Category Archives: Procurement News

Modern Slavery Act 2015: Supply Chain Transparency Requirements

In October 2015, the UK government issued statutory guidance relating to supply chain transparency and reporting obligations of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Modern Slavery Act

This article was first published on Greenstone.

The document confirms who is required to comply and when they need to comply by, as well as including essential details on the all-important annual statement. You can read the document here.

Here is everything you need to know and what you need to do.

Background

Consolidating UK law on slavery and human trafficking, the Modern Slavery Bill was first introduced to parliament on 10th June 2014, and subsequently passed into law on 26th March 2015.

With the aim of preventing employment exploitation and increasing disclosure of labour practices, the Modern Slavery Act introduces new grounds of compliance for commercial entities. Not only do organisations need to ensure that modern slavery is not an issue in-house, they also need to take, and report on, actions to prevent the issue from occurring within their supply chains.

Which Companies are Captured?

The threshold to determine which companies have to adhere to the Modern Slavery Act has been something of a discussion point for the vast majority of the year.

Following a government consultation period earlier in the year, it was confirmed that the Act applies to any organisation that supplies goods or services and that has a turnover exceeding £36 million, aligning the legislation with the definition of a ‘large business’ in the Companies Act 2006.

Furthermore, this threshold is valid for any organisation that has operations in the UK, regardless of where it was formed. This means that many non-UK organisations, providing goods or services within the UK’s geographical boundaries, will have to engage with their suppliers, essentially resulting in diverse, complex and global supply chains being assessed.

Annual Statements

A key part of the Modern Slavery Act is the stipulation that captured organisations need to prepare and publish an annual statement. The statement details the ongoing process they are taking to ensure that there is no modern slavery within their business and supply chains.

To be published at the end of the organisation’s financial year, and required to be approved at board level, the statement must be publicly available via a prominent link on the company’s corporate website homepage.

What does the statement need to look like?

There are 2 routes that organisations can go down when it comes to preparing the slavery and human trafficking statement. Captured organisations must prepare and publish either:

  1. A statement detailing steps the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any part of its own business or supply chains; or
  2. A statement that the organisation has taken no such steps.

Although Option 2 is the simpler journey, having a publicly available statement that effectively says that the organisation does not care about the issue of modern slavery risks a backlash from stakeholders. As such, the safest route to compliance is certainly the first.

In terms of what the annual statement needs to looks like, the Act does not stipulate the exact parameters, but does provide some key areas that should be covered:

  • the organisation’s structure, its business and its supply chains;
  • its policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking;
  • its due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking in its business and supply chains;
  • the parts of its business and supply chains where there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking taking place, and the steps it has taken to assess and manage that risk;
  • its effectiveness in ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in its business or supply chains, measured against such performance indicators as it considers appropriate;
  • the training about slavery and human trafficking available to its staff.

What do captured organisations need to do?

The statutory guidance confirmed that the supply chain transparency and reporting provisions of the Modern Slavery Act commenced on 29th October 2015.

However, a transitional period applies to businesses with a financial year-end date between 29th October 2015 and 30th March 2016, meaning those who have a year-end of 31st March 2016 will be the first to publish the statement.

So what should companies be doing to prepare for these new supply-chain requirements? Regardless of when the year-end date is, it is imperative that organisations start engaging with their suppliers now and assess the level of risk. Without an extensive, and ongoing, information gathering exercise, taking steps to prevent the risk and subsequently reporting on them is simply not possible.

Where to start

As it is now a requirement for companies to collect and interrogate data from across their web of suppliers, it is essential that they make the process as efficient as possible.

We understand that this can be a complex and time-consuming process. The traditional offline data collection methods are not suited to the demands of today’s globalised supply chains. As such, it is an increasing trend for companies to move the process online.

For advice on what you need to consider when moving your supplier risk and compliance process online, please read our previous blog article on the subject.

Gyles is Head of SupplierPortal at Greenstone, a non-financial reporting solutions company providing software and supporting services to clients in over 100 countries.

Greenstone’s SupplierPortal solution enables buyers to effectively manage supplier risk and compliance through a secure and private online platform. Buyers have the flexibility to distribute standard framework questionnaires, as well as proprietary questionnaires, to their suppliers and can then manage and analyse this information through a comprehensive suite of analytical tools.

Alan Mulally – The Secret to Success in One Slide

“This is everything I know, folks” – Former President and CEO of Ford, Alan Mulally, shares the sum of his knowledge in one slide at ISM2016.

