All posts by Procurious HQ

Leaping into the Future – Better Have the Right Skills

Plan for the future. Look before leaping in head first, and understand what you need to know to handle constant change. It’s time for procurement to upskill.

10 lords a leaping

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.

“On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…ten Lords-a-leaping.”

With birds, rings, and maids all behind us, we head into the final few days of our carol. You never know what’s coming in the future, so you need to be prepared for any eventuality.

Think about how the recipient of all these gifts would be coping. What skills (if any actually exist) would they need to manage the myriad presents they have received?

It’s a similar situation with procurement, and the future of the profession. The fundamental nature of procurement is changing, and professionals need to be ready to cope. For this, we need to be developing the right skill set for what procurement will look like, not what it is now.

And once we have the skills, we need to know how we, as individuals, can make a difference for our organisations.

Leaping into Action

The traditional skill set in procurement isn’t going to cut it any more. That much is clear. Throughout the year, our experts and contributors have been highlighting the change in skills expected of procurement professionals.

The basic skills of contract management, negotiation, and others, can all be taught. It’s an attitude versus aptitude decision when it comes to hiring new team members.

But hiring managers are looking for a new set of skills. Keith Bird, Managing Director of the Faculty Management Consultants, sees these five skills as critical for the profession:

  1. Learning Agility – procurement needs agile learners to keep up with the pace of change, or face obsolescence.
  2. Cultural Awareness – the ability to work with diverse groups of stakeholders, usually in cross-border situations.
  3. Information Management – knowing which data is good to use, and how to use it in a way that means something.
  4. Social Media Savviness – where would we be without social media? Procurement professionals need to be comfortable communicating in any medium.
  5. Creative Thinking – approaching everyday business challenges with an open mind and creative mind set.

On top of this, we need to stop viewing ‘soft skills’ as a luxury. These are generally skills that cannot be learned, but are just as critical for success. And once you’ve mastered these skills, you might even be able to take on the mantle of your team’s MVP:

Change the Skills, Change the Game

If that’s all got you leaping to your feet to sign up for training courses, then great! If you have ambitions to be one of the CPOs of the future, you’ll need to develop a variety of capabilities.

And once you have the skills, you’ll need to know how to apply them for success. Even if you aren’t heading to the CPO arena, you can still make a difference for your organisation. You might not be a ‘game changer’ (and that’s ok), but you can still make a major difference for your procurement team.

Not familiar with the concept? Think Branson, Gates, Zuckerberg – in fact, anyone who has turned a small idea into a major disruptor. We were lucky enough to get the expert view during Career Boot Camp:

Your individual strengths can bring change to your organisation. The beauty of it is that one skill set isn’t enough. To create lasting change, you’ll need individuals all bringing their skills to the party.

And while the party probably won’t include leaping Lords and dancing ladies, it’ll be a celebration of procurement’s evolution instead.

We’re nearly at the end of our 12 Days of Procurement Christmas. But first, we need to have a look at how the logistics of the carol come together. Like the Pied Piper himself, you need to make sure everyone is dancing to your tune.

Going Dancing? Deal With This Supply Chain Crisis First!

Planning on going dancing with the nine ladies at the Christmas party? First, there’s a crisis to solve.

9 ladies dancing

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the first eight days on the Procurious Blog.

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love sent to me – a work Christmas party! But before you can go dancing, a major supplier calls you with some bad news. Let us regale you with the story of how Procurious saved Christmas!

 

‘Twas the day before Christmas, and I sat in my chair,

Before my computer, pulling my hair.

My colleagues had left for the work Christmas party,

Their voices were merry, their laughs loud and hearty.

 

The plan was to join them once emails were read,

While visions of Christmas treats danced in my head.

“I’ll be just a minute!” I’d shouted with glee.

How little I knew of the fate before me.

 

That’s when my phone gave a shout (what a clatter!)

I gulped – what was wrong? What was the matter?

An earthquake? A flood? My supply chain on fire?

Whatever it was, it was bound to be dire.

 

I picked up the phone with a trembling hand

It was a supplier! “They’ve taken a stand!”

“Who have?” I groaned, completely unmanned:

“Our workers! They’re striking! It’s bad for the brand!”

 

“But it’s Christmas!” I yelled. “The timing is shocking!”

“I think that’s the point?” he replied, knees-a-knocking.

I flew to my laptop and the project I checked

Without those supplies the whole thing was wrecked.

 

I leaped back to the phone: “Forget it!” I said.

“I’ll have to find a different vendor instead!”

Did I have a plan B? A second supplier?

No I did not, and now things were haywire.

