All posts by Procurious HQ

How e-Learning Is Changing the Face of Professional Development

From online video, to communities of learning and peer to peer networking, you’ll find a learning method most comfortable to you.

Learning is no longer something reserved for the young, With career progression never far from our minds and competition for roles at an all-time high, now is the time to suss out the tools we need to to better ourselves.

Buoyed by John Green’s fascinating TED Talk – ‘The nerd’s guide to learning everything online’, we set out on a mission to locate the web’s best learning aids. Be it through online videos, podcasts, social media, or likeminded communities, the majority of the learning resources you’ll discover are available to access from anywhere at any time. Plus the majority of e-Learning is either free or cost effective, so you don’t need to worry about splashing the cash.

The Internet is a great place to sharpen your skills and expand your horizons (if you know the right places to look). Whether you’re putting aside as little as five minutes, squeezing in some time between meetings, or want a more productive commute – learning doesn’t have to be hard work, when applied correctly it can even be fun.

Bite-size training videos

One of the most diverse e-Learning platforms on the web is Lynda.com – itself a LinkedIn company. Unlike some of the more procurement-focused examples in our list, the teaching straddles design, development, photography, video, audio, 3D and business categories – truly something for everyone!

Whether you decide to train individually or as part of a group, Lynda.com lets you set the pace, plus it lets you practice with samples and files provided by the instructor themselves. If you’re looking for something with less of a technical focus then perhaps you’ll consider Khan Academy? The online learning takes in subjects including math, art, history, science, medicine, finance and more.

Procurious also has a number of training videos from experts around the world on a number of subjects, including negotiation, SRM and risk. Happily you’ll find that all are currently available completely free of charge.

TED Talks

TED started life as a set of conferences and fundamentally designed to share ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’. Since its inception it has gone on to spawn TED Talks and smaller, locally-run TEDx events – to-date you can access an archive of 2100 videos on the official website.

With such a large global footprint you can find a TED Talk on just about any subject, but we’ve chosen to highlight Simon Sinek’s inspirational “Start With Why” as an example of the platform at its best.

The beauty of TED videos also lies in their relatively short running time too, with each clocking in at around the 18 minute mark. Brevity is key to their effectiveness – its curator Chris Anderson explained this is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold attention. It turns out that this length also works incredibly well online as it’s also the length of a typical coffee break.

If you haven’t already, be sure to digest our videos from our very own, self-styled TED Talks at the Big Ideas Summit and hear from some of the most influential voices in procurement.

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Soundcloud and podcasts

You’d be forgiven for thinking e-Learning is all about video. Audio is also a very effective medium in its own right and in many ways considered even more versatile. It doesn’t matter whether you pop in your earphones on a commute home, or listen to it during a car journey, unlike video you’re not tied to a screen.

One of the most popular audio networks for learning is Soundcloud. A search for ‘procurement’ on the platform returns a selection of over 300 podcasts (from 75 procurement accounts), spanning countries all around the world.

Soundcloud is easy to access via the web or using an app on your smartphone, so recordings are easy to listen to on the go as part of your personal development.

Peer to peer networking

The need for peer to peer networking was highlighted at Procurious’ very own Big Ideas Forum back in April last year. Whether it be through discussions on LinkedIn, Tweets exchanged on Twitter, discussion between members of The Faculty’s CPO Forum, or right here on Procurious. It doesn’t matter which level you’re at in your professional development, being able to utilise such networks as potential learning environments is a great habit to get into.

With the advent of the Internet learning communities have been made a reality. Through peer to peer networks you are able to learn, problem solve and benefit from the experience of others. One of the biggest examples is Rio Tinto’s learning academy – launched in 2014, the platform offers its 35,000-strong workforce learning materials and training modules at a pace chosen by the individual.

Such initiatives are slowly putting an end to soul-destroying, organisation-wide orientation days and sessions. The upshot? Freeing-up more time for employees to get on with their jobs, while leaving personal development to their own time.

At this juncture we’d also like to remind you that Procurious isn’t just a place to learn! Don’t forget to utilise the online network of procurement professionals we’re gathering right here in our community.

Has your organisation got something to offer?

Alternatively if you (or your company) wants to jump onto the e-Learning bandwagon there are plenty of variety when it comes to choosing a software package/learning platform to create your own learning resources.

Adobe Captivate 9
Oracle Taleo
Brightspace
Articulate Storyline 2
iSpring

Celebrating 10,000 Members – Procurious Power Profiles – Part 2

We’re continuing our series of articles celebrating reaching the milestone of 10,000 members on Procurious. 

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In case you missed it, you can catch up with Part 1 of our Procurious Power Profiles here.

