All posts by Procurious HQ

5 Organisations That Are Fighting Plastic

The war against plastic is not all doom and gloom. Thankfully, the world’s biggest corporations are waking up to the reality that big change has to happen… and soon!

In last week’s Procurious blog we explored the threats currently facing The Great Barrier Reef – reporting on the eight million tons of plastic that enters our oceans every year and the prediction that by 2050 there will more plastic in the ocean than fish.

It’s hard not to be horrified by some of the images emerging that demonstrate the impact of plastics on our oceans, our beaches and  our wildlife. No one could forget, for example, Justin Hofman’s photograph of a seahorse clinging to a discarded cotton bud – a  painfully stark image.

Last month National Geographic launched their new initiative, Planet or Plastic – the focus of their June publication and a multiyear effort to raise awareness about the global plastic waste crisis and encourage readers to take the pledge to help reduce single-use plastics.

“More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our oceans.”

National Geographic, Planet or Plastic 

It can seem like a hopeless situation. But, as their campaign highlights, there is so much you can do both as an individual and as part of your organisation to impart real change.

And the situation is looking hopeful. Across the globe, the biggest corporations are waking up to the reality that big change has to happen with regard to their use of plastics. More and more of our restaurants, bars, theatres and cinemas are removing plastic straws from the offering and a number of big supermarkets have promised to make all plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. 

Today, as we approach World Ocean’s Day on 8th June,  we’ve highlighted a handful of corporations who are doing some inspiring work to tackle plastic pollution.

Their inspiring campaigns prove that solving the plastics problem is both a challenge and an opportunity for organisations to lead the way in finding innovative solutions.

1. Pret a Manger

Pret a Manger is consistently recognised for its efforts towards sustainable, socially conscious. The organisation is well known for offering all of its unsold produce to homeless people and recently introduced a 50p discount for customers bringing in there own reusable cups.

In October 2017 Pret a Manger’s CEO, Clive Schlee, penned a blog for the sandwich shop’s website entitled “What if Pret stopped selling plastic water bottles?”

Schlee explains that Pret a Manger are striving to make it as easy as possible for customers to use fewer plastic bottles “All of our Veggie Pret and Manchester shops will now be encouraging customers to fill up their bottles for free using new filtered water stations. These shops will also start selling reusable plastic bottles alongside our regular water bottles, so the choice is clear.”

In February 2018 Pret a Manger announced they would be trialling a 10p cash back scheme for plastic bottles.

The company will add 10p to the cost of its plastic bottles which will be refunded to customers when they bring the bottle back. Any unclaimed deposits will be invested in their sustainability work.

Pret a Manger have also pledged to make all their plastic packaging use by 2025 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable.

2. Whole Foods

Supermarket chain Whole Foods has been backing the no-plastics horse for some time.

In 2008 they made the switch from plastic to paper bags in all of their stores and they have consistently committed to reducing plastics by offering biodegradable alternatives for plates, cutlery and other food takeout items.

At some or all of their stores, Whole Foods are doing the following:

  • Using reusable dishes and flatware in dining areas
  • Reclaimed wood, bricks and other materials in construction
  • Printing and packaging using recycled paper and water- or vegetable-based
  • Collection bins for batteries, printer cartridges, cell phones, corks, plastic bags and toothbrushes
  • Composting to decrease landfill waste

3. Timberland

Last year, Timberland unveiled a line of products developed with Thread’s Ground to Good™ fabric, harvested from plastic bottles littering the streets and landfills of Haiti.

To date, over 1300 Haitians have collected and recycled 765, 280 plastic bottles.

“At Timberland, we’re constantly seeking innovative ways to create both social and environmental value, and are excited to continue making a difference in Haiti and in all the communities where we live, work and explore,” said Colleen Vien, sustainability director for Timberland. “Our collaboration with Thread has proven to be a meaningful way for us to grow our work in Haiti and generate social value for the people behind our products. We’ve embraced the opportunity to share their unique stories with our consumers, because this collection is about so much more than a boot. A Timberland X Thread boot represents real change – it helps create jobs, restore communities and build futures.”

4. Sky

Sky launched Sky Ocean Rescue in 2017 to shine a spotlight on the issues affecting ocean health, find innovative solutions to the problem of ocean plastics, and inspire people to make small everyday changes that collectively make a huge difference.

Partnering with WWF, Sky have committed £25 million to help find innovative solutions to reduce plastics and pledged to eliminate all single-use plastics from their operations, products and supply chain by 2020.

They’re also running a successful online campaign to encourage consumers to #PassonPlastic

5. Dell

In December 2017 Dell announced that it would be launching the world’s first commercial-scale, ocean-bound plastics supply chain, which takes ocean-bound plastics and repurposes it for their packaging.

“When Dell uses plastics from the beach, shorelines, waterways and coastal areas, we bring them back into the economy and stop them from breaking down and becoming part of a bigger problem.

It gives us an affordable resource, creates jobs for the recyclers, provides a template for others to follow and helps put a dent in the vast problem of plastics entering the ocean.”

In partnership with The Lonely Whale Foundation, Dell have helped convene Next Wave, an open-source initiative that brings leading technology and consumer-focused companies together to develop a commercial-scale ocean-bound plastics and nylon supply chain.

The group anticipates that they will divert more than 3 million pounds of plastic and nylon-based fishing gear from entering the ocean within 5 years – the equivalent of keeping 66 million water bottles from washing out to sea.

We’d love to know what your organisation is doing to reduce the use of plastics. Tell us in the comments below!

Procure with Purpose

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Environmental Sustainability.

Click here to enroll and gain access to  all future Procure with Purpose events including exclusive content, online events and regular webinars.  

6 Things To Consider Before You Buy Any Procurement Technology

Thinking of investing in some of the latest procurement technology? If you haven’t consulted market trends, got a third opinion and done all of your research, you might want to pull on the reins!

