Category Archives: Procurious News

3 Ways To Make It Big In Procurement and Supply Chain

Tom Derry, CEO – ISM shares his three top tips for early-career professionals who aspire to be a CPO or Head of Supply Chain in a leading organisation.

The next generation of CPOs and Heads of Supply Chain will need to be “next-level” talent.

“It’s easy to point out a few critical success factors for people who have risen to the very top of the profession,” explains ISM CEO – Tom Derry.

In this article Tom shares his three top tips for early-career professionals who aspire to be a CPO or Head of Supply Chain in a leading organisation.

1. Align yourself with the best in the business

One of most important things to do during the early years of your career is to align yourself with the best talent out there. “If you’re just getting into the field or are early on in the field discover who has the best reputation, who’s the best leader and who’s regarded as being leading-edge and running a great organisation” Tom suggests. It’s also advisable look at the company’s reputation. “It’s clear that certain companies have created an awful lot of talent in our profession, disproportionately more talent to other companies.” So find those great leaders, at those great companies and that’s going to be a launching pad for you.”

2. Be courageous

“There are a lot of metrics of dubious value that we often pay attention to in the profession that have outlived their usefulness.” Tom says. He advises professionals to try and link what they’re doing day-to-day with what’s driving value for the firm – whether it’s bringing new products online, introducing new features to new products, driving top line revenue growth or increasing earnings per share by reducing cost. “Speak the language of the business and link explicitly what you’re doing to driving those kinds of outcomes.” This will help you to gain respect because that’s how we keep score in business and those are the measures that matter the most.”

3. Be competitive

“Businesses are about competition,” asserts Tom. “It’s about competition between firms but, frankly, it’s also about competition within the firm to gain resources to win the opportunities for promotion and advancement.” Tom believes it’s important to understand that you are competing, you’re being regarded by your superiors in the firm in terms of your output and your productivity. “You’re in a competition for advancement – maybe it’s advancement within the firm, maybe it’s advancement in another firm but you have to recognise that and put your game face on every day. As they say in sport: leave everything on the field. At the end of the day someone may outcompete you if you’re not taking that approach.”

Part Five of Tuesdays with Tom is available now. Click here to sign up and hear ISM CEO Tom Derry discuss top tips for aspirational early-career professionals, how high profile leaders can become talent magnets in supply management and the latest data on salaries.

Putting The ‘I’ In D & I

By having an inclusive corporate environment for people we can make a change and improve the way society works…

In today’s workforce, diversity has become a buzzword, with organisations increasingly communicating its importance through their advertising and core business values.

But what does diversity mean, why is it important, how do you achieve it and, once you have it, what do you do with it?

Joelle Payom, Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead explains that there is an enormous pressure for organisations to hire people that are different. But alongside that moral pressure to ‘do the right thing’ is a very strong business case. “A UK report revealed that the British economy could be boosted by as much as £24 billion if black and minority talent was fully utilised . When you have a diversified workforce you have a broader [talent pool] who are able to bring different ways of working, different ways of dealing with issues and can provide greater innovation.”

Putting the ‘I’ in D & I

As Joelle points out, there is no point in building a diverse workforce if it is not nurtured into being an inclusive one. “To reap the benefits of a diverse workforce it’s vital to have an inclusive environment where everyone is treated equally, feels welcome to participate and can achieve their potential”

Diversity = The What

A mix of diverse types of people

Inclusion = The How

The strategies and behaviours that welcome, embrace and create value from diversity

“What is really at stake is not diversity, but inclusion. How do you make sure your diverse workforce will generate the expected benefits – that increased profitability – no matter who they are. You cannot simply integrate a human being [to the workforce] because they come with their own character and uniqueness.

“How do you ensure [everyone is able to] give their best to the company?”

  1. Let People Be Themselves: It is the employer’s role to ensure that all employees, no matter their specific characteristics, can be themselves. “In the corporate world we all have to fit in but fitting in doesn’t mean you forget who you are.”
  2. Equity – The entire employee base should be given equal chances whether that’s an equal chance to be promoted, equal pay or other opportunities within the organisation.
  3. Intersectionality – A black man, who is a wheelchair user and identifies as gay might endure multiple forms of discrimination at the same time. To better include this person it doesn’t make sense to only address one of these factors – you can’t foster an inclusive environment without addressing everything. D & I teams often isolate their efforts on one particular minority group but the experience of a white woman might be very different to that of a black women, and that needs to be addressed when it comes to developing D & I strategies and policies.
  4. Safe space – Employees should be encouraged to speak up about these issues without fear of retaliation. “Organisations must ensure their people management approaches don’t put any group at a disadvantage.”

“What I want people to take away is that diversity and inclusion (D & I) is not only for women or for people of different ethnicities or sexual orientation. It is for everybody. D & I , which is much more important than diversity, means that we need to provide each human being with equal treatment in the corporate world. By having an inclusive corporate environment for people we can make a change and improve the way society works.”

