Category Archives: Generation Procurement

Chris Lynch: the BIGGER the idea, the greater resistance you will face

lion-and-hd-275814

Lions are known for their courage – and courage is something that Rio Tinto’s CPO, Chris Lynch wants to share with Procurians today.

People whose big ideas become reality are people who have the courage of their convictions.

It’s important to persist to see your ideas through.

It might take years for your idea to come to fruition, and so in the meantime, you have to keep to your plan and keep delivering.

There’s nothing more refreshing than a fresh perspective to old problems.

I really believe that younger professionals have an enormous contribution to make, so you shouldn’t be afraid to share your thoughts. In a way, we’re relying on you to do so!

And don’t take my word for it.

Steve Jobs said it best: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

If you have a great idea, supported by good research, and a vision of how you want to get to the next stage – you are almost there.

In procurement the ideas and opportunities will be all around us. Chances are, with colleagues and friends and robust reviews, the idea can evolve to a plan.

I’ve mentioned before that at Rio Tinto we operate in 40 countries and in procurement we have $13.4 billion contestable spend and relationships with 62,000 suppliers.

That is more suppliers than we have employees.

The talent pool of ideas from employees, contractors and suppliers is immense.

So clearly there is plenty of scope for reinvention, improvement and BIG IDEAS and relationships to share.

It you have a plan all you need is the courage to execute it.

The process of securing this support is tough, but not nearly as tough as getting the whole organisation to implement your idea…a blog for another time.

What you will need is tenacity.

Sometimes the better and bigger the idea, the greater resistance you will face.

That’s because your idea is really breaking the current perspective and challenging people to look at the world in a totally different way.

This was my experience when I became the CEO at toll road operator, Transurban, and I had to convince the market and the board of a new direction, one less reliant on high gearing.

I took my plan to the board, I had a convincing argument, and what gave me confidence was the plan was backed by data, based on strong financial reasons to move forward.

Courage is a whole lot easier when you have done your homework.

Often people at the top of organisations are very time poor, and therefore big ideas with courage resonate.

They will either see the potential and passion for your idea or they won’t.

If they do, you have opened the door to new opportunities for you and your company.

If they don’t, they will still be engaged by the fact that you bring forward new ideas, new ways of thinking, new possibilities.

Today we have so many opportunities to reinvent our businesses from the inside.

To borrow new ideas, turn them to our advantage.

To borrow a sporting analogy, the football match is not won or lost until the final siren.

It is lost when the courage is gone to follow a game plan, to take measured risks, or to continuing trying.

Chris was speaking at Procurious’ inaugural Big Ideas Summit as one of 40 most influential commercial thought-leaders. Learn more about the Big Ideas Summit and how to access exclusive content from the event.

CIPS Cath Hill’s Big Ideas on bringing professional procurement into the future

CIPS Cath Hill at the Big Ideas Summit

Ahead of the Procurious Big Ideas Summit that happened on 30 April, we quizzed guest Cath Hill, Group Marketing and Membership Director – CIPS, on the future of the profession and how the Institute is using social media to capture the young procurement professionals of today.

Procurious asks: Is the membership different now, than say 2, 5, 10 years prior?

For instance – we talked a lot about ‘Intrapreneurs’ at our Big Ideas Summit, would you say those seeking membership are bringing more and varied skills to the table?

Cath: CIPS membership has seen rapid growth in the past 10 years and we have a global community of 114,000 in 150 countries. The profile of our members have also changed as we are now seeing more women as well as young people in senior roles.

The reach and scope of procurement activity is ever increasing as procurement get more involved with business strategy, complex acquisitions, enterprise development, supply chain financing.

Purchasing and supply management (P&SM) are being measured beyond savings and more forward thinking organisations are measuring procurement success on issues such as:

  • Increased bid wins, and more profitable wins
  • Social value – job creation and enterprise development
  • Winning business from better business practices – being a customer of choice
  • Intelligent spending – moving away from a spend it or lose it budgeting culture (particularly in the public sector)
  • Managing enterprise wide risks, even the ones that no one takes sole responsibility for – e.g cyber security
  • P&SM need wider skills sets.  They must sell themselves more to the business and become story tellers.
  • New business models require new supplier relationships – the Uber model where little sits on the balance sheet.

Procurement and Supply professionals not only need to raise their skill sets for new challenges ahead, but they also need to sell themselves more to the business and become storytellers. They need to be more than just procurement.  They need to understand the language of their stakeholders and network more within their business. What procurement teams really need is to create a brand and build a marketing campaign to sell their wide ranging services into the business. I have worked in marketing my entire career and the mere talk of process and policies makes me switch off.  I’d like to see procurement teams talking my language and demonstrating creative thinking when they engage with me.  What will other parts of the business want from procurement?

Procurious: Why in 2015 is it more important than ever to have CIPS membership?

Cath: Recent supply chain crisis demonstrate that professional procurement is more important than ever – Rana Plaza, food scandal.

MCIPS is the globally recognised standard for procurement and supply.  It’s your professional passport to work anywhere in the world and more and more employers are insisting that their teams are MCIPS. MCIPS procurement professionals can expect to earn more than their peers without membership, which clearly demonstrates its value.

We are working hard to encourage organisations to self regulate and insist that their teams are professionally qualified to safeguard themselves against supply chains risk such as fraud, corruption and scandals such as horsemeat or Rana Plaza.

CIPS members all sign up to our professional code of conduct and have access to our two hour elearning on ethical procurement.  Those that complete the learning annually receive the CIPS Ethical Mark.  Employers can search our website to check whether candidates are members of CIPS as well as whether they are up-to-date with their ethical training. 

Procurious: What is CIPS doing to ensure it continues to be relevant in the face of other competing institutes?

Cath: At CIPS we are constantly driving standards in procurement and supply.  The business environment and supply chain risks change at such a pace that no one can afford to stand still and think that they are relevant.   

This year we completed a piece of work where we mapped out the necessary skills and competencies required for the modern procurement team.  The CIPS Global Standard is available for anyone to download and use free of charge.  This important piece of work allows procurement leaders to determine what skills are required in their teams and the on-line tool helps them to write job descriptions and create organisational charts. No other organisation has taken this global view in one document and given it away for the good of the profession.  This is the core of our existence – to support the procurement community.  

