Put Your Money Where Your Equality Is: Why Is Equal Pay Still A Thing?

While on the surface it may look like progress, equal pay is still very much not that – equal. 


There are some amazing women in the procurement profession. People such as Kelly Barner, Sylvie NOËL, Virginie VAST and Elvire Regnier Lussier, only to name a few who immediately come to mind.

Thinking about all the things these women have accomplished, I am both confused and sadly disappointed regarding the results of a relatively recent CIPS survey regarding pay equity.

Perhaps in writing this, you can help me to understand the statistics to gain some missing insight because no matter which way you look at it, like the Rubik’s Cube on my desk the coloured squares do not line up.

Just the Facts

While the October 2019 results reported by CIPS indicates that the “average pay gap in the profession overall narrowed slightly, from 23% in 2015 to 21% in 2019,” when women are “promoted” to a higher position, this gap increases significantly – and not merely by a few percentage points.

According to CIPS, the gender pay gap for a senior position has risen from 15% in 2015 to 35% in 2019. The 2020 results revealed similar findings

It is as if women are being ” penalised ” for excelling at their jobs. Regardless of gender, who in their right minds would take on more responsibility and more pressure for less pay than someone else delivering the same results?

Understanding the Gap

There is a difference between the pay gap and equal pay, the latter is what we are vocalising today

When we talk about a gender pay gap, we are talking about the average pay disparity between all men and women within an organisation. To calculate the pay gap, you take the total collective pay for all men within a company and divide that number by the number of men employed. You then do the same for women, and the gap is the difference in the average pay for each gender.

While we need to address the pay gap, it is the equal pay issue that is most contentious. In other words, we are not talking averages across diverse numbers involving many different roles and responsibilities within an enterprise. We are talking about two people – one a man, and one a woman with the same title doing the same job.

In this context, it is not a question of pay discrepancy but indisputable discrimination.

An Act Requires (Act)ion

Back in 1970, the government introduced the Equal Pay Act (Chapter 41) into law, in which Section 1 clearly states that there is a “Requirement of equal treatment for men and women in (the) same employment.”

Yet here we are 50 years later, and rather than being eradicated, discrimination involving pay for senior positions is going in the wrong direction.

When you consider, for example, the fact that organisations who have more women on the board perform better financially and are less likely to go into bankruptcy the CIPS results do not make sense. Am I missing something here?

Parity Is Not Equality

According to the 2019 Oliver Wyman paper Women In Procurement: Gender Parity Is A Key To Better Performance, “mature” procurement organisations in the United States and Western Europe are “moving toward gender parity.” Specifically, “20 per cent of the top 60 listed companies have appointed a woman as Chief Procurement Officer.”

While on the surface this looks like progress, given the discriminatory pay practices presented by CIPS, someone could sceptically suggest that such parity is as much a result of getting great talent at a significantly discounted rate as it is a conscious effort towards achieving equality between the sexes.

So, here is the question for which we all need to find, get, demand an answer; why is equal pay still existent in 2020?

This article was originally published by Iain Campbell Mckenna – Managing Director at Sourcing Solved on 30th June. 

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Do You Agree? 4 Supply Chain Influencers On What’s Changed Since COVID-19

In supply chain and procurement, what has changed since COVID-19? Find out what 4 influencers think here.


In every industry, there’s a few powerful individuals who drive the conversation. These fortunate few are the ones that propel industries forward; they are the ones who decide what’s trending, what’s next and what our future might look like. They’re influencers, and within the procurement professional, we’re blessed with many whom we all aspire to. 

And this year, with COVID ravaging our supply chains (and not to mention lives) as we know them, we’ve needed industry leaders and influencers more than ever to help guide us through and tell us what’s next. So that’s why, recently, we sought out the opinions of 30 of procurement’s top influencers. They shared some of their most profound and intriguing insights into what the COVID experience has been like for them, what they’ve learnt and what they expect to see in the future. 

Here’s what they told us: 

Inspiring supply chain stories 

There’s no doubt that the past few months have been challenging for procurement professionals worldwide, with many stories of interrupted supply chains, logistics issues and much more. Yet in among the mayhem has been some truly inspiring stories. Here at Procurious, almost daily, we heard of businesses, teams and people that were going above and beyond to help. 

This was something that our influencers noticed, too. One thing that caught the attention of Supply Chain Queen Sheri R. Hinish is the incredible generosity of suppliers. She explains: 

‘I was particularly impressed by Under Armour’s (clothing brand) sister company, Sagamore Spirits. They provided thousands of units of hand sanitizer for local businesses, communities, and residents.’ 

Indeed, there were hundreds of suppliers who, seemingly overnight, transformed their production from items such as high fashion to scrubs. But for Kelly Barner, Managing Director of Buyer’s Meeting Point, the inspiration came not from suppliers, but from the extraordinary efforts of procurement professionals who previously may not have been noticed: 

‘Businesses everywhere are sorting out tough problems. But behind those problems are armies of unlikely characters self-organising to make things happen.’ 

‘Business leaders should pay attention and notice who runs toward the fire. It might not be who they expected.’ 

Learning from COVID-19 

One quick Google search will reveal hundreds, if not thousands, of articles dedicated to what the supply chain profession should learn from the coronavirus pandemic. There’s been discussions of everything from the need to move manufacturing from China to Mexico, to better managing cash, dialling down just-in-time operations and everything in between. 

Dr. Marcell Vollmer, Chief Innovation Officer at Celonis, a process mining software company, believes that the pandemic has been a reminder of what we all already knew, but may yet to have embraced: 

‘The number one lesson I think we all need to learn from COVID is to prepare and leverage technology to get full transparency and control over your end to end processes.’ 

‘We all need to be using technology to prepare ourselves for unforeseeable events as much as possible.’ 

Marcell’s learning here is sound – for years, we’ve all known that Industry 4.0 is coming, yet COVID may have accelerated its onset. 

For another influencer, Diego De la Garza, Senior Director of Global Services at Corcentric, the COVID learnings were about the way we worked. Specifically, Diego thinks that the pandemic has made us more productive: 

‘Working from home, it has impacted productivity, for the better. My team has been able to dedicate more time to critical tasks, while at the same time balancing work with family.’ 

‘Still, it’s remained ultimately very possible for everyone to collaborate and perform efficiently.’ 

