All posts by Procurious HQ

It Only Works If You Believe It Works…

As organisations embark on digital transformations, they must also be prepared to trust in ‘new-ness’, adapt to the speed of change and take note of the 3D’s… 

Last week the Procurious team hopped on a plane to Munich to attend Jaggaer’s REVInternational 2018 for two days of inspiring discussion on eProcurement innovations, digitisation, and the future of procurement.

One of the stand out sessions came from futurist Stefan Hyttfors who lectures on how innovation, disruptive technologies and behavioural change affects the worlds of business and social issues.

His mission? To inspire as many people as possible to embrace digital change.

Trust in “new-ness”

“I have a lot of friends working in tech and they often approach me to ask ‘What advice should I give to my peers?’

“And my frequent reply is ‘How come you believe you have any advice to give to your peers?’

“Because if we believe in the concept of disruptive tech then we must also be humble about the fact that experience and knowledge are a problem.”

The reality of the extreme pace of change hit Hyttfors hard last summer when his 20 year old son returned home from university for summer break.

As the family sat down for dinner one evening, Stefan took the opportunity to  interrogate his son about his summer plans; would he be spending the break getting some work experience?

‘No I’m not going to work” he replied.  “I value my time and I don’t want to sell it to anyone”

Instead of work he had conjured a number grand plans including a road trip around Norway and various other escapades.

Stefan’s line of questioning instantly transferred from ‘What are you going to do?’ to ‘How on earth are you going to afford it?!’

His answer, ‘Don’t worry dad, I have some bitcoin’

“This is the millennial perspective today,” Hyttfors asserts. “And money is a particularly interesting discussion, particularly across generations.  Where I was sightly skeptical about how far cryptocurrency should be trusted, my son was offended at the mere suggestion and far more wary of our banking systems.”

“Strange things are happening in the world; things that we don’t understand, thing that we ridicule and laugh at. We are guilty of assuming that our kids need to know what we know”

But in actual fact, it’s a trust in ‘new-ness’ that is going to become one of the most crucial factors for organisations in tomorrow’s world. Money is a great technology and a great innovation; it makes transactions smooth and solves a whole world of problems.

But, as with all technology,  it only works if you believe it works…

Pay attention to the speed of change

Disruptive technology is nothing new but the speed of change is ever-increasing. In the past, organisations had the luxury of time permitting them to be skeptical about and distrusting of new innovations, which took 50 years or more to catch on.

Nowadays we hear a buzzword for the first time and within a matter months it’s everywhere; “a unicorn company appears and usurps all the other companies in that space.”

“We talk about organisations like Kodak and Blockbuster as if they were stupid. But the problem isn’t that they were stupid. They were simply the best at doing something no one needs anymore.

“When you are very good at what you do you will not be the one to disrupt your own industry.”

There are examples of this happening in every industry. And it’s never because the old companies were poor. Someone simply found a new way to solve old problems

“The speed of change puts so much pressure on leaders.  But if you focus on making current processes more efficient you cannnot disrupt at the same time.”

The 3D’s of Digitalisation

As your organisation prepares for, and embarks upon,  digital transformation, take note of Stefan’s predictions for the future of digitalisation. It all comes down to the 3D’s…

  1. Dematerialisation

As technology advances it figures that we will simply need less ‘stuff’.

As Stefan points out, “If you can solve a problem digitally you don’t need material things.

“Don’t tell your kid that an iphone is expensive – think of all the junk you used to have to buy in the past to do the same job [a single iPhone can do].  It solves so many problems. Nowadays everyone in the world can take pictures for free.”

Dematerialisation means that more people can afford to do what used to be expensive and exclusive.

2. Deflation

Deflation, as Stefan sees it, means having “millions of micro transactions rather than thousands of  major transactions.”

Take cars as an example. They are absolutely not efficient; often parked for 23 hours of the day and contributing to congestion and pollution in our cities.

Along came Uber, which offers ‘mobility as a service’ and suddenly transportation is transformed globally.  Selling £50,000 cars is not an ideal model – mobility as a service is the future.

“We are a big world on a small planet and because of this sustainability will be the main leading strategy of the future.

“We need to make much more with much less.”

3. Decentralisation

We all like to believe that we are part of the last uninformed generation; that we have all of the answers and all of the information. But, in Stefan’s opinion, that’s simply not the case.

We will continue to face big problems and these problems can only be solved with global collaboration and global crowd-sourcing.

“We see a big decline in trust because people don’t believe in old institutions anymore” whether it’s governments,  law enforcement systems or our banks.

“Why should my son trust in a banking app when he can trust in a bitcoin app?”

“He believes in decentralisation, a world in which where there is no boss.” Because, at the end of the day,  it’s your boss that makes a system inefficient and corrupt.


Learn more about Jaggaer and  REVInternational 2018 

Don’t Go Chasing Procurement Unicorns

Trying to build a team of procurement unicorns? You might just want to re-think your strategy…

What makes a procurement unicorn?

They’ve got the grades, the qualifications and years of relevant experience. They tick off every core procurement skill in the book and they’ve worked for some big-name companies.

