Category Archives: Life & Style

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.”

Strategies to limit backdoor or maverick buying

Procurement Professionals on LinkedInThis guest blog was written by Dr. Tom DePaoli and originally posted in the Procurement Professionals LinkedIn group. It has been redistributed with their permission.  Read more on Procurement Professionals LinkedIn group at: http://linkd.in/1uupe8p or Twitter: @ProcurementProf

Backdoor or maverick buying is a perplexing problem that plagues many purchasing organizations. The methods to counteract this behavior are highly dependent upon the cultural climate and ethical standards of your organization. There is no universal solution.

Strategies to Limit Backdoor or Maverick Buying

 

People’s behaviors are influenced by consequences. If there are no consequences for backdoor buying the behavior will continue and grow. Some of my suggestions are drastic, others are more reasonable. Purchasing professionals must use their judgment to select the appropriate actions that fit their particular organization.

An important aspect to solving this issue is to remain objective and to try to gather data on the costs of backdoor buying. These could include lost discounts, lost rebates, and extra transactional work by purchasing and others. Many purchasing organizations know the average transactional cost of a regular transaction with an approved supplier. Try to calculate the extra cost with an unapproved supplier. Always control your emotions when discussing this issue.

Here are some reasonable tactics to create an organizational atmosphere and climate that helps discourage backdoor buying. In my experience the biggest offender is usually the engineering department. So involve engineering in cross-functional supplier selection teams and standardization initiatives. Make them a stakeholder in approving suppliers. Get the vice president of engineering on board with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) standardization and have them participate in OEM standardization processes.

Consider establishing a policy of no gifts or gratuities to be accepted from suppliers by both purchasing and all other employees (zero tolerance). This discourages lunchtime promises or promise buys to suppliers by non-purchasing employees. Another alternative is to have purchasing have their own modest budget to entertain, socialize and conduct work sessions with suppliers.

Get your compliance employees on board with your policy i.e., your legal department and accounting. Craft an approved supplier only purchasing policy and make it clear that unauthorized purchases will not be honored by accounts payable. Keep the list of approved suppliers visible and updated. Use your software safeguard controls to limit buying privileges and cross reference the approved supplier list. Many purchase cards can be limited to specific approved suppliers and or categories of goods. Meet with your approved preferred suppliers and ask them to use the grapevine to communicate any purchases from unauthorized suppliers directly to you. Most will gladly do this.

One of the most effective drastic actions occurred when I worked for a global chemical company. The company had just spent over $200 million on a worldwide ERP system. The CEO sent out a strong memo saying that all purchases must be made on the ERP system and only from the approved suppliers in the ERP system.  Employees were required to use the new ERP system. The very first day four employees went off system to purchase some items from a non-approved supplier. The CEO personally fired them and publicized the results of the incident to all employees. Needless to say there were no more such purchases.

Do your networking and informal work before you institute your policy. Meet one-on-one with stakeholders or in small meetings to explain your reasons for your policy and get their buy-in before you roll it out.

Establishing a policy against backdoor buying requires some deft maneuvering by purchasing that correctly judges the culture of your organization. Instituting the appropriate policy will help reduce backdoor buying. More important, you must enforce the policy and reprimand employees who violate it. A backdoor buying policy unenforced, is both hollow and meaningless.

Why collaboration is the key to effective supply chain procurement

Jacques Adriaansen, co-founder of Every Angle, shared his thoughts with Procurious around the big difference between earning money from your suppliers and earning money ‘with’ suppliers.

Working alongside your suppliers can add to your supply chain process

What do you see when you identify a supplier, as part of your supply chain procurement process? Do you see a necessary evil that must be negotiated before you can make a profit? Or do you see a potential strategic business partner that could play an active role in helping you to make money? Every day, I see examples of businesses who fail to see that there is a big difference between earning money from suppliers and earning money with suppliers. Of course, there are certain, specific cases where pressurising suppliers may be the only option available. However, in most cases, it’s clear that collaboration is by far the most effective approach.

