Category Archives: In The Press

Tania Seary talks Procurious in the media

Over the course of the last few weeks, Procurious founder Tania Seary has been quoted in Australia’s Marketing Magazine. We’ve provided some choice excerpts from the conversation below.

Tania Seary Procurious

In part one of a two-part article she says:

“10 or 12 years ago, procurement used to be in the back room in the brown cardigan, but now they’re very much in the boardroom.”

“Globalisation’s driven a lot of the development, and a lot of it is about brand reputation and risk management.”

The article continues:

Advertising agencies need to “get with the program” and start quantifying the value they produce for businesses, she says with a provocative grin.

Seary has made her career founding a string of successful businesses to develop the procurement industry, including professional development educator The Faculty, recruitment service The Source and, most recently, industry social network, Procurious.

“10 years ago procurement wouldn’t have been seen anywhere near advertising agencies because that was the holy grail; that was the secret herbs and spices. What business leaders have to grapple with is they want to reduce their marketing costs, but where do they do it?”

Read the article in full here.

The second part of the article talks about how procurement can add value to an organization.

It begins: Tania Seary has a bundle of catchphrases she pulls out to explain why marketers should value procurement professionals’ input into their decision-making.

One of these is “Process is liberating” – and she says it convincingly.

Despite marketers such as Chorus Executive’s Christine Khor and DDB’s John Zeigler describing procurement’s systematisation and financial pressures as stifling to creativity, Seary argues that proper processes actually allow creative freedom.

“It’s all very structured and the guidelines are set up very well if procurement’s involved and people know what they’re dealing with.”

Seary is adamant that procurement professionals, “If they’re doing their jobs right”, simply act as value-adding helpers to decision-making, rather than taking away control in the way marketers often perceive.

Tania on why procurement people look at the value of agency relationships in a variety of dimensions other than pure financials:

“There’s no use being a cost reduction guru when your CEO’s looking for growth. You need to be managing costs but you need to be thinking about how you work with suppliers to grow the business with new products, new geographies, whatever. But if your CEO’s like, ‘Right, we’re under pressure here, it’s about reducing costs,’ well everyone should be in sync with what the business strategy is and supporting each other, ideally.”

Don’t forget: You can read the article in full on the marketingmag.com.au website.

5 more common procurement myths busted

Procurious.com – busting procurement myths since 2014.

We arm you with another handful of myth-busting one-liners to help you educate your workplace.

Procurement myths
It’s not just all about buying you know…

Myth: Procurement is just a fancy word for what was once known as the purchasing function within a business.

Reality: Procurement operates in a constantly changing environment and continues to evolve to meet business needs. Whilst its basic practice has always been around, procurement’s role and responsibilities and the skills required have significantly developed over time. What was considered purchasing is not the procurement of today, and the same may be said of the procurement of the future..

Myth: Anyone can get a job in procurement.

Reality: Procurement benefits from professionals with diverse backgrounds, and like no other profession is more active in seeking a mix of knowledge and experience. Procurement professionals are a good reflection of the industry sectors and business functions they work in and across. And yet, procurement still has a skillset that is distinct and requires specific training and development focus.

Myth: Most people end up in procurement as a career by accident.

Reality: There’s a new generation of procurement professionals that have actively chosen procurement as their career of choice. This surge will continue.

The shift is a result of businesses realising the potential opportunities for investing in dedicated procurement and procurement becoming more widely known and recognised. Just take a look at the new programs developed specifically for procurement in the education and training sector.

Myth: Procurement people don’t communicate effectively with other levels of the business.

Reality: Procurement people have the tough job of communicating messages and making changes across vertical and horizontal levels of the business. Often it’s the message, reasons and impacts of communication that is difficult.

Myth: A good chief financial officer can do procurement tasks just as well.

Reality: Procurement considers a wide outlook in decision-making and is in a good position to do this objectively. Finance is a highly important factor but must be weighed up against other business needs (such as service, risk and innovation).

Want more? Read the original 5 procurement myths

Has RFID technology revolutionised logistics?

This video from IBM demonstrates how RFID technology could revolutionise logistics services… But this isn’t from 2014, instead it’s been sitting gathering dust on YouTube since 2006.

