Why It’s Time To Grow Beyond Strategic Sourcing

If the CPO wants to have a seat at the table, they must move beyond delivering cost reductions to deliver solid and sustainable business value where it really counts: top line growth and business
innovation.

I recently worked on a large-scale program of strategic sourcing transactions across multiple business and technology functions. The strategic sourcing team produced a considerable volume of contracts and notably delivered significant cost reductions along with contractual obligations for supplier-led innovation.

While the strategic sourcing effort followed a mature process and produced great results there was a gap in the process for ‘hand-over’ from the externally sourced strategic sourcing teams to transition the contract relationship

to the category management function. The hard-earned gains and concessions of the negotiations phases needed to be understood by the category manager and then further nurtured and managed through ongoing supplier relationships.

The gap in the process was understandable as the business was in a state of disruption after their acquisition and the brand-new procurement function was immature

and still finding its feet. Notably they
were starting to implement a strategy for category management, so no doubt the situation will quickly improve for them.

However, this first-hand experience of this gap did highlight for me the impact on the procurement organisation if they are unable to transition from strategic sourcing view to category management.

Category Management is a way of driving and delivering value, growth and innovation and yet most companies struggle with the transition from Strategic Sourcing to effective Category Management.

Category Management includes strategic sourcing but it is much broader than that. The Faculty defines Category management as: a rigorous, fact-based, end-to-end process for proactively collaborating with stakeholders to develop and implement strategies that generate significant value that stakeholders recognise, from an organisation’s external spend

It sits above and guides both the content and the sequencing of the lower level methodologies such as (not limited to): spend analysis, demand management, strategic sourcing, supplier relationship management and benchmarking

What is a category?

A category is a grouping of materials or services that have similar supply and usage characteristics to meet business objectives. Managing by categories is a strategic approach which organises procurement resources to focus on specific areas of spend categories.

This enables category managers to focus their time on the business requirements, conduct in- depth market analysis, supplier capability and performance analysis to fully leverage their procurement decisions on behalf of the whole organisation.

Many CPOs understand that implementing and sustaining an effective category management process can deliver great benefits, it usually leads to:

• Raising the profile and competency of the procurement function within the organisation

  • Significant savings typically 10-30 per cent
  • Reduced risk in the supply chain
  • Improved stakeholder relations
  • Improvements in service levels, quality, availability and value for money
  • The revelation of other sources of value and innovation from the supply base
  • Re-usable processes to leverage across other categoriesCategory management allows you to source more effectively and then to get even more value from constantly optimising the resulting contracts.

How to get started and maintain an effective Category Management function:

• Ensure that you have an effective and seamless transition process from strategic sourcing outcomes to the business-as- usual category management function

• Develop the logical categories for your business by bringing together products or services that have the same features and are bought from similar supply markets.

• Build an in-depth understanding of the organisation’s plans and business strategies and ensure that the categories are aligned to business goals

• Develop category benchmarks so that you can more easily identify additional improvement opportunities

• Use big data and business analytics to undertake continuous analysis of spend, (direct and indirect), market data and performance against benchmarks

• Undertake a program of constant price analysis on local and international markets and the monitoring of trends in the category

• Invest in a process of gathering supplier performance data for more quality and service improvements

• Monitor and track all the savings that have been achieved through substitutions, better compliance or contract negotiations

• Engage with your stakeholders! and have continuous discussions and reviews to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in decisions on the category

The bottom line for the CPO

Category management will be a continuous improvement process that should form the basis for all future successful strategic sourcing initiatives. It requires the right level of attention and a good training program Category management will deliver a range of benefits such as being able to work with suppliers to speed up the time between initial adoption and full implementation. At the same time, also providing a layer of continual strategy adjustment once a new supplier or contract has been initiated

Your category managers will be the ones responsible for all things related to a given project or managed service (gather requirements, collect bids and negotiate contracts) and their time will be freed up for engagement with the business to focus on their jobs and deliver better value.
Establishing the single points of contact means better co-ordination and this will streamline communication in a way that will vastly improve stakeholder and supplier relationships.

Three Key Steps To Getting Brexit Ready

It’s been over two years since the UK voted to leave the EU. But beyond the exit date of 29 March 2019, little is known about the details of the Brexit agreement…
Negotiations between Brussels and Whitehall are rumbling on with little sign of a breakthrough. And the longer they continue the less likely it seems a deal will be struck.

A recent EU exit impact study conducted by Efficio for a UK central government department indicated a potential 8 per cent increase in costs as a result of Brexit.

