Technology Is The Answer. But What’s The Question?

Companies everywhere are super-keen to invest in technology and an eye-watering $3.49 trillion will be made available in 2017 for this purpose – but how can CPOs and IT buyers ensure they make the right decisions? 

If you ask any CPO what their main priorities are for the next five years, you’re almost guaranteed to receive an answer involving technology. Spend for software and IT services is rising at a dramatic rate, and is expected to increase by an incredible 29% in 2017 to $3.49 trillion in the U.S. alone.

The urgency for harnessing cutting-edge technology is understood, and the good news is that business are making the money available. But how do you make sure you’re investing in the right tools?

Here’s the secret: you need to make sure you’re asking the right questions

Supply management professionals will gather in Washington, D.C. on March 22-24 for ISM Tech 2017, where they will gain access to the knowledge required to make intelligent technology investment decisions for the unique needs of their organisations. IT procurement experts will reveal new possibilities and cost-saving efficiencies in areas including advanced analytics, manufacturing 4.0, the role of robotics, going digital and utilising augmented reality.

Keynote speakers include Rick Smith, CEO of Fast Radius, who will be presenting on “Our 3D-printed future”, while Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and bestselling author Martin Ford will deliver a keynote titled “How data is driving the transportation revolution”. Other big names include Abtin Hamidi, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Cargo Chief; Amanda Prochaska, Vice President Procurement Program Management Office, MGM Resorts International; and Tom Martin, Director of Learning Solutions at ISM.

What questions will Tech 2017 help you to answer?

  • How can robotics streamline my business processes?
  • What’s the best way to use the Internet of Things (IoT) in the supply chain?
  • How can my organisation use technology innovations to capture digital customers?
  • How can I leverage analytics to align planning with demand?
  • How should I mitigate technology-related risks?
  • What capabilities will my team require to keep up with technological advancements?

As with every ISM Event, Tech 2017 is all about the networking. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet scores of innovative suppliers and exchange ideas with representatives from top providers in the field, strategizing with experts on their technology needs to identify new ways to tackle existing challenges and future growth opportunities.

This is one event where just about any conversation taking place in the Exhibition Hall is likely to make fascinating eavesdropping. Instead of the usual procurement “chatter” around traditional practices such as sourcing, contracts and requisition-to-pay, attendees will discuss cutting-edge concepts like cognitive analytics, 3D printing, digital reporting, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

As you network, keep in mind that IT procurement experts have been tipped to be the CPOs of the future. According to Procurious founder Tania Seary, the profession is now looking to this highly-skilled group for leadership, and IT experts are on the fast-track to leadership due to five key advantages:

  1. IT experts already control an important chunk of their organisations’ strategic spend.
  2. Soon everything we buy will include an element of technology.
  3. IT procurement experts know how to drive change.
  4. They are innovation scouts.
  5. They understand cyber security.

Don’t miss out – ISM Tech 2017 will take place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, Washnigton D.C. from March 22-24, 2017.

Fasten Your Seatbelts: You’re Going Global!

The Big Ideas Summit, powered by Procurious, is embarking on a world tour. And you’re all invited! 

Register as an online delegate for The Big Ideas Summit in London here.

Fasten your seatbelt, fold away your tray table and return your seat to the upright position – we’re taking you and your procurement career on an epic journey!

Funding might be tight and you can’t even remember the last time you had a spare second to give to your career development but, in 2017, everything changes!

Procurious will be bringing you the best in procurement thinking from our events around the world. And the best news? You’ll be able to access all of the content for free and at your leisure; whether it’s from your desk, on the go or in the comfort of your own home.

19,000 Procurious Members On Tour

For the past two years, Procurious has hosted The Big Ideas Summit, the world’s first digitally-led procurement event, in London.

The event has earned a global reputation as the most innovative leadership event for the procurement profession and 2017 promises to be just as exciting and thought provoking as we officially go global!

This year, we’ll be taking you around the globe with events taking place in London, Singapore, Sydney, Chicago and Dubai.

Wherever you are in the world you can fully participate for free by registering for each individual event as a digital delegate. You’ll be joining a community of 19,000+ procurement professionals, from 140+ countries, on Procurious to connect, learn, discuss and innovate together.

