All posts by Procurious HQ

Exposing the Risk of Conflict Minerals in Supply Chains

As Intel declares that its supply chain will be free from conflict minerals this year, we take a look at what other organisations are doing, and what impact these materials can have on a supply chain. Conflict-Minerals

Conflict materials are raw materials sourced from a particular part of the world where conflict, such as civil war, is occurring and affects the trading of those materials. The proceeds from the trade of these materials, such as conflict diamonds, are often used to fund armed groups in these regions.

Conflict minerals are the raw materials columbite-tantalite (coltan), cassiterite (tin), gold, wolframite (tungsten) and their derivatives, the vast majority of which are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo and adjoining countries, a region which has been ravaged by civil war and other conflicts for over 20 years.

These minerals are used in a wide variety of manufactured products, including consumer electronics such as computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones and even washing machines.

Global Regulation

In 2010, US President Barack Obama signed The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law. Section 1502 of the Act required all American companies to determine whether their products contained conflict minerals through due diligence carried out in their supply chain, and to report this to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

There were criticisms of the law on both sides, with some groups arguing that it didn’t go far enough and ban the sourcing of such products entirely, while others argued that over-zealous enforcement of the law could adversely impact legitimate workers in the region, who relied on trading these materials for their livelihoods.

Since the law was passed, it has been estimated that it has helped to reduce funds going to armed groups in the DRC by up to 65 per cent.

In the UK there is no strict regulation on conflict minerals, although there are initiatives that have been created to stop these materials entering the supply chain. These initiatives require organisations to provide a ‘proof of origin’ on raw materials, or carry out similar due diligence in their supply chains to assess where funds from trading are going.

During 2015, the European Parliament voted in favour of a mandatory monitoring system for minerals originating in conflict areas, similar to the provisions in Dodd-Frank. The system suffered similar criticism to Dodd-Frank in relation to provisions for legitimate traders and miners.

Supply Chain Transparency

Growing public scrutiny of organisational practices, and the rise of consumer power when it comes to sustainably manufactured or procured products, will lead to a requirement for a vast improvement in supply chain transparency in the short-term future.

With Intel now reporting that its supply chain will be free from all conflict minerals in 2016, many other high-profile organisations, particularly those in the electronics industry, will be keen to follow suit.

Apple reported progress in the removal of conflict minerals in its product in April last year, but cannot yet claim to be ‘conflict free’ as all of their suppliers are yet to complete the auditing process. A further 120 companies,including Dell, HP, Nokia and Microsoft, have signed up as members of the Conflict-Free Smelter Program (CFSP), which aims to ensure that metals and minerals are worked with in conflict-free factories.

However, there appears to be a lot of work for a number of organisations to do. A report released by Amnesty International last year showed that 79 per cent of a sample of companies who had filed reports to the SEC in 2014, had failed to meet the minimum disclosure requirements.

Supply Chain Risk

Organisations must undertake a considerable volume of work to ensure that their supply chains are free from conflict materials of any kind, including conflict minerals. The management of this issue, and the associated risks, needs to be handled proactively, or the organisations will have to deal with any repercussions.

As political and socio-economic climates grow more unstable, global supply chains face increasing risks when doing business, and even the best prepared can fall foul of the actions or activities of a third party in the chain. However, there are steps that can be taken to minimise these risks.

Increased collaboration with suppliers and supply chain partners and creating greater visibility through the use of data, as well as policies and processes governed by procurement, can all help to reduce these risks. It’s down to the individual organisations to work out what is best for them.

Procurement risk, including supply chain transparency and ethics, will be one of the major themes at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit 2016. Stay tuned in the next couple of months for more information on the event, and learn how you can get involved.

Meanwhile, we’ve scanned the news feeds and Internet to find the major procurement and supply chain headlines this week.

