Digital Transformation: The Bigger Picture

The Hackett Group’s research shows that addressing the impact of digital transformation on business has become the most critical imperative for enterprises in every industry.

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What exactly is digital transformation?

 The Hackett Group defines enterprise digital transformation as: “the creation of business value by improving customer experiences, operational efficiency and agility by fundamentally changing the way organisations innovate, operate, deliver products and services, engage with stakeholders and execute work, using digital technologies as the enabler of holistic transformation.”

While implementing technology has always been a part of business strategy, adoption of emerging technologies in procurement is critical in a rapidly changing business environment marked by intensifying competition and disruptive innovation.

As the world of big data, robots, automation, and artificial intelligence takes shape, procurement is expected to provide more profound insights into supply relationships, including conventional cost structures, supply availability, lead times, and quality. Moreover, in this new digital landscape, business technology users are demanding consumer-like e-commerce interfaces from e-procurement systems to find the products or services they need quickly. Procurement in the digital age requires operational agility to prioritise customer service delivery while anticipating or even predicting new supply opportunities despite volatile market conditions.

How can we use digital transformation to drive new value in procurement?

Historically, The Hackett Group viewed valued creation in terms of the two “E”s: Efficiency and Effectiveness. However, with the changing technology landscape and increased importance of stakeholder satisfaction, it is time to expand how we define value. And that means the addition of a third “E”: Experience. This broader view of procurement-enabled value allows procurement organisations to capture their minimization of cost (Efficiency), maximisation of business value (Effectiveness), and now, optimisation of relationship and engagement value (Experience)

Procurement-enabled value

Measuring value in procurement is not just changing the way we define value, but also how we measure it. Metrics should be reinvented to focus on predictive qualities and customer-centricity. For example, instead of successful risk mitigation, true value comes from risk prevention. Or in terms of efficiency, procurement should be measuring time to serve customers, instead of total cycle time (Fig. 3). Successful value measurement in procurement is no longer solely focused on cost savings. Now, the key is in understanding the mindset of stakeholders and using complex data to measure value created for businesses and customers.

Defining and measuring procurement value in the digital age

In this complex landscape, where should I start in thinking about digital value?

While we consider procurement’s digital evolution, and which steps to take next, it is important to understand more broadly which standards procurement will be measured by. Here, we evaluate how the most common strategic value drivers for digital transformation currently align with the digital technologies that can address them.

Strategic value driver #1: Improve procurement’s business value contribution

Increasing procurement’s value contribution is the top-ranked strategic value driver among procurement organisations. Although procurement organisations successfully increased the amount of spend under management through first-generation e-sourcing and e-procurement technology, reduced resources and exponential growth in data make it difficult to achieve (or even measure) savings and efficiency targets. While emerging technologies promise unprecedented levels of automation to help with this challenge, many organisations want to consolidate their procurement solutions in cloud-based suites as a first phase of digital transformation before diving into new technologies that are not yet widely deployed. Adoption and accelerated rollout of cloud-based solutions has become a critical part of the digital transformation agenda. In fact, 88 per cent of respondents to The Hackett Group’s 2018 Key Issues Study expect to adopt one or more cloud-based/SaaS applications within the next two to three years.

Strategic value driver #2: Improve policy compliance and alignment with sourcing strategy

Organisations are using digital transformation to improve compliance and alignment with sourcing strategies. For example, procurement might leverage machine learning to refine methods for contract and compliance management. Given the amount of data held in unstructured contract documents that are often stored in disparate locations, managing against contracts may hold high degrees of risk and exposure associated with non-compliance. Many organisations have already established a contract repository, but today cannot link policy and compliance with broader sourcing, spend and supplier risk management efforts.

Strategic value driver #3: Improving speed and quality of procurement business decisions

Making the best choices depends on having suitable data and information on supplier, item and product masters. However, data availability and quality remain significant challenges for many organisations that want to improve the speed and reliability of decisions. Therefore, it is necessary to develop fit-for-purpose information architectures that adhere to data standards and align with enterprise needs. Master data management (MDM) is emerging as the solution for improving governance of structured data, but as part of digital transformation efforts, MDM should also be applied to unstructured data. While 73 per cent of respondents in the Digital Transformation Performance Study already have an MDM initiative underway, advances in MDM are driving renewed interest in the technology.

With digital technologies comes endless opportunities to improve how procurement operates, but it also brings a new level of complexity. The most successful organisations will start by looking at the big picture, developing a strategy, and then using digital technologies to support those objectives.

For more information on digital transformation, check out our 
upcoming webinar about unlocking digital value in procurement.

Supply Chain Cyber Attacks On The Up

Software supply chain cyber attacks look set to be one of the biggest cyber threats facing organisations in the coming years. This week, the US intelligence community issued a new warning regarding future attacks…

Varlamova Lydmila / Shutterstock

The US intelligence community has issued a new warning on cyber attack risks.

The Foreign Economic Espionage Report, which was published by the US’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), warns that China, Russia and Iran are most likely to be behind future attacks.

