All posts by Procurious HQ

Procurious Big Ideas Keynote #6 – How People Create Alchemy in Organisations

Sarah Trota, founder of sarahtrotaalchemy and Personnel Today HR Director of the Year 2013, provided a different viewpoint in her keynote, that of procurement’s relationship with HR.

Sarah discussed her own model for how to create ‘alchemy’ within organisations – the focus of the idea is on properly engaging with employees, ensuring they are satisfied and as a result, producing better outcomes for the business.

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.

2015 Rewind – Best of the Blog: Social Media – Breaking News and Misinformation

Our third revisit comes from later in the year, in the wake of the terrible events in Paris in November. Social media played a huge role in the development of the story, and we looked at the power of these platforms for good and bad reasons.

paris-peace

Social media was awash this weekend with information, news and an overwhelming outpouring of sympathy in the wake of the atrocities in Paris on Friday night.

The Procurious team would like to take this opportunity to offer our most sincere condolences and sympathies to people of Paris, and all those affected by this horrendous act of terrorism. We would also offer the same sympathies to the people of Beirut, Syria, Iraq and Egypt, who have all suffered similar attacks in recent days and weeks.

Social media has changed how the world sees events such as the ones in Paris. Breaking news, information and pictures all appear on the Internet during the events, with people uploading their first-hand accounts on the ground.

But, while social media can be a force for good, and a fantastic tool to help victims and their families, there is also a darker side, with misinformation, vitriol and rhetoric all spread in equal measure, often taking the focus away from the real story.

The Good

As the attacks in Paris unfolded on Friday night, many people turned to their phones to get an understanding of what was going on. With the news cycles taking time to unfold, social media was able to fill that gap with the headlines as they broke.

As well as providing access to the breaking news, social media accounts were being used to communicate with families and friends, to let others know that people were safe. Facebook immediately launched its “I’m Safe” button, which was first used during the Nepalese earthquake earlier this year, allowing a simple way to notify hundreds of people at once.

Not for the first time, a Twitter hashtag trended in the wake of the attacks. The #porteouverte hashtag offered a place to stay for those affected by the events, similar to the #illridewithyou hashtag, which trended in December last year following terror attacks in Sydney.

A sign of sympathy, a sign of solidarity, showcasing all the good that social media can accomplish in these situations.

The Bad

For all the good that social media can do, there is a dark side to the power that is wielded by its users. Giving everyone a voice allows for the support and sympathy, but also gives a voice to misinformation and ignorance.

For the most part, the misinformed stories that appear in the aftermath of such events are not malicious. A small story or throwaway quote can be exaggerated out of all proportion, taking on a ring of ‘truth’ as it spreads across social media.

Stories of the Eiffel Tower lights being turned off as a mark of respect (the lights are always turned off at a certain time of night) and of fires at the Calais refugee camp due to an act of retaliation (the cause is still unknown, but pictures were from a fire in November), are just some of the ‘facts’ that grew legs thanks to the virality of social media.

Where the misinformation is malicious, it can lead to hatred and prejudice being spread, and innocent people being targeted as a result. Already there have been arrests in the UK as a result of social media posts over the weekend.

Unifying Force

The power for good of social media outweighs the power for bad in most cases. The volume of news and information we all have access to means we can be better informed and more up to date on all the breaking stories. It would be a shame to see a tool that has the potential for being a conduit for social good be lost to the many, as a result of the actions of the few.

We have the responsibility to use this wealth of information appropriately, and keep our posts factual, especially when it comes to breaking news and events like Friday night (please still have your own opinions – this is part of the beauty of social media too!).

Let’s ensure that we use social media as a unifying force across the world, share quality information (and the occasional cat video…), shine a light in dark corners and allow us to create a global community. Are you in?

2015 Rewind – Best of Learning: How to Use Social Media to Win the War for Talent

We’re looking back at 2015 and the eLearning content that was added to the site during the year. 

In our second rewind, we take a look at the role of social media in the war for procurement talent. The ‘War for Talent’ has been a major topic in 2015, with organisations looking at the ways they can attract and retain the best talent.

In this video, Tania Seary talks about how procurement can leverage social media in order to reach the right audiences and attract the right people.

Although the focus here is on millennial talent, it’s sure to be useful for recruitment for any person in or new to the procurement profession.

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

2015 Rewind – Best of the Blog: 3D Printing – The End of Outsourcing?

Our second blog rewind looks at the idea that 3D Printing will have a major impact on the way organisations manufacture their products and ultimately how their supply chains are set up for outsourcing.

From golf clubs to firearms, pharmaceuticals to trainers, 3D Printing is disrupting the manufacturing process of an increasing number of products. But what are the long-term implications for the supply chain as a whole?

It’s a common misconception that 3D printing is something new. Although the processes and thinking for it have been around for a number of years, it’s taken a while for the technology to catch up and allow wider functionality and usage.