So what’s happened in the preceding years? Honestly, not as much as you’d have thought… RFID has faced a number of challenges despite its advantages and usefulness within industry. But not from lobbyists with privacy concerns, conspiracy theorists, or lunatics who believe RFID has something to do with the Mark of the Beast. Instead it is feared that RFID technology has the potential to place significant complications on organisations as it opens them up to external (often invisible) risks.

Sports manufacturer Adidas has just attracted considerable attention by sewing RFID tags into the jerseys of national football teams.

In a statement to Deutsche Welle, Adidas said: “As part of a logistics project we have tested for the first time an RFID label with a virtual number. It is a read-only label without any additional data. The label is not tied to the article number, size or color of the article and we also can’t link it with end customer data. It is of course up to customer of this product to cut out the RFID label along the dashed line and throw it in the trash”.

So just what is RFID anyway?

RFID is short for radio-frequency identification, it transmits data wirelessly through the use of electromagnetic fields. There are many benefits for adopting RFID technology into your products, not to mention its barely-there proportions, and teensy price-tag (in-fact EPCglobal is campaigning for the cost to fall to just 5 cents). When applied it functions as a tracking device (of sorts), allowing the producer to keep tabs if they so wish.

Today you can find RFID tags being commonly used across storage and logistics industries. Retail is also catching-on, so it’s not surprising to learn of Adidas’ dabbling.

The participants at this Canadian yoga event confirmed their attendance at a RFID-fitted kiosk. And the library at Sydney’s University of Technology is looked after by robots – how is this possible you ask? Through RFID of course…

Will augmented reality change the manufacturing industry?

According to recently published figures – only 17 per cent believe that augmented reality is going to change manufacturing in the future.

But first a primer: what is augmented reality?

Augmented reality in manufacturing

People often confuse augmented reality (AR for short) with virtual reality, the two are wholly different beasts but it’s easy to see the logic. Virtual reality transports the user into a carefully constructed 3D, virtual world. It’s a full-blown immersive experience – and it needs to be, in order to create and sustain the illusion. Whereas augmented reality relies on digital data being overlaid on a live view of the world outside. Text, graphics and sound fill your field of vision, adding a useful extra layer of data to your immediate surroundings. In technology terms we’re talking Google Glass and Sony’s Smart EyeGlass, rather than Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus.

Factories of the future

Today there is very little practical, real-world use of augmented reality in the field. Despite being AR is still very much in its infancy many industries and professions are wising-up to the benefits the technology can afford.

Not to mention, the use of AR could expedite training – negating the use of offsite sessions and bringing it in-house instead. Similarly it has applications within the medical world, providing the surgeon with overlays of essential patient information.

Boeing, BMW and Volkswagen are working on implementing AR into their assembly lines to smooth the manufacturing process.

There’s a strong case for the use of AR within the retail and commerce space. Want to see what’s inside a product’s packaging without opening it? You can do that, sure.

How about using it to help battle immoral practice in the workplace? Google Glass is now able to detect whether someone’s happy, sad, nervous, angry or excited with the help of an app. This could help boost productivity, ensuring workers remain in a healthy state of mind, and identifying emotional strain before it fully takes hold.

Incidentally SCM World currently carries a survey on the future of manufacturing – you can take part and submit your thoughts here. The results are due to be published in October, so we’ll be keeping a careful eye on this one.

Responsible sourcing: top 500 ranking

You can pack a great deal under the responsible sourcing umbrella – from businesses practicing sustainable procurement, specialists in environmental and ethical trading, thought-leaders in social impact, to those organisations sharing strategies and solutions.

The leaderboard is arranged by social media clout – those with massive influence undoubtedly sit nearer the top, indicating that meaningful interactions via social media channels count for a lot here.

The list is compiled by McClelland Media Ltd, and UK retail giant Marks and Spencer.

We’ve provided a small sample below, but we suggest you head on over to https://www.leaderboarded.com/responsible-sourcing to view the top 500 in its entirety.

You can pack a great deal under the responsible sourcing umbrella – from businesses practicing sustainable procurement, specialists in environmental and ethical trading, thought-leaders in social impact, to those organisations sharing strategies and solutions.  The leaderboard is arranged by social media clout – those with massive influence undoubtedly sit nearer the top, indicating that meaningful interactions via social media channels count for a lot here. The list is compiled by McClelland Media Ltd, and UK retail giant Marks and Spencer.   We’ve provided a small sample below, but we suggest you head on over to https://www.leaderboarded.com/responsible-sourcing to view the top 500 in its entirety.  See something missing? We’ve been told it’s possible to nominate organisations (or people) for consideration. Best visit the publisher’s website for more information.

