All posts by Procurious HQ

Peer-to-Peer Learning – The Evolution of Professional Development

Learning is no longer confined to a classroom. Peer-to-peer learning is fast becoming the primary avenue for professional development.

peer-to-peer learning

The labour market is tightening, which means the need to engage, retain and up-skill your existing resources is growing. However, individuals and organisations are moving away from traditional approaches to learning and development, such as classroom-based learning, due to rising costs and geographically dispersed teams.

In the latest evolution of professional and personal development, there is a greater emphasis is now being placed on social media and peer-to-peer learning. And while, in the past, quality of content was seen as a major issue in using e-Learning, more high-profile organisations are realising the benefits of both creating and sharing their own content.

Peer-to-Peer Benefits

The nature of social media is inherently suited to peer-to-peer learning:

  • It is a highly effective method of sharing information – people can learn real-life, applicable lessons from subject matter experts from all around the world.
  • The e-Learning resources are very accessible – they can be accessed from multiple devices, at a time and place that is convenient for the learner (and their organisation too).
  • Perhaps most importantly, it’s a very cost effective way to learn – savings are made on travel, employee time, and residential courses, and the vast majority of e-Learning is totally free.

Take global mining organisation, Rio Tinto, as an example. The organisation has a very widely dispersed employee based, with over 35,000 people spread around the world. Realising the cost of bringing employees together for classroom-based training, Rio launched their own learning academy in 2014.

Employees have access to relevant, and high-quality, materials wherever they are, and can study at their own pace, at a time that suits them.

Procurement Podcasts

Across social media there are a number of portals and platforms that support peer-to-peer learning, offering free, downloadable e-Learning content in the field of procurement. One of these is SoundCloud – a free, online sharing platform for audio and visual content.

Soundcloud Podcasts

A simple search for ‘procurement’ on the platform provides over 500 podcasts from over 100 contributors, including the BBC and Buyers’ Meeting Point. The platform is easy to access via a web browser or its app, enabling users to listen to the podcasts on the go.

You can also find quality, procurement-related podcasts from a huge range of other sources. Here are just a few we have selected:

  • AT Kearney Procurement & Analytics Solutions – the renowned ‘Wave of the Futurepodcast series covers key topics for procurement leaders through interviewing subject matter experts and thought leaders.
  • Art of Procurement – hosted by Philip Ideson, the AoP Show invites procurement professionals and experts to share their views on the hot topics impacting the profession.
  • My Purchasing Centre – this podcast series has its finger on the pulse of the profession, sharing information and thought leadership on major topics and events.
  • Institute of Supply Management – ISM offers an ever-expanding library of audio podcasts covering a broad spectrum of supply management and general business topics.

Procurement Videos

If videos are more of your thing, you can find plenty available on YouTube (just don’t get lost with all the other videos you can inevitably lose an hour or more with…!).

One of our recent finds are videos from The Procurement Man (better known in real life as Neil Hudson). Neil has a selection of videos sharing his experiences and knowledge from a career in procurement. You can find his videos here, and see an example of one below:

And finally, you can of course find plenty of procurement and supply chain related videos right here on Procurious. Take your pick from procurement training, thought leadership and business research from a variety of experts from around the world.

However you choose to learn, and however you do your professional development, there is a good chance that peer-to-peer learning will be able to support your goals. Just find the right platform for you, and get stuck in!

Turning Point in SE Asia Supply Chain Challenges

A turning point has been reached in the challenges facing the South East Asia supply chain, say global consultancy Crimson & Co.

South East Asia Supply Chain

In the light of economic growth, rising affluence and booming consumer demand, many international businesses are seeking to capitalise on the growth in South East Asia’s developing markets.

The challenges in the South East Asia supply chain have reached a turning point. This is down to the scarcity of supply chain professionals, increased consumer diversity, and fragmented supply chains.

The many layers of suppliers, localised delivery and route to consumer practices, and lack of transparency and consistency in information flows, make it incredibly difficult for businesses to achieve the next wave of global growth.

