All posts by Procurious HQ

Procurious Big Ideas Keynote #1 – The Chefs in your Procurement Kitchen

The Big Ideas Summit’s first keynote was delivered by Sigi Osagie, coach and author of Procurement Mojo.

Sigi’s focus was on the people side of procurement, and he spoke passionately about how, while processes and technology are critical enablers for procurement success, ultimately it’s people that make the real difference.

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.

Are We Still in Love with Black Friday?

With Thanksgiving over, consumers and businesses now turn their attention to the start of the festive shopping period – beginning with Black Friday. But are people falling out of love with this shopping day?

Black-Friday

Originally an American phenomenon, Black Friday is the semi-official start of the festive retail period. There’s no consensus as to why Black Friday is called Black Friday, although one compelling theory is that it represents the day where retailers start to earn a profit.

It’s easy to see why that might be the case. In America alone, approximately 249 million people will purchase something on Black Friday, with the total spend in 2015 estimated at $50.9 billion. Black Friday first appeared in the UK 2 years ago, and total spend this year in the UK is expected to exceed last year’s total of £1.5 billion.

Give it a Miss?

Despite the obvious draw of low priced goods at a time of year when many are budgeting for Christmas, some have begun to look upon Black Friday as a symbol of a highly consumerised society and something that adds stress in an already stressful part of the year.

From needing to be in line well before midnight to get the best deals, to the big name brands not being on sale at all, and the potential to get caught up in unsavoury scenes similar to those that played out in shops across the UK last year, there are compelling reasons for giving the shops a miss on Friday.

Alternatively people will look for other options, such as shopping online on Friday (where many retailers have the same, if not better deals), or choosing to wait until Cyber Monday to make their purchases.

Retail Fatigue

It also appears that retailers are beginning to fall out of love with Black Friday too. Far from boosting profits, statistics have shown that many retailers actually lose money on Black Friday, with sales not being sufficient to outweigh the slim margins they have to cope with. It’s also believed that increased transactions are as a result of consumers waiting for these sales, rather than purchasing earlier in the year.

Even Asda, owned by Wal-Mart (attributed with introducing Black Friday to the UK), has decided that they will give the sale day a miss this year, citing customers’ “shopping fatigue” and electing to spread out their seasonal offers over a longer period of time.

Supply Chain Strain

Organisations that aim to maintain high customer service levels for online operations face having to hire additional employees and increase logistics capabilities to keep up with demand.

Organisations need to ensure that their supply chains are up to scratch, with consumers likely to go elsewhere if products are either out of stock or unable to be delivered in good time. And if supply chain issues have been present during the year, customers may not return to the retailer at all, in spite of the deals being offered.

Being able to cope with increased demand, and being flexible enough to react to changing trends, is key for organisational supply chains. This includes being able to assess demand in real-time and potentially move stock between locations in order to satisfy customer wants.

The End for Black Friday?

In spite of all this, it’s unlikely that Black Friday will cease to exist entirely. Retailers who have their strategies well planned and the ability to meet customer demand, will want to remain in a good position to take a share of the billions of dollars spent.

However, as more organisations extend their Black Friday sales, either by starting earlier in the week, or extending them over the holiday weekend and beyond Cyber Monday, it is possible that it might be the last we see of these sales in their current format.

Is your organisation having a Black Friday sale? Are you involved in ensuring the supply chain is able to meet demand? Get in touch and tell your story.

Why Thanksgiving is a Happy Holiday for Business

Just in case you didn’t know, today is Thanksgiving! In honour of this holiday, we take a look at the numbers behind the day.

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It’s getting towards the end of the year, the real crunch time for businesses and supply chains as they head towards the festive period. For supply chains in America (plus all the other organisations supplying to the USA at this time of year), Thanksgiving represents an additional challenge to be accounted for at this time of year.

Looking solely at Thanksgiving itself (more on Black Friday tomorrow…), it’s clear that businesses have plenty to be in good cheer about.

