Category Archives: Life & Style

Should you ever rehire an ex-employee?

When you rehire an ex-employee, especially one that was a star, it looks like you are getting a great deal. What you see is what you get. They understand your business and its own unique culture, are immediately productive and bring industry knowledge and new ideas.

Should you ever rehire an ex-employee?

The best-case scenario is when an employee wants to return because he has had time to learn new skills and has gained in-depth work experience somewhere else that he can share with you.

The good news about rehiring top performers

Rehiring former employees often costs much less than hiring from scratch, especially since you can cut out the extremely costly recruiting and interview process. When budgets are tight, you can explore this avenue using social media, alumni groups and word-of-mouth to find out who is actively looking.

The potential rehires, also known as boomerangs, are easier to assimilate into the organization and you will save you orientation time. The thinking is that since they know exactly what they’ll be signing up for, they will be likely to stay longer the second time and therefore be less risky, more productive and better for your retention statistics.

There’s also some thought that a rehired person can provide you with a fresh perspective, innovative ideas and some industry intelligence.

So what can go wrong? Quite a lot

Not all former employees are worthy of rehiring. Let’s hope they left for the right reasons and of their own accord. Obviously, you will exclude anyone who was fired, incompetent or unproductive or suddenly has accumulated a criminal record.

Here are a few of the main disadvantages of rehiring former employees:

  •  Current managers and co-workers may feel threatened if the employee returns with a new set of skills, and especially irritated if they come back onboard with a higher remuneration package, which is quite likely. They may feel an employee already had their chance.
  •  The reason that they left in the first place may still be a problem: the boss from hell, lack of benefits, poor promotion prospects and/or lack of opportunities to learn.
  •  There may be unintended consequences if the rehire is appointed at a higher level than his previous role. It may trigger other departures if promotional prospects are blocked, i.e. waiting to fill “dead man’s shoes.”
  •  Returning employees may just not fit in. The climate and culture of the company may no longer be the same. In this case, their new presence may be disruptive and cause tension.

Develop a rehiring policy

A definite success factor is having a firm policy that is applied fairly to all potential “Comeback Kids.” Who is eligible to be rehired should be agreed upon internally and be legally defensible.  Two important elements to include are how long after leaving an employee can return, and  what’s a reasonable maximum time to be away.

In some industries, some employers also refuse to rehire an employee who left to go to a competitor. Other organizations may welcome the broader experience and give preference

to ambitious ex-employees who went off to try their hand at consulting or starting their own business.

Booz Allen Hamilton, a leading U.S. consultancy, is such a staunch believer in rehiring that it sponsors a Comeback Kids program, through which it actively reaches out to past employees and those from the military.

A few more things to consider when rehiring

  • Make sure the conditions that caused that person to leave are not still barriers. Exit interviews are notoriously unreliable. so it’s best to work out why the employee really left. If he undervalued the company before, has anything changed?
  • Is this person really the best candidate for the job? It should not be a quick fix — don’t take the lazy recruiter’s solution.
  • Are you overlooking quality internal candidates? Someone else internally might be just as qualified to do the job. Think about the message you’re sending and the possible repercussions of rehiring instead.

Don’t forget to brief the new employee on how things have changed since he left and any new projects that have come up since.  A “welcome back” interview shows that your company is open to hiring the best people, whatever their job history.

Would you rehire a great former employee? Let us know by commenting on the story below.

7 gadgets to help improve your sleep

Suffering from back to work blues?

Whether you’re putting on that extra layer to protect from the cold or basking in altogether warmer climes, January’s unlikely to ever win any accolades for favourite month of the year…

Ostrich Pillow - best gadgets to improve your sleep

To that end we’re providing you with a few good excuses to hide away and snuggle down for that little bit longer each morning. Eyes down for a selection of bizarre gadgets that will do everything from analysing your sleeping patterns to guaranteeing a good night’s sleep.