Yet a poll of 800 business leaders carried out by the Institute of Directors has revealed that 49 per cent of businesses do “not anticipate drawing up nor implementing any contingency plans for Brexit”.

Similarly, a Survation survey commissioned by Maritime UK found that nearly half of businesses polled have done ‘very little’ or no preparation in anticipation of the UK leaving without a deal – despite two-thirds of business leaders believing such a scenario is ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’. Only 27 per cent  consider it ‘unlikely’, with another 8 per cent saying they are unsure.

Stick or twist?

Few can argue that these are unprecedented times, the likes of which Europe has never seen before. There’s no blueprint for untangling member states from the union – a situation made more complex by the need for Brussels to safeguard the EU project and potentially make the UK pay a high price for ‘independence’.

The majority of public and private sector organisations appear to be biding their time, waiting to see the terms of an exit agreement before they invest time and money in putting contingency plans in place. Is this a deliberate, tactical approach? Or could it be that procurement teams are unsure of what action to take and/or lack the capacity to deal with the task ahead?

Whatever the situation, now is not the time to hunker down and do nothing. On the contrary, businesses should be using these crucial few months to assess the scale of the impact on their supply chains and ready themselves to respond to what lies ahead.

Sourcing strategies, suppliers, contracts

Organisations should start by considering three core pillars of procurement, namely existing contracts, sourcing strategies and current suppliers.

1. Contracts

Form a clear understanding of your contract risk profile. Identify your risks against a hierarchy of needs. Examples of potential risks may include EU funding reliance, lack of freedom of movement restricting labour availability and driving wage increases or foreign exchange and tariffs creating cost pressure. Examine key contract clauses linked to EU exit readiness, such as termination, cost pressures and continuity resulting from legal change to determine where further risks may lie.

2. Sourcing strategies 

Review your existing category strategies to understand category objectives, sourcing strategies and the pipeline of work. Identify which elements will be affected by the EU exit and, where this impact is significant, determine how to take account of EU exit activity in your category plans.

3. Suppliers

Engage your suppliers and assess the wider market to pinpoint cost and risk drivers in key categories. Work with your suppliers to review expected pressures resulting from Brexit, their current mitigation plans and their view of the company’s main risks. Then encourage them to implement effective business continuity plans.

Deep knowledge of these areas, coupled with strong contingency plans to deal with change, are essential to manage risks and seize opportunities.

Act now to get ahead

Efficio is working with a number of public and private sector companies, including large central government departments, to carry out detailed readiness analysis ahead of the EU exit. The service is designed to prepare organisations to make fast, structured change and mitigate risk when the time comes.

To find out how we can support you in getting Brexit-ready, visit our website.

Is It Time To Make A Career Move? Mind the gap

When things get bad at work do you find a way to fix it or consider a career move?

The bad days are becoming more frequent, the work is no longer challenging and your procurement career seems to be floundering.   The question arises: what must you do to kick your work life into action?   If you have a general feeling of being undervalued or not being fairly recognised for your achievements, now is the time to take stock. Work takes up at least 40 hours of your week.  Life’s too short to be miserable, this is decision time.

It is unlikely that your current situation will improve much unless there is a radical change in management or strategy.  The options are:

  • Move into a new role at your current employer or
  • Move on to a different employer in a similar or different role 

Assuming that procurement is still the place you want to be, there are some steps you need to take whether you plan to stay with your current employer in another role or move on to new adventures.

Do a personal gap analysis

Take a deep, introspective look into yourself. The aim is to identify the knowledge gaps between the skills you need for your chosen direction and those that you currently have.  What changes should you begin making to prepare yourself for the kind of job you want? As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”   Be realistic about your current capabilities.  Then go and fill the gaps.

Consider further education   

There’s no doubt that further education and continued professional development play a part in opening up opportunities. The reality is that most the attractive roles require some tertiary education or certification, especially in a tight job market. If you are lagging in this area it may be an opportune time to upgrade.   If your current employer can subsidise your work-related studies, take advantage.    No funds?  There are lots of free training available, there’s no excuse.  What about a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)?

 Learn the new skills

There are roles that didn’t exist ten years ago and those are where experience is in short supply.  The application of I.T. technologies to procurement problems is growing fast:  consider data analysis and warehousing, supplier relationship management (SRM), and procure-to-pay (P2P).   Also, both the public and private sectors struggle with issues of fraud, corruption and conflict of interest. Companies need people who can exercise constant vigilance over supplier risk, governance and contract compliance.

