All posts by Procurious HQ

The Power Of An Online Network

Your online network can give you the edge in procurement – but only if you’re an active, value-generating participant in the community. 

Rising through the ranks of the fast-paced procurement world can be a hectic and sometimes even lonely pursuit.

To counteract this, a growing numbers of industry professionals are actively seeking out online communities of like-minded industry mavens to converse with.

Online communities can significantly bolster your professional standing in the broader procurement sector. Some people post helpful information on a regular basis to online business communities. Others pop into online communities for companionship, as they give people access to a different group of people to talk to instead of the colleagues they see on a daily basis.

Forging online relationships can bring huge value to your position in the procurement world, so make sure you pick a couple of key online communities to focus on. These groups are valuable because they encourage the sharing of content and industry-specific information that can help you in your role.

Professionals often join business communities for support, and people feel accomplished when they contribute useful information to the online community. By helping others, members can gain a feeling of being needed and appreciated by others.

LinkedIn is just the start

Australian marketing executive Jacqueline Burns was an early adopter of business online community LinkedIn. She leaves LinkedIn open on her computer all day and dips into conversations constantly.

As managing director of Marketing Expertise, Burns has been a prolific blog publisher on the platform, creating and sharing relevant information to her industry sector both domestically and internationally on a regular basis. To date, she has published more than 60 articles on LinkedIn – and the benefits have been significant.

“A lot of my work comes through the platform, simply by being present. I’ve secured many clients directly from LinkedIn who have been seeking someone with my services and I’ve been logged on and responded,” Burns says.

“I’ve secured a major client via my LinkedIn community, and also a large software-as-a-service provider from the US whom I’ve never met before,” Burns says.

Online communities add value to your role

Aaron Agius of digital marketing firm Louder Online says there’s been a natural push to use online communities for personal branding among many sectors. However, he’s a much bigger fan of using them for growth and education, with two communities in his field sharing a lot of personal insights that ensure he always walks away with new ideas. “Lately, I’m finding better information there than a lot of the marketing blogs,” he says.

While he could spend all day interacting with fellow marketers, he’s got too much on his plate to make that happen. “There’s definitely a balance between maintaining a regular presence in an online community without spending so much time there that it takes away from your actual work,” he says.

“I’ve found social media communities to be a great place for networking with others in my field. You’d think that marketers would be a private bunch, yet the relationships I’ve built through sites like these have given me great friendships with people I can go to if I have a questions, want to vent about an issue, or need a second set of eyes to help me figure out a solution,” Agius says.

Get started

Look for industry-specific communities that enable procurement professionals to ask questions, seek support and make connections, which can add huge value to your role.

Online communities can be a great tool for shortlisting vendors or to pre-qualify firms. Simply asking industry peers for their opinion is a great validation process for gathering additional intelligence.

Adding value goes both ways, though, so make sure you truly engage with the community, care about what others are asking for advice on, and be the solution to meet their needs when you’re able to.

It’s also important to be consistent. If you can’t keep up with the number of posts, then decrease your posts and pick a couple of key posts to contribute to each day, because quality and consistency trumps quantity. Also, bear in mind that different parts of the world come online at different times of the day, so taking 15 minutes to post in the  evening can offer huge value to an industry peer on the other side of the world.

However, as Burns points out, just having access to an online community isn’t enough – being an active user can bring you so much value. “You can’t just create a profile online and then walk away. Your online community is the place to show a bit of personality, and you need to be interacting regularly to get value from it.”

Can Procurement See Past The End Of Its Nose?

Procurement must learn to think the unthinkable, predict the world weather forecast and look further than the end of it’s own nose when it comes to technology in order to remain relevant!

The Procurious London Roundtable was sponsored by Basware

Procurement 4.0, Cognitive Procurement and Thinking the Unthinkable were among the hot topics canvassed at last week’s inaugural meeting of the Procurious London Roundtable.

Packed with leading-edge speakers, a ready supply of valuable expertise, peer-led market intelligence, and networking, CPOs were unanimous that a reimagined Procurement must be the business’ source of market intelligence on these issues – if it is to secure and maintain a “seat at the table”.

Speakers addressed everything from global politics to AI and making it ito the C-Suite. If you’re intrigued to hear what they had to say, look no further; we’ve managed to pack the finer points into one, handy article!

Learning To Talk Across The  Lily-Pads

Nik Gowing, BBC Broadcaster,  Visiting Professor at King’s College and Big Ideas Summit 2016 Speaker,  joined the roundtable to provide an update on Thinking The Unthinkable.  Unthinkables are critical events that are not being considered or prepared for by organisations or by our governments around the world.

From Brexit to the election of President Trump;  from Putin’s invasion of Crimea to upcoming European elections, unthinkables have been occurring frequently over the last few years and they’re not letting up! In fact, if anything, unthinkable events are happening more rapidly than ever before.

Nik firmly believes that, in a world of social-media, time-scales for unthinkables which were once 20 years could now be 20 months, 20 days or as little as 20 minutes!

