3 Ways Procurement Can Make A Lasting Impact On The Organisation

Advanced procurement functions, and the CPOs that lead them, can make a significant and lasting impact on the success of their companies, but only by focusing on the real value and innovation that suppliers can bring…

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There’s no doubt that procurement enjoys a privileged position in a company’s value chain. Sitting between a network of thousands of suppliers and the business, it has clear visibility of customer need, company strategy and the capabilities that exist in the supply base

From such a position, advanced procurement functions, and the chief procurement officers (CPOs) that lead them, can make a significant and lasting impact on the success of their companies, but only by focusing on the real value and innovation that suppliers can bring and how this can support the organisation’s ultimate value proposition.

To do so, procurement must drive change in three broad areas. Firstly, CPOs must address the procurement operating model so it is better aligned with company strategy and end-customer value. Historically, procurement has segmented third-party spend into categories, from raw materials to office furniture to semiconductors and so on, with the ultimate goal of leveraging scale to reduce price, while also managing risk and quality.

Smart chief executives, however, will be far more interested in how suppliers can enhance the product portfolio to maximise the company’s competitive position in the market. Aligning the supply base around that portfolio will enable supplier innovations to feed more successfully into that goal and ensure collaboration with suppliers is more productive and more focused on value creation.

Of course, this isn’t feasible for every last drop of third-party spending so CPOs must differentiate between core and non-core spend, so 100 per cent of the procurement function’s energy can be applied to those suppliers that really matter.

Secondly, for this to be feasible, CPOs must ensure procurement is a frictionless experience for those in the business who buy as part of their role. Every effort should be made to automate through digital technologies and platforms, so the actual buying process is seamless and efficient.

Robust governance and a sophisticated suite of digital technologies that have been designed with the end-user in mind must underpin such an environment. And the ultimate goal must be to reduce the time and resource spent on non-core products and services, without sacrificing low cost, impacting quality or introducing risk.

This laser-guided focus on execution must be a cross-functional effort, so the right specifications are secured and any savings go straight to the bottom line and are locked into the profit and loss.

Thirdly, the very fundamentals of supply markets continue to evolve. It’s clear an increasing volume of the world’s innovation is being developed outside the walls of large corporates and big, traditional suppliers, with smaller, niche companies and startups working on new technologies and approaches that regularly disrupt traditional, incumbent markets.

Further, these non-traditional players work differently, are more agile, less process led, more open to collaboration and come with large amounts of risk. But despite this, corporates cannot afford to close their doors to the innovation taking place within them.

CPOs must develop the capability to engage with these outliers and engineer how the intellectual property they produce can be introduced into their organisation’s value chain, whether through traditional onboarding as suppliers, technology licensing, collaboration with other suppliers in the network or myriad other potential approaches.

In essence, CPOs must build and exploit supply networks, or ecosystems, capturing value during the collaboration that takes place between third parties at all points in the value chain.

None of this is straightforward and few organisations are even close to making it a reality. To be successful, it demands the support of a visionary chief executive who understands the dynamics at play in the supply base and beyond, as well as a procurement team full of intellectually curious, entrepreneurial and collaborative personalities.

But if done well, procurement will evolve from a position of controller to one of value architect, and one of the most critical functions in any modern corporation able to positively impact revenue, sustainability and profit targets.

This article, edited by Peter Archer, was taken from the Raconteur Future of Procurement report, as featured in The Times.  

A Brief Overview Of The 2019 Procurement Job Market

So far this year, most organisations have been more actively hiring procurement employees on a permanent basis as opposed to on contracts.

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How has the supply chain & procurement hiring landscape been over the first half of 2019?

As all contracts with suppliers from the European Union continue to be reviewed as part of Brexit contingency planning, the first half of 2019 has revealed an increased level of permanent recruitment compared to the hiring of contract or temporary supply chain & procurement professionals. As cost savings remain key in the City, the market has remained extremely buoyant, with a strong preference from hiring managers for individuals possessing experience in IT or tech. The thirst for data is continually increasing and with procurement in mind, lots of emerging solutions that provide procurement and vendor dashboards are always needed. Therefore, these roles have frequently been recruited for.

Across Financial Services, Banking and Insurance, organisations are still busy and hiring. More specifically, the mid-tier and SME businesses have been busier than the larger tier 1 banks, as they seek to reduce their spend and ensure contract risks are minimal in these uncertain times.

Procurement is a money driven profession and salaries are particularly competitive at present, so bonuses and benefits packages can be crucial deciding factors when professionals are looking for new roles. From the perspective of hiring organisations, they have to be prepared to exercise flexibility in terms of salaries or day rates if they want to bring professionals with the right skill sets to the business. 

How to keep the workforce motivated and attract new employees

A large number of professionals are now requesting an element of flexibility in their role or the opportunity to work remotely.  The 9 – 5 working day is no longer how professionals in the UK operate. Flexible working, in terms of hours or being able to work remotely, is expected by the majority of employees in the UK. Organisations have to offer a level of flexibility if they want to attract high quality applicants in what has become a highly competitive marketplace.  

