Category Archives: Procurement News

RFP Beware – It’s Not Just About Ticking The Boxes

Don’t get caught out by using a template without thinking! The result can give you nightmares!


I was recently asked to describe the worst procurement project that I had been involved in. While not the worst, this story certainly highlights the importance of engaging procurement teams early and not blindly following templates!

The scenario

I was in the role of a buyer supporting an internal customer and I took over a project at evaluation stage. The evaluation team had individually assessed the bid responses and the team had convened to discuss their findings. A weighted attribute model had been selected to help identify what criterion was valued over others.

The template bites back

The ranking of the bidders evaluation scores were revealed and the project lead was shocked. “This isn’t what we expected? These aren’t the best proposals that meet our needs, these are the weaker ones?!”

The problem became obvious. The boilerplate RFP template had been used without tailoring it to the business problem they were trying to solve.  Most critically, the evaluation criteria percentage hadn’t been adjusted at all. Innovation was set to a default of 10% whe,n in fact, it was the most critical factor the project!

What is a weighted attribute evaluation model?

A weighted attribute model is one of the most common evaluation models used in procurement. It helps to identify the proposals that best meet the most important buyer needs. This could be requirements like: methodology, project management, resources or capability and capacity.

A typical weighted attribute model looks like:

Track record10%
Technical skills25%
Project team and key personnel20%
Methodology35%
Price10%

There are many different ways to approach the weighted attribute model. (Top tip, don’t put the percentages too close together otherwise there will be nothing distinguishing one bid from the other!)

Project resuscitation

What would you do if you inherited a project at evaluation stage and the RFP didn’t actually ask the market for the complete picture that you wanted? And worse, that the evaluation criteria didn’t match the most critical elements of the project?

These were my options:

  1. Cancel and start again – this wouldn’t be fair to the bidders who had already put in the time and effort to respond.
  2. Reissue parts of the tender questions – the submission deadline had already passed but we could seek further clarification responses. This would risk our reputation in the market.
  3. Create a second stage and interview each bidder to better understand their proposal and see if they have the capacity and ability to scale up to our desired needs.

We selected option number 3 and ran a second stage process. The presentations enabled us to drill down into each proposal and meet with each company face to face. They were able to better understand the objectives we were seeking and we were able to better understand the solution they were putting forward.

3 lessons that changed the way I approach evaluation

  1. One size doesn’t fit all

A template with a generic model can’t be assumed to meet the needs of every project in every situation. It’s important that the needs are thought about carefully and that the right model is chosen for the project.

  • Clunky RFP processes aren’t always right – especially where innovation is required

Consider what parts of the process must be executed e.g. notice to market, instead of paper based responses – ask the bidders to complete a simple two pager, then hold a dialogue to flush out the rest of the solution.

  • Think carefully about what is important to the success of the project

The commercial team could have determined what was most important to the project. Pairwise analysis is a great tool to help with this!

The traditional RFP model’s days are numbered and will hopefully soon become a thing of the past. It does not suit all processes and yet it’s still frequently used. If the entire process can’t evolve to be more efficient, then we have to change the way we approach evaluation to ensure we’re selecting the best company for the job, rather than the company that can write the best response.

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How The COVID-19 Crisis Will Permanently Change Expectations From Procurement Organisations

COVID-19 is permanently redefining the role of procurement organisations…


Transformational procurement trends that were already underway are now rapidly accelerating due to new working realities. Procurement organisations will be expected to play new roles as companies respond to and recover from this pandemic and its fallout. Organisations will need to actively identify and contain various sources of risks while strengthening their competitive advantage as economies and supply chains recover. Those who learn from the COVID-19 crisis and quickly meet these challenges will forge a competitive advantage.

As corporate leaders’ expectations from Procurement significantly increase—both for the new normal and future challenges—Procurement leaders should deploy six tenets in order to successfully position their organisations:

  1. Become leaders of scenario and contingency planning
  2. Improve real-time visibility into supply chain risk
  3. Develop ability to rapidly deploy cash controls
  4. Increase P&L contribution beyond historical norms
  5. Accelerate digitalisation efforts
  6. Invest in talent

1.     Become leaders of scenario and contingency planning

COVID-19 has highlighted that most companies were not prepared to address a catastrophic event and the ensuing economic uncertainty. Going forward, organisations need to assess supply chain vulnerabilities, develop scenario models, and update associated corporate protocols and risk mitigation strategies. Externally, this means developing macroeconomic and supplier-specific assessments of event likelihood and impact and detailed reaction plans to mitigate potential fallout. Internally, it means identifying how policies affecting employees (e.g., travel, remote working model, supplier engagement) need to evolve to promote safety and productivity.

Procurement organisations will be expected to continue playing a key planning and coordination role, ensuring close engagement with other functions to increase the speed and effectiveness of required actions. Leaders should direct their teams to codify the learnings of this crisis, develop scenarios and contingencies, and establish dedicated Centers of Excellence.

 2.     Improve real-time visibility into supply chain risk

Having real-time visibility into evolving sources of risk is critical for initiating mitigation plans on time. Procurement should deploy permanent control towers to monitor specific risks (e.g., financial, operational, geopolitical) to identify early warning signals and deploy the appropriate responses. This includes re-examining the company’s risk of supply across suppliers, geographies and facilities, and proactively identifying supply alternatives, strategic alliances, and hedging strategies should a catastrophic event impair access to critical inputs. 

Additionally, organisations must develop the necessary processes to monitor key suppliers at a detailed level – tracking financial viability, operational capacity, talent management, transportation networks, etc. These metrics can be used to establish a supplier risk score to assist in response prioritisation and supplier segmentation. 

 3.     Develop ability to rapidly deploy cash controls

Having free cash flow is vital in times of crisis. Procurement will need solutions to rapidly slow cash outflow while minimising operational and cultural disruption. 

Having hypervisibility into spend allows companies to quickly distinguish between essential and discretionary spend in times of systemic shock. This allows Procurement to deploy the right processes—with senior leadership support—to control all substantial discretionary spending, establishing criteria to allow, deny, or delay expenses. Further, organisations should take a more nuanced approach to payables, adopting different terms based on suppliers’ financial position and criticality.