Buying procurement technology these days is a complicated business.

With ever more niche vendors entering the market and established providers offering increasingly sophisticated solutions, differentiating on face value alone can be as clear as mud. However, given that your decision will have an enterprise-wide impact, it’s crucial that you assess your options and make the most informed decision possible.

1. Separating Fact from Fiction

Of course, you will have the product marketing collateral from each provider such as datasheets and solution overviews.

However, you need to be aware of how much is marketing ‘fluff’ and how much is an accurate reflection of the solution’s capabilities.

To do this, you can turn to customer case studies and testimonials to understand what their experience of implementing and using the solution has been like. But remember, even that source of information comes with its own challenges and shortcomings. If the case study focuses on the customer’s functional use of the product, it may not offer you an accurate view of customer service levels or product performance, which are of course key considerations in making your decision.

This is where third party research and validation comes into play.

2. Look at market trends

Where do you go and how do you choose your sources of information?

The entire technology market is well served with analysts reporting trends, competencies and guidance on the good, the bad and the ugly of the industry. In searching for technology vendors that meet your requirements, this certainly helps sort the “wheat from the chaff”.

That said, the technology market is quite unique in that it experiences a rapid advance in product capabilities. With competition driving innovation, product sets evolve quickly and when you’re looking at R&D in technology sphere, one year is a long time. This means that its essential to ensure that the information you’re using, and basing your decision upon is up-to-date and reflective of the latest capabilities within the market.

3. Consult The Magic Quadrant

One of the world’s largest, most respected analyst organisations for technology research is Gartner. Each year or so, they produce the Magic Quadrant which is a culmination of research in a specific market, giving individuals a broad view of the relative positions of the market’s competitors. The Gartner Magic Quadrant research provides a graphical competitive positioning of four types of technology providers in fast-growing markets; Leaders, Visionaries, Niche Players and Challengers.

They produce this research for a range of technology sectors, including procurement sourcing applications, and it is a well-trusted source of information for assessing your options when you go to market.

Access the Latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Strategic Sourcing Application Suites.

4. Make sure you’re using up-to-date analysis

Given the considerations around the pace of advancements in the eProcurement sector,  it is all the more important to ensure that you’re using the most current information available. In addition, because of the time between each report release, you’ll find that vendors that have been in a Leaders quadrant can fall from grace into lower quadrants/waves.

This is because to remain in the Leader segment is dependent on a vendor’s investment in product functionality and features, as well as their business vision to meet the needs and demands of the procurement marketplace. Customer satisfaction and referencing is also taken into consideration for the research, meaning a strong Leader position is indicative of a satisfied customer base.

5. Get a third (Party) opinion

There are a number of consulting and analyst organisations who conduct independent research of the technology space in order to provide a clearer, qualitative segmentation of the marketplace. By supplementing the information supplied by providers with this third party research, you can validate performance and delivery to build a more objective view of the market place. To get you started, here is a short list of publishers that you can turn to for information:

  • Spend Matters Network
    This leading network of procurement websites is a great source of current procurement insight. Their commentary and reporting examines the latest news, techniques, “secret” tools of the trade, technology, and its impact. Most of the content is free to access, but there is a Spend Matters Pro membership that will give you access to exclusive research and content.
  • Procurement Leaders Network
    Procurement Leaders™ is a global membership network, serving senior procurement and supply chain executives from major worldwide corporations, providing independent procurement intelligence, professional development and peer-to-peer networking. It has a broad range of research into various sectors, but you do need to be a member to access most of the content.
  • Supply Management
    Supply Management is the official publication of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply and features the latest news, view and analysis for procurement and supply chain professionals worldwide. The website provides daily news and opinion and exclusive content, in addition to access to more than 15,000 articles.

6. Do your research

As the marketplace for procurement software and technology continues to grow, it can become a confusing place for those looking to choose a solution; you’ve niche providers who offer specific pieces of software and more established leaders offering integrated full-suite solutions. Each promises to deliver the most effective, powerful solution but how much of that is bluster and how much is grounded in truth? By all means utilise the product marketing information that a vendor provides, but scrutinise it too. Is what they say true?

Ensuring you conduct thorough third-party research and refer to existing customer testimonials is key to finding the answer to that question and key to you selecting the best solution for your organisation.

This article was written by Dan Quinn, SVP Jaggaer MENA.


Join JAGGAER In Munich next month for REV 2018 – two action-packed days, filled with the latest in eProcurement innovations, trends, and strategies designed to help you accelerate your spend management digital transformation.

Hear how your peers are leveraging highly engineered technology to deliver strategic procurement value to their organisations.

Spaces are limited so secure your place today and check out the incredible speaker line-up.

Driving Change The Procurement Way

At yesterday’s London CPO Roundtable we explored how procurement teams can drive big change in their organisations whether it’s through Brexit policy, implementing cognitive technology or smart hiring…

When was the last time you took a wild punt in your hiring process?

Is your procurement team under more pressure than ever to cut costs?

How can CPOs make the business case for cognitive technology to their CFO?

Will there be a second EU Referendum?

These are just some of the questions we discussed when we gathered a dozen procurement leaders in London yesterday for a CPO roundtable sponsored by IBM.

We discussed the implications of Brexit and how procurement professionals are preparing, how procurement can make sure its cognitive projects come out on top in the battle for capital and  why employers need to be far more open minded when hiring new talent.

Surviving the Perfect Storm

Nick Ford, Co-founder – Odesma gave us an overview of his organisation’s latest Brexit survey; Surviving a Perfect Storm.

Many would argue that Brexit is the biggest negotiation to ever  take place in UK, but the path ahead is still very unclear. And that’s presenting some major challenges for procurement teams.

