Strategic Procurement: A CFO’s Guide To Getting There!

Ever felt like a different perspective on that age-old plea: “Help! I need to be more strategic!” would do your procurement team the world of good? Here’s what a CFO has to say on the matter…

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What do we hear from procurement professionals all the time in the industry of Procure to Pay? “Help me be more strategic” or “I want to demonstrate the value of procurement” or “Give me the tools to practice strategic procurement” or “How can I influence the big decisions being made?”

The good news is, there is a way to make these things happen – but you must be keenly focused on two things: data and analytics.

Get Perfect Vision with Complete Data

To even think about being strategic, there’s no way around it – you must tap into your company financial data and that data has to be comprehensive and clean. To build the complete data set, you must get 100 per cent visibility over enterprise-wide spending with:

  • 100 per cent of your e-procurement users funneling all indirect spending through the e-procurement solution
  • 100 per cent of invoices, both direct and indirect,  being processed through the AP automation solution
  • 100 per cent supplier on-boarding to ensure all invoices are being converted to e-invoices, regardless of supplier sophistication.

Layer this data with the power of analytics to quickly glean actionable insights and you’re ready to build your strategic procurement team, enabling everyone to see clearly to make informed decisions.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

As a CFO, I firmly believe that for both Finance and Procurement to be successful in achieving organizational goals, there must be strong collaboration between the CPO and CFO. The unique talent that exists in these functions needs to be leveraged to build and analyze the full financial profile of the company and see the possibilities for the future. From my perspective, CPOs can foster this collaboration and create a strategic procurement team that has their eyes on the prize by doing these 3 things:

1. Support Working Capital Strategy

53 per cent of organisations use payment terms as a strategic lever to manage cash flow.1 As the owner of supplier relationships, Procurement is in a unique position to support Treasury in the management of working capital by negotiating advantageous payment terms with suppliers. Procurement can help the company keep cash on-hand longer by:

    • Working with large suppliers to extend payment terms and pay later
    • Managing the long tail of the supply chain through a virtual card payment program that enables suppliers to get paid quickly, while the company pays later.

By working directly with suppliers to arrange the right payment terms for the company while benefiting the suppliers, Procurement ensures that Treasury can accurately forecast cash flow, properly invest in growth areas and optimize working capital overall. Supplier relationships also improve as financial volatility is minimized for suppliers, reducing risk in the supply chain. Additionally, a strategic procurement organization can generate a new revenue stream through virtual card payment programs that offer cash back. Read more on strategic payment programs.

2. Use Innovative Technology to Control Costs

Generating cost savings has always been a part of traditional Procurement, but now more than ever CPOs have access to innovative technology and advanced analytics to support these efforts. For example, artificial intelligence built into e-procurement solutions can continually scan procurement data to alert Procurement to savings opportunities like consolidating orders for bulk purchasing, better rates offered by different suppliers, reducing off-contract and rogue buying, optimizing inventory carrying costs and reducing other areas of wasteful or unnecessary spending. CPOs can also give approvers the ability to see how orders affect their budgets in real-time and educate other departments on ways they can make the most of those budgets – spreading the procurement talent across the company to help everyone. Suddenly, Procurement goes from being seen as the spend police to a helpful, collaborative arm of the business. Procurement professionals can also use automation tools to run strategic sourcing events to quickly identify and collaborate with the most cost-effective partners. With the right source-to-pay solution, Procurement is better positioned to quickly save costs and free-up time for more strategic initiatives.

3. Develop the Right Talent:

To achieve a strategic procurement organization, CPOs need to ensure they are developing and acquiring the right skills within the procurement department to focus on data analysis. Strategic procurement organizations steer away from a focus on squeezing cost savings out of suppliers and are moving to data-based decision-making that pivots the business one way or another to get ahead. According to Gartner, “the emergence of machine learning and AI is introducing the need for analytical skills and an understanding of data science and technology.” With rule-based and tactical activities becoming increasingly automated, the skill set needed in Procurement will involve working within that complete data set every day to derive the right insights for strategic initiatives like, right-sizing the supply base, spending smarter, reducing risk in the supply chain, improving supplier relationships and properly maintaining supplier data. Read more about the future talent needed for Procurement in Gartner’s article, Start Preparing Now for the Impact of AI on Procurement.

