Category Archives: Procurious News

Three Ways Businesses Can Emerge Stronger From The Pandemic

Three main trends will positively impact the Procurement space post-COVID-19 and beyond and help in responding to unexpected challenges


What a strange year it’s been. As we marked the start of 2020, and news started to circulate about a virus in China, no one could have anticipated the global health crisis that was on its way.

As more countries ease lockdown restrictions and business find new and creative ways to meet the needs of their customers, there are many learnings we can take from the pandemic. These range from critical changes to growth plans to adjustments to company culture to operational improvements to increase supply chain agility.

Like many companies, we recognized early in the crisis the difficulties we would all face in this new reality. To get ahead of the curve, my co-founder Monish Darda and I, along with our leadership team, developed a framework based on our values of Fairness, Openness, Respect, Teamwork and Execution—FORTE—to help everyone at Icertis make decisions to meet the demands we faced.

We call that framework our four rings of responsibility—taking care of self, taking care of family, taking care of community and taking care of business—and prioritize them in that order. We see the Four Rings of Responsibility as our way of amplifying our FORTE values to ensure we do our part to help win the battle against COVID-19.   

COVID’s Impact

Outside of our own workplace, I’ve been speaking with our customers about how the industry is coping with the upheaval. Their experiences map closely with the findings from the ‘How Now? Supply Chain Confidence Indexfrom Procurious that show only 1% of procurement/supply chain professionals felt ‘frozen’ by the COVID crisis. This is a testament to the rate of innovation across the profession and the strong role technology is now playing in helping drive speed and agility within procurement.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic exposed weaknesses in modern supply chain strategies as evidenced by the survey’s finding that 38% of respondents plan to expand their supplier base over the coming months. One of the main lessons that we are hearing from customers and prospects is that businesses need to create stronger, more flexible and diverse supply chains. To do this, it will be essential for businesses to identify areas in their supply chain where efficiency improvements can be made.

Leading brands are increasingly realizing this work starts with contracts, which define how your supply chain runs. By harnessing the critical business information in their contracts, companies can quickly address areas like value leakage and regulatory compliance, while accelerating the pace of supplier onboarding and reducing business risk.

Three Post-COVID Trends

In fact, a greater focus on risk management is one of the three main trends that will positively impact the procurement space post-COVID-19. Risk management used to be an abstract concept in the C-suite, only a concern for the CFO or the audit committee; now it is painfully tangible to everyone in the organization. Every business now recognizes (or should recognize!) that they need to take a programmatic approach to responding to black swan events. This underlines the need for having solutions in place that will allow organisations to clearly understand the risk/reward trade-off in all business processes. For example, being able to identify and manage risk throughout the contract lifecycle, is enabling procurement teams to examine their sourcing strategies to ensure they are not overly dependent on a single supplier. In the current business environment, where unfortunately many businesses are still struggling to survive, having a multi-sourcing strategy in place is a business imperitive.

Secondly, we will see greater alignment between the CFO and CPO. By the nature of their roles, CFOs have always been focused on those technologies that can give them business oversight of income and spending. However, the impact felt by COVID on that cashflow—from supply chain failures to shift in demand—has increased their focus on working with other areas of their organisations to identify and mitigate risk. As a result, they have become more invested in being able to structure and connect all of their company’s contract data, applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to enable them to quickly surface and respond to threats, growth opportunities and challenges.

And finally, it’s well documented that the pandemic has forced an acceleration of digital transformation efforts. Satya Nadella put it best when he observed, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” It is clear that innovation will take a front seat in the post-pandemic business world. Companies have seen the benefits of having cloud-based technologies and processes such as contract lifecycle management available to them when working remotely. I anticipate that we’ll start to see increased investments across the board as businesses look to protect themselves for future disruptions and reinvent how they do business.

Then beyond digitisation, a greater focus will be placed on investing in technologies that can enable advanced data analytics, so that businesses are able to use this insight to keep out in front. This is where contracts will take a central role, providing more intelligence and connecting to key business processes so they are able to provide the right foundation for growth and evolution, and allow organisations to respond to unanticipated challenges and changing marketplace dynamics. 

It’s been a challenging few months for everyone, but I am more confident than ever that if we keep our four rings of responsibility top of mind and take the lessons learned from COVID seriously, we will look back at this strange time and realise that it transformed the way we do business for the better. 

How Dawn Tiura Built The Largest Sourcing Network In The US

If you’re an ambitious procurement or supply chain professional, there’s plenty to learn from Dawn Tiura about the power of networking, and upskilling yourself in the important areas of third party risk.


“You’ve got to meet Dawn,” said Gabe Perez from Coupa.

“You’ve got to meet Dawn,” said Chris Sawchuk from Hackett Group.

“You’ve got to meet Dawn,” said Alpar Kambar from Denali.

So, I said to myself – “I’ve really got to meet Dawn!”

There’s literally only a handful of women in the world who own and operate their own businesses serving the profession.

So… it was great to finalIy meet the much-admired Dawn a few years ago at the LevaData conference in San Francisco. Finally – I had found someone out there just like me – someone who also believed in the power of bringing our profession together.

Dawn and I are still really getting to know each other. We next met up at the SAP Ariba conference in Austin. Then she did a fantastic job keynoting at our Big Ideas Summit in Chicago last year (on third party risk…which is her specialty and very timely for what we were about to experience this year!).

SIG is a powerhouse. They dominate the U.S. Their member companies are a who’s who of Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies who get together frequently. Their upcoming Global Executive Summit will feature insights from senior executives and disruptive thought leaders; they host weekly webinars, one-day events and CPO Roundtables; drive thought leadership in Future of Sourcing; and they have a training and certification program for sourcing, procurement and risk professionals.     

So, I wanted to make sure the Procurious community knows all about Dawn and her amazing company….so I asked for this interview..

When you started SIG, what was your vision? Were you trying to build the largest sourcing network in the U.S.? 

I actually am not the founder of Sourcing Industry Group (SIG). I took over the leadership in 2007 and my original intent was to remake it from a “good ole boys” network into the leading organization for sourcing, procurement and outsourcing professionals. My vision was to be a disrupter to the industry, pushing the latest ideas to members and to help elevate the role of the CPO.