Joelle Payom, Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead

Procure with Purpose

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Diversity and Inclusion.

Click here to enroll and gain access to  all future Procure with Purpose events including exclusive content, online events and regular webinars.  

5 Reasons Your Procure-to-Pay Implementation Will Fail

Is your organisation about to embark on an initiative to purchase and implement procurement software?  Well, you’re bound to fail. Unless, of course, you address these landmines.

1. You don’t know what your requirements are

I’m sure you can define your problem.  You can probably guess without looking.  Lack of visibility, process, or control; maverick spending; inefficiency; mounds of paper…you name it. Immature procurement organizations that are not tech-enabled likely have it.  But these are just the symptoms.  It’s far more difficult to understand the underlying causes.  Sometimes Procurement’s ills are simply the result of  lacking the specific tool  to drive efficiencies, increase visibility, etc. In many cases, however, things are the way they are for a much more complicated reason.  The diagnostic process can prove time consuming, but accurately identifying Procurement’s sickness is the only way you can define and design a solution to cure it.  Going through a robust requirements gathering exercise is an essential to step in selecting best-fit technologies.

2. You aren’t buying the right tool

Without its requirements defined, how can Procurement know what tool to look for?  The underprepared organization is left to carry out solution design during the buying cycle, i.e. the sales cycle for software providers. This situation presents more than its share of headaches. For example, a common misstep is to buy P2P software to cure a lack of spend visibility (or simply because that’s what you had at your last company).  Someone selling a P2P platform will happily show you all the ways their reporting will provide spend visibility.  Of course this is after your RFP process (let’s say 1-3 months), implementation (6-9 months), and then onboarding and adoption to pull a full year of spend through the platform.  What that provider might not tell you is that there are spend solutions out there that can pull together your AP data, classify it, and feed it back to you in a matter of weeks!  That’s not to say P2P isn’t important for capturing savings, improving efficiency, and enforcing process compliance, it just may not be what you need right now.  Once you have your requirements down, you need to rack, stack, and prioritize your objectives as well as the tools you’ll need to achieve them. Building a technology roadmap to understand the full scope of investment over time to meet your goals.

3. Change management isn’t just training…and you aren’t prepared

Speaking of P2P, have you thought of just how many people, departments, and processes these tools will affect?  There are two factors that drive a successful technology implementation – strategic impetus and organizational readiness.  If you have neither, you probably won’t get budgetary approval.  But let’s assume that there is executive level buy-in throughout the organization to invest in procurement. Let’s even assume that one of those avenues is technology.  Do they really know what these investments will entail?  Does the rest of the organization understand the impact implementing a software platform will have on their people?  Do you?  If not, there are 2 options: 1) take some steps to get them on board, or 2) start with a less impactful investment that maximizes results and minimizes change.

For any platform, successful implementation depends on end users not just employing the software, but leveraging the technology (and doing so correctly) to derive the business outcomes you are looking for. Unlike more upstream procurement software modules like spend analysis and sourcing, CLM, SRM, and P2P touch various parts of the organization from Operations, to IT, to Finance, and everything in-between. This even includes the non-procurement stakeholders who will need to adopt the platform and the changes in process that come with it.   Communicating, generating buy-in, and managing the change throughout the organization is a huge undertaking.  Doing it successfully? That’s an even bigger ask.

4. You forgot to include your stakeholders

Speaking of stakeholders, did you forget to invite them to the design meetings?  How about the kickoff?  The demos? What about the project initiation meetings? If not, you are already behind the 8-ball.  Stakeholders should be incorporated early and often.  This includes requirements gathering and change management as mentioned above, but also the selection and implementation processes as well.  Not caring about the current state that you are about to change is a mistake.  Even if you think you know all of the ins and outs of the business (which you don’t), inclusion goes a long way in developing buy-in, encouraging  adoption, and (let’s face it) making sure you don’t miss anything. 

5. You don’t have a plan

Sure technology can probably solve your immediate issues, or put out the latest dumpster fire, but making tactical multi-year (and potentially multi-million dollar) investments in an ever-changing  landscape is short-sighted to say the least.  What is your ideal state?  Do you want to develop a best-in-class procurement organization?  Do you even need to?  Do you want 100% spend under management?  How do you even define spend under management?  What will your organization look like in the future?  How are you going to continuously improve?  How do you define success now and in the future?  And how are you going to measure that?  These are just some of the questions Procurement needs to answer when defining their vision for the future.  That vision should provide the foundation for your technology roadmap and ultimately determine the solution you select.  

