Category Archives: Procurement News

Rethinking Suppliers: Spotting Future Crises

81 per cent of procurement execs fail to include key insights from global suppliers into wider business reporting.

Businesses fail to include key insights from global suppliers into wider business reporting

The latest survey from Proxima reveals that businesses need a rethink on how to better engage suppliers to spot future market crises and opportunities.

The research highlights that many businesses are potentially limiting their capability to gauge market activity using critical insights derived from supplier sentiment.

The research found that news media is a key source with 65.3 per cent of respondents using it to monitor market sentiment. Commodity pricing and currency volatility came in close second and third as key sources with 61 per cent and 57.6 per cent, respectively, of respondents advising that they primarily look to this as an indicator of market movement. 

Although an encouraging 57.6 per cent of procurement respondents indicated that they are looking towards their suppliers for insight into the wider market, a staggering 81.2 per cent confirmed that although they see the value in monitoring market sentiment, they do not include key findings and insights into the reports or dashboards that they present back into the wider business. 

Guy Strafford – EVP, Chief Client Officer at Proxima, said: “This statistic suggests that there is perhaps a slight disconnect between information being collected from suppliers and insight that business leaders need to make strategic decisions. If the procurement team is unable to bridge the two, this insight is often, unfortunately, kept within the procurement department, leaving the rest of the business to their own devices. This often leads to divisional leaders looking externally for the same information.”

7.6 per cent of respondents stated that they did not measure market sentiment at all with 26.3 per cent saying they lacked the necessary resources (budget or people). Of those that do, news media is the single most important source of information (21.7 per cent). A surprisingly small number (8.8 per cent) of respondents indicated that they use the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) as their most important tool for gauging activity on the market.

Strafford added: “The study highlights the overreliance on news media as the primary source of information, when by its very nature, news is an explanation of events that have already occurred. Businesses are therefore making important decisions based on historic data that is not necessarily real-time nor forward-looking. Businesses need to have their fingers on the pulse, and gaining valuable insight from suppliers could significantly help companies to glean sentiment on the ground that ultimately helps them make better decisions in real time.”

Alongside news media, insight from suppliers is the most important source of market sentiment for 21.7 per cent of respondents. It is surprising, therefore, that almost a quarter (24 per cent) engage with their suppliers only once a year or even less frequently. The largest group (28 per cent) gauge market sentiment with their suppliers on a monthly basis. 

Strafford said: “Even though supplier insight is clearly valued as a monitoring tool, the Procurement team is faced with a further challenge that many business leaders simply want to keep suppliers at arms length – either driven by culture, their experiences or for strategic reasons – and will resist integrating suppliers closer to their operations.” 

The results potentially raise questions regarding whether the procurement and supplier management functions currently have the right tools for capturing, and forums for presenting, supplier information back into the business. 

“Less mature procurement functions, defined by their size, scope of influence and heavy focus on savings, will often struggle to connect deeper supplier insights back into other business activities”, added Strafford. “As a result, these functions (not for lack of want) cannot achieve wider benefits such as supplier-led innovation, more flexible terms and faster responsiveness to demands.

‘Uberization’ – Is Any Profession or Industry Safe?

The phenomenal global success of Uber boiled down to a simple premise – that consumers wanted a way to source a traditional service more easily and cheaper than before. Its success has given rise to the so-called ‘Uberized’ economy. But what product or service is next? 

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 14: In this photo illustration the new smart phone taxi app 'Uber' shows how to select a pick up location next to a taxi lane on October 14, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. 'Uber' application started to operate in Madrid last September despite Taxi drivers claim it is an illegal activity and its drivers currently operate without a license. 'Uber' is an American based company which is quickly expanding to some of the main cities from around the world. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Taxis were first, along with hotels (Airbnb), retail (Alibaba), real estate (Suitey) and car sales (Beepi). You can even look at media (Facebook) and freelancing (Upwork) and see similar disruption.

What these new organisations have in common is that they are network based, don’t own any inventory, stock or hard assets, and they all took an existing service and provided a more customer-centric, lower cost service.

Traditional professions like medicine and legal and financial services have been largely sheltered from this disruption so far, but this looks set to change.

End of the Old Guard

For some, these traditional professions have been viewed as ‘untouchable’ (this might be down to them working in these professions and trying to resist this shift), but, for others, the services offered by these professions was ripe for ‘Uberization’.

One profession viewed as ‘untouchable’ was the Legal profession and, more specifically, the provision of legal services. There is an increasing number of online start-ups aiming to provide this more ‘customer-centric’ service than has been available previously.

Not only do these companies offer a cheaper service, but also a simplified purchasing experience for individuals and organisations. Services can be purchased on a task-to-task basis, rather than paying by the hour. The concept of a set fee for services, like the offering from Avvo, is an attractive one, particularly for a procurement department.

Simplified Procurement

An overall spend figure for legal services is hard to come by, but, with global banks spending over £200bn, and spend with the UK arm of global law forms topping £28.5bn, it would be safe to give a conservative estimate of around anywhere between £500bn and £750bn.

In 2013/14, local authorities in the UK spent £156m on legal services. Although these costs were down on the previous three years, it seems there is still plenty of scope for further reduction.

While many procurement teams may have been shut out of the process of purchasing legal services, the ability to reduce the cost, while at the same time retaining the service level required by internal stakeholders, leaves procurement in a powerful position.

Put simply, procurement can make changes for the better and a good place for them to start is with these ‘Uberized’ companies. Not only could costs be reduced, but also time spent on lengthy (and often costly) tender processes.

And next…?

So if one ‘untouchable’ can fall victim to the ‘Uberized Economy’, then which one might be next? Some suggest that Financial Services might be the next profession to be ‘Uberized’.

With many similarities to the Legal profession, there doesn’t seem to be a good reason why you might end up getting your financial services via an app in the not-to-distant future.

And as people move towards vertical marketplaces, where a few things are done well, in depth, rather than the common horizontal marketplace with multiple avenues carried out in less detail, it’s likely that other professions will follow suit.

