Category Archives: Career Management

Best of the Blog – 3 Ways To Build A Match Fit Procurement Team

You never know what’s on the horizon, so you need to be prepared for anything. For procurement that means staying agile and always being match fit.

Everyone loves a good throwback article, which is why we’re hopping in our time machine to bring you back some of the biggest and best Procurious blogs. If you missed any of the golden oldies, look no further!

This week, we’re revisiting an article about procurement agility in the digital age, featuring advice from Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader at The Hackett Group.  

Given the pace of change in the external environment, being agile means constantly changing, never standing still. It’s not about putting out fires, it’s about ensuring that fires never start in the first place.

For procurement, this means creating and maintaining agile teams, and staying match fit for what comes next. Staying ahead of the curve, be it change, risk or technology, is critical for the future of the profession.

Procurious has spoken to Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader at The Hackett Group on a number of occasions about why procurement needs to put agility at the centre of all its activities.

This year, Chris took the conversation one step further, discussing ways to enable agility through digital transformation and creating an agile team. However, to do this procurement needs to ensure it’s thinking ahead, not just looking at the problems it needs to solve now.

Chris outlines three top tips below on how procurement can be prepared to handle any future issues.

  1. Be Match Fit

As we’ve said above, the key to being agile is ensuring flexibility. A quick way to lose agility is to create a rigid environment that doesn’t allow trying new things.

Define what procurement can and can’t control, and what activities it can drive. Make sure that your procurement team is aligned to the corporate strategies and objectives. It’s a good way of making sure that new ideas will be fully considered as part of the overall organisational strategy.

For example, if Procurement decides they want a diversity programme and the CEO isn’t behind it, it will never reach its full potential. The same goes for technology. If the CEO isn’t invested, the project will never get off the ground.

But even if your company isn’t focused on technology yet, you can be sure it will be in the future. It might be six months, or it might be five years, but it’s better not to be forced kicking and screaming into this new era.

Procurement needs to be ready to go when the business is. You don’t want to be asking for six more months of planning if your CEO wants a transition now. Be ready – have a list prepared of the top three initiatives for technologies, and how they will be implemented. That way you won’t be caught short.

  1. Educate Yourself

If you want to be prepared, you need to be in the know. Don’t be scared of new technology and bury your head in the sand – be aware of what’s out there. Have a list of the most relevant and best technology and know what it can do for you.

Part of that awareness is also preparing for new technology. Procurement teams need to know what’s happening in the market place, and how it impacts them. You don’t need to know everything, but you at least need to be cognizant of it.

That way, procurement can look at the big issues in organisations through the lens of how technology can help. Is there a technology out there that could help with this issue?

If global collaboration is a major issue, there are social platforms that could help connect all your teams to each other, and even their suppliers.

Maybe there’s a technology that could augment (not just automate) a procurement activity that you are performing today. You might finally have access to all kinds of data, but it’s about knowing what you can do with it to extract competitively differentiating insights.

  1. Create Agile Teams

If you aren’t agile then you can’t prepare for any of this. In fact, it’s unlikely you’re even in a position to be ready to start preparing.

To create agile teams you need to have the basics in place, get ahead of these issues, and aim to be predictive. If you knew what was going to happen (sadly crystal balls are in short supply), you would have the ultimate level of agility, and be able to get ahead of any issues.

However, it’s critical that procurement retains the ability to deliver against organisational objectives at the same time. There’s no use being agile if it means that procurement fails to deliver on the basic requirements.

If you can’t get the basics done, then there’s no point in even trying the ‘fancy’ stuff.

Reimagining What We’re Trying to Achieve 

The main problem at the moment is that we can’t even imagine what is going to be possible in the future. The pace of change is so fast that technologies are adapting and evolving in a matter of months, rather than taking years as it did in the past.

It is critical that procurement becomes more adaptable, and ensures that professionals are as informed as possible. Until you have this understanding of technology, you’re losing out. It’s not about the problems you want to solve, it’s also about the problems you’ve not even thought about yet.

The future is an ‘Unknown Unknown’, but with a match fit, agile procurement team, at least you’ll be prepared for what comes next.

Have You Got The Grit Required To Be A CPO?

When your supply chain is in daily danger of being rocked by disruptive events, it takes grit, determination and resilience to remain proactive.     

Procurious asked straight-talking Zimmer Biomet VP of Global Sourcing & Instruments, Howard Levy, for his thoughts on the top three attributes required by the CPO of the future. His answer? Resilience, results-orientation and flexibility.

Remain calm and set an example

“Being a CPO isn’t for everybody. Sometimes, people spend time in a sourcing leadership role and decide it simply isn’t worth the stress. Resilience can be the factor that separates the people who really want to be a leader from the rest.” Levy points to the increasing “churn” of CPOs in a number of major global companies as evidence of the pressures of the role.