We also received permission from Her Majesty The Queen to award Chartered Status to our members.  This membership status is recognition for those members that need to keep up-to-date with current thinking.  A professional with Chartered Status will lead procurement teams and have influence at board level as well as across supply markets by delivering innovative sourcing solutions. A higher-level status than MCIPS, those with Chartered Status will be qualified up to postgraduate degree level and be able to understand institutional risk and contingency approaches in all parts of the organisation, how the supply chain affects innovation, and risk sharing strategies throughout the business. Professionals who hold this status will be the most sought-after talent and those who will take the profession beyond its current boundaries.

Procurious: With more and more focus being placed on social responsibility, it is of the upmost importance that the profession promotes a healthy image. Should we (and can we) be doing more?

Cath: Procurement teams need to be measured on the impact of their business practices on winning business and getting the best suppliers in place, demonstrating that they are the customer of choice.

We have developed an ethics e-learning and test package for our members to complete and be awarded the ethical mark.  This is fundamental to demonstrating that our profession acts responsibly. 

The CIPS Sustainability Index helps organisations to have an overview of who responsibly their supply chains are acting.

Procurious: As a profession procurement is only now waking-up to the use of social media. What is CIPS doing in this field? (Using it to attract and retain, promote the Institute further etc.)

Cath has provided Procurious with a list of things that CIPS has done and what it’s using social media for. These include:

  • Signed up and active for a number of years on main networks
  • Response on items of topics interest, proactive activity on campaigns, partnerships support
  • Using content from networks to inform our own articles and knowledge documents to be the voice of our profession and members
  • Attracting new members by operating mostly open networks
  • Responding quickly to issues of the day and proactive campaigns e.g Chartered Status
  • Positioning Institute as a thought leader in the profession and so retaining members
  • Developing a community of anyone interested in procurement, not just members
  • Offering free resources and  other resources specifically for members
  • Use of networks to link peers in the profession
  • Promoting products and services, links to sales
  • Using networks to link with media and bloggers
  • Using networks to understand issues in the profession, community and business and answer questions in a timely and truthful, informal way
  • Offering real-time service to our customers

Procurious: How can social media be used to reimagine and refresh Brand Procurement?

Cath says that it can be used in the following ways:

  • For consistent two-way engagement with stakeholders
  • Positioning as a thought leader in the business, global economy and governments around the world
  • A useful sources of insight and topical developments in the profession and business and public sector
  • As an agile responder to real issues faced by professionals and senior business people as well a those starting out
  • To highlight a relevant profession, useful in the world, for public good as well as business
  • It’s an attractive option for young people to join the profession as it’s viewed as a mature and elite profession compared to others
  • A human ‘face’ tackling real issues, informal style
  • It can act as a consistent commentator on important issues such as fraud and slavery
  • To promote more channels to market services
  • To amplify social channels used to bring commentary and insights into the profession
  • For choosing channels carefully as managing these networks will be all you’ll have time for
  • To show procurement as a community to solve collective problems

Procurious: And finally – look forward to 2030, what’s your BIG IDEA for the profession?

Procurement will have to get a handle on big data to support their organisations and add value.

Understanding their economic environment and its impact – ie potential Eurozone triple dip.

Understanding their demanding customers – new market opportunities with new tastes, understand what these customers want and build customisable supply chain to cater for their differing needs.

Understanding their role in new business models – high tech, Uber style organisations where very little sits on the balance sheet, but network relationships are key.

And understanding the ever changing regulation and legislation demands, as well as culturally expected business models – Ethics and compliance will become more and more important to business and their customers will watch how businesses operate through the eye of the media.

Cath (and a host of other influencers) appeared at the Big Ideas Summit on 30 April.

Why Procurement Should Flex Its Muscle

Tania Seary

Tania Seary is the founder of Procurious – she is talking today at the Big Ideas Summit, the world’s first digitally-led procurement event. Join the Big Ideas Group to hear 40 of the most influential thought-leaders air their ‘Big Ideas’ on cost, risk, technology and people management.

Late last year, I was fascinated to see images taken from a low-flying aircraft in the far western Brazilian state of Acre (AH-cray), the images depict frightened tribal warriors brandishing spears and arrows as they peer up from palm-thatched huts in the middle of the jungle.

Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency, FUNAI, has confirmed the presence of 27 indigenous groups living in extreme isolation in Brazil’s vast Amazon region, making it the home of the largest number of uncontacted tribes in the world.

The exact meaning of “uncontacted” is a matter of debate, but experts agree that such communities have extremely limited contact with the outside world and that they survive in nearly complete isolation from the global economy.

Sometimes I worry that large portions of the procurement profession are “uncontacted”.

That is, working in isolation, unaware that there is a whole universe of knowledge available, to help them do their jobs better and learn.

Today we are faced with complex supply chain challenges. In fact, it is hard to think about an area of business that modern procurement doesn’t touch – employment law, climate change, human rights…and now social media.

Social media is at the epicentre of a storm created by the exploding digital landscape and the rise of ecommerce, which is causing many industries to pivot.

We are witnesses to a “social” force that is disrupting and enabling just about every type of business on the planet – recruitment, retail, banking, communications and entertainment… and we are now finding out what it means for supply chain.

As the complexity of our supply chains have increased – so too have the number of issues we need to deal with.

Most of these issues – child labour, unsafe work practices, exploitation and neglect for the environment, copyright – are too big for any one person – or even any one company – to solve alone.

We need to overcome our silo-thinking and competitive mindset and start focusing on what we can achieve for mutual benefit.

Harvard Professor Linda Hill says it’s a mistake to think that creativity is a solo pursuit (or perhaps more so, that innovations are usually a flash of individual genius).

When many of us think about innovation, though, we think about an Einstein having an ‘Aha!’ moment. But we all know that’s a myth.

She says, “Innovation is not about solo genius, it’s about collective genius”.

