All posts by Procurious HQ

4 Ways Procurement Should Be Using Big Data

While it might be a difficult term to define, there are a number of practical applications for using Big Data.

In our previous article, we looked at defining (or rather, not defining) the term ‘Big Data’. Now we are going to explore the potential big data analytics and computing may hold for the procurement function.

There are a number of high-profile ways in which organisations are using Big Data. For example, hospitals and public health organisations are using Google’s search trends and history to predict future outbreaks of the flu and colds. You can read the details here and see the counter argument here.

The application of Big Data in the procurement space is a little less apparent, or at least, less well publicised. With that in mind, we’ve put together four ways that procurement could be using Big Data to its advantage.

1. Understanding supplier risk

By leveraging the vast amounts of unstructured data now available to organisations, procurement teams can get a far better understanding of their key suppliers.

Previously supplier information could be found through the media, suppliers’ websites and personal relationships with the people being bought from. Data mining allows procurement to go much deeper than this and provides an unbiased, opinionated view of their suppliers’ standings.

2. Uncovering new savings

In the same way that harnessing data allows us to understand more about our current suppliers, correctly utilised, it can also help procurement understand more about its supply markets and where it sits within them.

By understanding the global supply market at a more granular level, a whole new set of opportunities to uncover savings is opened up. These savings can come about either through direct pricing improvements or through new innovative solutions.

3. Predicting negative external factors

In the past, Big Data has been used to predict unforeseen weather events with varying degrees of success. However, many organisations and governments are investing heavily in this technology.

These insights and predictions would, understandably, garner strong commercial interest, particularly from procurement teams looking to understand just how exposed their supply chains are to both natural, and man-made, disasters.

4. Opening up collaborative supplier projects

Understanding and using Big Data means understanding a category more clearly. Organisations that are able to get this level of understanding are in a position to open up conversations around innovative solutions.

The critical part of this is that transparent relationships with suppliers must exist first. The companies can then work together to solve problems and benefit from opportunities, even if some of these opportunities are not even visible yet.

In our next article, we’ll be be looking for some real life procurement examples where Big Data has been leveraged successfully. If you know of any great examples, please get in touch.

Big Data will be one of the themes discussed at the Big Ideas Summit on April 21 in London. Tell us your Big Data story and pose questions for our experts on this subject by registering today.

Social Media Clinic – You Asked, We Answered

Our Social Media Clinic gathered some common issues from attendees about social media. We aim to set your minds at rest with these answers.

Social Media Clinic

Procurious were lucky enough to attend the eWorld Procurement and Supply Conference in London at the beginning of March, where we ran a social media clinic. Despite looking like we were just having a good time (which we were…), there was a more serious side to our day.

We are huge advocates of social media in procurement, and we want to help as many procurement professionals get as much from social media as possible. However, professionals still have so many unanswered questions about social media, leading to many of them avoiding social media in their professional lives.

We were given a number of questions and issues on the day at eWorld, about all aspects of social media. We’ve done our best to provide answers to them here.

The Social Media Clinic in Action
The Social Media Clinic in Action

General Tips and Advice

Our first set of issues relate to general social media use, not specifically linked to one platform.

  • Struggling to find interesting content

There is a world of great content on social media, you just need to know where to look. Procurious publishes new content to its blog daily, and there are other influencers and experts in procurement who share their knowledge across various platforms.

Check out Procurious’ top influencers list, as well as this one from Vizibl for suggestions on who to follow. You can also set up Google Alerts and get all the top procurement and supply chain stories delivered daily, straight to your inbox.

  • Struggling to Attract, Retain & Interact with Followers and make my voice heard

There is no hard and fast rule on how to attract and retain followers on social media. The best thing you can do as an individual is to keep sharing great content and thought leadership, and people will be interested in what you’re saying.

If you want to make your voice heard, think about the topics that you are passionate about, or things that only you can say. Followers interact more with a genuine voice, rather than one copying what someone else has done. You can build influence by taking part in discussions and sharing your views.

Think about sharing content from followers, or people you follow, and using tagging on platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter to start a conversation with an individual or Group.

  • Should I have all social media platforms for my business?

You’re probably better off working out which platforms suit your business best, and which ones you can make the most of. If you are sharing images, then Instagram is worth trying. If you’re creating video or audio content, then try Periscope or YouTube.

Try looking at one or two platforms to begin with and maximise your offering for followers. There’s nothing worse than a half-hearted effort on a social media profile. You take that risk by spreading yourself across all of the available platforms.