Alan Mulally

ISM’s keynote speaker Alan Mulally has one of those CVs that’s exhausting just to listen to. Alongside his nine-year stint as President and CEO of Ford, he served as Executive Vice President of Boeing, and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

He was named to the Google board of directors in July 2014, served on President Obama’s US Export Council, and the advisory board of NASA.

He was named in Fortune’s 50 Greatest Leaders list, voted one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2009, and voted 2011 CEO of the Year by Chief Executive magazine. Mulally is also a fellow of the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering. 

One Slide to Say it All

“If it isn’t a Boeing, you shouldn’t be going”, says Mulally. He worked at Boeing for no less than 37 years, notably as a chief engineer for the avionics and flight management systems for a number of major Boeing projects, including the 747 and 777. As CEO of Boeing Commercial, he launched the 787, and was at Boeing during the 9/11 attacks, horrified to see a commercial airplane being used as a weapon.

Boeing was shaken to its core by the event, with production dropping from 620 planes a year to 280. “Not many companies can sustain a loss like that and remain viable”, says Mulally. Eventually, Boeing returned as the number one avionics organisation in the world.

The average airplane has about four million parts, and at the height of a new project, you might have over one million people working on the design. This is where Mulally learned how to develop a skilled and motivated team, and his principles and practices around working together led him to success after success at both Boeing and Ford.

Mulally brings up a one-page chart with 11 bullet points.  “This is everything I know, folks”, he tells the audience, and he means it. Whenever an audience member asks a question, he brings this chart back up on screen, selects the relevant point, and talks to it. Here’s the list in full:

Principles and practices around working together:

  • People first
  • Everyone is included
  • Compelling vision, comprehensive strategy and relentless implementation
  • Clear performance goals
  • One plan
  • Facts and Data
  • Everyone knows the plan, the status and areas that need special attention
  • Propose a plan, positive, “find a way” attitude
  • Respect, listen, help, and appreciate each other
  • Emotional resilience – trust the process
  • Have fun – enjoy the journey and each other.

Making sure “everyone knows the plan” is achieved through colour-coded project charts. “Every Thursday morning, we’d link up everyone around the world and colour-code the charts”, Mulally says. “Red means we’ve identified a problem – which is great – and we’re working on it.”

Ford Motors Turnaround

Mulally took these colour-coded charts over to Ford when he took on the role of CEO at the behest of Bill Ford, grandson of Henry. There he found a very different culture, and at first, people didn’t “get” the colour coding. “We had about 320 different charts”,

Mulally says, “I explained the coding, and the business leaders went away and had their charts colour coded. At the following meeting, I was surprised to see chart after chart all colour-coded green”.

The organisation was forecast to lose 17 billion that year, yet there wasn’t any red or yellow to be seen. The problem, Mulally discovered, was a culture in which business leaders would hide problems, making issues disappear rather than highlighting them as opportunities.

When a leader named Mark Fields was finally brave enough to place some red on his chart (due to a major production issue), Mulally responded by clapping in the leadership meeting. “People were looking at me, looking at Mark, waiting for him to be fired”, he says. “They thought the clapping was a signal for some bouncers to come in and remove Mark from the room!”

But Fields wasn’t fired. Instead, Mulally treated the production issue as a rallying point, showing Ford’s business leaders how to come together to figure out the problem, and also demonstrating that he valued Mark’s honesty by seating him next to the CEO at each subsequent meeting. Mark’s charts went from red, to yellow, to green.

And the following week? 320 beautiful, rainbow charts.

Deep Trouble

When Mulally took over at Ford, the company was in deep trouble with the aforementioned $17 billion loss in 2009. Ford was sized for 26 per cent market share in the US, but only had 16 per cent, losing money on every brand and vehicle. Mulally responded by focusing on the Ford brand over all others and consolidating the nameplates down from 97 to 15.

He launched a restructuring plan to turn around the losses and market share, and his cost-cutting initiatives led to the company’s first profitable quarter in two years.

In 2006, Mulally led the effort for Ford to borrow $23.6 billion, mortgaging all of Ford’s assets to overhaul the company and protect it from recession. This decision meant that Ford was the only company of the “Detroit Three” (Ford, GM and Chrysler) that did not have to take a government loan during the automotive industry crisis of 2008–9.

Value of Procurement

Mulally recognised the enormous value of procurement, especially in his aggressive cost-cutting endeavours. He promoted procurement to a leadership position within the company – something which had never been done at Ford – and ensured all of the business units around the world were working together with procurement.

