All posts by Procurious HQ

Step Out of Your Silo to Propel Your Supply Chain Career

Are you ready to step out of your silo to share skills and expertise freely with other areas? 

CBC Day 3 escape your silo

Dr. Alexis Bateman, Director MIT Sustainable Supply Chain is our coach on Day Three of Career Boot Camp 2019Sign up here to here her podcast now.

Dr. Alexis Bateman, Director of Sustainable Supply Chain at MIT, believes that a career in supply chain has the potential to be varied and exciting.  “I’ve been able to bring new insights and fresh thinking [to my role] and in some ways I wish I’d found supply chain earlier in my career,” she says. And she is clear that an open approach to ideas and people could be the key to an upward career trajectory.

Many people and Many Views

The variety that’s embedded in a career in supply chain comes, in part, from the departments of the organisation with which the function needs to interact. Alexis loves the way that this collaboration exposes her to many different points of view. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to interact with so many people,” she says. “Almost everyone has something to teach me.”

Alexis describes her sustainability and supply chain role at MIT as one of working with people from different disciplines who have a variety of conceptual experiences. She believes that working across organisations can really help us to think more broadly about issues and projects.

The opportunity to work in a team with many perspectives is something that Alexis sees as being a key part of a supply chain professional’s role. From engineers, technicians, analysts, and strategists, every discipline and perspective can be part of a supply chain team. Close collaboration and problem solving, she says, is just what’s required when you’re working to improve sustainability.

When she’s leading teams at MIT, Alexis’ role is to make sure these roles are aligned, and voices are heard equally. In her experience, “all voices are there for a reason and unique perspectives can push a project forward or enable the team to think of something really innovative.”

Get Out of Your Silo

“A silo view of the organisation and consequently the topics covered in learning and development is the wrong way to progress a supply chain career,” warns Alexis. She advocates against a heads-down, staying in your comfort zone approach. In her experience, where someone broadens out their perspective to think about how they can apply their expertise and knowledge, a range of opportunities to progress will appear.

Alexis urges people to think more broadly about what they do next. “In supply chain, expertise can really be moulded to different positions,” she reports. And the good news is that, in her experience, having an open mind can be a chance to advance your career.

Thinking about your supply chain career trajectory is something that Alexis would encourage all supply chain professionals to do. Supply chain looks at the organisation from many different perspectives: sustainability, logistics, procurement, last mile, and this means that are many roles where different expertise is required.

“There’s so much upward mobility in supply chain,” she says, “from Chief Supply Chain Officer all the way to the CEO.” Alexis is optimistic about the opportunities that are out there for supply chain professionals who love variety and are prepared to broaden their experience and their skills.

Making Variety Part of What you Do

So how can you seek escape the silo and understand the world and the variety of opportunities out there? Alexis has these tips that you can use to embed the search for different into your routine:

  1. Read a lot – try to fit lots of reading into your life;
  2. Read daily – set a slot aside each day when you make time to read;
  3. Read about different subjects – it doesn’t always have to be about supply chain;
  4. Listen to podcasts – they’re a great way to absorb new information particularly when you’re on the move.

Why not embrace variety into your life by becoming a reader and podcast listener? Follow Alexis’ tips to unlock the potential for success in your supply chain career that could take you right to the top.

Supply Chain Hack – Get to Know Your Brain

Could the human brain be augmented in the future to the benefit of supply chain? Find out on Day 2 of Career Boot Camp 2019!

Career Boot Camp 2019 - Day 2 Brain

Professor Moran Cerf is our guest on Day Two of Career Boot Camp 2019Sign up here to listen to his podcast now.

Do you sometimes wish you could upgrade your professional performance to the next level by simply inserting a micro-chip into your brain with the supply chain skills you need?

Professor Cerf started out in the depths of the cyber world as a hacker, spending 15 years cracking the secrets of computing’s black box.  His career took a different course when Francis Crick, of DNA discovery fame, gave him some career advice.  Moran recalls that his mentor encouraged him to move away from focussing on computers and  “apply his expertise to the most complex black box in the world,” the human brain.

We’ve all heard of the concept of ‘biohacking’, where people make small, incremental changes to their diets and/or lifestyles, resulting in changes to health and wellbeing.  At one end, this can be as simple as reducing your sugar or caffeine consumption.  At the other, perhaps more extreme, end it can involve the use of technology, gadgets or implants designed to ‘hack’ your biology to improve yourself.

Moran is fascinated about the way the brain solves problems, imagines the future and even composes music.  He thinks we may never fully understand the processes inside our heads but he’s excited about the ways that machine learning can mimic the brain and potentially augment it.   

Consider how this could be used to improve the day-to-day lives of billions of people. Could the future hold a time when we have a microchip inserted to augment our brain to become a Human 2.0?  Could this be applied to help our brains do the analytical things we need to do in supply chain?

