Procurement Pros: Make Like Lady Gaga

If your procurement job is making you feel like you’re stuck in a Bad Romance you need to make like Lady Gaga! Embracing collaboration will have you on The Edge of Glory in no time!

When you think of great, inspiring role models for the procurement profession, pop-music superstar Lady Gaga might not be the first person who springs to mind. But just hear us out… (if you can get the tune to Poker Face out of your head!)

At last week’s Ivalua NOW conference in London, Peter Smith, Managing Director – Spend Matters UK/Europe argued that Lady Gaga is the perfect model for CPOs and procurement leaders across the globe, and not just because of her wildly catchy tunes!

Rolling Stones vs Lady Gaga

Flashback to the 1960s/70s and imagine you’re Mick Jagger going out on tour with the rest of the Rolling Stones, Peter proposes. You’re part of a pretty small team. You might be playing the biggest venues and drawing in the biggest crowds but you’re out there on stage with only your bandmates and perhaps a small supporting crew.

Fast forward to the noughties and Lady Gaga is ruling the music scene, and under very different circumstances. A global Lady Gaga tour might recruit hundreds of people. There’ll be choreographers, dancers, backing singers, caterers, tech team, musicians, management, merchandise sellers…the list is endless.

A one-woman show is actually a team effort, a collaboration, with the star herself at its helm. She’s the leader, the strategist who must pull everyone together, in true gig economy style, to deliver the spectacular that’s expected of her.

If we look at the American music charts today, over 50 per cent of the top ten entries are collaborations and, in the UK Top 10, 7 entries are collaborations.

Artists have realised that 2 + 2 can equal 5.

Procurement needs to start thinking this way. Think about how Lady Gaga puts on her show. Think about how collaboration can deliver real value for your team and the wider organisation. By bringing together the suppliers, the engineers, the solution providers and the data experts, procurement can deliver a whole lot more.

Every industry is being shaped by digitisation and the rapid change in today’s world. Given that new sources of risk and competition are emerging all the time procurement needs every hand on deck!

Improving the bottom line with collaboration

Hemant Gupta, CFO & Head Commercial, Legal & Secretarial Blackberrys knows a thing or two about the benefits of collaboration.

Blackberrys, now a leading menswear brand in India has endured its fair share of supply chain struggles in recent years.

Hemant admits, during his keynote at Ivalua Now, that sourcing has been “a very tricky subject for Blackberrys” and their efforts to drive margin improvement and competitive advantage has been a journey.

Only a few years ago, Blackberrys still employed very traditional methods of sourcing. They had no visibility, no transparency and no way of maintaining a centralised system for their data. “Searching the vendor database for sourcing to look at our historic pricing was not possible.”

“The consumer is not brand-loyal any more. They just want the best price, which is increasing demands on the retailer – our discounting has increased by 25 per cent. As CFO I need to improve the bottom line and improve our sourcing process.”

“cost cutting is no longer the solution to sustainable profitability, the key to success is finding creative ways to optimize it” he asserted.

With the help of Ivalua, Blackberrys were able to start their transformation journey, which did face some resistance from employees at first. “People are always skeptical about new processes so collaboration is key,” Hemant explained.

But within a couple of years Blackberrys data started to improve with the involvement of internal customers and they began to automate some processes. They had improved control and transparency and benefited from lower risk and increased efficiency.

4 tips to make your sourcing transformation a success

Hemant shared his key learnings from Blackberrys’ sourcing transformation journey.

1. Challenge status quo

It’s human nature to think whatever we are doing, we are doing it right. You have to train yourself to change that.

2. Collaboration is key

Resistance to change is normal but you need 100 per cent commitment from leadership and strong champion. You also need to ensure you’re pulling all of your procurement resources – teamwork is dream work!

3. Identified -> Realised savings!

It’s imperative to follow through post sourcing processes.

4. Make it a lifestyle

eSourcing is not just about saving cost but cost avoidance and transparency – compliance.

Ivalua Now, The Voice of Procurement is coming to Paris on 29th March and New York on 17th May. Find out more here. 

Tail Spend: Are You Counting Your Losses?

Nobody said controlling tail spend was easy. But those “insignificant” purchases soon add up…

For 35 per cent of procurement teams, tail spend – those small, ‘insignificant’ purchases that soon add up – is one of their top nuisance areas, according to research by Spend Matters.

And it’s no wonder, with a disproportionate amount of your procurement managers’ time being taken up with a small percentage of spend, staying in control of tail spend is challenging at best.

Whether it’s spot buys, commercial credit cards, non-PO invoices, expenses or rogue spending, tail spend often only makes up around 5-10 per cent of indirect spend – but comes with the overhead of managing 80-90 per cent of the total supplier count.

Controlling your tail spend isn’t necessarily easy, but it does represent a significant opportunity to cut costs and improve your processes. The key is finding something that can help.

Cost cutting and process improvement

Reducing costs is a priority in all corners of the business, but it’s right at the top of the agenda for most procurement teams. This year, 78 per cent of CPOs surveyed by Deloitte named cost reduction as their top priority going forward.

Tail spend puts the money you save through careful strategic purchasing at risk, but with research by The Hackett Group indicating that businesses save an average of 7.1% through better management of tail spend, there’s an opportunity to be had here.