“Software supply chain infiltration is one of the key threats that corporations need to pay attention to, particularly how software vulnerabilities are exploited,” William Evanina, the NCSC’s director and the US’s top counter-intelligence official, told the BBC.

“To get around increasingly hardened corporate perimeters, cyber-actors are targeting supply chains.

“The impacts to proprietary data, trade secrets, and national security are profound.”

The report details that despite the opportunities that technologies including AI and the IoT offer, they will also introduce vulnerabilities to U.S. networks – for which the cybersecurity community is not prepared.

The severe impact of cyber attacks was in evidence in June last year following the NotPetya attacks, ,  which cost nearly a billion dollars in collective damages. The White House called out Russia following these attacks issuing the following statement – “In June 2017, the Russian military launched the most destructive and costly cyberattack in history. This was also a reckless and indiscriminate cyberattack that will be met with international consequences.”

Experts believed that Russian hackers launched 2,000 “NotPetya” attacks in the early hours of June 27.  NotPetya was designed to masquerade as ransomware, but was soon revealed to be wiper malware with the purpose of destroying computer systems, erasing data and disrupting business operations.

Cyber attacks on the rise

One of the consequences and subsequent risks of living in a hyper-connected world is an increased vulnerability to indiscriminate cyberattacks.

According to Chain Store Age, “nearly 80 per cent of IT security professionals across the United States, Canada, UK, Mexico, Australia, Germany, Japan, and Singapore believe software supply chain attacks have the potential to become one of the biggest cyber threats over the next three years. Yet, few organisations are prepared to mitigate the risks.”

Whilst many organisations have response strategies in place to deal with cyber attacks, they are not necessarly holding external suppliers to the same security standards.

Tesla Asks Suppliers for Cash Back

  • Tesla sent a memo to some of its suppliers, asking to return cash to the automaker, The Wall Street Journal reported. Tesla did not respond to Supply Chain Dive’s request to confirm the memo
  • The automaker told the Journal it is looking for price reductions from some of its suppliers to improve competitive advantage.
  • Since the beginning of the year, “we’ve seen a huge run up” in the amount of money due to suppliers, Bill Danner, president of CreditRiskMonitor, a financial risk analysis and news service, told Supply Chain Dive. The figure, however, isn’t unexpected as Tesla ramps up production of the Model 3
  • At the end of the first quarter of 2018, Elon Musk assured Tesla shareholders he’s feeling “quite confident” the auto company will have positive cash flow in the third and fourth quarters of the year

Read more on Supply Chain Dive

‘Change public procurement rules in response to heatwaves’

  • In a report on heatwaves, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said “extreme temperature events” in Europe were now 10 times more likely than in the early 2000s
  • “The government should make businesses aware of the developing threat of heatwaves and the economic consequences,” said the report
  • “Procurement rules should be updated so that schools and the NHS do not spend public money on infrastructure which is not resilient to heatwaves
  • “Research on the economic consequences of heatwaves concluded that there was a more significant cost to the economy than benefit,” said the report

Read more on Supply Management 

Record-breaking Prime Day’s aftermath

  • Now in its fourth year, Amazon Prime Day has grown into a major shopping event that not only drives online sales but creates ripple effects throughout the entire retail industry
  • But suppliers and retailers must prepare for a surge in consumers returning goods — or risk products turning in to “dead money”
  • Amazon recently announced it had sold more than 100 million products on Prime Day 2018, making it the biggest on record since it started the event in 2015
  • But now in the middle of its 30-day return period from Prime Day, Amazon and several retailers are likely fielding the return of hundreds of thousands or even millions of products

Read more on Supply Chain Dive

6 Ways To Prevent A Negotiation Blow Up

There’s no denying that negotiations can be tough. And the best thing you can do to lessen the tension and prevent a negotiation blow up is to be prepared…

Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy…

No, it’s not the start of an Eminem song… (well, it is, but that’s not what we’re getting at!)

You’re preparing for a big negotiation with a group of key suppliers and you’re already anticipating a disastrous outcome.

Perhaps you already know the people you’re dealing with are difficult to work with, or you’ve heard about their reputation.

Or maybe you know your own negotiation skills leave a lot to be desired when it comes to crisis management.

Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that negotiations can be tough. And the best thing you can do to lessen the tension and prevent a negotiation blow up is to be prepared.

We joined a recent Negotiation Roundtable organized by CABL (Conti Advanced Business Learning), a firm that specialises in Negotiation & Influencing, on the topic of Emotions and Negotiation. We wanted to hear advice from a number of procurement and sales leaders on how to keep your negotiations sweet.

Giuseppe Conti, the founder of CABL, led the conversation by discussing how emotions can influence decision making during negotiations and the ways to increase effectiveness when this factor is taken into account.

  1. Practice mindfulness

If you enter into your negotiation like a coiled spring, chances are the spring won’t stay coiled for long. The calmer you are the calmer you’re likely to remain for the duration of the meeting.

Olga Guerous, VP Commercial – Mars,  recalled a confrontation she experienced early on in her career. A particularly difficult supplier, who’s emotions were “all over the place” became so angry that he was forced to “leave the room midway through a negotiation and remained in the corridor for fifteen minutes in order to calm down.

