All posts by Procurious HQ

Packing for the future: big trends, digital print, sustainability

Stuart Kellock, Owner of Label Apeel shares his thoughts on digital print, the next big trends and whether being sustainable is still crucial for business.

Future of packaging

What is next for digital print?

In labels and packaging the next step has got to be educating the end user, the marketeers and the brand owners about what is available to them.

Pumping the market with presses does nothing for the innovation being applied. For me, it will be those who can apply themselves to new and innovative applications that will be the winners. Those who are merely using digital presses to produce labels that could be done using conventional, will find that the unseen costs quickly catch up with them, and that the competition very quickly becomes a bit hot to justify the expenditure. We have already seen this model play out in the commercial sheet fed world with disastrous outcomes for some of the less innovative businesses.

Has personalised packaging had its day?

No, personalised packaging is here to stay. With any amount of luck we can all stop treating it as the be all and end all of what digital has to offer. Yes, coke and Absolute Vodka have done some smashing stuff with personalisation, but is it really innovative? I remember 12 years ago turning up to an event and being presented with a bottle of personalized beer. Personalisation is not innovative; the scale of the personalisation that these companies demonstrated was innovative. Digital has so much more to offer and it is only once we can get past personalization, will we start to develop and understand what that is.

Three big packaging trends and techniques for 2015?

I think that 2015 will see a return to fantastic photography being used in packaging. The last few years we have seen bold colour stamping the mark of brands, I think we could see a return of photographic imagery. The challenge for printers will be to get the consistent reproduction quality that is going to be demanded of the designers.

Digital moving in to wide web packaging is going to be something that will be great to watch for those of us not involved and a challenge for those in the market. A continuation of the drive for tactile finishes and added decoration will be how brands make themselves stand out from the crowds.

Is social media having an effect on the print industry?

Social media is having less effect directly on printers than it is having on our customers. This is particularly true of printers like us, who work with small batch exclusive brands. Prior to digital, these brands could not afford the labelling and packaging of the big boys. Now their packaging looks amazing, fresh and desirable. This in conjunction with far reaching social media as a sales tool means that smaller niche brands are having an impact on the market place.

It is no coincidence that we see large brewers launching their own craft breweries or the distillers doing short run exclusive lines. The little guys are having an impact and eroding the big boys market, they are being forced to respond. Social media is allowing this to happen.

Sustainability – is it still a crucial battleground or are brands less worried about their green credentials?

Brands were ever so worried about their green credentials while it was the printer and other suppliers picking up the tab. Then, came the financial downturn of 2008 and the focus was taken elsewhere.

We have seen a return to a concern for sustainability over the past two years and I think now that concern is far more effective. It comes from a real and pragmatic position, rather than a dictatorial (because the marketing bod says we have got to.) Printers now recognise that by reducing waste and by buying sustainably they are able to improve their own business while delivering the real change the planet needs.

We no longer have half-hearted conversations about recycled paper. Our conversations now are about reducing packaging, reducing waste, eliminating landfill and reducing energy consumption from a position that creates a win for all the stakeholders.

The benefits of social networking

Networking… It’s a maligned term that often sits alongside exercising and dieting as things that we know in our hearts we should do, but never seem to get around to. 

Guide to using social networking in the job hunt

Well, we’re here to tell you it needn’t be so. In this post we are going to point out some simple tips that will make your networking efforts more effective and less cringe-worthy.

We’re all in this together

It’s important to remember that on social media platforms and at face-to-face events, everyone is there for the same purpose… To network.

People don’t attend events with the intention of sitting silently in corner, not communicating or not learning. Similarly people don’t join Procurious or LinkedIn to avoid contact with other members.

So the next time you approach someone for networking purposes, remember they are coming from the same place as you. They want to network as well!

Ask for help

As US president Barack Obama once said:

“Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength because it shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and that then allows you to learn something new.” 

Asking people for help should be an active part of your networking strategy as it actually solves two problems.

The first is clear; asking for help will enable you to find solutions to your problems. Not sure who the best procurement recruiter in New York City is? Ask someone! Trying to determine if a CIPS qualification is worth the investment? Ask someone!