Aspirations for procurement post-COVID 

For seemingly as long as the procurement profession has existed, many of us have wanted more and better. We’ve wanted to be strategic, to have a voice and influence, and to finally add the value we know we’re capable of delivering. 

Will the pandemic represent the ultimate opportunity for us to do so? 

Sheri R. Hinish, Supply Chain Queen, thinks the answer is a big, fat resounding yes: 

‘Supply chain has never had as big a seat as the table as they do right now.’ 

‘My hope is that we embrace a paradigm shift from “lowest price” to shared value and responsibility. Everyone now sees that supply chains are the conduit that power the world.’ 

The performance of procurement throughout the crisis 

It may be true that we’ve never had as big a seat at the table as we do now. But how have we actually been using that seat. Kelly Barner, Managing Director of Buyer’s Meeting Point and one of the world’s most influential supply chain professionals, believes that procurement has done a great job: 

‘Procurement professionals have done an exceptional job of keeping the lights on, despite periods of great uncertainty and concern.’ 

‘Whether we were locating replacement suppliers with little to no notice, or identifying new suppliers so our operation could switch from clothing to PPE, we have been getting the job done.’ 

Do you think procurement has done a great job throughout the pandemic? Do you think a lot will change after the pandemic is over? Let us know in the comments below.

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

Supply Chain Globalisation: Is this Seismic Strategy Shift Possible?

59% of procurement and supply chain professionals say the Fortune 500 should reduce globalisation by bringing manufacturing back home. But is it practical?


The best way to describe the supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19: pervasive and severe.

Our research found that 97% of the organisations experienced a supply chain disruption. Let that sink in for a second. We knew the supply chain impact of COVID-19 was extensive. This finding takes it up another level – indicating the disruption was near ubiquitous.

So what’s next? The majority of procurement and supply chain professionals (73%) are planning seismic strategy shifts post-pandemic – and rightfully so. Changes under consideration include expanding supply bases, adjusting inventory strategies, increasing financing for key suppliers and localising supply chains. The latter is the most ambitious, and will be the hardest.

Obstacles to Bringing Manufacturing Back Home

The idea of reducing globalisation in response to COVID-19 is both popular and logical.  Nearly 60% of those surveyed believe the Fortune 500 should reduce globalisation by localising supply chains and bringing manufacturing back home.

But as every industry veteran knows, doing so is easier said than done. Modern supply networks and production strategies were built to be global. Reversing this will require fundamental strategy, technology and financial changes.

Consider the core drivers of supply chain globalisation. First and foremost: it’s about costs. The never-ending race to the bottom has made low-cost country sourcing the norm for procurement. At the same time, products – especially smart technologies – are getting more innovative, complex, personalised and sophisticated by the day. This forces manufacturers to outsource critical components to other manufacturers, who outsource to sub-suppliers, and so-on. The sheer expertise and technical capabilities needed to produce smart and connected products (consumer electronics, cars, healthcare equipment, etc.) goes well beyond what one manufacturer could reasonably provide on their own.

As Harvard Business School professor Willy Shih puts it: “A consequence of these complex interdependencies is a deep tiering of supply chains, with manufacturers dependent on their first-tier suppliers, which, in turn, are dependent on a second tier, which are themselves dependent on a third tier, and so on. Visibility into third, fourth, and more distant tiers is challenging, making wholesale replacement of anyone in the chain, let alone the entire chain, extremely difficult.”

In other words: reversing decades’ worth of low-country sourcing strategies, supplier specialization and network expansion will be complex, time-consuming and costly.

While organisations will take the necessary time to evaluate the brand, supply chain and product ramifications of such a change, the national implications are more urgent. Nations across the world – including Australia, the UK and the U.S. – are making big investments to bring manufacturing, especially for critical healthcare supplies, back home. This problem erupted early in the COVID cycle due to global shortages of masks and ventilators, and has become more pronounced as countries prepare to develop vaccines, once approved.

The issue: According to the Financial Times, World Bank data shows “manufacturing’s share of the economy in the US, UK and Australia has shrunk to its lowest level in more than 30 years to 11 percent, 9 percent and 6 percent respectively.” In a time of crisis, where life-saving equipment is needed as soon as possible, the delays creating by strained, outsourced supply chains are highly limiting, to say the least.

What’s Next for Procurement and Supply Chain Leaders?

The pandemic was a wakeup call. But what happens next remains uncertain. Will enterprises invest to reconstruct supply chains, or decide to make more targeted strategy and resource tweaks? Will they see this pandemic as a black swan event or a fundamental course-changer? Only time will tell.

We want to hear what you’re planning. Share your thoughts below.

For more insight, download the How, Now: Supply Chain Confidence Index today.

Five Steps To Become A Procurement Tech Champion

Upgrading your team’s procurement processes is daunting. This guide will help you choose the right tech solution and make your project a raving success


So you’ve had the same procurement system for years. Or Covid-19 may have exposed just how unsustainable paper and manual processes can be?  Is the status-quo no longer enough?

Maybe you’re thinking this is your chance.  Supply Chain is now front-page news and the talk of your C-Suite. Within this new climate, leaders are questioning whether they have the right people, the right tools, the right processes and the right model for success.   How many of the shortcomings of your group would have been mitigated or eliminated if you had the right tools? 

Is it time for a small refresh, like a new Source-to-Contract platform?  Or maybe you’re after something bigger – like a complete Source-to-Pay system.

No matter the scale of change, more organisations are choosing to mitigate their risk and ensure success with completing a Success Blueprint prior to going to contract with their new tech.

After all, you don’t want to be part of the 33% of IT software projects that overrun on time, or the 66% that overrun on budget.

Luckily, we’ve got advice from expert Matt Stewart, Founder of RiseNow. He’s helped over 200 companies implement procurement systems, so he knows exactly how to make your change a success.

Here are your five steps to conquering an upgrade in your procurement tech.

1. Decide if it’s time to replace your existing system

If your users and suppliers have turned against your platform and are refusing to adopt due to usability and/or its inability to address their most important use cases, it may be time to move on.  For other organisations it may not be as bad as it appears.  If that is the case, don’t get caught into thinking the grass may be greener if it is possible to make some tweaks to configuration, redesign some processes, and reinvigorate your end-users with some proper training and change management. 