‘Non-Compliance’ Issues Alleged at Co-op Group

  • Kath Harmeston, former Procurement Director at the Co-operative Group, has alleged that procurement policy non-compliance were as high as 70 per cent
  • The claims were made during an employment tribunal where Harmeston is seeking £5.2 million from the organisation for unfair dismissal
  • Harmeston alleged that staff “across the business were placing commitments with suppliers without going to the procurement department first”, including on up to 50 capital projects
  • The Co-operative Group responded that Harmeston’s claims were a “smokescreen”, covering up poor performance and the hiring of a firm of consultants who had previously been subject to whistleblowing claims
  • The case continues

Read more at Supply Management

Domain Registration Shows Apple Car Progress

  • Technology giant Apple has registered three car-related internet domains, raising speculation that they are ready to unveil plans for a driverless car
  • Reports in 2015 contained speculation that Apple would be ready to launch a driverless vehicle by 2019, fuelled by CEO Tim Cook’s comments that the automotive industry should expect “massive change”
  • The company has made a number of high-profile appointments from the car industry in the past 12 months, with new staff from the likes of Volkswagen being brought on board
  • Apple will face stiff competition in the industry from already established organisations such as Tesla and Google, both of whom have already revealed plans for similar cars

Read more at The Telegraph

Police to Save £7m with Collaborative Procurement

  • A collaborative procurement agreement on the purchase of vehicles for 34 police and emergency services organisations in the UK will create savings of up to £7m
  • The agreement, the largest of its kind ever put together in the UK, will see the supply of over 3,000 vehicles, 1,200 of which will be manufactured in the UK itself
  • The suppliers – General Motors UK trading as Vauxhall, Ford, Volvo and BMW – were selected from a list of companies on the national government framework agreement
  • David Wilkin, West Midlands Police’s director of resources and the national policing lead for the procurement of vehicles, said “All suppliers in the process had to demonstrate their working relationship with local dealerships to ensure that going forward maintenance of the vehicles such as warranty repairs are carried out locally, ensuring we continue to support the local economy”.

Read more at Supply Management

TRAFFIC Traceability Review to Show Supply Chain Tracking

  • TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, has conducted and released a ground-breaking traceability review of how trade in endangered species can be tracked along the supply chain
  • The tracking of products will help to ensure that all national and international legislation on the trade of wildlife is being adhered to throughout organisational supply chains
  • The traceability systems will help consumers access information on, amongst others, fisheries supply chains, to see that the products they are purchasing come from sustainable suppliers
  • It is also hoped that these systems will help to arrest the decline in shark and ray populations around the globe

Read more at Traffic.org

Deficit Reduction ‘Top Priority’ For UK Government

The Chancellor’s warning of a “cocktail of new threats” to the UK economy shows that deficit reduction must be the top priority for the UK Government, says the Institute of Directors.

UK-Coins-Budget-Deficit

A slow start to 2016 for global markets, particularly in China, Brazil and Russia, the ongoing tension in the Middle East and stock market falls were all highlighted by George Osborne in a speech made in Cardiff on Thursday.

Although only just over a week into the new year, economic alarm bells are sounding around the world, with China suspending trading on its stock market twice last week due to heavy losses, as well as the continuing fall in global oil and other commodity prices.

What is the Deficit?

The deficit is the total amount of money a national government borrows, with the UK’s current deficit estimated at just under 5 per cent of GDP. Net borrowing for the UK in 2015-16 is forecast to be £69.5 billion, which is equal to 3.7 per cent of the UK’s GDP.

However, it’s not quite as simple as being just the money that is borrowed, as the deficit can be impacted by a number of macro-economic factors, such as economic growth and the strength of overseas markets who the UK is exporting to.

The “cocktail of threats” that Osborne warned about shows a picture of the global economy that is in sharp contrast to the rosier picture painted by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement, when he said that the UK economy was “growing fast“.

However, with planned welfare cuts set aside, and targets for borrowing exceeded in 2015, many experts are also warning that the Conservative’s plans for a budget surplus by 2020 may prove to be very difficult.