We want to recognise some members of our community who are using Procurious to its fullest and hope to inspire the community to all get involved with sharing their knowledge and experience working in procurement and supply chain around the world.

Nausheen Aullybux, Marketing and Communication Lead, Ecovadis

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Nausheen only recently joined Procurious, but has already become a highly active member of the community. Nausheen was attracted to Procurious by the opportunities to connect with procurement practitioners, keep a pulse on how decisions are made and see how sustainability is fitting in to global procurement functions.

Nausheen would recommend Procurious to other professionals for the endless, global networking opportunities, sharing of insights, opinions and resources, and hopes in the future to keep connecting with like-minded people and have more conversations about their experiences in merging sustainability and procurement functions – goals, challenges, how they were overcome, collaborations, innovations.

Tom Derry, CEO, Institute for Supply Management

Power Profiles - Tom DerryAs CEO for a global organisation like ISM, Tom knows what works for procurement and supply chain. For him, Procurious enables professionals to leverage the immediacy of a social network in an appropriate medium, while adding value through allowing members to build their knowledge base, as well as their professional brand.

Tom’s favourite area of the site is the Discussion board, where he feels there is strong, practical value in the communications. Members are able to leverage the experience of their peers to facilitate real results.

As ISM becomes more engaged with Procurious, Tom hopes that more of its own members will get involved. The ability to connect to each other, as well as other non-members already on Procurious, opens up great opportunities for potential collaboration.

Elaine Porteous, Senior Associate, Caliba Group

Power Profiles - Elaine PorteousTo begin with, Elaine wasn’t convinced that Procurious would work, but gave the site a chance, and has helped to grow the community in her native South Africa, as well as writing original content for the site too.

Elaine believes the strength of Procurious lies in it not having an allegiance to any organisation or group, allowing a wide range of opinions and discussions to thrive on the site. These discussions help to provide learning opportunities for the network on trends and burning issues, plus help and advice from a global community.

Building on this in the future, Elaine hopes to see more learning opportunities on the site, as well as the members collaborating across borders and cultures, to allow procurement professionals to learn from others with different experiences.

Chris Cliffe, Senior Procurement Category Manager, Circle Housing

Power Profiles - Chris CliffeChris first joined Procurious after seeing the team at an event in London during 2015, and was inspired by the message of the benefits of social media in procurement to register, and to use social media more.

For Chris, the biggest advantage of the site is that it enables procurement professionals to connect with like-minded peers, and share experience and best practice. Chris believes the best thing about Procurious is the learning section, which has the potential to foster a profession-wide team spirit, regardless of organisation or geography, through the sharing of best practice.

Helen Mackenzie, Head of Procurement, Scottish Local Government

Power Profiles - Helen MackenzieHelen has been one of Procurious’ biggest advocates since joining the site, helping to spread the word across the public sector in Scotland. Helen initially came to Procurious to find an online platform to engage with people who shared her passion for procurement.

Since joining the site, Helen says the best thing about Procurious is the sense of community, of people helping others, commenting on posts and sharing advice. Helen has had people share their templates and experience with her and has also been able put people in touch with each other, most recently someone looking for advice on mobile phone procurement.

Helen says that Procurious is “a brilliant thing to be part of and very inspiring.”

Eddie Gibson, Senior Manager, East of England Local Government Association (EELGA)

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Eddie works for the EELGA, a group working on behalf of the 52 local councils in the East of England to harness collective strength across the organisations, including in procurement. Eddie found Procurious through the videos and content from the Big Ideas Summit 2015, resources that he believes are the best thing about the site.

Eddie believes that the biggest advantage of being part of the Procurious community is that the network is more focussed than sites like LinkedIn, that new content is being posted every day, and because it’s dedicated to procurement, individuals know they’re sharing with and talking to like-minded professionals who they can expect to be helpful and supportive.

The Power of Networking

Networking is a breeze thanks to the proliferation of social media platforms out there, but when it comes to networking in the flesh, some of us freeze. Here’s how to handle it like a pro and make the most out of the opportunity. 

Networking-Event

Depending on your point of view, networking events can either be viewed as a waste of time, or present a huge opportunity for procurement professionals. While you may not always be in the mood for heading out to a networking event, there’s no denying that a good reliable network of contacts is various industry groups is paramount.

Sydney PR professional Catriona Pollard says some people are a little nervous about networking because they’re not entirely sure what is expected of them.

“Bear in mind that networking isn’t about going in to the centre of a room armed with a megaphone and blindly talking about yourself. Networking is about building relationships, not just promoting what you do. Remember, people are more likely to do business with people they trust.”

Facilitate the Introductions

Focus on building relationships and think about how you might be able to help others. For instance, if someone you’re talking to is struggling with AdWords and you know a great contact, you can introduce them. This will pay back in kind, Pollard says.

