Category Archives: Procurement News

Work-life, work-death and the right to disconnect

It’s a tale of two cities when it comes to work-life balance. Tokyo continues to struggle with a dangerous culture of self-sacrifice through “overwork”, while in Paris, lawmakers have recently enshrined French workers’ “right to disconnect”.

It’s 10.00pm. The kids are asleep, you’ve tidied the kitchen and you’re considering whether to fire up Netflix or turn in for a relatively early night. Your phone gives a soft “ding” and you reach for it, wondering which of your colleagues is emailing you at this hour.

Put. The Phone. Down.

2017 may be the year that we see the turning point in the fight against the “always-on” work culture, which has rapidly eroded the border between work and private lives. Unpaid overtime has surged as businesses increasingly judge employees by their availability, while employees themselves fall into the trap of “just checking one more email” in the evenings. Hyper-connectivity has led to increased levels of stress, sleeplessness, relationship problems, and, in places where the culture has reached an extreme level – death.

Karoshi

Yes, death. If you’re concerned about where the always-on work culture might be heading, there’s no need to imagine a dystopian future where employees work until they drop dead from exhaustion. The situation already exists in Japan, where the notoriously gruelling work culture has given rise to a phenomenon called karoshi, or “work-death”. As much as 21% of the workforce puts in more than 49 hours a week, while compensation claims from families whose loved ones have literally worked themselves to death peaked at over 2300 cases last year.

You won’t find 12-hour work-days on any contract of employment or job description, yet the culture of unpaid overtime (or “service” overtime) is so firmly entrenched in Japan that it may as well be a part of scheduled working hours. Overtime is unforced, yet workers feel it’s compulsory due to managerial and peer pressure. The results are devastating, and it’s not just elderly members of the workforce who are dying. Alarmingly, employees in their 20s suffering from heart attacks, strokes, and suicide triggered by karoshi.

Overwork culture exists in every profession, from manual labour to office work. Joey Tocnang, a 27-year old trainee from the Philippines employed as a steel-cutter in a Japanese factory, was working between 78 and 122 hours of overtime a month before he died of heart failure at his firm’s dormitory in 2014. Matsuri Takahashi, a 24-year-old employee of the advertising giant Dentsu, was driven to commit suicide in 2015 due to stress brought on by long working hours. She regularly worked over 100 hours of overtime per month in the firm’s internet advertising division, and had even posted calls for help such as ‘I want to die” on social media.

According to a government whitepaper, 22.7% of Japanese companies polled between December 2015 and January 2016 said some of their employees logged more than 80 hours of overtime each month – the official threshold at which the prospect of death from work becomes serious. Karoshi has its roots in Japan’s massive rebuilding efforts after the devastation of WWII, and gained traction in the economic booms of the 1970s and 80s.

There is hope of change, though. Posters are going up on the walls of workplaces all over Japan as part of the government’s efforts to reign in the culture of self-sacrifice. A new generation of professionals called “Freeters” are breaking the cycle by demanding to be paid casual rates (by the hour only) rather than salaries. But the real solution may lie in France. 

The right to disconnect

From January this year, French companies with over 50 workers are required to guarantee the right of their employees to ignore their smartphones after hours. The laws were passed after increasing pressure from France’s trade unions compelled the Labour Ministry to defend the country’s highly protected workplace laws and 35-hour working week.

The law applies to the company, not the individual, which means that compulsive email-checkers can work all hours if they’d like to, but cannot be pressured by their organisations into doing so. Businesses now need to enter into negotiations with their employees to define their rights around switching off, and must publish a charter that explicitly sets out the demands on employees out-of-hours.

Some French companies, including French insurer Axa, have taken proactive measures to limit out-of-hours communication and reduce burnout among works, including cutting email messaging in the evening and weekends, and even destroying emails that are sent to employees while they are on holiday.

The comparison between Paris and Tokyo is not strictly equal, as you cannot fairly compare someone checking emails in their pyjamas with a steel-worker putting in dangerous amounts of overtime in a factory, but it is useful to highlight extreme examples, such as Japan, to help combat the creeping culture of unpaid overtime.

Smartphones are, of course, a double-edged sword in that they can potentially offer enormous work-life balance benefits. A working parent, for example, could leave the office two hours early to pick their kids up, making up the time later that evening. But flexibility arrangements usually still come within the paid work-day and do not pressure employees to “gift” unpaid overtime to their businesses.

What can I do?

  • Recognise that “just checking one more email” on your smartphone is working overtime.
  • Talk to your manager about the right to disconnect, and make sure you bring up any instances when you feel you’re being pressured to work unpaid overtime.
  • Speak up whenever you see “overwork culture” advocated in your workplace or on social media.

In other news this week in procurement:

Procter & Gamble calls for an improved media supply chain

  • P&G, a global advertiser with a marketing and advertising spend of $2.8 billion per annum, has called for a “transparent, clean and productive media supply chain” at a digital advertising leadership conference in Florida this weekend.
  • Chief Marketing Officer Marc Pritchard called media supply chains “murky at best, and fraudulent at worst”, advocating viewability standards including improved compliance and measurement.
  • Common frauds include “bot views”, where advertisers report millions of digital hits that are actually views by bots, rather than humans.

Read more on CNBC.

