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Leading Australian Political Journalist Unravels Political Landscape

Australia’s political landscape is a complex beast. We ask senior Fairfax political editor Laura Tingle to unravel these complexities for procurement professionals.

Political Landscape - Laura Tingle

No matter which political party you back, there’s no doubt that the political landscape can have major ramifications on the procurement function within your business.

So, we asked Fairfax Media‘s Political Editor, Laura Tingle, to unravel the elements of politics, as Australia wades through this longest of all election campaigns, and try to understand what sort of government it faces after July 2.

“It’s Complicated”

Laura explains that Australia heads into the upcoming election with Labor currently holding a ‘notional’ 57 seats and the Coalition – after Tony Abbott’s big victory – holding a ‘notional’ 89 seats.

“The national polls currently suggest – on a swing of about 2.5 per cent against the Coalition since the last election – that we have started the election campaign in the realms of an outcome where the government would just get back into office, or where there might be a hung parliament.

“That is, there are 13 Coalition seats held with a margin of less than 2.5 per cent, just one seat less than would need to change hands for the Coalition to lose its absolute majority,” Tingle says.

But, as the saying goes, ‘it’s always complicated’, and in fact, at this election it is particularly complicated, she says.

“And I can’t think of an election where there are so many unknown factors at play, which could create some quite wild outcomes.”

Election Zeitgeist

Speaking at the 2016 9th Asia-Pacific CPO Forum in Melbourne to an audience of about 50 leading procurement professionals, Tingle spoke swiftly, explaining how she saw things.

Another complication, on both sides of the political fence, is the unprecedented number of retirements of sitting members (21), meaning the loss of personal margins of longstanding MPs.

Laura explains, “My apologies for bombarding you with numbers. But they all play in to the zeitgeist of the current election campaign, and the unprecedented uncertainty around the likely outcome.

“When you say ‘uncertainty’ in politics, people think that that is, by definition, a very bad thing – that the country is heading in to some unknown period of terrible instability in the political landscape.

“When I say uncertainty, I mean it in the sense that, more than is usually the case, we really don’t know what the election outcome will be if we judge it purely by the numbers. If we judge it by gut instinct – do voters think one leader has nicer teeth – and other less scientific outcomes, there actually seems a little bit more certainty.”

“The questions comes down to whether the electorate really wants yet another change in prime minister? And whether Bill Shorten created – or can create in the next two months – a sense of momentum for change, as well as a strong relationship with voters who, until very recently, utterly dismissed him?

“And has the electorate’s view of the Coalition become so firmly entrenched in the negative that it just wants to get rid of the government?” she says.

“Think about the election result in those terms and your gut says – well at least my gut says – ‘no’ to all three questions.”

Policy Towards Business

Bill Shorten deserves full credit for leading a team that has gone on the front foot on policy and who has managed to bury the perceptions of disunity within the Labor Caucus, Tingle told the audience.

He’s a good campaigner and has started the formal campaign well. The more voters have seen of him in the past couple of weeks, in particular, the more they have liked him, she says.

Tingle told the audience that the Coalition has been thrown off course in the past couple of years, first by its utter political incompetence and lack of policy savvy. The 2014 budget has become the byword for this, but there was much that proceeded it in terms of policy towards business even before the budget was brought down.

“Having made such a mess of things, and then under intense political pressure, the government – still under Tony Abbott – tried to clean up, for which you could use the 2015 budget as the guide.

“But there was still a lot of mess, a lot of conflicting signals, and a lot of policy that is still on the books which is bad or politically untenable,” she says.

“Issues like health funding, schools funding, universities funding are massively complicated now for both sides of politics. They involve the goodwill and assistance of the states in all cases.

“And I have to say that, while I perhaps have more reason to be cynical than a lot of you, having spent 30 years to close to the political action, I actually think we have got a better bunch of competent people – professional politicians who are actually interested in policy as much as just winning – than we have had for a very long time.”

Tingle finished by warning that a number of things could go pear shaped in the world’s political landscape in the next three years.

“I would like to leave you today with the optimistic message that I believe both candidates for the prime ministership are capable people, with capable teams, not driven by ideology but by pragmatism,” she says.

5 Keys to Unlocking Successful Integrated Business Planning

Many companies still struggle with executing a strategic integrated business planning (IBP) process that effectively integrates demand planning, supply planning, and financial planning.

Successful Integrated Business Planning

Most simply put, the process should drive decisions on how to best meet demand (customer/consumer sales for existing and new products) within supply constraints in order to optimise financial return. Yet answers to the questions of each planning component of IBP (See Figure 1) can be dramatically different, and lead to very different results if addressed in silos versus an integrated fashion.