Importance of Deficit Reduction

With a less positive outlook for the coming year, the Institute of Directors has stated that reducing the UK’s deficit is now more important than ever, to allow the country to cope with any future financial crisis.

James Sproule, Chief Economist at the IoD said: “Osborne’s warning comes at an important time for the world – and British – economy. With turmoil on the stock markets, interest rates still at extraordinary lows, and various surveys painting a less than rosy – albeit more realistic – outlook for the developing world, the UK must be prepared for all eventualities. First and foremost, that means a continued focus on eradicating the deficit. 

“85 per cent of IoD members support the Chancellor’s plans to run a small budget surplus by the end of this parliament. They know that without bringing public spending under control, the UK’s debt pile will continue to grow. That means when – not if – the next crisis strikes, it is unclear how well we will be able to weather the storm. 

“The IoD warned last year that the Chancellor did not leave himself much room for manoeuvre by relying on a £27 billion accounting windfall in the Autumn Statement to balance the books. Now those concerns have come into sharper relief.

 “Without a concerted effort to bring ever rising public spending under control, tax hikes like the apprenticeship levy will always be tempting, and the promised increase in income tax thresholds and cuts to corporation tax may not materialise. The fact the sun seems to be shining a little dimmer highlights the importance of fixing the roof sooner rather than later.”

Procurious Big Ideas Panel Discussion #1 – What Does it Mean to Be An Authentic Leader?

What does it mean to be an authentic leader in procurement?

In the first of the panel discussions from the Big Ideas Summit 2015, Sigi Osagie, Sarah Trota, Helen Mackenzie and Andrew MacAskill discussed this question, and helped to provide a diverse view on the best answer.

From the power of public sector procurement and the figure of the leader clearing the path through the procurement jungle, to the brand of the profession and setting the belief, the discussion created some fascinating points.

Watch the full discussion 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.

What are the Key Procurement Trends for 2016?

Did you successfully predict the key procurement trends in 2015? Chances are good that you were able to pick out at least a couple of the major themes appearing in the news and industry reports. But what does the coming 12 months have in store for the profession? Trends

Ethics, sustainable procurement, relationship management, technology and social media – these were just a few of the topics highlighted by the Procurious community when asked this question in 2015. Sure enough, a number of these themes were prominent in news stories and organisational strategy last year.

Roll on 12 months and there is a fresh set of trends to keep up with in order to remain relevant. We’ve picked out a few that we think will be making headlines, prompting discussions and keeping organisations on their toes in 2016. 

Technology

  • Rise of the Cloud

Last year we spent a lot of time discussing the Internet of Things (IoT) and its growing impact on procurement. However, it’s clear that many procurement teams have yet to get to grips with the Cloud. However, procurement has a great opportunity to leverage Cloud software in a number of ways, including as part of supplier collaboration.

The Cloud will allow ordering to be streamlined, increase visibility across the supply chain and allows for changes to be made more easily, even when goods are in transit.

Del Monte has already taken this step by moving its supply chain data to the cloud. The company can now access a wealth of global data, create orders, place contracts with suppliers and collaborate with partners, all in real time. Thus far, it has led to a 56 per cent saving in customs broker costs, better visibility and a 26 per cent reduction in inventory due to better information on goods in transit.

  • Improvements in eProcurement

As technology advances, systems that have been around for a number of years will have to play catch-up. Spend management and eProcurement systems are just a couple of those platforms that are in need of a reboot (while taking into account that organisations still need to be more selective when choosing theirs).

Better technology will allow for faster purchasing activities, and eventually enable an experience more comparable to what we are used to as individuals when we shop online. This will, in turn, mean that rules are less likely to be bent to “get the job done”, maverick spending and policy breaches should decrease, and procurement can stop being seen as a roadblock.

