4 Reasons Social Media Is A Gamechanger For Supply Chain & Procurement

Thanks to the power of online collaboration, social media has played an essential role in helping supply chain and procurement professionals manage COVID-19.


Where would we be without social media? Imagine trying to navigate through this crisis without the support of your social networks. At Procurious, we have provided a safe space for our almost 40,000 (we’re at 39,964 as I write!) supply chain and procurement leaders all over the world.  We’ve played our small part in helping our members step up to the plate, curveball after curveball.

In honor of World Social Media Day, it’s only right that we tip our hats off to how far we’ve come as a community. We’ve helped our members find jobs, advance in their careers, make critical connections across the world and collaborate to tackle some truly complex and exciting challenges. We’re extremely proud.

Today, we’re reflecting on a few of the many reasons social media has become a professional powerhouse:

1. It can help anyone, anywhere in the world

Think of how big your network would be without the virtual groups, forums, discussions and networks you’re a part of today. The best part is the skies the limit —and communities like ours are growing every day.

But even beyond individualized benefits, influencers like Professor Karsten Machholz, from the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt (or FHWS) in Germany, demonstrated the impact users can make when they use their platform for the greater good. Amidst the crisis, 65% of businesses were required to quickly source alternative suppliers for affected categories. And while procurement’s response was mostly impressive, some organisations are still struggling. Social media has allowed Karsten to play a huge role in recovery. “With the use of my procurement and supply chain networks like Procurious, I am trying to help companies find alternative suppliers in order to make their supply chains run again.”

Joanna Martinez, founder of Supply Chain Advisors LLC is another example of influencers leveraging social media to make an impact and help others. “Watching all the people being furloughed or laid off, I started ‘Pay it Forward Fridays’, where I use my connections and expertise to help people begin the journey back to employment. I’ve been a practice interviewer, a speaker to Zoom groups focused on the job search, have proofread resumes, made connections, and been a reference. I haven’t found a person yet that I haven’t been able to help in some way.”

2. The more we put in, the more we get out

Since coming together to prove our organisational value, we’ve made monumental strides in outshining old stereotypes and proving our organisational worth. Still, we’ve come too far to lose our seat at the executive table.

When asked about the pressures of today’s environment, Chief Heart Officer of SupplyChainQueen, Sheri Hinish, explained that COVID-19 has taught us a valuable lesson. “We are ONE planet – each of us interconnected in ways we may not be aware of or see. You can’t watch the news without hearing supply chain nowadays…. Literally, we are seeing that supply chains have the ability to save lives and power the world we share.”

This requires us to learn more and give more: to society and our professional networks. Social media makes this possible.

3. It boosts collaboration

Although much of the world is still at home, social media has brought our community closer than ever. “The pulse for information due to COVID has created a space for helping others better understand and prepare for external risks, visibility, social and environmental insights that are all tied to building resilient and transparent supply chains.” – Sheri Hinish, SupplyChainQueen.

It’s clear the support we’ve given each other is admirable. Beyond that, we’re progressively moving and adding value outside of our normal realm. For example, some procurement teams have contentious relationships with their suppliers.  But according to Sarah Scudder, President at Real Sourcing Network, the dynamic must change – and social media is helping pave the way.  “COVID-19 is forcing companies to save money and be more efficient… I want all procurement professionals to believe in collaboration and teamwork with suppliers instead of ‘us versus them’.”

There is no “I” in team. Effective collaboration requires communication and sharing. It can be especially uncomfortable if your organisation is doing something for the first time. But, who says you can’t borrow from another playbook? That’s what makes professional networks so unique. Chances are, someone out there has tackled a similar issue to whatever you are facing today… and they’re willing to share what they learned.

4. Online communication can be just as personal and productive

Our own Principal Advisor Helen Mackenzie proved connecting virtually doesn’t need to be any less intimate than meeting face-to-face. “I’ve been working hard to connect CPOs with each other. We’re having virtual coffee breaks where three or four of us come together just for a chat and to exchange information, insight and ideas. I like to think that being that community connector, which after all is what we’re about at Procurious, has helped the CPOs I’ve shared a virtual coffee with feel that they are part of a wider network that’s there to support each other.”

With major changes ahead, it’s critical we keep up the momentum. The most rookie mistake supply chain and procurement leaders can make is not being receptive to further change. As Dave Food, Strategy Director at Prophetic Technology expertly puts it: “The future is full of possibility, say no to the old ways and leverage the new potential. Early adopters are the powerhouse of tomorrow.” And social media is the enabler.

For more game-changing insights and inspiring stories from key players themselves, check out our COVID-19 Gamechangers whitepaper.

And if you haven’t officially joined Procurious yet, do yourself the favor and make today the day.


How Kelly Barner Became The World’s No 1 Procurement Influencer

Reaching influencer status on social media in any industry comes down to two things. Procurement and Supply Chain Influencer, Kelly Barner reveals what what they are and why it is important…


With world social media day only moments away, it’s time to reflect on how far the procurement profession has come in promoting itself to the broader business community and the world.

It was only six short years ago that we launched Procurious as the world’s first online network for procurement and supply chain….and since then we have seen a plethora of social media influencers emerge representing our profession.

But before any of us burst onto the scene, Kelly Barner was already here, promoting the work of our profession on Buyers Meeting Point, publishing books and writing original content to help upskill the profession while promoting key individuals, brands, publications and events within the industry.

Thinkers 360 and CPOStrategy Magazine recently recognised Kelly as the number one influencer on social media for procurement. So what has been her secret? How do you become the most influential person in a space where everyone is vying for attention? I reached out to Kelly to find out.

Kelly Barner: In my opinion, reaching influencer status on social media in any industry comes down to two things: 

1. Consistently working at it day in and day out. I’ve been sharing and engaging on social media since 2010. In the early days, I didn’t have a following, but I stayed on course, actively promoting my own content and following others and commenting on their content. I use some platforms to help me automatically promote content periodically after the main promotional window is over, but I do 99% of my social media work the ‘old fashioned way’ – I do it myself, as me, every day. If your online brand is important to you, you can’t fake authenticity. Give it 5-10 minutes a day, every day. That is enough to make a noticeable difference.

2. Not generating a following for the sake of the following, but looking at it as a natural (and very valuable!!) byproduct of doing excellent work, writing excellent content, and building real connections with real people. If you are just focused on building up your numbers, you will end up with an audience built for the wrong reason, and those connections won’t help you achieve your primary mission.

Tania:  When the field is open wide, it can often be tough to find the courage to “be the first” and get started. I know it found me a while to “find my voice” (and I still may be looking!), but it took a lot of courage to get started sharing my stories on social media.

Kelly: This is one of those cases where it helps not to have any idea what you are doing. I’m sure I made a lot of mistakes along the way (and continue to make them to this day), especially since I don’t have any training in marketing, PR, or social media strategy. But it has helped to have good friends by my side along the way. The procurement community is made up of amazing, generous, inspiring people that never fail to inspire me with new ideas and approaches to tough problems.

Tania:  But now the field isn’t wide open, we have a lot of influencers in our space, and in some ways, that could be more daunting – you could feel that you don’t have a unique story to tell, that it’s all been said..and maybe by people that you think are better than you.