British Standards Institution releases Slavery Index

  • BSI has published its annual Human Trafficking and Supply Chain Slavery Index, revealing an increased risk of modern-day slavery entering European countries.
  • Russia, Slovakia, India and Pakistan are identified in the Index as “severe risk source countries” that may export modern-day slaves to the UK.
  • Italy is also identified as a high risk nation – partly due to the conflict in Syria, while Greece and Turkey are additionally categorised as high risk countries.

Read more on the BSI website.

Keen on the Internet of Things? Beware of IoT Botnet Zombie Attacks!

Everyone’s talking about the Internet of Things and all of the exciting things it can do for us! But just how much have we considered the possible security risks? 

What’s All the IoT Fuss About?

CPOs are becoming ever keener on enhancing hyper-connectivity within their organisations using the Internet of Things. This is unsurprising given the potential opportunities for procurement teams; warehouses that can tell you what parts you’re running out of and reorder them for you, more efficient processes and the chance to revolutionise how they manage supply chains.

Of course, it’s not just businesses that will benefit from IoT. Early adopters are already using IoT in their homes with smart fridges, smart toasters and smart collars for their pets. Experts predict that by 2020, more than half of new organisations will run on IoT.

Given all of these benefits, you might well ask what’s not to love? Well, judging by recent events, it might be prudent for us all to exercise a little more caution as far as IoT is concerned. As it stands, the process is wide open to cyberattacks.

Botnet Zombie Attacks

Individual devices pose almost no threat to any computer or data centre but what happens if millions of them were taken over at once? IoT devices are likely to have weaker security (research suggests that default usernames and passwords for devices are rarely changed), which makes them an easy target. Hackers will pre-program their malware with the most commonly used default passwords in order to hack multiple devices.

Back in October, an IoT botnet, Mirai, attacked a number of the internet’s websites including Spotify, Netflix and PayPal. The botnet works by consistently searching for accessible IoT devices protected by default passwords. Once these have been identified, the malware turns them into remotely controlled bots and is able to use them for large-scale network attacks – think robot zombie army!

This week, computer security journalist Brian Krebs posted an article on his blog, Krebs on Security, revealing the identity of Mirai author to be Paras Jha, owner of a DDoS mitigation service company ProTraf Solutions and a student of Rutgers University. Whilst Mirai has only been used mischievously so far, to shut down certain sites, the actions have brought to question what damage could be inflicted by real cybercriminals.

The Worst Case Scenario

Whilst the Mirai October attacks were relatively harmless and only resulted in some websites crashing, some tech commentators are regarding it as a test-run. It’s concerning that the next botnet attack could be aimed at data theft or physical asset disruption.

As Krebs stated in his blog “These weapons can be wielded by anyone – with any motivation – who’s willing to expend a modicum of time and effort to learn the basic principles of its operation.” Someone with a grievance against a particular website could easily have it taken offline or simply employ a hacker to do it for them.

It’s especially concerning to imagine the consequences of IoT devices being hacked within critical or high security areas such as hospitals, banking, government, transport etc. Time will tell if we are able to secure IoT before we are subject to further, and perhaps more significant, botnet attacks.

What Can Be Done?

How can individuals and organisations improve their IoT security and prevent cyber attacks? We’ve put together a quick checklist to help you strengthen your security.

  • Use strong login passwords for all your devices and strong Wi-Fi passwords. A strong password contains upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Make sure all the software you use is fully updates – this can fix security flaws.
  • Don’t open mysterious email links or attachments – if you weren’t expecting it, don’t open it!
  • Never reveal card information.
  • Don’t trust anyone who calls you to discuss your computer or devices – hang up the phone.

What do you think about the IoT security risks? Should CPOs halt their investments and wait for the cybersecurity to catch up with the technology? Let us know in the comments below.

Here’s what else has been going on in the world of procurement this week…

Trump Kills TPP

  • President Trump upended America’s bipartisan trade policy on Monday as he formally abandoned the ambitious, 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • In doing so, he demonstrated that he would not follow old rules, effectively discarding longstanding Republican orthodoxy that expanding global trade was good for the world and America.
  • Although the Trans-Pacific Partnership had not been approved by Congress, Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw carries broad geopolitical implications in a fast-growing region.
  • Trump said American workers would be protected against competition from low-wage countries like Vietnam and Malaysia, also parties to the deal.

Read More on New York Times

Wal-Mart Cuts 1,000 HQ Jobs

  • Wal-Mart Stores began a round of some 1,000 layoffs at its corporate headquarters, with most cuts targeting the retailer’s supply chain operations.
  • The shakeups, which have been expected, suggest that Wal-Mart is willing to undo much of the work in its existing e-commerce operations in favour of Jet’s signature pricing and fulfilment algorithms, which reward shoppers in real time with savings on items purchased and shipped together.
  • The dent in its supply chain ranks could undermine one of Wal-Mart’s core strengths: its highly efficient brick-and-mortar-based distribution system.

Read More on Retail Dive

Samsung’s Exploding Galaxy Note7 Blamed on Battery Suppliers

  • Approximately 2.5 million phones have been recalled by Samsung due to explosive defects of the Galaxy Note since September 2016.
  • Recalls happen all the time, but while the Samsung case rose to infamy due to its flammable and potentially injurious nature, the revelation that Samsung’s primary and backup suppliers independently produced a faulty phone component is equally remarkable.
  • What was a supply chain problem was resolved by an operations solution in this particular case. However, batteries will be subject to more strict quality controls to avoid future issues.
  • Previous analyses also have suggested Samsung’s rush to production — both before and after the first recall — may have also impacted the finished good’s quality.

