Category Archives: Big Ideas Summit

Big Ideas in Social and Sustainable Procurement

Considered by many to be the next key frontier for business, Social and Sustainable Procurement are finally getting the attention they deserve.

Sustainable Procurement

Ahead of the Big Ideas Summit 2016 on April 21st, we are taking a look at the key issues facing procurement in the coming years. We have asked experts and influencers in our community to share their Big Ideas on the themes we will be discussing on the day.

Here, our experts and influencers share their thoughts on the Big Ideas impacting organisations in the fields of social and sustainable procurement.

Matt Perfect, Founder of Something Great – “Impact Spending and Social Impact Measurement”

Big Ideas in Sustainable Procurement - Matthew PerfectI believe “Impact Spending” is the next frontier for defining ‘value’ in procurement. That is, spending on goods and services with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact, alongside economic benefits.

Some might say that the history of procurement can be traced by our broadening definition of value. In the old days, our decisions were mostly price-based with little regard for ‘value’ at all. The evolution of strategic procurement brought with it a greater understanding of the importance of quality and service and the ‘value for money’ equation was born. Increasingly, risk and innovation have been added to the mix, and evaluation models such as Total Cost of Ownership have become much more sophisticated.

It is becoming increasingly apparent (both in theory and in practice) that organisations can no longer separate their profitability and growth, from the impact their activities have in society. As such, procurement and supply professionals must be able to account for, and measure, the impact of their spending.

There is much the profession can learn from the emerging field of social impact measurement. By incorporating such measures as Social Return on Investment and Theory of Change into spending decisions, we will unlock the next wave of procurement value for our businesses.

Charlotte Spencer-Smith, Marketing at POOL4TOOL

Big Ideas in Sustainable Procurement - Charlotte Spencer-SmithRegulatory pressure on companies to report on CSR criteria in supply chain is increasing – the UK Modern Slavery Act and the Dodds-Frank Act in the US are recent examples. ISO/DIS 20400, currently under development, will provide clearer guidance about what is expected from organisations wanting to implement sustainable procurement.

Improved supply chain transparency will put pressure on procurement organisations to build category-specific strategies and make sourcing decisions with sustainability in mind. Criteria, such as sustainability and labour ethics, will be increasingly included alongside financial and risk data as factors that go into processes like supplier management, sourcing, and contract management.

Extended information and third party content, specialising in sustainability data for supply chains and procurement organisations, are on the rise. But it will soon be indispensable to have this information deeply integrated into people, process, and technology to make CSR-positive sourcing decisions as easy as possible.

It’s a crucial part of the wider picture of value-based sourcing: developing sourcing decisions beyond the purchase price.

Jordan Holzmann, Founder and CEO at Cruxcee

Big Ideas in Sustainable Procurement - Jordan HolzmannIn terms of the now, we are seeing procurement take an interest in what role they play in sustainability. Procurement is realising that they can make a huge impact in the way they source through the supply chain.

This is exciting to procurement professionals as their job now has a new lease on life, and they aren’t just feeling like they are saving money and going through the process of buying stuff. This will shape the procurement profession in the future too, as it becomes more strategic in achieving sustainability goals for the organisation.

In terms of the future, I see the concept of finite resources impacting the way we procure products. Concepts like cradle to cradle and circular economy are driving innovation through material use. Procurement will have to be more innovative than ever as the world shifts to more sustainable materials.

They must be on the lookout for sourcing decisions that make use of alternative resources, reduce waste and reclaim any unused materials. This also goes for materials that are toxic and do harm. Procurement must work to avoid these, and find materials that do not harm the environment.

Do you work in social or sustainable procurement? What are your Big Ideas in this area? Let us know and we could be discussing them on April 21st.

Want to know more about Big Ideas 2016? Then visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Generating Big Ideas Through Hackathons

Generating tangible big ideas within organisations can be a difficult activity. More and more organisations are using ‘hackathons’ to facilitate big idea generation.

Picture of Tech Hackathons

It’s interesting how language evolves to turn a word with negative connotations into something positive. The word “hack”, for example, has traditionally put fear into the hearts of the staunchest CEO. Just ask the management of hacked dating website Ashley Madison, or any of the big banks that channel a significant amount of their budget into building hacker-proof systems.

