Category Archives: Procurious News

Join the world‘s first digitally-led event for procurement professionals

Procurious Big Ideas Summit 2015

Announcing the Procurious Big Ideas Summit 2015

We‘re throwing open the doors to the world’s first digitally-led conference for the procurement profession: The Procurious Big Ideas Summit 2015.

Planned as a unique think tank event, our Big Ideas Summit will draw on 40 of the world brightest minds from established thought-leaders, senior business leaders and commentators to discuss outside-of-the-box cost solutions.

What’s the Big Idea behind it?

The aim of Big Ideas is to inspire a new generation of business intrapreneurs to drive innovation and change in large organisations. Structured around three topics – RISK, PEOPLE and TECHNOLOGY, the event aims to change the world’s mind about cost and tease out solutions which will drive competitive advantage, agility in unstable markets and long term value for organisations.

The face-to-face component of the event will take place in London on 30 April 2015, however, with ideas and content amplified through Procurious, we’re welcoming more than 4,500 procurement professionals from across the globe to submit questions to speakers in advance as well as tune in, learn and participate in real time.

Who will be speaking?

We’ve secured a high calibre of thought leaders and keynote speakers, including:

  • David Noble, Group CEO, CIPS
  • Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader, The Hackett Group
  • Professor Jules Goddard, London School of Business
  • Professor Olinga Ta’eed, Director Centre of Citizenship, Enterprise & Governance
  • Giles Breault, Founder and Director, The Beyond Group

How you can take part

The Big Ideas Summit is open to all Procurious members. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world – we want you to help shape the agenda – register your attendance at our Procurious Big Ideas Summit Group.

On Twitter? You can also submit your questions by tweeting us @procurious_  #BigIdeas2015

For more information about the day head on over to our bespoke event site www.bigideassummit.com

Why take part?

As savvy social networkers you’ll already be of the mind that social media can be used to create a global stir. We want to amplify these Big Ideas throughout the global procurement community, connect with one another, start meaningful conversations, and ultimately drive change.

All keynote sessions will be captured on film and offered exclusively to registered attendees.  As a ‘digital delegate’ you’ll also be able to access a rich collection of supporting material including; articles, interviews and video content post 30 April.

Who’s sponsoring it?

For an event that explores the biggest trends impacting procurement we thought it only necessary to bring onboard similarly hot-ticket sponsors. The Big Ideas Summit 2015 is proud to be sponsored by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) and The Hackett Group.

Register your attendance today

Who’s responsible for writing a specification or brief?

Who's responsible for writing a brief?

With over 300 questions and over 1000 answers, the Procurious Discussion forum is one of the most active on social media. But there is always room for more. If you have a question, please hop over to the forum and post it up!

By way of thanking you for your continuing support, we’ve picked a particularly popular topic from the last month:

Who’s responsible for writing a specification or brief?

Procurement has been tagged as the responsible party for the generation of a specification or brief but I believe this to be incorrect. What has been your experience?

This was an interesting question from Sarah Lees, providing some diverse answers from the community. Responsibility for writing specifications or briefs can vary depending on industry, company or how it has been done in the past.

Although there was no overall consensus on the responsibility, there was agreement that procurement needed to play a role in the process, whether that was facilitation, clarification or writing the document.

A number of the responses highlighted the need for a cross-functional or multiple stakeholder led approach, where procurement facilitated a group including the end user, requester, departments such as engineering or sales, as well as potentially preferred suppliers.

Involving the supplier can allow for clarification on requirements before quotation and supply, while also opening up opportunities for innovation or alternative solutions. Suppliers may play a role as a key stakeholder and, as such, it is worth considering them to be part of the group.

Key to the discussion was the idea that ‘they got what they asked for’ was no longer an acceptable excuse. In order to ensure that the right product is sourced first time, procurement can question and evaluate requirements – does the product need to be bespoke, will an off the shelf version work, is this actually required – and ensure that suppliers are getting a specification that they can understand and respond to.

If you’re still unsure, check out Procurious’ video on developing a Scope of Work. This shows the SOW and Specification as two distinct documents, gives an overview on formats of specifications (functional or descriptive) and highlights what role procurement plays.

How do you define trust in the supply chain?

Following on from our examination into the Siemens bribery scandal,  we’ve compiled some of the excellent community discussion on the subject of trust in the supply chain.

Trust in the supply chain

How do you define trust in the supply chain?