 

I scrolled through my contacts, I Googled and Bing’d

Yahooed and LinkedIn ’till my eyes were red-rimmed

As I mentioned before, I was pulling my hair

“This isn’t Christmas-y! This isn’t fair!”

 

I slumped at my desk, my heart pounding sickly,

I knew a supply must be procured quickly.

And that’s when a lightbulb blinked on in my head

“I know where I should be looking instead!”

 

Back to the screen I leapt with a flurry

And typed in “Procurious.com” in a hurry.

This was my chance to stop repercussions

I logged into the site and clicked on “Discussions”.

 

“Please help me!” I typed. “I need a supplier!”

“It’s Christmas! I’m desperate! We’re down to the wire!”

I listed my needs and sat back, all a-quiver

In hope that Procurious would quickly deliver.

 

A minute passed – or two, maybe three

Would this trick work? There’s no guarantee..

But then Procurious.com gave a “ding!”

Someone’s answered my question! I felt like a king!

 

A colleague I’d met on the site was quite happy

To suggest a supplier, a reputable chappy

who could sort out my problems, no matter how vast

And what’s more, will do it surprisingly fast.

 

That’s when I realised my problems were solved

The supply chain was saved, all worries dissolved.

I put on my coat and left with aplomb.

Merry Christmas, and thank you Procurious.com!

From dancing the night away, to leaping barriers to the evolution of procurement. But what skills do procurement professionals need to cultivate in the future? Learn more tomorrow.

Negotiations Milking you Dry? Why Not Unleash the Power of the Herd!

On Day 8, the true love bestowed that famously lusted after gift of eight milking maids…

eight maids a milking

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.

“On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…eight maids-a-milking.”

As the gifts become more and more extravagant, we have to question the logistics of it all – we wouldn’t be procurement professionals if we didn’t!

It’s unclear how the true love bequeathed the eight milking maids. Were eight cows also included in the purchase or was it simply a milking service that was required? Were the maids employed by an hourly rate or at a fixed cost, and how were they delivered to the lucky recipient?

Whatever happened, it would have taken some great negotiation skills to strike up a fair deal that ensured neither party was milked dry.

Perhaps the true love harnessed the knowledge of a crowd of friends to get ideas on how to orchestrate the whole thing – using the power of the herd as it were!

Negotiating Your Best Deal 

The festive season calls for a lot of meticulous planning but when it comes to negotiating deals, you need to be prepared all year round. What’s your pre-match strategy when it comes to negotiating with suppliers, clients and stakeholders?

In order to achieve the right outcome, you ought to have considered your objectives well in advance. This will help you determine what sort of negotiation you’ll need to have and assess any additional support you might need such as legal advice.

It’s also important to ensure you know the other party. What are their aspirations, weaknesses and objectives?

This Procurious e-learning video has it all covered: 

Here are some key things to bear in mind:

  • Will your agreement stand the test of time? Both parties want to feel that they’ve achieved a good deal and a satisfactory outcome.
  • Is the outcome efficient? Make sure no value has been left at the table.
  • Are you off to a good start? Negotiating a deal sets the foundation for your supplier partnerships and a precedent for the relationship you want to build.
  • Have you mastered your verbal, written and non-verbal communications? When it comes to negotiating, you need to be assertive but not aggressive!

Milking The Power of the Herd 

Sometimes, no amount of self-determination and commitment can get you across the finish line alone. We all need a little help from our friends for ideas, innovation and support.

We’ve certainly noticed that collaborative innovation has been on the rise in 2016 with more organisations embracing the power of the Hackathon.

In November, Spotless Group and Startupbootcamp hosted an epic two-day event at the MCG in Melbourne, Australia, focusing on the Internet of Things (IoT) and DataTech. Events such as these help to generate new ideas and turn innovation into reality.

Lisa Malone spoke about the value of the Hackathon at this year’s Big Ideas Summit.

Lisa explained why it’s key to foster creative cultures in the workplace, giving employees the chance to dare to think about the unthinkable. It can be hard to think big and innovate when you’re stuck in the routine of day-to-day office life.

Hackathons can be a great way to harvest creativity and allow teams to deliver the big ideas CEOs are demanding.

If hosting a hackathon seems a bit out of your reach, remember there are other ways to drive change and innovation within your organisation.

Internal collaboration also has a huge part to play. Procurious recently addressed why it’s so critical to engage Millennials with new tech implementations. They’re tech savvy and accustomed to participating in digital communities.

Their contributions, for example, could be invaluable when it comes to the adoption of e-procurement.

It’s very nearly Christmas, and many of you will be dancing out the door to your Christmas party. But what happens if there’s a crisis that arises, demanding your attention? Don’t worry, help is at hand!