Now, if only there was a vertical network for procurement that people could take advantage of…

Do you procure legal services for your organisation? How would this impact your job – would it be a positive thing for you? Join us and start a discussion on the future of ‘untouchable’ professions.

While you’re digesting the main event, why not check out this week’s main headlines from procurement and supply chain for your Monday morning tea break…

Police asked to investigate London Garden Bridge Contracts

  • Scotland Yard has reportedly been pressed to investigate allegations the procurement process behind the capital’s planned garden bridge “was rigged”
  • The central allegation is that the procurement process was rigged and that designer Thomas Heatherwick and engineering firm Arup had been lined up to win the contracts before tenders were issued
  • Further revelations have shown that meetings were not recorded in London Mayor, Boris Johnson’s, diary, where go ahead was given for the process
  • There are also questions over how Arup won its contract, and why it was asked to resubmit its bid while other firms were not

Read the ongoing story at The Guardian

iPad Pro Launch Date Leaked

  • According to Mac Otakara, a Japanese blog, the release date for the new product is set for the 6th of November
  • Although a highly guarded secret, the blog spoke with workers in the Apple supply chain in China and gathered information from them
  • Apple still has the iPad Pro listed on their website as “Available November”, and hasn’t commented on the leak

Read more on Ledger Gazette

Demand-Driven Perishables Offer Fresh Look for Groceries

  • Up to 133 billion pounds of food is wasted annually in the U.S. alone – at a staggering cost of $162bn
  • Cognizant has created a new infographic aimed at showing how a demand-driven model can reduce inventory, spoilage and wastage
  • A demand-driven replenishment model can help grocers better anticipate supply requirements, improve storage and maintain food freshness

Check out the infographic on Cognizant

General Mills recall set to impact supply chain

  • FMCG giant General Mills is recalling 1.8 million boxes of gluten-free Cheerios, as they are thought to contain gluten
  • The company said wheat flour had been “inadvertently introduced” into its gluten-free oat flour used to make original and Honey Nut Cheerios
  • The company are unsure how much the recall will cost them in cash-terms, but look set to be the latest organisation to suffer from a reputational hit
  • The case shows that supply chains need to be aware of track and trace systems and the supply chain will be reviewed in light of the incident

Read more at the BBC

Will ‘Unicorns’ Deliver a Horn of Plenty in the Future?

Traditionally a Unicorn is a mythical creature, much wished for but seldom seen outside the bounds of the Harry Potter universe and the pictures doodled on children’s notebooks and stencilled on their bedroom walls. However, a new type of Unicorn has been coming to the fore in recent years and is multiplying fast.

unicorn-feature

For those who aren’t aware of this phenomenon, a ‘Unicorn’ was a term coined by Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy Ventures, back in November 2013 and used to describe a start-up company whose value has exceeded $1 billion.

When you think of unicorns in this regard, think Facebook (actually classed as a ‘super-unicorn’ thanks to a valuation over $100 billion), Slack, LinkedIn and Uber. It is estimated that there are around 80 ‘unicorns’ prancing around currently, predominantly in San Francisco, but the odds of building or investing in a billion dollar organisation are around about the same as being struck by lightning…

So what’s the secret?

It depends who you listen to, but the common consensus is that there is no secret or magic bullet to creating a ‘unicorn’. As with any start-up, innovation plays a huge role in success, but for a unicorn it’s also about catching the right wave, at the right time, and taking advantage of prevailing trends and public opinion.

These trends, and their unicorns, go all the way back to the 1960s and look something like this:

  • The development of the semiconductor (Intel)
  • The advent of the personal computer (Apple; Oracle; Microsoft)
  • Development of new networks (Cisco)
  • The Internet (Amazon; Google)
  • The rise of Social Networks (Facebook; LinkedIn)

The list looks like a who’s who of powerhouse technology companies, all instantly recognisable, all companies we have come across or used ourselves during our lives. But where will the next trend come from?

The New Unicorns

Investors and experts have begun to look to the short-term future to see where the next unicorn might come from. According to a couple of sources, the Collaborative and On-Demand Economies may give birth to the next unicorns. You probably haven’t heard of them yet, but here are just some to keep an eye on:

  • Envato – an online marketplace for creative, enabling access to freelance talent, videos and tutorials
  • Canva – an online graphic design tool, aimed at making design accessible and easy for everyone
  • Campaign Monitor – providing easy creation, sending and reporting on e-mail marketing (clients already include Coca-Cola and Airbnb)
  • ROKT – online marketing platform aimed at delivering higher engagement for service advertising

Could the ‘Bubble’ Burst?

However, all this needs to be delivered with a word of caution. Most people in business are old enough to remember the dot.com bubble of the late 1990s. What started out as a rush of new, innovative online organisations, ended with a set of spectacular failures and the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars.

This is the concern for some analysts with this new wave of technology start-ups and unicorns. Greycroft Partners founder, Alan Patricof, warns against the belief of being able to raise endless capital, with businesses vulnerable to changes in the market and the outlook.

Some organisations have lost their unicorn status, and even Facebook’s value dipped dramatically before reaching its current peak of around $225 billion.

Your Unicorn

So if you have an innovative idea, now might be the right time to get started and you could end up with a unicorn of your own. But be wary, you might want to get started soon, before someone takes your idea or the bubble bursts entirely…

We’d love to turn Procurious into a unicorn, but there’s plenty work to be done first. If you’ve got any ideas or comments about the site, we’d love to hear from you!