If CPOs stay focused on these areas, they will be able to realize their goals for strategic procurement and the perception of Procurement across the organization will change. If there’s one thing to take away from this article and my perspective on strategic procurement, it’s that you must set your sights on the data flowing through your organization in order to be effective.

See the Light

At Basware, our customers and their suppliers transact over the world’s largest open business network. That means we’re aggregating data across millions of financial transactions, creating an unmatched data set and layering that information with a powerful out-of-the-box analytics suite. If you’re ready to see how this data can make you more strategic, reach out – we’re ready to help.

On 28th September, Procurious is bringing The Big Ideas Summit to Chicago.  Register now  (It’s FREE!) as a digital delegate to gain access to all of the day’s action and LIVE video from our speakers and attendees. 

Assessing the Impact of Hurricane Harvey

A special report from ISM on the impacts of Hurricane Harvey has found there will be ongoing challenges around pricing, speed of delivery and certain commodities due to the storm’s destructive path through Houston, Texas.  

Facts, not fear. Back in July 2016, ISM’s CEO Tom Derry told Procurious why his organisation had put out a special report on the impact of Brexit in the U.S. “…There has been an enormous amount of speculation … fed by a sense of unease and uncertainty. ISM was in a position to gather real data and put the information out there so businesses can make informed decisions based on facts, rather than fear, concern or emotion.”

ISM has once again demonstrated leadership when disruption hits by producing a special paper addressing the potential economic impact of Hurricane Harvey, replacing existing speculation with data-based information to help affected business plan their response and recovery.

Houston, Texas, is home to the sixth largest import terminal in the world and a nexus for shipping lanes in the gulf coast. Strong economic linkages between the gulf coast and the U.S. as a whole mean that Harvey’s impact will extend far beyond the storm-hit area.

ISM’s survey of purchasing and supply executives nationally (not just in the affected area) found that the biggest challenges are expected with pricing, supplier deliveries and commodities such as fuel and plastics. Encouragingly, the data indicates that the effect on production, new orders and employment will be minimal.

Most impacted metrics: Prices and speed of delivery

  • Two-thirds (67%) of responding supply managers believe input materials pricing will be negatively impacted to some degree over the next three months.
  • 27% anticipate input materials prices will be negatively or very negatively impacted.
  • Over half (56%) feel supplier deliveries will be negatively impacted to some degree over the next three months.
  • 19% expect deliveries to be negatively or very negatively impacted.

Moderately impacted: Production, new orders and inventory level

  • A majority feel Harvey’s impact on production, new orders and inventory will be neither positive nor negative.
  • One in five are concerned about somewhat negative impacts, but only 1 in 10 foresee more negative impacts in the next three months.

Low impact: Employment

The good news is that business will not be laying off staff as a result of the Hurricane’s impact. Over 80% of respondents feel that employment will be neither positively nor negatively impacted by Harvey.

Commodities potentially in short supply

With the Houston area known for its fuel and petrochemical production, the following commodities could be in short supply for the next three months: fuel; plastic resins; chemicals; electronic components; feedstocks, chemicals (raw); gasoline; polypropylene; resin-based products; building materials; electrical components; LDPE; plasticizer; caustic soda; ethylene; HDPE; LLDPE; methyl methacrylate; petroleum based products; and isocyanate. 27 of 36 industries report that they expect to be impact by potential shortages of the above commodities.


My Brilliant Procurement Career Survey: we have a winner!

  • Over 500 procurement professionals took Procurious’ survey on career management in the profession.
  • Congratulations to our prize-winner Steven Reddish, a commercial supply coordinator based in Waikato, New Zealand. Enjoy your quadcopter!
  • Findings from the report will be published here on Procurious in mid-October.

Against The Clock: 60 Seconds With IBM….

What makes for an exciting workplace, how do you identify the great leaders and what skills are crucial for procurement? We put IBM’s Graham Wright to the test in a round of quick-fire questions.

Register now  as a digital delegate for The Big Ideas Summit Chicago!

With less than two weeks to go until we launch The Big Ideas Summit in Chicago, we thought we’d have a quick catch up with some of our keynote speakers to discover what makes them tick, where they see the procurement function heading in the near future and how they would reflect on their successful careers.

