We’re looking back at 2015 and the best of the eLearning videos, podcasts and interviews new to the site during the year.
In our first revisited video, we take you back to the Big Ideas Summit, where we hosted a fantastic panel discussion on the subject of risk, and where procurement’s blind spots are.
The panel included procurement influencers and thought leaders including Tim Hughes, Olinga Ta’eed, Chris Lynch, Giles Breault, Nic Walden, Jason Busch and Lance Younger, who all gave their opinions on the risks the profession will face in the coming years.
With hot topics like social value, procurement transformation, procurement moving away from Finance and leveraging external innovation, the conversation got a little heated… But suffice to say this is one discussion you don’t want to miss out on!
Procurious’ founder Tania Seary rounded the day off at the Big Ideas Summit with a keynote focusing on why procurement networks are an incredibly valuable tool for the profession.
Tania started off with a statistic that there are 27 indigenous tribes in the Amazon region that are entirely disconnected from the rest of the world, comparing that to the often isolated procurement profession.
She then looked at the impact of social media on the profession, and how it can help to create the community for procurement to allow us to work together, solve problems and ultimately create value for businesses. One of these platforms is Procurious.
With just over a day to go before Father Christmas needs to leave the North Pole to start his annual delivery run, we look at why Santa’s Supply Chain is the best of the lot.
Frequently overlooked when it comes to the annual awards, Santa has been running his supply chain with precision and incredible efficiency for as long as we can remember. And with 2016 planning not far around the corner, there is plenty that we can learn from Saint Nick!
Communication across the supply chain is critical for success, and Santa manages to keep a two-way flow of communication both inside and outside his organisation.
Children’s letters to the North Pole are requested to arrive in time to allow for any last minute alterations to the loading list for the sleigh. In the UK, the Royal Mail help to facilitate this particular part of the supply chain, with all letters required to be mailed by the 6th of December.
Inside the organisation, in order to meet the tight deadlines and short timescales for production, Santa is sure to be in constant contact with his direct reports in order to ensure that all the products will be ready. How do we know his communication is good? Well, you never see mistakes being made, do you?
Santa is also an expert at stakeholder management. He always know which children are on the nice list, and which are on the naughty list, and always works to ensure that his customers are satisfied with the end product.
He has clearly fostered strong relationships with the various suppliers he needs for raw materials, as they are able to keep him stocked with what he needs. Santa also works well with external agencies, such as the Royal Mail, in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
How can you manage supply vs. demand when the trends and demands are likely to change over the course of 12 months? Not only does Santa keep track of the trends, but he can also predict the overall demand for all these items and make sure he has enough of the most popular toys.
Which other organisations can boast a record of 100 per cent success in delivering the right product, to the right person, at the right time? There are few, if any, who can rival Santa for his ability to make on time deliveries.
Santa is a one-man logistics operation, taking on all the delivery duties himself, along with his team of trusty reindeer. His routes are clearly planned in advance to minimise the potential for getting lost and to make sure that the right deliveries go to the right house.
Additionally, all the presents are loaded in exactly the order they are to be delivered in. Without any spare time to root around in the sleigh for a missing toy, Santa’s logistics and warehousing operations must be second to none to pull this off.
Finally, along with the demand planning, Santa is clearly a fantastic inventory planner. There is no question of holding excess stock when the trends and demands change from one year to the next, and nothing gets delivered for another twelve months.
So Santa must ensure that he has exactly what he needs before he leaves on Christmas Eve, as he knows that anything that is left over is likely to be left in stock for a year, without any planned demand for it.
There is a serious side to this piece. All the elements mentioned above are key to having a successful supply chain. In 2016, take a look at what you could be doing differently, and how you can make those improvements to your supply chain.
The bar is set very high, and it’s highly unlikely that any one organisations will be able to equal the record of Father Christmas.
And, if you find yourself with a bit of spare time, and you (and your children!) want to keep track of Santa’s progress around the world on Christmas Eve, check out NORAD’s tracker (now in its 60th year!) right here.