Some organisations continue to lean towards implementing tools or programmes for learning and development that are tailored specifically to procurement professionals. This shows an increased effort to bolster their candidate attraction and retention in these key business areas. In turn, this empowers employees to increase their knowledge in areas such as ‘best practice procurement’, sourcing methodologies and stakeholder engagement. This has become a real talking point, showing the right business highly prioritises procurement and its people.

What has made a Supply Chain & Procurement CV stand out?

Category Management remains a key area of hiring, so upskilling in this is hugely beneficial for all procurement professionals. Those candidates possessing detailed Category Management experience, including spend, savings and projects have been highly sought after by hiring managers. The increase in specialist IT category roles was category specific, mainly consisting of infrastructure, applications and digital transformation spend areas.

Any candidates who upskill in these areas will put themselves in a strong position. Having a good level of experience in any of these will make you stand out against other applicants. Businesses have also continued searching for tendering specialists who can help them mitigate risk on their EU contracts amid all the Brexit confusion. Those with transformation experience is sought after as businesses will require such support to guide them through the uncertainty of Brexit.

How can supply chain & procurement job seekers stay motivated over the slower summer months?

It is not looking like things are going to slow down for Procurement professionals during the summer months – it is a busy time for the industry. For those job seekers actively engaged in any processes, it’s important to keep in touch with your recruitment consultant. Call in weekly to make sure you are hearing about all suitable opportunities; this will keep you at the forefront of your consultant’s mind.

Procurement specialists need to develop their wider skills to implement in negotiations to ensure ‘compliant contracts’ that mitigate risk without over-engineering a low risk engagement – robust frameworks to manage third party engagements could inhibit flexibility for a negotiator.

This article was written by Natalie Limerick, Director – Morgan McKinley

Resilience – Much Ado About Nothing?

What is workplace resilience really all about and where does the responsibility lie?

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Much Ado About Nothing is about resilience. In many places resilience is the new fad, hitting every employee’s mandated training schedule. The good bits are often lost in the hype and the hype is misdirecting what resilience is really about and where the responsibility lies.

What’s it all about?

There are many definitions and schools of thought to explain resilience but I like this one:

“resilience is a combination of assets and resources within the individual and their environment that facilitate the individual’s capacity to adapt in the face of adversity’

Fletcher & Sarkar, 2013; Windle, 2011

Karen Tonkin, a Chartered Organisational Psychologist and Psychometric Specialist here in New Zealand makes the distinction between employee resilience, which concerns the individual, and organisational resilience, which refers to the organisation’s resilience. These two differences are quite obvious but until she had researched this space, there was no empirical studies or evidence connecting the two or investigating casual linkages.

Often workplaces focus on employee resilience in order for the organisation to benefit. These skillsets are sold as desired, or even, required for individuals to build and gain in order to support the organisation. There are usually mandated courses for employees to attend and this is where it starts to go awry.

Traditional approaches to resilience fail by a one size fits all approach

Where resilience training fails employees is that it is often delivered in a group format and it is not tailored to the individual. While you can grow resilience traits and become resilient, it is not as simple as attending a one day course.

There have been new studies that reveal the organisations that do achieve increased levels of employee resilience have a more holistic view of resilience and they target programmes and offer initiatives at an individual level. This way of approaching resilience is successful because it acknowledges that an employee is a person with many different emotions and life circumstances that can come with them to work. The work environment must strive to be supportive and be willing to support employees wellbeing.

Leadership must lead

Organisations that are successful in increasing resilience in their employees are ditching the outdated notion of resilience as “emotional coping” and investing in the development of their people and teams.

How?

Top performing teams were noted as having the following traits in their leaders.

  • Being present
  • Fostering positive work environments
  • Making employees feel valued and supported
  • Not ruling with an iron fist, flexibility around working styles, hours and productivity
  • Creating and maintaining healthy team dynamics 

Organisations need to stop focusing on outdated concepts of resilience, stop one size fits all training, recognise the latest research and benefits of wellbeing. Leaders need to walk the talk as resilience is the cultural heartbeat of a team.

Can we build it? Yes we can!

What happens when an organisation or environment is not supportive and doesn’t tick any of the boxes above? Can you build your individual resilience in spite of your environment? The answer is yes! I have been researching various individual strategies and techniques that can help.

Building micro resilience

The topics covered so far can be considered to be rather macro. If we drill down into the concept of micro resilience, we can start to see how as individuals we can build resilience within ourselves in order be adaptable and healthy in any environment we find ourselves in.

Micro resilience involves a concept of self, it’s about the smaller interactions of the day to day, the characteristics of personality that act as building blocks to make the whole person and the daily actions you take to build your strength of character.

A recent study by Bonnie St John has combined many existing research papers, papers, books and practices to provide helpful information for people to cultivate their own micro resilience in their every day life.

