All posts by Procurious HQ

Why Don’t You Trust Social Media To Help Crowd-Source Solutions?

Whoever said you’ve got to harness the power of the crowd, clearly didn’t get around to telling the procurement professionals! The vast majority of you have never used social media to crowd-source a solution….When Procurious put out a call for procurement survey participants, we were delighted that 500+ professionals across more than 50 countries shared their insights and wisdom.

The results have revealed some fascinating information about the current climate in procurement and the attitudes of professionals working within the function.

We’ve investigated the finding that 54 per cent of procurement professionals don’t trust their boss and interviewed a number of global CPOs to find out why this figure is so alarmingly high.

We also asked them why it is that procurement staff are moving on from their current roles so quickly and how leaders can cope with this erratic workplace dynamic.

This week, we’re putting the same group of CPOs to the test to find out why 77 per cent of global procurement professionals have never crowd-sourced a solution to a business challenge on social media. What’s so scary about the world of online networking and why don’t professionals see its value?

The Results Explained By Global CPOs

At The Big Ideas Summits in Chicago and Melbourne earlier this year we revealed the results of the survey to our CPO delegates.

In the video below we ask them how can procurement better tap into the wisdom of the crowd?

Why is procurement reluctant to crowd source?

There are a number of explanations for procurement’s reluctance to embrace crowd-sourcing.

Tony C. Astorga, Supply Chain Management Consultant, puts it down to “Organisations [getting] protective of their information.”

Michelle  Varble, Procurement Director, United Airlines  is also skeptical of its value given the stats we revealed. “The value depends upon the number of individuals participating in these exchanges as well as their level of experience. I question with 76 per cent of respondents not participating, how effective are they at this point and will they reach a tipping point where they can be more effective?”

“When you look specifically inside a supply chain you look and see specific problems to the business which aren’t necessarily something that from a crowd sourcing perspective, merit that type of approach.” says John Foody, General Manager, Procurement U.S Steel  “The challenge is finding the common ground that exists.”

David Henchliffe, Group Manager Procurement OZ Minerals suggests that scepticism about crowd sourcing might stem from  concerns over who to trust for information, “the Key thing for me is the veracity of the information you obtain. The first step is to establish that network and know who you can call on and who’s advice you would trust.”

Anne Berens, Principal AMB ProCures LLC concedes stating how “important to use this as a tool in appropriate situations, properly defining what your question is and inviting people to provide certain types of expertise. There’s always a discounting of input if you don’t know who the source is.”

What are the benefits of crowdsourcing?

Jane Falconer believes “procurement can be a bit insular in understanding how we add value or how we don’t and I think crowd sourcing is a really good way for us to be able to point to a broad base of ideas.”

Adam Cockrell, Global Procurement Lead HSBC agreed stating “The more active we are on social media in terms of seeing what innovation and strategies are out there, the better we’re going to be in terms of moving the needle from a procurement perspective.”

Jim Wetekamp, CEO Bravo Solution reasoned that “If you come to Chicago and you want to go to a nice restaurant you might go to an app and that will tell you where the best place to get a steak is.

“In essence that is  crowd-sourcing. You’re getting peoples’ input that you don’t even know and you’re going on those recommendations. You can use that same concept with procurement and sourcing. There’s so much knowledge out there that is untapped.”

Eric Lynch, Vice President, Basware admits “I’m a big fan. You may know the absolute best about procurement but there may be somebody out there in the field who has experience from a prior organisation where they know they’re getting better pricing on a certain commodity. You need to be able to tap into that knowledge.”

Request your copy of the Gen NEXT Report

The Gen NEXT report, exclusively available to Procurious members, is packed with data, insights, recommendations, and links to over 20+ Procurious articles that further explore many of the findings that are raised in the report. Email us to request your copy. 

Strategic Sourcing Tech Investment Is The Key To Transformation

Are you running a little late to the digital transformation party? They do say better late than never!

As we’ve explored previously, digital transformation is changing in the world of supplier sourcing.

According to The Hackett Group’s Sourcing Cycle Time and Cost Measurement study, firms are spending around $275,000 a year on software that streamlines sourcing — from supplier discovery, to e-sourcing, to contract lifecycle management (CLM).