“It’s as simple as asking a series of open questions so that people talk about themselves, she says. Get the ball rolling by asking how their week has been and what they’re doing on the weekend, and go from there,” Pollard says.

Also be sure you’re turning up to an event that will provide you with maximum networking opportunities.

Think about it from a marketing perspective to consider who your audience is and whether you want to align with peers or potential business targets. If you’re more likely to pull out at the last minute, set yourself some networking intentions to get along to one event a week, or month. Also set some intentions about the event, such as having five good conversations and exchanging business cards, or meeting at least one person you want to have a follow-up coffee with, Pollard says.

“You need to apply some strategic thinking to find the events that will best meet your own business targets. Look up the website and look at their past events, the type of audience the event usually attracts, how many people usually attend, the style of the event and who’s hosting it, Pollard says.

Importance of Networking Diversity

Janine Garner, CEO of The Little Black Dress Group agrees.

A like-minded networking event limits the breadth of conversation, she points out. Ideally, you want to be in a room with a diverse network that consists of people with differing levels of expertise, age, gender and experience, she says.

“Lawyers sit in a room with lawyers sharing their legal experience from the industry of law. CEOs play golf with CEOs, fashion industry PR experts mingle with other fashion industry PR experts.

“Imagine instead, the colour of the conversation if instead you had lawyers, accountants, creatives, athletes, marketers and business owners discussing the various solutions to a problem. Imagine the different perspectives shared, the varying insights, the depth of conversation that would stretch thinking and push perspective wider,” Garner says.

Meanwhile, remember that going along with a friend isn’t a good idea, because you’re more likely to spend the entire event catching up rather than networking.

Leave Your Comfort Zone

People are very open to approaches when you’re alone, because everyone is generally in the same boat at a networking event. This can play to your advantage, points out the managing partner of Brown & Chase Talent Acquisition & Advisory in Australia, Nerissa Chaux.

“Attending events alone also pushes you out of your comfort zone and you don’t waste the opportunity by spending the entire event chatting to your friends,” Chaux says.

She’s attended hundreds of events, and says you can get the best out of networking by making sure that you’re attending events where people will generally be similarly-minded and your interests align, she adds.

“Also, arrive on time. It’s always great to be the first one at an event, as you have the best opportunity of meeting everyone who comes through the door.”

Also, don’t wait for others to introduce themselves, Brent Duffy, director of Sydney leadership consulting firm, Maximus International.

“Be genuinely interested in others. It should be an equal 50/50 conversation. Treat the event as if your CEO was in the room, and see it as an opportunity to learn and hear about different perspectives rather than trying to gain quick wins for yourself, Duffy says.

“People love to share their learnings. Asking for advice demonstrates humility, your ability to listen and be open minded,” Duffy says.

“It’s more important to be an attentive listener who comes across as authentic and trustworthy, rather than someone who speaks candidly or excessively about themselves or their business. True listeners are rare, and people will remember you for this,” he says.

Remember the Follow-Up

The follow-up is crucial to ensure actually attending the event was worthwhile. This can take many forms, depending on the connection that you’ve had.

Janet Culpitt has been networking as a small business owner of www.focusonwealth.com.au for 16 years, and now teaches others how to get the most out of networking.

She recommends connecting on social media the same day of the networking event. Also check out any other social media groups they’re involved with, and request to join those if they’re relevant to you.

Culpitt will choose to send an ecard, a handwritten note, send a text message or sometimes she will make a phone call to their office to leave a message of thanks for talking the other day with their receptionist.

“Emails are fine, but they’re so common these days that I like to mix it up with other communication tools.”

Celebrating 10,000 Members – Procurious Power Profiles – Part 1

All the team at Procurious HQ would like to thank each and every one of our members for helping us grow our network and reach the milestone of 10,000 members.

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We’re so excited about reaching the milestone as it represents a landmark number for us that we have reached less than two years after we launched the site. It’s fantastic to see our community grow and evolve, and to watch all our members grow their networks, build their own brands on social media, and use what Procurious has to offer in order to develop professionally.

As part of our celebrations for reaching this milestone, we’ll be using this article, as well as one other later in the week, to recognise some members of our community who are using Procurious to its fullest and should inspire you to do the same!

Helen Rees, Procurement Manager, Mid & West Wales Fire & Rescue Service

Power Profiles 1 - Helen ReesHelen was one of the first movers on Procurious and has helped to promote the community from the beginning. Helen says she is a great believer in the power of networking (and has a network of almost 4,500 herself on Procurious), which was the main reasons she signed up to Procurious in the first place, as well as what she sees as the biggest advantage of the site.

