All posts by Procurious HQ

2015 Rewind – Best of the Blog: 6 Sure-Fire Ways to Become a CPO

Our first blast from the past from the blog in 2015 is to revisit our most popular article this year. Our founder Tania Seary talks through her top tips for becoming a CPO.

6 Sure-Fire Ways To Become A CPO

I have worked in Procurement for twenty years now (a scary thought). During that time, I have had the immense pleasure of watching a number of trailblazing procurement professionals ascend through the ranks of their companies to take the coveted position of CPO (Chief Procurement Officer).

If your professional goal is to become a CPO, there are some very simple tips I can share for how to successfully climb the career ladder leading to the ivory towers of procurement. 

  1. Build your trophy cabinet

“Make sure you have successes you can point to,” is one of the best pieces of career advice I have ever received. You need to be able to clearly and convincingly explain projects that you have personally been accountable for and how they have delivered value. Your successfully completed projects with defined benefits are your career trophies.

Put another way – to get promoted, you first need to excel in the job you have today. Ok, this seems rather elementary, but I hear from CPOs around the world that many category managers today are so focussed on where they want to be tomorrow, that they aren’t delivering on the job they are meant to be doing today!

I cannot emphasise how important the basics of professionalism are for making positive impressions on those who will promote you. Do your homework before every meeting, be on time, have an agenda, be well presented, be composed, write and distribute notes following the meeting and, most importantly, do what you said you would do and notify everyone that you have done what you said.

I can’t stress these last two points enough.

Doing what you say you will do and confirming that you have done it may be the two biggest contributors to people getting promoted. Leaders like to have people working for them who actually get things done. Leaders also need to know that the job has been completed. It’s not enough just to do what you said you would do. You need to make sure everyone knows you’ve done it, so they can get it off their to-do-list and put a mental tick beside your name as someone who delivers. 

  1. Don’t burn your bridges… EVER

No matter how old or experienced you are, if you are ambitious, you will find yourself getting frustrated. This will come in many forms. You’ll get frustrated with the lack of progress on projects; you’ll get agitated with certain decisions and actions, and you most likely get frustrated with the people who work below you, beside you and above you. It’s understandable.

In these stressful situations it is often difficult to contain yourself and maintain harmonious, productive relationships with those around you.

But it is critically important that you do.

As I shared in my blog How to Quit your Job with Style, everyone you work with, whether they are inside or outside you organisation, are invaluable long-term supporters of you and your career. As you progress up the ladder (or across your portfolio career!), you will be amazed how every person you have worked with plays a role in helping “buoy” your promotion. You need as many people as you can to endorse your capability and to recommend you for promotion. Getting ahead is hard enough – you certainly don’t need any detractors.

With this is mind, it’s clear that an invaluable skill for future leaders to develop is patience. Great leaders have an uncanny ability to pick the right time to hold back and when to push. As America’s founding father, Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that can have patience can have what he will.”

  1. Be squeaky clean – a beacon of integrity

When The Faculty developed its X Factor assessment for future CPOs, it became obvious that a key differentiator for our profession was its role in clarifying the ethical “true north” for our organisations. Procurement’s competitive advantage is that it can provide rock solid guidance on the most ethical commercial processes and decisions our businesses are involved in. Few other functions can boast these credentials.

As sustainable sourcing and the ethical responsibility of our businesses continues to draw an increased (and warranted!) interest, future procurement leaders must have an unblemished track record in conducting business and leading teams with the greatest integrity.

One of my favourite sayings is, “Know you’re right, rather than hope you’re not wrong”. With this mantra in mind, I would suggest you and your team complete the CIPS Ethical Procurement and Supply Course. Completing this e-learning program will help identify areas of ethical and social risk and will suggest how to best respond to these situations. It just might save you from a crisis. 

  1. Raise your voice, raise your profile

If you want to be promoted you first need to be noticed. As we all know, this is easier said than done. To be viewed as a leader today, you need to be seen as an influencer… someone with something to say… someone with a unique and informed opinion.

Future leaders need to constantly nurture and nourish their personal brand. In order to succeed, you need to position yourself for success. Often, this will mean stepping out of your comfort zone. Holding knowledge sharing events in your office, speaking and conferences and actively maintaining your social media presence are all great ways to get noticed and position yourself as a thought leader. It may appear difficult at first, but its vital training for your development as a leader.

