All posts by Procurious HQ

Procurement: time to move through the gears?

That is the question that Deloitte’s 2014 Global CPO Survey posed…

Results from Deloitte’s 2014 Global CPO Survey

Something of a annual staple, the Deloitte Global CPO Survey report reflects the views of 239 chief procurement officers and company directors from 25 countries around the world.

Of those CPOs polled, almost six in ten think their existing teams lack the necessary skills to successfully deliver their organisation’s procurement strategies. The skills most lacking? “Leadership, influence, communication and relationship building.”

To further exacerbate matters 57 per cent also have issues with their own processes and technologies. Not an altogether pretty picture is it?

Happier news comes out of the UK with Deloitte chief economist Ian Stewart suggesting the fair isle will enjoy decent growth through 2015:

“Chief financial officers expect 2015 to be a year of investment and of recovering real earnings… Going into each year, from 2008 to 2013, finance chiefs’ main concern was the state of the UK economy. Now the risks are seen as lying elsewhere.”

Paul Feechan, office senior partner at Deloitte in Newcastle expanded on these ‘risks’ and provided some context: “The central challenges facing the UK’s largest companies as they enter 2015 are policy uncertainty at home and economic and geopolitical risks overseas. Rising levels of uncertainty have caused a weakening of corporate risk appetite which, nonetheless, remains well above the long-term average.”

Indeed, out of the respondents one in four CPOs felt threatened by geopolitical risks (citing recent events across the Middle East and in the Ukraine).

These risks are felt the world over… The Financial Times invites top economists to weigh-in once a year with their thoughts on the year ahead. Looking towards 2015, a majority of its respondents indicated that the threat from political uncertainty would likely affect business and in-turn consumer confidence.

But 2015 won’t be all doom and gloom: “Corporates believe that the long consumer squeeze has ended” – so says Paul Feechan, Senior Partner at Deloitte LLP.

“CFOs expect 2015 to be a year of investment and of recovering real earnings in the UK. Corporate and consumer spending look set to lend the UK economy important support, suggesting the UK will post decent growth through 2015.”

Feechan concluded: “CFOs are also predicting a buoyant year for business investment, with an average growth of 9 per cent forecast for 2015. Following growth of 8 per cent in 2014, this would put the UK at the top of the league for investment growth in the major industrialised nations and, if realised, will take the share of UK GDP accounted for by business investment to a 15-year high by the end of 2015.”

James Gregson, UK head of sourcing and procurement at Deloitte, said:

“The businesses they [CPOs] are serving are changing. Expectations are rising year on year and relatively small-sized procurement functions with a traditional set of skills are no longer the panacea answer to serving that broader agenda.”

“We are seeing a greater level of specialist skills being created in procurement functions. Rather than a very dominant category management structure, which has been the main quest over the last 10 to 15 years, I think people are starting to challenge the category management organisation and look for specialist skills in certain areas, and looking at partnering with other organisations or looking at shared services that can deliver these things more quickly.”

Gregson further commented: “Traditional blocks around category management are no longer the organisation structure of norm.”

And as for procurement ‘moving through the gears’ – Gregson offered:

“What is clear is this whole principle of procurement having to go through the gears, creating different means of delivering the value proposition. That multitude of different levers they are having to pull, the agendas they have to serve is putting a huge strain on the traditional procurement organisation.”

What of these so-called ‘procurement levers’? Those polled cited the following areas as attracting the most interest:

  • Consolidating spend – 40 per cent
  • Increasing competition – 37 per cent
  • Increasing the level of supplier collaboration – 34 per cent
  • Restructuring existing relationships – 34 per cent

You can view the full report here http://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/operations/articles/cpo-survey.html

Procurement in 2015 – A New Year’s Revolution?

A very Happy New Year from everyone at Procurious HQ.

We hope you, like us, enjoyed the break, over-indulged on Christmas chocolate and good cheer and have come back to work refreshed and ready to make 2015 the year for procurement.