Helen is an avid reader of the Procurious blog and thoroughly enjoys reading about other people’s experiences. She feels it is an excellent form of personal development as you learn about things that you may not have encountered within your own working environment. To find out more about Helen’s experiences, you can read her article on what procurement is like in Wales.

Bertrand Maltaverne, Senior Business Consultant, POOL4TOOL/Alengis

Power Profiles 1 - Bertrand MaltaverneBertrand highlights wanting to keep up with the current issues and challenges in the procurement space as the reason he joined Procurious, and felt that Procurious was the place for this as the first open, online, global community dedicated to the profession.

The people who make up the community, and their willingness to contribute and share, are what Bertrand enjoys the most about Procurious, with the global nature of the network bringing a diversity of perspectives that gives access to opinions from practitioners from all over the world. And, as Bertrand says, if you’re not a member now, then soon you might be the only procurement professional who isn’t!

Georgia Brandi, Category Lead, Newcrest Mining

Power Profiles 1 - Georgia BrandiGeorgia was attracted to the concept of Procurious as the initial setup of the site called for input from procurement professionals, highlighting that the functionality and focus reflected expectations and requirements of the community. Georgia has helped to shape the site with her fellow professionals, and continues to reap benefits from being part of the community.

The relevance of the content, news and discussions are what keep bringing Georgia back to the site, as well as why she would recommend it to others. She says that there isn’t the same dilution of the message due to irrelevant content, and the dedication to procurement has actually enabled her to solve a work-related issue through an answer she received in the Discussion forum.

Just the sort of success story in knowledge sharing that Procurious was built for!

Justin Plokhooy, Director of Procurement, USAA

Power Profiles 1 - Justin PlokhooyJustin is one of the more recent members of the community, but has certainly gotten involved whole-heartedly, particularly in the Discussion forum, which he says provides an invaluable learning experience for both him and the community, due to the ability to interact with other Procurement professionals in real time on real world topics.

A community of like-minded professionals who he could leverage and share with was what attracted Justin to Procurious, and he says other professionals should get involved because having access to a true community of professionals, all facing the same problems as you, plays a big part in the value you can bring to your organisation and, ultimately, to your career.

Anna Spady, Marketing Manager, RFP365

Power Profiles 1 - Anna SpadyAnna is one of the many providers into the profession who have joined the Procurious community but are also giving back by sharing their experience from the supplier side of the table. Connecting with, and learning from, the procurement community and influencers, as well as accessing thought leadership and joining discussions were the key reasons Anna joined Procurious initially.

Anna says that the biggest advantage of the site is the knowledge shared through the articles and posts, as well as the helpfulness and eagerness of the community to get involved, answer questions and share their insights. In Anna’s words, the best thing about the site is knowing “that there is a one-stop-shop for procurement.”

Kevin Collon, International Procurement Consultant, APIBS

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Kevin has been an active member of the community for a while now, regularly contributing to discussions, as well as sharing content for the Procurious blog. Kevin enjoys the most that Procurious brings together people starting out in their career and experienced senior members all in one place.

Kevin finds Procurious to be a great place to share or discuss ideas with these like-minded professionals, in a thoughtful and respectful community, dedicated to Procurement. He also says he recommends Procurious to all procurement professionals if they haven’t already joined the site, as it’s a good place to pick up the latest news and trends and connect with others anytime and any place.

Make sure you check out our Power Profiles in the community and connect with these guys. Plus, stay tuned, as later in the week, we’ll be showcasing some more Procurious Power Profiles.

10,000 Reasons to Join Procurious

Procurious is celebrating its 10,000th member months ahead of its second birthday in a milestone that has surpassed all expectations.

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We’re delighted to make this announcement and want to take the opportunity to thank all of our members for helping us to build and grow such a fantastic community.

When we launched in May 2014, we wanted to provide a hub for members to advance their careers, develop their skills and expand their professional networks. We like to think that the growth in the community suggests that we’re making a difference for procurement and supply chain professionals.

Shifting Procurement Landscape

A huge shift is in the making within the procurement/supply management profession. While cost remains important in the procurement function, professionals work at the interface of an extended global supply chain and are responsible for an ever-growing corporate spend.

Increasingly, Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) command a seat next to the CEO in the boardroom, and successful supply management practices are seen as pivotal to corporate growth. As a result, demand for new talent is soaring, and so are advancement opportunities.

Against this backdrop, Procurious broke new ground in May 2014, when it launched as the first free online global business network for curious, ambitious procurement and supply management professionals. Building on its mission to strengthen the global supply chain community, Procurious has become a vital source of knowledge, connections, news, and advancement opportunities.