How do CPOs cope when things go wrong? “Resilience is the key. There are always going to be challenges and supply chain issues coming up. CPOs need to be very confident in their ability to manage risks globally, and put in place proactive strategies that will reduce the overall risk, such as compliance and single source risk reduction initiatives.”

“Dealing with tsunami-type issues on a day-to-day basis requires a high-level ability to remain calm and at the same time urgently drive progress.  It is like running a marathon, but not knowing what is around the next corner.  So the leadership team must have the right expertise, customer service orientation and set the right tone by demonstrating results orientation, flexibility and resilience.”

Levy comments that the procurement team has an opportunity to set the example of remaining calm and moving forward, even when unpredictable events come up across your global supply chain. “It is challenging to stay proactive and productive. Ask yourself if you and your team have the right level of grit and the right systematic tools to do so.”

Be flexible

Levy notes that today, everyone expects things immediately. That’s true on an individual level where people expect instant responses to phone calls and emails, but always for large organisations that need supply chain agility to be successful. “Companies are requiring a level of flexibility and responsiveness that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago”, he says.

“Companies need someone who has flexibility in their mindset and can work strategically across their supply chain and business partners to discover what’s best for the business – not just what’s best for strategic sourcing. Flexibility is critical, given the dynamics of globalisation and the imperative to more effectively engage our suppliers in meeting the business units’ strategic needs.”

Deliver the bacon

“The days of symbolic figureheads who spend their time on the golf course are over”, says Levy. “We’ve all met some who is ‘all talk’, but talk will only take you so far. If you don’t deliver the bacon, ultimately they’ll find a new CPO who actually has the capability to deliver results.”

What’s the bacon? “Anything that enables the business to grow – adding value, generating innovation from suppliers or reducing costs. The CPO’s contribution will be a critical element of any business of the future.”

Howard Levy is a member of the ISM2017 Conference Leadership Committee, where he is responsible for the “Outside” learning track. He recommends delegates catch the following sessions:

Planning to attend ISM2017? Don’t miss out on Procurious Founder and CEO Tania Seary’s top tips on how to Network Your Way To The Top on Tuesday May 23rd, 3.45pm.

Image: True Grit (Paramount 2010)

 

The Power Of An Online Network

Your online network can give you the edge in procurement – but only if you’re an active, value-generating participant in the community. 

Rising through the ranks of the fast-paced procurement world can be a hectic and sometimes even lonely pursuit.

To counteract this, a growing numbers of industry professionals are actively seeking out online communities of like-minded industry mavens to converse with.

Online communities can significantly bolster your professional standing in the broader procurement sector. Some people post helpful information on a regular basis to online business communities. Others pop into online communities for companionship, as they give people access to a different group of people to talk to instead of the colleagues they see on a daily basis.

Forging online relationships can bring huge value to your position in the procurement world, so make sure you pick a couple of key online communities to focus on. These groups are valuable because they encourage the sharing of content and industry-specific information that can help you in your role.

Professionals often join business communities for support, and people feel accomplished when they contribute useful information to the online community. By helping others, members can gain a feeling of being needed and appreciated by others.

LinkedIn is just the start

Australian marketing executive Jacqueline Burns was an early adopter of business online community LinkedIn. She leaves LinkedIn open on her computer all day and dips into conversations constantly.

As managing director of Marketing Expertise, Burns has been a prolific blog publisher on the platform, creating and sharing relevant information to her industry sector both domestically and internationally on a regular basis. To date, she has published more than 60 articles on LinkedIn – and the benefits have been significant.

“A lot of my work comes through the platform, simply by being present. I’ve secured many clients directly from LinkedIn who have been seeking someone with my services and I’ve been logged on and responded,” Burns says.

“I’ve secured a major client via my LinkedIn community, and also a large software-as-a-service provider from the US whom I’ve never met before,” Burns says.

Online communities add value to your role

Aaron Agius of digital marketing firm Louder Online says there’s been a natural push to use online communities for personal branding among many sectors. However, he’s a much bigger fan of using them for growth and education, with two communities in his field sharing a lot of personal insights that ensure he always walks away with new ideas. “Lately, I’m finding better information there than a lot of the marketing blogs,” he says.

While he could spend all day interacting with fellow marketers, he’s got too much on his plate to make that happen. “There’s definitely a balance between maintaining a regular presence in an online community without spending so much time there that it takes away from your actual work,” he says.

“I’ve found social media communities to be a great place for networking with others in my field. You’d think that marketers would be a private bunch, yet the relationships I’ve built through sites like these have given me great friendships with people I can go to if I have a questions, want to vent about an issue, or need a second set of eyes to help me figure out a solution,” Agius says.

Get started

Look for industry-specific communities that enable procurement professionals to ask questions, seek support and make connections, which can add huge value to your role.

Online communities can be a great tool for shortlisting vendors or to pre-qualify firms. Simply asking industry peers for their opinion is a great validation process for gathering additional intelligence.

Adding value goes both ways, though, so make sure you truly engage with the community, care about what others are asking for advice on, and be the solution to meet their needs when you’re able to.

