All posts by Procurious HQ

Problem solver by nature? Procurement’s for you

A career in procurement has opened countless doors for Ashish Srivastava.

Ashish Srivastava

The Chicago-based career professional recently transitioned into a new role that puts him in charge of ICT Parts & Service in North America, where he spends his time sourcing and buying technology services and products.

This year, he wants to build and grow a North American-focused IT organisation that’s fully capable of delivering to his business needs.

The new role comes after a decade of industry experience in managing and delivering large and complicated system integration and transformation programs for Fortune 500 clients in financial services, healthcare and automotive sectors.

It’s no wonder he landed such a remarkably complex role. He’s well versed in client relationship management, and can practically develop a strategic roadmap with his eyes shut.

Procurement appeals because he’s a problem solver by nature. He loves his role because of the high levels of ambiguity and the large scope he’s given.

He names integrating the technology platforms of two large US banks after a merger as his greatest professional achievement.

“This was a very long and complicated process of leading multi-platform, geographically distributed technology and process landscape. And 18 months later, everything worked like magic.”

Ashish is an enterprising type. While at Melbourne Business School, he noticed that the career opportunities were geographically limited to Australia. So, he developed a program called Asia Career Track, which sent students interested in a career in Asia on a short trip to meet various potential employers and engage in a productive dialogue with them.

The program was hugely successful, enabling some graduates to land jobs in companies like Apple, Standard Chartered and Louis Vuitton. His program has now been adopted as an ongoing initiative run by the Melbourne Business School.

When he’s not at work, you can find Ashish strumming his guitar, reading a book or listening to topics on world affairs, economics or business trends.

“I’m most comfortable in the company of people who like to discuss a variety of topics over drinks, coffee or dinner.”

What your profile picture says about you

When God created man he made everybody equal. He also saw to it that no two people looked the same (well apart from identical twins, but stay with us here).

What your profile picture says about you
Hey good looking, do you come here often?

Uploading a profile picture helps other Procurious users put a face to a name, and makes them more inclined to learn more about you. No face, no dice.

It’s easy to achieve too. If your profile is currently sans face, just click on that sad empty placeholder and select ‘Edit profile’ (alternatively click on your name to uncover the just-as-handy drop-down menu).

From here you are free to select a picture at your leisure, and upload it for the rest of the community to see. So choose your best winning smile and away you go!

The importance of profile pictures
Oh hey! You don’t have a face?! Me too!

A strong profile picture can open all sorts of doors for you, but make sure it’s not a misrepresentation – after-all, the carpet should match the drapes…

What not to do

That teasing slither of flesh might help you make new friends, but maybe not in the way you intended… Same goes for those ‘come hither’ bedroom eyes, practice your smouldering, steely gaze for sure, just make sure the only protection other Procurious users need is for their browser.

Hello Mr X, I’ve not been expecting you (because I don’t know what you look like).

Been hitting the gym? Yes you might have a beach body but this isn’t Tinder people, the only thing you should be showing off is your bulging contact book.

Love pets? Of course you do. But that doesn’t mean you should take on the likeness of Mr Bumblepuss. The same goes for pictures of your newborn – adorable as their cheeks may be, it’s just not appropriate OK?

And while abstract pictures and pop-culture icons are nice, you don’t want to be left waiting for Walter White to knock…

The logistics behind Zurich 2014 European Athletics Championships

This guest post was penned by Sarah Robey. Sarah represents a UK-based logistics finding service.

22nd European Athletics Championships - Day Three

Making the magic happen

The 22nd European Athletics Championships in Zürich last month was a splendid success, both in terms of attendance and their overall social goals. The CEO of Zürich 2014, Patrick Magyar, said that in the final analysis they managed to increase children’s and young people’s interest and participation in athletics. Equally important, at least from a financial perspective, the games were an excellent opportunity to increase the visibility of Zürich in general, and assist in the marketing of the 2000 year old financial centre as a tourist destination and as a place of business.