So while it’s a sector still driven largely by traditional methods — with their corresponding disadvantages and inefficiencies — companies are starting to see the benefits of a software-driven approach to sourcing.

A little late to the digital transformation party? Perhaps. But better late than never!

Insights into increased efficiency

Respondents report that using supplier-discovery software they can reduce the time it takes to find and qualify a new supplier by 31%. The average time spent doing this the old-fashioned way is in the region of 40 hours. That’s an entire week’s work — and even then the process isn’t fool proof. Around 14% of projects fail to meet expectations, meaning the bidding has to begin again.

Powered by the right software, many time-consuming processes are eliminated. With access to system-recommended suppliers based on predefined criteria, sourcing staff can instantly improve their productivity and speed supplier discovery. On the e-sourcing front, the right tech can reduce total sourcing time by 30%. While CLM software can improve compliance by increasing the use of standard terms and conditions by 38%.

Adapt to succeed

It’s obvious that businesses are seeing benefits. Although that’s not to say new technology adoption isn’t without its own challenges. Processes need to be assessed and adapted, and staff have to learn new ways of working. Cultural change isn’t easy, but it’s one of the hurdles that all firms must clear in pursuit of digital transformation.

In a highly competitive business landscape, it’s vital that your processes enable you to get results quickly and cost-effectively. And this is the bottom line of why organisations need to revisit their approach to strategic sourcing.

A little adjustment today opens the door to far greater efficiency tomorrow.

To discover how your organisation can embrace digital transformation and reduce strategic sourcing costs and cycle times, read The Hackett Group report now.

Career Advice To A Procurement Newbie….

Did it feel like you were thrown in at the deep end upon entering the procurement world? Some of Procurious’ resident experts offer some career advice to anyone starting out on their journey….

Starting out in a new career is never easy; there’s so much to learn, good impressions to be made and new people to meet. But all that’s made easier with a little help from your global community of procurement friends!

The discussion board on Procurious never disappoints as a hotbed for rich debate and discussion.  So, of course, we weren’t surprised  by the wealth of responses when a procurement pro in need reached out for some advice as a newbie to the profession.

To give you a helping hand we’ve compiled some of the best responses from our members….

Get qualified!

The procurement debate rages on regarding professional qualifications. Are they beneficial, are they important? Do you really need them in the age of the internet.

The general consensus amongst Procurious members is: Yes!

Anthea Simon said ” I would say a top tip would be get your CIPS qualifications, this is the advice I was given by my mentor who is a CPO for a leading manufacturing company. If you have ambitions to excel within your procurement career I would say try and get yourself a mentor.”

Steven Onyango agreed saying “have the CIPS qualification, you will really enjoy as it’s detailed and you will love and relate well with some of the units.”

Whilst Chris Cliffe conceded that the CIPS qualification will be “very valuable and worthwhile” he advises aspiring professionals not to rush “make sure it’s the profession for you first, and then commit to the training.”

Open a book

Sometimes funding and timing restraints don’t allow for official certifications and training. In these instances it’s your responsibility to take control of your career and your learning.

Anthea Simon says “read… read… read….read around procurement. There is so much information out there on procurement, supply chain management; anything and everything you want to know about this’ wonderful world of procurement’…

“I spend a good portion of my day reading procurement material whether on the internet, books, audios. Also ask questions. I work closely with the Head of Procurement for my organisation, and I’m always asking him questions if I don’t understand anything or I just want to learn more about something.

Sheri Daneliak agrees advising professionals to “read everything you can get your hands on concerning Procurement and Supply Chain until you can get your certification. This site is a great place for help…”

Build relationships

To succeed in procurement, building relationships is of the utmost importance; with suppliers, clients and stakeholders.

Mike Lewis suggests that procurement pros ” View [their]  critical suppliers as partners and develop relationships based on positive mutual benefit.”

Chuck Intrieri agreed statingThe key to procurement is collaboration. Adversarial relationships do not work. It has to be a “win-win” for both parties.”