What is the Big Ideas Summit?

The Big Ideas Summit is an interactive, online event where up to 50 senior executives, industry thought-leaders and CPOs come together to connect with digital delegates from across the globe via our social media platform to discuss and test strategies and solutions for real world change.

2017 looks set to be a huge year for procurement thanks to rapid technology developments including advancements in cognitive tech and Industry 4.0. Surely there’s no better time to expand The Big Ideas Summit by sourcing ideas from top thought leaders not just in London, but around the world.

The procurement function must adapt and evolve to accommodate these technology changes and be ready to embrace what we’re calling Procurement 4.0. The question is: Are We There Yet?

The Flights Are Booked! Where Are We Going?

The Big Ideas Summit, London – 23rd February 2017 

Procurement 4.0: Are We There Yet?

We’ve got a jam packed agenda lined up for the primary event of the year. Our speakers will include:

  • John Macfarlane: Chairman, Barclay’s PLC
  • Linda Yueh: Fellow in economics, Oxford University,  Adjunct Professor of Economics at London Business School
  • James Bannerman: Creative Change Agent, Author of Genius
  • Mark Stevenson: Futurist, Author of An Optimist’s Tour of the Future

Nexus, Singapore – 30th March 2017

Navigating Procurement’s interface between cost and risk. Singapore’s NEXUS event will focus on managing the critical interface between growth and cost.

Pivot, Sydney – 17- 18th May 2017

Asia-Pacific CPO forum. Disrupting a decade of Big Ideas in Procurement.

Scrum, Chicago – 28th September 2017

A Procurement & Supply Chain Technology Sprint. Chicago’s SCRUM TM event will focus on the way technology is disrupting the workforce and reimagining how procurement value is delivered.

Reboot, Dubai – 23rd November 2017

Designing the Procurement 4.0 Workforce. Dubai’s REBOOT will focus on the talent and people implications of disruption created by Industry 4.0.

Buckle Up, We’re Ready For Take Off! 

The Big Ideas Global Event Series 2017 promises to light up social media, sparking vigorous discussions and crowd-sourcing ideas for the future of the profession but we can’t do it without you! We need your intput your questions and, of course, your big ideas for procurement.

By Registering As A Digital Delegates You Can…

  • Gain access to insightful discussions via our Big Ideas Summit 2017 groups
  • Connect with our influencers and ask questions live on the day of the events
  • Share big ideas for procurement with the Procurious community
  • Follow the day’s events live via our social media channels
  • Access video content from our speakers and attendees on the day and post-event

Who needs a workplace mentor when you can take your pick from the most exciting procurement influencers that the world has to offer?

You can now register free of charge as a digital delegate for our London event! What are you waiting for? Grab your passport and let’s go!

Meet The New General Secretary of Globalisation

Chinese President Xi Jinping claims world leadership for globalisation while the U.S. moves towards protectionism.

Chinese President Xi Jinping used his address at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last week to defend globalisation and criticise the rise of protectionism in Western economies.

The speech is the latest in a series of appearances on the world stage where Xi has sought to support the existing economic order that has fuelled decades of unprecedented growth in China. Similar appearances include Xi’s address to the United Nations in 2015, hosting the G20 Summit in 2016 and his speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Peru in November last year.

De facto Chinese leadership?

With the Trans-Pacific Partnership scheduled for the chopping block when President Obama steps down, Xi now has the opportunity to shape global economic systems to China’s benefit and step into an apparent vacuum for worldwide economic leadership, particularly where free trade and globalisation are concerned. In many ways, the world is now witnessing the situation Obama sought to avoid with his “Pivot to Asia”, designed to maintain American influence in the East.

In a commentary following Xi’s speech, the China Daily referred to the country as now being “the one major power with a global outlook”. “Ready or not, China has become the de facto world leader seeking to maintain an open global economy and battle climate change. In effect, President Xi has become the general secretary of globalisation.”

Xi’s Defence of Globalisation

“There is no point in blaming economic globalisation for the world’s problems because that is simply not the case,” Xi said. “And that will not help to solve the problems.” The problems Xi is referring to are those often referenced by Western populists across the U.S. and Europe, including growing wealth gaps and domestic unemployment related to offshoring. Xi’s speech touched on some of the deeper causes of sluggish world growth, looking to reinforce confidence in global development.