Yet large corporations all over the world are now embracing the concept of the ‘hackathon’. It’s something of a deceptive term, because rather than actual hacking (subverting computer security), the activity involves organisations making enormous amounts of data available to competing teams of analysts who then brainstorm solutions to specific problems.

Why Call Them ‘Hackathons’?

There are three possible reasons. Firstly, the word ‘hacker’ has come to symbolise a generation of intelligent and disruptive young people who know how to leverage technology to create meaningful change. Secondly, the activity itself usually involves a significant amount of data mining.

Finally, the phrase “there’s a hack for that” means that someone has come up with a smarter way of doing something, demonstrated by the increasing usage of terms such as ‘life-hacking’ or even ‘parenting hacks’.

Hackathons generally take place over a whole day or even longer, usually in a big space buzzing with engineers, analysts and other boffins. Participants leave their corporate attire at home and come dressed for comfort rather than style, prepared for a long and exhilarating day fuelled predominantly by coffee and sugar.

Every organisation runs hackathons in their own way, but the concept usually remains the same. The participants (hackers) are organised into teams with mixed skill sets, then are given a list of key technical challenges that the organisation currently faces.

The organisation then gives access to any data or information required to solve these problems, and the hackers get to work. At the end of the hackathon, the teams present their solutions and the organisation picks the winners.

Corporate Hackathons

One of Australia’s major corporate hackathons, Unearthed, is a 54-hour event run by some of the region’s largest resource organisations. Competing teams are given access to Big Mining data – specifically, transport, logistical, geospatial and geological proprietary data.

At the most recent Unearthed event, one of the teams worked out a way to integrate technology into tray trucks that detects when boulders are too large for rock crushers and sounds an alarm to prevent potential blockages. The organisers estimated that this idea alone would save millions of dollars for the sector, with the problem analysed and solved in a mere 54 hours.

Perth-based CPO Jackie Harris is hosting an internal hackathon in her organisation to solve some key challenges for 2016. “It’s all about understanding the barriers to innovation and stimulating ingenuity in the team. There are so many small-scale changes we can make in our supply chain that will have a huge impact on our bottom line.”

Harris gives the example of the complexities involved in working out the optimal deck space utilisation on a cargo ship. Through a hackathon-type event, there is now a piece of software that maps deck space and provides the solution for you. “Our organisation is lucky in the sense that we are data-rich and have a strong analytics team”, says Harris. “Hackathons are a fantastic way to showcase this team and bring their ideas to the fore.”

In the Procurement space, a hackathon is a fun and effective way to engage your suppliers and generate innovative solutions. Invite your suppliers to send their best and brightest to compete ‘live’ against their peers, come up with the most innovative solution to your operational challenges, and win the contract.

Not convinced? What you need to know is that hackathons:

  • create solutions to ‘unsolvable’ problems.
  • are fun, engaging and social events.
  • provide a focused environment to solve operational challenges without any distractions.
  • encourage a culture of healthy competition.
  • (most importantly) stimulate innovative thinking in your organisation.

Hugo Britt is a Research Consultant at The Faculty, helping to support The Faculty Roundtable, an influential group of Australian procurement leaders, who gather to share their experiences and insights. The Faculty will be hosting their ninth Asia-Pacific CPO Forum, the region’s premier procurement event dedicated to accelerating commercial leadership at the highest level.

For more information on The Faculty Roundtable or CPO Forum, contact Program Manager, Belinda Toohey.​

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Big Ideas Summit on April 21st, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Big Ideas 2016: Meet Our Speakers – Paul Markillie

The Big Ideas Summit is just a few weeks away! We caught up with Paul Markillie, Innovation Editor at the Economist, to talk about the megatrends transforming manufacturing.

Big Ideas Summit - Paul Markillie

Paul Markillie is Innovation Editor at The Economist. He has covered the automotive and aerospace industries globally and was the magazine’s first Asian-based business correspondent, writing about the rise of China as a manufacturing superpower.

Paul now writes about new technologies and their implications for businesses. He has authored a number of special reports, including “The Third Industrial Revolution” in 2012 and “New materials for Manufacturing” in 2015.

At the Big Ideas Summit, Paul will take us through the megatrends that are transforming manufacturing. He will explain how manufacturing is going digital and how that will disrupt the conventional economics of production and overturn established supply chains. He will give examples of how some companies are responding. He writes:

“I am particularly looking forward to the Big Ideas Summit because many of the things I talk about attract interest and curiosity. That can lead to some lively interaction, from which I often learn things from people who are already having to confront profound changes to the way they will do business in the future.”