Read More on Supply Chain Dive

Procurement Salaries On The UP In 2017

  • Procurement professionals can expect to see pay rises averaging 10% in 2017, according to a salary survey
  • However, contractors will get the biggest rises – 15% – while permanent staff can expect to get 4%
  • Sam Walters, associate director at Robert Walters, said: “Across all levels of seniority we have seen demand grow for high quality procurement professionals over the past year, with those with IT procurement experience being particularly highly sought after

Read more at Supply Management

Why Agile Business Models Help in a Changing Ecosystem

Whether global giant or SME, the supply chain ecosystem provides opportunities for all organisations. Particularly those agile enough to adapt to the changing environment.

ecosystem

In our previous article, we looked at how the future of logistics may look from a technological perspective. Today, we’ll look at the potential changes in business models that will define the industry.

Many believe success relies simply on investing in new tech. However, the reality is that these changes are only the tip of the iceberg. The fluidity of working the online revolution has created means that blindly applying pre-Internet age business models is a recipe for stagnation and, ultimately, failure.

Big Data

By using Big Data, logistics providers can identify where to improve, what to invest in and how to grow. This allows them to improve processes and maximise customer service, through faster, cheaper and error-free supply chains.

With the massive potential for useful data offered by IoT, algorithms can predict customer demand and opportunities with increasing accuracy. Used in conjunction with traditional business modelling, they can enable faster and more effective strategic business decisions.

Using information from past transportation activities, can help develop better scheduling, load sequences and ETA predictions, all enhancing customer experience. Further to this, one can use customer segmentation to provide tailored customer service levels, maximising customer retention.

However, there is increasingly an acceptance that Big Data is no good on its own. The key challenge is in ensuring data is fit for purpose by merging all the information in a meaningful and statistically relevant way.

With Big Data, this has always been the biggest danger. And with the proliferation of data sources promised by IoT and further digital integration, it will only become more challenging.

Furthermore, not everyone in the industry will be able to compete with the global giants. Particularly not in terms of data analysis and process efficiency.

There will always be room for smaller operations. Their success will rely on being able to identify specific needs at an individual level, and respond quickly to them. These players will, increasingly, look to collaborative models to enhance their business propositions.

Collaboration

The existence of middle-men is not a new phenomenon. However, it is fair to say that the internet has provided a platform for an unprecedented growth in businesses that own no assets at all.

As an illustration of this, logistics services that add value through the aggregation of information are proliferating. There have always been brokers or consultants, but the ability to harness Big Data means that companies such as Freightex, Flexe and Zupplychain can accelerate competition by becoming market makers.

These market makers are evident in many verticals. AirB&B, Uber and MoneySupermarket are all aggregators of services that add value for customers by using their platform to leverage value from providers.

It’s this capacity for one stop solutions, facilitated by the immediacy of online communication and comparison, that is at the heart of collaborative models.

As the demands for speed and cost-efficiency grow, transparent and flexible logistics services ensure supply adapts to meet demand through increased variety and competition. Centralised marketplaces allow comparison of services and prices, allowing customers to build a bespoke supply chain. Moreover, they arm customers with the ability to switch elements of their supply chain without compromising the whole.

Streamlining Processes

In addition to driving up competition, this collaborative approach highlights how shared digital systems can lead to streamlining of processes.

With, for example, a website that matches available lorries to shipper needs, based on prices and location coverage, one would expect integration on delivery information. And with the future offering the same level of detail and control across each step in the supply chain, real-time information will be visible from initial supplier right through to customer delivery.

The potential for savings all along the logistics chain is frankly massive. From empty miles and storage capacity underuse/excess, to re-arranged courier delivery scheduling, huge opportunities exist.

This model allows niche companies to continue to compete against full-solution supply chain providers. In addition, with greater transparency, each player can manage their own credibility without being undermined by partners who may under-deliver. Just as end-customers can expect to move more easily, niche providers will be able to change partners with greater flexibility.

The challenges of the collaborative models are bound up in compliance and in consistency of approach across different providers. Trust – whether it’s implicit through brand management or gained explicitly through insurance – is a vital component for these models.

And as with all new technologies, industry standards will need to evolve and become entrenched. While this is already occurring, there may be inter-operability challenges.

Adapting to the Ecosystem

To succeed, logistics companies will need to react quickly (or, indeed, proactively) to ensure service levels and pricing match increasing customer expectations.

The reality is that the drive for greater efficiency cannot be achieved without companies embracing change. Alongside this will be adopting tools required to get there – be they technology, workplace management, planning, systems or mindset.

The bigger companies in the industry will look to achieve greater traction through the diverse data harvesting potential of IoT and the forecasting it can fuel through big data analysis. However, SMEs will always have the advantage of greater agility in the marketplace.

It may well be that the potential of the sharing economy, empowered by the immediacy of online tools, can give a disproportionate strength to smaller providers who act collaboratively to access a wide market whilst maintaining the flexibility inherent in their size.