Sleep Number x12 bed

Sleep Number x12 bed

If someone were to remark that they thought your bed was pretty clever, you’d probably wonder whether they’d been getting enough sleep themselves… But you’d be forgetting that we live in an age where just about everything has become ‘smart’ – that’s right, even beds are getting in on the act.

US bed maker Sleep Number has gone and made the world’s first smart bed. The built-in Sleep IQ technology tracks the usual measurements (heart rate, breathing rate etc.) but also responds to voice commands to easily activate a wealth of other features. The x12 bed is also dual-sided and it (for example) allows you to make minute adjustments to alleviate a noisy snoring bedfellow.

At $8000 it certainly isn’t cheap, but with all that gadgetry onboard we’re sure you’ll enjoy a jolly nice sleep.

Clocky robotic alarm

Clocky Robotic Alarm

This little wonderful wheeled alarm clock started life as an engineering student’s project. Having trouble waking up herself, Gauri Nanda developed Clocky to shriek annoyingly and effectively, waking you up. The fun doesn’t end there though, Clocky will leap off your bedside table (without a thought for its own safety), and drive around your room, all the while performing random turns to whizz away from your grasp. There’s only one thing for it, you’ll have to get out of bed and hunt the little blighter down yourself.

Ostrich Pillow - sleep gadgets

Ostrich Pillow

“What is that silly thing around your head?” Enquires a bemused work colleague. “Why it’s only a revolutionary new product to enable easy power naps anytime, everywhere” you answer, Right, of course it is.

The Ostrich Pillow really can be used anywhere – be it airports, trains, aeroplanes, libraries, at the office, on a sofa and even on the floor. Heck we know it looks silly but its creators have been beavering away on the Ostrich Pillow for one year, testing and exploring the perfect dimensions and materials to create the best possible experience for the nap.

Selk'bag

Selk’bag

The strangely-named Selk’bag looks like a giant onesie, and has clearly been designed for those adults among us who just refuse to grow up (that makes most of us then).

It’s based on the Japanese Snuggie (which resembled a giant mutant tadpole) and amusingly became the stuff of Internet-lore back in 2009. Perfect for a variety of adventures, the Selk’bag is used by outdoor enthusiasts the world over for camping in a tent, under the stars, at the lake, on the beach, or log cabin (just don’t go scaring others in the woods…)

shapeup alarm clock

Shape Up Alarm Clock

It’s hard enough to get up in the morning and the Shape Up Alarm Clock (shaped like a dumbbell) is set to make things that little bit harder… OK so it’s a bit of a challenge, but you’ll look buff.

This is a digital alarm clock and dumbbell all wrapped up into one novelty alarm clock package. Set the digital alarm clock as normal using the friendly buttons and then wait for your wakeup call with a twist. Only the upward swing of the dumbbell shuts off the repeating buzz – 30 upward swings of the dumbbell that is – meanwhile you can watch your progress using the LCD display.

Sleep Recorder app for Windows Phone

Sleep Recorder App (for Windows Phone)

Prone to talking in your sleep? If you’ve ever wondered what you (or a loved one) sounds like then download the excellent Sleep Recorder app and see for yourself. Sleep Recorder uses your phone’s microphone to capture audio and saves the recording if it detects voice. It won’t record silence or noise. Editor’s tip: keep your phone plugged-in overnight to ease battery drain while in-use.

Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Pillow

Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Pillow

This unique pillow allows the weary to enjoy their favourite music or sounds in optimal relaxation and comfort. Audio is delivered via two high fidelity, ultra-thin stereo speakers positioned deep within the pillow, there is also an in-line volume control so you don’t need to faff around when turning the pillow up or down.

What’s more the pillow is finished with a soft brushed cover and hypoallergenic polyester fibrefill.

How to achieve the perfect work/life balance for a productive 2015

Gordon Donovan takes the opportunity to look back at 2014, and look forward to 2015 both in terms of what’s happening in procurement as well as some new year’s resolutions to consider for 2015.