Pixar is used as an example of ‘innovation’ in the movie space.   But let’s think for a minute about what it takes to make a Pixar movie: No solo genius, no flash of inspiration produces one of those movies. On the contrary, it takes about 250 people four to five years, to make one of those movies.

To come up with the best ideas we need many, diverse perspectives. By involving more views, life and career experiences, demographics, cultures etc… we increase the pool of talent and therefore ideas that are working to solve problems.

Robin Chase (co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, an innovative car sharing service) has some great thoughts on the benefits of building community resilience or community reflex.

She believes – the more community resilience we can build into things, the better.

She believes – we need to exercise our community muscle.

So when bad things happen, or when we’re looking for solutions to big problems, we turn first towards thinking that we’re going to solve it in a community way.

So… let’s just say there is a typhoon in your South East Asian supply chain, you don’t have luxury of days/weeks to travel there, talk to people and figure things out.

Why not go straight to your procurement community on Procurious and alert them for help?

You will be amazed how the community responds with alternate suppliers, solutions and on the ground contacts.

If we start, and maintain, this level of support, it will become an instant reaction – a community reflex – and if we keep repeating that action, then we will build community muscle. How powerful would that be?

It is very exciting to think of what the global procurement community could achieve if it started to flex its muscle… literally!

We need to achieve positive interdependence where every person in the profession perceives that they are linked with each other in such a way that one cannot succeed unless everyone succeeds.

We need to realise that each person’s efforts benefit not only him – or herself, but all other group members as well.

So, rather than being isolated, we could connect with other professionals and work together to use our collective commercial power to take procurement to “the next level” at the minimum, or to do something great for the world at the maximum.

Imagine if we could all work together for the collective good? But a call to action for the procurement profession…

Given all the benefits of collaboration that I have outlined here today, I think the procurement profession should take on the open source programmers’ mantra… or code of conduct if you like.

We need professionals who will be:

Egoless – The only way we can improve is to be open to feedback and give honest, non-judgemental feedback to others.

Team players – Share information that everyone can benefit from. We need to give back to the profession as it gives to you.

Learners – What’s relevant today didn’t even exist 5 years ago. We have to constantly learn new things.

T-shaped – It’s OK to specialise in one narrow field, but we need to have a general understanding of a broader range of business issues.

Relentlessly resourceful – You don’t have to be able to solve every problem yourself, but you should know where to go to find the answer.

Once we start to flex our muscle as a global community, the opportunities for procurement to make a difference are boundless. What is your BIG IDEA for our first collaboration project?

How can we make progress through the jungle of procurement?

Big Ideas panel session

In the first of our ‘Big Ideas’ panel discussions Sigi Osagie, Helen MacKenzie, Andrew MacAskill and Sarah Trota took to the stage to provide their perspectives on authentic leadership, and the challenges of trekking through the procurement jungle.

The panel are asked: What is the role of the leader in reengaging the humanity?

Helen starts things off by offering a personal story taken from her experience of working as Head of Exchequer Services in local (Scottish) government.

We’ve been on a significant journey of change in the way we do procurement. To have a vision of where you’re going, and to get the passion into the vision.

Helen likens it to adventuring through a jungle, machete in hand, clearing the way for the team in tow. There are always blockers in business, so you must find a way for your team to make things happen.

It’s also important to act as the cheerleader – she gives the great example of winning awards, and the rallying effect this has on the team. Recognition shining through.

Andrew says that it’s always about setting the belief. When you meet C-Suite people from other organisations they are more excited about the potential.

Sarah reckons it’s more of a brand challenge. How is this achieved? By working collaboratively and changing perceptions (for instance, HR is notorious for having a bad image).

Jules: There’s a belief in the IT industry that they are under-valued.

So why is it so hard to get collaboration across the board?

According to Sigi, the one industry that never has this victimhood mindset is Finance. Dollars is the value of business – even if you’re in the charity or public sector we still measure in dollars.

This opinion proves controversial: should Finance be the poster-child, and is it not the one business function that’s first to fail? (Indeed it is usually the first function to be held accountable).

Sigi says procurement has always faced an uphill struggle. There’s legacy challenges. However it has come a long way – but progress tends to be seen first in large businesses.

In a parting statement Sigi ends on a philosophical note, claiming we’re not here to do procurement, we’re here to do business.

Sarah Trota`s Big Ideas on Bringing Your Whole Self to Work

sarah-trota at Big Ideas Summit

Sarah has over 20 years experience in the commercial sector, latterly as Employee Relations Manager for Sainsbury’s. She then joined the Board at a large not for profit Housing Group, where she spent seven successful years, enjoying broadening her areas of responsibility. Today she is sharing her insights on ‘Bringing your whole self to work’ at the Big Ideas Summit. Find out more about the Summit and gain access to exclusive videos, interviews, articles, discussions and more.

Procurious asks: Sarah, you’ve been the employee relations manager at Sainsbury’s, the HR director at Waterstones and have held a board position with the NGO Circle Homes, it’s an impressive CV, tell us a little bit about what you’re working on now.

Sarah: I have set up my own offering, sarahtrotaalchemy, which offers organisation level consultancy, executive coaching and leadership intervention. My experience enables me to quickly spot the ‘word from the trees’ which enables acceleration of positive outcomes. I have a unique approach which is commercially driven, with people as the focus of positive outcomes.

Procurious: At the Big Ideas Summit you’ll be part of a panel discussing ‘bringing your whole self to work’. Do you feel like some businesses have created a organisational culture where people are not able to be themselves at work?

Sarah: For sure. Culture is simply the collective ‘way we do things around here’. Organisations need to stay tuned in (through employee surveys and discussion) on the reality of how things are. It’s a real challenge for senior leaders, who in their very senior roles can become isolated to ‘how it really is’, and often can be surrounded by leaders who maintain the status quo. Over time this can become quite damaging when culture becomes institutionalised.

Procurious: One of the things we’ve spoken about a lot at Procurious is the need for procurement professionals to develop their own personal brand. Have you got any insights around this you’d like to share with us?