And just because we’re so good to you, here are some top headlines from procurement and supply chain this week…

No Evidence of Wrongdoing in London Garden Bridge Procurement

  • An audit has concluded that there was no evidence of wrongdoing in Transport for London’s (TfL) procurement for the London Garden Bridge project
  • The audit aimed to provide assurance of an open, fair and transparent process in the procurement of design and development services
  • While the audit found that in some instances where TfL policy and procedure were not fully complied with, it concluded that it had not identified any evidence that the final recommendations did not provide value for money from winning bidders
  • However, concerns have still been raised by the London Assembly Liberal Democrat Group as key documentation supporting the evaluation of the bidders had been disposed of during a TfL office move and could not be evaluated

Read more at Supply Management

Schultz stresses need for Supply Chain at top table

  • Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, stressed the importance of the supply chain during a keynote address at this week’s Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Annual Conference in San Diego.
  • Schultz explained that a classic mistake made by most companies is that two areas often left behind by companies are HR and supply chain
  • Schultz argued that the supply chain needs to be at the forefront of every enterprise in the world, especially the ones that are consumer-facing

Read more of the keynote points at Logistics Management

‘Freelancing in America: 2015’ Report Released

  • Upwork and Freelancers Union released their jointly-commissioned study “Freelancing in America: 2015” last week
  • The report included a sizing and segmentation of the freelancer population, and assessed a range topics, including freelancer motivation, earnings, attitudes and outlook for the future
  • The study estimates, as of mid-2015, that overall there were 53 million freelancers in the US, representing about 34% of the total US workforce
  • Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel stated that “strong growth in the economy and the rapid increase in full-time job opportunities, has led some number of freelancers to return to full-time employment”, showing a potential changing environment

Read the results at Spend Matters

US Car Sales on the Rise in September

  • The Big Three car manufacturers in the US projected the overall sales pace for September will top 18 million vehicles
  • General Motors Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Ford Motor Co. each posted double-digit percentage increases compared to a year ago
  • If volumes continue at the same rate as predicted, it would be the highest yearly volume since 2000, bringing much needed good fortune to the industry

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Tackling the Supply Chain – Rugby World Cup 2015

On Friday night, the eighth Rugby World Cup kicked off with a hard fought win for tournament hosts England over Fiji at Twickenham. With over £1bn expected to be added to the UK economy over the next 6 weeks, how will supply chains cope with, and ultimately benefit from, increased demand?

Rugby World Cup 2015

Over the course of 44 days, 48 matches will be played out in front of a global television audience expected to surpass 4 billion people across 207 countries. It is also estimated that over 466,000 international fans will visit one or more of the 14 cities where matches are staged or fan zones are in operation.

Investment, Jobs and Opportunities

In preparation for the tournament, over £85m has been invested in infrastructure around the UK, with further investment expected in creating a ‘legacy’ for rugby around the country. Over 41,000 jobs will be created, including 16,000 related to the tournament and over 12,000 along the supply chain. In total, outputs are expected to surpass all previous tournaments at £2.2bn.

UK businesses will also see a legacy from the tournament. At the 2011 tournament in New Zealand, 52 per cent of businesses increased their international networks, and the same is expected this year in the UK.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) anticipates an additional 25 million pints will be drunk during the tournament, bringing over £86m into an industry that has been struggling in recent years.

However, it’s not good news for all companies. Thanks to a £20 million pound sponsorship deal for Heineken, Guinness has been removed from all 13 host stadia. No small matter, given that Guinness accounts for half of all pints sold at Twickenham in recent years.

Procurement and Supply Chain Matters

With the increased tourism to the host cities, there is a positive knock-on effect for supply chains across the UK too. Businesses have been encouraged to work directly with organisers and tourist boards in order to ensure that they are ready for the influx of extra customers.

As might also be expected, there have been a considerable number of opportunities for businesses to get involved with supplying the tournament itself, as well as the teams. A dedicated tender portal was set up for all official opportunities and advice given to businesses to enable them to boost their chances of winning business.

England Rugby 2015 Chief Executive Debbie Jevans was quoted in 2014 as saying that companies need to be aware of the attributes England Rugby 2015 look for when deciding on procurement options.

“Awards will generally be given to companies that are suitably qualified and can provide a competitive commercial proposal, as well as a compelling service proposition,” she said.

And with awards made for all manner of things, including security, fleet management and medal making, there is huge potential for UK business to take advantage of this great opportunity and get their slice of the pie.

And We’re Off

So, with the tournament firmly up and running, and team Procurious collectively supporting Scotland, England and Australia (or if you are like this writer, hoping Scotland don’t perform as abjectly as in 2011), it’s either time to kick back and watch some matches, or avoid them at all costs.

Just don’t be one of the anticipated 4.4 million workers who will skip work just to take in a match…

Is your business benefitting from the Rugby World Cup? What does the tournament mean for you? Let us know and tell us your stories of this, and past, World Cups.

For those of you needing something other than rugby to talk about this week, here are the big headlines in procurement and supply chain…

Plunging oil prices put question mark over $1.5tn of projects

  • Plunging oil prices have rendered more than a trillion dollars of future spending on energy projects uneconomic, according to a study that suggests that the impact on industry operators is worsening.

  • A report published Monday says $1.5tn of potential investment globally — including in North America’s shale-producing heartlands — is “out of the money” at current oil prices close to $50 a barrel and unlikely to go ahead.

  • Industry operators expect capital spending on new projects to decline by between 20 and 30 per cent on average in the wake of the price slide, says Wood Mackenzie, the energy consultancy. It calculates that $220bn of investment has been cut so far, about $20bn more than it estimated two months ago and much of it the result of projects being deferred.
  • Such a decline in spending means that the price crash since last summer — the result of weaker Chinese demand, record US production and Saudi Arabia’s decision not to cut output — could resemble the savage downturn of the mid-1980s.

Read more at the Financial Times

Target supply chain woes get serious

  • Target is now taking its supply chain problems seriously. The major retailer has been struggling with running out of stock and even having empty shelves in stores. But last week, John Mulligan, the newly appointed chief operating officer, called the company’s woes “unacceptable.”
  • “We’ve been asking our supply chain to move well beyond its original design and become more flexible in the way we serve our guests,” Mulligan said. “However, while we understand the reasons, the simple fact is that our current performance is unacceptable.”
  • Target’s online ordering and in-store pickup options have reportedly magnified the retailer’s supply chain problems. The growth in online ordering could have more widespread impacts in the retail sector, where other companies’ supply chains might not be up to the task.