“Protectionism is like locking yourself in a dark room, which would seem to escape wind and rain, but also block out the sunshine,” Xi told the Forum. “No one is a winner in a trade war.” Xi announced that China has no intention to devalue its currency to boost competitiveness, despite ongoing criticism on this point from the new U.S. President.

Can globalisation function without the U.S.?

Despite the nation’s ongoing economic slowdown, the World Economic Forum estimates that China accounted for almost 39% of global growth last year. President Trump’s protectionist tariffs, along with his retreat from trade deals and climate pacts are likely to slow growth further. A similar level of concern is building in India, where the $150 billion outsourcing industry is under threat.

As WorldPost Editor-in-chief Nathan Gardel writes, “The optimal arrangement for making globalisation work is for the U.S. and China to join together as “indispensable partners” based on a convergence of interests to create a world order that works for all. If the world’s two largest economies, though from distinct civilizational spheres, don’t buy in, it won’t work for anyone.”

Read more Huffington Post 

 In other procurement  news…

Britain to purchase 60 trains for HS2

  • Procurement of a fleet of up to 60 High Speed 2 (HS2) trains was officially launched on Friday by Britain’s state secretary for transport.
  • HS2 is a planned high-speed railway in the United Kingdom linking London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester. It would be the second high-speed rail line in Britain, after HS1 which connects London to the Channel Tunnel.
  • The contract has an estimated value of £2.75bn and is due to be awarded by the end of 2019. The overall projected project cost of HS2 is £56bn.

Read more at the Birmingham Mail

GM announces $1 billion investment in U.S. based manufacturing plants

  • GM will invest $1 billion in its existing manufacturing plants, creating or retaining nearly 7,000 domestic jobs.
  • The announcement comes after President Trump criticised GM and other automakers for building vehicles in Mexico and shipping them to the U.S., including a Tweet threatening to tax GM for importing the Chevrolet Cruze.
  • GM’s targeted areas of growth include its subsidiary, GM Financial, and advanced technology divisions.

Read more at Investopedia 

Meals on Robot Wheels

  • Autonomous robot manufacturer Starship Technologies has signed deals with meal delivery companies Postmates and DoorDash to deliver lunches in Washington and San Francisco, beginning in February.
  • The robots are able to autonomously navigate sidewalks and traffic conditions, while customers track their progress via an app as they make the delivery.
  • Each robot weighs approximately 18 kg and can carry three filled shopping bags, while travelling at speeds of 6.5 kilometres per hour.

Read more at CIO 

What Procurement Pros Should Know About UK Energy Market Competition

Buying energy mightn’t always a top priority for procurement pros but there’s certain things you need to know!

The task of buying energy can often be pushed down the list of priorities especially within smaller businesses where time is precious. However, with proposed changes in how energy suppliers can market to businesses in the UK and the information that is available to them about competitors’ customers, could it now be time to start paying more attention to energy procurement?

Changes in the Energy Market

June 2014 saw the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) open an investigation into the energy market, on the back of a referral from industry watchdog Ofgem. This was triggered by the energy industry receiving increased political and media attention over its perceived competitiveness. The CMA issued its final report in June 2016 and outlined numerous recommendations with over 30 new measures being brought in, a number of which would affect energy procurement among smaller businesses.

Aiming to overhaul the energy market for the benefit of the customer, the report focused on four main areas – increasing customer engagement, creating a framework for effective competition through settlement, industry governance and wholesale market remedies.

Potentially one of the most noteworthy remedies micro businesses should be aware of is a database created and operated by Ofgem made up of ‘disengaged customers’, defined as microbusiness customers who have been on a default contract with the same energy provider for three or more years. Rival suppliers will have access to the information within the secure cloud-based database and have the opportunity to be able to market to potential customers via post. However it’s important to note that during 2017 energy providers will be contacting any affected customers to inform them of the new database, giving them the option to opt out of having their information shared if they wish.

