Category Archives: Procurious News

How To Be A Supernormal Leader

Collaboration is imperative for your organisation to progress! And it can be achieved through “silo busting” (encouraging inter-departmental sharing of knowledge), building and valuing trust, attenuating body language to communicate openness, promoting diversity, cultivating self-awareness and fostering empathy, and creating a safe environment for sharing ideas and practices.


Collaboration is more important than ever before. In fact, an organisation’s survival may depend on how well it can combine the potential of its people as well as its suppliers. By connecting the external market with their own organisation and its customers, Procurement has the opportunity to facilitate and deliver significant shared value. Collaboration matters like never before.

I’ve read many surveys on leadership and collaboration, particularly of recency. Deloitte’s Future of Work research found that 65% of the C-Level executives surveyed have a strategic objective to transform their organisation’s culture, with a focus on connectivity, communication and collaboration.

When one gets underneath the surface of these surveys, six crucial leadership behavioural themes leap out. I’m referring to leadership at all levels, call it strategic leadership if you so choose. Whether you’re the Chief Procurement Officer, the Head of Category Management or the Buyer, when you think about building and embracing a collaborative culture, you already realise that your job has changed. I really don’t think and hope you’ll ever look back. So, this is absolutely not about old-school leadership and hierarchical thinking. This is also not a new leadership philosophy. This is about embracing the fact that we are better together. A single, collaborative eco-system. To make the impact required and to inspire others, requires collaborative leadership. It’s about self-awareness and its about emotional intelligence too.

Here are the six leadership behaviours:

1. Silo ‘busting’

I really struggle with the word ‘silo’. It is why wastebaskets were created. Silo’s are sizeable organisational blockers, built to last by those whom create them. The collaborative environment we seek is kept from forming. The creativity, innovation and growth potential is essentially being silo distanced. ‘Silo’ is a term that has been passed around and discussed in boardrooms for at least 30 years. They remain a growing pain in the organisational backside.

Silo mentality describes the mindset present when departments don’t share information. Wherever it’s spotted, silo mentality becomes synonymous with power struggles and fear of exposure or failure. Silo mentality cause organisations to waste time, resources and money. They wreck collaboration.

Silos get busted by leaders, not by technology or processes. Procurement has privileged access to typically all parts of an organisation and its supplier base too. Get on the front foot and create unifying goals and objectives. Build ‘silo-busting’ into your balance scorecard and set the pace for collaboration, both internally and externally.

2. Trust matters

A collaborative team isn’t a group of people working together. It’s a group of people working together who trust each other. They also understand their own and each others’ strengths and weaknesses. Trust is the key binding agent for collaboration. It is where procurement and the supplier base can also unite, like never before.

As a leader, you need people to trust you. But how do you show that you trust them? The way sharing of information is communicated determines whether it becomes an obstacle to or an enabler of collaboration. Perhaps a cynical view, though some leaders I have observed who profess to value collaboration, undermine their effectiveness by withholding information or sharing it on a ‘needs to know’ basis. This makes them feel important.

Leaders build trust through honest, consistent and transparent communication – easy to say, often trickier in reality than it sounds. Procurement leaders take note. Put the ego to one side and build trust with your colleagues, customers and suppliers. It’s hard work and unanswerably essential to achieve true collaboration leadership. What one finds is that when you take the time to get to know your colleagues and suppliers, trust builds faster. Embrace all feedback, not just positive, and always have your learning and listening chips switched on. Build joint goals. Create the time to celebrate successes. Adapt, learn and grow, together.

3. Body language tells its own story

Negotiators are taught how to assess body language. Not just negotiators I hasten to add. In its most simplistic form, there are two sets of body language. One set that projects sincerity, authenticity and warmth. The other send signals of status and influence. For collaboration to flourish, focus your energy on the former. Authenticity is key. Be yourself.

4. Promoting diversity

Diverse thinking is an essential ingredient for collaborative leadership. It reinforces my point about leadership at al levels. Team members at the same level, and with a similar background, are found to perform worse than those with varying skills and knowledge. There’s a tendency for similarly minded individuals at the same level in an organisation to seek affirmation from one another i.e. they tend to reinforce each others predisposition. Innovation is triggered by cross-functional working. Creative breakthroughs occur most often when ideas collide and then combine. Collaboration enables innovation.

5. Self-awareness

Development Dimensions International (DDI) has studied leadership for almost fifty years. In their latest research, with over 15,000 leaders from more than 300 organisations, DDI looked at leaders’ conversational skills that had the highest impact on overall performance. At the very top of the list was empathy – specifically, the ability to listen and respond empathetically. Learn to understand before be understood. So, for great collaborative leadership, if you recognise this as a development need, then work hard on developing it.

6. Primal instincts

Human beings have two primitive instincts that guide a willingness to collaborate — or not — and they are triggered under very different circumstance. The first instinct is to hoard and has been traced back to early humans hoarding vital supplies, like food, out of fear of not having enough. The more they put away, the safer they felt. We’ve all observed this instinct and many experienced it of recency. In the workplace, when people feel ignored or threatened, they retreat and hold on to knowledge. The second instinct, on the other hand, is that humans are also a learning, teaching, knowledge-sharing species. According to evolutional psychologists, this trait is also hard-wired, linking back to when humans first started gathering in clans. Leaders trigger the ‘sharing instinct’ when they create psychologically safe workplace environments in which people feel secure, valued and trusted.

In a world of arguably unprecedented uncertainty and disruption, collaborative leadership behaviours are so important to organisation survival, recovery and growth. Collaboration as a skill set is no longer a ‘nice to have’. There are tools and techniques to help develop your collaborative skill set further, whether you are a buyer or seller. Successful supplier and procurement collaboration will make a transformational difference.

This article was originally published by Procurement Potential on July 12 2020 and is republished here with permission.

How to Set a Procurement Strategy Part 2: What You Should Be Doing

How do you set a strategy for your procurement function? Discover what to actually do.


How many times have you heard the word ‘procurement strategy’ throughout your career? Hundreds, if not thousands? And how many times have you seen one created and executed brilliantly?

Hmm. 