Talking Turkey

It’s estimated this year that a staggering $2.8 billion will be spent this year at Thanksgiving on food alone. That’s nearly $9 for every person currently living in the USA. Over 51 million turkeys will be eaten today, around 20 per cent of the total number of turkeys raised in the USA in 2015.

These numbers go on:

  • Over 51 million turkeys will be consumed on Thanksgiving
  • This equates to around 20 per cent of the total number of turkeys raised in the USA in 2015
  • The average cost of a family Thanksgiving dinner is over $50 for the first time ever
  • The average cost of a single turkey has increased by $1.39, to $23.04 (a 6.4 per cent rise from 2014)

Travel Woes

Businesses and supply chains will be ready far in advance of this week, with all the required stock already at its final destination, ready to be picked up by consumers. And this is just as well, given the increased level of traffic on the roads:

Even although most Americans say that Thanksgiving is the worst time of year to be travelling, 46.9 million of them will be travelling for the holiday. And, due to falling petrol prices, 42 million will be driving. In 2014, the average length of trip was a 549 mile round-trip.

Tradition vs. Today

Thanksgiving has come a long way since the first celebration, held by the founders of the Plymouth Colony, back in 1621. In nearly 400 years of celebration, just about the only thing left of “tradition” is the turkey. Check out this great infographic from History.com to see the changes:

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All that is left to do is to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving from the Procurious team!

Small Firms Plan Grand Designs on Overseas Markets

58 per cent of UK small to medium-sized firms are planning to enter new markets in the next two years.

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In a further sign of economic optimism, well over half of UK small to medium-sized firms (SMEs) plan to enter new markets in the next two years with the manufacturing sector leading the way, according to a new study by Albion Ventures, one of the largest independent venture capital investors in the UK.

Evidence of an export-led recovery is provided by the fact that one-in-three (34 per cent) SMEs are looking to break into new markets overseas of which 19 per cent are casting outside the EU and 15 per cent within the single market.  This is higher than the 30 per cent targeting untapped domestic markets.  A further one-in-six (15 per cent) small businesses plan to grow through launching new products and improving their online services. 

New Markets for Manufacturing

The third Albion Growth Report, designed to shed light on the factors that both create and impede growth among over 1,000 SMEs, shows that medium-sized companies are more likely to be looking to expand into new markets (77 per cent) than small businesses (53 per cent).

In sector terms, three-quarters (75 per cent) of manufacturing firms are planning to enter new markets, the highest of any sector and also top for expansion within the EU at 28 per cent. Businesses in media, marketing and advertising (68 per cent) and IT/ telecoms (56 per cent) were second and third respectively.

Entering new markets is not without its challenges; in fact over half (52 per cent) of firms who have taken the plunge reported experiencing problems, the biggest were lack of expertise (13 per cent); too many regulatory obstacles (13 per cent); strong competition (12 per cent); and lack of demand (12 per cent).

Companies in the education sector were the most likely to encounter problems (61 per cent) when trying to enter new markets, followed by those in manufacturing and transportation & distribution (59 per cent and 57 per cent respectively).

Focus Outside the UK

Patrick Reeve, Managing Partner at Albion Ventures, said: “The search for new markets among small businesses is gathering pace with much of the effort focused outside the UK.  Given the EU’s continuing economic travails, it’s of little surprise that other overseas markets are proving more popular. 

“Breaking into new markets is easier said than done and all too often small firms lack the necessary expertise to overcome established competitors.  This is an area where external equity investors such as Albion can provide valuable hands-on support; for those small firms who get it right, conquering new markets can have a transformational impact.” 

On a regional basis, London-based SMEs are the most likely to enter new markets in the next two years with 66 per cent followed by those in the South West (62 per cent) and Scotland and the North East (59 per cent). Small firms in Wales are the least inclined to break into new markets with only 50 per cent planning to do so.