In short; on paper, they’re perfect.

If you’re self-proclaimed unicorn hunter, you’re probably hoping to fill your entire procurement team with a herd of these mythical creatures. Because you think that’s what’s best for your business…

And that’s where you’d be very wrong. Because in today’s world, Unicorn = Uniform!

With this narrow outlook on your recruitment processes, you run the risk of missing out on extraordinary talents.

It’s impossible to know the unique skills, experience and perspective that a potential hire can bring to your team if you don’t open your mind to their many differences and diversities.

In our upcoming webinar Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns we’ll be celebrating individuality. Join us on 18th July as we explore how organisations can better accommodate people  who are differently abled; whether it’s those with physical disabilities or people who are neuro-diverse.

We’ll be discussing:

  • The importance and benefits of recruiting and retaining differently-abled people to your teams
  • Why it is such terrible idea to set your sights on procurement unicorns!
  • How  procurement pros can help to build truly diverse teams and foster a workplace environment that is inclusive to everyone?
  • How are some of the biggest organisations making the workplace inclusive and accessible for everyone?

Who is speaking on the webinar?

Tania Seary, Founder – Procurious

A true procurement entrepreneur, Tania is the Founding Chairman of Procurious, The Faculty and The Source. Throughout her career, Tania has been wholly committed to raising the profile of the procurement profession and connecting its leaders.

After finishing her MBA at Pennsylvania State University, Tania became one of Alcoa’s first global commodity managers.

In 2016, Tania was recognised by IBM as a #NewWaytoEngage Futurist and named “Influencer of the Year” by Supply Chain Dive. She hosts regular procurement webinars, and presents at high-profile events around the world.

Darren Swift

In 1991 Swifty was injured by a terrorist attack that resulted in him loosing both his legs above the knee. During his extensive rehab he made a decision to not let his injury affect his life or career going forward.

Since then Swifty has gone on to achieve a huge amount including becoming the first ever double above knee amputee solo skydiver and snowboarder. Swifty’s unique and inspiring story demonstrates the need for employers to be open minded when hiring as without this outlook they could miss out on an extraordinary talent!

Timo Worrall, Senior Category Manager, Facilities Management – Johnson & Johnson

Timo is responsible for the procurement of Facility Services across J&J’s global portfolio, including leading recent initiatives in EMEA and APAC. He is a key part of the team that has implemented the ‘Social Impact through Procurement’ initiative through the J&J business in the UK, including driving the introduction of Social Enterprises into the facilities supply base. It is this work with social enterprises that will help J&J reach its target of a £15 million of social value spend by 2020.

Timo’s work includes contracting a 3 per cent social value target into two regional FM contracts, that will deliver £3 Million of social value across Europe and Asia. Timo believes passionately about the impact that big business can have on impacting the lives of those disadvantaged in our society. He lives in Woking, Surrey, with his wife and two children.

Julie Gerdeman, General Manager, SAP Ariba

Julie Gerdeman is GM Payments & Financing at SAP Ariba. In this role, she is responsible for all aspects of the company’s strategy and execution to transform global B2B payments.Prior to this role, Ms. Gerdeman led the SAP Ariba Digital Transformation Organisation. This team of 100+ advisors lead SAP Ariba’s delivery of customer value: from identification, to enablement through realisation.

Before joining SAP Ariba, she held various leadership positions in sales, customer success and marketing at J.P. Morgan Chase and American Express.Ms. Gerdeman holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and lives with her family in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. She is a member of the board of directors for Apparent Financing, an SAP.io funded start-up that leverages data from the Ariba Network to facilitate financing to small business suppliers. Ms. Gerdeman is also the global executive sponsor for Diversity & Inclusion at SAP Ariba and speaks and blogs frequently on this topic.

How do I register for the webinar?

Registering for Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns couldn’t be easier (and, of course, it’s FREE!)

Click here to enter your details and confirm your attendance. We’ll send you a email with a link to the webinar platform in the run up to the event.

I’m already a member of Procurious, do I still need to register?

Yes! If you are already a member of Procurious you must still enroll to access the webinar. We’ll send you a email with a link to the webinar platform in the run up to the event.

When is it taking place?

The webinar will take place at 10am EDT/ 3pm BST on 18th July 2018

Help! I can’t make it to the live-stream

No problem! If you can’t make the live-stream you can catch up whenever it suits you. We’ll be making it available on Procurious soon after the event (and will be sure to send you a link) so you can listen at your leisure!

Can I ask a question?

If you’d like to ask one of our speakers a question please submit it via the Discussion Board on Procurious and we’ll do our very best to ensure it gets answered for you.

Our webinar,  Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns, takes place at 10am EDT/ 3pm BST on 18th July 2018. Register your attendance for FREE here. 

Life Without Beer, Bacon and Crumpets?

Beer, bacon supplies at risk as a national shortage of food-grade carbon dioxide (CO2) threatens a whole range of everyday consumables.  

Image: Lukasz Engel/Shutterstock.com

Why is there a CO2 shortage in the UK?