Playing to your Cerebral Strengths

One piece of Moran’s research, in partnership with Red Bull, sought to identify why some people perform better than others.  How do some people manage to carry on while others give up?  The research team “wanted to see whether we could tap into the part of the brain that regulates performance.”

And it turned out that it was possible to identify the conditions when performance started to dip.  By monitoring the reaction in the brain in the seconds before a person gave up, the research team could send trigger to give a performance boost.  The brain would then react to increase performance and improve motivation to carry on with a task.  Moran’s team’s findings were clear – “There is always the potential to do more and do it better.”

Moran advises Boot Camp participants to think of  the brain as a muscle whose performance you can improve. “The key,” he tells us, “is to play to your brain’s strengths and carry out tasks at times and condition.” 

Five Steps to Improve Your Self-Control Muscle

How can we get into the neuro-science gym and practice the professor’s spin class for our brain? He has five steps we can take to improve our brain performance:

  1. Identify the key activities you do in your role and keep a diary to capture data about the times of the day when you carry out these activities
  2. Review your performance each day – did you do these activities well, were there any factors that influenced your performance?
  3. Identify the times of the day and conditions when your performance in each activity has been the best.
  4. Align your schedule so that you do these activities at the time of day that works best for your brain

Why not kick-start your training today by running through these steps, starting your very own diary and seeing if you get even more than you thought possible from your brain?

And what better way to start than by listening to the Professor himself on our Career Boot Camp 2019 podcast series!

Your Supply Chain Career: A Path to Adventure

If it’s adventure you’re looking for, look no further than supply chain for your career choices. Find out why on Day 1 of Career Boot Camp.

Career Boot Camp 2019 - Day 1

Stephen Day is our coach on Day One of Career Boot Camp 2019. Sign up here to listen to his podcast now. 

Are you sitting at your desk dreaming of a supply chain role that can take you far-away places and foreign lands? Do you wish that your job included the opportunity to try new things and work in different roles?

Stephen Day’s career journey certainly hasn’t seen him stuck in a rut with his wheels spinning. He’s worked in a range of industries and a variety of roles across the globe and attributes his career success to thirst for knowledge and the absence of a fear for the unknown.

Stephen has made many changes in his career. After starting in engineering, Stephen pivoted to telecoms and, after a decade, made another switch to educational publishing. He found the skills and knowledge he’d gained in each industry could be easily transferred to new sectors and new roles.

Break the Habit of Fear

“People can get into bad habits that are not helpful,” Stephen advises. “They can get so wedded to the salary that they end up really miserable – our careers are relatively short – we need to do the work where we feel energised and can make a difference.” 

Fear, Stephen warns, can keep people stuck in the wrong roles.

But the good news is that a career in supply chain has never looked better. There are plenty of great supply chain roles for professionals that want to make the change and who have the skills and capabilities to take on a new role.

The opportunity to work with a variety of new leaders will provide chances to learn and grow. Stephen is grateful that that he’s been able to work with great leaders and thinks that this is an important part of any supply chain professional’s career journey. “Are the people you are working with inspiring you?” he asks.  If not, perhaps it’s time to make a change.

Luck is Not a Random Event

Stephen favorite piece of advice comes from the Greek philosopher Seneca: “Luck is what happens where preparation meets opportunity.”

He’s always seeking out new ways to be prepared. Over the years, Stephen’s efforts to keep current and up to date have enabled him to have broader conversations at all levels of the organisations in which he has worked. Building his credibility meant that when he sought to implement transformation and change, senior leadership were ready to listen to his ideas.

Three Steps to Build Bravery for your Career Adventure

To make sure that your acts of career bravery and an appetite for adventure aren’t foolhardy, Stephen has these three tips for you to try:

  1. Find ways that you can keep up to date with issues in your industry;
  2. Volunteer for difficult projects when they arise – organisations like people who are prepared to do the hard stuff;
  3. Develop your network so that people think of you when opportunities arise.

Why not take the first step to build your network on Procurious by reaching out to other supply chain professionals today? You can start with Stephen Day as your first step to grow the connections in your supply chain network!

Pedal Hard, Reach the Top – Career Boot Camp 2019

Does your career need a boost to reach the top? Jump back in the saddle because we’ve got the solution for you – Career Boot Camp is back for 2019!

Imagine it is 2030. You are the Chief Supply Chain Officer of a $30 billion sustainable supply chain, and through using technology, gadgets and even implants, you structure your work day and round your peak performance levels. Is it a dream? Maybe. But you can start building this future reality next week with Procurious’ Career Boot Camp 2019.

We have curated some of the greatest global minds in supply chain, artificial intelligence, motivation and sustainability to give you a powerful push start towards the highest peaks of the supply chain profession.