Read more at Spend Matters

European auditors warn over public procurement errors

  • The European Commission and member states must do more to address problems with public procurement in EU cohesion spending. The European Court of Auditors said failure to comply with public procurement rules has been a “perennial and significant source of error in EU cohesion expenditure”.
  • It also recommended payments to member states should be suspended if shortcomings on public procurement were not rectified.
  • €349 billion (£395 billion) was allocated in the area of cohesion policy through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Cohesion Fund (CF) and the European Social Fund (ESF), between 2007 and 2013. A significant part of this money was spent through public procurement, which is governed by the EU purchasing regulations.
  • The auditors’ Special Report assessed whether the European Commission and member states were taking steps to address the problem of public procurement errors in the area of cohesion policy. It examined more than 1,400 transactions between 2009 and 2013 and detected errors relating to public procurement in around 40 per cent of all projects.

Read more at Supply Management

Canada’s biggest-ever military procurement at ‘very high risk’

  • Documents obtained by CTV News suggest that the Conservative government’s plan to overhaul the Royal Canadian Navy with a multi-billion dollar procurement to replace frigates and destroyers may be in trouble.
  • According to internal documents obtained by CTV News’ Mercedes Stephenson, the “Canadian Surface Combatant” program is at “very high risk” of running over budget, behind schedule, lacking skilled manpower, and producing inadequate capabilities.
  • The documents warn there is a risk the project, “may be unable to deliver the optimal number of ships with the capabilities necessary to meet operational requirements” and that may, in turn, lead to the navy’s “inability to deliver operational effect and/or a failed procurement.”
  • Sources tell CTV News that a fixed budget, combined with increasing costs and procurement delays, mean the navy has likely already lost one or two of the promised 15 ships.

Read more at CTV News

Chill, China’s economy isn’t collapsing: China Beige Book

  • Current market perceptions of China are “thoroughly divorced” from the reality on the ground, according to the latest China Beige Book (CCB) survey, which has found that while the economy slowed in the third quarter, there are no signs of an impending growth collapse.
  • “In the aftermath of the stock market collapse and a surprise currency action in August, global sentiment on China has veered sharply bearish—too bearish,” Leland Miller, president of CBB said. “While we have long cautioned clients against relying on rosy official views of the Chinese economy, we believe sentiment has swung substantially too far in the opposite direction,” he said.
  • Corporate revenue growth, although weaker than the second quarter, actually improved over the first quarter, and was stable in on-year terms, according to CBB.
  • While manufacturing saw its weakest performance in two years, as indicated by recent purchasing managers’ index (PMI) surveys, other sectors buoyed the economy.

Read more at CNBC

Are You Sick Of Your CFO Asking ‘Where’s The Money?’

Where’s the money? – Marisa Menezes launches The Faculty’s Making it Stick research at the 2015 CIPS Australasia Conference.  

Marisa Menezes launches The Faculty’s Making it Stick research at the 2015 CIPS Australasia Conference.

Consider this – you’re a successful CPO with a world-class Procurement team that’s brilliant at negotiating great savings and other value. Six months ago you successfully identified and negotiated contractual benefits worth millions with a critically-important supplier – at the time, there were plenty of high-fives and back-slapping amongst the team as you signed the contract and handed it over to the business owners… but fast-forward six months to the end of the financial year, and your glowering CFO calls you into his or her office to ask those three dreaded words – where’s the money?

Marisa Menezes, GM of The Faculty Management Consultants, has made the assembled procurement professionals at CISPA 2015 very uncomfortable. She’s describing a nightmare situation that has kept many a CPO awake at night – millions of dollars in identified value won by procurement failing to make its way to the bottom line, a despairing CPO and a furious CFO. The potential consequences of poor benefits realisation are frightening – apart from the obvious anguish of seeing savings going down the drain, it damages the procurement function’s credibility. Strategically-vital supplier relationships also suffer, as maverick spend damages vendors’ margins and restricts the purchasing organisation’s ability to negotiate future contracts in good faith.

But it’s not all bad news – The Faculty has a solution for Making it Stick.

Earlier this year, The Faculty Roundtable commissioned an investigation into best-practice benefits realisation, and our researchers have conducted a series of interviews and data analysis to unearth the factors that prevent Procurement’s savings from hitting the bottom line. The results were boiled down to five key hurdles to Making savings Stick, namely:

  • A lack of enterprise-wide ownership and alignment with Procurement’s targets;
  • Silo-style working environments rather than true cross-functional collaboration,
  • Maverick spend and other non-compliance that undermines Procurement’s gains and damages supplier relationships
  • Unclear benefits definitions, measurements and validation processes that haven’t been agreed upon across the organisation, and
  • An immature cost-conscious culture that hamstrings CPO-level efforts to expand the value Procurement contributes to the organisation.

No wonder CPOs are having trouble sleeping at night – as much as 50 per cent of contracted savings are not making their way to the bottom line of Australia’s leading companies, which is equal to $138.5 million dollars across the 16 major organisations that participated in this research. Overseas, the figures are even more disheartening: a report by Aberdeen Group in 2011 revealed an industry average of only 8 per cent, an incredibly low figure.

The Faculty’s Making it Stick research a call to action for CEOs and CFO to support their Procurement functions to dramatically improve benefits realisation. It requires no less than an organisation-wide change management program to drive the right behaviours around compliance and cross-functional collaboration, and this must be driven from the C-level if organisations intend to fully realise the benefits of their supplier relationships.

Marisa takes the audience through six different “levers” a CPO can pull to drive savings all the way to the bottom line:

  • Prove it – moving the Procurement team’s focus from projected to validated savings
  • Drive cross-functional collaboration, focusing on shared goals and language
  • Expand the focus beyond costs – only possible once a cost-conscious culture is in place
  • Align to business targets – without alignment, CPOs risk having their hard-won benefits dismissed as irrelevant
  • Build rigorous benefits definitions, measurement and agreed-upon validation methodologies
  • Focus on compliance – without a culture that values compliance, nothing will stick.

The Faculty’s Making it Stick report is now available for free to download. Armed with this call to action, CPOs have the tools they need to drive meaningful change, make savings stick, and sleep better at night.

Smart Supply Chains – Gazing Into The Not-So Distant Future

The term ‘Smart Supply Chain’ might not be that familiar to you, but most people will have heard of, and understand, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data. With the supply chain, and the processes within it, evolving, what are the key trends you need to be aware of?