Sustainability issues are placing new demands on procurement leaders and their teams.  “Green” procurement is a growth niche where there is a limited number of experienced applicants and pressure is building on companies to limit their negative impact on the environment.  Focusing on fields that concern you (and the consumer) and those that play to your strengths will deliver the most work satisfaction.

Get a grip on the numbers

Whatever direction you choose, advanced analytical abilities are becoming mandatory.  An in-depth understanding of financial ratios and the triple bottom line can give you the edge over others competing for similar roles.  If you don’t know what macros or what a cash flow crisis is, now is the time to find out. If your current company offers in-house courses that can enhance your computer skills, sign up.

Influence and persuasion

A survey conducted recently by Accenture amongst global CPOs noted that traditional areas of knowledge and experience are less important to success than the ability to develop and sustain high quality internal and external relationships.  Stakeholders can influence your project’s success or failure.  Good stakeholder management just means being able to win support from any and all interested and affected parties such as end-users, subject matter experts and key suppliers.

Attitude is important, that much is clear.  It seems behaviour and demeanour can impact on career progression as much as technical know-how.  Always do what you promise to do.  To paraphrase  J.F.Kennedy,  don’t think about what your stakeholders can do for you, think what you could do for them.

Communicate your successes

Keep an on-going record of what you have done well, e.g. reported cost savings, accolades you have been given, and positive feedback received from internal customers.  This information can be used to enhance your CV.  Don’t be shy to share your successes; it’s a good confidence booster.

Moving employers   

Moving on to another employer or launching yourself as a consultant or contractor may be a choice, or it may be thrust upon you.  Protecting yourself fully from downsizing and “restructuring of the workforce” is pretty much impossible.  Don’t despair. Review your achievements to date, fire up your CV and take yourself to the market.    Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to move forwards.

The best a person can do to rise above the mainstream is to have a good attitude, stay relevant, keep up with trends, communicate well and keep the networks alive.  Sometimes the current environment is not going to deliver the options you need. Then it is time to move on.

Talk Less, Ask More

Procurement leaders must create more opportunities to be open with the levels of the organisation below them and consistently request feedback… Talk less and ask more! “When you’re the CEO of a large organisation – or even a small one – your greatest responsibility is to recognise whether it requires a major change in direction. Indeed, no bold new course of action can be launched without your say-so. Yet your power and privilege leave you insulated – perhaps more than anyone else in the company – from information that might challenge your assumptions and allow you to perceive a looming threat or opportunity. Ironically, to do what your exalted position demands, you must in some way escape your exalted position.” – excerpt from Bursting the CEO Bubble, Hal Gregersen. Harvard Business Review, March – April 2017.

This passage stuck a chord with me and I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly.

The majority of feedback given in organisations tends to flow in a downward direction; people in higher levels of an organisation are giving feedback to people in lower levels. People may be asked to provide feedback in the opposite direction – back to their superiors – but it is rarely given freely and without careful consideration.

I believe many people don’t give feedback to their superiors out of an instinct of fear. That is not to say they are scared of their managers, but more that there is a sense of uncertainly around how their feedback will be taken and any resulting consequences. The safer option tends to be to bite one’s tongue and keep quiet.

The impact of this behaviour is that people, or groups of people, can feel stressed or excluded, and ultimately become disengaged.

I also believe that many leaders don’t ask for feedback from lower levels of their organisation because their information “feeds” are so broad in our modern era.

CEOs have so many sources of information to consult and deal with that they are spending more and more of their time in a scanning mode rather than a deep analysis mode. Consequently, as their decision-making time is continually reduced they have to use their bias to make quicker decisions.

Important decisions in any organisation deserve careful consideration. Bias tends to work as an opposing force to this process. As the excerpt above suggests, and that I strongly agree with, our leaders  must expand on their process of discovery. They must create more opportunity to be open with the levels of the organisation below them and consistently request feedback, particularly on their own performance. Not only will staff feel listened to and more engaged, but also this process will invite alternative perspectives – alternative ideas, alternative ways of thinking, and alternative cultural outlooks.

It is this diversity of thought – the diversity of their entire organisation – that should be informing our leaders’ decision making process.

This article, by Tom Verghese,  was originally published on Cultural Synergies. 

Procure with Purpose – Join the movement

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Diversity and Inclusion; to Environmental Sustainability.

Enrol here to join the Procure with Purpose group and gain instant access to our exclusive online events, including the Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns webinar, which, in part, explores the importance of diversity of thought in procurement teams. 