“Bringing value to your end users and customers (suppliers and co-workers).” is Tahj Bomar’s top advice. “People, process, and technology. The process and technology, figure what works in the company culture/environment. But, getting people on board and understanding I find is the key! Create  “win-win” situations”

Understand your company

“Understanding in your company, area, category or commodity exactly what you are spending on what products with whom and why.” is Jim Reed’s advice. “I have been asked to save money several times in an area where the spend was low, optimised and attacking it would have been a waste of time, whilst big ticket opportunities would have been ignored. Being able to articulate the spend context has always enabled me to turn that round.”

Marcin Witkowski supports this and instructs professionals to “get as much information as you can about what you are supposed to buy.”

“Listening is the key” says Terry Gittins “find out what you customer wants and work with them to achieve it. Keep it simple and you will bring them with you.”

Click here to view the full discussion and all responses. 

12,000 Jobs Gone: Coal Supply Chain Hit Hard

Businesses that supply equipment to coal and gas power plants are cutting costs dramatically in response to the rise of renewable energy. 

General Electric’s new CEO, John Flannery, is cutting 12,000 jobs in its electrical power division. The blood-letting comes in response to GE’s 44% plunge in the Dow this year, and an ongoing battle against overcapacity in an increasingly disrupted industry.

GE’s electrical power division makes turbines and generators used in coal and gas-fired plants, which are estimated to provide around one third of electricity produced worldwide. The company has reported that disruption  in the industry has reduced the need for its products by 40%.

The power division’s European headcount will be reduced by approximately 18%, including 1,100 jobs in the UK and 1,400 in Switzerland.

GE’s problems have been exacerbated by the previous CEO’s gamble last year with an ill-fated $10bn acquisition of Alstom’s power and grid businesses.

German industrial conglomerate Siemens has also announced plans to cut 6,900 jobs, predominantly in its power division. The company expects to sell only 110 large gas turbines for power generation, down from its global production capacity of about 400 a year.

The International Energy Agency reports that renewables currently generate 24% of power worldwide, and expects this figure to grow to 40%  by 2040. GE’s response is not only to shrink its power business, but to invest in renewables, selling about $9 billion in wind turbines last year.

In other news this week:

Infrastructure boom leads to skills shortage

  • The Australian state of Victoria is currently investing in an unprecedented number of infrastructure projects, leading to a shortage of specialist and entry-level skills across the state and related cost increases.
  • Shortages include specialist rail skills, project management, finishing trades, commercial advisory skills, industry analysis, systems engineering and tunnelling.
  • Increased demand for raw materials, quarry materials, cement and sand has also resulted in price pressures in the extractive industries. A similar skills shortage occurred in Western Australia’s mining boom.

Best places to work in 2018

  • Glassdoor has announced its 100 best places to work for 2018, with Facebook taking the #1 spot for the third time.
  • Bain & Company and Boston Consulting Group took out the 2nd and 3rd places.
  • Only three companies have remained winners for 10 consecutive years: Bain & Company, Google, and Apple.

Access the full list here.

What To Do When Your Procurement Employees Are Leaving You

Do your procurement employees seem to be fleeing the business left, right and centre? Trust us: it’s not you, it’s them! But in these circumstances, should you even bother developing them? 

When Procurious put out a call for procurement survey participants, we were delighted that 500+ professionals across more than 50 countries shared their insights and wisdom.

The results have revealed some fascinating information about the current climate in procurement and the attitudes of professionals working within the function.

Last week, we investigated the finding that 54 per cent of procurement professionals don’t trust their boss and interviewed a number of global CPOs to find out why this figure is so alarmingly high.

This week, we’re putting the same group of CPOs to the test to find out why procurement staff are moving on from their current roles so quickly and how leaders can cope with this erratic workplace dynamic.

Our survey revealed that 48 per cent of professionals intend to move on from their current role within two years.

The Results Explained By Global CPOs

At The Big Ideas Summits in Chicago and Melbourne earlier this year we revealed the results of the survey to our CPO delegates.

In the video below we ask them whether procurement leaders are choosing to help their talent prepare for their next role or if they would rather save the effort of developing talent and instead embrace the gig economy.

 

The temptation to job hop is greater than ever before. As Jim Wetekamp, CEO, BravoSolution points out, “People tend to get curious.