Looking forward to 2015

 

What happened in 2014

Google has just released its year in search 2014. We searched for hope, fear, to understand, to be inspired, to get cold and wet, and to remember.

Hudson has just released its workforce facts in 2014 for Australia and New Zealand.

Key numbers are:

  • 11.6 million workers in Australia
  • 45.9 v 54.1 ratio of women to men in the workforce
  • $13.1 million is the highest salary paid
  • And Barbie has joined LinkedIn…

Elliot Epstein has shared his best and worst sales stories for 2014. Here are the best and astonishly worst sales stories that have wafted over his desk this year.

They are all verified, true and names are only withheld to protect the guilty. The Darwin awards section is both funny and scary…

On the subject of the Darwin awards, they have announced the shortlist for us all to vote on. Some of these (if not all) will make you shake your head.

Things to think about in 2015

Procurious is a social media platform that’s all about being connected,(get connected, get ahead anyone!) being connected can also mean collaboratring with others over projects or even just sharing connections or knowledge. So what makes us the best at colloboration and connecting? And what are we going to do differenlty next year?

To me its an interesting article about who and why we connect and how do we get better;

To summarise; Its all about people.

  • It’s about the people who are trying to get from ‘here’ to ‘there’, and knowing; people who also know that you know someone well that can help them do it faster.
  • Understanding what they want, need & value. And respecting them for their perspectives, views and beliefs, especially when they differ from your own.
  • Its also always about trust – the trust that each person has, to know that you have best interests at heart; that the people you put in their path have a common interest & alignment and that they are also trustworthy.

So if it’s all about people we need to consider how we can make a huge difference in our life and in the lives of the people you care about, both professionally and personally?

This was quite an inspiring blog I read by Jeff Haden. His 8 things we can do are;

  • I will appreciate the under-appreciated.
  • I will answer the unasked question.
  • I will not wait.
  • I will give latitude instead of direction.
  • I will stop and smell my roses.
  • I will look below the surface.
  • I will ensure love is always a verb.
  • I will be myself.

How do we balance time in the best way? You may have seen this article doing the rounds on linked in among other places. In our search to be more efficient with our time and also to have the work life balance.

Here are the 5 tips with the full article.

1)     To-do lists are evil. Schedule everything

2)     Assume you’re going home at 5:30, then plan your day backwards

3)     Make a plan for the entire week

4)     Do very few things, but be awesome at them

5)     Do less shallow work — focus on the deep stuff

It’s something that I intend to put into practice (when I have the time…)

One of the things we talk about in our training is the need to always be processing information, a colleague of mine tweeted this article which I thought was excellent, it also has the added attraction of referencing star wars so it makes it a winner for me (roll on December 2015) Whilst it presents it as a sales forum it is directly relevant to us in procurement for many reasons.

  • The skill of being a Waiting Room Jedi is to transform a series of waiting room habits—checking email, posting on Facebook, and flipping through magazines—into a deliberate process of exploration and discovery.
  • More than anything else, being a Waiting Room Jedi is about being [pro] curious. The more genuinely [pro] curious you are, the more you learn, and the more you learn, the more likely you’ll be able to make connections with your client.

Finally to look into the future top minds give their predictions on what we will see in 2015:

This Year, We’ll All Get Raises

More Companies Will Fire Customers

Employees Will Finally Gain the Upper Hand

Wearable Tech Will Lead to a Better You

More Companies Will Act Like Startups

Content Will Be Saved — One Micropayment at a Time

 

Job survival skills : get a grip on the numbers

There is fierce competition for the most interesting and challenging roles in procurement. Role content is constantly changing; procurement specialists and sourcing managers need to be more analytical and sharpen their finance skills. 

Finance within procurement

Only being able to slice-and-dice spend data will not be enough.  Managers will expect you to be able to do a should-cost-analysis, explain the implications of fixed- and variable costing and analyse financial ratios.

Fluctuations in commodity prices and upward pressure on day-to-day costs mean that you have to be on top of market and commodity price movements, technology and other innovations affecting the industry or field you work in.