Yahoo Breaks Record – For The Biggest Hack in History

The biggest hack in history – it’s certainly not an award to be envious about. But Yahoo broke the record after announcing a major breach from 2013.

hack record

It’s been a bad week for embattled internet giant, Yahoo, as the company announced details of a huge cyber security breach from 2013. The hack impacted over one billion accounts, twice as big as the previous largest breach.

Yahoo was also the victim of the previous hack ‘record’, which it announced in September. It means that user data from over 1.5 billion accounts has been stolen from the company between 2013 and 2014.

Both the FBI and the New York Attorney General are investigating the hack. However, the company is likely to suffer as trust in its security and systems falls.

Hack Included US Officials

The first, and largest, of the hacks occurred in August 2013. Yahoo have said that data such as usernames, passwords, phone numbers and security questions were all stolen. The company is taking steps to contact users affected by the hack, asking them to change passwords and security questions.

It’s an embarrassing turns of events for Yahoo, who are already struggling to keep pace in the tech industry. It’s the second hack the company have announced this year. To further their embarrassment, it has come to light that 150,000 of the affected accounts belonged to US Government Officials.

According to a Bloomberg report, the data stolen from the officials in the hack could be a threat to national security. Data could allow cyber criminals to identify officials, target them, and further hack personal and professional accounts.

Organisations affected included:

  • Current and former White House staff;
  • FBI agents;
  • US Congressmen and their aides;
  • Officials at the NSA and CIA;
  • Current and former US diplomats; and
  • Every branch of the US Armed Forces.

Trouble on the Verizon?

The two breaches, and the high-profile nature of the accounts included, come at a bad time for Yahoo. In recent months CEO Marissa Meyer has come under increasing criticism for how the company is performing.

The hacks may also have a major impact on the deal Yahoo currently has to sell its core internet assets to Verizon. The deal, currently estimated to be worth $4.8 billion, has still to be finalised. And while it’s likely to still go ahead, Verizon have already said it will be looking for a lower price.

In October, when the first hack was announced, Verizon stated that it was “reviewing the deal“. It’s unlikely that a second breach will assist Yahoo’s negotiation position much either. With shares prices falling 6.5 per cent in Thursday trading last week, the deal valuation is likely to be put back on the table.

However, some experts believe that the deal will still be closed at its original price. The impact of the breaches will not be seen for some time, and certainly not in a way that would show any monetary damage. But at a time when a smooth deal was top of the priority list, Yahoo will need to work very hard to recover consumer confidence.

What Should I Do?

While you will be contacted by Yahoo if you are impacted by the hack, we’ve pulled together some things you can do in the mean time.

  • Log into your e-mail account and change your password

Make it a brand new password, with upper and lower cases, special characters and numbers. No dates of birth!

  • Check accounts the e-mail is linked to

Like most people, you’ll use your e-mail to log into other online accounts. Check all these accounts to make sure there’s no unusual activity. Change your passwords.

Once you’ve done this, check for any password reset requests that you haven’t asked for in your e-mail. Report anything suspicious to the site in question.

  • Check Sent Mail for Spam

Your account might have been used for sending spam mails to your contact list. Do a quick check of your sent mail for this.

  • Two Factor Identification

In light of the increasing number of hacks, sites have begun to introduce two factor identification. This works alongside your password as part of the logging in process. Register for it where you can.

You’re never going to be 100 per cent safe from a hack. But by using strong passwords (different ones for different sites), you can help to minimise the impact and possibility.

While we frantically try to remember all our passwords, we’ve looked out some of the top headlines for this week…

Trump Holds Silicon Valley Tech Summit

  • Silicon Valley tech heavyweights sat down with President-elect Donald Trump for two hours last week.
  • The leaders including Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
  • Topics discussed included vocational education, trade with China, and the need for data analysis technology to detect and reduce government waste.
  • The tech industry and Trump were frequently at loggerheads during the election. Trump also singled out a number of them for criticism on non-US supply chains.

Read more at the New York Times

Amazon in Drone Delivery First

  • Amazon made history last week with its first delivery by a fully-autonomous flying drone.
  • The delivery, containing a TV remote control and a bag of popcorn, was made to a customer in Cambridge, U.K.
  • The delivery took 13 minutes from Amazon’s local warehouse to the customer’s home. Amazon intends to extend the trial to hundreds of users.
  • Packages must weigh five pounds or less and can only be delivered during the day and in clear weather.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal and watch the video here 

Mexican Government Deploys Troops for Shipment Protection

  • As many as 1000 troops have been deployed along rail lines in Mexico to protect automotive cargo from thieves.
  • Thieves have been boarding trains to steal tyres, batteries and other automotive parts.
  • Mazda and General Motors are among the companies that have been impacted by the thefts.
  • American Honda has also been affected, and takes the damage into account when deciding between rail and sea-borne deliveries.