Mirco resilience hacks

  • Note where you spend your time and what you spend your time doing, this is what you’re choosing to define yourself as. Starting point? What drains you? Make a list then think about interventions to minimise these things
  • Look after your health and body
  • Clarify your goals and purpose, know your direction but then set it free. Once the bigger things are set, focus on smaller daily actions that build up to those goals
  • Stake out the time for yourself and your goals, create focus times – even if this means getting away from everyone for periods of time and completely blocking out your calendar
  • Reframe negative emotions into positives or alternative views, writing these down can really help
  • Take your wellbeing seriously, priortise time to wind down when you can. Meditation, yoga, reading, playing in a rock band! Whatever it takes

The important thing is to become self-aware, know where you spend your time, what you want to change or achieve and how you are going to back yourself to get the things you need. Build your own toolbox and keep working with these tools until you can regulate emotions like a pro and take strategic pop shots at life when difficult situations arise.

While the battle grounds of the macro resilience world are most likely too much for an individual to expect to overcome or change, we can take accountability to train our own micro resilience muscles.

Please share any cool organisational training you’ve been involved in or your own personal tips and tricks!

7 Ways To Influence Your Internal Stakeholders?

For most, influencing externally comes easily. But when you have to influence internally, there is a mountain of factors and intricacies to navigate…

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This article was based on research conducted by Conti Advanced Business Learning (www.cabl.ch), a Swiss training company that specializes in Negotiation & Influencing training.

Seven procurement experts share their advice on how they creatively influence their internal stakeholders to come to agreements and a consensus for any different challenges they or the company faces.

1. Matching their requirements

Carefully! The ability to influence internal stakeholders is about knowing what is important to them and finding a solution that matches their requirements. If you do not know their goals,objectives or challenges, how can you know whether your idea will help or hinder them? Spend time with the key internal stakeholders, determine what their priorities are, look at your needs and understand how you can help your stakeholder.

Susannah Gooch, Vice President, Direct & Operations Purchasing & Supplier Management, AbbVie

2. Be proactive: point out the things most important to them

We influence stakeholders by tailoring the message to them and pointing out the things that are most important for that individual stakeholder. While preparing for a large negotiation we had to have senior executive’s approval of our strategy. The decks we prepared for these meetings were all different, but all came to the same conclusion (i.e. our strategy). This approach worked beautifully as we were able to show each senior executive that our strategy would match exactly with his goals.

Lukas Wyder, Director, Rogers Communication

3. Pinpoint you ‘must-wins’

By knowing what’s their purpose and what is a must win. R&D departments are not truly impressed or motivated by good economic deals! However, a company’s reputation and innovation are definitely buzz words for them. To keep them on your side of the table and prevent them shaking hands with suppliers before procurement does, it’s important to anchor them on their principles and gain their trust to act freely and move ahead with suppliers.

Alessandra Silvano, Category Director CAPEX and MRO, Carlsberg Group

4. Create opportunities to emphasise your decision-making powers

This is different to “asking what they want” or “receiving instructions” from the business. The greatest success I had was the formation of a “Procurement Steering Committee” where I, as CPO, was the secretary and ran the agenda. It was chaired by the CEO, with the COO and CFO in attendance. These were contracted signatories to deals so it was my opportunity to put forward the deals and proposals I would place with the market, to test their risk appetite and proposed BATNAs in exchange for commercial (and price) advantages. The meeting encouraged healthy debates and discussions and it got the senior leadership team involved in the contracts themselves, aligning with their expectations. It also had the advantage of delegating myself certain decision-making powers in order to secure deals on what was agreed. The process was sped up and it circumvented multitudes of stakeholders with differing views. It helped focus on the “important”, and not the “nice haves”. 

Alan Hustwick, Senior Executive Global Supply Chain, SCCR Pty Ltd

5. Find common interests

It is always tempting to try to convince internal stakeholders about the strategic importance of procurement, as we are so convinced about it. We like to convey our passion and vision. Also, and more often than don’t, the naïve belief that the internal stakeholder will share the same passion. Seldom do they!

The best way to convince internal stakeholders is to identify common interests. Certainly, this means that we need to know what their challenges and issues are, and how we can help them best. If they are convinced that there is something for them in the story, then and only then, will they start to listen to your ideas, and getting their support becomes much easier.

Bérénice Bessière, Director, Procurement and Travel Division Private and Public Organizations, WIPO

6. Confirm your reasoning with 3rd party information

Typically with objective facts. More often than not, 3rd party confirmation of your analysis is needed, for example, these may come in the form of outside analysts or consultancy organizations. Strangely, internal stakeholders often give more weight to outside opinions than colleagues, especially from other functions. They assume there are inter-departmental politics instead of seeing the cross-functional benefits and expertise of the whole company. I frequently refer to or copy and paste graphics or statistics from outside analysts when influencing others. 

Michael Hauck, Director Global Procurement, Tetra Pak

7. Speak their language and incorporate their needs into your communication

A good starting point is to look at the deal from their perspective and understand how I could get them to choose in their own interest what I want. Talking their own language also helps and this applies to all Procurement communications. I remember a mistake I made over ten years ago. We had just completed a Temporary Labour project and proudly presented the results, mentioning that we had delivered 2.4 million of cost savings, streamlined the process and improved the service levels. It would have been much better to put the focus on the process and service levels improvements and then mention that we also saved 2.4 million. 

Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner, Conti Advanced Business Learning

Do you have ways to influence your internal stakeholders? If so, share in the comments below!