People

  • Meeting the Needs of Millennials

In truth, this could have fallen into the Technology section, but it’s important from a people perspective too. Millennials have high expectations, sometimes unrealistic, as to how procurement could and should be done, particularly when it comes to technology. Businesses need to be up to date as far as technology and connectivity go in order to meet these expectations and retain their millennials, as well as deal with other millennials working in the supply chain.

Why is this a people issue? Because if you’re not doing this, someone else will be and the best millennial talent will get a job with them instead.

  • Meeting the Students

Organisations need to know where they are going to get the best people to fill their job roles, plus meet the rising expectations of the business. Universities and colleges are prime places to be doing this.

Work experience, apprenticeships, placements and sponsorship are all great options for organisations to attract current students and new graduates and school leavers. 2016 could be the right time for you to speak to the educational institutions near you and see what you and they can do together.

Risk 

  • Cyber Security in Contracts

Research suggests 78 per cent of organisations have experienced a data breach within the past two years. This goes beyond the high-profile examples of 2015, but puts a spotlight on the need to account for this risk as part of procurement contracts.

A lack clarity on who is responsible for the data within supply relationships, and how it can be stored securely, as well as plans for contingencies should a data breach happen, could leave both procurement and large parts of their supply chains exposed.

  • Supply Chain Transparency

Ok, so this isn’t necessarily a new procurement trend, but it’s one that’s going to get even more focus than in previous years. You just need to look at the new towards the end of 2015 (think Nestlé) to see stories of slave labour in supply chains.

From paddock to plate in restaurants and the food supply chain, to tracking clothes from the plant they were created from, there are a variety of areas that can and will be tracked.

Technological advancements (such as the Cloud), increasing mobile empowerment and increasing public scrutiny in this topic will certainly cause this to be close to the top of the vast majority of procurement departments’ risk agendas.

What do you think will be the key trends? If you have your own ideas, why not start a Discussion and share them with the rest of the community.

The Benefits of Balance in 2016

Balance is a hard act if you’re trying to survive and thrive in the corporate world. But balance is key to getting through your busy day – and out the other side. 
Mindfulness

Work impacts on the lives of corporate citizens more than ever before, making it difficult to find time to achieve balance.

But don’t feel bad. Corporate types need to accept that work/life balance is a myth. Instead, they should focus on finding a way to balance the constant imbalance that exists in their life, advises CEO and founder of Wellineux, Amanda McMillan. Wellineux runs corporate retreats and other programs in Australia.

Take a Minute for Yourself

“The reality is that we work in a 24/7 society now, given the proliferation of technology, so it’s about finding ways to slow down that internal busy-ness so you’re not always in that stressful feeling of flight or fight mode. This is a feeling that can eventually make us feel exhausted and worn down, meaning we’re not performing at our best or thinking clearly,” McMillan says.

The truth is that it can just take a minute or two to think about the little things that can have a positive impact on your day. Considering what could make you feel 5 per cent happier during your day is a powerful exercise, McMillan says.

“Calling someone you love on your lunch break to say hello or stopping and pausing for a few minutes during a stressful part of the day can actually contribute to making you far more effective during your work day,” she says.

Rise of Mindfulness

Given the constant corporate pressures on us all, the practice of mindfulness is starting to creep into the corporate vernacular, according to Gillian Coutts, Australian partner for organisational effectiveness program based on mindfulness, The Potential Project, and co-author of One Second Ahead.

Mindfulness is not for tree huggers or yoga practitioners, but for leading edge professionals who understand our neurological limitations and see value in the skilful introduction of mindfulness into their organisation’s culture, she says.

“While technology has been a boon in many respects, it has also meant the boundaries between the space and time of work and home have become much more blurred. Learning to cultivate balance when there are no clear boundaries is a challenge for anyone’s wellbeing, productivity and creativity.”

According to science, our mind wanders for almost half of our waking hours, which can make it difficult to get that all-important downtime in our life, she adds.