First in the hot seat is Graham Wright, IBM Vice President, Global Procurement and Cogntivie Procurement services. He’ll be enlightening our Big Ideas audience on Procurement’s Radical Transformation and the impact of cognitive technology.

But today, we want to know what makes him excited about his work, what he wishes he’d known at 20 years old, and the key skills he’s looking for in a killer team.

How do you stay relevant in a world of fast-paced innovation?

Firstly, client interaction. This gives you exposure to a huge variety of approaches by industry, country and company to innovation. You have to remain selective.

Secondly, you cannot read everything.  Instead, take the time to focus on the few key areas you want to learn about.

Thirdly, make time to network and engage through all types of media and professional and industry associations to get the information and bounce ideas to ensure you have learnt and can develop your points of view.

Finally, take the time to think !

What makes you excited to go to work on a Monday morning?

  1. Desire to win.
  2. Clients, my team and the engagements.
  3. Excitement of driving an agenda through IBM that can truly change the world through data, the next natural resource.

What skills and talents contribute to an all-round, great team?

  1. Self motivated, client focused individuals with an operating environment allowing learning from mistakes.
  2. Soft skills, but I’d call them consultative!
  3. An enquiring, questioning mind with the ability to apply innovative, design thinking.
  4. Passion and drive for the business, profession and self.

What 3 attributes make a great leader?

  1. Confidence to lead and use multiple styles.
  2. Being a good listener and a coach.
  3. Communicator with the strength to give “Straight Talk”

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were 20?

  1. Time goes very quickly. Have a plan and follow your dreams. Experience as much as you can.
  2. All those successful Internet Stocks !
  3. The benefit of exercise and healthy balance.

Want to hear more from Graham? On 28th September, Procurious is bringing The Big Ideas Summit to Chicago.  Register now  (It’s FREE!) as a digital delegate to gain access to all of the day’s action and LIVE video from our speakers and attendees. 

The Hunt Is On For 30 Under 30 Millennial Role-Models

Do you know a young gun who’s already making their mark on the supply management profession? Perhaps you’re one yourself? Nominations are now open for ISM and THOMASNET.com’s “30 Under 30” Supply Chain Stars program. 

It’s already happening. In companies large and small all over the globe, Millennials are being asked to step up into very senior roles to fill the vacuum created as an entire generation of Baby Boomers retires.

The generations in the middle, X and Y, are also moving into executive roles, but the problem is that there simply aren’t enough of them to do so. That’s why Millennials are leap-frogging through the ranks in nearly every profession – include procurement and supply management.

The talent pipeline in procurement

Back in 2014, ISM and THOMASNET.com recognised that there was a concerning gap in the talent pipeline. The 30 Under 30 award was subsequently launched to celebrate and broadcast the achievements of young professionals in an effort to bring more Millennials into the profession. The program is making headway. ISM reports that only 17% of the 2014 cohort had planned for a career in supply management, with most “falling into” the profession instead. By 2016, this figure had risen to 40% as an increasing number of school leavers began to seek out tertiary-level supply management courses.

“It’s really important to have role models in the profession”, says ISM’s Chief Content & Engagement Officer, M.L. Peck. “When young people see others their age who are receiving recognition for their contribution, it helps demonstrate that supply management is a viable and exciting career choice.”

ISM’s CEO Tom Derry encourages managers to nominate deserving superstars for the 2017 30 Under 30 award. “Our goal is to build awareness and enthusiasm for this exciting profession by showcasing the talent and accomplishments of these dedicated young professionals.”

Who can apply and what are the judges looking for?

Nominees must be 30 years of age or younger as of December 31, 2017.  Peck says that the judges will be looking for young people who are already making their mark on the profession and have demonstrated qualities such as leadership, innovation, collaboration, creativity and a contribution to supply management in their organisation or to the larger industry.

International nominations welcome

Originally for U.S. professionals only, the program was opened last year to international applicants to reflect the increasingly global nature of supply chain management. While only 3 of last year’s group of 30 were based overseas, many of the American winners had significant overseas experience.

What’s the prize? 