Put more bluntly, companies that successfully execute IBP achieve greater operational and financial benefits than those that do not. A key requirement for that success is collaboration, including a disciplined, repeatable process that drives integrated decision making, and a balanced scorecard for performance measurement.

Integrated Business Planning_Slide 2

Figure 1: Components of Integrated Business Planning

Based on our experience, we at The Hackett Group believe unlocking IBP can deliver the following competitive advantages and benefits:

  • Visibility into the financial implications of decisions and actions related to demand and supply.
  • Significant cost improvements driven by a more efficient and effective supply chain.
  • Improved top-line revenue growth.
  • Inventory deployment improvements, e.g. “the right product in the right place at the right time” based on customer demand, which reduce excess deployment costs.
  • Increased customer satisfaction as a result of more accurate demand planning and inventory availability which reduce out of stocks and back order issues.

However, with all the evidence that implementing IBP leads to important benefits in an increasingly competitive environment, why do many companies continue to miss out on the potential rewards of IBP?

We believe there are five keys questions that companies can use to open the doors to an effective and efficient IBP process. The first two questions deal with the market place and competitive environment in which the business operates, while the final three questions help assess internal improvement opportunities based on best practices for process, people, and data, systems and technology capabilities tied to IBP.

  1. What are the big-picture IBP trends in the marketplace?

Here are three examples of what leading companies are doing:

  • Streamlined annual planning and budgeting processes.
  • Balanced scorecards, with cascading metrics.
  • Unified data models and better integration of technology platforms to support advanced planning and analytic capabilities.
  1. How do our supply chain cost and metrics compare to other companies?

Benchmarking can serve as a useful tool for measuring performance against the competition. Armed with valuable key performance metrics for cost, process and resources, supply chain leaders are equipped to make critical decisions and address areas of opportunity.

As an example, the metric “Demand/supply planning costs per $1000 revenue” is an excellent indicator of overall efficiency (see Figure 2):

Demand & Supply Costs

Figure 2: Demand/supply planning costs per $1000 revenue across industries. Source: APQC 

  1. Are optimal planning processes in place throughout the organisation?

Establishing a best-in-class IBP process is the foundation for maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of any organisation. Example best practices include:

  • IBP goals and objectives are clear and well understood.
  • The IBP process evaluates gap resolution and business optimisation options.
  • Materials and reports supporting IBP are exception based. 
  1. Do we have the right people at all levels of the organisation, to own the plan, make decisions, and ultimately be held accountable for the plan’s execution?

Equally as important as the right processes, is having the right organisational talent and accountability mechanisms in place. Example best practices include:

  • Adequately staffed resources with required knowledge and skills.
  • Clear ownership and accountability.
  • Discipline to adhere to decisions made as part of the IBP process.
  1. Finally, are we equipped with the appropriate technology (tools and systems) necessary to fully support integrated business?

To enhance supply chain technology capabilities that both support and optimise the integrated business planning process, best-in-class organisations successfully employ supply chain systems and tools to maximise their IBP process.

Importantly, the firm must have the tools and systems needed to bring together and reconcile demand, supply, and financial plans in order to identify gaps and imbalances.

Read the full Hackett Group Supply Chain Insight Report here to learn more trends, best practices, and metrics which help supply chain successfully transition to Integrated Business Planning

Hanna Hamburger, a Director in the Strategy & Operations practice at The Hackett Group, has over 25 years of industry and consulting experience. She has worked extensively with consumer products and retail companies as well as life sciences companies in the areas of sales, marketing and supply chain process, technology and tools, and organisation performance improvement. A longer version of this article is available on The Hackett Group’s website.

How Walmart, Hanesbrands and Mattel Reduced Supply Chain Risk

It’s the million dollar question. How can corporates minimise supply chain risk, without significant disruption to their core business?

Supply Chain Risk

Global retail giants, headquartered in the US, have had to address their supply chain risk in a bid to forge ahead in the new world of corporate social responsibility. It hasn’t been an easy exercise, that’s for sure.

Retail giant Walmart, apparel brand Hanesbrands, and toy manufacturer Mattel, are among the countless others to bring about major changes within downstream manufacturing to ensure corporate risk is above board. Each turned to brand protection firm ICIX to implement a new way forward.

Management Wake-Up Call

Company founder Matt Smith explains that supply chain risk was starting to enter the corporate vocabulary in 1999.

“Companies were starting to get jittery about their corporate responsibility. Emails and back then, faxes, were being sent from management looking to address this issue, as they started to wake up to the fact that there were major risks within the supply chain that they had to actually take responsibility for. Before this time, it hadn’t really dawned on management that supply chain risk had anything to do with them,” Smith says.