“You have LinkedIn, Facebook and all these other platforms and all of a sudden [the employee’s] mind starts turning. Maybe this looks cool, maybe this looks like an opportunity. People have such an easy access to information.

Under these circumstances, how should leaders be managing their procurement teams to  ensure they are able to make the most of their contributions and skills in the short term?

Why bother developing the short-termers?

If almost half of your procurement team are planning to move on within the next two years, is there any point in you bothering to develop them? What’s in it for you?

Quite a lot, according to Adam Cockrell, Global Procurement Lead HSBC! He explains “It’s not necessarily about keeping them in your organisation but empowering them to [move on to] other organisations that will also be the word of mouth that brings in more talent to your organisation.”

John Foody, General Manager Procurement U.S. Steel agrees stating “Our ability to attract talent is based on the track record we have of advancing and developing them.”

Aside from talent development benefiting organisations in the long run, many leaders rightly see it as their duty to develop their employees.  Jane Falconer believes that  “As employers, we’ve got obligations to manage our teams and do the best for them. [This includes] putting development plans in place irrespective of how long they’re going to be working with us or for us.”

That’s certainly the approach Keith Bird, Managing Director, The Faculty takes “CPOs should take the high ground and develop people. Personally, I would want to be known for developing people and when they leave they leave with our blessing.”

As David Henchliffe, Group Manager Procurement, OZ Minerals reminds us “We’ve got to acknowledge that in the fairly flat organisational structure that most of us work in, people’s opportunity for progress and change will mean that they are going to move on.”

How do you make the most of your talent before they leave?

 

It’s a contentious and dividing subject. Some employers argue that it’s best to hold onto your talent at all costs by nurturing, incentivising and investing in them.

Others consider this futile, believing staff movement to be an inevitable part of business today. If that’s the case, surely it’s most beneficial to find ways to make the most of them in the short term?

“As leaders, if we understand that, instead of ignoring it”Jim Wetekamp continues, “It will allow us to communicate effectively with our teams.”

Anne Berens, Principal AMB ProCures LLC believes that “The key to making sure employees are effective in the short term, is making sure you quickly orient them to what the goals and responsibilities are for the role, support them in that process and make sure you are constantly encouraging contributions and effective behaviour in those roles.”

Eric  Wilson, Vice President,  Basware concedes but suggests managing your long-term and short-term employees slightly differently, “Look at your talent and identify which ones are the ones you should invest in for multiple year investment, multiple careers with me, and which ones you should treat more like a project based organisation,  where you’ve got to get quick wins from them but still help them prepare for their next role.”

Embracing the gig economy

It’s apparent that many organisations are reluctant to fully embrace the gig economy, which relies on flexible working, contractors and a less traditional workplace environment.

Brian Chambers, CPO CSM  Bakery Solutions highlights one major drawback,  “The problem with the gig economy is we’re in an economy of relationship building and more and more success is garnered through building relationships with folks than it is  with  bringing people in and out. So I think growing and developing the talent is much stronger than the gig philosophy.”

But if flexible working is what procurement professionals are after, there’ll have to be a level of compromise. Today 34 per cent of workers in the U.S. are freelancers, and this figure is projected to reach 43 per cent by 2020.

Michelle Varble, Procurement Director, United Airlines explains why “we do need to embrace the gig economy to a certain extent, because I’ve noticed within my organisation that individuals like to try out new and exciting projects. I’ve seen a shift away from the traditional category focussed procurement  to one where people want to be continually challenged and try out new areas.”

“I’m a classic example of the gig-economy professional”, says Kishwar Rahman, a digital transformation lawyer “I’ve moved from project to project, offering my professional skills. Businesses are increasingly looking to hire the right people at the right time for project-based employment.”

According to Rahman, the whole notion of the permanent role is becoming less appropriate as businesses transition towards a consultancy model where experts move between businesses or different projects within a large organisation. “It’s very different to the concept of the ‘job for life’ that existed in our parents’ generation.”

Request your copy of the Gen NEXT Report

The Gen NEXT report, exclusively available to Procurious members, is packed with data, insights, recommendations, and links to over 20+ Procurious articles that further explore many of the findings that are raised in the report. Email us to request your copy. 

That’s The Sound Of Your Procurement Career Taking Off….