According to the WEF, we are now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – where does that leave businesses?

Four, three or some say half-a-dozen industrial revolutions have occurred. But however you measure these things, this one represents a fundamental shift because, as has happened in other industries – publishing, music, films, electronics, etc – the move to a digital world in manufacturing changes the rules comprehensively.

Developments like new materials, robotics, 3D printing and computer-aided design and simulation demolish the old notions of economies of scale, changing not just where companies locate factories but also how they organise themselves and arrange their procurement and supply chains.

What are the key impacts of new materials science for manufacturing organisations?

A good example is carbon fibre, already common in aerospace and now becoming more widely used in automotive industries. For example, BMW’s i3 electric cars start life in a Japanese rayon factory as a spool of plastic that looks like fishing line. This is carbonised at a plant in America and then shipped to Munich, where it is woven into carpet-like sheets on what appears to be a giant knitting machine.

When the sheets arrive at BMW’s car plant in Leipzig they are cut into shapes, stacked into multiple layers, injected with resin, cured and glued together by robots. That factory is unlike any other car plant I have seen, and so is its supply chain. And there are many other new materials coming that could change other industries just as dramatically.

These developments have increased the pace at which new products are developed – do you think supply chains can keep up with this demand?

If they do not, new supply chains will be developed. Or none at all: Tesla, for instance, is a new carmaker and quite vertically integrated. What suppliers need to remember is that many of these new manufacturing technologies allow a number of components to be integrated into one part.

So, for instance, a company making ceiling panels may decide to integrate thin-films of LED lighting into their product, thus offering a customer a product that no longer requires light fittings to be purchased.

What major changes do you think there will be in procurement and supply chain processes in the next few years?

First-tier suppliers will need to work much closer with companies in the development process. We already see some of this co-development. But there will also be huge opportunities for companies further down the supply chain to innovate. Second-generation robots are more affordable for medium and small companies; 3D printing processes are less wasteful of raw materials and allow greater production flexibility at lower volumes.

I think we will see some companies grasp these opportunities, which could re-order supply chains and lead to some companies that were previously suppliers of components making the leap to become producers of final products.

Paul Markillie will go into greater detail on all of these topics during his keynote at the Big Ideas Summit 2016 on April 21st.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Planning Procurement’s Response To The Millennial Generation

Understanding how procurement can cope with, and ultimately benefit from, the disruption brought into talent management by the Millennial Generation.

Millennial Generation

Hackett’s 2016 Procurement Key Issues Study shows that talent management remains one of the top 3 of objectives as a critical or major area of focus for virtually all procurement organisations.

Looking deeper, organisations are targeting three specific areas to transform talent: improving leadership skills, honing business acumen, and building specialist procurement skills. The two perennial favourites, category management and strategic sourcing, make up the other top reported objectives.

The research also showed that the Millennial Generation represents one of the greatest potential impacts and challenges to managing talent in the next year or two. Additionally, most procurement organisations (especially those in Europe) continue to experience higher levels of staff churn and difficulty attracting great talent.

What do we mean by Millennials?

When we refer to the Millennial Generation, we are referring to those born in the 80s and now moving into management positions, or early 90s who are leaving graduate school to join the workforce. This workforce demographic is characterised by different attitudes, desires and motivations than earlier generations. Generations X and Y came to be known for their independence, interest in work/life balance, technical proficiency, and measuring success in both financial and social terms.

Millennials, on the other hand, are the first generation of digital natives – i.e. they’ve truly grown up with the internet and social consciousness.  They have high career expectations, desiring both immediate and high impact opportunities, flexibility in terms of schedules, embracing remote working and diversity in assignments (e.g. culture, fun and collaboration).

They plan for rapid advancement as well as frequent job changes. Case in point: 90 per cent of Millennials plan to stay in their job for less than 3 years. They are high touch, and expect frequent feedback. In summary, the millennial generation wants more from work than just a career at a good company.

How can procurement address the critical skills gaps?

Research conducted by the Hackett Group in the past on procurement talent management, has shown clear gaps in the essential business skills required for most procurement jobs. These are: strategic thinking and analysis, group facilitation, and relationship management skills.

