All posts by Procurious HQ

7 Tips On Mentoring Your Reports In The Art Of Negotiation

We spoke to seven procurement experts to hear their advice on mentoring junior professionals on the art of negotiation…

By Jacob Lund/ Shutterstock

For any junior buyer, going head to head with an experienced negotiator can be especially intimidating. In many cases they are thrown into the deep end without enough preparation and guidance by their colleagues and superiors. For this piece, Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner of Conti Advanced Business Learning interviewed seven procurement experts and leaders in their respective industries to find out their advice on teaching direct reports the art of negotiation.

1. Access to training and development programs

Over the 35-years that I have been in the procurement and supply function, I have found the following three approaches in coaching for the preparation of negotiations to be critical in order to become a respected and effective functional leader and a consistently successful negotiator:

The first is to coach “win-win” outcomes in business negotiations, aiming for partnerships with suppliers instead of taking the “arm’s length” approach to relationships that are so common. Secondly, to provide access to training and development programs that genuinely help individuals to strengthen their potential for success in negotiations; not just from a functional or technical perspective, but equally in soft skills. Lastly, to mentor and encourage the development of emotional intelligence (EQ) in how we are perceived in our professional engagements and how this can be leveraged or disable our ability to deliver successful negotiation outcomes. 

Les Ball, Chief Procurement Officer, ABB Motors and Generators

2. Exposure to more complex negotiations lead by experienced sourcing professionals

I use a three-faceted approach when mentoring direct reports to negotiate. Firstly, I make sure that all ‘on-the-job’ elements of negotiation preparation are available, this includes understanding market forces, supplier/buyer strengths and weaknesses, leverage tool kit, leading post negotiation assessments to name a few. Secondly, I want to ensure my more junior direct reports are exposed to more complex negotiations led by experienced sourcing professionals and over time, provide more opportunities in real negotiations to improve their skills in the field. Finally, it is a must to provide high-quality external training to keep learning new negotiation techniques and strategies.

Elodie Cramer, Associate Director of Biogen

3. Negotiating together

I believe in learning by doing. The best way to help and improve the negotiation skills of direct reports is to undertake a negotiation together. Use these opportunities to provide feedback and reflect on what went well and what didn’t. I also believe that after any important negotiation you should have a post-mortem review. Younger negotiators need to have an internal, or external, coach to guide them in preparing and delivering a negotiation. This includes a rehearsal before a big negotiation, which is not often done by buyers.

Guillaume Leopold, Procurement Advisory Partner, Ernst & Young

4. Scenario planning

Scenario planning and role playing can really help accelerate a person’s ability to negotiate. Do they know who is coming and what their expectations are? How are they going to open the negotiation and present their needs? Have they considered what the responses may be to their arguments and how to counter them? Additionally, coaching in other facets such as learning to actively listen and what topics or words not to say are just as important as rehearsing the key arguments. 

Jon Hatfield, Director Global Supply Management, PPG

5. Joint preparation

Spending time with them during the preparation phase gives direct reports more assurance. This is especially evident for complex negotiations, for instance when suppliers may also be customers. Consequently, collaboration becomes an absolute necessity.  As a group, we organise simulations and role plays in order to practice, exchange, discuss, review the negotiations and our performance in them. This team element ensures that they can learn from me and I can learn from them.

Christophe Schmitt, Head of Strategic Supplies, Omya

6. Sharing of current negotiations as a team

I like to set up regular physical meetings with all my direct reports to share and think collectively in a secure environment. By creating a friendly and open-minded atmosphere, we can share our current negotiations, the techniques we used and the challenges we faced. We would discuss the approaches, the outcomes and brainstorm on any alternative ways.

Olivier Cachat Chief Procurement Officer, IWG

7. Role playing acting as the supplier

Role playing is my favourite method. Specifically, I would ask my buyer to brief me on their strategy then, when we role play, I take the role of the buyer and get my colleague to experience how the supplier may feel and react to their argument and proposals.

Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner, Conti Advanced Business Learning

The following answers were collected by Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner of Conti Advanced Business Learning (www.cabl.ch), a consulting firm that specialises in negotiation & influencing. This article is part of a series aimed at collecting real-life negotiation experiences from Procurement executives.

Check out the other articles in this series:

Part One – Seven Negotiation Fails We’ve All Experienced

Part Two – Seven Negotiation Tricks Procurement Procurement Professionals Must Know

7 Negotiation Tricks Procurement Professionals Must Know

Every procurement professional has a special bag of tricks when negotiating– let’s see if you recognise these seven tips from experts in the field…

By Lia Koltyrina/ Shutterstock

The benefits of countless hours of negotiation experiences is that you know what you should be doing more of and what to stop doing. We discover the key traits and tools that make us perform better and are better armed for our next negotiation.

Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner of Conti Advanced Business Learning interviewed seven procurement leaders to find out their favourite negotiation trick that played a key part in their business success.

1. Making the first proposal right away

I like to come to the negotiation table well prepared and well-aware of the market alternatives. Making the first proposal allows me to anchor conditions to a level close to the bottom of the market offer, immediately reducing the amplitude of the BATNA of my counterpart. Then I try to improve the conditions that are more valuable for me by making and requesting mutual concessions.

Francesco Lucchetta, Director Strategic Supply – Pentair

2. Preparation, Target, Value

I make sure I follow these three steps at the starting point in any negotiation where I am leading. The first is undoubtedly being well prepared. Secondly, to have a clear understanding of the desired outcome with a predefined “target range”, and thirdly, to fully understand the “value” of the business in the context of the potential suppliers being considered.

Les Ball, Chief Procurement Officer, ABB Motors and Generators

3. Profile your counterpart

Understand whom you face before negotiating! I use initial negotiation meetings to pique the interest the person I’m negotiating with – letting them discover all the potential benefits of working with my company. Then I encourage the speaker to talk as much as possible whilst showing genuine interest in their activities. I try to understand the way they work, their objectives and challenges. Having key objectives clearly in mind, I can better understand where our common interests are and how to shape the deal accordingly. From this moment onwards, I consider it the precise point where the negotiation starts.

Olivier Cachat Chief Procurement Officer, IWG

4. Asking yourself the right questions

It depends on the scenario but for mepersonally, negotiation always starts from knowing your position versus the market. You need to ask yourself ‘what you need to achieve’ and ‘what is the nature of the parties and the cultures you are engaging with’. Nothing beats preparation and being able to explain ‘what you need, why you need it and what is in it for the other party’. My go-to-guide for knowing the best methods in discussions are those from ‘Getting to Yes’ and its methods of principle negotiation. Be firm on your expectations, be open how to get there.

Jon Hatfield, Director Global Supply Management, PPG

5. Do your homework!

Preparation is the essence of a successful negotiation. Knowing your targets, your limits, and your BATNA is extremely important however it is useless if you fail to understand the other party. Put yourself in their shoes to know what they are looking for and how they would conduct research about your company. Do they really need your business? Are they looking for volume, for margin, for market share or for a combination of these? With these insights you will be able to drive and steer the negotiation to your preferences.

Christophe Schmitt, Head of Strategic Supplies, Omya

6. Make them love your vision and strategy

My preferred technique is to make the strategy attractive to the supplier and develop a common vision. Once the supplier is onboard, you can design an agreement in a very favourable direction.

Fabrice Hurel, Director Global Indirect Sourcing, Emerson

7. Questions, Questions, Questions

Asking questions, particularly the ones carefully prepared for in advance. I recall a negotiation with a professional services provider where the negotiation lasted for 3.5 hours. They started the negotiation feeling very confident about winning the business. After two hours of thought-provoking questions, they decided to substantially reduce their prices and ambitions. At the end, we reached a satisfactory agreement for both parties (good for them, great for us!)

Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner, Conti Advanced Business Learning

The following answers were collected by Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner of Conti Advanced Business Learning (www.cabl.ch), a consulting firm that specialises in negotiation & influencing. This article is part of a series aimed at collecting real-life negotiation experiences from Procurement executives.

Check out Part One of this series: Seven Negotiation Fails We’ve All Experienced

Answering Your Burning Procurement Questions

We put some of procurement’s top thought leaders on the spot to find out the answers to your burning procurement questions.

By Kzenon/ Shutterstock

What’s the one word you’d like to ban in procurement?

What’s the most important soft skill?

If you had to choose between experienced hire and upskilling talent, which would you choose?

What’s the least important skill for procurement pros?

How do you successfully negotiate a payrise?

We put some of procurement’s top thought leaders on the spot to find out the answers to these questions. Check out the video interviews below.

Justin Sadler Smith Head of UK and Ireland, Procurement and Supply Chain – SAP Ariba Speaking at Big Ideas London 2019

Quick-fire questions with Justin Sadler Smith

What’s the one word you’d like to ban in procurement? : Procurement!

What’s the most important soft skill? : Stakeholder management and being able to communicate effectively.

Julie Brignac,Corporate Senior Vice President Client Services and Delivery, WNS Denali
Speaking at Big Ideas London 2019 

Quick-fire questions with Julie Brignac

What’s the one word you’d like to ban in procurement? : Transformation

If you had to choose between experienced hire and upskilling talent, which would you choose? : It’s dependant on the talent market. we are currently in a market when the talent is extraordinary, lots of access to procurement and supply chain professionals. Because of that it’s important to hire for experience as opposed to raw talent.