In parallel, companies should optimise inventory, increasing cross-functional demand planning, portfolio simplification, and material substitution plans. Doing so will allow for better use of current inventory and free cash for other uses while minimising production disruption.

 4.     Increase P&L contribution beyond historical norms

Delivering savings is the core mandate of procurement teams, and many are feeling increased pressure to further deliver to alleviate financial hardships.

Externally, this requires prioritising actions and suppliers based on a keen understanding of market changes (e.g., commodity and labor rates, supply base changes). Procurement also needs to create new sources of leverage using a holistic set of tools, including e-auctions, product teardowns, should cost models, and stronger collaboration with strategic suppliers.

Internally, Procurement is well-positioned to play a critical role in aligning leaders to reset company behaviours, including identifying places where historical consumption patterns have been wasteful. Such moves require organisational trade-offs, so Procurement must identify the least disruptive actions and lay out the costs to enable informed decision making. For most organisations, this requires an unprecedented level of transparency and an ability to influence internal clients and leaders beyond what has been required. 

Those that exercise these capabilities—while working closely with leadership, the business, and other functions—will see step changes in savings. By doing so, they will help their companies better absorb shocks and reinvest in corporate priorities.

 5.     Accelerate digitalisation efforts

Diligent use of technology has supported procurement functions navigating COVID-19. Going forward, many companies will need to accelerate on-going digitalisation efforts and adopt well-established technologies like P2P automation. It also means accelerating the use of more advanced technologies to monitor risk, analyse spend, surface savings opportunities, onboard and manage suppliers, and conduct market events electronically. Having these capabilities in place will ensure procurement teams remain effective and agile in times of crisis – working remotely from peers, clients, and suppliers.    

6.     Invest in talent

As Procurement takes on more responsibility, roles and required capabilities will evolve. Procurement will be at the forefront of strategic thinking, cross-functional management, and external alliance management. New skills will be required – including management of AI, automation, and data science. Procurement leaders need to rethink their talent management strategies, create new roles, increase training, and ensure adequate talent pools.

Path forward: COVID-19 has redefined the role procurement organizations need to play in times of crisis and recovery. Given the severity of COVID-19, the long recovery ahead, and the potential of other such events reoccurring, the expectations of procurement organizations will remain higher on a permanent basis. Procurement functions face a key decision point in where they go post COVID-19—those that rapidly learn from the experience and pursue a “new normal” will be well-positioned in the long term, achieving outsized returns.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn on 24 April 2020 by Daniel WeiseIt has been republished here with permission.

Want to keep up with the latest coronavirus and supply chain news? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group. We’ve gathered together the world’s foremost experts on all things supply chain, risk, business and people, and we’ll be presenting their insights and daily industry-relevant news in a content series via the group. You’ll also have the support of thousands of your procurement peers, world-wide. We’re stronger together. Join us now.

Here’s How To Hire Better People

The coronavirus crisis has created a number of challenges for hiring. Here’s how to hire the best people during this difficult time.


It’s a fact that most business leaders already know, but one that this crisis has highlighted more than ever, and that is: your people are your everything. In volatile and stressful situations like the present, the best talent shines through more than ever, and can literally be the difference between companies that make it and those that don’t. This begs the inevitable question: How do I attract and hire great talent? 

Back in March when the world was a rather different place, I took part in Procurious’  Big Ideas Summit where I advised procurement leaders how to stay ahead of their competition by hiring better people.

Since that time, the situation has, obviously, completely changed and companies now have additional obstacles to overcome to attract the best talent. Here,  I’ll share how my clients are staying ahead of the game right now and in doing so what they have learnt about how to make their recruitment process far more agile, even when we return to ‘normality’.

Here’s how you can follow in their footsteps and hire the best talent right now: 

Hiring via video conferencing

Would you hire someone without meeting them?

At the beginning of this crisis I posed this question to a number of our key clients and the answer in 95% of cases was an emphatic ‘no’. However, as the realisation has grown that this situation is not changing any time soon, I have experienced a shift in mindset. 

Hiring managers are being forced to reconsider their stance and we are seeing a new approach to hiring, the result of which may have positive long term effects and change our attitude to remote recruitment forever.

One of our financial services clients started a proactive recruitment drive across their Global Procurement function at the beginning of the year. Far from slowing down they have continued to recruit, engage and on-board using video conference technology, taking advantage of the fact there is a pool of highly talented furloughed or disengaged talent in the marketplace.

Being a global player it’s a given that their procurement team needs to be able to engage remotely with stakeholders on a daily basis. Their belief is that by embracing the video conferencing interview process, they are able to clearly assess if a candidate will be able to drive stakeholder engagement using exactly those tools and technology. If a candidate can’t perform remotely at an interview, how then can they influence and engage with key stakeholders around the world remotely? 

In addition, their expectation is that we will see an increase in home working practice once we exit lockdown, compared to before COVID19, therefore peer to peer relationships will need to be built through remote interaction.

 Speeding up the recruitment process

If one thing is for sure about great talent, it’s that they always have other options. For this reason, you’re likely to lose talent in long and drawn out recruitment processes as someone else will simply beat you to it. In addition to this, your recruitment process says a lot about your company, and if it takes too long, this will make candidates question how efficient and effective the rest of your business is. 

When it comes to recruitment processes, the current crisis has presented an interesting opportunity. Usually, senior appointments are drawn out as they often require international travel and the coordination of different people all around the world. Given travel is currently not possible, companies have a unique opportunity to simplify. 

One of our manufacturing clients has worked closely with their HR team to redesign their interview process to a single stage panel interview, attended by all stakeholders. Where previously the process may have been drawn out over 3 or 4 stages and weeks and weeks, now the decision for critical hires is made in days as opposed to months. 

Whilst the change to process for this client is being driven by exceptional times, they believe that if they can continue to foster this ethos there is no doubt that they will put themselves ahead of their competition when it comes to engaging the best talent in the future.

Should your interview questions change because the process is remote? 