When considering specialist skills, enhanced SRM and market intelligence expertise were identified in need of development for most roles, with supply risk, innovation and SCM expertise needed for specialist roles.

How do we respond?

As procurement leaders this situation poses challenging questions:

  1. What procurement value proposition will be the most appealing?
  2. Will higher attrition become the new normal for procurement?
  3. Is now the time to invest in knowledge capture and transfer?
  4. How can we create flexible work schedules and collaborative environments?
  5. Do we need to rethink the importance and type of training we provide?

In all cases, training strategies need to be modernised to reflect this accelerated reality, as well as changing learning styles and preferences. Strategies that get people up to speed faster, use more interactive, workshop and team based formats should be preferred. The 70-20-10 approach to learning is based around the idea that 70 per cent of learning comes through experience, 20 per cent from social learning with colleagues, and just 10 per cent through formal learning involving training or online courses.

This framework will see larger elements of learning being on-the-job, collaborative and workshop based, action orientated to better align to leaders and manager day jobs and current issues, and complemented with self-directed learning elements and social learning (e.g. LinkedIn, Yammer).

Hackett's Framework for Training to Integrate Millennials into the Workforce
Hackett’s Framework for Training to Integrate Millennials into the Workforce

Course materials need to be user friendly, but at the same time to support multi-tasking and access to on-demand, on-line tutorial content. Course design should incorporate the themes seen as important to younger generations – how procurement connects into CSR and sustainability, work/life balance, and career advancement.

The older generations of Baby Boomers and Gen X will need support and even training to adapt to this shift in to mentality and culture.

About Hackett’s Procurement Key Issues Study

The results of this annual study are gathered from executives from over 180 large and global companies operating in the US, Europe and rest of the world, with annual revenue of $1 billion or greater.

Find out more by visiting the Hackett website.

Chris Sawchuk is a keynote speaker at the Big Ideas Summit on April 21st. Chris will be talking about how procurement is applying key agile capabilities in the areas of leadership, talent, service placement and information-driven performance.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Showcasing Your Big Ideas – Procurement-as-a-Service

Ahead of the Big Ideas Summit 2016 on April 21st, we’re on the hunt for your Big Ideas. Philip Ideson discusses his Big Idea of procurement-as-a-service models.

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, which takes place on 21st April,  we will be asking our speakers and attendees to record their ‘Big Ideas’ live on camera for the whole of our Procurious community to see.

But we also believe that every single procurement and supply chain professional has a unique vantage point in the industries, communities and businesses they work in. You have been submitting your Big Ideas to us, and so far, we think they have been great!

Philip Ideson, Host, The Art of Procurement

Philip believes that procurement-as-a-service delivery models will transform the procurement value proposition. Companies will be able to access procurement talent and technology “on-demand”. This means the cost of accessing procurement expertise becomes a variable cost rather than a fixed cost.  

The result? Organisations of all sizes can now access specialist domain expertise which allows us to pull value levers that over and above cost savings that elevate our role and transform our value proposition. 

Philip elaborates on this big idea further here. You can connect with Philip on the Art of Procurement website, or on Twitter at @aopshow or @pideson.

How to Submit Your Big Idea

We don’t mind if you film your submission on your phone, tablet, laptop or PC. However, to help you out we’ve compiled a list of some of our recommended methods for reaching out.

Once you’ve completed your film, you can reach us by email (Procurious@Procurious.com); on Twitter (@procurious_) or via Google Drive or Dropbox (using Procurious@Procurious.com).

You can find all the information you need on recording and submitting your Big Idea here.

Want to know more about Big Ideas 2016? Then visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

The Procurious Big Ideas Summit is Back!

The Procurious Big Ideas Summit is back and it’s bigger and better than ever before!

Procurious Big Ideas Summit 2016

We had a fantastic experience, and great fun, last year at the Big Ideas Summit, the world’s first digitally-led conference for the procurement profession. And it’s almost time to do it all over again at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit 2016.

If you aren’t familiar with the event, the  Big Ideas Summit gathers together 40-50 of the world’s brightest minds, such as established thought leaders, senior decision makers and industry experts, to discuss the future of the procurement profession.

What’s the Big Idea behind it?

The event is a unique opportunity for professionals to gain insights into the evolving global space of procurement. It connects senior executives, thought leaders and CPOs with digital delegates on a live platform.