In 2015, Procurious members started over 400 discussions, and provided an amazing 2000+ answers for these burning questions.
These discussions covered a vast range of topics, from Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and professional qualifications, to eSourcing and if there is a typical Myers Briggs profile for procurement professionals. We’ve picked out the most popular Discussions of 2015 to have another look at, and perhaps inspire you to start your own.
We frequently talk about the concept of KPIs or metrics, both for procurement to measure, and for procurement to be measured by. There were a few discussions started on the subject of procurement KPIs, but one in particular that generated some interesting debate.
The Discussion asked for the community’s thoughts on the top KPIs that could be used for measuring procurement performance. While the KPIs and metrics mentioned by the respondents didn’t throw up too many surprises, what was surprising was what the most common answer was.
In fifteen of the responses a savings KPI was mentioned as one of the key metrics. At a time where procurement departments are looking to move away from savings targets, it is surprising that such a high percentage of professionals would highlight it as a key KPI.
A number of respondents highlighted value as a key KPI, however it was much lower than savings, and also lower than total spend managed. Even within the small sample, it’s clear that the traditional mindsets of procurement professionals still have to be changed.
Other key KPIs highlighted were:
Percentage of on time delivery
Supply Chain Security & Risk
Customer of Choice
Within the other discussions on the site, it was recommended that there be a limit on the number of KPIs in use, with 6 being a good number that could be effectively used and reported on. As well as this, the KPIs needed to be meaningful to both parties in order to be successful.
One of the more popular discussion from earlier in 2015 concerned how members of the Procurious community had come to be part of the procurement profession.
Traditionally, many professionals have ‘fallen’ into procurement, and only recently has the trend shifted towards graduates actually setting out to have a career in procurement. Within the community, there were certainly a few who ended up in procurement by ‘accident’ or ‘fell’ into the profession, but also many who had been moved into procurement by their organisations.
It was interesting to see that a number (including one of Procurious’ own!) moved into procurement to escape another profession. As well as this, there were professionals who had either made a conscious choice at the outset of their career, or chosen to move following exposure to procurement activities.
There were also a number of success stories from people who ended up in procurement despite this not being their qualification and then succeeding in adding value or creating savings for their organisations.
It just goes to show that there are a number of ways into the profession, but the vast majority of professionals stick with it once they are there!
People’s interest was certainly piqued by this question, and it was one of the most answered discussions of the year. As it stands, there is no one profile that is most common for procurement professionals, although there are some trends that have emerged.
A full breakdown of the responses shows:
ENTP – 10
ENTJ – 6
INTJ – 6
INFP – 3
ISTP – 2
ENFP – 2
INFJ – 2
INTP – 1
ISFJ – 1
ENFJ – 1
ESTJ – 1
ISTJ – 1
The most common trait across the network was for N (Intuiting), which appeared in 30 of the profiles. In theory, this meant that we have a group of professionals who are good at spotting patterns and plan well for the future, who also like to acquire new skills.
Whether this is what you perceive procurement professionals as or not, the concept certainly provided some very different viewpoints. One other idea that was mooted as part of the question was whether our profiles change over time, and if we have the profiles we do because we are in procurement, or the other way around?
And don’t forget, you can always start your own discussion on any topic you can think of from procurement and supply chain. Let’s keep the Discussion forum just as busy in 2016 and continue sharing the knowledge!
Social media can help to facilitate global communication and information gathering, but it can also be used for illegal means such as terrorism. With Twitter being fined for non-removal of “terrorist propaganda”, we investigate what countries are doing to stem this particular use of social media.
As we reported last week, Twitter was fined in Turkey for failing to remove content that the Turkish Government said was “terrorist propaganda”. The major social media platforms have been very careful in the past to strike a balance between removing materials, while at the same time trying not to inhibit or stop legitimate political debate.
However, in light of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Lebanon and the USA, organisations and legislators are now looking at what can be done to limit access to social media for terrorist organisations, both for communication and publication.
