Category Archives: Life & Style

Not just about Trump’s Tower: Procurement in Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire

Azerbaijan has hit the headlines today with allegations that a Trump Tower hotel project in Baku involved a deal between the Trump family and a “notoriously corrupt” Azerbaijani oligarch with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. 

Trump, towers, and corruption aside,  Procurious recently interviewed one of our own community members, Fidan Amirbekova, about working in procurement in Azerbaijan – a tiny Caucasus state that has suddenly found itself in the international spotlight. 

With its unique cultural heritage, ancient origins and shared border with Iran, the history of the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan makes for fascinating reading. But what’s it like to work in Procurement there? Procurious member Fidan Amirbekova shares why the most important asset in Azerbaijani business is your personal network.

Welcome to the Procurious community, Fidan! Can you tell us a little about your country?

I live and work in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan and a thriving city on the coast of the Caspian Sea. The town’s origins go back to Roman times, with the earliest written evidence of its existence dating from 84AD. Today, it’s an incredible mixture of ancient buildings and modern skyscrapers. The town’s most recognisable buildings these days are the iconic “flame towers” (pictured).

Azerbaijan, also known as the Land of Fire, is the largest of the three South Caucasus states and is bordered by Russia to the north, Georgia to the north-west, Armenia to the west, Turkey to the south-west, Iran to the south, and the Caspian Sea to the east. Our culture has been defined by our location at the cross-roads of Russia and Persia (later Iran), and Azerbaijan has been a part of both empires at different times in its history.

Although the country has a Shiite Muslim majority, Azerbaijan doesn’t have an official religion, and all the major political forces in the country are secularist. The official language is Azerbaijani, although many of us speak Russian and English as well.

What kind of organisation do you work for?

I work in procurement for Bakcell, the leading mobile phone operator in Azerbaijan. The telecommunications sector is one of the biggest and most innovative in the country, and the role of procurement is significant. I’ve worked at Bakcell for almost 13 years now, with six of them in the procurement department. Specifically, I’m responsible for Marketing and Sales procurement and specialise in services purchasing.

As a profession, procurement in Azerbaijan is quite new, but it’s growing rapidly. Most of the large companies (especially the international ones) require procurement specialists in their teams. There is no developed manufacturing chain in the country, so we need to import almost everything.

Are there any challenges involved with moving goods across borders?

Yes, there are sometimes difficulties with moving goods across borders, but experienced professionals can always find a way. Doing business here is about who you know – personal relationships play a very important role in every field in Azerbaijan. You will succeed if you have a large network – it doesn’t matter if your connections are business-related or personal. In my experience, a wide circle of friends and acquaintances solves everything. That includes online social and business networks like LinkedIn – and Procurious!

Do you source anything from Iran? 

There is some trade over the shared border between Azerbaijan and Iran. Personally, I haven’t yet had to source anything from Iran. The two countries have a shared history and there are many Azerbaijanis living in Iran, and vice-versa. We have stronger business and personal relationships with Turkey. Our languages are similar, and Turkish students come to Azerbaijan to study. We import a lot from Turkey, and there are many Turkish companies here, both small and large.

What pathways are offered to get into procurement in Baku and the region?

As I said earlier, procurement is relatively new here, although it’s growing fast. At present, none of our higher education institutions offer courses in procurement. There is, however, a small consulting company which represents CIPS in Azerbaijan and offers training courses and CIPS qualifications. Many procurement professionals here are actively seeking new opportunities and professional development, so having the CIPS qualification is becoming increasingly popular.

Overall, I think procurement has a great future in modern Azerbaijan. Businesses here understand that we can make a great contribution.

Procurious may be an English-language business network, but our community members come from all over the globe. We’re looking for more stories to build a picture of the unique challenges faced by procurement professionals internationally. If you’re interested in sharing your story, please leave a comment below.

Learning the Fine Art of Creativity

We live in an ideas economy where creativity is the new currency. So is it possible for those with less artistic flair to learn how to get their creative juices flowing? 

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

Everyone’s A Little Bit Creative 

Many of us enjoyed a childhood spent imagining, innovating and creating whether we were painting pictures, constructing dens from cardboard boxes or inventing fantastical make-believe games.