Done correctly, the technology selection and implementation process could be a once-in-a-career undertaking. Don’t make these decisions lightly. Remember that Procurement’s new tools have to outlive the hype surrounding them and provide for the function’s continued strategic evolution. Slow down, ask questions, encourage collaboration, and never let the discussion around the ‘next big thing’ force Procurement into hasty decision making.

Anthony Mignogna is a Director at Source One, a Corcentric Company.

Why Inventory Management Need Not Be Organised

Amazon is pioneering a new method of customer-centric inventory management.

For decades, inventory managers have been focused on finding optimised warehouse layout to increase its surface area, provide efficient transit and reduce transit times. The fundamental premise has been that a warehouse should accommodate maximum inventory which can be picked and shelved safely.

The layout of the warehouse has been a key focus for most inventory managers, a grid-style warehouse layout has been widely used to optimise the shelf space, transit areas and transit times. The emphasis has been to maximise the cube space by using vertical as well as horizontal space in warehouses. Inventory managers focused on unit load sizes to maximise utilisation of the warehouse space.

Typically, asset inventory managers choose from one of the four widely used sizes – 1200X800, 600X800, 800X400 and 1200X1000. Pallet Racking, Shelving, Mobile Shelving, Multi-tier racking and mezzanine flooring are the key types of storage used in traditional warehouses. Conventional back to back storage is a popular approach from warehouse managers.

Example of organised inventory.

Slotting, replenishment and location control system got a lot of attention. Barcodes were extensively used and congestion was minimised in transit areas.

20% of the SKU’s (Stock Keeping Unit) which are fast-moving and contribute to the most of the sales are clubbed together and often referred as “bestseller or hot zone”.

For a long time, the warehouses have been arranged with physical logistics in mind – receivables, inventory management, inventory flow and dispatch were all based on delivery timescales of 2 to 5 days.

However, over the last 5 to 7 years’ customer’s expectation both in the B2B and B2C areas has been significantly changing. Understanding Inventory Management is vital for small and big businesses to be successful.

The contemporary way of managing inventory is pioneered by Amazon. They take a customer-centric approach and have arranged their warehouse and inventory technologies to improve product selection and delivery times for customers.

For example; At receivables, Amazon performs a six-sided check of each inventory to make sure the inventory is not damaged and is shippable. If there are issues with the receivables, Amazon’s problem solver unit takes anywhere between 2 hours to 2 days to establish the right status of the inventory. Once the item is scanned and okayed as an inventory, its exact location is known and it is available live on their website for their customers to order.

Once a customer orders a product from their website, a picker will be alerted to pick the ordered item. It is important to appreciate that Amazon does not store its inventory in order. Items are not clubbed together by nature or any other aspect. They are randomly stored in the warehouse – the technical term for this is random stow (or unorganised inventory).

Random Stow or Unorganised Inventory (Image: Amazon Warehouse)

There are robots which rearrange the shelves to facilitate the fastest picking route. The transit route is suggested by their algorithm which sends the location of the item to be picked on the handheld scanner of the picker. So rather than organising the inventory, they focus on the fastest route to pick items. Their robots move shelves to makes sure the picking is as fast as possible.

Once the item is picked, their computer suggests the right box size for packing, labelling is done automatically and the product is dispatched. Along the way, there are multiple automatic checks to make sure the product is shipped to the right customer. 

Whilst warehouses and inventory will always be a part of a cost center, approaching them from a customer-centric way can offer impactful revenue outcomes. If you take a delivery-centric approach at receivables and ensure the inventory at check-in is fully inspected, then you increase the chances of delighting your customers. Similarly, if you view the layout of your warehouse with a perspective to have the fastest picking route then your delivery timescales will improve. And as we saw in the case of Amazon, knowing the location of your inventory is more important than organising inventory by type or nature.

Written by Prasanna Kulkarni, Founder and Product Architect at Comparesoft.

16 Blockchain Disruptions Explained In 1 Killer Infographic

Struggling to get your head around how Blockchain will disrupt your organisation? Check out this infographic from BitFortune explaining disruptions in 16 areas – including supply chain management.

Blockchain technology is probably one of the most impactful discoveries in the recent history. After all, it has a massive potential to change how we handle online transactions. Despite some skeptics, the majority of experts agree that blockchain has the potential to disrupt the banking and financial industry, and many other ones!

But what is this technology exactly? We at BitFortune.net will try to explain that in Layman’s terms, as well as provide you with insights into how different industries can benefit from blockchain.

To put it simply, blockchain enables decentralized transactions across a P2P network. There is no need for a middleman, resulting in almost instantaneous operations and most importantly, low fees. Plus, transactions carried out through a blockchain are much more secure, transparent, and private.

As mentioned earlier, different industries will have different benefits from implementing blockchain technology, and that is what this infographic is all about. For example, the banking sector will get faster transactions, lower costs, improved security, and better record keeping. Also, the blockchain technology can improve electronic voting systems. With this technology integrated into a voting system, governments won’t be able to tamper with votes because blockchain creates publicly viewable and singed transaction that can’t be changed or rewritten.