Sarah: Brand is important. Brand is the external (and internal) perception of you, your organisation and your profession. Perception is a vehicle for ‘setting your stall out’ and as we now know authenticity is really important, commercially and to drive employee engagement. Shifting perception (Brand) is the work to be done, and needs to start with a reality check of measurement. The measurement can then helpfully target and prioritise what needs doing, and also help to keep track of progress.

Procurious: You won the the HR Director of the Year at the Personnel Today awards for you role at Circle Housing. We read that one of the main projects you oversaw in your time there delivered more that 1.5 million pounds in savings through HR efficiency improvements. Can you tell us a little about that project?

Sarah: I was really fortunate last year to be a judge for the annual awards for the UK overall HR Director of the year, and the finalists had delivered some really significant outcomes across different sectors. However, most organisations are commercially driven (even in not for profit organisations that measure SROI) and HR Directors are part of an executive team that are jointly responsible for delivering commercial success. I think the award that I won, recognised the commercial benefit that had been delivered from the transformation outcomes, which in the social housing sector were leading edge at that time. The 1.5m you mention was a smaller HR project that involved a complete overhaul of the recruitment process and shifting some mandatory training to an e-learning platform.

Procurious: We’re reading a lot about more flexibility in the workplace. People are working from home more and we’re starting to see firms implement innovative HR policies like unlimited leave programs. Are these sorts of changes something that you think will become business as usual in the HR space?

Sarah: I think that as human beings we broadly do what we think is right, and what will deliver positive outcomes. Engaged people deliver successful outcomes, and organisations need to measure levels of engagement and critically, identify the levers for engagement. Most organisations have big challenges and identify what they believe will deliver positive outcomes. People are key to that agenda, and in order to tap innovation and engage the whole workforce, then different ways of working will emerge and deliver successful outcomes. The successful outcomes will then deliver change in working practices. 

Andrew MacAskill`s Big Ideas on Dinosaurs In The Boardroom

Dinosaurs in the boardroom

Andrew MacAskill was once Managing Director at The Source, a sister company to Procurious and The Faculty. Andrew built the organisation from scratch into a leading procurement and supply chain industry search practice. A move to London saw him take the helm at Executives Online, the aim? To Transform Executive Recruitment.

Andrew will be attending the Big Ideas Summit on 30 April, to hear his Big Ideas on attracting and retaining talent join the Group!

Procurious asks: We particularly liked your post [on Procurious] about dinosaurs in the boardroom – could you talk about what needs to be done, the profession’s inability to change etc? 

Andrew: Firstly, business leaders need to confront the brutal facts and have acceptance that the world of work has changed for good.  This can be hard when your previous successes were built on previously considered solid and proven foundations that no longer exist.  However, to avoid the fate of the dinosaurs it is entirely necessary for the progression of yourself, your team and your organisation that you are agile and adapting to change constantly.

Procurious: At Executives Online (your Executive Recruitment & Interim Management Company) you are using science, craft and technology to de-risk critical hires, and to attract top talent. Those are some suitably Big Ideas! Can you tell us more? 

Andrew: Executive Search is a classic example of an industry that is rife with dinosaurs!  In essence at EO we believe that the traditional search model is broken and have spent the last 18 months disrupting the industry with a fresh approach that de-risks our clients critical leadership hires through the use of our executive-intro™  platform.  The platform is accessible via an app that allows you to review a shortlist confidentially from anywhere in the world and provides candidate insight through the use of video’s, role specific behavioural testing, benchmarking and competency testing. 

Procurious: How does social media and networking play a role in today’s hiring procedures/and then retaining said talent?

Andrew: Social media now plays a vital part on both sides of the hiring equation.  When we are headhunting top leadership talent for our clients the first thing that the potential candidate does (often whilst we are still on the phone call) is to start researching the hiring client and leadership team online.  This means that everyone should invest in social media all of the time to build strong personal and company brands – it is far more than just a job hunting channel for candidates and can help you establish your group as an employer of choice that holds on to their superstars.

Procurious: How is people management and culture changing? We’re hearing more and more about changing attitudes to flexible working, charity work, other incentives etc.

Andrew: People management is becoming more transparent, less autocratic and more authentic.  The changing world requires a collegiate bond and trust across the workforce to gather together and succeed in the challenges and opportunities ahead.  Culture is becoming an ever more important factor in how candidates select employers – generation Y in particular also favour those organisastions who they view as good “corporate citizens”.

Procurious: What value can truly strategic procurement bring to organisations? 

Andrew: A huge amount – procurement leaders are uniquely placed to take a view and add value across the full value chain.  Having a CPO at the table during risk management strategy discussions, mergers and acquisition events and strategic alliance engagements is vital to commercial success. 

Procurious: Which companies are innovating right now? (Whether that be in procurement technology, people management etc.)

Andrew: Inspired by the likes of Basecamp and WhatsApp the tech start-ups in London across areas such as Old Street and Shoreditch are throwing out the traditional people management rule book and work completely against outcomes.  They are flat in structure, have no dresscode, no fixed hours, no fixed holiday allowance and minimal internal meetings.  The approach is obviously working as tech start-ups in London are receiving more funding than ever and attracting top talent from the larger players. 

Procurious: Why should other professionals make time in their diaries to participate in the Big Ideas Summit?

Andrew: The Big Ideas Summit is an industry first that will benefit all involved.  Dedicating time to explore ideas with peers and dream a little is healthy and allows you time to reflect on the industry, your career and the future.  I have known the team behind the Big Ideas Summit for many years and can recommend the investment of time for any serious procurement professional with absolute confidence.

Procurious: And finally, gaze into the crystal ball. What’s your Big Idea for 2030? What can be achieved, what has the potential to be a true game-changer?

Andrew: My big idea for 2030 is to turn the talent acquisition industry on its head through focussing primarily on behaviours over technical skills.

Hear from 40 of the world’s biggest influencers and thought-leaders. Join the Big Ideas Group to access exclusive content from the event. 

Sigi Osagie`s Big Ideas On Bringing The Real You To Work

Sigi Osagie, author of Procurement Mojo

Sigi Osagie arrived in the UK as an African immigrant with holes in his shoes, penniless and no address book. Fourteen years later, he was a global director in a FTSE250 blue-chip multinational. Today he works as a writer, speaker, business adviser and coach, drawing on insights from his atypical life journey and career success to inform and inspire others.