The second benefit that comes from asking for help is less apparent but just as important. A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that workers who help others, feel happier about their work than those who decide not to help.  By asking someone for help, you give them the opportunity to display their skills and knowledge and at the same time give their self-esteem a boost.

“Our findings make a simple but profound point about altruism: helping others makes us happier. Altruism is not a form of martyrdom, but operates for many as part of a healthy psychological reward system” – University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Donald Moynihan.

If the person asking the question wins and the person answering the question wins, what’s stopping us from asking more questions?

Now back on the Barrack Obama thread, the Economist magazine recently reported that during his time as a US Senator, Barrack Obama, a man who I think you’ll agree has amassed an impressive network over the years, asked more than one third of his fellow Senators for ‘help’.

Be targeted in your approach

No one likes spam. Not in their email accounts, not in their sandwiches and certainly not when they are networking.

When you are looking to connect with people, be genuine not generic.

If you have a particular person you want to meet at an event, it pays to take some time to research them and their interests. The background work you do will not only spark your targets interest but also help to break the ice.

When connecting with people on social media sites try to send personalised messages rather than the default settings of the platform. It doesn’t have to be much but “Hey, I noticed you also work in advertising procurement, lets connect” is infinitely better than “I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network”.

Don’t ask for a job

It’s true that social platforms like Procurious and LinkedIn are effectively online CV repositories, and that these platforms are increasing being used by companies and recruiters to fill vacancies.

However, the direction of this flow should not be turned around. Job seekers should avoid directly soliciting for jobs or big-noting themselves to hiring managers through social media platforms or at networking events.

The key here is subtly; it’s OK to ask someone at an event for advice, an opinion or even to meet up for a drink after the conference. However, by asking for a job, you end up alienating yourself from the very person you’re trying to impress.

Keep going, it’s important

Whether it makes your toes curl or not, networking is important. People who network find better jobs more easily than those who don’t.

The Guardian newspaper recently reported that a staggering 90 per cent of UK employers use social media a means to find staff.

The importance of networking is magnified as you progress through your career. A large portion of senior positions are never formally advertised, with firms preferring to rely on references and people they ‘know’ to fill important roles. The question is will they ‘know’ you?

The importance of networking stretches beyond finding your next job. Networks can be a source of inspiration. They can provide you with information and insight you would have never otherwise encountered. Effective networking may help you find your next mentor, role model or god forbid even a friend!

So get out there and network!

Why do we question, comment and discuss?

To answer this [question] we’re going to reflect on findings from a number of social network-specific research papers that have made themselves known to us.

Why do we ask questions on social media?

The Arma International Educational Foundation published its theories around ‘Social networks and their impact on records and information management’ in January 2011.

For clarity, records and information management will be shortened henceforth to RIM:

Arma said: “there is a value in the speed of distribution of questions and answers that can be seen on various Social Networks. RIM professionals who have questions can post them on Social Networks and within minutes—if not seconds—receive answers from other RIM professionals. For the individual, this removes the feeling that may exist of being all alone on the job. This type of Social Network where the topics are specific to RIM professionals creates a community of commonality.”

Now this could be written for any cross-selection of people, it needn’t be profession exclusive (as seen here applied to RIM professionals).

Similarly, a report put together by the European Commission in November 2010 said the following on human-powered community question answering and expert finding:

“Human powered (aka crowdsourcing) systems gave promising solutions to problems that were unsolved for years. The research community should continue working on leveraging human intelligence to solve critical problems and answer questions that otherwise would be impossible to answer automatically. Social networks contain immense knowledge through their users. However, it is not trivial to find the one that has the knowledge and is also available to share it.”

Just look towards the healthy ‘Discussions’ area on Procurious to see this thinking in action.

Discussions on Procurious

From here you are free to browse any open discussion topics, or create your own to pose to other Procurious members.