It’s also important to be consistent. If you can’t keep up with the number of posts, then decrease your posts and pick a couple of key posts to contribute to each day, because quality and consistency trumps quantity. Also, bear in mind that different parts of the world come online at different times of the day, so taking 15 minutes to post in the  evening can offer huge value to an industry peer on the other side of the world.

However, as Burns points out, just having access to an online community isn’t enough – being an active user can bring you so much value. “You can’t just create a profile online and then walk away. Your online community is the place to show a bit of personality, and you need to be interacting regularly to get value from it.”

Apple To Finally Get Into Bed With Amazon

Will Apple and Amazon put aside their differences and unite in time for the launch of Apple TV? 

The professional relationship between tech giants Apple and Amazon has been rocky to say the very least.

Firstly, In 2014 Amazon removed  in-app payments from the iOS versions of several of its services  in response to Apple demanding a 30 per cent share of the profits.

And then, in what was considered by many to be a bizarre decision, Amazon announced in October 2015 that it would no longer be selling Apple TV or  Chromecast because of the direct competition between them and Amazon’s own streaming products.

At the time, the move was likened to Apple TV’s refusal to play Netflix’s streaming service because they did not want to promote a competitor, but Apple eventually gave in.

Whilst certain reports this week suggest there are changes in the waters, Amazon’s Echo Show announcement  this week might be a little too close for Apple’s comfort.

Will Apple Echo Amazon’s product?

Last week, Amazon introduced the latest Alexa expansion, unveiling an Echo with a touch screen and a camera. The Echo Show features “everything you love about Alexa” with the added benefits of being able to show you things – whether it’s the weather forecast, a wikipedia page, a video, photos and more.

The device allows users to video chat with anyone who has an Echo, Echo Dot or the Alexa App, posing a big threat to Skype and  Apple’s FaceTime video-calling service.

Watch Amazon’s Introducing Echo Show video below to find out more.

The device costs $229 and is expected to be a huge hit when it begins shipping in late June, quite possibly to the dismay of Apple.  Indeed, the rapid speed at which Amazon has managed to expand its Echo hardware and the reasonable price points present a real threat to Apple.

As its already proven many times, Amazon is in the unique position to deny competitors access to its store. And that’s not to mention it’s currently ahead of the game and anything Apple subsequently releases is likely to come with a hefty price tag.

Time will tell what Apple has up its sleeve and whether consumers are willing to sack in their i-products for Echo.

Amazon Video for Apple TV

Various rumours have suggested this week that Amazon and Apple are headed in a much friendlier direction.

Last Thursday, Buzzfeed announced that the one major flaw of Apple TV was to be addressed: Amazon’s Prime Video service will, at last, be made available. Apple are expected to announce an Amazon Video app designed for Apple’s set-top box at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 5 in San Jose.

Last year Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, explained that the company was waiting for  “acceptable business terms” with Apple before  a Prime Video app was considered.  Perhaps those terms have now been agreed.

If all goes ahead, Amazon is expected to return the favour by resuming sales of Apple TV’s on its website, following a two year hiatus.

In other news this week…

Co-op releases first slavery statement under the Modern Slavery Act 

  • Co-op has outlined how it sources, the clauses it uses in contracts and the steps it takes to audit suppliers withe regards to modern slavery. It also describes how the Co-op helps former slaves into work.
  • The 10-page statement outlines the Co-op’s ethical policies, its supplier approval process and how it carried out 444 audits in 2016.
  • The Co-op said it provided training for suppliers and it planned to develop a new procurement academy and roll out a business-wide training and awareness plan on ethical sourcing.
  • Cath Hill, group marketing director at CIPS, said: “The Co-op’s modern slavery statement is an excellent example of what organisations should be doing to combat this important issue. “

Read more on Supply Management 

Like coffee? You’ll like it even more when it’s sustainable!

  • Australians use an estimated one billion disposable coffee cups annually, but these cups are not recyclable in most states…until now!
  • Melbourne-based social entrepreneur Soula Thuring has taken the direct approach, selling biodegradable coffee cups with an additional Enviro Grow kit which turns the used cup into a plant
  • The $2 Grow Cup of Life kit contains a soil pellet that expands with water, a seed mat and instructions for growing kale, beetroot, rocket and other healthy foods. It can be planted in the backyard or elsewhere and it breaks down in a few months
  • Recently the social enterprise, Streat, teamed up with Melbourne-based coffee startup Pod & Parcel to put its coffee in biodegradable coffee pods to be used in Nespresso machines

Read more on The Guardian 

2017 FM Global Resilience Index exposes supply chain risks

  • The 2017 FM Global Resilience Index, which was recently released, provides SCMR readers with additional insights on emerging nations
  • The annual index, which is online and interactive, ranks 130 countries and territories by their enterprise resilience to disruptive events
  • Supply chain managers are being told that three of the most pressing risks to business performance in the 21st century are cyber attack, natural hazards and supply chain failure

Read more at Logistics Management 

Image credit: AppAdvice

Find Your Tribe On Procurious

Looking for your tribe on Procurious? Whether you want to connect with colleagues by country, category or campaign, we’ve got you covered…

At Procurious, we like to think we’re very accommodating, which is why we want to help you find your tribe. No matter where you are in the world and whatever your interests, there’s a Procurious group, or two or maybe even three, out there waiting for you.