How to Build a Network of Procurement Evangelists

Procurious were lucky enough to attend and present at The Procurement Summit in Manchester last week. While we were there, we sat in on an interesting (and very funny) keynote from Chris Barrat.

chief-evangelist

Chris was talking on the subject of how procurement can build a network of “evangelists”, people who champion the function and help spread the word about the good work being done in organisations.

Procurement hasn’t always enjoyed the best organisational reputation, or the best relationships with other business functions, and this can make the process of finding and developing evangelists difficult.

Barriers and Perceptions

Chris’ first aim was to get the attendees to provide some context on the main barriers to developing evangelists within organisations, as well as forming a view on how procurement was perceived in organisations. The latter, in particular, threw up some surprising responses.

Among the barriers were all the classic external views on procurement:

  • Procurement is too process oriented
  • There is a lack of understanding about the function and the value it adds
  • People don’t see the bigger picture, only the spend in their ‘silo’
  • The idea that “shopping is easy”

This is nothing that seasoned procurement professionals haven’t heard before. What was more surprising were the terms volunteered by the audience when they were asked to sum up the procurement function in their organisation.

Yes, the word “blocker” was at the top of the list, but the attendees also added in the terms “professional”, “expertise” and “aligned”. While it’s unusual to find such positive terms used, it’s certainly good to see that some procurement functions are highly regarded in their organisations.

Building Your Evangelist Network

Chris then went on to offer a three-step process of how to build a network of evangelists. The process was built on the idea of getting procurement themselves to believe that they offered a valuable service, and then building their organisational reputation step-by-step on top of this.

  1. Get Your House in Order

The first step revolved around three questions – What do you stand for? What is your brand? What do others see as your brand? – and built on the concept of procurement as a service provider.

“Engaging people is critical when providing a service” – this was a clear message and measure of success for procurement at this stage. People care about the service they have been given, and the ‘how’ and ‘who’ of the service is more important that it’s ever been.

In order for people to be evangelists for procurement, they need to know that the people they are dealing with are competent, but also actually want to work with them. Chris used the “Likeability vs. Competence” four-box model to demonstrate this point. You can read more about the model here.

Once procurement departments had got their own house in order, they could then take the next step.

  1. Be More ‘Bourne’

Yes, this did mean Jason Bourne. No, it didn’t mean cutting a swathe through the organisation getting rid of people you don’t like.

Being more Bourne meant being on a mission – knowing what needed to be done and being proactive in your aims. There were three key aspects to this step:

  • Name names – find the 3-5 key people you need to get onside as evangelists; focus on them
  • Be an Eagle, not a Vulture – find and see the opportunities, don’t just want for them to present themselves to you
  • Less is more – do fewer things, but do them well; focus on your key people and what their angle is and interests are

It was clear passivity is not an option at Stage 2!

  1. Tastier Carrots, Nastier Sticks

The final stage of the process was all about how to motivate others and how to communicate procurement’s message. Chris’ point was that people are naturally motivated away from (through fear or risk), or towards (through rewards) something. It’s down to the individual in procurement to work out which will be more effective.

No matter the method, carrot or stick, that was used, it was critical that it was done properly and meaningfully. All rewards to be given, or threats to take things away, need to be relevant for each individual. This will help to drive home the idea that procurement is serious and needs to be seen as such.

Returning to the concept of procurement as a service, Chris emphasised the need for candid communication – if you can’t do something, then say so. People will appreciate it more than coming back to them in the future to tell them it isn’t actually possible.

It all seems easy when it’s laid out like that. While it might not be as simple in reality, the general consensus leaving the room was that it might be a good starting point for some procurement organisations, as part of a larger strategy.

You can read articles by Chris on Procurious, and we’d love to hear from you if you have implemented this, or a similar strategy, and what the results were.

IQ, EQ, DQ or SMQ – Which Quotient Leads to Success at Work?

We’ve all sat tests at school, whether exams to achieve qualifications, or internal tests to determine which classes we should be in.

IQ or EQ

These tests, although we didn’t know it at the time, were a way of testing our IQ. However, this is a hugely simplified way of assessing a concept that is inherently complex in nature.