Another measure to be in place by June 2017 is that energy suppliers will be required to provide online quotation tools for relevant micro and small business customers[i] to assist with price transparency and comparisons, helping buyers to get the best possible price based on their business’ postcode and consumption.

There has also been a significant change to arrangements around rollover contracts, as suppliers can no longer automatically rollover an existing customer for another 12 months following the end of their contract without having to allow the customer to exit on 30 days’ notice at any point. The supplier is also not permitted to charge any termination fees to customers that terminate the auto rollover contract during the rollover period.

CMA Report 

Finally, the CMA report states that in 2013 45% of microbusinesses were on default electricity rates, suggesting that customers had been placed on rates without actively negotiating. The CMA hopes to gain more interest and engagement from small businesses into the energy they procure, and with the end of fixed 12 month auto rollover contracts they believe proactive energy buyers will be able to gain better market rates.

Some remedies will come through amending supplier licence conditions, with many coming straight from the CMA via an order.

Energy buying might not be the top procurement priority for some businesses, however the imminent changes may present a timely opportunity to start paying more attention to energy procurement.

Steve Mulinganie is the Regulation & Compliance Manager at Gazprom Energy.

[i] The online quotation tool is only applicable to a subset of micro business customers, defined as customers who:

  • Consume no more than 73,000 kWh of gas
  • Consume no more than 50,000 kWh of electricity and has a meter profile of 1-4.
  • A small business is defined as an independently owned and operated company that has no more than 50 employees.
  • A micro small business is defined as an independently owned and operated company that no more than 10 employees.

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #31 – Successful Supportive Relationships

Is procurement too focused on risk in contracts? And is this view point harming its ability to build good relationships?

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.

Building Successful Relationships

Chandru Dissanayeke, Deputy Director at the UK Government Commercial Function, argues that procurement focuses more on the risk aspect in contracts, rather than building on successful outcomes for both buyer and supplier.

Chandru believes that procurement can build good relationships by being interested in the success of the supplier as a business. However, at the same time procurement should be supporting the supplier to manage risk where applicable.

The final factor for the relationship needs to be sharing information and lessons openly with all parties.

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!

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today. Get connected with over 19,500 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

6 Top Tips for Collecting Legal Spend Data from Law Firms

Do you have the data you need to understand your spend on legal services? It’s not about the volume of data, it’s about the quality of the reporting.

legal spend

Very few organisations have the granularity of legal spend data they need – they often think they are capturing this information or can get it from their internal systems.

However, when it comes to trying to use this data for a panel review or any kind of spend management project, most organisations very quickly realise their data in inconsistent, limited and simply does not offer the level of detail they require.

Organisations, therefore, often turn to their law firms to provide management information to allow a better understanding of spend levels, cost averages and, to a degree, law firm performance.

Here are our top tips for efficiently collecting this data.

1. Clarity on your reporting requirements

Start at the end. What reports do you want to see created from the raw data? Be ruthless in listing the real drivers for your project. From this, make a list of the key data fields you will need to create these reports.

2. Stick to the above!

It is very tempting to add more and more data fields to your list as your project continues. Very few organisations can actually handle the amount of data they capture, and by handle we mean put to a practical use within your organisation.

3. Be honest and practical

Few organisations have unlimited resources. You need to stick to a core list of reporting requirements. Too often this kind of project is started and balloons into something all-encompassing, becoming impossible to complete.

4. Complete the project

This, again, seems simple but often this kind of project is abandoned or the vast amount of data captured is out of date by the time the analysis is undertaken.

5. Ensure law firm consistency

Ensure you have empowered someone to manage the law firms and insist the law firms comply with this new format. Law firms are known to tweak data fields to suit their internal system.

If the firms provide different data sets it means you can’t accurately compare performance.

6. Some analysis is better than nothing

This really underpins all the above. Have a core list of reports and collect the least amount of data to ensure you can create these reports.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you will fix all problems in one data capture. Data is quickly out of date and you do not want to waste everyone’s time.

What to Report On

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some reports you can create using your spend data.