Unlike other communities, Procurious offers a powerful combination of career advancement, skill development, and professional networking, all on one platform. With more than 80 eLearning videos, discussions on everything from commodity indices to procurement systems, and a wealth of guest writers adding their voices to a twice-daily blog, Procurious is at the epicenter of the industry

Flexing Collective Muscle

“The complexities of procurement and supply management are a world away from what they were a decade ago. Executives realise the huge risk posed to their business if there are supply chain disruptions, or costly reputational damage caused by bad management and supply chain practices,” said Ms Seary.

“This means that organisations of all shapes and sizes are placing a far greater emphasis on procurement professionals, who are commanding a seat right next the CEO at the boardroom table.

“It’s a world away from the procurement function within organisations a decade ago, when procurement was still considered a backroom function. Back then, buyers struggled for influence over corporate spend, typically buying from large suppliers and sticking with long-term contractors, with the primary focus on cost.

“Many of the issues the profession faces are too big for any one person or company to address alone. It’s exciting to think what our global procurement community can achieve as we flex our collective muscle.”

Engaging the Community

Procurious members engage with the site daily to find a daily stream of highly relevant and credible procurement news and information and broader business and tech/digital news that can be difficult to locate among the noise on LinkedIn.

Procurious member, Chetan Shetty of Productivity Champion Advisory Services in New Zealand, said the site contributes to their business network efforts. “The site is very different and a refreshing approach to connecting with like-minded professionals.”

Members hail from over 140 countries and represent some of the largest organisations in the world including Visa, BHP Billiton, British Airways, Apple, IBM, Shell, HSBC, Unilever, NHS and Deloitte.

You can join the Procurious community for free today by registering at Procurious.com.

To celebrate our milestone, we’ve created a neat infographic to illustrate just how far our 10,000 members could take us…

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Meanwhile, here are some of the key headlines from procurement and supply chain this week…

Child Labour Concerns in Battery Supply Chain

  • A new report from Amnesty International and African Resources Watch has raised concerns about child labour in the battery supply chain
  • The report states that “very few” companies are taking the required steps in due diligence, particularly in relation to the mining of cobalt
  • Amnesty accused major global organisations, such as Apple, Samsung and Sony, of “failing to do basic checks to ensure that cobalt mined by child labourers has not been used in their products”
  • Cobalt is not currently covered under the US Dodd-Frank Act, which is limited to tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold

Read more at The Financial Times

First Stage of “Space Data Highway” Launched

  • A node was launched into space on the back of a communications satellite on Friday, which was the first part of Europe’s new space “data highway”
  • The European Data Relay Satellite (EDRS) has been planned as a way to increase the volume and speed of data transmission, as it doesn’t require the relay from an Earth-based ground station
  • EDRS-A node will relay data, including picture and radar images, that will be used to monitor floods, sea ice and oil spills
  • The system, costing Euro 500 million ($545 million; £380 million), will also be available to paying customers once it is fully operational

Read more at Business Standard

Peugeot Signs Iran Manufacturing Deal

  • PSA Peugeot Citroën has signed a deal which will mean that three of its current models will be manufactured in Iran over the next five years
  • The deal, a Joint Venture between PSA and Iran Khodro, is expected to invest up to €400m over the next five years in manufacturing and R&D
  • Manufacturing of the latest Peugeot 208, 2008 and 301 models will take place in Tehran, with the first completed vehicles expected in 2017
  • It comes just a week after economic sanctions against Iran were lifted, and means a return for Peugeot to the country where it manufactured vehicles up until 2012

Read more at Supply Management

Google Plans to “Beam 5G” Using Drones

  • Google is building and testing a fleet of solar-powered drones capable of beaming 5G signals for mobile phone networks
  • Codenamed “Project SkyBender”, the drones will be able to transmit data up to 40 times faster than standard 4G, through the use of cutting-edge wave technology
  • The drones are being manufactured by the Google Titan part of the organisation, formed following Google’s acquisition of Titan Aerospace in 2014
  • It is hoped that these drones will enable Google, and other providers, to bring the internet to remote areas around the world

Read more at The Verge

Procurious Big Ideas Panel Discussion #4 – What Are We Doing to Create Communities of Practice?

What is the procurement profession doing to create communities of practice?

Building on Tania Seary’s keynote speech and the idea of collaboration across the procurement profession, David Noble, Tania Seary, Diego Barilla and Sue Steele discuss what can be done to bring a dispersed community together.

From spend entrepreneurship to professional accreditation and certification, the final discussion panel at Big Ideas Summit 2015 threw up some interesting questions and answers and got the wider group thinking about how we can help to map our future.

Watch the full discussion here.

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

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

Buy vs. Lease – The Sharing Economy and Procurement

It was tarnished as a fad, or worse still, a hipster trend. But the ‘sharing’ or ‘collaborative economy’ is here to stay. This new purchasing practice is changing the way we consume products and services in our daily life.