In 2020, especially after this year’s crisis, we all know that a procurement and supply chain strategy is more important than ever. But it’s also more challenging than ever to create the right one, as we posited in our last article Procurement Strategy: What You’re Currently Doing Wrong

So with all the challenges and complexities that a procurement strategy brings, is it possible to create an ideal one? One that goes beyond a ‘your wish is my command’ strategy, yet doesn’t make the mistakes inherent in a ‘market leader’ strategy?

It most certainly is. And here is how you do it.

Step 1: Assess and define

The first step in setting a strategy is assessing the one that you already have. Think you don’t have one? Think again. As we showed in our last article, all procurement functions have a strategy – whether they like it or not. 

If you’re struggling to define your strategy, or it seems like it’s nonexistent, have a look at the choices and activities you undertake every single day. Are you constantly behind, putting out fires left, right and centre and at the mercy of your stakeholders? If so, you’re probably pursuing a ‘your wish is my command’ strategy. Or alternatively, are you rocketing towards an idyllic vision of ‘procurement best practice,’ focusing more on the doing side rather than consultation with your stakeholders? If this is the case, you’re pursuing a market leader strategy which, although it may seem ideal now, will soon lead you astray. 

Assessing your current strategy will force you to confront the truth about what you’re doing but more importantly, what is and isn’t working. Understanding your mistakes here will help set you up to create a strategy that does work. 

After you’ve discovered your strategy, the next critical step is understanding the strategic priorities of the organisation. For example, perhaps you’ve always been focused on costs, yet your business is more focused on quality? When undertaking this step, as procurement professionals, it’s tempting to pour our everything into it, meticulously researching our business, their competitors, and so on and so forth. Yet with all things strategy, the solution is more important than the problem, so ensure that you spend no longer than a few hours figuring out both your own strategy and that of your business. 

Step 2: Identify stakeholders and laser-focus 

From a stakeholder analysis perspective, the problem with the ‘market leader’ strategy is that, quite simply, the firm’s internal stakeholders aren’t consulted in its creation. Conversely, the problem with the ‘your wish is my command’ strategy is that stakeholders aren’t consulted here either – they are just left to make demands. 

The obvious solution for procurement, then, is to identify your primary stakeholders within the firm, figure out your core offering to them, and define what you will be able to deliver, and what may need to be outsourced. 

Dave Pastore, Senior Director, Sourcing Operations, at Corcentric, believes that identifying key stakeholders is absolutely essential to secure buy-in across the organisation: 

‘You’ll find that some stakeholders are more inclined champions of procurement than others, identifying them early and collaborating with them will lead to a snowball effect on procurement’s successful collaboration across the organisation.’

To give an example of, let’s say that a business has recognised that their rate of returning customers is low, due to substandard product quality.  The primary stakeholders who are concerned by this trend are the executive, customer service team and marketing team – and they are exactly who, from a strategic perspective, you’d need to prioritise. As a procurement function, then, your focus may be on sourcing new, higher-quality suppliers, while also carefully balancing cost considerations, as undoubtedly the finance team would still be a key stakeholder for you.  With the focus on product quality, you may then choose to outsource quality assurance or administrative tasks, so you can laser-focus on what will add the most strategic value. 

When considering the overall corporate strategy, and which stakeholders to prioritise, you’ll inevitably need to choose the parts of the strategy that you can influence the most. 

Step 3: Consider your competitive advantage

When it comes time to decide which strategy to pursue, your decision-making process should be similar to the way that any business decides their own strategy: by figuring out your competitive advantage. 

Think about it. How does Starbucks get ahead? By providing better value coffee than Dunkin’ Donuts. And McDonalds? They need to find their unique value proposition and deliver on it, vis-a-vis Burger King. As strange as it may seem, this is no different from you and your procurement strategy. 

Diego De la Garza, Senior Director, Global Services, at Corcentric, believes that your competitive advantage may not be just one thing, but rather it should evolve over time: 

‘Your competitive advantage should evolve as the environment of the organisation changes, one day the organisation is ripe to capture savings and the next is prioritising process automation. 

‘Procurement competitive advantage is predicated on its ability to deliver value to what the organisation needs most.’ 

Even if your competitive advantage is something that evolves, it still can be challenging to discover. For example, it clearly doesn’t make sense for procurement as a function to compare themselves against other internal functions, such as finance. It also doesn’t make sense for procurement to compare their own function to procurement in another organisation, as that business may have a totally different strategy. Procurement, as with all other internal functions, has an effective monopoly within each individual organisation, so comparison is hard. Often, the most effective comparison is an outsourced provider. 

This can often be a useful starting point to define your competitive advantage, though. All things considered, what value can you deliver that an outsourced provider cannot? 

Step 4: Play to win 

Once you start to understand what value you might be able to offer your organisation, and your stakeholders in particular, create several different strategies with different focuses, and then decide on the one you believe will have the highest chance of success. For example, with the situation described above, you may decide to focus on procuring higher-quality suppliers, or alternatively, technology that can guarantee better quality assurance. 

You won’t know which strategy will be the most successful, of course, but ensure that you’ve comprehensively consulted your stakeholders to maximise the best outcome. Then, throughout your implementation, make sure everyone is continually consulted, and informed, especially if requests akin to the ‘your wish is my command’ strategy start creeping in. 

Stakeholders are well and truly key to a successful strategy, says Dave Pastore: 

‘A key to ensuring the successful adoption of your procurement strategy is to collaborate with those who will be most impacted by it: your stakeholders.’  

We all know that strategy is important – but equally, that it’s hard. But by understanding your company’s strategy, then figuring out your competitive advantage as a function and, finally, consulting with your stakeholders, you’ll have the best chance of creating and implementing a strategy that will add the value you know you can bring. 

What challenges have you had in setting your procurement strategy? Let us know in the comments below. 

5 Ways To Amplify The Impact Of Your Personal Brand

How do you make a serious impact with your personal brand? Here’s five essential things you need to be doing.


Recently, a journalist on LinkedIn asked ‘Who is making waves in procurement and supply chain?’ and we were so incredibly chuffed that a number of our incredible members tagged Procurious! We loved the compliment, but it really got us thinking – how is it that someone can make an impact in this industry that we love so much? And what tactics/techniques can we all use to help amplify our own personal brand and increase our chances of being successful? 

