All posts by Procurious HQ

Space Trucking: The Challenges Of Managing A Supply Chain That Is Truly Out of This World

We investigate the perennial deadly hazards of operating on the world’s truly most remote supply route: the ‘road’ to the International Space Station.

 Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock

Are you responsible for sending your people into danger? In a new Procurious blog series, The World’s Deadliest Supply Chains, we investigate the most high-risk supply chains out there.

The fiery disintegration of a manned Russian Soyuz rocket above the steppe of Kazakhstan on October 11 highlights the perennial deadly hazards of operating on the world’s truly most remote supply route: the ‘road’ to the International Space Station orbiting between 330 and 435 kilometres above the earth.

In this case, the Soyuz occupants, US astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin, got lucky after what NASA described diplomatically as the mission’s successful “abort downrange”.

Because of a problem later identified as a faulty sensor, the launch terminated two minutes after blast-off. The men, who were to be the first members of the 58th expedition to the station, escaped in their capsule and were rescued on the ground 32 hairy minutes later.

Other ISS missions haven’t been so fortunate: on February 1, 2003 the space shuttle Columbia imploded on re-entry, killing all seven astronauts on board.

The Soyuz setback highlights an awkward rostering problem for NASA: since the cessation of the space shuttle program in 2011, the US has relied on ‘buying’ seats on the Soyuz to swap over crews on its half of the ISS.

Who said Uber pioneered ride-sharing? The US recently swallowed its pride and confirmed the acquisition of three extra Soyuz seats in 2019, amid concern that its program to replace the space shuttles was proving too ambitious.

But with a three-person crew due to blast off in a Soyuz in early December, the latest mission to the station has some chance of getting back on track.

The most expensive structure in the world – and, indeed, beyond –  the ISS was built between 1998 and 2011 at a cost of $US150 billion. To date, 15 modules have been assembled (rather like a Lego set) with a further five to be added.

The maximum crew of six performs scientific experiments, eats, sleeps and exercises as the metal orbits the earth 15.5 times a day at a speed of 29,000 kilometres an hour.

Maintaining a semblance of normal life for the crew requires a large amount of provisions – an average of 2722 kilograms per mission. The transit of any goods – anything from toothpaste to heavy scientific equipment – needs to be planned painstakingly months in advance.

When it comes to supplying the ISS using unmanned craft, the procurement controllers have more flexibility because a mini United Nations of spacecraft regularly visit the station (all with different docking procedures).

Despite the perception that the ISS is exclusively a US-Russian concern, the program is actually a venture between five agencies: NASA, Russia’s Roscosmos, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, The European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Thus, the station has been supplied by not only the shuttle and Russian craft such as the Progress and the Soyuz, but by unmanned milk runs from Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (also known as the Kounotori, or White Stork).

Whether the craft are manned or unmanned, the visits are eagerly anticipated by the space station’s cramped occupants. After all, a delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables makes for a welcome respite from the everyday diet of textureless, vacuum-packed mush.

(Sadly for the cosmonauts, vodka deliveries are off limits).

So far, the ISS has been visited by more than 150 craft – an average of slightly more than eight per year – including 50 crewed Soyuz, 70 Russian Progress one-way freight vessels and 37 space shuttles.

A key link in the ISS logistics chain is NASA’s Payload Operations Centre in Huntsville, Alabama. Described as the heartbeat of the ISS research operations, the centre co-ordinates all scientific experiments carried out on the station as well as the “payload activities” of the international partners.

In space, no-one can call roadside assist. As a result, equipment requiring regular replacement – such as the antenna, batteries and pumps – are kept on external pallets called ‘express logistics carriers’ and can be put in place by robotic arms.

Despite the supply mission setbacks, on November 2 this year the ISS celebrated 18 years of continuous habitation, eclipsing the previous record of just under 10 years set by the crew of the Soviet-era Mir station.

But nothing lasts forever, with the future of the ISS under review. While NASA and Roscosmos have pledged to co-operate on a replacement facility, tetchy on-the-ground relations between the two nations means there’s a likelihood they will go their own way.

In the meantime, the US is hardly enamoured with its ‘can I hitch a ride with you, comrade?’ approach and is working on its own crewing and supply options so as to mitigate its reliance on the Russians.

Both Boeing and Elon Musk’s SpaceX have separate contracts to develop space ‘taxis’, but their timetable for crewed test flights originally scheduled for August and this month are behind schedule.

Suffice to say, there’s mounting pressure from Capitol Hill on the rival contractors to complete the new era craft sooner rather than later.

After all, in the extraterrestrial trucking game, it always helps to have a Plan B.

If you’d like to read additional related content or get involved with thought provoking discussions check out the Supply Chain Pros group – a one stop shop for all your supply chain needs.