Trust is a major factor when choosing suppliers, as well as staying with them for years. In a prior discussion on Procurious, trust, follow through and understanding of your industry were some of the top factors you all shared choosing and staying with your suppliers. 

So how do you define trust? And what components of trust are most important when it comes to setting up your supply chain?

Thanks to Hannah Broaddus for this question, following up on one previously asked (and wrapped) on Procurious. Trust as a concept is hard to define, can take months or years to build up within relationships, and can be destroyed by one stray comment or action.

As seen in the recent situation in Australia with Nanna’s Frozen Berries, consumer trust can be lost through issues in a supply chain and will take time to be earned back.

The idea that trust had to be earned on both sides was cited more than once. Trust is built through interactions and discussions over a period of time. At the beginning, there needs to be the belief that both parties are working towards the same goals and that the other party has your company’s or customers’ interests in mind.

Trust is built by being open and honest. Companies that are good at generating trust will share information freely. This can be sales and operations data, forecasts or critical data that will ultimately benefit both sides.

One answer highlighted Mari Sako, professor at the University of Oxford. Sako states that there are three types of trust that we must all go through & earn from the other party.

  • Contractual Trust – prove you can do what you say you can (we both look for failure here)
  • Competence Trust – when I believe that you can do what you say you will
  • Goodwill Trust – we both do things for the good of the relationship

Finally, we’d like to leave you with the immortal words of Ernest Hemingway, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

Wise words to live by, even if this is perhaps easier said than done in business.

Here’s something else the community has discussing at length:

Is your company’s procurement department strategic, or purely operational?

What is the best way to add value and make your Management aware of its strategic importance?

The question of whether procurement has a seat at the executive table is often asked. What is less apparent is whether procurement departments are conducting purely operational work in organisations. This question from Pedro Semprine asks just that.

A widely held belief is that most senior executives spend less than 3 per cent of their time on strategic tasks. One answer in this discussion highlighted an 80/20 split in time – where procurement leaders spend 80 per cent of their time on strategic matters and 20 per cent on the daily tasks, while juniors were the opposite.

A common thought was that procurement, depending on the task, had to be both strategic and tactical. Day-to-day materials would require a tactical approach, whereas critical or bottleneck items would require a more strategic focus. Tactical procurement activities contribute towards the overall strategic goals of both the procurement department and the organisation.

There was also the idea that all activities might be viewed as operational, unless procurement was seen as a strategic advisor in the organisation. One option to counter this was to be proactive, writing strategy documents and quantifying examples with data, for example cost savings or production times, so management would be able to see the value added.

Procurement could utilise a results oriented approach, publicising successes where value had been generated for the organisation. Organisation impacting activities, such as core product changes, cost reduction and process improvement could be laid out with future plans in order to show continuing value generation.

The tips were nicely summed up into three points:

  1. Speak to influencers and key senior management figures – ask them what are their pains are
  2. Conduct a group presentation to all of them to demonstrate how your plans can help meet their goals
  3. Leave the emotive categories alone for now. These include stationery, car leases and most of all, travel.

Receiving too many notifications? Show your inbox who’s boss!

Show your inbox who's boss

We’ve had a few emails from Procurious members asking how to better tailor email notifications to suit their preferences. Take control back and customise the notifications you see by following our quick tips.

We provide you with the option (by default) to be notified whenever a fellow Procurious member invites you to connect, accepts your invitation to connect, or sends you a message.

Obviously you are free to silence some or all of these as you please, and it only takes a second to put the changes into action…

How to turn your notifications on or off

To do this look towards your Procurious header bar and open the drop-down menu under your profile picture/name. From here click ‘Settings’.

Scroll down until you locate your ‘Email Notifications’ (they’re right below the ‘Change Password’ area).

Procurious notifications

To stop receiving a specific notification just untick the relevant box, making sure to click ‘Save Changes’ to make good your choices.

What about weekly Procurious newsletters?

You can also control the arrival of our Procurious newsletters that pop into your inbox on a weekly basis. We currently publish two: a best of the blog where we highlight some of our favourite editorial from the past week, the other focuses on a news story that is making the headlines that week.

Read more about our weekly newsletters here.

Know someone who is curious about Procurious? Share our ‘What is Procurious?’ video

As a member of Procurious, you have shown yourself to be one of the first-movers of the procurement and supply chain profession: You’re globally connected, you’re innovative, you’re influential and you’re in-the-know.  

We want to send out a big thank-you for being a part of Procurious – a healthy community thrives on its members, their knowledge, curiosity, and desire to share. Without your support this widespread procurement community of ours would still be lost, we hope that since becoming a member you’re of the belief that Procurious is helping to fix the disconnect inherent in our profession.

