All posts by Procurious HQ

Five Ways Procurement Can Change the World for Entrepreneurs

“Behind every growth story like ours, there’s always a procurement person who has provided an opportunity.” Procurious caught up with inspirational dynamo Nina Vaca at ISM2017 to discover why procurement needs to give entrepreneurs every chance.   

“The unsung heroes of my stories are always in procurement and supply,” says Nina Vaca. The Chairman and CEO of Pinnacle Group has experienced a roller-coaster of ups and downs in her 20-year journey from a niche IT business that was started on her living room floor to the workforce solutions powerhouse it is today.

“Success is rarely linear,” Vaca says. “Some of the hardest moments of my life were after 9/11, when we were at the brink of bankruptcy and almost didn’t make payroll. But every time, someone in procurement saved the day by providing the opportunity to bid.”

Procurement wasn’t just responsible for pulling Pinnacle Group back from the brink. A series of big breaks, provided by people who saw the vast potential in Vaca’s business, enabled an incredible growth story from a local, to regional, to national, to a global player. “Whether it has been the CPO, or a procurement executive, or a procurement manager responsible for our sector – those are the people who have always given us a shot,” she says.

Vaca gives the example of an RFP from the procurement team at Verizon. “We lost the first, the second – by the time we got the 10th RFP, we asked them for mentoring to discover exactly what we needed to do to win the contract. When we eventually won the contract it had grown from a tiny piece of work to a significantly bigger opportunity.”

“Our next big break came from the CPO of Electronic Data Systems. At that point we were a $40 million company, and we won a $160 million contract. Again, it was because the CPO really believed in us, and mentored us through the process. That contract took us from four states to all 50. That was followed by our biggest contract in Pinnacle’s history, awarded to us by the CPO of Comcast. We didn’t know each other very well initially, but he was willing to take a leap of faith and was very intentional about doing business with us. They were looking for a minority-owned company for a very strategic piece of work. That was a very aggressive RFP process, but winning that contract affirmed our ability to provide service on a very large scale and helped us become the number one fastest growing woman-owned company in the US.”

The result of Pinnacle Group’s incredible growth was that the company found itself breaking through a ceiling that no other Hispanic, female-owned company had crossed before. “When I broke through that ceiling, I found myself to be the only woman, and the youngest, to be in that position. That’s not acceptable to me, which is why it’s so important to nurture hope and inspiration in others to do the same thing. In a way, when the CPO awarded us that contract, the community benefits outweighed business benefits.”

“‘Ambition’ is seen by some as a dirty word, along with wealth creation. That’s how the U.S. has prospered, through people creating wealth not only for their families, but for their communities and the nation. For my daughters, ambition is a necessity, so long as you approach it in a positive way, and not by trying to succeed at the expense of others.”

Five ways procurement can help entrepreneurs succeed:

1. Provide them with an opportunity to play: Big breaks, such as those that propelled Pinnacle into its position as a market-leader, were only made possible because someone in procurement saw potential, took a risk and provided an opportunity.

2. Do your homework: “Look for the best and brightest, not just at the numbers”, says Vaca. Depending on your organisation’s goals, you might be looking for the fastest-growing or most scalable organisation to work with.

3. Mentor entrepreneurs: Contracts are won when someone in procurement is willing to guide you, offer a helping hand, take your phone-call and provide an opportunity. The common thread across all of Pinnacle’s big breaks is there was a supportive CPO mentoring them through the process.  

4. Sponsor wherever possible: Vaca has a very clear definition of sponsorship: “Sponsorship means someone being willing to put their personal brand on you – your success is their success.” How do you attract sponsors? “Be crazy good at what you do, and you’ll become a magnet for people who want to sponsor you. They won’t sponsor you if you’re not bringing your best every day.”

5. Get engaged in the ecosystem: For procurement, this means getting out of your comfort zone and getting engaged with organisations like ISM, or ramping up your online presence to build your network. For Vaca, engagement means philanthropy and providing inspiration and information to people who may want to follow in her footsteps. For this reason, she launched ninavaca.com, immersed herself in promoting STEM education, and takes every opportunity to give back to the community. “We host groups of students all the time at Pinnacle headquarters, and we are the industry partner for Thomas Jefferson Collegiate Academy – an early college high school preparing students to work in STEM fields upon graduation. If you want to do global things, start locally.”

Nina Vaca is Chairman & CEO of Pinnacle Group, and Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.

Best of the Blog – 3 Ways To Build A Match Fit Procurement Team

You never know what’s on the horizon, so you need to be prepared for anything. For procurement that means staying agile and always being match fit.

Everyone loves a good throwback article, which is why we’re hopping in our time machine to bring you back some of the biggest and best Procurious blogs. If you missed any of the golden oldies, look no further!

This week, we’re revisiting an article about procurement agility in the digital age, featuring advice from Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader at The Hackett Group.  

Given the pace of change in the external environment, being agile means constantly changing, never standing still. It’s not about putting out fires, it’s about ensuring that fires never start in the first place.

For procurement, this means creating and maintaining agile teams, and staying match fit for what comes next. Staying ahead of the curve, be it change, risk or technology, is critical for the future of the profession.