To make the most of it, procurement teams should consider joining other departments in their business in digital transformation – looking to technology to help you find smarter, more streamlined and more cost-efficient ways to manage tail spend.

According to Forrester, 38 per cent of procurement managers are already handling over half of their purchases online, with estimates putting that percentage at 55 per cent by 2020. This shift is largely due to convenience: 38 per cent cite the ability to buy using online portals 24/7 as key, while 22 per cent agree that transactions are faster and easier. (There’s also the bonus of lower prices through online procurement channels.)

Digital purchasing also offers procurement managers more insight into what’s being bought, how much is being spent, and where employees are buying from. With this unprecedented level of visibility, your procurement team can take greater control of spending – particularly when it comes to tail spend.

In an independent research study commissioned by Amazon Business, 53 per cent of respondents were already using less formal, flexible procurement methods – and 59 per cent said they expected their companies to use more flexible spending processes in the next two years.

With flexible purchasing channels, your procurement team won’t just save money; they’ll also be able to spend less time micro-managing tail spend, and more time on strategic objectives. However, convenience can’t come at the cost of control. The challenge now is finding the right approach and technology that meets both needs to build these flexible processes.

Combining consumer ease with business buying

Some procurement teams are borrowing from the business-to-consumer space to change their procedures. Using the principle of guided selling, where buyers are presented with a specific selection to purchase from, they’re bringing their employees a ‘guided buying’ experience.

Guided buying connects the procurement team with other employees more directly, so they can understand exactly what kind of resources, equipment and services the organisation needs. The employees then get access to a digital catalog, which is shaped by both personalisation for the employee and the preferences of the business.

The opportunity for cost-saving here is two-fold. The company gets to outline restrictions and preferred sources for purchasing, which helps prevent tail spend from unauthorised sources, and the platform can give them increased visibility – allowing for analytics to monitor their outlay.

The most important thing for procurement teams is to be able to tighten tail spending management without making major, disruptive changes to how people work. That relies on choosing the right platform, that matches the needs and priorities of the business, and can be adopted at scale.

Introducing Amazon Business

With the Amazon Business marketplace, you can give your employees a consumer-like experience while saving your procurement team hours of supplier management time – and get visibility into your tail spend.

It gives your buyers a broad selection (approved by your organisation) that integrates with your existing procurement apps, gives you rich analytics and reporting capabilities, and can offer prices up to 9 per cent lower than average. Amazon Business can help you lower the admin burden of managing tail spend and give your team increased visibility and control.

If you’re serious about getting tighter control on your tail spend, we’d recommend digging deeper. You can learn more about the challenges and – most importantly – the opportunities in Fix the Tail to Propel Procurement: Attacking the Tail Spend Problem in B2B, a collaborative white paper by Spend Matters and Amazon Business.

How To Deal With The Office Timewaster In 4 Videos

There are few thing more frustrating in life than a workplace timewaster. And the worst thing? They come in all different shapes and sizes, which makes them harder to spot!

Colleague: “Hey there buddy, did you have a good weekend?”

Me: “Sure did! But I’ll have to tell you about it later because I’ve got such a busy …”

Colleague: [Sits on the desk] “Great, great… let me tell you about my weekend. Let’s see, now. It all started to kick off on Friday, just after our last conversation…”

Sound familiar? We’ve all encountered chronic timewasters at work, which is why I’ve created this quick and easy video guide on how to shut them down so you can Get Sh#t Done.

Let’s start by working out what type of timewaster you’re dealing with.

1. The Chatter

Some of us like to keep our work life and social life separate. For others, their work life is their social life. Of course there should be a fun, chatty environment at work, but again, there’s always one person who doesn’t understand the limits. So, next time you find yourself making sympathetic noises while your colleague is telling you about their various cats’ medical histories, consider the fact that it will be your neck on the line when a deadline is missed.

How to shut down a chatter: Put a cap on their time – tell them before they begin that you’ve literally only got two minutes to spare. If you really want to drive home the point, get your phone out and set a countdown timer and place it on the table between you.

2.The Delegator

I’ve worked in the past for line managers who are guilty of this, although you’ll often come across colleagues working at the same level who think it’s okay to handball mundane tasks your way.  Specifically, my beef is with people who basically treat you like a search engine. For example:

“Mate, would you mind telling me the time difference between here and Beijing?”

“How much is that converted into Euros?”

“How long will it take me to drive to head office?”

Here’s why it’s frustrating – firstly, they’re really undervaluing your skill set. You were hired for your education, your experience and your intelligence, not your ability to type words into a box. Secondly, they’re just being lazy! I’ve rolled my eyes in the past when I’ve received an emailed question (like the above) which would have been answered straight away if my boss had simply typed it into Google instead of sending it to me.

But luckily, there’s a handy tool for just this situation.

How to shut down a Delegator: Six words: Let Me Google That For You. This tool is a brilliant way to answer a question that should have been googled. It generates a short, tongue-in-cheek tutorial about how to use a search engine (starting with “This is the internet”) and finishes with the answer to the original question. Check it out.

3. The sounding-boarder

Extrovert: “Man, I LOVE open-plan offices! They’re so great for bouncing ideas off people!”

Me: “Yes. Every single idea you’ve ever had.”