Let’s face it – the objective of any business, regardless of its focus, sector or expertise, is to save costs, while at the same time, ensuring a consistent level of quality. This is especially true for those who find themselves dependent on a supply chain. It’s a fact that makes it even more bewildering to consider that the impact procurement can have on supply chain performance is still grossly underestimated in most organisations. Of course, most organisations keep a close eye on costs when they buy from suppliers, because after all, the purchase price is important.

However, they should also not forget that solid supply reliability is just as important – if not more so – when it comes to preventing disruptions in the production process. Remember that incomplete deliveries or deliveries that arrive too late or not at all, can have a significant and negative impact on overall business performance. All of which is why more focus needs to be placed on the role of procurement as part of overall operational excellence strategy.

Past experience shows that a lot is to be gained from streamlining delivery schedules. Meat-processing systems manufacturer, Marel, is a great example of how to do this effectively. By giving suppliers information about future demand as early as possible, it has managed to improve efficiency of its plant by as much as 40 per cent. In the past, all Marel could do was tell suppliers which purchase orders were outstanding. This meant that it had no insight into potential peak loads at their suppliers and were thus unprepared to deal with the consequences.

As a result, some suppliers were unable to deliver on time, which often resulted in a severely disrupted manufacturing schedule. By including the purchase order requisitions as well, they were able to gain a better insight into the peak loads at suppliers which they themselves generated. Based on these insights, they are now able to decide to bring orders forward or to postpone them. As a direct result, they are now able to identify which goods are delivered with greater consistency and ensure that schedules remain stable. Marel’s suppliers are now almost always able to meet the required level of demand, which means that it is now able to manufacture more efficiently and at lower costs. It’s an interesting example, as it really shows how using the available data more effectively can play a considerable role in contributing to operational excellence as a whole. 

In practice, procurement departments deal with hundreds of outstanding purchase orders every day, many of which may be overdue. Clearly, it is not cost or time-effective for them to chase all of those. Instead, they need to be able to quickly assess with purchase orders really impact production or delivery to the client. After all, why spend time and energy on things that have hardly any impact? Conducting this analysis in SAP can, however, be a complex process, requiring procurement departments to go through the same steps for every individual order. This can make establishing the relationship between a purchase order and a sales order almost impossible.

Production companies have to be aware of the fact that collaborating with suppliers and generating insight from procurement to final delivery, can have a major impact on the performance of the supply chain. By paying more attention to this element of the supply chain, a great deal can be gained in terms of efficiency, productivity and ultimate cost savings. For example, it can help you to prevent bottlenecks in the production process, reduce backlogs, detect delivery risks and optimise the workflow.

Don’t forget that procurement is not only responsible for good price agreements. It also plays an important role in improving the collaboration between supplier and client. The upshot of this is true collaboration, with suppliers being given the opportunity to contribute their knowledge and with buyers making good use of that knowledge. It’s a model that some of the best, most effective operations follow – are you following in their footsteps?

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Social media use in the logistics and supply chain industry

The use of social media is prevalent within Fortune 500, Inc. 500 companies, and small businesses.  Why are companies using social media? 

Social media use in the logistics and supply chain industries. Pixabay

Companies are using social media to grow their business and to bring value to both their company and their customers.  The McKinsey Global Institute conducted an in-depth analysis four industry sectors that represent almost 20 per cent of global industry sales.  The analysis suggests that social platforms can unlock $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in value in those sectors alone.

Fronetics Strategic Advisors conducted a survey of individuals within the logistics and supply chain industries.  The objective of the survey was to gain insight into the use of social media within these industries.  Specifically, to learn more about why companies within the logistics and supply chain industries are using social media, the benefits they have realized, and challenges they have encountered.

The supply chain and logistics industries are recent adopters

Social media use is relatively new for companies within the logistics and supply chain industries.  64 per cent of survey respondents reported that their company has used social media for between one and five years.  Thirty-six per cent of respondents reported that their company has used social media for less than one year.