Start by filling in the ‘Ask a question or start a discussion’ field, then expand in the ‘Add more details’ area. This is the perfect place for any additional details,  or URLs you might want to share. Then you’ll need to select a topic/subtopic from the respective dropdown menus (this will help signpost your discussion to those members with similar interests).

Those dropdown menus will come in handy if you want to dip straight into discussions that touch on your specialty. Use the filters on the main Discussions page to show questions by topic/subtopic, or order by those latest/trending.

Alternatively you can get a heads-up (of the two most recent discussions at least) from the Community homepage. Can’t see it? It’s to the right of your Community Feed.

The European Commission report also touched on a topic it called ‘Personalisation for social interaction’, in which it explains as “In order to improve social interaction and enhance social inclusion, personalization engines that locate peers with possibly common likes, dislikes or developing trends should be engineered. Towards more efficient search engines that will be able to serve the users only with relevant content, personalisation algorithms have to be studied in a greater extent.”

Could we go as far to call Procurious a ‘personalization engine’?

We’re always keen to hear your thoughts so why not add to the discussion by leaving a comment below?

In logistics? Take the ‘joined-up’ approach

Maritime places Fargo at the heart of its approach to doing business

Thanks to Maritime Transport and Fargo Systems for providing Procurious with this case study.

The decision to implement Fargo Systems’ TOPS system back in 2004 was a turning point in the way the UK’s largest container transport company, Maritime Transport, approached its IT business model.  Fast forward ten years and Fargo Systems’ technology yields benefits across almost all aspects of Maritime’s business.

Tim Goddard, IT director at Maritime Transport takes up the story: “I was initially brought in by Maritime to oversee the introduction of TOPS.  The decision to invest in this new ‘off the shelf’ technology was made to replace an outdated and inflexible system currently in operation and to equip the business for growth.

 “From the outset, what was appealing about working with Fargo Systems was the team’s understanding of our business; a result of their logistics background, and their commitment to work with us and further develop their systems to meet our evolving needs.”

Managing over 10,000 shipments a week, an impressive 90 per cent of Maritime’s work is now received via EDI directly into TOPS from customers, forwarders and shipping lines’ systems.  TOPS helps to efficiently meet customers’ reporting requirements by sending automated job acknowledgements, status updates and PODs back to the originating systems, and where required can also provide electronic invoice transactions via EDI, which speeds up the process of issuing invoices and of invoices being approved.

The importance of real-time reporting

Interfaces to Maritime’s telematics system, assists the traffic planners by sending job details direct to the drivers in the cabs, who receive automated job updates, which are processed in real time into TOPS and by retrieving vehicle positioning data for use on the traffic sheet.  This data is also of huge benefit to the fleet department.  Creating an electronic process for defect reporting is vital for a fleet of over 3,400 truck/trailer assets.   Defects captured by the telematics are processed into TOPS, where fleet appointments can be scheduled and purchase orders raised.

The partnership between the two companies has strengthened over the last decade and today Fargo Systems works closely with Maritime Transport to develop systems which link together administrative IT functions across the business. Integration is the key to the successful use of technology and TOPS is integrated into Maritime’s accounting system, with plans to use data in other areas such as purchase order processing as well as the payroll and HR systems.

Tim continues: “The size of our operation today, which includes over 350 desktop users, 17 depots, 1,400 vehicles and 2,000 plus trailers, means it is vital that our IT systems maximise every piece of data.” 

MTL head office

Optimise systems for maximum potential

As pioneers of ‘joined up’ IT systems in the logistics industry, Maritime will be taking its integrated IT approach one stage further, when it launches a fleet vendor web portal shortly.

Tim continues: “It’s important that we don’t treat any aspect of our business in isolation. Our fleet and our employees are assets and it’s vital that all are achieving their maximum potential.  An example of the integration the new system will bring is when a driver reports a tyre blow out, the repair company will be notified immediately and will then receive instant approval to attend the breakdown and undertake the repair.  The system will pre-advise the driver of the ETA of the repair van and simultaneously raise a purchase order for the repair company to invoice against.”

