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?

ArtMari/Shutterstock.com

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.

Image: Yiucheng/Shutterstock

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.

Krasimira Nevenova/Shutterstock.com

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

and

  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.

Sundry Photography/Shutterstock.com

#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.

7 Steps To Thinking Like A Freak

The best thing you can do to improve your productivity, your rationality and your creativity is learn how to Think Like a Freak. 

Sergey_T/Shutterstock.com

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen Dubner, The New York Times bestselling authors of Freakonomics plainly see the world like no one else.

In their book series, which includes Freakonomics, SuperFreakonomics, Think Like a Freak and When to Rob a Bank, the two mix smart thinking and great storytelling like no one else, whether investigating a solution to global warming or explaining why the price of oral sex has fallen so drastically. By examining how people respond to incentives, they show the world for what it really is—good, bad, ugly, and ultimately…super freaky.

Freak up your thinking

“The fact is that solving problems is hard. If a given problem still exists, you can bet that a lot of people have already come along and failed to solve it. Easy problems evaporate; it is the hard ones that linger. Furthermore, it takes a lot of time to track down, organize and analyze the data to answer even one small question well.

So rather than trying and probably failing to answer most of the questions sent our way, we wondered if it might be better to write a book that can teach anyone to think like a Freak. ” Steven D. Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Think Like a Freak 

Levitt and Dubner want to teach us all to think a bit more productively, more creatively, more rationally—to think, that is, like a Freak.

Thinking like a freak offers a blueprint for an entirely new way to solve problems, whether your interest lies in minor life-hacks or major global reforms. They cover topics ranging from business to philanthropy to sports to politics, from the wild to the wacky (the secrets of a Japanese hot-dog-eating champion, the reason an Australian doctor swallowed a batch of dangerous bacteria, and why Nigerian e-mail scammers make a point of saying they’re from Nigeri) all with the goal of retraining your brain.

How to think like a freak

  1. Put away your moral compass

It’s hard to see a problem clearly if you’ve already decided what to do about it.

2. Learn to say “I don’t know”

Until you can admit what you don’t yet know, it’s virtually impossible to learn what you need to.

3. Think like a child

You’ll come up with better ideas and ask better questions.

4. Find the root cause of a problem

Attacking the symptoms, as often happens, rarely fixes the underlying issue.

5. Take a master class in incentives

For better or worse, incentives rule our world.

6. Persuade people who don’t want to be persuaded

Being right is rarely enough to carry the day.

7. Learn to appreciate the upside of quitting

You can’t solve tomorrow’s problem if you aren’t willing to abandon today’s dud.

There is nothing magical about this way of thinking. It usually traffics in the obvious and places a huge premium on common sense.

But there’s good news too: thinking like a Freak is simple enough that anyone can do it. What’s perplexing is that so few do Steven D. Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Think Like a Freak

Go on…give it a go!

Stephen J. Dubner, journalist, radio and TV personality and co-author of the critically acclaimed “Freakonomics” books will keynote at JAGGAER’s REV2018. The event takes place in Las Vegas on 24th- 26th April and there’s still time to register!

Bridging the Talent Gap in Procurement: Attracting New Hires in a Digital World

Want procurement teams to attract the best talent? Show us your stuff!

oatawa/Shutterstock.com

According to The Deloitte Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2017, 87 per cent of the respondents agree that talent is the single greatest factor in driving procurement performance. But the rates of new hires and recent graduates pursuing a career in procurement is decreasing.

That translates into a problem for the future of this function – a talent gap in procurement. But why?

Procurement is More than Cost Savings and Compliance

There are several reasons we can speculate as to why the workforce is pursuing careers outside of procurement, but in my opinion the overarching problem is that procurement is not seen as a ‘sexy’ career path. In the world of tech startups, innovative products, self-made social media sensations, and more, the idea of focusing on corporate cost-savings and spend compliance just doesn’t appeal – especially to the up-and-coming millennial workforce.

But the truth is, procurement is more than policing the organisation and saving company money. It’s about building relationships with internal stakeholders and external suppliers, drawing strategic insights from data to help others and using unique talent to solve problems.

Confession time: I’m also a millennial, and I think we have an opportunity here to fill the talent gap with eager new hires by showing what the new world of procurement is all about.

Show Us Your Stuff, Procurement

As employers and providers in the world of procurement, it’s up to us to make procurement a strategic and desirable field to enter. Hiding in the back office has made many of us modest, but it’s time for us to show off a bit to demonstrate the true strategic value procurement brings to the party. In reading The Deloitte Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2017, there were clear trends on how CPOs feel about the state of procurement, which led me to think about how we can apply those insights to address the talent gap.