Indeed, 45 per cent of Odesma’s survey respondents (300+ procurement executives primarily from the UK/EU ) admitted that Brexit was hampering their procurement strategy and 82 per cent claim that they have felt under more pressure to reduce costs for third party good and services.

Nick highlighted some of the changes procurement departments are attempting to implement in order to prepare for life post-Brexit:

  • Contingency Planning – including managing an mitigating risk, moving supply chain out of Europe etc. : 27 per cent
  • Investigating new suppliers:  9 per cent
  • Re-negotiating contracts with existing suppliers: 9 per cent
  • Reviewing country location for procurement operation: 6 per cent
  • Re-evaluating inbound supply chain: 6 per cent 
  • No changes to supplier base: 15 per cent

On a positive note, 73 per cent of procurement professionals believe their organisation sees procurement as an important part of its post-Brexit preparation process. As Nick highlighted, it is a fantastic opportunity for re-negotiation of supplier contracts, a chance to do a thorough supplier clean- up or develop new suppliers entirely and it gives your organisation a competitive advantage if your procurement team is in good shape – given that only 40 per cent of businesses have  started putting plans in place to prepare for brexit.

Read more from Nick Ford on how procurement can prepare for a post-Brexit world.  

The Battle For Capital

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

Amit Sharma, Global Procurement Practice Leader for Cognitive Process Services (CPS) -IBM addressed how difficult it is for procurement leaders to communicate the need for, and value of, cognitive technology to their business.

“The problem for procurement” he argued “is that the CPO doesn’t always have the authority to drive transformation. It depend on lots of other people and that stops them from driving change.”

“For procurement, maintaining our relevance to the organisation beyond cost savings is imperative. [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.

The CPOs in attendance were in agreement; citing short-termism, lack of buy-in from the CFO and a limited understanding in the business about cognitive technology.

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”

Brexit: What Happens Now?

Professor Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs, Kings College led a session discussing the long-term causes of Brexit and their future implications.

“Hand on heart I don’t know [what’ going to happen] – 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 results Brexit has largely been defined by whichever adjective most aptly applies to specific people or groups; black brexit; white brexit; hard brexit; soft brexit; white red and blue brexit… the list goes on.

Does the UK want to establish a relationship with the EU like Norway, like North Korea or will they define something wholly new.

Anand admits that due to the Brexit process being so complex and all-consuming, there is no avoiding a messy process. What goes on throughout the next couple of years will largely be determined by politics.

  1. Theresa May

The UK Prime Minister relatively quickly defined what she meant by Brexit (leave cutoms 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.

2. The Conservative Government

There is 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.

3. 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.

Ultimately the real danger for the UK’s economy, Anand warns, 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.”

The Drive Project

The Drive Project is an award-winning, creative social enterprise. They work alongside charities and businesses to inspire and empower people with creative projects, training and talks. We were joined by one of their speakers Darren Swift (“Swifty”).

On 25th May 1991 Swifty was injured by a terrorist attack that resulted in him losing both his legs above the knee.

Within seconds of being hit by an IRA coffee jar bomb he went, he jokes, from being 6 foot 2 to 4 foot 6; his left leg completely gone and his right hanging on by a thread.

During his extensive rehab, when he was forced to confront his new reality, Swifty made the 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 taking up skydiving, becoming the first ever double above knee amputee snowboarder and taking up a career as an actor. Swifty’s unique and inspiring story reminded us that employers need to be far more open minded when hiring new talent.

When it comes to hiring our organisations need to be ‘blinkers off’ people; asking ‘why not?’, rather than having a ‘you can’t’ attitude. You don’t know what’s possible with a potential hire until you take a punt and give them a chance.

Without this outlook employers could miss an extraordinary talent.

As Emily Shaw, Director- The Drive Project,  pointed out “[We should] give people a chance not to be a victim – because they can achieve so much more.”

Find out more about The Drive Project and the amazing work they do here. 

Can Procurement Help Turn This Sea Turtle’s Frown Upside Down?

Think saving The Great Barrier Reef is out of your hands or entirely irrelevant to you? Think again! Climate change is everyone’s problem and we can all make a difference; down to the last procurement pro!

If you’re lucky enough to have travelled to the coast of Queensland, Australia and visited The Great Barrier Reef, you’ll agree that it is a true wonder to behold.

At 2,300km long it is the largest living thing on earth (roughly the size of Italy or the equivalent of 70 million football fields) and home to an incredible range of wildlife from dozens of species of fish, to sea turtles, to dolphins and so much more.

“It is one of the greatest, and most splendid natural treasures that the world possesses.”- Sir David Attenborough

But it’s under serious threat from a number of environmental factors and it’s everyone’s job to save it; not least procurement’s. We caught up with Anna Marsden, Managing Director – Great Barrier Reef Foundation to learn more about what’s at stake and what we, as professionals, can do to help.

Three factors threatening the Great Barrier Reef

  1. Climate Change

Tropical sea surface temperatures have risen by 0.4–0.5 °C since the late 19th century. In unnaturally warm conditions coral becomes stressed and agitated, leading it to expel the algae that gives it its colour and eventually bleaching. Whilst bleached coral is not yet dead, it is an indicator of severe stress. And if the sea temperature is consistently high for longer than 30 days; it will eventually die. “Look in your garden on a hot day or even a hot week” explains Anna.  “Your plants will start to wilt and eventually, if the temperatures don’t decline, they will perish.” The effect that extreme heat has on a coral reef is much the same.

“Other ways we are seeing climate change playing out is in extreme weather. In recent years there have been more Category 5 cyclones than ever before which are hugely damaging; destroying and weakening the reef’s structure.”

“The reef has always had natural foes and challenges, but this is the first time it’s at such a scale” Anna explains.

