Category Archives: In The Press

Procurement Faces Balancing Act as Business Uncertainty Rises

According to new research from the Hackett Group, procurement faces a balancing act in 2016 thanks to rising business uncertainty.

Business Uncertainty

  • Key issues research shows budgets and staff expected to rise slightly in 2016
  • The Hackett Group recommends that to improve agility and reduce cost, procurement must harness the value of Big Data and control tail spend

According to new Procurement Key Issues research from The Hackett Group, Procurement leaders expect operating budgets and staffing to increase slightly in 2016. This comes at a time as they attempt to balance the need to reduce costs, with the desire to become a better strategic business partners and other priorities. 

Increased business uncertainty and risk are driving a resurgence in traditional cost reduction strategies, according to research. At the same time, the research identified critical development gaps in four key procurement strategy areas:

  • Becoming a better strategic partner to the business.
  • Increasing spend influence.
  • Improving agility.
  • Tapping supplier innovation.

These are seen as important targets for capability development.

Harnessing Big Data

To improve agility, The Hackett Group’s research recommended that procurement organisations become more information-driven and harness the value of ‘Big Data’. Unfortunately, the research found that over half of the study respondents currently lacked a formal market intelligence program, or were only in the earliest stages of adoption.

Study respondents also identified predictive analytics and forecasting as the trend with the greatest transformational impact for procurement over the next decade.

Finally, The Hackett Group’s research recommended that, to unearth new sources of savings, procurement examine tail spend. This is­ the 20 per cent of spend that is spread thinly across up to 80 per cent of suppliers.

This is an area where most procurement organisations have not focused heavily.  But with effort, The Hackett Group estimates that savings of 3-5 per cent for less mature sourcing organisations is possible, in part by identification of high-dollar maverick spending that should have been strategically sourced.

A complimentary version of the research is available for download, following registration, here.

Cost Reduction Pressures

According to The Hackett Group Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader, Chris Sawchuk, “For 2016, companies are expecting to see business uncertainty and risk increase, along with greater struggles to grow revenue. So the pressure to reduce costs is increasing. At the same time, procurement leaders need to balance this with other more strategic priorities, like becoming a better strategic business partner.

“This is challenging, because for 2016, procurement operating budgets are expected to increase by just 1.1 per cent, and staffing will only grow by 2.2 per cent. So procurement can only afford to fund its highest-priority initiatives. One clear differentiator we saw in the research this year was the recognition of the value of improved market intelligence.

“Procurement leaders are realising that higher-quality information can help them drive greater business value. Big data has been a game changer when it comes to customer analytics, offering an unprecedented ability to quickly model massive volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources. But procurement’s lack of maturity in market intelligence is a significant obstacle that must be overcome,” said Mr. Sawchuk.

The Hackett Group’s 2016 Procurement Key Issues research  is based on results gathered from executives from nearly 180 large companies in the US and abroad, most with annual revenue of $1 billion or greater.

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

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

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

Modern Slavery Act Will Force SMEs to Step Up to the Plate

With new changes to the Modern Slavery Act coming into effect as of April 1st, we ask how much progress has been made since 2015?

Modern Slavery

At Procurious, we know it’s crucial to continue focusing on the issue of modern-day slavery, both with regard to tackling existing cases, and to encourage and applaud organisations who are making real efforts to end the practice world-wide.

Last week, it was reported that the majority of small firms are ignorant of the Modern Slavery Act and the impact that the law changes will have on them.

On the flip side, it was announced that the Building Research Establishment (BRE) are launching a standard to help businesses tackle risks around modern slavery.

As the Telegraph reports, with the modern slavery laws set to change again as of this April, ignorance is no longer an excuse.

Modern Slavery Act 2016

New UK legislation, effective from 1st April 2016, requires all businesses with a turnover of over £36 million to prove they have taken steps to remove slave and child labour from their supply chains.

It is currently estimated that between 21 and 39 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery. The changes to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 will force big organisations to fully audit their supply chains.  

It is expected that, as larger companies begin to investigate suppliers throughout their supply chain, there will be a trickle down effect to smaller businesses, who will be expected to prove they are slavery-free.

Chris Ross, founder of J&K Ross, spoke with The Telegraph stating, “ultimately, big companies will not deal with firms of any size that they don’t feel safe with.” With this in mind, he has begun voluntarily auditing the supply chain of his safety equipment business, to ensure it is fully compliant.

CIPS have released guidelines to help companies below the £36 million threshold voluntarily comply with the act.

SMEs Unprepared

According to research released by The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), almost two thirds of SMEs are unaware of the Modern Slavery Act and the impact it has on them. The CIPS polled 263 SMEs.

Despite the changes only directly targeting larger businesses, it is expected that there will be a knock-on effect on SMEs. It is these smaller businesses that are particularly ignorant of how the amendments to the law this April will affect them.

Whilst acknowledging that smaller companies may not have access to the same resources as large organisations to tackle slavery, the report asserts that a number of simple measures can be put in place. These include the formation of partnerships between larger corporations and smaller SMEs.

David Noble, Group CEO of CIPS, asserted that, “Ultimately, modern slavery is not an issue confined to the supply chains of large multinational corporations. On the contrary, SMEs can often have long and complicated supply chains themselves.”

Despite many SMEs claiming to not have found any evidence of slavery or forced labour within their supply chains, it seems this is largely due to ignorance and lack of action. Of the SMEs surveyed, 67 per cent admitted to having never taken any steps to tackle the issue of forced labour, and 75 per cent said they would not know what to do if modern slavery was found in their supply chains.

