How To Be Visible, Feel Authentic And Advance Your Career

You can’t be what you can’t see has become a catch cry for the lack of visibility of women in leadership roles.

It’s a bit of a Catch-22. To be prepared to be visible, to feel authentic and to advance your career is so much easier when you can follow women who’ve already blazed the trail. It’s so much easier to follow a path that someone has created than to forge your own. And what a hard slog if everyone is doing that!

To make your own path easier, find role models that you can emulate, help others find role models that they can follow, and this will increase your opportunity to be visible.

You can’t be what you can’t see

You can’t be what you can’t see has become a catch cry for the lack of visibility of women in leadership roles.

When there are no female role models, women’s belief in their suitability for leadership reduces. ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ The unavailability of female role models constrains the choices women make about their careers.

This has a significant impact on available talent. Girls are discouraged from pursuing careers that seem ‘male’.  Women do not choose to pursue career opportunities in male-dominated areas. 

This also limits organisations’ talent pools and pipelines. It compromises long-term future talent supplies across industries. It is strikingly evident in male-dominated professions, like engineering.

For International Women’s Day 2019, Procurious are running a new campaign to improve the visibility of inspiring women working in procurement and supply chain. Get involved here.

Why role models are so critical

Implicit self-beliefs are not simply private thoughts that remain confined to the mind. Rather, they impact intentions and goals. They encourage, or hinder, future professional success.

At entry to tertiary studies, and again at exit, young women agree that women-as-a-group are as suited to leadership roles as men. They express their own personal ambition to be leaders.

However, their unconscious beliefs about women as leaders, and their own leadership potential, do change. Without the right kind of interactions with role models, young women’s implicit self-beliefs diminish.

When all or most of their professors are male, their unconscious self-beliefs erode. They come to believe that women are better suited for support roles.

When women directly engage with successful female professors their unconscious self-beliefs improve. Frequent contact helps the association ‘woman = leader’ strengthen. However, only when contact is evaluated as meaningful do self-beliefs change: ‘I can be a leader’.  A sense of similarity with role models is created by a meaningful, quality connection. Women’s leadership ambitions increase significantly when they engage with such role models.

This same pattern continues as women engage in the workforce. Women are less likely to pursue leadership roles or roles in masculine domains.

Young women are unaware of their implicit beliefs

They believe that the way they see themselves and their career choices are down to their own motivation, talent and interests. Instead, context powerfully drives their choices.

A senior leader described her daughter’s reduced ambition as like the erosion caused by acid rain. She started her career as a confident, ambitious young woman. She was clear about who she was and what she wanted. Over time, she had given up career goals and her dreams of success. A drop at a time, and devastating over time, her interest in her career was being eroded. She was shaping herself in line with expectations about what women should be like at work. Not confident. Not ambitious.

The ingredients that best predict improvement in implicit leadership self-beliefs are:

  • Knowing that other women have achieved success in leadership or male-dominated domains, together with
  • The experience of personally connecting with those women.

Who are your role models? Fabulous, successful female leaders that you would aspire to be like. If you don’t have three or four that you see personally, or feel strongly connected to, get to work and find them!

Leverage the role model effect

Increasing the number of women in key roles increases the availability of role models. It increases identification with leadership roles and helps grow future supply. A diversity of role models expands the leadership profile, and boosts innovation.

Achieving a critical mass of 35% or more women enables:

  • Supportive alliances to form between women, increasing their retention;
  • Recognition of women for their individual talents, rather than for stereotypical attributes; and
  • Improved dynamics and culture of the larger leadership cohort.

The mere presence of women in small or ‘token’ numbers is not enough. It has been assumed that an initial appointment of one woman would lead to a flow of female appointments.  Instead, hiring more women often stalls. A 20 year study of US Fortune 1000 companies found that hiring one top female executive did not lead to a second.

To achieve a critical mass of women in leadership, hiring patterns need to shift. A powerful way for that to happen is by male leaders advocating for gender-balanced leadership.

If you are in the hiring game, make sure that you are removing all the bias you can from your process, including at the initial stage – make sure your work climate is inclusive and welcoming.

Harness the power of male advocacy

CEO advocacy is the primary driver of a rapid achievement of critical mass. Advocating pro-diversity views promotes acceptance of diversity and helps to realise its benefits. Advocacy by influential figures is persuasive. It can change unconscious attitudes. As CEOs and senior leaders are mostly men, their role as advocates is key.

The best ways that men can champion gender equality are by:

  • Being credible, trustworthy supporters of gender-balanced leadership,
  • Delivering clear messages about gender balance and their commitment to it,
  • Using persuasive power to change the minds of peers, and
  • Working collegiately with women.

The way in which senior men include women, model openness to difference and challenge exclusionary behaviour by others creates a new example and new model for behaviour. Who are the senior men that you can encourage to be more visible in their advocacy?

Because it is still uncommon to hear men advocate in this way, when they do, it stimulates a mental double take. It challenges unconscious thinking.

Engaging senior men as advocates is also a positive way to tap into their desire to look good to others. The male champions of change program does this very effectively.

How many male advocates do you have in your network? What might you do to nurture one more? Maybe you are a male advocate for inclusion and innovation? What can you do to persuade those around you to join you as an advocate?