Groups can be created based on events, industries, categories, regions, countries, organisations and interests. We’ve highlighted some of the corkers to get you started!

Bravo: Women in Procurement

Procurious launched Bravo late last year to celebrate and promote women in procurement and challenge gender discrimination in the workplace. It’s statistically proven that organisations with greater employee diversity achieve better business results and yet women still represent less than 5 per cent of CEO positions.

Gender balance within the procurement function is also skewed, particularly at the top of organisations. Together, we can change that.

This group is a much needed platform for women in procurement to communicate, share ideas and experiences,  mentor and be mentored and stand up for change

As part of the Bravo campaign, we’ve interviewed a whole host  of high profile procurement leaders about their own advice to young women starting off in Procurement, and how they’re helping females get ahead. You can find links to all of these articles via the group.
Read more about the Bravo mission here and join the group here.

Institute for Supply Management (ISM)

This group is your one-stop shop for everything ISM-related from related articles, to interviews and ISM event information.

Procurious have been lucky enough to sit down with most of this year’s THOMASNET and ISM 30 Under 30 Supply Chain Rising Stars to find out what it takes to embark on a successful procurement career. You’ll find all of the links to these interviews in the group.

At the moment, we’re welcoming the delegates who will be attending #ISM2017  in Disneyworld  May 21-24. This group is designed to  enrich the online experience for ISM2017 delegates and members who can’t make it to Florida in-person.

Join this group and share #ISM2017 news, blog articles, event photos, recommendations, network with new connections, and continue the conversations after the event!

Join the group here.

Procurement Toolkit

This group features procurement tools and templates to save you time and effort. These tools can instantly boost your productivity and help you get “unstuck.” Use them to confidently meet the challenges that come your way.

Access the documents tab within the group to download everything from Statement of Work (SoW) templates to Project Management templates orSourcing Risks and Issues Log

Join the group here.

Is Your Nation  Represented?

There’s a whole host of fantastic regional groups chattering away on Procurious that you might not know about. If you’re unsure whether your country is represented we suggest you take a look for yourself – you might be pleasantly surprised! Here are a few of the most active ones:

  • Netherlands Procurement Professionals – Join here
  • Brazilian Procurement Professionals – Join here
  • Spanish Procurement Professionals – Join here
  • Melbourne, Australia Procurement Professionals – Join here
  • Italian Procurement Professionals – Join here

And remember, you can always create your own group whether it’s distinguished via country, industry, interests, your organisation or something else entirely! Simply visit the groups tab on Procurious and click “Create Group” and you’re good to go!

What are you waiting for? Pick your tribe and get going!

Best of the Blog: Win The Web – Spin A Personal Brand That Will Get You Noticed

Think you don’t need to worry about how your personal brand appears online? Think again! 

Everyone loves a good throwback article, which is why we’re hopping in our time machine to bring you back some of the biggest and best Procurious blogs. If you missed any of the golden oldies, look no further!

This week, we’re revisiting an article by Lisa Malone  who offers some advice on how to polish your online brand. 

There’s no escaping your online personal brand. Whether you like it or not, all your social media accounts are a direct reflection of you – and your organisation. The content you share, or lack thereof, will be under scrutiny from colleagues, employers, employees, suppliers and influencers.

It’s crucial to take ownership of your online presence by defining your own brand. Take charge of what your profile says about you and reap the professional benefits!

Why Does My Personal Brand Matter So Much?

Online connections are the new business currency.  We all prefer to do business with people that we like and deem trustworthy. In developing a stellar personal brand and building your network, you invite connections to get to know you, observe your integrity and build trust before you’ve even met them in person.

As a prospective employee you can bet that your interviewer/future employer will have already scoured your LinkedIn, Twitter and any other accounts they can access. All of these give an insight into who you are both personally and professionally. Make sure you stand out for the right reasons.

It’s just as important to have a killer online profile as a manager. People want to work for bosses who are well connected, and therefore influential. If your profile is underdeveloped, you appear ‘un-connected’ and risk deterring the best talent. People aspire to work for great bosses that can help grow their careers and they will make the first assessment of this by your online brand.

As a procurement professional, the impetus to have a strong online brand is even more important. Before any business development meeting or negotiation, you can be sure your supply-side counterpart will have looked at your profile, seeking information on what matters to you and your experience.

Where Do I Start?

If you know that your online presence could do with a bit of a revamp but aren’t sure where to begin, it’s self-auditing time!