Suddenly, the race was on to find a way to outsource the task of conducting factory audits and ask the hard questions. Fast forward more than a decade, and the events of 9/11 shone an even brighter spotlight on these issues and what it means for corporate entities.

Smith was at the coalface, watching the opportunity emerge. He set about creating a solution, and today ICIX remains the leading operator in this space. ICIX was born in 2004, initially to respond to the challenges faced by the food industry in securing the food supply chain, and addressing increased safety requirements of the Bioterrorism Act of 2002.

During this time, Smith worked with some of the world’s largest retailers to help them address issues of supply chain transparency and inefficient information sharing. ICIX worked to connect all trading partners into a single network to centralise collaboration, making it one of the earliest cloud-based SaaS companies.

Risk a “Complex Beast”

The company grew early food customers into other retail segments, including general merchandise and apparel and footwear. It also extended its solutions to include not just safety, but also quality, compliance and corporate social responsibility.

Today, ICIX helps companies understand where its products are coming from, streamline collaboration with trading partners, drive compliance and safety, and as a result, secure and maintain customer trust.

Smith says that those working on the risk side of a business are often frowned upon by those working on the business side, which makes it a complex beast to juggle. Frequently, the CIO within a business isn’t necessarily on the same page as someone in the CEO chair.

“I could see a really big opportunity opening up in the US, with several major retailers over here scrambling to find a solution.

“And today, businesses are spending more on managing risk than ever before. Those in procurement are battling for budget and attention, until something bad happens like people get sick or someone dies because of their product. That’s when the purse strings always open up. That’s what it often takes for people to want to solve the supply chain risk related issues.

“We realised that tackling this as a network was going to bring about far greater efficiencies, however retail is a complex industry in which to do this, which complicated the process,” Smith continues.

Role of Technology

For example, barcodes don’t match purchase orders or product numbers, and without that universal product identifier, it can be a complex process. Technology has played a huge part in bringing scale to the organisation, with cloud technology supporting a new way to assess and identify potential risk.

“Supply chain risk management is a huge area, and we were looking for ways to take that network architecture and make it accessible to everyone.”

ICIX does this by taking various feeds of information and assessing it. This could include shipping feeds, purchase feeds, ethical and responsible sourcing data and much more, and then cross-referencing all of these to determine supply chain risk.

The sheer size of retail giant Walmart put it under the consumer spotlight and forced it to look at improving supply chain transparency. Company management was eager to speak to Smith to bring about better efficiencies.

The catalyst for the changes at Walmart were the issues with Mattel matchbox cars in 2007, when consumers got wind of the fact that the children’s toys contained lead paint. New government regulations introduced as a result, required companies to act and take responsibility.

“Firstly, we see whether the vendor is meeting all their safety and testing requirements, then we can fast forward a few steps. And if they’re missing a test report, we can request that information on their behalf and rectify the situation and re-test,” Smith says.

Such solutions provide assurances that companies are ‘doing the right thing’ – that they are providing, safe, quality products that are ethically sourced and compliant. With ever increasing customer demands for transparency, information and responsibility, such programs are critical not only for companies to protect their brands and enhance their customer trust, but to survive.

Is Any Profession Safe From AI Disruption?

Would you trust an “artificially intelligent colleague” to solve your legal disputes? It may be closer than you think as AI and cognitive technology advances prove no industry is safe from disruption.

AI

At the end of last week, it was announced that a major US law firm, Baker & Hostetler, had hired Ross to run its bankruptcy practice. Not major news you might think, until you realise that ROSS is the world’s first “artificially intelligent attorney”.

Built upon the same concept as IBM’s Watson, and using the same cognitive technology, ROSS is another example of a major technological disruptor, and proof that no profession is safe from the advance of AI.

Setting a Precedent

In many ways, ROSS is very similar to the original Watson technology. The AI can read and understand language, generate hypotheses for questions it is asked, and can back up these hypotheses with research and citations from legal literature and cases.

The success of ROSS is centred on how it learns. As the AI interacts more with its human colleagues, it learns from its experience, getting more intelligent and faster at problem solving with each task it does.

It can also perform these tasks faster than human counterparts, examining thousands of documents in a fraction of the time it would take a person to do. It is also able to filter these results, and only presents the most relevant cases and citations from the data available.

Although Baker & Hostetler are the first to publicly announce signing up ROSS, Andrew Arruda, CEO and co-founder of ROSS Intelligence, has confirmed that a number of other law firms have already signed licences to use ROSS too.

Big Data for Recruitment

Big Data, AI and cognitive technologies all go hand in hand, with many seeing Big Data as a key driver behind the development and advancement of the technologies. At the Big Ideas Summit, Barry Ward, Procurement Brand Manager at IBM, stated that 80 per cent of the data available to us is unstructured.