Read more at Automotive Logistics

UK Falling Behind on Timber Requirements

  • The UK faces a future timber shortage thanks to delays in planting of forests.
  • In order to meet Government requirements of 10-12 per cent increase in woodland areas in England, 11 million tree need to be planted between now and 2020.
  • However, the Chief Executive of Confor has highlighted serious delays due to inefficiencies in the grant system for planting.
  • The highly bureaucratic process means it can take up to three years before permission is granted to plant trees on a large scale.

Read more at Supply Management

Supplier Diversity in 2017 – Here’s Why It Matters

2017 will be the year when Diversity in Procurement takes the spotlight. And here’s why.

supplier diversity

In March 2017, the Institute for Supply Management is holding a major summit on Diversity in procurement and supply management.

Diversity advocate Shelley Stewart Jr (VP and CPO of DuPont), has seen first-hand the positive impact that a strong, diverse organisation can have on the bottom line. Stewart is championing the case for making supply chains a bias-free zone at ISM Diversity 2017.

Here’s why supplier diversity matters to your procurement function, your business and your customers.

  1. Increasing Supplier Diversity is our Responsibility

A 2009 study from Pew Research has found that while minority-owned firms made up 41 per cent of all companies in the U.S., they only took in 10.9 per cent of overall revenue. Why?

Contributing factors include:

  • unconscious bias amongst decision-makers;
  • a narrow focus on cost over other value;
  • restrictive criteria for suppliers;
  • inflexible and non-scalable policies;
  • a tendency for big business to be most comfortable working similarly sized entities.

These days, diversity spend is now firmly on the agenda and rising every year. Reversing the contributing factors above has led to a more inclusive focus on overall value (including social benefits) over cost, flexible and scalable policies and criteria for suppliers, and a recognition that the strongest business relationships are often made with smaller, more diverse suppliers.

  1. Customers Want to see Diversity in Action

The public relations aspect shouldn’t be the prime reason for having a supplier diversity programme. However, it’s still important to track, measure and report on your diverse supply base to win recognition from your customers.

Your customer base is diverse, so your business needs to be diverse as well. This comes through adequate representation in the supplier base.

Partnerships with diverse suppliers will give your business a competitive advantage when facing changing customer demographics. For example, if you operate in an area with a rapidly-growing minority population, your key relationships with minority-owned suppliers will become more important than ever.

  1. Diversity Drives Innovation

Essentially, diversity brings a number of different backgrounds and life experiences into your supplier mix to overcome homogenous thinking with fresh new perspectives.

Size matters, too. A study by CHI Research determined that small businesses generate 13 to 14 times more patents per employee than large firms. Since diverse suppliers tend to be small businesses, many companies use their supplier diversity programmes to tap into new and varied creative resources and the innovation that is occurring at these firms.

The fierce competition for business amongst diverse suppliers is another driver for innovation.

  1. Diverse Suppliers are Often More Flexible

Because most diverse suppliers are small businesses, they are usually able to offer greater flexibility, better customer focus and lower cost structures than larger businesses.

Smaller, diverse suppliers are less likely to be tied down by restrictive policy, red-tape or innovation-stifling bureaucracy.

  1. Follow the Leaders

Some of the world’s leading companies are moving ahead with impressive supplier diversity programmes.

  • Microsoft, for example, has recently exceeded $2 billion in annual spend with M/WBE businesses.
  • Google launched a best-practice supplier diversity programme in 2015. It brings key partners into the Google Academy for shared learning opportunities that will drive further innovation.
  • AT&T celebrate their suppliers as one of their “four pillars of diversity”, the other three being the organisation’s employees, community and marketing.

If your organisation’s supplier diversity program is still only in its infancy, it’s important to increase your focus on this area or risk being left behind.

There’s an impressive array of conferences and organisations dedicated to improving supplier diversity, including:

Register now to join DuPont’s Shelley Stewart and diversity experts from Honeywell Aerospace, Rockwell Automation, Whirlpool and Fiat Chrysler at ISM Diversity. The event takes place on March 1-3 2017, at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld resort.

Procurement’s Future – Growing Not Killing the Golden Geese

Rumours of procurement’s imminent demise persist. But would organisations be killing their golden geese by getting rid of the function?

6 geese a laying

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.

“On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…six geese-a-laying.”