Has your vision become a reality? Has SIG become what you thought it would be?

Yes and we’re making progress everyday as we continue pushing the envelope to adopt emerging technologies and find new ways to streamline the process of procurement. Over the last 10 years, SIG has become the largest network for sourcing professionals in the world. But more important than the size of our membership is the collegial nature and information sharing that we have fostered. SIG brings people together to share best practices and next practices in a non-commercial manner that creates success.

What have been your secrets to success?  And what advice would you give to others thinking about starting their own entrepreneurial venture?  

The secret to my success is surrounding myself with people who are smarter than me. They are my inspiration and they never say “no” to my new ideas. I also pride myself with only hiring people who volunteer in some capacity in their personal lives. For me, I think that people who give back to their local community or for a nonprofit says a lot to me about their character. We also allow people to take time off work, with pay, to support their own causes. The people I have recruited to the team often come from my volunteer work where I’ve seen their work ethic up close and personal. 

Why do you think people join networks? And, in particular, your network, SIG?  

The reason people join is most likely not the reason they ultimately stay.  People join SIG to network, share best practices and to become better educated. They stay largely due to the network itself and the fact we are non-commercial. People enjoy the camaraderie, the fun we have and most importantly how we lift one another up and help each other.  Our members are all great people, they participate fully and care for one another.  

Why did you decide to have both buyers and suppliers in your network? 

This was easy for me, I came from the supplier side, having consulted in sourcing for more than a decade. I know first hand that consultants/suppliers/advisors/tech companies each work with hundreds of clients and therefore bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. I encourage this interaction and these relationships. 

I really admire how you have very clear guidelines on how your suppliers, vendors and sponsors can interact with your members. What are some of those guidelines and why did you put them in place?  

I am proud of our Provider Code of Conduct and it is critical that providers acknowledge the fact that our practitioners are very sophisticated and won’t buy from you if you are a “slick salesperson.” They engage you because you have the right thought leadership that strikes a chord, or the right technology at the time they are ready to investigate it. They don’t buy from brochures or from being “sold to.”  If you are found to be actively selling, you are given one warning and the second time your membership is revoked and you have to sit out of SIG for two years. At that time we will allow you to come back into the SIG Tribe.  

When we caught up last year at the Big Ideas Summit in Chicago (by the way, you did an amazing job talking about Third Party Risk!  Very timely!), I really learnt how busy your life is – running your business, organising your major events, hosting webinars, mentoring young people….you fit a lot into your day, week, month, year!  What’s your advice to others who are trying to manage and prioritise their time better? 

I feel best when I have a lot of projects to take on, from building curriculum, to mentoring and parenting. The more I have to do, the more deadlines I have, it motivates me. Without deadlines, I would achieve very little. For example, you didn’t ask me for a deadline for this article, so it didn’t get done for over a month. I set my priorities by keeping them balanced. I must do something to help someone else every day, that is one thing that I believe in. Whether it is donating time or money to a good cause, shopping for an elderly neighbor or mentoring youth, we have an opportunity to be kind and to give back every single day and we should take advantage of that opportunity. 

What’s your advice to ambitious professionals out there? What should they be doing right now to make sure they succeed into the future? 

Learn to open your mouth wider so you can drink more easily from the fire hose, because technology is going to change at an increasing rate of acceleration. Accept it, embrace it and never fight it. Also, bring your authentic self to your role, whatever it is. You can’t be successful without living your own truth. Don’t try and be what someone else wants you to be, be who you are and who you want to become. Err on the side of kindness always. 

Most importantly, how are you personally right now? Florida is being hit hard by COVID. Are you and your family OK? What’s happening in Florida right now? 

Thank you for asking, we are doing well. I have a high school senior in virtual school and kids in college all working from their apartments. 

Summary

Wow!  Whichever way you look at this, Dawn is an inspiration.

If you’re a budding entrepreneur out there, you have hopefully been inspired by Dawn’s vision and determination.

If you’re an ambitious procurement or supply chain professional, there’s lessons to be learned in the power of networking and upskilling yourself in the important areas of third party risk.

If you’re a supplier, looking to truly partner with our profession, SIG provides a trusted and valuable conduit into the important buying community.

What did you learn from today’s story? Let us know.

How To Skyrocket Your Influence In 2 Steps

Step away from the emoji button. Read on to learn how to build genuine influence in your personal brand. Learn to move beyond the micro engagements of liking and sharing. Be bold and brave – expand your connections and network by following our pro tips.


Mirror mirror on the wall

While browsing idly through social media recently I concluded that many of my peers have confused visibility with influence. Procurement is a small industry especially if you’re in a niche field or a small country. What makes this contracted market even smaller is that we stare into our own reflection. 

Seek to expand not reinforce the bubble 

Commenting, liking, gaining followers and profiling only those within your bubble only serves to reinforce the echo chamber that you reside in. Expansion and growth should be the aim of the game and that’s the trick that many are missing!

Number of likes and connections is not influence

All the chat about the importance of “raising your profile” has seen many people reach for the emoji button. They equate visibility and these micro engagements with achieving influence. I’ve even heard some peers brag about it “mate did you see my pic? Got 12 likes, brilliant ay? I’m raising my profile and building influence.” Um no, but I’m glad people liked your photo.

Sure, visibility will get your name out there and you’ll make connections but just like the platforms we use in our personal life, professional networking sites can create a trap for the uninitiated. They offer so much more than just how many followers you have!

Untapped potential

Think about how you engage online, do you make the most of all opportunities?

  • Chance to connect with and observe thought leaders
  • Expand your learning beyond your sector and follow other industry trends
  • Grow your knowledge of different areas within your technical field
  • Expand your support base by utlising online connections
  • Taking part in free webinars

Check out these tips to ensure you are getting the most out of your Procurious experience!

Fear stops meaningful engagement and expansion

Platforms where personal profiles are created on a “work self” image can fuel the fire if people view their professional / work self as separate to their “real life” self. On professional networking sites people can struggle to make genuine comments, challenge / ask questions or engage meaingfully for fear of looking dumb or speaking out of turn.

