All posts by Procurement Heads

What Does Your Ideal Company Look Like?

Many graduates embarking on the world of work think their ideal company is a large, corporate company, with great offices. But is this the best route to fast track success?

small or large company

Many of us have experienced working for large organisations and been given the opportunity to change positions multiple times within that same business. Larger organisations tend to have sites in different locations, allowing individuals to be more flexible with living and travel choices.

Within Procurement, corporate organisations exhibit strong brand awareness and recognition resulting in strong negotiation with suppliers leveraging economies of scale. Larger organisations bring greater resources enabling better technology infrastructure and subsequent commercial advantage.

Large Company Pressures

Having previously worked for a large international company for a decade, one of the challenges I experienced was establishing social cohesion and culture. It can be harder to get to know your colleagues and co-workers due to the large volume of employees.

For people who appreciate a familiar environment, this can be a disadvantage. High performers and confident individuals get noticed, gaining new opportunities and promotions seemingly more easily. However, this can put pressure on individuals to perform and stand out, creating a stressful working environment.

Change within a large organisation can sometimes be difficult to implement and occurs at a much slower pace. The numerous levels of communication and various approval structures agreeing the transformation mean larger organisations are not perceived to be as agile and responsive as some smaller entities.

These are just some of the challenges leading employees to consider working in a smaller business.

Transitioning from Large to SME

The transition from employment with a larger to smaller business can prove to be a considerable learning curve. Frequently, the cultural behaviours and habits deemed necessary and acceptable in larger organisations do not translate to an SME.

Behaviours such as empire building (often considered a sign of success in a large corporation) can also be detrimental in a smaller business. Instead, it is essential to create a culture of mutual interest and success instead of territorial defence.

In my experience the benefits of working within an SME significantly outweigh any habitual adjustments. You instantly realise that it is more personable, with the ability to build relationships across all levels with direct access to your colleagues.

There is more opportunity to broaden your skill set with exposure to broader roles, which in turn keeps it interesting. Additionally, you can make a real impact daily, and be recognised for it. Everything happens with more agility and ability to respond, implementing change and new ideas with momentum.

When transitioning from a large organisation to a smaller workforce it can be uncomfortable, adjusting to the culture and a more personal working experience. Great opportunities come with this transition: more chances to exhibit your abilities; increased responsibilities and exposure, meaning your hard work gets noticed.

Finally, flexibility with home working and desk-bound hours is something I have personally found immensely refreshing. Trusting individuals to manage their own workload and day creates incredible loyalty and motivated employees.

Emma Lambert is a Resourcing Manager at Procurement Heads, a UK-based procurement recruiter. Procurement Heads is all about getting to know great Procurement people and bringing them together to make outstanding Procurement teams.

An Expert’s View on the Future of the UK Economy

The media have painted a gloomy future for the UK economy thanks to the events of 2016. But one is breaking ranks – and it’s not all bad news.

the future of the uk economy

A few weeks ago, Procurement Heads enjoyed an insightful business breakfast hosted by the Chilworth Partnership & Venture Recruitment Partners at the Chilworth Manor Hotel. While we were there, we heard from one of the UK’s leading economic commentators, Alex Brummer.

Brummer has been City Editor at the Daily Mail since 2000 and is a multi-award winning economic finance commentator. Brummer was speaking on the topic of Brexit and the potential impacts on the British economy.

To add further spice, there was also the topic of “Trumpenomics” to discuss after the much-publicised US election result. Brummer is no fool, and whilst he was pro-Brexit, he empathised with the shock both events have caused.

Sense of Optimism

Despite the doom and gloom from his peers in the media, there was a sense of optimism from Brummer. He described the UK economy as “having taken the punches pretty well”.

Indeed, in the 3rd quarter we have seen growth at 0.5 per cent. Additionally, we are likely to see annualised growth in the UK of around 2 per cent. This is a faster rate than any of the Group of Seven (G7) countries.

From a recruitment perspective, there is much to celebrate as well. The unemployment rate has dropped to 4.8 per cent, and the number of people in employment is at its highest in 30 years.