LinkedIn

  • How can I improve my LinkedIn profile?

Take a look at our top tips for social media profiles here. Make sure you have a good photo, that your information is up to date, and talks about achievements, rather than responsibilities. It’s worth investing the time in getting your profile up to scratch.

  • Is LinkedIn just for job seekers?

Not at all. It’s a great tool for recruitment and marketing, but that’s by no means the only thing you can use it for. Make use of the site for global networking, connecting with like-minded individuals, and sharing content.

If you’re worried about it being too recruitment heavy, then a more niche network, like Procurious, might be what you’re looking for.

  • Is it ok to ask people for advice over LinkedIn, if I don’t know them?

Absolutely. LinkedIn is first and foremost a networking tool. You can ask people for help, advice and their opinions. They will choose whether or not to respond. We’ve found that people are very willing to share their knowledge if you are asking for the right reasons.

Twitter

  • How to use hashtags (to find followers and relevant content)

Hashtags have been set up on Twitter to help you search more easily for content and people. Unless you are planning on using a hashtag a lot, it’s better to use existing ones, rather than creating your own.

There are hashtags for both #procurement and #supplychain which will lead you to good content, up to date news, and good people to follow. If you have a particular area of interest, hashtags can also help you attract followers.

  • How many times per day is it acceptable to tweet?

This is up to you. Most advice will recommend tweeting between 5 and 8 times per day. Make sure you don’t just keep tweeting the same things, as this is likely to drive followers away. Keep it interesting, relevant, use the correct hashtags and maybe some images, and you’ll find the right balance for you.

Facebook

  • How can I use Facebook more effectively for business?

Facebook might not be a great platform for your business, particularly used in isolation. We’ve found that the best way to leverage the site is by using their advertising and targeting a specific audience to raise awareness of your business. There are good tips on Facebook itself, and you can have a look at these for information.

There you have it. This is by no means a comprehensive list of the questions people have, but hopefully it’s enough to allay some fears and get you started on social media.

Social Media Clinic Scribe by the fantastic Abbie Burch
Social Media Clinic Scribe by the fantastic Abbie Burch

The Procurious team would love to help you out if you have a question or issue on social media. Also, if you want to run a social media clinic for your organisation, get in touch!

My Advice for Finance Professionals (and Others)

My advice for up and coming finance professionals? Don’t get stuck in your silo – get out and collaborate.

When someone asks you for your opinion or advice to pass on to young professionals, it’s often tricky to narrow down your thinking to two or three bullet points. When these professionals working in a different business function, the job gets that little bit harder still.

However, there’s not as much difference between Procurement and Finance professionals in the early stages of their careers. So, based on my own experience, I have put together my top three pieces of advice for new professionals (whether they are in Finance or any other profession).

  1. Avoid a Silo Mentality

Maybe the most important piece of advice I can think of, hence why it’s come first. In the early part of my career, there was nothing more frustrating than trying to explain what procurement did, and why we added value to the business.

We worked closely with other functions, such as Design, Manufacturing, and Finance, but always had the same conversation why we needed to be involved at all. If you’re going to fully understand the business, then you need to get out of your functional silo and meet other people, discuss their roles, and work out how you and they fit together.

The relationship between Finance and Procurement is key to the smooth running of a number of critical operations. From supplier selection and qualification, to invoice payment, these operations will run much more efficiently with better communication and a good relationship.

If you step outside your silo, you’ll probably find that other people are willing to do this too. 

  1. Share your Experience

Procurious founder, Tania Seary, has frequently spoken about the importance for procurement to flex their collective muscle and create a community of practice. The same could be said about creating a community of finance professionals.

Quandl’s tips for being a great analyst highlight spotting patterns and finding out the ‘why’ behind the numbers. A great way of doing this is to get out and talk to people, be it others in your profession, or others around your business. Discussing tools and apps that you and others have found helpful could make all the difference.

The chances are fairly high that someone, somewhere, will have come across a similar situation in the past. They might even have a solution for it too, and they’re probably willing to share their experience and knowledge to help out others.

Your experience is valuable too, no matter the stage of your career. Find time to note down specific issues you have had, who you spoke to, how they helped, and your eventual solution. Share this with your fellow professionals, and you’ll start to build both profile and influence. One of the great ways to do this is via social media.

  1. Leverage Social Media for Your Brand

Social media is just as important for your professional life as it is for your personal life. There are a number of great platforms available, each offering a different way to build your personal brand.

