Category Archives: Procurement News

Four Reasons Why Value Is the New Procurement Normal

We’re all talking about delivering value these days in procurement, aren’t we? But with so many definitions around, how do we maximise its impact?

value
Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

We’re all talking about delivering value these days in procurement, aren’t we?  Value is now the new normal.  And everyone has their own take on what delivering value for the business really means.  There’s no single definition.

So Procurious were delighted when our November Roundtable sponsor Ivalua asked us to use value as our theme. Here are some of the great insights that speakers shared with attending CPOs on the day.

Stakeholder Value – an idea whose time has come?

In August, Business Roundtable CEOs made the announcement that value is about more than just shareholders. It’s this idea that we should be focusing on going forward.

And they were clear that value, rather than maximising return to shareholders, is now “the essential role corporations can play in improving our society when CEOs are truly committed to meeting the needs of all stakeholders.” 

But what does this mean in practice for procurement? And how can we demonstrate stakeholder value? Stuart Woollard has been at the forefront of pioneering work in this field for many years, assessing the measurement of factors beyond cost. 

Stuart had a warning for the CPOs too that, “being purpose driven is not enough”. He urged a move away from a focus solely on output metrics, and encouraged them to take a balanced multi-faceted approach. 

Stuart and his organisation, The Maturity Institute, has a tool that they’ve been using to achieve this balance for many years. But just because there’s a method of measuring value doesn’t mean this shift will be easy.

Finally, Stuart reminded the CPOs that, “Without support from the CEO and your Board, you may not achieve the shift to value that you need”, bringing home the point that buy-in is needed across the leadership team and beyond, in order to ensure success.

The value in your supply chain comes from people

If changing to a value-based model will require a mindset change at the top is there anything CPOs and their teams can do right now?

Nadia Youds, from UK retailer John Lewis & Partners, told our CPOs that an approach targeting employees is a great way to deliver value back to the business. “Job design in our supply chain is as much about the business relationships procurement has put in place as it is about the suppliers themselves.”

Nadia is clear about the connection between the buying organisation and the way employees in the supply chain are treated, and the work they’re expected to deliver. 

Although Nadia and her team have developed an assessment process that moves away from the standard suppler audit, she was keen to stress that the process needs to move away from compliance as a ‘tick box exercise’.

Using an approach that focuses on people and jobs, particularly in the manufacturing industry, can help suppliers develop and retain their workforce. This will lead to them ultimately being more competitive in the market.

Winning the war for talent – could value be the key?

Many CPOs are facing huge challenges in talent recruitment and retention. Procurement is still keen to learn from the best. And so a chance to see what the Tech industry does to source and retain the right people was an eagerly anticipated agenda item. Andrew MacAskill, from Career Jump and Finlay James was the person for the job (as it were!).

“We’ve still got a long way to go to attract the brightest minds in the industry,” Andrew mused. He reminded CPOs we can learn a lot from the Tech industry where “talent has become the customer”.

One tactic Andrew urged CPOs to consider is to build their own online personal brand. Many of his candidates select roles based on a leader, not a brand. “They’re asking themselves the question – do I trust this person to take my career forward?”

The issue of whether the talent wants to work for us led Andrew to suggest a reverse interview process:

  1. Sell your vision to the candidate – why should they want to work for you;
  2. Conduct a balanced interview – make sure the process and discussion is equal between recruiter and candidate;
  3. Open up the floor – give the candidate the chance to sell themselves to you.

Andrew shared that testing for the candidate’s attitude, cognitive aptitude and habits is the norm in tech recruitment processes. He urged CPOs to consider this when they’re recruiting team members to help them deliver their vision for value.

Value remains the same throughout history

Looking back through history shows that data gives procurement a head start when it comes to delivering value. Ivalua’s Stephen Carter has studied the impact from medieval times right up to the present day.

“There’s a lot we can learn from history about how we can exceed our stakeholder expectations” explained Stephen, “and a good overview of your data can provide the key.”

Even in the late 17th Century, procurement used data to provide insight into what their stakeholders needed. Looking at past spending trends, conditions and requirements, military campaigns were won due to the foresight of procurement in providing equipment not in the client’s original scope of requirements.

From history to the modern day, the value that procurement can deliver comes from insights that organisational data provides. It’s clear that whether our focus is strategic or operational, within our team or in our supply chains, delivering value is fully embedded as the new procurement normal. 

And as we set ourselves a new target to deliver value, there are no better words than those of the final speaker on the day, adventurer George Bullard.

“Research your goal, make sure you are prepared and fix a time to start.” Words to live and work by.

In 2020, we will be holding CPO Roundtable events in London and Edinburgh. If you are interested in attending one of these events, please contact Laura Hine by clicking here.

The Loss Leading Approach to Savings

Challenging, controversial and, for small organisations, potentially crippling, but for many, Loss Leading remains a popular strategy. Is there a sustainable way procurement can use this strategy to deliver real savings?