The most challenging element of raising your profile is finding your audience and in this endeavour, social media is your friend. The online procurement community is enormous, active and hungry for information. By connecting into this community, you amplify your opportunities to learn and to teach.

There are procurement groups on LinkedIn with over 300,000 members. Twitter is awash with market information that can enable procurement professionals to do their jobs better and Procurious, the social media network we established to connect procurement peers across the globe and facilitate knowledge sharing.

The social media world is waiting to hear your story; it’s your job to get out there and tell it.

  1. Build a reputation for developing others

One of the most important attributes HR will be looking for in a CPO (or any leader) is their ability to develop people and build a high-performance team. No matter how junior you are in an organisation, there are always opportunities for you to demonstrate that you are focussed on others’ professional development. You can mentor someone looking to get into procurement, you can share your ways of working openly with your peers, you can suggest bringing in some training or speakers to talk to the team on a topic of mutual interest, you could even be a “millennial mentor” for one of your bosses. There are a myriad of opportunities to demonstrate that you understand the power of people continually learning and developing. 

  1. Work for blue-chip companies

Firstly, let’s remember that the CPO role itself only exists in larger companies. Secondly, larger companies prefer to hire people who have already worked at other large companies.

Why? Because it’s safer.

Great companies (on the whole) invest in developing their people, they have great values systems that, by osmosis, influence the performance and behaviour of their people. This means that you become both a technical and ethical “output” of the companies you work for. This may seem a bit weird, or scary, but it’s true; “The company you keep defines your character and your character defines your success.”

Procurious Big Ideas Keynote #5 – The Business Case for Creating a Procurement Network

Procurious’ founder Tania Seary rounded the day off at the Big Ideas Summit with a keynote focusing on why procurement networks are an incredibly valuable tool for the profession.

Tania started off with a statistic that there are 27 indigenous tribes in the Amazon region that are entirely disconnected from the rest of the world, comparing that to the often isolated procurement profession.

She then looked at the impact of social media on the profession, and how it can help to create the community for procurement to allow us to work together, solve problems and ultimately create value for businesses. One of these platforms is Procurious.

Watch the full keynote here.

See all the keynotes and panel discussions from the Big Ideas Summit, plus Big Ideas from our 40+ Influencers.

Like this? Join Procurious for FREE and meet like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

Supply Chain Best Practice – What We Can Learn from Santa

With just over a day to go before Father Christmas needs to leave the North Pole to start his annual delivery run, we look at why Santa’s Supply Chain is the best of the lot.

Santa Claus

Frequently overlooked when it comes to the annual awards, Santa has been running his supply chain with precision and incredible efficiency for as long as we can remember. And with 2016 planning not far around the corner, there is plenty that we can learn from Saint Nick!

Communication

Communication across the supply chain is critical for success, and Santa manages to keep a two-way flow of communication both inside and outside his organisation.

Children’s letters to the North Pole are requested to arrive in time to allow for any last minute alterations to the loading list for the sleigh. In the UK, the Royal Mail help to facilitate this particular part of the supply chain, with all letters required to be mailed by the 6th of December.

Inside the organisation, in order to meet the tight deadlines and short timescales for production, Santa is sure to be in constant contact with his direct reports in order to ensure that all the products will be ready. How do we know his communication is good? Well, you never see mistakes being made, do you?

Stakeholder Management

Santa is also an expert at stakeholder management. He always know which children are on the nice list, and which are on the naughty list, and always works to ensure that his customers are satisfied with the end product.

He has clearly fostered strong relationships with the various suppliers he needs for raw materials, as they are able to keep him stocked with what he needs. Santa also works well with external agencies, such as the Royal Mail, in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Demand Planning

How can you manage supply vs. demand when the trends and demands are likely to change over the course of 12 months? Not only does Santa keep track of the trends, but he can also predict the overall demand for all these items and make sure he has enough of the most popular toys.

Delivery

Which other organisations can boast a record of 100 per cent success in delivering the right product, to the right person, at the right time? There are few, if any, who can rival Santa for his ability to make on time deliveries.

Logistics

Santa is a one-man logistics operation, taking on all the delivery duties himself, along with his team of trusty reindeer. His routes are clearly planned in advance to minimise the potential for getting lost and to make sure that the right deliveries go to the right house.