In business now, many people think that if you don’t have your own online profile, you don’t really exist. Both recruiters and employers will use social media to learn more about you as an individual – whether it’s to check your employment history against a CV you have submitted, to understanding what makes you tick as a person via social media posts.

The best thing is, it only takes 10-15 minutes each day to stay up to date.

Telling people what you are doing, reading relevant content from industry publications, listening to a great podcast – all of these can be done on your way to work, or over lunch. Once you’re in a routine, it’s easy to maintain your social media presence during the day.

By doing this, you’re raising your own profile and starting to build influence, as well as gathering knowledge that will help in your day-to-day work.

And whether you are Finance professionals, or Procurement professionals (or others), this will certainly stand you in good stead as your career progresses.

Why Big Ideas 2016? There’s an Infographic for That

Not sure why you should register for Big Ideas 2016? We’ve pulled all the information you need into one easy to share infographic!

Big Ideas 2016 Infographic

Need more convincing? Check out the high calibre list of thought leaders and keynote speakers, including:

  • Tom Derry, CEO, Institute for Supply Management
  • Christopher Sawchuk, Principal & Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader, The Hackett Group
  • Gabe Perez, Vice President of strategy and market development, Coupa
  • Elizabeth Linder, Politics & Government Specialist, Facebook EMEA
  • Nik Gowing, Visiting Professor at King’s College and co-author of ‘Thinking the Unthinkable’
  • Lucy Siegle, Journalist and broadcaster, The Observer
  • Peter Holbrook, CBE, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise
  • Lucy Harding, Partner and Head of the Global Procurement & Supply Chain Practice, Odgers Berndtson
  • Martin Chilcott, Founder and CEO, 2degrees
  • Dapo Ajayi, Chief Procurement Officer, AstraZeneca

We’ve seen some of the ideas that our speakers will be discussing on the day, and believe us when we say, you do not want to miss out.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be introducing you to all of our speakers and giving you some previews of their key themes and topics. The best way to stay up to date? Register for the event now!

How you can take part

The Big Ideas Summit is open to all Procurious members. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, we want you to help shape the agenda. Register your attendance in our Procurious Big Ideas 2016 Group.

On Twitter? You can also submit your questions by tweeting us @procurious_ using the hashtag: #BigIdeas2016

You can also stay up to date, and get involved in real time, LinkedIn or Facebook, also using the hashtag #BigIdeas2016.

For more information about the day head on over to our bespoke event site at www.bigideassummit.com.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

What Can National Apprenticeship Week Do for the UK Economy?

Last week was National Apprenticeship Week in the UK. The National Apprenticeship Service uses the week to raise awareness of the fantastic benefits apprenticeships can offer to business, employees and the wider economy.

Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock.com

It’s great to see UK businesses embracing National Apprenticeship week. Despite the popularity of apprenticeships waning in recent years, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) are committed to providing opportunities and relevant training for businesses and employees. The most obvious positive is that more jobs are created for those who wish to have training and gain skills and experience within different industries.

The UK isn’t the only place to be positively addressing employment issues this week as New Zealand celebrated an end to zero-hour contracts.

On the flip side, it was revealed that Nigeria have the onerous task of needing to find 40-50 million new jobs to cater to their growing economy.

National Apprenticeship Week

Apprenticeships can provide so many opportunities to different stakeholders including work opportunities and training to employees and employers. National Apprenticeship Week seeks to change the common misconceptions about apprenticeships consisting of low-skilled and badly paid roles and being non-advantageous to employers. The reality is quite the opposite with 1,500  different jobs available across 170 industries.

Unfortunately, many companies don’t realise all of the advantages they can reap from implementing an apprenticeship scheme. For example, as of April 2016, businesses will not have to pay National Insurance for apprentices under 25 years of age.

Whilst many businesses, including CIPS, already have schemes in place, National Apprenticeship Week raises awareness to those that don’t and organisations like the NAS can help to put these in place and expand existing schemes.

The UK Government have committed to improving the apprenticeship system by creating three million new apprenticeships by 2020. The UK, and other nations, should be taking a leaf out of Germany’s book, where apprenticeships are integral to the education system.

Germany has implemented a dual system whereby apprenticeships combine theoretical training with hand-on practical experience in the workplace funded by employers. They also have a highly effective assessment process for candidate selection.

It would be fantastic to see the UK succeed in emulating Germany’s apprenticeship system. National Apprenticeship Week seems like a good place to start.

Zero Hour Contracts in New Zealand

Zero-hour contracts have sparked controversy in recent years and many have campaigned to put an end to them. Those against the contracts claim that they are unfair, exploitative, and only benefit an employer, who can avoid paying for things like annual leave and leave and sick days.

