’s so important for organisations to take a measured and targeted approach to tackling exploitative conditions in their supply chains.

Our festive look at procurement is nearly at an end. However, we have one day left – and a look at what the procurement drum beat will be in 2017.

No More Supply Chains? Another Procurement Term Bites the Dust

With the advent of the supply ecosystem, the concept of the linear chains is outdated and misleading. Perhaps it’s time to let this term disappear.

broken supply chains

Introducing Watson Supply Chain from IBM. Get to know Watson here.

The thing about chains is that they’re linear.

No matter how complex they might be, supply chains are sequential by definition. They stretch from one geographical point to another, each link representing one of many upstream or downstream businesses that make up the whole.

But in a hyper-connected, interdependent world, the concept of the chain no longer does justice to the complexity of a supply manager’s role. Any attempt to map out a modern international supplier network will end up looking more like a cluster diagram, or a series of cogs and gears.

Or, to take an analogy from the natural world, a “supply ecosystem”.

Supply Ecosystems versus Supply Chains

To unpack some of the key differences (and similarities) between ecosystems and chains, let’s examine some key terms.

  • Interdependency

While a single link in a supply chain is only directly connected with its two immediate neighbours, each part of an ecosystem relies upon every other. This has been referred to as “super-connectivity” or “hyper-cooperation”. This comes with enormous benefits in terms of visibility, data collection and knowledge transfer.

  • Cooperation

Rather than having a single purchasing organisation sitting at the top of a supply chain, a supply ecosystem may involve a network of competing business with shared challenges. Collectively, they create and nurture a sourcing base that will benefit their individual businesses and the ecosystem as a whole.

  • Fragility and resilience

When a link in your linear supply chain snaps, the whole structure is at risk of collapse. A supply ecosystem is similarly fragile, as each component has its own important part to play. However, the difference is that the entire extended stakeholder network can work together to rapidly replace any missing part.

  • Knowledge

While organisations are eager to unlock potential innovation among their suppliers, they are often frustrated by a lack of visibility beyond the first-tier, or the neighbouring link in the chain.

Within the super-connected ecosystem, there is an increased flow of data, and better exchange of skills and knowledge. This means shared challenges are more likely to be solved through crowdsourcing among the entire network’s talent pool.

Again, problems will be tackled and solved with the conviction that what is good for the overall ecosystem will also benefit every member therein.

IBM Watson Gets It

IBM Watson helps supply professionals illuminate risks and opportunities to make better decisions through a proactive, predictive and innovation supply network.

The cognitive procurement technology leverages the entire ecosystem rather than the usual first-tier suppliers. This enables collaboration across every supplier organisation in your network to identify gaps, share capability and mitigate risks before they become obstructions.

The Supply Management Lexicon is Changing

The procurement and supply management profession is changing rapidly, and the language we use is changing with it. In 2016 alone we’ve gone so far as to declare obsolete three frequently used terms in procurement:

Do you agree that these terms have passed their use-by date? What other frequently-used supply management terms are also likely to disappear within the next decade? Leave a comment below!

Procurement exists in an ever-changing environment. Keeping up to date, even with terminology and concepts, can be a struggle. However, technology, like Watson Supply Chain, can help by making information available wherever we are. Find out more here.

Leaping into the Future – Better Have the Right Skills

Plan for the future. Look before leaping in head first, and understand what you need to know to handle constant change. It’s time for procurement to upskill.

10 lords a leaping

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.

“On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…ten Lords-a-leaping.”

With birds, rings, and maids all behind us, we head into the final few days of our carol. You never know what’s coming in the future, so you need to be prepared for any eventuality.

Think about how the recipient of all these gifts would be coping. What skills (if any actually exist) would they need to manage the myriad presents they have received?

It’s a similar situation with procurement, and the future of the profession. The fundamental nature of procurement is changing, and professionals need to be ready to cope. For this, we need to be developing the right skill set for what procurement will look like, not what it is now.

And once we have the skills, we need to know how we, as individuals, can make a difference for our organisations.

Leaping into Action

The traditional skill set in procurement isn’t going to cut it any more. That much is clear. Throughout the year, our experts and contributors have been highlighting the change in skills expected of procurement professionals.