Ten years on… the next ten… and the next

Looking ahead to the next ten years, Tim believes Fargo Systems’ CYMAN (Container Yard Management) will play an increasingly important role in the company’s IT portfolio. “Our acquisition of Roadways in August this year has provided us with the impetus to investigate how best to utilise CYMAN in our rail operations at Tamworth, but also within our other Intermodal facilities.  Again, it’s all about joined up thinking – this time with our train and planning functionality.”

When asked about the longevity of the relationship between the two companies, Tim is quick to respond: “Fargo Systems’ understanding of our industry has always played a crucial role in the success of our relationship.  I also believe there are instances when working with the ‘not such big guys’ brings real benefit.  Although both far bigger operations than back in 2004, I believe Fargo Systems’ size is still a key strength as they are able to deliver what we require whilst maintaining the personal touch, something that the larger enterprises miss. And finally, they’re agile, listening to our needs and delivering innovative solutions expediently and to our timeframes.  Fargo Systems definitely has a role to play in the future development of our IT strategies.”

The WEF 2015 – where, why and what happened?

“Social media has created a historical shift from the historically powerful to the historically powerless. Now everyone has a voice.”

Sheryl Sandberg, COO and Member of the Board, Facebook at the WEF, Davos, 2015

The World Economic Forum in Davos

The World Economic Forum

Unless you have been deliberately avoiding the news over the past week, you’ll be aware that The World Economic Forum has just taken place in Davos.

What is it?

According to the founder, Professor Klaus Schwab, the Forum is “a platform for collaborative thinking and searching for solutions, not for making decisions”.

What this means is that business leaders, thought leaders and politicians, as well as some celebrities, gather together to share ideas with the intention of bettering the world.

Does it work?

The jury is still out for many people. A lot of people look upon the event as a who’s who, rich-list party in the Swiss mountains, others that there isn’t enough tangible output from an event able to gather together a group of individuals with sizeable clout.

However, if these leaders leave Davos with fresh ideas on how to solve the major issues in the world, then, for the rest, the Forum will have fulfilled its purpose.

What were the major topics this year?

Key topics on the table this year included the falling price of oil, the Greek election, a growth agenda for Africa, how technology is changing our lives and what the future holds for Iraq. Check out www.weforum.org for the full programme.

Is there anything we take away?

From a Procurement point of view, we know that there were discussions around procurement efficiency on the agenda (as part of wider topics), as well as the business role in environmental sustainability. We should hear some details coming out over the next few weeks.

As we also reported on Procurious, the WEF raised the issue of cyber security. It certainly got people talking about what they needed to be doing and even came close to a consensus on an idea for a global body that sets cyber-security standards.

Otherwise, we would encourage you to check out some of the video content on the WEF website. For one thing, we’ll probably never have the chance to see Pharrell Williams on stage with Al Gore again!

Read on for more of the biggest stories commanding headlines right now:

DHL Express launches helicopter delivery service

  • DHL has launched a helicopter delivery service in the UK that promises next day delivery on packages from New York, Boston and Chicago. The new service, a first for the UK, will ferry up to 300kg of packages between London’s Heathrow Airport and major London business district Canary Wharf.
  • Fully operational from February, it follows similar operations launched in New York and Los Angeles.
  • “This new service from DHL Express offers even greater speed and reliability to our customers,” John Pearson, chief executive of DHL Express Europe said. “For the financial and professional services sector in particular, time really is money, so we are always looking for innovative, more efficient ways to move our customers’ shipments.”

Read more at Arabian Supply Chain

FSB tackles supply chain bullying at Whitehall

  • The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has hosted a cross-party group of MPs to identify possible solutions to the deterioration of payment practises in the UK.
  • Recent research by the FSB revealed that almost one in five small businesses had been subject to some form of poor payment tactics recently.
  • FSB national policy chairman Mike Cherry said: “It is simply unacceptable for any company to exploit its market position to enforce unfair and unreasonable payment terms. The money outstanding in late payments is in the billions and has consistently grown larger and larger. We need greater leadership from all parties competing to be in the next government to toughen up the prompt payment code and improve the UK’s payment culture.”