New Standard to Assist Business

Nigel McKay, former procurement head at HS2, is launching a standard with the Building Research Establishment (BRE), which will assist businesses in tackling risks around modern slavery and other ethical labour issues within their supply chains.

The standard will cater to companies of all sizes, and be applicable across varying industry sectors for three tiers of companies – those with a turnover under £36 million, between £36 and £500 million, and those with turnovers of more than £500 million.

Shamir Ghumra, Associate Director, Head of Responsible Sourcing in the Centre for Sustainable Products at BRE, said that the organisation, “recognised that there is a need to strengthen some of [the work BRE has previously done in this area], and since then Modern Slavery Act has come out. It’s not just about how to comply with the Act, but looking at ethical labour issues as a whole.”

McKay believes that nowadays within procurement, people are more socially and ethically aware – “a lot of conversations are now around the social and ethical issues of procurement and how much good your pound does, not just how cheap something is.”

McKay is realistic about the scale of what they are trying to achieve, acknowledging that changing a company’s approach to its supply chain can can several years. He claimed that “Not every company will be able to do everything in the first year. It takes three, four or five years, to re-engineer a supply chain.”

With the law change effective as of last Friday, it won’t be long until SMEs feel the pressure to take action and start voluntarily assessing their supply chains.

We’ve been keeping up with other procurement news around the world, and have picked out the top headlines for you this week…

Ghana Approves Procurement Bill

  • The Public Procurement Amendment Bill 2015 has been passed by the Ghana’s parliament.
  • The bill will introduce a sustainable public procurement framework for contracting and electronic procurement, and will also bring about a more transparent and accountable procurement system.
  • The 2003 Public Procurement Act has been amended to improve public financial management, and now needs to be signed by Ghana President, John Dramani Mahama, to bring it into force.
  • 2003’s Public Procurement Act “exposed some administrative bottlenecks, delays and imbalances in the procurement structure,” the government statement added.

Read more at Supply Management

Brambles’ Sustainability Goals

  • Brambles, a global supply chain logistics company operating primarily through the CHEP and IFCO brands, has announced its Sustainability Goals for 2020.
  • The company’s goals focus on the most material aspects of the Group’s operations and are closely aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Tom Gorman, Brambles’ CEO said “Brambles has made significant progress in delivering continual improvement through our sustainability objectives over the past five years.”
  • You can view the full details of the company’s 2020 goals here.

Read more at Supply Chain 24/7

Manufacturers Trying to Forge Disruptive Supply Relationships

  • Manufacturers operating in high-value sectors, such as the aerospace and automotive industries, are going all out to forge relationships with businesses in other sectors in order to secure a clear, competitive advantage.
  • These businesses are demonstrating how a bit of lateral thinking and a clear sense of what end users want can create some unlikely and yet productive partnerships.
  • It is now business critical to establish supply partnerships that will enable them to work together to innovate new products and services and bring them to market more quickly.
  • Of course, there are significant risks attached to such supplier collaboration relationships, which some businesses may be reluctant to establish.

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

World Bank Report on East Asian Cites

  • East Asian cities could create more than 7m new jobs each year if they boosted infrastructure and improved skills and the regulatory environment, claims a new World Bank report.
  • The report looks at how the world’s successful cities have achieved their growth. It found cities did best by perfecting existing skills rather than completely overhauling themselves.
  • East Asian cities have grown faster than anywhere else in the world in recent years and are likely to keep expanding.
  • The report said linking infrastructure investments with private sector needs, zeroing in on the skills gaps, and making sure private and public sector industries supported each other were all factors which led to cities becoming more competitive.

Read more at Supply Management

BBC micro:bit Launches to Generation of UK Students

In a landmark moment, the BBC are delivering up to one million micro:bit devices free to UK students to encourage more young people get creative with technology.

BBC Micro:bit

Every Year 7 student in England and Wales, Year 8 student in Northern Ireland, and S1 student in Scotland will receive a micro:bit. The device, launched as part of the BBC Make it Digital initiative, is a pocket-sized, codeable computer that allows young people to get creative with technology, whatever their level of experience, and aims to help develop a new generation of digital pioneers.

Students can program their BBC micro:bit to become anything they want – from simple games to smart watches and even fitness trackers. This is done by using one of the code editors at www.microbit.co.uk, or the mobile app, and by connecting it to other devices and sensors. The website also features a range of resources and tutorials to help teachers, parents and students take advantage of the BBC micro:bit’s vast potential.

It’s the BBC’s most ambitious education project in 30 years and builds on the pioneering role of the BBC Micro, which helped introduce the nation to computing in the 1980s. It has been made possible only through a ground-breaking partnership between the BBC and 31 organisations, including ARM, Barclays, element14, Lancaster University, and Microsoft.

Open-Source Technology

BBC micro:bits will be delivered nationwide through schools and made available to home-schooled students over the next few weeks, but they will be the students’ devices to own. This allows students to keep their device as they move up through the school, and to continue bringing their ideas to life outside of school and term time.

Some additional BBC micro:bits have been included in the rollout to enable teachers to extend their BBC micro:bit lessons to students in other year groups, giving the BBC micro:bit partnership an even better chance of inspiring an entire generation.