It’s such a lost opportunity! Don’t be afraid to be yourself, engage and connect with people.

What is influence and why care?

Influence is earned and grows over time. The difference between visibility and influence is that with a focus on your sphere of influence and who you engage with, you are building longevity and sustainability into your personal brand and therefore your career. You are thinking beyond your immediate role or even career.

There are many studies out there that have shown that people will change their careers significantly two or three times over the course of their lives, as described in this NY Times article.

How to get started

Hold up, I hear you… how on earth and am I meant to do that?

Start the same way everyone else does but don’t limit your professional networking to just likes, commenting and growing your connections. Keep your eye on the bigger prize.

Step one: getting started

  1. Join an accredited membership organisation like CIPS or IACCM. There are usually many ways to get involved and connect with lots of people through these avenues. This provides a supportive environment to get involved in chairing committees and speaking / hosting events.
  1. Awards. Keep an eye out for industry awards, nominate your team or yourself! I’ve seen some surprise winners – the only thing that set them apart from others was that they simply backed themselves and applied.
  1. Network. Don’t simply add just people on social media, if you do send an invitation add a note and make sure it’s relevant to something they just posted or wrote about. Think of people in your industry, can you reach out to any of them for a coffee chat? And then ask, who else do you think might be of value for me to connect with?
  1. Content. Remember the dictionary definition of influence: “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.” what content are you producing or contributing to that is building impact?

Step two: grow

Use your network of genuine connections to try and find ways to get involved in different projects and start expanding your reach.

  • Offer to mentor someone
  • Offer to host an event at your organisation
  • Ask for speaking opportunities
  • Write your own blog on an existing platform or your own profile
  • Connect with people through the content you’re consuming e.g procurious webinars and groups!
  • Ask to shadow a senior for a day to learn what they do
  • Talk to your suppliers and learn the other side of the fence
  • Learn from other sectors and follow other thought leaders for inspiration
  • Find someone you admire and see if you can unpick what makes them tick. You can check out Kelly Barner’s journey for some inspo
  • Think about yourself as a brand, what do you want to be known for?

Take the plunge! Expand your connections beyond micro engagements and you will add sustainability and longevity to your personal brand. 

Remember: be yourself, be humble and be authentic.

Picture source: www.brenebrown.com

Five Simple Ways To Make Recruiters Love Your LinkedIn Profile

If you want to make great connections and open yourself up to new career opportunities, you need to be on LinkedIn. Here are proven ways to attract recruiters and hiring managers on the platform.


If you want to make great connections and open yourself up to new career opportunities, you need to be on LinkedIn.

But you must go beyond just having a profile on the business networking platform. You need to have a presence. 

It’s not enough to log in once a year to update your job title. You need to be far more involved if you want to build your personal brand.

And why does your personal brand matter? It’s your key to attract attention and build credibility with your peers and industry.

Every time you post, you are telling the world (and potential employers) who you are, explains Amy George from George Communications.

“Your profile, or lack of, is your brand,” George wrote in a recent post. “What you present on LinkedIn, or anywhere, is your story and your brand – and it speaks volumes.”

So if you are on LinkedIn, you should really be on LinkedIn says George. “Having sparse information isn’t helpful to your audience, and you are passing up important career storytelling opportunities.”

Can you really get hired by being on LinkedIn?

Yep, people really do get hired just by having an active presence on LinkedIn. Stats show 122 million people received an interview through a connection on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is excellent for your career prospects, says Andy Moore, Digital Marketing Manager right here at Procurious.

“When you build a strong personal brand, you’re rarely short of career development, mentoring or employment opportunities,” Moore explains.

So how can you use LinkedIn to get attention from recruiters and hiring managers?

1) Get active

Apparently, only 1% of LinkedIn users post regularly

Are you part of the 99% who don’t? And what’s stopping you from taking advantage of this free, simple way to reach people?

Maybe you’re worried about what to post, which Moore says is a common concern.

That’s why you should write something that is authentic to you. “This can be your opinion on an issue, an article that speaks to you, or even proposing a simple question to your connections,” Moore advises.

“Writing from a place of sincerity can really reduce the social angst in deciding ‘what’ to post or ‘when’ to post. When we do something often, we feel less nervous about it as we have acclimatised.”

Moore suggests making it part of your routing by blocking out 15 minutes in your calendar each week to post something. Also use that time to ‘like’ and comment on other people’s posts that you find interesting.

Recruiters like to see candidates who use LinkedIn regularly, says Martin Smith, Managing Director at Talent Drive – a UK procurement recruitment specialist.

“We look for people that are…clearly active on their LinkedIn whether that’s someone that has written blogs, engaged in webinars or just generally engaged with their audience,” Smith says. 

“This allows them to stand out from their peers and if you can put some personality and authenticity behind that engagement that’s the key differentiator.”

2) Make it personal, but not too personal

A mistake Smith sees is people who blur their personal and professional lives on LinkedIn.

“Your LinkedIn is a professional network and there is nothing wrong with every now and then posting a day’s leave or a picture of your kids to show your human side,” Smith says. 

“[B]ut LinkedIn is a professional social media platform and should be used for work-related content, not what you had for breakfast or what your favourite 80s band was. Keep that for Facebook, TikTok and Instagram!”

If you’re stuck on how to balance human and business, have a look at this list of 80+ post ideas.

You should also aim to strike a human yet professional tone in the way you interact with other people on the platform, says Andrew MacAskill, Founder of Executive Career Jump.

“Pay into the ecosystem by providing comments, taking on mentees, appearing on podcasts and sharing valuable insights,” says MacAskill.

“The best way to get what you want is to help other people get what they want!”

3) Keep it clear and simple

When it comes to your own profile, MacAskill advises describing yourself with keywords that match the kind of role you want.

These keywords are unique to your skill set and make you more searchable on LinkedIn.

“Above everything else, candidates need to ensure they have the right keywords in their headline, ‘about’ box, and job detail to be found,” says MacAskill.

Recruiter Martin Smith adds another way to catch a recruiter’s attention: have a clear overview on your profile of what you do and where you are working at the moment.