Vishal Patel, Vice President of Product Marketing – Ivalua
Speaking at Big Ideas London 2019

Quick-fire questions with Vishal Patel

What’s the best way to negotiate a payrise? : Going beyond talking about cost savings and show the value of all the things that have been done with suppliers, with innovation and with risk.

What’s the least important skill for procurement professionals? : Tactical operational skills – basic things like approving purchase requisitions. Procurement should focus on other things

Carl Tomaszek, Sales Director – Icertis
Speaking at Big Ideas London 2019

Quick-fire questions with Carl Tomaszek

What’s the one word you’d like to ban in procurement? : Transformation

What’s the best way to negotiate a payrise? : Demonstrate success in terms of what you’ve done to benefit the organisation’s bottom line

Check out more content from Big Ideas London 2019 here.

Six Steps To Building A More Responsible, Resilient Supply Chain

The unfortunate truth, though, is that most organisations only have a limited amount of resources available to identify and monitor the kaleidoscope of risks that exist in their global supply chains.

By yuttana Contributor Studio /Shutterstock

This article was written by Sondra Scott, President – Verisk Maplecroft 

More often than not, creating a safe supply chain is thought of as being an expensive endeavor. But resilient supply chains and more sustainable procurement practices can help bolster the bottom line. Companies that really understand their supply chains will come out ahead in the long term. They incur fewer costs in reactive post-risk actions and they generate more revenue by optimising their procurement processes and enforcing positive perceptions of their brand with their consumers.

The unfortunate truth, though, is that most organisations only have a limited amount of resources available to identify and monitor the kaleidoscope of risks that exist in their global supply chains. This is where analytics becomes so important. By using quality risk analytics, we can quickly map and high-grade our operations and suppliers for risks, which enables us to focus spend on the areas that need the most attention. We can use analytics to not only identify where our risks sit today, but to anticipate where risks will emerge in the future.

So, how do you make the most of the range of analytics and tools available to you? Here’s my quick guide on the six steps to success.

Step 1: Think holistically

First and foremost, we advise our clients to think holistically. Look at risks as interconnected, not only along the supply chain but across your entire business. For instance, civil unrest doesn’t just happen; the drivers of such events can include anything from government corruption, to drought, to egregious breaches of human rights. Getting the full picture by tracking a wide spectrum of risks is imperative in understanding your potential vulnerabilities and identifying opportunities for your business.

Step 2: Create a common language of risk

You need to create a common language of risk and manage one central source of data rather than lots of disparate disconnected datasets. Using one source of data will enable you to draw on a consistent framework where everything is measured in the same way. This makes complex issues easily understandable across the whole business – up to the most senior level.

Step 3: Centralise your risk monitoring

This will save you time, resources and confusion. There are lots of specialised tools in the market which help you monitor your supply chain for different risk workflows. That’s great, but, put a wrapper around them and keep your data consistent within that framework. This means hosting your own facility data, your supplier data, plus all your third-party inherent risk data in one place.

Step 4: Remember the world doesn’t stand still

Life would be a lot simpler if risks were static. However, when your supply chain stretches across 50 different countries your suppliers are subject to a dynamic environment where the picture on the ground is always changing. Whether it’s erratic policy making, protests over labour rights, government instability or an upsurge in security risks, analytics can help you become nimble. By regularly monitoring these issues, you will know which of your suppliers are most exposed and you can adapt your strategy accordingly.

Step 5: Be targeted

Once you’ve identified the risks in your supply chain, it’s important to be both sensible and cutting edge in developing your mitigation strategies. ‘Sensible’ means implementing a strategy that is tailored to the specific risks in your supply chain. It should be a hammer-to-nail solution that is both appropriate and cost effective. ‘Cutting edge’ in that you should constantly be innovating both internally and jointly with your suppliers who are on the ground and likely have quality input into how to reduce these risks. Be wary of one-size-fits-all solutions.

Step 6: Communicate what you’re doing

Don’t overlook the fact that you can distinguish your brand by your risk avoidance actions. Consumers and investors alike want to know that companies are responsible to the environment and the communities in which they operate. Properly communicating what you are doing to tackle these risks head-on can be good for your brand and help create opportunities for top-line expansion. Analytics are a perfect tool for illustrating improvements in your performance.

Don’t get left behind

Using analytics to improve sourcing or mitigate risk in the supply chain is not new. But, advances in data science techniques mean the ground is moving fast and those who move quickest will be best positioned to take advantage of their benefits. Picking the right source of risk analytics is crucial though. It will make your life easier and ultimately change the way you do business.

This blog was originally published here

Procure with Purpose

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

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

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

World’s Deadliest Supply Routes: Antarctica

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

By Thelma Amaro Vidales / Shutterstock 

The sight of 1900 rolls of toilet paper would not usually excite your typical urban dweller, but when the consignment supplies a remote Antarctica camp of 350 people for the whole winter it’s a case of unfettered joy and – of course – relief.