SE Asia Supply Chain – Huge Promise

There is huge promise but transforming supply chains to reach market potential, handle diversified products, and provide outstanding quality and service to customers is a mammoth task. The businesses best able to overcome these challenges can transform their South East Asian supply chains to become a source of competitive advantage, and drive global growth.

With rising labour costs and the move away from an export-based economy, changes in China are creating opportunities for South East Asia in global manufacturing. This also positions global businesses to capitalise on growing demand in these markets.

For most companies the potential is clear. The challenge is how to address it.

The Time is Now

Richard Smith, Director of Crimson & Co Singapore, argues that the time to transform supply chains is now:

“South East Asia is an incredibly attractive region with rapidly growing markets and low cost operations. The challenge is how to address fractured supply chains and the shortage of supply chain skills.

“As companies move their factories from China to South East Asia, they should grasp the opportunity to carry out a full supply chain review to identify how they should configure their supply chains to better deliver on their current and future business strategies. Due to the significant costs involved in the transformation, businesses need to assess the real benefits and ensure it will deliver against objectives.

“Companies can accelerate their supply chain transformation by bringing best practice from elsewhere in their organisation, other industries and innovative local supply chain practices. Through understanding their businesses’ maturity and readiness to change they can identify where sustainable improvements can be made and how to leverage disruptive technologies to drive business performance.”

Challenges Remain

However Smith warns that a number of challenges remain across the South East Asian supply chain, such as high staff turnover, with employees quick to leave for higher salaries, as well as a lack of experienced professionals with supply chain knowledge across manufacturing, distribution, planning and supply chain management.

In order to ensure successful transformation, Smith also warns that knowledge and awareness of local culture and business landscapes is critical, with a long term focus on developing local supply chain knowledge and people capabilities. This can be done by establishing a physical presence in the region, and developing region-specific leadership and training programmes.

Smith concludes: “Opportunity abounds in the South East Asia region with unrivalled chances for market growth, logistics, sourcing and manufacturing. The time to reinvent networks and processes is now – transforming the South East Asia supply chain into a source of competitive advantage.”

Crimson & Co is a global supply chain consultancy, with a scope spanning supply chain strategy, planning, procurement, manufacturing, logistics and customer channels.

How the Leave Vote Will Impact Procurement and Supply Chain

It was an unlikely event just a week ago, but the Brexit has come to pass. Procurious looks to unpack initial thoughts on how the ‘Leave’ vote will impact both procurement and organisations as a whole.

EU Vote Leave

Last week, Procurious’ weekly news article reported on the potential impact of the UK Referendum on UK and European supply chains.

Now, with a weekend of uncertainty and speculation behind us, Procurious looks at the initial views on what the wider implications are likely to be for procurement now the ‘Leave’ vote is a reality.

Initial Response

Following the ‘Leave’ result announcement on Friday morning, the UK stock market dropped 8 per cent on opening, its worst one-day fall since 2008, although it recovered slightly during the day. The pound, too, fell dramatically in the early morning, with a 10 per cent fall taking it to an over 30 year low.

Across Europe, stock markets reacted in a similar fashion. Markets in France and Germany also fell around 8 per cent, while the Swiss Government were forced to stabilise the Franc as it dramatically appreciated in value.

Due to the unprecedented nature of the vote and the result, experts foresee a period of volatility in UK, European and World markets. The volatility has already had an impact on commodity prices, with oil prices dropping by over 5 per cent, both in Europe and the USA, while gold prices have risen by nearly 7 per cent.

In a bid to calm markets, George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, broke his silence to reassure markets that  “Britain is open for business” – but warning too “it will not be plain sailing”.

The Long Term

The long-term implications will take a while to become clear. The markets across Europe will stabilise, as will the value of the currencies of the member states. However, as has already been reported, the UK exit may precipitate other in/out referendums in Europe.