Spend some time considering how you come across as a person. Are you consistent and authentic across different profiles? Would your network be interested in the things you are saying or sharing? What could you change to get yourself noticed by the right people?

Top Tips For Building Your Brand

Once your initial self-audit is complete, there are some key things to remember as you work on expanding your online presence.

1. Leverage Your Key Influencers

To be noticed online, you need a large network of followers. In the early stages of brand development, building an audience is easier said than done, no matter how brilliant your content is.

A more efficient approach is to leverage key influencers in your industry. Promote and share their work, cite them in tweets and reference them in your content to gain access to their audiences and encourage them to, eventually, return the favour. It takes time and commitment but your efforts will be noticed – just one retweet can make a big difference to your social media clout.

2. Don’t Be a Social Media Robot

You’re a real person so don’t shy away from showcasing the more interesting sides of your personality. If we were all to manage our online accounts with a strictly formal and robotic approach, the social media sphere would be a colourless and dreary place to hang out.

It’s the unique quirks of your personality that people are interested in so it’s unsurprising that the most individual posts with eye-catching photos on Procurious or Twitter are the ones which earn the most likes, shares and retweets.

3. Connect, connect, connect

Building a network is a never ending task so make it part of your daily routine.  Invite friends, colleagues and other connections you meet through events to join you.

On Procurious, we strongly recommend connecting with any and all of the members across our 140+ countries who interest you – perhaps they work in the same industry; manage the same category or perhaps you’d just like to know more about procurement practices in Fiji!

4. Don’t fool yourself – Worlds collide!

Particularly when it comes to Twitter, I’m often asked about whether it’s better to maintain separate personal and professional accounts, or opt for a single social media profile.

In my view, aside from the time management benefits of having just one account to feed, your personal brand is the sum of everything you do – or that is said about you – online.

Trust grows from authenticity. So regardless of how you structure your profiles online, both personal and professional will reflect your overall brand.

If in doubt when posting online, follow this checklist:

  • Does this add to the conversation?
  • Are there any spelling mistakes here? 
  • Does it make sense, would you really talk like that?
  • Would I care if my boss or, more importantly, my mum, read this?

5. Lose the Mask

 Unless you’re batman, you don’t want to keep your identity an online secret. Make yourself searchable on social media by using your full name and your current role. Add up to date photographs so people can put a face to a name.

And make sure your Twitter handle (or gmail account) isn’t some obscure, irrelevant gabble from your teenage years!

Who’s Getting It Right?

If you’re still in need of some further inspiration, look no further than Marie Forleo, entrepreneur, writer and creator of a socially conscious digital empire, enjoyed by millions. Whilst you don’t have to develop your online presence on quite such a large scale, Marie’s website might inspire and motivate you to better your brand!

Don’t Bore The Board

Struggling to get business leaders interested in procurement? You’re doing it wrong! 

The dashboard that Lara Nichols built in her first weeks as SVP of Procurement at NFP was, she thought, a masterpiece. It had everything a procurement professional could wish for – sourcing strategies, savings programs, vendor and risk management targets, governance plans – but it simply wasn’t getting the cut-through she expected outside of the procurement team.

“I’d find that people simply didn’t want to have procurement conversations with me – nobody cared about the typical procurement metrics I was focusing on. I realised that I needed to change my approach to my work to become less of a procurement professional, and more of a businessperson with procurement expertise.”

Now, Nichols’ dashboard is built around what she calls meaningful business drivers. “The underlying data is the same, but I’ve had to re-jig how I talked about it.”

How do you identify your organisation’s business drivers? For Nichols, she took a dual approach:

Connect with the team operating at the heart of the business: “This will be different in every industry, but in insurance brokerage and in many financial services companies, the top-line team is the lead force in our business. I made an effort to become tightly connected with the business development team. We have a huge sales force, so I’ve deliberately familiarised myself with their sales strategy and focused on finding ways to provide support for what they do.”

“My advice is to seek out the people that deliver on the heartbeat of the company’s success, and connect yourself with that team.”

Connect with the CFO: “There’s a reason the CFO is always in the top three roles of a company. Finance influences the whole organisation in so many ways”, says Nichols. “I’ve spent a lot of time with the entire finance team, including my CFO, which has helped me re-align procurement’s contribution in the context of NFP’s numbers, and not the other way around.”

Nichols says that strong financial know-how is therefore vital to any CPO’s success. “The ability to influence the numbers equates to company performance. Procurement and Finance should build a deep and mutually beneficial relationship to truly delivery value we all know is intrinsically there.”

Getting involved in ISM2017

Nichols is Chair of the ISM2017 Conference Leadership Committee, and co-leads the Bottom Line Learning Track.

“Personally, I’m excited to attend the Signature Session run by Amazon Business, called Is Your Tail Spend Putting You In A Tailspin. It’s an important topic. Another session I’m looking forward to will be run by Brooks Brothers, featuring a conversation between a CFO and CPO on How Does the P&L Work, Anyway. It will provide the grounding in Finance that’s so important for success in our profession.”