Okay, it’s true. Open plan offices, and even collaborative online workspaces like Slack, are ideal for airing and sharing ideas. But some people take the concept of the “sounding board” too far. This might involve a colleague regularly reading aloud emails that they’ve crafted before hitting send, or running stuff past you that really doesn’t require your input or opinion.

How to shut down a Sounding-Boarder:

  • Invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and pretend you’re on an important call whenever your colleague gets that “sounding-board” look in their eye.
  • Give them a very short list of high-level areas where you feel you can add value.
  • Give them a taste of their own medicine by sitting them down and reading aloud the longest, dullest report you can find.

4. The Meeter

Me: “Oh, hey, just a reminder that we’ve got that client meeting tomorrow. Everything is under control, and I’ve sent you all the information you’ll need.”

Colleague: “Let’s have a meeting about that.”

Me: “Why? WHY?”

How much time and resources will corporates keep pouring into unnecessary meetings before they see the light?  Unnecessary meetings are so despised that they’ve become a meme. They’re a regular feature in Dilbert, and you can even buy a coffee mug that says “I survived another meeting that should have been an email”.

How to shut Meeters down: Insist that the person gives you some good reasons for the meeting. This includes a stated purpose, a start and end time, and a valid reason for each person to be there.

Do you know any other types of timewasters in the office? Leave a comment below!

Do You Have Any Idea What Your Consultants Are Doing?

Hand-on-heart: Can you swear that you’ve properly briefed consultants and paid only for what you’ve received?


Buying professional services is often accompanied by a host of reputational risk and budgetary pressures.  However, for the public sector, a new approach to professional services procurement is proving that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Public sector procurement continues to be a highly debated topic in the UK, against a backdrop of reduced budgets and high-profile failures, it seems clear there’s still a need for new and innovative approaches.

What needs to change? Well, traditional purchasing frameworks have long been pegged as a solution to the sector’s buying challenges. They promise fully compliant access to a range of suppliers with all the hard work that comes with the tender process done for you. However, as they often offer a limited pool of suppliers and a notable cooling-off period which can delay a project’s start date, frameworks can be a frustrating route to market for some.

It’s in the procurement of professional services where the frustrations of traditional routes to market are often most keenly felt. There’s often a lot at stake. As budgets shrink and requirements evolve, the need to access expert external advice, often at short notice, is crucial to the success of some projects.

Consultants are often appointed as trouble shooters; to advise and lead on new projects or even spearhead big organisational changes. Using such services can represent a significant investment for public bodies and the failure of high profile projects such as IT infrastructure demonstrates the reputational and budgetary risk that can occur if you don’t get it right. Control is a key success factor.

There’s a need for change and some public sector bodies have already embraced a different approach. It’s an innovation that, unusually, could see the public sector leading the private sector.

The NEPRO neutral vendor solution recognises and responds to these and other short falls of traditional frameworks. It helps procurement professionals gain that control, mitigate reputational risk, deliver on budgets and manage demand. It’s a fast solution for the procurement of professional services that offers a welcome alternative to traditional purchasing routes.

The NEPRO solution is based on outcomes – buyers pay only for results delivered, measured by pre-agreed project milestones. We’ve all heard stories of consultants hired by public sector organisations to work on a specific project for a significant fee, only for the provider to still be there long after the project has finished having been hijacked by another department. This approach puts an end to that, with both the buyer and supplier clear on what is needed, by when and at an agreed fee.

If there’s no robust focus outcomes or deliverables it’s easy to see how contractors can end up staying in departments long after project completion and be paid significantly beyond the original value of the project they were hired to support.

When speed is important, procurement professionals have the opportunity to cut red tape and realise the benefits of consultant-based projects in a third of the time it traditionally takes to procure professional services. While traditional procurement routes can take 100 days from initial request for information through to a consultant starting work on a new project, this approach can see consultants start work in an average of 30 days through direct contract awards and fully compliant mini competitions.

The starting point for any new project is to fully understand what the buyer needs and find the right supplier to fulfil the brief. All the complexities of supplier management are taken care of on behalf of the buyer, providing compliance, control and transparency of expenditure. NEPRO delivery partner Bloom then manages the project and assures delivery.

We’re proud to now be transforming the procurement of professional services across the UK, giving buyers more choice and more business opportunities to suppliers of all sizes. To put that in context, last year, the number of contracting authorities wanting to procure through Bloom almost doubled to 170, suggesting that the public sector is waking up to this faster and more effective way to procure the services of consultants.

By Rob Levene, executive director and co-founder, Bloom.

With its unique neutral vendor solution, Bloom offers buyers access to a vast community of over 4,000 suppliers across 19 categories and 240 sub-categories. This dynamic supplier marketplace drives choice and competition and with over 70% of projects delivered by SMEs, helps drive growth back in the local economy and supports social value agendas.

Are You A Data Hunter Or A Gatherer?

Are you trying to stay afloat  in a huge “data lake”?  Trust us, there are better ways to manage and manipulate your data to make an impact. Are you a data hunter or a gatherer?

There’s a whole lot more to data than simply having it…

If you’re one of those procurement professionals who’s anxiously sitting on an ever-growing mountain of data, wondering how on earth to make sense of it all; it’s time to shift your mind-set and your approach from gatherer to hunter….