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Loss Leading is the practice of selling products at, or just below, cost price, with the aim of bringing consumers into a store and then selling add-on items to the original product, or encourage impulse purchases. And when the average consumer spends $5,400 per year on impulse purchases, you can understand the attractiveness of this.

If you have been shopping for groceries, a new mobile phone, electronics or even a new car, the chances are fairly high that you have encountered a Loss Leader pricing strategy. So common are these deals across a whole range of goods and services that it’s probable you have encountered this strategy without even realising it.

It’s the notion that this strategy is somehow underhand that, in spite of its popularity, has led to controversy. It’s even been banned in half of US states and some European countries. Why? Because there is a widely held belief that the practice doesn’t promote competition and may harm consumers in the long-term. 

Reduced Competition?

The fact that the strategy has been banned in half of US states suggests that the practice has more negative connotations than positive. In most cases, the belief is that Loss Leading actually reduces market competition to the detriment of the consumer. 

Large organisations, the likes of Amazon, Walmart and Apple for example, have broad product ranges and the ability to withstand losses from these products by having a greater profit margin on others. Smaller organisations don’t have this luxury and either choose not to stock a product or sell it for more, reducing consumer choice.

It’s not all positive for organisations either. Savvy consumers may only look for the introductory offer or the products at the loss leading price, and not buy add-ons. This is termed as ‘cherry picking’ and may cause financial issues for even large organisations in the long-term. There may also be a knock-on effect in the supply chain as manufacturers may be required, or feel the need, to keep prices low so that loss leading strategies can continue.

There are positives for organisations and consumers though. Organisations may use it as a strategy to increase sales or engage consumers on a new product, with consumers benefiting from better deals and lower prices. 

Could we then be looking at a situation where unsustainable loss leading is the issue, where the strategy is actively used to reduce competition or drive other organisations out of business? And how does all of this relate to procurement?

Sustainable Loss Leading

For procurement, introductory pricing and negotiated discounts are commonplace. Across all industries and sectors, suppliers will try to get a foot in the door with an organisation, offering lower prices, demonstrations and even free samples. While regulations and transparency should stop this having a direct correlation to contracts awarded, there is benefit that procurement can derive from this.

Where suppliers can accommodate lower prices, a loss leading strategy on price plays right into procurement’s hands. As the profession looks to drive down costs in both direct and indirect sourcing, procurement strategies are looking for greater innovation and strategic buying initiatives to achieve this, without just chipping away at profit margins.

The Power of GPOs

Let’s say, hypothetically, that procurement professionals are looking at loss leading strategies without knowing that this is what they are. A good procurement strategy would focus on ensuring that no matter how low the price is, it is sustainable for the market and the supplier. After all, it’s no use driving prices down and putting your supplier out of business. 

What if there was a solution in the market that would enable sustainable loss leading prices over the longer term, which procurement could take advantage of? The good news is that there is in the form of Group Purchasing Organisations (GPOs). Linking up with a GPO doesn’t diminish procurement’s role, rather it enhances it. Supplier consolidation activities can be aided and it’s not a ‘race to the bottom’ in pricing, meaning that required quality levels will be maintained.

GPOs will assist in gaining the best prices possible through sourcing at bulk rates, without the individual organisations having to increase their purchasing volumes. The GPO can then guarantee that these prices stay low, at the ‘loss leader’ level for the life of the contract, through the use of pre-negotiated contracts and the fact that, due to the volume, even the smallest organisation is treated as a key customer for the supply base.

Turning the Negative Positive 

As you can see, when done sensitively and sustainably, a loss leading strategy for savings can actually be a positive for procurement. Not only that, but by taking the route of the GPO, the strategy is open for the first time to smaller organisations, without the potentially fatal risks attached to it. As procurement strategies go, it’s a strong one, allowing for wider input and not undermining strategic supplier relationships. 

Who knows, you might even earn your organisation a slice of that impulse spend. Now that would be a good outcome, wouldn’t it?

Want to know how to gain the benefits of sustainable loss leading without any of the negatives? Then contact UNA today and join their growing network.   

The Time Paradox of Contract Management

When you’re busy it’s easy to let things slide and ignore contract management in the procurement process. But the idea that you’re saving yourself time by doing so is a paradox we would be well-served dismissing.

By andrey_l /Shutterstock

You’ve taken your time meticulously following the procurement process from inception of the idea through to contract award. You’ve spent all the time you needed getting your ESPD right and crafting some good contract documents to get the necessary competition and achieve best value. Your contract award reports have been signed off and you’ve even managed to fit in time for a lessons learned document.

But you’ve got another tender sitting waiting to be evaluated. And another that needs sign off from the stakeholders before you can publish. Not to mention that phone call you’ve just taken or email you’ve read assigning you a new project or asking for your input.

So you think to yourself, “It’s ok, I’ll arrange the mobilisation meeting and then the Operations side of the business can take it from there. After all, it’s an easy contract – it’ll take care of itself…”.