Reset visibility

Align yourself with this year’s IWD theme of #balanceforbetter. Time for a reset in our thinking. Let’s work on both women’s visibility as leaders, and on men’s visibility as champions for balanced leadership. You can’t be what you can’t see will be an even more powerful catch cry when used to encourage men to add their voices as advocates. Make advocacy visible!

Be visible, feel authentic and advance your career

Set your sights on making it to a senior level role, or help those around you to do so. Increase your confidence in your own leadership identity, by identifying specific role models. Role models help increase feelings of self-efficacy in leadership, the development of your identity as a leader, and increase your positive feelings about being a leader.

Creating a strong, confident story-line that is congruent with your own values, and having a presence that holds attention, are critical to succeeding in leadership roles, and work on these will help you to advance your career.

Get involved with International Women’s Day 2019

At Procurious we want women in procurement and supply chain management across the globe, and from every walk of life, to be the best that they can be and reach the highest of career heights.

But it’s hard to dream big and aim high without a little leading light to show you the way.

Cathryn Vann, Head of Procurement – Accsys Group with Procurious’ Holly Nicholson

That’s why, on this International Women’s Day, we’re campaigning to improve the visibility of women in procurement and supply chain management. We want to showcase some of the amazing things women are achieving for the professions and inspire you to do it too! 

1.Sign up to join the Bravo group on Procurious
2. Download your very own you can’t be what you can’t see poster from the documents tab in the group
3. Print out the poster and snap a shot of yourself 
4. Share the photo via the Bravo group on Procurious 
5. Share the photo on Twitter, tagging @Procurious_ and #IWD2019 #BravoWomen and LinkedIn. In your post, nominate a woman in procurement who inspires you and ask her to take part too! 

4 Factors To Consider When Upgrading your Procurement OS

An upgraded operating system (OS) takes the procurement function out of the traditional back-office role, and into that of a valued strategic business partner.  

By Preechar Bowonkitwanchai /Shutterstock

That little flag in the corner of your laptop screen, the red exclamation mark on your phone, the middle-of-night system message. You know what it means- it’s time to upgrade your operating system.

Yes, it’s painful to exit your programs, save your work, and sadly close all 35 of your vacation-planning web browser tabs.  You sit, you wait, then you reboot and possibly even get reacquainted with your digital systems again. No one wants to do it, but in the end, we all are all thankful to those glowing, pulsing indicators for pushing us and guiding us through the process for that much-needed refresh.

Things run so smoothly now, don’t they?

What if we received the same upgrade reminders in real life?  What would your red exclamation mark tell you about your procurement operating system? Is it time for an upgrade?  Almost definitely! An upgraded operating system takes the procurement function out of the traditional back-office role, and into that of a valued strategic business partner.  

The transformation, however, can neither happen overnight nor without setting the right goals and planning.  You’ll need to close some browser windows and maybe lose a few saved files in the process. In our decade-long process of co-creating this operating model with leading global companies, we have identified four key enablers required to help you upgrade. Read on and trust me, it will all run so much more smoothly in the end.

Structure of Upgraded Procurement OS

1. Strategic Category Management

At the heart of the transformation is the shift that procurement has to make from being reactive problem solvers to proactive solution providers. This is not possible without category managers or business-aligned spend managers aligning with the business, understanding strategic priorities and building relationships with stakeholders. When category managers proactively reach out to the business, they begin to demonstrate value and finding a place at the table will become easier.

Building a centralised Center of Excellence (CoE) can help category managers develop the required skills. The CoE can provide the necessary support such as tools, methodologies, templates, market intelligence and coaching.

2. Centralised Procurement Help Desk

On any given day, procurement functions are inundated with queries and work requests. As procurement transitions to operate more strategically, it is critical to find an effective way to service internal and external stakeholders.

Setting up a centralised procurement desk can help channelise the requests to various specialist teams such as:

  • Strategic support team that can be responsible for services such as market research, category strategy development, stakeholder workshops and portfolio development
  • Source to manage execution team thatcan manage the execution of activities such as creation of request for proposals, supplier management and contract authoring
  • Transactional execution team thatcan manage back-office operations such as purchase order management and invoice-to-pay processing

3. Technology Accelerators

The digitisation of transactional and repetitive procurement activities is a low-hanging fruit for organizations as it will release the bandwidth of resources for more proactive, strategic planning. Further, digitisation can help identify patterns, norms and trends leading to a procurement playbook.

Supply chain management is experiencing a quantum shift because of emerging technologies such as internet of things, artificial intelligence and advanced analytics. Adoption of these technologies, is critical to upgrading procurement’s operating model, but it should be planned well. It is necessary to define the overarching vision and strategy, and to then evaluate how technology fits into the roadmap.

4. Implementation Approach

The final piece of the puzzle is the actual re-organization of the procurement function into the new operating model. It is a myth that technology by itself will be enough to integrate all processes. Putting together the right team, getting executive sponsorship, ensuring alignment with the vision and finding collaborative external partners are all critical success factors in upgrading to the optimal OS for your organisation.

This is where the smart phone operating system analogy falls a bit short- unfortunately, we, as the procurement team, can’t expect to wake up to a fully-restored bug-free system- good results take time. It is necessary to plan for adequate time required for the new model to mature and assimilate into the organisation’s new way of working.  If this is done correctly, your stakeholders will certainly experience the thrill of a significantly improved experience. 

Now is the time to upgrade your framework and develop the future infrastructure for procurement operations.