Take the infamous United Airlines (UA) flight as an example. Last month,  a passenger was violently dragged off a plane, the incident was filmed and then instantly shared around the globe. In a matter of minutes, UA’s reputation was destroyed and has perhaps threatened  the way airlines will operate in the future.

Nic’s advice for preparing for the future? Instead of destroying mavericks within our organisations, we need to turn them into visionaries and harness a culture where they can thrive. Nic has likened the current situation to frogs on lily pads – everyone is sitting in the same pond but not talking to one another – we need to find a way to come together and talk.

Grab An Umbrella And Face The Future

Justin Crump, CEO Sibylline, shared Nic’s concerns for the future and expressed his desire for organisations to address the current void of awareness about, and study of, the corporate security intelligence environment.

An intelligence-led approach to managing risk and predicting disruptions to your business  is absolutely the  way to go. It allows you to work out when you might be forced to take risks and when it’s worth taking them!

But how do you go about doing this? It all starts with reading your morning paper with purpose! Justin suggests you ask yourself why you’re reading it  and how and why it’s relevant or interesting to you. Consider where your clients work and where your supply-chain  is based. If missiles started flying over a particular country, would it be critically damaging to your business?

It’s possible, and preferable, to turn reading the news into a data-collection process by collating information and highlighting the important areas to disseminate to people within your organisation.

If in doubt, implement the ADAM model:

ASSESS – Understand your business and your world and what these interactions mean to you

DECIDE – Derive actions to help mitigate risks and refine into an achievable plan

ACT – Implement planned actions

MONITOR  – Use ongoing world risk register outputs to understand what is changing in your world. This will help you predict the world weather forecast and figure out when you’ll be needing an umbrella!

Looking Further Than The End of Your Nose

Eric Wilson, head of Basware‘s Purchase-to-Pay business for the Americas and APAC, discussed the critical actions CPOs can take today in order to safeguard against technology obsolescence. When 90 per cent of technology is about to become irrelevant can procurement implement a watertight process that evolves with industry trends?

Eric asked our roundtable attendees to consider the following scenario:

A new CPO comes into an organisation and instantly sees that there is  a problem with procure-to-pay and maverick spend.  They know they can save a whole load of money for the business. They challenge their employees to develop a business case, which a cross functional team evaluates and a score-card of criteria is developed.  Whilst this might sound like a totally reasonable approach there is a one major problem. Eric explained that the challenge with this process is that it focuses five inches in front of the CPO’s face; they’ve seen a problem and they’ve fixed it.

Remember Siebel? Not so long ago it was the best CRM system you could possibly use and was responsible for shifting the entire workplace environment into customer relationship management. Anyone who hadn’t bought Siebel already was about to and huge investments were made.

But, almost overnight, it became completely obsolete thanks to arrival of the Cloud. Siebel went bust, many a CMO lost their job and money was wasted, all because no-body looked further ahead.

Eric explained that the next wave of procurement technology is not just about the traditional goals of visibility, control and savings.  Harnessing the value of the transactional data running through the system will be key.

Given the way tech is trending, particularly AI, within three years 90 per cent of procurement tech will be obsolete.  People will not raise requisitions – robots will! And procurement must prepare for that.

What’s Holding Up Cognitive?

Pascal d’Arc, former GM of Cognitive Scale, talked us through the journey to cognitive and what some of the practical applications are in today’s world. Is cognitive really all the fuss it’s hyped up to be?

Judging by some of the fascinating examples Pascal gave us, absolutely! One such example was a cognitive system that had been given the ability to experiment with building a drone. The resulting machine had a frame shape which was modelled on the pelvis of a flying squirrel, representing something very close to nature.

But why is the progress of advancing and using cognitive tech so slow, what’s holding us back in procurement? According to Pascal it comes down to a number of things:

  1. The technology so far has been very experimental. There has been a sense of frustration towards IBM but they are still experimenting
  2. Expectations are huge. We are often missing the low hanging fruit when it comes to deciding what to tackle
  3. Procurement isn’t a key investment area…yet! Fintech and healthcare are the current priorities

Aiming For The C-Suite

Damian Walsh, Partner at Heidrick & Struggles,  gave our CPOs some top tips on what it takes to get to the very top. How do you successfully move on to a bigger CPO role, step up to CEO or take on a non-executive role.

  • Whatever it is you want to do, tailor your approach accordingly
  • Be clear about what you want and position yourself for it
  • Be clear about what you have to offer – think in terms of business solutions. There is no such thing as a “transport”company any more
  • Get your CV in order and make sure it’s accurate- so many people don’t!
  • Manage the search firms – be selective and understanding and clear about what you’re looking for
  • Work on your personal brand- thought leadership, speaking engagements etc.
  • Work your business and personal networks

The Procurious London Roundtable was sponsored by Basware

If you’d like to secure your seat for our second London Roundtable on 11th October 2017, please register your interest with Olga via [email protected]

Apple To Finally Get Into Bed With Amazon

Will Apple and Amazon put aside their differences and unite in time for the launch of Apple TV? 

The professional relationship between tech giants Apple and Amazon has been rocky to say the very least.