Over 5 days next week, we’ll be sharing insights and learning from some of the freshest thinkers around in our no charge podcast series!

Introducing our Trainers

We have an incredible line-up of trainers for Career Boot Camp 2019. Just in case you haven’t had a chance to look yet, here’s a quick introduction:

Day 1 – Steve Day, Supply Chain Executive

The beauty of a career in supply chain is that you get to visit all sorts of exciting places and gain a wide range of experience from across the globe! And that’s exactly what our first Career Boot Camp 2019 trainer has done.

Steve Day is a Supply Chain Executive with expertise in Operations Management Supply Chain, Purchasing, Multi-Country Transformation and Change . Steve has led a number of operational transformations and developed new business models to support enterprise wide evolution from product to services and software revenue models.

His experience in the implementation of innovative approaches to existing business models, harnessing the power of the supply chain, has led him to senior positions helping a number of major organisations spearhead their digital transformations. We’re excited for him to share some of his career lessons with us!

Day 2 – Professor Moran Cerf, Neuroscientist, and Business Professor at the Kellogg School of Management

On Day 2 we will hear from Professor Moran Cerf, who will help learn how to get the peak performance from our brain. His research helps individuals and businesses harness the current knowledge of the brain to improve thinking and understanding of customers and business decisions.

Dr. Cerf’s academic studies apply methods from neuroscience to further understand the underlying mechanisms of our psychology, behavior changes, emotion, decision-making and dreams. In his acclaimed work, he studies patients undergoing brain-surgery by recording the activity of individual nerve cells using electrodes implanted in the patient’s brain. His work offers us a novel way to understand our psyche by observing the brain directly from within.

Day 3 – Alexis Bateman, Director, MIT Sustainable Supply Chains

Dr. Alexis Bateman’s work at MIT focuses on one of the exciting areas of supply chain impact – sustainability. In her work, Dr. Bateman studies supply chain sustainability through research, education, and outreach. She has engaged closely with industrial partners, public agencies, global governance organisations and non-governmental organisations.

Through MIT Sustainable Supply Chains, Dr. Bateman helps to bring together researchers from across MIT to examine the issue of supply chain sustainability, engaging on educational initiatives, research with industrial partners, and outreach to advance the knowledge around supply chain sustainability.

Day 4 – Ron Castro, Vice President, IBM Supply Chain

Do you dream of one day running one of the world’s leading supply chains?  Do you want to know what it takes to get to the top? On Day 4 you can listen and learn from an amazing global supply chain leader.

Ron Castro is responsible for all strategy, execution and transformation of IBM’s global end-to-end supply chain, delivering to clients across more than 170 countries. This transformation is inclusive of thought leadership, global talent development and is supported by a culture of engagement, agility and innovation.

Castro is leading the digital and cognitive transformation for supply chain leveraging emerging technologies to build transparent, intelligent and predictive supply chains at scale.

Day 5 – Dr. Karen Darke MBE, British Paralympic Gold Medal Winning and World Champion Hand-Cyclist, Para-triathlete, Adventurer and Author

We will finish the week on a real high, learning from an Olympic gold medalist how we all have incredible power within us to change our thoughts, our emotions, and our energy field.

After becoming World Para-triathlon Champion in 2012 and winning Paralympic Gold in hand-cycling at Rio 2016, Karen has hand-cycled to all four corners of the world, including Central Asia and the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the length of the Japanese archipelago.

As a coach and facilitator, author, speaker, and broadcaster, Karen works regularly with young people, schools, businesses and other organisations particularly on the subjects of challenge, change, resilience, sustainable wellbeing and maintaining a positive mental state. Her latest book, “Quest 79: Find Your Inner Gold”, is a collection of short stories and positive psychology tips, all based around her own experiences and life.  Karen aims to help Bootcamp participants find their inner gold.

Career Boot Camp FAQs

How could you not to be inspired by that group? If that’s got you motivated already, then make sure you sign up right now to access the podcasts as they go live. Here are the key things you need to know about how the Career Boot Camp 2019 podcast series works.

  • When does Career Boot Camp take place?

Starting on the 11th November, Career Boot Camp will run for five days. The podcasts will be accompanied by daily blogs from our Supply Chain Career Coaches plus group discussions and articles on Procurious.

When the series is complete, all five podcasts will be available for registrants via the Procurious eLearning hub, FREE of charge.

  • How do I listen to the Career Boot Camp podcasts?

Simply sign up or log in and you’ll be re-directed to the Supply Chain Pros group where you can access all five podcasts. You will also join a mailing list, which will alert you each time a new podcast is released.

  • How will I know when each podcast is published?

The series will run for one week, starting on November 11th, with a podcast released on Procurious each day. We’ll drop you an email to let you know as each podcast becomes available.