Additionally, all the presents are loaded in exactly the order they are to be delivered in. Without any spare time to root around in the sleigh for a missing toy, Santa’s logistics and warehousing operations must be second to none to pull this off.

Inventory

Finally, along with the demand planning, Santa is clearly a fantastic inventory planner. There is no question of holding excess stock when the trends and demands change from one year to the next, and nothing gets delivered for another twelve months.

So Santa must ensure that he has exactly what he needs before he leaves on Christmas Eve, as he knows that anything that is left over is likely to be left in stock for a year, without any planned demand for it.

Track Santa

There is a serious side to this piece. All the elements mentioned above are key to having a successful supply chain. In 2016, take a look at what you could be doing differently, and how you can make those improvements to your supply chain.

The bar is set very high, and it’s highly unlikely that any one organisations will be able to equal the record of Father Christmas.

And, if you find yourself with a bit of spare time, and you (and your children!) want to keep track of Santa’s progress around the world on Christmas Eve, check out NORAD’s tracker (now in its 60th year!) right here.

Best of the Procurious Discussion Forum 2015

In 2015, Procurious members started over 400 discussions, and provided an amazing 2000+ answers for these burning questions.

Discussion Forum

These discussions covered a vast range of topics, from Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and professional qualifications, to eSourcing and if there is a typical Myers Briggs profile for procurement professionals. We’ve picked out the most popular Discussions of 2015 to have another look at, and perhaps inspire you to start your own.

KPIs for Procurement Function

We frequently talk about the concept of KPIs or metrics, both for procurement to measure, and for procurement to be measured by. There were a few discussions started on the subject of procurement KPIs, but one in particular that generated some interesting debate.

The Discussion asked for the community’s thoughts on the top KPIs that could be used for measuring procurement performance. While the KPIs and metrics mentioned by the respondents didn’t throw up too many surprises, what was surprising was what the most common answer was.

In fifteen of the responses a savings KPI was mentioned as one of the key metrics. At a time where procurement departments are looking to move away from savings targets, it is surprising that such a high percentage of professionals would highlight it as a key KPI.

A number of respondents highlighted value as a key KPI, however it was much lower than savings, and also lower than total spend managed. Even within the small sample, it’s clear that the traditional mindsets of procurement professionals still have to be changed.

Other key KPIs highlighted were:

  • Percentage of on time delivery
  • Total Spend
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Stock Turnover
  • Quality
  • Supplier Consolidation
  • Supply Chain Security & Risk
  • Cost Avoidance
  • Customer of Choice
  • Procurement Engagement
  • Time
  • Inventory
  • Sustainability
  • Ethics
  • Agility
  • TCO

Within the other discussions on the site, it was recommended that there be a limit on the number of KPIs in use, with 6 being a good number that could be effectively used and reported on. As well as this, the KPIs needed to be meaningful to both parties in order to be successful.

How Did You Get Your Start in Procurement?

One of the more popular discussion from earlier in 2015 concerned how members of the Procurious community had come to be part of the procurement profession.

Traditionally, many professionals have ‘fallen’ into procurement, and only recently has the trend shifted towards graduates actually setting out to have a career in procurement. Within the community, there were certainly a few who ended up in procurement by ‘accident’ or ‘fell’ into the profession, but also many who had been moved into procurement by their organisations.

It was interesting to see that a number (including one of Procurious’ own!) moved into procurement to escape another profession. As well as this, there were professionals who had either made a conscious choice at the outset of their career, or chosen to move following exposure to procurement activities.

There were also a number of success stories from people who ended up in procurement despite this not being their qualification and then succeeding in adding value or creating savings for their organisations.

It just goes to show that there are a number of ways into the profession, but the vast majority of professionals stick with it once they are there!

Is there a ‘typical’ Myers-Briggs profile for procurement pros?

People’s interest was certainly piqued by this question, and it was one of the most answered discussions of the year. As it stands, there is no one profile that is most common for procurement professionals, although there are some trends that have emerged.

A full breakdown of the responses shows:

  • ENTP – 10
  • ENTJ – 6
  • INTJ – 6
  • INFP – 3
  • ISTP – 2
  • ENFP – 2
  • INFJ – 2
  • INTP – 1
  • ISFJ – 1
  • ENFJ – 1
  • ESTJ – 1
  • ISTJ – 1

The most common trait across the network was for N (Intuiting), which appeared in 30 of the profiles. In theory, this meant that we have a group of professionals who are good at spotting patterns and plan well for the future, who also like to acquire new skills.