On the surface, the crisis has not really changed the fundamental scope of most roles, beyond a heightened need to be able to use technology and communicate digitally. But has it changed how we should assess people? In many ways, it has. 

One area remote interviewing has made more complex to assess is the notion of ‘cultural fit.’  It is far more difficult to ascertain natural cultural fit based on chemistry when not meeting someone face to face, therefore we need to be more scientific about what constitutes that ‘fit’. This means going back to basics and assessing key competencies rather than relying on gut feeling

In order to ascertain this, one of our clients, a food retailer,now incorporates a far greater element of questioning around self-awareness and development as part of their remote interviewing process.. For example, ‘What do you like and dislike about procurement’ helps to identify why they are in the profession and the ‘3 key areas for development’ demonstrates their depth of self- awareness.

Hiring better people

Finding talent in non-pandemic times is already a challenge. Add the changes required due to the virus, and things become even more challenging. Yet companies also have so much to learn from this crisis – and those who adapt may learn important lessons that they’ll be able to use to continue to engage top talent well into the future.

Check out Sally Davis’ presentation at Big Ideas Summit London from a few months ago here.

The Age of Influence – Are you a Player?

Could the age of influence be drawing to a close? Or does it now reflect the changing attitudes to advertising and promotion in the social media environment?

Cristiano Ronaldo (186 million followers), Ariana Grande (165 million) and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (159 million) have gathered some of the largest audiences on Instagram. But a celebrity status and a huge following doesn’t necessarily lead to great influence. The Digital Marketing Institute has shown that there is a greater level of trust placed in an influencer versus a celebrity.  

But as an “experiencer”, you may have the most engagement of all! 

In the first article of this series I established the context for how the nature of influence is changing the digital age. As people’s consumption of media and social media changes, so does how we perceive people to be ‘influential’ in our lives. Individuals from all walks of life now have a platform to share their thoughts, experiences and daily lives. 

However, the paradox in some ways of this situation is that the younger generation have been able to build larger followings, and greater influence, despite having theoretically less to offer and share. While this is not at the expense of the older generations doing the same, Gen X and Baby Boomers are certainly lagging behind in the circles of “must know” social media influencers. 

There is still an opportunity for these generations to build their own influence on social media, but potentially against a backdrop of the waning powers of influencers as a whole. Cynicism, controversy, commercialisation and over-saturation have all played a part in the erosion of influencers’ status. Far from being an end, however, this may represent the next evolution of the digital age. 

To understand this further, we need to revisit the categorisation of influencers and view this through the lens of a shifting balance of power. 

Waning Influence and Diminishing Returns? 

Micro influencers (those with an audience of 10,000 people or fewer) are likely to be able to command an audience in their niche, irrespective of the changing environment. Many of this group are seen as ‘Experiencers’, the go-to group for recommendations about products, services and experiences.  

It’s in the grouping of the macro influencers, commanding audiences of over 250,000 people and generally found in the world of celebrity, where changes in influence may be felt most keenly. These influencers have traditionally had their seat of power on sites such as Instagram, rather than YouTube or Snapchat. 

As I mentioned in my introduction, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ariana Grande and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson have gathered the three largest audiences on Instagram. There isn’t an out-and-out digital celebrity in the site’s top 10 accounts and certainly no politicians or other, more traditional, influencers. 

Research has shown that the influence of social media posts differs depending on whether they were posted by an influencer or a celebrity. This is largely down to the question of engagement versus impact. Celebrities may have huge audiences, but products they promote may only be applicable to a small percentage of them (engagement). And while they can reach this audience, they are unlikely to be able to change consumer behaviours (impact). 

Celebrities frequently have their own brands and products to promote, as well as those offered by marketers. All these posts may also be treated with a level of cynicism from the wider audience, part of which can be attributed to the truly eye-watering sums of money being earned for sponsored posts. 

Money = Influence? Or Influence = Money? 

Sponsored posts, adverts, product promotions. If you have a big enough audience on social media and a big enough personal profile, then you might be approached by a brand to help market their products. This can be quite a lucrative opportunity – even if you aren’t as high profile as Kim Kardashian, who reportedly charges over $250,000 for an Instagram photo.  

The greater the audience, the higher the payment (on average): 

  • Instagram: $1,000 per 100,000 followers 
  • Snapchat: starts at $500 per campaign in 24 hours 
  • YouTube: Roughly $2,000 per 100,000 followers (this could go as high as an average of nearly $4,000 with 500k+ followers) 

And these sums are still rising – and at a rate of approximately 50 per cent per year since 2017 according to the Wall Street Journal. Which somewhat flies in the face of the question of declining influence and impact. It may also go some way to explain why 75 per cent of children dream of becoming YouTubers and why many people are aiming for a hyphenated job title including the word ‘influencer’, rather than a more traditional career as experienced by previous generations.  

This is where we can loop back to our original point of why social media influencers are largely from Gen X. They are the ones who appear on reality TV, who are the new generation of footballers who already have a social media following, who understand how best to leverage their own brand and use social media to their advantage. 

Real World Influence 

A brief interlude to discuss influence in the real world. This is not to say that Dwayne Johnson and Ariana Grande don’t operate in the real world, but their influence largely comes through on social media. However, as influence doesn’t necessarily need to be linked to selling of products or promotion of brands. It can be linked to real-world events and the increasing stature of an individual. 

One such recent example can be seen in New York Democratic Governor, Andrew Cuomo. Before March 2020, Cuomo was little known outside of his state and certainly didn’t have a strong influence outside of the USA. However, Cuomo’s leadership in response to the coronavirus outbreak and how hard New York had been hit by it.  

Between January and March 2020, Cuomo’s Twitter following went up by 31 per cent, his Instagram followers by 64 per cent. Not only has his audience increased, but his reception and perception to his message, which has been described as “frank” and “honest”, with his briefings drawing praise from all corners of the political and media spectrum.  

Positive comparisons have been made with the response of other world leaders, including President Trump. Not only has this exponentially increased Cuomo’s influence across the real and digital worlds, but it has raised his profile to an extent that he is being talked about as a future Presidential candidate.  

It just goes to show how digital influence could potentially have a huge real-world impact.  

