Category Archives: Career Management

Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset

Does your category management journey ever remind you of the movie Groundhog Day?  Our latest webinar will advise you on how to break that repetitive cycle!Our webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset takes, takes place at 1pm GMT on 29th November 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

The life of a procurement professional can easily descend into a vicious cycle. You’re asked to do more and more, in order to drive bottom line results for the business, but you’re without the time to approach these challenges innovatively.

It’s often something straight out of the movie “Groundhog Day,” where procurement is given bigger and bigger targets, and has to scramble to execute on more projects, touch more spend, react to more stakeholders and more issues, and then simply do it all over again….and again!

The problem is, if our category managers can’t find a way to break the reactive cycle and start taking different approaches, they can’t add value and deliver the best results.

Successful organisations have embraced the request to do more, and have turned it into an opportunity for the function; to increase the strategic role of procurement and make it a destination role within the business.

How do successful organisations navigate this journey? What are the keys to success? And what is imperative for individuals and organisations to do when on this journey to ensure they become closer than ever before to the business?

What content can I expect from the webinar?

We’ll be discussing:

  • What does it mean to have a category management mindset?
  • What key competencies or skills should category managers be developing?
  • How will category management needs continue to evolve over time?
  • How can procurement leaders change the game for category management?
  • What mistakes are category managers repeatedly making?

Who are the guest speakers?

Tania Seary – Founder, Procurious

A true procurement entrepreneur, Tania is the Founding Chairman of Procurious, The Faculty and The Source. Throughout her career, Tania has been wholly committed to raising the profile of the procurement profession and connecting its leaders.

After finishing her MBA at Pennsylvania State University, Tania became one of Alcoa’s first global commodity managers.

In 2016, Tania was recognised by IBM as a #NewWaytoEngage Futurist and named “Influencer of the Year” by Supply Chain Dive. She hosts regular procurement webinars, and presents at high-profile events around the world.

Christophe Ysebaert – Partner, Transitive Management

Christophe Ysebaert is a Partner with Transitive Management with expertise in purchasing strategies, strategic sourcing and project management. He is also a Part Time Teacher at Skema Business School in Lille (France) teaching category management and strategic sourcing.

Prior to joining Transitive Management, Christophe worked during close to 30 years for Dow Corning as a global manager in Supply Chain and Purchasing jobs. He served roles in Global Planning and more recently in Purchasing as part of the Procurement Leadership Team responsible for strategic sourcing and for a global augmentation program with a third party provider. He has also managed a global portfolio of commodities as well as led the European Direct Procurement Group.

Christophe holds a Master of Science in Business Engineering from Mons University and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management from Penn State University.

Alpar Kamber,  Executive Vice President, Denali – A WNS Company 

Alpar Kamber is Executive Vice President at WNS and the BU Leader for Procurement Services. He was the Founder and CEO of Denali Sourcing Services, a next-generation procurement services provider that enables procurement organizations to influence more spend and execute more effectively and efficiently.

In January 2017, WNS, a global business process management leader, acquired Denali Sourcing Services. Prior to joining Denali, Alpar held management positions at Ariba, FreeMarkets, Diamond Technology Partners and E&Y. Alpar leads WNS clients in building scalable sourcing programs and operationalizing their procurement function that drive consistency, repeatable outcomes, and bottom-line value across the organization.

Alpar’s expertise is in procurement value chain, organizational design, change management and global program execution. Alpar holds an MBA degree from Tepper Business School of Carnegie Mellon University. Alpar Kamber was named a 2011 Pros to Know by Supply & Demand Chain Executive. Read more about Alpar Kamber in the HfS Research interview, Meet the sultan of strategic sourcing.

Christopher Eyerman, Senior Director,  Denali – A WNS Company 

Chris Eyerman is the Senior Director for WNS-Denali. Chris leads WNS-Denali’s Solutions and Capabilities group to design, deliver and continuously improve procurement programs that provide real, lasting value and creates permanent change in how our customers conduct procurement business.

He is a senior supply chain and program management executive with more than 30 years of technical and business experience, including 18 years of leading category management, source-to-contract, procure-to-pay and supply chain transformation programs. Prior to joining WNS-Denali, he served roles in program management, business development, product management and operations at FreeMarkets, Ariba and Exostar.

Chris holds a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State, an MS degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT, and an MBA degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

How do I register for the webinar?

Registering for our webinar couldn’t be easier (and, of course, it’s FREE!)

Click here to enter your details and confirm your attendance. We’ll send you a confirmation email with a link to the webinar platform and a handy reminder one hour before we go live!

I’m already a member of Procurious, do I still need to register?

Yes! If you are already a member of Procurious you must still register to access the webinar via this platform. We’ll send you a confirmation email with a link to the webinar platform and a handy reminder one hour before we go live!

When is it taking place?

The webinar will take place at 1pm GMT on 29th November 2017.

Help! I can’t make it to the live-stream

No problem! If you can’t make the live-stream you can catch up whenever it suits you. We’ll be making it available on Procurious soon after the event (and will be sure to send you a link) so you can listen at your leisure!