Indeed, the vast majority of research into child psychology suggests that we are all born naturally creative but we subsequently endure an education system or working environment in which our imaginations are more or less stamped out of us.

James Bannerman, a creative change agent and author of Non-Fiction best-seller Genius: Deceptively Simple Ways to Become Instantly Smarter, firmly believes that everyone has the capacity to be creative and innovative. Of course, some adults demonstrate greater potential than others but by employing certain techniques and embracing our inner creativity, we can all achieve additional moments of pure genius.

In a world where innovation is the new currency, procurement teams that fail to execute their ideas with originality will fall behind and die. James will be on hand at the Big Ideas Summit 2017 in London to give our CPOs and online delegates tips to release the creative genius in their teams.

Innovate Or Die

The maxim that organisations must innovate or die has never been more true thanks to rapid technology developments and fierce competition. In procurement, CPOs need to foster their intrapreneurs and work to achieve what Bannerman calls a ‘return on inspiration’:

“ It is easy to become fixated by Return On Investment in business, and often with good reason. The problem with traditional ROI, however, is that it is built upon ‘known returns’.

Creative Thinking, however, is more closely connected with ‘surprise returns’. You don’t always know what you’re going to get at the end of it – because creativity involves ‘the defeat of habit by originality’ (as Arthur Koestler once said in his 1964 classic The Art of Creation.

Yet, to those with an open mind, it can still be worth exploring the world of “return on inspiration”, as the ad agency Golley Slater referred  to it,  to see what comes out the other side”

At the Big Ideas Summit 2017, Bannerman will be putting 50 CPOs through their paces as he introduces them to lateral thinking exercises.

“ During our interactive session we will look at the C.A.N.D.O. model – which I write about in Genius!  This pinpoints the 5 main ways to come up with new ideas, whatever the challenge and whatever the problem: New Connections, New Alterations, New Navigations, New Directions and New Oppositions.

Before we explain what they are, and how they can be used in the real world of work, however, we’ll start off with a few Lateral Thinking exercises.

Take the question ‘What do you lose everytime you stand up ?’ for example. Many people struggle with this question, because they approach it far too rigidly and logically.”Maybe you lose your balance?” or “Maybe you lose the comfort of your chair” etc… If you apply a little Lateral Thinking and spin the question around, however, it can start to become much easier. ‘What do you gain everytime you sit down’ ? You gain a lap!

Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017 now!

Attention Roosters: Don’t Cock Things Up In 2017

HELP! 2017 is going to be an unlucky year for me – the Chinese Zodiac says I’m going to cock things up. 

As a rooster, I’m in deep trouble for 2017. It’s taken me almost 36 years to grasp the fact that in popular Chinese belief your birth sign year is considered unlucky, rather than lucky. Looking back on my last two Rooster years, this makes a sad kind of sense.

If I could, I’d go back in time to visit the pubescent, socially awkward 12-year-old blundering from one disaster to another in 1993. “It’s not your fault!” I’d yell. “It’s all due to the ancient Chinese Zodiac – events are way beyond your ability to control!” I don’t even want to talk about 2005, where I was essentially the same socially-awkward child in a 24-year-old’s body. Again – not the best year for me, but now that I’m aware of it, I can happily lay the blame at the feet of long-dead Han-era astrologers.

Looking into the characteristics of Roosters, and the wider Chinese Zodiac, has been enlightening – firstly because it’s all way more complex than I thought, and secondly because I’m now aware of my own cultural ignorance in this area – but more on that later. First, let’s look at the attributes of a Rooster.

Rooster characteristics

I was hoping to find a quick list of characteristics for Roosters, but the real story is much more complicated than I assumed. It depends not only on your zodiac sign, but the element associated with your year. Here’s a handy guide from www.chinahights.com:

Type of Rooster Year of Birth Characteristics
Wood Rooster 1945, 2005 Energetic, overconfident, tender, and unstable
Fire Rooster 1957, 2017 Trustworthy, with a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work
Earth Rooster 1909, 1969 Lovely, generous, trustworthy, and popular with their friends
Gold Rooster 1921, 1981 Determined, brave, persevering, and hardworking
Water Rooster 1933, 1993 Smart, quick-witted, tender-hearted, and compassionate

I was born in ’81, which means I’m a Gold Rooster – determined (kind-of), brave (sometimes), persevering (I’m finishing this article, aren’t I?), hardworking (yes boss), and good-looking (I may have slipped that one in). Interestingly, only Wood Roosters have the characteristic I’d most associate with actual roosters, which is (pardon the pun) “cockiness”.