If you’re a procurement professional, here are five things you can do to help boost your personal brand and get noticed by those who matter.

1. Have a killer profile picture

If you’re using professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn or Procurious, you may very well meet someone online before you do so in person. This means that you’ll want to put your best digital face forward. But what should this look like? 

Firstly, you’ll need to select (or take) a photo of you that looks professional. In order for it to be so, make sure that it’s taken in soft, natural light – bright lights aren’t that flattering, no matter how good looking you might be! Beyond this, make sure that you’re the only one in the photo, and that you’re wearing what you would wear to work to amplify your professionalism (or even better, dress for the job you want, not the one you have!). 

When taking your photo, make sure that your face takes up the majority of the frame, and choose the right expression (a smile usually works well!). In order to look as professional as possible, make sure that you have someone else take the photo and avoid any distracting backgrounds.  

Remember, profile pictures really matter. Research has shown that on online networks, your profile is up to 14 times more likely to be visited if you have a good profile picture.

2. Develop thought-leadership content 

When it comes to marketing yourself – which, in essence, is what personal branding is all about – there’s nothing better than creating content. But do you need to be a design extraordinaire or trained journalist to do this? Absolutely not! There’s lots of different ways you can share your valued opinion and expertise online. 

One way is simply asking questions and commenting on discussions and blogs, which you can do easily online, including right here on Procurious. 

And there are multiple other ways, as well. If you’re wanting to share your expertise with others, you can volunteer to appear on an industry podcast, create a vlog (which are becoming increasingly popular on LinkedIn and other online platforms), or write long-form content, which you can post on your LinkedIn profile or alternatively, volunteer to guest blog on other industry sites.

3. Regularly put yourself out there (including at events) 

When it comes to influence and personal branding, a lot of it comes down to presence. Are they aware of the impacting you’re making? Are you getting noticed? Do people remember you and will they think of you next time? 

Developing and nurturing a personal brand is a lot like trying to get a new job. You might get lucky the first time you try, but more than likely, you’ll have to keep trying and trying to get where you need to be. Your personal brand is no different. Whether you’re publishing thought leadership content, participating in discussions or speaking on panels, you’ll need to do so regularly so you’re more likely to be noticed – and remembered. 

A great way to continually put yourself out there is to attend industry events and conferences, many of which are currently happening online. Check out the ones Procurious are currently hosting.

4. Create a standalone website

When it comes to personal branding, authenticity is important. But appearing authoritative is just as important, and one way to do so is through a standalone website about you, personally. The website can feature your blog, conferences you’ve spoken at, and any other awards or accolades you’ve received. A great example of a personal branding website within our industry is that of Sheri Hinish, Supply Chain Queen.  Procurious founder, Tania Seary, also has her own excellent personal website. 

Not sure how to create a website? It’s easy, requires no coding skills and can be completed in just a few hours. Try creating one with Wix or Squarespace.

5. Be a little controversial 

You may not find this advice in many other personal branding articles, but here at Procurious we know it to be true: you can put yourself out there regularly, but if you’re saying that same thing as everyone else you won’t get noticed. You’ve got to say something unique. 

You’ve got to say something different. And oftentimes, different means controversial. 

As we all know though, we have professional reputations to maintain, and controversial need not be too controversial, especially if what you want to say is a little negative. But at the same time, it’s only be challenging the status quo and daring to say things that others may not that you’ll stoke discussion, and get noticed. 

One shining example of this is Procurious member and founder of Procurement Excellence, Peter Smith. Peter has become well-known for his unique and controversial opinions, and has even authored a book based on his opinion that organisations waste billions through avoidable failures and fraud. 

Your personal brand is a career-long investment 

Your personal brand, just like your career, requires constant effort and investment to pay off. But once it does, the result is truly priceless. An effective personal brand can open doors and opportunities you never would otherwise have imagined, and be the key to you getting where you want to be. 

What are you doing to grow your personal brand? Tell us in the comments below.

Will Autonomous Procurement Cost Me My Job?

Autonomous procurement is no science fiction. It will happen. How can you expect it to change the nature of procurement as a discipline and a career path?


Nottingham, England, 1811: at a time when wages were being depressed to starvation levels and skilled artisans put out of work by the introduction of machinery operated by unskilled labor, weavers led by the mythical General Ned Ludd organised a campaign of smashing machinery. They became known as the Luddites. Ever since, the term Luddism has come to mean opposition to industrialisation, automation, computerisation, or new technologies in general.

More than two centuries of technological advances later, nobody smashes up machines. Because, unlike in 1811, automation is not destroying a way of life. Sophisticated levels of automation are accepted as the norm in manufacturing industry and other sectors as diverse as agriculture and finance. Generally speaking, the higher the level of automation, the higher the level of salaries. Manufacturing and process plants that use robots or other technology to automate routine tasks tend to have a highly skilled and well-educated workforce. And in future, many tasks will be performed, in part or in whole, autonomously.

Nevertheless, people are uneasy about rapid change and the insecurity it causes. And since the start of the first industrial revolution, the rate of change has accelerated. For the first 200 years, progress was mainly focused on gradual improvements in engineering and mechanisation and the harnessing of different sources of energy. Then came computers, then the Internet, and with them, digitisation. A whole new era. Even so, until now digitization has mainly involved the transfer of manual processes onto computers. Even now automation such as it exists is mainly limited to extremely low-level routine tasks where human activity is replaced by rules-driven robotic process automation.

Further acceleration is on its way with Industry 4.0, because of the sheer volume of data that can drive machine learning and the steadily increasing sophistication of artificial intelligence.

Autonomous production will rely on the harnessing of data and software to move from reactive artificial intelligence to prescriptive. For example, with reactive manufacturing, defects are discovered at the end of the line and the production team responds to correct the observed error. Until then, the factory keeps turning out defective goods. A prescriptive AI system, by contrast, identifies potential errors in advance and makes small changes to avoid future quality failures. These small corrective actions are made autonomously, in anticipation of defects, and thereby reduce the cost of non-quality.

