Category Archives: Generation Procurement

Tania Seary’s Big Ideas on shockproof procurement

Tania was talking at the Big Ideas Summit, the world’s first digitally-led procurement event. Join the Big Ideas Group to see how 40 influential thought-leaders aired their ‘Big Ideas’ on cost, risk, technology and people management.

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If procurement is to “shockproof” the profession, we need to move out of our silos and work together to solve potential supply chain disruption issues.

Most of these issues – slavery, 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.

The procurement community can build muscle, by continuously flexing and responding to each other’s calls for support.

Procurious, in particular, could support the development of the procurement community’s muscle by providing the forum for solving some of the biggest problems we face today –

  • Mitigating potential supply chain disruptions
  • Driving innovation
  • Winning the war for talent

Mitigating potential supply chain disruptions

Supply chain risk is now regularly quoted as the number one concern for many CEOs.

We also know from recent history that unethical practices can permanently impact corporate reputations and brand equity.

It is interesting to consider the powerful role of social media in both exposing, and educating, everyone in the supply chain about inappropriate practices. Consumers are very fast to share their discoveries through social media, but procurement and other supply chain professionals have been slow to leverage social media in their due diligence and reporting processes.

Alarmingly, many organisations cannot see past their first tier supplier and are unable to readily investigate the supply chain that lurks behind them, resulting in product recalls, disruption and, in some cases, death. As my colleague Gordon Donovan likes to say “we need to pull back the supply chain curtain

So Gordon has proposed a Big Idea on how we could use social media to solve one of our biggest threats – by creating a Global Supply Chain Tree.

As we all know, Wikipedia has used thousands of volunteers to create a free encyclopedia with a million and a half articles in two hundred languages in just a couple of years. This is the opportunity for procurement too!

Why couldn’t we use Procurious to build a detailed map of our supply chains? We could –

  • Record ownership structures
  • Detail parent/child supplier relationships
  • Rate supplier performances and compliance

This information tree could be fully built and self-governed by supply chain professionals as they uncover each layer in their supply chain.

This would dramatically increase our supply chain visibility and hopefully verify its purity – which would mitigate some huge risks we have in our supply chains today.

Leveraging growth and innovation opportunities

The second challenge we face is to deliver growth and innovation from our supply base. Today’s procurement professional is as much about contributing to the top line, as the bottom line.

Being able to actively seek out information is part of social’s beauty – and crafting a network of thought-leaders, influencers, and experts around you is an unquestionably valuable thing in identifying and developing growth opportunities.

One of our team members, Jordan Early, has put Barcelona-based Citymart forward as a great example of turning traditional procurement on its head. See what he has to say.

Citymart enables citizens to choose which city problems need solving and to provide less traditional suppliers with an opportunity to win the contracts to solve them.

This is an inspiring example of how we could use our global online networks to collaborate and deliver better outcomes for ourselves and our communities.

Winning the war for talent 

I have written previously that if procurement is going to win the war for procurement talent, we need to engage with Millennials on the platform they 
use the most: social networks.

Unfortunately most of the online images of procurement are outdated and uninspiring. We need to encourage all CPOs and vested parties in the profession to quickly upgrade their online presence to make the whole profession more attractive.

By creating and
maintaining fresh and dynamic Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
company profiles, we can open the door to new recruits to our profession.

In addition to conducting a “social media audit” on our online presence and positioning, we should also consider online projects that appeal to Millennials such as PACE – Procurement Advice for Charitable Enterprises – which was developed by a group of participants in The Faculty’s Procurement Executive Program.

The PACE concept is to connect sourcing professionals with charitable enterprises to provide volunteer professional procurement advice.

Via a social media platform, procurement professionals, either independently or via their employer, register their interest, specific skills and availability. Not-for-profits then access the register and find a ‘match’ that provides timely advice and assistance to solve their procurement problems.