Firstly, In 2014 Amazon removed  in-app payments from the iOS versions of several of its services  in response to Apple demanding a 30 per cent share of the profits.

And then, in what was considered by many to be a bizarre decision, Amazon announced in October 2015 that it would no longer be selling Apple TV or  Chromecast because of the direct competition between them and Amazon’s own streaming products.

At the time, the move was likened to Apple TV’s refusal to play Netflix’s streaming service because they did not want to promote a competitor, but Apple eventually gave in.

Whilst certain reports this week suggest there are changes in the waters, Amazon’s Echo Show announcement  this week might be a little too close for Apple’s comfort.

Will Apple Echo Amazon’s product?

Last week, Amazon introduced the latest Alexa expansion, unveiling an Echo with a touch screen and a camera. The Echo Show features “everything you love about Alexa” with the added benefits of being able to show you things – whether it’s the weather forecast, a wikipedia page, a video, photos and more.

The device allows users to video chat with anyone who has an Echo, Echo Dot or the Alexa App, posing a big threat to Skype and  Apple’s FaceTime video-calling service.

Watch Amazon’s Introducing Echo Show video below to find out more.

The device costs $229 and is expected to be a huge hit when it begins shipping in late June, quite possibly to the dismay of Apple.  Indeed, the rapid speed at which Amazon has managed to expand its Echo hardware and the reasonable price points present a real threat to Apple.

As its already proven many times, Amazon is in the unique position to deny competitors access to its store. And that’s not to mention it’s currently ahead of the game and anything Apple subsequently releases is likely to come with a hefty price tag.

Time will tell what Apple has up its sleeve and whether consumers are willing to sack in their i-products for Echo.

Amazon Video for Apple TV

Various rumours have suggested this week that Amazon and Apple are headed in a much friendlier direction.

Last Thursday, Buzzfeed announced that the one major flaw of Apple TV was to be addressed: Amazon’s Prime Video service will, at last, be made available. Apple are expected to announce an Amazon Video app designed for Apple’s set-top box at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 5 in San Jose.

Last year Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, explained that the company was waiting for  “acceptable business terms” with Apple before  a Prime Video app was considered.  Perhaps those terms have now been agreed.

If all goes ahead, Amazon is expected to return the favour by resuming sales of Apple TV’s on its website, following a two year hiatus.

In other news this week…

Co-op releases first slavery statement under the Modern Slavery Act 

  • Co-op has outlined how it sources, the clauses it uses in contracts and the steps it takes to audit suppliers withe regards to modern slavery. It also describes how the Co-op helps former slaves into work.
  • The 10-page statement outlines the Co-op’s ethical policies, its supplier approval process and how it carried out 444 audits in 2016.
  • The Co-op said it provided training for suppliers and it planned to develop a new procurement academy and roll out a business-wide training and awareness plan on ethical sourcing.
  • Cath Hill, group marketing director at CIPS, said: “The Co-op’s modern slavery statement is an excellent example of what organisations should be doing to combat this important issue. “

Read more on Supply Management 

Like coffee? You’ll like it even more when it’s sustainable!

  • Australians use an estimated one billion disposable coffee cups annually, but these cups are not recyclable in most states…until now!
  • Melbourne-based social entrepreneur Soula Thuring has taken the direct approach, selling biodegradable coffee cups with an additional Enviro Grow kit which turns the used cup into a plant
  • The $2 Grow Cup of Life kit contains a soil pellet that expands with water, a seed mat and instructions for growing kale, beetroot, rocket and other healthy foods. It can be planted in the backyard or elsewhere and it breaks down in a few months
  • Recently the social enterprise, Streat, teamed up with Melbourne-based coffee startup Pod & Parcel to put its coffee in biodegradable coffee pods to be used in Nespresso machines

Read more on The Guardian 

2017 FM Global Resilience Index exposes supply chain risks

  • The 2017 FM Global Resilience Index, which was recently released, provides SCMR readers with additional insights on emerging nations
  • The annual index, which is online and interactive, ranks 130 countries and territories by their enterprise resilience to disruptive events
  • Supply chain managers are being told that three of the most pressing risks to business performance in the 21st century are cyber attack, natural hazards and supply chain failure

Read more at Logistics Management 

Image credit: AppAdvice

Find Your Tribe On Procurious

Looking for your tribe on Procurious? Whether you want to connect with colleagues by country, category or campaign, we’ve got you covered…

At Procurious, we like to think we’re very accommodating, which is why we want to help you find your tribe. No matter where you are in the world and whatever your interests, there’s a Procurious group, or two or maybe even three, out there waiting for you.

Groups can be created based on events, industries, categories, regions, countries, organisations and interests. We’ve highlighted some of the corkers to get you started!

Bravo: Women in Procurement

Procurious launched Bravo late last year to celebrate and promote women in procurement and challenge gender discrimination in the workplace. It’s statistically proven that organisations with greater employee diversity achieve better business results and yet women still represent less than 5 per cent of CEO positions.

Gender balance within the procurement function is also skewed, particularly at the top of organisations. Together, we can change that.