  • Why should I take part in Career Boot Camp every day?

Dedicating 15 minutes a day to developing and progressing your supply chain career can make the difference between standing still, or sprinting into more impactful roles. At Procurious, we firmly believe that daily learning is essential for career advancement. And Career Boot Camp will help you get into the habit!

Don’t delay, sign up now and unleash your inner Olympian or Grand Tour winner! Before you know it, you’ll be out of the career valleys and heading for the very highest peaks of the supply chain profession.

Don’t Be a Good Place to Work – Aim for Great

Is your organisation a great place to work? Going from good to great could unlock huge benefits and it’s not as hard as you think.

great place to work
Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

This article was written by Jim Beretta. This article was  originally published on Customer Attraction and LinkedIn.  

What is one of the best ways to grow a successful business? That is a constant dilemma for CEOs. Of course you have to have a great product or service. Your pricing has to make sense. You must be timely when attempting to solve your customer’s pain. You must build a memorable brand and communicate your brand story.

There are lots of elements in the secret sauce of creating a successful company. A company that people want to work with and to work for. And what is the purpose of starting a company or growing a company? Who are you serving: customer, stakeholders, employees? It is a bit of a chicken and egg question.

But there is a big difference between being an okay company, a good company and a great company. And becoming a great company to work for should be one of the CEO’s top priorities. You want your employees out there saying: “This is a great place to work!”.

When you are a great place to work, the effort and cost of hiring comes way down. You are able to attract top talent and retain them, and that is half the battle.

Start with Management

Your managers are the one of the keys to making your company a place where your employees are happy to come to work everyday. Give them responsibilities, accountabilities, manage to their objectives and cut them loose. Don’t micro-manage them. Set the expectation that they will in turn, do the same for their own staff. No one wants to be micro-managed and successful managers don’t have the time.

Get Picky: Put Recruitment Effort into Hiring the Right Employees

Look for people with passion. Passion for anything! Trained and supported, people with fire in their belly will transfer that go-getter attitude to your workplace. Look for patterns of initiative in past roles, school or community work. Skills can be taught. Experience can be acquired. Invest in your staff for the long term. They will return that investment many fold.

Get Comfortable Hiring Millennials

No matter what you read or hear, Millennials are not really that different from any other demographic group. They have their challenges, but in my experience, those are far outweighed by what they have to offer. Embrace their characteristics and turn them into assets.

Figure out where a Millennial might shine in your organization, give them challenges, stretch their goals and watch them lead. By 2020 this population will make up 50 per cent of the workforce. Put effort into hiring, training and retaining this cohort and this is your competitive advantage.

Treat Your Employees Well

One of our local large employers has a “First Day” policy. Your first day on the job at this company was a celebration. They made it an experience. It was part of the corporate culture of being employee-focused. Did it help them attract employees? Absolutely it did; who would not want to work with a company that celebrated their employees?

Another company in our region allows you to bring your pet to work. Is this problem free? Doubtfully, but for them, the benefits must outweigh the costs, I think, as I share the elevator with a poodle.

Company Culture

There’s something important we’ve forgotten about work: how to have fun. Your employees need a place of trust, of balance, with a sense of humor. We’ve forgotten that work is, or could be, or rather, should be, a community. Employees spend at least one-third of their lives at work.

Workplaces need to remember that their employees have lives outside of work and not grudgingly acknowledge it, but celebrate it. Their families, their partners, their hobbies and pastimes and their volunteer communities. They are proud of these and you should be too.

Brand

We are more brand-aware today than ever before. We all have brand affinities, we wear icons on our clothing, we talk about brand preferences and are acutely aware of brands when we shop or when we choose not support certain brands. CEOs need to think about their corporate brand and brand citizenry.

When employees can be invested, excited, and proud to tell people where they work, they’ll be more inclined to stick around for the ride and tell everyone they know about it.

Connection

Our employees need a connection to the big picture. They need to understand the mission and the vision for the company and how that translates into the goals, and to answer the question “Why are we doing this”? They need to know where their own work fits into realising the company goals and how what they do everyday supports their managers and the CEO.

On the question of who you are serving when you start or grow a company, I am going to go with employees. Without great staff, without motivated employees, there is no innovation, invention and loyalty. Your customers and stakeholders know this and if they don’t, they will. And isn’t that the reputation you want.

Jim Beretta is a strategic marketer and President and CEO of Customer Attraction. He consults companies, manufacturers, associations, technology start-ups and governments across North America and Europe.

Blockchain: Supply Chain’s 21st Century Truthsayer

No-one can predict the future. But we could all use a truthsayer to help us protect ourselves in the here and now…

Photo by Mitya Ivanov on Unsplash

In most supply chains, communication is point-to-point and one direction. There is no single, shared record of events across multiple parties. This is no longer an efficient or effective way to do business and most organisations know this.