Far-right parties in France, Italy and the Netherlands were all quoted on Friday as saying that it was now time for their countries to have their own votes. Although further votes would result in increased volatility, these are unlikely to happen in the short term.

For now, all member states, the UK included, are still part of the EU, and are therefore subject to EU regulations and obligations under the single market.

Britain will most likely wait until at least October, when a new Leader of the Conservative Party is elected, to trigger Article 50 to start the EU divorce process.

Procurement, Trade and Supply Chains

Setting politics aside, and assessing the UK’s decision from a procurement and supply chain point of view, there are a number of factors businesses must consider in the short term, in the run up to the UK formally taking its leave from the EU.

Should the value of the pound remain low, this will bring both positives (think cheaper exports for British companies), and negatives (think more expensive imports of global products, and less bang for your buck in foreign currency exchange transaction), for procurement organisations.

The UK will also have to renegotiate trade deals, not only with European countries, but also with other countries around the world. Both UK imports and exports would be subject to tariffs, increasing supply chain costs of organisations with pan-European supply chains. However, it is worth noting that this will only happen in the event of the UK fully removing itself from the EU common market.

It is also worth remembering that this will not mean the end for procurement activities around Europe. Far from it. New trade deals, negotiations, supplier evaluations and supply chain changes, will all fall under procurement’s remit, making our profession as important for organisational value as it ever has been.

Prepare Now

A two-year waiting period for the UK to formally leave the EU doesn’t mean that nothing can be done in procurement. There are a number of strategies and actions that can be taken in order to prepare, and help to mitigate future risks.

Procurement professionals first need to understand if and how they are impacted within their current contracts and supply agreements. Assessing the current supplier lists to identify European suppliers, or suppliers with European Tier 2 or 3 suppliers, is a good starting point. 

It will be better to know now if critical, or bottleneck, suppliers will be impacted, so mitigations and contingencies can start to be planned. Within existing contracts, procurement must assess the potential impact of tariffs on pricing, and if they, or suppliers, will be in a position to renegotiate these contracts.

Finally, investigating alternative sources of supply for all products is a good step to take. This could be supplier based in the UK, or further afield. Another option in this regard would be assessing the possibility of exploring innovative supply solutions with existing suppliers.

UK and European businesses, including procurement departments, have time to prepare. The biggest mistake would be in leaving it too late to ensure actionable outcomes.

Are your supply chains likely to be impacted by the referendum result? How can procurement act to ensure they still have the best deals with suppliers? Let us know your thoughts.

Had your fill of politics? Need something to take your mind off it? Here are some headlines to peruse from the world of procurement & supply chain…

FAA Relaxes US Drone Regulations

  • The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has relaxed its regulations on the piloting of drones in US airspace.
  • Before now, operators needed to obtain a licence, requested on a case-by-case basis, to have permission to pilot a drone legally.
  • Now, the regulations state that commercial drones can be flown by pilots over the age of 16, below 400 feet, and with the drone in line of sight.
  • However, the changes will not affect the commercial drones proposed by Amazon, as the FAA is still carrying out further research on this use.

Read more at The BBC

Instagram Hits 500 Million Users

  • Social media platform Instagram has doubled its user base in the past two years, topping 500 million in the past week.
  • The last 100 million members have been added since September 2015, a considerably faster rate than the previous 100 million.
  • The site boasts 300 million daily active users, has surpassed its rival Twitter in monthly active users, and is now double the size of Snapchat.
  • The platform has further expansion plans, with much of it aimed at Instagram’s role as a platform for businesses.

Read more at Tech Crunch

Boeing Signs Deal with Iran Air

  • US-based Boeing has signed a deal with Iran Air to supply 100 jetliners.
  • It marks the first time that Boeing has done businesses in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in the country in 1979.
  • The value of the deal is unconfirmed due to a lack of information on the jetliners to be supplier, but it is estimated to be in the region of $11 billion.
  • However, any and all contracts that Boeing signs with Iran will be subject to US Governmental approval, something which could change following the November elections.