Procurious has spoken to Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader at The Hackett Group on a number of occasions about why procurement needs to put agility at the centre of all its activities.

This year, Chris took the conversation one step further, discussing ways to enable agility through digital transformation and creating an agile team. However, to do this procurement needs to ensure it’s thinking ahead, not just looking at the problems it needs to solve now.

Chris outlines three top tips below on how procurement can be prepared to handle any future issues.

  1. Be Match Fit

As we’ve said above, the key to being agile is ensuring flexibility. A quick way to lose agility is to create a rigid environment that doesn’t allow trying new things.

Define what procurement can and can’t control, and what activities it can drive. Make sure that your procurement team is aligned to the corporate strategies and objectives. It’s a good way of making sure that new ideas will be fully considered as part of the overall organisational strategy.

For example, if Procurement decides they want a diversity programme and the CEO isn’t behind it, it will never reach its full potential. The same goes for technology. If the CEO isn’t invested, the project will never get off the ground.

But even if your company isn’t focused on technology yet, you can be sure it will be in the future. It might be six months, or it might be five years, but it’s better not to be forced kicking and screaming into this new era.

Procurement needs to be ready to go when the business is. You don’t want to be asking for six more months of planning if your CEO wants a transition now. Be ready – have a list prepared of the top three initiatives for technologies, and how they will be implemented. That way you won’t be caught short.

  1. Educate Yourself

If you want to be prepared, you need to be in the know. Don’t be scared of new technology and bury your head in the sand – be aware of what’s out there. Have a list of the most relevant and best technology and know what it can do for you.

Part of that awareness is also preparing for new technology. Procurement teams need to know what’s happening in the market place, and how it impacts them. You don’t need to know everything, but you at least need to be cognizant of it.

That way, procurement can look at the big issues in organisations through the lens of how technology can help. Is there a technology out there that could help with this issue?

If global collaboration is a major issue, there are social platforms that could help connect all your teams to each other, and even their suppliers.

Maybe there’s a technology that could augment (not just automate) a procurement activity that you are performing today. You might finally have access to all kinds of data, but it’s about knowing what you can do with it to extract competitively differentiating insights.

  1. Create Agile Teams

If you aren’t agile then you can’t prepare for any of this. In fact, it’s unlikely you’re even in a position to be ready to start preparing.

To create agile teams you need to have the basics in place, get ahead of these issues, and aim to be predictive. If you knew what was going to happen (sadly crystal balls are in short supply), you would have the ultimate level of agility, and be able to get ahead of any issues.

However, it’s critical that procurement retains the ability to deliver against organisational objectives at the same time. There’s no use being agile if it means that procurement fails to deliver on the basic requirements.

If you can’t get the basics done, then there’s no point in even trying the ‘fancy’ stuff.

Reimagining What We’re Trying to Achieve 

The main problem at the moment is that we can’t even imagine what is going to be possible in the future. The pace of change is so fast that technologies are adapting and evolving in a matter of months, rather than taking years as it did in the past.

It is critical that procurement becomes more adaptable, and ensures that professionals are as informed as possible. Until you have this understanding of technology, you’re losing out. It’s not about the problems you want to solve, it’s also about the problems you’ve not even thought about yet.

The future is an ‘Unknown Unknown’, but with a match fit, agile procurement team, at least you’ll be prepared for what comes next.

Who to follow on Twitter at #ISM2017

Heading to ISM2017? Digital-savvy delegates know that alongside the audible buzz of conversation heard at the event, there’s another rich dialogue taking place – on social media.

With an estimated 2,500 supply chain and procurement professionals en-route to ISM2017, there’s a lot to look forward to. From 21st to 24th May, delegates will share knowledge, learn and network with peers and industry leaders at the stunning  Disney Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida.

A stellar line up of speakers includes keynotes from former UK Prime Minster, David Cameron, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin L. Powell and owner of Difference Makers Consulting, Annette Gregg.

But, before you print your tickets and hop on that plane, take a few moments to ensure you’re social-media ready. If you’re not keeping up with what’s happening online, you could be missing out on key information or opportunities!

First up, Procurious has an ISM group, which will keep you updated on all things ISM, including related articles and updates from the event itself.

Twitter has already seen a buzz of activity around the official event hashtag, #ISM2017. If you’d like to keep up to date with all of the online chatter but are struggling to know where to begin, this handy guide will get you off to a flying start.

And remember, even if you’re unable to attend the event in person, these social media channels are a fantastically convenient way for you to engage with and learn from some of the event’s key discussions.

Here are our top recommendations of people to follow on Twitter for ISM2017:

  1. Institute of Supply Management

    Let’s start with the obvious. There’s a number of key ISM Twitter accounts to follow via:

ISM’s official account: @ISM 

ISM’S official magazine account: @ISM_Magazine  (And a small heads up – The May issue of the magazine will be in your conference tote bag) 

ISM’s Chief Content and Engagement Officer, M.L. Peck: @MaryLuePeck She’s the brains behind a lot of the ISM initiatives you’ll see launched during the conference. She’s also a very strong advocate for women in procurement. 

2. Procurious

You can bet that our representatives from team Procurious will be out in full force throughout the conference.