Furthermore, quick thinking, and quick-acting, organisations can succeed through fresh workplace management (such as in recruitment and training), as well as accurate identification of what technological advances (such as 3D printing, augmented reality tools or automated last mile delivery) will work for them.

Lions will always be at the top of the food chain. But the ecosystem is constantly evolving to ensure every animal, if agile or crafty enough, has its niche.

Zupplychain employs algorithmic matching of customer’s search requirements to warehouse availability to show warehouse pricing, along with an automated and structured process to progress enquiries and a cloud based system to manage customer stock in provider’s warehouses.

Technology Is The Answer. But What’s The Question?

Companies everywhere are super-keen to invest in technology and an eye-watering $3.49 trillion will be made available in 2017 for this purpose – but how can CPOs and IT buyers ensure they make the right decisions? 

If you ask any CPO what their main priorities are for the next five years, you’re almost guaranteed to receive an answer involving technology. Spend for software and IT services is rising at a dramatic rate, and is expected to increase by an incredible 29% in 2017 to $3.49 trillion in the U.S. alone.

The urgency for harnessing cutting-edge technology is understood, and the good news is that business are making the money available. But how do you make sure you’re investing in the right tools?

Here’s the secret: you need to make sure you’re asking the right questions

Supply management professionals will gather in Washington, D.C. on March 22-24 for ISM Tech 2017, where they will gain access to the knowledge required to make intelligent technology investment decisions for the unique needs of their organisations. IT procurement experts will reveal new possibilities and cost-saving efficiencies in areas including advanced analytics, manufacturing 4.0, the role of robotics, going digital and utilising augmented reality.

Keynote speakers include Rick Smith, CEO of Fast Radius, who will be presenting on “Our 3D-printed future”, while Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and bestselling author Martin Ford will deliver a keynote titled “How data is driving the transportation revolution”. Other big names include Abtin Hamidi, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Cargo Chief; Amanda Prochaska, Vice President Procurement Program Management Office, MGM Resorts International; and Tom Martin, Director of Learning Solutions at ISM.

What questions will Tech 2017 help you to answer?

  • How can robotics streamline my business processes?
  • What’s the best way to use the Internet of Things (IoT) in the supply chain?
  • How can my organisation use technology innovations to capture digital customers?
  • How can I leverage analytics to align planning with demand?
  • How should I mitigate technology-related risks?
  • What capabilities will my team require to keep up with technological advancements?

As with every ISM Event, Tech 2017 is all about the networking. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet scores of innovative suppliers and exchange ideas with representatives from top providers in the field, strategizing with experts on their technology needs to identify new ways to tackle existing challenges and future growth opportunities.

This is one event where just about any conversation taking place in the Exhibition Hall is likely to make fascinating eavesdropping. Instead of the usual procurement “chatter” around traditional practices such as sourcing, contracts and requisition-to-pay, attendees will discuss cutting-edge concepts like cognitive analytics, 3D printing, digital reporting, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

As you network, keep in mind that IT procurement experts have been tipped to be the CPOs of the future. According to Procurious founder Tania Seary, the profession is now looking to this highly-skilled group for leadership, and IT experts are on the fast-track to leadership due to five key advantages:

  1. IT experts already control an important chunk of their organisations’ strategic spend.
  2. Soon everything we buy will include an element of technology.
  3. IT procurement experts know how to drive change.
  4. They are innovation scouts.
  5. They understand cyber security.

Don’t miss out – ISM Tech 2017 will take place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, Washnigton D.C. from March 22-24, 2017.

Meet The New General Secretary of Globalisation

Chinese President Xi Jinping claims world leadership for globalisation while the U.S. moves towards protectionism.

Chinese President Xi Jinping used his address at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last week to defend globalisation and criticise the rise of protectionism in Western economies.

The speech is the latest in a series of appearances on the world stage where Xi has sought to support the existing economic order that has fuelled decades of unprecedented growth in China. Similar appearances include Xi’s address to the United Nations in 2015, hosting the G20 Summit in 2016 and his speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Peru in November last year.

De facto Chinese leadership?

With the Trans-Pacific Partnership scheduled for the chopping block when President Obama steps down, Xi now has the opportunity to shape global economic systems to China’s benefit and step into an apparent vacuum for worldwide economic leadership, particularly where free trade and globalisation are concerned. In many ways, the world is now witnessing the situation Obama sought to avoid with his “Pivot to Asia”, designed to maintain American influence in the East.

In a commentary following Xi’s speech, the China Daily referred to the country as now being “the one major power with a global outlook”. “Ready or not, China has become the de facto world leader seeking to maintain an open global economy and battle climate change. In effect, President Xi has become the general secretary of globalisation.”

Xi’s Defence of Globalisation

“There is no point in blaming economic globalisation for the world’s problems because that is simply not the case,” Xi said. “And that will not help to solve the problems.” The problems Xi is referring to are those often referenced by Western populists across the U.S. and Europe, including growing wealth gaps and domestic unemployment related to offshoring. Xi’s speech touched on some of the deeper causes of sluggish world growth, looking to reinforce confidence in global development.

“Protectionism is like locking yourself in a dark room, which would seem to escape wind and rain, but also block out the sunshine,” Xi told the Forum. “No one is a winner in a trade war.” Xi announced that China has no intention to devalue its currency to boost competitiveness, despite ongoing criticism on this point from the new U.S. President.