This infographic will help you understand how the blockchain technology can and will improve 16 different industries, from music to government. So, read on and find out what their future will look like.

blockchain disruptions infographic

How Can We Achieve Our Smart City Goals?

Lately, the public sector has collaborated with the market to launch smart city solutions. How do we achieve our smart city goals?

This article was written by Hanne Lystad.

Norway’s smart cities include everything from drones to surveillance train-lines, learning apps for kids and the world’s first autonomous cars.

But the next step in facing the huge smart city challenges such as meeting climate change targets is for the public sector to cooperate with procurement.

Lately, the public sector has collaborated with the market to launch smart city solutions, which is great. But how do we achieve our smart city goals?

A key way for the public sector to achieve its goals is by using the market forces via public procurement. In this piece I will point to some front-running Norwegian examples.

I work as lead digital for the National Suppliers Development programme in Norway. The programme has collaborated with public institutions in procuring smart city solutions since 2010.

The programme is a joint collaboration by five partners with unique strengths, networks and focus areas – representing both the public and private sector and the research field.

Programme structure

In Norway, public authorities spend approximately 58 billion euros on procurement each year, which amounts to 14  per cent of the Norwegian GDP and 37 per cent of our government national budget. Public procurement accounts for a significant portion of the overall demand for goods and services and is increasingly seen as an attractive instrument for developing society and nation.

Therefore, a simple public procurement policy – such as opening up for innovation – can make a profound impact on a nation or industry.

How does the process work ?

Innovative procurement process

The “normal” procurement process goes as follow: you think you need something , you put out a tender, you get an offer and you write a contract.  But guess what? When you do it the way you’ve always done it, you are likely to get the same product or service you have had before – not innovations.

You might not get what you actually need, and perhaps the suppliers have developed new and better solutions since the last time you asked for the same product.

Because of this, we discourage requesting pre-defined solutions from the market and rather suggest putting more energy into mapping out and defining needs and creating a dialogue.

Creating an enabling environment where procurement and their suppliers can discuss different options and solutions results in relevant innovations and actual uptake.

The programme I work with has been involved in about 200 solutions targeted for smarter cities. Being open about the public needs has resulted in some amazing solutions such as :

… and many more examples within welfare, tech, digitalisation and sustainability.  Take a look at this film if you’d like more examples.

From pilots to scale

It goes without saying that these new smart city solutions are a great thing, but we have to stop obtaining them one by one, pilot by pilot. At start of our programme, we supported processes where a single public agency was involved. We gained valuable insights and know-how, but saw that the majority of products and services developed ended up as prototypes and pilots.

Today, however, we are focusing on gathering public agencies with a common agenda from the beginning, so that they together will meet relevant suppliers and developers with a shared need.

One example of this is emmission-free construction sites, which initially had one frontrunning public agency supporting the cause. We realised it would make more impact if we gathered a significant number of public builders from all levels: state, regional and local municipalities. In addition we got environmental NGOs on board, research clusters, and public agencies with an interest in meeting a common goal – in this case meeting climate change targets.

After agreeing on a common goal, or “challenge” to the market, relevant suppliers and developers from the entire supply chain were invited. The purpose of this market dialogue was to

1) Talk about the forthcoming requirement to market actors.

2) Get feedback from them on the barriers to such a development and the factors that would make such a development process attractive for them to join.

The key to creating an enabling environment is ensuring the demand and supply side can actually figure out obstacles and possibilities.

This approach has  several advantages for all parties:

  • Firstly, major challenges – such as meeting climate change targets – can be tackled by gathering a significant portion of the demand side and agreeing on a single approach.
  • Secondly, when the market sees a more clear opportunity for serial production, this triggers their contributions and efforts – both through sheer market volume, but also through a predictability in terms of knowing what they need to prepare for.
  • Thirdly, we also see that it is easier to get funding for these broader initiatives than when we support public agencies one-by-one.

The public agencies have also committed through a joint declaration that they will be requiring emission-free technology in their construction sites.

So after reading this, I hope you are left with the following:

If you are from the public sector, tackling smart city challenges in collaboration with similar public agencies is the way to go!

If you’re from the private sector, collaboration is a huge market opportunity.

This article was written by Hanne Lystad. Hanne works as Lead Digital Innovation in the Norwegian national suppliers development programme, which means counselling public and private sectors in how to achieve innovation through  procurement within the digital field.

Is It Time For Procurement Pros To Go To Market?

Going to Market (Place) : The Future of Procurement goes live on 13th November. Sign up now.  

Could a  B2B e-marketplace transform the lives of your procurement team? What are the key benefits of using a marketplace and why are some procurement leaders reluctant to take the leap?