3 Ways To Make It Big In Procurement and Supply Chain

Tom Derry, CEO – ISM shares his three top tips for early-career professionals who aspire to be a CPO or Head of Supply Chain in a leading organisation.

The next generation of CPOs and Heads of Supply Chain will need to be “next-level” talent.

“It’s easy to point out a few critical success factors for people who have risen to the very top of the profession,” explains ISM CEO – Tom Derry.

In this article Tom shares his three top tips for early-career professionals who aspire to be a CPO or Head of Supply Chain in a leading organisation.

1. Align yourself with the best in the business

One of most important things to do during the early years of your career is to align yourself with the best talent out there. “If you’re just getting into the field or are early on in the field discover who has the best reputation, who’s the best leader and who’s regarded as being leading-edge and running a great organisation” Tom suggests. It’s also advisable look at the company’s reputation. “It’s clear that certain companies have created an awful lot of talent in our profession, disproportionately more talent to other companies.” So find those great leaders, at those great companies and that’s going to be a launching pad for you.”

2. Be courageous

“There are a lot of metrics of dubious value that we often pay attention to in the profession that have outlived their usefulness.” Tom says. He advises professionals to try and link what they’re doing day-to-day with what’s driving value for the firm – whether it’s bringing new products online, introducing new features to new products, driving top line revenue growth or increasing earnings per share by reducing cost. “Speak the language of the business and link explicitly what you’re doing to driving those kinds of outcomes.” This will help you to gain respect because that’s how we keep score in business and those are the measures that matter the most.”

3. Be competitive

“Businesses are about competition,” asserts Tom. “It’s about competition between firms but, frankly, it’s also about competition within the firm to gain resources to win the opportunities for promotion and advancement.” Tom believes it’s important to understand that you are competing, you’re being regarded by your superiors in the firm in terms of your output and your productivity. “You’re in a competition for advancement – maybe it’s advancement within the firm, maybe it’s advancement in another firm but you have to recognise that and put your game face on every day. As they say in sport: leave everything on the field. At the end of the day someone may outcompete you if you’re not taking that approach.”

Part Five of Tuesdays with Tom is available now. Click here to sign up and hear ISM CEO Tom Derry discuss top tips for aspirational early-career professionals, how high profile leaders can become talent magnets in supply management and the latest data on salaries.

Want to get your wheels turning towards a supply chain career one could only dream of? Then don’t miss our upcoming Career Boot Camp with IBM – a free 5-part podcast series with some of the very best of the best. Check it out here: https://www.procurious.com/career-boot-camp-2019

Putting The ‘I’ In D & I

By having an inclusive corporate environment for people we can make a change and improve the way society works…

In today’s workforce, diversity has become a buzzword, with organisations increasingly communicating its importance through their advertising and core business values.

But what does diversity mean, why is it important, how do you achieve it and, once you have it, what do you do with it?

Joelle Payom, Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead explains that there is an enormous pressure for organisations to hire people that are different. But alongside that moral pressure to ‘do the right thing’ is a very strong business case. “A UK report revealed that the British economy could be boosted by as much as £24 billion if black and minority talent was fully utilised . When you have a diversified workforce you have a broader [talent pool] who are able to bring different ways of working, different ways of dealing with issues and can provide greater innovation.”

Putting the ‘I’ in D & I

As Joelle points out, there is no point in building a diverse workforce if it is not nurtured into being an inclusive one. “To reap the benefits of a diverse workforce it’s vital to have an inclusive environment where everyone is treated equally, feels welcome to participate and can achieve their potential”

Diversity = The What

A mix of diverse types of people

Inclusion = The How

The strategies and behaviours that welcome, embrace and create value from diversity

“What is really at stake is not diversity, but inclusion. How do you make sure your diverse workforce will generate the expected benefits – that increased profitability – no matter who they are. You cannot simply integrate a human being [to the workforce] because they come with their own character and uniqueness.

“How do you ensure [everyone is able to] give their best to the company?”

  1. Let People Be Themselves: It is the employer’s role to ensure that all employees, no matter their specific characteristics, can be themselves. “In the corporate world we all have to fit in but fitting in doesn’t mean you forget who you are.”
  2. Equity – The entire employee base should be given equal chances whether that’s an equal chance to be promoted, equal pay or other opportunities within the organisation.
  3. Intersectionality – A black man, who is a wheelchair user and identifies as gay might endure multiple forms of discrimination at the same time. To better include this person it doesn’t make sense to only address one of these factors – you can’t foster an inclusive environment without addressing everything. D & I teams often isolate their efforts on one particular minority group but the experience of a white woman might be very different to that of a black women, and that needs to be addressed when it comes to developing D & I strategies and policies.
  4. Safe space – Employees should be encouraged to speak up about these issues without fear of retaliation. “Organisations must ensure their people management approaches don’t put any group at a disadvantage.”