Pressure on Platforms
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have recently come under more pressure from governments to closely monitor, and remove, posts, accounts and videos that are either violent or contain terrorist propaganda. However, all three platforms take a reactive stance on this, relying on their users to report content like this before it is removed.
Extending the powers that the platforms operators have to carry out removal and tracking activities on these posts has been discussed. This has raised concerns among free-speech campaigners as to where these powers would end and as to what would fall under the categories for removal, as this is frequently hard to define.
New legislation was passed last week by the US House of Representatives, which now requires the Obama administration to produce a strategy to combat terrorists’ use of social media. The legislation was passed in response to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, and aims to allow for more close scrutiny of social media activities as part of visa application consideration.
Rights and Freedoms
At the same time as the legislation went to vote, the UN was holding a special meeting of its Counter-Terrorism Committee, where preventing terrorists from exploiting the Internet was also on the agenda. Prominent in the discussion was how to carry this out, without impinging on the rights and freedoms of global citizens to legitimate debate and activities.
It is suspected that ISIS/ISIL has used social media to attract over 30,000 foreign terrorist fighters, from over 100 countries, to join their fights in Syria and Iraq. However, all parties were keen to assess how terrorist activity could be halted, while at the same time ensuring that any restrictions did not create grievances that would play into the terrorist groups’ hands.
Jeffrey Feltman, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Committee, “It is precisely [the] exploitation by terrorists and violent extremists that can easily result in us restricting human rights and fundamental freedoms”. Feltman went on to say that the intention was to put “young people at the centre of these efforts”, with this generation both most comfortable with social media, as well as the most susceptible to extremist propaganda.
Immature Business Sector
In the UK, the social media companies have also been reprimanded by the county’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, Mark Rowley, who, in describing social media as an “immature business sector”, criticised some of the organisations for not co-operating fully with police investigations.
Legislation similar to that discussed in the USA doesn’t exist in the UK, creating concerns that the police are missing important intelligence on terrorist activities, and falling behind these organisations by not being able to operate in the social media environment as well as the people they were tracking.
It will be interesting to see how legislation is developed, as well as how the platforms themselves can deal more effectively with pages and information relating to terrorist activities, and having a better solution for dealing with the spread of information.
Do you think social media could or should be more closely monitored? Is there a line that can be drawn between freedom and public safety? Get involved on Procurious and join the discussion.
Meanwhile, we have been keeping an eye on all the major headlines in procurement and supply chain this week for you to share with your friends…
Apple Price Falls on Supply Chain Concerns
Concerns about Apple’s supply chain data and predicted sales for the first half of 2016 have caused its price targets to be reviewed
Investment firm RBC Capital Markets cut its price target for Apple to $140, down from $150 (already a decrease from earlier in 2015)
The firm cited slower than expected sales of the iPhone 6 in the first two quarters of 2016 as the reason
This was also due to key organisations in Apple’s supply chain cutting estimates for business in the same period
20 competing package delivery firms in France, as well as their professional trade union, have been fined €672 million by the French Competition Authority for price collusion
The authorities stated that the firms had shared sensitive information about price increases during group meetings with the transport and logistics trade association, TLF, between 2004 and 2010
8 of the companies, including DHL Express France, Norbert Dentressangle and Royal Mail’s French arm, General Logistics Systems, comprised 71 per cent of the French market during this period
The authority concluded that French SMEs had been hit hardest by the collusion activities, as they did not have the negotiating power of the largest clients to reject or renegotiate the price increases
A number of high-profile global grocery supply chains have been linked to slave and forced labour in the seafood processing industry in Burma
Shrimp from the suppliers is used in the USA by a number of companies, including the organisation that owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden, as well as retail chains Wal-Mart, Kroger, Whole Foods, Dollar General and Petco
Thai Union, the primary supplier to the American companies, has committed to cleaning up its supply chain and reduce reliance on poorly regulated contractors
Difficulty obtaining finance and a general skills shortage risk undermining Britain’s start-up revolution, the Institute of Directors has warned this week.