Food-grade CO2 in the UK is sourced from European ammonia plants, which usually close for maintenance in the summer months when demand for fertiliser is lower. This year, five producers in Europe and a number of bio-ethanol plants have shut down at the same time, leading to shortages not only in the UK, but across Europe. The situation is a result of a combination of planned shutdowns and unexpected equipment failure.

Who has been affected?

  • Brewers – C02 is needed in the bottling and kegging of beer. A Europe-wide beer shortage is particularly noticeable in the middle of a World Cup.
  • Soft drinks and carbonated water.
  • Packaged foods such as bagged lettuce and crumpets that use “modified atmosphere packaging” to extend product shelf-life.
  • Slaughterhouses use CO2 to kill pigs and poultry.

Is there an alternative?

According to Wired, there’s currently no alternative to CO2 that offers its range of benefits, such as its ability to prevent microbial growth and its inertness. It is also safe to transport and doesn’t affect the flavour of a food.

The good news? Two ammonia plants are expected to come back online this week, with supplies returning to normal within a fortnight.

Presumably the affected producers will be working with suppliers to ensure the same situation doesn’t occur in the summer of 2019.

Brexit: What Happens Now?

Brexit is complicated and it’s very, very messy. And what happens during the next couple of years will be determined by a number of political factors…

At last month’s CPO roundtable Anand Menon, Director of the UK in a Changing Europe based at Kings College London, spoke to us about the long-term causes of Brexit and their future implications.

“Hand on heart I don’t know [what’s going to happen]” he said. “If I could answer that I’d be rich and famous!”

It’s the most uncertain moment in British politics since World War Two and what’s striking is that, two years on from the referendum, nothing has been decided.

A key reason for such uncertainty is the nature of the referendum itself.  As Anand explained, the referendum packaged so many different options and outcomes into a binary choice: leave or remain.  No one understood quite what they were signing up for and since the result, Brexit has largely been defined in terms of the different adjectives applied to it; black Brexit; white Brexit; hard Brexit; soft Brexit; white red and blue Brexit… the list goes on.

“Brexit was a vote against globalisation and it was a vote against the economic status quo. Subsequently, it’s interesting  to see that the South of England has noticed the North and we’ve had a chance to address issues that never got air time under old centrist, liberal politics.

“More profoundly, the referendum and its outcome have taught us about us. In the same way that Trump has been a wakeup call for the U.S, the fallout from Brexit should be a wakeup call to our politicians to think about the real problems confronting the country. ”

And how to best to manage negotiations as we ready to leave the EU.

Does the UK want to establish a relationship with the EU similar to that of Norway’s or maybe more like a more distant partner?

Anand admitted that due to Brexit being such a complex and all-consuming process, there is no avoiding it being a messy one at that! What happens during the next couple of years will largely be determined by the following three political factors:

  1. Theresa May

The UK Prime Minister relatively quickly defined what she meant by Brexit (leave customs market, end free movement etc) and her position has remained relatively unchanged since. Whilst she is unpopular with many in her party, it is unlikely her critics will choose to get rid of her yet. As long as she in place, she is a powerful force for stability.

  1. The Conservative Government

There are a significant number of Tory MPs who want a much softer Brexit than the Prime Minister is proposing so it’s possible they will vote against May’s Brexit deal. However, if May loses this vote there is no question that she has to go; after all, her whole mission as Prime Minister is Brexit. If that happens, the Conservative Party will either elect a new leader or the UK will face a new general election. And the one thing no Tories want is another general election.

  1. The Labour Government 

In the last general election, Labour picked up votes from both remainers and leavers. As such, the party have been careful to keep their Brexit policies ambiguous. Whenever Corbyn speaks about Brexit, he speaks in ambiguities.

Does Anand believe there is any chance of a second referendum? “The beauty of Britain at the moment is that any outcome is possible – I can imagine us crashing out with no deal or a great deal but I can also imagine a scenario where the first referendum is overturned.”

“No one knows what would happen to public opinion at this point – we could vote Brexit again. Or, imagine second time around the UK votes to remain 52-48 per cent. We’ll find ourselves in a political groundhog day. There would need to be a huge swing in vote for it to carry much weight.”

Ultimately, Anand warns, the real danger for the UK’s economy is that the negotiations go pear shaped, the UK crashes out of the EU in March 2019 and they end up with no wiggle room to extend the UK’s transition period.

His advice to procurement organisations trying to prepare? Plan for a World Trade Organisation outcome from 2021 – “That, I think, is the most likely outcome.”

6 Principles of Persuasion Explained With Propaganda Posters

Learn how to persuade your colleagues and suppliers with 6 tips from 20th-century propaganda masters. Guest post from Invaluable.com.

“Make Great Strides in Studying Daqing, Strive to Make New Contributions in Agriculture.” Original vintage Chinese propaganda poster, via Antikbar.

Since their introduction in 1984, Dr. Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion have become the framework for understanding the science of influence. Each principle is distinct and outlines different methods for effective persuasion.