“From an evolutionary perspective, the ability to think about things that are not happening right now was a significant advantage. But in today’s complex, fast-paced, demanding work environments, it just makes us less productive and more likely to make mistakes,” Coutts says.

Applying Mindfulness

If you’re unsure if this is true, set a timer for one minute, pick a thought and try and think of nothing else until the time ends. If you find this difficult, you are completely normal in that you have a wandering mind, she says.

Mindfulness training has proven to help us with impulse control, and can help us clear a cluttered mind that has become filled with our long ‘to do’ list, and pause in a moment of busyness and make a choice about what is most important to do now, Coutts explains.

“Balance is determined by our state of mind. It’s not always easy, but learning to be mindful and present to whatever is here, now, and being able to let go of thoughts about the past or the future is a challenge for anyone’s wellbeing, productivity, and creativity.

“A growing body of scientific studies demonstrate that the mind can be trained to enhance focus. This mind is like a muscle. If you want it to be fit, fast and high-performing, we need to train it. And specifically, mindfulness training has been shown to enhance focus, so we’re better able to manage our attention.”

Remember that our brains are habitual, which makes it easy to get caught up in negative work patterns, making it difficult for organisations to change, Coutts says.

The Best-Laid Plans

To test this out for yourself, close your eyes and visualise hearing news that the leader of your organisation will be announcing major changes tomorrow. Take a moment to reflect on how this makes you feel. Are you excited to hear what’s in store, or dreading what your brain has already decided will be bad?

“Most of us spend the majority of our time thinking and behaving in habitual ways. Even if we recognise benefits of changing how we operate, our brain’s natural response is to resist. It prefers things to be done like they were done before, which can be limiting in modern-day work environments,” Coutts says.

While planning time for mindfulness is key, the best laid plans go belly-up when a client has a crisis or there’s another drama at work.

“The imbalance we experience is really determined by our state of mind. It’s not always easy, but for me, learning to be mindful and present to whatever is here now, and being able to let go of thoughts about the past or the future when necessary has been vital.”

Vote for Procurious in the UK Blog Awards 2016

How often do you find yourself coming to the end of another smashing Procurious blog article and think, “Gosh, that was great! I wish there was a way for me to acknowledge just how great that was.”?

UKBA16 Vote Now

If this sounds like you (and we wish everyone did think this!), today is your lucky day! Throughout January, you can vote for Procurious in the UK Blog Awards 2016.

Blog Awards

If you haven’t come across the UK Blog Awards before, they were created to recognise ‘true viral style and creative excellence across a variety of 16 UK industries’, and celebrate the best of British blogs from both companies and individuals.

Now in its third year, the Awards offer individuals and companies the chance to promote their business and content, but also to network with other blogging professionals across a whole range of categories, including Digital & Technology; Education; PR, Marketing, Media and Communications; and Travel.

You can find out everything you need to know about the Awards, the categories and previous winners here.

Your Vote Counts

Procurious entered the Blog Awards for the first time last year and were delighted to be awarded ‘highly commended’ in the PR, Marketing, Media and Communications category. This represented a great achievement for us in what was our first full year of curating a blog.

However, this year we want to go one better and win! And this is where you come in. We need your votes – as many votes as possible – in order to be considered for the final category shortlists. The more votes we get, the better our chance of consideration.

Voting is now open and runs until the 25th of January at 9pm. It’s dead easy to vote too – just go to the Procurious profile on the UK Blog Awards website, and click ‘Vote Now’ at the top of the page. You can vote once per day for our entry (even from outside the UK), and we appreciate any and all votes we get.

And, if you’re really keen, you can share this with your colleagues, peers and friends across social media and get them to cast their votes too!

What it means for Procurious

As we have said, the recognition last year from the UK Blog Awards was a big deal for us. Going on to the next stage and being shortlisted at a national level, and potentially being one of the judges’ picks will help to build awareness of Procurious both within the blogging community and across individuals and organisations.