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There is hardly an article about this new economy that doesn’t discuss the way that companies like AirBnB and UBER are disrupting consumer markets.

The number of Americans who have taken part in the sharing economy has grown by 20 per cent in the last 18 months. You would be hard pushed to name another sector that has seen a similar increase.

What is the Sharing Economy?

For the uninformed, the sharing or collaborative economy refers to the peer-to-peer sharing of goods and services (normally in place of purchasing outright), and is generally facilitated through a community-based online platform.

As is highlighted above, the sharing economy has gained a lot of traction in consumer markets such as accommodation (AirBnB), transport and ride-sharing platforms (UBER), and business funding (KickStarter). There are many, many more examples.

What is less clear is how or, perhaps more importantly, when these new purchasing practices might find their way into common procurement practice. Smaller organisations, or ones with less formal procurement processes, have allowed the use of businesses like AirBnB for business travel, although this is far from the norm.

Procurement has been doing it for years

But it poses an interesting question – is the sharing economy really any different from the age-old procurement question of ‘buy vs. lease’?

‘Buy vs. Lease’ is one of the key decisions frequently made by procurement, irrespective of the industry in question. For example, when an outlay was required for a new asset, say vehicles or fleet, the ‘Buy vs. Lease’ question would be asked (and usually answered by senior decision makers) as to whether the goods should be bought, or merely leased as required, leaving the maintenance and up-keep to someone else.

Building Furniture in Berlin

This cross over between big business procurement and the small-scale personal sharing economy was highlighted brilliantly on a recent trip one of the Procurious community made to Berlin (and was kind enough to share with us!).

Friends of theirs had recently returned to Germany after seven years living in Sydney, and had moved into a new flat. The flat came completely unfurnished (no curtains, no lights, no kitchen cupboards), so significant furniture construction was required before they could fully move in. Some of the new furniture was ubiquitous IKEA gear, and thus required nothing more than an Allen key and a lot of patience to construct.

However, other items required more work and, importantly, more tools. This included an orbital sander and other wood working tools to alter a chest of drawers so that it would fit into a small space inside the new flat.

Ordinarily this would have required a trip to a hardware store and a large outlay on new equipment that would subsequently lie redundant for years to come. But in Berlin, and many other cities around the world, there is app called peerby that can help. The app allows individuals to connect with other people locally and lease/borrow items they have (at a small cost), rather than buying their own.

Cost Considerations

Interestingly, the considerations for Buy vs. Lease are the same whether you are constructing furniture in Berlin or buying plant equipment in for a mining company in Western Australia. In order to make a good decision, buyers should consider how often they’ll use the product, how core it is to their operations (if you plan on doing a lot of woodwork, maybe its worth buying the orbital sander), the cost per use, and when the product will become obsolete.

It seems the sharing economy has merely brought an old procurement process (Buy vs. Lease) to the consumer market, meaning that purchasing practices that previously could only be leveraged by big business are now available to recreational (perhaps that’s the wrong word) furniture builders in Berlin.

It remains to be seen whether or not these practices will cycle back round again in the procurement world, but under the guise of the sharing economy.

Smart Cities – Revolutionising Public Procurement in Barcelona

Barcelona – a city of churches, tapas and endless Gaudi landmarks – boasts an intriguing procurement initiative that is fundamentally changing public procurement methodology. 

The concept is new and the way changes are being made is a stroke of genius. Traditionally, public procurement initiatives have looked something like this:

  1. Determine the problem
  2. Determine a solution
  3. Develop a scope of work containing detailed specifications as to how the problem should be solved
  4. Go to market to see who can meet your specification.

Decision-making is generally carried out within the four walls of a government building and leads to nothing more than a race to the lowest price point between two or three large suppliers.

Turning Public Procurement on its Head

Barcelona has completely flipped this process. Rather than telling suppliers what they want, they are simply outlining problems that are present within the city (like bicycle theft or potholes in the road) and asking the public to come up with innovative ways to solve them.

By opening civic problems up to the cities entrepreneurs, Barcelona is leveraging a vast pool of innovation and creativity that resides within its city. The following quote by CityMart‘s (the organisation behind this initiative) CEO, Sascha Haselmayer, sums up the approach brilliantly.

“City governments need to get out of procuring by specifying the solution they want. They can’t possibly have enough knowledge to do that well. What they should do is specify the problem they want to solve and show metrics on what success looks like. And then allow the market to inspire them to find the best solutions.”

As well as suggesting product solutions, applicants to the BCN Open Challenge are encouraged to challenge current city regulations and services in order to address six of the city’s key civic problems. Essentially, the canvas is blank and creativity, freethinking and innovation are encouraged.