Big Ideas 2016 aims to get current and future procurement leaders thinking about and discussing the key trends, risks and issues in the profession, and giving them tangible outcomes they can use to drive innovation and change in their organisations.

The key themes our speakers will be addressing this year include:

  • The technological “megatrends” impacting procurement
  • The True Cost of doing business in the fashion industry
  • How social media breaks boundaries for innovation and collaboration
  • Attracting and retaining the best Millennial talent
  • Creating and sustaining organisational agility

The face-to-face component of the event will take place in London on 21st April 2016. However, as with last year, we’re inviting over 12,000 procurement and supply chain professionals (co-incidentally, the same number as the Procurious community!) to join us as digital delegates.

This will amplify ideas and content through Procurious, as well as give our global delegates the chance to submit questions to speakers in advance as well as tune in, learn and participate in real time. 

Who will be speaking?

We’ve secured a high calibre of thought leaders and keynote speakers, including:

  • Tom Derry, CEO, Institute for Supply Management
  • Christopher Sawchuk, Principal & Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader, The Hackett Group
  • Gabe Perez, Vice President of strategy and market development, Coupa
  • Elizabeth Linder, Politics & Government Specialist, Facebook EMEA
  • Lucy Siegle, Journalist and broadcaster, The Observer
  • Peter Holbrook, CBE, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise
  • Lucy Harding, Partner and Head of the Global Procurement & Supply Chain Practice, Odgers Berndtson
  • Martin Chilcott, Founder and CEO, 2degrees
  • Dapo Ajayi, Chief Procurement Officer, AstraZeneca

How you can take part

The Big Ideas Summit is open to all Procurious members. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, we want you to help shape the agenda. Register your attendance in our Procurious Big Ideas 2016 Group.

On Twitter? You can also submit your questions by tweeting us @procurious_ using the hashtag: #BigIdeas2016

For more information about the day head on over to our bespoke event site at www.bigideassummit.com.

Why take part?

As savvy social networkers you’ll already be of the mind that social media can be used to create a global stir. We want to amplify these Big Ideas throughout the global procurement community, connect with one another, start meaningful conversations, and ultimately drive change.

All keynote sessions will be captured on film and offered exclusively to registered attendees. As a ‘digital delegate’ you’ll also be able to access a rich collection of supporting material including articles, interviews and video content following the event.

Who Is Sponsoring It?

For an event that explores the biggest trends impacting procurement we thought it only necessary to bring onboard similarly hot-ticket sponsors. The Procurious Big Ideas Summit 2016 is proud to be sponsored by the The Hackett Group, The Institute for Supply Management, IBM and Coupa.

We are delighted to be working with such great organisations and look forward to joining with them on the day to produce a fantastic event for you all.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Big Ideas 2015 Flashback: Building a Supply Chain Wiki

We’re looking back at some of the most popular ideas from Big Ideas 2015. Gordon Donovan examines the concept of a Supply Chain Wiki.

Gordon Donovan, Procurement and Supply Chain Manager at Metro Trains in Melbourne, shared his Big Idea last year around the concept of creating a Procurement and Supply Chain Wiki.

Gordon believes that there is a dearth of good information for procurement organisations around the full supply chain. This isn’t just the Tier 1 suppliers, but Tier 2 suppliers and subcontractors, and further down the chain.

This Big Idea focuses on harnessing the power of the community to build a centralised knowledge base for all.

Gordon admits that his Big Idea is quite daunting, but as he points out, it all has to start somewhere!

See more Big Ideas from our 40 influencers from the Big Ideas Summit 2015 on Procurious.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Big Ideas Summit 2016, visit www.bigideassummit.com. You can also join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Unifying Procure to Pay: A Leadership Challenge for the CPO

It might seem obvious, but removing silos in the procure to pay process can ensure spend optimisation. But it’s people, not technology, that hold the key.

Silos Procure to Pay

Imagine you were just elected mayor of your city, with a mandate from the voters based on an ambitious agenda that includes cutting costs. You’ve promised to streamline programs, increase transparency and work to a set of measurable success criteria which you laid out in your campaign.

You know there will be challenges. But, when you roll up your sleeves and get to work, you start to have some rude awakenings.