Can I ask a question?

If you’re listening live, our speakers would love to hear your questions and we’d love for you to pick their brains . Questions can be submitted throughout the live stream via the webinar platform, or via @Procurious_ on Twitter.

If you think of a brilliant question after the event, feel free to submit your question via the Discussion Board on Procurious and we’ll do our very best to ensure it gets answered for you.

Our webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset, takes place at 1pm GMT on 29th November 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

How Do You Get Your Biggest Idea Through a Big Company?

Think you know what it takes to drive a big idea through an even bigger company? Watson Supply Chain was built on one big idea…On 24th January 2018 3.30pm EST Procurious founder, Tania Seary, will be speaking with Joanne Wright in IBM’s webinar: How IBM Built the Cognitive Supply Chain of the Future. Register here.

Five years ago, Joanne Wright had a sizeable problem…a $30 USD billion supply chain problem to be precise!

Joanne was fortunate enough to be working with a company that could actually do something about it. Working with IBM’s engineers to design and implement a tailor-made solution to her supply chain challenges, she has now benefitted the entire global supply chain profession as a result of her intrapreneurship and ingenuity.

This is her story.

That “AHA” moment

Joanne had hers in 2011 following a series of unfortunate events.

The devastating earthquake, and subsequent Tsunami, off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku Japan in the early months of this year resulted in $360 billion USD of damage and wiped out componenets globally. It was frustrating and time consuming to even attempt an analysis with incomplete information.

Then, there were the volcanic eruptions in Iceland, which meant that freight couldn’t be moved in the same way it had been before.

Finally, the extreme floods in Thailand, triggered by the landfall of Tropical Storm Nock-ten, wiped out disc drive head production and heavily impacted the storage side of the business.

In each of these instances, Joanne considered how she might leverage the right data to make better decisions.

The need for faster, better intelligence

Given the speed at which circumstances can change in our world, the only way for procurement organisations to be successful is to achieve faster, better intelligence.

When Joanne reflected on how her team had managed the crises of 2011, it was clear that the situations could each have been tackled faster, more intelligently, and with a higher level of accuracy- if they could only utilize the right cognitive solution.

Getting the idea through a BIG company

Introducing and executing a new idea is no small feat in a company the size of IBM. How did Joanne get senior management support for her venture?

It was a long process of trial and error, during which her team learned a lot about how to best manage their data. It took nine months to get started, and furthermore, eighteen months to get to implementation. They needed coders; they ran design workshops where they spent time identifying data sources and emphasizing the importance of data to their clients.

Once you’ve identified the data, it has to be cleaned; and then you have to train Watson. A task that, according to Joanne, can’t be underestimated.

Joanne’s team quickly discovered that they weren’t just the early adapters, but they were the creators of Watson Supply Chain, which added a level of drive and passion to the project; needless to say, it took on a much bigger purpose.

How does the IBM Transparent Supply Chain operate today?

  1. Resolution Room

Resolution Rooms with Ask Watson capability provides cognitive-enabled insights, recommends experts and provides actionable advice based on learned best practices. This helps drive automation and collaboration in responding to disruptions and events. Resolution Rooms leverage Watson’s capability to develop a body of knowledge by learning about how issues were best addressed in the past. This enables greater speed and accuracy in responding to future events.

“My team gets to collaborate in one place.” Joanne explains. ” A demand spike in our new Z14 mainframe, planning of the new product introduction, what the new demand is, what the client order patterns will be and which countries will we be shipping to. Logistics, materials, suppliers, engineering, transportation and providers can all be in one place, with total transparency working with the best data you have available. We’re truly able to use our best experts (wherever they are in the world!) and Watson as your trusted advisor.”

And what does Watson bring to this resolution room?

“Watson provides the opportunity to deliver business value and insights from all of these data insights – structured (SAP) and unstructured, data from weather patterns, news, D&B and supplier IQ. And it does this with speed and accuracy. No more are we saying ‘OK…let’s get the data and meet again tomorrow’ because Watson takes my team’s input and incorporates that into the next iteration as we go.

  1. Operations Center

Operations Center with Smart-Alerts proactively monitors and governs operations with speed and agility, predicts disruptions, and provides configurable, intuitive alerts cutting through data overload. Supply chain practitioners can prioritize actions based on instant analysis of the financial impact of impending risks and disruptions.

This capability helps reduce number of expedites, reduce inventory and be more predictive on what we need to do for clients.

Joanne’s final words of advice to her peers “You can’t afford not to be engaged with these technologies. It’s a game-changer. You need to the winning recipes!”

On 24th January 2018 3.30pm EST Procurious founder, Tania Seary, will be speaking with Joanne Wright in IBM’s webinar: How IBM Built the Cognitive Supply Chain of the Future. Register here.

The CPO’s Guide To Persuasion

What’s the number one skill required by the CPO of the future? According to award-winning Australian CPO Kevin McCafferty, you won’t get far without mastering the art of persuasion.