  1. Water Quality

Declining water quality is recognised as one of the most significant threats to the long-term health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef. 

“So much waste washes into our oceans – extra soil, extra fertiliser etc which is making it extremely dirty. And nothing grows well in dirt!” Anna asserts. “Whilst bad water quality itself isn’t a life-ending challenge for the Great Barrier Reef, it does reduce the resilience of the system and, on top of everything else going on, it’s a big problem.”

  1. The Crown-of-Thorns Starfish

Increasing sediment, nutrients and contaminants entering coastal waters has been linked to outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, a species which, Anna jokes, “belong in an alien movie!”

“They munch on the coral, each one managing to consume a dinner plate’s worth of it every couple of days. Excess nutrients from sugar cane farms amplifies their breeding patterns.”

Why should procurement teams care?

‘At what price?’ a recent Deloitte report, which investigated the economic, social and icon value of the Great Barrier Reef estimated  its worth at $56 billion; taking into account tourism, fishing, marine science and research. The study also calculated that the reef has resulted in the employment of over 64,000 Australians between 2015–16.

So it’s undeniable that there is real, and huge, value in the Great Barrier Reef – it’s genuinely worth salvaging.

But it can also be usefully thought of as the, slightly harrowing, poster-child for climate change. It’s understandably difficult for procurement professionals around the world to understand the impact their actions are having in terms of climate change and the polluting of our oceans. But the sorts of changes and damages reported by the Great Barrier Reef foundation are mirrored across the world’s oceans.

Take plastic pollution as an example; eight million tons of plastic enter our oceans each year and it’s predicted that by 2050, there will more plastic in the ocean than fish.

What can businesses do?

“Ultimately we need to start moving faster towards a renewable energy environment,” explains Anna. “There’s no single cause in this and there are roles that all businesses can play”

Fortunately, a number of big corporations are helping to provide innovative solutions to protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

“At present divers are hand-shooting crown of thorns starfish with a saline solution, which is an extremely slow process.”

But a robot being developed through a Great Barrier Reef Foundation project partnership with Google and the Queensland University of Technology, aptly named ‘RangerBot’ has the capability to do the work of 50 divers per day. It works 24/7 and can function in choppy waters. “One day soon we’ll be able to drop six of them into an infested area and come back to collect them only when their work of culling the starfish in that area is done!”

Another inspiring example of corporations doing good for the Reef is Rio Tinto’s RTM Wakmatha vessel that has been dubbed the ‘ship of opportunity’.  Rio Tinto invested in a laboratory on their ship which collects vital data as the ship travels along the Queensland coast in the ordinary course of business. This data is used to gain insights as to how ocean chemistry is changing across reef habitats.

Another cool tech solution is a polymer-based sun shield that hangs together in the water for about two days after deployment, forming an umbrella and cutting out 30 per cent of UV light to protect the coral. Made of calcium carbonate, the sun shield is 100 per cent biodegradable and is absorbed back into the system once it has dissolved.

What can YOU do?

As hard as it is to know how to effect real change, there are small things we as individuals can do, and encourage our organisations to do. Banning single-use plastic bags, cycling to work or using keep-cups are all small and immediate positive changes we can make.

Further to that, procurement pros should ask themselves – what can I do with the purchasing power in our company?

As Anna points out, “climate change is about our relationship with the planet. We all make decisions that drive it, we all have a role to play in this.”

“One of our corporate partners is Cleanaway – Australia’s leading waste management, recycling and industrial services company.”

Cleanaway work with big businesses to ensure sustainability is as the core of waste-sorting and encourage the adoption of reusable resources.

About the Great Barrier Reef Foundation

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation exists to ensure a Great Barrier Reef for future generations. We seek out the solutions and innovations that will also benefit coral reefs globally as they tackle the same threats and challenges facing the world’s largest coral reef.

“Our focus in the short term is on boosting the resilience of the Reef to allow it to bounce back from major challenges as a result of a changing climate and declining water quality. We’re buying the Reef time while the world works to meet the conditions of the Paris Agreement.”

Read more here. 


Procure with Purpose

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Environmental Sustainability.

Last month’s webinar on modern slavery,  Procurement Unchained, will soon be made available on-demand via the Procure with Purpose group on Procurious. Click here to enroll and gain access to this and all subsequent Procure with Purpose events. 

Always Let Procurement Be Your Guide…

As we move from the age of mandate into the age of guidance there is enormous opportunity for procurement pros to make themselves known and heard…

SAP Ariba’s Vice President, James Marland, believes that the procurement function is moving from what he calls the Age of Mandate into the Age of Guidance – and that’s a great thing.

“The Procurement Department seemed to consist of people who delighted in saying ‘no’. In order to get anything bought by the organisation you had to jump through a whole series of hoops: but that’s not really how people want to engage with their suppliers.”

He argues that an advisory role is by far the preferable option;  “procurement needs to be helping people to do their jobs, not getting in the way. If too many barriers are put in front of them people will just buy it in a different way, perhaps putting it through an Expense Report.”

‘Advisory procurement’ is not a controversial suggestion by any means. As James highlights, almost all areas of our business are transitioning to become more advisory in their approach. HR, for example, are likely to discuss with their employees how to manage their pensions, rather than dictate to them how it must be done.

In the past, IT might have handed you a laptop to use but now many organisations employ a ‘bring your own device to work’ scheme.

“The Age of Mandate was very much about rules and policies: telling people what they can’t do. And really, in Procurement we interposed ourselves into our stakeholders’ business process: kind of ‘got in the way’.  And we were measured on savings.”

But now we can measure procurement on much more important things.

How procurement can guide the organisation

Procurement is in a truly unique position to impart organisation-wide change whether it’s managing risk or encouraging a more  purpose-led approach to business.  But these changes have to be executed in the right way.