Kelly: Everyone has a unique perspective to offer – that is the first, most important lesson I learned from Jon Hansen. He has been my mentor since day one, and early on I asked him why he was helping me. We both had blogs, and I wondered why he didn’t see me as a competitor. He pointed out (in his friendly, genuine way) that as long as we both write from our own point of view, there is no such thing as competition. No one can ever be you, and as a result, you will always have a unique offering to bring to the market. You can also beat people on time and quality. Work faster, and make sure your work is cleaner, that everyone else’s, and the readers will follow.

Tania:  I’ve always encouraged our community that they have a lot of great stories to tell. We have such interesting careers, interfacing with so many interesting, unique issues every day.

Kelly: The secret to great writing and social media engagement is… READING! I know that isn’t the most popular activity these days because we are all so busy. But it is absolutely critical. Read content on procurement, supply chain, business, communication – absolutely everything you can get your hands on. I read several newspapers every day as well as blogs, and monthly/quarterly business journals. It is amazing how often inspiration and insight come from unexpected sources. And – back to the idea of having a unique point of view – since no one else will be reading the same mix of sources as you, no one can duplicate your perspective. 

Tania:  With due cause, COVID has been a hectic time in procurement and on the news scene.  Our recent How Now report showed how well our profession handled the stress and actually have an increased interest and commitment to building a career in procurement and supply chain.

Kelly: I think procurement has done an outstanding job keeping the lights on in these unprecedented times. Who else knows how to get hard to find products and services? Who else can be creative about solving problems on the fly? Our companies have relied upon our agility and determination, but so have our families. I’m sure I am not the only procurement professional who applied her knowledge of supply chain management to keep the house stocked with food, medicine and – yes – even toilet paper. We’ve had some odd meals (turkey kielbasa, stewed tomatoes, and buttered toast, anyone?) but we always had something to eat – and I never missed a deadline at Buyers Meeting Point.

Given the additional information supply chains have received since the pandemic began, I think there is good reason to be hopeful that a flood of talented, hardworking professionals from other fields will join procurement and supply chain because of what they have read and seen during the shutdowns. 

Tania:  Speaking of increasing influence, Kelly, you have just made a big strategic decision to purchase MyPurchasingCenter from another female entrepreneur.

Kelly:  MyPurchasingCenter was owned by MediaSolve Group, a B2B Marketing Company led by Michelle Palmer, and it was edited for a long time by another well-known figure in the procurement industry: former Purchasing Magazine Senior Editor Susan Avery. They were both determined that ownership of MyPurchasingCenter go to someone that wanted it for the right reasons; not to part it out or gut its assets, but who would show respect for its legacy as a standalone information resource.

I worked on this acquisition for A LONG TIME. I knew Buyers Meeting Point was uniquely positioned to show the respect that Michelle and Susan wanted to see (and rightly so!) and to create tangible value with the MyPurchasingCenter brand, content, and social media accounts. 

Tania:  Just like when you started Buyers Meeting Point, this acquisition is a big step, it must have taken courage.  Were you nervous about the next step. Can you give any advice to people wanting to take that first entrepreneurial step?

Kelly:  My short answer to that question would be, “Just GO!” With the exception of ensuring your personal finances are in a state to support the leap before making it, you can’t overthink the decision to step out on your own. If you do, logic will stack up against the decision to become an entrepreneur every time. Nothing in the world can prepare you for starting a business, but no professional experience offers more riches. The highs and lows, gains and pains are like nothing else. I highly recommend that anyone who gets the ‘itch’ seriously consider acting on it!

Tania:  What do you think the profession will look like in five years?  What will MPC/Buyers Meeting Point look like in five years?

Kelly: In five years, I think procurement will be a primarily data-driven profession. Technology will be able to handle a lot of the process work we do today, leaving us to analyze data and work at the highest levels of the enterprise to inform and contribute to the development of corporate strategy.

My plan for BMP and MPC is to continue supporting all of the information needs of procurement and supply chain professionals. Five years from now, I imagine the full MPC content archive will be back online and I will have had some other creative spark about how to perpetuate the brand on my own. I can’t wait to find out what I come up with!

Tania:  There’s a few things I’ve always admired about Kelly (being a lovely person would be the first), but from a business perspective, that she’s achieved this number one status, that she’s managed to do this without having to leave her family and travel like a madwoman around the globe to build her network and that she’s a great collaborator.

We’ve talked about the achievement of her influence, but what about being able to build this global network without travelling.  Kelly, what’s your secret?  Do you think face to face is a myth?  Has all our Zoom, Webex, etc during COVID proved your approach?

Kelly:  This is absolutely a unique point about my experience. I was a consultant traveling almost 100% of the time when I had my daughter 12 years ago. Overnight, I went from jetsetting to full-time first time parent, and it was quite a shock. I joined Buyers Meeting Point in 2009, 4 months before my oldest son was born (referring back to my point about about not overthinking the leap to entrepreneurship – logic would have told me that was a TERRIBLE idea! Who starts a business with a newborn and a 20 month old?). My youngest son was born in 2012, so I have had babies and/or kids for every minute of my entrepreneurial journey. It is amazing what technology will allow you to achieve. I don’t even have a home office. Before COVID-19, I worked at the kitchen table, and after my family all came home to roost full time, I moved to the dining room because I didn’t want peanut butter and jelly splattered on my laptop. 

I’m also lucky that I live about an hour from Boston, which brings a lot of people into my backyard. I make the most of those opportunities, and I have met many of my global colleagues – including you, Tania! – in person. There is something magical about sitting face to face across the table from someone you already have an online relationship with.

There is no question that being able to travel would have accelerated my career and influence, but not being able to travel wasn’t a deal breaker. Now that everyone else is in the same boat, I have an advantage because I’ve been working this way for over a decade. 

Tania:  And collaboration, you’ve always collaborated with others in the profession – Jon Hansen, Phil Ideson, and Stephanie Lapierre to name a few. I totally subscribe to this, we’re going to get a lot further promoting the profession if we all promote each other.  What’s been your approach to collaboration?  How do you choose who you want to collaborate with?  Will you be collaborating more or less with others into the future?

Kelly:  Deciding who to collaborate with has always been a gut decision for me. If I like you, there is almost nothing I won’t do for you. I received a ton of goodwill from people who were practically strangers when I was first on my own, and I have made a point of paying that generosity forward. This is another one of those areas where you can’t fake authenticity. If you really like someone, the collaboration comes naturally. If you don’t ‘click’ with someone, nothing can fix it. I’ve actually gotten stomach aches from dealing with certain people over the years, and I trust that 100%. After all, what is the good of taking on all of the risk of being out on your own if you can’t reap the benefits of being able to decide who you will work with and for?

Summary

I hope that leaves everyone inspired, with some great practical tips for increasing your own social media influence.  

From my own perspective, building a really compelling profile on Procurious is a great way to start promoting yourselves to 40,000 other procurement and supply chain pros around the world…and also connecting with them to solve your daily challenges.

Happy World Social Media Day Eve!

A Rare Opportunity To Reset And Accelerate

Will businesses go backwards due to necessity and survival or will they step up and push forward to go further and faster to achieve the right balance?