Ahead of Procurious’ Big Ideas Summit on 30 April, we caught up with Sigi to get his opinions on the development of a procurement brand, to discuss his thoughts on bringing the ‘real you’ to work and find out more about his new book, Procurement Mojo – Strengthening the Function and Raising Its Profile. An excerpt of said book is available to read here.

Procurious asks: You’ve just released a new book titled Procurement Mojo. Tell us about the title of the book. What exactly is Procurement Mojo?

Sigi: “Mojo” is about our ability to be the best we can be and attain success. And we should all be aiming for that; because we only get one life to live, and life is not a dress rehearsal – we won’t get the opportunity to live life again.

Most of us will spend most of that lifetime at work. So bringing out our best selves in the work we do is part of our personal success.

For Procurement folks in particular, it’s vital; because purchasing is a people-centric activity – our ability to manage ourselves effectively and nurture productive relationships with others is a critical component of our work success.

The title “Procurement Mojo” brings those two things together – finding our mojo in the Procurement work we do. That’s exactly what the book does: it shows readers how to up their game and get the Procurement function firing on all cylinders.

Procurious: In your book, you discuss ‘procurement effectiveness’ as one of the key tenants to procurement success. Can you provide us with some background to this concept?

Sigi: In Procurement Mojo I explain that ‘Procurement effectiveness’ is the route-path to sustainable functional success. Effectiveness is central to success in any realm of life. It means doing the right things to achieve our desired outcomes.

In some senses, it’s quite a simple notion to grasp: if your desired outcome is to head off to your right, then you take a step in that direction; if you want a clean car, you wash it yourself or take it to the carwash; if you want some dangerous excitement in your marital life, you get a lover.

The outcomes most Procurement functions want are not as simplistic as having a clean car or marital excitement. But the same basic tenet applies – do the right things, or take the right actions, to achieve what you want.

Procurement wants more relevance and recognition in the enterprise. Many Procurement functions still focus their actions entirely, or principally, on “cost savings” and other rudimentary elements of purchasing. Or they invest significant resources on “transformations” centred on process or systems enhancements. But they pay scant attention to what matters most: people.

The challenges that hold most Procurement functions back tend to be people-related or ‘soft’ issues – organisational cultures that don’t adequately recognise Procurement’s value; egotistical or ineffective executives who make short-sighted decisions; talent gaps inside Procurement; territorial stakeholders outside the function; and so on.

If the actions we’re taking in our Procurement approach don’t address these root-cause issues robustly, then they are not the right actions to focus on!

This is one of the simplest indicators of the inherent level of Procurement effectiveness.

Procurious: One of the issues that really jumped out at us from your book was the discussion around developing a procurement brand. Can you provide some insight into the importance of developing a procurement brand both within a business and externally with suppliers? 

Sigi: A superb Procurement brand is the pinnacle of functional success. Nurturing a credible Procurement brand requires an integrated approach internally and externally, which is part and parcel of improving effectiveness.

Everything we do properly in the first 4 steps to enhance Procurement effectiveness – the organisation; the enablers; the supply base; and the performance framework – helps nourish the Procurement brand, within the enterprise and with suppliers. Additionally, it is necessary to be organisationally savvy and apply some marketing approaches, like incorporating customer-centricity to Procurement’s ethos and leveraging effective PR.

It is important for Procurement people to grasp this, because perceptions can often be more important than reality. And it is the perceptions people have of Procurement that shape Procurement’s brand image.

Procurious: Some of our member have suggested that the ‘pay to stay’ scandals at Premier Foods and the ongoing saga with Tesco’s supply chain has damaged the procurement brand across the board, do you feel this way?

Sigi: I understand those sentiments. And I agree with the requirement for ethical practices. However, I’m not sure how damaging it’s been for Procurement as a profession; because the average man on the street knows “Tesco” but doesn’t have a clue what “Procurement” is.

I think some people in the professional class might have raised an eyebrow, but I imagine many of them are mature enough to recognise that such ethical issues are likely to stem from, or be sanctioned by, the top team, not just the department functionally responsible. A fish rots from the head down; and I think most people know this.

It’s more likely that Premier Foods and Tesco have suffered much greater corporate reputational damage than any damage the Procurement brand might have sustained. 

procurement-mojo-by-sigi-osagie-og

Procurious: At the Big Ideas Summit you’ll be discussing “Authentic Leadership and the Importance of Bringing the Real you to Work”. Can you provide us some background on this concept and why you believe that encouraging people to be themselves at work will facilitate a more effective work place? 

Sigi: I’ll be talking about the importance of ‘people’ issues to Procurement success, under the summit theme you mention. I’ve somewhat indicated why this is important in my response to your first question.

I should add that when we manage organisations in ways that don’t release people’s enthusiasm, energy, excitement, emotion, effort and expertise – what Charles Handy called the ‘E’ factors – it’s a ‘lose-lose-lose’ situation.

It’s a loss for the individual who gives us more of their lifetime than they spend with their family, because we don’t help them expose their true potential and abilities to excel. It’s a loss for the organisation, because we miss out on the opportunity to leverage those abilities for enterprise success. And it’s a loss for society at large, because, in the end, societal development is dependent on our collective abilities and efforts.

We can certainly do more in this regard, and attain greater success for more organisations by helping more people find their mojo.

Sigi will join 40 influencers and thought-leaders at the Big Ideas Summit on 30 April. You can attend ‘digitally’ by registering on our Group page. Stay tuned for exclusive video interviews, articles, discussions and more.

CIPS David Noble: Big Ideas On How Procurement Will Seize The Day

CIPS David Noble will be speaking at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit

David Noble was appointed Group Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS for short) on 1 June 2009. He’ll be appearing as one of our 40 thought-leaders at Procurious’ inaugural Big Ideas Summit.

Click to get involved and submit your questions to David

Procurious asks: How is the new Chartered Procurement and Supply Professional status encouraging professional development?