The most essential of household essentials was among the 3000 tonnes of provisions and equipment delivered by the chartered US vessel MV Ocean Giant to New Zealand’s Scott Base in January.

The supply drop – which can take up to nine days to unload – included 200 kilograms of coffee beans, 100 cans of peaches, a Toyota Landcruiser, two rowing machines and a triple-glazed window.

According to Antarctica New Zealand logistics manager Paul Woodgate, organisers need to think of everything the isolated community might need, including spare parts for water plants and heaters.

“We need supplies to keep the base clean, everyone fed and warm, and the water flowing,” he told Maori Television.

While routine, MV Ocean Giant’s delivery trip reflects the enormous task of supplying myriad human needs to the frozen wilderness.

While Antarctica might be known as the Lonely Continent, human activity abounds with no fewer than 36 permanent scientific and research bases operating there. In the summer months, many smaller facilities spring up too, all needing to be supplied by the mother camp.

Dangers lurks underneath every crevasse and ice flow, in an environment in which temperatures can fall to minus 90 degrees and winds can howl at more than 300 kilometres an hour.

As with Mt Everest, dozens of people have died on Antarctica’s icy expanses over the years – not just derring-do explorers but workers charged with ensuring the bases are supplied with thousands of items that city folk take for granted.

In 1976, 11 Argentinean airmen were killed when their plane crashed on a reconnaissance mission over Drakes Passage. In a tragic postscript, a helicopter dispatched to recover the bodies also crashed.

In 1971, a Hercules C-130 made a forced landing on a re-supply run to McMurdo Station (the US base on Ross Island that hosts Antarctica’s largest community).

No-one was injured. But the overseers of the US Antarctica program did their sums and realised that salvaging the aircraft would cost $US10m, compared with the $US38m replacement cost.

Seventeen years after it went down, the Hercules was fitted with skis, flown out and pressed into service once again. A testament, indeed, to the durability of the so-called ‘workhorse of the skies’.

As with the Argentinean incident a decade previously, the mission did not have a happy ending: in December 1987 two US sailors died when a different Hercules crashed, while conveying spare parts to the refurbished plane.

These days, the supply chain is made safer with technological advances such as GPS positioning, powerful ice breakers, carbon-fibre skis, freeze-proof laptops, satellite phones and sealed, all-weather runways.

But ‘safer’ is by no means ‘safe’, with many mishaps happening in more recent years.

In January 2016, helicopter pilot David Wood stepped from his aircraft and straight in a crevasse on the Western Ice Shelf, while on a routine mission to re-supply a fuel cache. He was rescued after four lonely hours, but subsequently died from hypothermia.

His death resulted in criminal charges being laid against Australia’s environment departments and a helicopter contractor.

To mitigate the ever-present dangers of Antarctica, governments are constantly stretching the envelope to make the complex logistics requirements that much safer.

In a breakthrough flight, a Royal Australian Air Force Flight C-17A in September 2017 supplied Davis Station from Hobart and then returned to the Tasmanian capital without landing at the base. The 10,000km round trip was made possible by a difficult mid-air refuelling exercise.

The plane air dropped nine tonnes of supplies – including fresh produce – to the base, which is inaccessible by sea from April to October.

Within the next decade, Antarctica’s logistics needs will only expand as more nations establish a presence there, if only to ‘fly the flag’ or with a view to claiming dibs on potential large oil and gas reserves in the future.

Most notably, China has established three bases and three airfields, reportedly spending more on its Antarctic program than any other country.

Six countries have territorial claims to Antarctica: Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the UK.

But the Antarctic Treaty actually covers 53 countries, 29 having “consultative status”, which allows them to carry out research.

With 20 airports dotted around Antarctica, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft are playing an increasingly prominent role – especially during winter months when sea access isn’t possible and roads on the continent are out of action.

“With more time and advancing technology, carrying goods to remote locations in Antarctica will only get easier,” says the Dubai-based Gulf Worldwide Logistics.

“The logistics industry is preparing for advancement in this continent over the next few years.” But again, ‘easier’ does not imply ‘safer’ and logistics operators perennially need to be alert to the dangers. Like the Emperor penguins, Antarctica is not the type of wild environment that can ever truly be tamed.

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


Women In Procurement? You Better Believe It

At Procurious we want women in procurement across the globe, and from every walk of life, to be the best that they can be and reach the highest of career heights. But to dream big it’s important to have some leading lights showing you the way…

By Rawpixel.com/ Shutterstock

It’s hard to dream big and aim high without a little leading light to show you the way. Sadly, at procurement conferences women make up just 20 per cent of presenters, they represent 20-35 per cent of procurement association memberships and earn up to 31 per cent less than their male counterparts.  