“What I want people to take away is that diversity and inclusion (D & I) is not only for women or for people of different ethnicities or sexual orientation. It is for everybody. D & I , which is much more important than diversity, means that we need to provide each human being with equal treatment in the corporate world. By having an inclusive corporate environment for people we can make a change and improve the way society works.”

Joelle Payom, Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead

Procure with Purpose

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Diversity and Inclusion.

Click here to enroll and gain access to  all future Procure with Purpose events including exclusive content, online events and regular webinars.  

Blockchain: Procurement’s Secret Weapon

Procurement will be the single largest instrument in the world to change the world…

“Frankly procurement is at the same level, in my eyes, as auditing, accountancy and that level of excitement. There’s more excitement in the hashtag #Birdsarentreal – because people believe in that more and with more emotion than this.”

Olinga Taeed became the world’s first Professor in Blockchain and Social Enterprise at Birmingham City University in 2018. His research explores how blockchain can be used for social good, focussing on studies into methods to alleviate problems and provide significant intervention into society.

And when it comes to procurement and the future of the profession, he doesn’t mince his words.

“No one grows up saying mummy I’d like to be a CPO,” he explains. “And that’s because we value non-financial value. We grow up wanting to do things that have value in society – things to do with life and sentiment, we want to change the world.”

The Power of Procurement

“Doctors save one life at a time. In procurement, we can save or kill thousands by one decision”

When you say I will knock 3 per cent off my supply chain budget, somewhere in that chain some people will enter into slavery conditions

We now know that 32 people commit suicide manufacturing iPhones in China every year.

800 people might die in a fire making clothes for a retailer.

“In procurement we have the power of life and death and that is a major responsibility.”

Changing the world

Blockchain could enable procurement to change the world by bringing our values back into the workplace.

“In institutional life we often succeed in stripping out any kind of intangible value. But this attitude doesn’t occur in real life, only within institutions.”

In our own lives we use our personal values to procure things “I’d like to have products that are aligned to my values, I’ll use this coffee shop not that one, I’ll eat this ice cream but not one from that place, price is this important to me but slavery is this important. We talk about our feelings”

Blockchain will allow procurement professionals to use our values as a mechanism for procurement, just as we all do in our own lives.

Blockchain can put into a ledger an entire supply chain, which means at the point of sale, just as you would see calories on a food product, you can decide whether to buy it or not to buy it based on the values of the supplier. You are given all of the information and can make a choice based on that.

Olinga explains that AI will help procurement in a similar way “these are my values go and find me products that are aligned to my values – don’t pick companies or suppliers where I know environmentally they aren’t good.”

Organisations used to readily give discounts to NRA (National Rifle Association) members but all of that changed because our values changed, companies stepped back and procurement changed. Using blockchain, procurement professionals can procure against a set of corporate values – “it’s for me to buy products from suppliers that are aligned to those values.”

Olinga Taeed speaking at Big Ideas Zurich

“My honest belief is that procurement will be the single largest instrument in the world to change the world – children will say they want to be a procurement officer because they will want to change the values of the world – what we buy, what we eat, what we sell, the values by which we transact. Blockchain and AI will change our processes dramatically.”

Olinga Taeed speaking at Big Ideas Zurich

Procure with Purpose

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Environmental Sustainability.

Click here to enroll and gain access to  all future Procure with Purpose events including exclusive content, online events and regular webinars. 

But wait, the blockchain action doesn’t stop here! Join us on October 15 with blockchain experts Shari Diaz, Innovation Strategy and Operations Program Director, IBM Watson Supply Chain and Professor Olinga Ta’eed, Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance in this webinar brought to you by IBM and Procurious. Click here to register for Blockchain: Supply Chain’s 21st Century Truthsayer.

5 Reasons Your Procure-to-Pay Implementation Will Fail

Is your organisation about to embark on an initiative to purchase and implement procurement software?  Well, you’re bound to fail. Unless, of course, you address these landmines.

1. You don’t know what your requirements are

I’m sure you can define your problem.  You can probably guess without looking.  Lack of visibility, process, or control; maverick spending; inefficiency; mounds of paper…you name it. Immature procurement organizations that are not tech-enabled likely have it.  But these are just the symptoms.  It’s far more difficult to understand the underlying causes.  Sometimes Procurement’s ills are simply the result of  lacking the specific tool  to drive efficiencies, increase visibility, etc. In many cases, however, things are the way they are for a much more complicated reason.  The diagnostic process can prove time consuming, but accurately identifying Procurement’s sickness is the only way you can define and design a solution to cure it.  Going through a robust requirements gathering exercise is an essential to step in selecting best-fit technologies.