Procurious Founder and CEO Tania Seary will be delivering her top tips on how to Network Your Way To The Top on Tuesday May 23rd, 3.45pm. And Hugo Britt, Procurious’ Content Director will be blogging and tweeting from some of the top sessions so both those in attendance and the wider procurement community can stay  informed.

When we’re not blogging, you’ll be able to find us in the exhibit hall at booth 439; we’d love for you to come and meet us!

Follow us on Twitter via: 

Procurious’ official account: @Procurious_

Tania Seary: @TaniaSeary

Hugo Britt: @HugoBritt81

3. Spend Matters

Spend Matters will be releasing the ‘50 Providers to Watch’ and ‘50 Providers to Know’ lists for 2017 at ISM2017. Besides highlighting some of the best in class procurement providers, they will also place a spotlight on relative (and promising) newcomers in the space.

Follow Spend Matters via @spendmatters 

4.  MFG Talk Radio

Instantly recognisable in their bright yellow jackets, the team at Manufacturing Talk Radio are the voice of manufacturing globally. Their live radio show broadcasts online to listeners all over the world in all manufacturing industries.

They’ll be conducting interviews with some of the best and brightest minds in procurement and supply chain to hear their thoughts on the current state of affairs and where the industry is going to go from here.

Follow MFG Talk Radio via @MFGTalkRadio

5. Lara Nichols,  SVP Head of Procurement NFP

Lara is Chair of the ISM2017 Conference Leadership Committee and co-leads the Bottom Line Learning Track.

Lara will be presenting a session at ISM2017 entitled Are Your Contracts Doing Their Job? where she  will be joined by Tim Robb, EVP General Counsel, NFP.

Last week Procurious caught up with Lara who gave some excellent advice on how to get the most out of ISM2017, revealed what she’s most looking forward to and explained how to not Bore the Board!

Follow her via: @LaraNichols 

6. Brendan O’Connell, Director Design, SEO & Social, ThomasNet

Brendan will be at Booth 526 with the ThomasNet team supplying Supplier Risk and Evaluation Reports. He’s very active on Twitter and sure to keep you up to date on everything that’s happening in the exhibit hall!

Follow Brendan via: @BrendanOConnel

 7. Daniel Perry, Senior Account Executive, EcoVadis

Daniel will be representing Ecovadis in a panel discussion on Sunday 21st May, titled Do you Have a 360 Degree View of your Suppliers?  In his own words, Daniel wants to “save the world by improving the sustainability of global supply-chains”.

Follow Daniel via @DanielRossPerry

What To Do When Slavery Is Revealed In Your Supply-Chain

It’s the stuff of every CPO’s worst nightmare; finding evidence of slavery within their organisation’s supply-chain. Sadly, it’s probably more common than you think…

It’s relatively easy to turn a blind eye to modern slavery, particularly when it’s not happening on your own doorstep.

It’s also easy to assume that modern slavery isn’t a prevalent issue in today’s society.

But the stats don’t lie. The Global Slavery Index 2016, produced by the Walk Free Foundation, revealed that over 45 million people are estimated to be affected by modern slavery, more than in any other period in history.

58 per cent of those living in slavery are based in five countries:

  • India
  • China
  • Pakistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Uzbekistan

India, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh all provide low-skilled labour for industries such as food, production, textiles and technology. Uzbekistan is a major cotton exporter.

The Global Slavery Index, which resulted in 42,000 interviews spoken in 53 languages across 25 countries, helps governments, organisations and communities to stay focussed on eradicating modern slavery wherever and whenever it occurs.

Perhaps, given the overwhelming statistics, it’s a case of when, not if, modern slavery will be discovered within your supply chain.

So what do you do when it is?

Red Flags: What will you find?

Firstly, it’s important to understand and look for the red flags, which might be extremely subtle. The likelihood of modern slavery is increased in conflict zones and unregulated sectors, particularly if the jobs are low-income and do not require education or specific skills. Migrant workers, women and children are among the most vulnerable.

Circumstances when passports or identification documents have been removed, excessive recruitment fees are subjected upon migrant workers or subcontractors further outsource work without prior consent are all indicators of exploitation.

Encountering one of these situations may not in and of itself amount to modern slavery but your organisation mustn’t assess anything  in isolation. It’s important to look for the series of signals in order to  decipher whether they paint a clear picture of modern slavery.

Developing a Corrective Action Plan For Modern Slavery

Fiona David, Executive Director of Global Research for the Walk Free Foundation, has some words of guidance and reassurance “My first tip would be ‘don’t panic’.  We know that modern slavery exists in supply chains, so if you find it, you are looking in the right places. The issues that are identified will drive the response”.

Companies responding to modern slavery should develop a corrective action plan based on two fundamental priorities:

  1. The first is short term priority; immediately protecting the victims involved in order to end the abuse
  2. The second is the long term priority.  Companies must find solutions to eradicate the underlying problem which allowed modern slavery to exist in the first place. This may require fundamental shifts in business models or the nature of supplier relationships

These two priorities should underpin every company policy, which should be focused on finding solutions rather than punishments. Critically, those within the organisation and supply-chain must feel safe and confident to speak up, and not fear punishment or recrimination.