Stop. No really, stop. Why, after putting all the hard yards in to begin with, would you then choose to step back at such a critical juncture? Are you sure that without your input, all those savings and benefits you agreed with the supplier will be delivered? And can you prove you are getting what you asked for?

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Let’s take a step back from this and stop blaming ourselves as individuals. Time is not on procurement’s side (as I have said in the past) and there’s not always time to perform all the necessary tasks as part of the procurement process. When push comes to shove and there are tenders to be published, one of the first things to get dropped, alongside training and development, is frequently contract management.

Why? That’s a hard one to answer. In many public sector organisations, the issue comes down to an unholy trinity of reasons.

  1. A lack of resources in procurement departments, be that head count, budget, or similar;
  2. A lack of time, which has been covered extensively in the past; and
  3. A high churn of tenders, meaning that getting the contract signed has become the priority.

Unfortunately, the reality is that the public sector is falling victim to the paradox of contract management. It might be felt that there isn’t sufficient time to manage contracts effectively, but without a procurement focus, how are organisations going to realise savings offered by and agreed with suppliers.

In some cases, from personal experience, procurement isn’t even charged with the on-going contract management. In many organisations, both in the public and the private sectors, once procurement has put the contract in place, it’s passed to contract managers or end users for its duration.

Not Rising to the Challenge

Look for the importance of contract management and you don’t have to go far to see why and where it drives success. In the past 12 months there have been stark examples of where contract management has fallen down to disastrous and altogether spectacular effect.

The collapse of Carillion and the endless budget overruns of HS2 are just two examples. A bit further in the past, the National Programme for IT for the NHS, which cost £6 billion more than it should have and has, to date, only delivered a third of the predicted benefits, is another.

However, on the flip side of that there are examples of where good contract management has made a tangible (and quantifiable) difference in public sector projects. The new Queensferry Crossing over the Firth of Forth actually came in £100 million cheaper than initial estimates suggested, with credit being given to the overall management of the project.

The NHS Wales Informatics Service project has set up digital systems to aid patients with prescriptions and staff with communication, aimed at creating greater efficiencies across the strained health sector.

And if you’re unsure about procurement’s involvement in these projects, both have been nominated as regional winners for national awards at the GO Awards, which recognises best practice in public sector procurement across the UK.

Getting Mavericks Out of the Danger Zone

Let me start this section by contradicting much of what I have written before. Procurement needs to actively take on contract management, irrespective of the time commitment. And not only this, but it needs to be a priority on the same level as market analysis and tendering. As has been shown with the example above, good contract management can deliver savings and value, but it also extends beyond this too.

Improved compliance, standardising processes and procedures, spend and performance analysis and spend visibility are all key benefits. On top of this, it can help reduce maverick spend (a procurement favourite!) by taking away a route to using a non-contract supplier, or non-contract items.

And, as a final benefit, it’ll help you save time when it comes to retendering, extending or renewing contracts for existing services, as you’ll know far enough in advance to do the full procurement process properly. Not so much spend (money) to save (money), but more spend (time) to save (time). And maybe we can clear up a couple of paradoxes on the way!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article and the series of articles on the challenges facing public sector procurement in 2019. Leave your comments below, or get in touch directly, I’m always happy to chat!

Weaning Stakeholders off the Procurement Welfare Programme

Where does procurement’s remit start and end? As these lines get more and more blurred, it might be time for procurement to take charge and start the painful weaning process.

By RGallianos/ Shutterstock

Time and again the procurement profession has asked for a “seat at the table” and the opportunity to be seen as a strategic business partner. In some cases, requests have been accepted and change has been forthcoming. In other cases, change is proving more difficult to put in place.

However, in this ever-shifting landscape of change and, perhaps in its eagerness to be accepted, procurement may have stepped outside of its remit. That’s not to say that this is a bad thing, but there is strong argument to suggest that what procurement has done is create a rod for its own back.

Public procurement, and procurement as a whole, already has its hands full with the myriad tasks it takes to get a good tender out to the market. Research and analysis, supplier engagement and internal stakeholder management all take time. And that’s not to mention the contract management that should be carried out post-award too.

But there’s a sneaking feeling that the lines around procurement’s remit are becoming a little too blurred, and that stakeholders are getting a little too used to the procurement ‘welfare programme’. And it’s perhaps time to start the painful weaning process.

The Welfare Programme

It’s worth examining in a bit more detail what we mean when we call it a ‘welfare programme’. Traditionally, procurement has been viewed as a transactional function, responsible for the preparation, issue, evaluation and award of tenders. It was a process-driven role with little or no strategic responsibility.

More recently procurement has been moving to become more of a strategic business partner, with objectives aligned with organisational strategy. More importantly, the function also has a role in setting these overall strategic objectives. However, this is where the issue lies.

As procurement has stepped up and been involved in strategy, its remit and responsibility has spread in line with this. And unfortunately, this has led to situations where professionals are undertaking tasks that have never resided in the procurement sphere.