Finance within Procurement 

Procurement management jobs are emerging that are really finance jobs in disguise.  Here’s an highly-paid opening posted by a global leader in industrial chemicals:

“We currently have an exciting opportunity for a Procurement Finance Lead. This individual will partner with the Global Procurement Lead to develop sourcing strategies, improve quality of supplies and services, and deliver economic efficiency.

Goldman Sachs recently advertised a senior procurement role where the main tasks were to keep up-to-date with emerging business, economic, and market trends. The successful applicant must have strong research skills,  pay attention to detail, take initiative to broaden his/her knowledge and demonstrate appropriate financial/analytical skills.

Nice work if you can get it! Employers like these look for evidence that a candidate can focus on profitability and cash flow and not just manage down current costs.

Supply Market Analysis

There is so much data available on-line with a few clicks.  However, this is not usable information.

Supply market analysis is hard, but rewarding work. An effective supply market analysis for a product or service starts with an overview of the global market and industry trends. Applying it to a category plan or a sourcing event, the researcher has firstly to validate the data and

  • understand historical prices and the price drivers
  • study the supply and demand fluctuations and market forces
  • follow the price indices such as Producer Price Index  (PPI)

all of which require analytical and research skills.  Secondly, get to know the market leaders in depth. This includes evaluating the financial health of the main players including studying their results and their profitability.   The final steps are to do a comparative analysis of the major players and prepare an industry analysis report on which you will base your sourcing decisions.

5 things to do to get ahead of the pack

1.  Brush up on your MS Excel skills now.  This involves getting to, at least, Intermediate level which means being able to analyse and sort complex data, create advanced formulas, work with look-ups, pivot tables and graphics.

2.  Become an expert user on your Company’s ERP and other internal systems.

3.  Be alert to new technologies that are being introduced to your organization including those supporting mobile media and social/business platforms. Work out how they could be applied in the procurement environment.

4Go back to school!   There are many opportunities for distance learning even if you have a day job.

5. Be more organized with your research process. Document the results and update them regularly.  It is possible to learn how to do research in a structured way. It is not all about Googling. 

What else could you do to be ready for the higher paid roles?  

Driving home for Christmas: the best road warrior tech

A selection of nifty gadgets, accessories and app for those on the go this festive period.

Whether you’re melting in the Australian winter heat, navigating through dark icy highways, or winging it back to your family in business class – there’s something here for all types of traveller.

Griffin Survivor Case

Best protective case for your smartphone/tablet

After a military-grade cocoon for your precious smartphone/tablet? Look no further than Griffin’s Survivor range of protective shells.

The All-Terrain model offers an impressive four layers of protection to safeguard against drops, knocks, scrapes, as well as all manner of environmental threats.

And if you’re worried about fumbling for your phone in your oversized gloves, the chunky design of the shell will ensure it remains in place. Scratch-resistant polycarbonate looks after your screen, while a fingerprint scanner beefs up your security detail and prevents unauthorised access.

Give your phone an extra life by ordering yours for £30. The All-Terrain variant is available for a wide selection of different handsets and iPads – check yours before setting your heart on it.

G-Form XTREME case

Alternatively: The XTREME range from G-Form offer seriously beefy protection for all forms of smartphone and small-factor tablets.

All G-Form products offer Reactive Protection Technology with a rigid outer polycarbonate shell and an inner shock-absorbing TPE insert.

Prices start at around the £20 mark.

Roberts Travel Pad review

Roberts Travel Pad

Need something to keep you entertained on the road? Roberts punchy portable speaker will ensure the music never stops.

Although it’s compact enough for travel, its chunky frame (185mm w x 80 h x 25 d) and satisfying weight (336g) means you won’t be carrying it around in your trouser pocket.

It outputs via Bluetooth, so you can stream from your tablet, mobile or PC for a full 12 hours. Charging is achieved via a micro USB charging socket.