Following the nationwide rollout, the BBC micro:bit hardware and much of the software will be open-sourced, and BBC micro:bits will be available to buy from a range of retailers. Money generated from these commercial sales will be used to further encourage as many people as possible to join the coding revolution. Further details will be announced soon.

British Innovation

Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, said: “This is a very special moment for us, our partners and most importantly for young people across the country. The BBC micro:bit has the potential to be a seminal piece of British innovation, helping this generation to be the coders, programmers and digital pioneers of the future.

“Only the BBC could attempt a project this ambitious, on such a large scale, and I’m thrilled we’ve persuaded so many people to get behind this and make it happen.” 

Sinead Rocks, Head of BBC Learning, said: “The BBC micro:bit has seemingly limitless potential, especially when paired with other hardware, and we can’t wait to see what students will do with it. They’ve already come up with all kinds of ideas during testing and at events around the country – some ideas help solve some of life’s daily challenges, some could have business potential, and others are just great fun. Teachers have been quick to embrace it too, which is so important to the success of the project, and they have already made valuable additions to our online resources.”

Jessica Cecil, Controller, Make It Digital said: “BBC micro:bit represents a major milestone in our bid to inspire a new generation of digital innovators. As part of our Make it Digital initiative we want everyone to discover more about the digital world. We’re offering easy-to-use devices like the BBC micro:bit, up to 5000 Make it Digital traineeships across the UK, and shows on the BBC such as Girls Can Code and Calculating Ada, to achieve just that.

“Working with our many partners to create opportunities for children to code, make and to discover, together we aim to build the chances of the next generation.”

The BBC micro:bit is the result of a ground-breaking partnership on an unprecedented scale. The BBC micro:bit’s product partners have led on the software, hardware, design, manufacture and distribution of the device. This includes:

  • ARM: The BBC micro:bit was created using the ARM® mbed™ hardware and software development kits and compiler services. The project builds on the organisations’ collaboration on the original 1981 BBC Micro computer.
  • Barclays: Supporting the distribution and manufacture of the BBC micro:bit by incorporating it into their digital education programmes
  • BBC: The BBC micro:bit project has been conceived and convened by the BBC, bringing together partners to deliver a digital literacy project on an unprecedented scale.
  • element14: element14 manufacturers the BBC micro:bit and has worked closely with all partners in areas such as component selection, cost optimisation and design for manufacture. In addition, element14 has leveraged its manufacturing, logistics and packaging capabilities to safely deliver the first 1 million units into the UK.
  • Lancaster University: Designed and developed the BBC micro:bit runtime; the essential core code that makes the BBC micro:bit do all the amazing things it does. The University will continue to support the micro:bit community as it grows.
  • Microsoft: Developed the BBC micro:bit website (www.microbit.co.uk) to host code editors for all one million micro:bits and has also supplied two coding languages.
  • Nordic Semiconductor: Supplied the ultra low power Bluetooth® chip that integrates the micro:bit’s computer brain, and allows the micro:bit to both wirelessly communicate with other micro:bits, and sync to or be updated from smartphones, tablets, and computers via Bluetooth.
  • NXP Semiconductor: Provided the micro-controller that manages the BBC micro:bit’s USB connection, the accelerometer and magnetometer that enable the micro:bit to react to motion and the direction it’s facing.
  • Samsung: Developed the Android app for the BBC micro:bit.
  • Technology Will Save Us: A London-based start-up that designs ‘Do It Yourself’ tech kits that spark the creative imagination of young people. Tech Will Save Us led the BBC micro:bit design, producing the distinctive look & feel that encourages kids to get hands-on with technology.
  • Wellcome Trust: Through direct initiatives to schools, Wellcome Trust will provide exciting real life contexts for teachers and learners around the UK to use the micro:bit.

For more on the BBC micro:bit, the project partners and product champions, visit the ‘Make it Digital’ website.

Easter Supply Chain Set for Record Year

You may not realise the complicated Easter supply chain that exists in order to cope with increasing consumer demand.

Easter Supply Chain

Whether your Easter delicacy of choice is the humble egg, sweets like jelly beans and marshmallows, or something more like a Spanish torrija, you are contributing to the enormous spend on confectionary and other Easter-related items.

In the UK, Easter sales of chocolate make up 10 per cent of the figures for the entire year. According to the National Confectioners’ Association in the USA, around 70 per cent of the Easter sweets purchased are chocolate, which works out to a whopping $2.2 billion spend.

All of this puts pressure on the Easter supply chain plans that businesses have in place. And 2016 is expected to be a bumper year for consumer spend.

Highest for 13 Years

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) in the USA, total spending on Easter this year is expected to hit $17.3 billion, the highest level for 13 years. To put it into perspective, that’s a spend of $146 for each person in the USA.

According to some statistics, this will put spending, particularly on sweets and chocolates, at a higher level for Easter than it is for Halloween. The NRF have estimated confectionary sales will total $2.4 million, surpassing the average of $2.1 million for Halloween sweets.

Possibly not good news for the 81 per cent of adults who admitted to stealing chocolate from their children’s stashes over the holiday period…

Retail Sales

And it’s not just the confectionary market that sees a huge spend at this time of year. With adults planning on spending on average 50 per cent for Easter than they did on Halloween, the money is being spread around.

According to the NRF survey, spending will see high figures in the following areas:

  • $5.5 billion on food
  • $3 billion on clothing
  • $2.7 billion on gifts
  • $2.4 billion on confectionary
  • $1.2 billion on flowers

And with over 40 per cent of shoppers visiting department stores to carry out their shopping, and 21 per cent shopping online, organisational supply chains will be working flat out to cope with demand.