Advice from the Walk Free Foundation

  • Be open about what you’ve found: “Companies such as Marks and Spencer, Nike and Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group have all been open about risks identified and violations.”
  • Collaboration is key: Fiona is keen to remind organisations that “no one company can address [modern slavery] in isolation.” Organisations must collaborate with suppliers, competitors in the sector, governments, NGOs, and civil society.
  • Does your organisation have a part to play? Perhaps the culture within your organisation has fuelled the occurrences of modern slavery within your supply chain. Maybe you’re applying unrealistic pressures and time frames? This could be inadvertently encouraging suppliers to use unreliable operators resulting in excessive working hours or under unacceptable work practices.
  • Grievance Mechanisms:These are a formal way for workers to lodge complaints and resolve working condition problems. As well as improving employee satisfaction and productivity, these are crucial in safe guarding workers’ rights. Safe helplines or whistle-blowing procedures must, Fiona explains,  “be freely accessible in appropriate languages, regions and throughout your supply chain, without fear of recrimination.”

What not to do

It might have crossed your mind that an easy solution to tackling, or simply avoiding, modern slavery in your supply-chain would be to pull out entirely from high-risk countries.

Removing Bangladesh, for example, from your supply-chain could be a quick solution to a complicated problem, right?

Wrong!

Communities in countries with high proportions of modern slavery are in desperate need of the economic opportunities your organisation provides. Taking your business elsewhere would only worsen the situation.

Fiona explains the importance of global supply chains because they “create employment and other opportunities for economic and social development, and pathways to help those break the cycles of poverty.” Similarly “immediately terminating supplier relationships is often not the right answer because it can drive the issue further underground.”

The correct, and most socially aware, response is to continue sourcing from these high-risk countries whilst ensuring you have credible audits and systems in place to address any potential problems.

Fiona also makes the important point that “Modern slavery occurs in every country whether developed or under-developed” and so it cannot be avoided simply by vetoing certain countries.  “A recent case found Hungarian workers being exploited in conditions described as ‘modern slave labour’ in a factory in Yorkshire, England.  This factory produced beds, which were supplied to British high street retailers such as John Lewis and NEXT. ”

Procurement needs to share the work load

“Procurement teams are on the frontline,” Fiona asserts. “They manage supplier relationships, they understand the business, the risks and the regions in which they operate. The indicators of modern slavery, being a grievous crime, is actually quite easy to identify, when you know what you are looking for.”

But advocacy groups and investigative reporters mustn’t be the sole figures doing the digging to reveal incidents of modern slavery.

“CSR and Procurement teams should work together across the sectors on these issues, as addressing modern slavery is a “pre-competitive” issue.  Companies can’t compete on sub-standard ethical and criminal practices.”

Searching for modern slavery within your organisation and acknowledging its presence might be one of the tougher pills to swallow but any CPO with a conscience would prefer to reveal and address it head-on. Surely that’s better than burying heads in the sand?

And, as Fiona reminds us “Not only is it the right thing to do morally, but it is also legally required. With laws in the UK, EU and US and debates in Australia about whether to adopt equivalent laws, increasingly it is no longer a voluntary issue, businesses must look at these issues and report on them.”

Fiona David, Executive Director of Global Research,  Walk Free Foundation, will be delivering a keynote speech at PIVOT: The Faculty’s 10th Annual Asia Pacific CPO Forum.

Have You Got The Grit Required To Be A CPO?

When your supply chain is in daily danger of being rocked by disruptive events, it takes grit, determination and resilience to remain proactive.     

Procurious asked straight-talking Zimmer Biomet VP of Global Sourcing & Instruments, Howard Levy, for his thoughts on the top three attributes required by the CPO of the future. His answer? Resilience, results-orientation and flexibility.

Remain calm and set an example

“Being a CPO isn’t for everybody. Sometimes, people spend time in a sourcing leadership role and decide it simply isn’t worth the stress. Resilience can be the factor that separates the people who really want to be a leader from the rest.” Levy points to the increasing “churn” of CPOs in a number of major global companies as evidence of the pressures of the role.

How do CPOs cope when things go wrong? “Resilience is the key. There are always going to be challenges and supply chain issues coming up. CPOs need to be very confident in their ability to manage risks globally, and put in place proactive strategies that will reduce the overall risk, such as compliance and single source risk reduction initiatives.”

“Dealing with tsunami-type issues on a day-to-day basis requires a high-level ability to remain calm and at the same time urgently drive progress.  It is like running a marathon, but not knowing what is around the next corner.  So the leadership team must have the right expertise, customer service orientation and set the right tone by demonstrating results orientation, flexibility and resilience.”

Levy comments that the procurement team has an opportunity to set the example of remaining calm and moving forward, even when unpredictable events come up across your global supply chain. “It is challenging to stay proactive and productive. Ask yourself if you and your team have the right level of grit and the right systematic tools to do so.”

Be flexible

Levy notes that today, everyone expects things immediately. That’s true on an individual level where people expect instant responses to phone calls and emails, but always for large organisations that need supply chain agility to be successful. “Companies are requiring a level of flexibility and responsiveness that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago”, he says.