‘Why can’t I buy it online, it’s cheaper than the corporate catalogue?’

This is the sort of question procurement teams are all too used to hearing from different areas of the business.

But huge, branded corporations have to be extremely careful when it comes to managing their supply chains and supplier lists.  No one in the UK could forget the huge 2013 scandal that occurred when horsemeat was found in some of the processed beef products sold by a number of supermarkets. You might also remember that Tesco, Iceland, Aldi and Lidl were all implemented and exposed by the press.

Of course, it wasn’t their suppliers who bought the horsemeat. It wasn’t even their supplier’s supplier’s supplier’s supplier.

But we always remember the brands.

“Historically, procurement hasn’t done a brilliant job in explaining this sort of risk to the business” James argues. But rather than simply saying no “we need to be able to offer a range of solutions to the business that still allows them to buy what they need to buy, whilst removing the fear and risk of things like poor ethical practices in the supply chain.”

“It must be easy for users to consume. Not, for example, complicated supplier lists that no one knows about.”

In other words; whilst an organisation might send out a mandate from the top that, for example, they want to buy more locally, it won’t necessarily work if the procedures aren’t put in place to make it possible.

A business striving to make the office more accessible can’t succeed by simply adding another dozen questions to every RFP.

Instead, procurement can implement systems whereby inclusive filters are automatically applied.

“You need to make it so it’s easier to do the right thing than to do the wrong thing,” James explains.

So why does James think procurement is best placed to guide the business in doing the right thing?

Put simply “we spend all the money.”

“You can boycott your corner shop and that’s great. But if procurement can persuade a big mining company to employ local people differently that could have a huge impact on the world.”

“A lot of social change is about placing large resources that a company has into the economy. Most of the transactions in the world, 80 per cent are B2B and most of that comes through a procurement desk.

“We’re privileged to have such an effect and it’s a responsibility that we are stewards of the global economy.”

James Marland, Vice President – SAP Ariba, spoke at last month’s Big Ideas Summit. Check out his interview here. 

7 Procurious Influencers Who Are Smashing Modern Slavery

Not all heroes wear capes! But surely there are few people more deserving of a superhero’s recognition than the procurement pros fighting against modern slavery day in, day out….?

Last week, a heavy-hitting list of 100 modern-day abolitionists was splashed across social media following the 2018 Annual UK Top 100 Corporate Modern Slavery Influencers’ Index Recognition Dinner in London – and the team at Procurious was delighted to see at least seven Procurious members featured in the Index.

Developed by BRE and Sustain Worldwide, the #Top100Index recognises individuals from all business sectors, media and academia who are influential leaders in raising awareness to end modern slavery and labour exploitation; those who advocate for robust ethical sourcing and human rights recognition and practices in UK direct business operations and global supply chains.

The Index was based on a combination of influence on social media (as measured by Klout scores) and advocacy – policy impact, speaking and media engagements – in public life, aggregated via a proprietary algorithm and verified by an independent panel.

Influence is the key word here. While only a few of the Top 100 would be physically involved in busting modern-day slavery at the coalface, this group is arguably making a greater impact through addressing the source of the problem by raising public awareness and getting cut-through with he decision-makers in government and business who can really make a difference.

Procurement and supply management is well-represented in the Top 100, even though the scope of the award went well beyond this profession. This proves, once again, that any efforts to eradicate modern slavery must involve – and often be spearheaded by – procurement and supply professionals.   

Who are the Procurious members in the #Top100Index?

Congratulations to the following members of our online community. Connect with these highly influential professionals here on Procurious by following the links below.

  1. Andrew Wallis OBE of UnSeenUK
  2. Andy Davies of Greater London Authority (GLA) Group
  3. Dax Lovegrove of Swarovski
  4. Katie Jacobs of Supply Management
  5. Professor Jacqueline Glass of Loughborough University
  6. Rob Knott of Virtualstock
  7. Olinga Ta’eed, Entrepreneur

More from Olinga Ta’eed on Procurious:

In other news this week:

Deadline Passes with no renegotiated NAFTA

  • Parties to the NAFTA renegotiations have failed to reach a deal before the Congressional deadline of May 17 passed last week.
  • The deadline was in place due to the upcoming Mexican presidential election, which may introduce a new set of variables depending on the winner’s stance on trade.
  • US House Speaker Paul Ryan has said Congress is willing to vote on a deal within a few weeks, but commentators predict the negotiations are likely to drag on into next year.

Read more: https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/NAFTA-May-17-deadline-talks-extend/523811/

Gig economy in the spotlight

  • New research has revealed the explosive growth of the gig economy in the UK since 2010, with ‘non-employer businesses’ (businesses that only hire on a gig-by-gig basis) growing by 8,431% in the transportation and storage sector, and 1,464% in the accommodation and food service sector.
  • The number of self-employed people in the UK has risen by 41% since 2001, with 15% of the UK labour force classed as self-employed last year. The private sector has seen a 25% increase in non-employer businesses since 2010.
  • Recommendations from the Taylor Review of the gig economy include ensuring a balance between worker’s rights and those that are self-employed, sectoral strategies to ensure people do not face insecurity, and stronger incentives for firms to treat “dependent contractors” fairly.

Read more: https://www.premierline.co.uk/knowledge-centre/the-gig-economy.html

US-China Trade War “On Hold”

  • China and the US have agreed to drop tariff threats while working on a wider trade agreement, according to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
  • Washington has demanded that China narrows the $US335 billion annual US goods and services trade deficit and has proposed tariffs of $US50 billion on Chinese goods. China responded with its own measures targeting US agriculture.
  • The two economies have reportedly agreed to set up a framework for addressing trade imbalances in the future.