Data on its own means very little unless it’s actually actionable.

But procurement professionals are so used to a deluge of data that it often ends up discarded in someone’s top drawer, never to be seen again! Perhaps it’s not fit for purpose but one thing’s for sure – nothing useful is done with it!

Can procurement teams do a better job in ensuring they get a decent ROI on their data?

Our latest webinar with IBM, which takes place on 28th March, will teach you how to become an astute data hunter!

We’ll be discussing…

  • Why every procurement team needs a Chief Data Officer
  • Unstructured data – How do you make sense of it all?
  • How to make sure your data is fit for purpose and get an ROI on your data investments
  • The biggest mistakes Procurement teams make when it comes to data and analytics?

Webinar Speakers

 Edward D. O’Donnell, Chief Data Officer for Procurement – IBM

Edward is IBM’s Global Procurement Data Officer and charged with the mission to advance Business, Intelligence, Deep Analytics, and Cognitive functionality across the procurement portfolio.

Marco Romano, Procurement Chief Analytics Officer, Global Procurement, Transformation Technology – IBM

Marco applies more than 15 years of experience as a procurement practitioner and project manager to understand complex environments that separate the noise from real issues and determine near-term and strategic solutions in realising business value. He leads a team that has saved IBM Procurement a significant amount in third-party costs and efficiencies through analytics data solutions and innovative sourcing strategies over the past three years. His team is also developing commercial analytics and cognitive procurement offerings leveraging data and technology for IBM clients’ competitive advantage.

 Tania Seary, Founder – Procurious

A true procurement entrepreneur, Tania is the Founding Chairman of Procurious, The Faculty and The Source. Throughout her career, Tania has been wholly committed to raising the profile of the procurement profession and connecting its leaders.

After finishing her MBA at Pennsylvania State University, Tania became one of Alcoa’s first global commodity managers.

In 2016, Tania was recognised by IBM as a #NewWaytoEngage Futurist and named “Influencer of the Year” by Supply Chain Dive. She hosts regular procurement webinars, and presents at high-profile events around the world.

How do I register for the webinar?

Registering for our webinar couldn’t be easier (and, of course, it’s FREE!)

Click here to enter your details and confirm your attendance. We’ll send you a confirmation email with a link to the webinar platform and a handy reminder one hour before we go live!

I’m already a member of Procurious, do I still need to register?

Yes! If you are already a member of Procurious you must still register to access the webinar via this platform. We’ll send you a confirmation email with a link to the webinar platform and a handy reminder one hour before we go live!

When is it taking place?

The webinar will take place at 1pm BST on 28th March 2018

Help! I can’t make it to the live-stream

No problem! If you can’t make the live-stream you can catch up whenever it suits you. We’ll be making it available on Procurious soon after the event (and will be sure to send you a link) so you can listen at your leisure!

Can I ask a question?

If you’re listening live, our speakers would love to hear your questions and we’d love for you to pick their brains . Questions can be submitted throughout the live stream via the webinar platform.

If you think of a brilliant question after the event, feel free to submit your question via the Discussion Board on Procurious and we’ll do our very best to ensure it gets answered for you.

Our webinar,  Basic Instinct: Are You a Data Hunter or Gatherer takes place at 1pm BST on 28th March 2018. Register your attendance for FREE here. 

4 Things Supply Managers Need To Know About China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Get to grips with the jaw-dropping scale of China’s investment in ultra-modern supply chains stretching from South-East Asia to Scandinavia.

title picture for blog post China's Belt and Road Initiative

China’s Belt and Road initiative is big. VERY big. We’ll get to some of the awe-inspiring numbers in a minute, but first let’s look at why this project is particularly relevant to supply management professionals around the globe.

Helen Sawczak, National CEO of the Australia China Business Council thinks that there’s a common perception that the Belt and Road will be a way for other countries to see to China.

“It certainly will enable smoother movement of goods into China, but what people need to understand is that the strategic focus is on the movement of goods out of China.”

That’s why the Belt and Road needs to be firmly on the radar of every procurement professional who sources goods from China – and let’s face it, that’s just about all of us.

In this interview with Sawczak, who is a guest speaker at The Faculty’s upcoming CPO Forum in May, we explore the sheer scale of the project, the timelines involved, its embedded supply chain technology, and what it means for standardisation of trade practices.

1: What is the Belt and Road, and how big is it?

The Belt and Road is a $900 billion-dollar signature initiative announced by China’s President Xi Jinping in 2013 and hailed by China as “the project of the century”. The name refers to the land and sea trade routes.

The “Belt” is centred around the re-establishment of the ancient Silk Road, which stretched from Japan to Europe in the time of the Roman Empire.

The modern-day Belt is actually divided into six routes where China is building roads, high-speed railways, gas pipelines and more to bridge an infrastructure gap that exists throughout Asia and Central Asia, before joining with existing transport infrastructure in Europe:

  • The New Eurasian Land Bridge, running from Western China to Western Russia through Kazakhstan.
  • China–Mongolia–Russia Corridor, running from Northern China to Eastern Russia
  • China–Central Asia–West Asia Corridor, running from Western China to Turkey
  • China–Indochina Peninsula Corridor, running from Southern China to Singapore
  • China–Myanmar–Bangladesh–India Corridor, running from Southern China to Myanmar
  • China–Pakistan Corridor, running from South-Western China to Pakistan

The “Road” (confusingly) refers to a maritime route beginning in South-East Asia, moving through the Suez Canal and ending in the Mediterranean. Similarly, China is investing heavily in ports along the route.