  • All 30 winners will receive a one-year membership to ISM, complimentary admittance to ISM2018 in Nashville (valued at $2,295), and a THOMASNET.com Team Training Package.
  • One individual will be designated as the Megawatt Winner and will also win an all-expense-paid trip (up to $5,000) to ISM2018 for themselves and their nominator.
  • For the first time, THOMASNET.com and ISM are offering a special Early Nomination incentive this year. Those who submit a nomination by Friday, October 13, 2017 at 30under30.thomasnet.com will receive a free month of ISM Just in Time Learning along with a mug and free coffee gift card from THOMASNET.com.
  • Most importantly, the winners will gain widespread recognition as their achievements are celebrated and broadcast through industry journals, blogs, magazines and newspapers locally and globally.

Do you have a Millennial supply chain star in mind for the 30 Under 30 awards? Nominations are now open – visit THOMASNET.com for more information. Nominations close Sunday December 3rd. 

Is Independence The Next Procurement Disruptor?

In workplaces that have less structure and much greater independence, where we can bring our own technology to work and use it to innovate, what does the future hold for procurement?

Disruption has become something of a buzzword lately. With brands like Uber, Airbnb, Airly and Tesla making headlines in Silicon Valley it’s very easy to get swept up in the momentum; where is technology taking us and how can it lead us to better outcomes?

Is technology fear making you freeze?

After speaking at a Young Innovators conference in Denver Colorado recently, I met with delegates afterwards to discuss their technology challenges.

Our conversation revealed that whilst technology was viewed as a great enabler and business simplifier, they were fearful of the cost and effort required for implementation – so fearful, that many had resisted changing existing legacy technology even when they knew it was bad for business.

It reminded me of Kodak, a story so powerful in reminding us how an inability of a company to act due to fear of change, risk aversion and desire to protect the status quo killed a global business.

When it comes to legacy software, perception might be that it’s better the devil you know. But we have reached a new era of the digitally connected individual, one who values instant access to information. The digitisation and connections of our personal environment is leading to the same changes within the workplace, allowing buyers to become more productive and engaged in the buying process.

Procurement teams have successfully become more integrated into businesses through a combination of people and technology and have delivered strong savings and operational improvements, but where are the future incremental improvements going to come from?

Reinventing the rules with the cloud

It’s becoming very clear that cloud-based applications are and have re-invented all the rules.

Cloud based applications are driving a fundamental shift that will transform many aspects of procurement and strategic sourcing.

Procurement teams are beginning to understand the benefits new technologies can bring to an organisation, even when it means that buyers are working with, and bringing software and applications of their own choice into the workplace.

Traditionally we have focused only on the team, today we are witnessing the rise of the individual within a team. A future where procurement individuals are connected to the organisations approved suppliers but continue to use their own technology to improve those interactions and connections. This is allowing them to find and deliver incremental improvements businesses are demanding.

The trend is right in front of us, our work environments have transitioned from structured workplaces to become open and community based; the same is occurring with our technology decisions. We still come to the office each day but work in an environment that has less structure, more innovation, flexibility and freedom.

Bring your technology to work day

Today you can bring your own technology into the office, use it to drive innovation, supplier connections and collaboration and then connect to the business mainframe to download and upload data.

The future will see more individuals challenging existing processes and demanding better connected applications that are just as fluid and flexible in business as they experience in their personal lives.

Our future procurement leaders will look for solutions that simplify key processes, are easy to implement and use and gather the key data that can be utilised to improve decision making.

Finally, I recently came across the following quote from a CPO in an Accenture article, “it’s gotten to the point now where technology is evolving faster than my mind is conceptually able to digest it”.

Welcome to the world of you, the procurement individual!

Alan is a thought lead and CEO of sourceit, a technology company that has led the market in the development of simple and easy to use sourcing applications for a wide of direct and indirect categories.

Sourceit offers three different products for buyers:

  • RFQ – request for quote software for products and services
  • Market – a specialized procurement and job management application for marketing services, and
  • Catalog – an inventory management and on-demand product/services ordering application.

Do You Have The Right Skills To Deliver Tomorrow’s Procurement Strategy?

Why are our procurement teams falling so short when it comes to delivering on strategy? Changing mind-sets and attracting fresh talent will help start the party!
Register now  as a digital delegate for The Big Ideas Summit Chicago!
 