We are now poised to see similar developments in procurement.

From automated procurement to autonomous procurement

How will this progress unfold? Spend Matters has identified four levels in a journey “that starts with technology that that assists buyers in completing tasks and ends with a platform that applies knowledge that is collected from buyers to do the tedious parts of their jobs for them”.

The four levels are:

Level One – Automation built on assistive intelligence

Level Two – Augmented procurement built on augmented intelligence

Level Three – Intelligent procurement built on cognitive intelligence

Level Four – Autonomous procurement built on autonomous intelligence

A truly autonomous procurement solution will not only have cognitive capabilities embedded throughout the platform but will build on those capabilities to automate entire sourcing and procurement processes without any buyer interference whatsoever, when the opportunity arises. Such a scenario is not imminent, but nor is it science fiction. It is something that we are moving towards gradually; our view of the destination is still rather hazy, but we can see it. With this ultimate state, systems will not only learn from humans and adapt their behaviour using cognitive abilities but also learn and adapt to new tasks and situations like an expert would, without always having to surface exceptions for human review.

 Let’s put things in perspective

But even if it does not happen overnight, does this mean procurement professionals will ultimately lose their jobs? There is no short answer, but it is certain that many tedious human tasks and activities will be displaced. There are some tasks that robots and other technology are good at, and others that only humans can do. But let’s put things in perspective. According to a report published by the McKinsey Global Institute in 2017, only 5% of human occupations can be fully automated, although approximately 60% of occupations have at least 30% of technically automatable activities. The activities that it identified as most susceptible to automation are physical ones in highly structured and predictable environments, as well as data collection and processing.

Thus, up to two-thirds of jobs will change to a significant extent. Some jobs will disappear, but will be replaced by growth in other, more interesting activities. Check out this website. Enter “Procurement Clerk” and it will return a 98% probability that the job will eventually be replaced by what it calls “robots”, i.e. digital technology. But enter “Purchasing Manager” and the risk sinks to a virtually negligible 3%: the risk level is “totally safe”. With “Logistician” the risk is even lower, at 1.2%. It is easy to detect the pattern here: the more your job depends on human intellect and the less it depends on routine, the safer you are, even if aspects of your job can and will be automated.

In short, fewer boring activities, more value-adding and strategic activities.

I think there is a recognition that we cannot hold back technological progress, even if we want to, and that technological progress is an imperative in a dynamic, competitive environment. Nevertheless, fears persist. Some have expressed the fear that autonomous procurement will rob procurement professionals of critical activities such as sourcing, contracting, managing, and executing purchases with the suppliers of goods and services. But in my opinion, these are precisely the activities that cannot be handled by technology alone, with the exception of execution, and even here, there will be need for human intervention.

Autonomous procurement will use prescriptive AI to anticipate and correct small “quality defects” in execution before they happen. While each of these corrections is small in itself, they will add up to big benefits in terms of cost savings and performance improvements. But this will not replace the bigger decisions that will still depend on the ability of procurement professionals to make decisions based on a combination of data analysis and experience. In other words, procurement professionals will be freed up to focus on things like identifying new opportunities through category rationalisation. Once these activities are done, autonomous procurement will take care of formerly labour-intensive tasks such as setting up and executing an entire sourcing event from start to finish.

It is worth mentioning that increasing levels of automation in procurement will play a decisive role in attracting talent into the profession in future. Young talent and tedious, routine work do not mix well! As David McBride, Transformation & Strategy Director at real estate professional services company JLL put it, “Younger procurement professionals entering large organisations now expect to use cutting edge technology.”

In which areas of your role would you find autonomous procurement capabilities most useful?  Let us know in the comments below.

Your Supplier Made The News … For The Wrong Reasons. What Does This Mean For You?

What should you do if your supplier ends up in the news? Here’s what effect it could have on you and how you should mitigate the damage.


Let’s face it, 2020 has been the year that changed everything. Anytime you even go near a media website, you’re hit in the face with the latest pandemic disasters. 

Yet the domination of the news with COVID crisis has meant that there’s little room for much else, which, strangely, may have been a blessing in disguise for some of our organisation’s PR departments – and our own supply chain obligations. From whispers that much of the world’s current PPE is currently the product of modern day slavery to suppliers who have been caught out using substandard (and even contaminated) ingredients in food, there’s mounting evidence that while we’ve all been distracted this year, supplier standards may have been slipping. And while that may not have spelled disaster for us just yet, what do we do when the news catches up with them? 

It’s not good for them, and it’s not good for you. Here’s why … and what you should do about it. 

If your supplier makes the news, will your customers blame you? 

If you think that your customers are savvy enough to distance you from the reputation of your suppliers, think again. Ever since the Nike sweatshop scandal rocked organisations worldwide, it’s been clear that if your suppliers take a fall, you will too – and it can be highly damaging, if not deadly, to your reputation going forward. Businesses are just as – if not more – responsible for their suppliers than ever before. 

Concerningly, recent research has also found that even when a supplier mishap has, in essence, nothing to do with your product quality, consumers will still start to believe that your product is inferior. This means that if you were to have something like a COVID outbreak in your factory and it was widely publicized, even if you were able to maintain production, your reputation would still be tainted in your consumer’s eyes. Unfortunately, the reputational damage occurs no matter what the issue is: even if, for example, your supplier was caught polluting or even embezzling, your reputation would be the one to take the hit. 

If this sounds terrifying, it’s because it is. Even worse, conditions are currently ripe for it to happen. With our supply chains becoming more and more global and complex, it’s becoming harder and harder to track the activities of our suppliers, let alone our second and third tier ones. And with the rise of social media, the world is becoming more and more savvy – and any issues are becoming more likely to be exposed. Take, for example, Change.org’s famous campaign against Hersheys, which exposed, through social media, the continued use of child labour in its cocoa production in Africa, and forced the company to quickly change track. 

The conclusion? If your supplier has something to hide and the media finds out first, you need to be prepared to weather the reputational and financial hit. 

If it’s just slightly bad news, does it matter so much? 