Read more: Washington Post

How Digital Transformation Will Shake Things Up In Procurement

Some of the gains brought about by digital transformation will be immediate – including its impact on that all-important bottom line…

Throughout the past few years, many organisations have undertaken a strategy of digital transformation.

These transformations step-change many processes for businesses in order to take advantage of embedding faster, more collaborative and more analytical ways of working to better understand and serve both the business and customers to gain competitive advantage.

By leveraging this, businesses across the globe can enhance their productivity, their agility and in turn, their profitability. Indeed, digital transformation offers the potential to significantly reduce inefficiencies across the entire supply chain.

Let’s take e-commerce as an example. By improving the efficiency of a supply chain beyond brick-and-mortar retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, it’s possible to collectively obtain a larger profit than each working in silos. By boosting the supply chain at every touchpoint, companies can reduce the overall cost as well as the opportunity loss, and crucially achieve a greater customer satisfaction rate.

On average, 60 per cent of an organisation’s costs are made up of spend on third-party suppliers of materials, goods and services. In turn, these suppliers have suppliers of their own, and so on and so forth. Essentially, everything that an organisation owns or buys is impacted by procurement teams, which means we as a function stand to benefit enormously from digital transformation.

The opportunity for procurement

Far from the persistent fear-mongering that digital transformation will be the death of procurement; this is an incredible opportunity for the function.

Digital transformation is making it easier than ever before for procurement teams to effectively play a significant role in optimising business and its supply chain, while delivering tangible cost savings.

According to The Hackett Group’s recent study, digital transformation reduces strategic sourcing costs and cycle times by 30 per cent and reduces data-collection errors, utimately leading to cost savings.

Automation also helps category managers obtain deeper spend reductions in specific areas and identify fresh opportunities for savings. It helps organisations identify sources of additional value, i.e., through its third-party suppliers, and retain it within the organisation. This translates into further value-add for the business.

Doing more with less

With a better supply chain, determined through strategic procurement technologies, organisations can reap the benefits, from manufacturing to processing.

To return to the e-commerce example; an enhanced supply chain allows for the physical delivery of a product at higher quality and with faster delivery times. This is especially valuable in this instance; as consumer demands continue to increase, businesses are aided through digital platforms that cater to the “right here, right now” mindset — a demand driven supply chain.

Procurement technology

Technology enables productivity and this means that technology enables us to do a lot more with less. If technology is at the heart of productivity, then procurement is the lungs of it.

Because of this, there has been a great deal of innovation in procurement technologies that drive value in both public and private sectors.

In particular, these digital innovations increase transparency and productivity while engaging healthy competition; they foster an environment where  innovation can propser.  Strategic procurement tools provide organisations with an opportunity to streamline processes and increase efficiency that add value to their businesses.

Automation is at the heart of the digital imperative. Digital innovation comes in all shapes and sizes, and those that are proven to impact the bottom-line such as those that increase the productivity of an entire supply chain have the greatest influence in positively contributing towards the growing economy. Forward thinking organisations that make strategic IT investments considerably strengthen their business outlook by opening up the opportunity for greater output at a lower cost.

This article was written by Dan Quinn, SVP Jaggaer MENA.

JAGGAER’s REV International 2018 takes place in Munich on 25th-26th June. You’ll have the chance to listen to a number of industry experts and procurement thought leaders as they share their best practices and the latest in procurement innovation. Register here. 

Agile Procurement Through the Ages…

Agile principles are all about the decision-making process. What changes should you implement to drive greater value at higher speed?

At IBM, we understand agile as a set of principles and values that when thoughtfully considered across the business, enable quality decision making, empower teams, and delight customers.

In procurement, the Category Manager’s role is to enable their internal customers by eliminating any disruption or friction within the business while also managing cost using their category knowledge and procurement skillset. The key here is the category managers’ ability to have deep category knowledge paired with a breadth of understanding for all internal customer profiles and needs.

As a category manager, team members must build a consultative skill set that allows them to identify pain points, use time wisely, and seek feedback. The result is a category manager who works towards customer needs rather than contract expiration dates and the latest price benchmarks. As a guide, we should seek to digitise and automate as much as possible regarding benchmarking, negotiations, RFx process’, contracting, etc., allowing us to give the appropriate attention to discovering internal customer needs including service levels, pain points, and demand.

What we did before vs. what we do now!

Previously, IBM, like most large companies, hosted a heavily layered procurement organisation requiring multiple sign offs and complex processes in order for decisions to be made. Agile principles are all about the decision-making process. Our leadership knew we needed to make some major changes resulting in fewer layers of management, accountable teams with decision making authority, and greater collaboration across the business, allowing them to drive value for our customers at the speeds they expect.

In a traditional procurement organisation, the category manager’s role is to identify where the savings opportunity is and act accordingly. They do this while following age old processes and having little to no interaction with internal customers. Many organisations seek to use poorly participated customer surveys to get a sense of how well category managers are serving their customers.

Yet, the best way is to open the channels of communication and collaborate with the business, whether it be face-to-face or virtually, allowing category managers to make the right decisions.

While cost reductions are still a priority for nearly all organisations, we found that when we work closely and listen to customers, we can eliminate the costs associated with under and over delivering across the business, which in turn, results in lasting cost savings.

The journey

To achieve this transformation, it takes strong displays from leadership of all the principles and values agile organisations are known for, establishing a belief system across the business encouraging category managers to ask ‘why’ when performing a task their internal customers do not care for or need to be successful. Implementing an agile belief system into a large organisation requires a major cultural change that takes time and patience from all parties.

In this new space, the role of a category manager has quickly evolved from contract and cost management to a crucial role that links business needs to the external marketplace for a specific category of goods. To achieve success in this role, category managers must interact daily with internal customers and evaluate each moment of their time spent not serving their customer’s needs.