Easter Supply Chain Optimisation

Delivering all this chocolate, sweets and other items to stores requires a mammoth effort from logistics organisations around the world. Shipping efficiency, customer location, order quantities and supply chain management all have to be reviewed in order to keep up with the demand.

In the USA, Hersheys opted to optimise their supply chain around the elements of customer geographical location and grouping stock-keeping units with product groups. It is estimated that by doing this, and using off-the-shelf software, the organisation has saved itself in excess of $15 million per year.

Just Born, a confectionary manufacturer who are responsible for America’s favourite non-chocolate treat, the Peep, changed their Easter supply chain strategy in order to cope with the huge demand for their products over the holidays.

The organisation now uses distribution centres and 3PL to break bulk orders for more efficient delivery to retailers. Just Born also shares these centres with other organisations, with this collaboration further reducing the costs associated with deliveries.

An increasing use of technology for inventory management and planning is making life easier for organisations too. Barcodes can be used to manage inventories more efficiently, while also allowing for real-time tracking of stock at both distribution centres and retail outlets.

Further advancements in technologies such as ERP and MRP systems will allow organisations to further increase efficiencies, while increased collaboration will benefit not only the whole industry, but also the consumer.

So just remember, the next time you crack open that chocolate egg, there’s more than a simple process required to get it from manufacturer to shelf (and that’s before the Easter Bunny gets involved!).

What Can National Apprenticeship Week Do for the UK Economy?

Last week was National Apprenticeship Week in the UK. The National Apprenticeship Service uses the week to raise awareness of the fantastic benefits apprenticeships can offer to business, employees and the wider economy.

UK Apprentices with Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
UK Apprentices with Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

It’s great to see UK businesses embracing National Apprenticeship week. Despite the popularity of apprenticeships waning in recent years, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) are committed to providing opportunities and relevant training for businesses and employees. The most obvious positive is that more jobs are created for those who wish to have training and gain skills and experience within different industries.

The UK isn’t the only place to be positively addressing employment issues this week as New Zealand celebrated an end to zero-hour contracts.

On the flip side, it was revealed that Nigeria have the onerous task of needing to find 40-50 million new jobs to cater to their growing economy.

National Apprenticeship Week

Apprenticeships can provide so many opportunities to different stakeholders including work opportunities and training to employees and employers. National Apprenticeship Week seeks to change the common misconceptions about apprenticeships consisting of low-skilled and badly paid roles and being non-advantageous to employers. The reality is quite the opposite with 1,500  different jobs available across 170 industries.

Unfortunately, many companies don’t realise all of the advantages they can reap from implementing an apprenticeship scheme. For example, as of April 2016, businesses will not have to pay National Insurance for apprentices under 25 years of age.

Whilst many businesses, including CIPS, already have schemes in place, National Apprenticeship Week raises awareness to those that don’t and organisations like the NAS can help to put these in place and expand existing schemes.

The UK Government have committed to improving the apprenticeship system by creating three million new apprenticeships by 2020. The UK, and other nations, should be taking a leaf out of Germany’s book, where apprenticeships are integral to the education system.

Germany has implemented a dual system whereby apprenticeships combine theoretical training with hand-on practical experience in the workplace funded by employers. They also have a highly effective assessment process for candidate selection.

It would be fantastic to see the UK succeed in emulating Germany’s apprenticeship system. National Apprenticeship Week seems like a good place to start.

Zero Hour Contracts in New Zealand

Zero-hour contracts have sparked controversy in recent years and many have campaigned to put an end to them. Those against the contracts claim that they are unfair, exploitative, and only benefit an employer, who can avoid paying for things like annual leave and leave and sick days.

Some, however, would attest to the benefits of the zero-hour contract, arguing that it allows flexibility and minimum commitment. They can certainly come in use to those solely seeking part time work, such as students who might benefit from having weeks at a time with no work hours.

New Zealand has clamped down on the contracts this week as their parliament unanimously voted to abolish them. Having initially sought to only moderate the contracts, the country have now officially banned them altogether.

The Unite trade union, which has named and shamed fast food employers as users of zero-hour contracts, has strongly welcomed the move having campaigned for this result since 2003.

It will now be obligatory for all employers in New Zealand to contract employees with at least some guaranteed hours.

Nigerian Job Shortage

This week, the World Bank released a report which states Nigeria needs to create between 40 and 50 million jobs to sustain their rapidly growing population.

The report, which explains how only a tiny proportion of the country’s population is currently benefiting from high growth emphasised the importance of implementing more relevant technical and vocational education and training.  As ever, it is the women who are most affected by job shortages as there few job options for them.  

It will also be crucial to raise the productivity of agriculture by increasing access to markets, inputs, credit, and technology.

At the moment, a North-South divide is emerging because the northern regions have more difficulty accessing education and employment.

Kathleen Beegle, world bank lead economist said “Nigeria is facing a real challenge when it comes to creating enough good jobs for the many new entrants to the job market.”

We’ve been keeping up to date with all of the procurement news this week. Here’s what has been going on…

Supply Chain Salaries in UAE

  • According to a report by recruiter Morgan McKinley, supply chain professionals are likely to see salaries rise by 4 to 6 per cent in 2016.
  • This is due to increased investment in manufacturing capability in the Gulf region and, with it, the rising prominence of the region’s supply chain professionals.
  • In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, for example, warehouse and distribution managers are in particularly high demand, as there has been strong growth in manufacturing and distribution.
  • According to the report, the outlook for salaries beyond mid-2016 is heavily dependent on oil prices.