As talented and thorough procurement and supply chain professionals, most of us already have an oversight of the worst risks and issues within our supply chain – and thankfully, we’ve mitigated them. So if something small slips through the cracks, will it really matter? 

Unfortunately, yes. Firstly, humans have a predilection towards bad news. Decades of psychological research have shown that we’re all naturally drawn towards bad news, so much so that even if nine out of the ten news stories we read are positive, we’ll always remember – and act on – the negative one. What this means is that we, as supply chain professionals, need to be extra cautious about what mishaps might slip through the cracks. 

Secondly, consumers don’t rationalise the ‘degree’ of bad news. In what psychologists call the ‘spillover effect,’ consumers were found to equally condemn companies for supply chain failures, even if the news wasn’t, technically, that bad. On every occasion, bad news in the supply chain meant that consumers were less willing to buy from the organisation for an extended period of time. 

How do you mitigate the damage? 

By now, you’re probably frantically checking and rechecking all of your suppliers, terrified that something may have gone wrong. And while the response is justified, and we should always aim to have as much insight as possible into our suppliers, know this: you can mitigate the damage done if your suppliers do end up in the news for the wrong reasons. 

And the best way to do this is to simply try to help find a solution, and communicate this to all involved. 

In positive news, research into the spillover effect has found that while damage can be done quickly, it can be undone at just the same speed. Organisations that act quickly to rectify issues, for example, those who instantly clean up environmental spills or put an end to labour issues, can rescue their reputation, if they take responsibility and put mechanisms in place to do better. And while consumer’s buying behaviour may not revert instantly, if you are able to win back the trust of your customers, the damage need not be long term.  

Managing risk and reputation 

Given the complexity of supply chains these days, maintaining accountability of your suppliers has long been an issue, especially when it comes to tier two or three suppliers. Yet just because this task is challenging, it doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Thankfully, if reputational damage does occur, it is possible to reverse it. But do we want to take the risk of finding out? 

Has your supplier ever ended up in the news? What did you do about it? Let us know below.

Do Supplier Panels Deliver On Expectations Or Leave You Wanting More?

Are supplier panels as outdated as your nan’s rug? Do they stifle innovation? Or are they a basic essential for every procurement pro’s toolkit?


Supplier panels have been around forever. They are as old and ubiquitous as the crocheted rug on your nan’s couch. Just because they’re part of the furniture, does it make them a good solution? Are they old fashioned? Or worse, do they limit innovation? Why do we still use panels?

Read on to find out!

What is a supplier panel?

A supplier panel is a list of suppliers who have been pre-approved / vetted and have agreed to the terms and conditions for supply which is generally ratified by the supplier signing a standardised head agreement. Panels are suitable when there is an ongoing need for the goods or service and there is enough volume to support multiple suppliers.

It’s an (approved) little black book of key suppliers that you can call on in your time of need.

Why bother?

The two major benefits.  You can secure a list of verified suppliers who you know can deliver what you need.  The terms and conditions are locked in, which often includes rates. The major benefit to the suppliers is that they become a preferred partner and will get first dibs on any work coming out of your organisation.

Are they still relevant?

Traditionally supplier panels were established to create efficiencies in sourcing. The premise is simple, agree the majority of terms up front and call off what you need when you need it through a slimmer form of contract, like a statement of work or purchase order. Easy right?

Well, not entirely. There are several pitfalls to avoid when it comes to supply panels.

  • The initial process can be exaggerated and onerous. There are supplier panel processes that have taken over a year to run, can you imagine?!
  • Once the panel is established, there can be a lack of work due to a large volume of suppliers being selected or the business not using the panel
  • The energy and enthusiasm of the establishment phase can disappear, stringent scopes in the head agreements can narrow what the panel can be used for, therefore stifling innovation
  • The secondary processes (where the work is actually awarded) can often succumb to  supplier bias / familiarity and not be competitively tested

Supply panels do have a place in procurement; they just need to be established with the right motivation in mind and be right-sized to the requirements.  Don’t dress mutton up as lamb, just call it like it is. If you need a phonebook of suppliers, then do a simple registered suppliers list.

Where to start – plan for success!

Many panels have failed to deliver. Imagine, all that effort up front only for it to never be used! It can damage the reputation of the buyer when suppliers feel jilted at having invested so much into a process, only to “hear crickets” from the buyer. Avoid this situation procurement pro’s!

Follow this useful guide to ensure you only invest your valuable time where it’s actually needed.

Five winning strategies for panelsAction stations!
The first key decision is do you need a panel? Really? Really, really?Let data drive you – not your customer or management team. Make sure you invest the time to test the need.  Back it up with evidence.
What’s the goods / services? What category does it fit into?The type of goods and services should define what type of panel you should establish. Don’t design a Rolls Royce if you only need a mini!   Use Kraljic’s purchasing matrix to help.
What relationship management style do you want and need?If you are buying a bucket load of pens, then you don’t need to follow any fads and produce a 400 page partnership agreement, pens are usually goods / units and tactical procurements.   The relationship management style should drive the type of panel you establish.   Relationship Management Spectrum contained on page 12 of this guide
How are you seen as a buyer?It’s important to know your position in the market to understand your attractiveness and what leveraging power you have.   Power and dependency model
Where does this product / good / service fit in context of the total spend of your organisation?What is the criticality of this service to your business? How dependent are you on this supplier? And what is the value of the contract in comparison to your total spend?   These questions help inform the contract style, the effort you should put in and the relationship style.   Supplier positioning matrix

The work is not complete when the contracts are signed, in fact it has only just begun.

To get the most out of your panel, ensure you:

  • engage regularly with the suppliers
  • Issue pipelines of upcoming work to incentivise them
  • Communicate regularly with your internal users
  • Try to ensure all panel members are utilized either through competitive quotes, rotating contract opportunities

What are your top tips for managing supplier panels?

Is It Time To Retire The Office Drinks Trolley?

While after-work drinks used to be a staple of office life, new drinking trends, sobriety challenges and negative effects on mental and physical health have highlighted alternatives that better promote team building and could spell the end to “work drinks” trends.