This group is a much needed platform for women in procurement to communicate, share ideas and experiences,  mentor and be mentored and stand up for change

As part of the Bravo campaign, we’ve interviewed a whole host  of high profile procurement leaders about their own advice to young women starting off in Procurement, and how they’re helping females get ahead. You can find links to all of these articles via the group.
Read more about the Bravo mission here and join the group here.

Institute for Supply Management (ISM)

This group is your one-stop shop for everything ISM-related from related articles, to interviews and ISM event information.

Procurious have been lucky enough to sit down with most of this year’s THOMASNET and ISM 30 Under 30 Supply Chain Rising Stars to find out what it takes to embark on a successful procurement career. You’ll find all of the links to these interviews in the group.

At the moment, we’re welcoming the delegates who will be attending #ISM2017  in Disneyworld  May 21-24. This group is designed to  enrich the online experience for ISM2017 delegates and members who can’t make it to Florida in-person.

Join this group and share #ISM2017 news, blog articles, event photos, recommendations, network with new connections, and continue the conversations after the event!

Join the group here.

Procurement Toolkit

This group features procurement tools and templates to save you time and effort. These tools can instantly boost your productivity and help you get “unstuck.” Use them to confidently meet the challenges that come your way.

Access the documents tab within the group to download everything from Statement of Work (SoW) templates to Project Management templates orSourcing Risks and Issues Log

Join the group here.

Is Your Nation  Represented?

There’s a whole host of fantastic regional groups chattering away on Procurious that you might not know about. If you’re unsure whether your country is represented we suggest you take a look for yourself – you might be pleasantly surprised! Here are a few of the most active ones:

  • Netherlands Procurement Professionals – Join here
  • Brazilian Procurement Professionals – Join here
  • Spanish Procurement Professionals – Join here
  • Melbourne, Australia Procurement Professionals – Join here
  • Italian Procurement Professionals – Join here

And remember, you can always create your own group whether it’s distinguished via country, industry, interests, your organisation or something else entirely! Simply visit the groups tab on Procurious and click “Create Group” and you’re good to go!

What are you waiting for? Pick your tribe and get going!

Cyber Criminals Could Hold Your Data Hostage

Password theft, identity theft, ransomware – in an age where hacking has become the career of choice for tech-savvy criminals, data protection must be a top priority for CPOs.

“Cyber criminals don’t need to even leave their house to do damage,” says Craig Hancock, cybersecurity expert and Executive Director of Telstra Service Operations. “One breach of trust and the consequences can be irreparable. These days, the traditional idea of criminals – think balaclavas, weaponry, a getaway car – has moved off the streets and into cyberspace.”

Are you prepared for cyber criminals? Do you have your business information secured? How do you manage the confidential information of your customers? And what do you have in place to mitigate risk?

Hancock will deliver a cybersecurity update at the upcoming 10th Asia-Pacific CPO Forum, where he’ll demonstrate how frighteningly easy it is to steal data from a computer by showing a live hack. “I’m planning on showing the group how easy it can be to hack a business, with basic tools and knowledge. I want to make sure everyone is aware about what goes on in the world of cybersecurity threats, and give them some understanding of what they should be doing to help mitigate these threats.”

“Mitigate” is a key word here, as Hancock predicts the cybersecurity challenge faced by businesses and organisations will continue to grow year on year. Notably, he says that any organisation offering a fix-all solution to “solve” your cybersecurity challenge should be avoided.

“It’s an ongoing challenge – cybersecurity has evolved enormously from five years ago, and is likely to look entirely different again by 2020. There’s no single ‘fix’ and there are plenty of bright, shiny objects to distract your security team. You would be wise to put in place some basic, common-sense measures and controls and partner with an organisation that understands the extent of the threat.”

What are the risks?

Cybercrime can be initiated through your head office, at weak point in your supply chain, or even through IoT-enabled devices with low-level protection. Among the types of crime that can take place, Hancock mentions:

  • Password theft: with the obvious prize being the password or access code to users’ bank accounts.
  • Identity theft: a customer’s date of birth and other key information (such as health records) enables criminals to assume their identity, or to sell on this information to others. This can be very expensive for the company that has suffered the breach.
  • Ransomware: Hackers can lock your company’s data in an encrypted vault and demand a ransom for its release. A famous example of this occurred last year when a cyberattack on a Los Angeles hospital left doctors locked out of patient records for over a week, with the hackers demanding a ransom of $3.7 million in Bitcoin.

Telstra’s Craig Hancock will deliver a cybersecurity update at PIVOT: The Faculty’s 10th Annual Asia Pacific CPO Forum.

Best of the Blog: Win The Web – Spin A Personal Brand That Will Get You Noticed

Think you don’t need to worry about how your personal brand appears online? Think again! 

Everyone loves a good throwback article, which is why we’re hopping in our time machine to bring you back some of the biggest and best Procurious blogs. If you missed any of the golden oldies, look no further!

This week, we’re revisiting an article by Lisa Malone  who offers some advice on how to polish your online brand. 