We’d also recommend bookmarking the page, as it updates weekly every Friday.

See something missing? We’ve been told it’s possible to nominate organisations (or people) for consideration. Best visit the publisher’s website for more information.

Is shipping & the supply chain the ‘next playground for hackers’?

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) is warning the maritime sector to be extra vigilant in light of increasing attacks from cyber criminals.

Do hackers pose a risk to the maritime industry?

For a bureau that has traditionally focussed its efforts on fighting piracy and armed robbery at sea, this new digital threat puts an entirely different menace in its crosshairs.

The IMB has been quoted as saying, “Recent events have shown that systems managing the movement of goods need to be strengthened against the threat of cyber-attacks.

“It is vital that lessons learnt from other industrial sectors are applied quickly to close down cyber vulnerabilities in shipping and the supply chain.”

This is cause for concern for the maritime industry especially as ships, containers and rigs are all connected to computer networks. If hackers find but one weakness, it can expose the entire network and make it open to exploitation on a grand scale.

Various cyber security experts have sounded off on this very subject during the past few months, and the media has been quick to pick up on it.  Reuters reported that a floating oil rig was compromised by hackers who tilted it onto its side.  The rig was out of action for an entire 19 days while harmful malware was removed from computer systems.

In Antwerp hackers gained access to port-side computers that enabled them to target specific containers, before making off with the booty and wiping away any telltale digital fingerprints.

The latest warning from the IMB quotes Mike Yarwood – TT Club’s insurance claims expert, speaking at the TOC Container Supply Chain Europe Conference in London. “We see incidents which at first appear to be a petty break-in at office facilities. The damage appears minimal – nothing is physically removed.”

Mike continues: “More thorough post incident investigations however reveal that the ‘thieves’ were actually installing spyware within the operator’s IT network.”

In scenarios similar to the incident in Antwerp, hackers tend to track individual containers through the supply chain to its destination port. Along the way the IT systems related to the cargo are infiltrated, resulting in the hackers either gaining entry to (or generating release codes for) specific containers.

The International Maritime Bureau is a specialized department of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Supply chains all mapped out

Thanks to the likes of Google Maps – you’ll find that source maps are becoming more and more commonplace on manufacturer’s websites.

Added to that, consumers are increasingly more savvy and want to be able to trace a product’s complete  journey – from humble beginnings to the very end of the supply chain.

Les 2 Vaches source map - supply chain
Les 2 Vaches maps out the supply chain for its organic yogurts

Ever wondered how yogurt gets to your door?

Head on over to the website of the French yogurt producer Les 2 Vaches and you’ll be able to see  where all the ingredients that go into the yogurt are produced or grown. Not only that, but the map also marks out the locations where ingredients are stored and prepared.

Clicking on one of the maps’ markers will reveal more details; for instance you can glean more about what happens at each site,  the routes between sites are also marked for extra visibility.

If you want more of a steer, look to the right-hand side of the map and deep-dive down down into an ingredient of your choosing.

(Oh, it’s all in French – but your modern browser should be able to translate it for you).

Loomstate t-shirt supply chain
Be sure to check out Loomstate’s interactive map

Shirty business

What about that shirt off your back? Loomstate has  created what it calls the ‘Loomstate Difference’ – an interactive map that follows the journey of the company’s newest tee, all 100 per cent grown and sewn in America.

It is Loomstate’s ambition to create the most traceable tee in the world – and by supplying the public with full transparency of its supply chain, along with creating sustainable business relationships, it looks set to achieve just that.

Where things really come from

Of course SourceMap has slowly been gathering info on product supply chains for years. The beauty of SourceMap lies in its use of crowd-sourcing, meaning smaller (sometimes perhaps less-known) producers are represented too.

Supply chains need to take action to fight ‘fast fashion’

Young women working in a sweat shop

The fast fashion dilemma

The move toward ‘fast fashion’ is putting major pressure on those working in the procurement departments.

Fashion can cycle in and out of retail stores across the globe in a matter of weeks; putting those in procurement under constant pressure to ensure their supply chain is clean.

For many professionals working in this field, it’s a perpetual battle to balance the insatiable appetite for the latest dirt-cheap fashion with the constant demand that retailers stop the rag trade. Though perhaps not surprisingly, it’s pretty much impossible to find anyone willing to go on the record about how they tackle this issue to ensure their fast fashion supply chain is clean.