“He came back and apologised but the situation wasn’t redeemable and he didn’t get what he wanted. Losing his temper made him lose any power and control he had in the negotiation. Having full control of your emotions is a key benefit in negotiations.”

Paul André, Director Reduced Risk Commercial Supply – JTI agreed, recommending, low breathing and mindfulness to help create a barrier to your emotions.

  1. Practice what you’re going to say

If you’re nervous or apprehensive about an impending negotiation, there’s nothing wrong with rehearsing in advance, to ensure you come across as intended.

Regina Roos, VP &  Sales Segment Leader Mineral and Mining – Schneider Electric,  said: “In the morning in front of the mirror I smile and practice some conversations, particularly ones that help you respond to people that are angry.

“When you are talking you can’t see yourself.  When you look in the mirror you can practice your facial expressions so it is not ironic or sarcastic. I call it ‘the mascara moment’.”

Francesco Lucchetta, Director EMEAI Supply – Pentair, agreed asserting the ” importance of making people aware of emotions without showing them, making an effort to keep the exchange respectful and controlled”

  1. Be physically prepared

Regina Roos recalled working with a procurement leader who took a very unique approach to managing his negotiations. At the beginning of every meeting and regularly throughout he would direct participants to the bathrooms.

“The need to take a break, to go to the toilet can create problems and impact on emotions during a negotiation. It’s good to take a minute, recharge your batteries and re-enter the discussion with a fresh perspective.”

Olga Guerous agreed in the importance of taking regular breaks throughout the negotiation process, even if it’s simply a break in the current conversation.  “It’s a powerful technique, when emotions are running high, to completely deviate from that topic, particularly if you believe you are going to have minimal success. Switch to a less contentious discussion and return to the difficult point later, whether it’s in a few minutes or a few hours.”

  1. Prepare to be confident

Preparation before a negotiation is crucial to help regulate emotions because it gives you the confidence to calmly assert your position and communicate your key points.

Ifti Ahmed, Managing Partner – Titanium Partners, argued that the most important way to control emotions is through self-confidence. “Confidence comes from preparation. If you’re prepared – you’re confident. If you think you’re going to win – you’re confident. If you think you’re going to lose – that’s when the emotions come into it.

If it helps you, don’t be ashamed of preparing everything you have to say in writing and sticking to that script.

  1. Plan your stand-up routine

There’s nothing like a touch of light humour to diffuse an escalating argument. Alessandra Silvano, Global Category Director CAPEX & MRO – Carlsberg, explained that his favourite way to blow out tension during negotiations is to crack a joke.

“Of course it has to be tactful, considered and culturally appropriate but it can be a useful and powerful way to break the tension.  Be sure you are not offending anyone and perhaps keep it exclusively to jokes about yourself!”

  1. Pick your venue wisely

Location-choice can make or break the success of your negotiation. If you want to ensure all participants remain civil, calm and professional there’s nothing like a neutral or public space to guarantee best behaviour.

“I’m a very emotional person and I find it difficult to process,” said Alessandra. “The venue of the negotiation has a big impact for me. I try to pick a relaxing, informal setting, such as a dinner. In an office environment it’s easy to get angry. In a nice restaurant I’m more relaxed and it’s easier to joke around and control emotions.”

Is Procurement Full Of Psychopaths?

If one in five procurement managers are psychopaths, how should you manage them?

A recent study of senior managers found that one in five procurement managers are psychopaths.  No, this doesn’t mean they are likely to wear clown makeup and brandish a chain-saw.  But it does mean the organisations which employ them need to exercise caution if they value their reputation.

The study, published in 2016, was conducted by Simon Croom, a professor of supply chain management at the University of San Diego in collaboration with two researchers from Bond University on the Gold Coast. It consisted of a global survey of 261 supply chain managers working in industries with an average price negotiation budget in the range of US$50 million.

The survey was based on a questionnaire widely used to identify psychopathic personalities.  If found that 55 (about 21%) of the procurement managers surveyed had clinically significant ratings in traits which would classify them as psychopaths.  That’s about the same levels as similar surveys produce in prison populations.

Largely thanks to Hollywood, most of us think of a psychopath as a violent serial killer. And while some of them probably are, there is a much more dangerous version that we are more likely to encounter every day in the workplace. You might call them bullies, or micromanagers, or narcissists, or sociopaths.  I don’t feel particularly charitable towards them, so I go with psychopath.

They all share a common set of personality characteristics.  They can be among the most charming people you’ll ever meet.  They are also fearless and focused.  So far so good, but then it gets tricky.  They take big risks on impulse, feel absolutely no remorse, are callous, lazy, have a very high opinion of themselves, will always take credit for good outcomes and blame others for bad outcomes.

Psychopaths are drawn to careers that give them power over others, so jobs towards the top of an organization are inherently attractive to them.  And they will find those jobs easier to get because they are extrabodily good at telling employers exactly what they want to hear and will happily lie about everything including their experience and education.