There’s no escaping your online personal brand. Whether you like it or not, all your social media accounts are a direct reflection of you – and your organisation. The content you share, or lack thereof, will be under scrutiny from colleagues, employers, employees, suppliers and influencers.

It’s crucial to take ownership of your online presence by defining your own brand. Take charge of what your profile says about you and reap the professional benefits!

Why Does My Personal Brand Matter So Much?

Online connections are the new business currency.  We all prefer to do business with people that we like and deem trustworthy. In developing a stellar personal brand and building your network, you invite connections to get to know you, observe your integrity and build trust before you’ve even met them in person.

As a prospective employee you can bet that your interviewer/future employer will have already scoured your LinkedIn, Twitter and any other accounts they can access. All of these give an insight into who you are both personally and professionally. Make sure you stand out for the right reasons.

It’s just as important to have a killer online profile as a manager. People want to work for bosses who are well connected, and therefore influential. If your profile is underdeveloped, you appear ‘un-connected’ and risk deterring the best talent. People aspire to work for great bosses that can help grow their careers and they will make the first assessment of this by your online brand.

As a procurement professional, the impetus to have a strong online brand is even more important. Before any business development meeting or negotiation, you can be sure your supply-side counterpart will have looked at your profile, seeking information on what matters to you and your experience.

Where Do I Start?

If you know that your online presence could do with a bit of a revamp but aren’t sure where to begin, it’s self-auditing time!

Spend some time considering how you come across as a person. Are you consistent and authentic across different profiles? Would your network be interested in the things you are saying or sharing? What could you change to get yourself noticed by the right people?

Top Tips For Building Your Brand

Once your initial self-audit is complete, there are some key things to remember as you work on expanding your online presence.

1. Leverage Your Key Influencers

To be noticed online, you need a large network of followers. In the early stages of brand development, building an audience is easier said than done, no matter how brilliant your content is.

A more efficient approach is to leverage key influencers in your industry. Promote and share their work, cite them in tweets and reference them in your content to gain access to their audiences and encourage them to, eventually, return the favour. It takes time and commitment but your efforts will be noticed – just one retweet can make a big difference to your social media clout.

2. Don’t Be a Social Media Robot

You’re a real person so don’t shy away from showcasing the more interesting sides of your personality. If we were all to manage our online accounts with a strictly formal and robotic approach, the social media sphere would be a colourless and dreary place to hang out.

It’s the unique quirks of your personality that people are interested in so it’s unsurprising that the most individual posts with eye-catching photos on Procurious or Twitter are the ones which earn the most likes, shares and retweets.

3. Connect, connect, connect

Building a network is a never ending task so make it part of your daily routine.  Invite friends, colleagues and other connections you meet through events to join you.

On Procurious, we strongly recommend connecting with any and all of the members across our 140+ countries who interest you – perhaps they work in the same industry; manage the same category or perhaps you’d just like to know more about procurement practices in Fiji!

4. Don’t fool yourself – Worlds collide!

Particularly when it comes to Twitter, I’m often asked about whether it’s better to maintain separate personal and professional accounts, or opt for a single social media profile.

In my view, aside from the time management benefits of having just one account to feed, your personal brand is the sum of everything you do – or that is said about you – online.

Trust grows from authenticity. So regardless of how you structure your profiles online, both personal and professional will reflect your overall brand.

If in doubt when posting online, follow this checklist:

  • Does this add to the conversation?
  • Are there any spelling mistakes here? 
  • Does it make sense, would you really talk like that?
  • Would I care if my boss or, more importantly, my mum, read this?

5. Lose the Mask

 Unless you’re batman, you don’t want to keep your identity an online secret. Make yourself searchable on social media by using your full name and your current role. Add up to date photographs so people can put a face to a name.

And make sure your Twitter handle (or gmail account) isn’t some obscure, irrelevant gabble from your teenage years!

Who’s Getting It Right?

If you’re still in need of some further inspiration, look no further than Marie Forleo, entrepreneur, writer and creator of a socially conscious digital empire, enjoyed by millions. Whilst you don’t have to develop your online presence on quite such a large scale, Marie’s website might inspire and motivate you to better your brand!

Don’t Bore The Board

Struggling to get business leaders interested in procurement? You’re doing it wrong! 

The dashboard that Lara Nichols built in her first weeks as SVP of Procurement at NFP was, she thought, a masterpiece. It had everything a procurement professional could wish for – sourcing strategies, savings programs, vendor and risk management targets, governance plans – but it simply wasn’t getting the cut-through she expected outside of the procurement team.

“I’d find that people simply didn’t want to have procurement conversations with me – nobody cared about the typical procurement metrics I was focusing on. I realised that I needed to change my approach to my work to become less of a procurement professional, and more of a businessperson with procurement expertise.”

Now, Nichols’ dashboard is built around what she calls meaningful business drivers. “The underlying data is the same, but I’ve had to re-jig how I talked about it.”

How do you identify your organisation’s business drivers? For Nichols, she took a dual approach:

Connect with the team operating at the heart of the business: “This will be different in every industry, but in insurance brokerage and in many financial services companies, the top-line team is the lead force in our business. I made an effort to become tightly connected with the business development team. We have a huge sales force, so I’ve deliberately familiarised myself with their sales strategy and focused on finding ways to provide support for what they do.”