Shockingly, 60 per cent of CPOs believe their teams do not have the skills to deliver their procurement strategy, according to Deloitte’s “Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2017.”

Why are procurement teams falling so short?

Originally, procurement was heavily based on process management, negotiation and basic spend analysis. But the procurement function is evolving, and professionals have to adapt to a new environment . There are new and growing expectations that require alternate skills for a more advanced job profile.

Procurement professionals are expected to be much more analytical, with the ability to perform data mining. They also must learn to manipulate and understand financial data and indicators, such as P&L and balance sheets. That’s not to mention that they should be proficient with the latest technologies.

Yet, one of the most important skills to develop is customer centricity. In today’s customer-centric world, this becomes crucial.

In my opinion, understanding internal customers,  being able to communicate in their language, knowing what they want or helping them to understand what they need, is the most difficult skill to learn and develop because it often goes against the conventional and traditional training that many procurement professionals have received.

It’s time to stop hiding behind the processes and get to know the internal customers! Given the back-office environment we are coming from, there is still a lot to do to change the mind-set and the behaviour of those involved. Procurement professionals need to develop their consultative skills and become less process focused, since excessive process significantly impedes speed and agility.

Keeping It Fresh

Another challenge for procurement involves attracting and retaining fresh talent in our industry. This situation needs to be addressed now to prevent a significant skills gap within the next couple of years. While we still have to continue to build traditional procurement skills. We also need to recognise that these skills must evolve as analytic and cognitive solutions provide more refined data and insight. The challenge is less about finding someone who is an expert negotiator and more about recruiting someone who understands data and logic.

At IBM, we are currently hiring maths and statistics majors because they can understand trends and probabilities. Although many procurement skills can be taught,  it’s hard to train someone to find trends in complex data.

Taking IBM’s example, our strategy to recruit and retain talent is reflected in how we communicate our procurement roles. “Our Procurement strategy is about collaborating with customers to ensure they have best in-class solutions, with access to the most advanced technology available on mobile devices. We partner with our suppliers to be as innovative and creative as possible.”

Presented like this, a job in procurement sounds pretty exciting!

The party ain’t over yet!

And the party isn’t over once we’ve found the right skills and talent, we also need to keep that skilled staff within the procurement function! If we help employees build on their competencies as well as add new ones, and if they can see that their contribution to the company’s mission clearly makes a difference, it will help us to keep those employees in procurement.

Ultimately, modernising the procurement profession and making procurement a “cool” place to work will help retain a talented, skilled and motivated workforce.

On 28th September, Procurious is bringing The Big Ideas Summit to Chicago.  Register now  (It’s FREE!) as a digital delegate to gain access to all of the day’s action. 

Your Procurement Career Upgrade: Download Complete!

Career Boot Camp 2017: That’s a wrap! 5 global CPOs, 5 FREE procurement podcasts – available NOW! 

Career Boot Camp 2017 is done and dusted!  Sign up here (It’s FREE!) to access all five podcasts. 

Procurious promised we would upgrade your career.

We pledged that we would transform your procurement future.

We swore our five, global CPOs would prepare you for workplace 4.0.

But we never said it would be easy!

Last week, Procurious and Michael Page Procurement and Supply Chain presented Career Boot Camp 2017.  If you joined us, we hope you’re feeling inspired and motivated to make you procurement dreams come true! Now’s the time to take you career to hand; using the tips, guidance and insights provided by our podcast speakers, you’re equipped to take the procurement world by storm. It’s going to be a long journey but we’re right here with you, every step of the way!

Want to catch up on any missed episodes, recap on your favourites or get stuck in to heaps of related content? Look no further.

Over 5000 procurement pros took part in Career Boot Camp.  Were you one of them?

I couldn’t make it, can I still take part?

Want to learn how to “fail forward”, why you should be locking up your data scientists or the reason Co-op’s CPO won’t be showing you her cake recipe?  

Great news! You might be a little late to the party but that means you can access the whole series in one fell swoop. Whether you want to listen on the go, from your sofa or during your lunchbreak, in one day, one week, or one month, Career Boot Camp 2017 is ready and waiting for you to listen at your leisure!

Anyone and everyone is welcome to partake in Career Boot Camp and it’s totally, 100 per cent free.

How do I join?