Read more on Reuters

Amazon Fined for Shipment Mishandling

  • Amazon has been fined $130,000 for two alleged incidents of mishandling of dangerous chemicals in its logistics operations.
  • The fines, one of $78,000 and one of $52,000, related to the shipment of two flammable substances by air, between Illinois and Florida in 2014.
  • This is the third fine in two weeks for Amazon from the FAA, following a $350,000 fine for a similar incident, also occurring in 2014.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #2 – Procurement Owns Talent

Mark Roberts, Global Procurement Capabilities Director at AB InBev, believes that procurement should be the gateway for new talent coming into the organisation.

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.

Mark Roberts, Global Procurement Capabilities Director at AB InBev, says that procurement institutions and bodies need to do more to tell people what procurement is about, and organisations need to now be bold in order to attract the best and the brightest of new talent.

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

If you want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016, and 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, and connect with over 15,000 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

National Women in Engineering Day – Raising Profiles

National Women in Engineering Day 2016 is all about raising profiles and showcasing why engineering is a great career for women.

NWED Raising Profiles

Thursday the 23rd of June isn’t just about the UK’s EU Referendum. In fact, there’s something happening on Thursday that it would be remiss of us to overlook, or let be completely overshadowed by the vote – National Women in Engineering Day 2016.

Building on Success

NWED 2016 is aiming to build on last year’s success, when over 400 organisations, including schools, colleges, universities and industry bodies, from across the world, got together to celebrate achievements of women engineers, and encourage more girls and women to consider a career in engineering.

But first, a bit of background. The first National Women in Engineering Day was set up by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) as part of its 95th anniversary celebrations. The society wanted to highlight the opportunities available for women in engineering, at a time where the industry was suffering from a skills shortage.

The WES felt that by encouraging more girls and women into engineering, it would help to improve diversity, fill the skills gap and enable the  industry to cope better with future job requirements. NWED was created to support this aim, allowing organisations to set up their own events, and link together with others in order to maximise the impact of the message.

Importance of Raising Profiles

The sub-theme for this year’s NWED is ‘Raising Profiles’, something the organisers see as key to bringing more women into the profession.

Alongside the publication of the ‘Top 50 Women in Engineering‘ list in Thursday’s Daily Telegraph, institutions are being encourage to share the profiles of their female engineers, their stories and achievements.

Raising Profiles is also about changing the perceptions of engineering as a male-dominated, physical, dirty work, and showcasing the reality that not only are women just as capable as engineers as their male counterparts, but there are already examples of where women are succeeding at the top of the profession.

You can read about just a few great examples here.

Get Involved

While it might be a bit late to organise your own NWED 2016 event, there are still plenty of ways you can get involved:

  • Visit a local university to highlight engineering as a career
  • Make a plan to increase your corporate diversity and launch it today
  • Raise the profile and celebrate the achievements of your female engineers
  • Feature an article in your newsletter or on your website about your female engineers
  • Follow events, and help promote the cause, on social media at @NWED1919, and by using the hashtags #NWED2016 and #RaisingProfiles
Why Spread the Word?

You might be wondering why Procurious are profiling National Women in Engineering Day when we aren’t an engineering-related platform.

Well, besides it being a great campaign to get behind, it’s clear there is still work to be done. It’s estimated that the gender gap in engineering subjects has doubled in the past eight years.

Even with the awareness of NWED increasing, it can still fall victim to a lack of time for organisations to support it fully. As one female engineer at a global engineering organisation put it to us, “Personally I would love to see more support for it. I have supported the event in previous years and it is excellent. Unfortunately ‘business pressures’ tend to get in the way of greater support.”

We also firmly believe that procurement and supply chain could, and perhaps should, follow suit with similar events for this profession. After all, why should raising profiles be limited to engineering. We’ve talked previously about women in supply chain, and gender diversity, and NWED is a great example of getting a wide group of people involved in a common cause.