Are you ready to push the upgrade button? Learn more by reading WNS’ Next Generation Procurement Model Whitepaper.   

WNS are sponsoring Big Ideas Summit London on March 14th. Sign up now as a digital delegate to follow the day’s action wherever you are in the world.  

7 Supplier Negotiation Fails We’ve All Experienced

Every procurement professional knows that supplier negotiations aren’t always plain sailing – and we’re sure you’ll relate to these seven scenarios.

By Oleksii Sidorov/ Shutterstock

It’s happened to even the best negotiators.  Leaving a negotiation with less than desired results might even be called a rite of passage for procurement professionals. It’s frustrating and time consuming but there are learnings to gain from every disappointing negotiation.

Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner of Conti Advanced Business Learning, interviewed seven procurement leaders to find out their most notable negotiation fails.

1. Pushing too hard

Using competition to push your advantage and lock it into a contract can be counterproductive. I recall a negotiation performed for a global IT project, during which we closed what looked like a great deal secured by a complete and detailed contract. Once the project began, the vendor quickly started to lose money. Having no leverage and way out from the contract, he eventually decided to stop the project. Ultimately, to continue our working relationship, we had to sit down together, find solutions and find fair compromises to make the project a success. Olivier Cachat, Chief Procurement Officer, IWG

2. Internal alignment

Involving executive leadership into a critical negotiation can be a very powerful ‘tool’, when done in a very concerted way. Our main objective was to secure supply for this material and ideally get a price concession when allocating more volume to this supplier. We briefed the President of our BU and explained the situation. We also explained in much detail that anything beyond a three per cent price reduction is very unlikely and that this supplier would rather threaten us to stop supply. While the first part of the actual negotiation was going well, our president decided to our complete surprise to become very aggressive with our supplier by threatening him to move to a different supplier if they would not reduce pricing by at least -15 per cent. Not only was that very insulting to our supplier, but it was also a complete bluff and our supplier knew that we were not able to move away within any reasonable/manageable timeframe. As a consequence, our supplier stood up and left the meeting, stating that we have one week to think about his offer to raise pricing by +5 per cent as they would otherwise stop supplying us. It took me two months to ‘repair’ the relationship and to convince them to continue supplying us at a flat price. Furthermore, I had to make additional concessions which we would not have made if our colleague would have stayed with our plan. Matthias Manegold, Head of Global Indirect Procurement, Liberty Global

3. Clarity on agreed terms

Make sure the final terms of a negotiation are clear for both parties. I had the surprise, for a new supply agreement (over 35M Euro), to discover that we were not aligned regarding the product specifications. Our yearly demand had been multiplied by 10 and obviously, during the negotiation, the supplier did not dare confess not having the capacity to deliver our needs. We needed to rediscuss and revaluate this challenge and find a way forward to solve the issue. It demonstrates the importance of always re-confirming the terms you reached.  Christophe Schmitt, Head of Strategic Supplies, Omya

4. Safety in small numbers

At times I have walked into a room and seen more than ten people around the table. In such a situation, it is very unlikely that any significant flexibility will be shown during the following hours. By nature, most people will not want to lose ground in public. As a general guide, I find the best agreements are made in smaller meetings with participants who have been briefed in advance. Unless related to celebrations, nobody likes surprises!Jon Hatfield, Director Global Supply Management, PPG

5. Stubborn suppliers

Sometimes even if you have evidence that you could get a better price for same quality the supplier will not move. This can happen especially in the Pharma world where changing supplier is time, money, and resource consuming. I also think this behaviour by the incumbent supplier is wrong. Ultimately pressure on prices will prevail and the new cheaper supplier will be a better fit. Romain Roulette, EMEA Procurement Director, Bausch Health

6. Changing protocol

Overcoming counter-productive pre-existing relationships of suppliers can derail negotiations. My corporation acquired a company that had strong links with the local supply base. The local suppliers were working with this company for decades and had developed ineffective habits that were hard to change. When we requested the existing supply base to apply standard requirements, we were confronted with resistance and opposition from these suppliers. A few negotiations went well, however we had to change all of the other suppliers. Francesco Lucchetta, Director Strategic Supply, Pentair

7. Lack of alternatives

It was a single source supply situation. Over ten years ago, I was renegotiating an IT outsourcing agreement that was expiring. Benchmarking data indicated that our prices were well above market. On the other side, the supplier knew that we had no other alternatives and they enjoyed a strong relationship with the CIO. In spite of our efforts, we only received a very minor price decrease. The next step was to start developing an alternative supplier to be in a stronger position at the next contract renewal. Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner, Conti Advanced Business Learning

These responses were collected by Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner of Conti Advanced Business Learning (www.cabl.ch), a consulting firm that specialises in negotiation & influencing. This article is part of a series

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Like the Breakfast Club banding together to overcome Assistant Principal Vernon, life is much easier when we collaborate. And procurement should be no different.

By Natalya Rozhkova/ Shutterstock

This year will be the year of collaboration in public sector procurement – you heard it here first! In the past, collaboration may have proved to be a step too far for some for various reasons. However, the challenge the public sector now faces is the need to use collaboration and collaborative procurement to share resources and find new, more efficient ways of working.

Procurement professionals are stretched thin. On one hand, we’re trying to keep a handle on all the transactional tasks required to facilitate procurement. On the other, we’re trying to influence and input to strategic decisions that could shape the professions future. So it’s critical that we are using our time wisely and using all the tools at our disposal.