Unstructured data is difficult for humans to sift through, and find relevant information with any speed. Cognitive technologies, such as IBM Watson and ROSS, have been designed specifically to work with this unstructured data. While the potential applications for procurement from Big Data have been spoken about extensively, it’s to the recruitment industry that we look now.

A recent edition of the BBC Radio 4 In Business programme highlighted the work of Bill Nowacki, MD of Decision Science at KPMG. Nowacki works with Big Data, trying to improve the way organisations work, by analysing the data available to them.

One facet of this is uncovering the so-called “data trail” left by individuals when they use electronic devices, search on the Internet, and post on social media. All this data can be pulled together to generate a picture of the individual in question.

In a corporate setting, it can show how people are performing. There are further applications in the recruitment process too. Potential candidates can be identified by on comparing them with high performers already in the organisation, as well as assessing the candidates for cultural fit.

The benefit of using Big Data and cognitive technologies in recruitment is the lack of bias in the process. Whereas human interactions can fall victim to inbuilt bias, the technology has no such issues.

And as the technologies learn from experience, it’s possible that the recruitment process may benefit from greater understanding of personality traits, individuals’ values and norms, and create a fairer process all round.

Events in Brief

A couple of final pieces of news from Procurious this week include what you’ll be seeing on the site soon. We’re attending Coupa Inspire and ISM2016 and we’ll be bringing all the major headlines and information from these great events in the coming weeks.

Last week was Coupa Inspire, where the business announced that it had connected its 2 millionth business on its Open Business Network, plus Sir Richard Branson, and his son Sam, gave a keynote address on a variety of topics including the importance of philanthropy, leadership and inspiring others. Plus Sir Richard also talked about his plans to build Virgin Hotels in space!

Stay tuned for more on these topics soon!

What do you think of the latest AI developments? Do we have anything to worry about from AI in the future, or is it just the stuff of science fiction? Let us know your thoughts.

Each week we sniff out the top procurement and supply chain headlines for you to enjoy…

Concerns over US Retail Sector Health

  • Macy’s, the largest department store chain in the US, has increased fears over the health of the US retail sector with its poor Quarter 1 results.
  • The company announced its worst quarterly sales since 2009, with sales falling 5.6 per cent, for a fifth consecutive quarterly decline.
  • A move away from traditional stores to online shopping and fast fashion has been blamed for the struggles of many companies in the retail sector.
  • With consumer demand not expected to increase for department stores, Macy’s is now intensifying its cost cutting efforts.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Switzerland Tops Global Supply Chain Index

  • Switzerland has taken top spot in the 2016 FM Global Resilience Index, unseating 2015 leader Norway.
  • The index ranks the supply chain resilience of 130 countries according to nine drivers that affect business vulnerability.
  • Falling oil prices have been blamed for the falling ranking of Norway and a number of other countries, including Kuwait and Venezuela.
  • Terrorism has also been a factor in the 2016 rankings, with Belgium, Pakistan and Nigeria all dropping down the list.

Read more at Supply Management

Release 15 Announced at Coupa Inspire

  • Release 15 is Coupa’s second major release of the year, delivering a number of enhancements across the platform.
  • Hyperlocalised Languages addresses local language requirements across 100 countries, along with terminology unique to individual businesses, by allowing customers to modify Coupa’s 20+ languages for their own purposes.
  • Updated Sourcing Recommendations Engine enables savings initiatives to now be recommended based on predicted trends in expenses spend.
  • The New Supplier Risk Recommendations Engine monitors supplier data and reports on risk triggers including expiring certificates and outdated information.
Read more at Coupa

£30m Reasons Why UK Businesses Should Recycle Ink Cartridges

According to new research, British businesses stand to save up to £30 million per year if they recycle their used ink and toner cartridges.

Recycle Ink Cartridges

UK printing firm CartridgePeople.com surveyed 1,000 UK workers on their recycling policies and processes within their organisations.

The research found that just 11 per cent of these organisations currently recycle ink and toner cartridges by sending them to a recycling centre, or refilling with ink to reuse in the business. This is an increase of 5 per cent from a previous survey carried out in 2014.

And, based on recycling costs provided by recycling organisation, Empties Please, these habits could be costing UK businesses approximately £30 million per year.

Business Falling Behind

More than 40 million ink cartridges are dumped each year in the UK, instead of being reused or recycled. If disposed of in general waste, ink cartridges can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.

CartridgePeople revealed that businesses in the UK are failing to reduce their carbon footprint in the office, despite the increase in household waste being recycled in the UK.