To complicate things further, there are also animal signs assigned by month (called inner animals), by day (called true animals) and hours (called secret animals). Which means that as well as being a Gold Rooster, I’m also a Rat internally, a Goat truly, and a Tiger secretly. Confused? Blame the astrologers.

Should Roosters ask for a promotion in 2017?

Well, at a macro level, it’s an unlucky year for you overall, but perhaps if you get the details right using the list below, you’ll be fine. In short, when you meet your boss to have that all-important career discussion, make sure you pick the month and day carefully with reference to the Chinese lunar calendar. Ensure you’re wearing gold, brown or yellow (NOT red!), pin a gladiola to your top before the meeting, and try to manoeuvre yourself so you face south or southeast during the conversation.

Lucky stuff for Roosters

  • Lucky numbers: 5, 7, and 8
  • Lucky days: the 4th and 26th of any Chinese lunar month
  • Lucky colours: gold, brown, and yellow
  • Lucky flowers: gladiola, cockscomb
  • Lucky directions: south, southeast
  • Lucky months: the 2nd, 5th, and 11th Chinese lunar months.

Stuff Roosters should avoid

  • Unlucky colour: red
  • Unlucky numbers: 1, 3, and 9
  • Unlucky direction: east
  • Unlucky months: the 3rd, 9th, and 12th Chinese lunar months

On a serious note – I’m culturally ignorant

How did it take me this long to find out that Chinese birth-sign years are unlucky rather than lucky? I’m ashamed to admit it, but what I’ve displayed is a lack of cultural curiosity. According to Cultural Synergist Dr Tom Verghese, curiosity is one of the attributes that makes for a culturally intelligent leader. Leaders without this attribute lack the motivation to find out more about the cultures they’re working with by asking lots of questions to develop their CQ, or cultural intelligence.

Dr Tom writes, “I believe curiosity should drive each of us in our own inter-cultural explorations. Understanding the values of other cultures and what their celebrations represent is certainly an important step we can all take towards representing and appreciating diversity and inclusion in our communities.”

Lesson learned. This year I’m going to do two things:

  • Make an effort to display more curiosity as I seek to improve my cultural intelligence, and
  • Tread carefully in what may be an unlucky year.

In short, I’ll try not to make a cock of myself in 2017.

Throwback Thursday – #suckit – The Art of Speechmaking

There’s an art to great speechmaking, and we can all take note how to improve. But could it also be the key to finding great talent?

I’ve just woken up in Los Angeles and am still in awe of Cate Blanchett’s amazing acceptance speech at last night’s Oscars.

No – I wasn’t in the audience (maybe next year!), but watching with a group of friends in our Art Deco hangout in Santa Monica. It felt a bit like watching the AFL Grand Final from an apartment in East Melbourne. The action was only metres away, but there you were, watching it on television like the rest of the world.

Cate’s speech was the demonstration of a well educated, articulate, thoughtful, and endearing individual. She came across as a true professional who was both confident and competent – a rare combination.

As far as I’m concerned, her speech ticked all the boxes. She used this once in a lifetime opportunity to talk to the world about the wealth of Australian talent, the important role of women in business, and her number one passion, the Sydney Theatre Company.

 

And, I’m sorry, I have always tried to avoid writing negative comments about specific individuals, but Cate provided a VERY stark contrast to the best male actor who…quite frankly…in his acceptance speech reinforced a lot of stereotypes about the acting world and Hollywood. Enough said!

Don’t Get Sticky Fingers

Now, I know there will probably be social media furore over her comment, “Julia, #suckit.” The background to which Blanchett is staying close-lipped.

It would seem Cate’s has proved correct an earlier, very clever quote from Julia Roberts regarding social media: “It’s like cotton candy. It looks so appealing, but then you just end up with sticky fingers”.

Wow!  What a great analogy – sticky fingers.  Really made me rethink my little personal journey on twitter, which you can read about in “Who gives a tweet?”.