Many of us are in a post-covid state of mind, I most certainly am. But will you and your organisations come out of this stronger, weaker or just different? Of course, the crisis is still very much real, affecting many people and businesses with long-lasting effects.  Perhaps there are slight signs of a slow down in certain parts of the world but who really knows how things will fare without a vaccine. Either way, we have to overcome this and look towards the new normal, which I believe can be a better one.

The pandemic is surely one of the greatest affecting the world and for many it has or will be a pivotal turning point. On the personal side, it may bring focus back to the things that really matter, be it family and friends or health and lifestyle. Or, it may send you down a new path. On the business side, it may question the raison d’être and bring focus to finding the right balance between society, the environment and the economy. From certain perspectives, the pandemic presents businesses a rare opportunity to accelerate on digital transformation initiatives that have been dragging over the last few years. Not for the sake of digital transformation but rather to rapidly ensure more resiliency and hone in on or further develop competitive advantages.

Who better to bring balance, build resilience and solidify competitive advantages than Procurement and Supply Chain.

Balancing the Imbalanced

Until recently it would have been fair to say that most businesses operated in an imbalanced manner with regard to society, the environment and the economy. With the main focus being on economic development, too often at the cost of society and the environment. Of course, there have been big strides made in recent years to balance this out but the big question is – What Happens Next?

This is a pivotal point. Will businesses go backwards due to necessity and survival or will they step up and push forward to go further and faster to achieve the right balance? I do hope it’s the latter and guess what, I believe Procurement is a key player in this. How you spend can transform your business and beyond. Where a business directs its spend can make the difference between an unsustainable imbalance and a sustainable balance to develop society, the environment and the economy equally. I strongly believe (and hope) we’ll see more and more organizations taking a stronger stance on this issue. Be it stronger support or stricter policies around supplier management for sustainability and diversity or more efforts to improve the communities involved in and around a business. Overall, Procurement organisations can influence entire ecosystems of suppliers to develop with this balance in mind.

Building Resilience

Resiliency has always been an important business strength but naturally during times of crises, there is more focus on this. For Procurement and Supply Chain leaders, while this is very likely not a foreign concept, it is likely that they have not had the opportunity to fully execute on a strategy to be more resilient to external events. This is the opportunity to show real business value. Now is the time to show the business how Procurement can add value around supplier risk management, new sources of supply, changes to contractual arrangements and much more.

Building resiliency begins with suppliers but must involve collaboration with the business. How much information do you have on your suppliers? How well connected are you to your suppliers? Are you monitoring risk across your suppliers? Do you have a mechanism to communicate and collaborate with suppliers in times of crisis? Do you have a clear view of supplier hierarchy to understand parent / child relationships? Do you know who your suppliers subcontract to? The list of questions that need answering is long. Needless to say that Procurement must accelerate on its plans to digitally connect to its suppliers to get better information, better assessment of risk (and performance) and overall infuse the multitude of Procurement and Supply Chain processes with better supplier information to improve decisions.

Solidify A Competitive Advantage

Lastly, the opportunity to establish or further develop a competitive advantage is too great to ignore. Some may ask, how can Procurement help here? We have seen first hand from our customers that Procurement does, in fact, have a lot to contribute in developing a competitive advantage. There isn’t an easy answer, however, as it really depends on the business and industry. We have a leading telecom customer where procurement was instrumental in generating significant revenue. Another where Procurement impacted the financial performance of the company by launching more new products, faster and more profitably.

Procurement is a gateway to probably the most significant source of innovation that any company has, its suppliers. By harnessing this rich resource companies can build great competitive advantages but they also need the people, processes and technology to take full advantage.

Technologies such as strategic sourcing, procure-to-pay or full source-to-pay that are instrumental in managing spend must empower versus limit. Often however, software solutions are designed in a way that forces organizations to compromise due to the limitations and restrictions presented. For those organizations that are ready to develop a competitive advantage (and many won’t be, as they still need to attain a level of maturity), technology must empower the skills and ideas that people have to be implemented and executed. Technology must empower creativity, this is how a competitive advantage is both born and executed.

How To Avoid The 5 Most Common Tech Selection Mistakes

How do you avoid making a potentially costly mistake when choosing a tech solution?


The selection of a tech solution is one of the most contentious exercises procurement organisations can go through. There are few other things that so many people in the organisation will come into contact with on a daily basis.

Get it right and you’ve probably only met people’s expectations. Get it wrong and, not only will those people make it known that the solution isn’t performing, but your organisation will also face living with a (costly) mistake for a long time.

There are countless factors that can complicate the process, from a seemingly never-ending list of requirements from across the organisation, to sorting out ‘needs’ from ‘wants’ when it comes to the requirements. And that’s not to mention that procurement teams tend to struggle when buying software for their own department, each member brings their own baggage from working with previous providers, and each individual brings their own personal preferences into this selection. 

Even if you think you are going to do things differently, you may end up inadvertently making a mistake somewhere along the line. To help you out on your next tech selection, we’ve compiled a list of the “5 Most Common Mistakes Made When Selecting a New Tech Solution.”

1.     Choosing ‘What’ Over ‘How’

Most software selections follow a similar pattern.  The selection team meets with key stakeholders and compiles a list of requirements. The requirements are then categorized into groups denoting what is a ‘must have’ versus a ‘nice to have’ and anything in between.  This then creates a scoring system that helps score the RFP responses.     

That is all good, but what I see many times being missed is there is way too much focus on ‘what’ a solution does vs. ‘how’ that feature/function is being delivered to address your most complex use cases.  Even if the feature is something your organisation needs, there’s no guarantee that how it works will suit your organisation and be widely adopted. 

2.     Picking looks over performance

It’s a new, all-singing, all-dancing system that looks the part. It’s got a sleek, visually impressive and stimulating User Interface. Buttons are in intuitive positions and there’s a color scheme designed to make the user feel more relaxed.

But the look of the solution belies the issues that users will experience due to a poor underlying system architecture.  On the surface, any provider can make the simple look intuitive and easy, but what about the more complex use cases and scenarios?  The best solutions have the ability to make even the most complex use cases appear easy and intuitive. 

And don’t be fooled, sometimes systems that focus only on a few use cases but excel at making them look easy, may lack the depth and breadth to address other key areas your users need.   

We have also found that some systems focused so much on making their new tech shiny and appealing to the eye, that they missed building it on a strong foundation.  Organizations that have complexity and high volumes may see their systems performance degrade which negatively  affects user adoption.  No matter how easy the system is to use, if it is not up and ready when you need it, end users will push back. 

So don’t be drawn in by the appealing look of a new system. Instead, really get to understand how the system was architected and if it is able to keep the complex simple for your end users.   

3.     Opting for low cost over ROI

Another thing to avoid when selecting a tech partner is a race to the bottom on price. The cheapest solution is not always the best solution. It may well end up costing you more when it comes to lost opportunity throughout the life of the agreement, cost overruns on implementation, integration, lost productivity and, in the worst cases, terminating an agreement early and going back out to the market.