Whether this is what you perceive procurement professionals as or not, the concept certainly provided some very different viewpoints. One other idea that was mooted as part of the question was whether our profiles change over time, and if we have the profiles we do because we are in procurement, or the other way around?

Other Popular Discussions

There were other great, popular discussions on the topics of vendor management best practice, definitions or first thoughts on hearing the word eSourcing, whether or not professional accreditation and courses were worthwhile in procurement and responsibility in organisations for the drafting and issuing of a specification or brief.

You can also catch up with our Discussion Wraps from 2015 on the Procurious blog by following one of the links below:

And don’t forget, you can always start your own discussion on any topic you can think of from procurement and supply chain. Let’s keep the Discussion forum just as busy in 2016 and continue sharing the knowledge!

Why Social Media Will Play a Role in the War on Terror

Social media can help to facilitate global communication and information gathering, but it can also be used for illegal means such as terrorism. With Twitter being fined for non-removal of “terrorist propaganda”, we investigate what countries are doing to stem this particular use of social media. Social Media for Terror

As we reported last week, Twitter was fined in Turkey for failing to remove content that the Turkish Government said was “terrorist propaganda”. The major social media platforms have been very careful in the past to strike a balance between removing materials, while at the same time trying not to inhibit or stop legitimate political debate.

However, in light of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Lebanon and the USA, organisations and legislators are now looking at what can be done to limit access to social media for terrorist organisations, both for communication and publication.

Pressure on Platforms 

Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have recently come under more pressure from governments to closely monitor, and remove, posts, accounts and videos that are either violent or contain terrorist propaganda. However, all three platforms take a reactive stance on this, relying on their users to report content like this before it is removed.

Extending the powers that the platforms operators have to carry out removal and tracking activities on these posts has been discussed. This has raised concerns among free-speech campaigners as to where these powers would end and as to what would fall under the categories for removal, as this is frequently hard to define.

New legislation was passed last week by the US House of Representatives, which now requires the Obama administration to produce a strategy to combat terrorists’ use of social media. The legislation was passed in response to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, and aims to allow for more close scrutiny of social media activities as part of visa application consideration.

Rights and Freedoms

At the same time as the legislation went to vote, the UN was holding a special meeting of its Counter-Terrorism Committee, where preventing terrorists from exploiting the Internet was also on the agenda. Prominent in the discussion was how to carry this out, without impinging on the rights and freedoms of global citizens to legitimate debate and activities.

It is suspected that ISIS/ISIL has used social media to attract over 30,000 foreign terrorist fighters, from over 100 countries, to join their fights in Syria and Iraq. However, all parties were keen to assess how terrorist activity could be halted, while at the same time ensuring that any restrictions did not create grievances that would play into the terrorist groups’ hands.

Jeffrey Feltman, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Committee, “It is precisely [the] exploitation by terrorists and violent extremists that can easily result in us restricting human rights and fundamental freedoms”. Feltman went on to say that the intention was to put “young people at the centre of these efforts”, with this generation both most comfortable with social media, as well as the most susceptible to extremist propaganda.

Immature Business Sector

In the UK, the social media companies have also been reprimanded by the county’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, Mark Rowley, who, in describing social media as an “immature business sector”, criticised some of the organisations for not co-operating fully with police investigations.

Legislation similar to that discussed in the USA doesn’t exist in the UK, creating concerns that the police are missing important intelligence on terrorist activities, and falling behind these organisations by not being able to operate in the social media environment as well as the people they were tracking.

It will be interesting to see how legislation is developed, as well as how the platforms themselves can deal more effectively with pages and information relating to terrorist activities, and having a better solution for dealing with the spread of information.

Do you think social media could or should be more closely monitored? Is there a line that can be drawn between freedom and public safety? Get involved on Procurious and join the discussion. 