Collaboration can take many forms, but one thing is for sure – the public sector could be much better at it! Go back and look at your projects, tenders and contracts from 2018. How many of them did you start from scratch? Did you have, and maybe reject, the opportunity to work with other procurement teams? Did you approach other authorities or public sector institutions to see if you could get a copy of their documents?

The Breakfast Club started out the same way. They all considered that they were too different to get along, that they had nothing in common. They all approached the detention task as something to be done in isolation (or not done at all). It wasn’t until they started talking (collaborating) that they realised that they could work better together. And in the end produced one assignment for all of them that did the same job.

Let’s Get Collaborating

Collaboration should be both an internal and external activity. From the outset of any project or procurement exercise, procurement should be involved and working closely with their internal stakeholders to define requirements. Once these requirements are known, it’s time to open up the field to the wider audience and see who has done this already.

Public sector procurement, as we have already said, spends a lot of valuable time and resources creating new documents that someone may, and probably has, created in the past. This is where the real benefit of a framework lies. Frameworks, Dynamic Purchasing Systems and other collaborative procurement opportunities can help reduce the time spent on administrative (read: non-strategic) tasks, saving money and freeing up resources.

This is the same even if you happen to be the Authority or public sector body setting up the framework itself. As with many of these things, putting the time and work in at the start can help to create savings and benefits further down the line.

Time vs. Inflexibility

A framework provides a list of pre-qualified suppliers, usually against a Lot with a specific scope of requirements, from which procurement can run mini competitions, create call off contracts or even direct award business.

From a buyer’s point of view, there’s no requirement to advertise opportunities under the framework, even if they are above OJEU values, on top of potential economies of scale and less time spent between identifying a need and fulfilling it. For suppliers it reduces the burden and costs of applying for tenders and potentially increases the possibility of winning business by focusing in on a smaller market.

However, this is not to say that frameworks aren’t without their drawbacks. For buyers, the main issue is that once the framework is in place, it’s not flexible in response to changes in the market. Neither new suppliers to the market nor previously unsuccessful supplier can access the framework and tender opportunities. This means buyers could be missing out on new solutions or have a framework whose scope is lagging behind new developments.

Suppliers face the possibility of spending significant time and money getting on the framework to not get any returns. Although they are on the framework, contracts may be awarded without competition, or not placed through the framework at all.

The Players

None of these drawbacks should put you off looking at using frameworks if your procurement needs can be met with them. There are a few big players in the public sector when it comes to collaborative frameworks all of whom are worth a look at.

  • Crown Commercial Service (CCS) – essentially the procurement arm of the Cabinet Office, helping UK-wide authorities and public sector bodies procure a huge range of requirements. With spend of £13 billion in FY2017-18, CCS states that its frameworks have delivered over £600 million worth of savings for its users.
  • Scotland Excel – owned and funding by the 32 Local Authorities in Scotland, Scotland Excel has the same aims as CCS, but works to focus on the requirements of Scottish members and public sector institutions. However, they work increasingly with CCS to ensure access for all public sector to the widest range of frameworks available.
  • Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation (YPO) – owned by 13 English Local Authorities, YPO has around 100 frameworks and 30,000 products, covering everything from Utilities to furniture.
  • Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation (ESPO) – jointly owned by 6 English Local Authorities, ESPO offers a range of UK and EU compliant frameworks (worth £1.7 billion spend in 2017-18), as well as an extensive product catalogue.

These are just a few of the names you will inevitably come across when looking for a public sector collaborative procurement framework. The beauty of these organisations is that, despite crossover in the types of frameworks, they collectively cover pretty much anything you might want to buy. All the frameworks are easily accessible and open up a corner of the supply market for whatever your requirement is.

Shop around, see which framework suits you and your organisation the best and go from there. And if all else fails, look and see if you can set up something yourself. You may even be able to help your fellow public sector professionals (or work with them) to collectively meet your requirements.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article and the series of articles on the challenges facing public sector procurement in 2019. Leave your comments below, or get in touch directly, I’m always happy to chat!

Taking Control Of Your Supply Chain With Blockchain

Organisations are increasingly striving to develop a supply chain that adheres to their brand’s sustainability and ethical standards. Here’s how blockchain can enable this…

By Demkat / Shutterstock

As our global supply chains become more and more complex, ensuring that contractual commitments around sustainability and ethical practices are met at each stage of the supply chain has become extremely challenging.

Along with this increased complexity, the economic and reputational cost of a lapse in compliance is increasing as well. Organisations want to be part of the solution, not generating bad headlines and being seen as part of the problem.

As such, organisations are increasingly striving to develop a supply chain that adheres to their brand’s sustainability and ethical standards. Starbucks, to name one example, has set a 2020 goal of ensuring all tea and cocoa is ethically sourced. Johnson & Johnson has publicly stated its commitment to determining the use, country of origin and source of 3TG minerals (Tin, Tungsten, Tantalum and Gold) used in its global product portfolio. Such commitments require extreme and committed due diligence in supply chain management.

One way that forward-looking businesses are achieving such diligence is with enterprise contract management. For the first time in the history of commerce, contracts are being completely digitised. This enables procurement organisations to identify, assess and automatically mitigate risk through advanced capabilities like automated supplier checks and region-based regulatory compliance. And emerging technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) are poised to dramatically increase the benefits of an enterprise contract management platform.