Procurement, and the wider business, need to understand the true Total Cost of Ownership of all the solutions, which will in turn allow for a more true calculation on the Return on Investment (ROI). In order to calculate this effectively, it is a must to include the difference in savings one platform will achieve vs. the other.  Including those lost savings(if there are any) into your Total Cost of Ownership comparison may show that while the cost of the software is lower per year, the true cost is much higher. 

So, before you settle for the low-cost option, understand what value the solution is giving back to the business and factor that into your decision-making process.

4.     Boardroom decisions without end-user input

We’ve all worked in businesses where a new tech solution is implemented, only for it to fail to deal with any of the key issues it was meant to address. Many organisations do not engage end-users at all or speak to them after the selection has already been made.  Only then to find out that the solution that was selected in the boardroom, misses on many of the key use cases.

Not only does this make your employees feel undervalued but it also breeds resentment every time they must use the solution that hasn’t solved any of their problems.

Take time to include your end-users in the decision-making. They are the ones who will use the solution most, so their input could be the difference between success and failure.

5.      Failing to Complete a Success Blueprint Prior to Software Selection

You’ve fully detailed your requirements, gathered information and feedback, and conducted an extensive search of the market. You feel like you know which solution is best for your business, because the customer is always right, correct? Maybe not when it comes to tech solutions.

Organizations will frequently select the shiny new object or the solution that costs less.  Other times they will go with the software that conduct the best demo or has the best sales team.  Those are typically not the best indicators of future success. 

Trusting a demo or a great sales presentation is very risky.  Planning for success and putting the spotlight on what really matters is key to mitigating your risk and creating a predictable outcome. 

The RiseNow Success Blueprint that we talked about during the “How To Make Your CEO Fall In Love With Your Tech” does just that.  It also helps organizations navigate the software selection process to make sure success is achieved with the best platform for your organization. 

The trick to not making these mistakes is knowing about them in the first place and putting a proven plan in place to mitigate them. Yet even then, there’s no guarantee you won’t make a mistake, but the odds will definitely be in your favor. And keeping these 5 essential tips in mind the next time you go out to market may help you avoid making the same mistakes again.

To go deeper on the perfect tech implementation, tune in to our series ‘Major Tech Fails.’

Crafting The Job You Have Into The Career You Want

One way to take positive control of your job and career is through a concept called “job crafting”. This is how you do it…


Pursue your passions. This is the guidance we often receive as we are embarking on new jobs and careers. Whilst well-meaning this advice it is not always practical.

Many of us struggle to identify what our true passions are when it comes to work or become stuck trying to find the “perfect match” between our skills and interests and the requirements of a job.

For the vast majority of us the perfect or unicorn job doesn’t’ exist and even it did we might quickly outgrow it. The challenges and opportunities you might want today will probably look very different from those you may choose to pursue in two, three, or ten years‘ time.

This doesn’t mean we should give up trying to find jobs that fulfil and stimulate us, but we need to change how we find this work.

The secret of many people with fulfilling and engaging jobs isn’t that they have waited to find the perfect job, instead they have created, or crafted that role themselves.

Simply put, great jobs aren’t found; they’re made.

An introduction to job crafting

One way to take positive control of your job and career is through a concept called “job crafting”. Rather than waiting for others to create opportunities for development and progression, job crafting enables us to find opportunities for growth and innovation from within the jobs we already have.

Job crafting refers to individuals making changes to how they act, interact and think about their job in ways that makes the most of their individual passions, strengths and interests. Studies from around the world involving roles ranging from cleaners to CEOs have found that personalising our jobs in this way is linked to individual performance, wellbeing and career growth.

The most common and convincing explanation offered for job crafting’s positive influence on career progression is that it helps to create a better fit between the individual and their job, enabling them to express their values and beliefs whilst also making the most of their strengths and expertise.

Like people, job crafting comes in all different shapes and sizes. And there are many different ways to shape and craft your job including making changes to your tasks, relationships, skills, wellbeing and sense of purpose. Some examples of job crafting might include volunteering for new projects, doing an existing task or activity in a new way, or building or reframing existing relationships with colleagues, customers, vendors or producers.

How do you bring job crafting to life?

There are a number of ways that people can start to job craft, but here are two exercises that are particularly effective with employees who are keen to use job crafting to boost their career prospects and enjoyment.

1) Distant future – images and ideas from different career adventures

This exercise involves peering into the future and considering what you might be doing from a career perspective in 5 , 10 or even 25 years’ time.  I recommend sketching out 2 or 3 different career scenarios or adventures you might have. Questions to consider are:

–   In 2 – 25 years’ time what would be your dream job be internal and/or external to your current organization?

–   What will you be doing – what would a typical day or week look like? (what will you be doing, who will you be engaging with, what knowledge and skills will be using)

–    What skills and experiences will you need to develop further to be able to fulfil this career adventure?

Having a clear image of a future work self can enable and encourage us to create, find and seize opportunities to do things in our current jobs that they might not otherwise have had the courage or conviction to try.

2) Immediate future – starting to craft your job from tomorrow

When working with teams I often give them a job crafting budget of 10 minutes a day or a maximum of an hour a week. The secret to job crafting is to start small and to consider it a form of playful experimentation, testing out and finding the tiniest and most positive ways you can make your current job better.

These changes could be protecting an hour in your diary each week to learn a new skill, spending 10 minutes a day reading relevant industry and professional blogs, making connections on social media, changing how you structure and prioritise your day, or doing an element of your job deliberately differently (such as how you write a report or give a presentation).

To help you form some job crafting ideas here are some questions you might want to consider:

–   In an ideal world, what aspects of your job would you do more of? What would you do less of? Why? (task crafting)

–   What skills or knowledge are you most interesting in developing further? Why is this? (skill crafting)

–   What are your strongest relationships at work? (relationship crafting)

–   What relationships would you like to build further? (relationship crafting)

–   What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment in your work? Why do you think this is? (purpose crafting)

–   What changes could be made to your job to improve your health and wellbeing? (wellbeing crafting)

Careers are things that you build rather than things that you are given. If you approach job crafting with a combination of curiosity and commitment you start to shift your work in a positive direction that will make it more enjoyable and stimulating in the present and ultimately more rewarding in the future. Happy crafting.

Rob Baker is Founder and Chief Positive Deviant of Tailored Thinking a positive psychology, wellbeing and HR consultancy and author of Personalization at Work – a guide to bringing job crafting to life by Kogan Page.

Hear Rob talk with our Founder, Tania Seary, on all things job crafting, in our highly anticipated Career Bootcamp with IBM Sterling Supply Chain. Register here.

How To Discover And Utilise Our Strengths To Boost Performance

Do you know the difference between strengths and skills? Discover what it is and how to use your strengths to your advantage.


Have you ever been so focused on a task that you completely lost track of time? Do you ever do something, and then ‘light up’ without even realising it? If you do, then it’s most likely that you’re using your strengths and that’s a good thing too – playing to your strengths is key to career performance, productivity and personal wellbeing. But if you don’t know what your strengths are, how do you discover them? And can you help others do the same? 

As an occupational psychologist, helping others discover and utilise strengths to boost their performance has been the focus of my career and most recently, the focus of my work with some of the world’s most well-known organisations through my business, Bailey and French. 