New Year resolutions for 2015

We had some great content published over the holiday season, including some great ideas for what you as a procurement professional could be thinking about for the coming year. In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap:

Make sure that a Work-Life balance isn’t just something that happens to other people – https://www.procurious.com/blog/life-style/how-to-achieve-the-perfect-worklife-balance-for-a-productive-2015

Consider what other skills you might need as a procurement professional – https://www.procurious.com/blog/life-style/job-survival-skills-get-a-grip-on-the-numbers

Find out what it takes to be a great procurement boss – https://www.procurious.com/blog/procurement-news/what-makes-a-great-procurement-boss

Get your category approach right and reap the benefits – https://www.procurious.com/blog/procurement-news/category-approach-simply-tactical-excellence

Also, here are a few recommendations on how you can get the most out of Procurious this year:

  1. Complete your profile – if you haven’t already, add a picture, location and category so you can connect with the right people and they can find you too!
  2. Find an event near you by looking at our Events calendar – this is a great way to connect with fellow Procurians in person!
  3. Start or contribute to a discussion – if you have a burning question or want to share your thoughts, this is the way to do it.
  4. Check out our Groups – find a group that is specifically for your category, location or job and connect. Can’t find one for you? Why not create one and invite people to join.
  5. Top up your skills – check out the Learning hub for videos and podcasts. If you think we’re missing something, let us know.

We think this year is going to be a great one for procurement. Play your part and get involved!

China starts military procurement website to boost transparency

  • China started an official website to make some of its military procurement public, revamping a system that officials say encouraged opacity and corruption.
  • The website, which went online yesterday, contains a list of more than 350 items from satellite surveillance equipment to domestic-made information systems that will be procured by the military. The site is manged by the General Armament Department of the People’s Liberation Army.
  • “It’s a fresh start to make the military procurement transparent,” Yue Gang, a retired PLA colonel, said in an interview. “The lack of efficiency in military spending worries the top leaders as a major source of corruption.”
  • The overhaul of military procurement procedures aims to get qualified, private businesses involved in weapons research and production in a bid to improve competitiveness and efficiency, the official People’s Daily reported, citing Feng Danyu, director of the planning department of the PLA’s General Armament Department.

Read more at Bloomberg

Tesco to reveal new supplier payment system as fears of second-half loss grows

  • In the wake of a terrible 2014 for the retail giant, Tesco is preparing itself to overhaul the way it organises its supply chain.
  • According to the Sunday Times, which quotes senior sources, Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis plans to unpick the complex system of rebates and penalties used to extract money from suppliers, replacing it with a far less complicated structure built around sales volumes.
  • The Sunday Times’s insider also claimed the shake up would make Tesco more popular with suppliers, leaving rivals with the choice of following suit or sticking with the status quo.
  • Tesco has had a torrid time recently and Christmas sales figures are unlikely to offer much respite. A significant drop in like-for-like sales – perhaps as much as four per cent – is expected, which could be enough to push the company to a second-half loss on its British operations.

Read more at CityAM

European supply chain tackles counterfeits, says Converge

  • The aerospace and defence supply chain has a new certification for independent suppliers and distributors, which will dramatically change the industry for suppliers to high reliability markets.
  • SAE AS6081 Counterfeit Avoidance Standard has been in the pipeline since 2007, when the US government began to investigate counterfeit electronic components entering the Department of Defence (DOD) supply chain and the G-19 committee of the SAE was formed.
  • The committee developed a document that would standardise requirements, practices, and methods related to counterfeit parts risk mitigation. Whilst the AS6081 standard originated in America, the issues are global and the certification due to be launched in the coming months is designed to have an international scope.
  • “This will change the industry dramatically; all independent distributors who wish to supply the US DOD must comply and we expect that the global industry will follow. AS6081 is a very tough certification to achieve and few of the thousands of independent distributors in the market will be able to comply with it,” said Eric Checkoway, general manager and vice-president of Converge, the independent distributor owned by Arrow Electronics.

Read more at Electronics Weekly

Sainsbury’s and GLA team up to fight supply chain exploitation

  • Retailer Sainsbury’s is working with the GangmastersLicensingAuthority to address labour exploitation and modern slavery in the supply chain.
  • The GLA is providing tailored training for suppliers to the supermarket to help them identify hidden exploitative practices at farms, pack houses, processing plants and factories.
  • Paul Broadbent, chief executive of the GLA, said: “There is a real commitment and desire on both sides to identify any practice that subjects workers to exploitation. “By raising awareness through training, Sainsbury’s is showing a determination to identify any issues of concern. I applaud them for this and will continue to work alongside them to tackle it.”
  • The pilot scheme builds upon the protocol between retailers and suppliers launched by the UK government in October 2013.