But perhaps you’ve struggled to explain the Procurious concept to your peers? Well we’ve just finished the wrap on our ‘What is Procurious?’ animated video – a video we’d love you to share with others!  It conveys all of the benefits that will already be well-known to you – our Procurious ambassadors.

We wanted to make our video fun, friendly and informative – and we certainly enjoyed putting it together, so we hope you love it as much as we do!

Want to tell others about this exciting community you’re a part of? Instead of reeling off a sales-pitch, why not direct them to the video and let the pictures do the talking!

Procurious fast facts

You have helped to push the number of our members to 4000+, and collectively you hail from more than 100 countries worldwide. This just goes to show that procurement is truly global!

  • You represent the world’s leading organisations including: Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Starbucks, Shell, Rio Tinto, Qantas, HSBC, SAP, NHS, British Airways and many, many more
  • You’ve started over 230 discussions and contributed 1000 answers, making Procurious a ‘braintrust’ for the brightest minds
  • Thanks to you we have amassed almost 2000 followers across our other social media channels including Twitter (@procurious_ ), LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+
  • With our collection of 50+ bite-sized e-learning videos from the world’s best trainers – we’re learning new skills together 
  • Procurious is home to a daily news service and guest blogs from leading global procurement experts (your peers)

If you’re reading this you’re probably already a Procurious member, so why not share the video with your peers, friends, family, the other businesses that share your building… Tweet the link, stick it on Facebook, post it on LinkedIn and spread the word!

Enjoy the video, and thanks for watching – after-all, we couldn’t have done this without you! Procurious HQ

How to use Filters to find exactly what you’re looking for

Using filters to get tailored search results

Use search filters to find what you're looking for

Nope we’re not talking water filters, Instagram filters, or the type of filters needed for your broadband – let us introduce you to the filters that will turbocharge your search experience on Procurious (and you thought filters were boring…!)

No matter where you are on the site,  the Procurious search bar is always within easy reach. You can use it to search for people, events, articles, discussion topics, or learning materials (videos).

Give it a go right now – fire something into the bar (‘CIPS’ for example) and see what it returns.

You’ll notice that the results page allows you to filter out your search results by type (all of which we touched on above). This proves invaluable when sorting those Procurious members with CIPS accreditation from CIPS-related articles (like our recent explainer on the CIPS Risk Index for instance).

More interested in growing your network and expanding your influence? If the search box isn’t returning the results you wanted, use the filters present on the ‘Build your network’ page to hone in on Procurious members that more closely align with your interests.

Build your network search filters

Here you can target your search and use filters to break down search results by country, industry, or category.

Whether you want to find people who work in Government, health care, mining (or any one of the 30+ other industries listed), want to list Procurious members by country, or by a particular category (commodities, logistics, utilities etc.) – you can use the filters as you see fit.

Of course you can also combine search filters for very precise hits: want to find members in the defence industry, looking after IT in Afghanistan? Yep, you can do that.

Why not give it a go now, and see what you’ve missing out on?

What’s procurement like in your part of the world?

At the time of writing Procurious boasts members from 100+ countries, is yours represented?

Procurious boasts members from 100+ countries

We’re truly global

Yes we may keep a map of the world on the wall at Procurious HQ… What of it?

From Azerbaijan to Zambia, Procurious members circle the world! If you’re just casually browsing the site, why not join up and stake a claim for your part of the world?

We want to hear your stories! How well is procurement represented, what’s it like being a procurement professional – how does it differ from elsewhere in the world? Drop us a line if you’d like to be featured, just like Helen, Happymore, Hal, and Sergio below:

Exciting times ahead for Scotland

We asked Helen Mackenzie about procurement in Scotland:

“Not sure about the Scottish private sector but public procurement in Scotland is really buzzing at the moment.  The Scottish Government’s just got the new Procurement Reform Act through the Parliament and so sustainable procurement is high up on our agenda.  

There’s never been a better time to be in public procurement.  At last many of us are getting to take up our seat right in the heart of corporate management and decision making.”

Click here to read the rest of Helen’s piece.

Procurement in the USA? A different beast

Flying the flag for the US, Hal Good could only estimate when quizzed on the number of working professionals throughout the 50 constituent states:

“In 2008, according to the Department of Labor, there were 68,000 “purchasing mangers” employed in the US.  The latest Bureau of Labor statistics estimated 504,600 “jobs” for Purchasing managers, buyers and purchasing agents.”