If you want a go-getter procurement manager who could charm a dog off a meat wagon, then you might be wondering what the downside is.  A psychopath will shoot first and won’t even bother to ask questions later.  They are completely amoral, will lie and cheat compulsively and will leave nothing on the table. They are deal-makers. You might even be thinking these characteristics make psychopaths fantastic assets in the cut and thrust world of supply chain management.  Given that, the surprising thing about this study is not that 20 per cent of procurement managers are psychopaths, it’s that 80 per cent aren’t.

A psychopath may well be fearless but they will only look after themselves. Yes, they will face down a mugger but they will not protect you against that danger unless there is something in it for them. Yes, they will charge into battle but military units depend on every soldier being able to trust the man beside them. You cannot trust a psychopath to act in your best interests, only their own. They won’t be taking a bullet for anyone, no matter how fearless they are.

And this applies just as strongly to your corporate reputation.  A psychopath does not care how your company is perceived in the market unless it directly affects the deal he has on the table today.  They will not plan strategically and they are motivated by nothing but self-interest.  If he behaves dishonestly and trashes your reputation then that is your problem, not his.  If you are in an industry where you will only ever do one deal with any other counter-party and none of them ever speak to each other, then I guess you could get away with employing psychopathic procurement managers.

But reputation matters.  Yes, you could be the fisherman that takes every fish out of the sea, but if you want to be able to do that next year, you’d better leave a few behind.  There is always short term gain to be had from counter-parties in a weaker position, but if you let a psychopath exploit that party because they can, your reputation will be mud and you will miss out on the longer term gains that fair dealing and honesty can deliver.

If your procurement manager is in the 20%, then for the sake of your own long-term welfare, make sure you have strong systems in place to ensure they act fairly and honestly or you will ultimately be paying the price.

David Gillespie is a guest speaker at the Big Ideas Summit in Sydney on Tuesday 30th October 2018, where he’ll help delegates understand how to deal with toxic people in the workplace. Interested in attending? Register here: http://www.bigideassummit.com/big-ideas-sydney

Blockchain: The Technology, the Myth, the… Legend?

We’re told Blockchain is a huge game changer, that it’s the biggest innovation since the internet. But we’re also told it’s overhyped, it’s no big deal and that it has some serious limitations. So…what’s the truth? “Depending on who you ask, blockchains are either the most important technological innovation since the internet or a solution looking for a problem.” These are the opening words to a recent Wired article, entitled: The Guide to Blockchain.

And they certainly resonate with procurement professionals across the globe.

We’re told Blockchain is a huge game changer, that it’s the biggest innovation since the internet; it’s unhackable, it’s pervasive, it’s unparalleled and ultimately…it’s coming to the mainstream imminently.

But on the other hand, we’re told that Blockchain is overhyped, it’s no big deal, it has some serious limitations and, whilst it might be a pretty cool piece of technology, it’s certainly not the procurement disruptor that it’s hailed to be…

It’s no surprise that when it comes to Blockchain procurement pros don’t know who to believe when to expect its takeover or how to prepare.

So we’ve enlisted the help of some blockchain experts to give you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

On 7th August,  Procurious presents: Blockchain: The Technology, the Myth, the… Legend?

Blockchain: The Technology, the Myth, the… Legend?

We’ll be discussing: 

  • How will Blockchain impact procurement?
  • What are some of the most common misconceptions about Blockchain?
  • How is Blockchain commonly being used in businesses today?
  • How can blockchain help procurement pros to manage their organisation’s contingent labour force?
  • What are the flaws at the heart of blockchain? Is it over-hyped?

Webinar Speakers

Vishnu P Tadepalli, Global Program Manager – Procurement Blockchain Lead – IBM Procurement Services
Vishnu is a highly motivated design thinker and is a digital procurement / supply chain enthusiast. In his current role Vishnu Tadepalli is the Global Program Manager / Lead for procurement blockchain solutions at IBM Procurement Services (IPS) , program managing the blockchain procurement transformation for both IBM global procurement and its procurement services clients. In his earlier role at IBM , Vishnu product managed Procurement Cognitive solutions and earlier worked as a sourcing consultant for multiple Fortune 200 companies. In addition to IBM, Vishnu worked with Unilever , AGCO and Suzuki Motor corporation in supply chain transformation and category manager roles.  His experience spans end to end global supply chain, including both direct and indirect procurement.
Vishnu has an MBA in Strategy & Supply chain from Uni of Wisconsin, Madison and is currently pursuing second Master’s in  Artificial Intelligence. He is a member of Government Blockchain Association(GBA) and Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).  An active Linkedlner, Vishnu likes to spend his free time social volunteering and mentoring.
Linkedln : linkedin.com/in/vishnutadepalli
Twitter Handle : @vishnu65886588 

Paul Sidhu, Blockchain Practice Lead – IBM

Paul is a senior leader with over 25 years experience delivering business transformation in large and complex business environments. A natural strategy and innovation practitioner, Paul works with business leaders to articulate the benefits of process optimisation, digital transformation and new operating models that impact upon their business and to present them with options and strategic recommendations in a way they both understand and feel passionately about.

Paul leads the IBM Global Business Services Blockchain Practice in Australia. His cross-industry background and working with clients in multi-discipline business functions enables a deep understanding for the needs of diverse stakeholders and the ability to solve business challenges by incorporating new solution offerings built with Blockchain.