The basic skills of contract management, negotiation, and others, can all be taught. It’s an attitude versus aptitude decision when it comes to hiring new team members.

But hiring managers are looking for a new set of skills. Keith Bird, Managing Director of the Faculty Management Consultants, sees these five skills as critical for the profession:

  1. Learning Agility – procurement needs agile learners to keep up with the pace of change, or face obsolescence.
  2. Cultural Awareness – the ability to work with diverse groups of stakeholders, usually in cross-border situations.
  3. Information Management – knowing which data is good to use, and how to use it in a way that means something.
  4. Social Media Savviness – where would we be without social media? Procurement professionals need to be comfortable communicating in any medium.
  5. Creative Thinking – approaching everyday business challenges with an open mind and creative mind set.

On top of this, we need to stop viewing ‘soft skills’ as a luxury. These are generally skills that cannot be learned, but are just as critical for success. And once you’ve mastered these skills, you might even be able to take on the mantle of your team’s MVP:

Change the Skills, Change the Game

If that’s all got you leaping to your feet to sign up for training courses, then great! If you have ambitions to be one of the CPOs of the future, you’ll need to develop a variety of capabilities.

And once you have the skills, you’ll need to know how to apply them for success. Even if you aren’t heading to the CPO arena, you can still make a difference for your organisation. You might not be a ‘game changer’ (and that’s ok), but you can still make a major difference for your procurement team.

Not familiar with the concept? Think Branson, Gates, Zuckerberg – in fact, anyone who has turned a small idea into a major disruptor. We were lucky enough to get the expert view during Career Boot Camp:

Your individual strengths can bring change to your organisation. The beauty of it is that one skill set isn’t enough. To create lasting change, you’ll need individuals all bringing their skills to the party.

And while the party probably won’t include leaping Lords and dancing ladies, it’ll be a celebration of procurement’s evolution instead.

We’re nearly at the end of our 12 Days of Procurement Christmas. But first, we need to have a look at how the logistics of the carol come together. Like the Pied Piper himself, you need to make sure everyone is dancing to your tune.

President Trump and Procurement – The Impact

As the weeks unfold, we begin to get a better understanding of what impact a Trump Presidency will have on procurement.

trump impact procurement

There is, of course, no need to introduce the events of Tuesday 8th of November 2016 to readers. On that day, Donald Trump won enough Electoral College votes to be elected as the next President of the USA.

The implications for the procurement industry may at times be daunting and hard to anticipate. However this article should shed some broad light on some of the possible implications. Two of the main implications are infrastructure spending and trade deals.

In terms of Trump’s policy platform, detail is so often conspicuous by its absence. In his “Contract with the American Voter” however, he has outlined extensive policy proposals for his first 100 days as President.

Impact on Infrastructure

The first likely impact is infrastructure, which is one key tenet of this “contract”. Despite having far-right positions on many areas, Trump does have more centrist positions on some areas, especially infrastructure investment.

This may well boost the economy, albeit fuelled by debt, unless highly ambitious funding mechanisms come to fruition. He has vowed to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure over ten years. This would of course require huge procurement expertise for large road and bridge building and various other industries. We will have to wait and see what happens with building walls, however!

But the real impact of this expansive infrastructure spending would not be the huge procurement processes required, but more the method through which it may be achieved.

Whilst it is far from certain how the incoming administration could fund such a project, while providing perhaps the biggest ever tax cut, he would also need Congressional approval.

Public-Private Partnership Proposals

The infrastructure is not proposed as fully funded by the federal government, but largely through public-private partnerships (PPPs). If this sets a trend, the implications for funding of public services in the USA and other countries, especially developed market economies such as Western Europe, could be significant.

PPPs such as this have been generally successful in some cases and rampant failures in others. In the UK’s National Health Service for example, they have been a highly controversial mechanism. Many argue PPPs have fostered long-term financing issues, and harmed patient care and outcomes.

Further, many argue that the privatisation that PPPs cause brings about fundamental change to the relationship between the state and citizens. With this, public services are delivered based on promises of profit. For infrastructure investment to go ahead, it has to be based not on the gain for society, economy or environment, but where a surplus can be extracted.