2. You aren’t buying the right tool

Without its requirements defined, how can Procurement know what tool to look for?  The underprepared organization is left to carry out solution design during the buying cycle, i.e. the sales cycle for software providers. This situation presents more than its share of headaches. For example, a common misstep is to buy P2P software to cure a lack of spend visibility (or simply because that’s what you had at your last company).  Someone selling a P2P platform will happily show you all the ways their reporting will provide spend visibility.  Of course this is after your RFP process (let’s say 1-3 months), implementation (6-9 months), and then onboarding and adoption to pull a full year of spend through the platform.  What that provider might not tell you is that there are spend solutions out there that can pull together your AP data, classify it, and feed it back to you in a matter of weeks!  That’s not to say P2P isn’t important for capturing savings, improving efficiency, and enforcing process compliance, it just may not be what you need right now.  Once you have your requirements down, you need to rack, stack, and prioritize your objectives as well as the tools you’ll need to achieve them. Building a technology roadmap to understand the full scope of investment over time to meet your goals.

3. Change management isn’t just training…and you aren’t prepared

Speaking of P2P, have you thought of just how many people, departments, and processes these tools will affect?  There are two factors that drive a successful technology implementation – strategic impetus and organizational readiness.  If you have neither, you probably won’t get budgetary approval.  But let’s assume that there is executive level buy-in throughout the organization to invest in procurement. Let’s even assume that one of those avenues is technology.  Do they really know what these investments will entail?  Does the rest of the organization understand the impact implementing a software platform will have on their people?  Do you?  If not, there are 2 options: 1) take some steps to get them on board, or 2) start with a less impactful investment that maximizes results and minimizes change.

For any platform, successful implementation depends on end users not just employing the software, but leveraging the technology (and doing so correctly) to derive the business outcomes you are looking for. Unlike more upstream procurement software modules like spend analysis and sourcing, CLM, SRM, and P2P touch various parts of the organization from Operations, to IT, to Finance, and everything in-between. This even includes the non-procurement stakeholders who will need to adopt the platform and the changes in process that come with it.   Communicating, generating buy-in, and managing the change throughout the organization is a huge undertaking.  Doing it successfully? That’s an even bigger ask.

4. You forgot to include your stakeholders

Speaking of stakeholders, did you forget to invite them to the design meetings?  How about the kickoff?  The demos? What about the project initiation meetings? If not, you are already behind the 8-ball.  Stakeholders should be incorporated early and often.  This includes requirements gathering and change management as mentioned above, but also the selection and implementation processes as well.  Not caring about the current state that you are about to change is a mistake.  Even if you think you know all of the ins and outs of the business (which you don’t), inclusion goes a long way in developing buy-in, encouraging  adoption, and (let’s face it) making sure you don’t miss anything. 

5. You don’t have a plan

Sure technology can probably solve your immediate issues, or put out the latest dumpster fire, but making tactical multi-year (and potentially multi-million dollar) investments in an ever-changing  landscape is short-sighted to say the least.  What is your ideal state?  Do you want to develop a best-in-class procurement organization?  Do you even need to?  Do you want 100% spend under management?  How do you even define spend under management?  What will your organization look like in the future?  How are you going to continuously improve?  How do you define success now and in the future?  And how are you going to measure that?  These are just some of the questions Procurement needs to answer when defining their vision for the future.  That vision should provide the foundation for your technology roadmap and ultimately determine the solution you select.  

Done correctly, the technology selection and implementation process could be a once-in-a-career undertaking. Don’t make these decisions lightly. Remember that Procurement’s new tools have to outlive the hype surrounding them and provide for the function’s continued strategic evolution. Slow down, ask questions, encourage collaboration, and never let the discussion around the ‘next big thing’ force Procurement into hasty decision making.

Anthony Mignogna is a Director at Source One, a Corcentric Company.

World’s Most Dangerous Supply Chains: Bolivia’s Death Road

Travellers on Bolivia’s ‘Death Road’ are given a stark visual warning about why the mountainous gravel pass is considered one of the world’s most dangerous supply routes: hundreds of crosses line the track to commemorate the frequent fatalities.

Formally known as La Cerretera de los Yungas, the vertigo-inducing path was once notorious for claiming the lives of up to 300 travellers a year as their cars, trucks and even buses careened over the unprotected roadside and down sheer 1000-metre cliffs.

In July 1983 a bus fell into a canyon, killing all 100 people aboard, while in 1999 eight Israeli travellers died when their vehicle did likewise.