Some people excel academically, while others go on to great things, even although they don’t necessarily have any academic qualifications (think Richard Branson). Whether this is down to IQ, or EQ, no-one can be 100 per cent sure, but it’s worth looking at in more detail.

IQ – How ‘smart’ are you?

For those of you that don’t know, your IQ (intelligence quotient) is derived from a series of standardised tests that designed to determine how ‘intelligent’ you are (or aren’t).

For years, IQ was used by schools and businesses to determine how smart someone was. The first application of the test was delivered in 1905 by Alfred Binet to assess the intelligence of French school children.

In the 1980’s however, it was decided that this examination method was too narrow and wasn’t painting a fair picture of how an individual would perform in real life.

Smart isn’t everything

People had realised that being smart didn’t necessarily mean you’d be good at your job. There are other things to take into account, for example, how you work in a team or group environment. So the EQ (emotional quotient) measure was developed.

This test was designed to evaluate a person’s emotions (a fairly loft ambition), to understand how the person thinks rather than what they know and to determine how they might act in certain situations.

This area of psychology is fascinating, particularly the way that people are scored or compartmentalised in order to predict their performance. Given the response to the recent discussion topic on the Myers-Briggs scale it seems this is quite a widely held view.

Social Media Quotient

More recently, it has been interesting to read about the social media quotient (SMQ), and the role that it might play in an individual’s effectiveness at work. While it is far less developed and tested than EQ and IQ, SMQ is likely to play a critical role in evaluating individual performance at work over the coming years.

Social media is already an important part of our professional lives and it’s relevance is only going to increase. How people understand and interpret this space will impact their effectiveness at work. The good news is that it’s much easier improve your SMQ than it is to improve your IQ or EQ. It really just takes a little bit of effort on your part.

Get to know the different social media tools that are out there, what the best way to apply them professionally is and you’re already off a great start. There is a quiz here that can help to determine your current SMQ and a more rudimentary checklist here.

If this topic interests you, you could consider reading about digital quotient as well. Digital Quotient, was developed by McKinsey as a way to evaluate an organisation’s (rather than a person’s) digital capability, including their areas of strength and weakness. You can find more information on this here.

Good luck developing your SQM! If you need any help, want to organise a workshop, or use Procurious’ brand new social media “PRISM” tool, just get in touch!

Disruption, Scandal and Upheaval – A Week in Procurement

The past week in procurement and supply chain has been a busy one, and so it’s been hard to pin down just one story to kick the new week off. 

FotorCreated

Over the past seven days, a marketing procurement function for a major global brand has been scrapped, Nigeria has been gripped by a massive procurement scandal and global freight and logistics has been hit by global unrest.

So, just in case you missed all of this, we’ve decided to wrap these three of the major stories for a change.

Marketing Procurement – Beginning of the End?

One story that took many people by surprise was the news that PepsiCo had taken the decision to scrap its marketing procurement function. The firm explained the move as a way of remaining “competitive in an environment where cost cutting and value building are paramount”.

The idea that this has been done to reduce costs and increase efficiency might seem a touch strange, as this is often what procurement are tasked with doing. However, the decision by PepsiCo immediately got the procurement world wondering if this would be the first of many.

However, before all of you who work in marketing procurement start dusting off your CVs, it looks unlikely that this is the case. A survey carried out by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found that 68 per cent of surveyed members didn’t view PepsiCo’s actions as the start of an industry trend.

However, it does serve to highlight the frequently high tension between the procurement and marketing functions. Procurement’s role as the intermediary between the organisation and the agencies is often seen as one of cost cutting, rather than value adding.

A survey by the ANA earlier this year found that the vast majority of individuals on both sides of the agency/client relationship were unconvinced about the value that procurement added to the process.

The PepsiCo situation may serve as a warning to other marketing procurement teams, but also afford them an opportunity to shift their focus. Instead of a focus on costs, it’s perhaps time for a more strategic approach, forging stronger relationships with agencies, and establishing how to add value on both sides of the aisle.