Place it on a wooden tabletop and the Travel Pad sounds commanding. It offers a deep and robust sound. Plus the non-slip base will protect it from any unfortunate accidents.

There’s also a dedicated button to answer calls from your mobile – the inbuilt microphone providing you with a convenient hands free solution.

It’s available now from around £80.

Bluesmart connected suitcase

The best luggage solution for the tech savvy

We’re not sure whether the Bluesmart really is the would’s first ‘connected’ suitcase but it certainly stands out in the identikit world of traveller’s baggage.

It’s pretty smart too – proximity sensors will lock it if it travels too far from your sight, and should you ever get separated (or rerouted through the airline system) you can track your bag’s location using a partner app. Want to know if your over your weight allowance? The built-in scale serves as a handy extra.

The drawback? You’ll have to wait until Aug 2015 for the first Bluesmart units to roll off the production line. Register your interest at bluesmart.com, and get ready to put down your $280.

Portable Pebble Charger and Speaker

Best power bank for portable electronics

You never want to find yourself caught short… Out of power that is.

The Pebble Aria is not just another portable charger, oh no, – it offers much more. It’s cylindrical design packs in (and admittedly tiny) speaker too, and the 3500mAh capacity will replenish your devices on up to two different occasions.

If you’re after some aural escape then you can always take advantage of the inbuilt 2W amplifier to soundtrack your ride.

Available from Firebox.com for £39.99.

MIPOW Power Cube 7800 Portable Charger

An alternative choice might be the MIPOW Power Cube 7800 Portable Charger

The Power Cube has a capacity of 7800mAh, with a maximum 2.4A output. That’s more than enough juice to bring your mobile phones or tablet back from the brink several times over, and is good for 500 discharge/recharge cycles.

What’s more it supports the charging of two devices at the same time, making the 5-7 hour recharging time that little bit sweeter.

UPP hydrogen fuel cell

Got a bit more cash to splash? The innovative Upp hydrogen fuel cell not only gives you a truckload of extra power but access to an innovative app to control all aspects of your battery usage.

The Upp battery solution works by connecting the Upp fuel cell to a replaceable Upp fuel cartridge. Empty fuel cartridges can be refuelled or exchanged at various points across your city.

The Upp app is free to all Upp users. Look under its hood and you’ll discover a wealth of fuel cell statistics and interactive charging data.

Upp is currently only available in the UK through Apple retail stores. Head to beupp.com for the latest developments. £149.

Jabra Stealth Bluetooth

Best gadget for communicating on the go

Harking back to the days when it looked like everyone was talking to themselves… the Jabra Stealth takes aim at the dwindling Bluetooth headset market with the ultimate accessory for the travel weary.

The stealthy headset has been blessed with something Jabra calls microPOWER technology – more or less a fancy way to say it benefits from extended talk time, achieving 6 hours in total. Jabra products have also become adept at blocking troublesome background noise – the headset’s Noise Blackout dual microphone works well, plus its light frame means it sits comfortably (even after long periods).

It can be picked up for £69 at various online outlets.

Recommended reading: your procurement bookshelf

Need something to put on your Xmas list for Santa? The Procurious community can lend a hand… here’s some of the most popular choices.

Well, come on, we all know that Santa must have excellent procurement skills including elf negotiation, stakeholder management (keep your reindeer happy) and customer relationship management (seeing all those kids needs to be worth the effort!), as well as managing one of the world’s most complex supply chains (it’s not like he gets all his materials for toy making by magic, you know…).