“Companies need someone who has flexibility in their mindset and can work strategically across their supply chain and business partners to discover what’s best for the business – not just what’s best for strategic sourcing. Flexibility is critical, given the dynamics of globalisation and the imperative to more effectively engage our suppliers in meeting the business units’ strategic needs.”

Deliver the bacon

“The days of symbolic figureheads who spend their time on the golf course are over”, says Levy. “We’ve all met some who is ‘all talk’, but talk will only take you so far. If you don’t deliver the bacon, ultimately they’ll find a new CPO who actually has the capability to deliver results.”

What’s the bacon? “Anything that enables the business to grow – adding value, generating innovation from suppliers or reducing costs. The CPO’s contribution will be a critical element of any business of the future.”

Howard Levy is a member of the ISM2017 Conference Leadership Committee, where he is responsible for the “Outside” learning track. He recommends delegates catch the following sessions:

Planning to attend ISM2017? Don’t miss out on Procurious Founder and CEO Tania Seary’s top tips on how to Network Your Way To The Top on Tuesday May 23rd, 3.45pm.

Image: True Grit (Paramount 2010)

 

The Power Of An Online Network

Your online network can give you the edge in procurement – but only if you’re an active, value-generating participant in the community. 

Rising through the ranks of the fast-paced procurement world can be a hectic and sometimes even lonely pursuit.

To counteract this, a growing numbers of industry professionals are actively seeking out online communities of like-minded industry mavens to converse with.

Online communities can significantly bolster your professional standing in the broader procurement sector. Some people post helpful information on a regular basis to online business communities. Others pop into online communities for companionship, as they give people access to a different group of people to talk to instead of the colleagues they see on a daily basis.

Forging online relationships can bring huge value to your position in the procurement world, so make sure you pick a couple of key online communities to focus on. These groups are valuable because they encourage the sharing of content and industry-specific information that can help you in your role.

Professionals often join business communities for support, and people feel accomplished when they contribute useful information to the online community. By helping others, members can gain a feeling of being needed and appreciated by others.

LinkedIn is just the start

Australian marketing executive Jacqueline Burns was an early adopter of business online community LinkedIn. She leaves LinkedIn open on her computer all day and dips into conversations constantly.

As managing director of Marketing Expertise, Burns has been a prolific blog publisher on the platform, creating and sharing relevant information to her industry sector both domestically and internationally on a regular basis. To date, she has published more than 60 articles on LinkedIn – and the benefits have been significant.

“A lot of my work comes through the platform, simply by being present. I’ve secured many clients directly from LinkedIn who have been seeking someone with my services and I’ve been logged on and responded,” Burns says.

“I’ve secured a major client via my LinkedIn community, and also a large software-as-a-service provider from the US whom I’ve never met before,” Burns says.

Online communities add value to your role

Aaron Agius of digital marketing firm Louder Online says there’s been a natural push to use online communities for personal branding among many sectors. However, he’s a much bigger fan of using them for growth and education, with two communities in his field sharing a lot of personal insights that ensure he always walks away with new ideas. “Lately, I’m finding better information there than a lot of the marketing blogs,” he says.

While he could spend all day interacting with fellow marketers, he’s got too much on his plate to make that happen. “There’s definitely a balance between maintaining a regular presence in an online community without spending so much time there that it takes away from your actual work,” he says.

“I’ve found social media communities to be a great place for networking with others in my field. You’d think that marketers would be a private bunch, yet the relationships I’ve built through sites like these have given me great friendships with people I can go to if I have a questions, want to vent about an issue, or need a second set of eyes to help me figure out a solution,” Agius says.

Get started

Look for industry-specific communities that enable procurement professionals to ask questions, seek support and make connections, which can add huge value to your role.

Online communities can be a great tool for shortlisting vendors or to pre-qualify firms. Simply asking industry peers for their opinion is a great validation process for gathering additional intelligence.

Adding value goes both ways, though, so make sure you truly engage with the community, care about what others are asking for advice on, and be the solution to meet their needs when you’re able to.

It’s also important to be consistent. If you can’t keep up with the number of posts, then decrease your posts and pick a couple of key posts to contribute to each day, because quality and consistency trumps quantity. Also, bear in mind that different parts of the world come online at different times of the day, so taking 15 minutes to post in the  evening can offer huge value to an industry peer on the other side of the world.

However, as Burns points out, just having access to an online community isn’t enough – being an active user can bring you so much value. “You can’t just create a profile online and then walk away. Your online community is the place to show a bit of personality, and you need to be interacting regularly to get value from it.”

Can Procurement See Past The End Of Its Nose?

Procurement must learn to think the unthinkable, predict the world weather forecast and look further than the end of it’s own nose when it comes to technology in order to remain relevant!

The Procurious London Roundtable was sponsored by Basware

Procurement 4.0, Cognitive Procurement and Thinking the Unthinkable were among the hot topics canvassed at last week’s inaugural meeting of the Procurious London Roundtable.

Packed with leading-edge speakers, a ready supply of valuable expertise, peer-led market intelligence, and networking, CPOs were unanimous that a reimagined Procurement must be the business’ source of market intelligence on these issues – if it is to secure and maintain a “seat at the table”.

Speakers addressed everything from global politics to AI and making it ito the C-Suite. If you’re intrigued to hear what they had to say, look no further; we’ve managed to pack the finer points into one, handy article!