Procurement should absolutely be getting involved with the writing of specifications, ensuring they are fit for purpose and allow for openness and transparency in the process. But the role should be one of challenging specifications, not actively writing the whole document. The same goes for short-notice or last minute tenders. Why take on all the time pressure ourselves when we’re presented with a requirement that we know, from the start, cannot be completed in the appropriate timescales?

The Budget Burden

From a personal point of view, this issue has been keenly felt in the public sector. Budgetary issues should come as a surprise to no-one (have you been living in a cave?!) and have pretty much been talked to death. The issue doesn’t just lie within procurement, but across the whole organisation. With resources stretched, departments will look to manage their workloads and focus on the most important and strategic tasks.

This means, inevitably, that certain tasks get passed around like hot potatoes and other tasks get left until the last minute.

Procurement, keen to be involved and to remove the (most would say ridiculous) notion of being a roadblock, has become like the school kid desperately trying to get in with the ‘cool kids’. For assignments, lunch money and extra credit read short-notice tenders, reining in non-contract spend and writing specifications. In the willingness to be a partner, the profession has lost its ability to push back on these tasks.

The question is, how does public sector procurement start the difficult process of weaning its stakeholders off this support programme?

Weaning your Stakeholders

The answer isn’t an easy one, but it does actually have a positive outcome all round. It stems from being able to push back, but in a positive way. For example, for specifications, rather than an outright no, ask what help your stakeholders need, whilst making it clear that the responsibility is still on them to write the document.

To assist with resourcing, put monthly (or more regular if required) meetings in the diary to discuss upcoming requirements. Procurement will be able to bring information to the table in the shape of work coming up for retender, plus what procurement resources are likely to be available.

For the most part, it’s about helping strategically define the best route for the organisation to get what it needs. There are stakeholders who still aren’t fully au-fait with the available procurement routes and how they can potentially save time. Not every procurement exercise needs to go through a full tender, taking the 6-9 months it can do to deliver an outcome. The public sector has the ability to use things like Prior Information Notices (PIN), Contract Notices and frameworks to help reduce timelines AND still deliver a good procurement outcome.

It’s neither rocket science nor a quick fix, but it’s vital to get it right and strike the right balance between helpful and put upon. Procurement may have a seat at the table now, but it’s now up to us to earn the respect we deserve for sitting there.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article and the upcoming series of articles on the challenges facing public sector procurement in 2019. Leave your comments below, or get in touch directly, I’m always happy to chat!

It’s Procurement’s Own Fault That The Business Thinks We’re Only About Price

If you’re forever complaining that all your stakeholders want from procurement is cost reduction, consider this: maybe it’s your fault. Here’s how to fix it.  

Over the years I have seen and agreed with a tendency in the area of procurement and supply management about the movement to become a broader function; one that goes beyond comparing prices only, and becomes a business strategist.

At the day-to-day level, the organisation has goals that when cascaded to Procurement could be understood as “only” about cost reduction. One consequence of this is that Procurement’s work and recommendation revolve much of the time around pricing. And this makes sense, as it is the most intuitive strategy to bring benefits to the company, and it is also the easiest way to measure impact (at least to the eyes of our stakeholders).

Considering that we as a function are trying to evolve, a consequence is that we feel that we get classified as professionals that can only talk about the prices from suppliers. This situation puts a glass ceiling on what Procurement can do, making it harder to gain relevance in the wider organisation.

But, which came first? The chicken or the egg?

It’s our fault

My theory is: could it be caused by us? Could it be that we ourselves are continuously reinforcing the cycle in which we always talk about price and then the organization talks with us only about price as well?

Competitive pricing does not appear from thin air, especially in organisations with mature procurement functions. These organisations require that the Procurement Manager (the agent that needs to make two different organisations “talk and function together”), make use of levers such as strategy tools, supply chain tools and people tools (mainly) to achieve what is regularly expected: a lower cost.

And how many of those levers are about price only?

If Procurement wants to become more relevant in the organisation, it needs to build over time the tone of the conversation, steadily broadening the decision analysis and variables and incorporating into the recommendation more business broad perspectives: create a competitive advantage, consider impact to society and environment, supply chain efficiencies, changing the category structure, and so on.

To understand if you are a Procurement professional who is capable of growth in the organisation and who will one day become a business strategist, growing at the same time the value of Procurement as function, take the first step: make a self-assessment.

Looking beyond price

Take your most successful procurement recommendation, and delete all the components that are price specific, or are directly linked to price (e.g. spend levels, price savings, price structure, price benchmarks, etc.). How much is there left?