And so, on this International Women’s Day, we want to show the procurement world all of the amazing things women are doing and achieving for the profession, to inspire you to do it too! 

For the past week, we’ve been running a visibility campaign – encouraging women working in procurement across the globe to share photos of themselves in order to inspire the next generation of talented women.

Check out some of the amazing contributions below and get involved here.

Bill Gorman, Portfolio Lead – Procurement and Supply Chain – Accenture and her team in Brisbane

Why is visibility important?

Visibility for women in procurement is important as we are still fighting an undertone that strong leadership can only come from men, which is absolutely not true.

There is a cultural bias that is engrained in our society’s fabric that women themselves often subscribe to – visibility for women in procurement is not external, it’s internal. The journey for true equality starts when we acknowledge ourselves.

Abby Vige, Procurement Manager – Ministry of Education of New Zealand

We might be very confident in life, but it is always easier when we see examples proving that things are achievable. Hence the importance of sharing success stories of women in Procurement to motivate women to embrace a career in this exciting, dynamic and rewarding profession.  As an African European woman working in Western Europe, for me it is even more important that black women can be inspired and encouraged to join the profession. environment. #Representation matters!

Joelle Payom,  Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead

Increasing the number of women in key roles increases the availability of role models. It increases identification with leadership roles and helps grow future supply. A diversity of role models expands the leadership profile, and boosts innovation.


Achieving a critical mass of 35 per cent or more women enables:


– Supportive alliances to form between women, increasing their retention
– Recognition of women for their individual talents, rather than for stereotypical attributes 
– Improved dynamics and culture of the larger leadership cohort

Karen Morley, Director -Karen Morley & Associates
Tania Seary, Founder – Procurious

Joelle Payom,  Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead

What motivates you to be a role model?

I like to share experiences, tools and tactics that help navigate the human experience. There is a lot of emphasis on technical skills and workplace experience but there is little insight from leadership about how they got to the place they are in now, often it’s soft skills and learnings around resilience and adaptability that lands our leaders in these roles. I like to remain open to anyone starting out in their career, pulling back the curtain and being honest about work life balance, coping mechanisms for pressure, priorisation skills and having tough conversations

Abby Vige, Procurement Manager – Ministry of Education of New Zealand
Coretta Bessi, Head of Procurement – Ausgrid

How can organisations help female employees careers’ progress more rapidly?

Starting by promoting more women at Top Management level. That’s the most powerful sign that an organization is not only embracing diversity but also fostering effective inclusion. If it happens at Top Level, it is easier to cascade down. #Lead by example!

Joelle Payom,  Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead
Carina Hoogeveen, Senior Director, Marketing EMEA – Icertis

Cathryn Vann, Head of Procurement – Accsys Group

Sally Lansburt, Rhylee Nowell and Pip McGregor – The Faculty

Helen Macken, Director
– Vladcat Enterprises Limited

Claire Costello Senior Director, GBS Indirect Procurement Solutions- Sourcing – Walmart and Kirsty Middlemiss Senior Manager, Procurement, Asda

Get involved with International Women’s Day 2019 

On this International Women’s Day, we’re campaigning to improve the visibility of women in procurement and supply chain management. We want to showcase some of the amazing things women are achieving for the professions and inspire you to do it too! 


1.Sign up to join the Bravo group on Procurious
2. Download your very own you can’t be what you can’t see poster from the documents tab in the group
3. Print out the poster and snap a shot of yourself 
4. Share the photo via the Bravo group on Procurious 
5. Share the photo on Twitter, tagging @Procurious_ and #IWD2019 #BravoWomen and LinkedIn. In your post, nominate a woman in procurement who inspires you and ask her to take part too! 

A Supply Chain That Never Forgets

How do you retain knowledge and talent and how do you ensure your supply chain team doesn’t forget key information?  Imagine having a supply chain that never forgets…

By Kletr/ Shutterstock

At last month’s CPO roundtable in London we discussed the importance of improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace, how to nail your next big career move and how AI is enabling supply chain professionals to add greater value to their organisations.

At this point, supply chain and procurement professionals might be getting a bit impatient with AI. We’ve all heard how this technology is poised to revolutionise the supply chain, but day to day you’re not working in R&D; you’re responsible for P&L. You need the insight across the business and with your suppliers – but don’t have a technical degree.  The obvious question you might be asking yourself is – what’s in it for me and the bottom-line performance of my business?

Roger Needham, IBM Supply Chain Consultant, led an insightful discussion on why AI does matter to supply chain and procurement professionals.

IBM’s $2.47 billion supply chain consists of a 12,000-strong supplier base across 100 countries with 150,000 contracts managed. It’s no mean feat managing the risks associated with such a large-scale operation. So when it comes to AI, Roger argues, it’s not a theoretical concept. “AI has been deployed in IBM’s supply chain over four years and it is delivering real bottom line benefit.”