These answers 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 aimed at collecting real-life negotiation experiences from Procurement executives.

Procurement Across Borders – Managing Situations In Which Culture Can Influence The Outcomes

Differences and similarities between cultures can be assessed in terms of core values, beliefs, norms and behaviour…

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In the previous articles, we began looking at CQ Knowledge which relates to your personal knowledge and understanding of other cultures. We introduced the idea that differences and similarities between cultures can be assessed in terms of core values, beliefs, norms and behaviour and provided a cultural mirror which plots Nine Dimensions of Culture.

Having already discussed the first six dimensions, this month we will move onto the seventh, eighth and ninth dimensions, explore their application and give some tips and ideas on how to navigate these dimensions in cross cultural situations.

Dimension Seven: Polychronic- Monochronic.

Polychronic and monochronic are the terms used to describe the time orientation in cultures. The terms were coined by Edward Hall. People coming from Polychronic cultures view time as being very loose compared to monochronic cultures who view time as needing to be managed very tightly.

In monochronic cultures, people believe that time is money and it should not be wasted. Meetings tend to start on time and there is an orderly sense to the way people do things such as queueing and traffic movements. There is a methodical logic in how things work. Countries that are monochronic include the UK, Taiwan and Switzerland.

In polychronic cultures, people believe that time is life – there is plenty of time and you need to be in the present. A meeting set to begin at 9am may in fact start later than that or once everyone has arrived. In these cultures, people don’t generally queue for things and traffic can be chaotic and arbitrary. Cultures with a polychronic approach have a different sense of time which can be one of the most challenging aspects to working across culture. Countries that are Polychronic include Indonesia, Chile and Portugal.

Tips for those coming from a Monochronic Culture when working with Polychronic cultures:

1) Be fluid with timelines

2) Ensure flexibility in setting up appointments and meetings

Tips for those coming from a Polychronic Culture when working with Monochronic cultures:

1) Be punctual

2) Establish timelines for projects and ensure you deliver on them

Dimension Eight: High-Low Context Communication

High and Low context refers to the way in which cultures communicate. People coming from high context communication cultures understand that communication is multi-dimensional. In low context communication cultures, you say what you mean and mean what you say. In these cultures, “yes” means yes and “no” means no. Countries that have low context communication styles include the USA, Germany and Finland.

In high context cultures, “yes” may mean yes, it may mean no or even maybe depending on how the yes is articulated. It is not just about the spoken word, it is also about the facial expression, tone of voice, pitch and body language. Countries that have high context communication include China, Greece and Algeria.

Tips for those coming from a Low context culture and working with a High context culture:

1) Be patient and listen carefully to what is the message being communicated

2) Use metaphors and analogies to describe situations and outcomes

Tips for those coming from a High context culture and working with a Low context culture:

1) Be direct and straightforward in your communication

2) Do not be offended by the directness of responses.

Dimension Nine: Femininity – Masculinity

In feminine cultures, there tends to be more of an appreciation of values around cooperation, communication, teamwork, and collaboration. In feminine cultures, males and females will often do all sorts of similar jobs and gender roles are less clearly defined.

When discussing Femininity – Masculinity in terms of the cultural mirror continuum, we refer to the attributes that are most prevalent and valued within a culture.

Some examples of countries with feminine cultures are Denmark and Sweden.

In masculine cultures, there’s a far greater emphasis on competition, being assertive and ambitious and having a strong point of view. In masculine cultures gender roles are highly differentiated. Some examples of countries with masculine culture are Japan, Venezuela and Hungary.

Tips for people coming from feminine cultures when working with Masculine cultures:

1) Be assertive and convey your point of view

2) Be concise and rational in your discussions

Tips for people coming from Masculine cultures working with Feminine cultures:

1) Avoid being overly aggressive

2) Be willing to compromise

In order to be more effective when working across culture we need to be culturally intelligent and develop a repertoire to be able to manage situations in which culture can influence the outcomes. Regardless of where you sit on each element of the continuum it is essential to have the agility to adapt yourself.

How To Create The Interview Formula That Makes The Right Candidate Stand Out

Despite taking extra steps to evaluate a job applicant, managers too often fail to choose the right candidate. How do you get it right?

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Many recruiters know the importance of assessing a candidate beyond a polished resume and well-rehearsed interview. Yet, despite taking extra steps to evaluate a job applicant, managers too often fail to choose the right candidate. In a 2016 CareerBuilder study, 75 per cent of employers interviewed said they hired the wrong person, costing companies an average of $17,000.

The issue? Recruiters were not interviewing for the actual skills candidates needed to thrive in their new role. During the hiring process, recruiters were relying too much on resumes, misidentifying the skills needed to succeed, or asking the wrong questions. Here’s how recruiters can adjust their approach to interviewing candidates to lead to better hires and improve talent retention.

Identify the non-negotiable skills for each position

Recruiters should begin with a basic understanding of the non-negotiable skills the new hire needs to succeed. Get the entire team involved in narrowing down the essential skills a new hire should possess to help the team to perform better. Walk through a typical work day and identify the inefficiencies or bottlenecks that could be improved by a new hire.   