Nigeria Hit by Arms Procurement Scandal

Early last week, the news broke of the outcome of a major procurement fraud investigation in Nigeria, implicating some of the country’s former leaders and senior figures.

Based on the investigation, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the arrest of Sambo Dasuki, the country’s former National Security Advisor, who has been implicated in the fraud scandal, thought to be worth in the region of $2 billion.

It has been alleged that Dasuki awarded over $2 billion worth of “phantom” contracts for vehicles, weapons and munitions, which were to be used in Nigeria’s on going fight against terrorist group, Boko Harem.

An additional sum of $142.6m was also allegedly transferred to a company with accounts in the USA, UK and West Africa, without contracts being in place, and without any goods or services being supplied.

Mr Dasuki has claimed that all due process and military procurement regulations were followed in all transactions, and indicated that, given the value of the contracts, they could only have been approved by Nigeria’s former President, Goodluck Jonathan.

Former President Jonathan has also denied any involvement, and, when questioned at an event in Washington, D.C. last week, was quoted as querying whether the contracts ever existed. Keep an eye on the Procurious news for more on this in the coming weeks.

Global Unrest Disrupting Supply Chains

Events in the past week in Paris and Lebanon, as well as the on going influx of migrants into Europe, has freight and logistics organisations counting the cost of disrupted supply chains.

In their most recent Security Risk Index, US-based supply chain consultants BSI have highlighted border closures and slower than normal freight clearances as two of the major issues in Europe.

Delays at Calais costing UK shippers an estimated $1.2 million per day, plus losses from contaminated food and pharmaceutical products, have industry experts stating that that further disruptions could mean job losses across the continent.

Supply chain issues are not limited to Europe either. In China, thieves have been targeting moving trucks and removing goods from them on the road, while in South Africa, truck hijackings have increased by 29.1 per cent over 2014.

CIPS have also argued that increasingly global supply chains has increased complexity and that disruptions could have a damaging impact for the end customers.

Increasing risk in the supply chain is the topic of a webinar that Procurious founder Tania Seary is taking part in next week. Risk analysis in procurement is a key skill, particularly in light of current disruptions to supply chains.

Get all the information on the webinar and register here.

We’ve also kept an eye on other breaking news over the weekend and here are some of the key headlines to share over a morning cup of coffee.

UK Government Boosts Defence Spend

  • UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, will announce an additional £12 billion investment in equipment spend this week
  • As part of the Government’s National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), Mr Cameron will outline the UK’s strategy for the coming decade
  • This includes a new fleet of maritime patrol aircraft and two new rapid-reaction “strike brigades” to add to existing capabilities
  • The news is good for American firm Boeing, who won an industry bidding war to provide nine aircraft to the UK RAF

Read more at The Belfast Telegraph

Google Glass Used in Heart Surgery

  • A team of cardiologists from the Institute of Cardiology, Warsaw, used the new generation Google Glass as part of a heart surgery procedure
  • The doctors used the device to help control and restore the blood flow in a blocked artery in a 49-year-old male patient
  • The Glass enabled the doctors to visualise the operation, as well as control the images with voice control, allowing them both hands free to operate
  • It is hoped that more wearable technology will now be adapted for use in the medical industry

Read more at Market Business News

BBC Announce Women of 2015 List

  • The BBC’s 100 Women season has returned, and the corporation has chosen its list of inspirational women for 2015
  • The list this year focuses on “octogenarians sharing life lessons; ‘good girl’ film-makers discussing expectations; nursing; five high-profile women; and ’30 under 30′ entrepreneurs”
  • The list highlights women from around the world who have given a positive inspiration to others with their actions over the past 12 months

See who made the list at BBC News

US Government Faces Criticism Over IT Outsourcing Spend

A recent report has highlighted a lack of management on US Government IT spend.

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IT services outsourcing cost the US government $30 billion USD in 2013. However according to a recent report released by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), the lion’s share of this spend was not adequately managed.