Nichols is proud of the fact that the Committee has built a program with a diverse range of speakers. “We challenge ourselves to recruit first-time speakers, people who have never had an opportunity to present. Brooks Brothers, for example, have never attended an ISM conference before, but we’re expecting some very valuable insights from their session. On the other end of the spectrum, you have your solid contributors who have been attending and supporting ISM for a long time. They bring an incredible level of insight, experience and wisdom to the conference.

Network, network, network

Two of Nichols’ last three appointments were made possible with the help of her personal network. “In both cases, friends of mine knew the hiring managers. There’d been a discussion at some point about what the business was looking for, and my connection has said ‘That sounds like something Lara would like to do – would you like me to introduce her?’ In both cases, I was hired into an exciting, newly-created role.”

Outside of moving roles, Nichols’ network is invaluable when dealing with what she describes as “wicked problems”. “I ask myself who can I talk to in my network who would have some insights into my problem. The network sustains me – usually it starts with an instant message, which leads to a phone call where we explore ideas and – eventually – the solution presents itself.”

Plan ahead to get the most out of ISM2017

There’s so much choice at ISM’s major event of the year that it can be overwhelming, particularly for first time attendees. Nichols says that this will be the case particularly for people who haven’t prepared.

“Chart a course through the sessions. Read ahead, and think about how to spend your time. Plan it out like you would do before going on vacation! If you’ve done some pre-planning, you’ll have filters in place to help you pick well when you’re presented with a choice.”

ISM has provided plenty of tips to guide attendees through the maze of session, including the Learning Tracks, information on how each session is aligned to certain competencies in the Mastery Model, and proficiencies based on years of experience.

“Be present” says Nichols. “Don’t skip the social activities such as the receptions and networking events. That’s where the real magic happens. Visit the Exhibit Hall – that’s where you can access new information and innovation that you can take back to your office.”

There’s still time to register for ISM2017, taking place in Orlando, Florida from May 21-24.

Planning to attend ISM2017? Don’t miss out on Procurious Founder and CEO Tania Seary’s tips on how to Network Your Way To The Top on Tuesday May 23rd, 3.45pm.

How To Survive a Social Media Storm

Media personality, author and columnist Bernard Salt weathered a social media storm last year after his provocative article about the spending habits of millennials went viral. Today, he shares his top tips for businesses under attack on social media.

Six months ago, Bernard Salt wrote a tongue-in-cheek article about what he called the “evils of hipster cafes”. The article lightheartedly poked fun at hipsters’ apparent preference for low chairs, hard-to-read fonts on menus and thumping music. But it was this paragraph that ignited a storm:

I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more. I can afford to eat this for lunch because I am middle-aged and have raised my family. But how can young people afford to eat like this? Shouldn’t they be economising by eating at home? How often are they eating out? Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house.

What followed was nothing less than a nation-wide reaction. Inter-generational battle-lines were drawn between the over and under-40s, a flurry of rebuttal articles were published in competing newspapers, and the issue of housing affordability – a major problem in Australia’s capital cities – was thrust firmly into the spotlight.

“The smashed avocado article was written to highlight the division in cultures”, says Salt. “And certainly, it did that. Everyone over the age of 50 thought it was terrific, and everyone under the age of 40 thought it was terrible. It exposed divisions, and prompted a discussion that will hopefully lead to a better solution.”

But it was online that the brunt of the storm took place, with critics and trolls lining up to attack Salt in 140 characters or less. Having experienced it first-hand, Salt now has some advice for other individuals – and businesses – who find themselves getting smashed on social media.

Hold fast, don’t panic, and wait one week

“It’s all about getting through the first week”, Salt says. When something happens – whether through misadventure or entirely by accident – and there’s a reaction on social media, my advice to businesses is to hold fast, don’t panic, and wait.”

Salt has broken down the lifecycle of a social media storm:

Day 1: The first day will be quite impactful, as the issue – whatever it may be – begins to trend on social media. This is when the storm front is approaching.

Days 2 to 4: The worst part of the storm. “From days 2 to 4, people will come out of the woodwork to throw petrol on the fire. The trolls, the haters, and any enemies you may have will jump at the chance to further their own interests at your expense. Hold fast! The thing to remember is that this is NOT the mainstream community – these are fanatics and social media warriors. Don’t mistake their opinions for the common sense of the majority.”

Days 5 to 7: At this stage, the main storm will have passed, and more reasoned voices begin to come to the fore. People who are more qualified to comment on the issue don’t put their hands up to contribute to the debate immediately – they generally wait, and take some time to produce a well thought-out response, either in support or otherwise.

Six months later, Salt’s smashed avocado article has been warmly embraced and is frequently referred to in discussions around housing affordability. It may have even influenced federal policy. The article has also, undeniably, helped Salt’s own career and propelled him into the role of one of Australia’s leading social commentators.

Consider starting your own storm in procurement

What can CPOs learn from Salt’s experience?