As pubs and bars in the UK reopen their doors and many businesses head back into the office, many people will be thrilled to be finally meeting colleagues and friends for a post-lockdown drink. However, there has been a distinct change in drinking habits during quarantine, while 57% of Brits are consuming alcohol as normal, 17% say they’ve been drinking more, and 25% are actively cutting down on their alcohol consumption, according to YouGov data.

During lockdown, the government recognised mental health implications caused by the pandemic and the media helped to raise awareness and provide resources to support the public during this time. However, the ongoing impact of alcohol consumption on mental health is nothing new and is rarely addressed, even as research showed that consumption patterns changed during lockdown. As the workplace evolves with new ways of working and environments where people socialise change in response to public safety concerns, will after-work drinks become a thing of the past? We explore the relationship between alcohol and the workplace and how perhaps the pandemic has served as the catalyst for changing the way we work and help us to discover alternative ways of expressing ourselves and connecting with others.

Cocktail Culture

There is no doubt that the media’s glamourisation of alcohol, especially amongst women, has helped to normalise more frequent and heavier drinking of alcohol in work environments, at the Friday afternoon drinks trolley or ‘swift-half’ after work. Post-work drinks have been assimilated as a way to wind down after a stressful day for decades and used as a reason to build personal bonds with coworkers – even used as means to get ahead in the workplace. More formal industry events are often held on the assumption that everyone will be networking with a drink in their hand. This drinking culture not only alienates non-drinkers, but it also has a variety of negative effects on our health, both mental and physical. 

Mind & Body

In addition to the well-publicised physical health issues caused by continued alcohol consumption, such as liver disease, heart disease, and high blood pressure, there are a host of mental health issues that alcohol can also contribute to. Approximately one-third of individuals struggling with alcohol abuse also suffer from mental ill-health, and the number of people admitted to hospital with alcohol-related behavioural disorders has risen in the last 10 years by 94% for those aged 15-59, and by 150% for people over 60. 

Alcohol is a depressant, disrupting our thoughts, wellbeing and actions in the short term, and causing long term mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and OCD. When alcohol is used as a coping mechanism for stress or as a social lubricant, it often has an adverse effect. Studies have continually linked alcohol abuse and addiction to violence, domestic incidents, and suicide, making it one of the biggest killers globally.

COVID-19 Impact 

According to pre-pandemic research by the Economic Research Council, the risk of ‘problem drinking’ is heightened when individuals are working in conditions such as: isolated away from friends and family, with extended working hours, in dangerous environments, and when we’re at risk from organisational change such as restructure or redundancy. This list makes it clear why alcohol consumption has increased during the COVID-19 crisis. Sarah Hughes, the chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said ‘Those employers that ignore the issue, or who undermine the mental health of their staff, risk not only the health of the people who work for them but the wealth of their business and the health of the economy as a whole.’

Generational Attitudes

Many people recognised the negative effects of alcohol on wellbeing long before lockdown, and this is particularly apparent in millennials (or those born between 1981-1996). According to a 2019 report, 56% of millennials consider themselves ‘mindful drinkers’ compared to only 37% of baby boomers. This has been attributed to millennials’ desire to be more conscious in all aspects of their lives, which has also contributed to a rise in vegan and cruelty-free lifestyles. 

Young professionals also benefit from hyperconnectivity and increased social media use, giving them the opportunity to instantly catch up with friends or family online rather than in person, over a drink. Virtual communities also exist online to help people in times of worry or stress, meaning they’re less likely to turn to alcohol to self-medicate. We’re also seeing a rise in ‘sober-curious’ people, who are looking to cut down on alcohol, but still enjoy an occasional drink. So, when working within a millennial team, it might be time to ditch the boozy activities in favour of more sober socials.

Alternative Activities

Luckily, it’s never been easier to drink less, with a variety of alcohol companies releasing soft drinks or 0% alcohol variations. In May 2020, during the height of the pandemic, sales of non-alcoholic beer were up 44% in the US compared to the same period in 2019.

However, alcohol-free employee activities need to be more creative than simply replacing cocktails with mocktails or switching to alcohol-free beer. After-work drinks essentially provides human connection and serves as a way of employees switching off and bonding. Here are a few alternative ways to provide that social connection which don’t revolve around alcohol, are available around the clock and are inclusive for entire organisations.

Research shows that increasing numbers of people are actively drinking less to improve their health and wellbeing, why not incorporate this into employee wellbeing social activities? Switch the drinks trolley for yoga classes, meditation, book or cinema club, cooking classes, or sports and outdoor games. All of which are more fun, release countless endorphins and provide fuel for conversation enabling employees to find out more about their colleagues, beyond what they order at the bar. 

Deeper Issues

This not only shifts the focus away from alcohol, but also acts as an opportunity for managers to dig deeper into what employees actually want to achieve from team activities. Employees may be looking to unwind and escape from the office, but is heading to the pub or offering complimentary drinks in the office just a lazy substitution for resolving wider issues such as disjointed teams or excessive workplace stress? By discovering why employees are utilising alcohol as a buffer will lead to a better understanding of their needs as both in and out of the workplace.

This article was originally published on HappyMaven on 16/7/20 and is republished here with permission.

Why Are Women Getting The Short End Of The Stick When It Comes To COVID-19?

What is the pink recession and why is it coming?


Women in the workplace

It’s no shock to anyone that women have been shortchanged in the workplace for decades now. We’re still struggling for equality on so many levels. From being promoted last, to being passed over for the best assignments, we always end up seemingly on the short end of the stick.

That surely doesn’t mean we haven’t made progress. This problem literally comes two months after Forbes reported Women had started holding more jobs in the US than men. And now, they have accounted for 55% of the increase in job losses.

That means, a portion of our progress may be quickly erased with the new ‘Pink-Collar recession.’ So, what exactly is it?

In a recent article from The Guardian, they define it as the economic downturn from the COVID-19 outbreak, that has ended up affecting more women than men. The opposite of what we typically see in times of economic crises.  

Great. It’s exactly what we don’t need when it comes to advancing the cause. It’s been hard enough fighting for equal pay, now this setting us back even further!

Causes of the Pink-Collar Recession

Although there may be some who may be happy that we are going back to more traditional ways, most of us are not. And that’s only a sliver of the problem; because, it’s tradition for women to stay home and take care of the kids.