As we build more awareness, and attract more people to the community, the networking opportunities for all our members grow, the richness of the discussions increase, and we can continue to provide high-quality, relevant content for all our members, plus all our followers on social media to read.

Details

If you want to refresh your memory of some of our, and our contributors’, best and most popular articles from the past 12 months, head over to the blog to check them out or read the ‘Best of the Procurious Blog 2015’.

Every vote you cast really does count. To vote, go to the UK Blog Awards website and visit the Procurious profile. Thanks!

Be Social to Perform

Marc Zuckerberg, the father of the most well-known social network recently stated: “I think a simple rule of business is, if you do the things that are easier first, then you can actually make a lot of progress”.

Be-Social

We probably all believe in the use of social media and social networking pages, however up until now there was no academic evidence that job related use of social media for procurement managers actually positively affects their job performance.

A recent study of Maastricht University, School of Business and Economics (NL) revealed interesting insights and proofs that social media, if used and applied correctly for the job, can actually increase individual job performance of procurement professionals. Prof. Dr. Frank Rozemeijer and Jonas Heller developed two research models – the one that explains the relationship of the job-related social media usage and procurement job performance will be covered in this article.

Positive Relationship

Companies usually tend to block social network sites for their employees to prevent distraction at the workplace or reduce the perceived security threat of public networks. According to the study of Maastricht University, procurement companies should reevaluate their social media policies for their procurement professionals.

The study tested the relationship of active and passive job related social media usage on procurement job performance. “Active” job related social media usage is defined as creating & sharing content with the community or engaging in on-line discussions communication, whereas “passive” usage implies searching and consuming content created by others. A positive direct relationship was found for both, active and passive job related social media usage.

Networking and Learning

In addition, to understand how the use of social platforms affects the procurement manager’s performance, the study investigated on two important tasks which are part of a procurement manager’s job: Networking capabilities and individual learning.

Networking capabilities are described as a managers capabilities to establish, maintain and develop (business) networks. Individual learning describes an individual’s capability to build knowledge through reflection about external stimuli and sources, and through using this knowledge in the workplace.

Procurement managers nowadays need a dense network of suppliers and industry contacts to ensure sustainable business performance. Connecting with peers in the procurement world helps procurement managers to maintain an overview over the market and fosters buyer-supplier relationships.

In addition, staying up to date about market developments, technological innovations and changes in rules and regulations are a crucial part of the learning process of every procurement manager’s job. Based on literature and semi-structured interviews with procurement managers, a research model was developed which was tested through an on-line survey amongst 103 procurement professionals from various industries that were active on social media.

First, the study found a direct, positive relationship of active and passive job related social media usage on procurement job performance. The direct effect of passive job related social media usage on procurement job performance is stronger than the direct effect of active social media usage.

Active Social Media

Further, the results showed that networking capabilities and individual learning fully mediate the direct positive effect of active social media, indicating that the positive effect is only present if social media is used for networking or learning activities (e.g. acquiring knowledge online by reading tweets or group discussions in procurement networks such as Procurious). Furthermore, the relationship of passive social media usage is partially mediated by networking capabilities and individual learning, suggesting that there are additional variables that still need to be investigated to explain this relationship.

The direct positive effect of networking capabilities and individual learning underlines the importance of these two activities for procurement professionals that aim to perform better than their colleagues.

The findings of this study are the first of its kind and finally proof a positive impact of job related social media usage on procurement job performance. Those insights can be crucial for procurement managers and recruiters. In a next article you will read about factors to influence job related social media usage within your company or procurement team.

Getting the Most out of Procurious in 2016

A very Happy New Year from everyone at Procurious HQ.

2016

We hope you enjoyed the festive break, survived the family Christmas and dodgy TV scheduling, managed to relax and have come back to work ready to continue the good work we kicked off in 2015.

