All posts by Procurious HQ

Procurious Big Ideas Keynote #2 – Big Ideas in Big Companies

The second keynote from the Big Ideas Summit was delivered by Chris Lynch, CFO at Rio Tinto, who picked out the key theme of risks and blind spots in procurement.

Chris spoke about fostering a culture of “intrapreneurship” within large organisations and understanding that the bigger your idea is, the more resistance it will face.

However he went on to state that by persisting with your idea, taking ideas from other sources, including suppliers, and showing the outcomes, you are more likely to succeed.

Watch the full keynote here.

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

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Automating Procurement Management Is A Way to Drive Efficiency

Procurement management is a critical process and technology has been playing a major role in driving its efficiency.

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The procure-to-pay cycle, which involves everything from requests-to-suppliers to final payments, requires solid control and faster turnaround. It helps improve organisational efficiency by a big margin. According to FSN, an independent research and publishing organisation, “Automating the procure-to-pay process will be the easiest way to drive significant benefits for any organisation, whether it is a large public sector company or a small trading firm.”

The traditional or manual procure-to-pay process is exceptionally labor and document intensive. It involves processing mountains of paperwork, cutting through bureaucracy for purchase-order placements, gaining budget approvals and managing payments. That’s time-consuming and error-prone and brings low supplier satisfaction. But with automated procure-to-pay systems, work becomes much simpler.

The Benefits of Automation

Procurement efficiency can trigger a chain reaction that leads to better efficiency and a healthy return on investment. Experts point out that organisations using automation have an average of two-day purchase-order cycles, compared to the 7-day cycle for firms that use the manual process.

Automation of the procure-to-pay cycle streamlines the process and delivers key benefits like:

  • Faster communication with suppliers

Automation provides real-time interaction with the suppliers, which reduces time-consuming paperwork. Suppliers can instantly access the documents, contracts and the information that helps them understand the process completely. Employees get to access best practices online, deliver faster decisions and select the best course of action. Faster decision-making helps to improve efficiency of the procure-to-pay cycle.

  • Quicker cycle times with purchase orders and approvals

In most organisations, workers spend most of their time drawing up contracts and reworking them to incorporate changes. But with automation of contracts, management becomes easier. Online templates, where minor changes can be easily incorporated, help to save time.

You need not reinvent the wheel all the time by creating contracts from scratch for every supplier. Existing contracts can be stored and reused as and when required. Receipts, invoices, account information and other documents can be easily replicated with appropriate templates readily available within the system.

  • Instant data capture

The procure-to-pay cycle is extremely paper intensive. Online invoices, receipts and bills, which can be easily mailed to suppliers, reduce the effort and time spent on manualkeying. With the proliferation of mobile devices, apps can be used by employees to validate documents and upload relevant information from any part of the company. Therefore, an employee from the warehouse can easily send real-time information, which can be monitored by the accounts department instantly.

  • Better audit trail

The use of standard templates, online interactions and real-time document uploads create an audit trail that can be instantly identified. All communication with suppliers and other pipeline partners is captured. It can be referred to in case of disputes. Multiple stakeholders and departments can simultaneously view the interactions, and thus facilitate greater visibility and transparency.

  • On the go authorisation

Once the invoice has been generated, it requires approvals from different departments. Automation can trigger electronic authorisation and the data can be immediately entered for final processing. Multiple approvals can be configured within the system. Mobile access authorisation helps fast-tracking the approvals for users on the go. The system also sends email alerts for pending work, thus reducing the cycle time.

  • Faster payment cycles

Automated procure-to-pay has reduced supplier lead times, creating better trust for company actions. Executives can streamline company strategies to ensure that employees and stakeholders are trained to access and utilise the system for better outcomes.

Organisations that have automated procure-to-pay systems have clear advantages over those who continue with manual processing. Automation helps in driving up efficiency and utilising your workforce for developing effective strategies.

Ashly J is veteran industry expert working as a Marketing Operations Manager in India. She focuses on growing Expenzing procure-to-pay systems as an open source product, and communicates the value of identity to customers, partners, and the larger community, by targeting specific markets through segmentation and analysis.

Getting it Right on Social Media – 10 Do’s and Don’ts

Even for a seasoned pro, or ‘Master’ as we like to say at Procurious, social media can be a minefield to negotiate.

SocialMedia_Large

One wrong word, one misplaced link, or even something as small as a spelling mistake, can have you people clicking “Unfollow” in droves.

Like with reputation or trust, a social media following takes a long time to build, but can be undermined and disappear in the blink of an eye. But what can you do to ensure that you are getting social media ‘right’, and providing value for your followers.