There are industry whispers that many procurement missions to places like China can result in more questions than answers. Often, a myriad of ‘agents’ acting on behalf of other sections of the supply chain make it extremely difficult for those in procurement to truly understand who they’re hiring, and whether they’re the sort of ethical supplier you’re hoping for.

This cry for help was found sewed into a Primark garment earlier this week.
This cry for help was found sewed into a Primark garment earlier this week. Darren Britton/Wales News Service

Most recently in Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a warning about a dangerous dye found in jeans on sale in Australian stores.

Tests uncovered clothes with high concentration of the dyes, which sparked recalls of more than 121,000 items from retailers including Myer, Target, Rivers, Trade Secret and Just Jeans. A number of children’s clothes, including jeans from Myer, Just Jeans and Target, were included in the recall.

This situation will no doubt have caused major headaches for someone working in procurement, somewhere along the line. It’s also an example of why it’s so important for those in procurement to know where and how garments are being made.

After all, it doesn’t take much more than a few questions to be asked and some information to be shared on social media for a major brand to cop a beating over a supplier that’s possibly a long way down the supply chain.

However, some of the big brands have been working hard to clean up their act.

H&M, which is now in Australia, wants to prove to consumers that it’s doing the right thing. According to media reports, H&M has put a plan in place to avoid sourcing fabrics from endangered forest and also promote the use of fabrics that come from Forest Stewardship Council certified plantations. The company will also work to build traceable and sustainable production of these fabrics in its own supply chain.

For other major brands, the answer lies in innovation.

Stephen Denning, supply chain expert and author of the book Radical Management says brands like Zara have solved the problem of how to get disciplined execution with continuous innovation. “The way they lay out their factories, the design team is right in the middle of the factory, so that the whole process of learning from the manufacturers and vice versa is horizontal,” Denning was quoted as saying in The Business of Fashion.

People of Procurious, where do you stand on this “fast fashion” fixation? Make your voice heard and  leave your comments below.

Why are supply chain disruption and sustainability our hot topics of the week?

Marks and Spencer

Hello and welcome to your one-stop shop for everything Procurement news-related.

Find out which e-procurement organisation Selectica has acquired… UK darlings of fashion and homeware, Marks and Spencer (M&S) – talk about sustainability, and we learn which countries are most at risk from supply chain disruption.

So without further ado, lets see what’s been going on in the world…

Key Skills for Procurement
• Continuing the blog from the previous week, CPO Rising highlights skills that are required for procurement
• Business Consulting skills can help procurement professionals define scope, manage projects and capture requirements more effectively

Read more at CPO Rising

Iasta acquisition (USA)
• Contract management software provider Selectica has acquired e-procurement organisation Iasta in a deal worth US$7m
• Selectica plan to use the new acquisition to enhance their customer offering by integrating the contract management and e-procurement offerings for enterprises

Global Sustainability (UK)
• UK company Marks and Spencer plan to take their ‘Plan A’ sustainability scheme global
• Plan A 2020, will include new targets around worldwide sourcing principles around issues such as human rights and gender equality

Supply Chain Disruption (Global)
• The FM Global resilience index shows which countries are most susceptible to disruption in their supply chains
• Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Kyrgyzstan were named as the countries most susceptible to disruption
• Norway, Switzerland and Canada topped the list of nations most resistant to such disruption

Read more at Supply Management

Impact of Leadership (USA)
• Guest blog from Samir Patel (Director, GEP) on the Impact of Leadership on Procurement Organisations
• Emphasises the need for strong leadership in Procurement functions and alignment with the wider organisation when considering strategy
• Also gives some good recommendations beyond leadership for optimising the procurement organisation

Read more at the SIG Industry Blog 

Tips for Negotiation (USA)
• Some tips are offered for negotiating when you are in a weak position and how to make the best business case you can
• Tips include being fully prepared, asking questions and listening and keeping cool during the negotiation

Read more at Harvard Business Review

Procurement Focus (USA/UK)
• New study shows that procurement focus is shifting from just cost reduction to innovation and influence
• The Hackett Group study found that only half of the executives surveyed said that cost reduction was their key strategic focus for this year
• 69% of the organisations highlighted a focus on supplier innovation in the coming year

Read more at SDC Executive