Procurious has gone from strength-to-strength over the past 12 months, with our community growing to a fantastic 9,750 members. But the work isn’t even half done yet – we want to continue growing and get even more procurement and supply chain professionals as possible on the site.

Get the Most out of Procurious

If you’re new to the site, or have resolved to squeeze as much from Procurious as you can in the coming year, then here are a few top tips for you:

1. Complete your Profile

If you haven’t already, make sure your profile is complete and up to date. Social media profiles with a picture get around 25 per cent more interaction than those without, so add a good picture.

Make sure you complete your location, industry and category, as well as your work experience, so you can get the most from the community by connecting with people you have common interests and work with.

2. Link Your Social Media Profiles

2016 is the year for procurement to push ahead with its efforts in social media. If you have a LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook account, link it with your profile.

Not sure where to get started with social media? Make starting this your aim for January! Procurious can help with that, and offer you and your organisation a tool to boost your brands.

3. Download the App

If you didn’t know already, Procurious is launching an app! Keep an eye out for announcements on when the app will go live, but it’s sure to be worth the wait. It’s only for iOS at the moment, but we’ll be looking to roll out a version for Android later in the year so no-one misses out.

It’ll be free to download and it means you can take Procurious with you wherever you go!

4. Find a Networking Event

January is a great time to start looking for events you can attend in the early part of the year. Check out the Procurious Events Calendar and see if there is something in your area – this is a great way to connect with fellow Procurians too.

Have we missed one? Let us know and we can add it in.

5. Start or Contribute to a Discussion

Procurious members started over 400 discussions last year, and provided an amazing 2000+ answers for these burning questions. We picked out the most popular Discussions of 2015 – you can read about them here.

If you have a burning question or want to share your thoughts, and you can’t find the question already, then take the opportunity to do this now!

6. Join a Group

Find a Group that is specifically for your category, location or job and connect. Can’t find one for you? Why not create one and invite people to join.

If you’re not sure which Groups are currently on Procurious, check out our article on getting the most out of them.

7. Top Up Your Skills

Check out the Learning hub for a huge selection of fascinating and insightful videos and podcasts. We have over 80 eLearning resources from a variety of well-known professionals, renowned thought leaders and forward thinking organisations – best of all, they are all free to download!

From an Introduction to Procurement, to the future of procurement and all the content from the Big Ideas Summit 2015, there is something for everyone.

If you think we’re missing something, let us know.

8. Write for Us!

Over the past 18 months, we have carefully crafted a selection of high-quality content for you to peruse, digest and enjoy. And while we’ve had a lot of fun doing it, we think it’s high time for you to have a shot!

Get involved with Procurious by sending us an idea for a guest blog article and you could be published on the site this year. Get all the information you need here.

That’s more than enough to keep you all busy for the first few weeks of this year! We are dedicated to developing Procurious for our members, so if you think there is something missing from the site, or something that could improve it, get in touch. We always love to hear from our members!

2015 Rewind – Best of the Blog: Being at the Table – A CPO’s Tale of Woe

Our final rewind comes courtesy of one of our guest writers and friends of Procurious, Giles Breault. The article, originally shared on LinkedIn discusses what procurement needs to do to take its seat at the table.

Being at the Table – A CPO’s tale of woe

 

Some days ago while having a business lunch the topic of “being at the table” arose. It was our client’s fervent hope that as a newly appointed CPO, (a move that presumably underlined the importance of procurement) he one day would sit as a peer at the EXCOM table contributing to the strategy, growth and performance of the business. Well, thinks I, what a wonderful place to consider the notion of being at the table, while being at a luncheon table myself. It got me to thinking of the roles and responsibilities of those at and around the table.

The Options

Of course there are those whose knowledge, experience, and position, earn them a right to 1) be at the table and direct the actions of others, but there are also others at work in this community. There are those who 2) serve the table and whose unique knowledge and skills answer the call for action from those seated. Then, there is 3) the chef whose specialised skills provide the provender for consideration, and lastly there is that which is 4) to be eaten (a role that I vaguely felt myself as having held a few times).