“Together, the Belt and Road encompass three continents, 68 countries and more than 60% of the world’s population”, says Sawczak. “An estimated 25% of all the goods that are shifted around the world will go via the new Silk Road route.”

Beijing says it will ultimately lend as much as $8 trillion for infrastructure in 68 countries.

Image: CCTV news

2: Long-term vision

During his historic visit to China in 1972, Richard Nixon reportedly asked Zhou EnLai what he thought had been the impact of the French Revolution on western civilisation. The Chinese Prime Minister considered the question for a few moments before replying, “It’s too early to tell”.

China has always taken the long-term view.

Without being locked into the short-term political cycles faced by many Western governments, China is in the rare position of being able to launch far-sighted projects to improve critical infrastructure.

As such, the length of the Belt and Road Initiative will be measured in decades, rather than years. Today, says Sawczak, “every company in China is trying to get a Belt and Road label in order to secure funding.”

“Belt and Road isn’t just about infrastructure and the supply of goods. To build this stuff they’ll need people, food, education and more. There are going to be enormous opportunities for business and suppliers to support this initiative – it’s going to have a huge impact.”

3: It’s buzzing with 21st century technology

One of the benefits of building new road, rail and port infrastructure from scratch is that China is taking the opportunity to build a truly 21st-century supply chain.

Infrastructure along the land and sea routes will feature digital technology including inventory sensors (IoT) that will enable a level of data analytics that leapfrogs past current supply chain practices.

Trading will involve blockchain verification and e-commerce settlement transactions that will vastly improve the cost and speed of trade.

To learn more about what IOT is and basics of Blockchain, check out here and here.

4: The Belt and Road will drive standardisation

“Because there are 68 countries involved, there’ll be a push for the standardisation of trade processes all along the Belt and Road”, says Sawczak. “One would hope the highest standards will be used – such as blockchain verification. Overall, standardisation is a good thing that eases free trade and boosts globalisation.”

Sawczak warns that with so many parties involved, it will be imperative for other countries to integrate their e-commerce with Chinese systems and to consider availing themselves of the new flexibility of the Renminbi as an international currency.

Read more on how to source from China here.

“Communication is another area where you’ll need to align. For example, WhatsApp has been blocked in the past in China, so cybercommunities need to be prepared to adapt to Chinese platforms to communicate during multilateral deals.”

Helen Sawczak is the National CEO of the Australia China Business Council, a membership based organisation dedicated to promoting trade and investment between Australia and China. ACBC has a Branch in every Australian State and Territory, holding hundreds of information and networking events each year to assist Australian and Chinese companies to connect.

Now in its 11th consecutive year, The Asia-Pacific CPO Forum is the region’s premier procurement event dedicated to accelerating commercial leadership at the highest level. Held at Melbourne’s Crown Conference Centre over two days, it is a once-a-year opportunity for leading Chief Procurement Officers to engage with peers and like-minded business leaders in an intimate and interactive setting. Click here to learn more.

Revealed: 4 Things CFOs Really Want From Procurement

Ever get the feeling you’ve been barking up the wrong tree? Let’s cut out the second-guessing and focus on the four essentials that Chief Financial Officers want from procurement.

Andrew Porter values having a good night’s sleep. As CFO of the Australian Foundation Investment Company (AFIC) and President of the G100, the peak body for Australian CFOs, Porter knows that the presence of dark circles under the eyes of C-level executives are linked directly to how the business is tracking.

“The CFO’s job is to help the CEO – and the Board – to sleep well at night”, he says. This concept also applies to the relationship between CPO and CFO, and the people reporting to the CPO, and so on all the way down the organisation.

“I’ll pay a little bit more for security of supply knowing that our strategic suppliers are happy, reliable, and we’re not going to be exposed as a business with a supplier that feels cheated”, Porter says.  “I want to know where the supplies are coming from, and know that they’re quality, and know that it’s not going to come back and bite the business later on.”

So – what exactly do CFOs want from their CPOs in order to help the business grow?

  1. They want to trust that everything is under control

CFOs, says Porter, worry about keeping three succinct groups happy: investors or shareholders, customers, and employees. It’s a delicate balance, because an initiative that benefits one group can have a detrimental effect on the others unless it’s been carefully thought through. Procurement practitioners have the ability to help maintain this balance, not in the least by keeping customers happy through the timely sourcing of goods and services. “If the job is being done well, it’s one less thing for the CFO to worry about”, says Porter. “But if procurement tries too hard and is seen to be screwing down the supplier, then you’ve undone all that hard work, shifted the balance, and suddenly the investors are unhappy.”

As all CFOs know, you can’t improve margins and grow your business without first being sure that you can rely on your bottom line. “In order to grow, you’ve got to have trust in your subordinates – and that cascades all the way down.”