Motivations for use

Why have companies begun to use social media?  The survey asked respondents to rate statements on why their company uses social media.  The following statements received the highest rankings (somewhat to very important:

  • Increasing the visibility of their company (95 per cent);
  • Improving brand image (90 per cent);
  • Establishing the company as a thought leader (86 per cent);
  • Attracting new leads and customers (82 per cent).

Benefits and challenges

The majority (68 per cent) of respondents reported that their companies are realizing benefits from social media.  The primary benefits reported were: increased engagement with customers (80 per cent); increased market intelligence (80 per cent); and increased business intelligence (73 per cent).

With respect to challenges, time constraints (48 per cent), budgetary constraints (43 per cent), and lack of strategy (33 per cent), were the primary challenges reported.

Most companies manage social media in-house

The majority (92%) of respondents reported that social media is managed in-house by either a marketing department, a staff member devoted full-time to social media, or a staff-member devoted part-time to social media.

Summary

Although companies within the logistics and supply chain industries have only recently begun to use social media, they are already realizing benefits and are identifying social media as a strategic tool.

In addition to customer engagement, the benefits identified by social media include increased market intelligence, and increased business intelligence.  In short – information.  When asked why their company uses social media, responses generally focused on brand and image.

With respect to social media strategy, the majority of companies manage it in-house. Interestingly, the top three challenges identified by companies include: time, money, and defining a strategy.

What is your company’s experience with social media?

For the full report see: Social media and the logistics and supply chain industries: Report on social media use, motivations, preference, benefits, and challenges.

Fronetics Strategic Advisors is a management consulting firm focused on strategy and inbound marketing for the logistics and supply chain industries.

The secret to long-term career planning

In this second part of a two-part article, Hamish Petrie – former VP of People and Communications for resources giant Alcoa – reveals the secrets behind nurturing a long-term career.

Hamish currently writes for the Business Times in Melbourne. Read more about his story here.

Planning your career path

Time is a critical factor in any career planning process. Most futurists agree that a large proportion of jobs even ten years out have not been invented yet.

To try to conceive the sort of job that you might have in the latter half of a 30+ year career is impossible. Your personal situation and your career anchor will usually change often through your career. For example, major life changes can greatly alter your priorities. Some consultants recommend breaking your career into five year terms, however, my experience would suggest that this is too long.  Too many things can change your situation in even two years, so a three-year plan seems more appropriate in our rapidly changing world.

In making this sort of plan, most people identify that they want to do their boss’s job, as they know that they can do it better than the current boss. Whilst this may be true, it can be restrictive as people can lock onto this and lock off on other possibilities. This “lock on: lock off” thinking can prevent a person from thinking about lateral jobs that may ultimately prepare them for bigger future roles.

I always suggest that a medium term career plan should exclude their immediate boss’s role, as this stimulates broader thinking. Getting some breath of experience during the first half of your career is always wise and it doesn’t matter in the long term if a particular job is not your ideal one at the time, as long as you keep learning about yourself.

Companies and jobs are always evolving and changing so it is important to learn how to adapt to change and to help drive change in a positive direction for you and your company. There is an old adage that “ tomorrow’s power comes to those that solve today’s problems”. Demonstrating that you can creatively solve problems and stimulate others to help can be a great adjunct to your career.

The bottom line is that it is impossible to develop a realistic long-term career plan, but you can prepare yourself for possible future jobs. You can develop a short to medium plan and this can be very helpful as long as your include all of the opportunities for broadening your experience. When considering how to develop your career, it is much more important to focus on the company rather than the job. If you can join a company that is right for you, then they will help you grow, become active in a dialogue about your future and help you be happy, and rewarded in whatever job comes along.

Action Planning Questions: 

  1. Have you investigated your own career anchor or taken one of the self-assessment tests available on the Internet?
  2. Have you developed a three-year plan, excluding your current boss’s job?
  3. When considering candidates for a job, do you give try to identify their career anchors to determine the best long-term fit for your needs?
  4. When considering a job, do you focus much more on the company rather than the specific job?

Read part one: Hamish Petrie asks: ‘Can you plan your career?’

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Are we the golden children of procurement?