Suppliers were also a major part of Mulally’s turnaround, and Ford rose from a position of second-last preferred customer, to number three today.

Today, Ford is the number one brand in the US, and the fastest-growing car manufacturer globally. It builds the first, third and sixth best-selling vehicles in the world presently. Mulally attributes this success to his eleven-point slide – in the end, it’s all about building the right culture and motivating your people.

Supply Chain Sustainability as a Competitive Advantage

Industry leaders understand that supply chain sustainability can be a competitive advantage. Utilised effectively, it brings a wealth of opportunities.

Sustainability Competitive Advantage

Read the first part of this article here.

Global brewing giant SABMiller embraces the idea that water is strategic. It cut its water consumption by 28 per cent, now only using 3.3 litres to make 1 litre of beer. It is on track to achieve its objective of 3 litres by 2020. Iconic sports brand Nike has adopted 3D printing to eliminate waste.

Companies not focusing their supply chain efforts on differentiation are at risk of falling behind. Innovation can also involve changing consumer behaviour. Here again, collaboration is key between different functions, from R&D to marketing and procurement and supply chain.

One of the three pillars of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan is to halve the environmental footprint of their products by 2020. They have developed a purpose-driven strategy to double their revenues, while still having a positive social impact. Their business model has put supply chain sustainability at the heart of strategy, and they use innovation to embrace it.

Cost of Sustainability

A common misbelief is that sustainable solutions cost more. In most cases, they are more profitable, with a faster return on investment. Business and sustainability go hand in hand, and better solutions have emerged, both for businesses and the planet.

True, there are more expensive examples. Traceable palm oil, which ensures zero deforestation during production, is one of these. However, renewable energy solutions, such as windmills and solar panels, can be profitable immediately.

Many companies also put a lot of effort in reducing transportation, with the objective to decrease gas emissions, as well as the transportation cost itself. From a labour perspective, the overall cost could be diminished by improving productivity and respecting minimum wage.

When companies take the long-term approach that sustainability requires,
 initiatives can be cost neutral or 
better. Some companies have increased their revenue by as much as 20 per cent, while reducing supply chain costs by up to 16 per cent. According to the World Economic Forum report written with Accenture, this has been done by implementing sustainable supply chain practices.

Best practices have been identified to support companies achieve a “triple supply chain competitive advantage” of increased revenue, reduction in supply chain cost and added brand value. The result is improved competitiveness and reduced operational risk.

Employee Engagement Key to Sustainable Success

46 per cent of CEOs reported that employees would be among the most influential groups in guiding their action on sustainability over the next five years – second only to consumers.

When it comes to employee engagement, it is important to communicate internally to all levels of the organisation. Best practice should come from within, and companies should ensure that their external actions on sustainability are also reflected internally.

Taking care of the workforce, engaging them in implementing a corporate commitment to sustainability, will drive greater productivity, and thus greater profitability.

Giving employees a purpose and empowering them to have ideas and find solutions at a local level could make a real difference in supply chain sustainability. It is more challenging to have sustainable operations in some global regions than in others. Leading supply chain executives encourage their teams to go beyond their own boundaries, inspiring, guiding and supporting them.

Companies who are leveraging supply chain sustainability as a competitive advantage are outperforming their less sustainable peers. Many studies show that these sustainability leaders have higher, faster-growing stock value, better financial results, lower risks, and more engaged workforces.

Aligning employees’ engagement with supply chain sustainability strategy is key to building an innovative, environmentally responsible, and socially conscious business. Workers on the front line are often in the best position to identify inefficiencies and propose solutions.

The best companies integrate their sustainability strategies into their employees’ day jobs. This is done by incorporating sustainability targets into the employee’s annual objectives, and incentivising them.

Shared Responsibility

Sustainability is the responsibility of everybody, but especially those involved in the supply chain who are in a position to act.

Communication and training are important factors in generating awareness across the workforce. To attract talent, particularly millennials and future generations, companies behind on the subject will lose in this battle too.

Many multinational organisations have set sustainability targets to be reached by 2020. Winning companies will master the balance between commercial gains and “it is simply the right thing to do”. They will embrace internal and external collaboration and will drive supplier and consumer behaviour.

In a world where social conscience is fed by social media, and fear of the speed and scale at which information can disseminate globally, it is crucial to behave responsibly. Those organisations which do not act now on supply chain sustainability face the risk of long term brand and reputational damage.

The Carrot and Stick Approach to Open Booking

Open booking is a massive problem for organisations globally, and one of the largest compliance challenges facing procurement.