Whilst the Chancellor’s Autumn statement next week will likely reveal a dampening of economic expectations, Brummer asserted that infrastructure investment in the 3 ‘Hs’ will boost the economy in time – Hinckley Point in Somerset, HS2, and the expansion of Heathrow.

UK Economy “Punching Above its Weight”

Back to Trump in the US. Brummer argued that his pledge to reduce corporation tax from 37 per cent, and a massive increase in infrastructure spending, will see the UK’s burgeoning Services sector well placed.

In this respect, he asserted that the UK ‘punched well above its weight’, operating at an annual surplus of £100 billion. Only time will tell just how this new political and economic relationship between Britain and the US will work.

One thing is for sure is that Brexit certainly hasn’t been an immediate disaster, reflected by the strong performances of the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 since June. Brummer claimed a lot of this is down to businesses bringing their operations, and therefore more of their investment, back to Britain.

Tangible example of businesses positive reaction to Brexit can be seen at Nissan, Ford and more recently Google, all making positive long term commitments to the UK. More businesses investing in Britain is surely a good thing for our employment?

Challenges to Come

Brummer warned of the failings of Europe, describing the EU as an “Economic disaster”. And the facts are scary:

  • Greece’s GDP has dropped by 25 per cent,
  • Youth Unemployment in Italy is now at 37 per cent, and
  • Growth since Germany joined the EU is stagnant.

Brummer did not underestimate the UK’s adjustment to Brexit and nor should we. But perhaps we should try and look at the positives of the events of the past few months.

There are challenges to come, like the possibility of a trade war, Trump going back on his economic policy, and the Pound weakening a lot further. Like many in the room, we came out with some reasonable optimism to see this not as a problem but as an opportunity.

To quote Brummers’s closing remark we should “see the glass as half full, not half empty”.

What Can Procurement Learn From 2016?

From politics to procurement – 2016 has changed our outlooks. But what can the profession learn as we head towards the new year?

politics of change

I’m not a political person, never have been, but maybe 2016 has put paid to that. It could be my advancing years or the direct relevance the events of 2016 have created, but politics has now piqued my interest.

Furthermore, as a business owner, parent and amateur investor, it’s beholden on me to be well informed and to put in place risk mitigating strategies should the worst happen.

Different Outlook

To anyone who knows me, I think I’d fairly describe myself as a cautious optimist. Someone who believes in the enduring power of ‘doing the right thing’. I must say this outlook has been tested to its limits these last three months.

And with the result of last Wednesday’s US election now a reality, I find myself having to re-evaluate this mantra.

I think it’s fair to say that few people in business expected the UK to vote for Brexit. Even fewer expected the US to elect Donald Trump as President. To say that the pollsters who predicted strong contrary outcomes have been wrong-footed is an understatement.

As BBC correspondent Mark Mardell wrote on Wednesday, “it is perhaps ironic that our two countries, with a reputation for stable political systems, have declared political revolutions of such importance”.

Ironic or inevitable, if find myself asking. As Trump put it, his path to victory was ‘not a campaign, but a great movement’.

Undoubtedly from these 2 cataclysmic events there is the notion that globalisation has given folk a raw deal. There is a belief that the gap between rich and poor has widened. This is clearly nothing new.

But the events of 2016 are now showing us that people are willing to express their desire for change in a manifest way, and that the UK’s referendum and US elections have facilitated this expression. Clearly the belief that ‘we need people who change the world, rather than describe it’ has never been more true.

Politics & Procurement

So aside from emotive connotations of such seismic change, what can the Procurement profession learn about these events?

I’ve always read with interest the term ‘Force Majeure’ in contracts, essentially the common clause that frees parties from legal obligation when an extraordinary event occurs. Is 2016 now the year of Force Majeure?

As organisations have historically rushed to globalise their supply chains, are we now going to see a reversal of this and a more localised, protectionist approach to markets? The challenge for Procurement Leaders will be how to predict these events and to mitigate the risks associated with global change.

Without doubt we are entering an era that favours a less politically correct approach of yesteryear, one that rewards forthright opinions and direct action. The new breed of procurement practitioner will need to build this thinking into category plans, sourcing strategies and contracts.