Critical Factors When Selecting Your Suppliers

Procurement exists in a dynamic, fast-paced, constantly changing environment. So surely the reasons we use to select our suppliers and supply partners would change over time too? Wouldn’t they?

It’s been over three years since the Procurious network was canvassed on what critical factors they look for in their suppliers. The world has moved on a-pace in the intervening period and it’s interesting to take an inward look to see if procurement has developed at the same pace, particularly in its supplier selection processes.

Gone are the days of the cheapest price (or at least they should be!). Gone, and consigned to a very dark part of history, are the days where supply decisions were made over lunch or in private meetings, and related more to who you knew than what you knew, which golf course or members’ club you were part of. Or even (sharp intake of breath) what you might be offering the buyers in return.

Even the list below, the key factors highlighted last time out, may have been superseded. So what are the new criteria? Or, if they are still the same, why is this the case?

Cost and Quality vs. Social Value and #MeToo?

If we take a look back at the responses from the network in 2015, we find ourselves looking at a list with a number of the usual suspects on it:

  • Cultural Fit – including values
  • Cost – covering price, Total Cost of Opportunity/Ownership
  • Value – value for money and value generation opportunities
  • Experience in the market and current references
  • Flexibility
  • Response to change – in orders and products
  • Quality – covering products and service quality and quality history

In addition to this, some that didn’t make the top 7 as it was included trust and professionalism, strategic process alignment and technical ability. There’s nothing that looks out of place on the list. In fact, they’re all eminently sensible and fair criteria to be considering.

The problem is it that it reflects a very traditional view of procurement.

Given the changing environment that procurement operates in, wouldn’t we expect to see these criteria changing too? In the past couple of years, geo-political instability has dominated the landscape and shows no sign of disappearing soon with Brexit and a potential trade war between USA and the rest of the world just two examples.

But what about the other factors we need to be considering? Social value has jumped to the top of many organisations’ lists, increasing work with SMEs and Social Enterprises. And let’s not forget an increased focus on harassment, discrimination and equal opportunities following #MeToo and campaigns like Procurious’ own ‘Bravo’.

What Does the Network Say?

When asked their opinions on what the critical factors were, the Procurious network highlighted the following:

  • Previous Safety Performance
  • Service Delivery
  • Efficiencies
  • Cultural Fit
  • Price/Cost
  • Flexibility
  • Ethics
  • Quality and Consistency
  • Supply Chain
  • Financial Stability
  • Environmental Policies
  • Communication

I’ve highlighted in bold the criteria that appear in the previous list that also appear in the new one. As you might expect, they are the common criteria that procurement are known for, and may be expected to deliver as standard.

It doesn’t appear that other factors in line with Sustainability, Social Value and Equal Opportunities (to name but a few) are getting much of a look in. However, we’d need a much bigger sample to be sure. And that’s where the wider knowledge base comes in.

Procurement’s Response

Having a trawl through the latest articles on supplier selection and key criteria two things struck me. One, there were very few articles, blogs, thought leadership posts or even research papers from the past couple of years. The most recent one I found was from early 2017 and even using a broad range of search terms, it was difficult to find anything relevant.

The second, and perhaps most surprising/concerning, thing was how few mentioned any different criteria for suppliers. Only one article I could find mentioned Social Responsibility or Environmental Performance/Sustainability. The remainder still focused on the criteria commonly found in a Commercial or Technical/Quality evaluation. The most common criteria still were:

  • Years in business and financial stability
  • Price/Cost
  • Quality and Delivery
  • Reliability
  • Communication
  • Cultural Match

What does this say about procurement? Is the profession still falling back on the old favourites when it comes to supplier selection? Or could it be that traditional “thought leadership” is no longer leading the way, and organisations are working differently without shouting it from the rooftops?

For me, it’s a combination of all of the above. There’s no denying that it’s hard to separate procurement from cost and quality (after all, it’s what we’re there to do). And why wouldn’t professionals use criteria that are both reliable and easy to measure, particularly when time and resources are tight?

Getting our Message Across

Speaking from experience, however, there are areas in which overall value is much more prevalent. In the Scottish public sector, organisations are mandating Community Benefits for contracts above a certain value. These can cover everything from creating apprenticeships to financially supporting community projects.

In addition, Local Authorities have started to mandate evaluation of ‘Fair Work Practices’ in all procurement exercises. Again, this can cover a multitude of elements, such as paying the living wage, no zero-hour contracts, equal opportunities and good training and development. Suppliers are being forced to consider these criteria to the benefit of their employees and the wider society.

