All posts by Procurious HQ

How Sustainability Can Help Procurement Avoid Black Swans

Swans, procurement and sustainability – what’s the link? It’s all to do with procurement taking account for its impact on the wider world.

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 seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…seven swans-a-swimming.”

Black swans are always unexpected, and defy explanation. Seeing two black swans together is highly unlikely. However, seeing seven together all at once? Well, you better hope that you don’t.

Of course, I’m not talking about the bird that you might see in your local park. The Black Swan I’m thinking of is a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb for an event that is both surprising, and has a major impact.

So, if we can’t predict when these events will happen, how can we stop them? This is where sustainability, social value, and procurement come in.

Thinking the Unthinkable

Earlier this year, Nik Gowing spoke extensively about the concept of ‘Thinking the Unthinkable‘ at the Big Ideas Summit. The idea behind this was that current leaders weren’t able to deal with cataclysmic events – either through a lack of skills, or outright denial.

Little did Nik know that when he used President Trump as an example of an unpredictable event, he was actually predicting the future! Nor could he have known that 2016 could provide even greater volatility than 2014, the year Nik and his co-author looked at for these so-called Black Swans.

It’s easy to argue that, without the right skills, these events are impossible to handle. If you then add in the fact that we can’t predict them, even with all the technology available to us, then what can we do?

Swimming with the Swans

Given that Black Swan events can be just about anything, procurement needs to look at its impact on everything to do its bit. And one way to do this, is to be conscious of its impact on the wider society.

Sustainability and sustainable procurement are concepts that are getting increasing focus in the global profession. Organisations have begun to realise that sustainability can build supply chain competitive advantage. Employee engagement is key, but the vast majority of people want to engage if it means a brighter future.

The environment is certainly a major consideration in potential future Black Swan events. And, from management of resources, to responsibility for global supply chains, procurement will play a major role.

Procurement Gets Social

Of course, sustainability is just one aspect of procurement’s future. The profession is taking increasing interest in social value, and working with social enterprises.

And why should procurement be working with these organisations? Well, they give back to the community, and have a positive impact on the community, and the environment. There are also social organisations working hard to ensure that people have proper access to good, healthy food.

And those of us looking to get more meaning in our procurement careers could do worse than looking to work with social enterprises. Career Coach Charlie Wigglesworth, Director of Business and Enterprise, Social Enterprise UK, discussed this at length earlier in the year.

If your conscience has been pricked, then there is plenty you can do to help. If we pull together as a profession, then we can ensure procurement is better equipped to deal with unexpected events.

Or, you never know, we might even be able to stop them happening in the first place. Then the only swans we need to think about would be the ones we see at the local pond. And that would be good for the future, wouldn’t it?

Negotiation – it’s just one of the key skills procurement professionals need to drive value. But do you go for milking your supplier? Or getting something from the wider herd? Get the lowdown on Day 8.

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?

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.

Bachkova Natalia/Shutterstock.com

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.

Who Run the World? Women in Procurement!

The talent pipeline is bursting with superstar women at entry – mid level. Why then, is that same pipeline so overwhelmingly stocked with men at the leadership level? In the words of Beyonce – Who run the world? Girls!

Bravo! Celebrating and Connecting Women in Procurement – get involved here.

If you work for a large, multinational organisation, a quick scan of the office might have you convinced that gender disparity in the workplace is a thing of the past. But think again!

  • Almost four in ten businesses in G7 countries have no women in senior management positions

Now let’s take a look at the Procurement stats. According to research conducted by John Everett, EMEA Business Service Group Director at Dow Chemical and CIPS-Switzerland Branch Chairperson, in the majority of procurement associations, women account for 20-35 per cent of memberships and at procurement conferences, they represent just 30 per cent of attendees and 20 per cent of speakers.

Why is workplace diversity so important?

I’d forgive you at this point for thinking that the circumstances seem pretty bleak. But all is not lost!

The good news? The lack of diversity throughout our organisations affects everybody; men and women alike. It’s statistically proven that employees achieve more when they can be themselves and also that diverse organisations are more likely to outperform their non-diverse counterparts. 35 per cent more likely, to be exact.