We’ve pulled together a list of Do’s and Don’ts for you to remember the next time you are linking, tweeting or social networking.

Do

  1. Add Some Personality

Some platforms more naturally lend themselves to being a bit more creative with your profile, while others are very much more suited to a more professional outlook.

It’s important to make this distinction when creating your profile. You can still add some of ‘you’ to a professional profile, but try to get the balance right. Inject some personality into your profile and people will naturally engage more with it.

  1. Use Accounts Wisely

Use your profiles in a sensible fashion, but also in a way that suits you best. Want to use Twitter to gather information, rather than post yourself? Great – look for people to follow and stay up to date.

If you do post, do this in a logical way. Don’t post a dozen times one day and then nothing for the next week. It’s a sure fire way to stop people following you. Whatever you do, don’t create a profile and leave it to stagnate – it’s probably worse than not having a profile at all.

  1. Post Sensibly

Facebook is great for keeping up to date with your friends; Instagram is awesome for photos you want to share; Twitter is amazing for condensing your message; LinkedIn can help you get ahead professionally.

Your friends probably don’t need to see your CV, in the same way peers, and potential future employers, don’t need to see photos and videos of your children/pets/wacky family. Keep the message in line with the feel of the platform.

  1. Shorten Your URLs

There are few things more off-putting on Twitter than a post that is more URL than content. Long URLs are hard to read and interrupt the flow of your message.

There are great tools out there like bit.ly and tinyurl that can help with this – plus they’ll also help to steal a few characters back for you.

  1. Change Your Public (Vanity) URL

Surprisingly few people take advantage of this on Facebook and LinkedIn. When you first create a business account, your public URL will be a stream of unintelligible letters and numbers. However you can change this to your name, or the name of your business.

This will make it easier for people to find your profile and will be significantly easier for you to remember too.

Don’t

  1. Overuse Hashtags

People still use hashtags on Facebook, although they don’t work well, while Twitter and Instagram are the key platforms for them. Limit your hashtags to between 1 and 3 in each post, no more. Use too many and people will stop following you, or reading any of your posts.

Try also to fit them into a sentence or post so it makes sense and reads well. Don’t use them on LinkedIn. Ever.

  1. Connect with Everyone

You might want to seem like you are a master-networker and one of the most connected people on social media. However, you should be mindful of who you are connecting with. Are they going to give you value? Will you ever have a meaningful interaction with them?

Make sure you’re connected with key colleagues, peers, suppliers, even competitors, but keep it relevant.

  1. Auto-post Across All Platforms

Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite are brilliant. Using these tools wisely to schedule content can save you a huge amount of time and effort in getting your message on to social media.

However, remember that each platform displays messages differently, and a post good for Facebook probably won’t work well on Twitter. It’s worth creating tweets separately, as usernames and hashtags you have included won’t display well on other sites.

  1. Just Advertise

People have probably followed you based on the strength of your profile, or the value of your message. However, these people don’t just want to hear you advertise your own goods, services or brand.

Other people in your industry will have good messages too, and content that has value too. Help share it across your network and you might find that it increases your own following too.

  1. Give Up

Social media can be hard to get to grips with, especially if you are trying to do too much, across too many platforms. Pick the one(s) you are most comfortable with and build them up in order to get the most value from them.

Don’t worry if you aren’t getting hundreds of followers or connections either. Keep trying and posting good content and it’ll happen. Remember, even the best users started at zero.

There you have it – our 10 tips to get it right on social media. If you think we’ve missed something, or you disagree with any of this, please get in touch. We always love to learn!

Why Procurement’s Time is Now: An Interview with Tony Megally

The Source’s new Managing Director, Tony Megally, shares his views on the state of Australian procurement talent and what it takes to set up an effective retention scheme. 

Tony Megally

 

 

 

 

 

It seems that Australian businesses have begun to realise the value that a highly functioning procurement team can bring to an organisation.

Obviously, this is reliant on the ability of procurement leaders to attract the right talent to the function. How do you feel about the current stocks of procurement talent in Australia?

There is definitely a short supply of high quality procurement professionals across the local market. It seems that organisations are either doing their best to retain top procurement talent or competing to attract talent. Industry related experience in some sectors, for example FMCG and Retail is increasingly becoming an essential requirement, and that is adding further challenges in the recruitment process.

Organisations are focussing on the talent shortage by looking to hire from offshore markets. We are increasingly receiving mandates from our clients to reach out to procurement communities across the UK and South East Asian regions.