Can globalisation function without the U.S.?

Despite the nation’s ongoing economic slowdown, the World Economic Forum estimates that China accounted for almost 39% of global growth last year. President Trump’s protectionist tariffs, along with his retreat from trade deals and climate pacts are likely to slow growth further. A similar level of concern is building in India, where the $150 billion outsourcing industry is under threat.

As WorldPost Editor-in-chief Nathan Gardel writes, “The optimal arrangement for making globalisation work is for the U.S. and China to join together as “indispensable partners” based on a convergence of interests to create a world order that works for all. If the world’s two largest economies, though from distinct civilizational spheres, don’t buy in, it won’t work for anyone.”

Read more Huffington Post 

 In other procurement  news…

Britain to purchase 60 trains for HS2

  • Procurement of a fleet of up to 60 High Speed 2 (HS2) trains was officially launched on Friday by Britain’s state secretary for transport.
  • HS2 is a planned high-speed railway in the United Kingdom linking London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester. It would be the second high-speed rail line in Britain, after HS1 which connects London to the Channel Tunnel.
  • The contract has an estimated value of £2.75bn and is due to be awarded by the end of 2019. The overall projected project cost of HS2 is £56bn.

Read more at the Birmingham Mail

GM announces $1 billion investment in U.S. based manufacturing plants

  • GM will invest $1 billion in its existing manufacturing plants, creating or retaining nearly 7,000 domestic jobs.
  • The announcement comes after President Trump criticised GM and other automakers for building vehicles in Mexico and shipping them to the U.S., including a Tweet threatening to tax GM for importing the Chevrolet Cruze.
  • GM’s targeted areas of growth include its subsidiary, GM Financial, and advanced technology divisions.

Read more at Investopedia 

Meals on Robot Wheels

  • Autonomous robot manufacturer Starship Technologies has signed deals with meal delivery companies Postmates and DoorDash to deliver lunches in Washington and San Francisco, beginning in February.
  • The robots are able to autonomously navigate sidewalks and traffic conditions, while customers track their progress via an app as they make the delivery.
  • Each robot weighs approximately 18 kg and can carry three filled shopping bags, while travelling at speeds of 6.5 kilometres per hour.

Read more at CIO 

6 Top Tips for Collecting Legal Spend Data from Law Firms

Do you have the data you need to understand your spend on legal services? It’s not about the volume of data, it’s about the quality of the reporting.

legal spend

Very few organisations have the granularity of legal spend data they need – they often think they are capturing this information or can get it from their internal systems.

However, when it comes to trying to use this data for a panel review or any kind of spend management project, most organisations very quickly realise their data in inconsistent, limited and simply does not offer the level of detail they require.

Organisations, therefore, often turn to their law firms to provide management information to allow a better understanding of spend levels, cost averages and, to a degree, law firm performance.

Here are our top tips for efficiently collecting this data.

1. Clarity on your reporting requirements

Start at the end. What reports do you want to see created from the raw data? Be ruthless in listing the real drivers for your project. From this, make a list of the key data fields you will need to create these reports.

2. Stick to the above!

It is very tempting to add more and more data fields to your list as your project continues. Very few organisations can actually handle the amount of data they capture, and by handle we mean put to a practical use within your organisation.

3. Be honest and practical

Few organisations have unlimited resources. You need to stick to a core list of reporting requirements. Too often this kind of project is started and balloons into something all-encompassing, becoming impossible to complete.

4. Complete the project

This, again, seems simple but often this kind of project is abandoned or the vast amount of data captured is out of date by the time the analysis is undertaken.

5. Ensure law firm consistency

Ensure you have empowered someone to manage the law firms and insist the law firms comply with this new format. Law firms are known to tweak data fields to suit their internal system.

If the firms provide different data sets it means you can’t accurately compare performance.

6. Some analysis is better than nothing

This really underpins all the above. Have a core list of reports and collect the least amount of data to ensure you can create these reports.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you will fix all problems in one data capture. Data is quickly out of date and you do not want to waste everyone’s time.

What to Report On

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some reports you can create using your spend data.

  • Spend by firm – an obvious metric as you need to know the overall spend by firm.
  • Spend or hours by timekeeper – this metric allows you to accurately perform ‘make versus buy’ decisions. For example, whether hiring more lawyers internally would be more cost effective than using external firms. You would also need to consider liability risks associated with this approach.
  • Spend by matter type – you need to understand this to understand the types of legal work being performed (is it M&A work, employment work, etc.).
  • Spend type (fees or expenses) – it is important to understand how much of the spend is on lawyers versus other expenses, and what those expenses are.
  • Number of matters – this allows you to look at overall volume relative to spend. Is spend increasing because matters have increased XX per cent or has the matter mix changed? For example, M&A matters are more expensive, raising overall cost.
  • Spend by matter – this metric allows you to review the big spending matters to see if there is anything you can do to reduce costs.
  • Timekeeper level – this metric allows you to look at the level of lawyer performing the work so you can analyse the efficiency of the lawyer.

Caroline O’Grady is a legal services procurement expert and a parner at Coote O’Grady, a specialist Legal Procurement Consultancy.