Mastering the art of persuasion has become a major “soft skill” in the modern corporate world. The ability to influence others is key to developing strong relationships with suppliers, employees and end-users. Persuasion can help to convince others that we are credible, trustworthy leaders worth following and allows us to manipulate the psychological processes of others to our benefit to achieve better results.

In the procurement profession specifically, strong persuasion skills can help to convince your organisation to be more strategic in managing money and can also be a key factor in your fight to minimise maverick spend.

Learning from the propaganda masters

Before the rise of the social media influencer, advertising and propaganda posters were some of the most powerful persuasion tools available. Propaganda posters have been used for decades to inspire, educate, and galvanize the public. Whether you are selling a product, a war, or an idea, advertising can be a powerful tool to inform and persuade your audience. Propaganda posters from the 19th and 20th centuries addressed topics ranging from patriotism to healthcare to feminism.

This article, originally from Invaluable, takes Dr. Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion and applies them to famous propaganda posters used throughout history to wield influence and power over their audiences. With their striking imagery and bold messages, these posters are superb examples of each principle and perfectly illustrate the mechanics behind persuasion.

1. Reciprocity

“Remember Your First Thrill of American Liberty,” 1917. [Records of the U.S. Food Administration]
The first principle, reciprocity, is based on the idea that people often feel obliged to match or repay the behaviors and gifts they receive from others. When using the principle of reciprocity for persuasion, look for opportunities to be the first to give, and make your token unexpected and personal whenever possible. This tactic facilitates a relationship in which the recipient feels appreciative of your contributions and is likely to be more open to the message you share or the favor you ask for.

The propaganda poster “Remember Your First Thrill of American Liberty” is an example of reciprocity in action. This poster was created by the Food and Drug Administration in 1917 to encourage immigrants to the United States to invest in the war effort by purchasing Liberty Bonds, which were a crucial source of funding for the war effort.

By highlighting the benefits and opportunities that the United States had given to immigrants, the poster called upon its audience to invest in the country’s war effort in return. The poster also strategically included the Statue of Liberty as a metaphor for the opportunities available in the United States and to remind immigrants of the emotional experience of arriving in the U.S. for the first time. The artist’s powerful illustrations and the poster’s authoritative call-to-action prompted Americans to recall their debt to their country, which ultimately proved persuasive in raising money for the war effort. This poster remains a powerful example of the way reciprocity persuades us to act.

2. Scarcity

“Doctors Are Scarce,” 1943. [San Jacinto Museum]
The second principle of persuasion, scarcity, refers to the idea that when people have less of something, they want it more. Scarcity speaks to our human nature to place greater value on things that are less readily available. To use this principle, incite people to act, agree, or buy your product by demonstrating how they can benefit from it, what’s unique about your offering, and what they could potentially lose out on.

In the poster “Doctors are Scarce, Learn First Aid and Home Nursing,” the artist used the scarcity principle to promote basic at-home care. By making it clear that good medical care would be hard to come by, the poster instilled fear and communicated the importance of individuals learning to manage their own minor health concerns. The poster was created to communicate people’s need to learn to handle their own injuries and illnesses since many doctors were oversees fighting in the war effort.

This poster is historically significant because it is one of the many examples of ways Americans on the home front were forced to ration supplies and services to aid in the wartime effort. Its message drove Americans to act and remains a powerful reminder of the scarcity principle and its ability to influence.

3. Authority

“Christ Guerilla,” 1969. [Antikbar]
The third principle of persuasion is authority. This principle says audiences are much more likely to listen to messages from sources they respect or view as experts. Whether you are explaining your point of view or selling a product or service, showcasing your credentials will help your chances of success. No matter what your message is, it will be better received if it is packaged in a way that makes it seem authoritative.

When using authority, the source doesn’t always need to be yourself. When someone else points to your credentials the message can be just as powerful or even more effective. In the propaganda poster “Christ Guerilla,” Jesus was portrayed as a guerilla fighter. The poster was created by the Organisation of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa, and Latin America based on a quote from the Colombian priest Camilo Torres who said, “If Jesus were alive today, he would be a guerrillero.”

The poster called on the authority behind the Christian religion to convince audiences that being a guerilla fighter was a noble cause. This piece of propaganda was created in Cuba during the 1970s as part of a political movement to fight imperialism and defend human rights. Its message was clear: guerilla fighting was noble, necessary, and moral. Because the poster called upon the authority of Jesus to deliver its message, its theme was especially resonant for its audience.

4. Consistency

J. Howard Miller, “We Can Do It!,” 1942. [Smithsonian]
The consistency principle refers to the idea that people like to remain resolute with the things they have said or done in the past. If someone already agrees with some of your message, or if you are able to get your audience to buy into your point of view in a small way, you’re much more likely to convince them to take further action.

The “We Can Do It!” poster used the consistency principle to encourage women who were already working in factories to work harder. While today this poster is considered one of the most iconic U.S. propaganda posters of all time, it was not widely circulated during World War II when it first appeared. The poster was made in 1943 by J. Howard Miller for Westinghouse Electric, and was part of a broader effort to encourage both male and female workers to work harder due to the high demand for manufacturing generated by the war effort.