Learning To Talk Across The  Lily-Pads

Nik Gowing, BBC Broadcaster,  Visiting Professor at King’s College and Big Ideas Summit 2016 Speaker,  joined the roundtable to provide an update on Thinking The Unthinkable.  Unthinkables are critical events that are not being considered or prepared for by organisations or by our governments around the world.

From Brexit to the election of President Trump;  from Putin’s invasion of Crimea to upcoming European elections, unthinkables have been occurring frequently over the last few years and they’re not letting up! In fact, if anything, unthinkable events are happening more rapidly than ever before.

Nik firmly believes that, in a world of social-media, time-scales for unthinkables which were once 20 years could now be 20 months, 20 days or as little as 20 minutes!

Take the infamous United Airlines (UA) flight as an example. Last month,  a passenger was violently dragged off a plane, the incident was filmed and then instantly shared around the globe. In a matter of minutes, UA’s reputation was destroyed and has perhaps threatened  the way airlines will operate in the future.

Nic’s advice for preparing for the future? Instead of destroying mavericks within our organisations, we need to turn them into visionaries and harness a culture where they can thrive. Nic has likened the current situation to frogs on lily pads – everyone is sitting in the same pond but not talking to one another – we need to find a way to come together and talk.

Grab An Umbrella And Face The Future

Justin Crump, CEO Sibylline, shared Nic’s concerns for the future and expressed his desire for organisations to address the current void of awareness about, and study of, the corporate security intelligence environment.

An intelligence-led approach to managing risk and predicting disruptions to your business  is absolutely the  way to go. It allows you to work out when you might be forced to take risks and when it’s worth taking them!

But how do you go about doing this? It all starts with reading your morning paper with purpose! Justin suggests you ask yourself why you’re reading it  and how and why it’s relevant or interesting to you. Consider where your clients work and where your supply-chain  is based. If missiles started flying over a particular country, would it be critically damaging to your business?

It’s possible, and preferable, to turn reading the news into a data-collection process by collating information and highlighting the important areas to disseminate to people within your organisation.

If in doubt, implement the ADAM model:

ASSESS – Understand your business and your world and what these interactions mean to you

DECIDE – Derive actions to help mitigate risks and refine into an achievable plan

ACT – Implement planned actions

MONITOR  – Use ongoing world risk register outputs to understand what is changing in your world. This will help you predict the world weather forecast and figure out when you’ll be needing an umbrella!

Looking Further Than The End of Your Nose

Eric Wilson, head of Basware‘s Purchase-to-Pay business for the Americas and APAC, discussed the critical actions CPOs can take today in order to safeguard against technology obsolescence. When 90 per cent of technology is about to become irrelevant can procurement implement a watertight process that evolves with industry trends?

Eric asked our roundtable attendees to consider the following scenario:

A new CPO comes into an organisation and instantly sees that there is  a problem with procure-to-pay and maverick spend.  They know they can save a whole load of money for the business. They challenge their employees to develop a business case, which a cross functional team evaluates and a score-card of criteria is developed.  Whilst this might sound like a totally reasonable approach there is a one major problem. Eric explained that the challenge with this process is that it focuses five inches in front of the CPO’s face; they’ve seen a problem and they’ve fixed it.

Remember Siebel? Not so long ago it was the best CRM system you could possibly use and was responsible for shifting the entire workplace environment into customer relationship management. Anyone who hadn’t bought Siebel already was about to and huge investments were made.

But, almost overnight, it became completely obsolete thanks to arrival of the Cloud. Siebel went bust, many a CMO lost their job and money was wasted, all because no-body looked further ahead.

Eric explained that the next wave of procurement technology is not just about the traditional goals of visibility, control and savings.  Harnessing the value of the transactional data running through the system will be key.

Given the way tech is trending, particularly AI, within three years 90 per cent of procurement tech will be obsolete.  People will not raise requisitions – robots will! And procurement must prepare for that.

What’s Holding Up Cognitive?

Pascal d’Arc, former GM of Cognitive Scale, talked us through the journey to cognitive and what some of the practical applications are in today’s world. Is cognitive really all the fuss it’s hyped up to be?

Judging by some of the fascinating examples Pascal gave us, absolutely! One such example was a cognitive system that had been given the ability to experiment with building a drone. The resulting machine had a frame shape which was modelled on the pelvis of a flying squirrel, representing something very close to nature.

But why is the progress of advancing and using cognitive tech so slow, what’s holding us back in procurement? According to Pascal it comes down to a number of things:

  1. The technology so far has been very experimental. There has been a sense of frustration towards IBM but they are still experimenting
  2. Expectations are huge. We are often missing the low hanging fruit when it comes to deciding what to tackle
  3. Procurement isn’t a key investment area…yet! Fintech and healthcare are the current priorities

Aiming For The C-Suite

Damian Walsh, Partner at Heidrick & Struggles,  gave our CPOs some top tips on what it takes to get to the very top. How do you successfully move on to a bigger CPO role, step up to CEO or take on a non-executive role.