We hear from Molly Dobson, Head of Enterprise Customer Success – Amazon Business and Mary Hetherington, Director of UK Group Procurement – AXA to get the low down on the future of marketplaces, how they can benefit procurement professionals and what reservations are still held by the profession.

Whist digital marketplaces have evolved over time, and come and gone with varying success, the core functionality remains in that they are a central place where people gather to buy and sell goods and services.

“The digital marketplace isn’t a revolutionary concept.” explains Molly. “But it definitely has been more prevalent in our personal lives than our professional lives – e.g. Uber, Airbnb and Amazon.”

Having said that, “early innovators really did introduce a concept in procurement that still underpins the business marketplaces of today. These are capabilities like electronic procurement, reverse auctions and buyer discovery.”

Molly outlines the three core components of any procurement marketplace:

  1. Breadth of choice

The  first core characteristic of a marketplace is having that “wide range of choice within a single interface, which is why we all like to use marketplaces within our personal lives. Within a marketplace like Amazon Business you can access 250 million products from toilet paper to precision test and measurement instruments, to professional medical supplies.”

2. Competition 

“Users of a marketplace get access to multiple sellers for the same offer. Each of these sellers is competing against one another to get your business and with this competition you can have reduced commitments to some of those long, inflexible contracts. We like to talk about a marketplace being dynamic in that sense.”

3. Transparency 

“In a marketplace you can have transparency of product and seller reviews and pricing and delivery options. You really get the capability to compare all of your options and make informed buying decisions.”

“In the procurement space, in particular, you have additional requirements with things like the ability to integrate with other procurement applications.”

Marketplaces and maverick spend

Mary recently began piloting a marketplace at AXA.

“In the short space of time that we’ve been [trialling a marketplace] it has really surprised me the depth of information that we can attain about who’s buying what, the types of goods and services we’re buying,  at a very low level which hasn’t always been that transparent in the past.

“This is really useful for a large organisation like mine where we’re supporting several different business units with very diverse sets of requirements and lots and lots of small purchases. It gives us the opportunity to consolidate information and identify rogue spend very quickly.”

Measuring marketplace success

AXA has been measuring the success of its marketplace with three metrics; customer satisfaction, billing and fulfilment and  management of information.

  1. Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction on the solutions and the process around Amazon Marketplace is one metric AXA have been using to measure success.

“We all know that Amazon is the go to place for purchases. We use it in our private lives and people like that experience so we want to try and give our business customers some of that experience and flexibility when dealing with business purchases.”

2. Billing and fulfilment

Making sure that billing and fulfilment of the goods is effective, [that it] interfaces neatly with our purchase to pay solutions  [and] that we get the granularity we want on our invoicing.”

3.  Great management of information

It’s important to ensure procurement leaders can make well informed decisions about their future spend and future requirements.

“It can take some work to get [a marketplace] off the ground, [fitting into] your strategy [to a point where  multifunctional leaders can buy into it.”

Marketplace adoption

So what’s holding procurement teams back when it comes to adopting marketplaces. Mary Hetherington, Director of UK Group Procurement – AXA believes part of the challenge is procurement’s need to achieve a healthy balance between enabling the business and applying controls.

“We need to show flexibility but also proportionality when we’re looking at different sizes of purchasing,” she argues.

“The challenge with a marketplace is ensuring we determine the appropriate level of control that gives that flexibility to the business but doesn’t compromise any of our existing  preferred supplier  arrangement or bypass certain checkpoints of governance as a finical services organisation that we need to carry out.

“The key here is pitching it at the right level to ensure both the procurement team and the business get the solution they want.”

Are marketplaces the future of procurement? What are the pros and cons? We discuss in new Procurious webinar. which goes live on 13th November.  Sign up now (it’s free!)

Can Category Management Clean Up Its Act, AI- Style?!

In a post-AI world, the cards are up in the air and everything is up for grabs. Can category management help the procurement profession to scrub-up and embrace these changes?

Our webinar,  Clean Up Your Act! Category Management AI-Style is available on Procurious now. Listen here

How are large corporations managing and recruiting their workforce in the age of the gig economy?

Can cognitive tech help marketers connect the dots and better understand their customers?

Will we require architects in the future to design our buildings, or can we ask bots do that for us instead?

AI and cognitive technology will impact all corners of the business whether it’s construction, labour or marketing. For procurement’s category managers, technological advancement provides the chance to reinvigorate the profession and develop innovative ways of working.

But there is also a legitimate fear of the major disruption AI brings. Which services and industries will we lose entirely? How many roles will be made redundant?

The cards are up in the air and procurement prosperity is there for the taking. Can category managers help the profession to scrub up and seize this opportunity?

This month, we’ve enlisted the help of three category management experts to advise you on how to clean up your act and get the most out of AI!