The first ever survey of the IoD 99 network – a group of more than 650 entrepreneurs under the age of 35, running businesses in every part of the country and every sector of the economy – has confirmed that finding skilled employees and accessing scale-up finance are the most important issues for Britain’s start-ups.
Barriers to Growth
Worryingly, two-fifths (42 per cent) of the entrepreneurs surveyed said they have trouble hiring people with the right skills, and 39 per cent cite difficulty accessing finance as a potential barrier to growth.
More than half (53 per cent) said that money from family members had been instrumental in getting their business off the ground, while 56 per cent had used personal unsecured finance, like credit cards, and a further 45 per cent had used money from friends.
The IoD has called for government to open up the ‘equity economy’ to make it easier for savers to invest in young companies and turn Britain’s fledgling start-ups into scale-ups. The business group has also warned politicians against imposing arbitrary restrictions on the UK immigration system, which will make it harder for growing firms to bring in skilled workers from around the world.
Positive Social Impact
The survey of 122 members of the IoD 99 network – entrepreneurs running companies across the UK in every section of the economy, also showed:
Six in ten (61 per cent) young entrepreneurs were in full-time work when they started their own business
One in five (21 per cent) said the primary reason for starting their business was to have a ‘positive social impact’, 22 per cent said they wanted to work for themselves and one-third (36 per cent) said they wanted to build a successful company
Difficulty hiring skilled employees was ranked as the top barrier to growth, cited by 42 per cent of entrepreneurs, followed by trouble accessing finance (39 per cent), the high cost of finance (33 per cent), business taxes (29 per cent) and personal taxes (26 per cent)
While money from family, friends, and unsecured loans are the most important sources of finance in an entrepreneurs’ early days, private equity, bank and non-bank debt along with private and public sector grants are all seen as important sources of scale-up finance.
Jimmy McLoughlin, Deputy Head of Policy at the IoD, said,“The start-up revolution has taken hold in Britain like nowhere else in Europe. With so many young, exciting and cutting-edge businesses having popped up in recent years, it is vital to harness their potential and create the next raft of world-leading companies. Finding people with the right skills, and tapping into the right mix of finance will be the biggest factors in achieving scale-up success. For start-ups, overcoming these obstacles can be the difference between success and failure.
“It is a worry, therefore, that so many start-ups struggle to hire skilled employees. The push to teach children digital skills, like programming, at school is part of the long-term solution, but we must remember that start-ups face skills shortages now. Therefore, it is crucial that Britain’s immigration system is as open and easy to navigate as possible.
“The last few years have seen exciting developments in alternative finance. Businesses can access more sources of capital than ever before and innovations like crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending are quickly becoming mainstream options. Entrepreneurs see them playing a big role over the next decade. Regulation cannot stand in the way of this growing demand. We should strip back the layers of complexity which currently stand in the way of individuals investing through schemes like the Enterprise and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS/SEIS) to give more people across the country a stake in the success of British start-ups.”
This view was backed up by Alex Mitchell, chair of the IoD 99 network. “More and more young people are growing up with dreams of being an entrepreneur, with millions rejecting the idea of a nine-to-five job in favour of the freedom, flexibility and control of running their own business. Little can compare to the feeling of taking an idea to market and building a successful company. With so many support schemes like the IoD 99 around the country, it has arguably never been easier to go it on your own,” said Mitchell.
“Interestingly, most entrepreneurs were employed when they launched their own enterprise, demonstrating the commitment and dedication it takes to build a successful company, often while working full-time. Young entrepreneurs also said they were motivated more by the vision of building a successful business, being their own boss and having a social impact than financial reward. This is a testament to the vibrancy and diversity of the UK’s start-up scene.”
The Institute of Directors has called on the government to make EIS and SEIS easier to use for small-stakes investors and encourage more people to invest in growing companies. The full recommendations can be found in the report, Opening the Equity Economy.
The growing influence of the procurement function in organisations has both positive and negative potential consequences.
David Noble, Group Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), provides a fascinating insight into the profession from the point of view of the chartered body.
