International Supply Chain Risks: How U.S. Sanctions Can Kill Your Deal

U.S. sanctions are being applied more vigorously than ever to perceived foreign foes.  What risks do these sanctions pose to our supply chains and  what Mitigation Strategies Can be Used?

The United States (U.S.) had $2.21 trillion Dollars in exports in 2016 according to the U.S. Department of Commerce (D.O.C)i, and an estimated 10.7 million U.S. jobs supported by exports ii. Yet U.S. unilateral sanctions are being applied more vigorously than ever to perceived foreign foes, negatively affecting trade balances.

One of the most important and sensitive supply chain risks for private and public organisations is how to manage U.S. unilateral sanctions. The U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is responsible for administering U.S. sanctions. OFAC also distinguishes between primary and secondary sanctions, with the former prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging with sanctioned entities, and the latter targeting non-U.S. persons, outside U.S. jurisdiction, engaged in activities with the sanctioned entity either directly or in an ancillary fashion. Potentially affected businesses and individuals, therefore, must regularly consult the Department of Treasury’s online resources, or engage lawyers with OFAC compliance experience, to ensure they are not exposing themselves to significant penalties (or jail time) from U.S. authorities. For international or multi-lateral organisations, unilateral sanctions risks are particularly tricky because both the U.S. and the sanctioned country, or countries, may be among their members. This article will focus on U.S. unilateral sanctions risks affecting International Organisation deals.

Why Is This A Problem?

Nearly all international organisations have clauses prohibiting contracts, transfers of goods, or even technical cooperation engagements with vendors or countries subject to sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. However, these organisations are not required by international law to adhere to unilateral sanctions of any one member country against another, due to the privileges and immunities conveyed upon them by international conventions.iii In theory this means that if the U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran for example (both member countries of the U.N. since 1945), but the United Nations itself does not impose sanctions on Iran, then U.N. agencies and similarly, non-U.N. multi-lateral organisations, could continue doing business with Iran and not have to abide by the U.S.’s unilateral action. In practice however, multi-lateral agencies may find it difficult to ignore the U.S.’s persuasive sanctions arguments, despite the detriment unilateral sanctions may cause another member. Why? The United States is a major actor on the world stage, and it has considerable influence. It can wield its tremendous political and economic clout as a powerful member of nearly every international organisation in the world, to ensure its objectives are met, and that any transgressions by suppliers or international agencies, are swiftly discouraged.

What Are The Supply Chain Risks?

Supply interruption – U.S. unilateral sanctions can be applied overnight because the surprise element is very powerful in coercing the sanctioned party to comply with U.S. demands iv. Because sanctions may be implemented quickly and unexpectedly, their enactment can trigger immediate supply interruption of goods and services. All members of the supply chain can become subject to rigorous product or service inquiry to determine continued eligibility, and re-negotiation of terms is a real possibility. Suppliers may find themselves scrambling to ensure their contract doesn’t involve activities or persons that expose them to secondary sanctions.

Payment restrictions – Cash flow can also become a problem, especially if suppliers negotiate special payment terms in certain currencies. If an international agency engages a supplier to provide goods or services, and that supplier is somehow involved with a sanctioned entity, directly or indirectly, payments or advance cash transfers may get tied up by banks who suspect the transfer may reach an entity subject to U.S. unilateral sanctions. This can lead suppliers to struggle to meet contract targets or cease delivery altogether. It can also make repatriation of payments back to a payer more difficult.

Reputational Impact – Although the U.N., other multi-laterals, and their staff enjoy immunity from legal processv, suppliers do not enjoy the same protections. Sanctions can bring additional costs they hadn’t expected and they may attempt to secure compensation when things go awry. Even when the relevant law and jurisdiction for disputes is determined by the international agency, suppliers may still aggressively pursue disputes and the reputational risk for the agency if it does not comply or compensate for a presumed breach, is high. Diplomatic and political resources often prevail in settling such disputes away from the prying eyes of the press and public, however, coming to a satisfactory resolution involves time, money, and uncertainty.

What Mitigation Strategies Can be Used?

The answer is…. “It depends.” First, it’s important to understand that navigating unilateral sanctions can be a political minefield for an international organisation! Unlike private entities, there is no clear system in place to manage unilateral foreign policy objectives of one sovereign member state against another. Second, although international agencies monitor political developments of member countries, and no doubt try to avoid dealings that would disturb the delicate balance within these structures, it is not within their purview to implement unilateral sanctions against a member, unless there is consensus among all members to do so. Third, supply chain risks are inherently unpredictable. Supplier audits and screenings only show a snapshot of current relationships, not entanglements with sub-contractors or third party beneficiaries. Although parties can attempt strong due diligence and even stronger government compliance, knowing the rules to follow when caught in the web of unilateral sanctions actions is challenging.

To read the full article by Magda Theodate, please click here. 