This is a great example of using our community muscle to ensure everyone wins:

  • For not for profits, it provides real, targeted assistance via ready access to procurement expertise on demand and an extra level of accountability and transparency, without spending a fortune on consultants.
  • For procurement professionals, it facilitates an opportunity to undertake meaningful work in manageable chunks of time, networking and a development opportunity of using existing skills in a different setting.
  • For employers, it can easily be incorporated into an existing Community Relations or Corporate Social Responsibility program, and offers a means of broadening community relationships and increasing good corporate citizenship beyond the traditional photo opportunities of planting trees or painting fences.

Whilst still in the conceptual stage, it shows the power of procurement working together and plays to the need of the Millennials to do something “meaningful” in their careers.

The opportunities for procurement to collaborate on-line to shockproof and enhance the profession are boundless. What is your BIG IDEA for our first collaboration project?

Chris Lynch on why the best Big Ideas might come from our suppliers

Rio Tinto’s CFO, Chris Lynch talks partnerships.

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Given the speed of change in business and procurement trends, no enterprise can afford to be an island.

Like the Internet, it is the speed of connection, and new partners bringing new ideas that will help define the pace of change and business reinvention.

Our partners, much like our friends, can point out things we didn’t see before.

That’s why partnership is so important, as is choosing our partners wisely.

Rarely do Big Ideas get advertised, for if they do they are probably now in the mainstream.

It is our partners who can help find the new ideas on the margins or periphery of our control that can help us reinvent business and create value.

On the hunt for the next Big Idea in the procurement world, we all know that the best ideas might come from our suppliers themselves.

I’ve always believed you should “reward the idea”.

If a supplier comes to you with a unique idea, do the best you can to work with them and recognise their suggestion.

Partnerships can be hard work, but they can also be more fertile and rewarding.

That is why we look to partnerships around the world.

The key to partnership must be a sense of shared value – even in tough times.

For example in the mid 90s when I was at Alcoa, we had to achieve a turnaround for an operation. If we could achieve this, it would be a win-win for us and our suppliers.

I called a town hall meeting… It was then that I confirmed the lesson, that suppliers want your business to survive, and even thrive, and are prepared to play a part in that success if they are brought on the journey.

Rather than seeing our suppliers as a cost that just needs to be controlled, recognise the value that can be unlocked by working together.

That might be changing a specification, introducing new innovations or standardising production processes, for instance.

Be clear about your objectives, and if you don’t have the expertise in-house to achieve them, then use them to help you choose the right partners, and build the strong alliances you need to succeed.

As Sam Walsh, our chief executive at Rio Tinto, said in a recent speech in Korea: “Innovate to grow, partner to succeed”. That is because solo genius is rare and partners make a difference.

There are inventors, and then there are entrepreneurs.

Look at the great entrepreneurs. They all had partners – be they in finance, technology, procurement, you name it.

At Rio Tinto our partners are behind our greatest successes – be it our customer partnerships for our Pilbara iron ore operations in Western Australia.

Or our supplier partners, such as Komatsu, who have helped lead the development of autonomous trucks.

These are huge 308 tonne, three storey-high robots that operate themselves, overseen from our Operations Centre some 1,500 km away near Perth airport.

They have hundreds of sensors that are continuously feeding information to the control centre. They are already some 15 per cent more efficient than our other trucks; they use less fuel and have less wear and tear.

They really are our version of big data in action. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The sensors are now appearing on all our equipment and potentially have huge benefits for the way we operate and our whole approach to maintenance and procurement.

For example, with the help of our IT experts in our Indian Excellence Centre, we can now sense the wear on individual components and better predict when a piece of equipment is going to need maintenance, rather than just using a standard hours schedule.

Ultimately the data and the role of procurement with our partners will become more important, and significantly enhance the value of the actual equipment we buy.

Technology is changing the way we operate and the way we do business, but ultimately we still need people and partners with big ideas and the commitment to getting them implemented.

In procurement it will be our partners who will help shape our future. We don’t have a view on what the future should look like, because with great partners we aim to always be one step ahead of it.

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.