This pup is taking control of their procurement career by listening (for FREE!) to our Gen NEXT podcast series. Why don’t you join us…?

The Procurement Gen NEXT podcast series, sponsored by Telstra, begins on the 11th December. Sign up to Procurious (It’s FREE!) to access the full series. 

The new generation of procurement professionals want to  overcome career hurdles, tap into power of professional networks and leverage social media to supercharge their careers.

But that’s easier said than done, particularly without the guaranteed support of procurement bosses or sufficient funding for training.

Evidence of a divide has emerged between procurement professionals who are proactively seizing control of their career management, and others who are waiting for a promotion or big break that may never come. At Procurious, we’ve labelled the proactive group “Procurement’s Gen NEXT”.

At Procurious, we believe taking control of your career starts with eLearning. And what better place to start than our new five-part podcast series, sponsored by Telstra.

Listen to a sample podcast now

Listen to Shaun Hughes, Chief Procurement Officer, Telstra talk in Day One of our podcast series:

Day One: Understand Your Stakeholders

On day one of our podcast series we speak to Shaun Hughes, Chief Procurement Officer, Telstra on change management and the evolving skill-sets necessary for a procurement pro to make a difference in their role.

Shaun describes how he encourages procurement professionals (and leaders) to become indispensable, how the function should measure success and how to manage business stakeholders who are reluctant to work with procurement.

Day Two : Cut The Fluff

Michelle Redfern and Div Pilay founded Culturally Diverse Women, a social enterprise, which addresses the underrepresentation of culturally diverse women in senior leadership positions in Australia.

On day two of our podcast series they discuss why they are so passionate about inclusion, what organisations should be doing to ensure they have a diverse, and highly engaged, workforce and why every inclusion strategy needs a push and pull approach!

Day Three: Nailing Your Cognitive Strategy

Alice Sidhu, Partner, Digital & Cognitive Business Transformation, IBM will guide you through nailing your cognitive strategy on day three of the Gen NEXT podcast series.

She explains why procurement professionals should know and care about cognitive process automation,  how the function can bring value by helping the wider business understand its impacts and discusses whether automation really is the “job-killer” people fear it to be.

Day Four: Innovate Or Perish

Peter Nash, Former National Chairman, KPMS Australia believes organisations must innovate or perish in today’s world.

He discusses the ways CPOs can assist their CEOs in addressing their blind spots, what’s keeping CEOs awake at night and how procurement pros can ensure they are respected in their organisations.

Day Five: From Data Rich To Information Rich

On the fifth and final day of the Gen NEXT podcast series we talk to Enrico Rizzon, VP and Partner, A.T. Kearney who addresses how advanced analytics are impacting procurement’s value proposition.

Enrico outlines how the organisation’s perspective of procurement is changing, how CPOs can meet the expectations of their CEO and why procurement needs to speak the language of the business, and not the language of procurement.

How does it work?

The Gen NEXT podcast series will run for one working week with a daily podcast released on Procurious from 11th December.  You can access each new podcast, featuring tips, insights and guidance from the best in the business, via our eLearning area.

How do I access the Gen NEXT podcast series?

If you’re already a member of Procurious sit tight until the 11th December. The podcasts will be published in our eLearning area throughout this week.

Not yet a member of Procurious? All you need to do is register (it’s FREE!) here and you’re good to go!

And, to make things even easier, we’ll be sure to deliver each podcast straight to your doorstep (that is, straight to your email inbox!) as they become available so you won’t miss out on a thing!

When is it?

Starting on the 11th December, the GenNEXT podcast series will run for five days.  When the series is complete, all five podcasts will still be available via the Procurious learning area, FREE of charge for our members.

Is it really free?

Yes! Sign up to become a member of Procurious, and you’ll gain access to all of the podcast content, as well as all of the other resources on Procurious including featured classes, e-learning videos, thousands of procurement news articles, a curated news feed and a global events calendar.

Are the podcasts available to everyone?

Anyone and everyone is welcome to listen to the GenNEXT podcast series and it’s totally, 100 per cent free to do so- simply sign up to Procurious. 

The Procurement Gen NEXT podcast series, sponsored by Telstra, begins on the 11th December. Sign up to Procurious (It’s FREE!) to access the full series. 