Ads and Controversy 

It could be argued that many influencers are not sufficiently attuned to the risks associated with their influence, as recent controversies have shown. Fake news, advertising poor or harmful products, not marking posts as ads and marketing goods or services to vulnerable or impressionable audiences (i.e. children) are just some of these. 

There are site-specific guidelines or requirements to do with the posting of sponsored content, but even with this content can be misleading. Any sponsored content on Instagram, for example, is required to have ‘#Ad’ at the top of the post, but it is frequently either buried in a flood of hashtags on the post or missing entirely. 

There are reports that companies actively dissuade influencers from mentioning that a post is an ad, while many also fail to disclose their paid partnerships with influencers. On the other side, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has pushed a number of celebrities, including Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora and Alexa Chung, to commit to disclosing payments for sponsored posts on social media. 

This is not to tar all influencers with the same brush. Many follow the regulations as they cannot afford the reputational damage, or to pay back monies earned, when being an influencer is their sole source of income. However, from the outside, these influencers would seem to be the exception rather than the norm which further undermines their credibility and impact. 

Changing the Game 

Could greater regulation assist in this? And could many influencers who already follow the existing regulations benefit from stricter rules? There is always going to be a minority at the very least who seek to circumvent regulations, but these influencers could find themselves squeezed out through a loss of audience and influence for failing to play by the rule. 

This could be the next, much needed, evolution in the social media age. It could arrest any decline in influence and potentially remove the idea that being an influencer is not a “real career”. And by doing so, this would open the opportunity for others to become influencers and bridge the generational gap that appears to exist in the current environment. 

For procurement, it could mean having a market and audience to increase influence, both as individuals and as a profession. How procurement could leverage this changing environment will be the subject of the third and final article in this series, coming soon on Procurious. 

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Are Procurement Professionals Inherently Narcissistic?

Are you the office Narcissist? This article seeks to demystify an unloved aspect of the human psyche.


If working from home for 6 weeks has taught me anything it’s that I get a lot out of human connection. I realised that I analyse my own behaviour through interacting with others. They act as a mirror. Now all I see is my own face day in day out on yet another Zoom meeting.

Aside from noticing how bad my under eye circles have become, the Zoom meetings have forced me into a new way of conversing. I try to cut in to get heard over the cacophony of voices all talking and competing at once. This is extrovert torture, where’s my stage?

But I’m special!

But I have a unique view point!

But I’ve tackled this before!

Hmmm is this narcissism? Am I the office narcissist?

The answer is yes, partly.

How we interact with the term narcissism

Narcissism is flung about as an adjective to describe behaviours of people that we encounter in our every day lives. Whether it is hearing about the latest dating flop from your bestie or hearing the latest office drama from colleagues, the pop culture definition would label a narcissist as someone who is self-centered to an unhealthy degree.

Defining narcissism

Narcissism is commonly defined in the context of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) which is at the extreme end of the spectrum. Psychology Today defines NPD as someone who displays “…grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. They may also have grandiose fantasies and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment.[1]

At the heart of it they lack self-love

While we often view a narcissist as someone that loves themselves too much, talks about themselves a lot and is very self-obsessed. It runs a little bit deeper than that. Robert Greene is one of the most well-known proponents that believes narcissism comes from a lack of self-love that leads to insecurity and a lack of empathy for others.

Without this inner worth the narcissist will seek attention and validation from others to feed the beast.

Newsflash! We’re all narcissists!

What’s often missed in the pop culture definition and understanding of narcissism is that we all have it within us. Narcissism is a normal and healthy part of being human it’s just a matter of where you lie on the spectrum.

Take a light hearted test, go on

In 1979 the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) was developed by Raskin and Hall.[2]

While this test is not a diagnostic tool, it can be used to see where you rate on the narcissism scale in very general terms. I got 12 out of 40 and rated most highly in exploitativeness, self-sufficiency and authority. I can see how these traits would complement being a leader in a commercial sector!

Are procurement professionals inherently narcissistic?

The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists nine criteria for NPD, it specifies that someone only needs to meet five of them to clinically qualify as a narcissist. Read on to see if you can relate to the telltale signs of a procurement narcissist.

Note: it is not a diagnostic tool, instead it measures normal expressions of narcissism. So, even someone who gets the highest possible score on the NPI does not necessarily have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

9 signs of NPDTelltale signs of procurement narcissists
1. Grandiose sense of self-importanceThe procurement person who must talk at every meeting about themselves and won’t listen to anyone else – even if it’s information from their client that they need to hear.
2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal loveThe procurement person who won’t roll their sleeves up or get their hands dirty unless the project comes with a highly visible profile.
3. Belief they’re special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutionsThe procurement person who corners your boss any chance they can get and deliberately cuts you out of emails and meetings involving anyone higher up the food chain.
4. Need for excessive admirationThe procurement person who copies the whole team in on an email reply back to a customer where the customer has just thanked them for completing a task.
5. Sense of entitlementThe procurement newbie who demands to be the project lead on a $10m account their first day!
6. Interpersonally exploitative behaviourThe procurement person who proclaims they have written the best category strategy in the history of all time but actually they made others do it for them.
7. Lack of empathyThe procurement person who steals air time in a team meeting to talk about how amazing they are when a colleague has just lost a large account.
8. Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of themThe procurement person who sits in on your project meeting only to then try and take it over (when they were never invited in the first place).
9. Demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviours or attitudesThe procurement person who refuses to use plain english and will only communicate in unnecessary inflated industry jargon to make it known that they are better than anyone else.

Conclusion

While not all procurement professionals have NPD, we all display narcissistic behaviours from time to time. I would argue that a healthy amount of narcissism is required to be successful in this industry! If narcissism is an inherent trait in everyone that can be harnessed for good, then perhaps we need to reassess the characterisation of the behaviour trait as being only bad.

Is healthy narcissism your untapped office superpower?

If you enjoyed this article then read the wildly popular article ‘Are you the office psychopath’

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What’s Under The Hood? Identifying Potentials Gaps With P2P Providers

4 must-have requirements for your next P2P solution 


Finding the best Procure-to-Pay (P2P) solution to meet your organization’s needs and goals is no small feat. The ideal P2P solution will take the entire organization to the next level through improved realized savings, compliance, and operational efficiencies.