As the procurement function continues to mature, what do you see as the critical skills and capabilities that procurement professionals need to possess today?

No matter how technical and analytical your skills are, employers are looking for commercially minded procurement professionals with strategic agility and strong business acumen who can communicate, influence and add value to stakeholders.

A great procurement function serves the whole business and the traditional procurement skill set is not enough. Procurement professionals should look to continually develop their interpersonal, strategic thinking, networking, influencing and leadership skills.

There is a lot of talk about Millennials at the moment, both in terms of how to attract them and once you’ve done that, how to motivate them to perform. Do you have any insight into how procurement teams might manage employees from different generations?

I think the challenge for many CPO’s and Senior Procurement Leaders is understanding which generations are represented in their team and what their expectations are, and how they will best perform and progress their careers. This will all help with succession planning or more broadly, talent management.

For example, Gen Y/Millennials will probably respond well to becoming a “champion” of a particular project or subject matter, having a strong mentor, a clearly defined career path and access to senior decision makers. We are starting to see an interesting management trend emerge with Millennials acting as social media advisors to their less digital savvy Gen X and Boomer leaders.

This reverse mentoring role is enabling greater collaboration and innovation amongst diverse generations in the workplace and giving Millennials a sense of empowerment and ownership.

Holding onto great talent is as important as attracting the right people to work in your business in the first place. There is no point signing great talent if you don’t have a plan in place to keep them.

Do you have any observations as to what makes a good talent retention policy? Is there anything in particular that the top talent is looking for in order to stay?

Having interviewed thousands of candidates over the years, it’s very clear that money alone won’t retain top performers.   People want to feel valued, trusted and respected. They are looking for on-going personal and professional development opportunities and to work within a flexible team focussed environment where they can make a meaningful difference, and be recognised for their contribution to a team’s or organisation’s goals.

Poor leadership is one of the top reasons many people leave, even top performers. A good talent retention policy is certainly nice to have however in a fiercely competitive market not everyone will stick around. I strongly believe that CPOs and Senior Procurement Leaders who are inspirational, engaging, communicative and authentic will win in the end!

Black Friday over as Nestle reveals darkest of supply chain disclosures

Another week, another procurement scandal. It came as quite a shock when Nestlé self-vilified and admitted to slave labour within their supply chain.

Slavery

Whether you’ve heralded them for their honesty or condemned them for not doing enough, we can at least be glad that the issue of slavery within supply chains is once again at the forefront of people’s minds and being addressed. 

In other news, The Digital Market place has launched G-Cloud 7 and we’ve made it through another Black Friday (thank goodness). 

To get you up to speed or just to refresh your memory we’ve compiled a succinct summary of a week in procurement. 

1) Nestlé admits to slavery within its supply chain

Nestlé has self-disclosed the presence of slave labour used to catch fish in Thailand that ultimately ends up in its supply chain. It’s a bold move from the organisation and has been widely regarded as a positive one-  both to hold their hands up and admit fault and to endeavour to put something in place to ensure it stops happening.

Nestlé launched a year long internal investigation last December, after a number of their fish products were linked to unregulated working conditions. 

Verité, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to ensure “that people around the world work under safe, fair, and legal conditions” were commissioned by Nestlé to produce a report for this investigation and interiewed over 100 people. One worker told the organisation “Sometimes, the net is too heavy and workers get pulled into the water and just disappear. When someone dies, he gets thrown into the water.” 

It is rare for a company such as Nestle to report on such negative findings and not surprising that their move has been applauded. Mark Lagon, president of the non-profit Freedom House, a Washington-based anti-trafficking organization has described the move as “exemplary” and he is not alone. 

Others have been more cynical. Does Nestles implementation of an “Action Plan” to tackle this issue prove their genuine engagement with and commitment to ending slave labour and improving working conditions across all of their supply chains?

Articles referenced:

http://www.verite.org/research/promoting-responsible-labor-practices-fishing

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/nov/24/nestle-admits-forced-labour-in-seafood-supply-chain

http://in-cyprus.com/all-companies-have-slave-labour-in-supply-chains-tesco/

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/european-business/nestle-admits-slave-caught-seafood-present-in-its-supply-chain/article27445511/

2) Did you succumb to the pressure of Black Friday?

Black Friday is a fairly established tradition in the USA and fast becoming so in the UK (and other countries) with an estimated  £810 million spent in 2014. For retailers and supply chain managers Black Friday coupled with Cyber Monday (who knew that was a thing?) presents a logistical nightmare- and you thought being the shopper was the stressful part? 