With this baseline in mind, recruiters set up a case-study scenario or Talent Trial that allows the candidate to showcase their abilities in specific scenarios. For example, Pro R.E.A. Staffing used Vervoe’s “knockout” questionnaire to test candidates on the non-negotiable job requirements. This questionnaire replaced the phone screen, and successful candidates were automatically invited to complete a skills-based Talent Trial containing behavioral questions, tasks in Excel, and writing exercises.

The result? Hiring managers at Pro R.E.A. noticed big differences between candidates’ claims of their skills and their actual skill level. They were able to test skills they previously couldn’t discern, save time, and only progress with candidates who could perform the core skills needed to succeed.

Highlight the soft skills needed to advance in the company

Some employers wait until the first day on the job to discuss company culture with new hires. Instead, recruiters should start this conversation during the hiring process by highlighting the skills needed for the candidate to advance within the company. Successful CEOs emphasize the importance of soft skills – things like leadership and teamwork. But, all too often, new hires disappoint because they lacked the soft skills needed to adapt to their new team, not necessarily the skills to perform the job.

When we talk about “culture fit,” that can mistakenly translate into hiring someone whose background – education, skills, or network – is similar to the existing team. This stifles innovation and diversity. Instead, recruiters should seek out soft skills that will diversify the team, such as hiring someone who values clarity and structure to balance out the visionary but impulsive senior manager.

AI-powered ranking and skills tests are just two important ways to remove bias from the hiring process. Vervoe’s platform has shown impressive stats in hiring for diverse teams: companies who switched to our AI tool and skills assessments saw a 62% increase in female candidates. Vervoe’s library of content can also help hiring managers seek out those critical soft skills that predict long-term success. These validated psychometric assessments are key to assessing “culture fit” in isolation from a candidate’s resume.

Look out for common red flags

There are some red flags that many recruiters miss during the interview stage that can come back to haunt them. For example, referral hires often get a carte blanche during the interview process. If a candidate name-drops during the interview, do not be seduced by his connections if he cannot back it up with examples of genuine relationship building and past collaboration.

Learning from our past hiring mistakes at Vervoe, we created a character assessment so we can avoid making these mistakes in the future. Many of the things we look for – curiosity, grit, collaboration, resourcefulness, tenacity, dexterity – are important in every role at the company. By implementing a character assessment at the top of our hiring process, we screen candidates to between five and ten percent of applicants, who then progress to the next level. An applicant may be a coding magician, but if they won’t be happy at Vervoe, we’re not interested in wasting their time.

This article was written by Emily Heaslip and was originally published on vervoe.

Supplier-Enabled Innovation Is An Opportunity To Add Value

Businesses are tapping into the expertise of their supplier network to bring new products to market faster and streamline their processes.

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Where do new ideas come from? For many organisations, the answer is research and development. But imagine if the R&D department included not only your own people, but those from hundreds or even thousands of your suppliers too.

This is the promise of supplier-enabled innovation (SEI), which enables companies to tap into the expertise of their supplier network to develop new products and services or refine existing ones.

It’s not exactly a new idea, but according to David Rae, head of the Supplier-Enabled Innovation Center, it is an underutilised one. “If you have thousands of suppliers and a portion of them have R&D divisions focused on your sector, then you’d be mad not to tap into that resource,” he says.

Companies that combine their innovation efforts with those of their suppliers typically bring products to market faster, giving them a competitive advantage. The inevitable risks and costs of developing new products or services are also spread among a wide network of stakeholders. And due to their specific expertise, suppliers are often able to suggest product improvements that are unlikely to occur to internal teams.

It makes sense to partner with companies specialising in a particular area, says Omer Abdullah, co-founder and managing director of The Smart Cube, which provides procurement, analytics and research expertise. He uses the example of a packaging supplier to illustrate the point. “They’re the ones who have a vested interest in knowing what the latest packaging types are, what the latest packaging sizes are and what are consumers demanding,” he explains.

That’s certainly true in the case of Bayer, which works closely with suppliers such as Schott to find the best packaging for specific drugs. By collaborating early in the ampoule or vial selection process, with Schott contributing its expertise in how certain active ingredients interact with different types of containers, new medication can be brought to market in a quick and safe manner.

The procurement team are ideally placed to drive the innovation partnerships behind SEI, acting as the link between internal R&D, sales and marketing teams, and suppliers. Johnson & Johnson, for example, has focused on turning procurement into a team of “innovation scouts”, seeking out suppliers who understand emerging trends and plan their business accordingly.

This is one of the vital elements of SEI: if you can’t find innovative suppliers to work with, then the whole concept quickly falls apart. If you’re interested in using SEI to improve your R&D function, for example, “you need to take into account things like what percentage of their [the supplier’s] revenue they are putting towards R&D, their strategic goals and where they’re actually headed as a company”, says Mr Rae.

It can be tempting to focus on the current supply chain when selecting SEI partners, but this may not offer the kind of cutting-edge innovation that will really expand internal capabilities, says Simon McGuire, health systems leader for Philips UK and Ireland. “I believe a good procurement team will ensure any supplier activity is initiated with clear alignment and agreement on capability gaps and unmet customer needs, together with an ability to secure the required technology and skillsets from the marketplace,” he says.