“What led to AI being directly implemented within our supply chain centered around the trade lane and visible logistics elements and how these impacted the supply chain. You can set up a factory perfectly but if you can’t get the materials you need to it then it’s a completely wasted effort.”

“After a Japanese tsunami disrupted our supply lanes in 2011, we asked ourselves how to get better predictive insights of real world supply chain disruptors. IBM Watson Supply Chain is the result.” AI can help manage unforeseen disruptions by alerting key decision makers and working towards solutions.

In Roger’s experience AI can supply chain teams to learn on a daily basis and to do more with less. From concept to final delivery the platform is developing but as a minimum we have to be able to do more with the same. With AI We don’t need to hire three more people, we can do more with the five we already have. And we are learning every day how to deploy this AI into our supply chain.”

Roger outlined the four pillars of Watson Supply Chain.

  1. Identify and alert – Control towers are able to alert supply chain professionals when something goes wrong
  2. Analyse and understand – Watson is able to analyse the impact of a disruption on the business. How many orders will be affected by a tsunami in Japan and what is the value of those orders? A supply chain that can feedback that critical business data is important.
  3. Interact, Collaborate, Resolve – If there’s a challenge that needs solving, Watson can bring all the relevant people into a virtual room and resolve it quickly, also advising who should be in that room.
  4. Learn and Share – How do you retain knowledge and talent and how do you ensure your supply chain team doesn’t forget things?  If your team encounter a problem that has happened before – you won’t know to resolve it if those involved the first time around have now left the business. You’re effectively starting from scratch. Watson, on the other hand, is like an elephant – it never forgets.

“Human and machine always get a better answer than human alone or machine alone” Ginni Rometty, THINK 2018

“Watson gives the information, and the ultimate decision rests with a human being,” explains Roger. “But an issue is solved with two individuals and three email exchanges with Watson advising versus three weeks to resolve with fifteen people and dozens of emails.”

Putting the D in D and I

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

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

Joelle Payom, Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead explained that there is an enormous pressure for organisations to hire people that are different. But alongside that moral pressure to ‘do the right thing’ is a very strong business case.

“A UK report revealed that the British economy could be boosted by as much as £24 billion if black and minority talent was fully utilised. When you have a diversified workforce you have a broader [talent pool] who are able to bring different ways of working, different ways of dealing with issues and can provide greater innovation.”

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

Diversity = The What 

A mix of diverse types of people

Inclusion = The How

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

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

Being a business leader

Lucy Harding, Partner and Global Head of Practice, Procurement and Supply Chain at Odgers Berndtson led a discussion on what it takes to get to the top and the qualities that will set you apart from the pack when aiming for the C-Suite.

She advises that ambitious procurement and supply chain professionals put the business first and the function second.

“The biggest reason CFOs go to market [for a CPO or Head of Supply Chain] is because they need a business leader, not a function leader.”

They will assume you can do the mechanics of a procurement or supply chain role and will spend far less time testing these specifics, particularly given that most CFOs aren’t in a position to test technical procurement and supply chain competence. “You should know your stuff and they’ll assume that.”

What a hiring CFO really wants to know is how you’ll apply what you know to their business and how you’ll build a talented team below you. Everyone else on the shortlist will equally qualified, from a procurement and supply chain perspective, so it’s about differentiating yourself.

Lucy highlighted a further four crucial capabilities for a prospective CPO or Head of Supply Chain

  • Breath of experience – function and broader business
  • Leadership
  • Learning agility
  • Embrace technology and innovation

IBM Watson Supply Chain sponsored Procurious’ London CPO roundtable on 13th February. 

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

7 Supplier Negotiation Fails We’ve All Experienced

Every procurement professional knows that supplier negotiations aren’t always plain sailing – and we’re sure you’ll relate to these seven scenarios.

By Oleksii Sidorov/ Shutterstock

It’s happened to even the best negotiators.  Leaving a negotiation with less than desired results might even be called a rite of passage for procurement professionals. It’s frustrating and time consuming but there are learnings to gain from every disappointing negotiation.

Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner of Conti Advanced Business Learning, interviewed seven procurement leaders to find out their most notable negotiation fails.