If you’re already a member of Procurious simply head over to our eLearning area to access the full series of Career Boot Camp 2017.

Not yet a member of Procurious? All you need to do is register here (it’s FREE!) and you’re good to go!

What can I expect?

Career Boot Camp 2017 was designed to help you transform your career and your future if, and only if, you’re ready and willing to upgrade! Our five CPOs provided inside information on what it’s like to work at their organisation, what they’re looking for in new hires and how they see the function progessing in the coming years.

More and more procurement professionals are opting to develop their key skills and gain knowledge through eLearning and other online channels. In a fast-paced, technology driven world, innovation, agility and forward planning are essential if procurement professionals are to succeed and be future leaders.

Need a little more persuasion. Click below to listen exclusively to Day 1 of Career Boot Camp in FULL.

Ramsay Chu, Rio Tinto CPO, How to Fail Forward:

“The best skiers have fallen many times. No one is an Olympic caliber downhill skier from the outset. It’s not a natural or innate talent that anyone’s born with. They get better by learning, pushing themselves to the limits, oftentimes falling, picking themselves up, and moving on.

“I think the fear of failure oftentimes casts a very long shadow, and potentially impairs our ability to really think big.”

Best of the Career Boot Camp Blog

Once you’ve had your fill of our five podcasts you might like to do a little wider reading. There’s heaps of great. related conten in our blog at the moment. Here are some of the highlights.

  • The Biggest Mistake Leaders Make On Their Way To The Top By Tania Seary, Founder Procurious – Procurement leaders, listen up! We hate to break it to you, but life’s not fair. And neither is your procurement career!
  • Personal Development: You Da Brand! By Matthew Friend, Associate Director Michael Page Procurement and Supply Chain – So you’ve decided you need to take your procurement career to hand by proactively managing your personal development? Here’s how to set yourself up for success.
  • 5 Global CPOs Answer Your Top Five Procurement Questions By Procurious HQ – How did the CPOs at Barclays, Vodafone, The Co-operative group, AstraZeneca and Rio Tinto fair when we put them to the test in a round of quick-fire questions?

Gain instant access to the full series of Career Boot Camp 2017 when you sign up to Procurious. 

Already a member of Procurious? You’re automatically enrolled for Career Boot Camp! Click here to listen now!

Barclays CPO: You’re In The Driver’s Seat, So Take The Wheel!

Don’t just come along for the procurement ride! If you want to make it big as a CPO, you’ve got to get in the driver’s seat and take the wheel!

Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts  with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!)  

What are today’s CPOs looking out for in the high performing procurement leaders of tomorrow?

Accepting change is good. But it’s even better if you can embrace it and drive it!

Barclays CPO, Al Williams, is certainly looking for more in his hires than a simple willingness to tolerate change. If you’re in the driver’s seat, you’ve got to take the wheel and drive the agenda!

On the fifth and final day of Career Boot Camp, Al discusses how procurement can generate value, how the function should be positioned within an organisation and how he encourages his hires to think about positive change.

And, if you’re in the market for some new shining stars, find out what you can do to make procurement a preferred and enticing destination for the next generation of professionals!

Five days, five CPOs, five fifteen-minute podcasts to help you upgrade your procurement career. 

Featuring tips and guidance from the best in the business, each of our  CPOs will dedicate their week to coaching you on becoming the best procurement leader you can be!

On Day 5 of Career Boot Camp we hear from Managing Director and CPO Barclays Al Williams.

Need a little convinving before you sign up? Check out our teaser trailer below to hear what Al had to say in reponse to our quick-fire questions.

Grabbing The Wheel

What attributes is Al Williams looking for in high performing procurement leaders?

“We’ve been building out a new leadership team in our procurement organization so I’ve had an opportunity to interview and select people, both with internal, internal within the organization and external. And some of the things I’m looking for, in addition to what I just talked about around innovation and problem solving and that kind of thing, is their ability and their willingness to embrace change. Not just manage it and tolerate it but they actually drive it, right?

“I want leaders who are in the driver’s seat, sort of pushing the agenda, and not just along for the ride, and certainly not those that feel like they’re victims and end up kind of victims as a part of a larger process. Deriving, embracing and driving change. I would also say a collaborative approach is very important and it’s collaborative in two dimension from both inside the organisations and outside the organization and in the market.