If there is not much left, it means you have work to do to steer your business conversations into broader business impact topics. I present below a couple of ideas that could be used to initiate and maintain the transition to procurement contributions with strategic added value to the business:

  • The first one is not an actual recommendation because it is playbook: do the procurement homework. Create the procurement framework for your category including supply market strategic analysis, decision/evaluation matrix, category analysis and positioning, and all relevant topics that revolve around a strategic process. To change the game, you need to be aware of how is currently played.
  • During your competitive procurement processes, conduct a negotiation round (or at least a supplier meeting) without talking about the price (or similar); challenge yourself to identify the differences between suppliers and to identify the value buckets that are hidden behind the price tag. By simply broadening the topics in conversation, the chances for a successful negotiation increase (as you may increase the negotiation topics). As a result your procurement mindset will kick in and will guide you to new and better strategies.
  • When making presentations, ensure the information you present relates directly to your strategy: it clutters your work if you present supplier total revenue, number of employees or location, if these are not directly related to a component of your strategy. At the same time, use graphics to build momentum to present your recommendation; if the intention is to present which supplier is bigger (assuming that the aim is to communicate that bigger is a proxy for better), then presenting a code or a ranking of the “bigger supplier” could suffice to communicate your idea (details could always go to annex).
  • Show others how you expect the variables of your presentation to play out in one years’ time. This means: Do you expect the same supplier to still be the most competitive at contract exportation?  What level of technology compared to peers do you expect the supplier to own at contract expiration? Would the supplier be better prepared to collaborate with the organisation? Which supplier may have a change of ownership or acquire new assets?

Business mindfulness is created over time. By initiating an own process of “thinking  business” instead of “thinking price” while producing our daily procurement outputs, not only are we capable to implement more resilient and value adding solutions, but we enhance the mutual benefit relationship of our function with the business, moving away from that “price manager” tag that Procurement may have, and eventually opening up the space to create more opportunity for procurement professionals.

To give Procurement a seat on the table we also need to be leaders that develop people. It is important to say that these ideas of “talking about everything except price” is a technique that should be used not only with self, but with suppliers and with junior team members. Giving them the challenges as proposed here becomes a tool for their development, challenging suppliers to be better, and help your people become more rounded business professionals.

We should embed in our mindset that every Procurement project is an opportunity to improve as a business professional for the benefit of the business. I expect the ideas shared on this piece to trigger the process of transition from price managers to business strategists.

5 Reasons Your Procure-to-Pay Implementation Will Fail

Is your organisation about to embark on an initiative to purchase and implement procurement software?  Well, you’re bound to fail. Unless, of course, you address these landmines.

1. You don’t know what your requirements are

I’m sure you can define your problem.  You can probably guess without looking.  Lack of visibility, process, or control; maverick spending; inefficiency; mounds of paper…you name it. Immature procurement organizations that are not tech-enabled likely have it.  But these are just the symptoms.  It’s far more difficult to understand the underlying causes.  Sometimes Procurement’s ills are simply the result of  lacking the specific tool  to drive efficiencies, increase visibility, etc. In many cases, however, things are the way they are for a much more complicated reason.  The diagnostic process can prove time consuming, but accurately identifying Procurement’s sickness is the only way you can define and design a solution to cure it.  Going through a robust requirements gathering exercise is an essential to step in selecting best-fit technologies.

2. You aren’t buying the right tool

Without its requirements defined, how can Procurement know what tool to look for?  The underprepared organization is left to carry out solution design during the buying cycle, i.e. the sales cycle for software providers. This situation presents more than its share of headaches. For example, a common misstep is to buy P2P software to cure a lack of spend visibility (or simply because that’s what you had at your last company).  Someone selling a P2P platform will happily show you all the ways their reporting will provide spend visibility.  Of course this is after your RFP process (let’s say 1-3 months), implementation (6-9 months), and then onboarding and adoption to pull a full year of spend through the platform.  What that provider might not tell you is that there are spend solutions out there that can pull together your AP data, classify it, and feed it back to you in a matter of weeks!  That’s not to say P2P isn’t important for capturing savings, improving efficiency, and enforcing process compliance, it just may not be what you need right now.  Once you have your requirements down, you need to rack, stack, and prioritize your objectives as well as the tools you’ll need to achieve them. Building a technology roadmap to understand the full scope of investment over time to meet your goals.

3. Change management isn’t just training…and you aren’t prepared

Speaking of P2P, have you thought of just how many people, departments, and processes these tools will affect?  There are two factors that drive a successful technology implementation – strategic impetus and organizational readiness.  If you have neither, you probably won’t get budgetary approval.  But let’s assume that there is executive level buy-in throughout the organization to invest in procurement. Let’s even assume that one of those avenues is technology.  Do they really know what these investments will entail?  Does the rest of the organization understand the impact implementing a software platform will have on their people?  Do you?  If not, there are 2 options: 1) take some steps to get them on board, or 2) start with a less impactful investment that maximizes results and minimizes change.

For any platform, successful implementation depends on end users not just employing the software, but leveraging the technology (and doing so correctly) to derive the business outcomes you are looking for. Unlike more upstream procurement software modules like spend analysis and sourcing, CLM, SRM, and P2P touch various parts of the organization from Operations, to IT, to Finance, and everything in-between. This even includes the non-procurement stakeholders who will need to adopt the platform and the changes in process that come with it.   Communicating, generating buy-in, and managing the change throughout the organization is a huge undertaking.  Doing it successfully? That’s an even bigger ask.