Now, just because it’s tradition, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Women have more than proved themselves when it comes to being successful.

Just look at amazing women politicians like Angela Merkle and Jacinda Arden. Not to mention all the women who have their own businesses and made it to the C-Suite of Fortune 500 companies. We’ve overcome the odds to be some of the most powerful women in the world!

Unfortunately, not all women can work full time, and therein lies another problem. Women started out with a disadvantage from the beginning. Women are over-represented in low-wage roles.

Add to that the majority of industries women have chosen to work in have been the ones the hardest hit by the downturn. Retail, food services and accommodations (hospitality) are at the top of that list.  

Even in certain industries like transportation (i.e. airlines), women with the least amount of seniority, are most likely to lose their jobs.

And even for those of us who are able to work remotely from home, research suggests (by the IFC and UCL Institute of education) that:

“Among those doing paid work at home, mothers are more likely than fathers to be spending their work hours simultaneously trying to care for children…that in lockdown, mothers in two-parent households are only doing, on average, a third of the uninterrupted paid-work hours of fathers.”

I personally can validate these statistics. And I can say that it isn’t something I’m particularly happy about.

Women Making it Through and Past the COVID-19 World

We’ve endured much tougher things as women than a virus, so I’m certain we will make it through these times. Some women like myself, have been able to keep their jobs and effectively multi-task taking care of their children at the same time.

But for some, that may simply not be true or as lucky. Therefore, the question then remains, what are the women who have been directly affected to do?

Well for one, the women who have managed to maintain their positions and family, must look out for those who were less fortunate. Being aware of the current impact to the work environment, just simply isn’t enough.

Second, we must push harder for gender equality in the workplace. Equal pay, pregnancy leave, and flexible work-schedules (remote too) are at the top of my list.  But even succeeding with these things, won’t get us to equality.

Go out of your way to become a role-model or mentor to other women who have been held back in their careers. And if you are managing women employees, make sure that they know you value work and are rewarded to reflect this.

We always knew the path to gender equality wouldn’t be a straight one, but I’m sure few of us planned for this set-back. That’s why it’s so important for us to try and keep what advancements we had made. And then push harder, for more in the future.

Without this, we may be leaving ourselves open to a much dire situation. And I personally can’t think of anything worse than our society being sent back to the 1950’s. We deserve equality, so let’s not let each other down and support the fight!

For other on supporting women’s rights, check out these Women in Procurement news at Procurious.

Navigating The Next 150 Days: Three Experts Share How to Strengthen Supply Chain Defenses

Three procurement experts share their strategies for mitigating supply chain risk during the second half of 2020.


The Economist put it best in early July: “You may have lost interest in the pandemic. It has not lost interest in you. COVID-19 is here to stay. People will have to adapt. The world is not experiencing a second wave: it never got over the first.”

This reminder rings true for procurement and supply chain leaders.

Thankfully, we are more than halfway through this disaster of a year called 2020. Let’s take stock of where things stand: At the outset of the crisis, 97% of supply chains were affected. Since then, the global supply chain has stabilized, but remains vulnerable. The virus continues to spread and economic uncertainty remains. But are we on the path to recovery? 

“It’s hard to say if we are in recovery or not,” says Nick Binks, General Manager Contracting and Procurement for Woodside Energy. “The initial crisis has passed, but we have not fully recovered. We expect to see new hurdles and obstacles pop up in our supply chain.”

riskmethods, a supply chain risk management provider, recently analysed all the risk indicators for the first half of the year. What they found was telling: In May, there was a decline in every type of supply chain risk they monitored, which cautiously signalled the start of a turnaround.  

The keyword there, of course, is cautious. riskmethods also found that the percentage of pandemic-related threats in May was still higher than January or February 2020.

“This crisis is far from over,” said Bill DeMartino, Managing Director for riskmethods North America. “The next few months are critical for building up supply chain defenses to protect against the next wave.”

Procurement’s Second Half Focus: Supplier Health and Risk Awareness

What’s the best way for procurement and supply chain leaders to strengthen defenses through the end of 2020?

Naomi Lloyd, the Director Procurement Asia Pacific for Campbell Arnott’s, recommends keeping a pulse on the big picture. “Be conscious of the entire market. You may be experiencing strong demand now, but someone else in your network may experience a drop in demand or disruption. Everything is connected,” said Lloyd.

DeMartino agrees: “Determining your critical supply chain dependencies is a must during the recovery process.”

The financial roller coaster we’re experiencing also bears watching. According to riskmethods, financial distress of suppliers was 105% higher in May than at the beginning of the crisis, signaling there’s more damage to come.

“Getting an accurate read on supplier health is always a challenge. Traditionally, we would qualify a supplier’s financial viability, and then set it and forget it,” said Binks. “Now we are regularly checking and monitoring.”

Becoming a more risk-aware enterprise is an essential step in the recovery and resilience process, according to riskmethods. Supply chain and procurement leaders can take different steps to make that happen, depending on what their business is experiencing right now. Specifically,

–          During crisis, dedicate additional resources to risk management

–          During recovery, expand the importance of risk in decision making

–         While operating in the new normal, elevate the role of risk preparedness by uniting stakeholders across the enterprise

“Risk has always been a KPI on our procurement scorecard, but pre-COVID, no-one really took much interest in it within the business,” said Lloyd. “Now, risk management has been elevated. We’re holding weekly cross-functional meetings to openly identify and discuss what’s happening on the risk front. Procurement leads these meetings, but everyone is involved: quality, engineering, planning, operations, finance, R&D, sales, and more. This puts risk front and center for everyone.”

The next five months will fly. The onus is on procurement and supply chain teams to ensure operations don’t crash.

Listen to Bill DeMartino, Nick Binks, Naomi Lloyd and Tania Seary in our latest webinar – The Risk Report – Now streaming in the Supply Chain Crisis group

My Pay Has Been Cut. What Should I Do Next?

Has your pay been cut due to COVID? Here’s what to do if it has. 