Anyway, back to great speechmaking. While scrolling through my Twitter timeline to learn more about Cate’s big win, I stumbled across AFL Boss Andrew Demetriou’s 11 minute resignation speech.

OK, so it’s not everyday someone draws a link between Andrew Demetriou and Cate Blanchett! But in a matter of 24 hours, both these Australians made great leadership speeches that will help define their respective legacies.

Both speeches had the following in common –

  • Paid respect to their respective “codes”
  • Showed humility and empathy
  • Recognised where they had come from and those who had supported their journey
  • Sent a clear message about their passions/key communication points
  • Thanked their family

Because of their statesman-like, intelligent and heartfelt comments, they left their audience thinking even more highly of their respective professions.

Your Speechmaking Checklist

It’s not everyday that we mere mortals are called on to make landmark speeches, but the checklist above certainly gives us some good reminders as we walk through our professional lives.

So when that day arrives, and you’re in front of the camera, audience, or friends, will you be able to deliver a compelling summary of your contribution?

Here’s some thought starters:

  • As we interact with our team, do we show gratitude?
  • Are we investing our energy in those people who will be part of the winning team?
  • Will we have contributed in a material way to the development of our “code” or profession?
  • Have we supported our family as much as they have supported us?
  • Do we have a view, an opinion, or a passion that we are actively promoting to others as we interact daily?
  • Are we living and working by our values?
  • Are we showing empathy and humility?
  • And what about our team and others we have dealt with along the way?  Will they be our greatest advocates?

Speechmaking – The Key to Finding Talent?

But the importance of oration goes even further than our own ability to present professionally it would seem. It could just be the key to finding great young talent.

I’m always looking for great talent to help build my three businesses – The Faculty, The Source and Procurious. So, when I came across advice in Forbes on “how to find the Millennials who will lead your company,” I really took notice.

The author, Robert Sher, advised us to be on the lookout for Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) who have had experience in speechmaking and debating.

He highlights that the world needs business executives that have a deep understanding of how to persuade, how to present clearly, and how to connect with an audience.

Sher notes that many professionals, “fall short when it comes to speaking and communications skills. Many are good at making Power Point slides, and some are good at presenting facts clearly—even recommendations clearly.

“But few practice, or are aware of the techniques behind moving the emotions of audiences; whether they be in a meeting, or in an all-hands gathering of hundreds of people. We all know that people spring to action based on emotions, then simply justify it with logic.”

Here is the truth about students who compete in speech and debate. They’ve spent hundreds of hours perfecting their speaking skills.  Many have done intensive research to write their speeches.

All have endured the pressure that competition brings. They have performed well intellectually under such pressure, and they’ve made connections and friendships with other high performing peers. All of these behaviours are excellent predictors of success on any leadership team.

Beating the Procurement Drum – What’s Coming in 2017?

Procurious will continue to beat the drum for procurement in 2017. And here’s what we have planned for you all in the coming 12 months!

procurement drum beat

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog. 

“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…twelve Drummers Drumming.”

We’ve made it to the end of our festive procurement carol. With birds galore, rings, maids, lords and ladies, and pipers behind us, it’s time to look forward.

As we come towards the end of one year, we want to take a look at what’s coming in 2017. So, drummers and all, let’s march into the next twelve months.

Big Ideas, Big Plans

Now in its third year, The Big Ideas Summit is a unique invitation-only event for just 50 of the world’s most influential Procurement leaders. But, as ever, we’ll be inviting the Procurious community to take part as digital delegates.

If you’re new to the site, and haven’t taken part in a Summit yet, then you’re in for a treat. But first, to whet your appetite, here are the three-word Big Ideas our procurement leaders had last year:

So far for 2017, we have confirmed some big-name speakers already, as well as CPOs from a host of global organisations. We’ll have more information in January, so stay tuned!

Can’t make it to London, in person or digitally? You’ll be pleased to hear that we’re expanding our Big Ideas plans for 2017. Not only are we hosting our annual event in London in February, but we’re also planning a globe-trotting agenda for later in the year.

With topics covering risk, technology, people and careers, and innovation, there’s something (and somewhere) for everyone next year.

The Procurement Drum Beat

And if our events are enough for you, we have plenty to come on the Procurious Blog.