“We see too often now people have very over-complicated LinkedIn profiles with grand titles such as ‘Procurement Leader/ Top 100 Procurement Influencer/FTSE 100 leader/ Thought Leader and engagement consultant,’” says Smith.

“This can make it confusing and can dilute the message on who they actually are and what they do.”

So drop the multi-hyphenated-super-title in favour of clarity.

4) Reach out to recruiters

Ideally, the recruiters come to you with suitable roles. And they likely will, once you spruce up your profile and get active on LinkedIn.

But if they aren’t chasing you yet, is it ok to approach them directly? Especially if they often post roles that seem ideal?

Of course, says Smith. But brevity is key. 

“Recruiters don’t want you sending them a 10-page document via LinkedIn on why you feel you are appropriate for the job,” Smith points out.

“The market is tough right now and is very candidate-rich and job-light which can be a challenge.

“But if you really want to stand out, send a personal yet succinct message to the recruiter on who you are, what you do and why you want the job with a follow up number and that will get the best engagement.”

Smith says recruiters are very busy at the moment trying to manage candidate expectations in a challenging market, so be considerate. You can still be persistent, but always be courteous.

“A recruiter will see every approach they have and if you look right for a role they will follow up,” Smith advises. 

And it doesn’t hurt to make connections with recruiters long before you need a job.

“Build your network, reach out to businesses that interest, build relationships with recruiters to help you with your search but ensure it’s a targeted and measured approach without too much distracting noise around the message you want to give,” Smith says.

Emphasis on the word ‘relationship.’

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential hiring managers and build a relationship with a soft approach,” says Imelda Walsh, Manager at The Source – the Melbourne-based procurement recruitment firm.  

“Don’t start the conversation asking about job opportunities of course. Don’t just connect with someone without following through with an introduction message to kickstart a relationship that can add value to both parties.” 

5) Ask for recommendations

You can also improve your chances by identifying the right people in your network to ask for LinkedIn recommendations, Walsh says. 

“Be strategic about who to ask for recommendations – professionals that are well connected and respected in your industry and that know the value you bring to a role/organisation,” Walsh advises.

And it’s ok to guide the people who are writing you a recommendation. 

Obviously don’t force words on them, but you can give some pointers to help them write something truly unique to you.

Aimee Bateman from the Undercover Recruiter suggests these guidelines:

  • What is my key strength (include an example) 
  • What did you enjoy about working with me the most (include an example) 
  • What word would you use to describe me and why (include an example) 
  • One problem that you had, which I helped you overcome and how (include example, their feelings, and your action points)

These can help your recommendations stand out from the generic but ever-popular: “Joe is a team player.”

Attract job opportunities to you

This might sound like a lot of work, especially if you’ve not spent much time on LinkedIn before. 

But in strange times like these, you’ll want every advantage you can get your hands on, adds Imelda Walsh.

“If you don’t have an online presence, it’s not a matter of ‘you might be missing out on roles,’ it’s a case of you will be missing out on opportunities,” Walsh warns.

So it’s worth investing the time to make your LinkedIn presence shine. 

And think of the possible rewards. “HR, hiring managers and recruiters will bring opportunities to you instead of you having to apply for roles through various company pages and job boards,” says Walsh.  

So if you’re tired of throwing your CV into the job board black hole, you might want to try the LinkedIn route to your next role.

The Three Fatal Flaws In Supply Chains

The pandemic exposed three fatal flaws in the way companies manage supply chains. Hear from IBM’s Takshay Aggarwal on how to recognise your supply chain flaws and be ready for the next disruption.


In 20 years of supply chain experience, I’ve never seen a supply and demand shock at the same time.

Yet COVID-19 hit, and instantly the just-in-time strategy fell on its face. 

All those Informed predictions about stock levels and deliveries were suddenly obsolete. 

That’s because consumer behaviour changed overnight. And it hit retailers hard.

Instead of looking trendy, we sought comfort. Purchases of sweatpants were up 80 percent in April, according to the New York Times.

Time travel

And who could have predicted the mass shift to online shopping and remote working? McKinsey estimates US e-commerce jumped forward 10 years in just three months

No wonder we’re all a bit dizzy. 

And as volatility went up, people focused on the basics – paying off debts and stashing cash to weather the storm. 

Suppliers and consumers were equally frustrated by empty shelves, never knowing when the next shipment was coming in.

The truth is, we had this disruption coming. The pandemic exposed three fatal flaws that were otherwise laying dormant in supply chains. 

  1. Single sourcing

It’s no secret many supply issues during the pandemic stemmed from an over-reliance on Chinese suppliers. When major industrial cities in China went into lockdown, production ground to a halt.

Companies developed a reliance on Asia by wanting the lowest cost at all costs. It didn’t matter where material came from, as long as it was at the right price.

  1. Low inventory

Who wouldn’t love a just-in-time supply strategy? It works wonderfully well, as long as you stay within a certain degree of volatility.

It’s cost effective, and ensures you aren’t left with mounds of unsold product taking up space.

But then a pandemic hits and volatility skyrockets. The result? A huge unmet demand for basic staples like flour and toilet paper. 

  1. Reliance on suppliers to manage inventory

Someone has to keep an eye on all that stock. Since retailers don’t want to, they pass that responsibility to suppliers.

The issue is those suppliers are also relying on suppliers, and if you don’t know who they are, you don’t know the extent of your supply chain weaknesses and risks. That’s why so many companies were caught off guard.

So where do we go next?

We’re already seeing a monumental shift in the way companies approach supply chain management.

The first trend is multi-sourcing, to make sure a chain is not dependent on a single point of failure.

The second, is planning for a higher degree of volatility. Because the world will continue to experience volatile events, like natural disasters, with greater intensity and frequency moving forward.  

And the third, is becoming risk balanced. Rather than the absolute lowest cost, companies are looking for a better balance between delivering value and managing supply risk.

What successful procurement will look like

All of these fatal flaws – and the new strategies emerging as a result – all point to one crucial need: end-to-end supply chain visibility.

It might sound like a dream, but it’s actually possible.

The most resilient companies are using control towers to keep eyes on the entire supply chain, and gain advanced warning to avoid disruption.