There’s no doubt that the economic effects of the coronavirus have been significant, with job losses being so severe that many countries  are comparing this situation to the Great Depression.  But for those of us who have fortunately retained our jobs, the effects have still been felt. Namely, many of us in numerous industries from professional services to education may have had to have some uncomfortable conversations. And those conversations may have involved taking a pay cut. 

Right now, we may all just be grateful to have a job, and besides, with quasi-lockdowns and travel bans still in place for much of the world, we may simply not need as much disposable income. But looking into the future, how happy will we be that we’re now working for less? How long will it take for wages to revert to ‘normal?’ Should we ask for a raise anytime soon? 

To help answer all of your burning questions about pay, we spoke to Stella Voules, Director and Co-CEO of JOST&Co., a HR and change management consultancy. But before we bring you Stella’s insights, here’s a high-level rundown of the industrial relations set up in each of our major member countries that govern pay cuts: 

Can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

Is it even legal for your organisation to ask you to take a pay cut? It depends on where you live. Here’s the different laws for the US, UK and Australia. 

In the USA, can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

Legally, yes. Pay cuts are allowed, as long as they aren’t done on a discriminatory basis (for example, they haven’t your pay because of your gender). A pay cut due to COVID is legal, and all your employer needs to do is notify you of the same. If you do have an individual employment contract or union employment contract, you may be protected from pay cuts, depending on your conditions. 

After they cut your pay, your employer does not have any obligation to return it to its pre-COVID levels. 

In the UK, can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

No If your employer does want or need to reduce your pay, they need to obtain your consent. 

If they don’t first obtain your consent, you are entitled to resign, initiate a claim against your employer, or continue to work in your job while also initiating a claim for compensation. 

If your employer does ask you to take a pay cut, you are also entitled to refuse. But if you do this, your employer may be able to terminate your employment contract and try to offer you a new one with varied conditions and pay. 

If your employer is changing the pays of multiple people within your organisation, they are also legally obliged to consult with your relevant trade union. 

In Australia, can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

Usually, no. A reduction in pay is classified as a variation in your employment conditions, so you and your organisation must first agree on the changed terms before the change is made. You have the right to refuse a change in pay, and if your organisation terminates your employment on account, you can make a claim for unfair dismissal. 

Yet although your organisation can’t force you to take a pay cut, there may still be pressure to do so if you fear you will otherwise lose your job. 

If I’ve taken a pay cut due to COVID, when should I expect my pay to return to pre-pandemic levels? 

The legals of pay cuts are rather black and white. Yet as many of us know, employment is very much a relationship, and given the strain that coronavirus has put on so many businesses, many of us are feeling both empathetic towards our employer, and grateful to be in a job at all. These feelings may have encouraged us to agree to pay cuts – for now. But when can we expect our pays to go back to normal? 

Stella Voules says that that is a very big question, and the answer isn’t as simple as we’d like: 

‘Your pay cut “end date” may depend on the instrument used to change your pay in the first place, for example what was in your contract or what your union negotiated. In some cases, an end date may have been specified.’ 

‘But given that the pandemic has no end date, it’s likely that your pay cut may be ongoing.’ 

Stella says employees who have had their pay cut should have done so on certain conditions, and those conditions may have included entering into a new, temporary agreement. If you don’t think this has happened to you, though, Stella advises seeking legal advice from an employment lawyer and your union to understand in more detail what you’ve agreed to. 

If my pay cut was undefined in its length, what signs should I look out for from my employer’s perspective that might indicate my pay would be restored? 

If you’ve taken a pay cut with no defined end date, you might be worried about when your pay will be reinstated. Will it be when the pandemic is declared over? Or will it be when the economy has completely bounced back? 

Unfortunately, much like the pandemic end date, there may be no definite point in time or event which will signal that your pay should be restored. But if you are concerned, there’s a few things you can look out for, says Stella: 

‘Just like in “normal” times, knowing what you should be paid is about watching the market. Look at job ads, ask around, see what other people at other organisations like yours are being paid.’ 

‘Within your organisation, there’s also a few things you can do. For example, look at the revenues of your business, ask for their annual report, see how they’re performing financially.’ 

If an organisation is still in financial distress, says Stella, it will be difficult for them to reinstate pays. And even if they aren’t in distress, they may be taking a conservative approach as no one really knows how the pandemic will play out. But if, and only if, it’s clear that your organisation has returned to its previous level of profitability, then you may start asking questions about your pay. 

How do I go about asking for a pay rise, if my pay has been cut? 

Asking for a payrise is never easy. But in pandemic times, it’s even harder. How do you know if it’s appropriate to ask? How do you do so in a way that doesn’t seem greedy and selfish, especially if your organisation has suffered financially? 

Just like for any pay rise discussion, Stella says, you need to arm yourself with as much information as possible. Research what’s happening in your sector, and what’s happening within your specific category and job role. Understand whether there’s strong demand and have a good idea of pay benchmarks. Only then should you have any sort of pay conversation. 

Yet benchmarking your role in terms of pay is only the first step, Stella says. In order to have any type of pay conversation in COVID or even post-COVID times, you also need to know the  following: 

  1. How well your company is performing financially 
  2. How well you’ve performed in your role 
  3. What your unique skills and capabilities are, and value you personally bring to the company. 

Armed with this information (and assuming it’s all positive), Stella says that you can reasonably request a pay review. 

What should I do if my request for a pay rise is declined? 

Asking for a pay rise is one thing. But getting one is entirely another, especially at the moment. So if your pay has been cut, at what point should you consider looking elsewhere? 

Given the circumstances, Stella says, you should try to be fair to your employer by not looking elsewhere straight away, especially if they’ve been loyal and supportive throughout the pandemic. Beyond this, Stella believes that anyone concerned about pay right now should consider the bigger picture: 

‘If you don’t get your pay rise, remember that reward is so much bigger than pay. So perhaps you can’t get more money right now, but what about more flexibility? Or more opportunities, perhaps some different benefits?’ 

‘Give your employer a chance to find a way to keep you satisfied before looking elsewhere. Remember, the grass is not always greener.’ 

Have you taken a COVID-related pay cut? Has your pay been restored yet or do you know when it will? Let us know in the comments below.