So, Saint Nick will be well up on his procurement literature and here are a few ideas from the Procurious community of what you can ask him for:

  • Winning! – Clive Woodward (leadership)
  • Poorly Made in China – Paul Midler (production and ‘games’ in China)
  • The CPO – Schuh and Strohmer (supply transformation)
  • The Procurement Value Proposition – Chick and Handfield (supply management)

Getting To Yes

  • Getting to Yes – Fisher and Ury (negotiation)
  • Procurement 20/20 – Spiller and Reinecke (supply entrepreneurship)
  • Procurement and Supply Chain Management – Farrington and Lysons

Shackleton's Way

  • Shackleton’s Way – Morrell and Capparell (leadership)
  • The Complete Guide to Business Risk Management – Sadgrove
  • Leadership and Self Deception: Getting out of the Box – Arbinger
  • Good to Great – Jim Collins (change)
  • Negotiation Series – Herb Cohen
  • Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals – Barner and Jones

Who Moved My Cheese

  • Who Moved My Cheese – Spencer Johnson (change)
  • Strategic Global Sourcing – Sollish and Semanik
  • The Purchasing Chessboard – Strohmer, Perez and Triplat
  • The Straight to the Bottom Line: an executive roadmap to world class supply management – Rudzki, Smock, Katzorke and Stewart

And if all else fails, read the complete works of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan-Doyle.

Happy reading!

Have more? Leave your recommendations in the comments below.

The procurement professional: a reluctant hero?

Procurement is sometimes like a jack-in-the-box.

Are procurement professionals reluctant heroes?

Procurement, one of the key parts of business process, is often downplayed. Businesses try to box it off concluding it is more important to speed things up, bypassing some best practice behaviours with the perception of saving time and money.

Procurement then springs out of its box just when you least expect it: to act as an honest broker to challenge business decisions and choices.

So here’s how I applied my top ten Procurement best practices when directing security procurement for the London 2012 Olympics:

See procurement as a key business function

Developing stakeholder engagement across the business is critical. Building these relationships ensures that spend is under Procurement’s influence will deliver optimal results.  Within LOCOG stakeholder engagement was complex with LOCOG executives, Civil servants, Government ministers and security experts all demanding consultation.

Be a leader in your profession

Adopt a visible style both within your business and also explore new opportunities in your profession.  When I sat on my profession’s board of management with responsibility for education I identified similarities between my business role and my non-exec role in the institute to make Procurement a relevant business function. Someone recently referred to me as a character of the profession. I am not sure if this was complimentary but it means I get visibility.

Articulate a clear vision

With clear objectives that link to the business your agreed objectives should then be driven by you and include:

  • high savings delivery per buyer;
  • high compliance with your process;
  • full coverage in all areas of spend; and
  • improved new benefits  each year.

Clearly communicate

In many businesses, procurement staff are the reluctant heroes. At LOCOG procurement’s activities and achievements were published and acknowledged. Among other things, this included commercial cost savings and protecting the Olympics from risk.

Broaden your expertise

Build your business knowledge, your soft skills and behaviours as well as your Procurement expertise.  This broader capability helps business engagement, and is crucial for procurement staff to advance beyond their core expertise in order to make them more commercially aware. Without my wide range of skills I would not have been as effective in LOCOG.

Always achieve your key results

Procurement had a clear set of London 2012 Objectives including the diversity of the supply base as this delivered the Olympic values.

Don’t over-promise

Procurement needs strong role models and ambassadors. Life can be challenging especially working in the Olympics spotlight so you want people to trust and support you to get the job done in the challenging time scales. Just be careful not to over-promise as non-delivery will quickly loose that hard earned trust.

Stay calm and don’t overreact

Procurement faces many challenges and frustrations. The familiar comment at the Olympics was its unprecedented meaning it had never been done before immediately causing panic and a victim mind set. So just stop and count to 10 and respond with facts rather than emotion.

Never miss your opportunity

At The Olympics I was constantly asked to present in front of boards and senior stakeholders. Just don’t forget you want senior management to know about procurement and see that as an opportunity to sell procurements value. During my time at the Olympics I encountered experts in their own specialism who wont know about Procurement so you should always be passionate about what we can do.

Don’t ignore the power of networking

My time at the Olympics opened up many doors for networking opportunities but just be selective about the events you attend. It is worth remembering that however strong your policies and process are, new opinions and practices can often provide inspiration!