Request your copy of the Gen NEXT Report

The Gen NEXT report, exclusively available to Procurious members, is packed with data, insights, recommendations, and links to over 20+ Procurious articles that further explore many of the findings that are raised in the report. Email us to request your copy. 

Sourcing, But Not As We Know It!

How many procurement pros do you need to manage $1 billion of spend? We examine the stats revealing the state of today’s sourcing landscape…

How many staff does it take to make a success of strategic sourcing?

We might not have a definitive answer to that question, but we do have access to some figures that tell us a lot about the state of the sourcing landscape today.

For instance, we know that companies dedicate 16 full-time employees (FTEs) to the sourcing process for every $1 billion in spend. It’s one of those stats that makes you think. At first glance this might sound ok, right? 16 full-time staff can achieve a lot. But $1 billion represents an incredible amount of procurement.

The fact is, most organisations aren’t maximising the value of their purchasing. Efficiency is being compromised, and in this there are a number of factors at play.

Periodic category reviews, while being the best way to ensure effective sourcing, are just not possible for most organisations with the resources available to them. This means companies aren’t adjusting their sourcing to account for changing market conditions.

Compounding the problem, the bulk of sourcing teams’ time – 50 per cent – is swallowed up by the supplier evaluation and negotiation stages, which in some cases can involve highly complex financial and regulatory work. With so much time spent on this phase, more strategic and potentially value-adding phases such as planning – which are still mostly conducted by category managers – don’t get the attention they deserve.

Looking at the landscape as a whole it’s no surprise that most sourcing projects are long and costly, and ultimately don’t deliver the results that stakeholders expect.

Strategic sourcing, it’s a-changing

And automation is the key…

More and more firms are convinced that digital transformation is the answer to increased efficiency in strategic sourcing, and they’re not afraid to invest in software that gives them a procurement advantage. In fact, they spend more than a quarter of a million dollars a year on these solutions. What’s more, they’ve found that this investment is paying off. According to these companies, supplier discovery, e-sourcing and contract lifecycle management software is helping them streamline the entire sourcing process – from discovery to contract signing. As a result, their total sourcing times are being reduced by 30 per cent as are their costs.

This is just the beginning of a trend that holds significant opportunities for organisations. But firms need to be bold in their thinking to achieve these results. Increasing FTEs isn’t the route to increased efficiency. Companies need to look to technology to help them transform their procurement processes and deliver faster, more cost-effective sourcing than ever before.

To discover how your organisation can embrace digital transformation and reduce costs and cycle times by 30 per cent, read The Hackett Group report now.

The Jaggaer Juggernaught Rolls On

With the recent acquisition of BravoSolution, Jaggaer continues its trajectory of rapid, aggressive growth to contend for the title of the world’s largest spend management solutions company. 

The Jaggaer growth story has been interesting to watch. Formerly known as SciQuest, the company’s announcement about BravoSolution needs to be understood in a long line of acquisitions beginning in 2011:

  • January 2011: AECsoft (supplier management and sourcing technology)
  • August 2012: Upside Software (contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions
  • October 2012: Spend Radar (spend analysis software)
  • September 2013: CombineNet (advanced sourcing software)
  • June 2017: POOL4TOOL (to add direct material capability and introduce Jaggaer Direct)
  • December 2017: Italmobiliare’s BravoSolution.

The company’s press release says the acquisition will effectively render Jaggaer the “largest independent, vertically focused spend management solutions company in the world”. The solution includes advanced spend analytics, complex sourcing, supplier management, contract lifecycle management, savings tracking, and intelligent workflow capabilities.

As a result, Jaggaer will have over 1,850 customers connected to a network of 3.7 million suppliers in 70 countries, served by offices located in North America, Latin America, throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, Asia, and the Middle East.

Spend Matters reports that this latest move will make Jaggaer “the No. 2 player to SAPAriba in the procurement technology market by revenue”.