Read more at Supply Management

Logistics Academy launches in Dubai

  • Logistics Executive Group has reached a major milestone with its global Logistics Academy recently completing its first course in the Middle East.
  • Organised as a result of a partnership between Logistics Executive Group and Iconis Learning & Development, a leading worldwide training organisation, the workshop was delivered in Dubai by Iconis directors David Rowlands and Jon Spencer, who possess over 50 years of learning and development experience between them.
  • The course included two half day interactive sessions focused on developing emotionally intelligent leadership and employee engagement skills.

Read more at Arabian Supply Chain

Rakuten, Alibaba and Amazon: the battle of the electronic storefront

Will logistics issues and complications in the supply chain derail the great pretender(s) ascent to Amazon’s throne? 

Alibaba_Corp

It’s been a good year for founder of the Chinese e-storefront Alibaba – Jack Ma. Ma made more money than anyone on 2014’s rich list – his wealth increased by a colossal 173 per cent ($18.5b) to a total of $29.2b.

But if it intends to break out of China and rival Amazon’s market dominance, are there any obstacles likely to hinder its progress?

Forbes analysts have been looking forward and make the following estimates: “Alibaba’s top-line to expand rapidly driven by enormous growth on its Chinese retail marketplaces.”

It continues: “We estimate China’s Internet penetration rate to surge from around 50% currently to over 65% in the long-run. Additionally, we forecast the number of online shoppers in the country to expand from 302 million in 2013 to more than 700 million by the end of our forecast period. This demand will be buoyed by ease of shopping online, heavy discounting, secure payment mechanisms, fast delivery methods, and an increase in disposable income in the country.” 

Another interesting point to note: “Alibaba does not have to invest as heavily in warehousing and distribution centers unlike other pure-play online retailers which own inventory such as Amazon.”

Amazon vs Alibaba vs Rakuten

Elsewhere, Industry Week commented:

“The jury is still out as to how aggressively Alibaba can move into the US market, largely due to the fulfilment and customer satisfaction footholds held by Amazon and other e-retailers: such as Wayfair. This is not to mention the e-commerce channels of traditional brick-and-mortar companies: such as Macy’s and Walmart.”

“Essentially Alibaba’s role is to coordinate track-and-trace logistics, giving coordinate information for delivery, tendering the funders and clearing it – much like what Amazon does when they sell goods for a third party. Much of Alibaba’s huge share of the market in China is within rural communities, where they don ‘t have to deliver goods within a day or two. They’ll need to establish partnerships with carriers, affiliates and more infrastructure here in the US.”

Industry Week noted that logistics handlers such as UPS and FedEx are unlikely to afford Alibaba the same price breaks it gives to those with established relationships (like Amazon for instance). Someone would need to pay the freight costs – therefore that loss will ultimately either lie with Alibaba, or perhaps go back to the manufacturer. Either way, it’s not an ideal scenario.

rakutenEcosystem

But it’s not just Alibaba that has its sights on Amazon’s throne, Japanese giants Rakuten certainly have grand designs…

Here CB Insights shines a light on Rakuten, and analysed the marketplace’s previous investments:

“Since 2009, over 50% of all acquisitions have been within the eCommerce space, however it has been pushing the firm into other areas. Acquisitions not directly in the eCommerce industry taxonomy included the Alpha Direct Services for supply chain & logistics, and cloud-based technology for on-demand video services (Wuaki.tv). It also gained a network of fulfillment centers in the US.”

Interestingly over a five-year period Rakuten has made no less than nine acquisitions in the eCommerce sphere – spread across eight different countries.

Those of particular note included:

  • In the US: Buy.com (California) and PopShops (Washington)
  • Tarad.com (Thailand)
  • Play.com (UK)
  • PriceMinister (France)

If what they say about competition is true – in that it’s healthy, then these developments must come as welcome news to the multitude of manufacturers, suppliers, importers and exporters for whom such storefronts work hard to attract and make part of their success.

2015 will be about innovations in the logistics world

Looking ahead to 2015, KPMG’s global head of post and express predicts that the New Year will be about co-operation and relationship building. Not only that but understanding and utilising big data; drone and driverless deliveries and creating marketplaces to sell last mile solutions. 

Drones will be big business come 2015

Justin Zatouroff begins:  “Co-operation is likely to be a critical feature for successful supply chains in 2015. Logistics companies and retailers, both on the high street and on the web, will have to develop close relationships so that they don’t keep repeating the annual trauma of delivering the Christmas peak.