And where there is no single point of truth or shared records, trust in supply chains and from consumers can be eroded. What procurement and supply chains need is a solution that can deliver data, but also be unimpeachable.

But how to solve this issue and penetrate the dense forest of new ideas and myriad technologies all offering to be some form of truthsayer?

A Truthsayer in our Midst?

New technology is, however, transforming that linear disconnected approach, and providing momentum to the movement for mature supply chains to operate in a “network of networks”.

By placing a supply chain on the blockchain, it makes the process more traceable, transparent and fully digital. With blockchain, organisations can shine a light on the provenance of their goods, but also earn the trust of consumers by proving the safety and traceability of the goods. And in a fast-paced environment, those organisations who don’t engage with blockchain face the reality of being left behind.

From farm to plate, the food supply chain can now be tracked in an open, transparent, fully traceable and entirely digital way. But what has started out in the food supply chain has all the applicability we need to cover all supply chains. Everywhere.

How then do we get involved? And how also do we sell this concept to a probably sceptical organisation (and budget holder…)?

Join our Webinar

Help is at hand in the form of Procurious and IBM’s latest webinar, ‘Blockchain – Supply Chain’s 21st Century Truthsayer’.

Sign up now to join our panel of experts at 14:30pm (BST) on Tuesday the 15th of October:

  • Tania Seary, Founder, Procurious
  • Shari Diaz, Innovation Strategy and Operations Program Director, IBM Watson Supply Chain
  • Professor Olinga Ta’eed, Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance

In the webinar, you’ll hear from a panel of experts on a range of topics including:

  • The importance understanding products’ provenance in your supply chain;
  • The link between successful blockchain adoption and rising consumer confidence;
  • Success stories from across the globe in blockchain implementation; and
  • How to start the conversation in your organisation to get the ball rolling.

FAQs

Is the Blockchain webinar available to anyone?

Absolutely! Anyone & everyone can register for the webinar and it won’t cost you a penny to do so. Simply sign up here.

How do I listen to the Critical Factors webinar?

Simply sign up here and you’ll be able to listen to the on-demand. 

Help – I can’t make it to the live-stream of the webinar!

No problem! If you can’t make the live-stream you can catch up whenever it suits you. We’ll be making it available on Procurious soon after the event (and will be sure to send you a link) so you can listen at your leisure!

Can I ask the speakers a question during the Blockchain: Supply Chain’s 21st Century Truthsayer webinar?

If you’d like to ask one of our speakers a question please submit it via the Discussion Board on Procurious and we’ll do our very best to ensure it gets answered for you.

Don’t Miss Out!

This webinar promises to provide a fascinating insight for all procurement professionals into the wealth of possibilities that Blockchain has to offer procurement.

Make sure you don’t miss out by signing up today!

Blockchain – A New Flavour of Traceability

Why did the chicken cross the road? More importantly, was there traceability of its journey and how many miles did it cover? Maybe blockchain can help us answer this age-old question…

Courtesy of Portlandia

Do you find yourself thinking more and more about the journey your food has taken to get to your plate? It’s not just because you’re a supply chain professional. It’s because, as a community, we are increasingly interested in the origin and safety of the food we consume.

Farm to Plate – Tracked and Traced

Consumers have an increasing interest in and focus on sustainability, food miles and the concept of ‘farm to plate’. The pressure is on the supply chain to maintain quality while providing both transparency and a fully auditable trail.

Production lines can be stopped and deadlines missed. But if fresh produce doesn’t get to where it needs to be on time, there isn’t any end product.

Delayed, incomplete, incorrect or damaged shipments create a monumental volume of administration. Productivity tanks, costs mount and trust erodes as the parties enter into a “we said, they said” situation, with each party trying to avoid being the ones to blame. This has led to a situation that as the food supply chain has grown, the level of trust has diminished.

However, one of the hottest new technologies, blockchain, has proved to be an invaluable tool in helping provide transparency and maintain trust.

Network of Networks

In most supply chains, communication is point-to-point and one direction. There is no single, shared record of events across multiple parties. Damages or changes – malicious or accidental – may surface in the moment, or potentially only when they are raised by consumers.

According to research published by Gartner in 2017, there is a movement for mature supply chains to operate in a “network of networks”. The network of networks acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy, as mature supply chains in these networks achieve higher levels of maturity, including improving ecosystem visibility.

By placing a supply chain on the blockchain, it makes the process more traceable, transparent and fully digital. Each node on the blockchain could represent an entity that has handled the food on the way to the store, making it much easier and faster to identify the source of food safety issues with much greater precision.

The attributes of blockchain technology are ideally suited to networks of partners, big and small. By providing a shared, single version of the truth through a shared, digital ledger, blockchain increases trust and creates efficiencies by eliminating the “we said, they said” problem and creating a shared understanding of all possible disruptions that could impact OTIF delivery.