Mark Twain is reported to have once said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

We like to think of the procurement function, and it’s fantastic professionals, as the golden geese of an organisation. We bring savings and value, build our influence, and increasingly drive strategy, but still find ourselves defending our position. And for some experts, the end of procurement in its current guise is still on the horizon.

But are we looking at this from the wrong angle? Nothing remains the same forever, so what are the strategies procurement can use to maintain its hard fought position?

Is the End Really Nigh?

It’s been a little over a year since PepsiCo took the decision to scrap its marketing procurement function. The move took many people by surprise, and left procurement commentators wondering if other major players would follow suit.

At the time, few people thought there would be a snowball effect for procurement. And, so far, they have been proven correct. So, let’s put the doom and gloom behind us, and focus on what procurement might look like in the future.

It would be incredibly naïve of us to think that procurement will continue to exist in its current form. However, what this does mean is that we have a fantastic opportunity to develop in line with strategy and disruption.

We’ve had differing views on what this might look like for procurement in the future. At the Big Ideas Summit this year, Anna del Mar, outlined how procurement could be integrated into the business.

This would not only help break down organisational silos, but actively encourage best practice procurement across the board. A collaborative attitude is going to help mould procurement success, and at the same time, make communicating our value much easier.

Tech & Disruption – Grow the Golden Geese

This all brings us back to a hot topic across all business right now – disruption. You might be tired of reading about it, but getting ahead of the disruptive wave is what we must aim for.

The disruptive landscape is changing, and even the famous disruptors (Airbnb, Uber, etc.) need to stay on their toes. Technology is forcing organisations to re-evaluate how they do business. But at the same time, it’s giving them the opportunity to change and make processes more efficient and effective.

Cognitive computing, such as IBM Watson, Big Data, the Cloud, AI and Blockchain. All these disruptive technologies stand to make massive impacts in procurement and supply chain. Processes can be automated, and taken over by robots. Technology will change the way we interact with suppliers, stakeholders and the public.

But even as the robots take over (not really), there will always be a role for people in procurement. Just as there will always be a role for procurement in the organisation. For procurement, it’s finding that sweet spot between cost and value that allows it to grow. For the professionals, it’s about having the key skills to allow them to grow with the change (but we’ll come to that in a few days!).

So let’s not get the procurement obituary prepared just yet. There’s plenty of time left in procurement’s hourglass if we’re doing the right thing. It’s all a matter of showing why it’s turkeys, and not geese, on the chopping block for next year! 

Is procurement taking heed of its impact on the wider community? We certainly don’t want to feel like we’re swimming against a tide of public opinion. Find out what we mean tomorrow.  

Hello, Procurement Career? It’s Social Media Calling

Have you found your calling in life? Do you worry that your procurement career is getting away from you? Then you need to heed the siren call of social media.

Four Calling Birds

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.

“On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…four calling birds.”

By now, the receiver of the true love’s gifts probably has a large aviary to keep all the birds in. Just as well really, as three of the next four days will bring even more. However, despite the song bringing us calling birds, it’s another, bluer bird we’re looking at today.

Where’s Your Career Going?

By this time of the year, most of us have decided on resolutions we’ll kick off the new year with. Starting with good intentions, we make smaller changes to how we live our lives. We might want to eat less, exercise more, or spend more time on our favourite activities. But, life tends to take over, and by mid-January, we’ve fallen back into old habits.

But for some people, this is the time of year that brings consideration about the next steps of their career. Whether it’s a change of companies, going after a promotion, or even thinking about a complete change, most people start their search on the Internet. More specifically, they’ll start to look for information and new roles on social media.

The array of sources, information, and potential employers, makes social media a major tool in an individual’s search. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter (see, we told you we’d be talking about a bird…), there is plenty you can do to boost your career.

So how are you going to turn that around, and make social media work for you? We’ve been calling on our experts this year to share their thoughts on this very topic. And they haven’t disappointed.

Break Down Walls, Increase Value

During our Career Boot Camp, Jay Scheer, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at THOMASNET, highlighted what many of us have been doing wrong on social media. That is using different accounts for different areas of our lives.

However, Jay advises that we need to break down these personal silos in order to increase our digital value. In a more connected social media world, employers want to see the full picture. And individuals want to portray a more rounded image.

Breaking down the barriers is the first step. Jay also advised the following when on social media:

  1. Start thinking of yourself as a brand – project the right image to the public
  2. Be authentic and conversational – inject your personality where possible
  3. Be targeted – always consider the medium and the audience, and tailor your activity
  4. Don’t be banal – don’t post for posting’s sake
  5. Draw a line – use the grandma test for all your posts

No Avoiding the Brand

So now we know how we could be using social media, we need to know how to portray the right image. Happily, another of our experts took care of that – Procurious’ own Lisa Malone.