As a procurement and supply chain professional, this opens up a world of possibilities – a world of potential cost savings as a result of lower manufacturing costs and a centralised supply chain. Of course this isn’t going to happen overnight, but organisations can start to think differently.

The End Outsourced Manufacturing?

Manufacturing in particular has the potential to see a big change. The advances in 3D Printing can allow certain products to be made in house, instead of being outsourced to ‘low cost’ countries. While good news for organisations bringing more jobs back home, it doesn’t provide a rosy outlook for countries like Mexico and China, traditionally strongholds for low-cost manufacturing.

By bringing manufacturing closer to home, it also gives organisations an opportunity to reduce risk in their logistics, reduce lead-times and make savings on transportation costs. Plus, there’s the lower carbon footprint of global activities as an added bonus. This is all illustrated in this neat infographic.

3d printing supply chain infographic

In the pharmaceutical industry, manufacturers are using 3D Printing to improve medicines delivery systems for patients. Printers are being used to produce pyramid-shaped pills, which provide a more rapid drug release than cylindrical pills, and layered tablets that dissolve quicker and more efficiently.

While these processes are still in their infancy, manufacturers are hopeful that technology and science will work hand in hand, lowering production costs, enabling local production and, in the long run, reducing the end cost for patients.

Changes in the Supply Chain

Beyond enabling organisations to bring manufacturing back to a local setting, lowering logistics and transportation risks and costs and even maybe reducing globalisation as a whole, there are other impacts in the supply chain to think about.

Organisations will be able to produce prototypes of designs much faster than before and facilitate testing by being able to print on site. Organisations will also be able to print packaging materials, more tailored to certain products, as well as tools, jigs and other aids for manufacturing.

Finally, the requirement to hold inventory can be reduced by having designs for applicable products and other parts held on a hard drive, ready to be printed on demand, rather than physically stored in a warehouse.

Beware the Magic Bullet

A word of warning, though. As great as all this sounds, there are still risks and issues that need to be considered with 3D Printing.

Protection of copyright and security of patents is a big deal when all the designs are held on a hard drive that could be hacked from outside the organisation. Some organisations have taken steps to protect their intellectual property, but can you be 100 per cent sure you’re safe from cyber attack?

On the environmental side, although footprints are lowered for transportation, the need for printers to run continuously to be cost-effective means increased energy usage and costs. This would lead also to increased carbon footprints for local factories.

Finally, with greater efficiencies in the supply chain, reduced transportation requirements and potentially fewer warehouses, where does that leave the supply chain manager? If parts are going to be printed on site as required, there isn’t going to be the need for someone to manage an end-to-end process.

Best learn how to use the printers then!

Do you work in an industry that’s seen an increase in 3D Printing? Do you work with printers – have we missed any big benefits? Let us know and get involved in the discussion! 

2015 Rewind – Best of Learning: Where are Procurement’s Blind Spots?

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!

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.

Procurious Big Ideas Keynote #5 – The Business Case for Creating a Procurement Network

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.

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.

Supply Chain Best Practice – What We Can Learn from Santa

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

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?

Stakeholder Management

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.

Demand Planning

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.

Delivery

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.

Logistics

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.

Inventory

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.

Track Santa

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.

Best of the Procurious Discussion Forum 2015

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.

KPIs for Procurement Function

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
  • Total Spend
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Stock Turnover
  • Quality
  • Supplier Consolidation
  • Supply Chain Security & Risk
  • Cost Avoidance
  • Customer of Choice
  • Procurement Engagement
  • Time
  • Inventory
  • Sustainability
  • Ethics
  • Agility
  • TCO

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.

How Did You Get Your Start in Procurement?

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!

Is there a ‘typical’ Myers-Briggs profile for procurement pros?

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?

Other Popular Discussions

There were other great, popular discussions on the topics of vendor management best practice, definitions or first thoughts on hearing the word eSourcing, whether or not professional accreditation and courses were worthwhile in procurement and responsibility in organisations for the drafting and issuing of a specification or brief.

You can also catch up with our Discussion Wraps from 2015 on the Procurious blog by following one of the links below:

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!

Why Social Media Will Play a Role in the War on Terror

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

Read more at Apple Insider

French Courier Companies Fined for “Collusion”

  • 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

Read more at Supply Management

Tech Companies Suffer Due to Supply Chain Disruption

  • The 2015 Global Cleantech Risk Survey has reported that 61 per cent of clean tech companies had suffered some form of supply chain disruption in the past three years
  • Of these companies, 84 per cent stated that their bottom line had suffered due to the disruptions
  • 75 per cent of the 300 organisations surveyed, who sourced products from China, said that they had suffered from a supply chain disruption
  • These disruptions resulted in delayed deliveries, eroded profit margins, brand and reputation damage and reduced revenue

See more results at My Central Jersey

Global Firms Tied to Slave Labour

  • 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

Read more at The Indian Republic