David: CPD is critical to Chartered Status.  There is a need for some roles in procurement, particularly at a senior strategic level to raise their skill levels beyond MCIPS and keep abreast of new thinking in the profession.  A professional with Chartered Status will lead procurement teams and have influence at board level as well as across supply markets by delivering innovative sourcing solutions. A higher-level status than MCIPS, those with Chartered Status will be qualified up to postgraduate degree level and be able to understand institutional risk and contingency approaches in all parts of the organisation, how the supply chain affects innovation, and risk sharing strategies throughout the business. Professionals who hold this status will be the most sought-after talent and those who will take the profession beyond its current boundaries.

Procurious: Is corporate social responsibility still relevant in a world of stringent budgets?

David: Being commercial and sustainable go hand in hand. To have a long-term sustainable successful business, CSR, responsible procurement, and environmental issues have to be considered.  Most of all it just makes good business sense to keep our energy bills to a minimum, or reduce our landfill costs.

It’s a reality of modern life that we have to take into account sustainability and CSR. Not doing so is a risk in itself which could result in damaged reputation, loss of market etc. It is imperative in the public sector – there are targets to reach in local government action plans and at national level. In economic terms, it is far better for a country as a whole to adjust and adapt now to become more sustainable and take into account environmental and CSR issues than to deal with them further down the line. There are already increases in tax on landfill waste, fuel, and disposables. These taxes will become greater as time goes on, as will the fines imposed on companies for abusing the evolving laws relating to environmental and CSR issues.

And then there’s consumer pressure. You only have to look at what happened to Nike when it was revealed to consumers that further down the supply chain, workers in the Far East were working in horrendous conditions. It resulted in mass marches and demonstrations outside NIKE stores in the US, resulting in a damaged reputation and a considerable loss of market share.

It’s time to consider what it is your company cares about; what it’s objectives and key drivers are; and how can these be achieved and strengthened to achieve the most sustainable outcome. How can you prioritise and find an opportunity to do things differently?

It’s not commercial issues versus sustainability issues; it’s the same sort of argument as commercial versus quality. Implementing sustainability itself is not an end point. Nothing is sustainable indefinitely. What should be achieved is a more sustainable option. It needs to be continuously monitored, updated, and improved. There has to be a balance, and it’s about the best balance with regards to the priorities and situation of your organisation. Anything that reduces resources, reduces waste, and increases efficiency is a win/win in terms of optimising sustainable and commercial benefits.

Procurious: In this time of economic uncertainty what can organisations do in order to mitigate risk down the line? 

David: I firmly believe that having professionally qualified people in these roles will help to safeguard organisations against risk.  Procurement professionals are required to horizon scan, and do deep dive audits into their supply chains to get under the skin of what’s really going on.  More than ever, it’s important that we understand our political and economic environment and its impact on business.  Recovery from the 08/09 recession has been one of the biggest challenges of the past century for business.  As the Eurozone faces a potential triple-dip recession and China and Brazil’s growth is slowing, it’s clear that we are still nowhere near out of the woods.

We have worked on risk tools over the past few years to better equip procurement professionals to understand their environment and manage risk.  The CIPS Risk Index quarterly reports helps you to understand the risks to which your supply chains are exposed. You can use the CIPS Risk Index Quarterly Report as an early warning of changes in the macro environment that may affect suppliers and your supply chain. You can then drill down from a global, quarterly, headline figure to a regional and country level perspective, enabling you to develop robust risk management strategies and mitigate against risk.

Procurious: Can you discuss the impact of supply chains in modern-day slavery? (David was invited to the Vatican to witness the signing of a bill to eradicate slavery by 2020, and the recent stories in the media surrounding the Indonesian fishermen). And looking forwards to procurement in 2030, what struggles do you hope we’ll have overcome?

David: Like most professions, old parameters are changing and there is a need to adapt to survive.  Procurement and supply is especially so and in our belief it has reached a significant crossroad.

Two hundred years ago accountancy was strictly regulated because there was a burning platform: incorrect submissions of company accounts led to investor misery and fraud, so the government acted.  Our burning platform is the supply risk side getting further out of control and people being harmed. In that sense, this profession is no different to accountancy – in fact you could argue the public good is more directly affected.  Poor quality food, modern corporate slavery and procurement fraud affect many more people across the planet and the institute does not believe the issues we hear about on an almost daily basis will ever be solved until licensing is embedded.

With the hard work and dedication of thousands of procurement and supply chain professionals, our perspective has now changed beyond all recognition, as global companies experience seismic shocks to their earnings and share prices when a supply malfunction occurs.

We have witnessed some unprecedented events in recent years, from natural disasters such earthquakes and floods alongside numerous product recalls based on faulty component parts and therefore putting consumer safety at risk.  Fraud, corruption and the mis-management of supply chains have caused untold issues and reputational damage for organisations as well as endangering human lives.  Certain sectors have become synonymous with poor supply chain practice from the garment industry through to conflict minerals in our mobile phones and laptops.  According to the World Bank corruption undermines our prosperity by imposing a cost equivalent to 5 per cent of global GDP (or $2.6 trillion –World Economic Forum) every year. It adds up to 25 per cent of the cost of procurement contracts in developing countries and can add up to 10 per cent to business costs globally. They estimate that over US$ 1 trillion is paid in bribes each year. Corruption also facilitates organised crime and terrorist activity.

Accountability for inadequate or exposed supply chains now goes right to the top, with the company’s reputation on the line.  Good corporate supply chain governance demands accountability and to have accountability means the appropriate authority and capability to act.

What does all this mean in terms of removing some of the poor practices we are still witnessing across global supply chains – whether it’s child labour, inhumane working conditions, forced labour and slavery and not least the ever rising issue of procurement fraud?  There is no doubt that the procurement and supply profession has a unique opportunity to step up to this challenge and effect real change – stepping up as a professional community.

Procurious: And finally, is there anything you fear will hold us back?

David: We’re not always very good at shouting out about our successes.  Procurement has much more to offer beyond savings and a clear communication channel must be forged with the CEO.  But this kind of communication between CPO and CEO is still relatively rare in business. Booz and Co in a recent report highlighted that less than 5 per cent of Fortune 500 companies have a CPO in their C-suite. In a separate report, Ardent Partners Supply Management Experts highlighted that less than 20 per cent of CPOs globally report to their CEOs.