  1. They want to be kept informed

“What CFOs really want is a crystal ball that works 100% accurately all the time”, says Porter. CFOs need to understand all sectors of the business – what’s firing, what isn’t firing, and (importantly), they need to know about roadblocks and other issues in advance. If procurement becomes aware of an upcoming issue, the CFO, CEO and the Board need to be informed of it before it happens, and be presented with a list of solutions.

“The board doesn’t want to see problems – they want to see solutions”, says Porter. “A good CPO should be putting themselves in the place of the person they’re reporting to. What does he or she need to know? What are the questions they’re going to ask, and how am I going to get those answers to them before they have to ask?”

  1. They want their CPOs to think outside the box

What does disruption actually mean in terms of supply for your organisation? Where will this disruption be coming from? Are there different, innovative ways of sourcing goods and services? Porter comments that although innovation isn’t always an immediate priority, the C-suite will inevitably ask what procurement is doing to drive innovation.

Part of thinking outside the box means broadening your field of vision. “Look globally as well as domestically for best-practice, and ensure you’re part of a good forum where you can share information with your peers.”

  1. They want to see purpose-led strategy

Are the procurement team’s KPIs in accordance with your organisation’s purpose-led strategy?

“A nightmare scenario involves the CPO chasing the wrong KPIs”, says Porter. “Ill-chosen KPIs can sometimes be at odds with the purpose and strategy of the business, and fail to align with the KPIs of the wider organisation. They need to be parallel all the way down. Everyone needs to absolutely understand what their role is in the company.”

But, Porter warns, you need to have sensible targets. “If CFOs start forcing CPOs and their teams into impossible targets, that’s when people get disenfranchised – and suppliers get hurt.”

Andrew Porter is the CFO of Australia’s largest Listed Investment Company, Australian Foundation Investment Company, known as AFIC. He is also CFO for Djerriwarrh Investments Ltd, Mirrabooka Investments Ltd and AMCIL Ltd, all other Listed Investment Companies. He is the current President of the G100, the peak body for CFOs, and the current Chair of ASIC’s Standing Committee on Accounting and Auditing.  He was formerly a non-executive Director of the Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital.

Porter will deliver a keynote presentation at The Asia-Pacific CPO Forum, the region’s premier procurement event dedicated to accelerating commercial leadership at the highest level. Held at Melbourne’s Crown Conference Centre over two days, it is a once-a-year opportunity for leading Chief Procurement Officers to engage with peers and like-minded business leaders in an intimate and interactive setting. Click here to learn more.

Step 1: Brush Your Teeth Step 2: Change the World

“Molly, the reason you got less than Thomas, is because you are a girl.” We take a look at some of the highlights of this year’s International Women’s Day…

The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have triggered an intensely powerful outpouring of testimony and solidarity among people around the world.

But this is only the beginning of the story.

The broader issues of systemic workplace sexism and the fight for meaningful inclusion undeniably stretch far beyond the entertainment world.

We need look no further than our own procurement backyard where women account for just 20-35 per cent of procurement association memberships, represent just 30 per cent of attendees and 20 per cent of speakers, and earn up to 31 per cent less than their male counterparts.

Time is most definitely up for our own profession to tackle this issue and celebrate more fully the dynamite contributions made by talented women to their businesses and to the profession.

And judging from the overwhelming response to our A Wise Woman Once Told Me campaign, you think so too!

A Wise Woman Once Told Me…

For International Women’s Day (IWD), we decided to pay homage to the wisest women we know with a new campaign entitled “A Wise Woman Once Told Me…”

Last year, we launched Bravo, a Procurious group, to both celebrate and promote women in procurement and campaign against the profession’s current gender disparity.

For IWD we asked procurement professionals across the globe to join Bravo and share the best advice a woman has ever given them.

Here are some of our favourite responses and action shots from the day…

Our youngest supporter and proud feminist shares the best advice he has ever received from a woman in his life… And what great advice it is too!
Procurious’ Melbourne contingent ready for an International Women’s Day celebration
Procurious founder Tania Seary shares the best advice she’s received from a woman…
A Procurious member shares their advice
Delegates at SAP Ariba live in Las Vegas created an amazing “A Wise Woman Once Told Me…” wall

Literary heroines from across the globe were very well represented…

Poignant advice from diarist Anne Frank
Advice from Hogwarts’ wisest witch
Matilda also had some wise words to share with the procurement community…

International Women’s Day 2018  – By the Numbers

Events, campaigns, protests and celebrations across the globe marked 2018’s International Women’s Day.

This year’s theme was #PressForProgress, a call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity.

With the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away – there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress.  – International Women’s Day

Some key events from this year’s International Women’s Day…

Pay Disparity is Child’s Play

“Molly, the reason you got less than Thomas, is because you are a girl.”

Stark pay gaps between men and women prevail across the world, which is why one Norwegian financial trade union, Finansforbundet, launched one of our favourite campaigns for this year’s International Women’s Day.

In the video, a group of children are asked to fill two vases with blue and pink balls.

Once they’ve completed the task they are rewarded with jars of sweets.

But the boys get more.

As you might predict, the confused children are quick to condemn the explanation they are given that boys get more simply because they are boys.

Unequal pay is unacceptable in the eyes of children.

Why should we accept it as adults?

Bravo – Join the campaign

There’s still time to join Bravo on Procurious and take part in our Wise Woman campaign.

Sign up here to join. 