As you surely know, staging an event such as this with world-wide aims and aspirations is no small feat of logistics. Six large evening and afternoon events, ten stadium sessions (and just shy of 81 per cent of sold out at that), six-figure crowds at the road races and a City Festival with nearly a quarter million attendees – Zürich 2014 was no small exploit, and the organisers should be proud.

CEO Magyar thanked his volunteer team for the hard work they did rising to the logistical challenge, as well as the local police, the City and Canton of Zürich, the Protection and Rescue Service and the Swiss Armed Forces. A few very important organisations were left out of the spotlight though. An event of this size could not take place without thousands of hard working logistics specialists and dozens of 3PLs and other logistics organisations. I’d like to give just one example of a company that helped make this event happen.

Organisation of one particular logistics company 

Conceptum Sports Logistics, a German logistics company, was Zürich 2014’s official logistics partner. Over the course of the games, more than 1400 athletes and thousands more coaches and personal support personnel converged on Zürich. Conceptum was there to get participants, coaches, gear and equipment where they needed to be and when they needed to be there. Organising chaos is a logistics organisation’s bread and butter, and Conceptum Sports Logistics performed at least as well as the winning athletes. Maybe CEO Magyar could have spared a bit of praise for them?

Then again, the perfect logistics professional is a bit like the perfect butler – out of sight and out of mind, managing events behind the scenes and only visible when they are needed. Perhaps the fact that Conceptum didn’t feature is another testament to their skill. If so, I have no doubts that their performance at Zürich this year will keep them in clients for some time to come.

So what about your logistics needs? Perhaps you won’t be spending £23 million putting on a sports festival this year. Perhaps you only need to find a better LTL carrier for the extra orders you expect this Christmas. Perhaps you need a better place to store inventory. Britain boasts thousands of 3PLs and logistics companies that would be thrilled to help.

Sarah Robey represents www.whichwarehouse.com. Whichwarehouse offers a logistics finding service that carries listings of many logistics providers from all over the UK.

MasterCard & Basware create new platform to speed-up supply chain payments

Hungry for your weekly news fix? Join us as we reveal what’s been happening in the world of procurement during the last seven days.

MasterCard and Basware launch supply chain payment platform

Basware and MasterCard launch an automated supply chain finance platform

  • Basware has the largest electronic invoicing network in the world — one million organizations generating 80 million transactions a year, worth $500 billion, and growing at 50 per cent annually. MasterCard has one of the largest payment networks, and it is fully global.  They’ve joined forces and created Basware Pay.
  • The solution connects buyer’s and supplier’s payment processes through the Basware Commerce Network which provides an open and interoperable network that only authenticated buyers and sellers can use. Once the invoice is approved by the buyer it becomes available for payment through a virtual MasterCard account number. The combination automates invoice processing and ties the invoice information to the payment, all within a secure, closed environment using MasterCard’s single-use Virtual Account Numbers (VANs) for protection.
  • Hany Fam, President, MasterCard Enterprise Partnerships, said the opportunity is huge: “This market is nascent and in size it is bigger than the entire consumer market. It is very under-penetrated electronically. While the consumer space is 85 per cent non-electronic, this is north of 90 per cent.”
  • “MasterCard is global and none of the others operated globally. We can offer a global solution.” MasterCard is brand agnostic — it will accept payments from Amex and Visa, wires, or even cash, and it works with other business networks, like SAP ’s Ariba.

Read more on Forbes.com

Gartner reveals best regional supply chains

  • Gartner has published its annual list of leading supply chains in Asia Pacific with ten regional companies making the list.
  • Gartner Research Director James Lisica says that Asia Pacific supply chain leaders continue to create agile and lean supply chains capable of dealing with regional challenges. “We have observed some key themes across most industry segments that include building customer-centric supply chains, aligning to local markets while still serving global customers, strengthening risk management processes, improving cross functional communication, driving operational excellence to achieve fiscal discipline and prioritising talent management programs,” he says.
  • The top three is made-up of the likes of Samsung, Lenovo, and Toyota.