So, if you work in one of the 80 per cent of companies where procurement has no direct line of communication to the top, you need to find a way to make yourself heard.

Procurement professionals need to talk the language of the business, get out more and become story tellers to demonstrate the wide reaching value they offer. Understand how your organisation  defines value and growth. This goes way beyond the terminology and knowledge you need for your day-to-day job. It extends to learning what is important to customers and to the other people who work in your organisation – particularly in areas that generate the most revenue.  There is a real opportunity for procurement to seize the day.

For more information about CIPS head to their website.

Discover who else will make up our 40 influencers at the Big Ideas Summit on 30 April. Click to join the Group on Procurious and get involved.

Mark Perera’s Big Ideas on startups, technology & disruptive procurement

Mark Perera of Old St Labs

Mark Perera fronts Old St Labs – builders of technology that enables enterprises to forge deeper and more valuable relationships with their buyers and suppliers. He will be appearing at our inaugural Big Ideas Summit on 30 April, the world’s first digitally led event for procurement. Mark – no stranger to innovation himself, talked to us about his world and shared some of his own Big Ideas.

Procurious asks: Mark, you’re heavily involved in the London start-up scene. How are we seeing this disruptive start-up mentality breaking into the procurement world?

Mark Perera: The London startup scene is really booming at the moment, and it’s great to be a part of it. There have been some real success stories coming out of London, and we’re now thought of in the top tier of startup cities, behind Silicon Valley and New York City.

In terms of how the startup community is disrupting the procurement scene, I think the best is yet to come. We’ve seen some great companies like C2FO changing the game in the B2B and the finance sector, but I don’t think we’ve seen truly disruptive technology hit procurement yet.

Procurious: How about Coupa and Procurify? Aren’t they the flag bearers for the new disruptive model of procurement?

Mark: What Coupa and Procurious have achieved is impressive, but I’m not sure I’d call it disruptive innovation. Coupa is probably disruptive for Ariba because they are doing what Ariba does but they are offering a better user experience; however, I’m not certain they are disrupting the way that procurement operates.

Procurify is similar story. By offering a more competitive price point, they have opened up the market for small and medium organisations to start leveraging procurement technologies. However, the services they are offering are not unique in the market.

If you look at what C2FO has achieved, you’ll see that they have changed the way companies are managing working capital. At Old Street Labs we’re looking to fundamentally change the way businesses collaborate, we don’t see why procurement software should miss out on the brilliant user interfaces and technology platforms that companies like Google and Facebook have implemented.

Coupa and Procurify may have slicker interfaces and more affordable price points, but they are essentially solving the same problem that Ariba solves.

Procurious: You are one of the founders of the Procurement Leaders Network, a business that was established more than a decade ago, how have you seen procurement technology come along in that time?

Mark: If I was to sum procurement technology over the last decade in a word, it would be “consolidation.” Ariba bought Procuri, then SAP bought Ariba. This is a trend that has been replicated across the industry. Prior to being bought out by IBM, Emptoris had acquired some smaller firms. Very few new tech companies make it through without this happening.

If someone comes up with a great idea, it is quickly bought out by a larger firm. Ariba bought Procuri for its cloud capability, which is the same reason that SAP went on to buy Ariba.

I think the most interesting developments in tech in the past few years have been around the collaborative models of companies like AirBnB and Uber. It will be exciting to see how this approach and the sharing economy will be leveraged into the procurement world.

I think there will be some drastic changes over the coming years as new, slicker, more nimble firms begin to fill gaps left by the large ERP providers. The real changes will occur when we stop looking for 10 per cent improvements and starting using the Google’s 10X mentality (changing the way businesses run to enable improvement by a factor of ten).

Procurious: Tell us a little about your latest venture, Old Street Labs.

Mark: Old St Labs, is a software company that enables enterprises to forge deeper and more valuable relationships with their buyers and suppliers. Our first product is called Vizibl (http://vizibl.co/) it’s a cloud-based platform for individuals and teams to deliver a real return on their commercial relationships.

We’ve created an environment in which buyers and suppliers can work together in productive collaboration. We want both buyers and suppliers to understand each other in as much detail as possible and to be able to match the right individuals, teams and skills to the right tasks.

Vizibl enables you to carry out effective Performance, Innovation and Risk management through intuitive dashboards and reporting.

Procurious: So if unlocking innovation is the key to procurement success, can you point out any organisation that you feel has done this well?

Mark: I’m not sure that unlocking is the key to procurement success, but it certainly is a driving factor. The businesses that have done well to date are generally from the FMCG and Automotive sectors. It’s hard to argue with Apple’s track record of developing innovative approaches through close relationships with its suppliers. Apple continues to produce great products that sell, and they can do this because they are close to their supplier base. I’d say that makes them the benchmark from an innovation POV.

There are a lot of businesses that achieve innovation in isolation but struggle to sustain and integrate it into their business culture. A big part of this is that firms have not found the right technology to support the process. Often, people are forgotten in the process, so the challenge remains to build a simple, beautiful, powerful business tool that can support organisations in their efforts to be more innovative. We believe we’ve achieved this with Old Street Labs.

Procurious: Big data, wearable devices; what’s next in procurement technology?

Mark: This is an interesting question. I don’t think we’ve really seen big data in procurement yet. There have been attempts, but we’ve yet to see a truly great solution. Part of this is that procurement struggles so much to manage their own internal spending data. The complexities of big data solutions seem a step too far. At Old Street Labs, we’re currently looking into a big data solution for procurement, so watch this space.

Big data is a huge opportunity for procurement, but I think first we need to focus on building technology that people love to use. After years of clunky experiences on SAP and ORACLE, our expectations of procurement technology are pretty low. But across the tech industry, we are starting to see applications that are a mixture of behavioural science and technology—this is where the future of procurement technology lies: in building something that truly resonates with users.

In terms of wearables, I think we need a little time to see how these technologies work before we understand their commercial potentials. There is still so much that we can do with mobile devices that we aren’t doing yet, and these devices have been around for a decade. The Apple watch looks like a huge opportunity, but, from a procurement point of view, we really haven’t utilised the mobile phone to its full extent so it could be best not to get too far ahead of ourselves here.