Today, we at Icertis are working with customers on solutions that will allow them to utilise smart contracts that use a consortium blockchain to create an immutable ledger of transactions. Under such a system, a customer and its suppliers will place their contracts on the blockchain, thus ensuring that the required terms are present in all the related contracts. Once on the blockchain, AI will verify that all necessary contractual obligations are present in the documents. This will ensure the tracking of commitments across a consortium of suppliers, enabling a new level of commercial collaboration, visibility and accountability.  And to ensure sensitive information is not exposed, visibility of contracts in the chain will be restricted based on privileges that allow only contracting parties to see their contract, preserving the sanctity of the supply chain.

This technology turns contracts into living business assets to achieve once-divergent goals.

Manufacturers can ensure their suppliers comply to standards and contractual commitments around privacy, sustainability and labour laws. Suppliers, meanwhile, can prove that they comply, while not exposing the details of their subcontracts within the supply chain.

And it’s not just about tea, cocoa or conflict minerals. This technology can also enforce compliance requirements like data privacy (including GDPR), information security, ITAR (International Trade in Arms Regulation) and other regulations.

We are entering a new era of commerce, when contracts stop being static documents forgotten about after execution and actively start reducing risk and creating value for enterprises throughout their lifecycle. Smart contracts powered by AI and blockchain can protect and optimize businesses in ways never before possible, including in their supply chain.

Icertis is sponsoring Big Ideas Summit London on March 14th. Sign up now as a digital delegate to follow the day’s action wherever you are in the world.  

How To Make Your Company More Honest (And Why It Matters)

It’s a fact that honest companies outperform their dishonest competitors. So how do you motivate your teams to perform with greater integrity?

By Dado Photos/ Shutterstock

There is ample evidence that honest companies outperform their dishonest competitors. And while almost every company says they are honest, many do not create and support a culture of honesty.  The research tells us there is one key thing any company can do to ensure we are honest at work. 

According to annual research conducted by global accounting firm EY, 97 per cent of businesses say it is important that they operate with integrity. Businesses want to be honest for one very simple reason.  Their reputation is on the line.  Almost all of them rate customer perception as the most important reason to behave honestly, with public and shareholder perception coming a close second and third. 

They believe that honesty, or at least having your customers, shareholders and the public believe you are, is key to successful business performance.  Obviously, acting with integrity makes it easier for organisations to operate by reducing scrutiny and fines,  but there are other much more important ways that honesty improves business performance.  Dishonesty also has a direct impact on the bottom line.  A recent study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found that about 5 per cent of a business’s annual revenue is lost when that business is struck by dishonest acts such as asset misappropriation (theft and skimming), corruption (bribes and conflicts of interest) and financial statement fraud (misreporting sales and expenses).

Besides those direct impacts, honest organisations attract the best employees and customers. We would all prefer to do business with an honest seller or buyer and we would all prefer to work in a place that has a reputation for integrity.  While the impact of better customers and employees is difficult to measure, there is little doubt both improve the bottom line. Every year Ethisphere ranks the World’s Most Ethical Companies and compares their performance to their competitors.  Their research shows that over the five years to 2018, the World’s Most Ethical Companies outperformed the US large cap sector by 10.72 per cent.

So, the benefits are clear.  But according to the EY report one in six companies still undertake fraudulent and corrupt behavior. Its not for lack of policy.  Almost all organisations have implemented anti-fraud and corruption programs and 95 per cent say their senior leaders set examples of good ethical behavior. 

The problem isn’t lack of desire for honesty.  The problem is getting everyone to actually behave honestly.  There is however one key thing every organisation can do to drive a culture of honesty, remind us we are honest.

The research on cheating and lying tells us that it doesn’t take much to remind us that we are all, at base, honest people who are happier if we behave morally. Once we remember that, we generally behave that way. The most effective method to remind people of this is to prompt honesty at key moments. Usually these little prompts are cheap and easy to implement, and most important when we are tempted to fudge things a bit. Professor Dan Ariely from Duke University has spent more than a decade putting people in situations where they could lie and seeing if they do.  His research demonstrates that people don’t lie more just because the reward for lying is bigger and they don’t lie less just because the chance of getting caught is greater.

When people don’t have to lie to a person face to face in return for the reward, they cheat a lot more.  Making us deal with people face to face halves the chance of dishonesty.  And we are also more likely to be dishonest if we think everyone else is being dishonest and conversely more likely to be honest if we think everyone else is honest.

But the real kicker, was the one thing that stopped almost all the lying.  It was simply reminding us that our workplace has code of honesty before we are put in a situation where we might be tempted to be dishonest. Bizarrely the studies showed that even something as simple as getting people to sign the top of the test (before they lie) killed the cheating. If they signed the bottom, after they lied, they cheated as normal.

When this was implemented in a large-scale trial of insurance applications, the results were even more impressive. Researchers from the Harvard Business School decided to see if signature placement on insurance forms changed the level of honesty in disclosure. The results showed that customers self-reported 10.25 per cent more miles when they were asked to sign the declaration of honesty before they filled in the form. This would amount to an insurance premium being on average $97 more costly per car depending on whether the form was signed at the top or the bottom. Even at a significant personal cost, people were more inclined to be honest if they declared honesty before they filled in the form.