The poster resonated with women in its original context in the 1940s and continues to serve as an icon of feminism today. When it was first created, the poster used the consistency principle to remind women of the importance of committing to their factory jobs while encouraging them to work harder and stay motivated. The likeness of Rosie the Riveter still resonates, and the poster has become a rallying cry for recognition of equality.

5. Liking

“Women of Britain Say ‘Go,’” 1914. [British Library]
It’s commonly accepted that people are more likely to agree with the opinions of someone they like. The fifth principle of persuasion, liking, is based on this idea. This principle notes that people agree with those who are similar to them, those who pay them compliments, and those who cooperate with them. If you know your audience already likes you, you have a leg up for persuasion, but incorporating these three factors into your communication efforts can go a long way towards making your audience receptive to your message. Before making your case, consider spending a few moments with your audience to build rapport and likeability.

The poster “Women of Britain Say ‘Go’” incorporated the liking tactic to encourage the men of Britain to buy into the government’s request to join the war effort. During World War I, posters were one of the most important mediums for conveying a message. Women were used in these posters to spread ideas of morality, innocence, and justice in the face of danger.

While this poster was intended to remind the women of Britain to encourage their men to enlist, it also clearly communicated to British men that they’d be spurned by their loved ones if they refused the call to serve. Using the opinions of their families as advocates proved to be an effective persuasion tactic in getting men to enlist.

6. Consensus

“Let’s Fulfill the Plan of Great Works,” 1930. [Polish Greatness]
The sixth principle, consensus, is the idea that people are likely to agree with something if it is in line with what the broader group believes. To get others to believe in your message or your product, point to what those similar to your audience believe and do. When people are unsure of how to act, they look to the behaviors of others they identify with to determine their own beliefs. By highlighting what your audience’s larger social group thinks, you are more likely to get their buy-in.

The title of the poster roughly translates to “Let’s Fulfill the Plan of Great Works,” and shows clear parallels to the consensus principle. The tiny hands fill up a larger hand to communicate to the viewer that all of Russia is working together to reach a common goal. The poster was created in 1930 by Gustav Klutsis, a popular poster artist during this time period who was a popular designer for the Soviet government. This piece was created in the Constructivist style, which originated in Russia in 1919.

Klutsis was associated with the Communist party and created propaganda art for the organization, especially when the party was under the control of Stalin. The hand in this poster is Klutsis’ own hand, but it was used in the poster to represent the workers who were crucial to achieving the Communist party’s goals. The artist incorporated the faces of the workers directly into the poster’s design so they appeared not as individuals, but as a collective mass united around the same goal.

Sources

Canva | Influence at Work | Conversion XL | Docs Teach | University of Pennsylvania | How Stuff Works | Huffington Post | Gettysburg College Projects | International Institute of Social History | World Digital Library | Smithsonian | Buzzfeed | San Jacinto Museum

Hold The Phone! Procurement Pay Increase Smashing The Average Salary

Both ISM and CIPS have released their annual salary surveys. Read on for a short summary of the similarities and differences in salaries across the Atlantic.

Salary surveys make for interesting reading. They reveal much about the perceived value of procurement and supply management, and provide a very helpful data set to have at your disposal the next time you ask for a raise.

If you haven’t seen them already, the two most comprehensive salary surveys for 2018 are available here:

Let’s look at 5 of the most interesting findings across the two surveys:

  1. Average salaries for the profession

  • ISM has announced that the average overall compensation for participating supply management professionals was US$117,425, while CPOs earnt an average of US$263,578.
  • CIPS reported an average salary of £46,422 for procurement and supply professionals, with CPOs earning an average salary of £124,000.
  1. Salary increase smashing the national average

  • In the U.S., ISM reported that supply management salaries rose an average of 4.1% over 2016 salaries, versus 3% for U.S. professionals generally.
  • CIPS found that 68% of procurement professionals received an average 5.1% increase in salary, versus a 2.2% increase for the UK national average.

Paul Lee, Director of ISM Research & Publications, offered the following explanation:

“In today’s global economy, excellence in supply management improves both top- and bottom-line performance, and advances companies’ leadership on the worldwide stage. Supply management professionals’ higher-than-average wage growth reflects the significant value they add every day”.

  1. Certifications DO boost salaries:

  • ISM: Those with the ISM Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) certification averaged 14.7% higher salaries than those without any certification.
  • CIPS: The data reveals that MCIPS and FCIPS professionals have increased earning power, with an average 12% salary disparity between MCIPS and non-MCIPS, and an average of 11% disparity between FCIPS and non-FCIPS across all job levels.
  1. Most important factors when considering a new job

We’re a mercenary bunch. “Salary” has once again come out at the top of both ISM and CIPS’ research into what people consider when evaluating job opportunities. Beyond the money, however, are some other factors that employers should note:

ISM top 6 factors:

  • Salary: 85%
  • Job satisfaction: 81%
  • Improved work/life balance: 80%
  • Benefits package (medical/dental/vision): 79%
  • Pension/retirement plan/401(k) or similar: 78%
  • Organisational culture/work environment: 75% percent

CIPS top 6 factors:

  • Salary: 74%
  • Location: 71%
  • Content of the work: 65%
  • Career progression opportunities: 62%
  • Company reputation: 59%
  • Company commitment to training and development: 58%
  1. Gender gap disappointment

  • ISM’s data reveals women are paid less than men across every level in U.S. supply management, with male CPOs earning 26% more than female counterparts, male VPs earning 52% more than women, and male Emerging Professionals earning 13% more than women.