Meanwhile, we have been keeping an eye on all the major headlines in procurement and supply chain this week for you to share with your friends…

Apple Price Falls on Supply Chain Concerns

  • Concerns about Apple’s supply chain data and predicted sales for the first half of 2016 have caused its price targets to be reviewed
  • Investment firm RBC Capital Markets cut its price target for Apple to $140, down from $150 (already a decrease from earlier in 2015)
  • The firm cited slower than expected sales of the iPhone 6 in the first two quarters of 2016 as the reason
  • This was also due to key organisations in Apple’s supply chain cutting estimates for business in the same period

Read more at Apple Insider

French Courier Companies Fined for “Collusion”

  • 20 competing package delivery firms in France, as well as their professional trade union, have been fined €672 million by the French Competition Authority for price collusion
  • The authorities stated that the firms had shared sensitive information about price increases during group meetings with the transport and logistics trade association, TLF, between 2004 and 2010
  • 8 of the companies, including DHL Express France, Norbert Dentressangle and Royal Mail’s French arm, General Logistics Systems, comprised 71 per cent of the French market during this period
  • The authority concluded that French SMEs had been hit hardest by the collusion activities, as they did not have the negotiating power of the largest clients to reject or renegotiate the price increases

Read more at Supply Management

Tech Companies Suffer Due to Supply Chain Disruption

  • The 2015 Global Cleantech Risk Survey has reported that 61 per cent of clean tech companies had suffered some form of supply chain disruption in the past three years
  • Of these companies, 84 per cent stated that their bottom line had suffered due to the disruptions
  • 75 per cent of the 300 organisations surveyed, who sourced products from China, said that they had suffered from a supply chain disruption
  • These disruptions resulted in delayed deliveries, eroded profit margins, brand and reputation damage and reduced revenue

See more results at My Central Jersey

Global Firms Tied to Slave Labour

  • A number of high-profile global grocery supply chains have been linked to slave and forced labour in the seafood processing industry in Burma
  • Shrimp from the suppliers is used in the USA by a number of companies, including the organisation that owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden, as well as retail chains Wal-Mart, Kroger, Whole Foods, Dollar General and Petco
  • Thai Union, the primary supplier to the American companies, has committed to cleaning up its supply chain and reduce reliance on poorly regulated contractors

Read more at The Indian Republic

Skills Shortage and Access to Finance Top Concerns for UK Entrepreneurs

Difficulty obtaining finance and a general skills shortage risk undermining Britain’s start-up revolution, the Institute of Directors has warned this week. skills_shortage

The first ever survey of the IoD 99 network – a group of more than 650 entrepreneurs under the age of 35, running businesses in every part of the country and every sector of the economy – has confirmed that finding skilled employees and accessing scale-up finance are the most important issues for Britain’s start-ups.

Barriers to Growth

Worryingly, two-fifths (42 per cent) of the entrepreneurs surveyed said they have trouble hiring people with the right skills, and 39 per cent cite difficulty accessing finance as a potential barrier to growth.

More than half (53 per cent) said that money from family members had been instrumental in getting their business off the ground, while 56 per cent had used personal unsecured finance, like credit cards, and a further 45 per cent had used money from friends.

The IoD has called for government to open up the ‘equity economy’ to make it easier for savers to invest in young companies and turn Britain’s fledgling start-ups into scale-ups. The business group has also warned politicians against imposing arbitrary restrictions on the UK immigration system, which will make it harder for growing firms to bring in skilled workers from around the world.

Positive Social Impact

The survey of 122 members of the IoD 99 network – entrepreneurs running companies across the UK in every section of the economy, also showed:

  • Six in ten (61 per cent) young entrepreneurs were in full-time work when they started their own business
  • One in five (21 per cent) said the primary reason for starting their business was to have a ‘positive social impact’, 22 per cent said they wanted to work for themselves and one-third (36 per cent) said they wanted to build a successful company
  • Difficulty hiring skilled employees was ranked as the top barrier to growth, cited by 42 per cent of entrepreneurs, followed by trouble accessing finance (39 per cent), the high cost of finance (33 per cent), business taxes (29 per cent) and personal taxes (26 per cent)
  • While money from family, friends, and unsecured loans are the most important sources of finance in an entrepreneurs’ early days, private equity, bank and non-bank debt along with private and public sector grants are all seen as important sources of scale-up finance.

The full results can be found here.

Start-Up Revolution 

Jimmy McLoughlin, Deputy Head of Policy at the IoD, said, “The start-up revolution has taken hold in Britain like nowhere else in Europe. With so many young, exciting and cutting-edge businesses having popped up in recent years, it is vital to harness their potential and create the next raft of world-leading companies. Finding people with the right skills, and tapping into the right mix of finance will be the biggest factors in achieving scale-up success. For start-ups, overcoming these obstacles can be the difference between success and failure. 