Jack Shaw,  Co-Founder and Executive Director of the American Blockchain Council

Jack  is a leading expert on the strategic business implications of Blockchain technology who has spoken and consulted on Blockchain around the world.

He is a world renowned Keynote Speaker. He was recently voted one of the World’s Top 25 Professional Speakers by over 27,000 meetings planners, executives and conference attendees – the only Technology speaker to be accorded this recognition.

Jack has been a Technology Futurist for over 30 years – helping others to understand the impact of emerging technologies. In addition to Blockchain, he is widely recognised for his expertise in such breakthrough business technologies as:

  •   Artificial Intelligence,
  •   Internet of Things, and
  •   3D PrintingHe has advised such Fortune 500 Companies GE, Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Oracle, and SAP as well as hundreds of small to mid-sized businesses.A charismatic speaker, he’s delivered more than 1000 keynote speeches and executive presentations in 23 countries and every U.S. state. Jack graduated from Yale with a degree in Business Administration and has an MBA from Kellogg in Finance and Marketing.

AmericanBlockchainCouncil.org 

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 9am EDT/ 2PM BST on 7th August 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.

Blockchain: The Technology, the Myth, the… Legend? goes live on 7th August at 9am EDT/ 2pm BST. Sign up here.  

Delivery Failure Notification: Your Spend Analysis Tools Could Not Deliver On Their Promise Of Good Data

When spend analysis solutions have failed to solve the problem they were designed to fix, they leave their users wanting more. But there are always ways to salvage your investment….

At a high level, companies utilising spend analysis solutions are leveraging spend data for the purpose of gaining visibility into cost reduction, performance improvement, supply risk, compliance, and other value generation opportunities. Simply put, spend analysis, and the resulting spend visibility, are considered “table stakes” for any procurement organisation. No procurement function can make a claim to world-class status or even average performance if it lacks this entry-level capability. It should be the first and last step of the strategic sourcing process that both identifies the opportunity and measures the organisation’s achievement thereof.

While these solutions have existed for decades, many companies that utilise them continue to suffer from poor procurement data, if not downright unusable data. They are undone by noncompliance, data entry errors, fragmentation of data across multiple systems and general poor data discipline.

Many of these solutions encompass complex organisational schemas such as UNSPSC, which was designed for other purposes and applies a categorisation structure that reflects the way supply markets are organised. Furthermore, general ledger (GL) codes are simply not a trustworthy substitute for a true procurement and sourcing taxonomy, and were designed for people who write the checks.

Certainly some companies must have great procurement data, because so much money has been spent on these systems specially intended to solve this challenge. But in cases where those technologies fail to deliver on the promise of good data, they are typically suffering from a host of data issues due to:

  1. Accounting-oriented data not aligned with procurement categorisation
  1. Maverick and unmanaged spend not captured in the solution
  1. Poor input discipline, or procurement-related data being entered by non-procurement resources

When these solutions have failed to solve the problem they were designed to fix, they leave their users wanting more. User adoption is low and many find that additional data manipulation is required, with many organisations dedicating internal resources to spend analytics, despite paying at third party to perform this for them. These tools are often clunky and difficult to use and fail to deliver the key insights procurement professionals need to drive value and impact the bottom line.

The market is calling for an end to this systemic problem impacting most procurement functions. After all, having access to quality data will always ensure procurement a seat at the table. Organisations should be able to rely on solution providers to provide them at a minimum with:

  • Highly accurate categorisation
  • Actionable, data-driven, procurement-focused insights
  • Fingertip access to ‘good” or even “great” data through a simple, easy to use interface

If you find you are not experiencing this with your solution provider, there are still ways to salvage your investment. Identify the desired changes and develop strategies with your vendor to overcome the visibility challenges. They should be ready and willing to restructure the underlying data/taxonomy to ensure you reap the benefits of the solution you implemented. Today, procurement professionals should be focusing on the strategic aspect of their roles and elevate beyond the frustrating and tactical world of data manipulation.

Continue reading Delivery Failure Notification: Your Spend Analysis Tools Could Not Deliver On Their Promise Of Good Data

Burberry Under Fire Following Reveal of Mass Product Burn

In the past five years luxury retail brand Burberry has burned more than £90m worth of stock. What’s the justification?

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

British fashion giant Burberry hit the headlines this week as it was revealed, in its 2017/2018 annual report, that it has set fire to over £28 million worth of products.

According to the BBC, this takes the total value of goods Burberry has destroyed over the past five years to more than £90m.

Several commentators have explained this procedure as common practice in the fashion industry; used as a measure to protect  intellectual property and to prevent products being stolen, replicated and sold on for a fraction of the market price. Destroying stock also ensures it will not worn by what the brand believes to be the “wrong” sort of people.

Indeed, Burberry is far from being a singular culprit in the fashion industry when it comes to destroying excess stock. In 2017, The New York Times carried out an exposé on Nike, which revealed it was deliberately destroying stock by slashing large rips through its shoes.