Judging by the pictures and YouTube clips of what can only be described as a “glorified goat track”, it’s a wonder the death toll has not been even higher.

Also known as the North Yungas Road, the conduit stretches 69 kilometres up jungle-clad mountains between the Bolivian capital of La Paz and Coroico, in the Amazonian Yungas region.

The road was built by Paraguayan prisoners of war during the three-year Chaco War in the early 1930s to facilitate a military supply chain linking the Bolivian Amazon to the capital. The miserable living conditions of the construction crews set the tone for locals forced to use the supply route to transport crops, timber and materials to and from La Paz for the next eight decades.

Navigating the jungle-clad La Cumbre mountain pass, the twisting and turning road climbs as high as 4650 metres before descending a winding 54 kilometres to 1200 metres (the world’s longest uninterrupted downward stretch).

As a wise precaution, motorists are known to pray before embarking on the route.

“This road has humbled many egos,” says the Dangerous Roads website. “It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers.”

In 1995, the Inter-American Development Bank described Yungas Road as the world’s most dangerous – no mean feat given the glorified goat tracks in regions such as the Himalayas.

The road is so dangerous that, unlike in the rest of the country, vehicles drive on the left so that the driver has a clearer view of the positioning of the wheels on the crumbling roadside.

In the wet season, the single lane road is made even more hazardous by mud, fog, rockfalls and landslides. Waterfalls are known to cascade across the road, taking much of the gravel with them.

In the dry season, choking dust reduces visibility to metres. Wisely, vehicles travelling downhill need to give way to ascending ones, as this forces them to slow down.

In the early 2000s the road was given an upgrade of sorts, with two driving lanes, proper asphalt and protective barriers.

But judging by recent photos, it’s still not exactly autobahn-quality.

The puzzling element is why anyone would continue to use it – apart from intrepid cyclists who have spawned a whole new industry. That’s because the Bolivian government completed a new nearby road in 2009 which, while mountainous, is more in line with western standards.

A 2013 clip from the UK motoring show Top Gear gives a good picture of the type of traffic encountered. Despite this safer alternative, the road remains popular as a supply route for locals, as tarpaulined trucks and even petrol tankers compete for space with buses and four-wheel-drives.

Host Jeremy Clarkson also gives a near fatal lesson in overtaking procedure, as his Range Rover comes perilously close to departing the road.

The footage might be edited for dramatic effect, but Clarkson’s manner suggests he is in genuine fear of producing his very last show. While the Yungas Road may no longer be the mandatory conduit between La Paz and Coroico, the adventure cycling business trades off its grim appeal.

It’s estimated that at least 20,000 extreme pedal-pushers brave the route every year, which exacerbates the dangers for all road users.

While most return home with tall tales and an ‘I Survived Death Road’ T-shirt, at least 20 cyclists have thought to have been killed on their road in the last two decades (exact numbers are unknown).

As might be expected, a thriving cycling tour guide industry has evolved, with a commensurate rise in four-wheeled transport for equipment and supplies to service the expeditions.

Intrepid cyclists are well advised to pick their tour operator carefully. As Australian journalist and Yungas cyclist Andrew Fenton writes, even the mid-range ones leave much to be desired.

“At one point the guide lines us up on our bikes at the edge of the cliff for a photo, and jokes: ‘OK, now everybody take a step back’!

“Hilarious—except one of the riders takes him seriously. His back wheel is hovering in space by the time we grab him.”

While La Cerretera de los Yungas’ Death Road cachet endures, adrenalin-seeking westerners may be heading to the wrong country: the Dangerous Roads site dubs an obscure Turkish pass called Bayburt Of Yolu-D915 as “probably more dangerous” than the Bolivian road.

Climbing to 2300 metres above sea level, the 105 kilometre road navigates 28 hairpin turns, linking Of and Bayburt in the country’s east. It’s a working road used by locals driving anything from trucks to motorbikes – and a highway to hell for the careless and impatient – or plain unlucky.

Why Inventory Management Need Not Be Organised

Amazon is pioneering a new method of customer-centric inventory management.

For decades, inventory managers have been focused on finding optimised warehouse layout to increase its surface area, provide efficient transit and reduce transit times. The fundamental premise has been that a warehouse should accommodate maximum inventory which can be picked and shelved safely.

The layout of the warehouse has been a key focus for most inventory managers, a grid-style warehouse layout has been widely used to optimise the shelf space, transit areas and transit times. The emphasis has been to maximise the cube space by using vertical as well as horizontal space in warehouses. Inventory managers focused on unit load sizes to maximise utilisation of the warehouse space.