What does ‘Best’ look like in procurement?

Opportunity Knocks and being the best are the themes of the day. For me this brings images of 1970’s and 80s TV shows from the UK and remembering that dedication is what you need….

How to be the best at procurement

So to start our coverage of being the best, AQPC have conducted some research into what does “Best” look Like in procurement?

They have analyzed data from its Open Standards Benchmarking in procurement to determine how the top 10% of organizations compare to the rest in 4 core areas:

  • cost effectiveness
  • process efficiency
  • cycle time
  • staff productivity

The results indicate that there is a significant difference between top-performing procurement functions and others. You can read the full report is here.

KPMG is telling us that opportunity is knocking for procurement and that a single-minded focus on reducing input costs is not enough. Procurement leaders need to focus less on driving down suppliers’ prices and more on driving up value from end-to-end across the business.

From a procurement priority perspective according to their research:

  • 58% want to improve performance
  • 42% align more closely with business functions
  • 40% improve governance
  • 39% drive costs out of indirect spend
  • 36% improve supplier management with tier 1 organisations
  • 35% change the operating model of procurement
  • 29% drive costs out of direct spend

In terms of metrics used to measure procurement value added the results may not surprise.

Cost savings and management is still the most used followed by compliance and costs of running procurement function.

So how do we know who the best are? ‘Top Procurement Groups Deliver 7x Return on Investment’ according to Global Procurement Study by A.T. Kearney, ISM and CIPS.

The inaugural ROSMA Performance Check report findings were developed through the survey responses of hundreds of companies. The headlines are:

  • Top-quartile performers are reporting hard financial results in excess of seven times their costs and investment base in procurement, providing a strong basis for reinvestment and recognition. These leading procurement functions generate about $1.6 million in financial benefits per procurement employee each year.
  • Middle-tier performers are accretive, typically generating four to five times the investment and cost of their supply management assets, including people and technology, but they have not improved their productivity since tracking began in 2011. Bottom quartile teams are dilutive, with financial benefits that do not cover the cost of and investment in their organizations.

In previous articles I have talked about the importance of culture in both the supplier selction and and ongoing management aspects of procurement. This article talks about the importance of creating the best match of culturual fit for you as an employee. The example from WestJet is quite touching and serves to remind us that the cultural fit of employee and employer is crucial after all Culture is the heartbeat of a company.

To round things off I hereby present the following key takeaways:

Preserving company culture takes A LOT of hard work. It’s not easy. And it’s not always fun.

All of it amounts to nothing and it’s only a matter of time before it comes crashing down if the beat that drives your company isn’t strong and distinct enough to be felt by your people.

I think this can be applied to supplier relationships and ensuring that the effort that goes into selecting the right one to start with is maintained by the team throughout the relationship.

Your job role might be obsolete by 2020 – will you be sustainable?

Many of the job roles we know today will be obsolete in 2020. 

If you are a meter reader, a telemarketer or a computer operator, your days are surely numbered.  Fortunately, the need for procurement management skills will not decline, but the requirements will definitely change.  Employers will be looking for those with new skills such as understanding the triple bottom line.  Will you be ready?

What will your job be in 2020?

Understanding the sustainability agenda

Job descriptions for chief procurement officers (CPOs) and senior managers in 2020 will include responsibility for sustainability strategies.  These leaders will need to define the value that sustainable procurement brings to a business as well as being able to implement the best tools and leading practices.

What is Sustainable Procurement?

The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) says that it isn’t simply about being “green”, it’s about:

  • Socially and ethically responsible purchasing
  • Minimising environmental impact through the supply chain
  • Delivering economically sound solutions

Sustainable Procurement will aim to achieve a balance between the three pillars: people, planet and profit.   Your challenge will be to address them all without affecting costs and damaging supplier relationships.

What role should procurement play?

We have to:

  • reduce costs through saving water and energy,
  • promote the re-use of products and recycle,
  •  minimise packaging and transportation

And most of all, we must question why we need the product or service at all.  We need to be aware of be aware of environmental factors like emissions to air, land and water, climate change, biodiversity, natural resource use and water scarcity.