Broadspectrum Executive General Manager and 2017 Asia-Pacific CPO of the Year Kevin McCafferty will deliver a keynote session at the upcoming GovProcure2017 conference, running from 5th-7th December in Sydney, Australia. Procurious caught up with Kevin to ask him about top skills required by the CPO of the future. 

Kevin, you’ll be talking about procurement in 2018 and beyond at GovProcure2017. How can CPOs equip themselves to meet the coming challenges?  

“In my opinion, the number one skill for the CPO of the future is what I’d call the ‘art of persuasion’. Procurement is a profession that a lot of organisations see as a tactical solution to some of the issues that they have. Most organisations spend about 50 per cent of their revenue on 3rd-party suppliers and service providers. If your business spends that much money externally, they need to become more strategic in doing so – and that’s where the need for persuasion arises.”

Which parts of the business generally require the most persuasion from CPOs?

“A CPO’s job is firstly to persuade the organisation when to be strategic in the way they spend it, and secondly, to invest in the profession so they get the best value-for-money outcomes every time they spend money. It doesn’t matter whether they’re buying pens and pencils, or if there’s a $10 million project your organisation wants to invest in; there’s an art involved in being able to persuade your board, your executive team, and your chief executive that investing in procurement to get those outcomes is absolutely critical to the profession.”

In your view, how important is networking for procurement professionals?

“The power of your network is absolutely critical to your career. In this profession, being able to talk to your peers and understand what’s happening in their organisations will help you work through your own strategies and goals.”

Kevin McCafferty will deliver the opening keynote at GovProcure2017 in Sydney on 5th December, where he’ll focus on:

  • an overview of procurement trends for 2018 and beyond
  • the age of commercialisation and digitisation, and how it’s impacting the profession, and
  • common challenges facing procurement and how to tackle the solutions.

Click here to learn more and download an event brochure.

5 Soft Skills Procurement Pros Should Be Developing…NOW!

If you want to hold on to your procurement career  in the long term, you ought to be worrying about mastering your soft skills!Our webinar, Beat The Bots: How Being Human Will Win The Day, takes place at 1pm BST on 24th October 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here.

We got wind of the fact that IBM, arguably the world’s most robotically advanced procurement team,  is focussing on its employees’ soft skills.

As Justin Mcbryan, Learning & Development, Strategy, Communications Manager- IBM, explained,  why would IBM need a high volume of data scientists in their midst when they have Watson!?

Technological advancements will soon permit the automation of our processes; handling the sourcing and the market intelligence. In this environment, it’s the softer skills procurement professionals must master to ensure a long-term career.  That’s the real skills gap procurement should be worried about!

Ahead of next week’s webinar Beat The Bots – How Being Human Will Win The Day,  we outline the specific skills procurement pros should be mastering to prepare for the post-cognitive age, with the help of Justin and our second webinar speaker John Viner Smith, Principal-Mercer.

1. Design Thinking

There are some “incredible and transformative technologies that offer solutions to problems that were unimaginable just a few years ago ,but they’re just half of the puzzle.” begins John.

“Subject matter experts will have a role to play in framing  [these problems] in the most efficient way.”  It’s important that the solutions aren’t simply “sticking plasters but fundamental root cause fixes”.

This is a role for procurement’s best and brightest, and the skill needed to fulfil this role is Design Thinking; “the process of being at the forefront of bringing new technologies to bear on business problems.”

2. Thinking at the speed of digital!

Joh asserted that procurement must recognise that “thinking of digital solutions requires some understanding of new processes and ways of thinking.”

“Procurement people should be learning about methodologies like Google’s Design Sprint or Eric Ries’ concept of Intrapreneurship as defined in the Lean Startup that are used in other types of digital business.

“Too often procurement thinking is slow, bound in process and incredibly risk averse. Technology problem solving is experimental, iterative and views failures as key to learning. The idea of developing hypotheses, testing them, failing fast and iterating or pivoting in the course of a week, as per Google’s Sprint methods, would be alien to many Procurement people.”

Procurement has worked at a certain pace,  thus far. And it’s going to  have to get faster!

3. Active questioning and listening

This wouldn’t be a piece about soft skills without a mention of communication! We already know how important this skill is for procurement people but it’s going to be all the more valuable in a post-cognivite age.

Justin reminded us that communication is vital for everything “from presentation skills to phone etiquette and how to ask probing questions to your suppliers.”

In a post cognitive world you’re “going to become more of an owner and less of a process facilitator” asserts Justin, which is where active listening comes in.

When it comes to managing negotiations with suppliers, clients and colleagues, “We all have scripts e.g. How many widgets do you need, when do you need them by etc.”

“Every now  and then, you’ll have  been in a situation where a client has given a little bit more than you asked for. This is where the active [and critical] listening comes in.” How do you use that information to do the best job possible?

4. Negotiation

“We rely on the threat of competitive pressure to do our negotiating for us” says John.