Isn’t it time to take a positive stance in procurement and supply chain? Procurious can provide the platform – can you provide the support?

Are Traditional Views Limiting Procurement Innovation?

Is a lack of competitiveness and a risk averse nature holding back the progress of procurement innovation? New research seems to suggest so.

Procurement Innovation

New research shows that procurement is innovating and wants to do so even more in the future. However, the function’s risk averse nature, non-competitive attitude, and the prioritisation of collaboration over leadership, may be holding back its progress.

While many procurement professionals and leaders are embracing procurement innovation, many appear to be innovating within a safe environment, sticking with the things they know about, such as the supply chain.

Procurement says its ability to innovate is stifled by what others think it’s there to do, but isn’t it time that procurement stopped worrying what others perceive it as and started focusing on realising its full potential?

Limiting Procurement Innovation

Wax Digital’s new Procurement Innovation Pathway research, which surveyed 100 of the UK’s senior procurement professionals, shows that 69 per cent considered themselves pivotal to business innovation today, with 80 per cent expecting to be so in the future.

On average, 76 per cent said that they are involved in a range of business innovations, but only 27 per cent are leading them. However, 86 per cent said they want to be a part of all ongoing product innovations and service developments in the future – not only those within the procurement function.

But procurement’s view of what makes a business innovative appears to be impacted by some of its traditional risk averse thinking. Having a clear business vision (42 per cent), reacting quickly to the market and customers (33 per cent) and reviewing and improving business processes (32 per cent) were procurement’s top cited factors associated with business innovation.

Other characteristics traditionally more innovation related, however, are at the bottom of their list. Only 20 per cent cited a willingness to take risks, and 19 per cent a high investment in R&D, for example.

Procurement Innovation Barriers

Procurement identifies a number of factors stopping it innovating, most frequently other departmental views (40 per cent), lack of required skills (33 per cent) and time consuming processes (31 per cent).

And while these factors clearly play a part, there seem to be attitudinal setbacks with procurement’s own mind-set. Only 10 per cent, for example, are focused on challenging business objectives; just 14 per cent prioritise competitiveness and 18 per cent leadership as skills within their team – which they also say are declining traits.

Commenting on the research’s finding, Daniel Ball, director at Wax Digital said: “It’s fair to say that the average procurement function today is a vastly different place to what it once was. Procurement is innovating – of that there’s no doubt. But are they heading in the right direction or truly prepared to break the mould? Clear indicators of some discomfort with taking risks and really leading and driving innovation suggest it’s not yet realising its full potential in this area.

“To become real innovators, procurement professionals must overcome these issues while fostering the right business relationships, nurturing the correct new skills and seeking to break ground in their approach to technology.”

The Innovation 2016 research was conducted by Morar Consulting in March 2016, involving 100 interviews to canvass the opinions of UK senior procurement professionals working in small to large UK enterprises.

You can find out more about the research, and download the report, by visiting the Wax Digital website.

The Key Role of Procurement in Risk Mitigation

As average spend with suppliers increases, procurement must be more active with the management of risk mitigation in the supply chain.

Risk Mitigation

Increasingly companies have a higher percentage of their cost base with suppliers, frequently as much as 50-70 per cent. Typically half of this is indirect spend on functions such as Marketing and Human Resources.

It is clear that as the cost spend increases with these suppliers, procurement is playing a key role as a broker and helping to drive the revenue line. However, if the majority of cost base is outside of the company’s walls, this presents a major business risk.

This is particularly alarming in industries such as financial services and pharma, where the regulatory and reputational landscape is complex. How can procurement help with risk mitigation, and also help senior executives have greater confidence that their supply chain is in order?

Mitigation & Segmentation

According to Jon Kirby and Paul Birch, from Business Process Transformation consultancy Genpact, organisations must institute better and more sophisticated risk segmentation, dividing the procurement supplier base into distinct risk tiers.