You realise there’s a section in the city that has its own budget and runs its own services, because it’s in a special tax jurisdiction. And there’s a powerful labour union that dictates wages, job duties and hiring across the city.

You also find you can’t get accurate reports because data resides in separate systems that don’t talk to each other – and neither do the people who run them. You realise that, more than anything, the bureaucracy and the politics that have grown up around it are what shape how business is done.

The success of your initiatives, and the city as a whole, are your responsibility, and you’ll be held accountable. But you don’t have full visibility into, or control over, what happens. Accomplishing your goals under these circumstances is going to be a real leadership challenge.

Mayor of Spend Management

That’s what it’s like being the head of a procurement organisation today. You lead the official buying organisation, but the employees in your organisation will buy based on the easiest process available to them. If there’s a contract in place and you make it easy, they’ll buy against the contracts you’ve negotiated. If not, they’ll buy what they need on their p-card or credit card, and expense it. Or they’ll go out and make deals on their own and an invoice will just show up.

But spending is spending, no matter how it happens. It all ends up in accounts payable (AP) and the bills get paid. When it comes in through the front door, you have the opportunity to manage and optimise for cost and compliance. But there are also side doors – multiple independent buying processes – for things to get bought and paid for without you knowing it in advance.

This is also a leadership challenge, and one that most procurement leaders face. There’s no one who is accountable for all of the company’s spending. Everything goes through AP, but by the time it gets to them, the money’s already been spent, so they’re just focused on effectively managing the payment process.

The whole spend management process – invoicing, expenses and procurement – should be united under one leader responsible for optimising all of the company’s spending. This head of procure to pay, or chief spend officer, would manage the spend management organisation to a shared set of KPIs.

The Missing P: People

This is not a new idea and it makes sense to most of us. We now have the tools – modern, easy to use spend management suites – to streamline the process from end to end and enable data sharing to make each part more efficient. For example, everybody’s expensing the new iPad? Procurement gets an alert: Hey, maybe you should source that.

What has made this such a tall mountain to climb isn’t the lack of technology to support a unified process. It’s that most organisations don’t have alignment of their people. Even the best technology won’t fix everything if procurement and AP aren’t working together and aligned to the same goals.

Bringing the people together is a perfect leadership challenge for procurement to take on.

Think about it. Over the past few decades, the profile of the procurement profession has been rising. The average level of education and certification has been rising. The amount of spending that they’re managing is increasing. Procurement departments took centre stage during the great recession—not just cutting costs, but leading new strategic initiatives for their companies.

There’s a feeling in procurement that the profession hasn’t yet achieved the status it deserves. There’s still a lot of talk about striving to be seen as strategic, and to have a seat at the table with top leadership. Striving to ascend, as Tim Cook did at Apple, from procurement to CEO.

Executive Level Challenge

Here is your chance. We know there’s huge business value that companies can achieve from uniting procurement and AP in the procure to pay process – value far greater than the sum of automating each separately.

The world is changing faster than ever, and becoming more connected. In the consumer world, we have visibility and data everywhere; in the business world, not so much. You can see your Uber approaching on your smartphone but you can’t see where your invoice is in the payment cycle.

Your watch or wristband can tell you how many steps you’ve taken today, but you can’t tell how many orders have been placed against a contract. Your dishwasher can order its own soap from Amazon, but employees in many companies can’t even figure out the best way to buy a stapler.

Businesses need to achieve the same levels of visibility, efficiency and control in every area of their business in order to meet rising expectations and to stay competitive. A unified, automated spend management operation does that for spending.

If procurement wants to ascend to the heights it aspires, it can show leadership by spearheading the effort to tear down the silos between buying and paying so that someone, a chief spend officer, a head of procure to pay, a head of business services – it really doesn’t matter what you call them – can finally be responsible and accountable for making sure all of spend is optimised. Someone can finally be mayor of spend city.

Coupa are one of the sponsors of the Big Ideas Summit, to be held in London on April 21st. If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

My Advice for Finance Professionals (and Others)

My advice for up and coming finance professionals? Don’t get stuck in your silo – get out and collaborate.

Advice for Finance Professionals

When someone asks you for your opinion or advice to pass on to young professionals, it’s often tricky to narrow down your thinking to two or three bullet points. When these professionals working in a different business function, the job gets that little bit harder still.