The lack of attention paid to procurement and supply management across many organisations is an ongoing frustration, illustrated every time we have to explain to people what procurement actually does. There are some lessons to be drawn, therefore, from Salt’s very successful method of grabbing attention and getting noticed.

A savvy CPO could consider putting out a deliberately provocative statement within the business that will force their colleagues to pay attention, kick-start the conversation about a particular issue, and put procurement onto peoples’ radar.

If there’s an issue that’s troubling procurement but isn’t a priority in the wider business, Salt’s advice is to “expose it, and bring it onto the agenda”.

Bernard Salt will deliver a keynote speech at PIVOT: The Faculty’s 10th Annual Asia Pacific CPO Forum.

Are You Considering Chasing A Procurement Career…?

…according to most of the ThomasNet and ISM 30 Under 30 Rising Stars, going after a  procurement career is a cracking idea!

Last month, THOMASNET and ISM announced the 2016-2017 winners of the 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars award, presenting the profession with an inspirational batch of role models who are sure to attract more Millennials to the supply management profession.

Procurious has been lucky enough to sit down with many of the winners to find out what the award means to them,  how they got into procurement in the first place and the key skills needed for a procurement and supply chain career.

We were interested to find out what advice the winners had for any students contemplating a career in supply management. Answers varied wildly, covering everything from “make sure you have fun” to “ask loads of questions” and  “do the things that scare you the most!”

There was one recurrent theme, however:  The 30 Under 30 Stars are all adamant that a career in procurement and supply chain is the way to go!

Opportunities Aplenty Await You In Your Procurement Career

Jon Futryk, Senior Sourcing Specialist Crown Equipment Corporation, advises young professionals to “get involved with a supply-chain organisation in order to gain exposure to the industry”.

Andrew Bagni, Procurement Manager at General Dynamics Mission Systems, concedes, asserting “it’s a great career path for anyone, because there are so many opportunities for growth. In the US, manufacturing companies are bringing their facilities back home, a move that needs to be supplemented with a strong supply-chain team.  This is a great opportunity for young people to be involved”.

Dan Kaskinen, Strategic Sourcing Manager, Sonic Automotive, Inc., is another strong advocate for the profession: “My advice to any young person getting ready to join the workforce is that supply-management could be a great fit – I would fully recommend it.”

Benefiting From Diverse Experiences

Several of the 30 Under 30 winners make mention of the varied experiences on offer within a supply management career and advise any young professionals to make the most of these opportunities.

Barbara Noseda, Global Sourcing Associate at Johnson & Johnson explains why this is a brilliant way to diversify your skills: “At JNJ people transition between finance, operations, marketing and supply-chain. Movement between functions helps you build your knowledge and helps you to better understand your counterparts.”

Andrew Bagni agrees, explaining that “working in supply-chain offers a plethora of  opportunities. Over a lifetime of work you’ll switch between a variety of positions. Supply chain gives you the flexibility to learn about a lot of different things, very quickly, which builds a great foundation. There are so many different projects to work on and it’s possible, particularly for millennials, to move up the ladder but also to move laterally to widen your learning prospects.”

Nurturing Your Procurement Relationships

Of course, this wouldn’t be a piece about procurement careers without mentioning relationship management. In our previous article we revealed that the majority of the 30 under 30 stars hailed communication as the most important procurement skill. Now, they’re keen to remind aspiring procurement pros to make the most of their workplace relationships, whether it’s networking, managing supplier relations,  finding a mentor or doing the mentoring.

Barbara is particularly passionate about mentoring programs. “I’ve had multiple mentors. One was assigned to me at Johnson & Johnson and I was very lucky because we clicked; it just doesn’t make sense to have a mentor relationship if you don’t. I would strongly advise young professionals to find a mentor that they share the same values with. It’s always great to get an external opinion from an experienced person who went through the same thing 20 years ago”.

Barbara is now a mentee and a mentor for younger employees. “It’s great to be on the other side – I’ve also learned a lot, and got a lot, out of being a mentor.”

Jeff Novak places huge value on networking and the chance benefits it can bring: “Having the ability to meet people is so important because you never know when it’ll be someone who can help you and make a real impact. I completed an internship a while ago, and  one of my recruiters is now on an ISM regional board. I’ve been able to connect with him.”

Matthew Montana, Category Lead at Pacific Gas and Electric Company, warns young professionals to not get too caught up with technology or big data. “Don’t forget your suppliers are real people too! It’s important to develop relationships that are transparent and honest. This is the key to a successful partnership.”

More top tips for budding supply management stars

  • Develop your Cultural Intelligence (CQ)
  • Work hard and keep learning/ gaining new qualifications
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Be curious
  • Be resourceful
  • Have the patience to accept you don’t know everything, yet!

The 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars will meet for the first time as a group at ISM2017, where ISM and THOMASNET.com will roll out the red carpet to celebrate the winners’ achievements and broadcast their success stories to other young people considering a career in supply management. 