Typically, asset inventory managers choose from one of the four widely used sizes – 1200X800, 600X800, 800X400 and 1200X1000. Pallet Racking, Shelving, Mobile Shelving, Multi-tier racking and mezzanine flooring are the key types of storage used in traditional warehouses. Conventional back to back storage is a popular approach from warehouse managers.

Example of organised inventory.

Slotting, replenishment and location control system got a lot of attention. Barcodes were extensively used and congestion was minimised in transit areas.

20% of the SKU’s (Stock Keeping Unit) which are fast-moving and contribute to the most of the sales are clubbed together and often referred as “bestseller or hot zone”.

For a long time, the warehouses have been arranged with physical logistics in mind – receivables, inventory management, inventory flow and dispatch were all based on delivery timescales of 2 to 5 days.

However, over the last 5 to 7 years’ customer’s expectation both in the B2B and B2C areas has been significantly changing. Understanding Inventory Management is vital for small and big businesses to be successful.

The contemporary way of managing inventory is pioneered by Amazon. They take a customer-centric approach and have arranged their warehouse and inventory technologies to improve product selection and delivery times for customers.

For example; At receivables, Amazon performs a six-sided check of each inventory to make sure the inventory is not damaged and is shippable. If there are issues with the receivables, Amazon’s problem solver unit takes anywhere between 2 hours to 2 days to establish the right status of the inventory. Once the item is scanned and okayed as an inventory, its exact location is known and it is available live on their website for their customers to order.

Once a customer orders a product from their website, a picker will be alerted to pick the ordered item. It is important to appreciate that Amazon does not store its inventory in order. Items are not clubbed together by nature or any other aspect. They are randomly stored in the warehouse – the technical term for this is random stow (or unorganised inventory).

Random Stow or Unorganised Inventory (Image: Amazon Warehouse)

There are robots which rearrange the shelves to facilitate the fastest picking route. The transit route is suggested by their algorithm which sends the location of the item to be picked on the handheld scanner of the picker. So rather than organising the inventory, they focus on the fastest route to pick items. Their robots move shelves to makes sure the picking is as fast as possible.

Once the item is picked, their computer suggests the right box size for packing, labelling is done automatically and the product is dispatched. Along the way, there are multiple automatic checks to make sure the product is shipped to the right customer. 

Whilst warehouses and inventory will always be a part of a cost center, approaching them from a customer-centric way can offer impactful revenue outcomes. If you take a delivery-centric approach at receivables and ensure the inventory at check-in is fully inspected, then you increase the chances of delighting your customers. Similarly, if you view the layout of your warehouse with a perspective to have the fastest picking route then your delivery timescales will improve. And as we saw in the case of Amazon, knowing the location of your inventory is more important than organising inventory by type or nature.

Written by Prasanna Kulkarni, Founder and Product Architect at Comparesoft.

16 Blockchain Disruptions Explained In 1 Killer Infographic

Struggling to get your head around how Blockchain will disrupt your organisation? Check out this infographic from BitFortune explaining disruptions in 16 areas – including supply chain management.

Blockchain technology is probably one of the most impactful discoveries in the recent history. After all, it has a massive potential to change how we handle online transactions. Despite some skeptics, the majority of experts agree that blockchain has the potential to disrupt the banking and financial industry, and many other ones!

But what is this technology exactly? We at BitFortune.net will try to explain that in Layman’s terms, as well as provide you with insights into how different industries can benefit from blockchain.

To put it simply, blockchain enables decentralized transactions across a P2P network. There is no need for a middleman, resulting in almost instantaneous operations and most importantly, low fees. Plus, transactions carried out through a blockchain are much more secure, transparent, and private.

As mentioned earlier, different industries will have different benefits from implementing blockchain technology, and that is what this infographic is all about. For example, the banking sector will get faster transactions, lower costs, improved security, and better record keeping. Also, the blockchain technology can improve electronic voting systems. With this technology integrated into a voting system, governments won’t be able to tamper with votes because blockchain creates publicly viewable and singed transaction that can’t be changed or rewritten.

This infographic will help you understand how the blockchain technology can and will improve 16 different industries, from music to government. So, read on and find out what their future will look like.

blockchain disruptions infographic

But wait, the blockchain action doesn’t stop here! Join us on October 15 with blockchain experts Shari Diaz, Innovation Strategy and Operations Program Director, IBM Watson Supply Chain and Professor Olinga Ta’eed, Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance in this webinar brought to you by IBM and Procurious. Click here to register for Blockchain: Supply Chain’s 21st Century Truthsayer.

8 Organisations On The Nice List This Year

It’s possible to do good and do well – just check out the Procurious 2018 nice list…

Christmas is coming and, at Procurious HQ, we’re feeling pretty festive.