Impact on Global Trade

The second main impact will be Trump’s influence on global trade, which is a driver of prosperity worldwide, alongside his threats of protectionism. Since the global financial crisis, cross-border trade has stagnated. This has been the longest period of stagnation for over 70 years.

Trump has an overtly protectionist stance. He has already threatened to hike tariffs on imports from China and Mexico, as well as pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada.

In broad economic terms, this would increase living costs for domestic citizens. It would, without any doubt, be reciprocated by other countries such as China (as early noise coming from Beijing confirms). It would also affect jobs in export industries in the USA and the USA’s economy as a whole.

For public procurement in the USA however, this could also be significant. American public services could be restricted from products they currently source cheaply from abroad.

The increased costs from domestic purchases have to be made up from somewhere, such as savings in other areas, purchasing lower quality goods or increasing costs for users of public services.

The same could be true in Canada and Mexico. If the USA pulls out of NAFTA and applies tariffs on Mexican and Canadian goods, reciprocal protectionism would restrict Canadian and Mexican access to high-quality goods and services sourced from the USA.

Global Impact

Outside North America, the implications could also be significant for procurement professionals around the world. President Obama has been pushing hard to ratify the world’s largest ever free trade agreement – the Transpacific Partnership (TPP).

This opens procurement markets, and removes tariffs, between 12 countries, including Australia, Japan and Vietnam. Trump has confirmed he will cancel this deal on his first day in office. This will deny public procurement across all participating countries the opportunity to increase procurement competitiveness and reduce sourcing costs. It’s also likely to decrease the choice of the goods and services available for purchase.

The same is true with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The trading impact of TTIP, between the USA and European Union, would have been huge. Whilst talks reached an impasse in 2016 when negotiating procurement market access, Trump is likely to be the final nail in the coffin.

TTIP again would have been a boon to procurement teams in all countries, with increases in competition and decreases in price for all countries. This would have provided European contracting authorities with tariff-free access to high-quality American goods and services and vice versa.

Despite the threats of uncontrolled climate change and protectionism, the impacts of a Trump presidency are really yet to be known. Yes, Trump may have secured his “contract” with the American voter. But the contract will be re-tendered in under four years. The outcome of that really is unknown.

Going Dancing? Deal With This Supply Chain Crisis First!

Planning on going dancing with the nine ladies at the Christmas party? First, there’s a crisis to solve.

9 ladies dancing

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the first eight days on the Procurious Blog.

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love sent to me – a work Christmas party! But before you can go dancing, a major supplier calls you with some bad news. Let us regale you with the story of how Procurious saved Christmas!

 

‘Twas the day before Christmas, and I sat in my chair,

Before my computer, pulling my hair.

My colleagues had left for the work Christmas party,

Their voices were merry, their laughs loud and hearty.

 

The plan was to join them once emails were read,

While visions of Christmas treats danced in my head.

“I’ll be just a minute!” I’d shouted with glee.

How little I knew of the fate before me.

 

That’s when my phone gave a shout (what a clatter!)

I gulped – what was wrong? What was the matter?

An earthquake? A flood? My supply chain on fire?

Whatever it was, it was bound to be dire.

 

I picked up the phone with a trembling hand

It was a supplier! “They’ve taken a stand!”

“Who have?” I groaned, completely unmanned:

“Our workers! They’re striking! It’s bad for the brand!”

 

“But it’s Christmas!” I yelled. “The timing is shocking!”

“I think that’s the point?” he replied, knees-a-knocking.

I flew to my laptop and the project I checked

Without those supplies the whole thing was wrecked.

 

I leaped back to the phone: “Forget it!” I said.

“I’ll have to find a different vendor instead!”

Did I have a plan B? A second supplier?

No I did not, and now things were haywire.

 

I scrolled through my contacts, I Googled and Bing’d

Yahooed and LinkedIn ’till my eyes were red-rimmed

As I mentioned before, I was pulling my hair

“This isn’t Christmas-y! This isn’t fair!”

 

I slumped at my desk, my heart pounding sickly,

I knew a supply must be procured quickly.

And that’s when a lightbulb blinked on in my head

“I know where I should be looking instead!”

 

Back to the screen I leapt with a flurry

And typed in “Procurious.com” in a hurry.