Read more at PRW.com

China smartphone supply chains estimate demand to pick up in March

  • China smartphone supply chain makers estimate they will begin shipments for new devices following the Lunar New Year period as local handset vendors remain concerned over clearing out inventories through the early part of first-quarter 2015.
  • Smartphone shipments were lower-than-expected in the China market during the second half of 2014, which many makers attribute to lagging 4G development and a lack of smartphone subsidies from local telecom providers in China. This led to a pile up in inventory, which vendors are now trying to tackle throughout the 2015 Lunar New Year period when sales are expected to get a boost.
  • Supply chain makers are optimistic, however, that shipments will pick up by March, and estimate that most handset replacement demand from consumers in China during 2015 will be for handsets sized 5-inch and above. Shipments will further pick up going into the second quarter, the makers noted.
  • Many supply chain makers believe that China handset vendors’ shipments will increase 17 per cent in 2015 as the vendors tackle low-priced solutions in emerging markets. Global smartphone shipments in 2015 meanwhile are estimated to grow 12 per cent to around 1.3 billion.

Read more at Digitimes

Top 10 supply chain CEOs of 2015

Supply Chain Digital has published a list of its top 10 supply chain CEOs for the year ahead.

[In ascending order] it named Nills S Andersen of Maersk, Dr Frank Appel of Deutsche Post DHL, and Frederick W. Smith of Fedex in its top 3.

To see the full list (along with selected career highlights from those included) head over to http://www.supplychaindigital.com/top10/3800/TOP-10-SUPPLY-CHAIN-CEOs-2015

How Tesco uses the cloud to work with its suppliers

  • Tesco is using online trading partner community solutions to embrace and extend its Oracle ERP and procure-to-pay systems and has significantly increased automation levels in their B2B e-commerce network during the last twelve months.
  • As a result Tesco has reduced the time to set up and approve new suppliers by 66 per cent.
  • With the help of GXS, Tesco has tackled the challenges that have, in the past, prevented some of its trading partners from adopting EDI. Tesco has significantly increased automation levels in their B2B e-commerce network during the last twelve months.

View the full findings of this case study at Supply Chain 24/7

 

How to break out of the mould and become an entrepreneur

We’re kicking off our #procuriousactive profile series with David Lawrence from Sydney. We’re profiling (and celebrating) some of our most-active members – Procurious thanks David for all of his support to-date! 

Want to see your name in lights like David? New members should follow our primer to get more out of the site, while existing users can extend their enjoyment with these tips.

Procurious member David Lawrence

Having taken a much-needed career break in June 2014, David looks back to his time at Sensis where he was responsible for National Logistics, Distribution, Publishing & Print.

Procurious asks: What excited you most about your role?

David answers: A number of things to come to mind. Firstly, getting a great result for the business (not always the lowest price) is always satisfying after a long process. In addition, working with and developing suppliers to improve their business to benefit the entire supply chain and by providing leadership through working with the team to develop “our” skills and competencies are also rewarding.

I say “our” as I am continually amazed at what I learn from those around me. I don’t pretend to know it all and enjoy learning from others, even if they are a new starter straight out of university. In summary, it is the people side that excites me, as without relationships, the business world would stop. 

Procurious: When did you decide on procurement as a profession, and what attracted you to it?

David: Around 10 years ago, I was working as an operations manager with FedEx. Well known for their training and development of people, which is based on a People, Service, Profit philosophy, I felt that at the end of my tenure I was hamstrung to a certain degree, more number cruncher than entrepreneur. I felt that I was missing the interaction with suppliers and the ability to run my own process from start to end. I probably wanted to break out of the mould that FedEx developed and become more of an “entrepreneur” in my career.

While the Procurement profession still offered me the opportunity to build on my people skills it also allowed me to develop a more strategic approach to business. Within the procurement cycle I was afforded the opportunity to build business cases, to develop strategic plans and to make my own mark on business success. With cost of goods and general expenses being a significant percentage of business spend, what better way to contribute to business success than getting your hands dirty in influencing these areas.

Procurious: Can you recall a moment you’re been especially proud of professionally?