So, how do you identify a best-in-class P2P solution? To start, I’ve outlined these must-have characteristics below.

4 must-have requirements for your next P2P solution 

1. A single data source.

The best P2P solutions host all information in a single database. A single, searchable data source enables a consumer-like online shopping experience that end users and suppliers will embrace. Having a unified data hub:

  • Decreases total cost of ownership
  • Provides one portal where suppliers and vendors can collaborate
  • Improves user adoption by allowing users to quickly find, compare, and purchase across multiple suppliers in one interface

2. Process and data flow visibility.

Visibility enables procurement teams to strategically source goods and services to expand cost saving efforts. Procurement can use data to negotiate better supplier terms and drive effective purchasing behaviors.

Best-in-class P2P solutions have robust analytics with both automated reporting capabilities and the ability to produce ad hoc reports. Users gain strategic insights into and control over real-time savings, spend by supplier, and spend by region, to name a few. In addition to spend analytics, behavioral data on the most popular items purchased, top search terms being used, and search terms with no resulting products are available within a click of a button.

3. Intelligent workflow capabilities.

A best-in-class P2P solution should allow you to trigger workflows based on user profiles. Intelligent, automated workflows in next-generation P2P solutions minimize time spent on manual processes, and can even make existing automated processes more effective.

Many organizations waste time chasing down invoice discrepancies (missing details, quantities do not match, misalignment with purchase orders). Best-in-class systems automate this process with business rules triggered by missing information. Administrators construct and configure the business rules to reconcile the inconsistency, deny the invoice, send it to an employee with AP permissions, or push it through without changes.

Intelligent workflows do more than automate workflows. Data and insights collected on employee efficiencies can reduce tactical labor and better allocate head count accordingly.

4. Dynamic cloud-based software.

When analyzing a best-in-class P2P solution, it’s important to understand how the software will be implemented into your environment. Why? Because how the software is implemented will directly affect your total cost of ownership.

Break down prospective P2P software into these four categories:

  • On-premise: Software is a single instance, built on-premise behind the company’s firewall. IT owns the licensed software and codebase, so only they can make configurations and customizations to the software. Most ERPs exist in this manner.
  • Hosted Cloud (SaaS model): Code is still designed for hosting on-premise, but lives in the cloud. Vendors are responsible for making any changes to the codebase.
  • Built for the Cloud: This is a self-service software. No code needs to be written to make any changes. The business owns the system, making it easier to maintain.
  • Living and Breathing Cloud: This type of software has all the benefits of “Built for Cloud,” but also leverages all of the benefits of the cloud provider (such as Amazon Web Services) to expand and contract. This technology is built for maximum performance, extremely fast loading times, and scales to handle maximum traffic on the system.

The technical capabilities of any P2P solution are obviously important, but don’t overlook these questions during the evaluation process:

  • What do customer references say about this vendor?
  • Will this vendor help lower total cost of ownership (TCO)?
  • Will this solution easily integrate with other solutions in the P2P landscape?
  • How will this vendor support the procurement team and company’s vision?
  • What is the pricing model and fee structure? Does the model allow for growth?
  • What is the implementation plan, and what is the support structure for post go-live? 

When you’re choosing a Best-in-Class solution for your organization be sure to look for signs of integrity and trust. They may not be on your list of requirements, but you’re choosing a partner for your organization, and when the going gets rough you’ll need an organization you can trust above all.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn on 24 April 2020 by Katie McEwen. It has been republished here with permission.

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Why A Source-To-Pay Ecosystem Is Best-Practice

Learn why end-to-end, source-to-pay (S2P) suites are no longer a feasible option for modern businesses and instead, organisations should turn to partner ecosystems.


Master of all? Or specialise?

Once upon a time the “one size fits all” vendor approach seemed ideal. It definitely held appeal as it seemed to be an ideal way to cover all an organisation’s S2P needs while only requiring one vendor.

But now, the industry has matured to learn that no vendor truly offers a full source-to-pay (S2P) suite that is best-in-class across all modules. Not to mention, the time it would take to roll out and maintain such a solution. In the past decade, vendors attempted to support the entire S2P process, however, as buying organisations strive to digitalise procurement and sourcing, it’s becoming apparent that a single suite is typically not enough to accomplish their goals.

Understanding your S2P ecosystem

Similar to wireless providers that switch between towers to ensure you never lose service, a proper S2P partner ecosystem makes sure you cover all areas of business spend, by using a multivendor approach. As noted in Gartner’s “Predicts 2019: Sourcing and Procurement Application Vendors Embrace APIs and the Ecosystem Approach”, “Growing partner ecosystems are making it easier for organisations to take a connected, multiple-solution approach to sourcing and procurement automation.” “By 2021, major source-to-settle and procure-to-pay vendors will have more than doubled their preconnected partner ecosystems.”

While the bulk of importance is directed towards automating purchasing, payments, and a flexible supplier network, there are many value-add services that surround the S2P process. Services like supplier management, risk management, and contract lifecycle management often only offer basic functionality from suite providers claiming an “end-to-end” solution. Best-practice suggests selecting one vendor for the core areas of focus, then supplementing with other products and services from specialised providers. Companies should evaluate the data in an ecosystem to ensure core information is shared between partners so that analytics can be applied on data across the systems.

To understand the value of a vendor’s product ecosystems and to evaluate the effectiveness of its community, Gartner recommends requesting the following:

  • Data from the vendor outlining the number of ecosystem participants, the trajectory at which the ecosystem is growing, and insight into those that use it regularly.
  • Metrics that disclose the number and frequency of documents, components or templates being uploaded by the vendor to the community (often called an online library).
  • A summary of the past three years of product updates originating from, or inspired by, suggestions by ecosystem partners.
  • Customer references that you can contact directly for an assessment of the vendor’s product ecosystems, and any user groups that they may participate in.

Analyst perspective

In an interview with Magnus Bergfors, in conjunction with Spend Matters, Magnus details why, at one point and in some circumstances, an end-to-end suite.