This was my chance to stop repercussions

I logged into the site and clicked on “Discussions”.

 

“Please help me!” I typed. “I need a supplier!”

“It’s Christmas! I’m desperate! We’re down to the wire!”

I listed my needs and sat back, all a-quiver

In hope that Procurious would quickly deliver.

 

A minute passed – or two, maybe three

Would this trick work? There’s no guarantee..

But then Procurious.com gave a “ding!”

Someone’s answered my question! I felt like a king!

 

A colleague I’d met on the site was quite happy

To suggest a supplier, a reputable chappy

who could sort out my problems, no matter how vast

And what’s more, will do it surprisingly fast.

 

That’s when I realised my problems were solved

The supply chain was saved, all worries dissolved.

I put on my coat and left with aplomb.

Merry Christmas, and thank you Procurious.com!

From dancing the night away, to leaping barriers to the evolution of procurement. But what skills do procurement professionals need to cultivate in the future? Learn more tomorrow.

Negotiations Milking you Dry? Why Not Unleash the Power of the Herd!

On Day 8, the true love bestowed that famously lusted after gift of eight milking maids…

eight maids a milking

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.

“On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…eight maids-a-milking.”

As the gifts become more and more extravagant, we have to question the logistics of it all – we wouldn’t be procurement professionals if we didn’t!

It’s unclear how the true love bequeathed the eight milking maids. Were eight cows also included in the purchase or was it simply a milking service that was required? Were the maids employed by an hourly rate or at a fixed cost, and how were they delivered to the lucky recipient?

Whatever happened, it would have taken some great negotiation skills to strike up a fair deal that ensured neither party was milked dry.

Perhaps the true love harnessed the knowledge of a crowd of friends to get ideas on how to orchestrate the whole thing – using the power of the herd as it were!

Negotiating Your Best Deal 

The festive season calls for a lot of meticulous planning but when it comes to negotiating deals, you need to be prepared all year round. What’s your pre-match strategy when it comes to negotiating with suppliers, clients and stakeholders?

In order to achieve the right outcome, you ought to have considered your objectives well in advance. This will help you determine what sort of negotiation you’ll need to have and assess any additional support you might need such as legal advice.

It’s also important to ensure you know the other party. What are their aspirations, weaknesses and objectives?

This Procurious e-learning video has it all covered: 

Here are some key things to bear in mind:

  • Will your agreement stand the test of time? Both parties want to feel that they’ve achieved a good deal and a satisfactory outcome.
  • Is the outcome efficient? Make sure no value has been left at the table.
  • Are you off to a good start? Negotiating a deal sets the foundation for your supplier partnerships and a precedent for the relationship you want to build.
  • Have you mastered your verbal, written and non-verbal communications? When it comes to negotiating, you need to be assertive but not aggressive!

Milking The Power of the Herd 

Sometimes, no amount of self-determination and commitment can get you across the finish line alone. We all need a little help from our friends for ideas, innovation and support.

We’ve certainly noticed that collaborative innovation has been on the rise in 2016 with more organisations embracing the power of the Hackathon.

In November, Spotless Group and Startupbootcamp hosted an epic two-day event at the MCG in Melbourne, Australia, focusing on the Internet of Things (IoT) and DataTech. Events such as these help to generate new ideas and turn innovation into reality.

Lisa Malone spoke about the value of the Hackathon at this year’s Big Ideas Summit.

Lisa explained why it’s key to foster creative cultures in the workplace, giving employees the chance to dare to think about the unthinkable. It can be hard to think big and innovate when you’re stuck in the routine of day-to-day office life.

Hackathons can be a great way to harvest creativity and allow teams to deliver the big ideas CEOs are demanding.

If hosting a hackathon seems a bit out of your reach, remember there are other ways to drive change and innovation within your organisation.

Internal collaboration also has a huge part to play. Procurious recently addressed why it’s so critical to engage Millennials with new tech implementations. They’re tech savvy and accustomed to participating in digital communities.

Their contributions, for example, could be invaluable when it comes to the adoption of e-procurement.

It’s very nearly Christmas, and many of you will be dancing out the door to your Christmas party. But what happens if there’s a crisis that arises, demanding your attention? Don’t worry, help is at hand!