Some, however, would attest to the benefits of the zero-hour contract, arguing that it allows flexibility and minimum commitment. They can certainly come in use to those solely seeking part time work, such as students who might benefit from having weeks at a time with no work hours.

New Zealand has clamped down on the contracts this week as their parliament unanimously voted to abolish them. Having initially sought to only moderate the contracts, the country have now officially banned them altogether.

The Unite trade union, which has named and shamed fast food employers as users of zero-hour contracts, has strongly welcomed the move having campaigned for this result since 2003.

It will now be obligatory for all employers in New Zealand to contract employees with at least some guaranteed hours.

Nigerian Job Shortage

This week, the World Bank released a report which states Nigeria needs to create between 40 and 50 million jobs to sustain their rapidly growing population.

The report, which explains how only a tiny proportion of the country’s population is currently benefiting from high growth emphasised the importance of implementing more relevant technical and vocational education and training.  As ever, it is the women who are most affected by job shortages as there few job options for them.  

It will also be crucial to raise the productivity of agriculture by increasing access to markets, inputs, credit, and technology.

At the moment, a North-South divide is emerging because the northern regions have more difficulty accessing education and employment.

Kathleen Beegle, world bank lead economist said “Nigeria is facing a real challenge when it comes to creating enough good jobs for the many new entrants to the job market.”

We’ve been keeping up to date with all of the procurement news this week. Here’s what has been going on…

Supply Chain Salaries in UAE

  • According to a report by recruiter Morgan McKinley, supply chain professionals are likely to see salaries rise by 4 to 6 per cent in 2016.
  • This is due to increased investment in manufacturing capability in the Gulf region and, with it, the rising prominence of the region’s supply chain professionals.
  • In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, for example, warehouse and distribution managers are in particularly high demand, as there has been strong growth in manufacturing and distribution.
  • According to the report, the outlook for salaries beyond mid-2016 is heavily dependent on oil prices.

Read More at Supply Management

Wildlife Trading

  • Some 40 companies across shipping, airline and transport industries – members of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce – signed an agreement at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday which aims to block transportation routes for the illegal wildlife trade.
  • The move could mark a significant milestone in preventing the illegal wildlife trading industry, which according to United For Wildlife is valued at up to $20 billion per year.
  • The initiative also has the backing of key global lobbies such as the WWF.
  • Prince William, who is backing the initiative, said “We have faced up to the fact that if current trends continue the last wild African elephants and rhinos will be killed before my daughter Charlotte’s 25th birthday.”

Read More at Supply Management

UPS Alternative Fuel Investment

  • UPS has announced plans to build an additional 12 compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations and add 380 new CNG tractors to its growing alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet.
  • The company is working to meet its goal of logging one billion miles with its alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet by the end of 2017.
  • They plan to use a Rolling Laboratory approach to determine the right alternative fuel solutions to meet the unique needs of route-specific driving environments.
  • UPS was one of the initial 13 leading companies to take the Obama Administration’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emission intensity 20 percent by 2020.

Read more at Supply Chain 247

Why Food Procurement Can Help Climate Change

  • Estimates suggest that food and drink production and distribution contributes 20 per cent of UK carbon emissions every year and is the leading cause of deforestation, land use change and biodiversity loss.
  • It also accounts for 70 per cent of all human water use and is a major source of water pollution
  • The UK Government recognises that procurement can have a considerable impact on the environment. As a result it has introduced the Government Buying Standards.
  • The standards include a set of minimum mandatory standards for inclusion in tenders and contract performance conditions, and apply to all aspects of Government procurement, which of course includes food and catering services.

Read more at Public Health Matters

World Sleep Day – Why Sleep is Important in Business

Today is World Sleep Day, a good excuse to grab some extra Zs. Research has found that poor sleep is impacting over 5 million UK businesses.

The Average UK employee misses 8.5 days of work a year due to poor sleep

  • 1 in 3 people in the UK currently suffering from sleep problems

World Sleep Day is today and recent research has shown that one in three people in the UK currently suffering from sleep problems. It’s time for people to wake up to the impact poor sleep is having on the UK’s 5.4 million businesses.

Not only has poor sleep been linked with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, but also decreased productivity and concentration in the workplace.

The Cost of Poor Sleep

Information from the World Sleep Survey by Big Health, creators of the clinically-proven sleep improvement app Sleepio, reveal that the average UK employee loses 8.5 days of work a year due to poor sleep. Sickness absence and working-age ill-health, including poor sleep, currently costs the UK economy £100 billion a yearwhile sleeping pills alone cost the NHS nearly £50 million a year.