“It is a worry, therefore, that so many start-ups struggle to hire skilled employees. The push to teach children digital skills, like programming, at school is part of the long-term solution, but we must remember that start-ups face skills shortages now. Therefore, it is crucial that Britain’s immigration system is as open and easy to navigate as possible.

“The last few years have seen exciting developments in alternative finance. Businesses can access more sources of capital than ever before and innovations like crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending are quickly becoming mainstream options. Entrepreneurs see them playing a big role over the next decade. Regulation cannot stand in the way of this growing demand. We should strip back the layers of complexity which currently stand in the way of individuals investing through schemes like the Enterprise and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS/SEIS) to give more people across the country a stake in the success of British start-ups.”

 This view was backed up by Alex Mitchell, chair of the IoD 99 network. “More and more young people are growing up with dreams of being an entrepreneur, with millions rejecting the idea of a nine-to-five job in favour of the freedom, flexibility and control of running their own business. Little can compare to the feeling of taking an idea to market and building a successful company. With so many support schemes like the IoD 99 around the country, it has arguably never been easier to go it on your own,” said Mitchell.

“Interestingly, most entrepreneurs were employed when they launched their own enterprise, demonstrating the commitment and dedication it takes to build a successful company, often while working full-time. Young entrepreneurs also said they were motivated more by the vision of building a successful business, being their own boss and having a social impact than financial reward. This is a testament to the vibrancy and diversity of the UK’s start-up scene.”

The Institute of Directors has called on the government to make EIS and SEIS easier to use for small-stakes investors and encourage more people to invest in growing companies. The full recommendations can be found in the report, Opening the Equity Economy.

Procurious Big Ideas Keynote #4 – Ethics in the Profession

The growing influence of the procurement function in organisations has both positive and negative potential consequences.

David Noble, Group Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), provides a fascinating insight into the profession from the point of view of the chartered body.

Addressing and shifting some paradigms about procurement first, David then goes on to speak about the importance of ethics and compliance and how licensing the profession helps professionals in their day-to-day roles.

Watch the full keynote here.

See all the keynotes and panel discussions from the Big Ideas Summit, plus Big Ideas from our 40+ Influencers.

Like this? Join Procurious for FREE and meet like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

Best of the Procurious Blog 2015

At Procurious, we pride ourselves on publishing high quality, original and interesting content on our blog. In 2015, we have produced, hosted and provided over 600 articles for our community to read.

Best of the Blog

We were honoured this year to receive a “Highly Commended Company” award in the UK Blog Awards 2015 for PR, Marketing, Media and Comms (we’re hoping to go one better in 2016 and win!) – this is a great achievement for us in our first full year of the Procurious blog.

As we draw towards the end of the year, we’re going to take a look back at some of articles that made a real impact with the community, and sparked discussions on Procurious and across social media.

Procurement Careers

During 2015, much of the focus in procurement and supply chain was on how to attract, retain and developing the best talent, but also on personal development and career progression.

Our most read article of 2015 was from our founder, Tania Seary, who let us all in on her Sure-Fire Tips for Becoming a CPO

We also featured an article on the new Apple CEO Tim Cook, himself a former Supply Chain Manager, and his rise to the top position at one of the world’s top organisations. It’s always great to see a procurement or supply chain professional take the lead in an organisation, as it helps to showcase the value of our function to the wider audience.

We also had top tips when considering a procurement role in Singapore, as well as the skills Generation Y or Millennials need to get a head start in their procurement careers.

Technology Trends

Another of our key themes in 2015 was on the increasing impact of technology on procurement and supply chain. The idea that both procurement and supply chain will be affected by technology in the coming years was a popular one, as well as how organisations could use these technologies to their advantage.

One subject that kept popping up during the year was 3D Printing and how this technology was changing the supply chain. We examined what the growth of 3D Printing meant for manufacturing and outsourcing, which generated plenty of interest and comments.

Entwined in the theme of future technologies was the concept of digitisation and the increasing use of digital currencies and payment mechanisms, such as bitcoin. We highlighted the use of these digital currencies as part of 5 “Megatrends” in technology, as well as how they can be used to assist with supply chain transparency.