Yahoo Breaks Record – For The Biggest Hack in History

The biggest hack in history – it’s certainly not an award to be envious about. But Yahoo broke the record after announcing a major breach from 2013.

hack record

It’s been a bad week for embattled internet giant, Yahoo, as the company announced details of a huge cyber security breach from 2013. The hack impacted over one billion accounts, twice as big as the previous largest breach.

Yahoo was also the victim of the previous hack ‘record’, which it announced in September. It means that user data from over 1.5 billion accounts has been stolen from the company between 2013 and 2014.

Both the FBI and the New York Attorney General are investigating the hack. However, the company is likely to suffer as trust in its security and systems falls.

Hack Included US Officials

The first, and largest, of the hacks occurred in August 2013. Yahoo have said that data such as usernames, passwords, phone numbers and security questions were all stolen. The company is taking steps to contact users affected by the hack, asking them to change passwords and security questions.

It’s an embarrassing turns of events for Yahoo, who are already struggling to keep pace in the tech industry. It’s the second hack the company have announced this year. To further their embarrassment, it has come to light that 150,000 of the affected accounts belonged to US Government Officials.

According to a Bloomberg report, the data stolen from the officials in the hack could be a threat to national security. Data could allow cyber criminals to identify officials, target them, and further hack personal and professional accounts.

Organisations affected included:

  • Current and former White House staff;
  • FBI agents;
  • US Congressmen and their aides;
  • Officials at the NSA and CIA;
  • Current and former US diplomats; and
  • Every branch of the US Armed Forces.

Trouble on the Verizon?

The two breaches, and the high-profile nature of the accounts included, come at a bad time for Yahoo. In recent months CEO Marissa Meyer has come under increasing criticism for how the company is performing.

The hacks may also have a major impact on the deal Yahoo currently has to sell its core internet assets to Verizon. The deal, currently estimated to be worth $4.8 billion, has still to be finalised. And while it’s likely to still go ahead, Verizon have already said it will be looking for a lower price.

In October, when the first hack was announced, Verizon stated that it was “reviewing the deal“. It’s unlikely that a second breach will assist Yahoo’s negotiation position much either. With shares prices falling 6.5 per cent in Thursday trading last week, the deal valuation is likely to be put back on the table.

However, some experts believe that the deal will still be closed at its original price. The impact of the breaches will not be seen for some time, and certainly not in a way that would show any monetary damage. But at a time when a smooth deal was top of the priority list, Yahoo will need to work very hard to recover consumer confidence.

What Should I Do?

While you will be contacted by Yahoo if you are impacted by the hack, we’ve pulled together some things you can do in the mean time.

  • Log into your e-mail account and change your password

Make it a brand new password, with upper and lower cases, special characters and numbers. No dates of birth!

  • Check accounts the e-mail is linked to

Like most people, you’ll use your e-mail to log into other online accounts. Check all these accounts to make sure there’s no unusual activity. Change your passwords.

Once you’ve done this, check for any password reset requests that you haven’t asked for in your e-mail. Report anything suspicious to the site in question.

  • Check Sent Mail for Spam

Your account might have been used for sending spam mails to your contact list. Do a quick check of your sent mail for this.

  • Two Factor Identification

In light of the increasing number of hacks, sites have begun to introduce two factor identification. This works alongside your password as part of the logging in process. Register for it where you can.

You’re never going to be 100 per cent safe from a hack. But by using strong passwords (different ones for different sites), you can help to minimise the impact and possibility.

While we frantically try to remember all our passwords, we’ve looked out some of the top headlines for this week…

Trump Holds Silicon Valley Tech Summit

  • Silicon Valley tech heavyweights sat down with President-elect Donald Trump for two hours last week.
  • The leaders including Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
  • Topics discussed included vocational education, trade with China, and the need for data analysis technology to detect and reduce government waste.
  • The tech industry and Trump were frequently at loggerheads during the election. Trump also singled out a number of them for criticism on non-US supply chains.