View the list in full at Techday.com

Jamaica to benefit from regional procurement system

  • The Regional Integration Electronic Public Procurement System, which is to be implemented across Caricom member states, is geared towards the liberalisation and integration of the regional market for trade in goods and services. This involves establishing and maintaining a regime for the free movement of goods and services within the CSME. The programme is being implemented by Caricom, with funding support from the European Union.
  • Ivor Carryl, programme manager for the CSME at the Caricom Secretariat, disclosed that a regional approach to public sector procurement, supported by a regional procurement system, can bring many benefits to the Caribbean region, and can be one of the key pillars for the advancement of the Caribbean integration process and the CSME.
  • “You are looking at a market that is somewhere in the vicinity of US$17 billion annually and for a region of five and a half million people (with the exception of Haiti). That’s a lot of money,” he added.

Read more on Jamaica Observer

Is Apple’s supply chain a risk to the company?

  • If the rumors are to be believed, Apple‘s newest product, the iWatch, will be announced at its Sept. 9 event but possibly won’t ship until 2015 because of supply chain issues. This was originally reported by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, and subsequent memos have pushed back the launch date from October to early next year.
  • Based on a thorough analysis of Apple’s supply chain, Kuo has been relatively accurate on delays. He predicts a delay in Apple’s larger-size version of its newest iteration — the iPhone 6, a 5.5-inch “phablet” model — pushing the release date for that unit back to 2015 as well.
  • A slightly ironic point is that these issues seemed to crop up after Tim Cook took the reins. Widely considered a “supply chain maven” among the analyst crowd, Cook started his Apple career as a senior vice president for worldwide operations. Through a relentless focus, he quickly fixed the supply chain, eliminating lags from months to days. Cook was promoted to chief operating officer before becoming the company CEO in the wake of Steve Jobs’ declining health.

Procurement has traditionally had ‘low status’ in UK government

  • The National Audit Office (NAO) said the government “fails to recognise the value of contract management” and “it is doubtful that the government can improve its capability to be able to have the best contract managers on all its contracts”.
  • In Transforming government’s contract management the NAO said current reforms were “going in the right direction” but there is “a lot still to be worked out”. “Too often contract management has been seen as delivering the deal that was agreed when the contract was signed. This has meant that contract management has been seen as a way to avoid things going wrong, rather than unlocking value,” said the report.
  • Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “For several decades, governments have been increasing their use of contracts with the private sector to provide goods and services. This has produced successes but also thrown up major new challenges, which are not easy to surmount. “Not the least of these is the need to build up the commercial skills of contract management staff, both in departments and in the centre, and enhance the status and profile of their role.

Read more on Supply Management

Businesses urged to register for supply chain programme (Durham, UK)

  • NEPIC’s BASME (Business Acceleration for SMEs) programme was set up in 2012 to help regional firms which are keen to increase sales to companies within the sector.
  • So far the programme, which is financed by the Regional Growth Fund, has supported the creation of 450 direct and indirect jobs in the North East and 360 businesses have registered to be part of it.
  • Felix O’Hare, BASME Project Manager at NEPIC, said: “NEPIC launched BASME to help SMEs in the process industry supply chain to develop their sales to the sector. Using a mentoring approach with some of the sector’s most experienced managers, businesses are able to learn more about what companies look for when sub-contracting work so they can be in the strongest possible position to succeed.

Read more at BDaily

Following in the footsteps of Richard Branson…

The words of Sir Richard Branson were ringing in his ears when Ben Briggs accepted a job offer a few years ago. He really wasn’t sure how he would ever be able live up to expectations, but wanted nothing more than to give it a shot.

Ben Briggs wanted to be the next Richard Branson

So, he fronted up on the first day as the global commodity role at General Motors in Detroit, aged 27, and began working. He was one of the youngest managers in the company. It was huge, by anyone’s definition.

“I remember Sir Branson saying that if someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later. And that’s what I did.

“Despite having strong technical skills, I believed at the time I was short on leadership skills, predominantly due to my age. This was not the case however, but when you’re 20-something, you often doubt your own abilities – or at least question them.”

Saying yes has seen Ben rise to the role of head procurement honcho at Melbourne’s Crown Resorts, where he’s working to improve cost efficiencies, quality, delivery and technological benefits to one of Australia’s largest entertainment groups. He’s been in the profession 15 years and has worked on both the cost and revenues sides of the operation.