Those that haven’t developed relationships and are only after lowest cost solutions may face opportunist pricing or even find that they can’t access any additional capacity as they try to manage during peak periods. The challenge is to create robust networks that have flexible cost bases and capacity that can be enhanced to manage varying loads.”

Zatouroff continues: “Technology will also be key. Reliable forecasting from e-tailers including demand planning will focus attention on big data and the power of real time data analytics. Better understanding of available information and utilising data analytics tools will increase the efficiency of parcel networks and in turn improve the capacity issues faced in the system.” 

And what about the role of technology… How much of an impact will new solutions (such as drones) have on the network?

Zatouroff offers: “Much has been made of the impact of the recent EU changes to HGV driver training but as only 1% of drivers are under the age of 25 this is clearly a problem that has been building for many years. In the long term, technology may help solve this problem too.

Whilst drones are unlikely to be part of the solution in urban areas, they will be effective in less industrialised landscapes and in areas with less developed infrastructure. We’ve already seen DHL use a ‘parcelcopter’ to deliver pharmaceuticals to a German Island to become independent from weather and ferry schedules.”

Elsewhere, another innovative use of technology commanded column-inches in 2014… Will driverless cars roar onto our roads and highways during 2015? Zatouroff thinks not:

“We’re also likely to see developments in driverless deliveries. In the UK, manufacturers have been given the green light by the Government for testing driverless cars as early as January 2015. Bristol, Greenwich, Coventry and Milton Keynes will all host autonomous driving projects that will run for between 18 and 36 months starting. It shouldn’t be too long for lorries and trucks to join the party.

Self-driving vehicles will have the ability not just to transport goods but also to combine other process steps such as loading and unloading in order to increase efficiency of processes. In addition to providing efficiency gains, self-driving vehicles can also significantly increase safety in transport and loading processes.

Finally, how disruptive can the small innovative tech solutions be to the established logistics industry?  Zatouroff can only ponder:

“Will we see more players join the disintermediation of big parcel companies by creating innovative web based companies, like Uber and Shutl, creating a market place style websites linking the provision of last mile solutions direct to the retailer?”

 

What makes a great Procurement boss?

As a bonus for the festive season, we have wrapped one final discussion from our forum. The discussion topic nicely links with other Procurious content you can catch up on and one of our key events next year.

What makes a good boss?

The Good or the Bad? What makes a great Procurement boss?

What attributes a leader requires can provoke much discussion and provide a wide variety of opinions. As Procurement seeks recognition both for the value that it provides to organisations and in gaining that C-level seat, our leaders might need to be something different.

The top voted answer in the discussion was that the leader needed to have ‘the ability to innovate in the process and supplier relationship management dimensions’. With process and supplier management both providing big news stories this week, this would seem to be a critical attribute.

The answer also touched on drawing value from the market for the benefit of the company, something that the recent IBM CPO Study on creating value research in more detail.

Other answers focused on listening, supporting and encouraging employees and leading by example. The leader needed to have followers, while at the same time having strong influence in order to ensure strategic alignment and shared objectives.

Other attributes that were highlighted included:

  • Understanding procurement and the value it brings
  • Earning and being respected as a leader
  • Communication, openness and honesty
  • The ability to think innovatively and challenge the status quo
  • Being inspirational and visionary
  • Creating energy in a team to reach goals
  • Being structured and aware of strategy

Of course there are plenty other attributes that could be attached to a procurement leader, but these are a good start. If you are looking for more information, check out some of the following:

  • Events Hub – find events near you, get more information and get connected in person to other procurement professionals
  • Learning Hub – find videos and content on leadership and key attributes

Procurious favourite posts from 2014

Well that was the year that was… and we’ve had quite the journey!

Despite our young age we’ve already secured a place in the final of the UK Blog Awards 2015 #UKBA15.  None of this would’ve been possible without sterling efforts from our guest bloggers, including: Gordon Donovan, John Viner-Smith, Helen Mackenzie, Elaine Porteous and more.

Procurious has been shortlisted in #UKBA15

We also thank our 3000+ members, wherever you are spending Christmas (we know you hail from 70+ countries worldwide…) and invite you to look back at some of the most popular posts published on Procurious during 2014.