Last month we hosted a webinar – Clean Up Your Act! Category Management AI-Style – in partnership with IBM.

With a focus on construction, labour and marketing, we discussed:

  • What common problems have category managers faced in old-world procurement, pre-AI?
  • How is AI impacting these categories; what sort of disruption can procurement professionals expect?
  • How can AI help procurement professionals in construction design, build and maintain their projects?
  • How can AI assist procurement professionals working in labour to attract, recruit and retain talent?
  • How can AI help procurement professionals working in marketing to strategise, create and manage optimal marketing campaigns?

Who is speaking on the webinar?

  • Tania Seary, Founder – Procurious
  • Luis Dario Gile, Global Category Leader (Design Construction and Real Estate) – IBM

Help! I can’t make it to the live-stream

No problem! If you can’t make the live-stream you can catch up whenever it suits you. We’ll be making it available on Procurious soon after the event (and will be sure to send you a link) so you can listen at your leisure!

Can I ask a question?

If you’d like to ask one of our speakers a question please submit it via the Discussion Board on Procurious and we’ll do our very best to ensure it gets answered for you.

Our webinar,  Clean Up Your Act! Category Management AI-Style is available on Procurious now. Listen here

Driving Change The Procurement Way

At yesterday’s London CPO Roundtable we explored how procurement teams can drive big change in their organisations whether it’s through Brexit policy, implementing cognitive technology or smart hiring…

When was the last time you took a wild punt in your hiring process?

Is your procurement team under more pressure than ever to cut costs?

How can CPOs make the business case for cognitive technology to their CFO?

Will there be a second EU Referendum?

These are just some of the questions we discussed when we gathered a dozen procurement leaders in London yesterday for a CPO roundtable sponsored by IBM.

We discussed the implications of Brexit and how procurement professionals are preparing, how procurement can make sure its cognitive projects come out on top in the battle for capital and  why employers need to be far more open minded when hiring new talent.

Surviving the Perfect Storm

Nick Ford, Co-founder – Odesma gave us an overview of his organisation’s latest Brexit survey; Surviving a Perfect Storm.

Many would argue that Brexit is the biggest negotiation to ever  take place in UK, but the path ahead is still very unclear. And that’s presenting some major challenges for procurement teams.

Indeed, 45 per cent of Odesma’s survey respondents (300+ procurement executives primarily from the UK/EU ) admitted that Brexit was hampering their procurement strategy and 82 per cent claim that they have felt under more pressure to reduce costs for third party good and services.

Nick highlighted some of the changes procurement departments are attempting to implement in order to prepare for life post-Brexit:

  • Contingency Planning – including managing an mitigating risk, moving supply chain out of Europe etc. : 27 per cent
  • Investigating new suppliers:  9 per cent
  • Re-negotiating contracts with existing suppliers: 9 per cent
  • Reviewing country location for procurement operation: 6 per cent
  • Re-evaluating inbound supply chain: 6 per cent 
  • No changes to supplier base: 15 per cent

On a positive note, 73 per cent of procurement professionals believe their organisation sees procurement as an important part of its post-Brexit preparation process. As Nick highlighted, it is a fantastic opportunity for re-negotiation of supplier contracts, a chance to do a thorough supplier clean- up or develop new suppliers entirely and it gives your organisation a competitive advantage if your procurement team is in good shape – given that only 40 per cent of businesses have  started putting plans in place to prepare for brexit.

Read more from Nick Ford on how procurement can prepare for a post-Brexit world.  

The Battle For Capital

In the battle for capital, how does procurement ensure its cognitive projects come out on top?

Amit Sharma, Global Procurement Practice Leader for Cognitive Process Services (CPS) -IBM addressed how difficult it is for procurement leaders to communicate the need for, and value of, cognitive technology to their business.

“The problem for procurement” he argued “is that the CPO doesn’t always have the authority to drive transformation. It depend on lots of other people and that stops them from driving change.”

“For procurement, maintaining our relevance to the organisation beyond cost savings is imperative. [procurement pros] need to embed the latest in technology as best practise into the business as it will free up our time and help us to move from transactional to strategic management.”

The logic is unquestionable.  We know the sophistication of AI is going to come. It’s a question of when, not if. But when it comes to making the leap to cognitive, which can do a world of good for analytical and predictive analysis, organisations are still hesitant.

The CPOs in attendance were in agreement; citing short-termism, lack of buy-in from the CFO and a limited understanding in the business about cognitive technology.

Procurement needs to make the business case for how cognitive can add long-term value and, as Amit reminded us, “If you’re not convinced, you can’t convince someone else”

Brexit: What Happens Now?

Professor Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs, Kings College led a session discussing the long-term causes of Brexit and their future implications.

“Hand on heart I don’t know [what’ going to happen] – if i could answer that I’d be rich and famous!”