David: In 2013 after a two year process spanning the globe my team delivered significant savings to the business. While the business was extremely overjoyed at this result I was more circumspect. It wasn’t the savings that satisfied me, it was the way in which we worked with the incumbent supplier. A large number of people were made redundant and a plant was shut down, however the professionalism and strong relationship between my team and the supplier was evident in the way they worked with us; to reduce our costs at their own expense. We always treated the relationship on a strategic level and in the end  it led to both of us decoupling that relationship.     

Procurious: How did you first find out about Procurious, and what prompted you to become a member?

David: From memory I think it was the “a new website coming soon” campaign. I became a member as it was another avenue to learn from others. The news articles and questions are a great way to interact and gain knowledge. As I noted above, I don’t pretend to know it all so reading others opinions is enjoyable. 

Procurious: What are you doing to help spread the word?

David: I believe that I have encouraged two people to join up. Discussing the site is easy as it is not a personality contest nor a place for producing the best one liners or clichéd sayings. Getting people interested is easier when the discussions on Procurious are based on fact and real world experience.   

Procurious: Some would argue that procurement suffers from an image problem; do you feel that there needs to be more education around the profession?

David: I believe that it is more the dynamic of the business world rather than procurement itself. Image problems stem from the functional silos that exist. Operations versus Sales, Customer Service versus Logistics, Marketing versus Procurement, (Everyone versus Finance!), are traditional sore points in business relationships.

As Deming noted, silos and management are the biggest inhibitors to improving business performance. To fix the image problem requires fixing the dynamic within your business. Procurement leaders need to build internal relationships, demonstrate what value they add, operate cross functionally and support the business strategy. Image problems will exist if Procurement cant demonstrate how it is contributing to the business.

Procurious: Do you foresee any particular challenges in 2015 for the profession?

David: Making sure that Procurement remains relevant to the business with demonstrable results. With the global economy still stagnating, procurement professionals need to be agile and innovative in their approach to delivering on these results.

Procurious: And finally, if you had to sum procurement up in three phrases – what would they be?

Innovative and Agile

Internal and external Partnership building

Quantifiable and strategic results

Thanks David! We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. 

Quantitative Easing: What does it mean for the European economy?

Everything you ever wanted to know about Quantitative Easing but were too afraid to ask…

Everything you wanted to know about Quantitative Easing

The European Central Bank (ECB) announced this week it will inject 1.1 trillion (1,100,000,000,000) Euros into the floundering Eurozone economy.

ECB President Mario Draghi suggested the move was made to “address heightened risks of too prolonged a period of low inflation”.

This process, known as Quantitative Easing (QE), is designed to stimulate the Eurozone economy and steer the continent away from another recession – a challenging task in the face of heightened deflation.

It’s a term we’ve heard a lot of in recent years, but what exactly is Quantitative Easing? Fortunately our friends at the BBC have put some time into describing this complex finance play in laymen’s terms.

Now you know what it is, what outcomes should we expect from QE?

James Sproule, chief economist at the Institute of Directors (IoD) provided us with the following comments:

“Ultimately, QE on its own risks setting the Eurozone on the road to Japanese-style stagnation and deflation. QE is not, should not and cannot be seen as a substitute for the kind of structural reforms to labour and product markets that the EU so desperately needs.”

He goes on to say: “The problem across much of the Eurozone is a lack of entrepreneurialism, as rigid and anti-competitive systems hold back enterprise and growth. Much greater liberalisation of product markets is necessary and we must appreciate and accept that the disruption this causes will lead to a degree of creative destruction.”

Sproule also believes that QE will have no discernable effect on unemployment levels across Europe – despite the general good health of the economy. High European unemployment remains a structural issue, and businesses are unwilling to hire because of a desire to avoid the significant liabilities of employment that still characterises Eurozone labour markets.

So how exactly does QE differ to the financial practices adopted outside of the Eurozone?

Sproule explains: “European businesses are far more dependent on bank debt than their American counterparts. In order for Eurozone QE to work, European banks have to use the new cash to lend, which in turn means they must be confident that their existing balance sheet is solvent and that the new loans they make are equally prudent.”