We promise to donate £1 to Action Aid – a charity committed to ending the inequality that keeps women and girls locked in poverty – for every person that joins Bravo before 12th March 2018 – that’s the end of the day today! 

In other procurement news this week…

KFC: Back to Bidvest

  • It hasn’t been a (finger-licking) good month for KFC WHO experienced widespread distribution problems after it decided to switch its logistics contract from Bidvest to DHL, resulting in the closure hundreds of outlets and disappointment of thousands of fried-chicken fans
  • Last week, it was reported that KFC would be returning, in part, to its ex-distributor Bidvest, who will supply up to 350 of its 900 restaurants
  • Bidvest has pledged “a seamless return” and a KFC spokesperson said “our focus remains on ensuring our customers can enjoy our chicken without further disruption.” Let’s hope they don’t cluck it up this time!

Read more on BBC News 

Lego goes green

  • Lego has started using polymer from plants in some of its toys as part of a move away from oil-based plastics.
  • The Danish firm’s first bioplastic offering is made from sugarcane and will be used in “botanical” elements including leaves, bushes and trees
  • The bioplastics are set to appear in stores later this year as Lego moves towards sustainable raw materials in all its products by 2030
  • Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility at Lego said: “We are proud that the first Lego elements made from sustainably sourced plastic are in production and will be in Lego boxes later this year. This is a great first step in our ambitious commitment of making all Lego bricks using sustainable materials.”

Read more on Supply Management 

Looking Through The ‘Glass ceiling’ – 30 Years On

Have women smashed through the glass ceiling in the last thirty years? 

Seeing the many posts regarding International Women’s Day made me think – what is all this fuss about?

We’ve got this sorted, haven’t we?

But then I think back to where my procurement journey began and realise only 30 years ago the world of procurement that I inhabited was vastly different to the one we work in now.

I realise that I was complicit because I just kind of accepted it as ‘the man’s world’ that I had dared to enter.

February 1987

I started out in February 1987. I remember my first boss in civil engineering saying

“Mandy, you are very good at what you do, but you have two problems, one is that you are young and two is that you are female.”

He went on to tell me that I’d have to work really hard to prove myself in the ‘buying game’.

He had a point.

I remember the crane driver who refused to take a request from me because “he wouldn’t take orders from a woman” (yes, really!). I recall how I was referred to as the ‘lady buyer’ and on a good day was perceived as a ‘bit of a novelty’. I just brushed it off and got on with it, never realising how accepting this would have ramifications for other females in my position or that I would be calling it out in an article years later for the blatant sexual discrimination that it was.

Ten Years Later…

In 1997, ten years later, I remember an appraisal with my then boss at a manufacturing organisation. During the meeting, he spoke about the ‘glass ceiling’ and how I should manage my career aspirations accordingly.

I didn’t even know what the glass ceiling was at that time but I got the gist of what he was saying.

Fifteen Years Later

Fast forward another five years, to 2002, and I’m the only member in a group of all male managers who doesn’t have a company car as part of their employee package.

I grumbled and moaned, but it was only when I pointed out that I was

  1. The only member who didn’t have a company car in that group


  1. That I hoped this wasn’t because I was the only female…

…that the car miraculously materialised!

Twenty-Five Years Later

Ten years later as Regional Procurement Director at TATA Steel (as you can imagine, pretty much a male dominated environment) the words of my first boss echoed in my ears.

I HAD to prove myself. This meant turning up at meetings when my son was sick at home, early starts and late finishes balancing motherhood and a career, whilst trying to build productive relationships with colleagues in the business.

“Finding success” were the words of my Engineering Director colleague when he pointed out that relationships between Procurement and Engineering had never been better.

The Buying Game

While I hope this article shows how far women have come in the “buying game” and how behaviours and attitudes have changed, and that I now personally feel total peer equality with my male counterparts, I would hate for any other women in procurement to feel gender inequality and just brush it off as expected.

I don’t regret my decisions, I did what I thought was right at the time but in this modern age of procurement, it isn’t acceptable – so don’t stand for it.

There is still so much more we can do, for all women in procurement. I would rather be seen as a success and a woman rather than a success because I am a woman.

Even in 2018 this is a rarity, in manufacturing especially. To International Women’s Day and all women in procurement

Here’s to strong women.

May we know them.

May we be them.

May we raise them.

#Metoo: Coming To Your Workplace In 2018

#Metoo changed the gender equality landscape dramatically in the space of a few months. Here’s how we can build upon those hard-won gains.

#Metoo has shaken the world – and rightly so. That it has taken until 2017 for significant attention to be paid to the harassment and abuse that women have been subjected to by men they know, in workplaces that proclaim their ‘values’, is staggering.

In the U.S., the #metoo movement has raged its way through Hollywood, the music industry, the church, the military, and government. The corporate world won’t escape this tide of transparency. While corporates have historically been under more pressure to stamp out sexual harassment and discrimination, it still occurs and is often poorly handled.

The big myth that organisations ‘protect us from harm’ has been outed. Even in the days when it was acceptable for organisations to be benevolent and protective, they weren’t. The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is a prime example of this. As is #ChurchToo, #MeTooMilitary and #MeTooCongress in the US, the closure of the Presidents Club in the UK, and other responses across the world.