How To Increase ROI With Clear Communication To Business Stakeholders

The Hackett Group’s, Nic Walden, explains how to improve your ROI through engaging and clear communication. 

Most stakeholders say that consistent delivery of core services is the principal requirement to consider procurement as a trusted advisor. Although many organisations are capable of filling this role, most are still viewed by internal customers as sourcing experts (i.e., focused on negotiation and supplier selection), or worse, as gatekeepers or simply administrators. In fact, only 29 per cent of procurement organisations are viewed as valued business partners by key stakeholders.

Does It Matter? Absolutely!

Analysis of Hackett benchmarks shows as much as a 2.5X ROI can be achieved from elevating the role of procurement, and aligning the goals and expectations of procurement teams to that of the business. That’s a hefty bump in savings or broader value terms in anyone’s language.

At Hackett we measure ROI as total cost reduction and avoidance divided by the cost of the function. As an example, professional sourcing teams can deliver strong savings performance when looking at percentage terms only, but when compared to the level of resource investment (i.e., ROI), they come up short.

Why Leave Money On The Table?

Let’s assume we have the capabilities to operate at a higher level (closing the capability gap is itself another discussion). One reason for misalignment is that procurement teams struggle to communicate their capabilities. Ineffective communication with internal customers, suppliers, and colleagues also causes confusion, delay, or leads to incorrect assumptions of what procurement can and cannot offer. With this in mind, Procurement teams face three main challenges to elevate their role:

  • Perceptions on historical performance cause resistance to change.
  • Internal customers are unaware of what procurement can offer.
  • Undergoing a major transformation results in confusion and inconsistencies.

The result is that successful procurement teams go to great lengths to build a compelling brand image, supported by a well-defined vision, services that meet or exceed expectations, and a formal measurement program to ensure ongoing improvement. If these steps are not taken, procurement groups can plateau in operational efficiency and effectiveness despite having the capabilities to operate at a much higher level.

Launching a New Procurement Brand

Defining a brand is an important concept for procurement because it makes their purpose and identity more comprehensible for stakeholders. The Hackett Group has outlined four major activities (understand, define, create, engage) that make up a successful brand transformation, supported by ongoing internal input. Everyone has a role to play in communicating and utilizing procurement’s new brand for effect: leadership, sourcing, buying, and operational teams.

  1. Understand what is most important to internal customers and stakeholders

The brand should highlight procurement’s desire to support stakeholders and its ability to act as a valued business partner. This means having a solid understanding of what is important to stakeholders. For example, they might want more help defining requirements, to run credible and achievable projects, to manage difficult supplier conversations, to bring new products to market faster, or reporting. Most often, they just want procurement to excel at delivering core services.

  1. Define procurement’s brand-management strategy

This is the time to clearly develop a clear vision and simple set of guiding principles to communicate goals, followed by defining procurement’s roles and responsibilities, and to make this information easily accessible to procurement and its stakeholders.

Other activities include:

  • Delineate the services that procurement provides to internal customers; ensure these align to their needs and requirements. Take this opportunity to de-prioritize or reshape what is not valued.
  • Provide clear definitions of the activities and tasks performed for each support service, along with the service levels provided (e.g., meeting frequency, cycle time, error rates).
  • Determine which business segments and departments that procurement can support.
  • Match staff and skill sets to procurement’s services.
  1. Create marketing materials and share initial communications

Now we match the desired stakeholder experience with procurement’s future behaviors. Since people respond differently to various methods of communication, consider creating an “omnichannel”, personalized stakeholder experience to allow broad access to the procurement process and enable the ability to buy/pay from all locations and get real-time information. Common activities include:

  • Develop a new brand identity, including a name, mission statement, a set of values and goals, and even a logo if desired.
  • Determine the way communication with internal customers and stakeholders will be handled, such as email, phone, in-person support, chat or robotic tools.
  • Deploy an intranet portal that lets internal customers communicate with procurement and conduct self-service activities. Consider setting up a similar site for suppliers.
  • Develop marketing materials for various stakeholder groups, making certain that overall messaging is consistent.
  • Define and document any related changes to the organization, such as new employee titles.
  1. Engage and continually communicate with all stakeholders

Multiple channels of communication should always be open for both internal customers and suppliers to reach out, get questions answered, or further develop relationships. There are various ways to engage with stakeholders, not all of which make sense for every company. Some of these activities include:

  • Face-to-face road shows with business executives, such as ongoing conference calls or one-on-one calls
  • Face-to-face road shows with middle management / operations followed by regular calls to ensure procurement is meeting objectives
  • Regular emails that include policy updates and metrics showcasing procurement performance

Nic Walden, Director Procurement and P2P Advisor, The Hackett Group works continuously with senior executives of the world’s leading companies to provide top performance insight, research and networking.  Nic is a regular speaker at conference events and a regular contributor to social media and online blogs.

Learn more about Hackett’s Procurement Executive Advisory Program