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i U.S. International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce 2016 Exports Fact Sheet, https://ibc- static.broad.msu.edu/sites/DEC/images/resources/1159b5b1-8a59-47a1-b988-4bb1836c9904us-exports- factsheet.pdf

ii U.S. Office of Trade and Economic Analysis, Department of Commerce Jobs Supported by Exports 2016 https://www.trade.gov/mas/ian/build/groups/public/@tg_ian/documents/webcontent/tg_ian_005543.pdf

iii Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (the “Convention”), adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations February 13, 1946, and which set out specific privileges and immunities for the UN and its staff subject to waiver only by the Secretary General in certain situations.

iv U.S. implemented changes to Cuba sanctions rules announced officially November 8, 2017 and taking effect on November 9, 2017, see U.S. Treasury Press Release https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press- releases/Pages/sm0209.aspx

v See Supra note 3

Could You Do A TED Talk On Your Category?

Great category management is like a killer TED Talk – it’s strategic, it’s well researched and it’s delivered with true passion.  Have you got what it takes?

Our webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset takes, takes place at 1pm GMT on 29th November 2017. Register your attendance for FREE here.   

There are over 2,500  TED talks available online, each dubbed with the organisation’s tagline “ideas worth spreading” or “talks to stir your curiosity”.

But, what makes these bitesize videos so universally appealing? What common traits do the talks share that piques the curiosity of the general public and guarantees thousands upon thousands of views?

We’ve delved in to the intricacies of a winning TED talk and, it turns out, some of the key qualities of a killer TED talk can also be applied to category management.

Christopher Eyerman, Senior Director, Denali – A WNS Company explains, “Category management is not just a process, it’s not just a set of tools. It takes on-going focus and the development of key skill-sets, just like any function or discipline within an organisation, in order to be the best that you can be.”

So, what are the things category managers need to do well as per the TED talk rulebook?

Keep It Snappy And Strategic

TED talks never, ever exceed 18 minutes of content, no matter what the subject matter, level of complexity, importance or fame of the person delivering the talk. By insisting speakers cut content from a talk they might normally deliver, TED guarantees audiences a level of discipline, focus and a clear thought process behind the key point delivered. The process encourages presenters to take a strategic approach.

Christophe Ysebaert, Partner, Transitive Management, explains, “Procurement organisations need to switch from being 20 per cent strategic to 80 per cent strategic. A key skill set for your team of category managers is to have a strategic mindset.”

Much like producing a TED talk on a complex subject, “To build strategy, you have to work from a huge amount of data,” Christophe continues. “You’re going to gather data from the market, your internal stakeholders, spend data etc. At some point, you need to analyse that data and come up with something that makes sense in terms of strategy.”

Tell Your Story

It goes without saying that communication and story-telling are key elements of any TED talk. Presenting key messages, an argument or a lecture in an accessible and insightful way to a diverse audience widens the appeal of topics that might have previously been alienating.

Christophe explains,  “When you do category management, you talk to internal customers, business people etc. and you have to be able to sell your case and your strategy.

“At my company, we’ve put together a package of information about how to tell a good story because that’s something you need to do all the time in this profession. ”

Category managers must be able to present their case to a wide range of stakeholders.

Find Your Passion

It’s rare to watch a TED talk and not get a sense of the speaker’s passion for their subject. They are the experts in their chosen topic, its greatest advocates and their extensive knowledge on the subject reflects this.

Chris explains why passion and curiosity are at the heart of category management, “Getting very deep with your category, getting deep with the data, deeply understanding the external market place, and having that sense of true curiosity [is important]. The best category managers never seem satisfied, they never think they know everything they need to know, they’re always pushing and trying to find additional information and additional ways to better understand their categories.”

Ask yourself, Chris says,  “Could you as a category manager give the TED talk on your category?”

Know Your Audience

When dealing with internal or external stakeholders in category management, you need to know what makes them tick or how to engage them, what you want to achieve from talking to them and what are you selling them!

“This doesn’t mean – ‘I know Joe we play basketball together!’ ” says Chris. “It’s about really understanding them. From their business, their needs, co-aligning with them in terms of their objectives and yours, developing a strategy, and sharing your vision with them.”

Just like in a TED talk, category managers need to leverage their sales skills.

Chris concludes “Selling your vision, building a strong business case and being able to influence stakeholders and align stakeholders to a strategy” are crucial to make it as a great category manager.

Want to hear more on this topic from Christopher Eyerman and Christophe Ysebaert? Tune in to today’s webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset at 1pm GMT. Register your attendance for FREE here. 

Debt as a Source of Risk in the Supply Chain

What debt conditions, putting pressure on our global economy , should procurement pros make themselves familiar with? And how can we mitigate supplier risk? 

This blog was written by William B. Danner

Two leading authorities on corporate financial health, Dr. Edward Altman, Professor of Finance, Emeritus, at New York University’s Stern School of Business and creator of the Altman Score, and CreditRiskMonitor Founder and CEO Jerry Flum, recently presented a webinar to hundreds of supply chain and credit professionals about today’s mammoth corporate debt problem.

As the primary point of contact between their company and suppliers – not to mention a first line of defense against third party risk – procurement and supply chain professionals should be concerned with the degree to which public companies are leveraged today.

Dr. Altman and Jerry Flum identified three unprecedented debt-related conditions, putting pressure on the global economy today that procurement should be aware of from a risk mitigation perspective:

1. Compare debt to GDP

One of the best ways to put debt levels into perspective is to compare debt to GDP. In the U.S., total debt is currently at a historically huge 3.5 times GDP. Of this total, corporate debt is large and growing. Overall debt levels are so large we must be concerned about the investors who own this debt, not just the borrowers. A 10% decline in value would destroy wealth equivalent to 35% of GDP, with a major effect on spending. Junk debt (high-yield bonds and leveraged loans) has soared to $2.5 – 3.0 trillion world-wide.