  • Spend by firm – an obvious metric as you need to know the overall spend by firm.
  • Spend or hours by timekeeper – this metric allows you to accurately perform ‘make versus buy’ decisions. For example, whether hiring more lawyers internally would be more cost effective than using external firms. You would also need to consider liability risks associated with this approach.
  • Spend by matter type – you need to understand this to understand the types of legal work being performed (is it M&A work, employment work, etc.).
  • Spend type (fees or expenses) – it is important to understand how much of the spend is on lawyers versus other expenses, and what those expenses are.
  • Number of matters – this allows you to look at overall volume relative to spend. Is spend increasing because matters have increased XX per cent or has the matter mix changed? For example, M&A matters are more expensive, raising overall cost.
  • Spend by matter – this metric allows you to review the big spending matters to see if there is anything you can do to reduce costs.
  • Timekeeper level – this metric allows you to look at the level of lawyer performing the work so you can analyse the efficiency of the lawyer.

Caroline O’Grady is a legal services procurement expert and a parner at Coote O’Grady, a specialist Legal Procurement Consultancy.

Supply Chain Risk Management: Not a Procurement Priority

This article was first published on My Purchasing Center.

Procurement teams struggle with supply chain risk management. They are aware of  the consequences of not managing it, but often they don’t have the resources to focus on it as much as they’d like. Even when they do, managing supplier risk poses a challenge: Most often the best metric of procurement performance at risk is when nothing happens.

A new report, Is Your Luck Running Out? Managing Supply Risk in Uncertain Times, by A.T. Kearney and Rapid Ratings International, describes the current state of procurement involvement in supply chain risk management activities, potential risks that could affect the supply chain, and ways procurement can begin to better manage risk.

Report co-authors Carrie Ericson, Vice President at A.T. Kearney Procurement and Analytic Solutions, and Rose Kelly-Falls, Senior Vice President at Rapid Ratings, did a presentation on the study for procurement and supply managers at ISM2016 held recently in Indianapolis.

Describing the report in an interview with My Purchasing Center, Ericson says she and Kelly-Falls started with the hypothesis that there’s risk along the supply chain that procurement teams simply aren’t managing. “They’re taking a kick-the-can approach,” she says. Asked if managing supply chain risk is procurement’s responsibility, Ericson responded:

“Procurement plays a big role in terms of vetting and onboarding suppliers before they even enter the supply chain,” she says. “Then, typically it’s procurement’s responsibility to put in supplier performance management programs to monitor and track behavior of suppliers throughout the course of the relationship or contract.”

The Is Your Luck Running Out? Managing Risk in Uncertain Times report, referring to the A.T. Kearney Assessment of Excellence in Procurement, states that companies are not effectively managing supply risk and that their risk management approaches are ad hoc at best. What’s more, just 40% of companies report having key performance indicators (KPI) or metrics for supply continuity and supply chain risk mitigation.

Most cite lack of bandwidth and budget as the biggest roadblocks.

Overlooking risk management—or, rather, getting by with that “kick-the-can” approach—leaves procurement teams especially vulnerable in today’s tenuous geopolitical and economic environment, according to the report.

The report also cites A.T. Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council (GBPC)  study, Divergence, Disruption, and Innovation: Global Trends 2015–2025, which analyzes trends shaping the world today and in the decade ahead. It identifies macro trends that play a role in the current and future operating environment for businesses and global supply chains. Among the trends procurement teams are advised to watch are: geopolitical realignment, continued global violent extremism and accelerating global climate change.

Understanding these trends and how they could affect the supply chain is the first step in anticipating and planning for the future,” reads Is Your Luck Running Out? Managing Risk in Uncertain Times.

Supplier Risk: A Closer Look 

The report also demonstrates how procurement teams can use the Rapid Ratings proprietary FHR® (Financial Health Rating) to analyze the health of public and private companies globally, with comparison across industries and regions. 

According to Kelly-Falls at Rapid Ratings, this is the first time such a study shows how combining macro trends analysis with a micro bottom-up company and industry analysis provides procurement teams with relevant industry insights to make informed risk management decisions.

Is Your Luck Running Out? Managing Risk in Uncertain Times shows the financial health of U.S. public firms peaked three years after the beginning of the global financial crisis in 2008, with an average FHR of 61.0 in 2011. Since then, they have declined to an average of 59.2 in 2015, a drop of 3%.