Smart supply chains of the future

The topics of Big Data, 3D Printing and Technological Change have been discussed on Procurious independently recently, but it is the connection between these concepts within the Smart Supply Chain that organisations will be able to take advantage of over the next 12-18 months.

Some of these concepts demonstrate supply chain thinking coming full circle, while others are newer and yet to be fully embraced by organisations on the whole.

Keeping ahead of, or at least up to date with, these trends will be crucial for supply chains in order to remain flexible and competitive globally. We consider the three outlined below to be the most interesting for supply chain development, however there are many others that also could be considered.

Distributed Manufacturing

More recently, organisations have begun to bring much of their manufacturing back in house, reversing the trend for outsourcing to low cost regions. The next step in this process for many is the idea of Distributed Manufacturing.

In Distributed Manufacturing, products are manufactured across multiple geographical locations by either the primary organisation or a local partner. These locations are closer to key consumer markets, and make use of local experts for the final assembly stage of production.

Key advantages of this approach include a reduction in logistics costs, a more agile supply chain and access to a global network of experts. In late 2014, Jaguar Land Rover opened a plant in Changsu in China, aimed specifically as servicing the Chinese market. This allows a better service to a major market for Jaguar, but enables them to ensure that production quality remains high.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing is essentially 3D Printing by another name. Although still more expensive in comparison to traditional methods, the AM process allows for faster creation of prototypes, greater tailoring of sizes and shapes of products and much lower scrap rates.

Earlier this year, Rolls Royce announced plans to flight-test the largest ever 3D-Printed aerospace component. The company have said that the process has cut like-for-like manufacturing lead times by 30 per cent, representing a considerable saving in terms of time and cost.

A combination of Distributed Manufacturing and Additive Manufacturing could potentially allow organisations a considerable competitive advantage in a supply chain, with faster, more agile manufacturing allied with shorter lead times to consumer markets.

However, to make this a reality, we need to consider the impact of the third of our trends.

IoT, Big Data and Demand

Consumer demand is a tricky beast to pin down. With consumer behaviours constantly changing and the increased availability of products online, which can then be delivered the following day, simply using historical trends to predict demand is no longer an option for supply chains.

Now, organisations are looking towards connected networks and systems, capturing up to the minute data on where, when and how products are bought and which markets are the most profitable to service. The use of the IoT and Big Data is opening up a new way of predicting demand.

Big Data is being used in the automotive industry to do just that. Now, sales can be seen anywhere in the world instantly and companies who have traditionally operated ‘Just-in-Time’ systems now can keep up with this, ensuring the right parts are in the right place at the right time.

Distributed Manufacturing relies on this interconnected network of systems for exactly this reason. This improved demand planning can then be used to reduce excess stock and wastage and at the same time, provide all the data required for effective Additive Manufacturing.

The Not-So Distant Future

As these technologies advance further, and organisations become more adept at using them effectively, there is a potential for a major change to the way supply chains are organised.

And what will this mean for procurement? Beyond the increased complexity of providing for a global supply chain, could we see the advent of Distributed or Remote Procurement? Or will the profession be split up and placed wherever the need is greatest? It’s certainly a question worth considering.

Have we missed any game-changing supply chain trends? Are you working in an organisation where Distributed Manufacturing is a reality? Procurious would love to hear your experiences!

Eyes down for the other big stories we think you should be aware of this week…

Oil prices steady after U.S. drilling cut but oversupply still weighs

  • U.S. crude futures were trading at $44.67 per barrel at 8:00 IST, up 4 cents from their last settlement, pushed by a slight fall in drilling activity. “Baker Hughes reported US oil rig count fell 10 to 652 last week. The consecutive second decline suggests a low price environment coupled with low oil price hedge is starting to impact U.S. supply,” ANZ bank said.
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday that a cut in production from non-OPEC suppliers, especially from the United States, would lead to a rebalancing of the market by next year.
  • Despite this, the outlook for global oil markets remained weak due to strong production clashing with stalling demand, creating a market in which more oil is produced than needed.
  • The global crude benchmark Brent was trading at $48.95 a barrel, virtually flat from its last close.
  • ANZ said strong supply from the Middle East remained a concern on the supply side, while Macquarie bank noted that falling auto sales in August were acting as a drag on demand.

Read more at The Economic Times/IndiaTimes

Allianz warns of storm impact on transport and supply chains

  • With a severe El Nino event forecast and the cyclone season approaching, insurer Allianz has highlighted transport and supply chain interruption as a consequent threat for international and domestic transport and logistics. The global insurer’s Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) section has marked the recent 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in the US with an analysis of storm-related losses, trends and global businesses preparedness for such events in future.
  • But its local operation points to issues here and in Asia that have the potential to cause financial hardship, particularly for the unprepared. “The general consensus of scientists is for an increased severity rather than frequency of windstorm events, such as Australia has experienced this year,” Allianz Risk Consulting Pacific regional manager Iain Ritchie says. “Further, with the current growing El Nino in the Pacific, climatologists are predicting even more intense weather phenomena in the immediate future, which requires risk assessment and planning.”
  • Ritchie adds that “not only is pre- and post-loss risk management crucial in mitigating the impact of increasing windstorm losses, risk management should also focus on loss minimisation during windstorm events. “Business continuity planning must also incorporate direct as well as indirect supply chain exposures to be effective.”