He explains, “An end-to-end source-to-pay suite often seems more appealing than a specialist solution at first glance. And there are advantages to it — there’s no doubting that. The most practical one is from an IT management perspective. Your business will have fewer solutions to deal with and fewer integration points with an end-to-end approach. Second is that you get a similar look and logic across multiple solutions, making it easier to use. The third advantage is in the analytics where you can have data from multiple modules succinctly located in one place.”

Bergfors reveals that though there are many appeals to a singular S2P suite, it’s not always the best option. There are inevitable problems, including “…that your organisation sacrifices specific functionalities with a unified suite. When you sacrifice too much, it starts impacting your ability to manage your spend and stay agile in your operations.”

Additionally, he warns that “A lot of the end-to-end suites in the market today aren’t natively developed or integrated and are instead made up of acquisitions, some of which are better integrated than others.” So, even if a S2P suite claims to be end-to-end, it might operate more like a patchwork of solutions than a cohesive unit.

Join Basware at Connect Digital – free webinar series

Join Basware for our new Connect Digital webinar series where Magnus will further discuss his views and we’ll offer the opportuning for a live Q&A session. Find details for the webinar below.

Determining Your Future Tech Strategy – Spend Matters

Wednesday 10 June 2020

Hear from leading industry analyst Magnus Bergfors from Spend Matters on how to best determine your technology strategy and get the most out of the increasingly diverse and broad options available in the procurement technology market.

Register here

Happy At Home Alone? 5 Ways To Negotiate Your New Normal

Nine in ten of us do NOT want to go back ‘normal’ once lockdown ends. So how do procurement professionals negotiate a new WFH arrangement – that works for them and their employer?


With half the world in lockdown we are starting to get used to the ‘new normal’…. and after an initial reluctance, most of us are embracing the idea of a new way of life.

Yes, we do want some aspects of “normal” life to return. Being able to socialize, see our families, have a decent haircut (that’s not done at home) or enjoy a weekend at the beach.

But we don’t actually want to go back to life as it was.

A recent poll in the UK found that only 9 per cent of Britons want to return to life as “normal” after the end of lockdown.

One area where we are yearning for change is work … or more importantly the ability to work from home and/or more flexibly now that we have put the systems in place, mastered video conferencing and created our own home-office environments.

The good news is that three-quarters believe their manager trusts them to be productive when WFH according to research commissioned by Visier, which provides people-analytics to over 5,000 businesses that employee 7 million staff across 75 countries around the world.

So, if you are one of the 9 in 10 who wants a different type of working life, build on this trust: meet your deadlines, exceed expectations, continue to work collaboratively and show that you can excel at online meetings and conference calls. Do not give your manager any excuses to say WFH does not work – and that you have to return to your place of work, once offices are back open again.

The best way to tackle this negotiation is like any business negotiation (as a procurement professional you already have the skills). So be clear about what you want to achieve, build a compelling case and then make a persuasive argument.  

STEP 1: PROVE IT’S THE BEST WAY FORWARD

Seven in ten staff who are working remotely for the first time as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, felt they were either more or equally productive as a result (despite the unique challenges of slow internet speeds, homeschooling and hours queuing to purchase life’s necessities).

So, working from home does work. Just make sure you have the data to support your argument and include this information in your flexible working request. It will make it far harder for your line manager to refuse…and also help you prove to yourself that you CAN do this.

TIP: Make this data easy to assimilate by churning the figures – I wrote five more pitches every week, responded to 15% more enquiries per day, set up an online meeting with a new supplier and negotiated a contract remotely etc… It is much harder to argue with facts.

STEP 2: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT?

As with any negotiation, you need to have a clear goal. Perhaps WFH 5 days-a-week will seem too isolating (or impractical), so do you want 3 days in the office, 2 days at home? Or maybe a 9-day fortnight.

Also, if you are likely to fall into the category of being asked to work more flexibly (social distancing is going to last for some time, so you may not actually be welcome in the office), you need to work out what works for you. If you crave the stimulation of an office environment at least part of the week, make sure your employer knows that WFH permanently is a deal breaker… and let’s face it we all find it difficult to be home 24/7 with family rows over internet usage.

TIP: Presenting a simple solution will make it easier for your immediate line manager to make a decision (remember, everyone else will be putting in flexible working requests too). However, you might have to be flexible about being flexible – for example, to agree to WFH on a Wednesday because everyone else is at home on a Friday.

STEP 3: PRESENT A SOLUTION – NOT A PROBLEM

The financial implications of Covid-19 mean that organizations will be looking to shed staff and cut overheads. One of the most obvious cost savings is premises – with predictions that there will be a huge shrinkage in office floor space even after the world gets back to work.

So, highlight the savings on office overheads from sharing space, hotdesking or remote working.

Another way to save money – and potentially save your job – is to offer to work a reduced working week.

Yes, it will mean a pro rata salary (a 20% pay cut if you move to a 4 day-week), however if the coronavirus has taught us one thing, it is to value having less while enjoying more time with those we love.

If you no longer have to afford two holidays a year (it might be difficult if there are travel restrictions for some time to come), are saving a fortune on eating out (more of us are becoming proficient home chefs) and spending less on grooming (who else is embracing a more natural look?), you might be able to take that pay cut.

TIP: Make yourself less expensive – you will then be less expendable. Being cheaper to employ while being more productive will make you less of a target for redundancies than your colleagues.

STEP 4: WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE IT WORK?

There is no point asking to work flexibly if the office can’t get hold of you, conference calls keep cutting out and your presentations no longer look professional.

So, you need the right tools. That includes the right tech (laptop, software, printer and an upgraded internet connection). Also discuss insurance (this might cost more if you have expensive equipment at home), the extra costs of running your home office (electricity) and an allowance for things like stationery, printer ink and other office supplies.

TIP: Don’t make expensive demands (it could be a dealbreaker) but show you have thought through the practicalities of WFH and wish to have an open conversation about how to make the new arrangement work. In some countries you may be able to claim these expenses against tax and in the UK from 6 April 2020 employers have been able to pay up to £6 a week (£26 a month) to cover additional costs if you have to work from home (although not for those who choose to do so).