And I don’t mean the spreadsheets that people call ‘control towers.’ I mean genuine systems that pull in essential data from across departments and across suppliers. Without that total oversight, you’ll never have the visibility you need to make informed decisions. 

For example, IBM’s global supply chain uses IBM Sterling Control Towers so that we’re alerted to potential issues far earlier than our companies.

That gives us time to react, and avoid much of the disruption. 

Control towers can help you understand the next steps to take, so you’re much more resilient to shocks.

Embrace technology

Investing in control towers is the right way to start improving supply chain visibility. But you also need the right tech infrastructure to match.

For example, I’ve noticed retailers making great strides in becoming omnichannel. Without that seamless experience in store and online, companies risk becoming irrelevant in the next decade. 

The fact is, there are tools out there to help your company survive and thrive during this crisis. It’s truly an amazing time to be a supply chain leader, and with the right partner you can offer the answers your company sorely needs right now. 

Invest in the right technology and gain end-to-end visibility across your supply chain. You’ll spot opportunities, and you’ll be prepared the next time an ‘unprecedented’ event hits. 

IBM’s Takshay Aggrawal recently sat down with Procurious Founder Tania Seary to discuss end-to-end visibility, and how supply chain management will never be the same. Listen to their full discussion now.

The Truth? Technology Might Make Your Supply Chain More Resilient

Technology will only make a difference in supply chain management if it’s tailored directly to your company’s needs.


Let’s get this straight: technology can’t fix everything. There’s no magic wand to solve every supply chain problem. 

But technology can make your processes better. That means more time, money, efficiency, happy customers, and happy bosses.

And who doesn’t want that?

I’ve seen companies of all sizes improve their process flow with technology and make huge savings.

But that only happens when two conditions are met:

1) They choose the right technology. What does “right” mean? It depends on a host of factors, but in essence it’s solving a need or filling a major gap. Understand the business need first, then find the tech that fits – not the other way around.

2) The system is used the right way. That means getting full use out of it without exceeding the intended purpose. You get the maximum benefit without depleting other resources. 

Don’t get wet

Consider this analogy: you need to go from one side of town to the other in the middle of a storm without getting wet. You know a motorcycle and a car can both get you there in time, but only the car would get you there dry. 

This is what selecting the right technology is about. To borrow another vehicle metaphor, don’t use a Ferrari when a Ford will do. An all-singing, all-dancing system might look flashy, but it might be way too much for what your company actually needs.

Procurement and Supply Chain work the same way; getting to the other side of town means nothing more than sustainable profitability, competitive edge and market share. And the storm? Well, that’s just risk mitigation in the business world.

Getting the job done

Here’s a look at how real companies are using the right tech to save money and be more resilient.

Automate processes 

From Purchase Order to Processing payments, streamlining a workflow within the supply chain allows for people to focus on decision making while facilitating resolution, eliminating paperwork, accelerating compliance, and managing exceptions.

Look no further than a global distributor of chemicals who recently chose a full guided-buying suite. They took away the manual labour by processing POs automatically. The result?  Increased supplier payment compliance, reduced tail spend, and more resources for tactical and strategic decision making.

Accelerate communication

The right technology enables and accelerates communication. Your ability to react effectively to market conditions relies heavily on promptness and clarity. Technology can link your business operations to your supply base so you never miss a beat.

Improve visibility

Suppliers need to know where things are at any given point. And equally, you need to know what is going on with your supplies, assessing all potential risks. That way, you can mitigate disruption in real-time.  

Take a US leader in food distribution for example. We recently led them through a full spend analytics effort to identify cost savings opportunities. The result? They saved USD $10M in one year.

Interpret and analyse data 

Data analytics is no longer a competitive advantage; it’s a core necessity. Even something as simple as spend analytics is a powerful tool that can inform strategic decisions at the top level.

Break down silos and bridge functions

From Procurement to Accounts Payable to Operations, technology can provide a collaborative platform that everyone can access and understand. Everyone has access to the full information across the board, taking what they need and staying aligned.  

That level of visibility across different functions can showcase how valuable you are to the company. Like a global leader of consumer products who recently leveraged a mix of eSourcing technology and advisory services. 

They were able to demonstrate savings on a multitude of sourcing and category events while tying them to the financial goals of the organisation, effectively impacting the EBITDA and Cash metrics.  

What CEO wouldn’t love to hear that?

Decrease redundancy, increase efficiency

Technology provides a platform for businesses to digest more, process more and err less. This alone saves significant resources, making the organisation and its suppliers more productive.

Enable compliance

Within the supply chain commitments, adequate performance and managed expectations are as critical as regulatory compliance. Technology can provide a platform for managing relationships, honouring commitments, and upholding agreements. All of that leads to better relationships.

Just look at a global pharmaceutical leader who implemented a supplier management module across the board. As a result, it can now classify its entire supply chain based on critical risk metrics. 

That means the global operations are adequately diversified and critical suppliers are handling processes and data with the highest security compliance, privacy, and environmental sensitivity.

The smooth road to resilience

All of the companies I mentioned had different priorities. That’s why you need to choose technology that meets your specific needs.

And as you can tell, there are infinite combinations of tools and applications that can be used to “get to the other side of town”. But the idea is to get to the other side not just in one piece, but also in sturdier conditions. It’s about learning in the way, enduring and increasing resilience.

The key to come up with a combination that balances needs with budgets and aligns with your strategic vision, starts with defining what success looks like for your supply chain and those entities who manage it. 

Modular, cloud based, and service driven technologies provide the needed flexibility toward the easiest and most yielding path to success.

How Technology Will Make Your Office SuperNormal

Ready for the office of the future? Here’s a glimpse into the technology that will  transform your workplace.


Good morning! Ready for work? Before you leave, take your temperature at home and report it through your work app. Also answer questions about any symptoms you might have.

Then tell the app what time you’ll arrive at work, and away you go.

Smart that you already completed the self check-in, or else you would be stopped by the facial recognition system when you tried to enter the building. 

The staff canteen is open, but you’ll need to use your work app to order your food ahead of time.