When questioned on the reasons for not recycling ink cartridges, 38 per cent of respondents confessed that there are currently no processes in place to encourage recycling at work.

The survey also revealed that 1 in 20 employees in the UK choose to ignore the recycling policies that do exist in workplaces, and put everything in general waste.

CartridgePeople.com spokesperson, Andrew Davies, said: “Many businesses and workers are unaware of the savings and extra revenue that can potentially be made from recycling ink cartridges. Ink cartridge recycling firms can pay up to 75p for original branded, or even remanufactured, ink cartridges.

“An individual ink cartridge can be reused or remanufactured by an ink cartridge recycling centre up to seven times, which reduces the amount going straight into landfill. We work with many companies in the UK to help reduce their carbon footprint and wastage, by supplying ink cartridge refill kits and tanks amongst other recyclable office supplies including LED bulbs and stationery.”

In the UK, the industries with the most green office policies are:

  • Design, Media and Marketing
  • Education
  • Manufacturing
  • Food and Catering
  • Administrative and support services

The financial and legal sectors currently have the fewest green policies of all the industries covered in the survey.

Reducing Carbon Footprint

CartridgePeople offered the following tips to businesses to help reduce their carbon footprint, and encourage recycling within the office environment.

  • Green Printing

To reduce financial and economic damage during the printing process, businesses can recycle or refill ink cartridges, use recycled paper, and keep hardware such as printers up to date. A new printer will be more energy efficient, in addition to producing an improved quality of print.

  • Switch Off and Unplug

Encourage all staff and employees to switch everything off at the end of the day, including all lights and equipment. This will not only save money on energy bills, but reduce overall consumption.

  • Which Bin Is It In

Make it easy for your company to recycle, by introducing paper and plastic bins for workers in which they can easily recycle their waste. In addition to this, businesses produce technological waste such as mobile phones, cameras, obsolete laptops and computers, which can be toxic for the environment when sent to landfill. There are many companies that will recycle and refurbish old tech.

CartridgePeople.com is a leading UK retailer of high quality printer ink cartridges, supplying home users, businesses and public sector organisations including schools and Government departments.

Happy Birthday – Procurious Is Two!

It hardly seems like any time at all, but it’s been two years to the day (nearly!) since the launch of Procurious. While wishing the site a happy birthday, we look back at how far we’ve come.

2nd Birthday Cake

On May the 14th 2014, the Ebola epidemic was sweeping through East Africa, Ukraine was on the “brink of civil war”, Scotland had scored a chart double with Calvin Harris and Paolo Nutini at number 1, and Donald Trump was still considered a celebrity/businessman, rather than a US Presidential candidate.

And under the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, at the 7th Annual Asia-Pacific CPO Forum, hosted by The Faculty, Jack Slade stood up and announced the launch of Procurious to the assembled audience.

Getting Started

In the room that day, amongst a Who’s Who of Asia-Pacific CPOs and Procurement leaders, were two future Procurious employees, and a host of people who would be the site’s first movers. At the time, the site was just finding its feet as a community-based, niche network for Procurement and Supply Chain professionals.

The idea of Procurious, originally conceived as a procurement news service, took flight in late 2013, and was steadily developed and streamlined until the site you see today was formed (well, the first iteration at least!).

It took just under 6 months for the site to add its first 2000 members, with first movers coming from across the globe as the word spread. By Christmas 2014, the site had over 3000 members, was engaging with professionals from around the world, and over half of these members returning to the site on a monthly basis.

Making Strides

From that point on, there’s been no stopping Procurious. Earlier this year we celebrated our 10,000th member, but didn’t stop there. As it stands now, the Procurious community numbers nearly 14,500 people from over 140 countries, at an average of 6 per cent week on week growth.

You can see some of our stats in the infographic below:

Happy Birthday Procurious

At the heart of Procurious we want to help build the image of procurement, share learnings and provide a platform for information gathering and collaboration. In the past two years we have seen the following on the site:
  • A truly global community of over 42,000 people across Procurious and our social media channels
  • Coming up on half a million unique sessions from over 220,000 users
  • Over 2 million page views since May 2014, and over 690,000 page views since the start of 2016
  • Over 1,000 high-quality, original blog articles published on topics ranging from procurement systems and sustainability, to community empowerment and breathing techniques
  • 771 discussion questions asked; over 3,500 community answers provided
  • Over 100 free eLearning resources published to the site (with over 100,000 views on YouTube collectively)
  • Over 600 procurement and supply chain events listed

And that’s not to mention two very successful, and well regarded Big Ideas Summits in 2015 and 2016, with more events to follow this year, and Big Ideas 2017 already in the works!