Be careful who you listen to as you seek advice and counsel on what you should do.  Make sure you align with a true advocate that isn’t trying to just sell you more software that you don’t need.  Also make sure they know your industry, use cases,  and are experts in the S2P/P2P space.  

We will be going into much more detail later in our Major Tech Fails series on how you to know when it is time to replace vs. Optimize what you have in “How To Know When It Is Time To Replace Your Tech.” 

2. Build a blueprint

You’ve compiled a list of absolute requirements, extensively searched the market and gathered feedback from key staff and stakeholders.  You feel confident that you’ve landed on the best solution for your business… right?  Maybe not.

Success stories start early on, well before contracts are signed and implementation begins.  Too often, organisations are lured in by the solution that provided the best demo, had the most eye-catching features, or offered the lowest price-tag, as we talked about during “How To Avoid the 5 Most Common Tech Mistakes”.  The trick to avoiding these obstacles?  Knowing about them in the first place. 

A RiseNow Success Blueprint accomplishes just that.  A success blueprint, or what others called a Pre-Engineering Study or Phase 0, is our proven process that brings alignment between all parties before you hit the ground running  It gives you the ability to anticipate issues that are likely to occur in the implementation and allows you to plan in advance to prevent delays and cost over-run situations.

By actively managing risk, you can set your project up for success.

3. Justify your case for change

Investment in a new tech solution is not something an organisation takes lightly.  To make your tech solution attractive to your CEO you’ll need a compelling business case.  But if you’re relying on the post-implementation phase to demonstrate that efficiency is actually being achieved, it’s probably too late.

You need to be clear from the start about what your organisation needs in terms of return on investment and decide exactly how you will report on the measurements that will demonstrate positive ROI.  Measure what matters.

Begin with knowing and owning every number in your business case.  Take time upfront to fully identify realistic savings opportunities by critical area and to quantify costs, both during the implementation and post go-live operating costs that may require more research to confirm. 

Follow these steps, plan to measure what matters, and when the time comes to defend your case for investment you can more easily defend it.  Your executive team will have the detail behind the numbers to fully buy-in, and you’ll have built an implementation plan that is realistic, predictable and achievable. 

4. Put it to work

You’ve secured the resources you need, built your blueprint, selected your perfect tech and proven your business case.  Ready to put your new solution to the test? 

Remember that implementations are ongoing projects, not just business as usual.  Implementations are all about people, decisions, and level of commitment.  Whether it’s end-users, suppliers or partners in the business, new tech has an impact on their everyday functions.  You want stakeholders engaged, informed and excited.  Make sure to weave your “why” into every stage of implementation.

Don’t underestimate an investment in change management.  A tailored communication strategy, understanding of stakeholder impacts, and a solid training approach can drive effective adoption.  Getting in front of detractors and people with concerns is one of the most effective ways to reduce resistance and concerns.  Focus on continuous improvement and keep in mind that no tech solution will be 100% perfect. 

Change happens because of people – not despite them.

5. Prove it

It’s finally time to prove the value of your new procurement tech and report back on your ROI.  Refer back to your criteria for success.  Through these previously identified KPIs and value targets, create dashboards and reports that are easy to visualize.  Note how your organisation has clearly benefitted, archive deliverables and adjust.

Retaining buy-in is critical to the ongoing success of your implementation.  Bear in mind that some pain points and aspects of your business process will always remain, no matter your tech.  Having a realistic approach to what and when you’ll deliver will put you on the path to success.

We cannot ignore the current climate; Covid-19 has forced risk avoidance to the forefront of KPI tracking.  The agility of your supply-chain will become an increasingly important measurement.

Times of crisis create opportunities for growth.  Organisations that capitalise on these opportunities, using them to invest in their people, processes and technology, will stand out. 

So once more, maybe this is your chance.  What kind of leader will you be?

Join us for our upcoming webinar – Major Tech Wins – where we joining forces with RiseNow’s Matt Stewart to chat with CEO of Supply Chain Sherpas, Joe Walsh, Director of Digital Procurement at PPG Industries, Michelle Welch, and Procurious’ Helen Mackenzie. Register here for your free digital ticket.

Want To Succeed As A Global CPO? Don’t Be A Procurement Butterfly!

This is no time for procurement professionals, let alone global CPOs, to float above the action or flit from minor issue to minor issue. It’s time to keep learning and get involved. 


Ian Holcroft’s careercurrently Procurement Director at Murphy, has given him a unique perspective on the situation currently facing procurement. Here, he offers some personal and professional tips on what we can learn from the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

You are never too old to learn something new. Even in the best of times, there is no excuse you can make to ever stop learning. The minute you think you have learned everything is the minute you are no longer relevant. 

My career in procurement has spanned 30 years and taken me all over the world. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have worked on some fantastic projects:  

  • the new EDF nuclear power station at Hinkley;  
  • the redevelopment of Liverpool City Centre, now known as Liverpool ONE; and 
  • the building of the Commonwealth Games Stadium in Manchester and its subsequent re-modelling to become the Etihad Stadium, the home of Manchester City Football Club, to name but a few. 

I’ve set up new manufacturing facilities and supply chains in India, experienced life on the other side as an interim HR Director for 9 months and set up Laing O’Rourke’s procurement and supply chain function in Australia. I met some extremely wonderful and inspirational people on the way, many of whom will be friends for life. 

The capacity to learn is a gift 

My four years in Australia were wonderful and it was there that I was lucky enough to meet Tania Seary, founder of Procurious. I also became a member of The Faculty’s CPO Roundtable, something that I have continued with, via Procurious, in the UK.  

The Roundtable has proven itself time again to be an incredibly valuable resource to Global CPOs, facilitating discussion, sharing experiences and, most importantly, learning from one another. This learning has been valuable over the past two and a half years in my current role as Procurement Director of Murphy.  

Murphy is a leading family owned infrastructure business that operates in the power, rail, construction and utility sectors in the UK, Ireland and Canada. Due to the nature of the work we undertake, most of our projects in the UK have still been operational during the pandemic. It would be remiss of me not to share some of my own learning from the challenges forced upon us by COVID-19. 

To be honest, the current situation has reinforced many of my beliefs about our profession: 

1. You must treat your suppliers as partners  

One thing I have always believed and shared with my fellow CPOs is that developing close relationships with your supply chain is crucial to your overall success. Those relationships, the key, strategic ones, need to have a solid foundation of trust and then be built around the concept of ‘tough love’.  