It’s the most uncertain moment in British politics since World War Two and what’s striking is that,  two years on from the referendum, nothing has been decided.

A key reason for such uncertainty  is the nature of the referendum itself.  As Anand explained, the referendum packaged so many different options and outcomes  into a binary choice; leave or remain.  No one understood quite what they were signing up for and since the results Brexit has largely been defined by whichever adjective most aptly applies to specific people or groups; black brexit; white brexit; hard brexit; soft brexit; white red and blue brexit… the list goes on.

Does the UK want to establish a relationship with the EU like Norway, like North Korea or will they define something wholly new.

Anand admits that due to the Brexit process being so complex and all-consuming, there is no avoiding a messy process. What goes on throughout the next couple of years will largely be determined by politics.

  1. Theresa May

The UK Prime Minister relatively quickly defined what she meant by Brexit (leave cutoms market,end free movement etc) and her position has remained relatively unchanged since. Whilst she is unpopular with many in her party, it is unlikely her critics will choose to get rid of her yet. As long as she in place, she is a powerful force for stability.

2. The Conservative Government

There is a significant number of Tory MPs who want a much softer Brexit than the Prime Minister is proposing so it’s possible they will vote against May’s Brexit deal. However, if May loses this vote there is no question that she has to go; after all, her whole mission as Prime Minister is Brexit. If that happens, the Conservative Party will either elect a new leader or the UK will face a new general election. And the one thing no Tories want is another general election.

3. The Labour Government 

In the last general election, Labour picked up votes from both remainers and leavers. As such, the party have been careful to keep their Brexit policies ambiguous. Whenever Corbyn speaks about Brexit, he speaks in ambiguities.

Ultimately the real danger for the UK’s economy, Anand warns, is that the negotiations go pear shaped, the UK crashes out of the EU in March 2019 and they end up with no wiggle room to extend the UK’s transition period.

His advice to procurement organisations trying to prepare? Plan for a World Trade Organisation outcome from 2021 – “That, I think, is the most likely outcome.”

The Drive Project

The Drive Project is an award-winning, creative social enterprise. They work alongside charities and businesses to inspire and empower people with creative projects, training and talks. We were joined by one of their speakers Darren Swift (“Swifty”).

On 25th May 1991 Swifty was injured by a terrorist attack that resulted in him losing both his legs above the knee.

Within seconds of being hit by an IRA coffee jar bomb he went, he jokes, from being 6 foot 2 to 4 foot 6; his left leg completely gone and his right hanging on by a thread.

During his extensive rehab, when he was forced to confront his new reality, Swifty made the decision to not let his injury affect his life or career going forward.

Since then Swifty has gone on to achieve a huge amount including taking up skydiving, becoming the first ever double above knee amputee snowboarder and taking up a career as an actor. Swifty’s unique and inspiring story reminded us that employers need to be far more open minded when hiring new talent.

When it comes to hiring our organisations need to be ‘blinkers off’ people; asking ‘why not?’, rather than having a ‘you can’t’ attitude. You don’t know what’s possible with a potential hire until you take a punt and give them a chance.

Without this outlook employers could miss an extraordinary talent.

As Emily Shaw, Director- The Drive Project,  pointed out “[We should] give people a chance not to be a victim – because they can achieve so much more.”

Find out more about The Drive Project and the amazing work they do here. 

Buying Social, Expressing Yourself Online and Other Procurement Challenges…

Does it pay to buy social? Can I build greater trust online? And how do I prepare my team for AI developments? We answer some of the questions and challenges on the minds of procurement leaders…

Olga Savina/Shutterstock.com

The Procurious London CPO Roundtable was sponsored by Basware

How do you evolve your organisation from the mindset of  “we’re not doing anything bad” to actually “doing something good” ?

What happens when people who don’t know what they’re talking about start talking online, what does that mean for society’s leaders?

With the development of RPA and AI, are we all out of a job, and when?!

How should organisations go about developing existing talent to prepare them for leadership roles?

These are just some the questions we answered at last week’s  Procurious CPO London Roundtable, sponsored by BaswareWant to know the answers? Look no further…

The Buy Social Corporate Challenge

Charlie Wigglesworth, Deputy CEO – Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) gave a fascinating insight to the great work social enterprises are doing across the UK.

SEUK was established in 2002 as the national body for social enterprise. Now, with over 1200 members they strive to support social enterprises and develop the evidence base to showcase their benefits, as well as influencing policy and political agendas within UK government.

Social enterprises sit comfortably in between a charity and a private sector company. They have a clear social mission and  look to make profits to further that social mission – they are “businesses which trade for a social purpose.” 

“Businesses and governments can support social enterprise in lots of ways but the best way to do good is to buy from them,” explains Charlie.

They are much more likely to be better represented or minority led or based in the most deprived areas. They are more likely to employ people that wouldn’t have work otherwise had work or give money where people wouldn’t otherwise have had it.