“My advice is to seek out the people that deliver on the heartbeat of the company’s success, and connect yourself with that team.”

Connect with the CFO: “There’s a reason the CFO is always in the top three roles of a company. Finance influences the whole organisation in so many ways”, says Nichols. “I’ve spent a lot of time with the entire finance team, including my CFO, which has helped me re-align procurement’s contribution in the context of NFP’s numbers, and not the other way around.”

Nichols says that strong financial know-how is therefore vital to any CPO’s success. “The ability to influence the numbers equates to company performance. Procurement and Finance should build a deep and mutually beneficial relationship to truly delivery value we all know is intrinsically there.”

Getting involved in ISM2017

Nichols is Chair of the ISM2017 Conference Leadership Committee, and co-leads the Bottom Line Learning Track.

“Personally, I’m excited to attend the Signature Session run by Amazon Business, called Is Your Tail Spend Putting You In A Tailspin. It’s an important topic. Another session I’m looking forward to will be run by Brooks Brothers, featuring a conversation between a CFO and CPO on How Does the P&L Work, Anyway. It will provide the grounding in Finance that’s so important for success in our profession.”

Nichols is proud of the fact that the Committee has built a program with a diverse range of speakers. “We challenge ourselves to recruit first-time speakers, people who have never had an opportunity to present. Brooks Brothers, for example, have never attended an ISM conference before, but we’re expecting some very valuable insights from their session. On the other end of the spectrum, you have your solid contributors who have been attending and supporting ISM for a long time. They bring an incredible level of insight, experience and wisdom to the conference.

Network, network, network

Two of Nichols’ last three appointments were made possible with the help of her personal network. “In both cases, friends of mine knew the hiring managers. There’d been a discussion at some point about what the business was looking for, and my connection has said ‘That sounds like something Lara would like to do – would you like me to introduce her?’ In both cases, I was hired into an exciting, newly-created role.”

Outside of moving roles, Nichols’ network is invaluable when dealing with what she describes as “wicked problems”. “I ask myself who can I talk to in my network who would have some insights into my problem. The network sustains me – usually it starts with an instant message, which leads to a phone call where we explore ideas and – eventually – the solution presents itself.”

Plan ahead to get the most out of ISM2017

There’s so much choice at ISM’s major event of the year that it can be overwhelming, particularly for first time attendees. Nichols says that this will be the case particularly for people who haven’t prepared.

“Chart a course through the sessions. Read ahead, and think about how to spend your time. Plan it out like you would do before going on vacation! If you’ve done some pre-planning, you’ll have filters in place to help you pick well when you’re presented with a choice.”

ISM has provided plenty of tips to guide attendees through the maze of session, including the Learning Tracks, information on how each session is aligned to certain competencies in the Mastery Model, and proficiencies based on years of experience.

“Be present” says Nichols. “Don’t skip the social activities such as the receptions and networking events. That’s where the real magic happens. Visit the Exhibit Hall – that’s where you can access new information and innovation that you can take back to your office.”

There’s still time to register for ISM2017, taking place in Orlando, Florida from May 21-24.

Planning to attend ISM2017? Don’t miss out on Procurious Founder and CEO Tania Seary’s tips on how to Network Your Way To The Top on Tuesday May 23rd, 3.45pm.

Are You Considering Chasing A Procurement Career…?

…according to most of the ThomasNet and ISM 30 Under 30 Rising Stars, going after a  procurement career is a cracking idea!

Last month, THOMASNET and ISM announced the 2016-2017 winners of the 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars award, presenting the profession with an inspirational batch of role models who are sure to attract more Millennials to the supply management profession.

Procurious has been lucky enough to sit down with many of the winners to find out what the award means to them,  how they got into procurement in the first place and the key skills needed for a procurement and supply chain career.

We were interested to find out what advice the winners had for any students contemplating a career in supply management. Answers varied wildly, covering everything from “make sure you have fun” to “ask loads of questions” and  “do the things that scare you the most!”

There was one recurrent theme, however:  The 30 Under 30 Stars are all adamant that a career in procurement and supply chain is the way to go!

Opportunities Aplenty Await You In Your Procurement Career

Jon Futryk, Senior Sourcing Specialist Crown Equipment Corporation, advises young professionals to “get involved with a supply-chain organisation in order to gain exposure to the industry”.

Andrew Bagni, Procurement Manager at General Dynamics Mission Systems, concedes, asserting “it’s a great career path for anyone, because there are so many opportunities for growth. In the US, manufacturing companies are bringing their facilities back home, a move that needs to be supplemented with a strong supply-chain team.  This is a great opportunity for young people to be involved”.

Dan Kaskinen, Strategic Sourcing Manager, Sonic Automotive, Inc., is another strong advocate for the profession: “My advice to any young person getting ready to join the workforce is that supply-management could be a great fit – I would fully recommend it.”

Benefiting From Diverse Experiences

Several of the 30 Under 30 winners make mention of the varied experiences on offer within a supply management career and advise any young professionals to make the most of these opportunities.

