All posts by Procurious HQ

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.”

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #26 – Changing Talent Management

Procurement needs to change its approach to talent management or risk losing out with the Millennial Generation.

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, we challenged our thought leaders to share their Big Ideas for the future of procurement.

From ideas that have the potential to change the very nature of the procurement profession, to ones that got the assembled minds thinking about the profession’s impact outside of the organisation, the response we received was amazing.

Talent Management Approach

The growth of the Millennial Generation in the workforce shouldn’t be viewed by procurement as a threat, but an opportunity. That’s the view of Melani Flores, Practice Leader, Procurement Advisory EMEA at The Hackett Group.

However, Melani also believes that procurement doesn’t have the talent management processes in place to work with this generation. In order to train them, and enable them to work to the best of their ability, procurement needs to change its approach.

Catch up with all the delegates’ Big Ideas from the 2016 Summit at the Procurious Learning Hub.

Want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016? And maybe what we have planned for 2017? You can visit our dedicated website!

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today. Get connected with over 18,500 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

Be Like Two Turtle Doves – Spread the Love

On Day 2, the true love gifted two turtle doves. This festive season, be like the doves, and spread the love with suppliers and customers.

two turtle doves

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 here.

“On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…two turtle doves.”

Turtle doves traditionally represent love and faithfulness because they mate for life, and work together to build nests and raise their young.

What’s that got to do with procurement, we hear you cry? Well, if you’re looking to build world-class procurement performance, you need to value your relationships. Be it your suppliers, customers, or internal and external stakeholders, they should be the focus of your attention.

Take the Lead from the Turtle Doves

If you’re not feeling the love in your supplier relationship, you’ll need to put some hard work in. As Tania Seary says here, there will come a time when the romance fades. But you can bring it back to make sure that you and your supplier are working in tandem.

It takes time and commitment to build this relationship, there are no short cuts. And once you have built trust, you’ll need to work even harder to maintain it. This is where good Supplier Relationship Management comes in. Here’s a brief refresh:

Building the relationship (much like our turtle doves) helps build that feeling of faithfulness, and both parties are less likely to drop the relationship at the first sign of trouble.

So what are some of the tactics you can use to keep you relationship fresh and mutually beneficial:

  • Spend time with your supplier, and make time to visit their offices/factories/premises. They’ll appreciate it.
  • Give due reward for good work. Often a simple thanks will work best, but how about letting them in on the ground floor of future contracts?
  • Be open, honest, and truthful. Nothing destroys a relationship quicker than a lack of trust.
  • Got a problem? Invite them into see if they can help with a solution. You never know, you might just get a great gift of innovation from them.

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?

And it’s not just your suppliers that you need to build strong relationships with. Your customers, internal and external, are just as important for procurement. The customer is always right after all (even when it seems like they aren’t!).

Customer (or stakeholder) engagement comes down to three critical skills for procurement professionals:

  1. Good communication
  2. Effective questioning
  3. Stakeholder mapping

Want to know more? Funny you should ask that – you can catch up on another top Procurious video here.

Much of this can be linked back to the well-known, and oft-trodden, procurement process. Stakeholder engagement should underpin the entire process – we used this example yesterday when we talked about creating a specification.

People naturally want to be kept in the loop, and don’t like unexpected surprises. But, at the same time, most people will be more understanding of issues if they are made aware of them. So, much like your supplier relationships, open and honest communication will take you a long way.

Although we’re on Day 2, consider this as step 1 in the process. Get everyone onside at the start, and you’ll save yourself a lot of pain in the future. And, with any luck, you’ll manage to build a lasting relationship.

Do you still feel like you’re speaking a different language to the rest of the business? Still struggling to communicate procurement’s value. We’re talking Three French Hens on Monday.

Can You Write a Specification For a Partridge in a Pear Tree?

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a partridge in a pear tree!”

partridge in a pear tree

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.

No-one is entirely sure why the “true love” in question decided to gift this particular item. As you can tell by the song, he/she was clearly out to impress, and figured this was a good place to start!

Building up from there, the gifts get grander and grander, culminating in a large number of drummers. More on that in a few days…

Irrespective of motive, what can be said about this gift giver, is that they got their specification and logistics right throughout. Not one gift arrived on the wrong day, and they were all as expected. With a procurement hat on, this is no mean feat (especially at this time of year).