According to the New Statesman, luxury brands are all at it – “the owners of Cartier and Montblanc destroyed more than £400m worth of watches in two years after buying back unwanted stock from jewellers.”

Burberry’s spokesperson said “Burberry has careful processes in place to minimise the amount of excess stock we produce.  On the occasions when disposal of products is necessary, we do so in a responsible manner and we continue to seek ways to reduce and revalue our waste.

“This is a core part of our Responsibility strategy to 2022 and we have forged partnerships and committed support to innovative organizations to help reach this goal.

“One example is our partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular Initiative, where we join other leading organisations to work towards a circular fashion economy.”

What the critics say

The news has sparked a great deal of controversy in the media with critics describing the practice as elitist, wasteful and unethical.

Kirsten Brodde, who leads the Detox My Fashion campaign at Greenpeace, spoke to The Guardian arguing that Burberry  “shows no respect for its own products and the hard work and natural resources that are used to make them”.

“To learn that a major fashion house with power and authority is choosing to add even more retail waste to the billions of tonnes offloaded to landfills and oceans around the world every year is reckless and arrogant” said Niamh Odonoghue for Image.

“The stuff that Burberry is burning is not waste – it is surplus, which is a very different concept. It is perfectly useable stuff,” said Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution, a not-for-profit group that campaigns for greater transparency in the supply chain, speaking to the Independent. 

“Designer fashion is still, undoubtedly, all about class – or, rather, about staying away from anyone not part of the elite,” said Billie Esplen for the News Statesman

In a world where there is increasing pressure for big brands to lead the charge on ethical and sustainable business, is Burberry’s behaviour completely unacceptable? Will the outrage sparked by this news story encourage luxury fashion brands to reconsider their approach to managing surplus stock? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

In other procurement news this week…

Lidl revealed as worst supermarket for recyclable plastic 

  • Less than three-quarters of the food retailer’s plastic packaging is widely recyclable, found a Which? investigation that surveyed 27 popular own-brand groceries from the UK’s 10 biggest supermarkets
  • Lidl came bottom of the pile with 71 per cent of its packaging widely recyclable, Morrisons emerged as the frontrunner with 81 per cent
  • All the supermarkets surveyed by Which? signed up to the UK Plastic Past in April, which vowed to make all plastic packaging reusable, compostable or recyclable

Read more on Supply Management 

Rising trade costs could pose a ‘dairy dilemma’

  • Even if the government strikes a trade deal with the EU, impacts on the supply chain, such as non-tariff trade barriers and labour shortages, could lead to spiralling costs for dairy companies, a report by the London School of Economics
  • The report, commissioned by Arla, said longer waiting times for customs inspections at the border would increase trading costs because of longer hours for lorry drivers
  • The report warned of extra delays because the UK Customs Declarations Service would have to deal with 250m declarations per year after Brexit, 100m more than the 150m it was designed to handle, which could further compound the £111 figure

Read more on Supply Management 

Adidas pledges to go green by 2024 

  • Adidas will only be using recycled plastics for all their products beginning in 2024. Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported the move that will feature the company removing new plastics from their athletic wear, which includes polyester
  • Polyester is currently found in 50 percent of Adidas’ products, which has become a popular material to create athletic wear with
  • This is the latest sustainable move by Adidas, who has sold one million shoes that were made with recycled plastic from the oceans

Read more on Green Matters

How To Answer The “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question

Five tips from the experts on how to answer a commonly-used and deceptively simple interview question.

Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock.com

Remember the “Bridge of Death” scene from Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail? King Arthur and his brave knights must answer three questions posed by the keeper of the bridge in order to pass safely. If they get them wrong, they’re cast into the Gorge of Eternal Peril.

Sir Galahad answers the first two questions with ease, but is tripped up by the simplicity of the third:

KEEPER: Stop! What is your name?

GALAHAD: Sir Galahad of Camelot.

KEEPER: What is your quest?

GALAHAD: I seek the Grail.

KEEPER: What is your favourite colour?

GALAHAD: Blue. No, yellow! — Auuuuuuuugh! [Galahad falls to his death].

‘Tell me about yourself’ is a question posed by nearly every interviewer, yet data from Google reveals it is a question that a vast amount of people struggle with: on average over 33,000 people in the UK search online each month for answers or guidance on answering the question.

With this in mind, sales recruitment agency, Aaron Wallis, has collated a series of hints and tips for getting the most out of the common interview question and performing to your best ability.

1. Be prepared

As ‘tell me about yourself’ is such a common interview question, there’s nothing silly about writing down your answer and saying it in front of the mirror, or practicing your answer with someone you know. Whilst it can be good to have a rehearsed answer, it’s also worth bearing in mind that you don’t want to sound like you’re reciting it from memory. Be prepared to appear confident but natural.

2. Structure your answer

The best answers to the question give a brief overview to you and your experience, without taking too much away from the later stages of the interview.

Begin by outlining your current or most recent role and describing the skills or attributes that you bring or brought to the position, ensuring these will be relevant to the job you’re going for.

Finish up by saying while you’ve enjoyed your work, you’re excited for the fresh challenge this new opportunity brings, and why.