STEP 5: KNOW THE LAW – JUST IN CASE

While employers are likely to be highly responsive to flexible working requests – or even insist that more staff WFH at least part of the week – it still pays to know the law…and in particular, what reasons your employer can use to refuse your request.

Many workers around the world (Europe, Australia, some parts of the USA) have the right to request flexible working (although this is NOT the same as being able to work in the way you wish – you just have a right to make a request).

Generally the reasons for refusal include:

  • additional costs
  • it is impractical – either you have to be there in person or there will be difficulty reorganizing work among other staff
  • there will be an impact on performance, productivity, quality, customer service

TIP: It is better to preempt a refusal, by countering it in your flexible working request. It will not only show that you know your rights but also that you have thought of practical solutions to any potential problems.

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How One Supplier Pivoted From High Fashion To Scrubs

How do you pivot your operations? Here’s how. We discover how one fashion house started making scrubs. 


Imagine, for a second, that during this pandemic, procurement simply wasn’t needed within your organisation. Your boss then came to you and said that the business valued you and thought you had some transferable skills, so they had decided you should switch into a sales role, immediately. How would you feel? What would you do?

Admittedly, in this situation many of us would panic. But right now, we don’t need to look far to find people that that exact situation has been thrust upon – namely, our suppliers. Throughout this pandemic, we’ve witnessed this exact, almost instant change, occurring from Ford and Tesla switching their production to making ventilatorsto 3M making face masks. But how does it feel to have your world changed, overnight? And as the pandemic rolls on with no vaccine in sight, can we expect more suppliers to be doing this? 

To get an insight into this fascinating transition from a supplier’s perspective, we spoke to Martin Kristensen, Director of the House of Kristensen. Incredibly, over the last few weeks Martin and his team has transitioned from manufacturing high fashion to making homemade scrubs, which are now being used by the NHS. 


Martin, tell us about your business prior to now making homemade scrubs? 

Sure, so House of Kristensen is a couture fashion house specialising in made-to-measure, bespoke designs. We create unique feature pieces for both private and public/professional clients, with our public pieces being quite high-profile. 

For our private clients, we design mostly for special family occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, etc. For our professional clients, we do everything from gown design for famous TV shows as ‘Strictly’ or ‘The Voice,’ to dressing stars for stage performances(we’ve worked with Katy Perry and Dame Shirley Bassey, to name a few). We also create stunning outfits for red carpet appearances, including Cannes Film Festival, the BAFTAs, and many more. 

We understand that you’re based in London. Tell us how the coronavirus unfolded for you. What’s your personal experience been and how has it affected your business? 

I couldn’t have been in a stranger situation when the Covid-19 escalation was first announced. I was actually running around a woodblock with camo-cream on my face on a training exercise with the British Army Reserves!

Prior to departure, though, I had left an action plan for my team with guidelines about what they should do if the situation escalated. My training was cancelled, so that allowed me to return to my team.

When I returned to London, immediately our focus was on adapting our workforce to be able to work from home, at least temporarily. This involved significant kit & equipment prep as well as material allocation so we could still execute our production schedule. 

Beyond that – honestly – the outlook for us wasn’t that rosy. We’re fundamentally in the events business, and with Covid, most events were axed. We had a quarter of a million pounds’ worth of cancellations, and little room for new opportunities. 

Everyone was afraid, there was no certainty. All we could do was focus on being proactive, strengthening existing relationships and forging new ones. 


With everything that was going on for you, how on earth did you think of switching to produce scrubs?!? 

Scrubs4Heroes was born out of recognition of the extremely challenging situation facing our frontline staff and a desire to help in any way we could. 

For those of us in the leisure and luxury sectors, It is not every day that we are able to be a part of helping safeguard peoples’ lives. 

I will always remember the amazing care I received after my hand was broken in a cycling accident. So when I heard about the shortages at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where I’d been treated, I called them to offer support with scrubs if any were needed, the response was clear and more requests followed, pushing us to capacity. 

I then decided volunteers were needed to help us meet demand and we then created Scrubs4Heroes. I am proud to say we now have almost 200 volunteers and are burning through about 3000m of fabric per week to meet our urgent orders.

We’re intrigued! How do you actually make scrubs? 

The process is very interesting and there’s lots of different design features you definitely wouldn’t think of. 

Firstly, you need to find the right fabric. We discovered quickly that poly-cotton was best, as it provides a resistance to shrinkage when cleaned at higher temperatures as well as a resistance to wear/tarnish, whilst also ensuring a degree of breathability. 

The next step is the creation of the garment, from a specific NHS-approved pattern. We also need to consider details relevant to practicing medicine such as colour. Colour is a lot more important that you’d think – research shows that looking at blue/green helps keep doctor’s eyes more sensitive to variations in red. So if you are a terribly busy doctor, nurse or surgeon looking at blood frequently, operating or trying to detect an infection, typically indicated by levels of redness, blue or green is invaluable to refresh colour perception

That’s amazing! How many scrubs are you making now? 

Lots! The list of places we are supporting has grown significantly in recent weeks. We now have 14 NHS trusts and clinics we are working to supply, as well as six GP surgeries and just this weekend we delivered to NHS Glasgow. 

We are also now supplying HM prison service with instruction packs and material to help them produce scrubs for the NHS. We think that’s pretty special – I think it would have to be the first couture house and correctional facility collaboration! So far they anticipate adding 50-100 sets of scrubs to our relief effort per week.

Congratulations on your great contribution Martin! Where to from here? 

It’s hard to say. There’s a high degree of uncertainty at the moment and we’re not anticipating a flood back to the sort of events we cater for. We need to remain nimble and agile and adapt to our changed circumstances. One example of how we’re doing this currently is with our Couture-In-Situ Service where your own personal shopper comes straight to your home, hotel or office with a selection of 30 carefully styled looks. This enables us to provide the same level of couture and expertise, but within your own safe setting. 