A Spend Management “Super Suite”

Robert Bonavito, CEO of Jaggaer, says that the move “creates a powerhouse in the global spend management space and represents the execution of our strategy to build a Super Suite of fully integrated spend management solutions. This acquisition enables the largest companies in the world to do business with a single partner and cover all of their spend management needs. We have best of breed, fully developed solutions for multiple vertical industries delivering value across the full spectrum of spend types. With our size, financial stability, and expanded infrastructure we can further accelerate product innovation and bring customer value across a vast swath of geographies and industries.”

The CEO of BravoSolution, Jim Wetekamp, commented that Jaggaer is “a bold company on an aggressive growth path. The combined entity will deliver greater opportunities for both customers and employees. The combination will allow increased innovation and provide a foundation for procurement digitalisation that will set the trends and benchmarks for the entire industry”.

What’s next? 

The language used in the press announcement (“covering all spend management needs” and “full spectrum of spend types”) appears to suggest that with the acquisition of Bravo, Jaggaer’s offering is now complete. But is this the peak of Jaggaer’s rapid growth story? As the dust settles and any remaining gaps begin to emerge, users may get a glimpse of the type of solution Jaggaer intends to acquire next.

Meet the James Bond of Procurement

Looking for some holiday reading? We review Christopher Hepworth’s “The Last Oracle”, a fast-paced thriller starring Sam Jardine, the world’s greatest negotiator – and a procurement professional!

As a series of bizarre climate-related events occur across our planet, it seems the world is edging towards a catastrophic tipping point.

Rex Daingerfield is the owner of a giant fracking company that seeks to exploit a rich seam of gas in the environmentally sensitive Greenland ice shelf. But Daingerfield has a nemesis – his daughter. Born to an Egyptian mother, she is inducted as the Oracle of the Temple of Sekhmet. Her role is to protect the earth from the likes of her father.

The Oracle recruits the world’s greatest negotiator, Sam Jardine, to convince her father to change his destructive business model. But a secret society of the rich and powerful stands to profit from the chaos that has gripped the world. Led by an errant priest from the Temple of Sekhmet, they will do anything to stop Jardine.

As the planet edges closer to disaster, Jardine is confronted by politicians, lobbyists, vested interests – even his own radicalised half-brother – all of whom stand to gain from the mayhem about to be unleashed.

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Here’s what we enjoyed about this book.

A procurement hero

Sam Jardine is a procurement professional who is sent all over the world on special projects when his incredible powers of negotiation are required.

He is described in some of the advertising around The Last Oracle as “the new James Bond”. There are certainly some similarities – he keeps his cool in the novel’s many action scenes, he loves fast (solar-powered) cars, and he wins the heart of at least two female characters. But in many ways, his character has more depth than Bond. Jardine isn’t always sure of himself, and one of the strongest themes running through the book is his internal conflict between loyalty (and fear of) his oil-industry employer, his own conscience and his knowledge of impending climate catastrophe. He’s also very fallible – he makes mistakes, he gets severely injured on more than one occasion, and he doesn’t always “get the girl” despite his good looks and charm.

Jardine is also described as the world’s greatest negotiator – and this holds true, with arguably the best scenes in the novel being negotiations. Jardine leverages his cultural intelligence when negotiating with an African tribal chief, thinks fast to save his job in an interview with his furious CEO, negotiates for his life before a vengeful Egyptian goddess, locks horns with Washington lobbyists and politicians, and even extracts a multi-million dollar family secret from a drunken uncle in an English pub for the price of two pints of ale and a packet of crisps. The back-and-forth dialogue in these scenes is spot-on, and Jardine frequently wins the day by taking a risk that his opponents (and the reader) doesn’t expect.

The characters

Although there are some characters in the novel who have more scope for development, such as the ruthless fracking tycoon Rex Daingerfield, the bullish oilman Chuck Crawford, and even some radicalised Islamic terrorists, there are a handful of characters that are gratifyingly complex. We’ve already mentioned the hero Jardine’s internal struggles. Daingerfield’s mysterious daughter, Sienna, is one of three strong, intelligent female characters that Jardine interacts with, and faces a schizophrenic struggle between her identity as a holy oracle of an ancient Egyptian goddess, her filial duty to her father, and her mission to prevent an environmental holocaust. This conflict eventually lands her in psychiatric care. The theme of mental health is also present in Jardine’s younger brother Jack, whose internal demons and severe lack of judgement makes him an easy recruit for the aforementioned terrorists. 