CIPS reports that the most striking pay disparity exists at the Advanced Professional level, where men earned 33% more than women, a pay gap that has widened since the previous year’s (25%). Pay disparity at the Professional and Managerial levels is also considerable, at 14% and 11% respectively

Team Comes First in IBM CPO’s Roadmap To Success

What would you do after all of the low-hanging fruit in procurement has disappeared?

Here’s a quick quiz:

What would you do if you became the CPO of a procurement function that is a top-quartile performer and already highly mature?

  • Keep things as they are – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
  • Make small, incremental improvements, being careful not to change anything significantly.
  • Roll your sleeves up and transform the function from top-quartile performer to a world-class organisation.

Bob Murphy was faced with this choice back in 2014 when he first took on the role of IBM CPO. In many ways, inheriting a highly-mature procurement function is more of a challenge than stepping into a low-maturity team. For Bob, the low-hanging fruit had all been picked: the team had already undergone a significant transformation, it was recognised internally and externally for its high level of excellence, cost savings were at record levels, and supplier relationships and sourcing strategies were delivering results. Client engagement and interlock with business unit stakeholders was also maturing, while procurement was viewed as a key function enabling business unit objectives.

So, what was there left to do? Bob’s challenge – as well as his opportunity – was to take a high-functioning team that was delivering best-in-class outcomes and make them even better. He did this through unleashing his passion for the profession, leveraging 30+ years of procurement and supply chain experience to mobilise a global team of 3000 procurement professionals around a shared vision.

He developed a set of global, transformative initiatives and domain priorities that moved IBM from the front of the pack to a truly world-class outlier position. Today, IBM Procurement services have arrived at a status dreamt of by many CPOs – that of an essential trusted advisor to the business.

IBM’s secret recipe for success isn’t actually a secret – the roadmap established by Bob early in his tenure as CPO covers six key areas:

  1. Investment in talent and skills development
  2. Digital transformation through AI (Watson cognitive procurement), robotic process automation and Source-to-Pay transformation.
  3. Unlocking big data to drive informed, outcome-based decision making for IBM and its clients.
  4. Supercharged engagement through end-to-end ownership for deliverables and client-aligned squads, while satisfaction is captured using the Net Promoter Score.
  5. Deployment of Agile principles and self-empowerment across the entire team.
  6. Growth of supplier innovation as complex enterprise relationships mature.

Leadership recognition

It’s interesting to note that people and talent are at the very top of Bob’s list. To quote an article he wrote for Procurious, “I learned a long time ago that the key to success is having a great team. And there is a very human element to procurement. There will always be a need for people to handle the relationship management side of the function, with both suppliers and stakeholders and make the strategic decisions.”

Although he operates in a highly technical sphere, Bob stresses the importance of soft skills:

“When we think of the soft skills necessary for future success in the procurement industry, we focus on building closer stakeholder and supplier relationships. Broadening our communications skills, including active listening is a key enabler to both visibility to value proposition, but also in understanding our stakeholder requirements from their point of view. Another critical element is having better agility skills; think flexibility, adaptability and speed.”

Bob Murphy’s achievements in leadership were celebrated at the Procurement Leaders awards in May, where he picked up the prestigious 2018 Procurement Leader Award.

His first comment when interviewed after receiving the accolade? “This award is about my team.”

Can Category Management Clean Up Its Act, AI- Style?!

In a post-AI world, the cards are up in the air and everything is up for grabs. Can category management help the procurement profession to scrub-up and embrace these changes?

Our webinar,  Clean Up Your Act! Category Management AI-Style is available on Procurious now. Listen here

How are large corporations managing and recruiting their workforce in the age of the gig economy?

Can cognitive tech help marketers connect the dots and better understand their customers?

Will we require architects in the future to design our buildings, or can we ask bots do that for us instead?

AI and cognitive technology will impact all corners of the business whether it’s construction, labour or marketing. For procurement’s category managers, technological advancement provides the chance to reinvigorate the profession and develop innovative ways of working.

But there is also a legitimate fear of the major disruption AI brings. Which services and industries will we lose entirely? How many roles will be made redundant?

The cards are up in the air and procurement prosperity is there for the taking. Can category managers help the profession to scrub up and seize this opportunity?

This month, we’ve enlisted the help of three category management experts to advise you on how to clean up your act and get the most out of AI!

Last month we hosted a webinar – Clean Up Your Act! Category Management AI-Style – in partnership with IBM.