With blockchain, transaction records are immutable, or tamperproof, and agreed upon by all parties. Immutability creates an audit trail. Privacy is maintained by setting the appropriate levels of data visibility for different parties. And business rules are shared and enforced by the system through smart contracts.

Trust and Traceability

A prime example of the effectiveness of blockchain in the food supply chain is Walmart. The retail giant has been working with IBM on a food safety solution, using IBM’s ‘Food Trust‘ solution, which was specifically designed for this purpose.

Before working with IBM to move some of its food supply chain to blockchain, it typically took Walmart approximately 7 days to trace the source of food. With the blockchain, it’s been reduced to 2.2 seconds. This time may be the difference between a consumer eating unsafe food and it never reaching the shelves in the first place.

IBM has also played a major role in the development of blockchain tracking for another retailer, Carrefour. The organisation uses blockchain ledger technology to track produce including meat, milk and fruit from source to shelf. The technology has enabled tracking on the consumer side too, with shoppers able to scan QR codes on products, allowing them to read product information on provenance and process.

Carrefour has credited the technology with increasing consumer trust in the brand, resulting in an increase in sales. It’s an example that many other retailers may look to follow soon.

Supplier ‘Passports’

IBM very recently announced a new blockchain network, ‘Trust Your Supplier’. The network, not solely limited to the food supply chain, has been designed to improve supplier qualification by creating a form of passport for suppliers. This will help to reduce time and resources for validation, with everything verified by third parties, such as Dun & Bradstreet, to square the circle.

The network, and network of networks, look set to revolutionise how organisations and consumers look at supply chains. The food supply chain is merely the first where the technology is making strides, though the fashion industry has also made moves to implement with significant success.

As consumers buy less fresh produce to reduce food waste, they are willing to spend a bit more to ensure quality. With blockchain, organisations can shine a light on the provenance of their goods, but also earn the trust of consumers by proving the safety and traceability of the goods. And in a fast-paced environment, those organisations who don’t engage with blockchain face the reality of being left behind.

We might never know why the chicken crossed the road. But with blockchain tracking the supply chain, we’ll be able to understand where it came from, how far away and track it’s route all the way to your plate (sorry Colin!).

Blockchain: Supply Chain’s 21st Century Truthsayer

From farm to plate, the food supply chain can now be tracked in an open, transparent, fully traceable and entirely digital way. We may never know the why, but the how and where are within our grasp!

In our latest webinar, Blockchain: Supply Chain’s 21st Century Truthsayer, we’ll be exploring the full applicability of this great technological innovation, understanding how Walmart and Carrefour have turned this to their advantage and revealing why it’s a must have for supply chains of the future! Click here to sign up now.

Are you Effectively Mitigating your Automation Risk?

Procurement’s new direction comes complete with a number of new risks to consider. And automation accounts for a few of them.

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

For several years now we’ve heard the same message – procurement is going to become more strategically focused in organisations. One of the key enablers cited in this change is technology and the increasing automation of transactional tasks to help free up time and resources.

But technology and automation bring their own challenges, not least the impact of dealing with the ever-increasing issue of cybercrime and third-party risk. And, as I’ve said before, despite knowing about it, few CPOs if any have a full grasp of the risk present throughout their supply chain.

It’s not just technological advancements that represent a key risk, but also the role of technology in the changing nature of work. Being educated and aware of these risk factors will help put mitigation strategies in place. But it will come down to how well risks are managed when it comes to understanding the impact of any future major risk events.

I’ve selected three areas linked to technology and automation that procurement must be mindful of as they take their new strategic direction.

Third Party Risk Management & Personnel

Technology has helped to drive and support the rise of the gig economy. A 2018 report estimated that over one-third of US workers (36 per cent; 57 million people) were part of it. It may have started smaller, but the gig economy has grown beyond the names traditionally associated with it, the like of Uber, Lyft, Deliveroo and Freelancer.com.

The attractiveness of the gig economy lies in greater flexibility on where, when and how people work. For organisations it means they don’t have pay all the costs associated with a full-time worker – potentially saving 50 per cent on rates by using a gig worker. This would even hold true in spite of recent legislation passed in the EU and in California regarding workers’ basic rights.

However, organisations may not realise that they are exponentially increasing their third-party, technology-associated risk. An estimated 90 per cent of hacks targeting organisations take place through an individual employee’s computer.

How can they be sure that the laptop or internet-capable device the worker is using is compliant with network security? Or free from viruses or malware? It’s not only the gig workers, but the employees too, with 87 per cent admitting that they use their own devices for work purposes.

How will organisations support the gig economy workers to carry out their tasks while managing their risk levels? It’s a question no-one has really answered yet.