Can you Specify a Partridge?

So how do you go about drawing up a specification for a partridge? There are 14 species of partridge in the world, and you wouldn’t want one that didn’t happily perch in a tree. It needed to be that specific partridge, and no other.

Or the whole plan would have fallen apart on Day 1.

And for the tree, it had to be a pear tree too. (Though some people believe that pear tree is actually a mistranslation from French.) What’s not considered in the song is the height of the tree, the number of branches, the colour, and other attributes.

We’re stretching a metaphor here, but you should see where we’re coming from.

Writing a Good Specification

A good specification, or Scope of Work (SOW), is a key foundation for an efficient procurement process. It can mean the difference between the right product for the job, and purchasing something not fit for purpose.

In its simplest terms, a specification or SOW outlines exactly what procurement requires from its supplier. It should be written in conjunction with end users and internal customers, to ensure all requirements are taken into account.

However they can be written in such a way that allows for flexibility from suppliers. This can also open up opportunities for innovation. You can find out more by watching our great eLearning video on this topic. Here’s a quick sample to whet your appetite:

In the case of the partridge in a pear tree, a descriptive, rather than functional, specification would be required. This outlines exactly what is required, complete with all relevant details and attributes, and will help to stop scope creep.

So now you’ve specified your partridge in a pear tree, you need to think about delivering it. But you’re going to have to wait for that one!

Turtle Doves have traditionally symbolised love – but how can you show this love to your suppliers and customers? Join us tomorrow for the next part in our festive series to find out.

Escaping Groundhog Day with Corporate Knowledge Capture

Can cognitive technology revolutionise the way we capture corporate knowledge?

groundhog day knowledge capture

Introducing Watson Supply Chain from IBM. Get to know Watson here.

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in the nightmare of a supply chain groundhog day? One minute you’re gaining some solid ground in your organisation and the next… You’re back at square one, looking likely to make the same mistakes over and over again, trying in vain to get things right.

Capturing the Knowledge

Groundhog day is the reality for procurement and supply chain professionals who don’t adequately and methodically capture corporate knowledge.

  • When an individual leaves your organisation that doesn’t mean that all their knowledge should leave with them.
  • The tribal knowledge residing in your supply chain shouldn’t be reliant on key individuals keeping it there.
  • All of your supply chain decisions should be mapped out.
  • If your team makes a mistake you should be learning from it, not repeating it.
  • Knowledge capture should be an ongoing, continuous process and not something that is attempted, under pressure, at the point of employee exit.

There’s no question that retaining corporate knowledge is good for business. It helps facilitate the creation of new knowledge, it saves time and effort, positively affects your relationship with suppliers and customers and encourages new innovations.

Corporate Knowledge Capture is also great for new employees who can learn quickly and resolve problems more efficiently. That’s not to mention the benefits of leveraging the accumulated experiences of employees both past and present.

Social Capture and Collaboration

Organisations have employed various techniques to retaining corporate knowledge.

One approach is to use social intranet software that acts as a social collaboration platform. These provide a space where you can capture information, share data and communicate better with colleagues, suppliers and customers. Services such as Yammer and Jive have helped to increase efficiency and enhance information flow.

Other organisations have their own internal intranet, which serves the same purpose.

The problem with either of these options is that they are both laborious and time consuming. They depend on your knowledge base being regularly updated with the newest information as it becomes available in order to offer maximum value.

Employees will also be relied upon to review information and update the content. It might sound like reasonable expectations in theory but, in practice, it’s hard to maintain. New approaches are needed which are proactive as opposed to reactive.

Along Came Cognitive Technology

Fortunately, the ways that we capture knowledge are changing and evolving with technology developments, making it easier than ever before to do so. Cognitive Technology is today’s game changer in many ways and one of them is the impact it could have on corporate knowledge capture.

It can think, learn, and generally mimic human intellect. IDC estimates that, by 2020, 50 per cent of all business software will incorporate some cognitive computing functionality.

With regards to knowledge retention, cognitive tech can modify and document specific and analytic knowledge in a manner that others can re-use and adapt it for their specific use.

It can make intelligent decisions about where inventory should go, but also how it gets there.

It will also add information to the puzzle on warehouse space capacity, trailer loads that are going LTL, and ultimately, the best route not only based on cost or labor, but all of the extraneous details that aren’t apparent at the onset of an order.