Open Booking

In the US, over 50 per cent of hotel bookings, and 24 per cent of airline bookings occur outside the parameters of corporate travel programmes. The issue costs organisations $36 billion per year, and is one of the largest compliance challenges for procurement.

But what can be done about it?

Travel Management

Ethan Laub knows travel software. He founded a startup called TripScanner, a travel booking system giving clients the ability to book on any travel website while achieving compliance with their organisation’s travel policies. His startup was acquired by Coupa in mid-2015, and Laub now works at Coupa as a Director of Product Management.

Here at Coupa Inspire, Laub is running a session on open booking. Most of the audience members manage travel in some fashion, and all of them are frustrated by compliance issues. The consequences of open booking are potentially very serious. According to Laub, it can effect:

  • Risk management: if there’s an emergency, you need to know where your employees are and be able to contact them immediately.
  • Sourcing: open booking hampers procurement’s ability to negotiate discounts with travel providers.
  • Policy: making sure people are spending smart and within budget.
  • Visibility: not having any data on travel spend, hampering your ability to make decisions. 

What drives open booking?

Laub asks for a quick show of hands on why people would decide to avoid the corporate travel system. The top five reasons are:

  1. Better Deals: employees who claim they “got a better deal” outside the approved system.
  2. Conference Booking: conferences with hotel discounts where bookings must go through the conference portal.
  3. User Experience: people are increasingly confident in booking personal travel and are unfavourably comparing the quick and easy experience with clunky corporate travel booking.
  4. The Sharing Economy: people preferring to use companies like Uber and AirBnB, often unavailable on the corporate site.
  5. Airlines and Hotels Pushing Direct Bookings: otherwise individuals can’t claim loyalty points, free Wifi, or other perks.

What’s the solution?

Having established that open booking is a serious issue, and explained why people are avoiding company travel sites in droves, Laub recommends travel managers take an approach that best suits their organisation’s culture.

Stick Approach

  • Prohibit open bookings and refuse to reimburse.
  • Flag out-of-policy post-bookings.
  • Escalate repeat offenders to managers.

Carrot Approach

  • Improve User Experience

Over the past 10 years, consumer sites have become increasingly user friendly, while the policy-focused corporate booking tools haven’t kept up. There are a lot of attractive, easy-to-use applications on the market that can improve UX for your site. Some tips:

  • Ensure you have as few steps as possible
  • Explain to travellers why things are the way they are (policy)
  • Communicate the realities of the travel program.
  • Nuance the site to enforce your policies behind the scenes: users shouldn’t be able to see the out-of-policy options
  • Show fare comparisons to prove your negotiated fares are the best option.
  • Reward savings

If the employee comes in under their travel budget, the company shares half of the savings with the employee. This can be considered part of the gamification process of employee management.

  • Clear guidelines

Ensuring that you have clear guidelines for your employees is key. Employees need to understand when it is okay to book outside of the system, and when they need to be following process.

What does the future hold for business travel management?

Check out this video from Coupa that shows the exciting future of corporate travel artificial intelligence. This system anticipates all of your needs and is so intelligent that you’ll fall in love with it – in the case of this hapless user, literally!

eISM – Introducing the Future of Learning

People don’t want a one-size-fits-all solution for their professional development. eISM aims to provide a set of flexible options to take e-learning forward.

eISM Learning on Demand

Whether skills are learned through small chunks, longer competency-based training, or direct job experiences, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to gaining career knowledge and experience.

ISM’s Senior VP of Programs and Product Development, M.L. Peck, understands this, and has made it the foundation of ISM’s exciting new eISM initiative. “E-learning is the future of learning – it’s how our customers are consuming information”, says Peck. “But just like face-to-face learning, it has to allow for individuals’ learning styles”.

That’s why ISM has come up with no fewer than three completely different methods for varied learning styles within its eISM offering: Just-in-Time learning, Self-Guided learning, and Guided Learning. It’s up to the user to choose the method that best fits in with their busy schedule and learning style.

ISM’s e-learning is designed to support ISM’s Mastery Model, providing the training needed to equip practitioners with the skills and certification to master various competencies and sub-competencies within the model.

The content itself is pulled from ISM’s impressive 101 years of supply chain leadership, drawing upon its global network of subject matter experts to create a remarkable library of digital knowledge.