Addressing and shifting some paradigms about procurement first, David then goes on to speak about the importance of ethics and compliance and how licensing the profession helps professionals in their day-to-day roles.
At Procurious, we pride ourselves on publishing high quality, original and interesting content on our blog. In 2015, we have produced, hosted and provided over 600 articles for our community to read.
We were honoured this year to receive a “Highly Commended Company” award in the UK Blog Awards 2015 for PR, Marketing, Media and Comms (we’re hoping to go one better in 2016 and win!) – this is a great achievement for us in our first full year of the Procurious blog.
As we draw towards the end of the year, we’re going to take a look back at some of articles that made a real impact with the community, and sparked discussions on Procurious and across social media.
During 2015, much of the focus in procurement and supply chain was on how to attract, retain and developing the best talent, but also on personal development and career progression.
We also featured an article on the new Apple CEO Tim Cook, himself a former Supply Chain Manager, and his rise to the top position at one of the world’s top organisations. It’s always great to see a procurement or supply chain professional take the lead in an organisation, as it helps to showcase the value of our function to the wider audience.
Another of our key themes in 2015 was on the increasing impact of technology on procurement and supply chain. The idea that both procurement and supply chain will be affected by technology in the coming years was a popular one, as well as how organisations could use these technologies to their advantage.
One subject that kept popping up during the year was 3D Printing and how this technology was changing the supply chain. We examined what the growth of 3D Printing meant for manufacturing and outsourcing, which generated plenty of interest and comments.
Entwined in the theme of future technologies was the concept of digitisation and the increasing use of digital currencies and payment mechanisms, such as bitcoin. We highlighted the use of these digital currencies as part of 5 “Megatrends” in technology, as well as how they can be used to assist with supply chain transparency.
Finally, we looked at how technology is disrupting industries and professions, including procurement, as part of an “Uberized” economy, and which technological ‘Unicorns‘ to watch out for in the coming years.
No round up would be complete without a look at social media and it’s fast-growing impact on the world of procurement and supply chain. The benefits of social media aren’t clear to all, as we found out when looking at CPO input to networks and social media.
We also offered some insights into the potential pitfalls of social media when using it as part of your procurement and career activities, and examined the role of social media in breaking news events, both from a positive and negative point of view, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Best of the Rest
Our round-up wouldn’t be complete without having a look at some of the other popular topics from this year.
Early in the year we highlighted the disruptive forces keeping CPOs awake at night – it will be interesting to see whether these are the same in 2016.
One of our most popular articles from 2014 was also popular in 2015 – our list of procurement influencers. Stay tuned in 2016 to see our updated list!
And finally, late this year we focused on the role of women in procurement and supply chain. As part of this Tania Seary picked out the 10 women who had influenced her procurement career – check out Part 1 and Part 2 of her list again.
We hope you enjoy reading these articles again (or for the first time!). Have you got a favourite from this year? Why not let us know!
A recent uSwitch survey suggests that the must-have tech from yesteryear is quickly falling out of fashion, with only 8 per cent of responders lusting after e-readers, and 9 per cent focused on digital cameras. With that in mind we’ve rounded-up what we deem to be the must-have gadgets for Christmas 2015.
Ten lords a-leaping on their hoverboards…
This wheely-wheely good gadget has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons during the past few months.
Commonly referred to as ‘hoverboards’, ‘balancing boards’ or, in this case, a ‘MonoRover’ – this new form of transport will have you zipping down the streets and rolling into your next appointment in record time.
This innovation in personal transportation relies on pointing your toes down to go forward, and transferring your weight to your heels to move backwards.
Prices and availability vary from country to country (as do transport laws!) so we suggest a light spot of Googling will soon have you on your way.
While shepherds watched their drones by night… DJI Phantom 3
Kids big and small have enjoyed the drone boom this year. But with technology advancing at breakneck pace, as well as decreasing costs, those tiny gnats they lost outdoors last Christmas have been replaced by bigger, tricked-out drones.