Decisions will no longer be made that leave out key stakeholders by accident. Cognitive tech will recognise recommended participants for conversations and bring them together for troubleshooting in one place.

Balancing supply chains is a never-ending puzzle. As the complexity grows, communication and knowledge retention becomes of the utmost importance. How can Watson supply chain help to enable more intelligent decisions and guide leaders to make strategic moves? Find out here.

Why Procurement Should Be All About the Cloud

The Cloud is the future for procurement. If that’s the case, why do we still have so many questions about it? 

the cloud

Procurious are at ProcureCon IT in Amsterdam this week. Stay up to date with the latest highlights on the Blog, and follow live on Twitter.

We sat in a very interesting, interactive panel discussion yesterday on anything and everything Cloud related. This is one of the most talked about topics in procurement, so it’s no surprise that it generated a lot of discussion at this week’s conference.

As Tania Seary noted, the cloud has a touch of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ about it. Everyone’s talking about it, everyone is convinced that they need it, but not everyone knows exactly what it is or how to use it. It’s clear that procurement is being hindered by this lack of clear understanding.

We were particularly interested in hearing the views of the panel compared to the others we’ve heard this year. What we heard was a consistent message, aligned with other Cloud experts Procurious have spoken to.

In our Oracle webinar last month, our discussion touched on the array of options in technology available to procurement. Also discussed was the idea of how traditional offerings differed from those from smaller, more agile companies.

All About the Cloud?

The panel, chaired by Procurious founder, Tania Seary, included Christiaan Murphy, Global Software Category Manager at CGI, and Michael Delle, Regional Head for SI & IT Sourcing at Ericsson.

Both men are active in the procurement space, as well as active members of Procurious! Christiaan Murphy is responsible for CGI’s global software spend of around 500 million per year.

Michael Delle is part of Ericsson’s global organisation for category management for SI & IT. He has a unique perspective on the Cloud, familiar with it for internal use, but also as part of the reselling systems integration programme at Ericsson.

CGI is divided around procurement categories (telecoms, software, hardware), but this isn’t common to all organisations. Traditional structures could present some difficulties in management of the Cloud, particularly from the point of view of data centre.

Michael raised the point about a lack of shared Cloud best practice for processes such as contract management. When it comes to negotiating cloud contracts, are you paying a subscription or a monthly cost? Either way, you need to be sure of what service level you expect for your costs. It needs to suit you, your organisation and your customer expectations.

Hidden Costs of the Cloud

Another fascinating area of debate raised was that of the hidden costs of the Cloud. Many people have chosen to focus on the benefits it offers, but few have stopped to consider the unseen costs.

Michael, in particular, was keen to point out how surprised people were when they found this out.

The first was the difficulty of getting back out of the Cloud environment once you were in it or even simply switching to an alternate vendor. There is always difficulty in migrating away from what you are buying, but the Cloud adds an extra level of complexity to this, especially when it could take months to get your data out!

It’s important to have a recovery scenario for your data and a contingency plan in place in case the cloud fails.

The second cost relates to legacy solutions. Some organisations involved in the Cloud environment would still keep their legacy solutions on site.

This was a conscious decision in many cases, with concerns about Cloud migration driving this. However, it did lead to duplication of technology and, more importantly, cost.

Cloud Brokering

One final topic of interest surrounding this topic is Cloud brokering. For those of you who don’t know (and we were one of them), this is more simple than it sounds. As you might be able to guess, a Cloud broker is an intermediary between a Cloud seller and buyer.

The concept of brokering has grown in Cloud software, as companies are asked to provide a service for people who don’t know what they are doing. Often, these are mid-sized companies who could benefit from the Cloud, but can’t dedicate the resources to understanding it better.

The companies that are suffering in this area were larger organisations with solutions for managing data centres. Cloud software is trending towards very specific solutions, which can be open source, and not dependent on the larger providers.

These ‘point’ solutions are proving to be better than the larger, all-in ones. The Cloud is enabling the trend towards virtualisation, but are hurting the providers offering off-site management, as people don’t see it as a requirement any more. It’s possibly better to go with the ‘point’ solutions, and avoid the software lock-in.

What do you make of the discussion points in this panel? Do you agree? Why not create your own discussion, or contact Michael and Christiaan on Procurious to find out more?