‘Poor sleepers’ (those who rated their sleep quality as below average) missed 14.6 days of work per year. Alarmingly, 60 per cent of these poor sleepers don’t seek to fix the problem and did not consult their doctors about their bad sleep.

Sleepio help some of the world’s leading companies, such as LinkedIn and Ford, to improve employee wellbeing and boost productivity in the workplace. The app creates personalised sleep improvement plans featuring Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques to help sufferers overcome poor sleep without pills.

The 2,500 British participants in the World Sleep Survey stated that the top three personal impacts of poor sleep are a decline in energy levels (60 per cent), mood (48 per cent) and relationships with others (35 per cent). These repercussions affecting their work with a reduction in: concentration levels (46 per cent), ability to complete work (38 per cent) and ability to stay awake during the day (27 per cent).  

Addressing the Sleep Issue

“Poor sleep is the unspoken productivity killer in the workplace and it has been ignored for too long”, said Peter Hames, CEO and co-founder of Big Health. “Now is the time for employers to wake up to the problem of sleep – improving employee’s sleep positively impacts workplace effectiveness and general wellbeing.

“Big Health are working with some of the world’s leading companies to help them improve the sleep of their workforces with Sleepio, and seeing huge improvements in productivity and overall health as a result.”

Colin Espie, co-founder of Big Health and professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford, added, “World Sleep Day is the perfect time to acknowledge the widespread effect poor sleep has on our lives.

“Sleep is not an optional extra in life, it is a fundamental requirement. The consequences of a bad night’s rest affect us not only physically but also mentally and emotionally, seriously impacting our performance at work. Physically we will feel lethargic, mentally we become slowed down with poorer concentration and memory, and emotionally we may become irritable and rather down, with bursts of hyperactivity. In terms of daily life, no aspect of daily functioning is unaffected by sleep – least of all our jobs.”

Sweet Dreams

So, what better time than World Sleep Day to start thinking about your own sleeping patterns, and what you can do to improve this. Why not check out some gadgets that might help you sleep better, or get some tips from the sleep and productivity experts?

Whatever you do, make sure you sleep well this weekend!

Innovation and the Shifting Technological Landscape

Innovation is more important than ever before. The technological landscape is currently undergoing a shift three times the size of the industrial revolution.

This is according to Steve Sammartino, an expert on the digital revolution and disruptive technologies. Steve has worked in marketing for the world’s largest companies, founded and sold his own start-ups, is a business journalist, and thought leader in the start-up & technology arena.

And amongst all this, Steve still found time to make news headlines by designing and building a fully functional, air-powered, 500,000 piece Lego Car!

Ahead of his keynote address at this year’s CPO Forum event in Melbourne, Steve talks about the changing structure of the economy and the Supply Chain, and the importance of innovation to procurement and its future leaders.

Why is focusing on innovation more important than ever before?

We are living through a radical change 3 times the size of the Industrial Revolution. It’s 3 times bigger because this time it involves the entire globe, not just the developed economies. Here’s a fact to blow your mind in this regard – there are currently more mobile phones in use around the world than toothbrushes!

Technology and access to it is now seen a primary life improver for people in developing countries. It means that what worked and what mattered yesterday, won’t be a valid strategy today. Innovation is not just a matter of a company’s survival in disruptive times, and not just a way to outgrow your competitors.

And the thing that is different is that it isn’t just at the consumer end that innovation needs to occur. It’s an entire supply chain reset. A new infrastructure is being built, and major innovations are happening in areas customers never see. 

What are some of the ways multinational companies can adopt a ‘start-up mindset’?

More important than anything else, big companies need to learn how to fail, and that failing is not bad. They key to startups is that they move quickly, and cheaply, to find out what works.

Big companies also need to decentralise decision making, as many of the Industrial era efficiencies are now being usurped by nimble and local connections. In a world where one size no longer fits all, we need to remember that this applies to local operations as well. Lots of small mistakes lead to better outcomes in a connected world. 

How can businesses cultivate a more innovative and collaborative workplace culture?

Businesses just need to do one thing – remove the layers of authority, and become a horizontally focused organisation, not a vertical, hierarchical one. This will help to create an environment where frequent small risks are rewarded.  

What tips do you have for current and emerging leaders to stay ahead of the curve, and be equipped to lead their companies to future success? 