2. Benign credit cycle

Now in the 8th year of what is usually a 4-7 “benign credit cycle”, many executive teams have let their guard down, forgetting the lessons of the past. As Dr. Altman explained in the webinar, a ‘benign credit cycle’ has four characteristics:

  • Low default rates
  • High recovery rates when bonds default
  • Low interest rates, yields, and spreads
  • High liquidity

In other words, credit is cheap and easily available to publicly traded companies, which leads many companies to take on more debt. A great deal of debt has been issued to pay dividends and buy back stock, making corporations riskier.

3. Corporate valuations

Corporate valuations are inflated, with market values far higher than historical norms. Private equity firms are paying as much as 10 to 11 times cash flow for acquisitions. High stock prices make corporations less risky, but stock prices can fall.

Whether companies give in to the mania or make a disciplined choice to break free from the pack, procurement and supply chain professionals can take action to mitigate supplier risk and prepare their companies to handle the downturn when the next recession inevitably comes.

Suggested Steps for Supply Chain Professionals to Mitigate Supplier Risk :

1. Build in a monitoring process

Don’t stop with an initial vendor screening. Companies’ financial health can change and even a periodic review simply isn’t good enough. Avoid surprises and react quickly to change.

2. Get to know the vendors you do business with well

Ask questions such as:

  • “Who is the corporation we are paying? Is it under a different name?”
  • “Are they actually manufacturing the product or is someone else?”
  • “Where are their operations?”

Be cautious, especially if you are not getting clear answers.

3. Don’t over-do it

Not all your vendors will present a problem if they enter financial risk. Ask yourself:

  • “Is the commodity/product easy to replace? Is this a one-time contract?”
  • “Or, could this vendor create a major issue with our ability to ship on time, the quality of our product, or with our customer satisfaction?”

Only if you find that it’s a “yes” to the second question do you need extensive review.

4. Incorporate financial analysis in your key vendor review process

Be sure to include multiple periods of financial statements in your review to see trends. If you are finding it difficult to get financial information, be wary. 

5. Compare your vendors with the financial condition of their peers

You may find more secure sources of supply.

6. When appropriate, take a hard look at the financial stability of your vendor’s suppliers

They are part of your supply chain and could be a significant exposure.

7. Have an open and honest communications process

You’ll want to explore with your vendor the performance factors that directly impact you such as shipping reliability, product quality, etc. but also financial stability. Knowledge is power and knowing all the facts gives you the time to identify and prepare alternative source(s) of supply.

8. Look at more radical options if a vendor looks too weak

  • Make vs. buy decision
  • Engineer a stronger vendor into the supply chain
  • Buy the troubled vendor, or
  • Help arrange for a preferred vendor to purchase the troubled vendor.

The fact of the matter is that today’s debt situation is historically unprecedented. We can’t be certain of the timing of a change in the financial markets, or what will serve as the trigger, but a shift is coming – so now is the time to prepare and put your processes and procedures in place.

The full webinar can be viewed here.


William B. Danner has been president of CreditRiskMonitor since May 2007. Bill has more than 35 years of financial and information services experience. 

Prior to CreditRiskMonitor he worked in brand strategy and business development consulting for financial services clients at his own firm, Danner Marketing. Previously he was at Citigate Albert Frank, a marketing communications company in New York City, where he worked on a variety of leading financial services accounts including Reuters Instinet and the CFA Institute. From 1997 to 2001, Bill was Vice President of Market Development at MetLife’s employee-benefits business. Before joining MetLife, he was at Dun & Bradstreet, most recently as VP Strategic Planning. He spent the first decade of his career at GE Information Services and GE Capital.

Bill earned a BA in economics from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

TGINF- Thank God Its Not (Black) Friday

We should probably  all be grateful that Black Friday is over and done with for another year. But what have we learnt from the biggest shopping day of 2017? 

There’s nothing quite like the cold panic of a missed opportunity. Particularly if said opportunity comes in the form of a heavily discounted HD television, bargain flights to Majorca in  mid-January (who wouldn’t?!) or a half price sofa-bed (ideal if you can carry it out of the store mid-customer stampede).

Media hype surrounding “Black Friday”, which slowly seems to be evolving into “Black Week” and surely soon to be “Black Month”, increases year on year.  Retailers face intense and  increasing pressure to slash prices and offer the biggest and best best deals to entice Christmas shoppers and out-perform their competitors. As such, the fuss and excitement leading up to the biggest shopping day of the calendar year is palpable. The world’s consumers anticipate great things.

But does the propaganda live up to the reality? And what are the downsides of events like this for our supply chains, our procurement organisations and SMEs?

Black Friday 2017: The stats examined

Spend: It’s hard to argue against the importance of Black Friday to the economy. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2015 report,  up to 30 percent of a retailer’s annual sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas. Last year 101.7 million Americans braved the crowds, an increase of 37 per cent from the previous year and spent $655.8 billion over the four day weekend. This year, that figure is expected to have increased to a whopping $682.0 billion, and that’s just the U.S.!