Read more at the New York Times

Amazon in Drone Delivery First

  • Amazon made history last week with its first delivery by a fully-autonomous flying drone.
  • The delivery, containing a TV remote control and a bag of popcorn, was made to a customer in Cambridge, U.K.
  • The delivery took 13 minutes from Amazon’s local warehouse to the customer’s home. Amazon intends to extend the trial to hundreds of users.
  • Packages must weigh five pounds or less and can only be delivered during the day and in clear weather.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal and watch the video here 

Mexican Government Deploys Troops for Shipment Protection

  • As many as 1000 troops have been deployed along rail lines in Mexico to protect automotive cargo from thieves.
  • Thieves have been boarding trains to steal tyres, batteries and other automotive parts.
  • Mazda and General Motors are among the companies that have been impacted by the thefts.
  • American Honda has also been affected, and takes the damage into account when deciding between rail and sea-borne deliveries.

Read more at Automotive Logistics

UK Falling Behind on Timber Requirements

  • The UK faces a future timber shortage thanks to delays in planting of forests.
  • In order to meet Government requirements of 10-12 per cent increase in woodland areas in England, 11 million tree need to be planted between now and 2020.
  • However, the Chief Executive of Confor has highlighted serious delays due to inefficiencies in the grant system for planting.
  • The highly bureaucratic process means it can take up to three years before permission is granted to plant trees on a large scale.

Read more at Supply Management

An Expert’s View on the Future of the UK Economy

The media have painted a gloomy future for the UK economy thanks to the events of 2016. But one is breaking ranks – and it’s not all bad news.

the future of the uk economy

A few weeks ago, Procurement Heads enjoyed an insightful business breakfast hosted by the Chilworth Partnership & Venture Recruitment Partners at the Chilworth Manor Hotel. While we were there, we heard from one of the UK’s leading economic commentators, Alex Brummer.

Brummer has been City Editor at the Daily Mail since 2000 and is a multi-award winning economic finance commentator. Brummer was speaking on the topic of Brexit and the potential impacts on the British economy.

To add further spice, there was also the topic of “Trumpenomics” to discuss after the much-publicised US election result. Brummer is no fool, and whilst he was pro-Brexit, he empathised with the shock both events have caused.

Sense of Optimism

Despite the doom and gloom from his peers in the media, there was a sense of optimism from Brummer. He described the UK economy as “having taken the punches pretty well”.

Indeed, in the 3rd quarter we have seen growth at 0.5 per cent. Additionally, we are likely to see annualised growth in the UK of around 2 per cent. This is a faster rate than any of the Group of Seven (G7) countries.

From a recruitment perspective, there is much to celebrate as well. The unemployment rate has dropped to 4.8 per cent, and the number of people in employment is at its highest in 30 years.

Whilst the Chancellor’s Autumn statement next week will likely reveal a dampening of economic expectations, Brummer asserted that infrastructure investment in the 3 ‘Hs’ will boost the economy in time – Hinckley Point in Somerset, HS2, and the expansion of Heathrow.

UK Economy “Punching Above its Weight”

Back to Trump in the US. Brummer argued that his pledge to reduce corporation tax from 37 per cent, and a massive increase in infrastructure spending, will see the UK’s burgeoning Services sector well placed.

In this respect, he asserted that the UK ‘punched well above its weight’, operating at an annual surplus of £100 billion. Only time will tell just how this new political and economic relationship between Britain and the US will work.

One thing is for sure is that Brexit certainly hasn’t been an immediate disaster, reflected by the strong performances of the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 since June. Brummer claimed a lot of this is down to businesses bringing their operations, and therefore more of their investment, back to Britain.

Tangible example of businesses positive reaction to Brexit can be seen at Nissan, Ford and more recently Google, all making positive long term commitments to the UK. More businesses investing in Britain is surely a good thing for our employment?

Challenges to Come

Brummer warned of the failings of Europe, describing the EU as an “Economic disaster”. And the facts are scary:

  • Greece’s GDP has dropped by 25 per cent,
  • Youth Unemployment in Italy is now at 37 per cent, and
  • Growth since Germany joined the EU is stagnant.

Brummer did not underestimate the UK’s adjustment to Brexit and nor should we. But perhaps we should try and look at the positives of the events of the past few months.

There are challenges to come, like the possibility of a trade war, Trump going back on his economic policy, and the Pound weakening a lot further. Like many in the room, we came out with some reasonable optimism to see this not as a problem but as an opportunity.