This does not necessarily mean that the largest suppliers in terms of spend will pose the largest risk. Companies should also be continually re-assessing supplier risk and asking questions, such as:

  • Are any of your suppliers at risk of bankruptcy?
  • Are there any global or geopolitical issues in your supply chain that could disrupt it?
  • Do you have systems and processes in place to regularly evaluate and monitor your most important suppliers?
  • Have you embedded risk evaluation into the on-boarding of new suppliers?

Creating stronger links between the lines of business and the procurement function can also ensure that the risk profile is in line with business priorities.

Procurement’s Role

There are a number of factors procurement professionals can keep an eye on when tasked with supplier risk mitigation. Sandeep Singh, Vice President – Procurement and Supply Chain Services at Genpact, shares his experience across these factors.

  • What are the signs that procurement needs to watch out for when assessing suppliers’ bankruptcy risk?

Assessing the financial health of a supplier should be a critical part of selection, as well as the ongoing relationship management process. Financial failures in today’s economy are not uncommon and can cause disruption to companies business.

Procurement professionals should pay close attention to the following aspects of business when assessing a supplier’s financial condition or bankruptcy risk:

  • Financial information – including profitability or margins; revenue growth; liquidity; negative cash flow.
  • Law suits such as where supplier is being sued for collection matters.
  • Managerial and employee related events such as resignation of key members of management, or abnormal turnover of employees.
  • Poor quality of product or services, or long term order delinquencies.
  • Inability to produce timely and accurate financial information.
  • Delay and penalties due to outstanding tax and statutory issues.
  • Request for special payment arrangements, such as changing terms of shipment to Cash on Delivery, or request for advance payment
  • Declining relationship with their bank or frequent change in their banks.

However, applying various signs and parameters to assess a suppliers financial condition can be a huge challenge for procurement, for the following reasons:

  • Financial assessment needs to be a continuous process, and doing it only during selection process may not be sufficient.
  • How priorities are given (i.e. which supplier to cover and which supplier to exclude).
  • Large supplier base can run into the thousands.
  • Multiple early warning signs and financial parameters.

To overcome the above challenges, leading global companies are leveraging Lean Digital solutions, which combine digital technologies with design thinking. This results in procurement being able to segment their supplier base with minimal effort, and being able to prioritise multiple early warning signs and financial parameters.

The adoption of the Lean Digital approach also provides companies with the ability to conduct ongoing financial risk assessments on their suppliers as opposed to doing it only during the selection process.

So what else can procurement do to assist with risk mitigation in the supply chain? For this you’ll need to come back for the second article in this series.

Genpact offers a number of procurement services that can be tailored to specific client needs, including end-to-end Source to Pay (S2P) services for both direct and indirect materials. Find out more by visiting their website.

The EU Referendum – Supply Chain Trade at Stake?

No matter where you are in the world, you’ll have heard about Thursday’s referendum in the UK about its EU membership. Have both sides overlooked a critical point in the debate?

EU Referendum

This article was written for Procurious by Chris Cliffe.

Procurious is a global platform, but wherever you are, you’ll have heard about this week’s referendum in the UK.  Will the UK #RemainIn or #brexit the EU this week?

Far from being specific to the EU, I think it’s a global issue. And one I find myself thinking about sitting on a train…

Referendum & the Supply Chain

No one can agree on the exact figure (£350m-£380m per day), but the UK is a ‘net contributor’ to the EU. In fact, the UK is one of the biggest net contributors along with France and Germany. But what about taking this issue in (very) simple supply chain terms?

Customers pay suppliers for products. Suppliers make profit from product sales. Therefore we can view customers as ‘net contributors’ to suppliers, much like the UK to the EU. What would happen if a supplier were to lose one of its biggest customers?

The loss of that customer’s revenue needs to be mitigated.  Replacing that customer with new business of equivalent size will be difficult, or at least take a long time. Whilst costs may have gone down through no longer servicing that customer, cost reduction is not proportionate to the lost business, leaving an increased cost to be recovered from remaining customers.