Savings: The debate rages on over the true value, to the consumer, of Black Friday. Are you really nabbing a bargain? Aside from the obvious fact that many consumers wind up purchasing un-needed items, statistics show that many items, as much as six out of ten, are actually cheaper at other times throughout the year.

An Underwhelming start to UK’s Black Friday: Some members of the British public were seemingly raging on Twitter on Friday morning over the perceived anticlimax of Black Friday.

Others meanwhile, poked fun at the distinct lack of chaos in stores across the UK, noting the ever-present, ever-respected British culture of courteous queuing!

 

Debt: According to a 2016 survey by TD Bank, 25 per cent of Americans will take three months to pay of the debt racked up on  Black Friday and the remainder of the holiday season

South Africa: South Africa has been hailed this year as the nation most devoted to Black Friday.  Last year “South Africans made 226 per cent more purchases [than at any other time of year] on [Picodi]‚ more than twice as large a percentage increase as that of any other country.” And the frenzy doesn’t seem to have lessened this year with media reporting the mayhem inside shopping centres.

The demand of black Friday on our supply chains

As the BBC pointed out, whether they like it or loathe it, “most retailers on – and offline – will find it difficult not to join in” with Black Friday. If they don’t partake they’ll lose significant custom, which places enormous pressure on smaller, or struggling, organisations with tighter margins and less turnover.

However YouGov research commissioned by Amazon found that nearly 1 in 4 UK SME retailers intended to participate in Black Friday 2017 and 82 per cent of those participating are expecting to sell more stock on Black Friday than on an average day. The key to success for these SMEs is getting the pricing and forecasting right.

The anticipated frenzy also makes it difficult for organisations to accurately forecast volume of stock. According to data collected by Love the Sales, there was an unprecedented 43 per cent increase in the volume of items on sale in October this year compared to last year. Buy too little from suppliers, and  they’ll run out of stock, buy too much and face having to do further discounting in the new year to shift products.

In these circumstances, buyers must ensure their supply chains are strong enough to cope with the increased demand for products and, most importantly, that their suppliers meet their compliance requirements.

According to courier insurer Staveley Head, more than 82,000 lorries will be on the road to deliver on Black Friday, with Royal Mail bringing in an additional 6,800 vans just for the peak period.

Edie.net urged organisations to run traceability checks to identify any exploitative labour practices within their supply chain and recommended  using the Internet of Things to track supply chain processes and spot any unusual patterns of behaviour.

In other procurement news this week…

Apple’s Illegal Labour

  • Apple’s main supplier in Asia has been employing students illegally working overtime to assemble the iPhone X, as it struggles to catch up with demand after production delays
  • 3,000 students from Zhengzhou Urban Rail Transit School were sent in September to work at the local facility run by Taiwan-based Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn
  • They were told that a three-month stint at the factory was required “work experience” that they had to complete in order to graduate

Read more at Financial Times

50 per cent of procurement pros are unhappy with salaries

  • The latest procurement salary guide by recruiters Hays found 56 per cent of procurement employees reported a high level of salary dissatisfaction, and almost a quarter of those surveyed stated they intended to leave their current job because it lacks future opportunities
  • The average procurement and supply chain professional’s salary has increased 2.1 per cent over the past year, above the overall UK average of 1.8 per cent, Hays found. This rises to 3.6 per cent for procurement managers and senior buyers and to 4 per cent in the public sector
  • Hays salary guide is based on job listings, offers and candidate registration, as well as a survey of almost 17,500 employers and employees, including more than 700 working in procurement

Read more at Supply Management

Introducing the Lavergne Procurement Matrix

Are you a #procurement value-creator, or a cost-reducer? Perhaps you’re neither of these – or both? Procurious member Remy de Lavergne has created a new matrix that shows, among other things, just how far the profession has come. 

“Procurement is the process of finding, agreeing terms and acquiring goods, services or works from an external source, often via a tendering or competitive bidding process. The process is used to ensure the buyer receives goods, services or works at the best possible price, when aspects such as quality, quantity, time, and location are compared.” (Wikipedia)

This definition is clear, but it is not enough for me – and probably not enough for you, either.

I have been purchasing for 20 years now in different countries and industries and I often read and hear very interesting things about procurement issues, but not enough to give me a global picture about the profession’s objectives and  best practices.

So, using PowerPoint, I’ve spent some time brainstorming and have created a one-page puzzle about procurement, keeping two strong ideas in mind:

  • What does buying mean ?
  • How can you be a good buyer ?

After selecting and analysing more than 35 key words (SRB, Networker, Communicator, Excel, …) I settled on  a clear and simple definition :

A buyer is both a value creator and a cost reducer for clients.

It is possible to classify buyers into four separate categories according to their contribution to client value creation and cost reduction.

And with the keywords added:

1. The Bureaucrat:  does not effectively reduce costs or generate value for customers.

Profile: The Bureaucrat prefers to work alone rather than cooperating with internal or external contacts, and often waits to be asked to act rather than taking proactive steps on their own. This professional has no insight into the company, customers, trends, or innovations and prefers to preserve the status quo rather than embracing change.

The Bureaucrat Buyer is likely to be an endangered species, since this person is less and less sought after by organisations. Four solutions are available to address this population of buyers:

  • upskill to one of our other types of buyers,
  • change jobs,
  • retire,
  • remain in place without changing until a planned or negotiated departure.