Way to go, Martin! Is there a thing or two you think can you learn from Martin’s transformation? What does it tell you about how you personally are dealing with change? And how are you currently remaining nimble and adapting to changed circumstances? Tell us in the comments below.

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Fake Masks And False Cures: The Dark Side Of COVID-19

Criminals exploit COVID-19 fear with fake medical equipment. Here’s how world governments are fighting back.


COVID-19 means huge opportunities for criminals.

They are taking advantage of essential goods demand by flooding the market with their own shoddy versions – exploiting public fear.

Here’s a look at the most common (and concerning) fake products on the market.

Fake goods in the EU

Counterfeit pharmaceuticals and healthcare products are everywhere, according to Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency.

In a recent report, it listed the most worrying fake items they’ve uncovered:

Medical equipment: face masks, virus test kits, gloves

Disinfectants: alcohol-based hand sanitiser, disinfectant cleaning wipes

Medicine: choloroquine (an anti-malaria drug initially thought to help treat the Coronavirus), other fake cures

Europol says the fake goods are sold through online stores created just to profit from the pandemic. Some even target victims through messaging apps like Telegram.

The goods originate from ‘frequently changing addresses in Asia’, making it extremely difficult to trace.

Europol is concerned these inferior goods could put people at serious risk.

“Counterfeit goods sold during the corona crisis do not meet the required quality standards and pose a real threat to public health and safety,” says Europol Executive Director Catherine de Bolle in the report.

“People who buy these fake products have a false sense of security, while they are in fact left unprotected against the virus.”

Substandard masks in the North America

And it’s not just Europe. The pandemic is keeping United States’ Homeland Security busy, with more than 200 criminal investigations related to COVID-19 so far.

One woman was caught selling illegal pesticide on eBay, claiming it could provide immunity from the virus.

Another man allegedly tried to sell 100 million facemasks to the government, despite not actually having any.

The man claimed his stash came straight from 3M, one of the biggest healthcare equipment manufacturers in the US.

3M responded with a lawsuit, saying: “3M’s legal team is taking strong action to protect 3M and the public against the conduct of those who seek to exploit 3M’s brand and reputation and defraud others during this time of emergency and crisis.”

3M is also suing a Canadian company for re-selling 3M masks at five times the retail price, vowing to “[put] a stop to those who are trying to cash in on this crisis.”

Another worrying trend in inferior products is testing kits.

The University of Washington School of Medicine spent thousands exporting kits from Shanghai, only to find some of the tests were tainted with bacteria.

The university has since recalled all tests to be on the safe side.

Seizing test kits in Australia

Australia has similar issues with shoddy test kits, according to Zoran Kostadinoski, Head of Border and Biosecurity at the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia (CBFCA).

He said the border force has intercepted hundreds of dubious testing kits and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Even though members of the CBFCA aren’t directly responsible for checking the authenticity of goods, they warn importers and exporters to be diligent.

“Procurement professionals need to ensure they source PPE from reputable manufacturers that provide quality products and meet the health standards of the importing country,” he warns.

“Until there is a global regulation of such products that provides certification, the issue of counterfeit goods in the supply chain will continue, as some look to make quick profit based on demand of such products due to COVID-19.”

China pledges to clean up

Authorities are doing their best to help people identify goods that meet safety standards.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even set up a website with photos of the most common counterfeit face masks.

Nevertheless, the question remains: why isn’t there greater effort to stamp out fakes before they are ever exported?

It’s complicated, as LA Times journalist Alice Su explains.

“It’s common for Chinese suppliers to export a product under one licensed company’s name but to source their products from second, third or fourth factories, like a chain of Russian nesting dolls, with little to no traceability down the chain of supply,” she writes in an article.

She also points out not all suppliers set out to produce inferior products. Many factories shifted to PPE production at the government’s request without knowing the proper quality controls.

Regardless, the Chinese government is making a concerted effort to shut down offending manufacturers and revoke their export licenses.

Fighting online crime in the UK

That process isn’t happening quick enough for people like Sarah Stout, however.

She’s the CEO of Full Support Healthcare Ltd, a supplier to the UK’s National Health Service.

Recently, she shared on LinkedIn that her company gets dozens of offers every week from manufacturers of the sought-after N95 mask.

95% of the masks are fake with forged certificates, she says.

“When I informed one supplier that I knew their certificates were fake, they said to me, “[O]k, if I give you real certificates for other product will you place an order?’” she writes.

Her experience isn’t unique. UK authorities say they’ve taken down 2000 Coronavirus scam websites so far, including 471 fake online shops.

Many of these websites were discovered through spam emails. One common email appears to come from the World Health Organization and offers COVID-19 health tips in exchange for personal password information.

James Brokenshire, UK Minister for Security, urged people to be aware of the many ways criminals exploit technology like email to gain advantage.

“It’s despicable that they are using the coronavirus outbreak as cover to try to scam and steal from people in their homes,” he wrote in a press release. “We all have a part to play in seeing they don’t succeed.”

In response, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre is asking for people to send them any suspicious emails.

It’s not just a UK problem, though. Pandemic spam mail is a global headache, with Google detecting 240 million COVID-19 related spam messages so far.

How to tackle it

Even though technology is used for exploitation, it’s also a key to stopping Corona crime.

One company in the fight is Systech, which lets you check if PPE product is authentic by simply scanning the product’s barcode with a smartphone.

The company uses blockchain technology to trace the product journey throughout the entire supply chain.

Similarly, Zuellig Pharma, an Asia-Pacific pharmaceutical giant, utilises SAP’s blockchain platform to verify authenticity.

Customers can scan a barcode on the package using the eZTracker app, and know instantly if the medicine is a legitimate Zuellig product.

This use of technology, along with the efforts of governments and the vigilance of the public, go a long way to combat the dark side of COVID-19.

However, until essential goods supply can match global demand, criminals will find a way to cash in.

Want to keep up with the latest coronavirus and supply chain news? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group. We’ve gathered together the world’s foremost experts on all things supply chain, risk, business and people, and we’ll be presenting their insights and daily industry-relevant news in a content series via the group. You’ll also have the support of thousands of your procurement peers, world-wide. We’re stronger together. Join us now.