Supporting these companies is good for your business because they are likely to be cheaper, more innovative and doing so gives corporations the opportunity to overlap and integrate CSR with normal business, rather than have it exist as a separate entity.

Buying social doesn’t cost more money or change the procurement process  but it has significant strategic and ongoing value for communities and your business.

Of course, as Charlie admits, it can seem hard to make changes and switch your mentality from “not doing anything bad” to “doing something good”. Charlie’s advice is to “find opportunities locally- they may seem tiny but there can be significant opportunities. Look at where you can do things directly.”

SEUK is working with a number of businesses for The Buy Social Corporate Challenge with the challenge to achieve $1 billion of procurement spend with social enterprises by 2020. Follow their progress here.   

The Conversation Century

Elizabeth Linder, Founder and CEO of The Conversational Century joined Youtube in 2007 and often thinks back to that year, a significant time for Youtube, in order to understand the social media space.

It was an exciting and life-changing time for skilled amateurs. A time that had millions of people singing in their bedrooms or racking  up millions of video views for a commentary on something they would never otherwise have been considered an expert in. Youtube ultimately offered them the opportunity to be heard.

Elizabeth is a strong believer that the internet is the best place to build trust. “The people” ( i.e. you and me) have already got this all figured out. But the reason so many people still believe the internet is destroying trust is that our leaders are still so far from getting it right! We simply don’t have leaders at a political level that have invested in a voice on social media.

Some key things to remember when trying to start conversations online:

  • Most leaders fear that they have to move at an increased pace because of today’s internet culture. You don’t. Go at your own pace but keep people informed as you do it. It’s ok to communicate to people that “the discussions are still in progress” or “we don’t have information on this yet” so long as you’re communicating something!
  • Believe in the power of primary sources because the public certainly do. Hearing directly from the source rather than a paper adds a lot of value to your communication. If you’ve ever been quoted in an article, blog or feature you’ll know the producer of that piece never quite gets to the meat of what you were trying to say because you don’t own the conversation or drive the discussion – they do!
  • Embracing in the hacker culture, i.e. making it up as you go along, is key. EU politicians, for example, only see social media as a tool for outbound communications and not for their inbound policy making. Hacker culture dictates that they need to consider the latter.

Elizabeth’s take away advice on owning the social media space? “Be yourself online and talk to people in a way that lets them in but not in a way so casual that you’re treating them like family.”

RPA and AI – Are We All Out of A Job?

Where are we at in terms of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) ?  Paul Clayton, Head of New Service Development, Basware outlined the current threats and challenges.

RPA essentially replicates things that aren’t easily automated; the things a human would do. Its skills lie in coding systems and inserting data. The downside to RPA is that there is no intelligence or decision making process, which means it can go very wrong!

There are four levels to AI:

  • Level 1:  This is the simplest form of AI and is quite prevalent today.  It’s reactive and rule-based with no memory or recollection and decides what to do based on a set of rules.
  • Level 2:  Limited, but not long-term, memory with decisions based on recent experience. It will react to data from the things it sees.
  • Level 3:  These are computers that learn and have memory. They  can re-formulate their view on the world so they can make decisions and remember actions. Whilst there are Level 3 computers out there, other than C3P0 (!),  it hasn’t been applied in procurement except in the areas of fraud and risk management.
  • Level 4:  This, fortunately, does not exist…yet! These are machines that are self aware and can form their own view on anything, redevelop their own software and change their behaviour entirely.

Levels 1 and 2 cover most of the repetitive tasks in procurement and finance. Not before long, 90 per cent of the people in this sphere wont be required.

So yes, as Paul admits, the jobs we have today won’t be here tomorrow and people won’t have careers in the way that we currently define “a career”. But the workforce coming in today is used to their environment changing every 30 seconds,  they already expect instantaneous change and they’re able to adapt quickly to something different.

Barclays’ leadership development process

Jonathan Harvey – Global Head of Talent & Culture, Barclays PLC, gave us a high level overview of Barclays leadership development framework and how it compares or contrasts with other leading companies.

When Jonathan joined Barclays two years ago he was tasked with assessing whether Barclays were doing enough to embed a common set of values and to measure their progress in embedding them.

He evaluated how they were developing existing talent in preparation for leadership roles and eventually established a set of criteria for potential leaders at Barclays. This criteria demands they live by Barclays’ values and inspire others to live by them and that they have leadership critical experience such as experience managing more than 1000 people, across different geographies and through different business cycles.

The most successful leaders of organisations will be those who can think the most adaptively and creatively, and that comes down to experience!

Procurious are hosting CPO roundtables on 30th May, 19th September and 14th November. If you’re a CPO and would like to attend one of our roundtables in person please contact Olga Luscombe via [email protected] to request an invitation.