Perception vs Reality – What Your Suppliers Really Think of You

Have you ever wondered what your suppliers really think about you? How big a gulf exists between the perception (what you think) and the reality (what they think)?

think

You may believe you have effective processes, but do they agree? Do your suppliers really feel like a “valued business partner”, or is that just empty rhetoric?

The Faculty is currently undertaking its Supplier Confidence Index research for 2016. Here are seven common pieces of feedback we’ve gathered across hundreds of suppliers.

1. Organisational Alignment

Some suppliers very confidently told our researchers they were treated as valued business partners. Others, however, stated that they were simply “suppliers”, not partners, but due to the non-critical nature of their product or service this was to be expected.

One recurring comment was that talk of “Business Partnerships” does not always live up to the rhetoric. Procurement frequently uses language about partnerships. However, in a cost-constrained environment, every consideration but cost “goes out the window”, and the relationship falls back to a transactional nature.

2. Relationships and Communications

Suppliers are frustrated by silos within their client’s organisations. Communication issues within your organisation, or a silo mentality where procurement isn’t talking effectively with other functions, are highly evident to suppliers. This causes extra work, as suppliers have to explain the same concepts multiple times to different stakeholders within the organisations.

Suppliers also report that they receive conflicting instructions and mixed messages from different functions. Poor communication between the central and site-based procurement teams was another area of concern.

3. Value Creation Opportunities

Organisations are increasingly receptive to new ideas presented by suppliers. Suppliers report that this area has greatly improved from 5-10 years ago, when ideas were rejected out of hand for not aligning with policy, or for simply being too difficult to implement.

New ideas are now being heard, considered, and then implemented. This encourages suppliers to keep coming back with further ideas for business improvement.

4. Commercial Strength of the Relationship

A common complaint centred around unexpected changes to scope, which increases cost-to-serve. This could be improved through better communication, flagging the changes with suppliers as early as possible so they can plan accordingly.

Suppliers also reported a large amount of discretionary (unpaid or “goodwill”) work. One point to note is that suppliers generally seemed to be understanding about restructures and redundancies, even when they affect the business relationship.

5. Product and Service Complexity

Many suppliers made comments around unnecessarily complex procurement processes, which again increases the cost-to-serve. This issue is present in both the private and public sectors.

6. Business Process Effectiveness

Demand planning is an area of concern. Suppliers have flagged that they’d be willing to help with forecasting and planning processes if there was a better flow of information.

7. Integration and Joint Initiatives

Survey and interview results indicate that systems integration is generally improving, although there are further opportunities to integrate. Suppliers note that non-aligned systems mean they have to bear the cost of extra data-entry staff who would otherwise be unnecessary.

The Supplier Confidence Index is part of The Faculty Roundtable’s annual research program. Please contact Sally Lansbury for more information.

Faster, Cheaper, Better – The Future of Logistics

As technology drives change in logistics, companies must meet increasing consumer demand. But what does it mean for traditional labour roles?

logistics

Logistics has never felt more fluid and subject to change. In this article, we’re going to look at the key factors driving all this change and then consider how technology will develop in the next 10-20 years. Then, in our second piece, we’ll consider how new business models will evolve before trying to draw some conclusions.

Faster, Cheaper, Better

Commercial interests have always demanded logistics move stock quickly, cheaply and in large quantities. Historically, transport improvements – from horses through to planes – answered this demand. But in the future, it will be the digital world that provides these answers.

The 21st Century customer is an unforgiving beast. However, while new shopping patterns are placing extra demand on logistics providers, they are also generating fresh opportunity. As end customers become more focused on flexible, fast and cheap solutions, logistics companies that optimise their digital usage are well-set to take advantage of weak competition at every stage of the supply chain, including retailers.

Technological advances, forecasting and new business models all offer glimpses of how these demands can be answered. There is even the possibility that much of the future supply chain will be autonomous and self-organised.

One thing for sure is that it will faster, cheaper and better – the customer won’t accept anything less.

Interconnected World, Interconnected Supply Chain

3D Printing

3D printing makes it possible to print exact working replicas of parts and products using metals, plastic, composite materials, and even human tissue. This can be done quickly, on demand and to a customer’s specification. This makes it a central technology in the development towards “batch size one” production.

It also means it will no longer be necessary to store large amounts of stock. Though it is possible there may be a counter-balancing increase in raw material storage.

In markets in which 3D printing is relevant (for example, spare parts), this has the potential to heavily disrupt logistics. And the best 3PLs will provide 3D printing services at the point of delivery to dovetail with other services.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT is the developing ability for digital devices to communicate directly with each other across the internet. It’s estimated that by 2020, more than 50 billion objects will be “web-enabled”. And, if you consider that they will be able to “talk” to one another, the potential becomes clear.

Immediacy of communication can lead to many direct benefits. Creation of automated orders for domestic resources, lorry sensors informing maintenance schedules – all focused on improved speed, efficiency and cost.

From a customer perspective, the ability to track items through their RFID chips and via GPS will mean 100 per cent visibility across the whole delivery cycle. From a logistics perspective, one can also envisage other variables – such as location, temperature, pressure, humidity, etc. – being monitored throughout the supply chain for improved transportation efficiency.

However, the biggest single opportunity arguably comes from the unrivalled quantities of consumer data that will arise, feeding into forecasting and automated processing. For those who can embrace and take advantage of it, this goldmine of information is a very exciting prospect.