1. Pushing too hard

Using competition to push your advantage and lock it into a contract can be counterproductive. I recall a negotiation performed for a global IT project, during which we closed what looked like a great deal secured by a complete and detailed contract. Once the project began, the vendor quickly started to lose money. Having no leverage and way out from the contract, he eventually decided to stop the project. Ultimately, to continue our working relationship, we had to sit down together, find solutions and find fair compromises to make the project a success. Olivier Cachat, Chief Procurement Officer, IWG

2. Internal alignment

Involving executive leadership into a critical negotiation can be a very powerful ‘tool’, when done in a very concerted way. Our main objective was to secure supply for this material and ideally get a price concession when allocating more volume to this supplier. We briefed the President of our BU and explained the situation. We also explained in much detail that anything beyond a three per cent price reduction is very unlikely and that this supplier would rather threaten us to stop supply. While the first part of the actual negotiation was going well, our president decided to our complete surprise to become very aggressive with our supplier by threatening him to move to a different supplier if they would not reduce pricing by at least -15 per cent. Not only was that very insulting to our supplier, but it was also a complete bluff and our supplier knew that we were not able to move away within any reasonable/manageable timeframe. As a consequence, our supplier stood up and left the meeting, stating that we have one week to think about his offer to raise pricing by +5 per cent as they would otherwise stop supplying us. It took me two months to ‘repair’ the relationship and to convince them to continue supplying us at a flat price. Furthermore, I had to make additional concessions which we would not have made if our colleague would have stayed with our plan. Matthias Manegold, Head of Global Indirect Procurement, Liberty Global

3. Clarity on agreed terms

Make sure the final terms of a negotiation are clear for both parties. I had the surprise, for a new supply agreement (over 35M Euro), to discover that we were not aligned regarding the product specifications. Our yearly demand had been multiplied by 10 and obviously, during the negotiation, the supplier did not dare confess not having the capacity to deliver our needs. We needed to rediscuss and revaluate this challenge and find a way forward to solve the issue. It demonstrates the importance of always re-confirming the terms you reached.  Christophe Schmitt, Head of Strategic Supplies, Omya

4. Safety in small numbers

At times I have walked into a room and seen more than ten people around the table. In such a situation, it is very unlikely that any significant flexibility will be shown during the following hours. By nature, most people will not want to lose ground in public. As a general guide, I find the best agreements are made in smaller meetings with participants who have been briefed in advance. Unless related to celebrations, nobody likes surprises!Jon Hatfield, Director Global Supply Management, PPG

5. Stubborn suppliers

Sometimes even if you have evidence that you could get a better price for same quality the supplier will not move. This can happen especially in the Pharma world where changing supplier is time, money, and resource consuming. I also think this behaviour by the incumbent supplier is wrong. Ultimately pressure on prices will prevail and the new cheaper supplier will be a better fit. Romain Roulette, EMEA Procurement Director, Bausch Health

6. Changing protocol

Overcoming counter-productive pre-existing relationships of suppliers can derail negotiations. My corporation acquired a company that had strong links with the local supply base. The local suppliers were working with this company for decades and had developed ineffective habits that were hard to change. When we requested the existing supply base to apply standard requirements, we were confronted with resistance and opposition from these suppliers. A few negotiations went well, however we had to change all of the other suppliers. Francesco Lucchetta, Director Strategic Supply, Pentair

7. Lack of alternatives

It was a single source supply situation. Over ten years ago, I was renegotiating an IT outsourcing agreement that was expiring. Benchmarking data indicated that our prices were well above market. On the other side, the supplier knew that we had no other alternatives and they enjoyed a strong relationship with the CIO. In spite of our efforts, we only received a very minor price decrease. The next step was to start developing an alternative supplier to be in a stronger position at the next contract renewal. Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner, Conti Advanced Business Learning

These responses were collected by Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner of Conti Advanced Business Learning (www.cabl.ch), a consulting firm that specialises in negotiation & influencing. This article is part of a series

Two Ways To Transform Your Supply Chain In A Hypercompetitive World

Tom Derry, CEO – ISM discusses how to turn your supply chain into a key source of competitive advantage and what not to do in supply chain management.

By Pavel1964 / Shutterstock

Everyone loves to talk about the romance of startups and small businesses. But today it’s becoming increasingly obvious that we’re living in the age of the corporate giants. And the big brands such as Amazon Apple, Google and Walmart are only getting bigger. There’s a whole host of reasons that these giants are repeatedly found in the top 10 places of Fortune 500 year after year. But one reason that stands out is that they recognise their supply chains are a key source of competitive advantage. We asked Tom Derry, CE0 – ISM, to outline the key elements needed to transform a supply chain into something a company would proudly put front and centre in its annual report to share holders. For Tom, it boils down to two things.

1. Last mile customisation

“[As supply management professionals] you’re serving regional customers and local customers even if you’ve got a global supply chain,” Tom begins. “And local markets demand customisation and localisation even if it’s just printing your user manual in the local language. HP did that famously a decade ago. Diageo are currently customising for delivery in Asia from a distribution centre in Singapore.

“Being able to access local markets and extract the most value from local markets is critical for supply chain professionals.”