Read More at Supply Management

Wildlife Trading

  • Some 40 companies across shipping, airline and transport industries – members of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce – signed an agreement at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday which aims to block transportation routes for the illegal wildlife trade.
  • The move could mark a significant milestone in preventing the illegal wildlife trading industry, which according to United For Wildlife is valued at up to $20 billion per year.
  • The initiative also has the backing of key global lobbies such as the WWF.
  • Prince William, who is backing the initiative, said “We have faced up to the fact that if current trends continue the last wild African elephants and rhinos will be killed before my daughter Charlotte’s 25th birthday.”

Read More at Supply Management

UPS Alternative Fuel Investment

  • UPS has announced plans to build an additional 12 compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations and add 380 new CNG tractors to its growing alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet.
  • The company is working to meet its goal of logging one billion miles with its alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet by the end of 2017.
  • They plan to use a Rolling Laboratory approach to determine the right alternative fuel solutions to meet the unique needs of route-specific driving environments.
  • UPS was one of the initial 13 leading companies to take the Obama Administration’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emission intensity 20 percent by 2020.

Read more at Supply Chain 247

Why Food Procurement Can Help Climate Change

  • Estimates suggest that food and drink production and distribution contributes 20 per cent of UK carbon emissions every year and is the leading cause of deforestation, land use change and biodiversity loss.
  • It also accounts for 70 per cent of all human water use and is a major source of water pollution
  • The UK Government recognises that procurement can have a considerable impact on the environment. As a result it has introduced the Government Buying Standards.
  • The standards include a set of minimum mandatory standards for inclusion in tenders and contract performance conditions, and apply to all aspects of Government procurement, which of course includes food and catering services.

Read more at Public Health Matters

Crowdsourcing Big Ideas on the Future of Procurement

Through an unequalled think-tank event powered by social media, Procurious will enable the global procurement community to crowdsource their thinking on the future of procurement during the second annual Big Ideas Summit on April 21, 2016.

Big Ideas Summit 2016-logo

As the leading free online business network for procurement and supply chain management professionals, Procurious will connect 50 top executives, thought leaders and CPOs, with its 12,000+ worldwide members to forge new ground together.

Every delegate’s big ideas will contribute to solving thorny issues, and harnessing new opportunities. All are invited to participate by going to bigideassummit.com — where they can register for Procurious and then join the Big Ideas Summit Group.

“Procurement needs to start thinking the unthinkable and rethinking the possible – we can’t be constrained by our current paradigms. With social media allowing every one of us to have a voice, a digital conference helps us involve the whole world in the conversation, and enables access to diverse views and experiences,” says Tania Seary, Founding Chairman, Procurious.

“Our goal is to empower a new generation of business intrapreneurs – people who can think outside the box – to ignite change even in times of ambiguity. We hope to seed an innovation movement that knows no boundaries.”

Sponsored by IBM, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), The Hackett Group, and Coupa, the Big Ideas Summit will feature several provocative sessions. Leaders from these organisations, as well as the Economist, Facebook, AstraZeneca, The World Bank, and more, will discuss:

  • Thinking the Unthinkable: How the global business environment is changing, how to spot trends and disruptions, and ‘unthinkables’ to prepare for.
  • Rethinking the Possible: Today’s megatrends, from ethical supply chains to the Internet of Things.
  • The Conversation Century: How leaders are using social media to attract and retain the best and brightest talent, and maintain a career edge.
  • Procurement’s Blind Spots: How procurement is applying key agile capabilities, and addressing “unthinkable” risk mitigation issues.

Find your voice – the conversation has already begun! Participants are already asking hard questions, vetting their big ideas, and reading exclusive, advance insights from the presenters.

On April 21, when they log on to Procurious, they will also be able to exchange viewpoints on the proceedings, shared by video, and get involved in real time via social media, on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, using the hashtag #BigIdeas2016. Members will also be able to access more rich content in the days and weeks after this gathering.

Join the global movement now. Visit bigideassummit.com and register today.

Tweet this: Join the global conversation with your ideas for transforming #procurement at our #BigIdeas2016 Summit, April 21 www.bigideassummit.com

About Procurious

Procurious is the world’s first online business community dedicated to procurement and supply chain professionals. It’s a hub to advance your career, develop your skills and expand your global professional network. With 12,000+ members across the globe, Procurious aims to empower procurement leaders to connect, collaborate and take a more innovative professional outlook.

Think of Procurious as a professional network, news and knowledge hub, learning and career center, all in one place. Join now at www.procurious.com – it’s free to register and participate.

Here’s what else has been going on in the procurement world this week.

Primark’s Sustainable Cotton Programme

  • Under the Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme, women in Gujarat, India, are trained to improve cotton yields, increase their incomes and introduce sustainable farming methods.
  • A pilot, launched three years ago, saw 1,251 women smallholders increase their average profits by 211 per cent and yields by 12.6 per cent.
  • The pilot also saw a 5 per cent cut in input costs, a 12.9 per cent reduction in water use and fertiliser and pesticide use fell.
  • To coincide with International Women’s Day, the retailer has announced the programme will be extended by six years to an additional 10,000 women.