Just-in-Time Learning

Peck talks about the “just-for-me, just-in-time, and just-enough” approach. For example, if you have a negotiation in an hour and need an answer immediately, all you have to do is search for your answer based on Mastery Model competencies and sub-competencies. You’ll find the answer they’re looking for in a short video of no more than 15 minutes in length (micro-learning). Information is delivered in multiple, engaging methods, including:

  • whiteboard animations,
  • live interviews (Q and A’s) with executives and leaders in industry,
  • short lectures from industry experts,
  • fun activities, games and flashcards.

Self-Paced Learning

Self-paced learning courses are longer, on average an hour in length each. Users are given access to a wealth of knowledge with which they can create their own schedule and work at their own speed. This method is ideal for exploring a broad topic, or for diving deep into a sub-competency.

Guided learning

Nothing will replace the benefits of face-to-face learning, but eISM’s Guided Learning comes close. It includes an online instructor and peer-learning, ideal for people who want to make contact with the subject-matter experts or who are uncomfortable with learning a completely new concept alone.

The facilitated courses range from three to five weeks in length, running five days per week, in which the learner logs on and completes an activity of approximately 40 minutes each, or participates in a 1-hour weekly webinar (to be viewed live or recorded). The facilitator sends reminders to complete exercises.

Getting started

For more information on eISM, including subscription and pricing, visit the Education Area on ISM’s website. The best way to start is by using ISM’s self-assessment tool, which will rate your skill-set against the Mastery Model sub-competencies and identify gaps in your knowledge.

From there, find the learning approach that best suits you, whether it’s small, focused micro-learning, longer self-guided courses or the facilitated classes. “People are craving content that address specific needs at specific times”, says Peck. “eISM offers our customers that choice”.

In Search of Influence – The Traits of Influential People

With an understanding of what influence is, and how procurement can leverage it, we can now look at what the common traits of influential people are, and how to develop them.

Influential People

In my previous article, I reviewed some of the available literature on influence and influencing skills, in this article we look at what the key traits of influential people are, and how to best develop these skills ourselves.

These key traits and ways to develop have been identified following a range of discussions with a variety of procurement leaders.

1. Excellent Communication Skills

The most important trait to of influential people was the ability to communicate effectively. An example of effective communication was described as, “when they spoke to a room, it felt as though they were personally being addressed”.

This ability to communicate to many people, and make each person think that the message is for them, was identified as a key communication skill.

The research identified that there are different aspects of excellence in communication skills, which can be summarised as:

  • Develop and adapt communication plans based on the listener

When developing communication plans, it is imperative to consider how the person being communicated with likes to receive that communication. This then drives the method of communication – be it face to face or electronic, as well as the actual content. This adaptability of communication is again one of the key traits of influential people.

Goleman[i] suggested that effective planning specifically for the individual is a critical success factor for effective communication.

  • Make persuasive arguments

This links to making points in specific language that the listener understands. In other words, when making persuasive arguments, influential people spoke the language of the listener, rather than their own procurement language.

  • Listen to the responses and read the room

Listening and active listening is a key trait of an effective communicator. That it is more than what is being said that makes an effective listener.

2. Delivered results and built trust

The need to deliver on the promises that have been was seen as a ‘ticket to entry’ to a wider discussion. Therefore the ability to keep ones promises, i.e. contractual trust[ii], was identified as a non-negotiable to build trust both for the individual and the function.

The leaders influence increased within their businesses the more they delivered either on bottom line savings or on specific projects that they were asked to deliver.

3. Top influencers have empathy (and not sympathy)

Sympathetic listening is defined as how we care and show we care about the other person, and that we pay close attention and maybe share their feelings. Whereas when we listen empathetically, we go beyond sympathy and attempt to seek a fuller understanding of how others are feeling.

Empathetic listening means listening to the responses and asking more questions to understand the points made, which requires excellent questioning and close attention to the nuances of emotional signals.

4. The best influencers have great knowledge and great passion

Top influencers need to have credibility in order to be considered influential. When reviewing top influencers, all of those people had “been there, done that”, and were able to bring a huge amount of experience and credibility.

This referencing of credibility has an interesting link to the French and Raven work on expert power[iii].

Having passion in the field in which the influencers excel, be it procurement, or other topics, allows the influencer to demonstrate knowledge about their subject matter, which will increase the ability to deliver great outcomes.

5. Network and built great teams

The idea of networking with other senior leaders and influencers is an important leadership development tool. Harvard Business Review identified networking as operating at three levels, Operational, Personal and Strategic.

In order to be an effective influencer, the procurement professional needs to operate at all three levels.

How to Develop Influence

So if these are the key traits of influence, how do we go about developing these skills?