For the pilot that must have everything, the forboding DJI Phantom 3 quadcoptor comes with 4K video shooting capabilities and can be controlled via a nifty iOS or Android app. A warning though… it’s not cheap, so crashes could prove costly – $1234.99.
OnePlus: The smartphone that’s invite only
If you’re growing tired of Apple and Samsung vying for your custom every twelve months then maybe you’re brave enough to try something a little bit different?
The Chinese smartphone manufacturer OnePlus has built an affordable range of phones that dare to challenge tech’s heavy-hitters.
Three handsets have been spotted in the wild to-date (the OnePlus One, OnePlus Two and OnePlus X) and each has required a special invite to be in with a chance to purchase. If the gamble was to up desirability and exclusivity then technology commentators have all but deemed it a success.
OnePlus has recently waived invites for purchases of the OnePlus 2, and also holds weekly sales for the OnePlus X.
Prices start from £289.
3D print your presents!
As we approach 2016 3D printing no longer needs to be confined to factory floors and workshops. If you’ve always fancied yourself as a bit of a designer and the idea of turning your own 3D designs into solid, touchable objects gets your creative juices flowing then a 3D printer could be a worthwhile investment this Christmas.
Home-friendly units are arriving in their droves, some of the more popular names in the 3D printing world include M3D, MakerBot, LulzBot and CubePro – prices start around the £1000 mark and advance into their thousands for larger, more advanced printers. The only limit is your imagination (and wallet).
No more bad Christmas TV with GoPro Hero+
The ideal accessory for gadget afficados and sports enthusiasts alike. If you’re looking for a camera to accompany you on the slopes the rugged Hero+ will survive all sorts of knocks and bumps, while shooting at a constant 60fps.
If you’re more comfortable taking a backseat the Hero+ can also shoot in HD video and produce 8-megapixel stills, plus you can control it from afar using the dedicated iOS and Android apps. It’s waterproof too.
(Walking in the) iPad Air 2
If you’re in the market for upgrading your iPad this Christmas, the Apple iPad Air 2 is the absolutely must have gadget.
The iPad Air 2 has squeezed a few extra mm off its predecessors already-svelte frame, while bolstering it with all the technical innovations expected of an Apple flagship product in 2015 (like the new A8X processor and Touch ID fingerprint sensor). Grab the upgrade from $399.
On the other end of the scale and for those looking to supersize their life, the iPad Pro boasts an enormous 12.9-inch screen (2732 x 2049 pixels) and brings you tantalisingly close to laptop territory. Price from $799.
Don’t run out of juice this Christmas… Portable power
If you’re planning on having a gadget heavy Christmas then you’ll be wanting to eek out as much extra life from your devices as possible.
Clocking in at the smaller end of the spectrum, the Anker PowerCore+ mini could equally be at home with your lipstick as your smartphone. With 3350mAh at full charge and compatible with a myraid of personal devices, it’s nicely affordable ($40), and available in a range of eye-catching colours too.
Apple has made its first foray into the battery case market with a smart case that charges your 6S or 6 device.
The case extends your iPhone with 25 hours-worth of talk time, or 18 hours of 4G web browsing, and will set you back £79/$99/AU$165 respetively.
Work off those mince pies: Microsoft Band 2
There’s a glut of wearable fitness trackers available today but Microsoft’s follow-up to its original Band is the most recent and it looks killer to boot.
At the time of writing you’ll be hard-pressed to find a gadget (that’s not a running watch) that’s capable of incorporating both heart rate monitoring and GPS. For that reason Microsoft’s Band 2 is worth a look-in.
Rockin’ around the Christmas tree
And finally… an inexpensive stocking filler. Give the gift of music and curate your own festive playlist for family gettogethers and New Year’s celebrations.
For a limited time Spotify is offering 3 months Premium membership for just £0.99/$0.99. Sign-up using this link and enjoy unlimited, ad-free music for a full 3 months, a saving of £9.99/$9.99 per month. Couple this with the Acoustic Research Pasadena outdoor speaker and you’ll be able to entertain on the terrace or even down on the beach thanks to its 8 hour charge. It’s yours for $99.