Where will the jobs be?

Many large international organizations such as Unilever, MacDonalds, Sodexo, Mattel and Alstom already have policies in place.   L’Oréal is a leader in this field.  These types of companies may become employers of choice for those people keen to follow a career in this new area.

Global not-for-profit organizations such as the United Nations and Oxfam are leaders in the public sector where it is taking hold faster than in the private sector.

Jobs that exclusively focus on sustainable procurement are rare, for the moment, but they are coming.  Within a few years, more organizations will have a dedicate person designing and managing their sustainability agenda.  A recent job advertisement for a dedicated sustainability procurement manager promised the successful applicant both an influence on strategy and a remuneration package in excess of £50 000, plus benefits.

In the retail environment and fast-moving-consumer-goods (FMCG) sector, consumers’ preference for healthy and fair-trade products and services will force companies to rethink their agendas.     Reputational risk and brand damage are real threats to global businesses.

What skills will you need?

Stakeholder management skills and the ability to develop good relationships at all levels, both internally and externally will be vital.  Other requirements will be those common to any senior procurement job, e.g.  influencing and persuasion skills and problem solving.

People with solid experience in managing categories such as facilities management and essential services will be in demand.  Right now, most of us are too busy doing our day jobs to worry about some of these critical issues.   Read widely, take some time to absorb the discussions and keep up-to-date with developments.

Could you become a specialist in sustainable procurement? 

Procurement crisis? Social media can save the day!

Steven Lewis of Sydney-based Taleist on social media and procurement

How to use social media in procurement

Social media can be an erratic and angry beast. One minute your company is being praised, and the next it’s under fire for a minor procurement program that’s somehow landed in serious hot water.

To stay out of trouble, make sure you are prepared for any social media crisis well before there’s any sign of trouble.
Start by working up to a worst case scenario by considering what could go wrong, recommends Sydney social media trainer Steven Lewis of Taleist.

Consider who is going to be called in from other duties to lend a hand if trouble hits, he says.

“The first step in handling a crisis is to be prepared for the eventuality in the first place. If you’re prepared, you’ll know who’s going to speak, what they need, and you’ll have your channels and processes in place and tested. Having thought about those things in advance frees you up to think strategically when dealing with the specifics of a crisis.”

Conduct a risk assessment on each of your processes so you know how they might be questioned or attacked, and by whom, Lewis advises.

“Create a tailored response to each process that allows you to give clear justification, preferably with supporting evidence. If, for instance, you’re accused of using a supplier who uses child labour, what policies, inspections or assurances from the supplier can you cite and what would your response be to an accusation?”

People expect their corporate citizens to have human qualities, so don’t be afraid to respond on with some emotion, he offers.

If you don’t know something you’re being asked, say so.

“It’s not good for a clothing brand, for example, to say it’s never even considered there might be child labour in its overseas supply chain, but you might not have all the facts to hand immediately. But an empathetic response and a promise to investigate with a deadline will help.”

In this example, he suggests a response such as: ‘We care deeply about child labour too and we’d be horrified to find we’d supported it even directly.”

Furthermore, it’s becoming increasingly important to respond online, he notes.

“You need to be in the channels in which you’re being discussed. If you’re being attacked on Twitter, it’s not enough to put up a media release on your website. How will the people on Twitter know it’s there?”

Remember, a social media crisis seldom involves a rational exchange of views:

“Essentially, you have to be prepared for the emotion of a crisis. If you plan to deal with the crisis only through the cold exchange of facts, you won’t put out the fire.”

Lewis also stresses the need to get your side of the story up quickly and in the relevant media.

“You’ll likely have supporters and the more you can give them to share and get your side out, the better.”

However, be prepared to wear the criticism, he warns.

“In social media as in politics, it’s often the cover-up that will get you. People don’t like having their comments deleted.”