“We source the spec and don’t always listen to challenges from Suppliers. When we’re engaging them to help solve complex problems, we will need to be more commercially empowered and highly skilled negotiators; able to get the best from our suppliers by offering the best of ourselves while optimising value.”

5. Imagination

“The future role of procurement can be solved in one phrase: problem solving” says John.

But procurement’s problem solving needs to take on a more innovative and imaginative approach.

“Not every situation is going to call for an RFX” explains Justin. “That speaks directly to the change we’re looking for [at IBM].” Too often “we see a need and our reaction from a process point is let’s go and do the RFX.”  Instead professionals “should take a deep breath and start understanding the client and exactly what they need,” and approach the problem in alternate ways.

John concedes, arguing that “running tender might be the solution (increasingly rarely!) but collaborative innovation with the suppliers we have is important.”

Procurement peoples’ jobs will largely focus on bringing innovation to the supply chain in the first place and really helping the business to understand their demand.

In short, Procurement needs to have a relationship with the organisation that is much more strategic and puts the function in a partnering and consultative role.  As Justin sums up, ‘ [at IBM] We’re still looking for the procurement experts, we’re still looking for people who can do the job. But we’re adding to the soft skills portfolio.”

Our webinar, Beat The Bots: How Being Human Will Win The Day, takes place at 1pm BST on 24th October 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

Eyes on the prize: 5 ways soft skills can help you focus on the big-ticket projects

From guest contributor Shaun Hughes, Chief Procurement Officer, Telstra.

In a complex and hyper-connected world, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to juggle every demand on your time without losing sight of important projects. The solution doesn’t lie in downloading the latest time-management app, or introducing the latest project management methodology, but in the development of five key soft skills. 

I’ve always been impressed by jugglers. Otherwise known as multi-taskers, the best jugglers are seemingly able to keep an unbelievable number of projects and tasks in the air at once. But underneath the whirl of frenetic activity, impressive as it might look, is it really effective?

Firstly, trying to juggle too many projects at once often leads to short-termism. Rather than make hard prioritisation decisions on what really matters, we often fall into the trap of focusing on the most urgent task at hand.  Meanwhile, the big-ticket projects that really make a difference are lost in the swirl of activity.  Busy-ness leaves no room for effectiveness.

You may be able to get every task done on your list, but does it really add value?  We all know what our best work looks like, but are we setting ourselves up for success?  Creating the time to think and to prioritise is essential, but how do we know that we’re working on the right things?

Soft skills remove ambiguity.

Modern procurement is about driving a change agenda.  Great organisations have great talent and great talent doesn’t always agree.

I used to think getting things done was about getting everyone to yes, now I believe it’s about getting the “NOs” to neutral and maintaining enough momentum in the “YES camp” to move things forward.

But the task of converting all those NOs to neutrals can sometimes seem overwhelming. If you don’t have existing relationships in place, you’ve simply got no idea why individuals (or entire functions) are resisting your change agenda. Confronted with so much ambiguity and complexity, it can be hard to know where to start.

What I’ve found is if you simply roll up your sleeves, start talking to people and understand their perspectives it’s amazing what you learn about what is important to them and why.  Understanding this takes a bit more time sometimes, but change is much more likely to stick.

Five soft skills that will help you win back your time

1. Make the effort to really connect – see the person, not the task. Take the time to understand those around you, what is important to them, their fears and aspirations, what motivates them.  While the degree of connection each of us want at work will vary, when we connect as people in a real and authentic way the whole human dynamic of that relationship changes.  When our focus is only on the task, it’s much harder to see the person and the impact your agenda might have on them.

2. Ask not tell – start with a question, and then keep asking questions. Even if you want to talk about your agenda, when we ask permission to do so, something changes.  We are now being invited into the conversation. The dynamic shifts from one of pushing our own agenda and position, to a pull dynamic where we are being asked to explain it.

When the conversation pauses, inquire with curiosity.  It never ceases to amaze me how different things can be in reality to how they appear on the surface.  When we simply listen with a view to finding space to talk ourselves, I wonder do we always hear what is being said to us?

When a really important idea that I just don’t want to forget hijacks my ability to listen, one thing that works for me is the simple act of writing that thought down. This seems to remove the need to keep trying to remember it, or the urgency to blurt it out, and allows me to listen. 

3. Reasonable people acting illogically – most people in business are smart, pragmatic and reasonably rational. Admittedly, we all have moments when we lapse a little, but corporate norms of behaviour tend to reinforce pragmatic rationalism.  So, when we see behaviour that doesn’t quite make sense to us, it’s often because we don’t fully understand what’s important to those around us.  What should we do?  Start back at point 1 and build a relationship.

Throughout my career I’ve taken many opportunities to do many different things in many different parts of the businesses I’ve worked in. Different roles in different industries, but always coming back to my core skill in commercial / financial management. Breadth through rotation provides a wider perspective on the world around us and I’ve certainly benefited from this. It’s amazing how much you can enjoy learning something new; the broader our own experiences, the easier it is to understand the perspectives of others. 