When your lunch is ready, you’ll get a text message to come pick it up. The staggered approach keeps crowds to a minimum.

That’s all quite high tech, right? But it isn’t the future; it’s just another day at IBM headquarters in New York. The system, based on IBM’s Watson Works, uses AI to keep people safe and productive.

Keeping the office comfy

Siemens also has an app for staff, called Comfy.

According to the company, Comfy limits the number of staff in the building at any one time. It also helps staff maintain distance at work.

People use it to reserve desks, meeting rooms, and even see office occupancy in real time. 

But here’s where it gets really interesting, the app allows staff to control their environment. That’s right; employees have the granddaddy of all controls – the ability to change the temperature in their immediate workspace.

Using the app, they can control the thermostat and even dim the lights if they want. Imagine how many office arguments that would solve.

“Our priority is to protect our people so they can return to the workplace safely and confidently wherever they are,” says Roland Busch, Deputy CEO at Siemens AG. “By using smart office technologies, we can reshape how we work.” 

“Our Comfy app supports our new mobile working model, by enabling employees to better plan when they choose to work from the office.” 

Call the germ-busters

But once you’re at work, how can you stay safe? There’s no shortage of products on the market aimed at office hygiene.

Like the Hygenx wand from Hamilton Buhl. Simply wave the wand over your keyboard, and the UV-C light will kill bacteria.

Before you rush out to get your own wand, do your research, warns the US Food and Drug Administration.

That’s because there isn’t enough data about how much UV-C exposure your surfaces need to quash COVID-19.

You could always use something low-tech like antibacterial wipes. But where’s the fun in that?

Instead, make sanitising more dramatic with a ghostbuster-style office fogger

Closer to home

Let’s be honest though; many of us won’t be going back to the office for a while. 

And some may not go back at all. Twitter made headlines this year for allowing employees to work from home permanently.

With that in mind, how can technology help you from home?

Well, fear not if you have “Zoom fatigue.” Microsoft Teams’ solution is the new “together” feature, which puts you all in the same virtual room. Say goodbye to squares.

In fact, this same technology is being used to bring fans closer together for NBA basketball games.

Access for all

Technology opens up opportunities for people to work in the way they choose. And companies have no choice but to adapt, allowing people greater flexibility in how they work.

Now, employers have the chance to include all employees by making accessibility the default.

“We must ensure businesses apply the learnings from this period to improve inclusion of people with disabilities worldwide by using the same tools we’re using now to allow this community to participate fully in the workforce,” writes Caroline Casey, Director of The Valuable 500 – a World Economic Forum initiative to put disability on the business agenda.

Jane Hatton, founder of inclusive UK recruitment firm Evenbreak, agrees.

“People are frightened of disability because they think it’s going to be incredibly expensive for all the adjustments,” Hatton recently told the Financial Times. “But in fact they’re simple and cheap.” 

“The technology is there already — it’s just a question of using it in a way that’s inclusive.”

Employers might be surprised to find just how many accessible tools they already have at their fingertips.

Kristy Viers went viral after tweeting a video using the accessibility features built into an iPhone. 

It’s now been viewed over 7 million times.

Work accelerated

As ever, companies will adopt new technology at different rates. So it may be a while before your workplace uses facial recognition, or lets you control the thermostat on your phone.

But there’s no doubt that all companies are on the accelerated track now. In fact, consultancy McKinsey says US ecommerce experienced 10 years worth of growth in the first three months.

The world is changing fast, and technology will be the key to creating a workplace future that works for all of us.

What Is CIPS And How To Get Accredited

Procurement, like many other professions, has made huge strides in supporting and providing accreditation to the many professionals that make up its membership.

So, the big questions are what is CIPS? How do I get accredited? And how could becoming chartered help turn the tide on global ethics?

Let jump right into it…


What is CIPS?

Originally the Purchasing Officers’ Association, it wasn’t until 1992 that the Association was granted a Royal Charter to become the Chartered Institute of Procurement (Purchasing) and Supply (CIPS) that we know today.

With a membership of over 200,000 professionals globally, the Institute is putting the profession on the front foot when it comes to providing accreditation for its members.

What does CIPS mean to us?

CIPS is seen as the voice of the procurement profession, a champion of the profession globally, led by current CIPS CEO Malcolm Harrison, while still retaining local roots in its many national associations and member-led branches.

The benefits of being a CIPS member are considerable. From connections to a network of over 200,000 global professionals, in as many varied industries and sectors as you can think of, to a constantly updating knowledge hub, with everything from the basics of procurement, right up to specialist subject areas. And that’s not to mention the webinars, podcasts and YouTube channel.

The core of the CIPS offering for procurement and supply chain professionals is in the professional accreditation that the organisation offers and supports.

Who can become a CIPS member?

The designation of MCIPS represents the gold standard for procurement professionals and is an internationally recognised award that brings the individual holder a number of benefits.

The qualifications are open to anyone working in the procurement and supply chain profession, taking them from Studying Members all the way to MCIPS, and potentially even a fellowship (FCIPS) for the senior advocates of the profession.

Will having CIPS accreditation advance my career?

In recent years, CIPS has brought its qualifications in line with other professional bodies and offers its members a chance to become chartered through its programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Joining CIPS and taking a full part in its activities as a member is no small investment, and the qualifications should not be undertaken lightly.

But, as a fully paid up member of the procurement profession, why wouldn’t you want to invest in your career and your future in this way?

As with other qualifications, achieving MCIPS does provide benefits to individuals.

Many global businesses see CIPS qualifications as the minimum standard for their procurement teams.

Due to the regard in which they are held, and the trust of the standard that they produce, many employers choose to support their staff by funding their studies.

You may not need MCIPS to work in procurement and supply chain, but having the qualification allows current and prospective employers to see that you have applicable training in your arsenal.

The annual CIPS/Hays Salary Survey and Guide helps to highlight just how important these qualifications can be. In 2020, 64 per cent of survey respondents stated that they requested MCIPS or studying towards it as a requirement for people applying for jobs with them.

It’s not only going to help you get through the door either. Professionals with MCIPS earn, on average, 17 per cent more than peers without the qualifications.