2. The Cost Killer achieves significant cost reductions but does not generate value for customers.

Profile: The Cost Killer knows supplier markets, has mastered Excel and relevant software, and can create effective supplier cost models. This buyer is proactive, but can be sometimes brutal and act without enough team consultation. Additional skills include intense benchmarking and efficient negotiation.

There are many Cost Killers, largely corresponding to certain types of enterprises. This kind of buyers is unlikely to disappear, even if they become a shrinking percentage of all buyers in the organization. If you are a Cost Killer, consider acquiring new skills to broaden your value to the organization, especially if you want to evolve professionally. Study the skills associated with Innovative Buyers and Business Developers.

3. The Innovative Buyer generates considerable value for clients and sometimes reduces costs, but cost is not their top priority.

Profile: The Innovative Buyer is a natural networker (external and internal) and is always looking for new ideas and information. This professional has both ‘sales’ and leadership skills, which they use to bring together colleagues with very different profiles to build, validate, and implement projects. Innovative buyers adapt well to a number of situations, and are diplomatic in their efforts to maintain good relationships with all stakeholders. Additional skills include an ability to deal with crisis situations, interest in identifying and testing futuristic concepts, and an open mind to the ideas and approaches of others.

The population of Innovative Buyers is still relatively small. These purchasers are particularly useful and adapted to the needs of companies where purchases account for a small part of the total turnover of the company (- 50%) and/or in which rapid innovation is a vital necessity. Given that the pressure to innovate is greater in some industries than others, even for global leaders (such as Nokia), the Innovative Buyer is in high demand.

4. The Business Developer simultaneously creates customer value and cost reduction.

Profile: In addition to having all the qualities of an Innovative Buyer or Cost Killer, this professional also has skills that are not always found in either other desirable type of buyer. They are determined to create value for customers and wealth for the business. The Business Developer is ‘hands on’ and regularly meets with the people who produce, sell, use or benefit from the services, materials, products or services purchased on behalf of the company. This professional likes to communicate in order to establish relationships with people from multiple levels in the company (CEOs, Managers, or Individual contributors) and functions (engineering, sales, finance, legal).

To succeed in their mission, the Business Developer must be emotionally intelligent (i.e. have the ability to adapt to their context). As often as possible, this person works in close collaboration with business colleagues and employees. The Business Developer knows how to define a strategy, how to share it effectively inside and outside of the company. This professional knows how to drive complex projects (in rapidly changing environments with precision and agility, even under pressure. Additional useful human qualities include listening, empathy, humility, availability, humour, persistence, persuasion, intuition, rigour, agility, creativity, resistance to stress, and sociability.

If you’d like to know more about the Lavergne Procurement Matrix and/or use it in your school or company, do no hesitate to contact me via [email protected]

The Lavergne Procurement Matrix is protected by copyright.

Why Don’t You Trust Your Procurement Boss?

Ever feel like you’re being stabbed in the back by your procurement boss? You’re definitely not alone and we have the stats to prove it!

When Procurious put out a call for procurement survey participants, we were delighted when 500+ professionals across more than 50 countries shared their insights and wisdom.

Amongst our most startling discoveries was that over half of those surveyed don’t trust their boss to be proactive about their career progression. This result indicates that professionals need to seize control of their own career advancement, while managers need to be incentivised to support and progress their direct reports.

The Results Explained By Global CPOs

At The Big Ideas Summits in Chicago and Melbourne earlier this year we revealed the results of the survey to our CPO delegates.

We were particularly interested in their thoughts on what procurement managers should be doing in order to regain the trust of their team members. The video below shows a compilation of their responses:

What’s the root cause of these  trust issues?

Why is trust so terribly lacking between procurement professionals and their leaders?  A number of  key factors arose from our research:

Rate of Change – David Henchliffe, Group Manager Procurement OZ Minerals attributes the lack of trust to the astounding rate of change in today’s organisations, “What people seen as firm and certain today, is gone tomorrow. That constant change erodes trust. And it erodes peoples’ view of your genuine-ness.”

My boss doesn’t want me to leave – Many of us can relate to the experience of having an overly protective boss, a boss who is keener to hold on to their talent at all costs rather than priortise career development. Alan Paul, CEO Sourceit, takes his responsibility in this area very seriously, “As a manager I need to demonstrate to my staff that I’m not afraid of them leaving the organisation. I want to develop them I want them to improve themselves.” If employees feel like they are missing out on opportunities because of an unsupportive boss, it’s likely they’ll leave anyway!

My boss doesn’t engage or communicate with me – The value in talking and listening can never be underestimated.  Imelda Walsh, Recruitment Consultant, The Source believes that “fantastic leaders encourage honest and open conversation. If procurement managers can take that step, you’ll naturally build trust”

My boss isn’t helping my career development – If it appears that your boss doesn’t care about helping you to advance your career, of course you’re not going to trust them! Michelle Varble, Procurement Director, United Airlines, asserts that  “we need to take a geuine interest in [our employees] success- we need to take on the roll of mentor even if we havent recieved a specific invitation to be a mentor.”