  • Diverse and inclusive teams result in a decreased turnover within an organisations. When employees are happy and face no discrimination, they’re far more likely to stick around
  • Top talent won’t want to work for a company that has a  track record of gender inequality or employment discrimination. An organisation’s reputation with regards to diversity is super important to prospective employees
  • If employees within your organisation aren’t a true representation of your customer and stakeholder base, you can’t possibly act with everyone’s interests in mind
  • Everyone brings different skills and talents to the table. There is no question that you’re narrowing your business horizons if everyone at the top is the same gender, race, age and/or sexuality.

If we were to unleash all of the latent power of women out there, we could unlock almost £10 trillion of additional global economic output.

And so, it’s in everyone’s interests to help improve diversity and inclusion.

What is Bravo?

At Procurious, we want to make it easier for women to get into, stay in, and thrive within the procurement profession. That’s why we’re launching Bravo – a Procurious Group celebrating and promoting women working in Procurement.

“Procurement is a pathway to the CEO’s office. So I hope that increasing participation of women in procurement leadership roles, will ultimately lead to a brighter future for female business leaders.” explains Tania Seary,  Procurious’ founder.

“We want all of our members – women and men alike – to unite and tackle diversity barriers head-on, shining a spotlight on the career success factors that will allow women to thrive at all levels of the business.”

Women in Procurement at ProcureCon

Earlier this month at ProcureCon IT in Amsterdam,  the Procurious team attended  a ‘Women in Procurement’ breakfast –  a fantastic example of the power of women connecting and sharing their experiences.

Hosted by Claire Tapping, Head of IT Purchasing Rolls-Royce, the meeting brought together 20 inspiring women who shared their experiences, observations and reflections on what it’s like to be a woman striving for success in the procurement profession.

There was a general consensus among the group that diversity within procurement has noticeably improved in recent years. The attendees were particularly heartened to see so many females at an IT/Tech conference; an industry where women have been typically underrepresented.

But there’s still a long way to go. Several people commented on the importance in changing attitudes towards women in the workplace and, in particular, the demeaning vocabulary often used to describe them

Female managers are often described as “bitchy” or “bossy” or simply  condemned for having a strong personality. Men, on the other hand, might be deemed authoritative or passionate for expressing the same character traits.

Challenging these perceptions, and calling out discriminatory attitudes, will go a long way to ensuring women are respected at work and promoted into leadership positions.

Women CAN Have it All!

It was fascinating to listen to accounts from women of different ethnicities who are working across the globe. It quickly became clear that experiences vary dramatically, particularly when it comes to balancing work and family life.

In Switzerland, for example, working mothers are not readily accommodated. Childcare costs are exceptionally high and there is little government support. As one delegate commented, “Switzerland has the most highly educated housewives of any European country.”

By contrast, Iceland ranks top in the World Economic Forum’s gender gap index, and has done for the past six years. Almost 80 per cent of Icelandic women work. They represent, thanks to quotas, almost 50 per cent of board members, versus 23.2 per cent in the UK. (We’ve packed our bags- who’s coming with us?!)

Many of the ProcureCon delegates could relate to the struggles of being a working mother. In many countries, it’s harder for men to work part time, or to receive paternity leave.

Women have been made to feel that they shouldn’t take on senior positions if they’re planning on starting a family. Conversely, in accepting a new senior role, some have felt as though they should put their family plans on hold.

Laws need to be adapted and organisations must work towards accommodating working parents; both men and women. Everyone should have the opportunity to choose how they take care of their families.

What’s to Come?

Short of us all moving to Iceland next year, the best we can do is work to make a change wherever we are and however we can. And there’s always strength in numbers.

Most of the women present at ProcureCon work for organisations where there is an organisation-wide women’s network, but nothing specific for procurement pros.

We want Bravo to help fill this gap, making it easier for us to communicate, share ideas, mentor and be energised to do more!

As part of Bravo, we’ll speaking with a number of high profile procurement leaders to hear their advice for any young women starting a career in procurement, and their tips on helping women get ahead.

Join the discussion on Procurious.

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.

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.

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!

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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.

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!”

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.