As with any relationship, there will be plenty times where you must have the ‘difficult’ conversations with your suppliers. However, it’s always better to have these conversations with a supplier you have a long relationship with, know inside and out and have worked well with in the past. It’s also infinitely better than a ‘slash and burn’ strategy (adopt, use, discard), or a master-slave relationship, as at some point, inevitably, you will need your supply chain more than they need you. 

Supply partners will help keep you going in the toughest of times, frequently going above and beyond their duty to keep projects going. They appreciate the openness, the loyalty and even the tough love to build up a trusting relationship over the years.  

2. You, both as a function and an individual, must be relevant 

In the current global crisis, procurement has an amazing opportunity to show how relevant and crucial it is to the success and survival of all organisations. Global leaders, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have publicly stated how the German Government is utilising procurement as a strategic weapon to fight COVID-19.  

I’ve told my fellow global CPOs that if we can’t make our function relevant now, we never will. How do you stay relevant? Stay close to your stakeholders and help them deliver their targets. You can’t prove relevance from the stands – you need to be on the pitch. Ask yourself, “How close am I to the real action that makes a tangible difference to my business?” 

I am currently embroiled in it, very much by choice! If you’re not, then maybe it’s time to move on and let the next player on the pitch. Unfortunately, there are still far too many ‘procurement butterflies’ floating around, getting involved with this and that, without delivering anything of substance or relevance. It’s time for leaders to stop flitting about and really get involved. 

3. Build a great team – then trust them to deliver 

I have been incredibly fortunate to develop and work with some great teams throughout my career. My current team at Murphy is no different. We have some great, young talent coming through, we have been awarded the CIPS Excellence Standard – it has been a pleasure to lead it. 

But your team will never truly achieve greatness, unless you trust them to deliver. With all the virtual tools and means of communication we have available to us now, even a global pandemic is no excuse for not staying in touch. Just look at Procurious gathering its global CPO leaders virtually to exchange ideas and still achieving the depth of information and experience as it would have face-to-face. 

The procurement team of the future won’t need to travel as much as we used to and working from home will become the new normal. But only as long as everyone in the team has clear outcomes to achieve and a leader who is willing to let them get on with it (though on hand for advice and encouragement as appropriate).  

Plus, there’s still the chance to get together (virtually) for the team building exercises too! 

4. It’s still all about people – so make sure you look after yours 

No matter the technological advancements we have now and into the future, people will still be at the centre of everything we do. In strange and challenging times, it’s even more important to look after your people – understand what drives them, what challenges they have outside work, the status of their mental health, especially if (as it has been for many), they have been furloughed. 

Though physically further apart, there is an opportunity for us to be closer to our people than ever before. We still need to ensure that our people can develop through training. eLearning resources, such as the ones offered by Procurious and CIPS, are great for this. Encourage your team to utilise these and provide them with enough time to complete them. 

And, of course, don’t forget about yourself. As I have said, look after yourself and make sure you’re still learning. Never stop learning, setting yourself new challenges and winning that fight to stay relevant.  

Coming out stronger 

We are facing challenging and frequently troubling times. But I strongly believe that procurement and supply chain will come out the other side of this stronger and in a more influential position. We must seize this opportunity, use all of the resources at our disposal and lead our teams on the next steps in this journey. 

Don’t forget though, you are never alone. No matter your level, from the newest new start in procurement, right up to the most senior of global CPOs, there is always a chance to share. Use resources like the CPO Roundtable to bounce ideas off your peers, pick their brains and see where they have succeeded. And, just in case I haven’t mentioned it often enough – never stop learning! 

Join Procurious to connect with 40,000 other ambitious procurement professionals and get free access to networking, industry news, training and much more. 

People Aren’t Adopting Your Tech: Now What?

How can you get your tech launch back on track if adoption is less than desired?


You’ve done your research, selected a new tech solution, secured buy-in from your C-Suite, and spent time setting it all up and testing that it works.  You have a detailed plan in place to measure success and everyone has attended training.  So, you press the button and ‘go live’, then sit back and watch the fruits of your labor grow.

Or maybe not.

After months of planning and integrating, user adoption is… underwhelming. In fact, the conversation at the water cooler is about how the new tech is a management fad and a waste of resources – and why the old ways are the best. And suppliers know they don’t have to make a change because they’re still getting paid in the old way.  All parties are still left wondering “What’s in it for me?” 

It looks like your implementation is reaching a state of emergency – so how do you convince people to take the new tech plunge?

1. Make Adopting Appealing and Achievable

Managing any big change is all about people and a tech adoption is no different.  It doesn’t matter how good the technology is if your end-users don’t embrace it.  Before you start out on your plan to get adoption underway, consider how well you know each user population and what could be their barriers to adopting?   

  • Have you been clear with users what the objective of the tech change is?

Take the time to ensure your end users clearly understand the case for change and why it’s necessary to implement the system.

  • Have you connected to their “why”?  What’s in it for them and their suppliers?

Making a connection with the emotional side of the brain is often critical in a period of change.

  • How well do you know their concerns/frustrations/fears for the impending change? 

Take the time to understand what may be your users greatest barriers to adopting.  Work together on finding solutions and let them ‘own’ the solutions you find. 

  • Are the steps toward adoption clear?  Do they understand the timeline?

Comprehensive plans, training and support are vital to keep things on track.

2. Keep It Simple

Don’t get trapped into the belief that just because this is the way it has always been done, that your process can’t be changed.  Too many organizations take cumbersome, complex processes and try to automate them.  They spent all this time shopping for an intuitive user experience for their employees and then they design/configure a solution that their users resist. 

Take a tip from the old US Navy design principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS) – to stop your potential state of emergency reaching a code red.

Configure your tech to first support most of your users and use cases. Don’t fixate on the complex or outliers. Based on our experience, when you adopt a critical mass of users the momentum will be restored, and your potential state of emergency will then pass.

Finally, as the Harvard Business Review advises, highlight anything that won’t be changing. Are there policies that will still be in place – for example, ‘no PO, no Pay’?  Reassure your users that it’s the ‘how’ not the ‘what’ that is changing. It helps to simplify people’s perception of the impending change.