Automated Systems

Whilst the idea of automation can seem like something from science fiction, there’s no denying the groundswell of development this area has seen in the last 2-3 years.

Labour costs are always a critical element in any operating model. In logistics, the trade-off between quality of service and cost is central to success. Automation could re-write this equation by providing a faster and better service for less money.

Relatively simple loading and unloading systems are already available. But these will become more sophisticated as advances in optics and data processing mean forklifts can navigate autonomously in dynamic environments, and with less error than human drivers.

In addition, autonomous delivery is on the horizon. DHL and Amazon both plan to launch drones for last-mile deliveries. And the appetite for them is strong amongst manufacturers, retailers and customers.

Autonomous lorries are also a real possibility using the same optical and AI developments that underpin driverless forklifts.

Not only would driverless vehicles be cheaper – both in labour and fuel costs – they will also be safer and more predictable making them ideal tools for efficient supply chain management. Add to this the fact the whole transport industry is suffering from dramatic driver shortages, and it’s not a surprise this technology is very appealing to most industry segments.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR), overlays relevant information (such as sound, vision or tactile data) onto a user’s normal sensory input, generally via body suits/gloves, goggles or headphones.

Wearable devices are already available that offer a glimpse into the potential future of this technology. Smart phones, smart watches, and VR goggles all give indications of how additional relevant data can be communicated.

For example, stock control data (SKUs, pallet contents, BBEs, etc.) could be accessed without leaving the warehouse floor, displaying data for on-the-spot planning and organisation. And when incorporated into transport, it could offer intelligent last mile assistance (navigation, traffic information, etc.)

Essentially, AR enables greater collaboration between systems and workers. As such, all logistics companies need to consider how AR can ensure all the elements work well together.

Whither the Worker?

With more automation, traditional labour roles will diminish. As such, redefining the place of the human worker within a more technologically advanced environment, will be vital.

In some areas, we will see happy confluence, such as a diminishing driver workforce being superseded by automated delivery solutions. But elsewhere there will be less need for human skills, and an increased need for other skill sets that, historically, have not been required.

For example, automated pick and pack solutions make warehouse operatives less relevant. However, at the same time air and sea transport are both chronically understaffed, with no expectation that the industry demands will drop.

The onus will be on logistics companies to identify future HR needs and pay close attention to their recruitment. In addition to recruitment, the whole sector will need to become more proactive in training, encouraging transferable and future-proofed skills to ensure an engaged and productive work force.

Central will be the development of technically proficient workers. Low-skilled roles will diminish markedly and ICT-related knowledge will be vital.

Zupplychain employs algorithmic matching of customer’s search requirements to warehouse availability to show warehouse pricing, along with an automated and structured process to progress enquiries and a cloud based system to manage customer stock in provider’s warehouses.

6 Top Tips for Running a Successful Law Firm Panel Process

Running a panel tender for law firm services can be challenging and time-consuming. So what can procurement do to ensure they tick the right boxes?

panel tender law services

A panel tender process can be long and arduous for all parties involved. A recent survey said 42 per cent of law firm respondents spend over 15 hours on each tender, with 19 per cent spending over 20 hours.

Firms complete multiple tenders each month. When you think that most respondents are partner or director level, this adds significant additional cost to a law firm’s operations. This will, in turn, factor into increased costs for the client.

Any tender must be targeted and specific, and aim to get to the right result as quickly and efficiently as possible.

We have set out our top tips to ensure a successful panel process below:

  1. Agree a clear strategy

Whether it is procurement, in-house legal, or claims managers, who ever uses the legal services and, ultimately, whoever is involved in selecting the panel composition, need to agree the strategy for any panel review.

You should consider questions such as:

  • Are you looking to reduce firm numbers?
  • If yes, how will you manage conflicts?
  • Is the aim to reduce costs?
  • If yes, how do you plan to manage increases to ensure firms remain incentivised to provide the best possible advice (and lawyers)
  • If no, how do you plan to manage increases and ensure you are not overpaying?
  • Do you want to look at innovation and technology?
  • Are you focusing on AFA’s or hourly rates?
  • How long will you look to hold rates firm for?
  • How will you manage individual lawyer annual increases? (For example, as a lawyer goes from being 1 year post qualified to 2 years post qualified)
  • Managing exceptions to the panel – how will you do it? (For example, if you need to use a specific partner from another firm due to expertise)?
  • How will you manage historic matters and pricing – especially if a firm is removed from panel?
  • How will you factor in and measure historic performance?

You need to make sure you document this, ensuring everyone is clear on and signed-up to the approach.

  1. Full understanding of legal spend

This may sound straight forward but for most organisations it is not. Many organisations resort to asking their own panel firms to provide spend figures to allow for more accurate analysis of historic spend patterns.

Many organisations find that when they come to undertake a detailed analysis of spend, there are limitations on their data. For example, data might not detail fee earner level, or how many hours a firm works on any individual case.

Real data and real analysis allows for side-by-side comparison of law firms, with the ultimate goal being to obtain data that allows for some means of understanding both cost and performance.

  1. Stakeholder Engagement

Too often procurement teams drive panel review processes without real input from those who use the legal services. On the other side, in too many organisations GCs and in-house counsel run tender processes without valuable input from legal procurement specialists.