To get into the spirit of things and to give Santa a helping hand this year, we’ve put together a “Nice List” to recognise the organisations who are doing good whilst doing well!

1. Dell

In December 2017 Dell announced that it would be launching the world’s first commercial-scale, ocean-bound plastics supply chain, which takes ocean-bound plastics and repurposes it for their packaging.

“When Dell uses plastics from the beach, shorelines, waterways and coastal areas, we bring them back into the economy and stop them from breaking down and becoming part of a bigger problem.

It gives us an affordable resource, creates jobs for the recyclers, provides a template for others to follow and helps put a dent in the vast problem of plastics entering the ocean.”

In partnership with The Lonely Whale Foundation, Dell have helped convene Next Wave, an open-source initiative that brings leading technology and consumer-focused companies together to develop a commercial-scale ocean-bound plastics and nylon supply chain.

The group anticipates that they will divert more than 3 million pounds of plastic and nylon-based fishing gear from entering the ocean within 5 years – the equivalent of keeping 66 million water bottles from washing out to sea.

2. Colgate-Palmolive

Colgate-Palmolive has a 24/7 EthicsLine, which allows all employees to get in contact to ask questions about the company’s code of conduct, obtain guidance or report any violations of the company’s ethics.

They also reach 60 million people annually with hand washing education, provide health education to communities around the world, partner with local and global organisations to bring clean water to underserved areas of the world and are working toward a goal of Zero Waste.

3. Sky

Sky launched Sky Ocean Rescue in 2017 to shine a spotlight on the issues affecting ocean health, find innovative solutions to the problem of ocean plastics, and inspire people to make small everyday changes that collectively make a huge difference.

Partnering with WWF, Sky have committed £25 million to help find innovative solutions to reduce plastics and pledged to eliminate all single-use plastics from their operations, products and supply chain by 2020.

They’re also running a successful online campaign to encourage consumers to #PassonPlastic

4. GAP

GAP’s P.A.C.E. program is committed to helping one million women around the globe take charge, dream bigger, and unlock opportunities to better their lives and communities.

They also source sustainable cotton and are turning recycled plastic bottles, and even wood, into yarns.

They are also partnering with governments and other international organisations to improve factory work environments and safety in seven countries including Cambodia and Indonesia.

5. Salesforce

Salesforce’s Philanthropy Cloud is the first global platform to connect employees, customers, and partners with the causes they care about. It connects employees to the charitable causes that they care about, gives recommendations for causes and volunteer activities based on location, preference, and charitable history and  connects companies and their employees to nonprofits at scale.

6. TOMS

TOMS has given more than 86M pairs of shoes to children need as part of their one for one scheme. 

They focus heavily on the environmental and social impact of their products and operations, responsible giving and employee life. They offer shoes with sustainable and vegan materials and all shoe boxes are made from 80 per cent recycled post-consumer waste and printed with soy ink. All employees are held accountable for complying with company policies, including the prevention of slavery and human trafficking within our supply chain.

7. Levi Strauss & Co.

Levi Strauss & Co. operate by the motto “Give More Take Less”.

It has adopted production techniques that use far less water than traditional methods, grows quality crops that benefit the environment and farmers and recycles old denim.

Wearing vintage jeans saves an estimated 65 per cent of the water typically used during the lifecycle of a pair of jeans, since no new water is necessary to grow cotton. Levi’s  Authorised Vintage denim is renewed in different facilities in the US before being sold again, which significantly reduces the collection’s footprint.

8. Ikea

Ikea is aiming to inspire and enable more than 1 billion people to live a better everyday life within the limits of the planet.

It is also transforming into a circular business in order to become climate positive and regenerate the earth’s resources.


Procure with Purpose

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Environmental Sustainability.

Click here to enroll and gain access to  all future Procure with Purpose events including exclusive content, online events and regular webinars.  

Could Blockchain And AI Help Procurement Change The World?

At last month’s London CPO Roundtable we explored how to enable smarter procurement, using blockchain for social good and anticipating disruptive forces…

What are the obstacles to more informed, strategic decision-making in procurement?

How can procurement pros use blockchain for social good to change the world?

What disruptive forces are heading your way in 2019 that could impact your supply chain?

These are just some of the questions we discussed when we gathered a dozen procurement leaders in London last month for a CPO roundtable sponsored by Ivalua.

Enabling smarter procurement

A new study by Forrester, commissioned by Ivalua, surveyed 433 procurement, supply chain and finance leaders across Europe and North America. The results, which Alex Saric, CMO Ivalua took us through at the roundtable, provide a practical look at how to enable smarter procurement.