Barbara Noseda, Global Sourcing Associate at Johnson & Johnson explains why this is a brilliant way to diversify your skills: “At JNJ people transition between finance, operations, marketing and supply-chain. Movement between functions helps you build your knowledge and helps you to better understand your counterparts.”

Andrew Bagni agrees, explaining that “working in supply-chain offers a plethora of  opportunities. Over a lifetime of work you’ll switch between a variety of positions. Supply chain gives you the flexibility to learn about a lot of different things, very quickly, which builds a great foundation. There are so many different projects to work on and it’s possible, particularly for millennials, to move up the ladder but also to move laterally to widen your learning prospects.”

Nurturing Your Procurement Relationships

Of course, this wouldn’t be a piece about procurement careers without mentioning relationship management. In our previous article we revealed that the majority of the 30 under 30 stars hailed communication as the most important procurement skill. Now, they’re keen to remind aspiring procurement pros to make the most of their workplace relationships, whether it’s networking, managing supplier relations,  finding a mentor or doing the mentoring.

Barbara is particularly passionate about mentoring programs. “I’ve had multiple mentors. One was assigned to me at Johnson & Johnson and I was very lucky because we clicked; it just doesn’t make sense to have a mentor relationship if you don’t. I would strongly advise young professionals to find a mentor that they share the same values with. It’s always great to get an external opinion from an experienced person who went through the same thing 20 years ago”.

Barbara is now a mentee and a mentor for younger employees. “It’s great to be on the other side – I’ve also learned a lot, and got a lot, out of being a mentor.”

Jeff Novak places huge value on networking and the chance benefits it can bring: “Having the ability to meet people is so important because you never know when it’ll be someone who can help you and make a real impact. I completed an internship a while ago, and  one of my recruiters is now on an ISM regional board. I’ve been able to connect with him.”

Matthew Montana, Category Lead at Pacific Gas and Electric Company, warns young professionals to not get too caught up with technology or big data. “Don’t forget your suppliers are real people too! It’s important to develop relationships that are transparent and honest. This is the key to a successful partnership.”

More top tips for budding supply management stars

  • Develop your Cultural Intelligence (CQ)
  • Work hard and keep learning/ gaining new qualifications
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Be curious
  • Be resourceful
  • Have the patience to accept you don’t know everything, yet!

The 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars will meet for the first time as a group at ISM2017, where ISM and THOMASNET.com will roll out the red carpet to celebrate the winners’ achievements and broadcast their success stories to other young people considering a career in supply management. 

How To Increase ROI With Clear Communication To Business Stakeholders

The Hackett Group’s, Nic Walden, explains how to improve your ROI through engaging and clear communication. 

Most stakeholders say that consistent delivery of core services is the principal requirement to consider procurement as a trusted advisor. Although many organisations are capable of filling this role, most are still viewed by internal customers as sourcing experts (i.e., focused on negotiation and supplier selection), or worse, as gatekeepers or simply administrators. In fact, only 29 per cent of procurement organisations are viewed as valued business partners by key stakeholders.

Does It Matter? Absolutely!

Analysis of Hackett benchmarks shows as much as a 2.5X ROI can be achieved from elevating the role of procurement, and aligning the goals and expectations of procurement teams to that of the business. That’s a hefty bump in savings or broader value terms in anyone’s language.

At Hackett we measure ROI as total cost reduction and avoidance divided by the cost of the function. As an example, professional sourcing teams can deliver strong savings performance when looking at percentage terms only, but when compared to the level of resource investment (i.e., ROI), they come up short.

Why Leave Money On The Table?

Let’s assume we have the capabilities to operate at a higher level (closing the capability gap is itself another discussion). One reason for misalignment is that procurement teams struggle to communicate their capabilities. Ineffective communication with internal customers, suppliers, and colleagues also causes confusion, delay, or leads to incorrect assumptions of what procurement can and cannot offer. With this in mind, Procurement teams face three main challenges to elevate their role:

  • Perceptions on historical performance cause resistance to change.
  • Internal customers are unaware of what procurement can offer.
  • Undergoing a major transformation results in confusion and inconsistencies.

The result is that successful procurement teams go to great lengths to build a compelling brand image, supported by a well-defined vision, services that meet or exceed expectations, and a formal measurement program to ensure ongoing improvement. If these steps are not taken, procurement groups can plateau in operational efficiency and effectiveness despite having the capabilities to operate at a much higher level.

Launching a New Procurement Brand

Defining a brand is an important concept for procurement because it makes their purpose and identity more comprehensible for stakeholders. The Hackett Group has outlined four major activities (understand, define, create, engage) that make up a successful brand transformation, supported by ongoing internal input. Everyone has a role to play in communicating and utilizing procurement’s new brand for effect: leadership, sourcing, buying, and operational teams.

  1. Understand what is most important to internal customers and stakeholders

The brand should highlight procurement’s desire to support stakeholders and its ability to act as a valued business partner. This means having a solid understanding of what is important to stakeholders. For example, they might want more help defining requirements, to run credible and achievable projects, to manage difficult supplier conversations, to bring new products to market faster, or reporting. Most often, they just want procurement to excel at delivering core services.