3. Communicate and Make it Fun!

Don’t underestimate the need for a robust communication strategy from your executive leadership.  The higher in your organization the better. As Carol Kinsey Gorman stresses, talk about ‘what people want to hear and what they need to see’.  Think about how you want to present your message to drive adoption and then use all your powers of persuasion to generate excitement and buy in…so much so that they’ll want to start using it.

Remember, avoiding an impending state of emergency requires high-impact tactics to eliminate potential and real threats. When we communicate inside the business it is often boring and lacks appeal. We think that functional language and formats will suffice. Use change management and training teams to help craft fun and engaging messaging that will get your adoption points across.

All people are different and learn in different ways. Build training resources that use a range of different forms of media. Try video and audio alongside the written word. Onboard key people within teams to provide that personal connection and testimonial. They’ll become great champions to speed adoption throughout your organisation And if suppliers are part of your tech adoption process, communicate early and often with what is expected.   Then make sure you keep your message consistent no matter who is delivering it from your organisation. 

4. Plot a Clear Path to Code Green

Once your people know what’s expected of them and can buy into the change, the right support and a road map is all they need. Make sure you’re measuring the things you need to monitor progress with adoption, and that any risk can be mitigated.

Create metrics that identify individual progress on the adoption path, whether by users or suppliers, so you know exactly where they are. Be sure to monitor key influencers in the team, highlight quick wins and celebrate victories.  Target reluctant adopters for training or support. Using a continuous improvement approach, ensure users know that feedback is addressed.  Keep in mind that metrics can serve to reward as well as a means to course correct.

So, if your tech adoption process is starting to feel like a state of emergency there is plenty you can do to avoid reaching a code red. Focus on effective communication that engages your users where they are to take action, stay focused on meeting the needs of the masses, identify and address challenges early, and your new solution will become the talk of the company. 

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

Out Of Africa – Procurement News

On the cusp of a groundbreaking Procurement event, in the wake of catastrophic pre-COVID events, and despite grim economic outlooks and stifled Supply Chains, Africa is proving itself to be an innovative, resilient force in World Procurement


It’s an exciting time for Procurement in Africa! Two leading influencers in the African Supply Chain and Procurement profession have created AFRICA SUPPLY CHAIN IN ACTION: the largest ever online learning, knowledge sharing and networking event for the profession focusing on Africa. SAPICS, The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management, has joined forces with Smart Procurement, Africa’s leading supply chain and procurement information service, to present this ground-breaking event on August 19 and 20 2020.

More than 1000 delegates are expected to attend: a significant proportion will no doubt be the thousands of Africa-based Procurious members! Join SAPICS and Smart Procurement along with Procurious’ greatest minds and register here.

AFRICA SUPPLY CHAIN IN ACTION will help African Supply Chain professionals position themselves and their businesses to adapt and thrive, now and beyond COVID-19. Their exciting packed programme will examine what Africa has learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and how individuals and organisations must work together to change the dialogue, strategies, and operating models in response to the new tomorrow.

This happens just as Africa is currently pioneering very positive developments in Procurement Technology. Africa’s pains during the COVID-19 pandemic have been well-documented: the lockdown of key countries’ exports, closure of borders and factories, and poor healthcare facilities. However, despite the doom and gloom, there is a general level of optimism and enthusiasm for innovation by people across the continent. Entrepreneurs in Nigeria, South Africa and East African countries are developing digital applications to solve our 2020 supply chain problems. 

While fruit, vegetable, meat and seafood exports into Europe have taken a temporary hit, agritech solutions, such as remote sensing of crops and data- mining and analysis using e-platforms, are successfully being adopted by commercial farmers as part of their digital future. Nigeria is leading the way in applying technology to improving regional logistics: the transportation start-up Kobo360 is now in most countries in West Africa.  Kenya and Uganda lead the way in affordable mobile services to support small business. The South African government is using WhatsApp to run an interactive chatbot which answers all types of queries about COVID-19, including business-related issues.   

While Africa as a whole has recorded relatively few deaths from the disease, the numbers are rising and African countries are struggling to contain the spread. McKinsey has proposed different scenarios for Africa’s economic growth in the wake of the pandemic, the most likely being an annual growth rate as low as -3.9 per cent. This is based on the most realistic scenario: a lack of containment both globally and in Africa. The health of Africa’s Supply Chain and economy rests significantly on whether or not the spread of COVID-19 can be contained so trade can resume.

Africa’s trade with China

China’s exports to Africa over the last two decades have remained steady with South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt its three largest trading partners. Africa’s exports to China have been increasing, but are heavily dependent on commodity prices; the main products exported are raw materials including copper, iron ore and oil coming from Angola, South Africa and the Republic of Congo. While the data is not 100% reliable due to China’s reporting process, it is accurate enough for us to see the trend before this current crisis.

Figure 1


Foreign direct investment and agricultural investment in Africa by China has also been increasing over the same period but the trend was already slowing before the current crisis. There are still some high-value engineering and construction projects happening, especially in North and East Africa.

That was then …. this is now

Most of Africa is closed for business right now. Seaports are mostly closed, air cargo and other transport routes are limited and business lockdowns are in effect, halting exports. In China, Mass production shutdowns and supply chain disruptions due to the current crisis are causing problems. For example, 85% of South Africa’s mobile phone imports are from China, their largest import category by value. Not only does this impact the end consumer, it also affects the wider telecommunications industry and many service sectors.

The Chinese economy is not likely to bounce back from this pandemic as quickly as in previous similar episodes (Bird flu 1997, SARS 2002-2003, Swine flu 2009). Despite this, China will probably continue to be one of Africa’s biggest trading partners after the worst of this crisis has passed.  

Africa’s global trade  

Global law firm Baker Mackenzie notes that “over three-quarters of African exports to the rest of the world are heavily focused on natural resources and any reduction in demand impacts the economies of most of the continent”.  They identified such countries as the DRC, Zambia, Nigeria and Ghana as being significantly exposed to risk in terms of industrial commodity exports, such as oil, iron ore and copper.  They expect that once COVID-19 is brought under control it could lead to an increase in the demand for raw materials from Africa, especially from China.