We’ll be continuing our Bravo series, celebrating Women in Procurement, with a series of interviews with top procurement professionals. If you’d like to get involved, join the Bravo Group, or contact Laura Ross, our Community Liaison Manager.

Not only that, after the overwhelming success of our Career Boot Camp, we’ll be running another Boot Camp during the year. If you missed out this year, you can catch up with the content on the Blog, and the podcasts here.

We also have an eBook, filled with some great content, written by Procurious Founder, Tania Seary. You can get all the information you need, and download it, right here!

Learning From Mistakes

So, as we sign off for Christmas, we’ve got one final thing to take heed of from 2016. Procurement needs to be all about learning in 2017. Learning from each other, learning new skills, and, most importantly, learning from our mistakes.

The last thing you want to do is end up on this list next year. The “World’s Worst Procurement Awards” highlights some of the biggest (and sadly, quite common) mistakes in procurement.

The good thing is, we all can learn from these mistakes and ensure our processes tick the ‘best practice’ box. If you need any guidance, then you can catch up with our festive carol on the Blog. It should point you in the right direction, and provide you with tools to drum up support for your team.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our mini-series on the 12 Days of Procurement Christmas. It’s been fun to write, so we hope you’ve got something from it. If you have any questions or comments, then please feel free to get in touch with the team.

Would You Have Managed the Piper Ethically?

No one involved behaved particularly ethically in the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. How can consumers and organisations ensure that all practices are above board? 

piper 11th day

 

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.

“On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…eleven pipers piping.”

There’s no doubt that the most famous piper in the history of piping is the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Renowned for his hypnotic musical talent, he successfully led away an entire town’s population of rats and, following lack of payment for his efforts, children. Can you begin to imagine the power that could be yielded by eleven of them all piping at once?!

We’d hope that, in this instance, the true love would have been extremely careful and ethical when it came to paying the pipers for their efforts; fairly, ethically and on time.

And if they hadn’t? Would the pipers be forgiven for leading away something precious to the true love? Perhaps they would have taken away all the gifts from the previous ten days!

It all begs the question, who is most responsible for the horrible outcome at the end of the tale, the townsfolk or the Pied Piper? Neither behaved entirely ethically.

Ethics is an issue readily discussed in procurement with regards to the supply chain and the consumer buying an end product or service. Both are, in part, responsible for ensuring that processes, pricing and staff-management are ethical and sustainable.

Where’s Your Consumer Conscience?

At this year’s Big Ideas Summit, Lucy Siegle, journalist at The Guardian, discussed the importance of consumers supporting sustainable fashion.

Fast fashion can be extremely enticing thanks to its competitive pricing and the consumer’s desire for on-trend clothing.  But what is the true cost of this industry? If you purchase an item of disposable fashion at a cheap price, have you considered the working conditions for those at the end of the supply chain?

It’s possible you’re supporting a fashion brand that pays low wages to workers in developing countries in terrible working conditions and, at worst sweatshop labour.

Whilst it might have been easy to claim ignorance in previous years, in an age of ethics and transparency, ignorance and apathy are no longer acceptable. It’s easy to dismiss responsibility by expecting fashion brands themselves to ensure  supply chain purity. But defiant and principled consumers can make an important impact by refusing to buy these products.

Danielle Stewart, Head of Financial Reporting at RSM UK, discussed this point further at our Big Ideas Summit 2015.

And if you’re still unsure whether your fashion purchases are ethical or not, ‘Good On You’ can help!

Is the Future Bright for Green Supply Chains?

Of course, we’re not placing the burden of achieving ethical supply chains entirely on the consumer’s shoulders. Organisations themselves are under increasing pressure to “go green”.

The long-term benefits to procurement alone are indisputable. These include:

  • The achievement of significant savings by focusing on a “whole life costing” methodology for procurement.
  • The incorporation of the “three Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), to cut waste and improve the efficiency of resources.
  • The improvement of management information, a focus on business and supply chain risk, and better supplier relationships.
  • Competitive advantage as a consequence of the early adoption of practices, focusing on increasingly environmentally-focussed legislation.

Back in June, the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) recognised twelve organisations that are aiding the long term health and vitality of society, economies, and the planet through best practice. These organisations are doing a great job at setting a standard for the rest of the world.