What can the Spice Girls teach us about being reasonable? – Gordon Donovan

5 common procurement myths busted – Procurious HQ

Sourcing things differently: the world of alternative storefronts – Matt Farrington Smith

How Better Together is putting the excitement back into public procurement – Helen Mackenzie

Why your business card is a piece of crap – Matt Farrington Smith

How to successfully negotiate with an Italian – Sergio Giordano

Are the golden children of procurement? Tania Seary

Negotiation is no game but here’s how to win at it anyway – John Viner Smith

Procurement crisis? Social media can save the day! Procurious HQ

24 of the most influential people in procurement – Matt Farrington Smith

Your job role might be obsolete by 2020 – Elaine Porteous

5 must have attributes of a Procurement superstar – Procurious HQ

Why anchoring matters in negotiation – John Viner Smith

Black Friday/Cyber Monday: the real effect on supply chains – Procurious HQ

Social network faux pas – Matt Farrington Smith

If you want to join our impressive pool of contributors send your ideas and pitches to our Content & Community Editor – Matt Farrington Smith.

Santa’s supply chain: the challenge to build a new logistics solution

Operation Santa Claus: the results from 2014’s Unbelievable Challenge are in!

Santa's supply chain

The Unbelievable Challenge is an open architectural design competition open to young architects and designers to find the best idea for a logistics centre for Santa Claus.

The competition was organized jointly by Ruukki Construction, the City of Oulu, Helsinki Design Week and the architecture and design office Snøhetta.

The competition sought unique, innovative ideas and solutions for a logistics centre for Santa Claus, who was the competition’s imaginary investor. It was his wish to find from among the competition entries a functioning centre to meet his growing logistics needs and increase the attraction of the area.

Evaluation criteria included energy efficiency, sustainable, values, usability, architectural values, suitability to the given surroundings and an ability to enhance the attractiveness of the area.

The competition attracted a total of 243 entries from 59 different countries (that’s almost as far-reaching as Procurious!)

And why is a new logistics solution so important? Well as per Morgan McKinley hypothesis “with today’s global population clocking in at 7.125 billion people, we can estimate that there are approximately 2.375 billion children currently at present receiving age. Given that the Christian population of the world works out at 32 per cent, that’s approximately 760,000,000 children.”

Christmas logistics

The winning project was titled “Nothing is impossible”, from an idea by Alexandru Oprita, Romania and Laurentiu Constantin.

The judges’ commented: “It is feasible and innovative but not futuristic. It is also well thought through – from land use all the way to detailing.

The entry presents an idea of making the most visible façade and the front of the building a magical element that could both integrate the building into its surroundings, and highlight whatever aspects of the building or its functions are desired.”

They continued: “The idea could be realised without sacrificing any of the practical or economic aspects of the logistics centre. It provides understandable solutions for energy efficiency and attempts to introduce a lot of good thinking about how to utilise this within the building. It also has a good understanding of the local situation. The entry seeks to embrace and enhance the function of the building as a hub for new technology in addition to the logistics centre – it connects well with Oulu as a city.”

Here’s a couple of the runner-up entries:

Santa's supply chain

 

Santa's logistics

Think you could do better? Put your thinking cap on, and keep an eye on unbelievablechallenge.com for a chance to enter next year.

Get your Christmas logistics fix with this Euro Truck Simulator

Father Christmas is looking for logistic professionals who want to help out with Santa’s substantial delivery backlog. 

Despite what fable tells us, Father Christmas/Santa/St. Nick is secretly a long-haul truck driver. The reindeer and sleigh are just a cover… sshh let’s keep this between us eh?

Now you can make like Santa and get in on the logistics game from the comfort of your own home with Euro Truck Simulator 2.

The wildly popular truck simulator has just been gifted a sizeable update in time for Christmas – the Polar Express 2014 event adds a selection of icy new truck designs to proceedings, unlockable through completion of a festive-themed challenge. The challenge? Ferrying the  pallet of ‘Christmas Gifts’ across Europe (or more specifically, the distance between the game developer’s offices and The North Pole).

Procurement – New Year, New Image

It’s very nearly time to wrap up for Christmas at Procurious HQ, but not before we’ve had our say on some of the key stories over the past week.

jjbsportsIf you haven’t thought of a procurement-related New Year’s resolution for 2015, why not join Procurious in aiming to change, improve and lift up the brand and image of procurement.

The function’s image has taken a bit of a battering in recent weeks, with a glut of stories on the treatment of suppliers, ethically questionable procurement practices and convictions for fraud and bribery in both supplier relationships (JJB Sports, UK) and tenders (US Defence Contracts).