  • Whatever it is you want to do, tailor your approach accordingly
  • Be clear about what you want and position yourself for it
  • Be clear about what you have to offer – think in terms of business solutions. There is no such thing as a “transport”company any more
  • Get your CV in order and make sure it’s accurate- so many people don’t!
  • Manage the search firms – be selective and understanding and clear about what you’re looking for
  • Work on your personal brand- thought leadership, speaking engagements etc.
  • Work your business and personal networks

The Procurious London Roundtable was sponsored by Basware

If you’d like to secure your seat for our second London Roundtable on 11th October 2017, please register your interest with Olga via Olga.luscombe@procurious.com

Apple To Finally Get Into Bed With Amazon

Will Apple and Amazon put aside their differences and unite in time for the launch of Apple TV? 

The professional relationship between tech giants Apple and Amazon has been rocky to say the very least.

Firstly, In 2014 Amazon removed  in-app payments from the iOS versions of several of its services  in response to Apple demanding a 30 per cent share of the profits.

And then, in what was considered by many to be a bizarre decision, Amazon announced in October 2015 that it would no longer be selling Apple TV or  Chromecast because of the direct competition between them and Amazon’s own streaming products.

At the time, the move was likened to Apple TV’s refusal to play Netflix’s streaming service because they did not want to promote a competitor, but Apple eventually gave in.

Whilst certain reports this week suggest there are changes in the waters, Amazon’s Echo Show announcement  this week might be a little too close for Apple’s comfort.

Will Apple Echo Amazon’s product?

Last week, Amazon introduced the latest Alexa expansion, unveiling an Echo with a touch screen and a camera. The Echo Show features “everything you love about Alexa” with the added benefits of being able to show you things – whether it’s the weather forecast, a wikipedia page, a video, photos and more.

The device allows users to video chat with anyone who has an Echo, Echo Dot or the Alexa App, posing a big threat to Skype and  Apple’s FaceTime video-calling service.

Watch Amazon’s Introducing Echo Show video below to find out more.

The device costs $229 and is expected to be a huge hit when it begins shipping in late June, quite possibly to the dismay of Apple.  Indeed, the rapid speed at which Amazon has managed to expand its Echo hardware and the reasonable price points present a real threat to Apple.

As its already proven many times, Amazon is in the unique position to deny competitors access to its store. And that’s not to mention it’s currently ahead of the game and anything Apple subsequently releases is likely to come with a hefty price tag.

Time will tell what Apple has up its sleeve and whether consumers are willing to sack in their i-products for Echo.

Amazon Video for Apple TV

Various rumours have suggested this week that Amazon and Apple are headed in a much friendlier direction.

Last Thursday, Buzzfeed announced that the one major flaw of Apple TV was to be addressed: Amazon’s Prime Video service will, at last, be made available. Apple are expected to announce an Amazon Video app designed for Apple’s set-top box at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 5 in San Jose.

Last year Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, explained that the company was waiting for  “acceptable business terms” with Apple before  a Prime Video app was considered.  Perhaps those terms have now been agreed.

If all goes ahead, Amazon is expected to return the favour by resuming sales of Apple TV’s on its website, following a two year hiatus.

In other news this week…

Co-op releases first slavery statement under the Modern Slavery Act 

  • Co-op has outlined how it sources, the clauses it uses in contracts and the steps it takes to audit suppliers withe regards to modern slavery. It also describes how the Co-op helps former slaves into work.
  • The 10-page statement outlines the Co-op’s ethical policies, its supplier approval process and how it carried out 444 audits in 2016.
  • The Co-op said it provided training for suppliers and it planned to develop a new procurement academy and roll out a business-wide training and awareness plan on ethical sourcing.
  • Cath Hill, group marketing director at CIPS, said: “The Co-op’s modern slavery statement is an excellent example of what organisations should be doing to combat this important issue. “

Read more on Supply Management 

Like coffee? You’ll like it even more when it’s sustainable!

  • Australians use an estimated one billion disposable coffee cups annually, but these cups are not recyclable in most states…until now!
  • Melbourne-based social entrepreneur Soula Thuring has taken the direct approach, selling biodegradable coffee cups with an additional Enviro Grow kit which turns the used cup into a plant
  • The $2 Grow Cup of Life kit contains a soil pellet that expands with water, a seed mat and instructions for growing kale, beetroot, rocket and other healthy foods. It can be planted in the backyard or elsewhere and it breaks down in a few months
  • Recently the social enterprise, Streat, teamed up with Melbourne-based coffee startup Pod & Parcel to put its coffee in biodegradable coffee pods to be used in Nespresso machines

Read more on The Guardian 

2017 FM Global Resilience Index exposes supply chain risks

  • The 2017 FM Global Resilience Index, which was recently released, provides SCMR readers with additional insights on emerging nations
  • The annual index, which is online and interactive, ranks 130 countries and territories by their enterprise resilience to disruptive events
  • Supply chain managers are being told that three of the most pressing risks to business performance in the 21st century are cyber attack, natural hazards and supply chain failure

Read more at Logistics Management 

Image credit: AppAdvice

Find Your Tribe On Procurious

Looking for your tribe on Procurious? Whether you want to connect with colleagues by country, category or campaign, we’ve got you covered…

At Procurious, we like to think we’re very accommodating, which is why we want to help you find your tribe. No matter where you are in the world and whatever your interests, there’s a Procurious group, or two or maybe even three, out there waiting for you.