Staff need be interested in change. Be students of change and be the person who introduces ideas to colleagues, don’t wait for management to know what is coming. The other thing to remember is that being innovative isn’t about inventing the technology, but more about working out how to benefit from the changes. It’s not a technological process, but one of courage and creativity.

We need to love our customers more than we love our infrastructure, especially in times when infrastructure is reset. We can do this by thinking of applications to serve our customers, rather than ourselves.

Also, given most large companies are fearful of change, it only takes an open mind to get a few steps ahead. It’s not about guessing what’s next, but adapting faster when ‘next’ arrives. 

Why should businesses invest in social impact and change?

It’s vital because it is what we value as a society. But it needs to be more than donating to charity, or triple bottom line reporting. Our responsibility needs to be designed into our supply chain. Businesses need to go to market with a net positive social outcome, not white-wash bad behaviour after profits are made.

It’s a very important part of brand building. Organisations that make products that benefit society save costs on things like advertising. Just look at Tesla – a $30 billion company that doesn’t spend a cent on advertising.

You can hear more from Steve on these topics at the CPO Forum 19th of May in Melbourne. At CPO Forum 2016, the line-up of inspirational speakers will reveal how procurement leaders can “crack the code” and harness the game-changing power of supplier innovation.

For more information, including how to register for CPO Forum 2016, visit the website.

Does Your CPO Have Big Ideas?

Is your Boss a Perfect Fit for the Big Ideas Summit 2016? Nominate your CPO to attend this unique event.

At Procurious we know people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses. So we want to reward great bosses – procurement leaders who are leading by example, keeping their teams energised, investing in individuals’ careers, and continuously pushing procurement to excel.

On April 21st in London, Procurious will connect 50 top executives, thought leaders and CPOs, with its 12,000+ worldwide members to forge new ground by solving the thorny issues in, and harnessing new opportunities for, the procurement profession.

Only 5 places remain in our London audience. And here’s how you can help your CPO attend

Nominate your CPO

As we’ve said, there are only 5 places left, but we’re giving the Procurious community the chance to help fill them. You’ve already read plenty about the Big Ideas Summit, found out how to get involved as a Digital Delegate, and get involved by submitting your own Big Ideas.

What we’re offering here is the chance for your CPO to attend the event in London in person, rubbing shoulders with representatives of some of the world’s biggest organisations, such as Facebook, the World Bank, the BBC, and AstraZeneca.

The nomination process couldn’t be any easier either. All you need to do is fill in a short form with your and your CPO’s details, telling us why you think they are deserving of a place in the Big Ideas delegation.

Is Your CPO a Perfect Fit?

So, how do you know that your CPO is the right person. Well, picture them and think about the following points. These attributed are what we are looking for in our CPOs who are attending Big Ideas:

  • Progressive – your CPO is ‘on trend’ and always up to date with the latest key themes and issues in procurement.
  • True Influencer – your CPO shares their knowledge freely and widely, has had something they have written published and shared, or has a particular area of expertise. This could be within your organisation or the broader profession.
  • Big Thinker/Creative – your CPO is creative and likes looking at the bigger picture. But they’re also open to other people’s big ideas too.
  • Wants to expose his/her team to opportunity – your CPO wants to give their team the chance to access thought leadership from some global experts.
  • Tech savvy – this is a digitally-led conference, so we want our attendees to be advocates for technology, including social media, for procurement.
  • Committed to diversity and promoting young talent – makes sure that their team reflects diversity and is full of opportunities for the next generation of talent.
  • And, of course, an Awesome Procurement Boss – and because you want to reward them for being awesome!

How to Nominate

If your CPO meets most, or all, of the above attributes, then nominate them now!

To be eligible to attend, your CPO needs to be in London, in person, on April 21st. Procurious will be extending the invitation, but the cost of the ticket and travel is down to them.

To nominate your CPO, simply click here, tell us your CPO’s details, and why you think they should be at Big Ideas. Let us know your details too, so we can get in touch if we need to.

Nominations close on Tuesday the 29th of March, with CPOs contacted following this date.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Want to know more about Big Ideas 2016? Then visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Transforming the Procurement Function from Within

It’s a tall order to come in and completely transform the procurement function within an iconic global company.

But Kelly Irwin didn’t beat around the bush when she started as Head of Procurement at the Australian subsidiary of Swiss group at Holcim (which has since merged with the French group LaFarge) five years ago.

The company, which is a leading supplier of aggregates, concrete and concrete pipe and products, had plenty of room for improvement. In fact, the company’s procurement department was mostly handling complaints, rather than handling strategic buying for their future.