The GAO’s report highlights that while leading private firms ‘manage’ up to 90 per cent of their IT services spend, the government agencies analysed manage only a fraction of this number.

The departments in question – the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – accounted for more than half of reported federal third-party IT services spending in 2013.

Also highlighted in the report were the branches of the US Armed Forces and the percentage of their spend that was “strategically managed”, revealing some worrying figures:

  • US Navy – 10 per cent of $3.3 billion
  • US Air Force – 17 per cent of $1.4 million
  • US Army – 27 per cent of $3.5 billion

Duplicated Contracts

The report went on to suggest that, despite recent improvements in the procurement process, including appointing individuals to identify and action strategic sourcing opportunities, the departments’ IT sourcing was still being carried out using “potentially duplicative contracts“.

These practices served to reduce the power that the departments, and the Government, could wield in sourcing activities. In addition, the report found that the departments could save as much as 15 per cent on their IT spend every year, if they were to take a more strategic approach to the way they purchase these services, similar to the approach of leading organisations.

Commenting on the report’s findings Phil Fersht, CEO of outsourcing analyst firm HfS Research stated; “This data just reinforces how alarmingly poorly run U.S. government agencies are with their IT spend.”

Fersht went on to say, “Why only a fraction of external IT service spending is actually managed via an established contracting model in this day and age is baffling—and indicates a huge amount of unnecessary wastage of taxpayer dollars. Also remember that external IT spend is only a fraction of total IT spend. In some cases, the total spend per agency could amount to two or three times the external IT spend.”

A number of government-wide efforts have been kicked off to streamline the inefficiencies pointed out in this report to ensure the government receives better value from its IT contracts.

Want to Know Where Your Clothes Came From? There’s an App for That!

A new app, developed in Australia, hopes to give consumers the information they want on the supply chains producing their clothing.

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We’ve covered ethical fashion in great detail on Procurious in the past. Most of our coverage has focussed on the public’s desire for cheap, rapidly produced garments or ‘fast fashion’ as its been dubbed.

This business model has had a huge impact on the supply chains of leading retailers, as they push to make the latest fashions available quicker and for a lower price. Many have resorted to shifting production to the developing world in a bid to reap the benefits of low cost production as a means to keep price down and maintain margins.

As these practice have become public, many firms have been accused of scrimping on safety and ignoring labour and environmental concerns in the their supply chains, and have faced harsh criticism as a result.

The Turning Tide

While this fast fashion business model has dictated the retail garment industry for the best part of a decade now, it appears that the tide is starting to turn. Many consumers are now prioritising the ethical footprint of their purchasing, just as much as cost and style.

Companies like Patagonia (who we’ve written about before) and KowTow have started appealing directly to consumers’ better judgement by creating a business model that focuses on sustainability first.

Even H&M, long condemned for its questionable supply chain practices has released a ‘conscious collection’ of sustainably produced garments. However, many have accused the firm of ‘green washing’ as, although it is producing a small amount of clothing sustainably, the vast majority of the company’s range still follows the fast fashion model.

There’s an App for That

Regardless of motive, this shift in consumer psyche has spawned a new app called ‘Good On You’. Developed in Australia, the app gives shoppers the ability to understand the ethical impact of the clothes they are buying, directly through their smart phone.

The app analyses clothing ranges based on the three broad categories – environmental, labour and treatment of animals – before creating a final rank for that brand.

‘Good On You’ doesn’t currently carry out its own auditing, instead analysing firms’ current accreditations from organisations like Fair Trade, Ethical Clothing Australia and other non-governmental organisations.

The app aims to inform customers of brands’ practices and supply chains, and call out firms using sustainability as a marketing tool, particularly when they don’t have credentials to back it up.

Speaking on the opaque nature of sustainability marketing and supply chains, Co-Founder at ‘Good on You’, Gordon Renouf said; “We want brands to say exactly what they’re doing, to be transparent about the supply chains, to show where their factories are so other stakeholders and unions can check on them.”

Find out more about the company’s aim here and download the app before you next go shopping!