Read more at Supply Management

Amazon Plans Major Logistics Network

  • In order to reduce dependency on third-party freighter services, Amazon is building its own logistics network to keep up with customer demand.
  • The planes will be leased for five to seven years and run by various divisions of Air Transport Services Group, allowing Amazon to run its own logistics network in the US.
  • With this, the retail giant would be able to meet the demand of same- and next-day delivery for its customers, particularly Prime members.
  • Dave Clark, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations and Customer Service at Amazon said “We offer Earth’s largest selection, great prices and ultra-fast delivery promises to a growing group of Prime members, and we’re excited to supplement our existing delivery network with a great new provider.”

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

E-procurement in the UK Could Save a Fortune

  • The UK government could save up to £10 billion per annum through a reformed e-procurement platform by placing a greater emphasis on administrative efficiencies and market competition.
  • By using e-procurement models championed by the likes of South Korea and Estonia savings of 25 per cent could be made to the present £40 billion procurement bill.
  • Estonia currently attributes roughly 50 per cent of its expenditure through e-procurement platforms, saving an estimated 30-40 per cent on the cost of administering procurement.
  • However, the potential of e-procurement can only be achieved in the UK if trends accelerate.

Read more at Business Cloud News

Sustainable Palm Oil Production in Indonesia

  • The world’s second largest palm oil producer, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), has mapped its supply chain to 489 individual mills in Indonesia.
  • In 2014, GAR extended its sustainability policy to its entire supply chain.
  • Paul Hickman, GAR’s head of global vegetable oils and oilseeds, said “We see a clear industry trend where buyers want more information on the impact of the palm oil they purchase.”
  • Indonesia’s Astra Agro Lestari has signed the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP), along with GAR, whose signatories promise to eliminate deforestation, peatlands conversion and human rights abuses from their supply chains.

Read more at Supply Management

30 Under 30 – Recognising Supply Chain Rising Stars

ThomasNet and the Institute for Supply Management have announced their annual 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars for 2015.

30 Under 30

Delivering more than $10 million in cost savings, spearheading a new global distribution model, and driving a startup’s exponential growth are among the outstanding personal achievements of young professionals today named winners in the ThomasNet and Institute for Supply Management (ISM) ‘30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars Recognition Program‘.

“These young professionals are leading by example for a new generation in the procurement field by demonstrating the huge accomplishments possible,” said Mark Holst-Knudsen, President, ThomasNet. “They are true role models for how millennials are paving a new path in supply chain management.”

Ahead of the Curve

Founded in 2014, the 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars programme is designed to recognise individuals who have demonstrated leadership, innovation, collaboration, and other outstanding attributes.

This programme provides role models and illustrates supply chain and procurement as a viable and exciting career choice. Millennials are expected to comprise 75 percent of global employees by 2025.

“Our new best and brightest stars are ahead of the curve in recognising supply chain as a natural fit for their expertise and values,” said ISM CEO Tom Derry. “Applying their leadership skills, technical know-how and passion for making a difference, they are helping revitalise the industry in tangible, far-reaching ways.”

With an average age of 27, the 2016 supply chain superstars span industries ranging from manufacturing to education, financial services, medical devices, information technology, oil and gas, and government. Many are driving improvement in areas that matter to them and benefit society, such as sustainability.

Megawatt Star

30 Under 30 - Amy Georgi
2015 Megawatt Winner, Amy Georgi

Recognised as this year’s Megawatt Star: Amy Georgi, 30, a program manager in supply chain acquisitions and integrations with Fluke Electronics, a Danaher Company, based in York, Pennsylvania.

Each rising star will receive a one-year membership to ISM; admittance to ISM2016, May 16-18 in Indianapolis; and a free THOMASNET.com Supplier Discovery Lunch and Learn session for them and their colleagues. In addition, Georgi and her nominator will win an all-expense-paid trip to the ISM conference.

For profiles and photos of the winners, please visit www.thomasnet.com/30under30.

About Institute for Supply Management

Institute for Supply Management (ISM) serves supply management professionals in more than 90 countries. Its 50,000 global members manage $1 trillion in corporate and government spend annually. Founded in 1915 as the first supply management institute in the world, ISM is committed to advancing the practice of supply management to drive value and competitive advantage, contributing to a prosperous and sustainable world. ISM leads the profession through the ISM Report On Business®, its highly regarded certification programs and the ISM Mastery Model™. For more information, visit: www.instituteforsupplymanagement.org.

About THOMASNET®

THOMASNET’s flagship product, THOMASNET.com, is industry’s go-to platform for supplier discovery and sourcing for OEM and MRO products, as well as custom manufacturing services. This free platform serves procurement professionals, engineers, plant and facility management and other buyers from corporations, educational institutions, government agencies, the military and small businesses. It also serves manufacturers, distributors, and service companies throughout North America who want to get found by these buyers.

Why We’re Embracing e-Procurement in 2016

While e-Procurement has been around for a number of years, it seems to have made significant strides in a number of areas recently.

e-Procurement

You might have seen that the Procurious team attended the eWorld Procurement & Supply Conference in London last week. This bi-annual event is the leader for procurement innovation and it was great to be a part of. We’ll be sharing some more content about our experiences there soon.

However, it has been interesting to note that the subjects of e-procurement and technology have turned out to be hot topics all-round in the procurement and supply news over the last seven days.

The Ukraine has introduced e-procurement to help fight corruption; Verian, a software solutions company, has announced the release of its e-procurement solution; and a report by Webexpenses has claimed that UK workers are hindered by outdated technology.