There is good work going on in procurement, but maybe we aren’t making the most of communicating our message to the wider market. And if communication is one of the key factors in supplier selection and subsequent relationship management, it’s high time the profession started telling suppliers what is important to us and seeing what they have to offer.

3 Mega-trends In Procurement You Need To Understand Before 2019

What are the key mega-trends procurement pros need to get their heads around before 2019?

CatwalkPhotos/ Shutterstock

1. Co-Creation –  Using collective efforts to bring the best value

Since the very beginning of my career in Procurement competition was a key.  Competition helps procurement drive down prices using quotations, tenders, e-auctions or other tools.

And, of course,  it is much easier to negotiate contract terms and conditions with  if you have alternative sources.

Striving to establish, at least,  dual sourcing for every product helps you to decrease supply related risks.

But with greater experience I started to see that competition has its limits,  that RFQ’s and tenders were not bringing the desired effect.  This was particularly apparent for certain groups of products with limited supply possibilities and higher complexity.

I learned that for such segments a more efficient strategy is to cooperate with your key suppliers.

Cooperation is about alignment and harmonising performance, goals and strategies.  The very first step should be about aligning performance and KPI’s. Then you align the goals, including price reduction. At this point, the strategies of both companies should be aligned.

So cooperation is the alignment and harmonisation between two parties: the procurement organisation and the vendors.

But is cooperation and competition with suppliers enough in the modern world?   My simple answer is no. Procurement of tomorrow is about more than delivering goods, reducing prices and mitigating risks. The future of procurement is creating value for the final customer. And so the new buzz-word coming in 2019 is Co-Creation.

Co-creation is about developing and delivering products, services or systems using the common efforts of all interested parties.

2. Digitalisation

In my consultancy work I meet ten to twenty Procurement and supply chain organisations every year. It’s a big privilege to meet so many great people, and work in a variety of industries and businesses.

But one thing that surprises me is the fact that the majority of organisations are not making procurement decisions based on  complex benchmarking or performance indicators.

In fact, the majority of organisations in Europe and North America are making Procurement decisions based entirely on  cost reduction. Whatever has been discussed before quotation is ignored and whatever might happen after is neglected.

“Give me the best price: here and now! And you get the business…” – is still the driving force for many procurement organisations.

Of course, this approach is beneficial in the short term. But on a strategic level it will not work.  In the era of big data this approach is a crime. I know that digitisation and fact-based Procurement decisions may not sound like a mega trend for many readers. But before you skip this point – answer one simple question. Do you really include performance evaluation and risk analysis in all your Procurement decisions?

3. Sustainability: Part of our new reality

Sustainable procurement is not a new term.

The United Nations definition says that sustainable procurement practices are the ones that integrate requirements, specifications and criteria that are compatible and in favor of the protection of the environment, of social progress and in support of economic development, namely by seeking resource efficiency, improving the quality of products and services and ultimately optimising costs.

It might look a little complicated at first glance, but it is quite a straight forward definition.

More and more countries are shifting towards sustainable procurement; improving national procurement policies and procedures. But the true leaders in this shift to sustainable procurement are the international corporations. Using their massive purchasing power, they are able to make real impact to ecological, technological or social standards across entire industries.

Some companies use the sustainability messages for marketing of their products or services, creating positive buzz and media attention to their brand. Many more develop their sustainability agenda for mitigating or preventing risks within supply chain.

One thing that I can say for sure; sustainability is becoming part of a new reality for procurement organisations. It is not a buzzword anymore, it is an expectation customers. People are beginning to understand that low prices should not be achieved by unethical or unsustainable means.

So what can you do to introduce sustainability to your Procurement agenda?

Start by investigating in more sustainable sources and raw materials. Look around your industry or category to identify the best practices and get some inspiration.  I guarantee that you will find great cases of good environmental, social and sustainability impact for any area and any category.

Of course you should also include sustainability parameters to your RFI/RFQ evaluation criteria.

Another great idea would be to involve some measurable indicators for your sustainability progress. For example, carbon emissions, water footprint, share of renewable energy used for manufacturing or recycled materials used for products.

And remember: responsible sourcing is more profitable in a long term!

Back To Blockchain Basics

Do I need to understand how Blockchain works? Where does bitcoin fit in? And how long until this tech hits the mainstream? Your questions: answered!

Kumpol Chuansakul/ Shutterstock

When it comes to Blockchain procurement pros don’t know what or who to believe, when to expect its takeover or how to prepare.