I, for one, will be watching with interest.

2016 – The Year of Procurement Transformation

Transformation – the word on procurement’s lips. But when will real strategic change be realised for the profession?

transformation

If you were to pick one word to describe 2016, you could probably settle on volatile. There has been major change afoot in global markets and politics, which has lead to unprecedented volatility and upheaval.

In the past few weeks, we have been talking to some of our Procurement partners about the topic of change and transformation within their organisations, and more broadly in the market for our ‘Autumn Market Insights‘.

It prompted us to think about what has actually changed? Clearly the spectrum of change is quite varied. However, a common theme coming out of these discussions was ultimately that Procurement was, is, and always will be, about getting cost out of the bottom line of the business.

Transformation on the Procurement Agenda

How aggressively this is approached will obviously vary from business to business depending on its agenda. But surely this is why Procurement is critical to any business?

What this has allowed over time is for Procurement to have a seat at the “top table”, rather than being part of a broader function that reports into Finance.

Increasingly we are seeing businesses turning to a more category aligned approach to Procurement, bringing in experts in their field to drive category strategies forward and having the gravitas to collaborate with stakeholder groups.

However, as of one of the CPO’s we spoke to pointed out there can be risks to this approach. There can be a risk that a Procurement team member becomes so immersed within their stakeholder group that they “go native”, and move away from the Procurement agenda.

And the Buzz Word Is…?

If the buzz word for Procurement in 2015 was “strategic”, we would say 2016 is all about Procurement transformation. We are working with four large and well respected organisations at the moment in the South, supporting their transformations.

But what does Transformation truly mean? Does this simply mean a change in process or ways of working or is it something much larger? We have to consider transformation as fundamental change across the business – the processes behind procurement, the remit it covers, and the tools used. This is true transformation.

Clearly 2016 is very much about driving this Procurement transformation agenda. These are exciting times for the profession. And, as we approach the end of 2016, it can only add to Procurement being at the forefront of an organisation’s DNA.

Procurement Heads is all about getting to know great Procurement people and recruiting Senior Procurement professionals.

Procurement Heads understands the value of working in partnership, both in helping people develop their careers and in supporting organisations to build world-class teams.

How Procurement Can Support SMEs in Tendering

SMEs can provide formidable USPs to procurement. But procurement first needs to take steps to support them in the tender process.

smes

99 per cent of all businesses within the UK are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – those companies which are made up of 250 employees or less.

At the end of 2015, the total number of companies this size in the UK stood at 5.4 million.

Recently, within public sector procurement, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of contracts awarded to SMEs. Given that SMEs have long since made up the majority figure of all businesses within the UK, it is interesting to see that only now are they being brought to the forefront of the bid and tender process.

Wave of Change

A recent study has shown that nearly three quarters of public sector procurement contracts have been awarded to smaller organisations. This is in contrast to a few years ago, where just over half of contracts were awarded to SMEs.

Historically, larger businesses have been able to gain competitive advantage on SMEs in the contract bidding wars. They have been able to provide extensive financial data, as well as time and money, to work through the complex tender processes.

However, the wave of change has arrived. Public sector organisations are helping make that tender process a lot easier in a bid to support local businesses. With less red tape, SMEs are able to provide an enhanced USP to procurement. This includes access to local products/services, innovation, ethical trading and overall a more competitive offering.

Simplifying the Procurement Process

Leading the way, some organisations have already begun by standardising tender documentation. They require less financial information about the company, and are setting up electronic portals to help make the process as efficient as possible.

All of this is in aid of simplifying that bid process for SMEs to encourage them to apply and succeed in winning contracts.

For procurement professionals, this simplification of the tender process not only supports local SMEs, but also helps to cut out inefficiencies in day-to-day procurement jobs.

When it comes to reviewing bids now, procure have less financial data to wade through, and a more comprehensive tender document to look over. Plus, taking advantage of technology is also helping save time and money.

Procurement Heads is all about getting to know great Procurement people and recruiting Senior Procurement professionals.

Procurement Heads understands the value of working in partnership, both in helping people develop their careers and in supporting organisations to build world-class teams.