3. Consider what you want to get across

A common pitfall is mentioning too much about yourself that may either cause you to waste time during your interview or lose the natural flow of the conversation. Chances are that your interviewer has already studied your CV, so does not need to be told about every job you’ve ever had, or what your exam results were – even if they were straight As.

4. Avoid the irrelevant or controversial

Similarly, although you might be a cycling fanatic, or a keen cook, this can be totally irrelevant at the start of the opening stage of the interview. In the majority of job interviews, avoid talk of family, pets and politics.

5. Get ready for the following questions

If you’ve introduced yourself well, your interviewer is going to be impressed and keen to delve deeper. He or she will want to explore your experience, strengths and weaknesses further, but will do so under the impression you’re a good fit for the role. Make sure you can back up your initial answer with examples or anecdotes.

So, if you said: “In my current role I have increased sales by broadening our customer base,” just make sure you’re ready to answer follow-up questions later in the interview like: “How much did you increase sales by?”, or “How many extra customers did you bring on board, and how did you find them?”

Often the simple questions can be the ones which are the most unnerving if you haven’t considered what you might say. Generally it can be a good idea to plan out the interview in your head from the very start to the very finish. It’s never a bad thing to be over-prepared!


For a more detailed guide on answering the “tell me about yourself” interview question, please visit: https://www.aaronwallis.co.uk/candidates/advice/answering-tell-me-about-yourself

Understanding The Shape And Cut Of Procurement Organisations

Elaine Porteous clears up some common misconceptions about the ways  procurement  organisations can be structured, and demystifies some of the jargon…

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 Starting a new job can be both stressful and exhilarating. The people are different, the location is strange and the way they work is peculiar to that enterprise. There may be a seven-level procurement organisation chart or a loose, undocumented reporting structure to be navigated.  What is also daunting is the “in-speak”, the specific terminology which may be like a foreign language to you.

Let’s clear up some misconceptions about ways that procurement can be organised, and try and demystify some of the jargon.

An operating model is just the way the procurement function is set up to work.  Most companies start up being decentralised, unstructured and even disorganised until the workload grows.  As the functions expand and mature, there needs to be some form of formalising and centralising of the activities to consolidate the spend. Only then can we expect to make savings and reduce our risk exposure.

Centralised or centre-led?

Centralised procurement does have its benefits. It means more control over suppliers and contracts and it helps drive supplier diversity and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.  The risk is mitigated and skills development is made easier, expanding capabilities.  However, it can become a very bureaucratic and expensive cost centre. Too much data and not enough information can cause loss of focus and poor service to stakeholders.  People at the centre do not always understand regional and local supply markets and consumption patterns.  If “central” means the US and the region is Papua New Guinea, there may be cultural challenges too.   As procurement organizations move on and mature, over time, many of them become centre-led, taking some time to decentralise personnel and day-to-day operations.

Figure 1: The procurement journey

Image:  www.zycus.com

Wherever your organisation is on this curve, it is helpful to know what it means to be where.  There is no one best structure. The way your organisation works is influenced by the external supply market, the end-users needs and the overall company strategy. You just have to ride the wave.

Centre-led procurement organisations concentrate on defining strategy and policy for both their direct and indirect procurement.  Corporate spend can be fully leveraged on strategic commodities and services which are well-suited for centralized sourcing.  Non-strategic categories not suited to centralized sourcing can be handled by the individual business units or regions.

Centre-led procurement uses a category management structure which supports the rollout of sourcing and contracting plans to business unit and regional level.  The type of set-up is often called a hybrid model.

Category management means the bundling of third-party spend into buckets to extract more value.  The main aim behind category management is to aggregate the internal demand and achieve economies of scale by contracting the best suppliers at the lowest price.  In its best form, it involves an active category manager to roll out category plans, strategic sourcing and supplier management initiatives.

In a centre-led organisation, a global category manager would set the strategy for the category group, e.g. transport logistics, and for the sub-categories (also sometimes called commodities) within that group:  road, rail and air transport, freight forwarding, port activities and courier services.  At regional or divisional level, the category plans are followed and executed locally to achieve the best results for the organization.  This is the ideal but it is rarely implemented in full. Some categories are really challenging. Marketing services, technology and professional fees come to mind.

Cross-functional teams (CFTs)

To be effective, a category needs to be managed using one or more cross-functional teams.  A cross-functional team comprises representatives of key divisions and business units that work together, with procurement, to achieve the best results for the organization in that category or commodity. Although extensively used in strategic sourcing, CFTs are being used increasingly and successfully across process improvement, product development, quality assurance and the assessment of suppliers.    

The benefits are well-documented:  a more robust outcome, transfer of skills and learnings, improved internal cooperation and sustainable relationships.

Global organisations that run virtual CFTs have special challenges.  With the application of innovative methods and up-to-date online technology, it is now easier and more effective.

Whatever the operating model or the make-up of the CFT, the satisfaction of stakeholders and end users is paramount.  A stakeholder is anyone that has a vested interest in the outcome of your project or action.  He or she could be any one of these:

  • An internal departmental executives, manager or end-user
  • Another procurement team member
  • A co-opted subject matter expert
  • A supplier or a subcontractor
  • A member of the media or a regulatory body

Stakeholders are capable of influencing the success or failure of a project.