Ukraine Introduces e-procurement

Ukraine are launching a new electronic public procurement system this April which will make procurement in Ukraine more transparent and save money.

The system, called ProZorro, will be mandatory for all public procurement tenders. To date, 15 per cent of public sector buyers, approximately 3000 of them, have signed up voluntarily to ProZorro, as well as 10,000 potential suppliers.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukrainian Prime Minister, said in January that public procurement had been a source of corruption, something ProZorro will prevent. The system will also reduce government spending and lower prices.

Verian Aim to Raise User Engagement

Verian, a US-based cloud spend management and P2P solutions provider, recently announced the release of its winter e-procurement solution, aimed at helping to change user behaviours to gain the benefits of e-procurement such as greater efficiencies and cutting cost.

Businesses will be provided with a configurable solution that allows users to track performance metrics and top performers. It will be possible to see a visual representation of the impact of a user’s individual behaviour on the success of the organisation.

Heidi Murphy, Director of Procurement, YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities commented that, “We wanted these metrics to show users how they were personally impacting the process, and create a common ground for communicating with them on something other than policy adherence.”

Verian are hoping that the latest updates to its software will help with user engagement, long believed to be one of the main barriers to successful e-procurement implementation.

UK Held Back by Outdated Tech

A recent survey on workplace technology has revealed that 85 per cent of UK office workers believe their company’s technology is not up to scratch.

The survey, conducted by Webexpenses, a cloud-based expense management provider, also revealed that the workers believed that if this situation were to change, work would be completed more efficiently.

Over a quarter (26 per cent) of participants specified that it was the IT systems which they felt needed improvement, while 41 per cent thought that the process of managing teams and internal communications could be easily enhanced with better technology.

The report ultimately reinforces how crucial it is for businesses to engage with the latest technologies. Don’t get left behind!

As always, we’ve been on the lookout for more of this week’s top procurement news stories.

Foot and Mouth Disease

  • The US has calculated that an outbreak of foot and mouth disease could cost the livestock industry in excess of USD$188 billion.
  • The Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee met to discuss how prepared the US are to handle such an outbreak and determined that there was an alarming gap.
  • Michael Conaway, Agriculture Committee chairman and Republican Congressman, said, “It is essential we have all of the plans and infrastructure in place so we can be suitably prepared against intentional or unintentional introduction of plant or animal pests and disease”.
  • The hearing formed part of a series by the committee highlighting the importance of agriculture to national security.

Read more at Supply Management

Australia to Boost Defence Procurement

  • Australia is to increase spending on defence by AUD$29.9 billion over the next decade, including funding to help SMEs access global supply chain markets.
  • The Department of Defence has published its 2016 Defence White Paper outlining strategic defence priorities and challenges up until 2035.
  • The investment plans include: a continuous naval shipbuilding programme, starting with nine future frigates and 12 offshore patrol vessels and 12 submarines.
  • The government is also creating a new Centre for Defence Industry Capability and a new approach to defence innovation. 

Read more at Supply Management

Apple’s Supply Chain Recovery

  • J.P. Morgan analysts tracking the Apple supply chain issued a note to investors this week, revealing that build projections for the coming months are better than had been anticipated.
  • Having initially forecasted iPhone sales to drop up to 15 per cent quarter over quarter, units are expected to be flat between March and June, at about 45 million units for each.
  • Their visits with the supply chain suggest a build rate of 2 million units for the new 4-inch “iPhone SE” this quarter, growing to 4 million in the June quarter.
  • The  “iPhone 7” update is expected to arrive later this year.

Read more at Supply chain 24/7

India Expands e-Waste Recycling Company

  • Attero, an Indian company based outside New Delhi, has patented a technology which extracts gold and other precious metals from electronic waste.
  • The company collects one million pounds in weight of mobile phones and computers per month in India and resells the precious metals it extracts back to the electronics industry.
  • Attero has won the backing of US investors such as the International Finance Corporation and Draper Fisher Jurvetson to help it expand into the US.
  • It is much cheaper to install Attero’s urban mining centres than the European counterparts and the centres take up less space.

Read more at Supply Management

Denmark’s Out-of-Date Food

  • The first supermarket in Denmark called Wefood selling food beyond its “best before” date has opened to help cut the 700,000 tonnes of food waste produced by the country each year.
  • The food is still safe to eat but would be considered waste by supermarkets because it has passed its “best before” date, has damaged packaging, is labelled incorrectly or too much has been produced.
  • The Danish minister for food and the environment, Eva Kjer Hansen said “A supermarket like Wefood makes so much sense and is an important step in the battle to combat food waste.
  • Similar stores across the country are planned if the first is a success.

Read more at Supply Management

The Best Companies to Work for 2016

The Sunday Times released its “100 Best Companies to Work for 2016” last week, and there was a new name at the top of the list.

Best Companies to Work for

London-based online insurance retailer, Simply Business, beat the competition to top the main list this year. Not only has the business never been in the top spot before, it was a completely new entry for 2016.

The retailer beat telecoms reseller, Chess (up one place to second, from third in 2015), and Red Carnation Hotels (first in 2015, but third this year), into first place.

How To Be ‘The Best’

The Sunday Times has been running their Best Companies survey since the year 2000, attracting the big names in UK business, all trying to make one of the high-profile lists – Best Companies; Best Small Companies; Best Not-for-Profit Organisations.