Read more at Fully Loaded

Tianjin explosions to affect supply chains for months

  • The deadly explosions that rocked Tianjin could create logistical delays and other supply chain problems for months to come, even as operations at the port itself return to normal, according to a new report by Resilinc, a supply chain technology firm.
  • Day-to-day operations have largely resumed at Tianjin’s port, roughly a month after two explosions killed over 100 people and caused widespread damage. However, Resilinc found a number of factors that will have a lasting impact on companies with supply chains tied to Tainjin. Chief among them: uncertainty over how China’s government will respond to the incident, which was caused by the improper storage of hazardous chemicals and is still being investigated.
  • Shippers of materials classified as hazardous should expect delays from additional scrutiny of their cargo, and stricter regulation and punishments, Resilinc said.
  • A logistics center that processed much of the port’s paperwork suffered severe damage from the explosions, causing forwarders, haulers and other logistics players to deal separately with individual terminals, putting a strain on those terminals’ capacities to handle administrative tasks. And blockages are preventing the delivery of in-bound raw materials, which impact local factories, and effects could last longer than six to eight weeks on companies within a ten-mile radius of the blast.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

Glencore Queensland to save AUS$300 million through procurement outsourcing

  • Glencore has hired Accenture to provide sourcing and procurement services for its Australian copper and zinc business.
  • The six-year contract with Glencore Queensland, a subsidiary of the diversified natural resource company, is expected to deliver cost savings of more than $300 million over the period.
  • Under the deal, Accenture will provide end-to-end sourcing and procurement services including cloud-based sourcing, category management and procure-to-pay tools, as well as market sourcing insights and analytics to help Glencore maximise procurement and sourcing benefits. “Mining clients continue to grapple with cost pressure in the ongoing environment of low commodity prices,” said Joost van de Meent, managing director, resources, at Accenture. “Our solution will extend Glencore’s existing procurement capability to improve spend management and reduce transaction costs, while improving visibility across Glencore’s businesses.”

Read more at Supply Management

Half Of Supply Chain Managers Lack The Skills To Do Their Jobs

A new poll from CIPS reveals that half of supply chain managers lack the necessary skills.

Supply chain professionals lack the skills needed

If the results of a new survey undertaken by CIPS are anything to go by, almost half of supply chain managers fear they lack the necessary skills to carry out their jobs.

The poll found that 45 per cent of respondents felt they had not received the necessary training.

The survey was made up of 460 CIPS members who hailed from the UK, Australia and South Africa.

Commenting on the results, David Noble – CIPS’ chief executive, believes that the recovery of the UK economy is being threatened by a lack of skills. “Supply chain managers are the first line of defence for British consumers and businesses.”

He continues: “They protect shoppers from harmful products, stop our businesses from being ripped off and keep slavery out of Britain’s supply chains.

“These new figures show that our tentative recovery is being undermined by a lack of skills. Without them, we risk building our growth on human rights abuses and malpractice abroad. Supply chain professionals are doing the best they can with insufficient training but as the threats to British supply chains continue to evolve, so skills must be continuously renewed to keep up.“

Confidence takes a knock

60 per cent went on to add that procurement (as a profession) is not looked upon favourably within their business.

The figures set a worrying precedent indeed, as those without training are unlikely to conduct annual supplier audits, and just 16 per cent stated they have eyes on their entire supply chain.

Out of those polled, those who felt inadequately trained also revealed their fears over malpractice in the supply chain.

Do you agree with the results of this survey, and if so do you share the same fears? If so, what do you think can be done to improve the outlook in the short/long term?

If you haven’t had time to check out the big stories in the procurement and supply chain space this week, here are some of the main headlines.

Procurement Bill to correct ‘unsound’ practices in Zimbabwe

  • In a State of the Nation address last week, Robert Mugabe announced a new Procurement Bill would be drafted and tabled in Parliament before the end of the year.
  • The Bill will incorporate COMESA procurement guidelines which emphasise devolution of power to award tenders to procuring entities. These organisations will include government ministries, parastatals, state enterprises and local authorities, Mugabe said.
  • The State Procurement Board will also be transformed into a new non-executive procurement authority tasked with setting standards and guidelines as monitoring compliance by procurement entities and act as advisor to the government on Public Procurement Policy.
  • President Mugabe said economic growth was expected to be 1.5 per cent in 2015, instead of the initially projected 3.2 per cent, which he mainly blamed on the negative impact of drought in the agriculture sector.

Read more at Supply Management

Fast fashion is becoming a family affair

  • Step aside, H&M, there’s a new fast fashion king in town, and it’s not just for teens and 20-somethings buying $8 crop tops and $18 skinny jeans.

  • Primark, an Irish retailer owned by Associated British Foods, is the latest European so-called fast fashion brand to dive into the U.S. market. The retailer will open its first U.S. store on Sept. 10, 2015, in Boston and it has confirmed the opening of a second store in King of Prussia, Pa., this fall, with plans for seven more over the next two years.

  • The chain, with more than 285 stores across Europe – and amazingly, no e-commerce presence – is set to compete with other fast fashion European brands that are household names in the U.S., including Sweden’s H&M, Spain’s Zara, and U.K.-based TopShop.

Read more at Yahoo! Finance

UK Police forces wasting millions by paying 10x more for items

  • Police forces are wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money because of the chaotic way they buy supplies, with some paying up to 10 times more for similar items.
  • Mike Penning, the policing minister, said that it makes “no sense” for forces to continue buying almost identical items separately when they can save money by acting together.
  • The Home Office published figures revealing huge disparities in the amount paid for basic equipment ranging from shirts and batons to high performance vehicles and radio sets.
  • Mr Penning said: “For too long the police have approached the market in a fragmented way, buying equipment in small amounts and to varying specifications.

Read more on The Telegraph

The most important procurement agreement you’ve never heard of

  • Australia is seeking to be admitted to an international trade group on government procurement. The agreement will mean local suppliers will gain access to the government procurement markets of all member states, which include the 28 members of the European Union and the US.
  • The group is called the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). The WTO – the World Trade Organisation – initiated the GPA in 1981 as the ‘Tokyo Round Code on Government Procurement’. It has been expanded and renegotiated ever since, with the most recent round concluded in 2014.
  • The Government says that joining the GPA will mean “legally-binding access to government procurement markets estimated at US$1.7 trillion”, a number so large it is difficult to comprehend. China, which is also seeking to join, could add another trillion dollars to the sum.

Read more at Government News

iPhone supply chain makers set to see strong sales in September

  • Makers in the iPhone supply chain are set to see strong sales in September thanks to incoming orders for new iPhone devices which are due to be unveiled in early September, according to sources from the supply chain.

  • Most suppliers have become more positive about shipments of the updated iPhone devices recently due to higher than expected orders from Apple, which were originally perceived to be affected by sluggish global economy and weakening smartphone demand in emerging markets, said the sources.