  • Observation is king

The number one thing that influential people do to develop their skills is the observation of others, especially those that they felt were influential.

This is then internalised by the individual to consider what it meant to them, and whether they felt it was something that they could do themselves, or something that they did not wish to do, or could not apply to their own style of influencing.

Top influencers have stated that they learnt as much from bad influencers as good ones, as this leads to things definitely not to do.

  • Training programs can add value…but need to be linked to on the job development

Attending a specific training program can provide lightbulb moments in terms of developing influencing skills. Many top influencers stated that this was unlikely to be a “learned skill” from a textbook, but more of an acquired skill through observation and mentoring.

This seems to add credence to the 70-20-10 learning methodology[iv], its application for active learning programs, and the use of formal mentoring or coaching activities.

  • Feedback loops from trusted and diverse sources

The requirement for an independent person to review performances and give detailed feedback on what was done well and not done well was considered to be a key ingredient to developing these skills.

The trusted sources could be a mentor, either formal or informal, potentially someone that the individual trusted or rated as a top influencer. Some have also mentioned that having a different diverse perspective in giving this feedback was a great way to develop skills, both in general and in relation to the topic of influencing.

  • Practice makes perfect

The need to practice the new skills when they had learned them links back to the earlier identified method of more on the job based training, or more planned activities following specific training programs. Top influencers have stated that the more they practiced and prepared the better they got.

Summary

  • There is a need to identify who you are trying to influence and decide on the best way to influence that individual.
  • This means that the practitioner needs to have multiple ways to influence rather than rely on the same approach for all.
  • If you want to develop your influencing skills then there is a key need to understand the way you process information and learn new skills.
  • Observational skills are paramount to increasing your influencing skills.

[i] Goleman D (1998) Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ; Bloomsbury Publishing

[ii] Sako M; Does trust improve business performance? London School of economics 1997

[iii] French, J. R. P., Jr., & Raven, B. H. (1959); The bases of social power. In D.Cartwright (Ed.),Studies in Social Power (pp. 150–167). Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research

[iv] Kajewski K, Madsen V, (2012), Demystfying 702010. Deakin Prime

Selling While Shy: Introverts in Sales

While it sounds counter-intuitive to declare introverts make the best salespeople, their characteristics may truly make them a perfect fit for a sales job.

introverts1

Last month, Procurious looked at the work of Susan Cain, and assessed whether introverts could thrive in procurement. Now, on the other side of the coin, with help from College Match Up, we look at why introverts actually might be the best sellers too.

Best Sellers

Introverts make up 50.7 per cent of the personality types in the United States. An illustrated chart of the introverted personality types shows the percentage of different introverts in the general public.

Sales jobs are expected to increase by 5 per cent in the next decade, and by 2024 there are a projected 778,000 new jobs to be created. As these jobs are created, new people will be searched for to fill them, and industry specialists will be looking for a particular skill set for a good salesperson.

Traditionally, the most defined skills for people in a sales role have included:

  • Assertiveness,
  • Self-awareness,
  • Empathy,
  • Problem-solving skills,
  • Optimism.

Not exactly a set of attributes that you would associate with introverts or introverted people. So why would introverts be useful, and potentially better, in these roles?

Key Attributes

Well, introverts are often quiet and thoughtful which works well in a sales setting, because customers are often put off by the high-energy assertive employees.

Introverts themselves prefer to be helped by other introverts, and at the same time, introverts communicate best one-on-one, which is great for a sales role, because they can really connect with their customers.

Introverts are known to form few deep attachments rather than many, shallow friendships. In a sales environment, this works because they can form deeper relationships with their customers than extroverts, leading to people trusting them more.

Finally, introverts are known for being reflective. This again ties into the sales environment, as they will be looking back on their performance and working out how they can do things better next time.

Need Convincing?

So, what kind of career options are there for introverts who want to try working in sales? Introverts might try out being advertising agents, real estate brokers, sales engineers, or travel agents to name a few.

If you still need convincing, you can check out this infographic from College Match Up:

Introverts in Sales

So what do you think? Do you think that introverts would make better sales people? Could there be a way to leverage an introvert relationship between buyers and suppliers? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Technology Will Expose Supply Chain Deficiencies in Near Future

In the not-too-distant future, technology will reveal everything about products, and expose all the supply chain deficiencies that exist.

Supply Chain Deficiencies
Molly Harriss Olson, CEO, Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand

Smartphones, embedded with the technology that enables consumers to scan items in the supermarket and see the entire supply chain process, will happen sooner rather than later, according to Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand CEO, Molly Harriss Olsen.