When the CEO of one of the world’s largest resources businesses, Sam Walsh, says he believes procurement has entered a “golden age”, it certainly makes you think – could this really be one of the most prosperous periods of our profession’s history? And, if so, what are we doing to capitalize on this opportunity?

Remind yourself what Sam Walsh said on Procurious

Are we the golden children of procurement?

From the perspective of my 15+ years in the profession, I am confident in saying procurement professionals are in the midst of some very exciting times… and here’s why: 

  1. Our roles have never been so complex and therefore as interesting.  Today’s procurement professionals must manage all the expectations of their 360-degree stakeholders, up-skill and engage their teams, deliver an advantaged supply base, and all the while, keep their own careers prospering.
  2. Our old tools still work. Even though our roles have become more complex, most of the tools we have developed and used during the last decade are relevant today – strategic sourcing, category management, SRM etc. are all valued by the business and deliver outcomes. Everything old is new again, and most importantly, it still works.
  3. Digital is already disruptive. As customers, we are already online and procurement is about to explode into this space – drones, social media, 3D printing etc. are all transforming the way we think about everything from supply and demand; professional development; collaboration and sourcing.  The challenge is to ‘digitalise’ our ancient tools for this brave new world.
  4. We are a rare breed. Couple demand for our expertise with the rate the profession is growing, and you’ll see there are procurement opportunities exploding all over the world. Go and grab them!
  5. Our image is golden. As more talented people enter the profession and we are called on to tackle issues of core business importance, our image as a profession has grown stronger than ever. Gone are those outdated aspersions that find procurement stuck in the “dark ages”. That’s where Procurious comes in – Procurious is reimagining the image of the modern procurement professional – with the core of its members proving themselves to be a smart, upwardly mobile, and commercially savvy breed. 

“Study the past if you would define the future.”
― Confucius

History of Procurement

Procurement is one of the fastest growing professions in the world. For those of you new to procurement, here’s a “short history of the world” which may give some perspective on whether we are indeed in the “golden age”.

The Dark Ages

OK, so we all know our forefathers started in the backroom.  Clad in their brown cardigans, they executed contracts, processed purchase orders, accepting the odd bottle of scotch from suppliers at Christmas time.

Enlightenment

The forefather of modern procurement is widely accepted to be Gene Richter, who worked at IBM in the 1990’s.

The major US companies soon followed IBM by leveraging their global volumes and introducing standardized procurement processes. Not so long ago, the seven step sourcing process was being implemented, centralized procurement teams were formed, followed by supplier relationship management, and more recently category management.

The dot-com boom

The dawn of the new millennium was a time of rapid organization and maturation for the profession.

Many large companies made significant investments (such as $1M+ board approvals) to invest in cross-company procurement exchanges.

Now referred to as Procurement’s dot-com boom, these group-buy investments got procurement quickly on and then just as quickly off the Board agenda. Investments in group buying (and the associated technology) all “became a bit too hard”.

Despite these high profile, public failures, procurement continued to flourish and today, the “dot.com boom” represents the time we moved from the back room – in our brown cardigans – to the boardroom, where our Chief Procurement Officer’s increasingly find themselves either sitting, or at least contributing, today.

Globalisation and the extension of the supply chain

Once all the large companies had leveraged their spend globally, the hunt was on for the most cost-effective country to manufacture goods.

All of a sudden we were managing suppliers and their suppliers in foreign and often remote, locations. This is where the profession became, and continues to be very exciting…

Globalisation has brought with it significant advances, and made our profession  much richer as a result.

Today, its universally accepted that procurement has moved beyond just cost – we now play an integral role in areas of risk management – including supply, quality, innovation and mergers & acquisitions (M&A); new product development; and corporate social responsibility.

The Digital Age

As if our jobs weren’t “interesting” (aka challenging) enough, now we have to account for social media too… Not only are we expected to manage a worldwide network of suppliers and contractors – we are exposed to dangers like customers or shareholders posting a “Tweet” or “status” about how we are managing the supplier.