Ben describes procurement as a dynamic and fast-paced industry with significantly varying stakeholder requirements, which creates daily challenges.

But juggling his first child with his role managing a major restructure to better align procurement operations is easily his biggest achievement to date. “Both were occurring at the same time, and each had their challenges,” he muses.

Crown Resorts is a fantastic place to work, he says.

“You’re constantly challenged. What’s also interesting is we’re now playing a pivotal role in finding ways to improve revenue uplift via our sourcing activities, creating new skills and creative thinking in the team.”

Ben loves overseas travel to experience different cultures. He also competes in marathons in his spare time.

“In all aspects of your life, I believe it’s important to back yourself, be committed, have passion and be a good listener, as these key traits will greatly steer you to success in whatever you do – at whatever age.”

Have you got the eye of the tiger?

When people bang-on about training, your first thought usually turns to this…

As empowering and utterly brilliant that may be, we’re here today to talk about something that can do for you what Survivor did for Rocky in the ring.

Procurious has an ever-growing collection of fine training videos and learning materials for your consumption. What’s more, they’re bite-size, so you can graze as much as you like without ever having too much.

Browse our selection of educational videos

Our Learning page can be accessed from anywhere on the site – here you’ll be presented with a selection of videos (we call them ‘featured classes’) to browse.

You might have noticed that some videos are listed as free, while others carry a charge. If you’re not looking to spend there’s still a healthy selection to choose from, but some of the more specialised lessons will require you to dip into your pockets.

How will I know if a lesson is for me?

Never fear, each paid video provides a short second sampler (anywhere from 25-45seconds), so you can watch and decide if it’s really for you. If you like what you see – just click the ‘Add this class to cart’ button, and proceed through the checkout process.

Purchasing lessons on Procurious

You can opt to have your billing information saved for future purchases if you so choose – just tick the respective box before making your payment.

Changed your mind? You can remove the class from your shopping cart in two ways: Either click the ‘X Remove from cart’ prompt, or select the ‘Clear cart’ command from the Your Cart screen. You can access this at any time, just click the shopping trolley icon next to your mailbox and notifications.

Exploring the lessons tree

Training videos on Procurious

After selecting lesson, the next thing you’ll want to do is watch the thing. In the player view you’ll also see the Lessons tree – this can be used to navigate between the different sections of the video (if the lesson is split into parts).

A (tricky) lesson learnt

Each class also carries its own difficulty rating. These range from videos suitable for all levels, through to the more advanced/intermediate where prior knowledge of the topics covered is advised.

Armed with this knowledge, go forth and explore the Learning available on Procurious! Alternatively if you’d like to talk to us about adding your training materials to our collection, please get in touch here.

Responsible sourcing: top 500 ranking

You can pack a great deal under the responsible sourcing umbrella – from businesses practicing sustainable procurement, specialists in environmental and ethical trading, thought-leaders in social impact, to those organisations sharing strategies and solutions.

The leaderboard is arranged by social media clout – those with massive influence undoubtedly sit nearer the top, indicating that meaningful interactions via social media channels count for a lot here.

The list is compiled by McClelland Media Ltd, and UK retail giant Marks and Spencer.

We’ve provided a small sample below, but we suggest you head on over to https://www.leaderboarded.com/responsible-sourcing to view the top 500 in its entirety.

You can pack a great deal under the responsible sourcing umbrella – from businesses practicing sustainable procurement, specialists in environmental and ethical trading, thought-leaders in social impact, to those organisations sharing strategies and solutions.  The leaderboard is arranged by social media clout – those with massive influence undoubtedly sit nearer the top, indicating that meaningful interactions via social media channels count for a lot here. The list is compiled by McClelland Media Ltd, and UK retail giant Marks and Spencer.   We’ve provided a small sample below, but we suggest you head on over to https://www.leaderboarded.com/responsible-sourcing to view the top 500 in its entirety.  See something missing? We’ve been told it’s possible to nominate organisations (or people) for consideration. Best visit the publisher’s website for more information.