Finally, we looked at how technology is disrupting industries and professions, including procurement, as part of an “Uberized” economy, and which technological ‘Unicorns‘ to watch out for in the coming years.

Social Media

No round up would be complete without a look at social media and it’s fast-growing impact on the world of procurement and supply chain. The benefits of social media aren’t clear to all, as we found out when looking at CPO input to networks and social media.

We also offered some insights into the potential pitfalls of social media when using it as part of your procurement and career activities, and examined the role of social media in breaking news events, both from a positive and negative point of view, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Best of the Rest

Our round-up wouldn’t be complete without having a look at some of the other popular topics from this year.

Early in the year we highlighted the disruptive forces keeping CPOs awake at night – it will be interesting to see whether these are the same in 2016.

One of our most popular articles from 2014 was also popular in 2015 – our list of procurement influencers. Stay tuned in 2016 to see our updated list!

And finally, late this year we focused on the role of women in procurement and supply chain. As part of this Tania Seary picked out the 10 women who had influenced her procurement career – check out Part 1 and Part 2 of her list again.

We hope you enjoy reading these articles again (or for the first time!). Have you got a favourite from this year? Why not let us know!

Adding Value to Procurement Through Change Management

Rio Tinto’s procurement function is globally known for its high standards and principles. When it comes down to building a world class global procurement department, change management plays a key role.

change-management

Ahead of Women in Procurement 2016, Renae Rutherford, Director – Optimisation Delivery, Global Business Services from Rio Tinto, has shared some key insights with us, which will be presented as a case study at the conference. Renae has embraced change management as a strategy in all her roles to help Rio Tinto functions, including Procurement, achieve significant improvement on a global scale.

Challenges and Opportunities

We asked Renae to share the biggest challenges and opportunities Rio Tinto is facing in procurement at the moment. She says that Rio Tinto is in a moment of “more opportunity than challenge, with decreasing commodity prices, business units are depending on procurement to deliver significant cost reductions including managing working capital more effectively. The challenge is finding more value, as we have a mature global & regional category management model that has caught most of the quick win opportunities.”

Renae also identified a number of other challenges for Rio Tinto’s procurement team, including “achieving efficiencies through global process standardisation in Procure to Pay and master data management” and “identifying how best to evolve procurement as part of a cross-functional organisation that is moving towards an integrated business services model, where procurement will operate more closely with other global functions including IS&T, people services, finance services and property”.

Value in Change Management

When asked how change management is helping Rio Tinto manage these conditions, Renae responded: “Change management is a very broad category.”

“The very first module in my change management post-graduate course was self-management skills – and this was a revelation!  All leaders are change agents, and the most capable leaders have excellent self-management skills, which they apply to cope with job challenges and organisational change, as well as propel their own professional development (aka personal change!).”

“People change management skills are essential for identifying others’ reactions to change and helping them work through this fully, in the fastest way possible.  Resolving business challenges typically brings change impacts to our people and it’s important we help them manage this effectively.”

“Organisational change management skills are essential for taking a holistic approach to bringing about and sustaining the change, where changes will not achieve full benefits nor be sustained if they are not aligned with formal and informal people, process and organisational systems.”

Speaking at the Women in Procurement 2016 conference in March, hosted by Quest Events, Renae will be presenting a session focused on how to embrace change management to build a world class procurement function, including Rio Tinto’s approach, lessons learned, and being a change leader.

Leadership and Career Advancement

Women in Procurement 2016 is also addressing leadership and career advancement themes, so we asked Renae to share some useful tips of how she has approached her career progression.

Here are Renae’s 5 recommendations for those aspiring a leadership role in procurement:

  1. Take on every opportunity to learn and develop, especially when it’s different or daunting
  2. Put in the hard work early, to build that depth of diverse experience
  3. Recognise you passions as well as situations that bring our your strengths, and find more like these
  4. Big 4 consulting experience was a significant accelerator – taught me how to learn quickly, how to influence, and how to manage risks with engaging people and leading projects
  5. Be ok with not knowing everything or not feeling comfortable in your role (mistakes provide the deepest learning); when you do feel comfortable, it’s time to move on

To read Renae Rutherford’s bio and find out more about Women in Procurement 2016, please visit the website here or download the conference agenda.