 Figure 2 – Africa’s commodity exports to the world

 

Source:  Chatham House 2020


Africa’s Exports to Europe

Africa’s exports to the European Union stood at around US$133 billion in 2016. Most African countries have duty-free access to the EU market.  Raw materials normally account for 49% of the value of Africa’s exports to Europe. It is expected that this will return to near normal when mining activities resume at full capacity.  It is not that clear whether manufactured goods such as textiles and machinery will get back to current levels of 35% of exports. Food products and beverages make up the other 16%. 

In sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa is the strongest and the most engaged when it comes to trade with the EU, supplying fuels and precious metals and other mining products, as well as machinery and transport equipment. The main destinations are Germany, Netherlands, Italy and the UK.  West Africa is also a leading exporter to Europe.  Animal products, vegetables, tobacco, and textiles are mainly imported from Benin, Senegal, Ghana and Guinea. Other countries, like Niger and Sierra Leone export commodities such as diamonds, uranium, and precious metals primarily to France, Italy, and the Netherlands.

What is next for Africa?

Normal business operations, as we know them, will be irrevocably changed as a result of this current pandemic. Many companies were not prepared for the level of disruption this unforeseen crisis would bring. We may not ever return to “normal” practices or to the marketplace as it was. What is clear is that companies that gave scant regard to managing their supply chain risks have received a wake-up call!  Companies are advised to consider a range of different possible scenarios and develop plans to deal with each eventuality.

How did your Procurement Team handle the crisis so far? 

As activities start to normalise, we need to reflect on how well we have been able to navigate the previous 3–6 months. A study of the success, or otherwise, of procurement events will highlight areas of improvement. 

  • How well did we execute emergency sourcing events?
  • Did we make the best use of our available technologies?
  • Did we act at the right time and in the right way with our suppliers? 
  • How could we have managed our sourcing processes better?

AFRICA SUPPLY CHAIN IN ACTION aims to answer all of these, 19-20 August 2020. Read up on the latest Procurement news and game-changing ideas on Procurious before registering here.

The path forward for Africa will no doubt be challenging, but it’s up to us to pave it – and together, we can.


Now Is The Time To Learn Industry 4.0 Technologies

Soon, Industry 4.0 technologies will be part of EVERY supply chain…


You already know technology is changing the way supply chains are managed.

What you might not realise is just how soon Industry 4.0 technologies will be part of every supply chain.

Companies want better transparency, greater quality checks, and increased efficiency. That’s why so many are turning facilities into “smart factories”.

In fact, 68% of manufacturers have ongoing smart factory initiatives, according to Capgemini research.

One example is Bosch, which responded to the recent global health crisis by making face masks on a fully automated production line.

Who is using Industry 4.0?

Having your equipment connected to Industry 4.0 technology lets companies like Bosch react quickly to world and industry events.

That’s just one benefit. But how widespread is it?

95% of companies are using at least one Industry 4.0 technology, according to research from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.

It’s no longer futuristic. It’s here.

But what exactly is Industry 4.0 technology in the supply chain? And how can you get your team up to speed?

What application is there for Industry 4.0 tech in supply chain?

Put simply, the fourth industrial revolution (or Industry 4.0) is a drastic change in the way things are made and distributed.

Such rapid tech advancements are triggering a digital overhaul of the supply chain. Some of these technologies include:

·  Blockchain

·  Artificial Intelligence (AI)

·  Internet of Things (IoT)

·  5G

Here’s a bit more about those technologies, and how they relate to the supply chain.

Blockchain

What it is: Blockchain is a network where people can store digital records in a shared, unchangeable way. There is one version of the truth, which helps build trust between different parties in the supply chain.

How it’s used in the supply chain: Retailer Carrefour uses blockchain technology so customers can see exactly where products come from.

Carrefour’s produce and meat suppliers record a product’s journey from farm to store shelf using IBM’s enterprise blockchain network – IBM Food Trust. That way, a customer simply scans the product QR code with their smartphone, and they can instantly learn the product’s provenance.

Not only does it give Carrefour greater visibility, it even increases sales.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

What it is: Artificial intelligence is technology that lets computers “learn” and make decisions by analysing data.

For example, Spotify analyses your music choices, compares it to other users, and combines that data to make artist suggestions based on people with similar taste.

How it’s used in supply chain: Lenovo uses AI to proactively predict and mitigate supply chain disruptions. It uses the IBM Sterling Supply Chain analytics, using the famous IBM Watson system.

It’s helped Lenovo find previously hidden cost savings, all the while improving productivity.

Internet of Things (IoT)

What it is: In a nutshell, Internet of Things connects physical devices to the internet. Some examples are smart watches and self-driving cars.

How it’s used in supply chain: L’Oréal wanted to introduce more flexibility into its production line so it could respond faster to customer demands. Their customers expect more customisation options.

So it partnered with IBM to create a smarter factory – using a combination of sensors and cameras connected to production that let them pivot in real time.

That connectivity allows them to operate a large organisation as flexibly as a start-up. Just how flexible is it?

“We can produce the base and then choose the colour for a lipstick right at the very last moment,” as Operations Chief Digital Officer Stéphane Lannuzel puts it.

5G

What it is: 5G (or fifth generation) wireless technology will make it faster and easier to connect on mobile phones. You’ll be able to download videos at lightning speed, and say goodbye to awkward lags when videoconferencing. It has bigger capacity than the current 4G, meaning you can connect a lot more sensors and smart devices at once.

How it’s used in supply chain: Samsung produces IoT sensors that monitor warehouse safety conditions. That data is processed with IBM analytics, alerting supervisors when equipment might need repairing or when conditions become unsafe. Since 5G is superfast and there’s no lag, supervisors can act straight away.

5G matters the most when every second counts.

How can you learn Industry 4.0 technology?

All of this shiny new tech is exciting. But it won’t do you much good if you don’t know how to use it.

McKinsey declared 2020 the “year of re-skilling”, due to the acceleration of Industry 4.0 technology.

The firm predicts that in the US, around one-third of production roles could change profoundly over the next decade. That means the way you interact with all stages of supply chain management will change as well.

So it’s essential to get up to speed, and help your team prepare too.

So what’s the best way to do that?

First, a skills analysis

Once you have a plan for new technology adoption, look at the skills you need to make it happen.

For example, Deloitte research into AI skills gaps found the top four in-demand AI skills are:

·  AI researchers

·  Software developers

·  Data scientists

·  Project managers

Your team may not necessarily develop AI technology, but they will certainly need to know how to use it. Once you know what skills you need, you can compile that into a skills roadmap.