What’s the difference between bitcoin and blockchain, are they one and the same?

Do you need to understand the ins and outs of how the technology works?

Ahead of today’s Procurious webinar on Blockchain , Jack Shaw, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the American Blockchain Council, clears up some of the Blockchain basics!

Blockchain and bitcoin

“There is a widely held misunderstanding that blockchain and bitcoin are one and the same or inextricably connected with one another.

“In fact blockchain is an underlying enabling technology. Bitcoin and other digital crypto currencies are one of the first effective applications of that technology.”

“Think of it as being similar to the situation in 1990s with the emergence of the internet as an underlying enabling technology platform of which email was one of the first successful applications of internet technology and one of very many ways the internet is being used.”

Why you don’t need to understand Blockchain

“Blockchain is so highly technical that only people with advanced degrees in cyber science could possibly understand it.

“Often we get down into the weaves of the technical details of how blockchain works. I’ve found it helpful for procurement pros to understand what it is that blockchain does.

“You don’t need to be able to build an engine to know how to drive a car similarly you don’t need to understand every technical detail of how blockchain works in order to understand what it can do for you…”

What can Blockchain do for you?

“Blockchains do four things that we haven’t been able to do previously…

  1. Blockchains can create immutable signed and time stamped record of identity, ownership of assets, transactions or contractual commitments
  2. They allow that information to be shared among multiple entities; either people or businesses or other organisations, governmental agencies, across the internet without any of those entities having to depend on any one of the others to be the so called master record keeper. And without having to pay a third party intermediary for that service, which can take tremendous costs and delays out of inter-enterprise business processes
  3. They allow that information to be shared with complete transparency among all those authorised to see that information and the subset of those that are authorised to update it by adding new information
  4. [Blockchains are] virtually unhackable in terms of preventing those not authorised to update that information from doing so or even being able to see it”

The combination of those four capabilities means Blockchain provides a tool for the use and sharing of information across business and social ecosystems that goes far beyond the ability to exchange value via currencies. It, in fact, gives it the potential to impact every aspect of our personal and organisational lives.

When will blockchain hit the mainstream?

“I’ve been around emerging technologies for so long that I’ve finally come to recognise these things do not simply suddenly switch on full-blown and ready for everyone in the world to use at once. [adoption] increases over time.

“Blockchain is coming along much more quickly than the internet. Widespread adoption of Blockchain technology will be in place within the next two or three years. Most of the major IT solution providers are already actively in the process of delivering blockchain enabled capabilities.”

The purpose of the American Blockchain Council is to help senior level executives understand the strategic business implications of blockchain.   

Jack Shaw will be speaking on our latest webinar Blockchain: The Technology, the Myth, the… Legend? which goes live today at 11am EDT/ 4pm BST. Sign up here.   

Take the Nuclear Option at UPMG2018

Not many procurement conferences include a guided tour of a nuclear facility! Be sure to check out UPMG2018, the premier conference for utility purchasing managers.

Go nuclear

Remember the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in 2011? As part of the international review that took place after the event, the United States instituted the “SAFER” program. National SAFER Response Centres (NSRCs) house emergency backup equipment for all commercial nuclear plants in the U.S., ensuring the ability to move emergency equipment to affected nuclear plants within 24 hours by truck, plane and helicopter.

At ISM’s UPMG2018 conference (9th to 11th September, Scottsdale AZ), attendees will have the opportunity to tour a SAFER Response Centre under the guidance of the Southern Nuclear Operating Company.

Speaking of disasters, Michael Menges of Edison Electric Institute will be presenting a review of the mutual-assistance effort coordinated by electric trade associations, where multiple utilities aided in Puerto Rico’s restoration following Hurricane Maria. A panel of industry subject matter experts will discuss the supply chain impact around logistics of fleet mobilisation in Puerto Rico, the work management process necessary to coordinate the restoration effort, and material needs and challenges. 

Get to grip with a rapidly changing environment

Utilities Purchasing is a category that never stands still, as the landscape keeps shifting with breakthrough technologies and disruptive forces including climate change. UMPG2018’s agenda includes sessions to ensure attendees are kept up-to-date, such as:

  • Shifting Business Models in the Power Industry (featuring David Jacoby, BSI Energy Finance)
  • Innovation in the utility space
  • Supply chain disruptors
  • Actionable information to better understand economic conditions (insights from ISM’s Report on Business)
  • Blockchain application for utility industry.