The organisations register themselves to take part – 925 did so this year – but it’s their employees who decide if and where they make the list. This year, over 240,000 employees completed anonymous surveys about their employers, rating that on the following categories:

  • Leadership – the head of the company and senior leaders
  • Wellbeing – stress, pressure and work-life balance
  • Giving Something Back – if companies are putting back into the local community and society in general
  • Personal Growth – whether staff feel stretched and challenged by their job
  • My Manager – how they feel about immediate and day-to-day managers
  • My Company – how they feel about the company, rather than the people
  • My Team – how they feel about their colleagues
  • Fair Deal – how happy they are with pay and benefits

It’s not a one-time thing either. Firms choose to enter on a year by year basis, and it’s clear that they need to keep engaging with employees and working hard to stay on the list. There were 79 new entrants in the three lists for 2016, meaning some companies will have to work hard to regain their place next year.

Secret to Success

Analysing the survey results this year, The Times has highlighted team spirit as one of the key factors in enabling companies to succeed. Although many of the survey participants said their workplace stress was increasing, this was frequently outweighed by the benefits of a strong staff identity.

Jason Stockwood, CEO of Simply Business, also highlights employee empowerment as part of his business’ success. Since taking over as CEO in 2010, Stockwood has worked to build an engaged workforce, aimed at bringing benefits to all business stakeholders.

He says, “It’s a fact of modern business that by investing in a happy, engaged workforce you’re also investing in your customers. Getting it right internally is good for everybody, including the SMEs buying our products.

“Six years on we have grown from 130,000 to 350,000 small business customers and the workforce has doubled in size. This has only been possible by making every single member of the team feel empowered to achieve their full potential.”

Not All About Rewards

And working towards being one of the best companies doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money. In fact, strong leadership, a focus on employee engagement for all employees, and ensuring a good work-life balance were all seen as more important factors for the top companies this year.

It was also found that small companies were out-performing their larger counterparts across all the categories this year. According to Dr Ian Dennis, Best Companies’ Director of Research, the teamwork found across the small organisations that is making the difference.

The Table Toppers

It was all change at the top of the Best Small Companies list, while two of the top three from 2015 were up at the top again in the Best Not-for-Profit Organisations.

Best Small Companies to Work for 2016

  1. Paragon Interiors Group (New Entrant)
  2. Phaidon International (23rd in 2015)
  3. Educ8 (New Entrant)

Best Not-for-Profit Organisations to Work for 2016

  1. SLH Group (1st in 2015)
  2. Wales & West Housing (3rd in 2015)
  3. B3Living (7th in 2015)

To see the full “Best Companies to Work for” lists, and get more information on all the companies involved, visit The Sunday Times.

Why It’s Critical to Keep Your Skills Up to Date

Technological change is disrupting every industry and profession around the world, and obliging professionals to ensure their skills are up to date.

Keep your skills up to date

In recent weeks, Procurious has published a number of articles on personal development, training and up-skilling. The idea of keeping skills up to to date, and making time for learning and development, are applicable not only in procurement, but also to virtually every profession in every country.

However, this is not to say that all the onus is on the individuals to take responsibility for their development. It’s important also for organisations to ensure that resources are made available to allow employees the opportunity to take advantage of the training that is available.

AT&T – Remaining Competitive

AT&T is a US-based telecommunications company, currently owned and operated by SBC Communications. In the USA, the company is the second largest provider of mobile phone services, and the largest provider of fixed phone services. The company also provides broadband services.

The rapid pace of technological change in the telecommunications industry has left AT&T vying to remain competitive against larger technology organisations, such as Google and Amazon. Part of the strategy for remaining competitive in this industry is ensuring that employees’ skills are up to date.

It was estimated that approximately 280,000 employees need to update, or learn, coding skills, something that the organisation is supporting through the provision of eLearning. The company will reimburse around $8,000 (USD) per year per employee for this training, although this will still mean employees are funding some of the training themselves.

Up-skill. Or else…

While this may sound like the organisation is being supportive of employees’ efforts to ensure they have the skills they require to perform their job, there is something of a darker undertone. In essence, AT&T are forcing their employees to learn these skills, or find that their career choices are “very limited”.

CEO, Randall Stephenson, has been quoted as saying people who do not spend 5 to 10 hours per week in online learning will “obsolete themselves with the technology”. The time commitment involved means that many employees are now working evenings and weekends, on top of their day jobs, just to keep up to date.

The company also plans, eventually, to include personal development and learning as part of performance reviews too. This will be based on what people have studied, how well they did, and whether they are willing to keep learning.

The Right Reasons

It would be easy to point the finger at AT&T and say that they are being unfair. That they shouldn’t be forcing employees to learn skills, or essentially be out of a job. However, there are many organisations who do not offer the support that AT&T are giving their employees.

Yes, employees own time and money are required in order to keep pace, but if these employees don’t have the same skills as those at competitor organisations, then the chances are good that AT&T will cease to exist, and those employees will be looking for new jobs in an ultra-competitive job market.

It is also not to say that AT&T are leaving their employees to fend for themselves. The company has a programme called “Vision 2020”. It combines online and classroom-based work in subjects like digital networking and data science, but also looks at old skills that can be transferred to new careers.

AT&T management want to ensure that the company has a future, and the employees have got on board with this, and are actively working to make sure that they have the necessary skills to do so.

Stay ahead of the personal development game by making use of all the eLearning resources at your disposal. Check out the Learning Hub on Procurious for over 80 free video and audio resources, from learning about procurement, to learning from the experts.