4. Learn to let go – for many overworked jugglers, the problem can be of our own making. If your leadership style means controlling every decision and rewriting everything your team produces, you will always have too much on your plate. Learn to recognise talent, enable it, establish a set of principles to work by and communicate these clearly. Then, simply get out of the way and let talent be talent.

You may be surprised to find that the quality of work goes up as people feel more empowered and valued.  Do any of us do our best work when we know the boss is going to get out the red pen and rewrite the whole thing?

5. Know when to call in the umpire – we have umpires in sport for a reason. Sometimes in the heat of the moment the desire to win distorts the player’s perspective of what’s really happening.  Imagine a tennis game without an umpire ….
                In            out!
               In!          Out!!
               IN!!        OUT!!! 

Nothing can stall a project quite so much as an unresolved disagreement.  So, rather than let the relationship falter, or prosecute the same issue repeatedly, be pragmatic about when to find an umpire.  Make your respective cases, accept the decision and move on.

Is there anything wrong with acknowledging where you are and saying “Hey, we’re not going to agree on this, how about we get a third party to be an umpire?

Good communication, transparency and investment in relationships may seem like a counter-intuitive way to lesson your workload, but your soft skills are the most effective method you have of bringing those multiple projects under control, focusing on the big-ticket items that will really move your business and your career in the right direction, and driving lasting sustainable change.

Telstra is a leading Australian telecommunications and technology company, offering a full range of communications services and competing in all telecommunications markets. Hear more thought-leadership from Telstra at Procurious Big Ideas Summit Melbourne on Monday 30th October. 

Five Surprises From ISM’s 2017 Salary Survey

A double-digit increase in salaries over four years, a continuing gender pay gap and similarity in salaries across generations are just some of the insights to be found in ISM’s foremost annual research initiative, the Salary Survey.

To create the ISM Annual Salary Survey report, for the past 12 years Institute for Supply Management has asked its members thoughtful questions regarding their salaries, benefits, current employment and what they’re looking for in future employers. This report’s purpose is simple: to empower the professionals we serve, through the provision of insightful, actionable information. We believe this information is so important for individual professionals (and therefore the profession) that we take the time to carefully compile thousands of responses from around the United States. The information gathered is then diligently reported back, every May, in an article in Inside Supply Management and in a detailed report available on ISM’s website.

  1. Strong momentum for salaries

This year, the Salary Survey found that in 2016, salaries continued to grow strongly compared to the previous year. This may be due in part to a strong job market, continuing the forward momentum from 2015 into 2016 with the average compensation for responding professionals being $115,440, an increase of 5% compared to 2015 ($109,961). In 2015, there was a 7.9% increase. In the longer term, salaries for procurement and supply management practitioners increased 14% from 2013 to 2016, as released in the 2014 to 2017 ISM® Salary Survey reports.

  1. Widening gender gap

More saliently, the average salary reported by procurement/supply managers was $109,401 in 2016 — and when broken down by gender, male managers reported earning an average salary of $114,207 while female managers reported an average salary of $97,948. While overall salaries have increased over the years, in 2016 men earned an average of 31% more than women, a substantial increase from the 24% reported in 2015.

  1. Professional certifications pay off

The survey further found that those who invested in professional certifications made more in 2016 than practitioners who did not. Respondents who have a professional certification reported that their average salary was $121,523, whereas those who indicated they did not reported an average salary of $108,141.

  1. Generational differences and similarities

Professionals can also start to see year-over-year trends in the detailed report and use information from the inaugural Generational Report, which was released this month. The Generational Report looks at information collected from Salary Survey reports over the years, and follows baby boomers, Generation Xers, and millennials as they move through the profession, reporting salary and other changes. For example, while millennials are a distant third on the generational salary scale (an average of $93,555), Generation Xers aren’t far behind baby boomers ($121,512 and $122,880, respectively).

  1. Considering changing careers?

The Salary Survey report has a specific section dedicated to individuals who are thinking of changing careers or are considering getting a professional certification. In 2016, nearly half of respondents indicated that they transferred into procurement/supply management from another career or vocation, and reported that the change resulted in an average salary of $118,140, 2.3% more than the overall average reported for 2016. Director, manager and experienced practitioner respondents from another field earned 4.7% more, 6.6% more and 7.5% more, respectively, compared to peers who have always worked in supply management.

In just this article’s small recap of Salary Survey findings, practitioners can easily start to identify where they fall among their peers. Information is collected on salary not only by position, but years of experience, education, geographic region, industry and many other categories.

Information like this gives power and perspective to the professionals consuming it, and helps them map out their future. Confidence and knowledge work symbiotically, and in this case, it’s easy to have confidence when possessing facts to back your decisions — whether changing positions and/or careers, negotiating for increased benefits or motivating a professional to pursue a certification. The information ISM provides helps empower procurement and supply management professionals. It’s what we do best.

The ISM’s Twelfth Annual Salary Survey detailed report can be accessed here or you can access Inside Supply Management magazine here.