4. You forgot to include your stakeholders

Speaking of stakeholders, did you forget to invite them to the design meetings?  How about the kickoff?  The demos? What about the project initiation meetings? If not, you are already behind the 8-ball.  Stakeholders should be incorporated early and often.  This includes requirements gathering and change management as mentioned above, but also the selection and implementation processes as well.  Not caring about the current state that you are about to change is a mistake.  Even if you think you know all of the ins and outs of the business (which you don’t), inclusion goes a long way in developing buy-in, encouraging  adoption, and (let’s face it) making sure you don’t miss anything. 

5. You don’t have a plan

Sure technology can probably solve your immediate issues, or put out the latest dumpster fire, but making tactical multi-year (and potentially multi-million dollar) investments in an ever-changing  landscape is short-sighted to say the least.  What is your ideal state?  Do you want to develop a best-in-class procurement organization?  Do you even need to?  Do you want 100% spend under management?  How do you even define spend under management?  What will your organization look like in the future?  How are you going to continuously improve?  How do you define success now and in the future?  And how are you going to measure that?  These are just some of the questions Procurement needs to answer when defining their vision for the future.  That vision should provide the foundation for your technology roadmap and ultimately determine the solution you select.  

Done correctly, the technology selection and implementation process could be a once-in-a-career undertaking. Don’t make these decisions lightly. Remember that Procurement’s new tools have to outlive the hype surrounding them and provide for the function’s continued strategic evolution. Slow down, ask questions, encourage collaboration, and never let the discussion around the ‘next big thing’ force Procurement into hasty decision making.

Anthony Mignogna is a Director at Source One, a Corcentric Company.

Reach Your Summit at Big Ideas Zurich

Sign up as a digital delegate to be in with a chance of winning a Parrot Bebop drone worth £449.99!!

Sign up as  a digital delegate for Big Ideas Zurich (it’s free)  

On the 10th December we’ll be donning our hiking boots, picking up our trekking poles and embarking on a new adventure.

Brace yourselves, because Big Ideas is about to get truly digital!

For the first time ever, we’ll be filming and streaming the entire day’s event via the Digital Delegates group on Procurious. If there was ever a time to register for one of our summits, it’s now. Featuring presentations and interviews from some of Europe’s top procurement leaders, we’ll be discussing:

1. Procurement and Supply Management Towards 2030
2. The Talent Equation
3. Automating Procurement out of a Job
4. Time Enough at Last: where would top practitioners focus energy if tactical elements of procurement were automated?

Prizes for procurement pros – WIN Parrot Bebop drone worth £449.99

You probably don’t need any added incentive to sign up, but everyone loves a prize, right? And believe us when we say we’ve got prizes falling from the mountaintops.

We’ll be doing seven prize giveaways throughout the day to digital delegates actively participating in our online discussions. And, by joining the group you’ll be automatically entered into our prize draw to win  a Parrot Bebop drone.

To be in with a chance of winning…

Step 1: Sign up as a digital delegate for Big Ideas Summit Zurich

Step 2: Get automatically entered into our prize draw to win a Parrot Bebop drone worth £449.99

Step 3: We’ll reveal the winner during Big Ideas Summit Zurich on 10th December

6 reasons to become a digital delegate

Registering as a digital delegate for Big Ideas Zurich is totally free and will give you access to the entire day’s event. Here’s what you can expect from the day:

Drive your peak performance 

As we charge towards the new year, this is your final chance in 2018 to fulfill your personal development goals. Learn how YOU can reach the summit of your career in a whole range of critical areas, from business partnering to engaging with the latest game-changing technology.

Watch from anywhere 

We’ve pushing the digitisation of this event to the limits! Big Ideas Zurich will be streamed on Monday 10th December via Procurious. Become a Digital Delegate to watch from wherever you are, whether you’re at the office, on the bus, or at home enjoying a glass of wine.

Win a Parrot Bebop Drone worth £449.99 

All Digital Delegates that engage in the Procurious Big Ideas Zurich Group on Monday 10th December will go in the running to win a drone! Procurious will also be giving away a whole range of prizes on the day – but only to those who get involved! Follow Procurious on social for more details on prizes and giveaways.

Get the latest research

Be one of the first to get hold of Procurious and Michael Page UK’s final installment of the Procurement 2030 report. This much-anticipated research paper will be released on Monday 10th December, with a live discussion of the findings with one of the report authors.

Engage with the hottest topics facing procurement and supply 

What skills do I need to drive peak performance in my procurement career? What’s the latest intel on blockchain? What steps can I take to close the gender pay gap? Digital Delegates tuning into Big Ideas Zurich will hear about the latest, hottest topics that are challenging procurement and supply professionals around the globe.