To quote Brummers’s closing remark we should “see the glass as half full, not half empty”.

Supplier Diversity in 2017 – Here’s Why It Matters

2017 will be the year when Diversity in Procurement takes the spotlight. And here’s why.

supplier diversity

In March 2017, the Institute for Supply Management is holding a major summit on Diversity in procurement and supply management.

Diversity advocate Shelley Stewart Jr (VP and CPO of DuPont), has seen first-hand the positive impact that a strong, diverse organisation can have on the bottom line. Stewart is championing the case for making supply chains a bias-free zone at ISM Diversity 2017.

Here’s why supplier diversity matters to your procurement function, your business and your customers.

  1. Increasing Supplier Diversity is our Responsibility

A 2009 study from Pew Research has found that while minority-owned firms made up 41 per cent of all companies in the U.S., they only took in 10.9 per cent of overall revenue. Why?

Contributing factors include:

  • unconscious bias amongst decision-makers;
  • a narrow focus on cost over other value;
  • restrictive criteria for suppliers;
  • inflexible and non-scalable policies;
  • a tendency for big business to be most comfortable working similarly sized entities.

These days, diversity spend is now firmly on the agenda and rising every year. Reversing the contributing factors above has led to a more inclusive focus on overall value (including social benefits) over cost, flexible and scalable policies and criteria for suppliers, and a recognition that the strongest business relationships are often made with smaller, more diverse suppliers.

  1. Customers Want to see Diversity in Action

The public relations aspect shouldn’t be the prime reason for having a supplier diversity programme. However, it’s still important to track, measure and report on your diverse supply base to win recognition from your customers.

Your customer base is diverse, so your business needs to be diverse as well. This comes through adequate representation in the supplier base.

Partnerships with diverse suppliers will give your business a competitive advantage when facing changing customer demographics. For example, if you operate in an area with a rapidly-growing minority population, your key relationships with minority-owned suppliers will become more important than ever.

  1. Diversity Drives Innovation

Essentially, diversity brings a number of different backgrounds and life experiences into your supplier mix to overcome homogenous thinking with fresh new perspectives.

Size matters, too. A study by CHI Research determined that small businesses generate 13 to 14 times more patents per employee than large firms. Since diverse suppliers tend to be small businesses, many companies use their supplier diversity programmes to tap into new and varied creative resources and the innovation that is occurring at these firms.

The fierce competition for business amongst diverse suppliers is another driver for innovation.

  1. Diverse Suppliers are Often More Flexible

Because most diverse suppliers are small businesses, they are usually able to offer greater flexibility, better customer focus and lower cost structures than larger businesses.

Smaller, diverse suppliers are less likely to be tied down by restrictive policy, red-tape or innovation-stifling bureaucracy.

  1. Follow the Leaders

Some of the world’s leading companies are moving ahead with impressive supplier diversity programmes.

  • Microsoft, for example, has recently exceeded $2 billion in annual spend with M/WBE businesses.
  • Google launched a best-practice supplier diversity programme in 2015. It brings key partners into the Google Academy for shared learning opportunities that will drive further innovation.
  • AT&T celebrate their suppliers as one of their “four pillars of diversity”, the other three being the organisation’s employees, community and marketing.

If your organisation’s supplier diversity program is still only in its infancy, it’s important to increase your focus on this area or risk being left behind.

There’s an impressive array of conferences and organisations dedicated to improving supplier diversity, including:

Register now to join DuPont’s Shelley Stewart and diversity experts from Honeywell Aerospace, Rockwell Automation, Whirlpool and Fiat Chrysler at ISM Diversity. The event takes place on March 1-3 2017, at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld resort.

3 Key Qualities That Help Create an Agile Team

Plenty organisations talk about creating an agile procurement team. However, few actually put the qualities in place to increase their agility.

creating agile teams

I recently attended The Hackett Group’s 2016 ‘European Best Practices Conference’ in London, where Nic Walden, Senior Procurement Advisor, led a Procurement workshop on creating agility.

Speaking to the 40 or so procurement leaders in the room, Nic noted that increasingly agility is the defining trait of world-class procurement teams, both today and in future.