“We’re getting to the point that we can build these technologies. Mark my words, it’s on the way and it will be instantaneous. The world of connectivity isn’t coming – it’s here,” she told the room.

Cleaning Up Supply Chains

While the procurement industry well and truly knows about the challenges of cleaning up the supply chain, the fact that the technology that would automatically expose supply chain deficiencies was met by furrowed brows. As she made the statement, you could literally hear a pin drop in the large conference room.

Fairtrade assists marginalised producers (mostly in the agricultural space) and addresses issues like child labour, environmental issues, water usage, waste management, ensuring the employment of women and helping these farmers to have profitability in their farms and a robust foundation upon which they can succeed.

This includes the 30 million coffee farmers around the world who are at the mercy of speculative financial markets.

She impressed on the procurement professionals in the room that they had the power in their hands to either resolve the problems the planet faces in the future, or contribute to it.

“The biggest leadership decision you need to make as a procurement leader is implementation. Once you make that, you can’t even begin to imagine what the impact might be.”

Moving Away From Economics

Harriss Olsen was asked by a major Australian food brand representative, whether Australian businesses were embracing the initiatives implemented by Fairtrade.

“On the whole, I’d say we’re on the edge of embracing it. I’d urge you to take the next step. We need to stop making every decision based on economic grounds. We are either part of the solution, or we’re part of the problem. All our decisions are based on improving the planet. Virtually everything we can buy is traded on the stock market, and value the farmer gets on a daily basis,” she says.

“It might come as a surprise to you that while we got rid of slavery some time ago, there is still an extraordinary amount of it going on today. And until is blows up in your face, you often don’t know what you’re dealing with it.”

Reap the Benefits of a Structured Approach to Responsible Procurement

You are about to set out on the journey to make Responsible Procurement more integrated into your procurement processes.

Responsible Procurement

To reap the benefits – and win recognition – you will have to be well prepared, implement the right tools and processes, and communicate every achievement. But where to start? In this article, I share some things you should consider.

Define your commitment

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a major item on a CEO’s agenda. No annual report is complete without making reference to CSR performance, including the performance of an organisation’s suppliers. CSR is set to be the most influential mega-trend affecting the procurement function by 2020.

Many companies have worked towards Responsible Procurement for a while through a Code of Conduct. A Procurement Leaders CSR Survey in 2012 highlighted the following reasons for pursuing a Responsible Procurement approach:

  • Reduce reputational risk: 71 per cent
  • Moral obligation: 49 per cent
  • Create business opportunities: 36 per cent
  • Legal obligation: 34 per cent
  • Respond to consumer demand: 34 per cent
  • Satisfy investors: 23 per cent
  • Reduce cost: 18 per cent
  • Satisfy the management: 8 per cent
  • Repair reputational damage: 3 per cent
  • Other: 7 per cent

However, in order to reach new heights with your approach to Responsible Procurement, it is time to become more specific. You need to be able to communicate your commitment. This includes your approach to Responsible Procurement, as well as all the achievement targets that you have set out.

Focus on What is Relevant to You

I know of a lot of companies who have copied what everybody else is doing, only to then realise that the massive amount of data that they had collected was a massive waste of time – for both the company and the suppliers – as they had no system or processes in place to handle it, or react to it.

End-users and consumers are demanding. They read your website before they buy from you, and they’ll likely do the same before applying for a job in your company. The mistake many companies make is continuing to focus on everything – environmental, social and economic aspects. Are they all relevant to your business?

Start by asking some of the following questions:

  • You want to take your approach to new heights. Which heights?
  • What is it exactly that you would like to achieve with your Responsible Procurement approach?
  • Where would you like to be in 3, 5 or 7 years time?

You could also:

Conduct a workshop – Gather your most important stakeholders and try to find out how you will combine your company’s CSR, Procurement and Business strategies in one vision. Make sure outcomes are measurable and actionable. Use your own words and your company’s DNA, and don’t be afraid to prioritise. A brand needs a stand. What is your stand?

Gather a fact pack – Understand your company’s drivers, which industry sector standards your company needs to comply with, and what ‘footprints’ you and your suppliers are leaving behind. Most importantly, do some benchmarking.

What kind of approach do your competitors have to Responsible Procurement Management? How does it fit into your current supplier base? I often see that companies forget to look at the supplier base and try to apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach. For example, if you are a bank you don’t want to answer questions on animal welfare.