8 Reasons You Won’t Want To Miss Basware Connect

Basware Connect is just around the corner, and is shaping up to be one of the highlights of the 2017 procurement event calendar. Procurious has the inside word from our knowledge partner Basware on the top eight things to watch out for on Wednesday 18th October.

  1. The very latest on Industry 4.0

Whether you’re from the procurement or finance function, it’s almost certain your role is already being impacted by the many facets of the 4th industrial revolution. From ‘business as usual’ technologies such as PDF e-invoicing to large-scale futuristic disruptors including blockchain, robotics, machine learning and predictive analytics, it’s up to you to keep up with the latest news on how the revolution is progressing and Basware Connect will help you to do just that!

  1. Engage with a blockchain guru

Blockchain has well and truly arrived, and organisations are scrambling to understand how they can incorporate this technology to reap the security benefits, keep ahead of the competition and avoid getting left behind. It’s a hot topic: Procurious’ own articles on Blockchain have attracted a lot of attention, demonstrating that procurement professionals are increasingly eager to get to grips with what this technology can actually deliver. Simon Taylor, one of the most recognised thought leaders on Blockchain and DLT, previously established Barclays bank as one of the leaders in blockchain thought and action. He is set to deliver one of the most anticipated sessions at the conference.

  1. Learn how to fail forward

We’ve come a long way from the days when failure was seen as career damaging and shameful. Today, businesses are embracing failure as an exciting, enlightening step towards success. Black Box Thinking author and Times Columnist Matthew Syed will demonstrate how to redefine failure in your organisation, taking attendees through his thought-provoking approach to high performance in the context of ever-increasing complexity and rate of change.

  1. Get to grip with megatrends

Don’t miss out on seeing Eric Wilson, Basware’s VP Purchase to Pay, speak about megatrends. We’re biased when it comes to Eric because he’s already proven himself to be a thought-leader in his profession via his excellent contributions to the Procurious Blog. Check them out:

  1. Will my job be lost to automation?

Automation has been impacting human roles for at least two centuries. In the US, over 50 per cent of the population was employed in agriculture in 1900, down to around 2 per cent today. Chair, Non-Executive Director and Business Advisor Natalie Ceeney will examine the coming impacts of AI and machine learning. Natalie has operated at Board level for fifteen years, holding three significant CEO roles. She is currently Chair of Innovate Finance, the members’ body for FinTech, and a non-executive Director on the Board of Countrywide PLC. She’ll be providing attendees with some examples of why some of the biggest brands have failed to stay ahead while others succeed.

  1. Get your questions ready for Basware’s executive team

Eric Wilson isn’t the only senior exec that Basware is putting on the stage. A line-up of Basware’s thought-leaders and top consultants will be presenting, and (importantly) will be available to answer your questions about the platform itself. Highlights include Ilari Nurmi, Basware’s SVP Purchase to Pay, who’ll be talking about “what’s hot right now” in the company’s solution roadmap, Andrew Dos Santos, Principal Business Consultant will be on hand to offer advice and Senior Product Manager Theresa Lacey will be demonstrating new functionalities and future plans.

  1. Immersive workshops

Nobody wants to sit back and listen for an entire day, which is why Basware has included some immersive workshops for audience members to roll up their sleeves and participate in. A highlight is the “demo area”, where attendees can see demos from across Basware’s product portfolio and speak to their experts. You can get hands-on with Marketplace, and even go as far as ordering a pair of wireless headphones to take home with you! Now that’s a valuable takeaway to bring back to the office.

  1. Network, network, network

Sessions aside, this event is an important opportunity to grow your professional network. Take along plenty of business cards, seize every opportunity to meet new people, and follow up by connecting with them on Procurious. To get the most out of the day, be sure to introduce yourself to the speakers post-event. Basware will provide the free beer, wine and pizza, you take the opportunity to network, network, network!

Basware Connect will take place on 18th October 2017 at CodeNode, 10 South Pl, London. Learn more about Basware Connect and register for free today.

Don’t let your career break become a career breakdown

We know the story; a promising career comes screeching to a halt! But how do you ensure your career break is the start of something brilliant and not the car-crash it, at first, appears to be!

The first part of my professional story sounds exactly like scores of other professional women’s: college, work, apartment, graduate school (nights), wedding, better job, travel, better job, and… family!

Suddenly, the career I had been working so hard to build came to a screeching halt. I went from being the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris to… well I didn’t know what. My newborn daughter was completely unimpressed with my title, my two graduate degrees, or my extensive knowledge of spend management principles. I honestly didn’t know if and when I would return to the workplace, in procurement or otherwise.

Then I received a completely unexpected, unsolicited invitation to join Buyers Meeting Point. Anna was 18 months old and her little brother Timmy was expected in a few months’ time. Could I juggle two small children and a fledgling business? I labored over the decision, but ultimately came to the realisation that I might never get such as opportunity again.

I am not a natural entrepreneur!