The peak for non-U.S. public firms (61.9), on the other hand, came in 2008 as the global financial crisis was beginning, while the low point was 58.4 in 2009 and again in 2015, a decrease of 5.7%.

While a two- or three-point change might not seem like much, it represents a very significant change based on the algorithm used to determine FHRs, the report states.

Over the same period, the financial health of non-U.S. private firms peaked in 2010 at 63.6 and deteriorated by 6.8% through 2015. U.S. private firms exhibited a decidedly different pattern of behavior. Their rating peaked in 2014 after achieving a 9.6% improvement from 2008 to 2014 and demonstrates a resilience quite unlike the other three groups. U.S. private firms declined slightly in 2015 to 64.2 but still led the others by a wide margin, indicating U.S. private firms have had an edge in terms of minimizing sourcing risk since 2012.

The report also drills down into the health of individual supply markets (by industry). For example, it shows that deteriorating financial health is evident in non U.S. firms in the aerospace and defense industry and in U.S. firms in the chemicals and computer technologies and services industries.

What is Procurement to Do?

A.T. Kearney finds that 90% of procurement teams expect they will have more responsibility for managing risk in the next two years—and they see a growing need to implement a risk management strategy within the next three years. As a result, they are starting to invest in risk management practices that link procurement, category and supplier management strategies.

Is Your Luck Running Out? Managing Risk in Uncertain Times looks at research on developing supply risk management strategies at the category or supplier level and risk and supply base segmentation.

The report finds there are multiple points in the sourcing life cycle where procurement can use risk mitigation strategies—especially in the early phases. This is when supply or category managers conduct the most comprehensive analysis, evaluating alternative suppliers and supply scenarios.

“At no other time does a procurement team spend so many resources on developing suppliers than when it selects, negotiates with and screens potential new partners,” Ericson tells My Purchasing Center.

After that, the report states that procurement’s most important tool for identifying and mitigating ongoing risk is access to robust, relevant and current data.

Kelly-Falls adds that, “procurement teams should not be shy about starting to engage suppliers they’ve been doing business with for years in risk management. It’s going to have to happen. It’s inevitable procurement will need a monitoring system for the supplier. Maybe not every supplier, but we can’t let incumbents know they’re okay.”

As for tier-two and three suppliers, she says, “We know as we get deeper in the supplier chain, it’s possible to lose touch with some of the smaller suppliers. So, it’s a matter of having good practices and making sure to cascade them to tier-one suppliers then hopefully they will take them and cascade them down to their supply base.”

5 Skills To Drive Supply Chain Success This Year

The skills required to drive supply chain success are forever changing. However, there are some skills that will serve you well over time.

Far from abating, the pace of change in the supply management procession continues to accelerate. It’s critical for supply managers and for the survival of the profession itself that practitioners continually update their skill-sets to avoid being left behind.

It doesn’t matter how experienced you are. If you let your capabilities fall behind while the profession continually reinvents itself, you might as well hand in your resignation today.

A common discussion we see on Procurious revolves around the new skills required for today’s procurement and supply managers. The catch is that even the latest skills are likely to become outdated with a matter of months as new technology and unexpected shifts in the global economy change the game again and again.

That’s why the list below is comprised of five skills that will see you through the next year and beyond, despite the galloping rate of change.

1. Becoming a lifelong learner

The most important skill for 2017 is more of a habit. Starting a new, lifelong routine of daily learning will open your career horizons, keep you informed of disruptive technology, and will rapidly transform you into the best-informed member of your team.

Your daily routine may involve reading industry news and blog articles, or targeting your capability gaps with online microlearning. Investing only a few minutes of professional development every day will make an enormous difference.

2. Improving your cultural intelligence

Although globalisation suffered at least two body-blows in 2016 (UK’s Brexit and Trump’s protectionism), it’s safe to assume that supply managers will increasingly work across borders and, subsequently, across cultures. The best global procurement and supply professionals have high cultural intelligence. This means they:

  • have the drive and curiosity required to understand the norms and behaviours found in different cultures
  • actively seek to understand cultural similarities and differences to avoid cultural missteps
  • plan ahead for cross-cultural interactions – making the time to learn common phrases such as greetings and farewells
  • are flexible enough to adapt their tone and manner during cross-cultural interactions according to their observations.