Lisa gives some great tips on building a ‘kick-ass’ personal brand that’s bound to get you noticed. And if you’re looking for a new job, or to showcase why that promotion should be yours, then getting noticed is what you need.

From authenticity and injecting a bit of colour into your profile, to connecting with top people (and then leveraging those connections), there’s plenty here to get you started.

Personal brand is key on social media. And if we all take the time to boost our personal brand, then the brand of procurement will benefit too. We’ve got plenty of tips and tricks that we’ve shared.

But perhaps the biggest is the importance of a great profile picture. If you do one thing the next time you’re on Procurious, check out your picture, and see if a change will do you good.

What are you waiting for? If you hear a new job calling for the new year, or just want to give your social media accounts a spit and polish, now’s the time. You never know if that perfect job is just around the corner, but at least you’ll be ready!

Knowledge is worth its weight in gold. So how can you boost your procurement knowledge using some economic basics? Make sure you come back tomorrow to find out.

Speaking the Language of The Three French Hens

Feel like you speak a different language to the business? Then imagine how the French hens felt with the other birds in the song.

three french hens

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with Day 1 and Day 2 on the Blog.

“On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…three french hens.”

So the gift giving continues, and so does the avian theme. And yes, we are well aware that although the French Hens might have been French, the language barrier probably wasn’t an issue. Forgive us for stretching a metaphor, but we do aim to make a valid point!

One of the common themes we have come across in 2016 has been the concept of language. Specifically the concept that procurement needs to start speaking the language of the business to get ahead.

Communicating the value of procurement can be tricky. However, it’s up to all of us as professionals to make sure our voice is heard.

Bonjour, French Hens

While we were at ProcureCon Europe in Berlin in November, a number of keynotes discussed this perspective. Both Finance and Engineering were represented, and both speakers highlighted the different language the business speaks.

One speaker, Gordon Tytler, Director of Purchasing at Rolls-Royce, did state that procurement was valued in his organisation. The issue was that it wasn’t fully understood, neither in value, nor in activity.

Tytler also warned against insularity in procurement, arguing that this means the function can’t be sure it’s delivering what the business actually wants. As procurement adapts and changes to organisational requirements, it’s vital that our role is understood.

How do we go about communicating this value? Well, first we have to define the value we are delivering. Value is underpinned by four key aspects – service; innovation; risk; cost. Find out how here.

The Value of Procurement

Communicating the value of procurement to stakeholders is all very well. But the profession needs to ensure that strategy is following suit. This was one of the topics on the agenda at this year’s Big Ideas Summit.

Gabe Perez, Vice President, Strategy & Market Development at Coupa Software, discussed how disruption is forcing procurement to put value at the core of all its activities. According to Gabe, procurement needs to start with the value proposition, and work backwards.

It’s the same whether it’s a manufactured good, or a service (Gabe used the example of buying procurement technology). This sort of focus will allow procurement to move forwards with the value agenda.

The transition from cost to value was also on the mind of ISM CEO, Tom Derry. You can see what Tom had to say here.

Understanding how procurement is delivering value is a good first step for the profession. Communicating it is another matter, though, unlike the french hens at least, we don’t have a language barrier to cross. Maybe just a terminology one instead.

Our avian theme continues tomorrow on the fourth day of Christmas. But we’re looking at a bird with a difference – it’s blue, digital, and a great tool for procurement to use in its communications. Stay tuned to find out more.

Are We Witnessing the End of the Fairtrade Movement?

Mondelēz International have chosen to pull the Fairtrade label from all Cadbury branded products. Are we witnessing the beginning of the end for the movement?

fairtrade movement

In 1997, the formation of FLO International brought ‘Fair Trade’ labelling to shops for the first time. Later rebranded as Fairtrade International, it was recognised as the global leader in fair trade standards and labelling.

Since that time, hundreds of organisations have hosted the Fair Trade label on their products. While the labelling was voluntary, organisations and the general public viewed this movement as a great step forward for developing countries.

However, in the past week, Mondelēz International have taken the decision to bring all of its fair trade policies in house. And it’s left many people wondering about the future of the movement in its current state.

What is Fairtrade?

Fairtrade is just as it sounds. The aim of the movement is to create better working and living conditions for farmers and workers in developing countries. This includes paying better prices for crops (which don’t fall below the market price), and embedding local sustainability.

Crops range from coffee and cocoa, to bananas and cotton. It also includes products you might not immediately link to it, like flowers, gold and wine.