My boss isn’t ethical – Employees will hold a leader in high regard who both demonstrates good ethics  and demonstrates that they genuinely care about good ethics. People want to work for companies that are not soley motivated by savings and profit, that aren’t covering up immoral behaviour and where they aren’t suspicious of the goings on at the top of the company.

A lack of ethical behaviour at the top sets a terrible example to the rest of the organisation and destroys trust.

What can procurement leaders do to regain trust?

Encourage development – Anna O’Dea, Director and Founder of Agency Iceberg, believes that “a  good employer should encourage the development of their employees. If your employer isn’t investing in your training or opportunities, you could be in a one-way relationship.”

Spend time with your talent – David Henchliffe advises leaders to regain trust by devoting more quality time with employees, “spend time with them, get to know them, admit your mistakes and praise them when they do well.”

Put clear career progression procedures in place – Implementing clear structures within an organisation reassures employees that their progress is being monitored and the value they contribute is recognised.  John Foody General Manager Procurement, U.S Steel explain how his organisation “We’ve put in place some tools that we call Career Ladders, that evaluates and gives feedback to our people. It provides them with feedback on their skills, their capabilities, areas to continue to work on. It gives them a sense of progress as they continue to move through our organisation.”

Take the fear away – Don’t let your employees worry about your lack of commitment to them. Reassure them that you  have their best interests at heart, and not your own!  Alan Paul asserts that “for a manager, a true leader, it’s about taking away the fear that your people are going to leave and trust that they’re going to stay. But also accept the fact that eventually they are going to move on.

How can you advance your career without the help of your untrustworthy boss?

As Procurious founder Tania Seary asserts, “It’s all too easy to find excuses for why your career is not panning out the way you intended. Soft targets for blame include your employer, your peers, your organisation or even your own personal life- challenges for blocking your charge to the top.

“We know there are some significant problems with procurement bosses around the world but…as I have always said, and will continue to say, the only common denominator in your career is YOU.”

So join that professional network, start updating your online CV, enroll on an eLearning course, listen to that podcast series you keep forgetting about  and start connecting with influential peers and thought leaders! The procurement world is your oyster…

Request your copy of the Gen NEXT Report

The Gen NEXT report, exclusively available to Procurious members, is packed with data, insights, recommendations, and links to over 20+ Procurious articles that further explore many of the findings that are raised in the report. Email us to request your copy. 

Three Imperatives Of Every Successful Category Manager

Every leadership role in every business comes with its own set of imperatives, a set of tasks that must be focussed on to guarantee success. But what imperative should a great category manager follow?This article was written by  Lynn Rideout – Director Procurement Services, Denali – A WNS Company.

Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Fred Wilson once described the three tasks that every CEO should focus on, whilst all other tasks should be delegated to their team.

These three things, the CEO imperatives, must include:

  • Setting the overall vision and strategy of the company and communicating it to all stakeholders
  • Recruiting, hiring and retaining the very best talent for the company
  • Ensuring there is always enough cash in the bank

If your CEO can’t excel at all three, the chances are you’ve got some fairly big problems within your organisation.

What if we were to take the concept of the three imperatives, and apply it to category management?

What should you do well to be successful?

What are your imperatives?

And, furthermore, how do you take the basic understanding of category management and enable it across your organisation?

At Denali, we believe the greatest category managers follow these three imperatives.

1. Know Your Stakeholders

First and foremost, successful category managers understand the importance of stakeholder alignment and building positive relationships. Follow these tips to enhance your stakeholder relationships through your category plan:

  • Be with your stakeholders – Spend time (both real and mental) with them every day
  • Intimately know their business objectives – use a consistent framework to correctly identify true requirements, the key enablers, and barriers to those objectives; where value is created?
  • Establish true alignment – establish shared goals and earn trusted advisor relationship
  • Sell YOUR vision – “if not now, then when?”, be aligned and integrated with stakeholders
  • Bring new opportunities to the table vs. react to requests or issues
  • Plant seeds with stakeholders – start one project at a time; build reputation and trust

Remember, to effectively persuade and engage your stakeholders, you must tailor the content for each discussion. Tell your story and help build the business case. Building successful relationships is an evolution. Your stakeholder relationships will grow with time – and so will your credibility with stakeholders!

2. Understand Your Categories

Understanding the internal and external dynamics of your categories drives idea generation and stakeholder engagement. Follow these tips to better understand your categories:

  • Get dirty with the data – become intimate with your category details, but get to true insights – the “so what’s”
  • Be curious – ask why, seek innovation, and develop new strategies
  • Be intentional regardless of the depth and category maturity
  • Be “in the market” – study market drivers/trends, talk to suppliers, participate in market events, read broadly
  • Network with category peers in other industries/organisations
  • Understand your suppliers – capabilities, performance, why you use them, and leverage them

Establish a plan to refresh and maintain category knowledge as part of building your story. Knowledge will grow with time, but it should not delay execution.

3. Deliver Results

Now that you know your stakeholders and understand your categories – it’s time to execute. Use this newfound alignment and knowledge to drive deliberate consideration of a prioritised portfolio rather than executing on strategic sourcing project at a time. After all, category management is MUCH more than simply executing sourcing projects.