I further reflected on how many times I heard this same refrain from many CPOs whose pre-dominant career objective was to be recognised for contributing to the business at the highest level and ultimately report as a board level peer.  Moreover, I thought back on the many organisations I have come across where the “vital” role of procurement was often tucked way neatly in the CFO shop or Business Services shop where the chance of ever getting a seat at the executive table was remote at best.

Given the fact that procurement is now recognised as a key stakeholder in organisational performance, what is holding it back from somehow being fully accepted into the community of senior leaders? While no answer is fully sufficient in a short blog, a couple of themes have emerged over the years in our work with organisations going through their own procurement transformation.

While business knowledge and acumen are the principle differentiators between those around the EXCOM table and those not, there is something more fundamental that is separating the procurement leader from the full approbation of their business colleagues. To put it back in the frame of my table metaphor,

“You don’t belong seated if you still sound like a waiter”.

And that is the essential point.

The Prerequisites

Two major things must occur that help propel procurement organisations to the senior level of strategy. Firstly, procurement must lose the connection to purchase orders. I hear some of you shouting “Heresy!”, but what I mean is that the procurement leader has an extraordinary difficulty of representing him/herself as a strategic player when the next topic of conversation is; “What is your order placement efficiency?“ Every effort should be made not to own any portion of the operative procurement cycle.

Secondly and most importantly, is the fact that procurement organisations often make a vital error by creating a separate strategy for themselves that does not altogether align with the strategy of the business. What is more, is that the strategy is often unclear how it contributes to the business in a way that satisfies more than just the finance manager.

We often find that procurement leaders speak a different language from that of other senior business leaders. While they speak of category strategies, the business is interested in how real projects bring value to their organisations. While they speak of vendor management and control the business is seeking out how external innovations can help fuel business growth.

The Solution

We advocate two distinct approaches to these dilemmas.

Firstly, develop a strategy that links to the business and directly connects benefits generated to your internal clients. We call these the pillars of successful strategic procurement and the steps are broadly as follows:

  1. Create a procurement strategy directly linked to the company’s goals
  2. Embed the annual procurement cycle into the company business cycle
  3. Drive “Lighthouse” projects directly supporting internal business clients
  4. Pull value through by having the ability to directly influence team actions
  5. Ensure that reporting is visible to your customer and ideally conducted by an organisation other than procurement

Secondly, develop an improved process of understanding the needed innovations required by your ultimate customer and significantly improve the way innovations are sought, collected, evaluated and ultimately adopted from the supplier base. We call this call the Trading Relationship Management process, and Procurement has a natural home at the heart of it.

While there is no guarantee that armed with these dual capabilities, there will be instant recognition of procurement as a future EXCOM member. However what is certain, is that Procurement will begin to demonstrate that it is not just generating business wide savings but can show where and how that value is generated and most importantly how such benefits accrue directly to internal stakeholders. Likewise other business leaders will also recognise procurement’s role as the conduit to supplier enabled innovation. Taken together, these elevate the strategic language of the function.

I explored these ideas with my lunch guest who understood and recognised how important it was for his team to strategically transform, but like so many such discussions it had to be cut short due to pressing issues at the client’s facility (I think he had to go check how many requisitions had been placed that day).

Procurious Big Ideas Keynote #6 – How People Create Alchemy in Organisations

Sarah Trota, founder of sarahtrotaalchemy and Personnel Today HR Director of the Year 2013, provided a different viewpoint in her keynote, that of procurement’s relationship with HR.

Sarah discussed her own model for how to create ‘alchemy’ within organisations – the focus of the idea is on properly engaging with employees, ensuring they are satisfied and as a result, producing better outcomes for the business.

Watch the full keynote here.

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

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