Here are 5 ways to bring procurement careers into the modern world…

1.Create a digital culture

I’ll admit, I stole this one right from Deloitte’s recommendations because it’s spot on. 75 per cent of the survey respondents agreed – “procurement’s role in delivering digital strategy will increase in the future and are also clear that technology will impact all procurement processes to some degree.” And you know who grew up with technology from day 1 and is perfect for navigating a digital procurement world? You guessed it – millennials. Demonstrate to this up-and-coming workforce that your procurement department is committed to leveraging technology to automate and outsource the repetitive tasks, expedite the pace of business and enable them to focus on strategic initiatives. Invest in digital procurement today and think about how emerging technologies like AI, machine learning and robotics influence the procurement world. And best yet – involve your entry level procurement team members in these discussions. Give them the opportunity to shape and influence the path of technology at your organisation and make recommendations on your digital future.

2. Invest in employee development

According to the survey, 60 per cent of CPOs do not believe their teams have the skills to deliver their procurement strategy, yet investment in on-going training and employee development remains low. Demonstrate to your current staff and those entering the workforce that you recognise that people are key to procurement success and invest in their future with procurement and non-procurement training programs.

3. Dial-in on data

Data is the alpha and omega of the future and 60 per cent of the Deloitte survey respondents regard analytics as the most impactful technology for the function over the coming two years. So, this is a two-part recommendation: 1) Make sure to capture 100 per cent  of your financial data, and 2) Properly train current and future procurement professionals on data analysis. Analytics and technologies like AI and machine learning are only as good as the data that feeds them, so it’s imperative to build a complete data set for your employees to leverage. Gartner also says that data science and analytical skills are required in procurement to leverage a future with AI. Many professionals enter procurement to be hands-on in solving problems across the business – this could be saving money; negotiating better contracts; optimising the supplier base; helping other departments create and track budgets; reducing risk; finding funds to support new product innovation or growth, etc. Give these professionals reliable data and training to properly analyse it to extract actionable insights so they can act quickly and effectively on strategic initiatives.

4. Provide opportunities to influence innovation

Long gone are the days when procurement meant squeezing every penny out of suppliers and business partners. Now it’s about building strategic partnerships that can take your business to the next level and procurement is at the forefront of that effort. Young procurement professionals are going to be excited and eager to make their mark on something – let them help lead the charge in sourcing and nurturing relationships with key suppliers. Product innovation comes not only from finding the money to explore and test but also from finding the right partners that bring you the elements you need to build that innovation. Create collaboration between your procurement and product departments, as well as other departments for that matter, so that procurement becomes a true business partner and is actively involved in core business functions.

5. Build rapport with internal stakeholders

Another reason that procurement might not be seen as ‘sexy’ is the simple fact that people in other functions just don’t know what exactly it is that they do. If you’re a procurement leader, be a champion for your team. Help others understand what procurement truly is and communicate and celebrate your wins. Also look for opportunities for collaboration between your team and other business functions. Become an advisor during critical times like budget planning and showcase the talent you have in your team. When budgets remain flat, offer up procurement expertise to help other departments produce cost savings and new money from their existing spending habits. As the Deloitte survey eloquently says, “Procurement professionals should challenge themselves to understand functional stakeholders in the same way they do their suppliers.”

At the end of the day, many people are motivated by the idea of being a hero at work. What profession enables employees to swoop in and save the day better than procurement? There are not many. With the required people skills, analytical approach and desire to focus energy internally and externally, the procurement profession is a truly unique career path that doesn’t receive the credit it deserves. Look on to the future of procurement at your organisation and build the culture that attracts your next generation of hires.

To learn more about Basware’s approach to collaborative procurement, download the eBook: WeProcurementTM: Putting the “We” in e-Procurement and contact us to learn more about rolling out a digital procurement solution.

Digital Transformation Skill Gap Shock

Only six per cent  of CPOs possess the strategic leadership trait of being able to lead digital and analytical transformation in their organisation. What’s going on with the skill gap?

pathdoc/Shutterstock.com

It seems that everyone’s talking about digital transformation. Every procurement team globally lies somewhere on the maturity curve that begins at one end with 1990s-style manual processes, to world-beating teams who are embracing tech enablers such as predictive analytics and cognitive technology. Procurement publications (including this one) are writing article after article about the wave of exciting new technology coming down the Industry 4.0 pipeline, while the profession’s biggest conferences always have digital transformation experts high on the agenda.

Key findings in Deloitte’s 2018 Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey, however, suggest that digital transformation isn’t as high as priority for CPOs as we might think. When just over 500 procurement leaders across 39 countries were asked to identify the most common leadership traits in procurement, they listed:

  • acting as a role model – 23 per cent
  • collaborating internally and externally to deliver value – 20 per cent
  • delivering results – 14 per cent

Yet, as the report points out, strategic leadership traits are not widely evident:

  • positive disruption – 5 per cent
  • leading digital and analytical transformation – 6 per cent
  • innovation – 8 per cent

Similarly, modern technology usage is low, with only one-third of those surveyed using technologies such as predictive analytics and collaboration networks. Only one-third of procurement leaders believe that their digital procurement strategy will enable them to deliver on their objectives and value, even though analytics was nominated as the single factor that will have the most impact on procurement in the next two years.