Procurement has both the ability and responsibility to ensure that these practices are stamped out. Procurement professionals hold a unique position in the organisation of being able to influence spend, but also control the ethics and governance of the purchasing process.

So how do we do this? First, check out recent articles including detecting fraud in your organisation and the importance of Supplier Relationship Management. Then invite your network to get involved with Procurious and we can collectively get working on our aims in 2015.

SRM – https://www.procurious.com/blog/in-the-press/three-key-insights-on-the-importance-of-srm

Fraud – https://www.procurious.com/blog/in-the-press/how-to-detect-fraud-in-your-organisation

Oh, and just to lighten the mood, keep an eye out this week for an article on the best and slickest supply chain in the world. Who else but Saint Nick himself…

GST reduces complexity, improves supply chain

  • With GST Bill being tabled in the Parliament, companies operating in supply chain business stand to benefit, says Vineet Agarwal, MD of Transport Corporation of India .
  • But GST will have no direct impact on a company like his, which is a services company, since it is essentially a consumption tax and will have an impact on manufacturing.
  • However, the introduction of GST will lead to some reduction in expenditure, he adds. He expects the supply chain business to grow at around 20 per cent in FY15. He also has a positive outlook for FY16.
  • Going ahead, Agarwal sees a revival in the auto sector. Transport Corporation of India derives nearly 70 per cent business from it. When compared to FY13 and FY14 he sees significant improvement in business.

Read more and watch a video at Money Control

Procter & Gamble reports big moves in 16th Annual Sustainability Report

  • The Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) is serious about environmental stewardship, as its 16th annual sustainability report reveals.
  • The multinational consumer goods company met several environmental goals ahead of schedule: P&G met its waste reduction goal for 2020 six years early and its pulp certification goal a year early.
  • P&G only disposed of 0.40 per cent of input materials as manufacturing waste to landfill across its facilities. That means 99.6 per cent of all input materials are either recycled, reused or used for energy conversion. The 2020 goal called for less than 0.50 per cent.
  • In April, the company announced steps it would take beyond Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)certification to ensure it does not contribute to deforestation. The steps include developing a traceable supply chain, no development of  high conservation value (HCV) areas and high carbon stock (HCS) forests, no development of peat lands, no burning to clear land for new development or replanting and complying with P&G’s Sustainability Guidelines for External Business Partners.

Read more at Triple Pundit

St Helens surgical gloves supplier in position to supply the whole NHS

  • A Merseyside supplier of surgical gloves has won a place on two NHS procurement frameworks – meaning it can now supply its products to NHS trusts across the UK.
  • St Helens-based Leanvation was established one year ago by former healthcare executives Dr Jonathan Day and Tony Downes, with backing from the North West Fund for Venture Capital. They have developed a range of surgical gloves that aims to reduce the risk of allergies and hand fatigue.
  • Under EU rules, NHS Trusts are limited in the value of products they can purchase from any one supplier without going through an official tender procedure. Securing a place on the NHS Shared Business Service Framework and the Health Trust Europe Framework allows Leanvation to overcome this barrier.
  • The company will be launching four new products in early 2015 and is about to start work on a new range of surgical gloves designed to further improve infection prevention, thanks to its success in winning a five-figure research grant. Dr Day, Leanvation’s managing director, said: ”This is a major step forward for Leanvation, effectively giving us a licence to supply the NHS in volume and compete alongside the traditional multinational surgical glove brands.

Read more at Liverpool Echo

Canadian defence procurement – everything old again is new again

  • The Conservative government last week released its Value Proposition Guide that is supposed to provide direction for firms who will be preparing bids for future defence procurements. Those procurements will be governed by the government’s new Defence Procurement Strategy.
  • “The Value Proposition Guide is a new tool for fostering investment in the Canadian defence industry,” the news release from Industry Canada noted. “The guide will ensure that the Government of Canada’s Defence Procurement Strategy will result in the creation of high-skilled jobs and economic growth across the Canadian economy.”
  • It seems that everything old again is new again. I was writing articles in the mid to late 1980s about the efforts of the Mulroney government to shore up the defence industrial base. Such benefits linked to defence contracts are called offsets in the U.S. and other nations. The Canadian offset program continued throughout the Kim Campbell and Chretien governments and into the Paul Martin government.
  • The linking of work for Canadian firms to the awarding of contracts to foreign companies was, however, eased under the Harper government. After much concern was raised by the domestic aerospace and defence industry that they were getting little work of value even as the Harper government spent billions of tax dollars buying new military equipment, the Conservatives came up with its “value propositions” program.