Here’s the funny thing about that: I am not a natural entrepreneur. I know a lot of entrepreneurs. They are a very unique and amazing group of people. They have vision. They have passion. They act with confidence even when they don’t particularly feel it. They have a tolerance for risk that I can hardly comprehend. In fact, I’m such a NON-trepreneur that when I was getting my MBA at Babson College (home of U.S. News and World Report’s #1 graduate program for entrepreneurship in the nation for over 2 decades) I did not take one class in entrepreneurship. Why? I was never going to own a business… doh!

I found myself at home with 2 children under the age of 2 and no schooling in entrepreneurship building a business. As I look back 8 years later, part of me is still shocked that I made it work. I think the key was my goal: to never, ever, ever, (ever!) return to a cube again.

My kids are now 9 (Anna), 7 (Timmy), and 4 (Joseph). They are healthy, active children, and since the kitchen table is also my executive conference room, my business life and personal life often collide. If your career break becomes a brand new beginning, here is my advice for balancing family and work from the joyful chaos of a home office.

Partner with your calendar and task list

When you have a lot of disconnected moving pieces in your head, your best bet is to communicate with yourself in writing. I am disciplined about keeping my calendar(s) up to date so that podcast interviews and new prospect calls do not collide with horseback riding lessons or meeting the school bus.

The same goes for managing tasks. I am not kidding about this piece of advice: if you do not write it down, it will not happen. Period. There are daily tasks, weekly and monthly recurring writing schedules, and one-off writing contracts. They all have to be kept in priority order so that deadlines are not missed. I find it helpful to work with a hard copy to do list each day, putting work tasks alongside family ones. That way, if the vet calls while I am finishing an article, or I see a request come in from a colleague to share something on social media while I am making lunches for the next day, I can jot it down without breaking off to find my phone.

Build a network

Something I know I share with procurement colleagues working in traditional positions is that feeling of dread that arises when someone at a party asks what I do for a living. “Procurement? What on earth is that?” Sigh.

It is even more important that non-traditional professionals have a strong network of peers to lean on. The major downside of working from home is that you can feel isolated without ever being alone (not even for a second). Using Skype and social media sites to build connections and invest in peer relationships is a must. Figure out who is really a ‘friend’ and who just wants another number in their connection statistics. Make sure you reach out to people and engage with their topics on a regular basis – not just when you need something.

And… most importantly, laugh!

For years, I have scheduled calls around nap schedules, archery lessons, half day preschool, and parent teacher conferences. In the summer (when book manuscripts are inevitably due for some reason…) I keep Italian ice in the freezer because it takes my kids so long to eat it. One of my final book manuscripts received a little additional editing from Anna – she drew a shark on page 137. I have presented webinars with Joseph driving Matchbox cars at my feet and once I tripped over a Minion toy during a podcast interview. Luckily, the sound was not picked up on my microphone!

When work and home life share the same headquarters, your best case scenario is two-way immersion. I like to think that I show my children that the only thing that can hold you back in life is the limitation of your own imagination. They have been at my side (cheering!) as I brought each of my final book manuscripts to FedEx to overnight to the publisher. My husband (a hardware engineer) has been called upon more than once to work ‘IT magic’ for some accessibility or conversion effort. I get to continue working in an industry I love without being tied to a desk.

With today’s connectivity and open-mindedness about contract labor, there are very few things that you can’t turn into a career from home. If you have the determination and discipline, there is no reason that you, too, can’t say good-bye to a ‘cube dwelling’ life forever.

Keep It Cool: Four Tips For Top Negotiators

If there’s no exchange, there is no negotiation. Great negotiators know that a willingness to compromise is often the only way to avoid a stalemate.

Negotiation is increasingly prevalent in our daily lives and is a necessary part of a wide range of professions. Given the nature of the globalized and fast-paced world in which we live, negotiating has become ubiquitous in every corporate role.

Due to the step-up in challenging objectives within organizations that wish to remain competitive, fast and sound decision-making, as well as conflict resolution through negotiation, have become more important than ever.

Tips for top negotiators

Do your homework

In order to ensure a successful agreement, the negotiator must possess in-depth knowledge of whatever is being negotiated. Moreover, they must study and understand the nature of the supplier (or client) they’re negotiating with, and have a firm grasp of key dates, financial targets and any negotiation restrictions.

The other person isn’t your enemy

Importantly, you should not see the person across the table as an adversary, but as another “player” who’s trying to solve a similar problem. A negotiation is not a competition where one wins and the other loses. Always seek a beneficial agreement where both parts secure a satisfactory degree of success, particularly if you want to have a healthy, ongoing relationship. Remember, negotiating is basically exchanging. If there’s no exchange, there is no negotiation. When one party makes a concession, the other will be expected to do so as well.

Be flexible

Flexibility is paramount in order to solve eventual stalemates, and it’s important that the professional in charge of negotiations knows for sure what they’re willing to give up. A refusal to shift can lead to a failure to reach an agreement, which won’t solve anything.