David Hames: `Big Data?` Organisations should sort out their `Small Data` first

One of the overarching themes at our Big Ideas Summit was that of technology. We quizzed Dr David Hames, Executive Chairman of Science Warehouse on e-business, Big Data, and social media. Here’s what he had to impart:

Procurious asks: E-procurement and e-business sectors have seen a surge in growth over the last few years, what advances do you predict for the next five, ten (and beyond) years?

David: We see a growing demand for user-friendly cloud-based e-procurement solutions that are easy for users to access over a wide range of technology interfaces. Users are demanding the same intuitive, fast and responsive solutions at work that they already enjoy in the B2C world. Purchasing online is now the norm in the B2C world and is fast becoming the norm at work as well. This makes sense for employers too – cloud solutions that are delivered without costly infrastructure, a workforce that needs minimal or no training to use the e-procurement solution, and active engagement by staff driving a common process and delivering process efficiencies.

But just as in the B2C world where a user quickly moves onto the next website if the current one does not have the required content, so we see content as core to delivering the full benefits of e-procurement in the business world. Good content will become an increasingly key differentiator for e-procurement success.

Looking ahead, we expect B2C and B2B (e-procurement) to continue to converge, both focusing on maximising engagement with end users. Less  B2C or B2B, more a unifying ‘Business to User’ approach – B2U!

Procurious: How can e-procurement services help CPOs manage their spending more sensibly?

David: By giving up-to-the-minute visibility of real spend – on demand and at multiple levels right down to individual order level, facilitating better planning, better informed operational management and accurate and comprehensive spend data for contract negotiations.

To deliver this successfully needs not only powerful technology but also great data.  Quite simply, spend analysis is only as good as the data being interrogated – and delivering accurate detailed spend data requires rich, consistently-classified, QC’d  product information as the source. That’s why Science Warehouse offers a fully managed eCatalogue service, producing rich accurate data to fully inform user choice at the point of purchase and to allow users to analyse spend data in a way never available before.

Procurious: As a function procurement is always under pressure to deliver results. You covered some scenarios in your recently-published Trends Survey – can you share the biggest findings with us?

David: We have seen a substantial increase in departments achieving more than 80 per cent of spend under management, but no increase in those who believe they are delivering strategic procurement – that is still stuck at a third of respondents.

Most respondents (68 per cent) see the cloud and data analytics as the future. 

Looking at e-procurement solutions, ease of use and data quality are increasingly rated as key criteria for success; up 51 per cent and 21 per cent respectively over the last 3 years.

The biggest challenge in 2015 (reported by 40 per cent of respondents) is a lack of procurement resource – mirrored by a 22 per cent increase in intentions to recruit to new roles.  This is great for candidates but bad for CPOs – concerns over talent acquisition and development have doubled since last year. 

Procurious: Is there a disparity between technology and engagement?

David: Done well, there is no disparity at all in that the technology should drive user engagement – not be a block to it.  Unfortunately, some e-procurement solutions have offered technology without the necessary engagement – proving themselves to be clunky and hard to use, or usable but without discernible benefit.  That drives users to find a way around the technology rather than engage with it and be empowered as a result. It follows that only solutions which fully engage with users and drive strong user adoption can deliver the promised efficiencies and savings to the buying organisation.

Procurious: How can procurement use Big Data more effectively, will Big Data analytics help drive a change?

David: The fact is that many buying organisations need to sort out their “small data” first. All too often the data sits in multiple silos and is not rich enough or properly quality checked to deliver detailed and accurate analytics. The lack of consistent data categorisation also often makes meaningful analysis difficult if not impossible. 

High quality consistently-mapped data is essential to delivering spend analysis that can be relied on to drive successful change.

Procurious: Let’s talk social media… What can social offer to the procurement professionals of today, and is it helping win the War for Talent?

David: Social media such as YouTube are popular for procurement training videos and demos but by far the most useful platform to date has been LinkedIn with procurement professionals collaborating, following trends, news, opinions, advice, etc.  Procurious looks set to raise the profile of procurement still further. 

In the War for Talent, social media can both help an individual get noticed (building a strong personal reputation) and create awareness around a company seeking top quality employees. Without question, fast growing companies need to harness social media to advantage.

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

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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

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.