The Future

We’re already excited to see what the next year has in store for Procurious, and are looking forward to taking the site to the next level with your help.

All that is left for us to say is thanks for all your help in making Procurious what it is today. Join us in making a Happy Birthday toast to Procurious, and have a glass of bubbly and a slice of virtual cake on us!

What is the Biggest Challenge Facing Procurement?

From talent management, to ethics and transparency, there are some major challenges facing procurement in the current environment. But which is the biggest challenge?

Biggest Challenge

When considering the potential issues and risks that procurement professionals need to be aware of in their day to day work, it’s difficult to single out one in particular requiring greater focus than the rest.

In fact, if you were to ask the question of what is the biggest challenge currently facing procurement, the chances are high that you would get a considerable number of topics listed. However, that is exactly what Deltabid did with a survey of over 500 procurement professionals. More on this shortly.

Blind Spots

During the Big Ideas Summit 2016, Procurious asked its delegates to tell us what they considered to be procurement’s blind spots, and major areas of risk, in the coming years. Our panel of experts highlighted these areas:

  • Too great a focus on savings
  • Dealing with the wider business
  • Talent attraction and management
  • A lack of ambition in procurement
  • Working with legal teams

A contributor to the Procurement Leaders blog commented that, “CPOs face one of the most complex roles in an organisation”, and highlighted skills required for the future including a focus on strategic relationships, management of global supply chain risk and use of big data.

At the 9th Annual Asia-Pacific CPO Forum, The Faculty will be discussing the need for procurement to leverage supplier-enabled innovation, and a focus for procurement on SRM in order to make this a reality.

And when you consider the prevalence of stories and news reports on sustainability and supply chain transparency, it seems we are reaching a point where not only can we not reach a consensus on what the biggest challenge is, but also facing a lack of understanding about how we tackle these challenges.

Making Progress?

The other issue to consider is whether or not the procurement profession is making progress dealing with its biggest challenges. A quick search reveals a number of articles from the past couple of years asking a similar question of procurement leaders, including this one from Spend Matters.

In it, the top 5 challenges for CPOs are highlighted, including mitigating spend creep, the visibility of realised savings, compliance, technology, and procurement skills and capabilities to deliver on strategies. Starting to sound familiar?

What procurement must do is set out to tackle these challenges, and actually make some progress on them, instead of moving on to the next thing. And also to realise that these challenges don’t go away – it’s going to be a continuous process.

Biggest Challenge

This circles back to being able to identify the biggest challenge facing the profession, and perhaps assessing an order for them to be in, and a plan of attack for meeting them head on. This is where Deltabid’s research can help.

A survey of over 500 procurement professionals found that the biggest challenge was supplier-related issues, including finding and qualifying suppliers and maintaining consistent supply, with strategy selection, and cost reduction making up the top three. You can see the full results in the infographic below:

Procurement Biggest Challenge

While the results may not be surprising, they go some way to helping generate a consensus on the biggest challenge facing procurement. It’s now down to the profession as a collective entity to work out the best way to tackle these challenges.

One of the best ways of doing this is by collaborating openly, sharing knowledge, information, and lessons learned, and flexing our collective muscle in order to change the profession for the better.

If you have any comments, ideas, thoughts, or anything else you would like to share, please let us know in the comments below. If you have also had successes in dealing with any of these challenges, then we would love to tell your story!

Crewless Drone Ships Look Set to Uberize the High Seas

From crewless drone ships, to matchmaking between procurement and marketing departments, there are game-changing strategies afoot!

Drone Ships

In the past week, SpaceX have successfully landed a rocket on a drone ship, and both Coca-Cola and Target are playing match maker between procurement and marketing departments.

Uber-izing the High Seas

It’s a hot topic in the news when a rocket lands on a drone ship. Last year Amazon raised eyebrows when it announced plans to start drone deliveries. More recently they released a video showcasing a prototype of one if its delivery drones.

Drone technology is rapidly evolving and just this Friday, SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a crewless drone ship at sea. This is an even more impressive feat, given that the odds of a successful soft-landing were slim, due to the mission requirements for this particular launch.

Even SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, expressed his doubts ahead of the launch on Twitter:

Drone Ships

To date, SpaceX has completed two successful rocket recoveries on a moving drone ship, and another when they successfully landed a rocket on a landing pad on stable ground.

The next important step, of course, is reusing a recovered rocket, which Musk has stated they hope to do in the next three or four months.

Remote Control

And while drone deliveries have been making the headlines for sometime, remotely controlled drone ships are just as much a game-changer for the shipping and logistics industry.