Tap into the talent pipeline

This year, UPMG2018 has a strong focus on up-and-coming talent, with sessions including:

  • Attracting Millennials to Supply Chain (featuring a panel of young talent from Intel, Black Hills Corporation and Exelon)
  • How to Build a Successful Career in Supply Chain
  • University Student Presentations.

The Utility Purchasing Management Group (UPMG) exists to exchange information and provide a forum for divergent views, all directed toward increasing the knowledge of purchasing as it applies to and affects both utility purchasing management and their suppliers. Officers, managers, and employees of gas, electric, and telecommunications utilities – either investor-owned or government-owned, as well as consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives, public power districts, and public utility districts – who are directly involved in purchasing or materials management make up the membership of the UPMG. Register for UPMG2018 now at http://upmg.org/.

 

In other news this week:

Reshoring in Reverse Again

A.T. Kearney’s most recent Reshoring Index has revealed that despite the Trump administration’s “Made in America” focus, imports from traditional offshoring countries are at a record high. Some compelling findings include:

  • The largest one-year increase in imports from Asia to the US, a staggering $55 billion dollars (up 8% from 2016), since the economic recovery in 2011.
  • The Reshoring Index has dropped 27 basis points since rising to a 5 year high in 2016.

Download the report: http://bit.ly/2ubCZ3a

Procurement Professionals: Get Your Blinkers Off!

Reluctant or unsure about driving greater diversity and inclusion in your procurement teams and the organisation at large? You need to take your blinkers off!

Simon Burt/ Shutterstock

When it comes to implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace it can be difficult to know where to begin.

And perhaps you’re equally skeptical that your actions could even have a significant impact?

But when we were joined last month by Timo Worrall, Senior Category Manager, Facilities Management – Johnson & Johnson; Julie Gerdeman, General Manager, SAP Ariba and Darren Swift (Swifty), Inspirational Speaker, The Drive Project & Blesma Ambassador for our latest Procure-with-Purpose webinar all three speakers quickly put these doubts to rest…

The Facts

People with learning differences

“Just 6  per cent of young people with a learning difficulty are actually in employment which is a burden on society and for individual and their family,” explained Timo.

“These people are often willing but unable to work because we don’t give them the chance to get a foot in the door. They can’t find work because they can’t find work experience. We are often unwilling as big corporations to accept their differences. But they can do the work and they can also be very loyal. The barrier to entry isn’t them, it’s us.”

Veterans:

The Drive Project’s Veterans Work report found that three in ten businesses admit they have not even considered employing veterans. While the majority claim to be more open minded, 60 per cent of businesses rule out recruiting someone if they have no industry specific experience.

There are roughly 700,000 veterans currently in employment, over half find themselves in routine, low-skilled or low-paid jobs.

Neurodiversities 

“Individuals who are neurodiverse or on the autistic spectrum are underused source of talent with great skillsets that our leaders are seeking on their teams,” argues Julie. “There is a constant need for great talent and a unique point of view.”

Starting small is ok

“I have always been a huge advocate and proponent for diversity of thought,” explained Julie. “I’m one of nine children and so growing up I lived with lots of different opinions and personalities and thoughts and I saw the amazing environment that that created. And so I brought that with me to the workplace.

“I wanted to contribute to change. I volunteered to become the global exec sponsor for D and I at SAP Ariba. I started with a gender focus but it has evolved to become something much bigger and much broader.

“At SAP Ariba we think it’s ok to start small. It’s really ok. We started D and I [initiatives] with employees’ passions. [People who said] ‘this is what we’re passionate about.’ Welcoming and embracing personal passions into the professional workplace in a small way  blossomed into bigger, more formalised programs and from there we built a D and I framework to drive a more inclusive workplace”

As Timo explains, measuring success isn’t just about measuring numbers. “It’s easy to get bogged down in numbers and spend reports.” explained Timo. “[At Johnson & Johnson we are] trying to use story-telling and build business cases around the work we are doing. Talking about meaningful impact is a lot more powerful than just numbers.”

Take your blinkers off and crack on!

When it comes to getting started procurement teams simply need to “crack on and do it! I can promise you that you’ll find it hugely rewarding and enjoyable” asserted Timo. “I’m a firm advocate that [diversity and inclusion initiatives] change how procurement is viewed in the business and how we’re perceived.

“A social innovation agenda drives a completely different conversation with our business partners beyond that age-old savings conversation that we all get a bit bored of.

I really believe there is a massive untapped potential out there of many different groups that we don’t support as well as we should do. They can bring tremendous value and insights and different ways of doing things, often better than we can into our supply base. Get involved.”