Hear from procurement’s top thought leaders

Watch presentations and interviews with inspirational speakers including blockchain guru Olinga Ta’eed, gender equality champion John Everett and supplier innovation expert Jeurgen Nelis. But that’s not all! This event will be packed with bite-sized content including research updates, top picks from the Procurious Blog, and CPO interview compilations.

FAQs

When is it?

10th December 2018. But a lively conversation has already begun on Procurious! Expect to see most of the action between 10am-3pm GMT when we’ll be streaming all of the action from Zurich.

Where is it?

Although our top influencers will be meeting in Zurich, due to its digital nature Procurious members across the world can watch the whole event from the comfort of their office, armchair or even from the beach!

How can I join?

Simply sign up to Procurious to become a digital delegate. You’ll instantly gain access the Big Ideas Zurich Group and the live stream on the 10th December

Does it cost to attend as a digital delegate?

It is completely free to join Procurious and to be a Digital Delegate! Simply sign up or enrol here.

Do I have to be a member of Procurious?

Yes. Participation as a digital delegate is free and open to all members of Procurious. You’ll be joining a community of 32,000 like-minded procurement peers and gain access to all Procurious’ free resources.

Help – I can’t make the live-stream on 10th December!

No worries! If you can’t join the action on the 10th December, you’ll be able to catch up when it suits you, on demand, via the digital delegates group.

Sign up as  a digital delegate for Big Ideas Zurich (it’s free) 

How to Reign In Even The Wildest Maverick Spenders

A candy fix. Underwear from Victoria’s Secret. An obsession with purple. Real maverick expenses from the front-line of procurement, and how to reign them in.

Image: Jackson Stock Photography/Shutterstock

Anyone who works in an office environment has experienced a scenario that goes something like this:

There’s something you need to do your job, so you just go out and get it – the quickest and easiest way you know how – and then expense it back to the company. Maybe that means buying a notebook from the store around the corner or ordering computer accessories from Amazon.com. Maybe you’ve booked your own travel for a business trip or called up a good friend to get her events management company to help with a corporate event.

Using these shortcuts may feel like you’re doing yourself and your company a favor, but most employees have no idea just how counterproductive this “maverick” spend behavior can be for the organisation’s ability to accurately analyze spend, supplier management, and procurement’s overall strategy.

When employees go rogue, purchasing goods or services out of contract or from unapproved suppliers, the company will miss out on certain discounts they worked hard to negotiate. Worst case, it can damage relationships and impact future contract terms with preferred vendors and even open the door to unethical business practices that taint the organisation’s reputation.

What’s scary is that these scenarios mentioned are all too common and appear to be relatively innocuous, believe it or not. In my 20 years of experience in procurement leadership roles, I’ve seen it all. Some of the craziest purchases I’ve seen employees make on behalf of their companies have been things like:

  • Buying candy for the “office” candy dish… you know, just in case a guest might want to help themselves to some. In reality, the employee that purchased it, ate it all.
  • Purple pens to match purple highlighters, purple pads of paper, purple post-it notes, you name it… simply because purple was this employee’s favorite color.
  • Items from Victoria’s Secret which were expensed as “marketing apparel.” Enough said.

So what needs to happen to reign in this type of behavior, both the common and unwitting cases, as well as the rare and extreme? Simply put, you need to make it fast and easy to place and receive the orders.

Start by putting a system in place for better control and compliance– one that simplifies and automates the purchasing process, regardless of the product/service, approval process or supplier. This makes the entire process a lot more efficient by governing requisition, approvals, buying, receipt, reconciliation and reporting. It streamlines even the most complicated workflows, making it much easier for employees to comply.

These systems should also have intuitive and easy-to-use interfaces (think of the way consumer e-commerce sites are designed) so that employees actually want to use them to make purchases, and not just because they have to.

Lastly, and most importantly, take maverick spend seriously. Maverick spend can still sometimes happen even with the most sophisticated and intuitive systems. Keep a close eye on spend analytics to track exactly where rogue spend is coming from, so you know when and how to enforce spending policies that prevent future rogue behavior – and those surprise expense requests.


To learn more about maverick spend and how to set your key initiatives in the coming year, join Basware and The Hackett Group on November 7th for Ramp Up: Planning Your Key Improvement Initiatives in the Coming Year with Amy Fong of The Hackett Group and Nancy Jorgensen of Basware.

5 Challenges in Indirect Procurement

Indirect spend is a notoriously difficult area to bring under control, but it also offers enormous saving potential … if you can get it right!

There’s a lot of buzz online at the moment about indirect spend because we’re barrelling towards one of the major events for indirect on the U.S. procurement calendar: ISM INDIRECT2018.  We’ll have a look at the conference line-up in a minute, but first, let’s review some of the enduring challenges for those tackling indirect spend. 