An awareness of market trends and shifts, competitor moves and the company’s own patent pipeline is also a key part of an informed view of what suppliers might be able to offer. “For me the most essential element of a good supplier partnership that will deliver is the strong alignment of goals and visions, with clear definitions, responsibilities and objectives from the start,” says Mr McGuire.

Online platforms are a relatively common way of communicating innovation challenges to supplier networks. Philips, for example, has an open innovation portal called SPICE, which allows suppliers, companies and individual inventors to collaborate to both view Philips innovation challenges and suggest ideas of their own. But the success of these platforms depends upon suppliers receiving relevant, timely feedback on their ideas and transparency around the development of any proposals.

Indeed, the trust at the heart of any good partnership flows both ways. “Surprisingly, suppliers do not always take their innovation first to their largest or even their most profitable, highest-margin customers,” says Clive R. Heal, a procurement innovation expert who leads Voicinn, a group of global innovation keynote speakers, and founded and led the Roche Innovation Center of Excellence. “They target customers with whom they have the closest relationships and see the best longer-term growth opportunities.”

Both companies should also be clear about who will own the intellectual property (IP) for any new products or services before embarking on a partnership. For instance, would a licensing approach, with the company granted exclusive rights to use a particular technology or service for an agreed period, work best? Or is a joint IP model the better option? Many innovation partnerships fail to clear this hurdle due to competing interests, Mr Heal points out.

Regardless of which ownership approach is agreed, successful SEI initiatives nearly always follow a long-term approach to innovation, focusing on mutual benefits for both customer and supplier. In other words, a true partnership that runs counter to the “not invented here” syndrome still found in many businesses.

“Overcoming this is difficult,” says Mr Rae. “But with the disruption now happening – the platform business models cropping up, the growth in startups, the fact that innovation is taking place everywhere and not just in R&D labs – companies will have to change, otherwise they’re going to get disrupted too.”

This article, edited by Peter Archer, was taken from the Raconteur Future of Procurement report, as featured in The Times.  

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Job Hunting… It’s Now Like A Date From Hell

In some sectors – like advertising, marketing, PR and media – three in ten firms admit they have ghosted applicants.

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You’ve spent forever trying to find your perfect match. Then, while searching online you spot “The one”. They seem to tick every box…  you connect, it seems like destiny and you are really excited when they want to get to know you. In your imagination, you are thinking of a making a serious commitment (perhaps lasting years) as you start to visualise a new, happier future. Things are really looking up.

Then…nothing! Out of the blue they stop replying to your emails and don’t return your calls. You wonder what you did wrong.

You’ve been ghosted.

If this sounds like a dating experience from hell, think again.

This is increasingly what it’s like to be a jobseeker.

In some sectors – like advertising, marketing, PR and media – three in ten firms admit they have ghosted applicants.

For some bemused candidates, the ghosting can come even after a “successful” interview when they’ve shaken hands with the boss and been told “you’d fit right in here”. After assuming they’ve got the job, they then hear nothing, ever again. If this is the case, you’ve probably dodged a bullet. Who would want to work for a firm like that?

Are you just as bad?

However, skills shortages mean the tables have turned, with employers and recruitment firms desperate to find the right talent.

As a result, it is increasingly the candidate that’s doing the ghosting according to a survey by education and training specialist TheKnowledgeAcademy.com.

One in four applicants in the business, finance and the legal spheres have admitted to ghosting a company during the job searching process. Ouch! Come on… this is your personal brand we are talking about. At least, do the recruiter the courtesy of saying “Thanks, but no thanks”.

Cat and kittenfishing is rife too

However, ghosting is not the only dating misdemeanour that is now rife in recruitment.

Kittenfishing (a bit like catfishing) is the most common HR practice according to research commissioned by JamieAi, an HR tech start-up.

Three in ten job seekers have fallen victim to hype – the practice of making a job seem a “bit” better than it really is just to grab the candidate’s interest.

Catfishing – where the job is described as being “far” better that it actually is – to the point where it does not match reality, was also experienced by nearly three in ten job seekers.

If you have ever been on a date where the person you met is nothing like their description, you will know how disappointing this can be as well as a total waste of your time.

However, with a job, you may only find out once you start.

Players and rostering trip you up

Rostering is a problem for one in four with a quarter of candidates finding they are waiting for ages for a yes or a no, because they are actually the second-choice candidate. This is a bit like waiting and waiting to find out if you are going to meet on a Friday night because your date is hoping for someone “better” to come along.

Sadly, players are also rife – promising you that you are the lead candidate while also saying the same thing to several others. Don’t fall for their patter. Wait until you have signed your employment contract before handing in your notice, or you could find you are left with no job instead of a new job.

Get savvy to protect yourself

It’s relatively easy to protect yourself from these practices.