Changing Skill Sets for Sourcing Professionals

An increasing level of automation in procurement will naturally change the skill set that sourcing professionals require to do their job. This will be seen in a move away from data and analytical skills, and an increasing focus on Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and soft skills like change management, negotiation, selling, presenting.

The question is what are organisations going to do with displaced employees? Do they have an ethical responsibility to retrain them, retain them or up-skill them to allow them to move on? Yes, EQ and soft skills can be trained and will come more naturally to some people. However, there will still be a number who have difficulty in moving into this new way of working.

In my opinion the key skill, even accounting for EQ, will be adaptability. With the speed of technological advancement we are now seeing, people have to be far more adaptable than they ever used to be.

It’s impossible to fight change – some people embrace change, others fight it, others are paralysed by it. People will struggle if they don’t have that adaptability as a natural barometer. It’s a much tougher skill set to train, but as technology continues to advance, it’s a risk that organisations need to be aware of.

Responsible Automation

Linked to this is the final risk factor I’ve chosen to highlight here – responsible automation.

Most automation is pretty obvious, for example, installing an ordering kiosk instead of a human for ordering fast food, or having self-service checkouts at the grocery store. What people don’t see is the impact on the low to mid-level managers, who lose much of their transactional and managerial work as a result.

They are at risk as much as the frontline employees, but this isn’t always considered. Organisations have the social responsibility to have intelligent automation, to consider this through the risk management lens and assess how their technology fits with the social agenda.

Being more socially responsible with automation will represent a dramatic change from the current situation. Organisations need to stop automating for the sake of it, only eliminating the transactional elements because there is good reason to do so.

By being too keen to automate, organisations lose site of the need to have humans in the process, which may in turn increase risk. Until such times as bots and AI have the EQ we discussed before, they will miss out on the human aspect of detecting fraud or seeing the human thought process behind decision-making.

This is a more responsible approach, but also, from a risk point of view, protecting organisations against the loss of the crucial human element in some tasks.

About the Author

Dawn Tiura is the CEO and President of SIG, SIG University and Future of Sourcing and has over 26 years’ leadership experience, with the past 22 years focused on the sourcing and outsourcing industry.

In 2007, Dawn joined SIG as CEO, but has been active in SIG as a speaker and trusted advisor since 1999, bringing the latest developments in sourcing and outsourcing to SIG members. Prior to joining SIG, Dawn held leadership positions as CEO of Denali Group and before that as a partner in a CPA firm. Dawn is actively involved on a number of boards promoting civic, health and children’s issues in the Jacksonville, Florida area. 

She is a licensed CPA and has a BA from the University of Michigan and an MS in taxation from Golden Gate University. Dawn brings to SIG a culture of brainstorming and internal innovation.

Dawn provided some great insight and thought-provoking ideas at the Big Ideas Summit Chicago 2019 this week. If you weren’t able to be there on the day and couldn’t get there as a Digital Delegate, don’t worry. You can still sign up to access all the great content by clicking here.

Supply Chain SOS: How Proactive Risk Management Can Put Out Fires

Spend all your time at work fighting fires? Proactive risk management can help douse the flames and get you ahead of the game.

Photo by Kristopher Allison on Unsplash

For as long as procurement has been a profession, risk management has largely been seen as a data collection exercise, undertaken at alarmingly infrequent intervals. Often, it was nothing more than a checked box to indicate assumed compliance, with no deeper insight or follow-up.

But as the reach of procurement extends beyond savings, compliance and performance. The profession touches almost every facet of a company, and mitigating risk is increasingly being seen as the fourth pillar of the profession. To be truly successful, risk management requires robust insight into all links of a supply chain – a task that has often been insurmountable.

How can you properly manage your company’s risk as supply chains go global? And who should be responsible for ensuring you’re ahead of issues before they arise?

Procurement teams have the potential to drive big changes on a global scale. If you’re not successfully navigating your risks then you’ll struggle to join the ranks of the world leaders.

Proactive vs Reactive

Whether caused by bankruptcy, politics or even severe weather events, risks to your supply chain come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s not completely unreasonable to be overwhelmed. Preparing for every single eventuality is a daunting task that seems to stop procurement professionals in their tracks.

As such, many people start on the back foot, considering the risks only when their bottom line has already been affected. However, if you understand your risk profile – the types of threats that will have the biggest impact on your business, whether they’re physical, logistical or reputational – then you’ll be able to develop proactive risk mitigation plans that can keep your business flowing seamlessly through strikes, shut downs and storms.

Successful risk management in action

At riskmethods, we combine advanced AI technology with human support to offer comprehensive risk management solutions for our customers. We train our AI using over 5 million articles relevant to their unique risk profiles, to allow us to give our clients the visibility into what the current and future risks are for their business and offer insight into the underlying threats in their supply chain – so they can take action before it hits.