In closing, Sproule makes a recommendation for the European Union going forward:

“Member states need to work quickly to liberalise social and employment law, complete the single market in services and embrace digital innovation. The risk now is that QE blunts the desperate need for wider economic reforms.”

Tim Cook: From Supply Chain Management to CEO

Is Apple CEO, Tim Cook, procurement’s greatest ambassador?

One of the key goals of Procurious is to improve the image of our function.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, procurement’s greatest ambassador?

It’s fair to say procurement has received a bad wrap over the years. We’ve been dubbed corporate policemen, paper pushers, roadblocks, as well as a raft of other unflattering names we dare not mention.

Thankfully, due to the innovation and hard graft of procurement professionals, the function is shedding this negative image and starting to become recognised as an integral part of any successful business.

Perhaps the greatest exemplar of procurement’s ascendancy to date is Apple CEO Tim Cook.

In 1998 Tim was the vice president of Corporate Materials for the Compaq computer company, a role that that saw him hold responsibility for the organisation’s procurement and inventory operations. Despite having no real intentions of leaving this role, the enigmatic Steve Jobs managed to convince Tim to take on a role at Apple (pre iMac, iPod, iPad, and iPhone).

Tim’s performance at Apple was stellar, particularly from a procurement point of view. In his authorised autobiography of Steve Jobs, Walter Issacson described Cook’s methodical approach to supplier rationalisation and inventory management.

“Cook reduced the number of Apple’s key suppliers from a hundred to twenty-four, forced them to cut better deals to keep the business, convinced many to locate next to Apple’s plants, and closed ten of the company’s nineteen warehouses. By reducing the places where inventory could pile up, he reduced inventory. Jobs had cut inventory from two months’ worth of product down to one by early 1998. By September of that year, Cook had gotten it to six days. By the following September, it was down to an amazing two days’ worth. In addition, he cut the production process for making an Apple computer from four months to two. All of this not only saved money, it also allowed each new computer to have the very latest components available.”

The procurement and supply chain decisions made by Cook highlight the critical importance of procurement to Apple’s success. The strength of the company (and arguably its competitive advantage) has been in building and managing a complex network of suppliers that the company has successfully leveraged to produce ground-breaking technology products. Put simply, without the supply network, there is no product.

Cook’s performance in Apple’s supply chain clearly caught the attention of Steve Jobs who gave the follow recommendation of Cook during his departure from the firm.

“I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.” Steve Jobs

The promotion of Cook to CEO shows that the board of Apple understands the critical importance of external suppliers as a source of innovation for the company. Apple clearly sees the procurement function as the conduit to successfully managing these relationships and ensuring the future success of the business.

Apple is the world’s most valuable brand, has undergone a remarkably successful business transformation and has produced products that have changed the way we interact with each other and the world around us. With so much of this success being attributed to great procurement practices, could there really be a stronger endorsement for our function?

“Tim Cook came out of procurement which is just the right background for what we needed.” Steve Jobs

Want to start your own ‘Group’ on Procurious?

So you’re a fully-registered Procurious member: you’re sharing stories with your peers, contributing to interesting discussion topics, brushing-up on your learning using our learning resources, yet you’re still craving more… Let us introduce you to our new Procurious Groups – the perfect haven to hang out with likeminded professionals around a core theme.

Groups on Procurious

Sergio Giordano – one of our original, early Procurious members has forged ahead and set up The Italian Procurement Professional Community. It currently boasts 44 members, making it the largest active Group on Procurious.

We asked Sergio if he’d like to share some words about the Group, and the approaches he’s adopted to entice new members:

“Italian professionals are beginning to understand that to achieve reputation you must first demonstrate your competence by helping colleagues and proving to be an expert in a specific field.

This is an essential feature which is the basis of my request to join the group. I also tried to make it clear to them that the opportunity to grow the Italian community in Procurious is huge. On one hand it helps to get in touch with a world of international procurement with the support of other Italian colleagues with whom to share their knowledge. And on the other hand, a means to enrich themselves with the expertise of colleagues from other countries. 