  1. Don’t take it personally: If you are aware that jobs are oversold, recruiters may never return your calls, your CV will be lost in the ether and even after an interview you might get ghosted, you should just put this down to experience. Don’t let it knock your confidence. If an employer cannot be bothered to reply, then they are not the sort of firm you should want to work for.
  2. Do your homework:  Websites like Glassdoor.co.uk let you check how the employer is rated by their employees. If the firm has a reputation for not acknowledging CVs or providing feedback after interviews, you will know that it’s not you that’s the problem.
  3. Don’t give up: Find out the name of the hiring manager, and send an email direct to them or even better connect to them on sites like LinkedIn. Often, firms are inundated with applications and they may have found a suitable candidate before your CV even landed in their inbox. However, if you really like the company, there is no harm in letting them know you would still love to work there.
  4. Double check your application: There may be a reason why they have ghosted you. Perhaps you did not put the job reference number or correct title on your application? Or did you forget to cover all the “must haves” on your CV? Often applications are screened electronically and if you haven’t included the key words your CV may have been rejected before a human even set eyes on it. To pass the application tracking system software test, use the job spec as a guide and include the EXACT words used. Also. double check the instructions – if the request was for a pdf of your CV not a word document, you might have been rejected for failing to do as asked.

Finally don’t be tempted to get revenge

If you are fed up with being catfished or ghosted, you may think that as these practices now seem to be acceptable, there is no problem if you do the same.

However, it could backfire. If you ghost recruiters or become a player and keep various firms interested as a back-up plan, you might get away with it….or you could find that the people you have treated badly, then move to another firm and remember you as the candidate from hell. Remember, it’s a small world and social media makes it even smaller.

Catfishing is also dangerous. If you exaggerate your skills, you might not pass your probationary period and you will be left without a job, and without a good reference. Remember, firms are struggling to recruit … if you’d been honest and said you were prepared to learn, you might have got the job anyway, without having to lie.

What Makes A High Performing Team?

How do you build and nurture high performing teams?

By Rawpixel.com/ Shutterstock

Recently I realised that my management brand is being built whilst I’m busy planning how I want to be a better manager. In other words, it’s the small daily interactions of how I show up in the world that count, not the long term plans yet to be actioned.

Big gestures show your leadership style, sure, but where people really form an opinion of the type of leader you are is how you greet them in the morning, how you handle stress, how you help them when they are stressed, how you organise yourself and the team in the small ways. How you back them when it counts, or if you back them at all.

I realised I am working in the opposite way to how I have been generally managed in the past and the management styles I have seen around me. If building high performing teams is seen as a strength of mine then what is that I do?

Getting back to basics

  1. Present, informative leadership

Heads of departments or general managers will be exposed to lots of high level information, often well above the relevancy and pay grade of most general team members. When managers share the information down the line it helps to build a common vision and brings all levels along for the collective ride. It also helps contextualise what being busy really means. It helps each person prioritise according to the organisation’s higher goals or hot topics of the day and helps build meaning.

2. Flexibility (true flexibility)

Flexible working arrangements are often talked about but rarely effectively executed by management. It requires someone to let go of the need to control every aspect of how they feel the work environment should run. It requires shifting to an outputs frame of working rather than presentism and hourly bum-in-seat time. Showing decency and respect to team members will render more tangible outputs then say, denying annual leave requests and privately rescinding public approvals for people to work from home. All this does is build a culture of hierarchy, need for control and lack of trust.

Respect and trust breeds loyalty and which produces higher output, care and pride for one’s own work.

3. Developing through empowerment

Development is an eye roll producing topic for most managers and even employees – but it is really important and it doesn’t have to be a tick box exercise, it can be genuine and effective with little effort.

Hacks for a procurement development plan, review in detail the follow areas:

  • Technical experience related to their job
  • Cross agency and cross team learning
  • Focus on commercial and supplier management (or other specific area in the sector)
  • Formal training, courses or workshops
  • In-house learning
  • The procurement lifecycle for gaps in their knowledge
  • Build their strengths
  • Look at procurement trends, what can they research or learn and become the team expert in

But here’s the thing, you actually have to complete the tasks and have the meetings! If these two things are executed it will evolve naturally, it can be this simple.

4. Building people’s strengths

The concept of playing to your strengths is not a new one but because of the human tendency to want to be good in all areas of our work, it’s pervasive and needs to be called out frequently.

5. Hiring a blended team

Part of making a high performing team is understanding the types of roles, personalities and levels of technical expertise that you will need for long term success. What isn’t required or even possible, is having all of the types of roles, personalities and levels of expertise. This is a utopia view that is probably rarely going to happen. Instead try to balance out the management style first e.g. a creative, fire type needs more structured staff to offset this nature. Then expand from there matching the roles in the team with what they will need to be successful, pair them off.

You’re dreaming mate

I can already hear my hairdresser in my ear saying… “this is all very well but it relies on people not taking the p*ss and having a good team to begin with. It relies on people wanting to do good work in the first place and not just focusing on getting out of the office fast enough to make Friday happy hour (on a Tuesday).”

Yes it does.

I have only worked in one place in 10 years that had such a degree of toxicity that none of these tactics would have worked. Maybe it’s because I do my homework first before applying for jobs and I research culture, leadership styles and team dynamics. But I would like to think that in the profession of procurement, most people are highly intelligent, capable people that just need a bit of trust and support to flourish and meet their highest potential.