Be confident

If you can demonstrate that you’re 100% confident and knowledgeable about all aspects of the negotiation, the other party will tend to be more careful while making observations, raising objections and even proposing financial targets. Misunderstandings and ambiguities can negatively affect their credibility in the negotiation.

Ask questions

Think about what you need to ask the other party, how to ask for this information, and how you’re going to apply this information to benefit your cause. 

Four ways to gain an advantage in negotiations

  1. Always take the initiative

Commonly, the one who controls negotiations from the beginning tends to control the outcome. If you let the other party begin the negotiation, you may end up relinquishing control without realizing you’re doing so.

  1.  Formalise negotiations in writing

Many negotiators make the mistake of discussing the terms and conditions of an agreement or contract without committing themselves to a written document. Make sure you want away with a formal written agreement, recording all terms in detail.

  1. Keep it cool

Regardless of stress, agendas, egos, emotions or priorities, it’s important to remain calm and stay in control. Great negotiators know how to keep a level head and find solutions to sudden obstacles.

  1. Stay on your turf

Use the “home team advantage” by scheduling strategic negotiations at your company. Being on your own turf can give you an advantage as people are generally more at ease on familiar ground.

At the end of a successful negotiation, all participants should have a feeling of accomplishment (or at least that they’ve managed to break even). This will only occur if the negotiation has taken place in a transactional manner, that is, with compromises and achievements.

Three Risks Every Procurement Organisation Needs To Manage

Experts around the globe tracked the terrifying advance of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma earlier this month, plotting and estimating the potential damage to life and property as the monster storms approached the U.S. mainland. Can the deployment of cognitive AI lead to more accurate predictions and better risk management?

IBM’s global supply chain has been acknowledged as one of the world’s most complex. With scale and complexity come increased risk, but the Global Procurement team has it covered with its award-winning risk program augmented by the remarkable abilities of the Watson Cognitive Platform.

Even Watson, however, appreciates some assistance when it comes to risk mitigation, which is why IBM has partnered with an e2e cloud risk service provider named Resilinc. With this new capability, the team provides a composite risk score for every one of IBM’s suppliers based on six risk dimensions – financial, location, recovery, operations, resiliency and sourcing.

The three overall risks that the team has built its mitigation strategy around are:

  1. Loss of supply continuity

The fallout from a supply continuity problem are well-known – missed deliveries, plummeting customer satisfaction and lost revenue. IBM’s risk program is therefore designed to protect supply continuity by monitoring and providing real-time alerts on man-made risks, natural forces or climatic threats, along with financial and economic risks.

Nothing illustrates the disruptive potential of a risk event so much as the recent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. To demonstrate how Watson can augment risk-management ahead of hurricanes and other crises, the team at IBM shared with Procurious the ways in which Watson’s cognitive capabilities were used to track and provide unique insight into Hurricane Patricia back in 2015 – an approach which contributed to IBM picking up a major award for Risk Management at Procurement Leader’s World Procurement Awards.

Using feeds including The Weather Company and the US Navy Weather database, Watson tracked the storm’s velocity, size, category, intensity and simulated scenarios of possible storm tracks. Interestingly, Watson also engaged in “social listening”, picking up local sentiment by tracking Twitter and other social media platforms. At the same time, Watson alerted IBM about every 1st and 2nd-tier supplier in the storms’ possible tracks.

Once the Risk and Supply Assurance teams had the earliest possible indication of Patricia’s potential impact, mitigation plans (such as closing at-risk plants) were readied for deployment. 

  1. Reputational damage

 IBM’s Conflict Minerals Team must be very well-travelled. From Dubai to China, Indonesia to Vietnam, they’ve conducted on-site visits with smelters and refiners to an impressive 10 levels deep in the supply chain, working with them to certify that they are using minerals controlled by responsible sources.

Every supplier must sign the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) code of conduct, which IBM has adapted as the single code across its supply base. It establishes standards regarding safe working conditions, fair and dignified treatment of workers, and environmentally responsible and ethical operations. To this end, IBM has conducted +2000 3rd-party audits across 34 countries. 

  1. Regulatory noncompliance 

Although noncompliance isn’t as exciting as a hurricane tearing through suppliers’ facilities, the impacts can still be dramatic. Noncompliance can result in fines and penalties, product impoundment, revenue reversal and adverse press.

IBM’s Global Procurement Environmental Compliance team ensures all products comply with environmental directives, laws, regulations and standards; made incredibly complex by the global nature of the organisation. The team tracks changes in regulations, such as eco-design or restrictions of certain chemicals, then determines if the change will affect IBM products and plots a path to compliance accordingly.

Risk and Reward

IBM Global Procurement’s efforts in risk mitigation were recently celebrated at Procurement Leader’s World Procurement Awards, where the team won a major award for Risk Mitigation, and a second award for its transformation program.

Procurious is working with our Knowledge Partner, IBM, over the next 12 months to promote cognitive procurement to our global community. To learn more about IBM Global Procurement, click here.