David Noble, Group Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), discussed the issue of ethics in procurement at last year’s Big Ideas Summit:

Changes were also afoot in 2016 in relation to modern slavery in supply chains. New legislations were added to the Modern Slavery Act which came in to practice in April.  All businesses with a turnover of over £36 million must now  prove they have taken steps to remove slave and child labour from their supply chains.

It’s likely that smaller businesses will also be forced to step up to the plate. As the larger companies begin to investigate suppliers throughout their supply chain, everyone will be expected to prove they are slavery-free.

It’s so important for organisations to take a measured and targeted approach to tackling exploitative conditions in their supply chains.

Our festive look at procurement is nearly at an end. However, we have one day left – and a look at what the procurement drum beat will be in 2017.

Leaping into the Future – Better Have the Right Skills

Plan for the future. Look before leaping in head first, and understand what you need to know to handle constant change. It’s time for procurement to upskill.

10 lords a leaping

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.

“On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…ten Lords-a-leaping.”

With birds, rings, and maids all behind us, we head into the final few days of our carol. You never know what’s coming in the future, so you need to be prepared for any eventuality.

Think about how the recipient of all these gifts would be coping. What skills (if any actually exist) would they need to manage the myriad presents they have received?

It’s a similar situation with procurement, and the future of the profession. The fundamental nature of procurement is changing, and professionals need to be ready to cope. For this, we need to be developing the right skill set for what procurement will look like, not what it is now.

And once we have the skills, we need to know how we, as individuals, can make a difference for our organisations.

Leaping into Action

The traditional skill set in procurement isn’t going to cut it any more. That much is clear. Throughout the year, our experts and contributors have been highlighting the change in skills expected of procurement professionals.

The basic skills of contract management, negotiation, and others, can all be taught. It’s an attitude versus aptitude decision when it comes to hiring new team members.

But hiring managers are looking for a new set of skills. Keith Bird, Managing Director of the Faculty Management Consultants, sees these five skills as critical for the profession:

  1. Learning Agility – procurement needs agile learners to keep up with the pace of change, or face obsolescence.
  2. Cultural Awareness – the ability to work with diverse groups of stakeholders, usually in cross-border situations.
  3. Information Management – knowing which data is good to use, and how to use it in a way that means something.
  4. Social Media Savviness – where would we be without social media? Procurement professionals need to be comfortable communicating in any medium.
  5. Creative Thinking – approaching everyday business challenges with an open mind and creative mind set.

On top of this, we need to stop viewing ‘soft skills’ as a luxury. These are generally skills that cannot be learned, but are just as critical for success. And once you’ve mastered these skills, you might even be able to take on the mantle of your team’s MVP:

Change the Skills, Change the Game

If that’s all got you leaping to your feet to sign up for training courses, then great! If you have ambitions to be one of the CPOs of the future, you’ll need to develop a variety of capabilities.

And once you have the skills, you’ll need to know how to apply them for success. Even if you aren’t heading to the CPO arena, you can still make a difference for your organisation. You might not be a ‘game changer’ (and that’s ok), but you can still make a major difference for your procurement team.

Not familiar with the concept? Think Branson, Gates, Zuckerberg – in fact, anyone who has turned a small idea into a major disruptor. We were lucky enough to get the expert view during Career Boot Camp:

Your individual strengths can bring change to your organisation. The beauty of it is that one skill set isn’t enough. To create lasting change, you’ll need individuals all bringing their skills to the party.

And while the party probably won’t include leaping Lords and dancing ladies, it’ll be a celebration of procurement’s evolution instead.

We’re nearly at the end of our 12 Days of Procurement Christmas. But first, we need to have a look at how the logistics of the carol come together. Like the Pied Piper himself, you need to make sure everyone is dancing to your tune.

Going Dancing? Deal With This Supply Chain Crisis First!

Planning on going dancing with the nine ladies at the Christmas party? First, there’s a crisis to solve.

9 ladies dancing

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the first eight days on the Procurious Blog.

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love sent to me – a work Christmas party! But before you can go dancing, a major supplier calls you with some bad news. Let us regale you with the story of how Procurious saved Christmas!

 

‘Twas the day before Christmas, and I sat in my chair,

Before my computer, pulling my hair.

My colleagues had left for the work Christmas party,

Their voices were merry, their laughs loud and hearty.