  • Incoming parts and components orders for the new iPhones are even stronger than orders for the iPhone 6 devices in the corresponding period of a year earlier, indicated the sources, adding that shipments of updated iPhones will once again squeeze sales of other vendors including Samsung Electronics, Sony Mobile Communications and LG Electronics, commented the sources.

Read more at Digitimes

Procurement Technology: To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade?

At a recent industry procurement technology conference, I heard a presenter state, quite reasonably I thought, that risk doesn’t begin until you select a supplier.

cloud

As one of those suppliers, I’d naturally argue that the risk in selecting us is lower than our competitors but, still, it is a valid point. It is a given that staying at home less risky than travelling, but only for certain kinds of risk, of course. An outdoor, active lifestyle requires an inevitable degree of caution and hazard awareness, but then again so does sitting on the sofa watching TV.

Thus, while a procurement technology project cannot go wrong until you start, that is no case for lack of action. Doing nothing, can expose your organization to even greater risk in the long term.

So what should you be doing? What should be your approach? A challenge, surely, is when to put a stake in the sand and commit to a particular project in an environment where change and new product announcements are increasing year on year.

Time and again, one hears of companies locked into a legacy system that is too important to ditch and too costly to upgrade. How can that be right?

In the past couple of decades, we’ve seen a big shift in the types of technology solutions that are considered suitable for the workplace. At a time when most large business could only comprehend huge, cumbersome systems, integrated on a very large scale and at enormous cost, those who elected to search for best-of-breed solutions for each requirement, from a range of providers were looked upon as cutting-edge thinkers, almost the avant garde.

And yet, today, attempting to build a robust, transformed, next-decade-ready procurement practice on a mish-mash of different procurement software tools for sourcing, contracts, P2P and SRM is likely to be considered a very risky strategy indeed. More and more businesses are looking for a single procurement software solution to assist in that transformation process.

So, times have changed and seemingly come full circle, but have they really?

I’d say they haven’t. Today’s complete end-to-end procurement technology solutions are as far removed from the ERP systems of 20 years ago as your choice of personal computing device is from that which you were using during the same period.

The only common theme is the notion that you can do everything in one place. The difference is that now you can do so much more than was ever possible in the past.

What drove businesses at the leading edge to seek out best-of-breed solutions was the need for increased power, control and efficiency delivered by innovative technology, something they could definitely not find in the old, megalithic systems.

The advent of a whole new architecture underlying the modern world — with its cloud, wireless and mobile technologies — has made it possible to conceive of one single solution that is powerful and flexible enough to deliver what a global business needs in terms of control and management, but remains agile and responsive enough to keep the modern procurement practice on the leading edge.

We know this, because we’ve built such solutions. Having seen procurement professionals wrestle with the old, monolithic systems and then struggle to make sense of a patchwork of different tools, this really does feel like something quite new.

The most exciting thing of all is the speed at which we can now innovate and address new demands in the ever changing world of procurement. And gone are the days of the business not being able to afford an upgrade. The question today is: cannot you afford not to upgrade?

4 Key Collaboration Takeaways That Will Make Your Job Easier

One of the key topics at the Big Ideas Summit 2015 was the concept of innovation in procurement and the supply chain. Many organisations look for innovative solutions from suppliers, but how easy are these to come by? And are suppliers rewarded for this?

4 key takeaways for successful collaboration

Saying that innovation is a key pillar for an organisation, and actually being able to successfully embed an innovation strategy, are two very different things. Supplier innovation can be tricky to nail down and many procurement departments are not looking in the right areas.

How it can work

For some organisations, it’s about working with the right suppliers. Craig Muhlhauser, CEO of Celestica, spoke at the Procurement Leaders ‘Ovation’ event in July, and spoke about how he brings about innovations for his organisation and for the companies they supply to.

According to Muhlhauser, both organisations need to be open to change in ways of working and ask questions in order to understand the other party’s point of view. Where procurement is concerned, Muhlhauser believes that the profession needs to be less prescriptive to suppliers, leave specifications more open and use the expertise of the supplier to uncover innovation.

This collaborative working relationship has successfully borne fruit across a number of industries. In the automotive industry, Brose, a German-based supplier, worked closely with its customers to produce a new door unit, way ahead of its rivals in terms of quality and innovation.

The key for Brose had been procurement on two sides – their customer, but also internally in order to allow them to build collaboration and trust with their own suppliers to make innovation a reality. Supplier collaboration has also helped to improve supply chain sustainability in the NHS in the UK and led to GAP Inc. being named the winner of the GT Nexus Innovation Award 2015.

Both positive examples have highlighted the work of procurement in supporting the innovation.

Why it fails

Failure to generate innovation, or sustain innovation in the supply chain can come down to a number of factors, although it would be hard to pinpoint one in particular as a key culprit.

A common issue can be with one or both parties not fully engaging in the process. In the Brose example, one supplier involved had to make a financial commitment before a production contract was signed. Payments like this are certainly not common, but here help to build the commitment and trust between the two parties.

Strategy is another common issue. Where strategy is too rigid, or where the strategy is simply pointing to procurement savings, innovation will suffer as the parties in question have approached it with the wrong mind-set. Where innovation is seen as a step to future learning and opportunity, research has shown that it is more likely to endure.

The other side to the strategy argument is that often procurement functions do not formalise the innovation process. Formal programmes are often reliant on senior stakeholder buy-in, something that procurement may struggle with if they lack credibility in the organisation.

Just Reward

While formal programmes and investment can help to drive innovation, it’s worth remembering that rewards or incentives for innovation will help the process. In some cases, procurement has been tasked with saving money, so spending more to achieve innovation is not rewarded.

Suppliers who feel like they will be supported and rewarded are more likely to go the extra mile and suggest innovation to procurement. Building incentivisation into contracts can help to formalise the relationship and underline the support on both sides.

The Real Question

“Is procurement open to innovation?”

That’s the real question. There are good examples of innovation in procurement and supply chains, but plenty more where there is inactivity or hesitance. Have we as procurement professionals been painted into a corner, where savings and the bottom line are the only things that are considered?