However, there’s not as much difference between Procurement and Finance professionals in the early stages of their careers. So, based on my own experience, I have put together my top three pieces of advice for new professionals (whether they are in Finance or any other profession).

  1. Avoid a Silo Mentality

Maybe the most important piece of advice I can think of, hence why it’s come first. In the early part of my career, there was nothing more frustrating than trying to explain what procurement did, and why we added value to the business.

We worked closely with other functions, such as Design, Manufacturing, and Finance, but always had the same conversation why we needed to be involved at all. If you’re going to fully understand the business, then you need to get out of your functional silo and meet other people, discuss their roles, and work out how you and they fit together.

The relationship between Finance and Procurement is key to the smooth running of a number of critical operations. From supplier selection and qualification, to invoice payment, these operations will run much more efficiently with better communication and a good relationship.

If you step outside your silo, you’ll probably find that other people are willing to do this too. 

  1. Share your Experience

Procurious founder, Tania Seary, has frequently spoken about the importance for procurement to flex their collective muscle and create a community of practice. The same could be said about creating a community of finance professionals.

Quandl’s tips for being a great analyst highlight spotting patterns and finding out the ‘why’ behind the numbers. A great way of doing this is to get out and talk to people, be it others in your profession, or others around your business. Discussing tools and apps that you and others have found helpful could make all the difference.

The chances are fairly high that someone, somewhere, will have come across a similar situation in the past. They might even have a solution for it too, and they’re probably willing to share their experience and knowledge to help out others.

Your experience is valuable too, no matter the stage of your career. Find time to note down specific issues you have had, who you spoke to, how they helped, and your eventual solution. Share this with your fellow professionals, and you’ll start to build both profile and influence. One of the great ways to do this is via social media.

  1. Leverage Social Media for Your Brand

Social media is just as important for your professional life as it is for your personal life. There are a number of great platforms available, each offering a different way to build your personal brand.

In business now, many people think that if you don’t have your own online profile, you don’t really exist. Both recruiters and employers will use social media to learn more about you as an individual – whether it’s to check your employment history against a CV you have submitted, to understanding what makes you tick as a person via social media posts.

The best thing is, it only takes 10-15 minutes each day to stay up to date.

Telling people what you are doing, reading relevant content from industry publications, listening to a great podcast – all of these can be done on your way to work, or over lunch. Once you’re in a routine, it’s easy to maintain your social media presence during the day.

By doing this, you’re raising your own profile and starting to build influence, as well as gathering knowledge that will help in your day-to-day work.

And whether you are Finance professionals, or Procurement professionals (or others), this will certainly stand you in good stead as your career progresses.

Why Big Ideas 2016? There’s an Infographic for That

Not sure why you should register for Big Ideas 2016? We’ve pulled all the information you need into one easy to share infographic!

Big Ideas 2016 Infographic

Need more convincing? Check out the high calibre list of thought leaders and keynote speakers, including:

  • Tom Derry, CEO, Institute for Supply Management
  • Christopher Sawchuk, Principal & Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader, The Hackett Group
  • Gabe Perez, Vice President of strategy and market development, Coupa
  • Elizabeth Linder, Politics & Government Specialist, Facebook EMEA
  • Nik Gowing, Visiting Professor at King’s College and co-author of ‘Thinking the Unthinkable’
  • Lucy Siegle, Journalist and broadcaster, The Observer
  • Peter Holbrook, CBE, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise
  • Lucy Harding, Partner and Head of the Global Procurement & Supply Chain Practice, Odgers Berndtson
  • Martin Chilcott, Founder and CEO, 2degrees
  • Dapo Ajayi, Chief Procurement Officer, AstraZeneca

We’ve seen some of the ideas that our speakers will be discussing on the day, and believe us when we say, you do not want to miss out.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be introducing you to all of our speakers and giving you some previews of their key themes and topics. The best way to stay up to date? Register for the event now!

How you can take part

The Big Ideas Summit is open to all Procurious members. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, we want you to help shape the agenda. Register your attendance in our Procurious Big Ideas 2016 Group.

On Twitter? You can also submit your questions by tweeting us @procurious_ using the hashtag: #BigIdeas2016

You can also stay up to date, and get involved in real time, LinkedIn or Facebook, also using the hashtag #BigIdeas2016.

For more information about the day head on over to our bespoke event site at www.bigideassummit.com.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.