The authors call out these disappointing results twice in the report:

“Progress and adoption has been slow over the past year and the survey findings show that procurement leaders remain hesitant about investigating new digital tools and technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and blockchain.”

“Despite recognising digital technologies, their impact and imminent uses, few organisations appear to be progressing at the rate that their c-suite executives consider necessary for achieving overall goals. Indeed, in the majority of areas, the level of impact has declined and the forecast application of new technologies is low … The level and speed of digitalisation across procurement functions is lower than expected and needed.”

So, what’s going on? The answer might be found within the report itself, across the following three areas:

  1. CPOs don’t know where to begin

The main barriers to the effective application of digital technology identified in the report include a lack of data integration (46 per cent), quality of data (45 per cent) and a limited understand of data technology (27 per cent). This suggests that one of the reasons for the disappointing adoption of technology is that CPOs are still coming to terms with the overwhelming task of getting their house (their data) in order before they can effectively roll out a tech enabler such as cognitive procurement.

  1. CPOs are losing faith in their digital strategy

Deloitte found that only 4 per cent of procurement leaders believe that procurement has a big influence in delivering their organisation’s overall digital strategy. Only 6 per cent believe their digital strategy will help them to fully deliver on their objectives and improve enterprise value, while only 18 per cent have a digital procurement strategy supported by a complete business case. The trend in the report appears to be that procurement leaders are struggling to understand the impact of digital technology. One of the stand-out pieces of commentary in the report contains the following:

“Applying digital technologies to the procurement function will enable strategic sourcing to become more predictive, transactional procurement to become more automated, supplier management to become more proactive, and procurement operations to become more intelligent.”

 3. CPOs are not investing in digital capability

Remember last year’s report? The main callout in 2017 was that 60 per cent of CPOs didn’t believe their teams had sufficient capabilities to deliver on their procurement strategy. This figure has improved slightly and now sits at 51 per cent, yet digital skills still remain a red flag. The report found that nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said that their procurement teams possess little or no capability to maximise the use of current and future digital technologies, but only 16 per cent of procurement leaders are focusing on enhancing the digital skills of their teams. Overall, 72 per cent of CPOs are spending less than 2 per cent of their operating budgets on training and development programs for their teams.

Download the full report here: https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/operations/articles/cpo-survey.html


In other news this week:

 

Procurious celebrates International Women’s Day – Get Involved!

  • Women account for just 20-35 per cent of procurement association memberships, represent just 30 per cent of procurement conference attendees and 20 per cent of speakers, and earn up to 31 per cent less than their male counterparts
  • To address this disparity, we founded Bravo, a Procurious group that celebrates and promotes the contributions of women in procurement last year
  • Ahead of International Women’s Day on 8th March 2018 Procurious are running a new campaign, “A Wise Woman Once Told Me…”.  We want procurement pros across the globe to take part and  finish that sentence.  Write the best advice you’ve been given by a woman, be it a colleague, mentor, friend or family member and share your advice on both Twitter (Tagging @Procurious_ and #Bravoprocurement) and in the Bravo group on Procurious 
  • We’ll be amplifying all of your great advice to the global procurement community and, to encourage more procurement pros to join Bravo Movement, we’ll donate £1 to Action Aid for every person that joins Bravo before 10th March 2018

Contact Laura Ross via [email protected] to request your  “A Wise Woman Once Told Me…” digital kit.

 

KFC Supply Chain Cock-Up Continues

  • KFC has yet to reopen all of its UK stores after nearly 700 of the the fast food chain’s 900 stores were shut down after the company ran out of chicken last week.
  • Speculation about what went wrong has focused on DHL, which had taken over the contract only one week previously. DHL has one centralised warehouse in contrast to the previous contractor, Bidvest, which operated from six.
  • The hashtag has been trending on Twitter, while KFC’s marketing team has been praised for its handling of the crisis.

Read more: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/kfc-chicken-crisis-shortage-supply-chain-logistics-experts

 

Trump announces steel and aluminium tariffs

  • President Trump has announced a 25 per cent tariff on imported steel and a 10 per cent tariff on imported aluminium.
  • The tariffs are designed to punish China for what the White House has described as unfair trade practices, while reducing blue-collar job losses and wage stagnation.
  • U.S. steel production has fallen from 100 million to 82 million metric tonnes over the past decade, with imports increasing in consequence.

Read more: Reuters