 

The plan was to join them once emails were read,

While visions of Christmas treats danced in my head.

“I’ll be just a minute!” I’d shouted with glee.

How little I knew of the fate before me.

 

That’s when my phone gave a shout (what a clatter!)

I gulped – what was wrong? What was the matter?

An earthquake? A flood? My supply chain on fire?

Whatever it was, it was bound to be dire.

 

I picked up the phone with a trembling hand

It was a supplier! “They’ve taken a stand!”

“Who have?” I groaned, completely unmanned:

“Our workers! They’re striking! It’s bad for the brand!”

 

“But it’s Christmas!” I yelled. “The timing is shocking!”

“I think that’s the point?” he replied, knees-a-knocking.

I flew to my laptop and the project I checked

Without those supplies the whole thing was wrecked.

 

I leaped back to the phone: “Forget it!” I said.

“I’ll have to find a different vendor instead!”

Did I have a plan B? A second supplier?

No I did not, and now things were haywire.

 

I scrolled through my contacts, I Googled and Bing’d

Yahooed and LinkedIn ’till my eyes were red-rimmed

As I mentioned before, I was pulling my hair

“This isn’t Christmas-y! This isn’t fair!”

 

I slumped at my desk, my heart pounding sickly,

I knew a supply must be procured quickly.

And that’s when a lightbulb blinked on in my head

“I know where I should be looking instead!”

 

Back to the screen I leapt with a flurry

And typed in “Procurious.com” in a hurry.

This was my chance to stop repercussions

I logged into the site and clicked on “Discussions”.

 

“Please help me!” I typed. “I need a supplier!”

“It’s Christmas! I’m desperate! We’re down to the wire!”

I listed my needs and sat back, all a-quiver

In hope that Procurious would quickly deliver.

 

A minute passed – or two, maybe three

Would this trick work? There’s no guarantee..

But then Procurious.com gave a “ding!”

Someone’s answered my question! I felt like a king!

 

A colleague I’d met on the site was quite happy

To suggest a supplier, a reputable chappy

who could sort out my problems, no matter how vast

And what’s more, will do it surprisingly fast.

 

That’s when I realised my problems were solved

The supply chain was saved, all worries dissolved.

I put on my coat and left with aplomb.

Merry Christmas, and thank you Procurious.com!

From dancing the night away, to leaping barriers to the evolution of procurement. But what skills do procurement professionals need to cultivate in the future? Learn more tomorrow.

Negotiations Milking you Dry? Why Not Unleash the Power of the Herd!

On Day 8, the true love bestowed that famously lusted after gift of eight milking maids…

eight maids a milking

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.

“On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…eight maids-a-milking.”

As the gifts become more and more extravagant, we have to question the logistics of it all – we wouldn’t be procurement professionals if we didn’t!

It’s unclear how the true love bequeathed the eight milking maids. Were eight cows also included in the purchase or was it simply a milking service that was required? Were the maids employed by an hourly rate or at a fixed cost, and how were they delivered to the lucky recipient?

Whatever happened, it would have taken some great negotiation skills to strike up a fair deal that ensured neither party was milked dry.

Perhaps the true love harnessed the knowledge of a crowd of friends to get ideas on how to orchestrate the whole thing – using the power of the herd as it were!

Negotiating Your Best Deal 

The festive season calls for a lot of meticulous planning but when it comes to negotiating deals, you need to be prepared all year round. What’s your pre-match strategy when it comes to negotiating with suppliers, clients and stakeholders?

In order to achieve the right outcome, you ought to have considered your objectives well in advance. This will help you determine what sort of negotiation you’ll need to have and assess any additional support you might need such as legal advice.

It’s also important to ensure you know the other party. What are their aspirations, weaknesses and objectives?

This Procurious e-learning video has it all covered: 

Here are some key things to bear in mind:

  • Will your agreement stand the test of time? Both parties want to feel that they’ve achieved a good deal and a satisfactory outcome.
  • Is the outcome efficient? Make sure no value has been left at the table.
  • Are you off to a good start? Negotiating a deal sets the foundation for your supplier partnerships and a precedent for the relationship you want to build.
  • Have you mastered your verbal, written and non-verbal communications? When it comes to negotiating, you need to be assertive but not aggressive!