And at a time where the expertise of procurement and supply chain professionals is becoming more widely sought, having these qualifications could be the key to unlocking the full potential of your future career.

CIPS Chartership & the ethics exam

One of the key elements that CIPS has brought in along with its accreditation and, now, chartership, is its Ethics exam for individual members.

Any member, from student all the way up to FCIPS, is required to take the exam annually in order to keep their qualifications and membership up to date. The eLearning test covers the three key pillars of the ethical procurement and supply:

  • Environmental Procurement
  • Human Rights
  • Fraud, Bribery and Corruptions

The test is free for all members and can be purchased by non-members too. This works alongside the CIPS Code of Ethics, which organisations can sign up to as a public commitment to proper work practices in the field of procurement.

Over the past few years there have been several high-profile global events linked to poor ethical procurement practices.

At a time where global supply chains, and by association procurement, are in the spotlight, having a widely agreed and signed Code of Ethics, backed up by an annual ethics exam for individuals is crucial.

Supporting the ethical agenda is something all procurement and supply chain professionals should be doing.

Accreditation and Chartership provide the foundation for developing a profession that operates within these bounds and is something that should be an expectation for all professionals in the coming years.

Play your part and take the first steps on your chartership journey by joining CIPS today.

The Dangers Of Dirty Data

Is your organisation working with ‘dirty data’? How would you know? And, what impact is it having? This article has everything you need to know about doing a quick spot check, spotting procurement problems, identifying savings, and more importantly, making sure your data has its COAT on.


We all think we know what dirty data is, but it can mean very different things depending on who you speak to.  At its most basic level, dirty data is anything incorrect.  In detail within procurement, it could be misspelled vendors, incorrect Invoice descriptions, missing product codes, lack of standard units of measure (e.g. ltr, L, litres), currency issues, duplicate invoices or incorrect/partially classified data.

Dirty data can affect the whole organisation, and we all have an impact on, and responsibility for the data we work with.  Accurate data should be everyone’s responsibility,  but currently across many organisations data is the sole responsibility of a person or department, and everyone trusts them to make sure the data is accurate.

But, they tend to be specialists in data, analytics and coding, not procurement.  They don’t have the experience to know when a hotel should be classified as accommodation or as venue hire, or what direct, indirect or tail spend is and its importance or priority.

How many times have you been working with a data set and noticed a small error but not said anything, or just manually corrected something from an automated report, just get it out the door on time?  It feels like too much of an inconvenience to find the right person to notify, so you just correct the error each time yourself, or you raise a ticket for the issue but never get round to checking if it’s resolved. 

These small errors that you think aren’t that important can filter all the way up to the top of an organisation through reports and dashboards where critical decisions are being made.  It happens almost every day.

How does this affect my organisation?

There are many ways, but one of the most widespread and noticeable impacts is around reporting and analytics.  If you’re in senior management, you will most likely receive a dashboard from your team that you could be using to review cost savings, supplier negotiations, rationalisation, forecasting or budgets.

What if within that dashboard was £25k of cleaning spend under IBM?  I can already hear you saying “that’s ridiculous” – well, it is obvious when pointed out, but I have seen with my own eyes IBM classified as cleaning.  It can happen easily and occurs more frequently than you might think.

Back to that dashboard that you are using to make decisions, you’ll see increased spend in your cleaning category, and a decrease in your IT spend, which could affect discounts with your supplier, your forecast for the year, monitoring of contract compliance etc…  It could even affect reporting of your inventory,  it appears you need more laptops, and unnecessary purchases are made. 

When there are tens or hundreds of thousands of rows of data, errors will occur multiple times across many suppliers.  And for the wider organisation, this could affect demand planning, sales, marketing and financial decisions.

And then there are technology implementations.  Rarely is data preparation considered before the implementation of any new software or systems, and there can even be the assumption that the software supplier will do this, which may not be the case, and if they do provide that service it might not be good enough.

It can be very far into the process of implementation before this is uncovered, by which time staff have lost faith in using the software, are disengaged, claim it doesn’t work, or they don’t trust it because “it’s wrong”.  

At this point, it either costs a lot of money to fix and you have to hope staff will engage again, or the project is abandoned.  In either case, this can take months and cost thousands, not millions of pounds/euros/dollars in abandoned software or reparation work.

You might also be considering using, or engaging with a 3rd party supplier that uses AI, machine learning or some form of automation.  I can’t emphasise enough the importance of cleansing and preparing your data before using any of these tools. 

Think back to the IBM example, each quarter the data is refreshed automatically with the cleaning classification, that £25k becomes £50k, then £75k the following quarter, it’s only when the value becomes significant that someone notices the issue.  By this stage, how many decisions have been based on this incorrect information?

How can this be resolved?

Truthfully, it’s with a lot of hard work.  There’s no magic bullet or miracle solution out there to improve the accuracy of your data: you have to use your team or an experienced professional to get the job done. Get your team to familiarise themselves with the data. If they are reviewing and maintaining it regularly they will soon be able to spot errors in the data quickly and efficiently.

If you think about data accuracy in terms of COAT, this will help to manage your data.

It should always be Consistent – everyone working to the same standards; Organised – categorised properly; and Accurate – correct.  And only when you have these things will it also be Trustworthy – you wouldn’t drive around in a car without a regular inspection would you?

How to spot procurement problems and identify savings

Accurate data is important, but in its raw state, it’s not the whole story.  As a procurement professional you’re tasked with ensuring the best prices for products or services, as well as ensuring contract compliance on those prices, along with cost reductions and monitoring any maverick spend … to name but a few!

Accurate data alone will not help achieve this, I strongly recommend supplier normalisation and spend data classification to help quickly and efficiently manage spend and suppliers, monitor pricing and spot any potential misuse of budgets.

How do I get started?

With a spreadsheet of spend transactions over a period of time such as 12 to 24 months, the first step should be Supplier Normalisation, where a new column is added to consolidate several versions of the same company to get a true picture of spend with that one supplier.  For example, I.B.M, IBM Ltd, I.B.M. would all be normalised to IBM.