It’s a bet FTSE 100 Company Rolls-Royce are willing to make, backed by Tekes, Finland’s technical research funding agency. Rolls Royce is working with offshore engineer Deltamarin, marine certification body DNV GL, and Inmarsat, to develop the technology needed for commercial drone ships.

Speaking to The Guardian, Oskar Levander, Head of Innovation for Rolls Royce’s marine unit, says: “Drone ships will will support existing players to make their businesses more efficient and enable new entrants with new business models to the sector, with a potentially similarly disruptive effect to that caused by Uber, Spotify and Airbnb in other industries.”

Matchmaking Marketing And Procurement

Marketing is often seen as the creative, playful, visionary behind a big brand, while procurement is all too frequently positioned as it’s more serious, strict counterpart.

Marketing wants to spend the money on the big idea, while procurement wants to save as much money as possible. If marketing and procurement can’t see eye to eye, one party is bound to suffer.

Speaking at the ANA’s Financial Management Conference, Target EVP and CMO Jeffrey Jones acknowledged a serious cultural difference between marketing and finance and called out addressing this divide as “one of the top three issues [the business] has to solve.”

Jones criticised marketing departments for not really understanding how their own company makes money, which is a fundamental problem for a department with one of the highest spends in most organisations.

Jones believes that Marketing needs to take account of every dollar it spends in order to demonstrate greater cost consciousness. By taking this strategy, it allows Procurement to be part of the process.

However, Jones also believes that Procurement could loosen up a bit, and understand that sometimes monetary investment is required in order to deliver results, and time is needed to deliver proof of concept.

Jones highlights a simple solution: “Marketing needs to learn more about business; and finance – and through it, procurement – needs to take risks they can’t always calculate.”

A United Front

While Target continues to work out the kinks between marketing and procurement, Coca-Cola have already put the wheels in motion to unite the two departments.

Christina Ruggiero, CPO, Coca-Cola, has taken the step to move her marketing procurement team from the procurement department, into the marketing department. This has facilitated cross-functional learning opportunities, and enabled Procurement to get a grasp on Marketing’s priorities.

As a drone and robotic technology continue evolve, is this innovative technology disruptive to the supply chain. And what will be the repercussions on procurement? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Meanwhile, we’ve been scouring the news to find the top procurement and supply chain headlines this week…

Maersk Predict Meagre Growth in 2016

  • The parent company of shipping giant Maersk Line is projecting meagre growth in demand this year.
  • Danish conglomerate, A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S’s shipping unit, the world’s biggest container line, saw underlying earnings of $32 million in the first quarter, far below the $710 million contribution a year ago.
  • Maersk’s shipping volume grew 7 per cent in the quarter, against 1 per cent growth for the broader industry, and
  • Group Chief Executive Nils Andersen says there is no relief for weak demand and falling freight rates on the horizon, and admitted the carrier will look more to the spot market to provide a revenue boost.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Billions Stolen in Nigerian Fraud

  • $15 billion, equal to about half the country’s foreign currency reserves, has been stolen from Nigeria’s public purse through fraudulent arms-procurement deals.
  • Africa’s top oil exporter is going through its worst economic crisis in decades due to the drop in global crude prices, and ministers say these problems have been exacerbated by the impact of fraud under previous administrations.
  • Endemic corruption over decades has enriched a small elite but left many Nigerians mired in poverty despite the country’s oil wealth.

Read more at the African Independent

Nordic Defence Procurement Agreement

  • Representatives of the major Nordic nations have come together to sign a new agreement relating to defence procurement.
  • An update to an agreement originally signed in 2015, it aims to promote joint development between Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
  • The agreement does not obligate a country to sign to any specific deal, but allows for greater collaboration between the nations.

Read more at Jane’s Defence Weekly

Small Businesses Suffering Brain Drain

A lack of employee benefits has been cited as one of the key reasons employees leave small businesses every year.

Small businesses employee benefits

Small businesses are suffering a staff brain drain, with nearly one in five workers quitting each year for new jobs blaming poor employee benefits, research from new online provider Pure Benefits shows.

The study by Pure Benefits found that 18 per cent of staff – around 450,000 a year – have switched in the past five years, saying a lack of benefits was a major reason.

Sourcing Employee Benefits

Small businesses with fewer than 50 staff employ more than 12.4 million people across the UK, and have total annual turnover of more than £1.2 trillion. However, these business often struggle to source employee benefits such as life insurance, income protection and private medical insurance for staff.

The Pure Benefits research found that 63 per cent of small business owners are confused by the employee benefits options on offer, and don’t know how to find cost-effective solutions for staff. More than a fifth of owners (22 per cent) say they do not offer any benefits.

Pure Benefits enables business owners to source cost effective benefits including life insurance, income protection, dental insurance, business travel insurance, critical illness and key person cover from leading providers including Unum, Aviva, Vitality, National Dental Plan and Millstream.