Even so, many procurement organisations are too deep into spreadsheets and other manual processes to be ready for such an agile way of working. These manual processes make it impossible for category managers to have the time capacity to be a true advocate and trusted advisor for the business. To lift category managers’ heads from the clutter, organisations must invest in digitising their procurement processes where possible and identify the areas where they are not ready and get ready!

This article was written by Shawn Busby, Global Category Lead- IBM and Norman Braddock, Sourcing Consultant – IBM. 

US Intel Chiefs Urge Business Cooperation On Cybersecurity

But what are the trade-offs in terms of privacy and civil liberties? Highlights from General Keith Alexander and John Brennan keynote at #ISM2018.

During the American Revolutionary war, military commanders of the 13 Colonies realised that the conflict could not be won with soldiers alone. Civilians left their towns and farms to swell the ranks to a level where the British could be pushed back and eventually overcome.

Retired four-star general Keith Alexander (former Director of the National Security Agency) tells delegates at #ISM2018 that just as civilians fought alongside soldiers 240 years ago, there’s currently an urgent need for a public and private partnership to defend against cybersecurity breaches. In other words, business and government need to cooperate if the US is to have any chance of defending against offshore cyberattacks and resultant IP theft.

Calling for a partnership

“I think our approach to cybersecurity has to be changed,” says Alexander. “We need a new strategy.” Companies that suffer data breaches tend to fall into two camps – those that have been attacked and know it, and companies that have been attacked and don’t know it. Alexander says that in an environment where “everybody’s getting hacked,” industry has a responsibility up to a certain level.

The issue is that intelligence agencies (such as the NSA) can’t see what’s in the packets of information that pass through cyberspace at light-speed until after the fact, which means they are relegated to reactive incident response. The solution is for companies to help build a common picture by sharing information so the government can then defend effectively. Alexander gives the example of the energy sector, where 18 companies are working together to share information at network speed.

Alexander also raises the issue of companies that have been attacked being treated as a guilty party, with some organisations getting sued after a cyberattack. “If you want industry to work with government and share what’s hitting them, you’ll have to give them liability protection. We also need to incentivise it so it’s cost-neutral to build up your cyber defence.”

Former Director of the CIA, John Brennan, comments that as difficult as counter-terrorism was, dealing with cybersecurity was even more challenging. “The digital domain is 85% operated by the private sector, and there’s currently no consensus on the government’s role in that environment,” he says. The nature of globalisation means it’s not always easy for a security agency to figure out what’s an American company. “The ecosystem is so interconnected,” says Brennan. “You’re not going to stop globalisation, but you need to [respond to it] in a way that protects government and business interests.”

Privacy trade-offs?

Panel facilitator and ISM CEO Tom Derry raised the question of how you can protect privacy and civil liberties while acting to defend against cyberattacks. According to Alexander, you can do both. “If we’re completely transparent in what we share and ensure everybody agrees to it, we can build a picture that defends our nation.” The consolidation that is taking place as businesses increasingly move into the cloud (usually via a managed service) will help in a cybersecurity sense. “It’s going to come down to consolidation,” says Alexander. “The cloud is going to be the future, collective security in the cloud will be so much better, and you’ll be assured that both your data and your privacy are protected.”

Brennan was less reassuring when it comes to privacy trade-offs. “Lots of privacy and civil liberties have been given up already. People would be shocked about how much of their information is being shared online. We need greater transparency and obligations, and need to be aware of the risks and opportunities. You can’t secure your data the same way you can secure a building.”

What can be done?

Most companies, says Alexander, have a firewall and other measures in place to defend against cyberattacks, but he gives the example of a company with 2,500 people and 5,000 systems that was discovered to have 400,000 unpatched vulnerabilities. “Most companies only try to patch the critical ones.”

Alexander and Brennan list the following solutions:

  • An unprecedented level of partnership and information-sharing between government and business.
  • Behavioural analytics, where a system-user’s behaviour raises red flags if it changes dramatically.
  • Freezing or isolating systems when malware signatures are detected.
  • Better hiring practices, training, procedure and policies to protect against the human element (e.g. Edward Snowden’s data theft).
  • Machine learning and AI systems to cope with the sheer size of the challenge.
  • Be clear on policy: what constitutes an act of war in cyberspace?

In other news from #ISM2018:

ISM Appoints First Chief Product Officer

Susan Marty to Lead Member Engagement, Market Development and Growth Initiatives for ISM.

In its mission to reflect the voices of everyone in the supply management community, ISM has appointed Susan Marty as it first Chief Product Officer. Ms. Marty will focus on member engagement, market development and growth for ISM, the leading not-for-profit, independent, unbiased resource for everyone in supply management.

“As Chief Product Officer, I am strongly committed to meeting the current and future needs of all ISM members and constituents in a timely and meaningful way. We will continue ensuring that all our offerings–from education and events, to discussions and publications–enable members to advance professionally while making their organizations stronger and better,” said Ms. Marty.

“Susan Marty is an exceptional leader with a talent for building strong customer, partner and industry relationships, and innovating in response to market shifts. At a time of rapid transformation for supply management, she will help ISM remain vital to our entire industry,” said Tom Derry, CEO of ISM.

In addition to her focus on ISM’s educational offerings, Ms. Marty will concentrate on making ISM a source for compelling, customer-driven content, including research, thought-provoking conversations with subject-matter experts, and issue-oriented articles.

She will also lead efforts to bring supply management leaders and practitioners together with technology providers, analysts, and other members of the broader professional community. Whether online or via social media, she will focus on maximizing opportunities for the profession to access all ISM has to offer.

“We are thrilled to have Susan Marty join the ISM team. She is a high-caliber talent with a wealth of experience to help us deliver superior products that are valued by our customers,” said Debbie Fogel-Monnissen, Chief Financial Officer, ISM.