Whilst serving in the Army in 1991, Swifty was seriously injured by a bomb. He lost both his legs, a number of his fingers and damaged his arms along with various other injuries.

Many years on and Swifty continues to live by this motto, championing individuality, pushing the boundaries of life as a double amputee and creating his own path.

“From my perspective I was lucky. I was surrounded by the right people. They were what I call “blinkers-off” people. They don’t wear blinkers. Or they’re prepared to take them off. They gave me the opp and had the right attitude to see some of the attrubutes that could be nurtured and untilised.

Broden your thinking. Take a punt on difference and diversity. Instead of always thinking you can’t ask why not, why wouldn’t we why shouldn’t, we let’s give it a go.

Unicorns are a mythical creature but they’re also a type of horse. Horses wear blinkers and they wear blinkers because it makes them go down a particular route, stops them from deviating stops them from thinking elsewhere and I quite like the idea of taking those off and having a wider vision.”

“What are the essential traits of future leader in procurement?” asked Julie.

“Is it this unicorn that ticks all the boxes. We intentionally seek a diversity of thought and a diversity of experience; different skill-sets. Because that drives innovation and that leads to great advancements.”

Procure with Purpose – Join the movement

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Environmental Sustainability.

Enrol here to join the Procure with Purpose group and gain instant access to our exclusive online events, including the Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns webinar. 

The Private Company Paradox

Procurement is going to have to do some extra work when it comes to evaluating private companies.  Kelly Barner outlines the common pitfalls to be ready for…

Benoit Daoust / Shutterstock

Many procurement teams have been tasked with diversifying the supply base. This often means partnering with small, diverse, or locally-sourced suppliers.

One challenge that arises is that many of the companies that qualify for such programs are privately owned. The lack of information that usually accompanies private ownership is at odds with procurement’s transparent supplier evaluation frameworks. Add to this the fact that participating in an RFP process just to be ‘diversity fodder’ is onerous and potentially even harmful to small businesses, and we’re left with a paradox:

How can procurement stay true to our mandate while also finding mutually beneficial opportunities for small and diverse businesses?

Procurement will have to do some extra work when evaluating private companies. Here are some common pitfalls to be ready for:

1. Limited or no access to current financials

This begins in the opening section of an RFx: ‘Please attach your company’s most recent corporate financials here.’ To which the supplier responds, ‘N/A: we are a privately held company and as such do not publish our financial statements’. That may be true, but it does not eliminate the need for the supplier to demonstrate that they are financially sound enough to justify an award.

2. Inability to determine risk levels

Procurement has to determine if there are concerns about the supplier’s ability to stay in business. What does their revenue pipeline look like? What are their customer retention rates? Keep in mind that this is a challenge with all companies, not just privately held ones. Procurement has to ensure that private companies are not hiding behind their ‘privateness’.

3. Few customers able to serve as relevant references

While private companies are not always new or small, it is a common combination of characteristics. The customers of small, privately held companies may be as tight lipped as the company they buy from. In fact, some may view their relationship with the private supplier as a competitive advantage or not want to accept the risk associated with speaking for or against such a company in the customer reference checking process.

4. Missing rigor from the expectations of shareholders

Being privately held means drawing capital from angel investors, venture capitalists, and sometimes employees or ‘friends and family’ investors. Who can procurement look to when trying to ensure that the leadership team faces appropriate challenges to their decisions?

Part of this dynamic needs to come from the relationships between leadership team members. Hopefully they (if not their private investors) are willing to fight to ensure the company stays on track.

5. Looming prospect of acquisition

Most private companies are on a journey towards either IPO or acquisition. While both can be disruptive for customers, having a privately held supplier acquired by a larger company is perhaps the greater concern. What changes will be made to contracts or terms of service?

Will the relationship be valued in the same way? Not having the answers to these questions (in large part because the private company’s leadership team doesn’t have them either) can make it hard to commit to a long enough term contract that both parties realise the desired level of value from the arrangement.

Being a private company shouldn’t be the only reason not to consider an otherwise qualified supplier for a contract. The problem is a circular one: if procurement doesn’t have access to the same level of information we do with publicly traded suppliers, how can we determine if they are qualified or not? The answer is likely to be a combination of pushing for additional information and accepting that some of what we are looking for isn’t available. As with all strategic decisions, we can never be 100 per cent certain that our choice is the right one. All procurement can do is maximise the availability of facts to ensure that the decision to contract a private supplier – like all other procurement informed decisions – is based on analysis, not assumptions.