My final tip: tell your team and your staff they are doing a good job – you’d be amazed at how this makes people feel.

Four Ways Brexit Has Rattled CPOs

With Brexit headlines continuing to dominate the daily news, what have been the biggest lessons for procurement leaders on how to approach geopolitical risk?

By Pixel-Shot/ Shutterstock

As cross-party Brexit talks collapsed, stockpiling reached its highest level since records began in the 1950s. A final decision on Brexit looks like it has, yet again, been thrust into the distance. But by now chief procurement officers (CPOs), those charged with ensuring businesses have enough raw materials and goods, have learnt to live beyond politicians’ promises. 

Procurement teams have begun to view geopolitical risk as an unwanted yet permanent factor. It’s no longer just the prospect of Brexit that has procurement officers grappling with greater risk in their jobs. Any emerging geopolitical risk poses potential obstacles for global supply chains, which over the past few decades have become tightly interwoven. 

Lesson 1: Uncertainty is certain 

Procurement chiefs have learnt quickly that they cannot count on politicians. But they can control the steady flow of goods and materials to their organisations by risk-mapping and establishing alternatives. 

Dairy Crest, a manufacturer of British food brands, approved additional suppliers, extra sources of material and alternatives by identifying pinch points in the supply chain, ensuring greater flexibility. 

CPO Chris Thomson reviewed the stock management processes in terms of ingredients and packaging, factory planning processes and customer order to stock processes. All these processes had been in place for many years and were effective, but Brexit made it necessary to revisit all systems and processes. 

“It’s been quite an interesting experience to have a serious situation like this to open your eyes again and to challenge some of the existing business processes,” he says. 

He is not alone in his approach. Neil Butters, head of procurement at Inprova Group, says: “Before you think big, think small. I’d been trying to understand geopolitical risk and Brexit and other areas, and trying to work out how that impacted my organisation. What I ultimately decided to do was to take a fresh view of my organisation and the risk factors, and map them out.” 

Lesson 2: Revisit systems and processes 

“Brexit has forced many CPOs and their teams to look again at their suppliers, local sourcing plans, local versus international, and start to make some decisions about what their future supply should look like,” says Duncan Brock, group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS). 

Indeed, CPOs have been evaluating their supply chains at a more granular level. Many procurement teams have looked at what happens in the supply chain beyond the first contact with their own company. The view is if they can understand the risks posed at that distance, then they will be able to manage them before there is a direct impact on their business. 

“We haven’t fundamentally changed our sourcing approach. What we have done is put a lot more emphasis on our category management in our processes, and a lot more emphasis on how far up the supply chain we understand what’s going on,” says Dairy Crest’s Mr Thomson. 

Localisation might help some businesses, but switching to UK suppliers doesn’t always solve the problem. Establishing new suppliers has its own challenges and is rarely a seamless process, particularly if you are sourcing a strategic supplier. 

According to research by CIPS, almost a quarter of companies it surveyed were looking for alternative non-European Union suppliers. But the study also showed that half of British companies would struggle to find the suppliers and skills they need in the UK if they were forced to bring parts of their supply chain back home post-Brexit. 

“Anybody who approaches their suppliers in business as purely a transactional thing misses the opportunity to work special situations and to work closely together to manage whatever it is thrown at us. We treat our suppliers really as part of the business,” says Neil Ginger, chief executive of Origin, a UK manufacturer of aluminium doors and windows. 

Lesson 3: Stockpiling can’t solve everything 

Filling up warehouses with raw materials and medicines is a short-term solution. Stockpiling is an option for some, but many do not have the facilities to store surplus stock and those with perishable goods simply won’t be able to. 

Longer-term stockpiling won’t fix the challenges companies face over trading with EU customers and suppliers. Moreover, the additional costs of paying for the stock and then paying for warehousing that stock can be crippling, particularly for smaller businesses with fewer resources. 

Earlier this year, door and window manufacturer Origin began stockpiling aluminium extrusion from its supplier based in northern Spain in preparation for Brexit and disruption at the border. In total, the company stockpiled around £750,000-worth of materials, which is not an insignificant amount of money to add to your inventory. And then Brexit Day never came. 

“Beyond the things you can’t control, you’re just trying to stay as flexible as you possibly can. We bought more material to make sure we could see ourselves through some very short-term disruption at the border,” says Origin’s Mr Ginger. 

Lesson 4: Ditch the silos 

CPOs have become more rounded business people as a result of Brexit. They have had to work more intensively with other teams within their organisations, and have had to explain what they are doing to the board to ensure the business can keep functioning and fulfilling customers’ orders. 

Like many companies, Dairy Crest set up a cross-functional leadership group focused on medium to long-term Brexit planning. In addition, the company established a standalone cross-functional group focused solely on preparing for Brexit Day. They based their business planning on a hard Brexit, the worst-case scenario for many businesses. 

“We really focused our efforts on planning for the worst case and knowing that if it didn’t turn out to be the reality, we would be in a sensible position,” says Dairy Crest’s Mr Thomson.

This article, edited by Peter Archer, was taken from the Raconteur Future of Procurement report, as featured in The Times.  

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