Five enduring challenges in indirect

Real change happens when CPOs get involved and influence buying behaviour across the entire organisation – and in every category. But the hurdles they face include:

  1. Lack of investment: Indirect procurement is typically under-invested, especially given its potential to create significant savings for organisations.
  2. Lack of capacity: The indirect procurement team has to focus on sourcing commonly purchased and high volume goods and services, as well as transaction processing.
  3. Lack of mandate: The primary responsibility for most indirect procurement categories often lies within the business units. For some categories, such as travel, it may not even be clear as to who actually owns the policy.
  4. Lack of awareness and low visibility of indirect procurement: Indirect procurement is often seen as less important than direct procurement in the eyes of senior executives. It is seemingly even less important at the business unit level. Many stakeholders view an indirect procurement professional’s role as the ‘rubber stamper’ at the end of the process.
  5. Organisations lack the skills required for effective stakeholder management:The indirect procurement function has to find ways of working more effectively alongside the various business units and stakeholders within each business unit.

INDIRECT2018

What happens in Vegas … will definitely need to be brought back to your organisation and implemented at the earliest opportunity!

ISM’s INDIRECT2018, running from 7-9 November at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, is being billed as the essential educational event for indirect procurement professionals.

Speakers include:

  • Rahul Vijay, Head of Global Tech Sourcing at Uber – Telecom, Internet of Things and Sourcing: Powering 10 Billion Uber RIdes
  • Karen Fedele, Head of Procurement Centre of Excellence, Shire – Stakeholder Engagement: Unlocking Procurement’s Value
  • Jessica Rosman, VP Procurement at Caesars Entertainment – Sourcing in a unique and challenging environment – while sustaining the environment

Also on the program:

  • The future of indirect technology
  • Transportation costs in a challenging economy
  • Balancing successful travel relationships
  • Techniques for complex supplier negotiations
  • Reducing risk exposure
  • Roundtable discussions
  • Supplier showcase

INDIRECT2018 also includes a strong focus on nurturing the up-and-coming generation of indirect procurement gurus, with five student presentations and thee announcement of 2018 scholarship winners.

Register now for ISM INDIRECT2018

Food Allergy Deaths Avoidable With Blockchain

The recent cases of tragic deaths caused by food allergies has opened afresh the debate on fully transparent supply chains.

Many of you will have seen or read news reports in the past couple of weeks regarding the tragic deaths of two women due to severe allergic reactions to eating pre-prepared food. In both cases, the food in question was purchased from the same retailer, though the resulting actions from the cases have been markedly different.

The cases have highlighted industry-wide issues regarding food packaging and labelling relating to allergens, as well as reigniting the debate on where the responsibility lies for food content and allergen checks within the supply chain.

Inadequate Labelling and Mis-sold Products

The first incident occurred after a woman ate a pre-prepared baguette that had sesame baked into the product, but had not been listed on the product’s ingredient list on its packaging.

A recent inquest found that the retailer had “inadequately labelled” its products, failing to highlight the presence of sesame in the food. While the organisation agreed with the coroner’s verdict, it has thrown a spotlight on industry packaging requirements, particularly when it comes to listing potential allergens.

The second death was as a result of a severe allergic reaction to the presence of dairy protein in a pre-packaged sandwich. However, unlike in the first case, the retailer has pointed the finger of blame squarely at one of its second-tier suppliers, claiming it was mis-sold a guaranteed dairy-free yoghurt.

The supplier in question, with whom the retailer has since ended its relationship, has rejected the claim that its product was to blame. They had their own supply chain issue in February 2018 when they were forced to recall some of its products due to undeclared milk, resulting in it ending a relationship with a third-party supplier. The supplier has denied that the recalled product is the same product as caused the allergic reaction, though the retailer and two independent authorities have conducted tests showing that the yoghurt in question had levels of contamination.

Where the fault lies for the contamination will be established in due course. And though this ultimately pales in comparison to the tragic loss of life, it does raise a couple of serious questions: Where does responsibility lie for ensuring product quality in the supply chain? And what can organisations AND suppliers do to ensure full supply chain transparency?

Introducing Blockchain to the Food Industry

The debate on the first question will continue to rumble on. In reality, the responsibility lies with every party, irrespective of which tier they are in the supply chain. That said, the buck ultimately stops with the end user, retailer or seller to ensure products are fully labelled and they are satisfied they are selling a quality (and safe) product.

The answer to the second question may be closer than you think, however. Blockchain has been discussed at length on Procurious and its applications in the supply chain are well documented.

Plus it helps that the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, has just unveiled its new food industry blockchain ambitions in China. The retailer plans to use the existing, proven, technology to ‘overlay’ the supply chains in the notoriously complex industry.

And with major producers such as Dole, Nestle and Unilever on board, as well as IBM as a technology development partner, this does have the signs of being the first step on a (long) road to success.

Success that could usher in new processes for how food information is obtained, stored and shared, allowing all parties to track the provenance of food from farm to table. This will give all levels of the supply chain the transparency required to know products are both safe and of the highest quality.

With what has been in the new recently, with impacts that none of us can predict and that potentially extend further than any of us know, this may also represent the first step to ensuring the similar tragedies don’t happen again.

Read more on Walmart’s food industry blockchain ambitions here.