With a focus on construction, labour and marketing, we discussed:

  • What common problems have category managers faced in old-world procurement, pre-AI?
  • How is AI impacting these categories; what sort of disruption can procurement professionals expect?
  • How can AI help procurement professionals in construction design, build and maintain their projects?
  • How can AI assist procurement professionals working in labour to attract, recruit and retain talent?
  • How can AI help procurement professionals working in marketing to strategise, create and manage optimal marketing campaigns?

Who is speaking on the webinar?

  • Tania Seary, Founder – Procurious
  • Luis Dario Gile, Global Category Leader (Design Construction and Real Estate) – IBM

Help! I can’t make it to the live-stream

No problem! If you can’t make the live-stream you can catch up whenever it suits you. We’ll be making it available on Procurious soon after the event (and will be sure to send you a link) so you can listen at your leisure!

Can I ask a question?

If you’d like to ask one of our speakers a question please submit it via the Discussion Board on Procurious and we’ll do our very best to ensure it gets answered for you.

Our webinar,  Clean Up Your Act! Category Management AI-Style is available on Procurious now. Listen here

4 American CPOs Nailing Change

A group of the USA’s most influential procurement leaders gathered at ISM2018 to discuss digital transformation, the evolution of the CPO role, procurement’s influence and the gig economy.

Image: Shutterstock

In a press-only event at ISM2018, ISM CEO Tom Derry brought together four CPOs from some of the world’s leading organisations to debate the biggest issues facing supply management today.

Digital Transformation

The consensus around digital transformation among this group is to take a step back and consider carefully before taking the plunge. DowDuPont Ag Division CPO and Chair of the ISM Board of Directors, Craig Reed, observed that there’s so much technology out there that everyone’s hyper-focused on it. He warns: “Some companies have a culture and a rhythm that doesn’t necessarily work at the same speed that the technology is growing. [You need to consider] how you get it, where do you use it, and what’s the benefit for the company.” Reed reports that in his organisation they’re starting to see a slight evolution where Service and Operations are looking at how digital technology can bring efficiency: “We won’t need as many people doing routine tasks”.

Reed also makes the point that first-movers are sometimes at a disadvantage. “It’s like being the first person on your block with a landline phone”, he said. “If suppliers have to standardise technology specifically for you, it’s going to be difficult [because] the cost of trying to deploy becomes prohibitive to the supplier.”

MGM Resorts International SVP and CPO Stacey Taylor drew a parallel between digital evolution and the industrial revolution, where a lot of people were doing unnecessarily manual work. “We need to be super-disruptive to the market … with a vision of where we see our teams from a talent perspective.”

Taylor notes that technology can drive process optimisation. “What can you fully optimise and automate [to function] without human intervention? The AI could do data, write the RFP, send out the RFP … right up to negotiating the contact. But at the end of the day, we’re not going to have a bot award a contract to a bot, and AI isn’t going to manage the supplier relationship.” For Taylor, human talent will also be needed to find creative, innovative ideas that shift the game.

Camille Batiste, VP Global Procurement at Archer-Daniels Midland, has seen how energised young people in her organisation are by technology opportunities. “If we bring an opportunity to automate and eliminate tactical work, they get excited about that. Then there are employees who don’t yet understand what that tech does – that’s where you get the fear. I feel we have leaders who just don’t understand the value of what this technology can bring and are very concerned about the risks. Our responsibility then is to make that clearer.” Batiste comments that we need to consider what concepts like the digital revolution, robotics and AI would mean to your average plant manager. “A lot of companies say they’re doing digital transformation, but … don’t really have an idea of what it is.”

Reed comments: “My fear is that all the great technology that’s coming out today [won’t survive] because we can’t communicate the opportunities to our organisations properly. I think the technology firms we’re dealing with [need to] help us better communicate that. How do you translate that cost reduction into operating margin and improvement?” Reed is looking at iterations of technology that can drive value for his organisation. “Look at Salesforce – it’s driving tremendous opportunity. That’s the [kind of] stuff we want to do in procurement, but it’s difficult to have that conversation and get the organisation to understand the value.”

The evolution of the CPO Role

LG Electronics VP Global Procurement Strategy, Chae-Ung Um, notes that every organisation has different levels of maturity. “We [currently] consider the CPO as the top, but whoever will become the Chief Value Officer will take the lead. I’ve been on a lot of transformation projects, and everything crosses procurement”.

Reed also talks about maturity. “How mature is your company in understanding the role of the procurement function? In some companies it can be seen as strictly commercial negotiations. In others, it’s broader – looking at things collectively to drive integrated value. But what you’re starting to see more of is that one function can’t do it by themselves – there’s a lot more collaboration.”

But who is best positioned to lead this transformation of the role? Reed says it needs to be someone business-focused, not procurement focused; someone who can look at the business strategy and demonstrate how your suppliers can provide solutions.

Tom Derry talks about meeting a professional at ISM2018 who, to him, epitomised the evolution of the CPO. “She was not only the CPO, but the CFO of IT and head of the business transformation office in her organisation. That’s the leading-edge conception of the CPO role.”