We better hope not, or, as Craig Muhlhauser argued, it’s adapt or cease to exist.

Have you got any good examples of innovation in your procurement department or supply chain? How do you encourage it? Let us know on Procurious!

Here are some other stories that are vying for our attention this week:

FTSE edges towards 6,000 after China shock

  • The FTSE 100 was down 2.9 per cent in the first minutes of trading this morning, after stocks in China closed more than eight per cent lower. The market was at 6,014 points, its lowest this year. If it falls below 6,000, it would be the first time it has fallen that low since the end of 2012.
  • The selloff came after a chaotic day of trading on Friday, when weaker than expected manufacturing data caused European markets to plummet. The FTSE closed 2.8 per cent lower, while the S&P 500 crashed below 2,000 points for the first time since February this year.
  • Meanwhile the Vix volatility index, also known as the “fear index”, spiked 16 per cent to 22.2 points. The Chicago Board Option Exchange Volatility Index is thought to be a gauge of investors’ nerves.
  • Markets had spent the past few days falling steadily, as investors worried the Chinese central bank would stop its support of the stock markets.

Read more on City A.M.

Hills chief defends close links with Woolworths’ Masters hardware chain

  • The new chief executive of battling Hills Ltd has defended an outsourcing deal for the company’s iconic Hills hoist clotheslines and garden products that means a large chunk of the range is sold through Woolworths’ ailing Masters hardware chain.
  • Grant Logan, who took over as chief executive of Hills from Ted Pretty in May 2015, says Hills shareholders will need to be patient as the company marks its 70th anniversary because it will take time to restore profits across the company to an acceptable level after major upheaval and transformation, which have resulted in the Hills share price tumbling to a record low.
  • Mr Logan also admitted that the integration of some of the businesses that Hills bought over the past couple of years had been handled poorly and exacerbated problems as the company transformed from an old-world manufacturer to one focused on security systems, communications and health services. “We moved too quickly and as a result, we wobbled our supply chain,” Mr Logan said on Monday.
  • Heavy write-downs foreshadowed on August 7 triggered a slide to a bottom-line loss of $86 million for 2014-15. This compared with a net profit after tax of $24.8 million a year ago.

Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald

Gap to test ‘Fast Fashion’ model in select stores

  • The San Francisco-based apparel retailer said it plans to test small batches of product in its Gap stores this spring and then quickly buy more if the goods are selling.
  • Popularised by fast-fashion chains like H&M, the model allows retailers to jump on trends and quickly adapt to changing shopper behaviour. The strategy has underpinned a turnaround at Gap’s Old Navy unit, which has posted a string of sales gains. This spring will mark the first time the retailer is using it at its namesake division, where sales have slumped. Gap Chief Executive Art Peck said on a conference call that the company was trying to build this capability as quickly as it can.
  • In addition to sourcing goods faster, Gap has hired new executives and closed underperforming stores. Profit fell to $219 million for the three months to Aug. 1, from $332 million a year ago, partly because of charges related to the Gap brand overhaul. The company said it expects to record $130 million to $140 million in restructuring charges for the year, including for the store closures.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

 

GCC airport construction 2015-19 to grow by 8 per cent

  • The GCC’s airport construction market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.86 per cent between 2014 and 2019, a report has found. TechNavio’s report, Airport Construction Market in the GCC Countries 2015-2019, states that airports offer numerous economic benefits to the region.
  • “GCC countries are well-known worldwide for the infrastructural achievements” provided by airports, such as job creation, tourism, and the facilitation of imports and exports.
  • “The oil-rich countries, in their efforts toward economic diversification, are investing heavily in transport infrastructure, such as roads, railroads, and airports,” the report continues.
  • Additionally, international events such as World Expo 2020 in Dubai, Qatar National Vision 2030, and 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, “considered as brand-building events by the respective nations, have necessitated massive airport construction activity in these countries”, the report adds.

Read more at Arabian Supply Chain

NHS competition could waste millions says Labour, after Care UK complaints

  • Labour has warned that the NHS could be forced to spend millions on competition lawyers after the UK’s biggest private healthcare provider demanded an immediate investigation into a decision to award an elective care contract to a local health trust.
  • Care UK has been branded a bad loser after lodging a complaint with the NHS watchdog Monitor over the management of a contract by commissioners in north London.
  • Monitor has now begun an investigation into the decision by four GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to award a contract to the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust. The trust said it was extremely disappointed by the investigation and warned that it would delay the opening of a care centre.
  • Andrew Gwynne, the shadow health minister, said the new competition rules could force the NHS to waste millions on competition lawyers.

Read more at The Guardian

National Coalition for Public Procurement formed in the US

A coalition for public procurement has been formed in the US.

Public procurement coalition formed in the US

Volunteers from three of the largest U.S. procurement programs for public agencies, educational institutions and nonprofit organisations have joined together to establish The National Coalition for Public Procurement (NCPP)

The NCPP will serve to drive best practices in public cooperative procurement, focusing on transparency, competition, integrity, auditability and process.

Marc Selvitelli (who will serve as NCPP’s Executive Director) said: “NCPP was founded on the belief that uniting customers and potential customers with national and regional purchasing organisations will ensure the most ethical and best business practices.”

NCPP’s founding organisations include the National Intergovernmental Purchasing Alliance Company, the National Joint Powers Alliance and The Cooperative Purchasing Network.

In addition to regular interactions with public procurement practitioners and contract purchasing organisations, NCPP will provide an independent forum for members to collectively address cooperative contract procurement concerns. Members also will have the opportunity to participate in advocacy issues with a united voice, and they will have access to a variety of resources to advance best practices in public procurement.

“A major factor in selecting SmithBucklin was its expertise in starting and managing a new organisation,” said Todd Abner, NCPP Chairman. “Additionally, SmithBucklin has substantial experience in managing associations that are active in procurement and supply chain.”

“It is a privilege to help launch NCPP,” said Matt Sanderson, Executive Vice President & Chief Executive, Business + Trade Industry Practice. “We look forward to helping establish NCPP as a powerful voice in advocating excellence in public procurement.”