Next, match skills

Do an analysis of the skills your team already possesses, then match them to the skills on your roadmap.

Hopefully there will be some overlap, but you can expect you will need to up-skill or re-skill your team – especially if your company doesn’t use much Industry 4.0 technology yet.

Then comes training

Good training is a significant investment of time and money. In fact, more than a third (34%) of organisations say training costs are a barrier to digital supply chain management.

But the cost of training is far less than the cost of your company being left behind because it didn’t adopt new technologies fast enough.

The right training looks different for every company. You might choose in-house, external, or even a mix.

One popular option is the IBM Sterling Supply Chain Academy. It acts as a complement to other training you offer, giving your team access to skills aligned to market demand.

Your team can learn the needed skills to:

  • Build smarter supply chains
  • Deliver on customer needs through smarter fulfillment
  • Reduce the cost, complexity and risk of supplier onboarding and management

Why any of this matters

Ultimately, getting up to speed on Industry 4.0 technologies is about more than transparency or agility.

Global supply chain disruption has accelerated the need to make changes towards the way people make and buy goods.

That means supply chain professionals have the opportunity (and responsibility) to use their purchasing power for good, according Professor Olinga Ta’eed, Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise & Government.

When you couple large amounts of money with positive ideology and advanced technology, Professor Ta’eed says it’s the “biggest instrument to change the world.”

“Let’s use that money to nudge society into better ways [and] behaviour,” he says.

Supply chain strategist Sheri Hinish agrees.

“Supply chain is really tied to a concept of shared responsibility,” she said in an interview for SAP Ariba Live.

“Doing well, doing good, making fiscal sense of this value creation across stakeholders. There’s no other domain positioned to really deliver that long-term value other than supply chain because we are truly end-to-end.”

“Supply chains have the ability to save lives,” she adds. “We are literally seeing this unfold before our eyes.”

For more Industry 4.0 talk, join the conversation in our Supply Chain Pros group

Here Are 5 Of The Most Life-Changing Career Tips Of 2020

2020 has been a year like no other. Which of course means we need an update in our go-to career tips…


Unfortunately, careers often look better with hindsight. If only I hadn’t taken that role, we often think, or perhaps, I could be better off if only I’d learnt to better negotiate my salary. 

Fortunately for you though, those types of concerns or regrets might not be something you have to worry about after you read this article. We all need some good news right now, so to bring you five of the most life-changing career tips of 2020, we chatted to one of the most-experienced supply chains recruiters in the world, Tim Moore. As the President and Owner of Tim Moore and Associates, has single-handedly placed thousands of high-ranking supply chain executives into roles all over North America for the best part of almost three decades. 

He sat down with us to share ‘something money simply can’t buy’- hindsight. 

Tip 1: Stand out – you may soon have some competition

When it comes to global supply chains, it’s fair to say that the coronavirus pandemic has changed absolutely everything. From food to medical supplies, the crisis has caused all of us to consider just about every element of what we do, from how we manage suppliers to what technology we use and why. 

It has also brought significant awareness to the importance of a resilient, secure and reliable supply chain. This, in turn, says Tim Moore, has led to an increased interest in completing your supply chain qualifications: 

‘Thanks to COVID-19 and the awareness of Supply Chains there will be a long overdue “spike” in the number of new students enrolling in supply chain courses.’ 

‘Fortunately, I think there are now many degree programs ready to cater to this boom and help rectify today’s shortages of supply chain talent.’ 

Is an increased interest in a supply chain as a career going to pose a threat to today’s seasoned supply chain professionals? Not really, says Tim, but if you are at a more junior level, standing out when applying for jobs will become more important than ever. 

Fortunately though, more qualified junior talent in supply chain will be of great support to teams this year who have a lot to grapple with throughout the pandemic and beyond. 

Tip 2: Your profession has skyrocketed in importance and awareness – make the most of it  

Prior to writing this, we Googled whether there was such a thing as the ‘Year of the Supply Chain’ (sort of like the Chinese Zodiac “Years Of”). Sadly, there wasn’t. 

But if there was, undoubtedly it would be 2020. 

At no time in history has supply chain management been as crucial and all-defining as it has been this year. Suddenly, procurement and supply chain has gone from an overlooked ‘function’ to the crucial heart of the organisation. If ever you wanted to be strategic, get noticed and truly ‘take a seat at the executive table,’ now is the time to do so, says Tim.  But you have to be strategic and proactive.

He truly believes that this year will be career-defining for many supply chain professionals who step up and take the initiative: 

‘There has never been a time since the second world war, when the supply chain profession, and the techniques they bring, have been so important and visible to the senior executive within the firms that employ them.’ 

‘Every supply professional has learned lessons about the vulnerability of their particular supply chain(s) – and should be proactive taking steps to reduce the risk of disruption in the future.’ 

‘You can’t afford to wait and gamble that it won’t happen again…it will.’

Tip 3: Salary surveys may give good insights – but be careful how you use them

With the supply chain profession being elevated in importance, and businesses (hopefully) edging towards recovery as the year continues, opportunities may increase for people in the hunt for a better salary. But Tim cautions everyone to be very careful when it comes to the old ‘grass is greener’ salary argument. 

Tim has seen many supply chain professionals become disgruntled because they believe they are being underpaid. Yet the places they get their information may not be what they seem: 

‘I’ve heard some people say that “money talks” and they’ll crack open an industry salary survey to try and determine whether they’re ahead or behind others in terms of the salary curve.’ 

‘The thing is, those surveys can be almost impossible to fully interpret, and are often misleading to the casual reviewer.’ 

Especially this year, Tim says, salary survey results may not be able to tell you much as many companies are freezing pay levels and asking employees to take pay cuts. The ‘greener grass’ may in fact not be green at all when it comes to pay. 

Yet should you still use these salary surveys as leverage in your own pay discussions? Tim says:  

‘In any salary discussion, it’s important to know what your range should be, based on firms of the same size, in the same industry and of the same profit level. But really, it’s hard to glean this information from a survey so likewise, hard to use this as leverage.’ 

‘Pay discussions should be based more on your achievements and your tenure with the firm, whether the firm has been profitable and frankly, whether or not there has been recent layoffs or downsizing.’ 