Finally, as you know, Italians like sport (and competition) so I spurred the decision to join the group by issuing a challenge: to be the most numerous and competent team in Procurious, by putting together the excellence of Italian procurement professionals. However I think that the first interest in joining  the group is the uniqueness of Procurious: we all felt a great need of a specialistic network like yours or, let me say… like ours.”

Create your own Group

To take a leaf out of Sergio’s book, navigate to the ‘Groups’ page by following the link (it’s nestled between the Discussions and Blog items).

To set up a group of your own, begin by clicking the ‘Create Group’ button.

Now you need a good name… The Group name should be succinct, and easily identifiable. You can go into extra detail in the ‘Description’ field – this should spell out your modus operandi.

You’ll also need to specify relevant industry and category choices using the drop-down menus (just like you did when you originally joined Procurious).

Finally, upload a small image that can be used as the Group’s profile picture. Now you’re ready to start inviting other Procurious members to your new Group – you can do this by typing names into the ‘Add members’ field.

Set privacy and permissions for your Group

Ideally you’ll want to retain full control of your little corner of Procurious – this is where the privacy and permissions controls come into play.

Set the Group privacy to ‘Posts visible only to group members’.

To manage the flow of new members to your Group we’d recommend selecting the ‘Any Procurious member can ask to join’ option in the first instance. This means that every time someone makes a request to come onboard you’ll receive a notification to approve/deny their membership.

We’ll be exploring Groups in more detail in future postings, but in the meantime we encourage you to have a play around and explore the new functionality on offer.

Have any feedback/comments? Leave below for Procurious to see!

Does procurement have a role to play in cyber security?

In the past few months alone there has been a significant number of cyber attacks on high profile targets including Sony Pictures, celebrities’ phones and personal computers, and, just recently, an attack on the US Military Command’s Twitter account.

Procurement's role in cyber security. Image Flickr

Now, as the World Economic Forum labels emerging technologies as one of the major global risks for 2015 in light of these attacks, we consider what procurement can do to aid organisational efforts in cyber security.

How big a worry is this?

If the WEF is highlighting it as a major global risk, then it’s certainly something to be taking seriously. Emerging technologies will allow hackers and cyber terrorists to carry out attacks that are more sophisticated and harder to stop. Additionally, there is a reported increasing skills shortage in cyber security personnel, expected to peak in 2017.

However, it’s not all bad news. The high-profile attacks have helped increase the focus on this subject. As a result, the UK Government has issued advice and information to organisations to help them be cyber-safe, as well as signing up to a second US-UK Cyber Security Innovation Summit. There are also now cyber governance health checks and a Cyber Essentials Scheme available to help organisations.

Procurement’s Role

A representative from the organisation that compiled the WEF report, Marsh & McLennan Companies, was quoted as saying “As a company you are not protected [against cyber attacks] unless your supply chain is protected.”

So what can Procurement do to help? Individually, you can do everything you would do to protect your personal accounts and computers:

  • Report all phishing and suspicious e-mails
  • Don’t click on links in e-mails unless you are sure of the source
  • Be wary of unsolicited e-mails asking for information

There are other steps that you can take as part of an organisation to assist with the overall security

  • Ensure your knowledge is up to date by attending conferences
  • Work with suppliers to put security plans in place
  • Make security plans part of your evaluations
  • Take responsibility in your team for checking and ensuring compliance
  • Investigate the Cyber Essentials Scheme

By making this part of day-to-day activities, procurement can do its bit to make organisations more secure.

Biggest Global Challenges in 2015https://www.procurious.com/blog/trending/what-are-the-biggest-global-challenges-in-2015

Cyber Security Boosthttps://www.business-cloud.com/articles/news/cyber-security-boost-uk-firms

Cyber Essentials Scheme (UK)https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/procurement-policy-note-0914-cyber-essentials-scheme-certification

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Jailed Military procurement official blackmailed

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Thailand drafts public procurement law following UNDP review

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