I recently shared some compelling insights with Tania Seary from Procurious, as part of the IBM Careers Bootcamp series. Here is a brief overview of what we discussed in the podcast, and why it’s a must-listen for anyone wanting to boost their own professional and personal performance: 

What are our strengths and why do they matter? 

Have you ever been asked what your strengths are? We all have. But in my experience, being able to provide an answer to that question doesn’t mean you actually know what your strengths are. In fact, many of us confuse strengths with skills, but they are fundamentally different. Let me explain. 

People often make the assumption that if they’re good at something, that represents a strength for them. But if you are good at something, that’s a skill for you. A strength is so much more than that. A strength is something that you’re not only good at, but that you also truly enjoy doing. 

Another point of confusion I’ve discovered is that many of us believe we develop our strengths at work. This isn’t true, though. We develop our strengths in a unique period of our lives. I explain more about when this is in the podcast, listen to it here.

How do we discover our strengths and how should we use them to boost our professional success? 

Online, you’ll find a myriad of tools and tests that purport to help you analyse and discover your strengths. But in my experience with positive psychology, you don’t need complex tests to discover your true strengths. The answer is much more simple than that. 

In order to discover your strengths, I usually recommend that you start keeping a diary. In that diary, over the course of a few weeks, write down all of your experiences, both positive and negative, and both inside and outside of work. Then, go through your diary and look at themes. These themes are important, as usually you’ll find that there are a lot of activities you do on autopilot, and some that really stand out as enjoyable. 

Once you’ve identified your themes, in order to further identify your true strengths, I recommend that you ask yourself the following questions: 

  1. When was the last time I was totally absorbed in what I was doing to the point I lost track of time? 
  2. What was the best day of the last week and why? 
  3. When did I last ‘light up’ or get excited when talking about something I did? 

Keeping a journal, and asking yourself these three important questions should help you discover your strengths. 

Yet in a professional setting, discovering your strengths is just one part of the puzzle. If you’re working in a team setting, you also need to do one other critical thing. Listen to the podcast to discover what that is.

How do you help others identify their strengths? 

Throughout my career, I’ve seen an extraordinary number of organisations focus on fixing weaknesses. But ultimately, this is misguided. We all stand to gain so much more from discovering and utilising our own strengths (a key premise of positive psychology), as well as helping others discover and utilise theirs. 

But how do you help others realise their strengths? 

One method I always recommend is to offer people specific feedback when you see them doing something really well. This feedback, though, can’t just be any feedback. It has to be detailed enough to help them identify what they’re truly good at. 

An example of this might be the feedback after someone has given you a report. Instead of simply saying ‘that was a good report,’ try to be more specific around what was good, for example, ‘the patterns you derived from the data in that report were extremely insightful.’

Why is this important? It’s because helping people realise their strengths is not just good for them, but it’s great for your team dynamic and for the relationship in general, for one important reason. Listen to the podcast to discover why that is.

Also in the podcast:

  • I discuss my key strength and how I personally discovered it 
  • I detail why it’s so easy to talk about weaknesses. 

And much more. 

I look forward to you joining us in my podcast

Alex Bailey’s podcast on strengths and positive psychology is part of our IBM Sterling Career Bootcamp. Designed to power your mind and help you excel, the boot camp consists of 6 electrifying podcasts with internationally renowned experts and speakers. Sign up here if you haven’t already.

This One Trait Will Be The Key To Your Success In 2020

What trait will be the key to your success in 2020? We believe it will be resilience, and here’s why… 


Right now, no person in the entire world would call 2020 ‘easy.’ Whether we’ve been challenged personally or professionally, this year has been like no other. Which is why this one particular trait is more important than ever, and it is… 

Resilience.  

In recent years, resilience has become somewhat of a buzzword within management circles. But what really is resilience and why do we need it? 

Resilience, and more specifically, how to obtain it and use it to your advantage, has been the focus of my work for the last decade, and has inspired my now internationally-acclaimed book, Rise Warrior Rise. Through authoring my book, as well as working with numerous different organisations to help them transform their leadership capabilities through my Excelerate program, I’ve discovered what we can all do to build resilience and use it to accelerate our own personal and professional performance. 

Doing so was the topic of my discussion with Tania Seary from Procurious, as part of the IBM Careers Bootcamp series. Here is a brief overview of what you’ll learn in our podcast: 

What is resilience? 

Resilience is often said to be the ability to recover from adversity, and cope with change and uncertainty. But does being ‘resilient’ then mean that you won’t experience emotions in times of stress? 

Definitely not. 

From my research, I’ve discovered that being resilient doesn’t mean that you won’t experience life’s ups and down, in fact, it is only natural to experience these. Instead, resilience is the ability to still experience this depth and variation of emotion, but while doing so, be able to keep in touch with your best self. 

In my experience, resilience is far more than what people typically describe it as. In fact, I believe resilience has another aspect to it entirely. 

Discover what that is in the podcast

Why is resilience so important for professional and personal wellbeing? And what are the benefits of being resilient? 

Resilience has become a buzzword for a reason – we all know it’s important. But why? 

Professionally and personally, this year has been a challenge for all of us. And even though not every year will be as difficult as this one, we’ll always experience some challenges. This is exactly the reason why resilience is important – because we’ll always need it. 

While researching for my book and throughout my career in general, I’ve come across a lot of people who may not be as resilient as they could be, and that has resulted in some concerning behaviours. For example, if something bad happens to someone who isn’t resilient, typically they get stressed, and then withdraw. From there, they occupy their mind with negative self-chatter, and then they can end up feeling anxious, depressed or worse. 

But in good news, with resilience, the reaction can be the complete opposite. Instead of engaging in negative self-talk, those who are resilient typically tell themselves that the situation is temporary. And instead of getting stressed, their emotional and physical wellbeing stays intact, and they don’t lose touch with their vision for a great life.

The benefits of being resilient extend way beyond how you react when things get tough, though. From my experience, those who are resilient are more likely to lead abundant and opulent professional lives, and also are more likely to have success with their family and personal pursuits. In summary, resilient people are more likely to lead a full and rich life, without regret. 

Think this sounds wonderful? It is, and there’s one more critical reason why. Learn what that is in the podcast.

How can we become more resilient? 

It’s clear that being resilient pays off, both personally and professionally. How do we get better at it, though? 

To help, I’ve created a 13-step framework for people to increase their level of resilience. If that sounds daunting, don’t worry – you don’t need to be good at every step. Excelling at just a few steps is all you need in order to make a substantial difference. 

I won’t detail the 13 step framework here, but there is more information in the podcast if you’re interested. One important point, though, is that you do need to develop practices to keep you strong. An area that I recommend everyone works on is that of negative self-chatter. 

We all experience negative self-chatter at some point, and this is because the mind can be fickle and it often focuses on the negative. How many times have you found yourself in a situation where someone has said something awful, and it’s completely ruined your day, despite many other positive things happening? 

This is common, and we all need to do what we can to develop our own mechanisms to address it. For me personally, I’ve developed a unique routine to keep the negativity at bay. My routine includes getting up early in the morning, and doing some exercise (this might be yoga, walking or some weights). After I’ve done this, I then do exercises to regulate my breath. Even if I can’t regulate my mind, I try to regulate my breath. Finding something to focus on, for example my breath, enables me to enter a calm state. Then, I share positive words. I find that wholly rejuvenating. 