Tim cautions, though, that now might not be the right time to ask for a salary increase: 

‘In some cases, people should be happy to have a job, let alone be seen as gouging their employer for demands for a salary increase.’  

Tip 4: Consider the big picture – and put your negotiation skills to good use

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on economies, lives and jobs losses, and that means that inevitably, some supply chain professionals might find themselves without work  this year. This is a terrible outcome, of course, but when the market picks up Tim does genuinely believe there will be more opportunities than ever. 

But when and if we all decide to accept an offer of employment, Tim believes that we should consider the ‘big picture’ of what an employer is offering; as it will be more important than ever before: 

‘When considering a new opportunity, of course look at the salary range, and compare this to your competitors and your industry at large.’ 

‘But remember, as your supply chain training  has taught you – salary, like price, is only one element to consider. Think long and hard about other benefits, for example: educational reimbursement, membership in your local supply chain association, bonuses if any, (and how frequently they’re paid), stock options, and healthcare and dental coverage.’ 

‘Post-COVID, increased benefits may be  easier to achieve than a dramatic salary increase..’ 

When it comes to negotiating your package, however, Tim believes that supply chain professionals need to remember their training: 

‘I’ve always maintained that you never get paid what you’re worth, but you ALWAYS get paid on how you negotiate and how well you have interviewed.’ 

‘It’s surprising that so many supply chain professionals go blank and completely forget their negotiation training when presented with a job offer.  After you feel confident that you’ve checked all of the boxes and know you’re the right fit, just like with negotiating with vendors, you can always ask for:  1. Time to consider it further,  2. For the offer to be put in writing, and for those adventurous  3. “Is that the best you can do?”’

With the final request, Tim says, if you execute it politely and professionally, you may be able to leverage up your offer. 

Tip 5: Ask the hard questions

With unemployment approaching an all time high, many of us may be forced into a ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ type situation, where we simply take the first job we can get. But nonetheless, Tim says, you should research the company you plan to join, because if you do end up having to leave after a short amount of time, it may not look great on your resume. 

In order to research the company you plan to join, Tim recommends the following: 

‘Find out about everything. Look up the organisation’s products and services, read their financial reports, look at their social media accounts. Make sure you take detailed notes in all of your interviews, and don’t be afraid to ask why they’re interested in you and how you might fit exactly within the role in their eyes.’ 

‘But more than that, ask some harder questions. Ask WHY the position is available, and what happened to the previous individual in the role?  Enquire as to how long they were in that role?   You’d be amazed at what you can uncover!’ 

There’s very few professions that will be able to claim that 2020 was a great career year. But for many of us in supply chain and procurement, we might just be able to surprise ourselves. 

Will you negotiate harder for your salary increase or greater benefits this year? Or are you concerned about competition? Let us know in the comments below.

Join Procurious to connect with 40,000 other ambitious procurement professionals and get free access to networking, industry news, training and much more. 

Backstabbing Co-Workers: How To Handle The Two-Faced Foe

Are you walking around with knives in your back? This is how to handle office backstabbing…


Backstabbing in the Office

Most of the time we are walking around with a knife in our backs, and we don’t even know it. Bleeding and hemorrhaging with no way of knowing how to fix it.

See Mary from accounting over there? She told the VP of the department she sees you taking 2-hour lunches on a consistent basis.

And Jack from IT. He told your colleagues what “interesting” google searches you’ve made lately. And Susan from Marketing, she made up a complete lie about your conversation last week and now your boss is calling you into his office.

Think it doesn’t happen to you or your company? Think again. You just may not have heard about it yet.

Depending on how strong your network is, how much others trust you, and for a multitude of other reasons you may not find out for months how badly you’ve been attacked. And that’s only the beginning.

The First Time

I think I was in literal shock. An Executive Director had told my boss a bold-faced lied. He said I wasn’t willing to work with him and I that had demanded it was to be done my way. I had been back-stabbed.

Now, I may be a bull in a China shop in my early years, but I’m not stupid. Nor am I a jerk. And he had painted me out to be both.

So when my boss told me about the feedback I was stunned. How could he have made something up, literally out of thin air? And why would he do that? I was never a fan of soap operas, but suddenly my work-life had turned into one. But I wasn’t going down without a fight.

I literally never spoke with anyone again over the phone for the next year. Everything was voicemail or email. I kept track of everything.

The Repeat Backstabber

This time, I had been bleeding for longer than I could have ever known. But at least my boss knew me well enough to come to my aid.

A coworker had taken parts of our conversations, twisted them and told one of my bosses. Just to try and gain an edge for his personal promotion.

I never knew. He was doing it to try to get ahead in the company, but unfortunately, it didn’t work.

So when he contacted me on LinkedIn a few months later, l confronted him. He never apologized, and I haven’t heard from him since.

I also found out a year later his previous business partners were hunting him down due to the ‘savings numbers’ he had made up. They were being taken from their budgets. Budgets that they didn’t have to give in the first place.

He was a snake in the bush. And we all had suffered the consequences of working with him. But from that point on I had learned my lesson. Always watch out for those who feel slighted in their current position, want to move up or just have questionable motives for talking with you. They have the most to gain.

Countless Other Backstabbing Incidents

If you’ve read some other blogs, you know this hasn’t been the first I’ve experienced with backstabbing coworkers. I’ve had other women’s efforts stop me from getting a job.

These are only the times I actually know about. I’m sure I’m still walking around with a few knives in my back. Some I’m sure I will never be aware of, but that’s okay.

The fact remains, people really are willing to go above and beyond to get ahead. Especially if it’s at someone else’ cost.

How do we handle the two-faced foe?

1.  Maintain integrity. Never return the favor, as it will only make you look bad.

2. Politely confront the situation. I firmly believe people do this and continue to get away with it because most are too scared to confront them.

3. Maintain your distance. Knowing is half the battle, so keep 99% of coworkers at arm’s length.

4. Always be alert/aware. It’s always the quiet ones who end up doing the most damage.

5. Create and maintain a strong business network. The more eyes and ears you have, the better chances you’ll hear things sooner rather than later.

6. Never underestimate others. People will surprise you every day with what they are capable of.

7. Don’t let it get you down. Karma always has a way of finding those who provoked it in the first place.

This article was originally published on Ms. Category Management on July 3rd, 2019 and is republished here with permission.

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