The author is a CPO!

To let you in on a secret, “Christopher Hepworth” is actually a pseudonym. The author is head of procurement in their country for one of the world’s leading insurers, and therefore knows a thing or two about negotiation.

The world needs more procurement heroes, including fictional ones, to help raise the profile of the profession. Five stars!

The Last Oracle is the third Sam Jardine Thriller from author Christopher Hepworth. Read more reviews and purchase your copy on Amazon.

Could You Do A TED Talk On Your Category?

Great category management is like a killer TED Talk – it’s strategic, it’s well researched and it’s delivered with true passion.  Have you got what it takes?

Our webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset takes, takes place at 1pm GMT on 29th November 2017. Register your attendance for FREE here.   

There are over 2,500  TED talks available online, each dubbed with the organisation’s tagline “ideas worth spreading” or “talks to stir your curiosity”.

But, what makes these bitesize videos so universally appealing? What common traits do the talks share that piques the curiosity of the general public and guarantees thousands upon thousands of views?

We’ve delved in to the intricacies of a winning TED talk and, it turns out, some of the key qualities of a killer TED talk can also be applied to category management.

Christopher Eyerman, Senior Director, Denali – A WNS Company explains, “Category management is not just a process, it’s not just a set of tools. It takes on-going focus and the development of key skill-sets, just like any function or discipline within an organisation, in order to be the best that you can be.”

So, what are the things category managers need to do well as per the TED talk rulebook?

Keep It Snappy And Strategic

TED talks never, ever exceed 18 minutes of content, no matter what the subject matter, level of complexity, importance or fame of the person delivering the talk. By insisting speakers cut content from a talk they might normally deliver, TED guarantees audiences a level of discipline, focus and a clear thought process behind the key point delivered. The process encourages presenters to take a strategic approach.

Christophe Ysebaert, Partner, Transitive Management, explains, “Procurement organisations need to switch from being 20 per cent strategic to 80 per cent strategic. A key skill set for your team of category managers is to have a strategic mindset.”

Much like producing a TED talk on a complex subject, “To build strategy, you have to work from a huge amount of data,” Christophe continues. “You’re going to gather data from the market, your internal stakeholders, spend data etc. At some point, you need to analyse that data and come up with something that makes sense in terms of strategy.”

Tell Your Story

It goes without saying that communication and story-telling are key elements of any TED talk. Presenting key messages, an argument or a lecture in an accessible and insightful way to a diverse audience widens the appeal of topics that might have previously been alienating.

Christophe explains,  “When you do category management, you talk to internal customers, business people etc. and you have to be able to sell your case and your strategy.

“At my company, we’ve put together a package of information about how to tell a good story because that’s something you need to do all the time in this profession. ”

Category managers must be able to present their case to a wide range of stakeholders.

Find Your Passion

It’s rare to watch a TED talk and not get a sense of the speaker’s passion for their subject. They are the experts in their chosen topic, its greatest advocates and their extensive knowledge on the subject reflects this.

Chris explains why passion and curiosity are at the heart of category management, “Getting very deep with your category, getting deep with the data, deeply understanding the external market place, and having that sense of true curiosity [is important]. The best category managers never seem satisfied, they never think they know everything they need to know, they’re always pushing and trying to find additional information and additional ways to better understand their categories.”

Ask yourself, Chris says,  “Could you as a category manager give the TED talk on your category?”

Know Your Audience

When dealing with internal or external stakeholders in category management, you need to know what makes them tick or how to engage them, what you want to achieve from talking to them and what are you selling them!

“This doesn’t mean – ‘I know Joe we play basketball together!’ ” says Chris. “It’s about really understanding them. From their business, their needs, co-aligning with them in terms of their objectives and yours, developing a strategy, and sharing your vision with them.”

Just like in a TED talk, category managers need to leverage their sales skills.

Chris concludes “Selling your vision, building a strong business case and being able to influence stakeholders and align stakeholders to a strategy” are crucial to make it as a great category manager.

Want to hear more on this topic from Christopher Eyerman and Christophe Ysebaert? Tune in to today’s webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset at 1pm GMT. Register your attendance for FREE here.