How does it differ exactly? “Contractors doing business with the US Federal Government, are committed to utilization of the FAR program which gave rise to the National Contract Association (NCMA) and its educational programs and credentials.  

This has spawned a difference in terminology and to some extent practices within the profession in the USA itself, as well as with the rest of the world.  That is probably due to the vast influence of CIPS in the international arena.”

See Hal’s answers in full.

What does procurement mean to developing countries?

Procurious member Happymore Mambondiani previously spoke to us about some of the challenges procurement poses in his home country – Zimbabwe:

“Currently procurement is undertaken by unqualified personnel in the majority of organisations in the country be it in the public or private sector.

In Zimbabwe (unlike other countries where procurement has grown as a profession), procurement has not yet developed into a function. Instead it has been lumped into a wing under the finance department – this is true except for all but the biggest firms like Tangaat Hullets (a sugar producing company) in the South East Low veld of Chiredzi/Triangel.

At a National level procurement is undertaken by the State Procurement Board which is under the Ministry of Finance. The State Procurement Board should be a ministry dedicated to the handling of government purchases of goods and services.”

See more of what Happymore has to say here.

Italy: home to some of the best negotiators in the world…

Procurious’ greatest Italian advocate – Sergio Giordano, explains how procurement has been split into two:

“Once Procurement in Italy was ’emotional price negotiation’ the Italian Procurement professional was one of the best negotiator in the world … but nothing else. Today in Italy things are partially changed, there are two distinctly separate worlds in procurement management – 

  • The large national and multinational companies in which the concept of Procurement has evolved (not just negotiating the price but the TCO, the knowledge of local and global market, management of the relationship with suppliers, the use of e-Procurement, Lean Procurement approach, etc…) they use the same “tools” and strategies of the most competitive and advanced European nations.
  • SMEs (92% of the Italian companies). Today SMEs are realising that joining in network can help to become competitive to the market as large companies and things are changing also in the Procurement management.

However, in Sergio’s opinion one distinctive difference will always remain: “during the negotiations Italians tend to play ‘Poker’ instead of ‘Bridge’…”

Hear more from the great man – view his comments in full.

Why do we question, comment and discuss?

To answer this [question] we’re going to reflect on findings from a number of social network-specific research papers that have made themselves known to us.

Why do we ask questions on social media?

The Arma International Educational Foundation published its theories around ‘Social networks and their impact on records and information management’ in January 2011.

For clarity, records and information management will be shortened henceforth to RIM:

Arma said: “there is a value in the speed of distribution of questions and answers that can be seen on various Social Networks. RIM professionals who have questions can post them on Social Networks and within minutes—if not seconds—receive answers from other RIM professionals. For the individual, this removes the feeling that may exist of being all alone on the job. This type of Social Network where the topics are specific to RIM professionals creates a community of commonality.”

Now this could be written for any cross-selection of people, it needn’t be profession exclusive (as seen here applied to RIM professionals).

Similarly, a report put together by the European Commission in November 2010 said the following on human-powered community question answering and expert finding:

“Human powered (aka crowdsourcing) systems gave promising solutions to problems that were unsolved for years. The research community should continue working on leveraging human intelligence to solve critical problems and answer questions that otherwise would be impossible to answer automatically. Social networks contain immense knowledge through their users. However, it is not trivial to find the one that has the knowledge and is also available to share it.”

Just look towards the healthy ‘Discussions’ area on Procurious to see this thinking in action.

Discussions on Procurious

From here you are free to browse any open discussion topics, or create your own to pose to other Procurious members.

Start by filling in the ‘Ask a question or start a discussion’ field, then expand in the ‘Add more details’ area. This is the perfect place for any additional details,  or URLs you might want to share. Then you’ll need to select a topic/subtopic from the respective dropdown menus (this will help signpost your discussion to those members with similar interests).

Those dropdown menus will come in handy if you want to dip straight into discussions that touch on your specialty. Use the filters on the main Discussions page to show questions by topic/subtopic, or order by those latest/trending.

Alternatively you can get a heads-up (of the two most recent discussions at least) from the Community homepage. Can’t see it? It’s to the right of your Community Feed.

The European Commission report also touched on a topic it called ‘Personalisation for social interaction’, in which it explains as “In order to improve social interaction and enhance social inclusion, personalization engines that locate peers with possibly common likes, dislikes or developing trends should be engineered. Towards more efficient search engines that will be able to serve the users only with relevant content, personalisation algorithms have to be studied in a greater extent.”