Groups can be created based on events, industries, categories, regions, countries, organisations and interests. We’ve highlighted some of the corkers to get you started!

Bravo: Women in Procurement

Procurious launched Bravo late last year to celebrate and promote women in procurement and challenge gender discrimination in the workplace. It’s statistically proven that organisations with greater employee diversity achieve better business results and yet women still represent less than 5 per cent of CEO positions.

Gender balance within the procurement function is also skewed, particularly at the top of organisations. Together, we can change that.

This group is a much needed platform for women in procurement to communicate, share ideas and experiences,  mentor and be mentored and stand up for change

As part of the Bravo campaign, we’ve interviewed a whole host  of high profile procurement leaders about their own advice to young women starting off in Procurement, and how they’re helping females get ahead. You can find links to all of these articles via the group.
Read more about the Bravo mission here and join the group here.

Institute for Supply Management (ISM)

This group is your one-stop shop for everything ISM-related from related articles, to interviews and ISM event information.

Procurious have been lucky enough to sit down with most of this year’s THOMASNET and ISM 30 Under 30 Supply Chain Rising Stars to find out what it takes to embark on a successful procurement career. You’ll find all of the links to these interviews in the group.

At the moment, we’re welcoming the delegates who will be attending #ISM2017  in Disneyworld  May 21-24. This group is designed to  enrich the online experience for ISM2017 delegates and members who can’t make it to Florida in-person.

Join this group and share #ISM2017 news, blog articles, event photos, recommendations, network with new connections, and continue the conversations after the event!

Join the group here.

Procurement Toolkit

This group features procurement tools and templates to save you time and effort. These tools can instantly boost your productivity and help you get “unstuck.” Use them to confidently meet the challenges that come your way.

Access the documents tab within the group to download everything from Statement of Work (SoW) templates to Project Management templates orSourcing Risks and Issues Log

Join the group here.

Is Your Nation  Represented?

There’s a whole host of fantastic regional groups chattering away on Procurious that you might not know about. If you’re unsure whether your country is represented we suggest you take a look for yourself – you might be pleasantly surprised! Here are a few of the most active ones:

  • Netherlands Procurement Professionals – Join here
  • Brazilian Procurement Professionals – Join here
  • Spanish Procurement Professionals – Join here
  • Melbourne, Australia Procurement Professionals – Join here
  • Italian Procurement Professionals – Join here

And remember, you can always create your own group whether it’s distinguished via country, industry, interests, your organisation or something else entirely! Simply visit the groups tab on Procurious and click “Create Group” and you’re good to go!

What are you waiting for? Pick your tribe and get going!

Cyber Criminals Could Hold Your Data Hostage

Password theft, identity theft, ransomware – in an age where hacking has become the career of choice for tech-savvy criminals, data protection must be a top priority for CPOs.

“Cyber criminals don’t need to even leave their house to do damage,” says Craig Hancock, cybersecurity expert and Executive Director of Telstra Service Operations. “One breach of trust and the consequences can be irreparable. These days, the traditional idea of criminals – think balaclavas, weaponry, a getaway car – has moved off the streets and into cyberspace.”

Are you prepared for cyber criminals? Do you have your business information secured? How do you manage the confidential information of your customers? And what do you have in place to mitigate risk?

Hancock will deliver a cybersecurity update at the upcoming 10th Asia-Pacific CPO Forum, where he’ll demonstrate how frighteningly easy it is to steal data from a computer by showing a live hack. “I’m planning on showing the group how easy it can be to hack a business, with basic tools and knowledge. I want to make sure everyone is aware about what goes on in the world of cybersecurity threats, and give them some understanding of what they should be doing to help mitigate these threats.”

“Mitigate” is a key word here, as Hancock predicts the cybersecurity challenge faced by businesses and organisations will continue to grow year on year. Notably, he says that any organisation offering a fix-all solution to “solve” your cybersecurity challenge should be avoided.

“It’s an ongoing challenge – cybersecurity has evolved enormously from five years ago, and is likely to look entirely different again by 2020. There’s no single ‘fix’ and there are plenty of bright, shiny objects to distract your security team. You would be wise to put in place some basic, common-sense measures and controls and partner with an organisation that understands the extent of the threat.”

What are the risks?

Cybercrime can be initiated through your head office, at weak point in your supply chain, or even through IoT-enabled devices with low-level protection. Among the types of crime that can take place, Hancock mentions:

  • Password theft: with the obvious prize being the password or access code to users’ bank accounts.
  • Identity theft: a customer’s date of birth and other key information (such as health records) enables criminals to assume their identity, or to sell on this information to others. This can be very expensive for the company that has suffered the breach.
  • Ransomware: Hackers can lock your company’s data in an encrypted vault and demand a ransom for its release. A famous example of this occurred last year when a cyberattack on a Los Angeles hospital left doctors locked out of patient records for over a week, with the hackers demanding a ransom of $3.7 million in Bitcoin.

Telstra’s Craig Hancock will deliver a cybersecurity update at PIVOT: The Faculty’s 10th Annual Asia Pacific CPO Forum.