Of course, the other way to stop people lying is to do what they did in the control state of the study – check everybody and everything all the time. But who really wants to work in a police-state? Life is so much easier if you can trust people to be honest. 

Why You Need To Hyper-Specialise

The days of the generalist are over. Today, the most influential people in your organisation are those with the ability to hyper-specialise.

By StockEU / Shutterstock

When I first started working in the world of influence and influencers, it was possible to own a massive space; whether it was leadership, real estate, finance, money or health. There were very few “gurus” who had access to a platform from to talk about their wide area of expertise.

Today, however, everybody has a platform. The internet is crowded with blogs, podcasts, Youtube channels and social media influencers, with the result that there’s way too much noise to own a huge space anymore. Now, the future belongs to micro-influencers; micro-authorities who hyper-specialise.

When stakeholders need help from a procurement professional, they need to be able to find you fast. They want to know – straight away – whether the space that you own aligns exactly with their situation and needs. An IT professional, for example, doesn’t want advice from a procurement generalist. They want to talk to an IT purchasing specialist – someone who understands the challenges involved and is well-known as an expert in that space.

Do you own your space on Google?

When was the last time you Googled yourself? Take a minute to do so now. What did you find out – do the search results make it clear what space you own?

According to Harvard University, over 50% of decisions are now made before we ever making contact i.e via what I would call “Google stalking”. When you first make contact with a talent prospect, a supplier or a potential consultant, one of the first things they will do (I guarantee it) is Google stalk you. If what they find is irrelevant, not specific to their needs or if they can’t find it fast enough, then you’ve lost that race.

To become an influencer, you have to own your space – but you can’t own a space unless you are clear on what space it is that you want to own.

Influence Intersections

But how do you find out the niche that you want to own? How do you discover the hyper-specialisation that will set you apart from everybody else?

Let me introduce a concept that I call Influence Intersections. Picture a Venn diagram: the first of the two circles is a world in which you have mastery, insights or experience. Then you overlay this with another world where you have mastery, insights or experience. The intersecting space in the middle is the space that only you can own. The space where your expertise will stand out.

Two celebrity influencers who hyper-specialised

Take Jamie Oliver – when he first started out there were many celebrity chefs from six-star hotels and restaurants. Then Jamie came along, and what did he have? He had mastery, experience, and insights into the high-end world of cooking, but he also had personality. The personality he brought to the front was that he understood families and what it’s like to cook for your children on a budget quickly in a healthy way. The place in the middle between those two spaces was a place that only Jamie could own.

Steve Jobs is another famous example. He took the world of engineering and computers and overlayed this with another world he knew – the world of the creative innovator. That space in the middle then became the key Apple needed to dominate the marketplace.  

Why should a procurement professional hyper-specialise?

One word – influence. Procurement professionals are typically frustrated by their lack of influence (or “seat at the table”) within their organisations, but building up your profile and becoming known as the go-to expert in your space will lift your influence and cause others to seek out your advice. Imagine, then, a whole team of hyper-specialised procurement professionals, each one famous in the organisation for owning their space. How influential would that department become?

It’s also a great tool to keep in mind for your next career move. If you begin hyper-specialising today with the aim of becoming known as the guru in your particular space, you might just be in a job interview situation one day where the interviewer says, “I’ve heard of you – your expertise is a perfect fit for this opportunity”.

Remember, the days of the generalist are over. Generalists rarely become voices of authority. In addition to not being renumerated as well as perceived ‘experts’ they also receive less engagement and fewer opportunities. Specialists, on the other hand, receive more credibility, more respect, more opportunities and more influence. 

What are the two worlds you can overlay to find – and own – your space?

Two Ways To Transform Your Supply Chain In A Hypercompetitive World

Tom Derry, CEO – ISM discusses how to turn your supply chain into a key source of competitive advantage and what not to do in supply chain management.

By Pavel1964 / Shutterstock

Everyone loves to talk about the romance of startups and small businesses. But today it’s becoming increasingly obvious that we’re living in the age of the corporate giants. And the big brands such as Amazon Apple, Google and Walmart are only getting bigger. There’s a whole host of reasons that these giants are repeatedly found in the top 10 places of Fortune 500 year after year. But one reason that stands out is that they recognise their supply chains are a key source of competitive advantage. We asked Tom Derry, CE0 – ISM, to outline the key elements needed to transform a supply chain into something a company would proudly put front and centre in its annual report to share holders. For Tom, it boils down to two things.

1. Last mile customisation

“[As supply management professionals] you’re serving regional customers and local customers even if you’ve got a global supply chain,” Tom begins. “And local markets demand customisation and localisation even if it’s just printing your user manual in the local language. HP did that famously a decade ago. Diageo are currently customising for delivery in Asia from a distribution centre in Singapore.

“Being able to access local markets and extract the most value from local markets is critical for supply chain professionals.”

2. Agility

Tom argues that supply chains are a form of agility. “In light of all the recent controversy around taxes and tariffs – if [supply chains] flexible and responsive they provide strategic agility to the company, which is becoming increasingly critical.”

“The most important consideration in determining how a supply chain is structured usually comes down to two economical factors- taxes and tariffs. [Last year], the US passed a new tax law, which ostensibly puts US manufacturing first. The question around tariffs is critical and the threat of them, whether they’ve been implemented or not, is already affecting the way supply chains are designed and implemented.”