Develop a strategy  In order to create a strategy, it is important to define your expectations towards your suppliers and procurement professionals. Turn it around and look at what expectations they could have of you as a company. How will you communicate your approach? How will you measure on your progress? What kind of training will you conduct (if any)? Which kind of processes and tools will have to be “reworked”?

Develop a Code of Practice – Right now you might have a Code of Conduct. A ‘Code of Practice’ is a document which not only indicates what your commitment is, but also a document where you indicate what you want suppliers to do in order to meet your requirements.

You need to be much more specific, because that is what consumers expect you to be. And understand that this will show on the bottom line, because the more you share your ‘best practice’ with your suppliers, the more return on investment you will see.

One Last Piece of Advice

Do not underestimate the change management part of implementing a Responsible Procurement approach. Make sure that the top management, not only from your company, but also from your procurement organisation, is involved. You are starting out on a journey which will change your company over time.

Coupa Inspire: Rethinking the Possible with Rob Bernshteyn

Lights, music, action! Hugo Britt recounts his experience of the spectacular opening keynote at this year’s Coupa Inspire conference.

Coupa Inspire

The Faculty’s Hugo Britt recently attended Coupa Inspire ’16, a dynamic conference bringing the Coupa community together in San Francisco, California. 

Doof, doof, doof, doof.

I’m sitting in the Grand Ballroom of San Francisco’s stunning Westin St Francis hotel and the place is packed. The Coupa Inspire ’16 conference is just about to be launched, and all the seats are taken. People are lining the walls and spilling into an adjoining hall, complete with a big screen set up to cope with the numbers.

Outside the hotel lies San Francisco’s famous Union Square, most of which is taken up by an enormous pavilion bearing the Coupa Inspire logo. This is where the exhibiters spruik their products, and also where the 2000 or so delegates gather for breakfasts, lunches and networking.

The tent itself is generating a lot of interest among the locals – I was stopped by onlookers on more than one occasion, who asked me what the tent was for and what was going on in there. You could even hear the word “Coupa” shouted by tour guides from the top decks of the red buses regularly cruising past the square.

In the tent it’s dark, with spotlights flashing around the room, and the music is turned up LOUD. I can feel my ribcage vibrating: doof, doof, doof, doof. The guy at the sound desk receives a cue and, unbelievably, doubles the volume. Into this buzzing, clubby atmosphere, walks Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn, and the crowd roars.

Cultural Buzz

Coupa has to be applauded for the vibrant culture it has created. The 600-strong Coupa team’s enthusiasm is infectious, and the marketing is superb, giving the whole conference the atmosphere of a celebration. This celebratory buzz can be felt in the brilliant ‘Freedom‘ video, featuring the team lip syncing and dancing around their head office and Union Square.

Bernshteyn stresses that Coupa isn’t a technology company. Rather, it’s a “value as a service” organisation. Simply put, it’s about discovering, realising and optimising the value for its customers.

The numbers are impressive. Coupa has been adopted by hundreds of businesses globally, representing millions of users, and over two million suppliers on its open business network. Together, Coupa users conduct tens of millions of transactions per year, with approximately $200 billion in spend under management.

Building on Data

All of this activity on the system generates a vast amount of data, and the developers at Coupa take full advantage of its potential. “Think about what can happen”, says Bernshteyn, “when we combine the insights around the billions of dollars running through our system”. Customers have access to real-time benchmarking that shows how you are tracking against the entire Coupa community.

Bernshteyn also takes the opportunity to launch Perfect-Fit Benchmarks, which enable users to understand savings, invoice cycle time and more by industry and by category. This vertical application means the AI can predict the right time to buy specific products and services based on historical data.

Bernshteyn circles back to Coupa’s catch-cry: rethinking the possible through measurable value creation.

The software’s popularity comes down to the platform’s simplicity, efficiency and ease-of-use, designed to gain maximum visibility of what you’re buying and who you’re buying it from. The phrase “suite synergy” (at first I thought they were saying “sweet” synergy), is used constantly at this conference, referring to the single unified platform that has vanquished the decades-old frustration of software products not speaking with each other.

As Bernshteyn leaves the stage, the DJ enthusiastically takes the opportunity to rattle our eardrums again. I walk past him on the way out, and he has an excited gleam in his eye – he knows that we’ve got a huge event ahead, with more inspirational keynote speakers (including Sir Richard Branson), more exciting product launches…and plenty more opportunities to turn the volume all the way up.

Stay tuned for more from Coupa Inspire in the coming days!