2. Agility

Tom argues that supply chains are a form of agility. “In light of all the recent controversy around taxes and tariffs – if [supply chains] flexible and responsive they provide strategic agility to the company, which is becoming increasingly critical.”

“The most important consideration in determining how a supply chain is structured usually comes down to two economical factors- taxes and tariffs. [Last year], the US passed a new tax law, which ostensibly puts US manufacturing first. The question around tariffs is critical and the threat of them, whether they’ve been implemented or not, is already affecting the way supply chains are designed and implemented.”

Supply chains in the US have seen the impact of the steel and aluminium tariffs imposes on European exports, which has led to retaliation. Tom cites Harley Davidson, who announced that they have to shift their production to the EU in order to continue to grow its non-US sales, which are critical to company’s future growth. “The president is trying to protect the production of steel and alumninum ostensibly on a national security basis but he is actually is forcing production of goods offshore and thereby threatening jobs – and [Harley Davidson] is just one example.”

According to Tom, the old concept of money is fungible but supply chains are flexible holds true. “Some people may not appreciate the degree to which we have built in agility and flexibility over the last twenty years. It’s clear that companies can, and have to, respond to maintain competitive advantage and maintain their margin and they will flex their supply chains to meet the circumstances they face. We’re all short sighted if we think that’s not going to happen and if we think we can impose a set of conditions that cause current supply chains ,as they exist now, to be set in place. They’re going to flex and move.”

Part Eight of Tuesdays with Tom is available now. Click here to sign up and hear ISM CEO Tom Derry discuss how to turn your supply chain into a key source of competitive advantage and what not to do in supply chain management.

Three Technical Terms Procurement Pros Should Stop Using Now

Do these technical procurement terms have a place in today’s organisation?


By pathdoc/ Shutterstock

Technical procurement terms. Whether you love ’em or loathe ’em you’ll probably have experienced definition disagreements and C-suite confusions. And that begs the question, do they have a place in today’s organisation?

For Nick Dobney, Former Global Head of Procurement – Puma Energy, procurement terms is the one thing that really gets under is skin. “There are terms that my C-suite won’t understand, my stakeholders won’t understand and, frankly, in procurement we spend a lot of time debating them as well.”

Nick believes that all the time and effort spent defining and redefining technical procurement terms is distracting procurement professionals away from delivering on behalf of the business. At Big Ideas Zurich last year, he outlined three of the terms causing him the most grief.

1. Tender

“My team know full well to never come to me and talk about tenders,” Nick jokes. He argues that “tender” is such a broad word, open to so much interpretation, that it has actually become meaningless.

“What do you want to do?” he asks. “Are you selecting a supplier? Are you exploring the market? Are you benchmarking your costs? If those are the things you’re doing, let’s say them. Let’s not wrap them up or hide it into the word “tender.”

2. Direct/Indirect

In procurement we constantly talk about direct and indirect spend.

“I’ve been in procurement for 25 years and I’ve never worked in a manufacturing company.” In a manufacturing company it might make total sense to use these terms and easy to understand the difference between direct and indirect spend. But the same can not be said for service companies.

Nick worked for an airline, where the distinction is unclear. “We bought aircraft, we bought fuel, we bought engineering services, we bought food and drink, we bought ticketing systems, we bought call centre operations. What’s direct and indirect?”

“In my world when I talk to the C-suite I need to talk about impacting operating expenditure, capital expenditure or the cost of goods sold.” Whilst it might be ok to reference indirect and direct spend amongst procurement professionals Nick advises not to waste energies trying to explain the terms to the wider business.

3. SRM

Some call it Strategic Relationship Management. Others say Supplier Relationship Management. “I don’t think [a room full of procurement professionals] could come together with a single definition,” says Nick.

“I know I’ve never used the words SRM in conversations with the CEO. The fundament of SRM means getting the best performance I can out of the suppliers I choose. So let’s talk about it as performance. Let’s talk about it as a means by which I get the performance I require in my business from my supply base and from my suppliers.”

Speaking in these accessible terms makes the procurement function accessible to business leaders and that’s what procurement professionals should be striving for. “We want to break those doors down. There’s lots of talk about getting procurement a seat at the top table and the first thing we have to do is make sure these terms we’re talking about – we only use amongst ourselves!”

Impacting the business

“The terms we use with our business leaders has got to be the terms that they understand,” Nick explains. “Can you explain simply and straightforwardly the impact you are having on the business?”

Leaders in your business want to know:

  • Are you taking assets of our balance sheet so we can free up resources to invest in product development?
  • Are you improving our margins?
  • Are you getting a better return on our investments?
  • Are you reducing our net debt?

And as Nick says, “the language we use is fundamental to how we can move away from being seen as a very technical function into being a function that really does contribute to the business.”

Nick Dobney speaking at Big Ideas Zurich 2018