Supply chains in the US have seen the impact of the steel and aluminium tariffs imposes on European exports, which has led to retaliation. Tom cites Harley Davidson, who announced that they have to shift their production to the EU in order to continue to grow its non-US sales, which are critical to company’s future growth. “The president is trying to protect the production of steel and alumninum ostensibly on a national security basis but he is actually is forcing production of goods offshore and thereby threatening jobs – and [Harley Davidson] is just one example.”

According to Tom, the old concept of money is fungible but supply chains are flexible holds true. “Some people may not appreciate the degree to which we have built in agility and flexibility over the last twenty years. It’s clear that companies can, and have to, respond to maintain competitive advantage and maintain their margin and they will flex their supply chains to meet the circumstances they face. We’re all short sighted if we think that’s not going to happen and if we think we can impose a set of conditions that cause current supply chains ,as they exist now, to be set in place. They’re going to flex and move.”

Part Eight of Tuesdays with Tom is available now. Click here to sign up and hear ISM CEO Tom Derry discuss how to turn your supply chain into a key source of competitive advantage and what not to do in supply chain management.

Could RPA Make Procurement Jobs More Human?

The new “hot” technology generating hype in 2019 is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Here’s how it can help procurement…

By Viktor Gladkov / Shutterstock

Procurement is, by nature, in the business of relationships. Whether it’s managing suppliers or stakeholders, the success of any procurement organisation relies heavily on building relationships between people.

Despite this, many procurement professionals do not have the time to focus on the human side of their job. Data collection, reporting, transactional activities, urgencies, etc. are all tasks that eat up their precious time and prevent them from focusing on relationships that could generate more value and better outcomes.  This problem isn’t new and is the main driver behind the constant, growing interest in procurement technologies that automate processes and increase efficiencies.

What is new, though, is the pace of innovation and the hype around some of the latest technologies.

Emerging technologies have begun to dominate discussions in the procurement space, and it has become impossible to avoid debates, articles, publications, etc. on artificial intelligence (AI) or blockchain. The new “hot” technology that has been generating a lot of hype in 2019 is Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

Before jumping on the RPA bandwagon, it is critical to look beyond the features to understand the bigger picture. In the case of the latest RPA technology that has integrated AI, it is about making procurement jobs more human by offloading even more mundane, robotic tasks to… robots!

The goal is to augment, not replace, people by combining the best qualities and capabilities of both human and machine to achieve better outcomes.

RPA: Copy/paste on steroïds…

“[RPA is] a preconfigured software instance that uses business rules and predefined activity choreography to complete the autonomous execution of a combination of processes, activities, transactions, and tasks in one or more unrelated software systems to deliver a result or service with human exception management.”

Source: IEEE Guide for Terms and Concepts in Intelligent Process Automation (whose purpose is to provide standard definitions of concepts, capabilities, terms, technology, types, etc. for emerging process technologies)

This technical definition of what RPA is and how it works can be summed up with a simple analogy. Imagine that you have to repeatedly copy data from one Excel file to another to produce a monthly report. One way to eliminate these mundane, low-value, tedious tasks would be to create a macro that would do all the copy/paste for you. In addition to saving hours of your precious time over the course of the year, it would also reduce the risk of errors. This is, essentially, a simplified definition of what RPA is about. It’s a way to automate repetitive and scripted actions that are usually performed manually by users (not just copy/paste!). It is a form of business process automation.

The typical benefits of RPA are:

  • efficiencies to free-up resources usually spent on manual tasks and re-focus them on core business (efficiency fuels effectiveness)
  • better consistency and compliance in data entries by reducing errors
  • from a system/IT perspective, RPA is a valuable workaround to break data silos. It avoids the costs (investment, change mgmt.) and risks associated with replacing an existing system or creating interfaces. RPA solutions sit on top of the existing infrastructure and simply simulate user actions to take data from system ‘A’ and put it in system ‘B’.

RPA has limitations and it is important to be aware of them and consider if the trade-offs are worth it. Some of them are:

  • RPA can do one thing and only one thing. If there are changes in the source or in the destination systems, then it will stop to work correctly
  • It requires extensive programming to ensure that the RPA solution takes all cases into account. If not, it will not work or, even worse, it will create even more issues as it is very consistent in executing rules. If something is off, the same error(s) will be consistently repeated
  • For the same reason, it is vital to ensure that processes are running well before implementing RPA

If RPA only Had a Brain…

There’s no getting around it: RPA is a very dumb technology.  It does exactly what it’s told, blindly executing whatever set of rules it’s given. Such technology has been in use for years but on a limited scale. However, with the advancement of other, smarter technologies opening up new opportunities to make RPA more useful and less “dumb,” it is experiencing a revival. AI is one of the emerging technologies revitalising RPA, and stirring up hype. These days, it’s rare to see RPA without an AI component, which has also lead to a lot of confusion between RPA and AI.

“[AI is] the combination of cognitive automation, machine learning (ML), reasoning, hypothesis generation and analysis, natural language processing and intentional algorithm mutation producing insights and analytics at or above human capability.”

Source: IEEE

By nature, RPA and AI are very different technologies:

Because most business processes require a combination of “DO” and “THINK,” newer generations of RPA solutions integrate AI components to:

  • Understand input via natural language processing, data extracting and mining, etc.
  • Learn from mistakes and exceptions
  • Develop/enrich rules based on experience

It is this new, smarter generation of “RPA+AI” solutions that has broader applications as a valuable tool for Procurement.