Some facts and figures around the movement are (courtesy of the Fairtrade Foundation):

  • More than 1.65 million farmers and workers work for Fairtrade certified organisations
  • 56 per cent of these farmers grow coffee
  • There are 1,226 certified Fairtrade organisations across 74 countries
  • $106.2 million was paid to Fairtrade producers in 2013-14
  • 26 per cent of all farmers and workers in the organisations are female
  • Organisations invested 31 per cent of their Fairtrade premiums on productivity or quality improvements; 26 per cent was invested in education

The movement has clearly helped millions of farmers and workers around the world, giving them a better deal for their crops. And, as social consciousness has grown, so have consumer tastes for Fairtrade products.

The UK is one of the largest markets in the world for Fairtrade products. In 2012 (more recent figures are hard to come by), UK consumers spent more than £1.3 billion on these goods.

Is It Really Fair?

However, unfairly or otherwise, the movement has been dogged by criticism about how fair it actually is. As far back as 2007 (and beyond), critics were questioning how good a deal these farmers and workers were getting.

Some critics have argued that by being affiliated with the movement, farmers are actually limiting their markets. Others have argued that it doesn’t account for mechanisation in production and doesn’t give the opportunity to improve production processes.

And a report in 2014 by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London raised concerns that some workers were actually earning less than non-Fairtrade workers.

Some products don’t quality for Fairtrade labelling, and specialist brands are likely to miss out. Additionally, it’s often difficult for farmers to join the movement, with fees and a lack of organisation frequently cited.

And despite its position in the public eye, Fairtrade isn’t the only organisation offering this service. The Rainforest Alliance is one such organisation, but perhaps suffers from being less well-known.

Companies Changing Strategies

All of which brings us back to the change about to be undertaken by Mondelēz with its Cadbury brands. The global organisation plans to bring all of its certification in-house, under its ‘Cocoa Life‘ fair trade scheme.

While the company maintains that the move won’t impact the percentage of fair trade products it produces, it’s raising concerns about the future of the Fairtrade movement.

When Cadbury joined Fairtrade in 2009, it prompted many of its competitors to do likewise. Critics are concerned that its move away from Fairtrade might see other organisations follow suit. There are concerns that ethical standards may drop, even although Fairtrade will continue to monitor Cadbury’s work.

The company has committed to ensuring that its supply chains retain the protection they currently have. And even Fairtrade International have welcomed the move, seeing it as a company taking accountability for its supply chain and sustainability efforts.

Whether this ultimately means the end for Fairtrade is unclear. It’s highly unlikely that the movement will cease to be, but it may have to change to remain relevant. Public social consciousness will only increase, and manufacturers will need to be able to prove the transparency and legitimacy of their supply chains.

In that respect, whether it’s in-house, or done by an external NGO, sustainability labelling will continue to exist. And Fairtrade will still be seen as the cornerstone in the movement.

What do you think about the move by Mondelēz? Do you think it will make a major difference? Let us know in the comments below.

While we take some time out to evaluate our food purchases, we’ve compiled some top headlines for your consideration.

Pentagon Buries Evidence of Bureaucratic Waste

  • The Pentagon suppressed the results of an internal study which exposed huge levels of administrative waste.
  • A dramatic report from The Washington Post revealed the extent of the waste to be an estimated $125 billion.
  • Reporters believe the Pentagon feared Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the Defence budget.
  • The study was originally requested to help make the Pentagon’s back-office more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power.

Read more at the Washington Post

Apple Supply Chain “On Move to USA”

  • A large part of the Apple supply chain may be on the move back to the USA, according to one report.
  • Foxconn, one of Apple’s key producers, currently carries out the majority of manufacturing in Chinese factories.
  • However, the company is in talks about expanding its US-based operations to iPhone and other product build.
  • The move comes following strong criticism of the company by President-elect Donald Trump during the US elections.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Trump Air Force One Tweet Sends Markets into Chaos

  • The social media habits, and impact, of President-elect Trump were highlighted again last week.
  • A tweet calling for the cancellation of an order for a new 747 Air Force One, built by Boeing, caused chaos in US markets.
  • Immediate effects included a sudden plunge in Boeing’s stock, which recovered as clarity emerged around the true budget – $1.65 billion. Boeing currently has a $170 million contract with the Air Force.
  • Trump and the CEO of Boeing have since spoken by phone regarding the order and the tweet.

Read more on ABC News

Fujitsu and DHL to Use IoT to Disrupt Logistics

  • Fujitsu has announced a partnership with DHL Supply Chain UK which will focus on using the Internet of Things in logistics.
  • The two companies plan to share expertise to jointly develop innovative solutions for supply chains, and also emergency services.
  • One example of wearable technology is UBIQUITOUSWARE which helps emergency services track individuals.
  • The technology provides real-time tracking insights, as well as ensuring timely responses in emergency situations.