The company’s online service is designed to be quick and efficient and to address administrative and compliance issues for small companies focused on growing their businesses and protecting staff.

Employee Benefits Requirements

While there are some benefits that organisations are required by law to grant to employees, such as holiday allowance, minimum wage, working hours and sick leave, going beyond this for small businesses can be difficult.

In fact, starting this year in the UK, small businesses will be required for the first time to provide employees with a pension, something which is aimed at ensuring future provision for all workers in the country. However, in America, this still isn’t a requirement.

Other benefits, such as maternity or paternity leave, also differ from organisation to organisation, and country to country. In the UK, employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, but in the USA, employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

The strength of employee benefits will often swing a decision on where an individual’s next job is going to be. The promise of incentives (bonus, car, etc.) or benefits (pensions, leave, etc.) is said to be one of the deciding factors for employees, beyond company brand or other, intangible, factors.

Valued Staff

Stuart Gray, founder and chairman of Pure Benefits says: “The small business brain drain is a growing issue for small companies with nearly one in five staff leaving every year simply because they are not receiving the benefits the big firms provide

“That is a major brake on the ambitions of small business owners who our research shows are committed to expansion. Around 80 per cent of companies told us they want to grow, while 47 per cent say they want to protect their business.

“Well-designed and cost-effective employee benefits are a major driver in enabling businesses to grow and ensure staff feel valued and are more productive as a result.”

The table below shows the benefits on offer at firms employing up to 50 staff:

Small Businesses Employee Benefits

Rio Olympics Focus on Global Supply Chain Sustainability

A focus on supply chain sustainability gives the Rio Olympics the opportunity to revolutionise global sustainability, and create a lasting legacy in Brazil.

Rio Olympics Supply Chain Sustainability

The Rio Olympics’ commitment to supply chain sustainability (with 100 per cent recovery, disposal and use of goods and waste) has the capacity to revolutionise supply chain sustainability worldwide as well as creating a legacy for positive change in the region, says supply chain consultancy Crimson & Co.

Despite a backdrop of political and economical uncertainty, Brazil has promised that the first South American-hosted Olympic and Paralympic Games, taking place in less than 100 days, will bring permanent changes to the city of Rio de Janeiro, with benefits spread throughout the country. Central to this has been the drive to ensure all suppliers are adopting sustainability practices.

“Most Sustainable” Olympics Ever

The London 2012 Olympics was billed as ‘the most sustainable ever’ but associations with key sponsors including BP, Rio Tinto, Dow Chemical and McDonalds, provoked a backlash from a coalition of campaign groups, keen to highlight the negative social or environmental impact of these firms.

In the run up to the Games in Rio, event organisers have been keen to ensure that all suppliers adopt sustainable practices, including managing waste, minimising the use of harmful substances, making conscious use of energy and water and maintaining ethical labour practices. Additionally, businesses are invited to participate in training sessions on sustainability as part of the bidding process.

For Richard Gurney, General Manager of Latin America for Crimson & Co, this commitment to sustainability represents the positive impact the Games can have on Rio and further afield:

“Sustainability throughout the Games’ management cycle – from initial planning to after the event – has been in the DNA of the Rio proposal since it first announced its interest in hosting the greatest sporting event on the planet.

Learning from Past Mistakes

“Brazil’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 was not without controversy. More than $3 billion was spent on building five new stadiums and renovating seven existing ones, but many of these so-called white elephants are as likely now to collect dust as they are to generate ticket receipts. Brazil does not want to see a repeat of this and that is why there is such a huge emphasis on sustainability.

“When the Games finish, and until 2017, the Olympic Operations Committee will manage the dissolution process. This includes closing contracts, selling property assets and managing donations and returns. This planning, i.e. what will be done with each item after the Games, was part of the purchasing process and is considered part of the total cost of acquisition in purchasing decisions. The goal is 100 per cent recovery, disposal and use of goods and waste.”

Gurney continued: “In addition to reducing the environmental impact and the volume of waste after the Games, the initiative informed producers about how to get more sustainable alternatives to their products.

“Companies were invited to participate in training sessions as part of the bidding process to win contracts. Many companies still have the perception that sustainable products are more expensive. In fact, more often than not, the price of a product or service can be greater, but the cost reductions and elimination of waste in the value chain through sustainable practices lead to a lower total purchase cost.

“Time will tell on the impact of these decisions for Rio but, if carried out effectively, it has the capacity to revolutionise supply chain sustainability as well as creating a legacy for positive change. If that is the case, it will certainly have cause to rival London 2012 for the most sustainable Olympics ever.”