Could we go as far to call Procurious a ‘personalization engine’?

We’re always keen to hear your thoughts so why not add to the discussion by leaving a comment below?

Want to start your own ‘Group’ on Procurious?

So you’re a fully-registered Procurious member: you’re sharing stories with your peers, contributing to interesting discussion topics, brushing-up on your learning using our learning resources, yet you’re still craving more… Let us introduce you to our new Procurious Groups – the perfect haven to hang out with likeminded professionals around a core theme.

Groups on Procurious

Sergio Giordano – one of our original, early Procurious members has forged ahead and set up The Italian Procurement Professional Community. It currently boasts 44 members, making it the largest active Group on Procurious.

We asked Sergio if he’d like to share some words about the Group, and the approaches he’s adopted to entice new members:

“Italian professionals are beginning to understand that to achieve reputation you must first demonstrate your competence by helping colleagues and proving to be an expert in a specific field.

This is an essential feature which is the basis of my request to join the group. I also tried to make it clear to them that the opportunity to grow the Italian community in Procurious is huge. On one hand it helps to get in touch with a world of international procurement with the support of other Italian colleagues with whom to share their knowledge. And on the other hand, a means to enrich themselves with the expertise of colleagues from other countries. 

Finally, as you know, Italians like sport (and competition) so I spurred the decision to join the group by issuing a challenge: to be the most numerous and competent team in Procurious, by putting together the excellence of Italian procurement professionals. However I think that the first interest in joining  the group is the uniqueness of Procurious: we all felt a great need of a specialistic network like yours or, let me say… like ours.”

Create your own Group

To take a leaf out of Sergio’s book, navigate to the ‘Groups’ page by following the link (it’s nestled between the Discussions and Blog items).

To set up a group of your own, begin by clicking the ‘Create Group’ button.

Now you need a good name… The Group name should be succinct, and easily identifiable. You can go into extra detail in the ‘Description’ field – this should spell out your modus operandi.

You’ll also need to specify relevant industry and category choices using the drop-down menus (just like you did when you originally joined Procurious).

Finally, upload a small image that can be used as the Group’s profile picture. Now you’re ready to start inviting other Procurious members to your new Group – you can do this by typing names into the ‘Add members’ field.

Set privacy and permissions for your Group

Ideally you’ll want to retain full control of your little corner of Procurious – this is where the privacy and permissions controls come into play.

Set the Group privacy to ‘Posts visible only to group members’.

To manage the flow of new members to your Group we’d recommend selecting the ‘Any Procurious member can ask to join’ option in the first instance. This means that every time someone makes a request to come onboard you’ll receive a notification to approve/deny their membership.

We’ll be exploring Groups in more detail in future postings, but in the meantime we encourage you to have a play around and explore the new functionality on offer.

Have any feedback/comments? Leave below for Procurious to see!

5 minutes on Procurious – a primer for new members

Following on from our call to step up your networking game, we’ve published a quick, digestible guide to spending five minutes on our network.

Five minutes on Procurious

If your Community Feed is looking a bit empty, then that big green ‘Build your Network’ button (1) is your friend…  We’ve waxed lyrical on the benefits of this tool in the past, see here. Invite your LinkedIn contacts, send a personalized email link, or use the filters to select members by country/industry/category.

For instant gratification, can we instead draw your attention to ‘Get Connected’ (2). This presents a selection of Procurious members we think you should connect with. Click ‘View more’ when you’ve exhausted the recommendations.

Got something you want to get off your chest? Post a status update (just like you do on LinkedIn/Facebook, or send a Tweet on Twitter) to your Community Feed. Just start typing at the ‘Share your thoughts’ prompt (3). Don’t feel like you need to be restricted to text either. Feel free to post a fun/informative/thoughtful photo, or upload a document that you’d like to share with the rest of your network.

Posted a status? Great! Hopefully other Procurious members will take a shine to it and comment (4). Try it yourself by leaving a comment on a post in your network.

Remember, you can tag other Procurious members in comments and statuses by prefixing with the @ symbol.

If commenting on statuses isn’t enough for you then look to ‘Latest discussions’ (5). Here you’ll see a list of the most recently submitted discussion topics that Procurious members have posed.

Click into the topic to answer and air your thoughts. You can also elect to follow discussion topics, and share them to your Community Feed if you so wish.

See something in your Community Feed that you like? Click the thumbs-up to give it your seal of approval (6), or click the share icon to repost to your network.