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

Unlikely Alliances on the Rise in Disrupted Markets

Amazon’s disruption of the grocery, food delivery and home-care industry could spark unlikely alliances. And these alliances could help take the fight to disruptors.

alliances

With Amazon’s expansion of its grocery deal with Morrisons, its launch of Amazon Restaurants, and a rumoured housekeeping service, incumbents could see unusual partnerships as a means to fend off the retail juggernaut.   

Amazon’s recent advances into the homecare and food delivery market, have followed the much vaunted expansion of its pre-existing delivery deal with Morrisons. The company has also recently announced plans to introduce ‘Amazon Go‘, a shopping experience without checkouts.

There is also a rumoured launch of a new housekeeping service, as well as Amazon Restaurants and Amazon Fresh services. These moves could result in incumbent players taking drastic measures to combat the e-commerce giant.

This is according to Nick Miller, head of FMCG at Crimson & Co, who predicts that Amazon’s competitors could form unlikely partnerships in order to avoid losing ground. 

Shopping on the Go

Amazon announced a couple of weeks ago that it would be extending its existing delivery deal with Morrisons’ to offer one-hour grocery deliveries to selected postcodes in London and Hertfordshire to Amazon Prime Now customers. The service has been named “Morrisons at Amazon.”  

Meanwhile, advertisements were seen in the US media two weeks ago for ‘Home Assistants,’ who would work with customers to tidy people’s homes, do laundry, put groceries away and “assure that customers return to an errand-free home.”

If true, this new service would be another convenience to Amazon Prime Now customers. These customers already have access to Amazon Restaurants (a home food delivery service), as well as both Morrisons at Amazon and Amazon Fresh for same-day deliveries on a massive range of fresh and frozen grocery goods.

When you further consider the potential for an Amazon Go grocery store in the UK, it’s clear the online giant is keen to expand its reach. 

Convenience is King

Miller commented on the moves, and what it means its competitors. “It’s pretty clear that Amazon’s aim is to be the one-stop-shop for all domestic-life conveniences. Whether that be shopping, groceries, takeaways or cleaning, they want to lead the market. It’s an incredibly obvious and yet aggressive strategy,” says Miller.

“Convenience is the key word. The customer, for an annual fee (a Prime subscription), has a central platform where they can access a wide variety of services and products at their leisure, and with confidence in Amazon’s established reputation.

“As this service becomes more and more engrained amongst users, loyalties to competitors will increasingly be challenged. Why go to four places when one does it all?” 

While on paper these plans are impressive, there are questions Amazon needs to address. The key consideration is that these markets often entail more complex service demands and delivery requirements.

Services like Handy and Hassle are dominating players in the homecare market. Deliveroo, has developed a leading position in London’s ‘last-mile’ food delivery market, but this has recently seen threats from Uber with the entry of UberEats.

Meanwhile, many of the big supermarkets maintain grocery delivery services. Ocado, the online grocery specialist which supports Morrisons’ website, saw its shares fall by 8.5 per cent in the wake of the Morrisons news. 

Innovating to Remain Competitive

As Amazon refines and expands its services, these incumbent players will likely need to innovate to remain competitive. Ocado, for example, is likely to suffer considerably as Amazon moves into the food delivery market.

Companies looking to remain competitive will have to match Amazon on convenience, as well as breadth of offering. However, there is potential for innovation across the space that could help organisations here. And this is also where the unusual alliances could come in.

Miller highlights how a ‘last-mile’ deliverer, such as Deliveroo, could partner with a supermarket to offer grocery shopping and takeaways in one service. There’s strong potential and attractiveness in making this service possible. It could also put both in a position to challenge Amazon on ‘Restaurants’ and ‘Fresh’.

As Miller also states, both parties would see major benefits from such an alliance. Deliveroo would access a wider customer base, while the supermarket would get expertise in ‘last-mile’ delivery.

It goes to demonstrate how unlikely partnerships could provide a route to superior service in delivery. Joining forces with local transport businesses, such as taxi firms, could also provide a boost to delivery speeds.

Either way, thinking laterally and tapping into pre-existing networks could help companies to compete with Amazon.  

Still Obstacles for Alliances

These ideas, however, do not come without their own obstacles.

Miller commented on some of these, “These kind of innovations would undoubtedly bring a number of logistical challenges. Not only the alignment of the delivery chain to enable the fastest and best possible experience for the customer, but also the coordination of logistics and digital platforms between two companies.

“However, approaching the problem from this angle could prove vital for any company attempting to see off Amazon.”