What are the options? The supplier can: take the hit; make efficiency savings; increase prices for other customers; or pass on the cost to the supply chain.

So, if the EU loses a large net contribution, other member states will either see a reduction in EU funding, as there is less money to share out, or they will have to renegotiate their contributions to the EU to make up for the shortfall.

Contributions are proportionate, so all member states will either see their contribution increase, or their share of the funding reduced. France and Germany would likely be most affected.

Shifting Issues

The UK might view this as the EU’s problem. However, all that will have happened is the ‘problem’ has just changed.

Assuming France and Germany – two of the UK’s largest trading partners – did pay more into the EU to cover the loss of the UK’s contribution, how will they take the hit? More austerity? Or will they pass on the cost to their customers – particularly if the customer caused their cost increase!

The UK will want to continue to trade with the EU member states.  That will be possible, and the member states will want to trade.  However, having left and caused those very same member states to see higher costs as a result, I’m struggling to see why we aren’t more concerned about potential ‘tariffs’ which may be applied.

The risk is that the EU will want to recover the ‘cost’ it suffers from a Brexit. Furthermore, the EU will debate and agree their stance on this. And guess what – the UK won’t be at that table.

Supplier Perspective

From a supplier perspective, losing a large customer simply to find that customer still wants your product, but just didn’t want to pay for it is frustrating enough. But what example would you set to your other customers if you actually agreed?

Of course, suppliers will be happy to supply those products, and even though the commercials of the deal might change, you’ll inevitably be charged the same (or more as the deal is no longer standard and will have introduced complexity, risk and cost). Other customers will be watching you.

But the UK isn’t just a customer, it’s a supplier too. Exiting the EU may mean higher costs for the UK’s customers, meaning they have less money to spend. They may want to trade, but could buy less, or need lower prices to compensate.

Let’s consider Framework Agreements. Frameworks are really useful commercial vehicles (a separate debate!) to access products and services without complex, lengthy advertised procedures.

Typically, a set of suppliers are appointed to a Framework for a fixed period. Suppliers who are not appointed to the framework cannot trade through it, and consequently find it more of a challenge to trade with the public sector, who want to use the ‘easy’ route.

Think of the EU as a framework, and the member states as the suppliers appointed. The UK could be about to give up its hard fought position on the framework. In doing so, the UK will be making itself more difficult to trade with, and it will be natural for current EU customers to look at other, less complex, sourcing options.

So, if the referendum goes for #Brexit, does the UK become just a country geographically in Europe, but in the ‘no longer free to trade’ area? Is the UK’s slice of the EU trade pie more at risk than either campaign have realised?

Well, I conclude that…my train has arrived on-time! Don’t forget to  vote if you’re eligible!

Want something to take your mind off the referendum? Here are the week’s procurement and supply chain headlines…

Starbucks Names New Supply Chain Chief

  • Hans Melotte, former Johnson & Johnson CPO, and current Chairman of the ISM Board of Directors, has been appointed by Starbucks as its new Executive Vice President of Global Supply Chain.  
  • Starbucks has approximately 16,000 suppliers and operates in over 70 countries and has recently announced plans to open a 20,000 square-foot roastery in New York.
  • Mr Melotte will oversee supplier relationships, distribution, transportation and store delivery, and is expected to transform stores’ distribution channels in line with company expansion.
  • Mr. Melotte also featured in Procurious’ recent article on the use of the term ‘strategic’ in the profession.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

World Day Against Child Labour

  • The ILO’s World Day Against Child Labour took place on Sunday 12th June, with this years’ focus on child labour in supply chains.
  • An estimated 168 million children are found in supply chains across the world, in every sector and region.
  • “The time for excuses is over”, said ILO Director General Guy Ryder. “With redoubled from governments, employers, workers organisations and enterprises, child labour in supply chains can be stopped.”
  • The ILO has developed a new app designed to help business managers and auditors to create checklists that will help ensure a child labour-free operation.