This type of self-care is critical for all of us, as it replenishes our ‘fourth being.’ More on that in the podcast – listen to it here

Remember, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances, you can build, and benefit from, resilience. I look forward to exploring the topic with you in more detail.

Roh Singh’s podcast on resilience is part of our IBM Sterling Career Bootcamp. Designed to power your mind and help you excel, the Bootcamp consists of 6 electrifying podcasts with internationally renowned experts and speakers. Sign up here if you haven’t already.

Technology For Dummies: Your Easy Guide To Everything From Automation To Robots

Here’s your simple explanation of six technologies that will change the future of procurement.


Are you tired of nodding along when people throw around terms like ‘blockchain’ and ‘machine learning?’

Fear not. Here is your simple guide to six technologies that will change the future of procurement. Spoiler alert: some of these are already here and shaking up the supply chain.  

Quantum computing

What it is: Quantum computing is an entirely new kind of computer based on the science of quantum mechanics. Sounds intimidating, right? Don’t worry – this stuff is pretty cool.  

Quantum computing is exciting because it’s not just some super powerful version of the computers we already have, explains physicist Shohini Ghose. “Just like a lightbulb is not a more powerful version of a candle, you cannot build a lightbulb by building better and better candles.”

It’s far more advanced than our current computers, so it can solve problems that we can’t even begin to solve now.

How it works: If your personal computer had a personality, it would be a stubborn person who can only see things in black and white. The answer can only be 0 or 1. That’s known as a bit.

Quantum computing is more open minded. It knows life isn’t that straightforward. The answer could be 0 or 1, or anywhere on the spectrum between the two. That’s known as a qubit (pronounced cue-bit). That spectrum makes quantum computing super powerful.

As Wired’s Amit Katwala puts it: “If you ask a normal computer to figure its way out of a maze, it will try every single branch in turn, ruling them all out individually until it finds the right one. A quantum computer can go down every path of the maze at once. It can hold uncertainty in its head.”

That tolerance for uncertainty opens up a world of possibilities, like uncovering new chemicals or speeding up the discovery of new medicine.

Katwala adds, “If you can string together multiple qubits, you can tackle problems that would take our best computers millions of years to solve.”

Is it really that exciting? Well, in IBM VP of Research Bob Sutor’s words: “I think it’s going to be the most important computing technology of the century.”

Why it matters for procurement: Quantum computing will vastly improve logistics problem solving.

IBM (one of the biggest players in quantum computing) gives the example of global shipping. If companies could improve container utilisation and shipping volume by even a tiny fraction, it would save millions and reduce the carbon footprint. That’s the scale of quantum computing’s ability.

It can also help supply chain managers improve decision-making and manage risk by responding in real-time to changing market demand.

Internet of Things (IoT)

What it is: The Internet of Things (IoT) is taking real-world objects and connecting them to the internet.

You’ve seen this with the boom in ‘smart appliances’. These home appliances are internet-enabled, letting you turn on your coffee maker, start a load of laundry, and even pre-heat your oven with just a smartphone.

How it works: The Internet of Things lets you create a network of devices that can ‘talk’ to each other and share data.

And this explosion of smart products will only get bigger. In fact, there could be more than 41 billion IoT devices by 2025. Why? Cheap computer chips and widespread Wi-Fi.

Why it matters for procurement: Even though the Internet of Things is widespread in homes, the biggest market is actually businesses. The so-called Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is already commonplace – especially in manufacturing through the use of sensors and other monitoring devices.

These internet-enabled devices give companies greater control, and even help ensure safety. For example, pharmaceutical companies use IIoT temperature sensors when transporting vaccines to make sure they stay at the right temperature.

McKinsey notes that sensors are also used to monitor container-fill levels: “This real-time transparency allows the logistics team to manage the material flow more accurately and order raw materials and other inputs closer to the date they are needed, reducing inventory.”

The firm says these monitoring abilities are even more important in a post-pandemic world.

Machine learning

What it is: Machine learning is the ability of a computer programme to ‘learn’ and adapt based on new data, all without the help of a human.

How it works:  The programme sifts through huge amounts of data looking for patterns. Then companies use those patterns to inform decisions and influence customer behaviour. It’s how Netflix chooses what shows to suggest for you. The more you watch on the platform, the more data it has about you and the better it can predict what you’ll like.

Why it matters for procurement: There are many use cases for machine learning in the supply chain. One especially relevant one is improving demand forecasts. At the moment, it’s hard to account for all the variables in supply chain. As McKinsey points out, there are long-tail items, extreme seasonality, customer preference changes, and media coverage that all render forecasts useless.

Yet with machine learning can help companies reduce forecast errors by up to 50%. And equally important, it can reduce lost sales due to product unavailability by 65%.

Another example comes from professional services firm EY. The firm was asked by a major shipping port to help with the logistics of 100 vessels coming and going each day. When predicted arrival times were off, the port faced expensive bottlenecks. So EY used machine learning to analyse different sources of data – like tidal patterns and historical arrival information. It combined that with satellite navigation for more accurate tracking. As a result, the port saved more than $10 million from increased accuracy.

Through machine learning, computers can process more data points about a business than a human could ever hope to analyse. That means unparalleled visibility in the supply chain.

Enterprise blockchain

What it is: A blockchain network is a way to store digital records so different parties can all access the same version of the truth.

The records are unchangeable, which helps build trust by taking away human bias and politics.

How it works: Enterprise blockchain is a blockchain network that is specifically for businesses. It’s different from other types of blockchain because it’s private. The only people who can access records are those who have been invited.

Apart from blockchain records being transparent and unchangeable, they can also improve speed.

For example, the United States Food and Drug Administration recently finished a pilot programme with IBM to track and identify prescription drugs using blockchain. The results? It now takes two seconds to trace medicine, instead of 16 weeks.

Why it matters for procurement: Of all industries, blockchain has made the biggest impact in supply chain and logistics. Several companies already use the technology to keep tabs on what’s going across the supply chain.

One example is US retail giant Walmart, which requires all lettuce suppliers to be part of its blockchain network so it can track the product’s journey from farm to shelf. They use IBM’s enterprise blockchain as part of the IBM Food Trust.

Some retailers are using this traceability to improve customer confidence. They include QR codes on packaging so customers can simply scan with their smartphones and see a product’s history.

Human augmentation

What it is: Human augmentation is using technology to give humans increased physical and mental abilities. One example is an exoskeleton, which is a wearable robotic suit that makes humans stronger. And you thought Iron Man was fiction…

Most technological advancements seem to take humans out of the equation. Yet this area is all about improving human capability with technology.

How it works: Essentially, human augmentation is about making up for human design flaws.

As David Cearley, VP analyst at Gartner, said, it’s about “moving from designing for humans to architecting humans themselves”.

Gartner describes four main types of human augmentation: sensory (hearing, vision, perception), appendage and biological (exoskeletons, prosthetics), brain (implants to treat seizures) and genetic (somatic gene and cell therapy).