“Susan Marty is exactly the kind of product leader that ISM needs to fulfill the strategy of increasing engagement with the supply management professional. Her background in creating value offerings and communicating them clearly and through multiple channels will help today’s supply management professional leverage ISM’s vast resources,” said Jim Barnes, Managing Director for ISM.

Ms. Marty comes to ISM after serving as Vice President Marketing, Product Management and Sales at WorldatWork. She previously held senior roles at Inter-Tel (now Mitel), Voice Access Technologies, OmniSky and AT&T Wireless (now AT&T Mobility).

Arianna Huffington: No More Brilliant Jerks In the Workplace

#ISM2018 keynote Arianna Huffington is on a mission to end the collective delusion that burnout is the price we pay for success.

In 2007, Arianna Huffington collapsed in her office. “I hit my head on my desk, broke my cheekbone, and came to in a pool of blood. I asked myself the question: is this what success looks like?”

By any of the usual metrics, Huffington is an undeniably successful businesswoman and a role model for many. The Greek-American author and syndicated columnist has written 15 books and is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, later acquired by AOL for US$315 million. She is a regular inclusion in lists such as Forbes’ Most Influential Women in Media, The Guardian’s Top 100 in Media, and Forbes’ Most Powerful Women in the World.

But, as Huffington tells the audience at #ISM2018, having money and power as your only metrics of success is like trying to sit on a two-legged stool. A third leg is required if you’re going to attain balance – and that’s where the concept of “Thrive” comes in.

The size of the prize

We’re currently operating in the midst of a global epidemic of burnout and stress. “What’s sad is that it’s completely unnecessary,” says Huffington. “When we take care of ourselves, we’re more effective in what we’re doing.”

Issues which used to be the province of health magazines are now entering the mainstream. Businesses are increasingly recognising that performance improves when employees take care of themselves. The three pillars of self-care are nutrition, movement and – Huffington’s favourite topic – sleep.

Sleep is the best performance-enhancing drug

Ever heard the phrase “we can sleep when we’re dead”? That kind of attitude, according to Huffington, only brings forward the time when we’ll actually be dead. Sleep affects your well-being, your cognitive performance, and subsequently your company’s bottom line. Not long ago it was common to see business leaders competing in terms of who can operate on the least amount of sleep. U.S. President Donald Trump, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and television personality Martha Stewart all reportedly operate on 4 hours of sleep or less.

Huffington knows that when she’s exhausted, she is “the least good version of herself”. Lack of sleep translates into lower creativity, a lack of empathy, more reactive behaviour, a greater likelihood that she’ll take things personally and miss red flags. Similarly, former President Bill Clinton famously said that every one of his major mistakes was made when he was tired.

Here’s the good news. High-profile CEOs are “coming out” as champions of a good nights’ sleep, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Bezos wrote a piece about why getting eight hours of sleep is a top priority not only for him personally, but for Amazon’s shareholders, as a well-rested CEO is much more likely to make good-quality decisions.

Fix your culture to reduce attrition

“Taking care of your employees is no longer just a ‘nice’ benefit,” says Huffington. “It directly affects the business metrics.” Burnt out employees are highly likely to change jobs, with their companies bearing the brunt of attrition costs. Lower engagement, reduced productivity and higher healthcare costs are the other risks faced by companies that run on burnout.

When we prioritise a healthy culture, says Huffington, we’re much more able to deal with problems as they emerge, and respond to crises quickly. “A thriving culture means that everybody knows you cannot sacrifice empathy and caring on the altar of hyper-growth”, she says.

Huffington uses Uber as an example, where from her position on the Board she has seen first-hand the negative effects of a hyper-growth culture that is fuelled by burnout. “The idea that everything will be forgiven if you’re a top performer is no longer sustainable. I promised Uber that going forward, no more ‘brilliant jerks’ will be allowed in the organisation. The truth is that no matter how brilliant you are, if you’re not there to support colleagues, be empathetic, and be humane, in the long term you’ll have a deleterious impact on the business.”

Why do people become jerks? “When employees are burnt out,” says Huffington, “they act out.”

Thrive

In the age of machine-learning, artificial intelligence and continuous disruption, it’s more important than ever to protect and project our uniquely human qualities – namely, empathy and creativity. Huffington singles out these two qualities as they cannot be replaced by AI. She notes that although we regularly celebrate advances in the field of augmented reality, we need to prioritise and cultivate “augmented humanity”.

Alibaba Founder Jack Ma spoke in Davos recently where he introduced the concept of LQ (Loving Quotient), or how people treat one another. In business this will become increasingly important as maturity develops beyond IQ, through EQ, and finally to LQ.

Put the smartphone down

“The next stage of technological disruption will involve technology that will help you disconnect from technology,” says Huffington. She speaks persuasively about the negative effect devices have on people’s wellbeing, and the importance of taking the phone out of the bedroom to ensure a proper night’s sleep. “Your phone is the repository of every problem that you’re dealing with,” she says. It certainly shouldn’t be the last thing you see before sleeping, or the first thing you see when you wake in the morning.

“Learning to manage relationships with our phones is key, but putting boundaries on technology doesn’t mean we don’t love technology. At present our culture values people who are always on, always texting back,” she says. “Where we put our attention determines our lives.”

Huffington leaves the audience at ISM2018 with the image of the three-legged stool. The third leg – the Thrive leg, is built from a sense of well-being, connectivity with your own wisdom, giving back, and feeling a sense of wonder about life, she says. “So often, we don’t even look up.”


Are you at ISM2018? Visit Procurious in the Exhibitor Hall – Booth #207!

Don’t miss out on Procurious Founder Tania Seary’s inspirational & informative ISM2018 Session titled “From The Amazon to The Moon: The Possibilities for Procurement” on Tuesday 8th May, 3.45-4.45.