Data can be classified using minimum information, such as Supplier Name, Invoice/PO line description and value. To get more from the data, other factors can then be added in, such as unit price. Where unit price information is not available, the quantity can be divided by the overall value.

A suitable taxonomy will then need to be found to classify the data.  It can be an off the shelf product such as ProClass, UNSPSC, PROC-HE, or a taxonomy can be customised so it’s specific to your organisation or industry.

This initial stage may take months if you are working with large volumes of data. It might be worth considering outsourcing this initial task to professionals experienced in this area, who will be able to complete the project in a shorter time, with greater accuracy.

Avoiding common pitfalls

There are a number of ways to classify the data> However, to get started, look for keywords in the Supplier Name and then the Description column.  The description of services could include ‘hotel, taxi, cleaning services, cleaning products, etc., however, it’s important to carefully check the descriptions before classifying, or errors could be introduced.  A classic example is “taxi from hotel to restaurant”, depending on which keyword you search for first, it could end up being misclassified as transport, or venue costs.

I wouldn’t advise classifying row by row, as it could take more than twice as long to complete the file using this method.  Start with keywords, followed by the highest value suppliers which you can get from a pivot table of the data if you’re working in Excel.

Identifying opportunities

Once classified, charts can be built to analyse the data.  The analysis could include, ‘top 80% of suppliers by spend’; ‘number of suppliers by category’; ‘unit price by product by month’;  ‘spend by category’; or ‘spend by month.’

Patterns should start to emerge which could reveal unusually high or low spend in a category, irregular pricing, higher than expected use of services, or a higher than expected number of suppliers within a category. 

Why you should strive for data accuracy and classification?

Data accuracy is an investment, not a cost.  Address the issues at the beginning: while it might seem like a costly exercise, you will undoubtedly spend less than if you have a to resolve an issue further down the line with a time-consuming and costly data clean-up operation.  And by involving the whole team or organisation, it will be much easier to manage and maintain the most accurate data possible.

Spend data classification shows you the whole picture, as long as it’s accurate.  You can get a true view of your spend, allowing improved cost savings, better contract compliance and possibly the most important – preventing costly mistakes before they happen.

So, does your data have its COAT on? What does ‘dirty data’ mean to you? Let me know below!

Susan Walsh is the founder of The Classification Guru, a specialist in spend data classification, supplier normalisation and taxonomies.  You can contact her at [email protected] https://www.procurious.com/professionals/susan-walsh

How To Get Ahead While Working From Home

Putting yourself out there is more difficult in a Work From Home environment, but by maintaining a strong social media presence, expanding your network online, volunteering your ideas and services and harvesting good feedback regarding your work, your presence and value can be felt beyond the WFH setting.


It’s a truth of working life that it’s not enough to be good at your job to get ahead. You also need “exposure”, to be able to network both inside and outside your organisation, and to be visible to those dishing out the stretch assignments and opportunities.

With many of us now working from home much more regularly and for the foreseeable future (in the UK, the Royal Bank of Scotland recently informed staff that they would be working from home until 2021), how can you ‘be seen’ when you haven’t seen anyone outside of a Zoom call for months? Without your boss’s boss dropping by your desk for a quick chat, how can you let them know that you’ve been smashing it?

Here are some tips to consider if you want to get ahead while working from home…

Be visible

As working from home becomes more normalised (rather than the ‘trying to work from home during a pandemic’ that we’ve all been experiencing to date), think about how you can remain visible to those that matter. This doesn’t mean ‘digital presenteeism’ (hello, sending 11pm emails…) but rather keeping yourself on people’s radar. Be sure to speak up in meetings and Q&A sessions. Continue to post on your organisation’s internal and external social media channels. Keeping your head down and getting the job done won’t get you ahead.

Network

Just because we can’t see each other in person, doesn’t mean you can’t spend some time on strengthening and growing your networks. Attend those relationship-building virtual drinks with colleagues – or why not set up your own? Connect with those whose opinions you value and who you can learn from over a virtual coffee. Give public kudos and praise to your co-workers (when deserved of course). If you’re serious about your progression, why not seek out a mentor? You can develop a mentoring relationship just as successfully virtually as you can in person. If you think you want to move on soon, develop relationships with recruiters and headhunters, and keep those relationships alive even if you are not looking to move soon.

Keep a record of your success

Procurement and supply professionals have been doing some stellar work during the COVID-19 crisis. Make sure you keep a record of your successes and positive feedback from colleagues, suppliers, clients and other stakeholders. Doing so serves several purposes. It can help you build a case for internally promotion, pay rises and progression. It can help you quickly update your CV when you decide it’s time to move on. And – not to be overlooked – it can help boost your self-confidence if you’re having a bad day or feeling wobbly before an important meeting.

Put yourself forward

If you don’t ask for something, you don’t get it. If there are internal opportunities, such as getting involved with special projects, stretch assignments or joining high potential development programmes, don’t wait to be asked to join. This is particularly important for home workers who otherwise might be overlooked for opportunities. Make sure you keep your ear to the ground so you hear about these opportunities when they arise. And don’t be afraid to create your own. We are heading into a period of immense global disruption. It’s scary, but it also creates opportunity. If you have an innovative idea, pitch it to your boss. What’s the worst that could happen?

Of course, while there are career management strategies individuals can try, this is a bigger issue that relies so much on company culture. Organisations need to be alert to the risk of ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups developing, discriminating against those with caring responsibilities, most likely to be women, or health conditions that prevent them heading back to the office.

Leaders need to carefully consider how to manage career progression in an age of remote working and managers need to learn how to manage by outcomes rather than presenteeism (digital or otherwise). Think about issues like running inclusive hybrid meetings: does it make more sense for everyone to dial in separately if even one person isn’t there in person? Can you invest in technology (like ‘The Meeting Owl’) to create a more inclusive and frictionless meeting experience for everyone, whether they are in the room or not?

When it comes to getting ahead remotely, perhaps the most powerful thing you could do is to take the initiative in suggesting new and more inclusive ways of working. The pandemic has proven that for many roles, where you do them has little to do with impact or productivity. We all now need to play a part in ensuring that isn’t forgotten as we move into the ‘new normal’.

What do you think? Comment below!