Growing Influence

“From the time I joined procurement 17 years ago, one thing I’ve thought we’ve never done well is marketing ourselves”, said Batiste. “It’s so critical … [I’m considering] hiring a marketing person to drive the internal communication of our value to the organisation.” Batiste also reiterates that support from your organisation’s leadership team is paramount. “The CEO must be talking about what procurement is doing to drive the purpose of the company. Procurement needs to be vocal, not humble, and share … all the good things we’re doing.” She recommends partnering with a strong writer (such as someone from marketing). “It’s good for influence, and for attracting talent.”

Chae has a different approach to this challenge: “If I don’t have influence, I ask our customers – who have the leverage – to help us get there. We bring in a dealmaker.”

Gig economy

Batiste predicts that by 2023 she’ll be seeing a much smaller organisation, with transactional work completely embedded within the business. “What the name for this is, I don’t know. Right now it’s P2P solutions. What’s it going to be in 2020?”

How much will CPOs want to invest in talent in the future? Chae warns that any major transformation will require a lot of people, but two to three years later you won’t need all those professionals. “You need to balance optimising value for the company and minimising future headaches. Having the right people makes a difference.”

Taylor says that in regard to the gig economy, it really depends on your organisation. “There are areas of my business that I just can’t get to, so I’m augmenting it by getting in consultants. Do we train and scale up everyone, or get some blackbelts and move them around key areas as projects come up? Over time, through attrition, we’re scaling back and building powerful little teams.”

4 Reasons Why Your Organisation Isn’t Embracing Cognitive

In the battle for capital, how does procurement ensure its cognitive projects come out on top?

At last month’s London CPO roundtable; Amit Sharma, Global Procurement Practice Leader for Cognitive Process Services (CPS) –IBM led our attendees in a discussion on how procurement leaders can ensure their cognitive projects come out on top.

There is so much potential in cognitive technology to transform the role of procurement. It will allow professionals to do dynamic forecasting, telling you when to raise acquisition and awards contracts to a particular supplier based on a triage.

“For procurement, maintaining our relevance to the organisation beyond cost savings is imperative” said Amit.  “[Procurement pros] need to embed the latest in technology as best practise into the business as it will free up our time and help us to move from transactional to strategic management.”

“The logic is unquestionable.  We know the sophistication of AI is going to come. It’s a question of when, not if.”

But when it comes to making the leap to cognitive, which can do a world of good for analytical and predictive analysis, organisations are still hesitant.

Procurement needs to make the business case for how cognitive can add long-term value and, as Amit reminded us, “If you’re not convinced, you can’t convince someone else”

Throughout our discussion, four key reasons for an organisation’s reluctance to embrace cognitive tech became apparent.

1. Remaining skepticism at the value of cognitive

As Amit explained, cognitive technology like Watson can help procurement professionals to analyse reams of data. It would, for example, allow users to plot the price at which they are being charged for something by suppliers and analyse how the index has moved in past [x] years. Five years ago this process would have been extremely time consuming but with the index data, the system can quickly tell you exactly where you’ve been overcharged.

So it all sounds great. But in reality, business leaders are often skeptical about the actual cost savings brought about by this kind of analysis.

Do you genuinely make better decisions in the long term by having so much data at your fingertips? Or can you have just as much success through effective negotiations with your suppliers?

Amit’s response to this “If you’re not doing spend compliance – you don’t know if you’re compliant. If you’re not analysing this data, you don’t know the potential cost savings.”

“I spoke to a CPO who thought their processes were good. [But it was discovered that] there was a 40 per cent unit price difference across the company in the same category, simply because the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing!”

2.  Spend within organisations is fragmented

One key problem for procurement, when it comes to implementing cognitive technology, is that the CPO doesn’t always have the authority to drive transformation. Perhaps they are reporting to a CFO who doesn’t see value in cognitive tech or the spend might simply be too fragmented across the business. When it depends on lots of other people, procurement are unable to drive change effectively.

As one of our roundtable attendees pointed out “there are organisations I know who can’t justify the need to implement Ariba to their CFO- let alone cognitive technology!”

3. Trouble looking at the bigger picture

Several of our roundtable attendees cited short-termism as a key reason for their organisation’s lack of cognitive adoption. “The mistake we make is that we look at opps in a tactical way and not at the bigger picture,” said one CPO.

“For example, we know that there will be headcount reduction in the coming years and we will benefit hugely from cognitive tech, but articulating that at a hollistic level to the CFO and explaining it as a 5-year journey is the challenge”

4. Confusion about AI

Remarkably, one of the biggest challenges remaining around  the uptake of cognitive technology is a universal lack of understanding of what it actually is and the distinctions between different terms.

“You can start talking to a group about AI and within a few minutes people are talking about blockchain, as if the two are interchangeable,” said one of our attendees. “People need to have a clearer understanding of the buzzwords ; AI, blockchain cognitive etc.”

Of course, there are people who know a little and people who know a lot. And that’s a challenge in itself.

Read more here on the insightful discussions had at our London CPO roundtable.