  • Take a portfolio approach – Know your targets and have a plan to get there, get many projects teed up, and leverage available resources
  • Eliminate extraneous work – Get comfortable with not doing it all
  •  Press sourcing strategies for greater value (go to auction, demand management, standardisation, supplier innovation, etc.)
  • But don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good – you must start somewhere
  • Leverage all available resources to reach your objectives
  • Sustain the value by managing supplier relationships and performance

The best way to deliver results is to have a sense of urgency with a bias toward execution.

To learn more about how to a successful category manager and enable a true category management plan, register for our upcoming webinar.

Our webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling a TRUE Category Management Mind, takes place at 1pm GMT / 8 am EST on 29th November 2017. Register your attendance for FREE here.

Are You Ready For The Procurement Rebels And Revolutionaries In Your Team?

We know Gen Z don’t fit into the traditional workplace – but how can procurement organisations embrace these revolutionaries to benefit from their rebellious nature and leverage their innovative approaches? 

As a procurement manager with very rigid, process driven procurement software in place, how do you plan to manage the potential chaos that will come from the millennials in your current workforce and the Generation Z’s about to enter it?

Firstly, let’s address three ways of dealing with this issue. Do you ignore them, do you suppress them, or do you take time to investigate what these natural rebels and revolutionaries can offer?

Both groups are born entrepreneurs; they mesh work and play together, they’re smart beyond their years and they have a clear picture of what they want from a career.

Technology has been a major influencer in the develop of a new type of professional. It has provided access to vast amounts of information and has become the great equalizer, playing a major role in their disruptive nature at home and at work.

In my experience, I’ve found that both millennials and Z’s are self-starters – they work smarter and harder than you may think and have disproved time and again the “lazy” stereotype. They’re not averse to working outside normal business hours and use their daily commutes or downtime to get work done because they want to complete it promptly.

The tech catalyst

So, we know that millennials and Z’s don’t fit traditional workplace rules, so how can organisations benefit from their rebellious nature?

Technology is the catalyst of this rebellion. It meshes the world of work and play into a single environment; one where users expect the ‘Amazon’ type experience they get at home on Sunday to be mirrored in how they use technology at work on Monday. ­­

What do you say to the team member that walks into your office to tell you that your existing procurement software is drowning the team? They then show you an app they downloaded over weekend that allowed them to create RFQs, connect and chat with suppliers, make decisions and save a ton of their time and your money.

Revolutionaries are born from discontent. They’re frustrated at the status quo, and those who lead them are searching for a better way. It can be a challenging process, but these young rebels – or, to use a modern term: these entrepreneurs – are simply seeking more effective and flexible ways to work.

A new approach

So how would you react to the above scenario? It starts by changing how you approach the thinking behind the solution. This means recognising that innovation is no longer a top-down exercise that remains in the exclusive domain of senior management teams or corporate retreats.

Real innovation today is being driven from the ground up by those rebels within our teams that simply want a better work experience and are not afraid to try new technology or methods to get better outcomes.

It wasn’t that long ago when ‘agile’ was a term used only in software and development teams. I now see sales teams working with scrums and management teams having daily stand ups – it’s just one example of the new way of thinking and doing that is helping business work faster in today’s instant world.

Does this mean that it’s time to let the revolution rise and allow the rebels to take over the organization? Well, not entirely – it’s about getting the balance right.

It’s time for procurement leaders to stop lamenting about being seen as the roadblocks within their organisations and to look to your millennials and Z’s as a talent pool rich with ideas, innovation and passion.

They will challenge, they will make mistakes, but it is time to move beyond the current boundaries you’ve set, and remember – you were a rebel once, too!

About the author

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

Sourceit offers three different products for buyers:

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

Visit the website: sourceithq.com

Would You Order A Tesla Electric Semi?

Elon Musk promised that the Tesla Semi reveal would “blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension”. The truck is certainly a game-changer for the logistics industry, but Tesla faces some steep challenges if it plans to win over the commercial market.

We can’t wait to see these trucks on the road. The sleek, bullet-train shaped cab of the Tesla Semis will be instantly recognisable once they hit the freeways in 2020 – if Tesla can overcome the production delays which are increasingly plaguing the organisation.

What can the Tesla Semi actually do?

Equipped with a battery instead of a diesel tank, the Tesla Semi is capable of travelling 804km (500 miles) on a single electric charge – even with a full 36,000kg load. Its autopilot system will go a long way towards eliminating human error in truck accidents, with the ability to automatically:

  • detect instability and adjust each wheel individually to make jack-knifing “impossible”
  • maintain a set speed and slow down in traffic
  • keep the vehicle in its lane with lane detection and lane departure warnings, and
  • lock onto other Tesla Semis to travel in a convoy.

Charging will take place via a planned, worldwide network of solar-powered “Megachargers”, which will be added to Tesla’s existing network of 2000 Supercharger stations which are in place to power Model S sedans. For drivers in a hurry, a 30-minute charge will enable 640km (nearly 400 miles).

Inside the cab, the driver’s seat is positioned in the centre of the space (which has full standing room), allowing better visibility. The seat is flanked on both sides by touch screens that provide blind spot monitoring and navigation. The truck also comes with tracking features to be used by a fleet manager for routing, monitoring and scheduling.

What’s the cost?

Unknown – Musk didn’t reveal the unit price on stage, but claimed the Tesla Semi would cost 20% less per mile than a diesel-powered truck. Whatever the price is, it’s only likely to fall in the future as regulations on diesel continue to tighten, charging infrastructure improves and the costs of batteries fall.