The response to this initiative has been astonishing. Since Barcelona published its six city challenges online, the initiative has received over 50,000 views and more than 100 official submissions. CityMart stated that a benchmark number of views for public procurement contracts of this nature would normally be around 7,000.

Boost for Small Business    

In a country whose economic woes are well documented, this initiative provides a vital lifeline to Barcelona’s small and medium sized organisations. CityMart claim that 98 per cent of all ‘open procurement’ projects listed on it’s website are awarded to small and medium sized organisations.

This is a significant contrast to traditional public procurement tendering practices; where long lists of specifications and pre-requisites along with protracted contract award cycles, rule out all but the largest and most established suppliers from winning public contracts.

When you consider that city and community spending globally accounts for $45 USD trillion a year (yes that’s right…TRILLION!), you begin to get an understanding of the impact this sort of initiative could have for small businesses across the world.

An Engaged Community

It’s not just small business that benefits from the new model Barcelona has implemented. The project is making huge progress in improving community engagement. The city defines its problems in conjunction with its citizens, encourages these citizens to suggest solutions, and then uses tax payer funds to provide a work space from where these problems can be solved.

If that’s not effective community engagement, we don’t know what is. The project’s tagline is ‘Open for business. Open for innovation’ and it certainly holds true.

While opening a city’s problems up to the public certainly encourages innovation, community engagement, and supports small business, it’s important not to overlook the financial benefits these projects can create.

Global consultancy firm McKinsey has estimated that city governments can reap savings of up to 10 per cent by opening up procurement contracts and leveraging innovative community based problems solving.

Don’t tell your suppliers specifications…ask them for solutions

All procurement teams can learn something from the work that is happening in Barcelona. Procurement professionals could all benefit from being a little less prescriptive in telling suppliers what it is they want. The power is in admitting that these teams alone can’t possibly come up with the best solution to every business problem they face.

But how can professionals possibly know what they want when they don’t know what’s out there? By admitting their ignorance and opening up problems to more people, it is possible to leverage the vast creativity and innovative power that lies within communities.

So move your discussions away from specifications and prescriptive statements of work, be more creative and stop telling people what you want and start asking for solutions.

Think Quality Over Price When Purchasing Corporate Uniforms

Price isn’t the most important element of a uniform negotiation, according to a disruptor in the Australian uniform industry. 

An award-winning Australian uniform market disrupter has urged procurement professionals to think twice when considering haggling on price for the company’s corporate attire.

Melbourne’s modern uniform manufacturer, Cargo Crew, reveals that while procurement is far more than just being about price these days, some negotiations start and finish with price and deadline requirements. Other procurement professionals appear to be more progressive in their approach, treating the transaction as a partnership rather than a mere supplier by looking for ways to cement a strong relationship from the outset.

Choosing Quality

“We’re dealing with procurement professionals in increasing numbers, and want to help them understand the benefits of a quality uniform, which has the potential to transform the entire image of an organisation overnight,” client service director, Narelle Craig, says.

“You should never under-estimate the importance of the corporate uniform when you’re next in the market for an upgrade.

“When it comes to uniforms, price should not be the most important factor. We use audited factories to manufacture our product line, have ethical certifications not to mention using the highest quality materials and a client care team, and all of that comes at a cost. But it delivers huge value to an organisation, and removes a lot of the headaches felt by procurement professionals who have countless things to consider when ordering a uniform,” Craig says.

By choosing a quality uniform, procurement professionals are saving their company money in the long term. This is because they don’t have to replace their uniforms as often, saving the resources to coordinate re-ordering uniforms, and lessens the number of staff complaints that their uniform isn’t wearing well.

‘Fashion-Forward’ Uniforms

Cargo Crew was launched in 2002 by Craig’s sister, Felicity Rodgers, who as a fashion designer noticed a gap in the market for fashion-forward uniforms.

The business has flourished since launching its first range of Denim uniforms in 2012. Cargo Crew has dressed growing numbers of corporate Australian and New Zealand organisations including staff at Renault, Freedom Australia, ME (the bank), Dulux Group and SkyBus.

Comfort, the breathability of the fabric, attention to details such as longer length tees and shirts so staff can reach comfortably in the line of duty is paramount, Rodgers says.

“A uniform completes an organisation’s corporate story and reflect what the business stands for. Staff need to feel really good about what they wear, and again, that comes at a cost. Procurement people need to keep in mind the style, look and image they want to reflect in their brand,” Rodgers says.

“We set out to create a uniform brand that not only filled a gap in the market, but also excited and engaged our audience.”

The business is also investing heavily in operations under the watchful eye of Paul Rodgers (Felicity’s husband), who is focused on business efficiencies such as warehousing space, online ordering platforms, reporting and client management.