Read more at the International Labour Organisation

M&S Unveils New Supply Chain Mapping Technology

  • M&S released its first online supplier map alongside its inaugural human rights report last week, showing 1,231 factories in 53 countries.
  • The interactive map has the capability to zoom in on individual facilities to see the address, number of workers on site, and gender of those workers.
  • The data for the map comes from supplier-reported information and third-party audits.
  • The mapping technology is expected to greatly improve supply chain visibility, and can be tailored to include more data.

Read more at Green Biz

Best and Worst Sectors for Online Customer Service

Utility companies and local authority services are among some of the worst ranking sectors in the UK for online customer service, according to new research.

Online Customer Service

The new report from social media experts, myclever™ Agency, found that consumers put utility companies (water, gas, electricity, phone and broadband) as the most frustrating sector for online customer service, with local authorities close behind. Retailers and professional services came out as the least frustrating sectors.

The report surveyed 1,000 UK consumers on whether current digital services are fully meeting consumer expectations, and their views on whether new technology, such as Chat Bots, could help improve customer service.

Biggest Frustrations

It found that the biggest online service frustrations across all sectors was a lack of basic information contained on everyday commercial websites such as retailers, utilities, banks and local government services (45 per cent).

Close behind was the inability to ask simple questions (40 per cent), while a third of the sample (33 per cent) said that, even when the option to ask questions existed, the tools they had used in the last month were of poor quality and didn’t provide a timely response.

The main frustrations lie in the inability companies have to answer simple questions quickly. However, when told about the benefits, consumers regarded Chat Bots as the key-holders to speed, unlocking immediacy and convenience in online services. They felt that these virtual assistants, designed to simulate conversation with human users, would significantly improve online services.

More than two thirds (68 per cent) liked that Chat Bots would be able to provide a 24-hour service, and 64 per cent felt it would resolve the problem of not getting quick answers to simple questions. More than half (51 per cent) felt happy they would get an instant response, mirroring the frustrations felt about current online customer service providers.

When compared to other forms of customer service channels such as apps – an area where businesses have invested heavily – chat bots scored more highly on all perceived benefits.

Demand for Online Customer Service

Rob McNair, managing director of myClever, commented on the findings: “Ever-evolving technology and an increasingly digitalised world has changed commerce forever. Online services that were once a luxury are now being demanded by consumers 24/7. In order to stay competitive, businesses are racing to keep up with consumer demands and technological innovations.

“The frustrations clearly indicate the need for online customer service to improve. And, although frustrations exist in all sectors, it’s interesting to see that the industries exhibiting the most frustrating customer experiences online are the least likely to improve them. Public sector bodies, for example, are notoriously slow to provide accessible online services – and when they do, they’re often inadequate, confusing and riddled with poor user experiences.

“It’s one thing if bots can make that a thing of the past, it’s another whether those ranking highest on this list will be prepared to adopt and invest early enough. However, while modest budgets can be a challenge for the demands of digital innovation, the investment in the long term will mean huge cost savings.

“Businesses offering the best customer experience will be at considerable advantage in converting browsers into buyers and earning repeat business. Chat Bots offer a solution to most major problems of each sector by promising a swifter, smarter online experience. New virtual assistants will be ever-ready, able to listen to our questions and respond intelligently. They will answer our queries, aid our searches and anticipate our needs, learning all the time to refine and improve the experience on offer.”

The full list of rankings and report can be found here. For more information on myclever™ Agency, visit their website.

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #1 – Share, Share, Share

Tania Seary, founder of Procurious, believes that procurement needs to share – share learnings, stories, experiences, and questions – in order to change the face of the profession.

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.

Tania believes that the power of positive words and imagery, such as Avenger, Superhero and Rockstar, combined with the business words like collaboration, can make a huge impact on the people who make decisions in business in how they see procurement.

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

If you want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016, and 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, and connect with over 15,000 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.