Want to hear more from Mark and our other Big Ideas influencers? Join in with the discussion by registering on our Big Ideas Summit Group

Samantha Coombs on the challenges facing Millennials going into procurement

The challenges facing millennials going into procurement

Samantha Coombs will be joining us at the Big Ideas Summit on 30 April. A gathering of 40 of the most influential thought-leaders from across the procurement profession and beyond. Here she discusses the challenges facing today’s young professionals, and the skills they bring to the table.

Procurious asks: Can you speak to us about the challenges facing the Millennial workforce. Competition, the contract vs. perm debate etc.

Samantha: Competition is high now that there are more procurement professionals than there used to be 10 years ago when purchasing was more a transactional-operational function. Nowadays many businesses are seeing the value add that procurement teams bring in terms of benefits, quality and cost savings.

The contract market tends to be highly counter-cyclical, so in a boom, you may find that the market is actually tougher than in a bust.

For me, I became a contractor after being made redundant from a perm job when the company outsourced the function over-seas. It was bad timing and the economy was in a state of recession. I found it difficult to seek perm employment due to permanent recruitment freezes.

This left me with the contract option of working on projects which gave me an advantage to gain a wider range of experience in different industries.

Job variation leads to skills. Contractors normally take contracts ranging between 3 and 9 months in duration. By working on shorter contracts you will gain experience faster, work on more varied projects and hopefully get some big-name companies on your CV. Changing projects on a regular basis gives you an opportunity to update and further skills and to learn from the best. In general, contractors have more advanced skills than their permanent counterparts, which will give your career a boost.

In my experience contractors are seen as if we’re all about big money, having no commitment and companies often use contractors because they want us to transfer their skills to their permanent staff, since we often have a higher level of technological competence.

Every contractor has a different story and motivation.

Contractors who undertake projects allows them to build business contacts and if a client likes your work they will be happy to hire you again or recommend you.

Procurious: What have you found to be the disadvantages of living life as a contractor?

Samantha: Job security. Entering a weaker market, termination of your project, or having skills that are out of demand are all threats to your job security.

Administration. As a contractor you will always have more administration work in your spare time than you would if you were a permanent employee. You must read up on how umbrella companies work, and may also need to hire an accountant to ensure you are legally compliant and tax-efficient.

Applying for contracts. Imagine job-hunting every six months; this would drive most people crazy, and it’s worth keeping this side of contracting in mind.

Short-notice holidays. Essentially, these don’t exist. You need to plan your holidays for when you have gaps between jobs. Sick days are a thing of the past, so we must ensure we make provisions for any eventualities.

It is not a myth that you can earn vastly more as a contractor than you could as a permanent employee, but it’s not a given either. A senior permanent employee can earn nearly as much as an equivalent contractor, but will, in addition to his or her salary, have a range of benefits that aren’t offered to the contractor. These can include pension schemes, private health care, car allowances, professional development funds, to name a few; however, such roles do tend to be very senior, and are few and far between.

In many ways, the greater earning potential that a contractor enjoys is compensation for the lack in job security

In my experience recruiters see contractors as having little commitment and are afraid of taking on a contractor in a perm role because they fear the contractor will leave after a short period of time and find something with more money.

This is very frustrating as is NOT the case. Contractors move from the temp to perm side because motivations change, and we want and deserve all the benefits that permanent employees receive.

What happened to equal opportunities?

Procurious: What [skillset] do today’s professionals bring to the table, that perhaps the CPOs of yesterday lack?

Samantha: Candidates from a contracting background bring a fresh pair of eyes, are used to meeting new people thus dynamic in personality and thrive on networking, gumption to push boundaries and challenge the status quo, and aware of modern technologies, and can hit the ground running.

Procurious: What needs to be done to transform the profession, and bring it up-to-date?

Samantha: A ‘Try before you buy’ Experience Ramp solution. It would provide both sides an opportunity to trial working with each-other.

This could be offered on a reduced yet affordable pay rate over a period of 11 months giving the candidate adequate time to understand how the business works operationally, align their work to the strategic objective and deliver in terms of what is required.

Procurious: Let’s talk ‘Brand You’. How important is it to have a clearly defined brand today?

Samantha: It’s vital to have a strong brand for recognition of quality, knowledge and performance you can deliver.

Weakening the brand makes you disappear down the bath plug.

Procurious: Let’s talk innovation – who/what is innovating in the procurement technology space right now?

Samantha: Procurious is innovating the way procurement professional network and widen their network by bringing us under one roof, so to speak

Apple launched new Apple watch which will affect how businesses use digital tools/software

Procurious: Is more innovation needed in the building and maintaining of supplier relationships?

Samantha: I believe there people are either born personable or not. It’s a natural flair developed in childhood and adulthood, then put to the test in the work place and developed overtime.

The old ways of supplier building used to be structures and models but it’s too prescriptive and not real. The best method I feel when building and strengthening relationships, is to find common ground, understand the values and opinions of others and be supportive in feeding back between the supplier and stakeholder for example. Establishing ‘partnership’ type relationships will help you leverage more in terms of innovation, technology and trustworthy relationships.

Procurious: Looking forwards how do you see the future of e-purchasing changing/evolving?

Samantha: With shopping sites like Amazon, travelsupermarket.com and other ‘compare costs websites I see procurement coming alive in consumer world without many of them actually realising.

e-Purchasing is replacing the old ways of paper purchase orders and excel spreadsheets generating quotes to a more sophisticated yet easy to use platforms which can house of operational purchasing and strategic projects under one umbrella. Many platforms have bolt on modules such as contract management and catalogue search functions where anyone user can access contracted supplier products that can be delivered directly.

The future will be seeing a reduction in resources required to purchase as the system can do this and a lot more.

Are you a Millennial thinking of joining the profession? Maybe you can relate to Samantha’s experiences? Join us (digitally) at the Big Ideas Summit by registering here and stand-by for a day packed-full of challenging discussion. Learn more about Big Ideas on www.bigideassummit.com