You are left in a position where many tender processes do not deliver on the strategy set at the outset as old alliances between in-house counsel and law firms remain, or procurement drive too hard for reduction of cost. Some organisations have a more cohesive and collaborative relationship between legal and procurement but these are in the minority.

A real attempt must be made to bring together a “core team” to run the legal tender process, who are bought into the overall strategy and work together to run the process.

  1. Sticking to the strategy

Often great strategies are set but ultimately decisions are taken on hourly rate reductions or past experience with a firm.

While neither of these reasons of themselves are incorrect, if your strategy was to reduce your panel, you need to look beyond relationships, and take tough decisions.

Too often, final panels can be decided upon, only for an unsuccessful firm’s senior partner to get on the telephone to a key decision maker asking that they be reappointed – and they are then reappointed. It is very common and hugely undermines the value of the whole process.

  1. Concise RFP

If all you are interested in is rates, do not draw up lengthy RFP documents. It is still quite shocking to read some RFPs. They require weeks of a law firm’s time and require a whole host of analysts to review the responses. And this doesn’t even consider senior management time to accurately digest responses and take decisions based upon them.

Be honest when setting your strategy. Experience dictates that while you genuinely believe the questions you ask will form the basis of the panel decision, there are only a few core drivers. These include: rate; geographic spread; expertise; and departmental spread (particularly if looking to consolidate your number of firms).

This sounds simple, and many companies believe they are adhering to this. Yet, time and again the examples we see are unnecessarily detailed and burdensome to both sides.

  1. Performance management

The linchpin for much of this is performance management. In our experience, most companies either overlook this entirely or invest very little resource into it. While they will invest a significant amount of internal time and money on a tender process, they then fail to monitor performance, or measure any element of it, during the tenure of the panel.

The next tender rolls around and they undertake the process armed with only rates and anecdotal information on a firm’s performance. Organisations need to focus on understanding what value a firm brings them. Are they getting the best service for the best price, whatever that may be? This involves investment of resources into understanding what value is for you and how to go about measuring it.

Stacey Coote is a Legal Procurement Expert and a Partner at Coote O’Grady, a specialist Legal Procurement Consultancy.

An Expert’s View on the Future of the UK Economy

The media have painted a gloomy future for the UK economy thanks to the events of 2016. But one is breaking ranks – and it’s not all bad news.

the future of the uk economy

A few weeks ago, Procurement Heads enjoyed an insightful business breakfast hosted by the Chilworth Partnership & Venture Recruitment Partners at the Chilworth Manor Hotel. While we were there, we heard from one of the UK’s leading economic commentators, Alex Brummer.

Brummer has been City Editor at the Daily Mail since 2000 and is a multi-award winning economic finance commentator. Brummer was speaking on the topic of Brexit and the potential impacts on the British economy.

To add further spice, there was also the topic of “Trumpenomics” to discuss after the much-publicised US election result. Brummer is no fool, and whilst he was pro-Brexit, he empathised with the shock both events have caused.

Sense of Optimism

Despite the doom and gloom from his peers in the media, there was a sense of optimism from Brummer. He described the UK economy as “having taken the punches pretty well”.

Indeed, in the 3rd quarter we have seen growth at 0.5 per cent. Additionally, we are likely to see annualised growth in the UK of around 2 per cent. This is a faster rate than any of the Group of Seven (G7) countries.

From a recruitment perspective, there is much to celebrate as well. The unemployment rate has dropped to 4.8 per cent, and the number of people in employment is at its highest in 30 years.

Whilst the Chancellor’s Autumn statement next week will likely reveal a dampening of economic expectations, Brummer asserted that infrastructure investment in the 3 ‘Hs’ will boost the economy in time – Hinckley Point in Somerset, HS2, and the expansion of Heathrow.

UK Economy “Punching Above its Weight”

Back to Trump in the US. Brummer argued that his pledge to reduce corporation tax from 37 per cent, and a massive increase in infrastructure spending, will see the UK’s burgeoning Services sector well placed.

In this respect, he asserted that the UK ‘punched well above its weight’, operating at an annual surplus of £100 billion. Only time will tell just how this new political and economic relationship between Britain and the US will work.

One thing is for sure is that Brexit certainly hasn’t been an immediate disaster, reflected by the strong performances of the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 since June. Brummer claimed a lot of this is down to businesses bringing their operations, and therefore more of their investment, back to Britain.

Tangible example of businesses positive reaction to Brexit can be seen at Nissan, Ford and more recently Google, all making positive long term commitments to the UK. More businesses investing in Britain is surely a good thing for our employment?

Challenges to Come

Brummer warned of the failings of Europe, describing the EU as an “Economic disaster”. And the facts are scary:

  • Greece’s GDP has dropped by 25 per cent,
  • Youth Unemployment in Italy is now at 37 per cent, and
  • Growth since Germany joined the EU is stagnant.

Brummer did not underestimate the UK’s adjustment to Brexit and nor should we. But perhaps we should try and look at the positives of the events of the past few months.

There are challenges to come, like the possibility of a trade war, Trump going back on his economic policy, and the Pound weakening a lot further. Like many in the room, we came out with some reasonable optimism to see this not as a problem but as an opportunity.

To quote Brummers’s closing remark we should “see the glass as half full, not half empty”.