Milking The Power of the Herd 

Sometimes, no amount of self-determination and commitment can get you across the finish line alone. We all need a little help from our friends for ideas, innovation and support.

We’ve certainly noticed that collaborative innovation has been on the rise in 2016 with more organisations embracing the power of the Hackathon.

In November, Spotless Group and Startupbootcamp hosted an epic two-day event at the MCG in Melbourne, Australia, focusing on the Internet of Things (IoT) and DataTech. Events such as these help to generate new ideas and turn innovation into reality.

Lisa Malone spoke about the value of the Hackathon at this year’s Big Ideas Summit.

Lisa explained why it’s key to foster creative cultures in the workplace, giving employees the chance to dare to think about the unthinkable. It can be hard to think big and innovate when you’re stuck in the routine of day-to-day office life.

Hackathons can be a great way to harvest creativity and allow teams to deliver the big ideas CEOs are demanding.

If hosting a hackathon seems a bit out of your reach, remember there are other ways to drive change and innovation within your organisation.

Internal collaboration also has a huge part to play. Procurious recently addressed why it’s so critical to engage Millennials with new tech implementations. They’re tech savvy and accustomed to participating in digital communities.

Their contributions, for example, could be invaluable when it comes to the adoption of e-procurement.

It’s very nearly Christmas, and many of you will be dancing out the door to your Christmas party. But what happens if there’s a crisis that arises, demanding your attention? Don’t worry, help is at hand!

How Sustainability Can Help Procurement Avoid Black Swans

Swans, procurement and sustainability – what’s the link? It’s all to do with procurement taking account for its impact on the wider world.

Seven Swans Swimming

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.

“On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…seven swans-a-swimming.”

Black swans are always unexpected, and defy explanation. Seeing two black swans together is highly unlikely. However, seeing seven together all at once? Well, you better hope that you don’t.

Of course, I’m not talking about the bird that you might see in your local park. The Black Swan I’m thinking of is a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb for an event that is both surprising, and has a major impact.

So, if we can’t predict when these events will happen, how can we stop them? This is where sustainability, social value, and procurement come in.

Thinking the Unthinkable

Earlier this year, Nik Gowing spoke extensively about the concept of ‘Thinking the Unthinkable‘ at the Big Ideas Summit. The idea behind this was that current leaders weren’t able to deal with cataclysmic events – either through a lack of skills, or outright denial.

Little did Nik know that when he used President Trump as an example of an unpredictable event, he was actually predicting the future! Nor could he have known that 2016 could provide even greater volatility than 2014, the year Nik and his co-author looked at for these so-called Black Swans.

It’s easy to argue that, without the right skills, these events are impossible to handle. If you then add in the fact that we can’t predict them, even with all the technology available to us, then what can we do?

Swimming with the Swans

Given that Black Swan events can be just about anything, procurement needs to look at its impact on everything to do its bit. And one way to do this, is to be conscious of its impact on the wider society.

Sustainability and sustainable procurement are concepts that are getting increasing focus in the global profession. Organisations have begun to realise that sustainability can build supply chain competitive advantage. Employee engagement is key, but the vast majority of people want to engage if it means a brighter future.

The environment is certainly a major consideration in potential future Black Swan events. And, from management of resources, to responsibility for global supply chains, procurement will play a major role.

Procurement Gets Social

Of course, sustainability is just one aspect of procurement’s future. The profession is taking increasing interest in social value, and working with social enterprises.

And why should procurement be working with these organisations? Well, they give back to the community, and have a positive impact on the community, and the environment. There are also social organisations working hard to ensure that people have proper access to good, healthy food.

And those of us looking to get more meaning in our procurement careers could do worse than looking to work with social enterprises. Career Coach Charlie Wigglesworth, Director of Business and Enterprise, Social Enterprise UK, discussed this at length earlier in the year.

If your conscience has been pricked, then there is plenty you can do to help. If we pull together as a profession, then we can ensure procurement is better equipped to deal with unexpected events.

Or, you never know, we might even be able to stop them happening in the first place. Then the only swans we need to think about would be the ones we see at the local pond. And that would be good for the future, wouldn’t it?

Negotiation – it’s just one of the key skills procurement professionals need to drive value. But do you go for milking your supplier? Or getting something from the wider herd? Get the lowdown on Day 8.