Yet, this is why working in procurement today is so incredibly interesting and why the profession continues to flourish. We’re working at the interface between the business and all its stakeholders – be that the community, customer, shareholder, supplier, and employee. We need to manage all these stakeholders with the highest integrity in order to protect our brand.

How to make the most of the golden age

If Sam Walsh is right, and we are in the ‘golden age’, how do we take advantage / don’t let this golden opportunity pass us by:

  1. Market yourself and your ideas!  You are your own brand, and nobody knows YOU better. Leverage your good name and use your influence to promote the profession.
  2. Stay connected. With the world and with your peers. Identify risks and opportunities, learn from others.
  3. Keep learning. Every minute of every day we are learning. Whether that be learning from our peers, our customers, and suppliers. And by doing this we are able to identify issues for procurement as they emerge.
  4. Enjoy!  Make the most of being in this profession at this prosperous point in history.  There are so many career opportunities right now – you should be grasping every opportunity to learn and grow.

Conclusion

Although an unlikely comparison for our profession, I use Madonna as an inspirational metaphor/analogy for managing your career.  Even though she’s been in the same role for more than 30 years, she keeps “reinventing” herself for her target audience.  She’s still a pop singer, but she is constantly changing her branding to ensure she stays relevant. As professionals we need to be doing the same!

And that’s what I believe Procurious can bring to the profession – a place to stay current, and stay connected. A place where all procurement professionals can get ahead and thrive in this golden age and beyond!

The term Golden Age (Greek: Χρυσόν Γένος Chryson Genos) comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five (or more) Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and then the present (Iron), which is a period of decline. By extension “Golden Age” denotes a period of primordial peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity

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5 green initiatives to improve your supply chain

Pretty much each & every one of us (as individuals and organisations) now make a conscious effort to do our bit for the environment and “Go Green” wherever possible. Not only do our “Go Green” actions benefit the world we live in and potentially reduce costs for us but also makes us feel good inside – giving us that feeling that we, as the superintendents of our ecosystem, are making a difference.

Go Green in your supply chain

I’m sure that most of you will have already put practices into place within your home environs with regard to recycling and saving energy by switching to energy saving bulbs and turning off power that is unnecessarily left on stand-by, but have you considered instilling comparable measures within your logistics Supply Chain.

As our attitudes towards the environment changes, what methods could you implement to offer a “Greener” Supply Chain solution?

Here we take a look at 5 ways which could improve your Supply Chain’s eco-efficiency:

1. Take a view from a different prospective of your company and deliberate your current actions. Do you consider your company to already be embracing a good standard of eco-efficiency? How can we expect others that we collaborate with to hold and preserve a high standard of “Go Green” ethos when we, ourselves, do not follow.

2. Evaluate your current use of machinery and packaging and assess where you can make reductions by introducing more energy proficient equipment and the use of recycled packaging products as well as decreasing the volume of packaging your items require. Recent studies indicate that over 50% of goods on store shelves are packaged in recycled paperboard.

3. Use a comparison site to review your business energy prices and see where you could potentially make savings.

4. Inspire your staff to promote green resources and infuse systems which encourage a “Go Green” attitude throughout your workforce. Why not implement an “idea” box for your employees to make suggestions of how & where they feel changes could be made to reflect “Greener” processes.

5. Restructure & modernise your logistics to minimise emissions. Can you make better consumption of your vehicles by combining the shipments of more than one client on a particular route in each load?Could you deliver a higher quantity of resources per load to reduce your truck movements? Contemplate the use of low carbon transport such as rail, barge or sea together with hybrid vehicles for means of transport by road. Full information is available for advice on methods to “Go Green” within your business transportation methodologies via http://www.epa.gov/smartway/

Being environmentally friendly should be high on your list of priorities in the 21st century, but without the knowledge of how to shape a “Greener” supply chain, you can’t realistically or practically reach your end objective. Investigate how you can co-operate with other companies, within your circle of business, how working together could result in the reduction of waste. Details on how a business can contribute to a more sustainable economy can be sourced via the UK Government website.

This guest post was penned by Sarah Robey. Sarah represents a UK-based logistics finding service.