“It’s very important that we’re not the land of no, especially at a leadership level.  I think people want to be a part of an organisation like that, that’s a problem solving and collaborative team.”

What’s Procurement’s Position?

How should procurement functions position themselves within larger organisations? It’s a question that all senior procurement leaders are asking themselves. For Al, the answer is three-fold.

“One is we need to make sure that we’re positioning procurement as a strategic, value-adding player in the business, and not transactional. If we act transactional, and behave transactional that’s how the business will treat us, and that’s how we’ll be perceived by the business.

“Second is of course making sure that we align to the key business metrics or the key business outcomes that are important to the overall business strategy. And that would include things like financial metrics. That may be, if you’re a public company, [understand] what are the key things that are important to drive profitability and align determined outcomes to those. I would say the same thing from a risk perspective as well, aligning to the organisational risk tolerance, risk temperament and any metrics that are associated with that. So that’s an important positioning.”

And thirdly?

“Procurement used to be consultative, it needs to be in a position of influence, it needs to be helping the business, it needs to be sharing perspective, market knowledge, helping shape strategy, at least from a spin perspective for the business. When I talk about helping the business, a good example is policy compliance. We tend to have to be the communicator of, and sometimes the police of, certain policies in our businesses.

“I think it’s very important that procurement is positioned as ‘Hey, we’re here to help you be compliant to the policies and to help sort of maneuver you through the mirage of steps and checks that need to happen'”.

Listen to Al’s full podcast when you sign up to Procurious. Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!) 

Already a member of Procurious? You’re automatically enrolled for Career Boot Camp! Click here to listen to Al’s podcast in full.

Let Them Eat Cake With Co-op CPO

“Procurement talks too much about procurement. You don’t tell them what the recipe is. You just show them what the cake is going to look like!” 

Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts  with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!) 

Rigid processes can inhibit procurement’s ability to advance efficiently but there are ways to prevent them from getting in your way.  Fabienne Lesbros, CPO The Co-operative Group,  has some welcome advice on the subject, advising procurement pros to quit with the procurement jargon and cut to the chase!

And, if you’ve ever assumed that today’s CPO’s followed a clear and well-crafted career plan, think again! Fabienne explains how her ascent to the top went a little differently in today’s Career Boot Camp podcast!

Five days, five CPOs, five fifteen-minute podcasts to help you upgrade your procurement career. 

Featuring tips and guidance from the best in the business, each of our  CPOs will dedicate their week to coaching you on becoming the best procurement leader you can be!

On Day 4 of Career Boot Camp we hear from The Co-operative Group’s CPO, Fabienne Lesbros.

Need a little convinving before you sign up? Check out our teaser trailer below to hear what Fabienne had to say in reponse to our quick-fire questions.

Let Them Eat Cake!

We were interested to find out how Fabienne manages the restrictions of rigid processes. How can procurement pros prevent them from getting in the way and slowing the team’s agility?

“I would say think about the process that you use normally, what’s your best-in-class way of doing it? And then think about, Well actually what do I need? What’s the 80:20? What makes sense from a commercial point of view and what would make sense in that business particular case?  Cut to the chase, and get to the same results, because I’ve seen too many times teams taking months. They could have done it in two weeks. So it’s doing this 80:20 pragmatism. And also never talking to a budget-holder about the process, because that is the best way to set him off!

“A salesperson doesnt tell you his sales technique he just sells you the stuff. Procurement talks too much about procurement; you have to give them the cake. You don’t tell them what the recipe is. You just show them what the cake is going to look like!”

Losing the procurement jargon!

Continuous development is key for procurement professionals. What key skills does Fabienne recommend procurement focus on to help the function’s evolution?

“I think the technical skills are a given. But I think what’s missing a lot of the time with procurement people is the communication skill. People do not know not understand that they shouldn’t be talking about procurement, number one!

“Bring it back to a business conversation. No one really understands what procurement does. We are already in the position where it’s tougher, so you have to really work on that. You cannot wing it in meetings.

“I see too many people coming in, they haven’t prepared, they start to mumble and that’s it – you’ve lost your audience. You have to be precise, relevant, prepared and you have to add value.