The 20+ year procurement industry veteran soon realised the magnitude of the role, so set about implementing improved systems and processes for the procurement function. The first step was to establish a centralised purchasing model, then build a talented procurement team to support her role.

“It was a very dysfunctional team that had little direction, that wasn’t aligned with the company’s strategic directions,” Irwin says.

Building an Effective Team

Today, Irwin heads of a team of 34 people and manages a mind-boggling AUD $900 million budget. She has implemented and centralised structure and processes within the procurement function. She has previously worked in procurement for Qantas and building firm Boral, though this role with Holcim Australia is her first where the procurement buck stops with her.

With those changes bedded down, her remit is again broadening, and she will now handle all buying across New Zealand for the company, with a recent trip across ‘the Ditch‘ to establish processes there.

Not only this, Irwin has developed a highly effective procurement team, which has been awarded the Internal Customer Excellence Award for Holcim Australia for three years in a row.

Her approach has transformed the procurement function for the company, with her team has an 80 per cent engagement score, which was the highest in Holcim Australia in 2015.

Irwin has strong capabilities in building effective working relationships with teams, development of Procurement strategy, management of supplier and keyholder expectations, highly developed negotiating skills, contract management, risk management and compliance expertise and operational experience through the implementation of change initiatives and process improvements.

Irwin was also recently awarded the CIPS Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional of the Year.

Building Individual Engagement

Irwin keeps staff informed on all aspects of the business, has an open door policy, and doesn’t mind being contacted after hours.

“I recently read that people play harder when they know the score. This is something Holcim Procurement do well. Not only do we have clear goals, (quantitative, savings targets), but we have the measurement tools the accountability element to keep score on how we are tracking.

“I believe this shared goal, as well as individual accountability to reach this goal builds individuals’ commitment to team uniformity direction, and overall engagement,” she says.

To emphasise her point, she recalled talking to someone in procurement who had major issues trying to speak to the head of the department. This was slowing down their ability to tackle their own role.

“This person would need to book a meeting with their superior two or three weeks ahead, and it was usually a walking appointment as he was always in between meetings. I honestly don’t know how someone can be that busy, that they’re practically unavailable for their own staff. You’ve got to make sure your staff feel engaged and supported, and that you’re a team.”

Nearly 70 per cent of her team is degree qualified, though that wasn’t a prerequisite when she entered the industry more than two decades ago.

“I always look to hire people that complement the skills we have, and find people who have talents in areas we need to improve in.

‘Be Inquisitive Problem Solvers’

Like so many working in procurement, it was never a deliberate decision to follow this career path.

Irwin deferred university and entered the workforce before stumbling into a procurement role, with the sound of buying things for a living appealing to her. She’s since completed a number of qualifications, certificates and management courses that support her role.

“Procurement is one of those professions that you’ll excel in as long as you’ve got the right soft skills.”

Irwin describes herself on being approachable, down to earth and honest. And she doesn’t take herself too seriously.

“Though depending on where you’re standing, that can be a bit rough as well,” she admits.

Procurement professionals need to be inquisitive problem solvers with strong communication skills, she says.

“While your superiors might be great at what they do, with all due respect, they don’t necessarily know more than you about your function within the business. Realising that you could well have a far better idea of the best approach than other senior people within your business can be professionally liberating.”

As far as the future goes, Irwin says the procurement function has an increasingly broadening remit.

“Procurement was entrenched in a brown cardigan mentality in the past, but that’s changing, and we’re now a business function that’s well respected across the globe.”

Kelly Irwin is one of the leading Australian professionals to speak at the second annual Women in Procurement 2016 event, which inspires leadership, advances careers and drives innovation in procurement, and supply chain function and practice. The event will be held in Melbourne in 21-23 March. Book your ticket here.

Crowdsourcing Big Ideas on the Future of Procurement

Through an unequalled think-tank event powered by social media, Procurious will enable the global procurement community to crowdsource their thinking on the future of procurement during the second annual Big Ideas Summit on April 21, 2016.

Big Ideas Summit 2016-logo

As the leading free online business network for procurement and supply chain management professionals, Procurious will connect 50 top executives, thought leaders and CPOs, with its 12,000+ worldwide members to forge new ground together.

Every delegate’s big ideas will contribute to solving thorny issues, and harnessing new opportunities. All are invited to participate by going to bigideassummit.com — where they can register for Procurious and then join the Big Ideas Summit Group.