Read more on Ottawa Citizen

How do your products define your purchasing behaviour?

Jacques Adriaansen, ‎co-founder of Every Angle, explains the importance of tailoring your purchasing strategy to get the best possible results.

The phrase ‘horses for courses’ is one that’s well worn, but it’s nonetheless particularly applicable for those looking to develop a robust purchasing strategy.

 How do your products define your purchasing behaviour?

Let’s be clear about this – getting your purchasing strategy right is an important part of the operational processes undertaken by any organisation, and yet it seems to be one that many devote an insufficient amount of time to. Too many organisations seem content to fall back on a ”one size fits all” approach, leading to them paying over the odds and having insufficient supplies in place when they are most needed as a result.

So what’s the answer?

The truth is that when people think of purchasing, they often think of hard, tense negotiation and bartering as an integral part of the process. It’s a huge misconception, and one that can lead to significant problems further down the line. The key thing to remember is that it can be just as important to tailor your approach in purchasing as it is in other walks of life. For example, just as it wouldn’t be appropriate to turn up to a gala dinner event dressed in a t-shirt, shorts and sandals, you wouldn’t necessarily think of entering a period of intense negotiation with a supplier over the price of a pack of staples!

Clearly, there’s little risk in not getting staples or nuts and bolts in on time

Broadly speaking, there are four different types of product to consider when identifying a purchasing strategy. Each of these product types requires different behaviours when it comes to the procurement process, based on balancing cost against risk. Firstly, you have products that are easily available and which a great deal of money is spent, due to large volumes and/or high purchase prices. A good example of this might be standard sheet metal, which can be bought at various suppliers. Because this product type has such a relatively high cost associated to it, it puts those in charge of purchasing decisions in a strong position to negotiate. The fact that they are so easy to obtain means that there is very little risk involved in doing so, which means that these products will always be heavily negotiated as part of the purchasing process.

Secondly, there are products, like the staples mentioned earlier or standard nuts and bolts, which are cheap and easy to obtain. Clearly, there’s little risk in not getting staples or nuts and bolts in on time, but the cost is so low that it would be a waste of time to negotiate it. Thirdly, are high impact products, like very specific engines used by machine builders or upper quality lithography lenses for computer chips production. High impact products are only available from a select few suppliers, but which, if you do not have the products available, could significantly harm your ability to perform as a business. In this case, both the cost and associated risks involved are high, which means that the balance of power lies with the supplier. What’s needed, as a result, is a more collaborative, considered approach to purchasing, with limited negotiation and a focus on ensuring that the product is available for you to use when you need it.

Finally, there are very niche products that, although cheap, can only be supplied by one or two experts. A part for an important piece of machinery that helps your factory to operate is a good example of this. These products need to be ‘buffered’. What this means is that it helps to ensure that there is always a supply in stock, as the consequences of, say, your factory having to close because you have to wait for a new part to arrive don’t bear thinking about!

Because this product is so important, and relatively inexpensive, you once again see very little in the way of negotiation. I once had a customer that couldn’t ship a very expensive machine, because purchasing decision makers had blocked one specific part that was needed for it to work. The reason: the supplier of that specific part had increased the sales price of his product by 50 per cent, without contacting them! The new price of the material was a mere US$ 7.50!

These four different product types, and the costs and risks associated with them have to be factored into any purchasing decision. It’s a model that is well known in purchasing circles, and which was first devised by Peter Kraljic, who suggested that a purchasing strategy can only be effective if each of these elements is closely examined. Although Kraljic’s model was originally conceived by Kraljic for purchasing, it can also be successfully applied to managing logistical and production processes (consider determining production series volumes, for instance).

However, although the model acts as a good guideline for decision-making in operational processes, it’s important to remember that there are no hard and fast rules. Before making any decision, you will also need to consider all other necessary information, such as the anticipated sales, prices and other factors that could influence it.

So how do you make the best choices as to the right purchasing approach for you? Perhaps the best way to achieve this is by first asking yourself what you want to achieve, and then considering how you want to achieve it. Clearly, some products will always be in high demand, while others will be in lower demand, but require a different level of negotiation. The important thing is to modify and adapt your purchasing behaviour in line with your desired outcome. By selecting the right horse for the right course, you can guarantee that your purchasing strategy is successful – and improve your business performance as a result!