So ask yourself, “Does this conversation add value? What do I want from it? What do I want that stakeholders should get from it as well?

“I think  procurement professionals don’t communicate well enough and this is why they don’t sell themselves enough either, because we do not sell ourselves or sell our successes in the same way that sales or marketing would. It’s very natural to them, they don’t even realise they’re doing it. But everybody knows about their existence in the company. No one ever knows about the system in procurement, because no one knows how to communicate it properly.

In short, Fabienne advises that we quit with all the procurement jargon. “That is where you lose your audience totally, because they won’t understand it.”

Listen to Fabienne’s full podcast when you sign up to Procurious. Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!) 

Already a member of Procurious? You’re automatically enrolled for Career Boot Camp! Click here to listen to Fabienne’s podcast in full.

Crank It Up A Notch With AstraZeneca’s CPO

You don’t always have to reach for the stars in procurement! Sometimes it’s ok to crank it up one notch at a time. AstraZeneca CPO, Dapo Ajayi, explains why. 

Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts  with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!) 

We’d never say it’s a bad thing for procurement pros to forever shoot for the stars. Especially when it comes to innovating with suppliers. But don’t be underestimating those smaller successes and achievements!

Dapo Ajayi, CPO AstraZeneca wants to remind you that it’s ok to crank things up one notch at a time! Smaller ideas carry a lot of weight through building trust, improving collaboration and creating opportunities for greater change further down the line.

In her Career Boot Camp podcast, Dapo also discusses what business acumen means to her in the context of procurement, how to better align procurement with business stakeholders and offers guidance on how to become a CPO.

Five days, five CPOs, five fifteen-minute podcasts to help you upgrade your procurement career. 

Featuring tips and guidance from the best in the business, each of our  CPOs will dedicate their week to coaching you on becoming the best procurement leader you can be!

On Day 3 of Career Boot Camp we turn our attentions to AstraZeneca’s CPO, Dapo Ajayi.

Need a little convinving before you sign up? Check out our teaser trailer below to hear what Dapo had to say in reponse to our quick-fire questions.

Crank It Up, One Notch At A Time

It’s understandable that procurement pros would want to impart huge change in their organisations. But to achieve big, you sometimes have to be realistic and start small, allowing the more subtle changes you make to accumulate into something bigger.

“I don’t want to leave listeners with the view that innovation and new ideas is about the big, massive opportunity in change,” says Dapo.  “I think that you can be just as successful in terms of bringing in some of the smaller ideas, the smaller innovations, that maybe just move the organisation a notch as opposed to the big-step change. I think both have a place in the modern corporate environment.

“Sometimes the small steps are the way in which you build the trust and you begin to build the relationship as collaboration, of idea generation, which maybe then lead to the bigger idea, the bigger opportunity further down the line.”

What Does Business Acumen Mean For Procurement Pros?

“Business acumen is the way in which an individual approaches their role. They view themselves as leaders, leaders of the business, and don’t just see themselves as an enabling function that’s just there to meet the needs of a particular set of stakeholders. They feel ownership for the business agenda.”

For Dapo, business acumen is very much about  understanding the core of the business, and its priorities. “What’s really important for me,  in terms of procurement professionals, are those  who are agile enough to consider how their procurement agenda is relevant to the business agenda. Those who can translate “procurement speak” to business-relevant language. That, to me, is business acumen.

“It may be that talking about the unit price saving is not going to engage a stakeholder, but talking about how you can simplify or reduce the lead time will.  This, at the end of the day, might also result in a price reduction or a savings in procurement speak. It achieves all the objectives. But it’s just not the place to start!”

“The other thing, for me, is individuals who demonstrate an enterprise mindset. I feel that procurement is uniquely placed to be able to make connections. Quite often, you can see individual business units and individual functions, trying to solve a problem.

“In procurement, you suddenly find that, actually, you’re not on their own. There are multiple parts of the business all trying to address the same challenge. Elevating that to maybe an enterprise challenge and enterprise issue and looking at an enterprise solution as opposed to just a solution to a function A or function B I think is really important.”

Listen to Dapo’s full podcast when you sign up to Procurious. Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!) 

Already a member of Procurious? You’re automatically enrolled for Career Boot Camp! Click here to listen to Dapo’s podcast in full.