One example is the ability to control a machine using just your mind. By popping on a wearable device, a person can operate machinery with the power of thought. Who’s developing such a device?  The US government, of course.

And it’s not alone in seeking new ways to enhance performance. Gartner predicts 40% of companies will use human augmentation technology by 2025.

Why it matters for procurement: The obvious use for biological augmentation like exoskeletons is in warehousing, automotive, and manufacturing. Benefits include letting workers lift heavy things with minimal effort, protecting them from bodily injury, and working longer without fatigue.

And companies are already realising those benefits. Car manufacturer Ford has used exoskeletons for workers since 2018.

Robotic Process Automation

What it is: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) means using software to automate processes with “bots”. These bots do simple, repetitive tasks like data entry and reconciliation.

How it works: Bots are programmed to use your company’s IT systems, just like a human would.

By automating repetitive tasks, companies cut down errors. These bots can also perform tasks much faster than humans. Consulting firm Deloitte says it takes a bot one minute to do what it takes a human 15 minutes.

It gives the example of a robot pulling data from a PDF into an Excel document, using that information to generate an invoice, then sending the invoice by email automatically. The idea is letting the bots do the repetitive stuff, freeing you up to do higher-level thinking.

Why it matters for procurement: RPA has huge potential for supply chains and procurement. In fact, shipping company DHL uses it to automatically invoice carriers and schedule delivery appointments.

And shipping company Maersk relies on bots to complete 38 different procurement processes, like reporting and requisitioning.

Likewise, industrial company Siemens uses bots to get quotes from companies that aren’t current suppliers.

At this rate, it might not be long until automated sourcing becomes the norm in procurement.

Does automation make you nervous about your role?

You aren’t alone, says Natalie Chapman, Head of Urban Policy at the UK’s Freight Transport Association (FTA).

“Anxiety about mass automation is widespread; in one study, 34% of UK workers surveyed believed automation would result in large job losses and that few will be replaced by new and different roles,” Chapman says.

Encouragingly, though, she adds that FTA research shows technology will be complementary, replacing routine tasks rather than job roles.

“In response to the rise of automation in the workplace, skills demand will change in the coming years,” Chapman says. “The need for workers skilled in manual dexterity and precision will decline – as these tasks can be completed by machines most easily – and in its place, employers will seek staff skilled in analytical and innovative thinking, creativity and emotional intelligence.”

So, the good news is the robots aren’t stealing our jobs. At least not yet.

Want to know more about all things tech? Tune in to our recent series Major Tech Fails where we set you up for a total tech-success.

Navigating The Next Normal With Outsourced Service Providers

What are the decisions to make when planning for the next normal in outsourced services?


As we slowly and cautiously, masks on and two meters apart, think about emerging from the COVID-19 crisis, there is quite a bit of uncertainty about what the world will look like when we step back outside. Knowing there is no cure or vaccine on the near horizon means workplaces will be different. The economic impact of the virus has changed the corporate landscape. What we thought was temporary just may be permanent.

For procurement teams managing outsourced services categories, there are more questions than answers. While we grapple with this uncertainty in our own companies and careers, we must also set expectations with suppliers. It’s a double challenge.

Early in the crisis, the focus in services was enabling a transition to work from home. While that may have been a small speedbump for office roles in developed countries like the US and Australia, certain offshore locations faced additional challenges. Offshore service centres scrambled to enable workers who used fixed desktop computers and worked in clean room environments to ensure data security. MSA waivers were given to service providers, and large firms compromised a bit on standards as we rushed into what appeared to be a short-term fix.

For the most part, providers managed to keep the virtual lights on; while reports varied, most services were stabilised within two weeks. Providers of voice services struggled a bit more, but end-consumers also adapted and accepted an online solution as a sufficient substitute for a call. We dug in and started to think about the next stage – what if the virus infected so many people that a significant percentage of workers were out sick or caring for loved ones? We talked about talent resiliency and resource continuity planning. Save for a few heavily impacted areas (New York City, Mumbai), the lockdown worked, the curve was flattened, and there has been no significant productivity drop (yet). In fact, some buyers and suppliers are claiming productivity is up in this new work from home world, and that’s changing how we view the future.

So, what’s next? At Everest Group we see two paths in play: a scramble to reduce costs and prop up financials in light of the recessionary environment, and a reset to what we call the “next normal” in outsourcing and offshoring. Where your company and your procurement team fall on these paths will vary quite a bit by industry, corporate strategy, and even timing.

The coronacrisis is changing outsourcing and offshoring very quickly


Shoring up cost structures

While some industries were hit exceptionally hard by the crisis (retail, travel, energy), some seem to be weathering the storm with a more limited impact (banking, food and beverage, life sciences), and others are thriving (high tech, home media). Regardless, the drop in consumer spending and high unemployment will have a ripple effect across all markets.

Smart CEOs and their boards have started to buckle down. In a late April 2020 survey, 71% of companies were looking at operational costs, while 62% were addressing external spend. Since then I’ve had contacts in procurement say “I thought our costs were competitive, but my leadership wants more.” Outsourced services spend tends to be a significant cost, so expect to hear that knock on your door if you haven’t already.

Where to start with cost cutting? We shared tips to optimise and modernise delivery in our “5 Cost Levers To Pull Right Now With Your Outsourced Services” webcast on Procurious. That advice still stands, and you can hear more directly from our pricing assurance practice leader in this new session on “Outsourcing Pricing: Key Opportunities to Improve Costs Now”. As we said in both sessions, this is not a time for hard line, tactical negotiation. It’s a time to look at modernising your model and making structural changes that benefit both buyer and service provider. Regardless of where you are in the term of your contract, it’s a time to arm yourself with knowledge of the market and have a serious conversation with providers about how to take costs out of the system.

What are you doing to prepare for the “next normal” (or to return to some sort of business as usual)?

Everest Group 2020

Planning for the next normal

The other path is nearly universal to all organisations: navigating next steps as we struggle to emerge from the crisis. While these decisions stand on their own, they are also deeply intertwined with cost takeout initiatives. Through many conversations with service providers and buyers we have outlined six key areas of focus. No one knows all the answers to these questions yet, but for each component there are targeted questions to ask within your organisation and to your service providers.

Sourcing strategy and provider portfolio

  • Do we need to prune our portfolio to strengthen the core?
  • Shall we consolidate providers or diversify our portfolio?
  • Which activities should be brought in-house?
  • Which new activities could be outsourced?
  • Are there changes in the scope of our agreements we should consider?

Solution design

  • Should we shift more work onshore or offshore?
  • Where are we too geographically concentrated?
  • Which countries would diversify our portfolio?
  • Where do we need multi-location mitigation plans?
  • How will office space restructuring affect service centre output?
  • Will remote work be allowed or encouraged by providers?
  • What new skills are required? Where is retraining needed?

Pricing and cost

  • How should we change our pricing model?
  • Are we paying the right rates?
  • Are we getting enough value?
  • Where can innovation reduce operational costs?

Performance management

  • How do we measure productivity in a remote environment?
  • How do our SLAs and metrics need to change?
  • What new relationship management techniques are required?
  • How do we build in incentives for innovation?