3. Mastering your elevator pitch

Every procurement and supply professional needs an elevator pitch. This is important not just for the benefit of your own career, but for the profession as a whole.

Even in 2017 we’re still in a situation where there’s a vast ignorance out there about what procurement is, and what we do. Being able to confidently spread the word with a short, engaging summary of procurement’s value will help your own prospects, improve stakeholder understanding of procurement, and (most importantly) help attract top talent to the profession.

4. Building your brand online

Are there still some stalwarts out there who are holding out on embracing social media as a career-building tool? Again, this skill-set is not only good for your own networking and career development, but very important for the wider profession.

We need as many people as possible being positive about procurement and supply management online.

Why? Because the alternative is a mire of online negativity from disgruntled stakeholders or suppliers with a grudge. Join two or three social networks, talk up the profession, and reap the professional benefits of a strong online network.

5. Embracing social procurement

Social procurement has gone from a nice-to-have, good-for-the-brand exercise to an integral part of business strategy. Before launching your first social procurement project in 2017, ensure you’re able to articulate how it benefits the business by aligning your efforts to enterprise-level targets and organisational values.

Nobody Said Procurement Was Easy

Are you ever tempted to give up on your career aspirations at the first hurdle? Tania Seary explains why you’ll thank yourself in the long run for sticking it out!

What is the hardest job in the world? This newspaper job advert has, in fact, awarded the title to motherhood! 

We recently launched Bravo – a Procurious Group addressing gender disparity in the workplace through the celebration of women.

As part of Bravo, Procurious will be asking a number of high profile procurement leaders their advice to other women in Procurement, and how we can help them to get ahead in their careers.

We’re kicking things off with our founder Tania Seary. Tania is the Founding Chairman of three companies specialising in the development of the procurement profession – Procurious, The Faculty and The Source. In this interview, Tania shares her thoughts on what makes a great leader, how we can motivate more people to join the procurement profession and her advice to the next generation of rising stars.

How can procurement motivate more women to join the profession (and stay with it!)?

A career in Procurement offers fantastic and diverse opportunities, which are not always readily, or well, conveyed to budding young professionals.

In my opinion, the function could be doing a lot more to engage with universities, both to encourage the development of the curriculum and to educate undergrads about what constitutes a career in procurement. Several global companies have integrated procurement rotations into their graduate schemes and I would love to see more organisations following suit. Not only has this proven successful in terms of recruiting the hottest new talent but it also gives the business as a whole the chance to see what valuable and interesting work procurement is doing.

Finally, as always, I would encourage and urge procurement professionals to share, share, share! Become an advocate for procurement by sharing your stories, experiences and insights to encourage the best talent, both male and female, to join our profession.

What tips/advice would you give to Procurement rising stars?

Stick it out!

One of life’s greatest achievements is making it across the finish line to collect the medal, or at least the participation award!  In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to give up at the first hurdle and pull out of the race. By abandoning your plans you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Those who are ambitious, push through in tougher times, keep working hard and are able to bounce back onto the career track after a knock back are the ones who go on to the greatest successes.

Of course, this can be easier said than done, especially when it comes to juggling family and working life. Women are under so much more pressure to balance the two and it’s this that I believe explains the gender disparity at the top of organisations.

What has been your most rewarding experience and greatest accomplishment to date?

Being a full time working woman and a mother presents a whole host of logistical and emotional challenges. It’s even harder without a strong support network. I’ve been so fortunate to have had some inspiring female mentors and colleagues who supported me through the early stages of my career and when I was setting up my own businesses

It’s extremely rewarding to now be in the position to pass on some of the things I’ve learnt. I’m always keen to mentor, inspire and, of course, employ fantastic women in procurement!

My three companies (The Source, The Faculty and Procurious) have helped to connect thousands of procurement pros. It’s exciting to see how Procurious has helped to shape the careers of procurement professionals globally and in so many different ways.

What 3 attributes make a great leader?