“Procurement needs to start thinking the unthinkable and rethinking the possible – we can’t be constrained by our current paradigms. With social media allowing every one of us to have a voice, a digital conference helps us involve the whole world in the conversation, and enables access to diverse views and experiences,” says Tania Seary, Founding Chairman, Procurious.

“Our goal is to empower a new generation of business intrapreneurs – people who can think outside the box – to ignite change even in times of ambiguity. We hope to seed an innovation movement that knows no boundaries.”

Sponsored by IBM, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), The Hackett Group, and Coupa, the Big Ideas Summit will feature several provocative sessions. Leaders from these organisations, as well as the Economist, Facebook, AstraZeneca, The World Bank, and more, will discuss:

  • Thinking the Unthinkable: How the global business environment is changing, how to spot trends and disruptions, and ‘unthinkables’ to prepare for.
  • Rethinking the Possible: Today’s megatrends, from ethical supply chains to the Internet of Things.
  • The Conversation Century: How leaders are using social media to attract and retain the best and brightest talent, and maintain a career edge.
  • Procurement’s Blind Spots: How procurement is applying key agile capabilities, and addressing “unthinkable” risk mitigation issues.

Find your voice – the conversation has already begun! Participants are already asking hard questions, vetting their big ideas, and reading exclusive, advance insights from the presenters.

On April 21, when they log on to Procurious, they will also be able to exchange viewpoints on the proceedings, shared by video, and get involved in real time via social media, on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, using the hashtag #BigIdeas2016. Members will also be able to access more rich content in the days and weeks after this gathering.

Join the global movement now. Visit bigideassummit.com and register today.

Tweet this: Join the global conversation with your ideas for transforming #procurement at our #BigIdeas2016 Summit, April 21 www.bigideassummit.com

About Procurious

Procurious is the world’s first online business community dedicated to procurement and supply chain professionals. It’s a hub to advance your career, develop your skills and expand your global professional network. With 12,000+ members across the globe, Procurious aims to empower procurement leaders to connect, collaborate and take a more innovative professional outlook.

Think of Procurious as a professional network, news and knowledge hub, learning and career center, all in one place. Join now at www.procurious.com – it’s free to register and participate.

Here’s what else has been going on in the procurement world this week.

Primark’s Sustainable Cotton Programme

  • Under the Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme, women in Gujarat, India, are trained to improve cotton yields, increase their incomes and introduce sustainable farming methods.
  • A pilot, launched three years ago, saw 1,251 women smallholders increase their average profits by 211 per cent and yields by 12.6 per cent.
  • The pilot also saw a 5 per cent cut in input costs, a 12.9 per cent reduction in water use and fertiliser and pesticide use fell.
  • To coincide with International Women’s Day, the retailer has announced the programme will be extended by six years to an additional 10,000 women.

Read more at Supply Management

Amazon Plans Major Logistics Network

  • In order to reduce dependency on third-party freighter services, Amazon is building its own logistics network to keep up with customer demand.
  • The planes will be leased for five to seven years and run by various divisions of Air Transport Services Group, allowing Amazon to run its own logistics network in the US.
  • With this, the retail giant would be able to meet the demand of same- and next-day delivery for its customers, particularly Prime members.
  • Dave Clark, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations and Customer Service at Amazon said “We offer Earth’s largest selection, great prices and ultra-fast delivery promises to a growing group of Prime members, and we’re excited to supplement our existing delivery network with a great new provider.”

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

E-procurement in the UK Could Save a Fortune

  • The UK government could save up to £10 billion per annum through a reformed e-procurement platform by placing a greater emphasis on administrative efficiencies and market competition.
  • By using e-procurement models championed by the likes of South Korea and Estonia savings of 25 per cent could be made to the present £40 billion procurement bill.
  • Estonia currently attributes roughly 50 per cent of its expenditure through e-procurement platforms, saving an estimated 30-40 per cent on the cost of administering procurement.
  • However, the potential of e-procurement can only be achieved in the UK if trends accelerate.

Read more at Business Cloud News

Sustainable Palm Oil Production in Indonesia

  • The world’s second largest palm oil producer, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), has mapped its supply chain to 489 individual mills in Indonesia.
  • In 2014, GAR extended its sustainability policy to its entire supply chain.
  • Paul Hickman, GAR’s head of global vegetable oils and oilseeds, said “We see a clear industry trend where buyers want more information on the impact of the palm oil they purchase.”
  • Indonesia’s Astra Agro Lestari has signed the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP), along with GAR, whose signatories promise to eliminate deforestation, peatlands conversion and human rights abuses from their supply chains.

Read more at Supply Management