We’d also recommend bookmarking the page, as it updates weekly every Friday.

See something missing? We’ve been told it’s possible to nominate organisations (or people) for consideration. Best visit the publisher’s website for more information.

Cracking-down on Africa’s illegal Ivory trade

Get your weekly fix of the biggest news stories affecting the supply chain world, procurement profession, and sustainable businesses.

Africa's illegal ivory trade

Focus on supply chain to tackle illicit ivory trade

  • The Born Free Foundation is calling on enforcement agencies to tackle the illicit trade in ivory by addressing the supply chain behind it. The charity has produced a report detailing the supply chain behind the trade, which involves a complex network including poachers in Africa, freight forwarding companies, corrupt port officials and organised crime syndicates.
  • The report, called Out of Africa, said: “Disproportionate attention is currently being paid to the beginning and end of the ivory supply chain, on tackling poaching through deterrence, and on reducing the end-demand by re-educating consumers.
  • “Both are extremely important, but also extremely difficult, especially in the short time frame available. Disrupting the intermediate sections of the supply chain, however, is likely to be a more tractable intervention.”
  • The report said between 2009 and June 2014 170 tonnes of ivory had been seized, that assuming a 10 percent interception rate was equivalent to the deaths of almost 230,000 elephants. Ivory is collected in the bush at $50 to $100/kg (£30 to £60/kg), sold wholesale at $2,100/kg (£1,300/kg) and then retailed in the millions.

Read more on Supply Management

Aerospace groups voice concerns over supply chain

  • Some of Britain’s smaller aerospace companies have expressed concern that capacity issues in the supply chain could derail the big aircraft makers’ ambitious plans to step up production of passenger jets.
  • The thousands of companies that make up the UK’s aerospace supply chain are at present benefiting from the launch of an unprecedented number of new aircraft and engine programmes under development in the industry simultaneously.
  • “There is definitely cost pressure and that’s coming now with the challenge of volume that is there,” says Craig Gallagher, chief executive officer at MB Aerospace, a key supplier to aero-engine manufacturers, such as Rolls-Royce.

Read more at FT.com 

Water scarcity a challenge to cotton supply chains

  • World Water Week kicked off in Stockholm on 31 Aug, and with it increased attention on putting increasingly limited water resources to better use.
  • Water scarcity poses a potential risk to the global cotton industry, and the apparel supply chain is being urged to do more to tackle the fibre’s huge water footprint.
  • Cotton is one of the largest and thirstiest crops produced – accounting for around 2.5 per cent of all available arable land and more than 3 per cent of the water consumed across all crop production.
  • The world is likely to face a 40 per cent global shortfall between forecast demand and available supply of water in the next 15 years.

Read more on Just Style

Arcadia entertains supply chain overhaul

  • Arcadia is continuing on its quest to overhaul its IT systems, this time announcing a contract that, it is hoped, will speed up and improve its supply chain overhaul.
  • The retail group, owned by Sir Philip Green, has started a multi-million pound migration to a new supply chain system and is working with suppliers including Oracle and Manhattan Associates.
  • The retailer has employed a testing partner to help make sure its new supply chain systems are glitch free by the time they go live. The challenge is made more complex by the fact that Arcadia operates several brands, including Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and BHS.

Read more on Retail Week

Hospital food

Hospitals must adopt food procurement sustainability plans

Read more on Supply Management

Apple iPhone 6 screen delay leaves supply chain scrambling

  • Suppliers to Apple are scrambling to get enough screens ready for the new iPhone 6 smartphone as the need to redesign a key component has disrupted panel production ahead of September’s expected launch, supply chain sources said.
  • It is unclear whether the hiccup could delay the launch or limit the number of phones initially available to consumers. But the issue highlights the risks and challenges that suppliers face to meet Apple’s tough specifications, and comes on the heels of a separate screen technology problem, since resolved, in making thinner screens for the larger iPhone 6 model.
  • Cupertino, California-based Apple, has scheduled a media event for Sept. 9, and many expect it to unveil the new iPhone 6 with both 4.7 inch (11.94 cm) and 5.5 inch (13.97 cm) screens – bigger than the 4 inch screen on the iPhone 5s and 5c.
  • In addition: the Cupertino company’s long-rumoured ‘iWatch’ may not ship until 2015 according to recent rumblings.