  1. Define procurement’s brand-management strategy

This is the time to clearly develop a clear vision and simple set of guiding principles to communicate goals, followed by defining procurement’s roles and responsibilities, and to make this information easily accessible to procurement and its stakeholders.

Other activities include:

  • Delineate the services that procurement provides to internal customers; ensure these align to their needs and requirements. Take this opportunity to de-prioritize or reshape what is not valued.
  • Provide clear definitions of the activities and tasks performed for each support service, along with the service levels provided (e.g., meeting frequency, cycle time, error rates).
  • Determine which business segments and departments that procurement can support.
  • Match staff and skill sets to procurement’s services.
  1. Create marketing materials and share initial communications

Now we match the desired stakeholder experience with procurement’s future behaviors. Since people respond differently to various methods of communication, consider creating an “omnichannel”, personalized stakeholder experience to allow broad access to the procurement process and enable the ability to buy/pay from all locations and get real-time information. Common activities include:

  • Develop a new brand identity, including a name, mission statement, a set of values and goals, and even a logo if desired.
  • Determine the way communication with internal customers and stakeholders will be handled, such as email, phone, in-person support, chat or robotic tools.
  • Deploy an intranet portal that lets internal customers communicate with procurement and conduct self-service activities. Consider setting up a similar site for suppliers.
  • Develop marketing materials for various stakeholder groups, making certain that overall messaging is consistent.
  • Define and document any related changes to the organization, such as new employee titles.
  1. Engage and continually communicate with all stakeholders

Multiple channels of communication should always be open for both internal customers and suppliers to reach out, get questions answered, or further develop relationships. There are various ways to engage with stakeholders, not all of which make sense for every company. Some of these activities include:

  • Face-to-face road shows with business executives, such as ongoing conference calls or one-on-one calls
  • Face-to-face road shows with middle management / operations followed by regular calls to ensure procurement is meeting objectives
  • Regular emails that include policy updates and metrics showcasing procurement performance

Nic Walden, Director Procurement and P2P Advisor, The Hackett Group works continuously with senior executives of the world’s leading companies to provide top performance insight, research and networking.  Nic is a regular speaker at conference events and a regular contributor to social media and online blogs.

Learn more about Hackett’s Procurement Executive Advisory Program

Do CEOs Dream Of Robotic Sheep?

…Or are they kept awake at night worrying about how to adapt their business to a robotic-centred future? KPMG Australia Chairman Peter Nash reveals two concerns playing havoc with the sleep patterns of business leaders.

How can I adapt my business to a robotic future?

The thing about technological disruption – and machine intelligence in particular – is that people tend to regard it as a challenge to deal with at some point in the future. The key to understanding the scope of the challenge is to break it down into two categories – disruption that we’re already dealing with, and disruption that is yet to emerge.

Robotic process automation (RPA), for example, has been around for decades, with disembodied robot arms a common sight on production lines. Typically, they automate a series of existing processes that were once carried out by humans. We’re just starting to realise the full potential of RPA, with the emergence of bots that sit inside software to automate administrative labour becoming more common.

From his viewpoint into many of KPMG’s client organisations, Peter Nash has seen what an RPA bot is capable of. “If you go into any call centre, you’ll observe staff doing a series of processes as they engage with customers – typically around data capture and data entry. Through observation, you can create “process flows”, and then build software that can be inserted into the call centre and automate the data capture. That’s a classic example of robotic process automation, and it’s happening at pace.”

Interestingly, RPA is resulting in the reshoring of capability from overseas. Nash comments: “You can track the life cycle of offshoring and reshoring. 10 years ago you may have had 100 people doing a job in Australia for the cost of $5 million. Those 100 jobs were offshored to India, resulting in costs being reduced to $1 million. Today, with robotic help, you can have only 10 people doing the same work that 100 used to do – at a cost of $0.5 million. Yes, 90 jobs have disappeared, but there’s the exciting potential for completely new jobs to be created with each technological leap.”

“Artificial (or Cognitive) Intelligence, for example, is only just beginning to emerge. People are very excited about AI’s enormous potential, but at present it’s essentially a solution looking for a problem.”

How do I effectively harness innovation?

Nash comments that there are several models that have emerged in the ways corporations seek to harness innovation. “Many CPOs look for innovation to emerge from down the line, and encourage people, whether they’re in-house employees or suppliers, to bring ideas forward. Other organisations set up innovation capability ‘hubs’ or ‘accelerators’. Another approach is to acquire, or partner with, innovation capability outside of your organisation. Some business are doing a mix of all three.”

“What’s encouraging is that most businesses understand that today, it’s innovate or perish. A culture of innovation, partnered with a culture of flexibility where people have the ability to react and respond to disruptive technology, will ensure businesses are able to take advantage of anything that comes their way.”

KPMG Australia Chairman Peter Nash will deliver a keynote speech at PIVOT: The Faculty’s 10th Annual Asia Pacific CPO Forum.