Shops are expected to be well-stocked, well-staffed and well-run. We live in an age where selling out is absolutely not an option and supply chain managers need to prepare accordingly with contingency plans in place. 

Articles referenced:

http://www.supplychaindigital.com/supplychainmanagement/4176/Planning-for-Black-Friday

http://www.supplychaindigital.com/supplychainmanagement/4168/Supply-chains-under-pressure-as-Black-Friday-looms

3)  UK Government launches G-Cloud 7 

On Wednesday 25th November, G-Cloud 7, which caters to suppliers selling cloud-based services, went live and the government announced the 1,616 suppliers who have been appointed to the framework (an 11.2% increase in suppliers from February’s sixth iteration).

Government frameworks are time and cost effective for both public sector organisations and those supplying to them, excusing the need for individual procurement contracts. The 

A Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS) framework, the first of its kind, has opened for submissions in the hope of making the procurement of technology services ever more efficient and fair. This framework is set to go live in April 2016 and will allow public sector organisations to compare and buy digital inclusion training services and assisted digital support. As with G-Cloud frameworks, organisations will be able to “buy services more quickly because they don’t have to run a full OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) tender.”

The Digital Market Place has explained the reasons for launching the DOS: “Suppliers told us that the application process for the Digital Services framework was demanding. Buyers told us that they wanted to evaluate suppliers against their specific needs. The need for digital services across the public sector are so diverse that we decided the most appropriate place for in-depth evaluation of a supplier is at call-off stage, against the specific buyer problem.” Because suppliers will be able to informally respond to buyers before competition starts, the process will allow the buying process to be “open, fair and transparent.”

Articles referenced:

http://www.cloudpro.co.uk/leadership/5597/g-cloud-7-goes-live-with-new-services-in-digital-marketplace

http://central-government.governmentcomputing.com/news/g-cloud-7-goes-live-as-procurement-reforms-continue-4736146

https://assisteddigital.blog.gov.uk/2015/11/19/digital-training-and-support-framework-is-open-for-submissions/ 

https://digitalmarketplace.blog.gov.uk/2015/11/20/themes-from-supplier-responses-to-draft-documents/ 

4) Renewable Energy Procurement

 – China RE100,  an initiative committed to 100% renewable electricity, held a workshop to educated business on renewable energy procurement. 

– “The gathering brought together representatives from a variety of associations, companies and financial institutions and sparked discussion around ‘Financial Models and Risk Management for Corporate Renewable Energy Procurement’ in China.”

– “Corporate demand for renewable energy is rapidly increasing in China, now the largest investor in the market worldwide – in 2014, the total amount of investment increased by $US89.5 billion. “

-“Wang Weiquan, Deputy Secretary of CREIA spoke of renewable energy policy and legislation in China, and Peng Peng, Policy Lead of CREIA went into further detail about tariffs, subsidies and direct purchase options for renewable power in China.” 

– Discussed options for a greener and more sustainable society.

Articles Referenced

http://there100.org/re100

http://www.theclimategroup.org/what-we-do/news-and-blogs/businesses-learn-about-renewable-energy-procurement-in-beijing/

5) MSPs to call in IT firms after criticism of public sector procurement system

The Public Audit Committee will take evidence from Scottish Government permanent secretary Leslie Evans in two weeks’ time after claims were made claims there is “something very wrong” with the procurement system in central government. 

https://www.holyrood.com/articles/news/msps-call-it-firms-after-criticism-public-sector-procurement-system

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

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

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

Watch the full keynote here.

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

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

Are We Still in Love with Black Friday?

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

Black-Friday

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

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

Give it a Miss?

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

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

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

Retail Fatigue

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

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

Supply Chain Strain

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

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

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

The End for Black Friday?

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

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

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

Why Thanksgiving is a Happy Holiday for Business

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

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

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

Talking Turkey

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

These numbers go on:

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

Travel Woes

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

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

Tradition vs. Today

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

Thanksgiving-infographic-final

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

Small Firms Plan Grand Designs on Overseas Markets

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

SMMT-manufacturing

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

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

New Markets for Manufacturing

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

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

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

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

Focus Outside the UK

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

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

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

How to Build a Network of Procurement Evangelists

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

chief-evangelist

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

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

Barriers and Perceptions

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

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

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

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

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

Building Your Evangelist Network

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

  1. Get Your House in Order

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

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

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

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

  1. Be More ‘Bourne’

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

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

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

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

  1. Tastier Carrots, Nastier Sticks

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

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

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

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

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