The model is not cast in stone

As a procurement organisation matures, it is likely that executives will revise and adjust a hybrid or centre-led structure so that it stays aligned to corporate objectives and continues to deliver value.  The best model is always the one that delivers results through open lines of two-way communication and uses processes that are flexible enough to take into account regional and cultural differences.

Demystifying The 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant For Procure-to-Pay Suites

Gartner named Basware a Leader in the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Procure-to-Pay Suites for the third time – but it’s not as mysterious as it seems. Read on for a demystification of the Gartner Magic Quadrant evaluation process.

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It’s Not Magic – It’s Basware

I’m not sure why it’s called the Gartner Magic Quadrant but I’m sure that there’s no magic behind our recognition as a Leader. In my role as Senior Analyst Relations Manager, I have the unique opportunity to interface with nearly every aspect of our global business from research and development to product management to customer support to sales and marketing, and I can tell you our success boils down to 2 things – we’re 100 per cent obsessed with customer success and we work hard to deliver.

Why is Gartner so influential and how are purchase-to-pay vendors evaluated?

With over 15,000 employees and over $3 billion in annual revenue, Gartner is a massive research and advisory firm that has a strong reach in the purchase-to-pay market, particularly with CIOs. Its reports are widely read, and the Magic Quadrant is regarded as a useful tool in creating vendor shortlists. The report comes with a graphic that depicts the purchase-to-pay market using a two-dimensional matrix that evaluates vendors based on their ‘Completeness of Vision’ (horizontal axis) and ‘Ability to Execute’ (vertical axis).

‘Ability to Execute’ primarily focuses on the caliber of the vendor’s products and services, including core pieces of purchase-to-pay functionality such as e-procurement, catalog management, e-invoicing, and accounts payable invoice automation. Another key piece of execution is customer experience, which takes into account feedback gathered via online surveys, inquiries into Gartner, and calls between Gartner and purchase-to-pay customers.

‘Completeness of Vision’ is an appraisal of the vendor’s ability to map the direction of the market and outflank competitors, as well as innovate to meet customer needs. Vendors are evaluated around vertical/industry strategy and the speed with which they can bring innovation to their offering (e.g. robotic process automation, advanced analytics and machine learning).

Gartner’s evaluation of vendors is supported by inquiry calls, face-to-face meetings, survey tools, product demos, and briefings. We feel they are looking to understand how solution providers appeal to CPOs, CFOs, and CIOs and how the product meets the needs of those key stakeholders. Gartner first issues an online survey and then talks to two different customers verbally for each provider.

How are solutions evaluated?

Gartner uses surveys, customer interviews, and extensive solution demos, to evaluate the provider’s vision and their ability to execute on that vision by bringing innovation to life within the product.

Through our experience with the process, we believe that the following capabilities are being assessed:

  • Core procure-to-pay functionality from e-procurement through ok-to-pay
  • Global deployment suitability to maximize the value across the world
  • Platform capabilities like mobile features
  • AI & machine learning and smart technology applications
  • Integration to ERPs and other back-office systems
  • e-Invoicing sophistication and network reach
  • Customer support and implementation aspects
  • Packaged analytics
  • Supplier information management tools
  • Source-to-settle solution integrations
  • Personal consumable workstream support for configuring complex workflows
  • Requisition MRO workstream support to automate more processes
  • Contingent work force procurement to automate the requesting of labor
  • SOW services governance and procurement
  • Direct order support
  • Travel & expense capabilities to capture more enterprise spending
  • Supply chain finance to support cash flow management

What factors make Basware a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Procure-to-Pay Suites?

Based on the information contained in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Procure-to-Pay Suites, we believe our 30+ years of industry expertise, strategic vertical approach, market-leading products and obsession with customer success landed us in the Leaders’ quadrant for the third time.

Our number one goal as a company is customer success. We empower customers to simplify operations and spend smarter to reach competitive agility by getting 100 per cent spend visibility through on-boarding 100 per cent of suppliers, capturing 100 per cent of invoices and achieving 100 per cent user adoption of e-procurement.

So, I think it’s important to call out four areas that Gartner commented on in the report that best demonstrate our 100 per cent promise:

  • Global deployment suitability to connect, streamline and strengthen operations with ease for enterprises across the world, helping them collect 100 per cent of financial data from all locations
  • World-class products that enable organizations to capture 100 per cent of invoices and achieve 100 per cent user adoption of e-procurement to leverage the power of their financial data and create a competitive advantage
  • Ease of integration using standard APIs and tools so companies can easily connect the solutions they already have for more visibility and value
  • An extensive global e-invoicing network that connects small and large businesses world-wide to on-board 100 per cent of suppliers.

Read more here 

Gartner Inc., Magic Quadrant for Procure-to-Pay Suites, Desere Edwards, William McNeill, Magnus Bergfors, Patrick M Connaughton, Kaitlynn N. Sommers, May 29, 2018.