Despite the unknown price, pre-orders have started flowing in from companies including Wal-Mart (15 trucks), Meijer (4 trucks), and J.B. Hunt (“multiple trucks”).

Will we see these trucks on the road in 2020?

“If you order now, you get your truck in two years”, Musk said at the reveal. The company, however, has been known to over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to production deadlines. The Model 3 sedan, for example, has been beset by 18-month delays. While the company’s consumer fans are apparently willing to tolerate delays, commercial trucking companies are likely to be less patient. The Tesla Semi notably represents the company’s first foray into the commercial vehicle market.


In other news this week:

NAFTA Negotiations Struggle Onward

  • Reports from the NAFTA negotiations reveal that little progress has been made on U.S. demands that could potentially sink the 1994 trade pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
  • Officials are currently meeting in Mexico City for the fifth of seven planned rounds of talks. Upcoming presidential elections in Mexico mean that a deal needs to be reached by late March 2018.
  • New U.S. demands include a five-year sunset clause, and tightening of rules of origin to boost the North American content of autos. Other issues discussed include labour, gender, intellectual property, energy, and telecommunications.
  • While Mexican officials have said “the work is moving forward”, Canadian negotiators complained on Friday about inflexibility by the United States.

Read more: CBC News   

Calvin Klein Bypasses Retailers For Holiday Shopping

  • Calvin Klein is offering an exclusive line on Amazon only for Black Friday sales, in a move that reflects the increasing shift away from traditional stores.
  • The company has announced a holiday retail experience called “Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion”, with underwear and denim available exclusively in an online Amazon brand store and in Amazon pop-up shops in New York and Los Angeles through to December 31st.
  • Amazon’s pop-up stores pose another threat to brick-and-mortar retailers, in additional to the sales shift to online retail.

Read more: Wall Street Journal

New Procurement Benchmarking Report Released

  • APEX Analytix has released its “Procurement Leaders’ Benchmarking Report”, with best-in-class performance data from global organisations with a combined revenue of $2.3 trillion. The report reveals:
  • Only 10% of organisations have a combined P2P organization under common leadership
  • 65% of businesses don’t authenticate vendors against public domain data sources prior to payment
  • Only 14% capture verifiable details of a vendor’s CEO, CFO or principals.

Get the report here.

IT Procurement Without a Tech Strategy Is A Recipe For Disaster

If you’re struggling to effectively run your IT procurement processes, it might be time to evaluate your strategy!
This article was written by Harry Wilson, an IT Consultant. Read more via Leap Consulting.

If procurement is the series of activities and processes required during the acquisition of any IT infrastructure, software and systems, IT procurement and the purchasing of updated systems are essential to any business which uses information systems and digital technology equipment to drive projects, management and processes.

The running of the IT procurement process should be carefully managed and examined to ensure that  purchases provide both a good foundation and high-quality equipment for the future process, in line with the businesses goals.

This requires a dedicated employee in charge (usually the CIO) and an IT strategy to allow a business organisation to reach best practices of IT procurement.

Digital transformation and disruption

Digital transformation and disruption have changed the IT buying process. Traditionally, the CIO had the final say in IT purchasing decisions following consideration of the IT strategy and alignment with business goals.

However, recently it has been found that nearly a third of purchasing power has moved outside of the executive suite into the hands of departmental managers.

Business departments making technology decisions without the CIO can lead to CIOs losing control of the IT then having to deal with issues such as;

  • Lots of different systems running in silos
  • Information sprawl
  • Incompatible systems
  • Gaps in internal information technologies
  • Hindered business growth
  • Loss of competitive advantage

This emphasises the need for an IT strategy as one of the biggest mistakes a business can make is committing to a system or contract without due diligence or consulting the overarching IT strategy to understand how the implementation of the considered technology will impact the operations and systems within the business.

What should an IT strategy include?

An IT strategy can benefit both CIOs and department managers as it encourages collaboration that results in alignment with existing and new investments. A strategy should include up-to-date versions of:

  • A systems architecture rundown of the whole business
  • An inventory containing end-of-life dates, and usage
  • A list of emerging problems recorded by staff and IT team

The rapid speed that these technologies are being innovated is phenomenal, and businesses are being exposed to more technologically advanced IT systems which creates the need to update and adapt to these IT systems regularly.

The benefits of an IT strategy

Despite significant investments in new technologies over the past decade, many organisations are actually watching their operations slow down due to underutilisation of technology and poor user engagement related to technology usage is part of the problem.

Poorly designed applications and a general lack of training causes many employees not to leverage the innovation and drive productivity.

Encouraging effective adoption of new technology requires an IT strategy for organisational change management.

There’s no easier way to manage IT than to work with an IT specialist who can help you manage these IT services and create a more efficiently run business. Many companies are seeking It managed services for a source of competitive advantage, so there isn’t a lack of responsibility or confusion within the company.

By following an IT strategy and understanding the reasons behind process bottlenecks and other errors, enterprises can more efficiently allocate IT and human resources. By partnering with a managed services provider who can create and implement an IT strategy, businesses can focus on their core competencies to cut costs and increase productivity.

This article was written by Harry Wilson, an IT Consultant. Read more via Leap Consulting.