The obstacles to more informed, strategic decision-making are quite consistent. The study, entitled “Enabling Smarter Procurement” found three common issues

  1. Firstly, despite efforts at automating processes, too much capacity is still consumed by operational or manual activities. Teams must free capacity to work on new projects, conduct analysis and plan, but are struggling to do so.
  2.  Secondly, leaders struggle to access relevant insights when and where they are needed. The volume of information now available is of little help if not digestible, simply leading to information overload.
  3. Compounding this, respondents also cited poor data quality as a key challenge. Duplicate supplier records, inaccurate data and poor integration between systems all were cited as sources of data quality issues.

A common viewpoint today is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the answer, the magical light at the end of a dark tunnel that will improve automation and give us the magical answers we need, when we need them. But what isn’t discussed is ensuring you have a solid data layer that feeds the intelligence layer, where the algorithms lie and all the talk lies.

Organisations must implement AI in conjunction with cleaning up their data, rather than using poor data quality as an excuse for inaction.

Empowering procurement to make more informed, strategic decisions is no longer an option. There is simply no other way to effectively meet the broad set of objectives now expected.

Using blockchain for social good

Olinga Ta’eed, Director, Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance became the world’s first Professor in Blockchain and Social Enterprise at Birmingham University in 2018. He led a discussion surrounding his research into using blockchain for social good, which focuses on studies into methods to alleviate problems and provide significant intervention into society.

“No one grows up saying mummy I’d like to be a CPO,” he begins. “And that’s because we value non-financial value. We grow up wanting to do things that have value in society – things to do with life and sentiment, we want to change the world.”

“In institutional life we often succeed in stripping that out – any kind of intangible value. But this attitude doesn’t occur in real life, only within institutions.”

In our own lives we use our personal values to procure things “I’d like to have products that are aligned to my values, I’ll use this coffee shop not that one, I’ll eat this ice cream not one from that place, price is this important to me but slavery is this important. We talk about our feelings”

Blockchain could enable procurement to change the world by bringing our values back into the workplace.

“My honest belief is that procurement will be the single largest instrument in the world to change the world – children will say they want to be a procurement officer because they will want to change the values of the world – what we buy, what we eat, what we sell, the values by which we transact. Blockchain and AI will change our processes dramatically.”

Preparing for the disruptive forces heading your way

Given the rate at which technology is evolving and how global events are impacting the world, it is increasingly difficult for companies to keep up without considering risk in real-time.

Intelligence about the world we live in drives business operations and the better informed we are the easier it is to drive progress. Mark Joyce, Head of Analysis, Sibylline revealed the most disruptive forces headed our way in 2019.

The four baseline trends include:

  1. Geopolitical reconfiguration – Chinese growth and assertiveness and a US retreat from global leadership
  2. Deadly conflict on the rise – Total conflict deaths fell enormously from mid-nineties up until the last decade. Since 2012 they’ve sparked to the highest since 1990s. Conflict deaths are concentrated in North Africa, Middle East, Syria Libya and Yemen. Middle Eastern countries have accounted for 70 per cent of battle deaths over the last five years.
  3. Disruptive populism
  4. Weakening of frameworks – including nuclear weapon control

These trends impact procurement in four ways:

  1. Strategic uncertainty – Impacting high-level decision making; blurred lines between politics and business -and criminality
  2. Tactical challenges – Geographical, technological, legal and reputational
  3. Cross-functional working – Procurement, legal, communications, HR and IT are increasingly stakeholders in political and security risk information
  4. Decision advantage – The importance of precise, actionable information and analysis to avoid paralysis and enable business in an uncertain external environment

Adventuring against adversity 

Kris King, Ultra-runner and adventurer extraordinaire specialises in the safe delivery of life-changing challenges and expeditions in the world’s most remote and demanding areas.

He inspired our roundtable attendees with his personal story describing how his best friend’s dad was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease and his commitment to raising as much money as he could for medical research.

Kris become the youngest gym owner in the country, started running marathons, which turned into running ultra-marathons, which turned into extreme adventuring across the world, and started to see what a difference he could make.

In his own words “adventuring doesn’t pay well” so he found a way to monetise it – designing extreme adventures for clients, as well as for himself. Whether it’s expeditions in the Arctic Circle and Namibia, driving over a frozen lake with Daniel Craig, catapulting David Hasselhoff or bungee jumping a car of a cliff – nothing seems to be out of reach.

As Kris pointed out “it’s not about skill it’s about how stubborn you are.”

But wait, the blockchain action doesn’t stop here! Join us on October 15 with blockchain experts Shari Diaz, Innovation Strategy and Operations Program Director, IBM Watson Supply Chain and Professor Olinga Ta’eed, Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance in this webinar brought to you by IBM and Procurious. Click here to register for Blockchain: Supply Chain’s 21st Century Truthsayer.