Policy and contracting

  • How do we ensure information security and compliance in the new environment?
  • What policies need to change to support this new strategy?
  • What flexibility needs to be built into contracts?
  • How has liability changed for either party?

Risk management

  • How should our business continuity planning change?
  • Which new data sources do we need to improve monitoring and mitigation planning?
  • How can we enable more agile sourcing decisions?

Decisions to make when planning for the next normal in outsourced services


In our recent discussions, the greatest focus has been on planning for solution design, risk, and governance. Of course, the path for each of these areas will dictate cost models and price. A few significant decisions set the foundation for others and seem particularly tricky. The first is partner strategy. Balancing a multi-country strategy to mitigate risk seems to contradict the desire to bring down costs by concentrating work with fewer providers. While this seems counterintuitive, we’re at a point where everything is on the table. It makes sense to reconsider location models while reassessing the partner portfolio.

Even the concept of pushing for cost reductions feels a bit tacky for some vendor management folks, given these are strategic partners and we’re all weathering the same storm together. That’s why we need to think win-win in modernising delivery and reshaping solutions in a way that benefits both parties. Simply asking for line item discounts for crisis-related shortcomings will not get us there. We often talk about “strengthening the core” – that means letting go of lower-performing providers to focus efforts on high value relationships with strong partners. Keep in mind that most of the top 25 service providers are in a relatively good place financially. While they don’t want to give up margin, they do want to do the right thing for their clients, including structural and digital improvements. They can even enable these initiatives both financially and with a different level of expertise. While these may not be the easy, short term cost take-out tactics we might want, they leave us with a stronger and more cost-efficient portfolio longer term.

I wish I could end this blog post with a very simple recommendation for surviving the crisis and thriving in the next normal, but that just isn’t realistic. There is no one right answer. Of course, it depends on your industry, your current portfolio, and many other factors. You can, as a procurement professional, arm yourself with the tools to facilitate the development of a plan with all stakeholders. Start with the checklist above to make sure you don’t miss critical decisions. Dust off your make/buy model, category strategy, and any previous location analyses. Check in on your rates and contract competitiveness, performance data, and risk profiles. Ask your service providers their proposed plans, see how they mesh with your MSA and policies. Your team has decisions to make, your role is to make sure they are fact-based and all possibilities are on the table. If you’re missing parts of this list or need a sounding board, the Everest Group team is available to help.  

Assistance for services buyers

During the COVID-19 crisis we are offering pro bono assistance to services buyers in the procurement community:

  • A locations data check comparing two global locations on key factors such as size of entry level talent pool, market landscape of providers, financial attractiveness, and operating and business environment risk – consider whether geographic diversification is a smart move.
  • A service provider risk profile covering four key parameters (finance, governance, operations, reputation) –  find out if there are underlying concerns with your provider beyond the immediate crisis.
  • Complimentary price checks on up to three standard roles in three different locations – a pulse check to see if your rates are in line or out of line with the market.
  • A conversation with one of our analysts on any global services related topic – ask questions, test your strategy, or get feedback on what others are doing from our senior team.

The Everest Group team is excited to be working with Procurious, and we look forward to helping members create value for their organisations.

Amy Fong

Vice President – Strategic Outsourcing and Vendor Management
Everest Group

Accelerate Your Creative Potential: 6 Tips For A More Innovative Career

Innovation is everyone’s business. Accelerate the potential of your career with these tips on building your creative potential


Innovation isn’t just about Disruption with a capital ‘D’. It’s not just about the next big product out of Silicon Valley. It is about making improvements to our business models, supply chains, ways of serving customers and manufacturing processes.

Not only that, but innovation is also a mode of thinking, a way of being, and a journey we can all go on in our day to day work and life to improve our career prospects, productivity and even our wellbeing.

In this article, I will share some of the practical steps you can take to accelerate the potential of innovative thinking to transform your career and enhance your effectiveness at work.

These tips don’t just apply when you’re working on an obviously innovative project, but to every challenge you face. Go forth and innovate!

Why innovate at all?

Innovation is about supporting growth and looking for new opportunities to meet the needs, desires and expectation of customers, employees or other stakeholders.  Innovation enables people to harness their own and their teams’ creative potential to solve real-world problems.  If harnessed correctly it can improve employee engagement, customer satisfaction and bottom line revenue.

Not in A Creative Job? You Need To Be An Innovator Too!

Creativity is not the end game.  Creativity is an enabler to help you to overcome a challenge or meet a need from your end user.  It is a tool to help you move forward when you might be stuck.  Every role will face problems that need to be solved. Every job involves processes that can be improved. Every career requires innovation to progress.

How to Be More Innovative

Be expansive in your thinking

We all make assumptions about our world and the problems we encounter. These assumptions can help us make lightning quick decisions that enable us to take action.

However, when you are faced with a problem or challenge, there is always the potential to do things better. This is where Innovation comes in.

To be expansive in your thinking, you need to suspend your judgement and forget your assumptions.

Say to yourself: how else could this work?

Then, when ideas comes to mind, ignore the voice  that says, ‘this is a crazy idea and it won’t work’. Instead, ask yourself “under what circumstances could this be possible?”.

Most importantly, just because it hasn’t worked first time, don’t dismiss the idea – think like a start-up, find the learning and improve your idea.

Be Curious

Don’t accept the status quo; be a restless provocateur.  Be curious to understand how others try and solve problems similar to yours, both within your industry and outside it.  Look for stimulus to hope you see your problem from a new angle. You might find the solution somewhere, but more often, you will find principles that you can build on to develop your own innovative ideas to solve your specific problems.

Have some structure

Innovation can get a bad rap because it can seem woolly.  Google say, ‘Creativity Loves Constraint’ and they are one of the best examples of an innovative organisation in the world!  So, ensure you create a process to follow, map your stakeholders, agree draft timescales and use a methodology such as Design Thinking to help guide you from first observation through to launch.

Prototype

Build a rough and scrappy prototype and test it with your key stakeholders.  Give them a sense of the experience or the product and actively get them to tell you everything that is wrong or doesn’t work.  Often, new innovations fail because the pilot only tested if it the idea could be operationalised – not if there was a genuine need or desire from the end user.

Be A Risk Taker

In uncertain times we will encounter so many unknown unknowns – we cannot possibly plan for all the challenges we will face.  We will all have to think differently and invent new solutions to problems we don’t yet know about.  By Prototyping and Testing with your end user you can mitigate risk.  

The Biggest Tip For Innovation

Have Ideas not Thoughts.  So often when we are asking for blue sky ideas we end up with non-specific Thoughts.  An Idea is succinct, actionable and can be understood quickly by someone who was not in the room when it was created.  A Thought is an intention but there is no clear path to next steps.  Keep asking yourself and others ‘what’s the idea? What would we actually do? What would our end user experience differently’?

Ask yourself ‘can someone take this idea and do something specific with it?’ if they can, then it’s a good idea that’s ready for testing. If they can’t, go back to it and build it some more.

This will ensure your innovative thinking delivers results, which will enable you to stand out from the crowd and enhance your career prospects.

Catch Mok talk all things innovation in our highly anticipated Career Bootcamp with IBM Sterling Supply Chain. Register here.