RPA Applications for Procurement

“It is not the type of business process that makes for a good candidate for RPA, but rather the characteristics of the process, such as the need for data extraction, enrichment and validation.”

The Hackett Group on Procurious

RPA is particularly well-suited for operational and transactional Procurement because these areas are characteriSed by countless manual activities. Here are some examples:

  • Automation & elimination of mundane tasks
    • Invoice processing: It is possible to drastically reduce efforts and cycle times to extract essential information from an invoice and perform an m-way match by using a combination of RPA and AI (Optical Character Recognition + Natural Language Processing)
    • RFx preparation: Tasks related to data collection (quantities from ERPs, specifications from PLMs or other file sharing systems, etc.) and even the drafting of RFXs can be streamlined by using RPA.
  • Data compliance and quality
    • Supplier onboarding: RPA can automatically get more supplier data or data needed to verify registrations or certifications by crawling the web or other data sources.
    • Data mappings and deduplication: RPA can be a great support in Master data Management (MDM) by normalizing data (typos, formatting, etc.) and by ensuring that naming/typing conventions are respected.
  • Support to gain better insights
    • Supplier scorecarding: This is an activity that requires thorough data collection. RPA can be leveraged to collect data from various sources and integrate the information into one system either for internal purposes and/or for the preparation of a negotiation or business review
    • Contract analysis: RPA can crawl file sharing systems, network disks, and even emails to collect and gather contracts in one central location. Then, it can extract key terms and store them as metadata in a contract management solution.

Conclusion

RPA, in combination with other technologies, is an efficient way to connect silos (from a data perspective) to win back valuable time and remove the “robot” work from the desk of procurement teams so they can focus on the human side of their job.

On top of that, procurement organisations can gain tremendous insights from implementing RPA because it can make new data digitally accessible and more visible.

However, it is important to keep in mind that RPA is only a workaround; it does not break silos like an end-to-end procurement platform would do.

Procurement Pros – What’s Your Legacy?

Procurement leaders are starting to use the phenomenal buying power of their organisations to address big social challenges. What legacy do you want to leave?

In the old days, procurement was focused on two things: minimising costs and risk.

Purpose should be a pivotal part of every organisation’s business strategy. Being purpose-focused is essential to engaging customers and employees and being perceived as relevant, admired, and innovative by investors, partners, communities, and public entities. Today, it’s all about sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

Why are organisations increasing their focus in this area? It is not purely out of the goodness of their hearts, rather, they understand that key stakeholder groups care about these issues.

Consumers increasingly gaining a conscience is helping to drive this change. According to the 2016 US National Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility, which surveyed some 1200 individuals, 39 per cent  of consumers are likely not to buy a company’s products or services if they believe they are not “responsible” and 25 per cent will actively advise friends and family to avoid the company. Additionally, the report reveals that 84 per cent of global consumers actively seek out responsible products whenever possible.

Everywhere you look, business is under scrutiny. Whether it is for environmental practices, labour conditions, tax or paying suppliers on time, individual citizens increasingly are expecting companies to behave in a socially responsible manner. Stock exchanges and Governments are also now issuing requirements for companies to report on CSR data in annual reports, and CSR is increasingly perceived by investors to be important for their understanding of a company’s risks and opportunities.

Many of these issues are embedded in supply chains, and the role of procurement and supply chain in addressing them is therefore clear. Concerned citizens will expect action from government and businesses, which will, in turn, encourage firms to take steps that will reverberate throughout complex supply chains. The world is becoming smaller, which means we have increased, and faster, access to information about what organisations are doing and how they behave. This is a great opportunity for procurement and supply chain executives to play a leading role in these “wider world” issues.

This issue is no longer just for idealists or activists. For example, globally there are 46 million people worldwide who are modern-day slaves and about 150 million child workers. Any company doing business needs to make sure that its supply chain is not tainted by this cruel practice, and in many countries now, it’s not just best practice – it’s the law.

Eliminating forced labour from your supply chain is just one example of what SAP Ariba calls “procurement with purpose”. This is an umbrella term that includes social, environmental and sustainability practices. Leveraging the power of business networks like SAP Ariba and the intelligent, cloud-based applications underlying it, companies can gain a whole new level of transparency into the capabilities, performance, and social and environmentally responsible practices of their suppliers – and their suppliers’ suppliers. They can map the bill of materials for products and services right down to their raw materials and cross-reference this information with hotspots where there is a high propensity for the use of forced and child labor to determine their risk.  And, more importantly, they can receive timely alerts, which can be used to drive actions and report on them in meaningful ways.

All business leaders need to be focused on these topics. Research suggests that companies that do so can significantly outperform their rivals over a 10-year period. Or look at it this way: can you afford the reputational risk of a photo in social media showing one of your suppliers using child labour?

To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate”. Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock (the world’s largest investment company)

Procure with Purpose

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

Through Procure with Purpose, we’ve been shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Diversity and Inclusion.

Click here to enroll and gain access to all future Procure with Purpose events including exclusive content, online events and regular webinars.  

SAP Ariba are sponsoring Big Ideas Summit London on March 14th. Sign up now as a digital delegate to follow the day’s action wherever you are in the world.