Why has it been so hard to attract a spotlight with sufficient wattage to this issue?

Because women know it’s dangerous to be outspoken on gender equity – you get targeted if you are.

Sustaining a focus on harm, abuse, and violence is exhausting. It’s overwhelming and becomes depowering. We go elsewhere to be replenished, and then lose momentum.

When we see white men persistently holding on to power, and not sharing it, it is unclear what can be done.

And what we now know from the unconscious bias research is that women have the same biases and inconsistencies; it isn’t women versus men, it’s gender-based views about women’s and men’s roles, which is complicated, and confusing.

This year’s International Women’s Day refocuses the #metoo momentum in a positive way. #Pressforprogress provides an optimistic, action-oriented window of opportunity for change. #Pressforprogress calls on us to set up a virtuous cycle instead of staying trapped in this one. To focus on rights, rather than wrongs.

A clear focus on progress will help make progress visible, and make more progress.

What has #metoo achieved?

One of the intentions of the #metoo campaign was to draw attention to the prevalence and unacceptability of sexual harassment. It has done much more than that.

On a personal level, #metoo reminded me of my own small experience of harassment. In my first days as a full-time worker in a large organization I was told by co-workers that my new boss, a middle-aged man, chased female employees around the office on a regular basis. I was staggered by this news. At first, I couldn’t believe it.

Then I saw it happen.

And yes, he did it on a regular basis. Thankfully, I learnt pretty quickly that if you didn’t play the game, that is, run when expected to, he didn’t play either. What a relief! What strikes me as I remember it is that slight frisson of fear ‘What if he catches me?’ So far as I know, he didn’t ever catch anyone, but that isn’t the point. The point is the intimidation and fear that is caused by something projected as a seemingly harmless ‘game’, but which clearly is not.

Ironically, his name was Mr Speed, so perhaps he thought that gave him some kind of license. But his license also came from our collusion in being chased. There’s a kind of helplessness to do anything different even though it’s clear that it’s not OK. More frighteningly, tacit license came from the organisation and its authority figures. His behaviour wasn’t a secret. And it wasn’t sanctioned.

This is minor in comparison with the abuse that many have suffered. I appreciate that I have been lucky – there’s no other way to explain it – to have avoided serious abuse and harassment in my life. And for that I remain extremely thankful.

 What progress has #metoo made?

On a broader level, #metoo:

  1. Saw public, tough consequences for some (admittedly high-profile) abusers;
  2. Opened to scrutiny what had been widely known about, but not subjected to public awareness. It created a sense of transparency and accountability;
  3. Catalyzed men and women into joining the movement against widespread, endemic abuse. We stood up and said publicly that it wasn’t acceptable.

#MeToo has put serious dents in some myths about women (and they still need work):

  • ‘Women don’t enjoy sex’: men who believe this don’t buy ‘no means no’, and expect women to resist;
  • ‘Women are men’s property’ which means that consent doesn’t matter;
  • ‘She must have provoked it’ which means that it’s her fault;
  • ‘She could have just said no’, which means that she said no and I ignored her anyway.

There’s certainly been some collateral damage, and if only it could have been avoided. Victims are traumatised, there are false accusations, not everyone has been called to account, there’s backlash and disagreement about what it means.

It’s time to shift the dialogue, and #pressforprogress makes for good timing. We’ve outed past wrongs. We’ve gone some distance in redressing some wrongs. We’ve challenged myths. Now how do we get better gender equity so that we don’t backslide; so that we keep these gains and build upon them?

A relentless focus on progress will speed the rate of change. We need to see the task ahead as akin to rain falling, collecting and being channelled along the rocks. As it collects and gathers force the runnels go deeper and wider. The flow increases and gathers force. The underlying rock is eroded and the runnel becomes a river that becomes a waterfall. Like water pouring over a waterfall, each drop, each surge of progress, erodes the resistance, deepens the possibilities, and increases the momentum.

How organisations can #pressforprogress:

As a foundation, organisations must provide a safe environment for all workers, and pay particular attention to those who have lower levels of power. They need to ensure there is a zero tolerance policy for harassment, and actively grow a culture founded on respect for others. They must be both deeply committed to safety, and advocate strongly for equality, to create a culture that is true to their words. Nothing else is good enough.

The single most important factor in motivating people to put in effort, is the perception of making progress in meaningful work. When people experience a sense of progress, they are more intrinsically motivated.

 Organisational leaders should ensure that they:

 Notice all progress towards safety and inclusion, no matter how small;

  • Provide structure, resources and help to support diversity and inclusion;
  • Provide emotional support to nourish human connection and belonging.

 And do these things relentlessly.

 What can individuals do?

The best way to use our effort to make progress is to be hyper-aware of even very small signs of progress and draw attention to them.

Notice some signs of progress every single day. Notice even tiny amounts of progress. Share your own. Share other’s stories. Tell progress stories whenever you can. This magnifies motivation to make progress.

While we are not there yet, there have been many gains, and 2017 has increased the momentum for equality. The ability to notice even small amounts of progress reduces the impact of setbacks, boosts positive emotions and engagement, and sustains effort to achieve long-term outcomes.

Progress motivates people to accept difficult challenges more readily and to persist longer.

#Pressforprogress in 2018 by noticing and sharing your progress, and the progress of others.