“More agile functions will be better positioned to respond to complex business problems. They can make and implement important decisions quickly, respond rapidly to changes in business demands or priorities, and maintain or improve cost under volatile business conditions”, explained Nic.

But how do you go about developing your team, improve efficiency and move from low to high agility?

Using The Hackett Group’s model, Nic divided the qualities that contribute to agility into three categories:

  • Adaptive Organisation
  • Information Centricity
  • Agile Service Execution

1) Is Your Team Adaptive?

Perhaps most importantly, an agile team must be an adaptive one. There are several ways to achieve this within your organisation:

Keep Learning

With mobility, cloud, artificial intelligence, and supplier networks accelerating at an unprecedented rate, Nic urged workshop participants: “Even if you are not a technologist, it is never too late to become one.”

For example, what are these new technologies? And how might we apply them to create value for our teams and business?

Are you continuously transforming your team’s capabilities to ensure they’re keeping pace with the evolution of the business? To be sustainable, change management should be embedded in your team with the opportunities to continuously upgrade, learn new skills and employ new capabilities.

Change your Strategies

Top management looks to procurement teams to help the business execute purchasing strategies more successfully. In turn, this enables the business to become more agile and innovative.

There is no need to stick to traditional approaches when considering how best to include fresh thinking and new idea generation in your supply base. Leadership teams should make quick decisions, be calculated when it comes to risk taking, and seize opportunities to think and act differently.

Adapt to your Talent

The Millennial Generation represents one of the greatest potential challenges to managing and adapting to talent in the next year or two.

Surveys tell us Millennials are likely to remain in a job for three years or fewer. Training strategies need to be modernised to reflect this accelerated reality, as well as changing learning styles and preferences. Strategies like 70-20-10 that get people up to speed faster and the use of more interactive, workshop and team based formats should be preferred.

The pace at which open positions can be filled affects operational agility, as does the efficiency of your organisation’s on-boarding process.

Given that staff turnover can be high, as in the case of Millennials, it’s crucial to save time here in order to maximise the contributions employees can make to the business.

2) Is information, knowledge and intelligence centric to all your team does?

Perhaps the greatest opportunity remains for many organisations to leverage information to enhance decision making. This opportunity can be looked at much broader than only historic spend data.

Is your team able to navigate information effectively? Do you have the insight to take necessary decisions quickly?

Invest in the right technology

Nic highlighted how “world-class procurement organisations spend 23 per cent more on technology per FTE, and invest a greater proportion of their budget than the peer group on systems and tools to enable analytics capability.”

The right technology, implemented correctly and consistently across teams, is worth the investment.

Know your stakeholders

Make it a priority to engage with and meet your key stakeholders in order to understand their needs, the problems they face and therefore the data needed to solve these problems.

Decision-making should be based on actual information and KPIs tracking value delivery mutually aligned across your team and stakeholders.

Harness the Value of Big Data

It all starts at quality data. Big Data has the potential to transform analytics with real-time intelligence. Procurement leaders are realising that higher-quality information can help them drive greater business value.

Big Data has been a game changer when it comes to customer analytics, offering an unprecedented ability to quickly model massive volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources.

Enhanced and more granular demand sensing and forecast accuracy are obvious examples for procurement and supply chain teams.

Automate Your Reporting

Adopting automated reporting and dashboards helps to streamline information, saves your team time and significantly reduces human error.

Real time reporting allows for speedier, pro-active decision making which will help your organisation to quickly achieve strategic alignment. What’s not to love?

3) Does your team execute service in a responsive, customer centric and agile way?

In an agile team, Nic notes that talent is “empowered, accountable and incentivised to focus single-mindedly on the customer – the internal stakeholder.”

Use Focus Groups To Prioritise

Set up focus groups to provide “voice of the customer” recommendations into what really matters. Your team’s product and service offerings should be designed from the outside in, beginning with the customer experience.

What outcomes or challenges will deliver optimum value? New innovations that your team seeks to implement should be driven as a result of customer and stakeholder feedback.

Act holistically

Try to create an end-to-end customer experience that cuts across multiple procurement (and sometimes other function) processes.

From the beginning, engage and involve the key players (ex. legal, finance, R&D, etc) in the processes that affect the customer experience.