Cargo Crew Team

The Cargo Crew Lead Team (l-r): Paul Rodgers, Felicity Rodgers, Narelle Craig

Direct to Client Sales

Cargo Crew differs from other uniform suppliers in that it cuts out the middle man, selling a retail-quality product direct to the client rather than to a wholesaler to on-sell.

The business won the 2015 Telstra Australian Small Business of the Year Award for developing a product range with flair usually lacking in the wardrobes of corporate Australia. The Telstra Award comes on the back of 44 per cent overall sales uplift year-on-year and a growing number of corporates interested in their product, which boasts 60 variations.

In the past six months, the company’s stock holding size has grown six times. The world is sitting up and taking notice, too, with interest and orders coming from Italy, USA, UK, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Sweden, France and more.

The emphasis on style has seen the Melbourne-based business with an online store transform the modern uniform since the company launched 14 years ago. Cargo Crew now employs 18 staff.

“We’ve noticed both small and big competing businesses try to mimic our style, brand and product range, which is actually a big compliment, but of course brings its own set of challenges to the table that we’ve had to deal with.”

Cargo Crew has increased the partnerships it has, expanded its range, held a pop-up event in Sydney and even started its own publication, The Crew Review. It also has plans under way to develop a new division of the business for corporate clients, soon to be announced.

Will Amazon Over-Stretch Its Supply Chain with ‘Dash Replenishment’?

Back in March last year, when Amazon announced its ‘Dash’ button service, many people thought it was an early April Fool’s joke. As it turned out, the online giant was completely serious.

The first Dash devices went live this week and, although currently there are only a small number of products available with Dash Replenishment, it’s clear that Amazon has plans to expand its range and deliver another service that promises to disrupt and change the way we shop for frequently used goods.

Dash Button Partners

For those of you who don’t know, the Amazon Dash Button is a wifi-enabled electronic device, aimed at making re-ordering commonly used consumables and household goods easier. Each Dash Button is unique to a specific product, and when the button is pushed, an order is placed for that product through the user’s Amazon shopping app.

The Dash Buttons exist in two formats. First, the Buttons are built into electronic equipment (think printers, washing machines, etc.) and are used to reorder consumables specifically for that equipment. The second format are buttons, sold individually, for specific products (washing powder, toilet roll) that users can leave in convenient places around the house to assist with their shopping.

To begin with the Buttons will only be available on request to Amazon customers who are already registered for Amazon Prime. Once requested, customers will then link the Buttons to their existing accounts.

To date, Amazon has announced Dash deals with a number of electronics manufacturers, including Samsung, Whirlpool and Brother, as well as with large FMCG organisations like P&G, for products like Tide and Bounty.

Supply Chain Pressure

It is a testament to Amazon’s willingness to push the boundaries of their business model that they would even try this sort of service. Not known as a site where household items are commonly purchased, Amazon are looking to leverage their experience in current activities and try to change our shopping habits. Again.

However, some experts have warned that Amazon might be putting too much pressure on their service management systems and supply chain by introducing another service that is built around fast delivery and high levels of customer service.

With an increasing number of customers using Amazon’s Prime next-day delivery service, the launch of Amazon Prime Now one-hour delivery in some cities around the world, not to mention the roll-out of Prime Now Restaurant delivery in some American cities, it’s not difficult to see where issues may arise.

Neil Penny, product director at Sunrise Software, comments: “Amazon’s Dash Replenishment is the retail giant’s foray into instant gratification and user convenience, with the model using connected devices to potentially provide limitless access to products while also removing any effort from the user themselves.

“However, the more seamless and predictive a service appears, the more work must go on in the background to meet these mounting expectations. While the idea is great on paper, it is questionable how realistic it will be for most firms with their current fulfilment strategies.”

Customer Expectations

As with anything else that Amazon does, customer expectations will be high. The retailer will have to work hard to ensure that the expectations are met for both product availability and delivery times.

In order to make sure that this venture succeeds, Amazon will have to work closely with its own service providers and supply chain to ensure that the products currently available under Dash Replenishment are available when required, and that the service providers can meet deadlines for stock delivery, delivery capacity and order prioritisation.

And should the current model succeed, it may see Amazon expand the products available, both for the inbuilt and individual buttons, as well as having other companies follow suit with their own products.

Penny states, “While Amazon’s new service is launching with products like print and washing supplies, the automatic model is likely to see widespread adoption across other companies and industries in the next few years.  With IoT-enabled devices becoming increasingly more commonplace, more firms will come under pressure to adopt similar approaches.

“Being able to keep track of the complex web of suppliers and service level agreements and respond to demands quickly will be an absolute requirement for any service provider hoping to keep up with demand.”