For example, when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017, it made landfall three times in six days, causing $125 billion in damages and sending a third of Houston underwater. As the storm began making news, we were able to use our technology to create storm projections for our customers that narrowed down the affected location as the storm approached. This alerted them to the risk of damage or delays, and allowed them to contact any suppliers or manufacturers within the impact zone before the storm arrived.

As a result, they were able to take action to create proactive mediation plans for their impacted suppliers with outstanding orders before the storm even hit the ground, successfully navigating potential shutdowns that could have impacted their supply chain for weeks to come.

In an elite enterprise, this active monitoring of new and emerging threats means that while it may not be financially possible for all enterprises to have crisis management teams on hand, ready to pounce at the first hint of trouble, they will have contingency plans in place. This increases your ability to react faster and could potentially give you the leg up on your competition.

Where is risk management going in the future?

The next procurement transformation is taking the profession from a singular discipline to a cross-organisational centre for increased collaboration and supplier transparency.

Risk management is set to go hand-in-hand with this transformation to alleviate the risks within an enterprise, bringing another tool to the table for CPOs to leverage and creating a competitive differentiation for enterprises. While this direction may seem like common sense going forward, the reality is that it’s only in recent years that its importance has really been acknowledged.

Those who continue to think of risk as someone else’s problem will soon find themselves falling behind.

riskmethods was one of the sponsors for the Big Ideas Summit Chicago 2019, with Bradley Paster delivering an ace keynote too. Don’t worry if you missed out, you can still sign up to access all the great content. Register now by clicking here.

The Secret of Successful Supplier Selection

Still using cost as a primary criteria for supplier selection? Our latest webinar shares all the secrets you need for success.

Have you been tasked with running a selection process for a new supplier but don’t know where to start?  Perhaps you’ve been using the same routine for years but feel it’s time to freshen it up?  Are the old ways just not delivering the outcomes you need?

In our recent Procurious-Ivalua Webinar, Critical Success Factors for Supplier Selection, our panel of experts revealed the secrets to how they get the outcomes they want from their sourcing processes. 

Here are five great take-aways from that discussion.

Supplier Selection – Get the Balance Right

Our panel reported that many organisations are not yet on a path that leads away a cost-driven focus.  Tech tools that are available to help with future cost modelling mean procurement can go to the market with uncertainty about this type of risk reduced.  When cost risk is managed this leaves the way clear for the road to value. 

A great example quoted in the discussion was a utility contract. The focus was on value rather than cost. It led to costs being reduced and also meant a more sustainable outcome was delivered. This lowered usage and introduced measures to promote sustainability. 

Can you introduce a selection process that balances cost, value and your organisation’s wider sustainability goals to select a supplier who is right for you?

Remember, One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Making sure a supplier is a good cultural fit for the organisation is a key requirement that all our panel members stressed.  Think about the impact of a cultural misalignment on your organisation’s reputation or brand.  

Cultures vary across the world and getting a cultural fit when you’ve got a global supply chain is hard. However, there are many things on which the buyer and supplier can agree. How about meeting with your supplier’s leadership team as part of the sourcing process? This would allow you to assess their management ethos to make sure that the cultural fit is there right from the start?

The unknown unknowns

Managing external factors and risks, particularly those that are not yet known, are something that supplier selection process is often expected to address.  All panel members reported the challenge of grappling with the unknown unknowns in the current period of global upheaval and change. 

The advent of technology-driven real time data is something panel members welcomed to manage supplier and supply chain risk.  It’s also a great way to check and monitor supplier financial health. 

Make use of the new tools that are available to ensure your organisation is prepared and have a backstop position to allow a response when situational or supplier risks change.

Be a customer of choice

When it came to the supplier-buyer relationship our panel had very clear advice.  Whether we’re a supplier or a buyer, we’re all looking of a return on the investment in the relationship we’re about to have.  Focus clearly on the outcomes both sides are trying to achieve. 

Make sure you put yourself in the seat of your supplier’s sales director – how can a contract with your organisation provide a supplier with the opportunity for fair value earnings or a sustainable revenue stream?

Start the conversation

Changing the way your organisation selects suppliers will not happen overnight.  When you’re engaging with stakeholders our panel advises you to talk in their terms not the language of procurement. 

Will the change you’re proposing add value?  Why will it improve customer experience?  Why could it safeguard or improve reputation?

So, go ahead and pick one of the secrets that the webinar panel shared as being critical factors for success and start that conversation with the business today.

A recording of the Procurious-Ivalua Webinar – Critical Success Factors for Selecting Your Suppliers with panel members Gordon Tytler, Rolls Royce, Stephen Carter, Ivalua, Fred Nijffels, Accenture and host Tania Seary, Procurious is available here.