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

Is shipping & the supply chain the ‘next playground for hackers’?

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) is warning the maritime sector to be extra vigilant in light of increasing attacks from cyber criminals.

Do hackers pose a risk to the maritime industry?

For a bureau that has traditionally focussed its efforts on fighting piracy and armed robbery at sea, this new digital threat puts an entirely different menace in its crosshairs.

The IMB has been quoted as saying, “Recent events have shown that systems managing the movement of goods need to be strengthened against the threat of cyber-attacks.

“It is vital that lessons learnt from other industrial sectors are applied quickly to close down cyber vulnerabilities in shipping and the supply chain.”

This is cause for concern for the maritime industry especially as ships, containers and rigs are all connected to computer networks. If hackers find but one weakness, it can expose the entire network and make it open to exploitation on a grand scale.

Various cyber security experts have sounded off on this very subject during the past few months, and the media has been quick to pick up on it.  Reuters reported that a floating oil rig was compromised by hackers who tilted it onto its side.  The rig was out of action for an entire 19 days while harmful malware was removed from computer systems.

In Antwerp hackers gained access to port-side computers that enabled them to target specific containers, before making off with the booty and wiping away any telltale digital fingerprints.

The latest warning from the IMB quotes Mike Yarwood – TT Club’s insurance claims expert, speaking at the TOC Container Supply Chain Europe Conference in London. “We see incidents which at first appear to be a petty break-in at office facilities. The damage appears minimal – nothing is physically removed.”

Mike continues: “More thorough post incident investigations however reveal that the ‘thieves’ were actually installing spyware within the operator’s IT network.”

In scenarios similar to the incident in Antwerp, hackers tend to track individual containers through the supply chain to its destination port. Along the way the IT systems related to the cargo are infiltrated, resulting in the hackers either gaining entry to (or generating release codes for) specific containers.

The International Maritime Bureau is a specialized department of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Can you be a creative and still excel in procurement?

“Beware the team building exercise” 

At first, Karen Carmichael wasn’t sure that her creative streak would fit with the serious business of procurement. She loves to sing and dance in amateur theatre, which means dressing up.

Karen Carmichael

“So, beware the team building exercise, as you will need to dress up in some way. During my career I’ve dressed up as a leopard on stage for a divisional conference, I have been a penguin, the Mad Hatter, the Wicked Witch of the West, Santa’s Elf, the Starlight Star and more. My team and I have walked through Sydney dressed as princesses and Mexicans.

“How has this shaped my professional journey? Not really sure, but I truly believe that we work with people, and people need to have fun where they work, or why get out of bed?”

Karen was most recently the Head of the Procurement Team for Singtel Optus and specialises in transformational and digital change. The experienced finance executive has a diverse career spanning retail, telco, manufacturing and engineering.

The qualified CPA was also awarded the Who’s Who Worldwide Financial Management Professional of the Year 2012 for her achievements.

She’s now moved into consulting to help other organisations achieve excellence in their procurement function.

Karen is a problem solver who loves a challenge and passionately believes there’s always room for improvement.

“I love diversity because I get bored easily. I love to inspire people and watch them reach their true potential. Never be afraid to do something difference, even if you’re not clear where it will lead you. Who knows, you may end up in procurement, like I did.”

She wishes she could change people’s perception of what she does for a living.

“The function of procurement is still largely seen as an administration task focused on cost-cutting. But used correctly, it’s a truly strategic competitive advantage that can help business achieve their goals and drive better value from their supplier base so that customers receive what they really need at the best possible value.”

Karen also likes to make a difference to the world. She was a corporate mentor for student refugees from war torn countries or whose families struggle with substance abuse or domestic violence in 2007-2009.

At the time, Karen was being treated for breast cancer. A number of the intellectually and physically handicapped students from the support unit of the school presented her with turbans to keep her then-bald head warm.

“It was the most humbling experience of my life and one I accredit for my speedy recovery.”