1) Accountability – The best leaders will take full responsibility for their mistakes as well as their successes. They can look in the mirror, own their decisions, embrace the outcomes and be proud of what they see.

2) Vision – This is what separates leaders from managers. A manager simply does the job they are tasked with. A true leader has vision and, as such, a passion (that they can hopefully make contagious) for what they are trying to achieve.

3) Empathy – Understanding the motivators, drivers and feelings of those around you is so important when it comes to unlocking the power of the people in your organisation. Solid, working relationships make the world, and business go around.

Why is procurement the perfect career for you?

As someone who get bored easily, the variety of possibilities within procurement was initially a big drawcard. I love to continuously learn, problem solve and bring people together.  Procurement has allowed me to do all three of these things on a global scale.  

What are three pivotal things that have brought you to where you are today?

Working hard, never giving up and continually learning.  There’s always a lot of discussion surrounding the first two points but I’d really like to stress just how important it is to keep learning, no matter what stage you have reached in your career.  We’ve made eLearning a huge part of Procurious and in the work we do in my other companies so it is easy for procurement pros to learn quickly, any time and on the go!

Take every opportunity you can to learn from your colleagues, managers and even your employees. Make sure you work for “learning” organisations that are likely to support your ongoing career development.

At Procurious, we want to make it easier for women to get into, stay in, and thrive in the procurement profession. This is why we are launching Bravo – a Procurious Group celebrating and promoting women in Procurement. Join the conversation here.

Perception vs Reality – What Your Suppliers Really Think of You

Have you ever wondered what your suppliers really think about you? How big a gulf exists between the perception (what you think) and the reality (what they think)?

think

You may believe you have effective processes, but do they agree? Do your suppliers really feel like a “valued business partner”, or is that just empty rhetoric?

The Faculty is currently undertaking its Supplier Confidence Index research for 2016. Here are seven common pieces of feedback we’ve gathered across hundreds of suppliers.

1. Organisational Alignment

Some suppliers very confidently told our researchers they were treated as valued business partners. Others, however, stated that they were simply “suppliers”, not partners, but due to the non-critical nature of their product or service this was to be expected.

One recurring comment was that talk of “Business Partnerships” does not always live up to the rhetoric. Procurement frequently uses language about partnerships. However, in a cost-constrained environment, every consideration but cost “goes out the window”, and the relationship falls back to a transactional nature.

2. Relationships and Communications

Suppliers are frustrated by silos within their client’s organisations. Communication issues within your organisation, or a silo mentality where procurement isn’t talking effectively with other functions, are highly evident to suppliers. This causes extra work, as suppliers have to explain the same concepts multiple times to different stakeholders within the organisations.

Suppliers also report that they receive conflicting instructions and mixed messages from different functions. Poor communication between the central and site-based procurement teams was another area of concern.

3. Value Creation Opportunities

Organisations are increasingly receptive to new ideas presented by suppliers. Suppliers report that this area has greatly improved from 5-10 years ago, when ideas were rejected out of hand for not aligning with policy, or for simply being too difficult to implement.

New ideas are now being heard, considered, and then implemented. This encourages suppliers to keep coming back with further ideas for business improvement.

4. Commercial Strength of the Relationship

A common complaint centred around unexpected changes to scope, which increases cost-to-serve. This could be improved through better communication, flagging the changes with suppliers as early as possible so they can plan accordingly.

Suppliers also reported a large amount of discretionary (unpaid or “goodwill”) work. One point to note is that suppliers generally seemed to be understanding about restructures and redundancies, even when they affect the business relationship.

5. Product and Service Complexity

Many suppliers made comments around unnecessarily complex procurement processes, which again increases the cost-to-serve. This issue is present in both the private and public sectors.

6. Business Process Effectiveness

Demand planning is an area of concern. Suppliers have flagged that they’d be willing to help with forecasting and planning processes if there was a better flow of information.

7. Integration and Joint Initiatives

Survey and interview results indicate that systems integration is generally improving, although there are further opportunities to integrate. Suppliers note that non-aligned systems mean they have to bear the cost of extra data-entry staff who would otherwise be unnecessary.

The Supplier Confidence Index is part of The Faculty Roundtable’s annual research program. Please contact Sally Lansbury for more information.