Category Archives: Procurious News

The Root Cause Of Maverick Spend

The issue of maverick spend continues to dominate the Procurious Discussion Board. Does the solution lie in systems? People? Or something else entirely?  Let’s examine some of the approaches to tackling mavericks that came up when this question was crowd-sourced to the global Procurious community.

Orla/Shutterstock.com 

We keep an eye on the most popular discussion questions here on Procurious. One topic that always generates a buzz is the issue of how to deal with maverick spend. The fact that this question keeps rearing its head proves that the problem is perennial; there’s no easy fix and it’s unlikely to be 100% solved any time soon. It’s also an area of common ground shared across our hugely varied procurement community. No matter what sector or geography you may be based in, everyone gets frustrated with maverick spend.

The value in the Discussion Board lies in the authenticity of the advice. Real procurement practitioners share real experiences, war-stories and recommendations, which is so refreshing compared to the “advice” given by agencies trying to push a product or service. There’s also an inherent acknowledgement that there’s no one correct answer – instead of being told by a systems provider that there’s a single, guaranteed fix to your problem, you might get 15 different crowd-sourced responses that you can use to cobble together your own tailored solution.

Systems or people?

Suggested approaches to tackling maverick spend tend to fall into two camps – systems vs people. A discussion started by Louise Cairns shows a great cross-section of suggestions across both these categories.

Procurious member George Thompson, for example, had this advice: “Having a good e-Procurement Portal in place, which is mandated to be used for seeking competitive quotes from suppliers, would be a great help. Simple to use, robust and efficient and very inexpensive SaaS e-Procurement Portals are available … by all means set guidelines, but ensure that there is a user-friendly e-Procurement system in place to support your policies.”

Justin Plokhooy takes the people view: “Relationships, Relationships, Relationships! … Growing your relationships with those perpetrators of maverick spend is vital to ensuring their understanding of the value Procurement can bring. The reason they are behaving like they are is because they probably either don’t fully understand what Procurement brings to the table or had a bad experience that has tainted their view of Procurement.”

Plokhooy advocates the “good cop” approach to engagement: “This is a situation where you will catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar. Heavy handed tactics won’t work.”

Scott Seymour writes that it’s about “Communication and building relationships. You also have to prove your worth to the stakeholders, which can be a daunting task, but stick with it and let them see the value sourcing can bring. Follow this up with data to show the results you are bringing.”

Getting to the root cause of maverick spend

James Ferguson writes: “I would say that maverick purchasing is normally a sign that something is wrong with the current process; people are unaware of the agreements in place, they don’t like the chosen suppliers, the system sucks, the procurement process takes too long, they can’t get the exact goods/services they need or some other issue that is stopping them. Either way, it is Procurement’s job to find out what the root cause is and solve the customers’ issue.”

Iain Wicking, a frequent commenter on the Discussion Board, agrees: “Root cause analysis is a good place to start … [companies] try to solve the problem not realising the … causes are ‘up-stream’ in terms of poor processes, hard to use systems and/or poor leadership that fails to mandate systems (providing they are easy to use) and project the value of good procurement practices (could be a combination of all of these).”

After a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the best way to address maverick spend is by using a taser, Daniel Warnock writes that “Maverick purchasing is a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself. People buy outside the procedure for various reasons (lack of awareness of the procedure, the existing contract does not suit their requirements etc). Identify the underlying problem and maverick purchasing should be minimised.”

“Maverick purchasing is a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself.”

Cristian Martin has a similar message: “Address why there is maverick spend. Do you have the right policies in place? Has training been given to staff? Do you have the support from your senior management team? Have you given poor customer service in the past?”

And finally, this gem from Piyush Shah gives us some valuable insight into the mind of a maverick: “At a place I worked, there was a feeling [of] us (the people at the plant) versus them (the people at head office). Maverick buying was a way to assert our independence and dominance over them. It was clearly brinkmanship from both sides.”

Keith Bird, Managing Director of The Faculty, comments that the popularity of this topic demonstrates that compliance is a long-term challenge. “Maverick spend and contract leakage hamper effective benefits realisation, but a focus on compliance, effective business partnering and an understanding of the business pressure points will help CPOs make savings stick.” 

You’ve crowd-sourced your peers’ solutions, now it’s time to read the report! Download The Faculty’s “Making It Stick” research on tackling maverick spend and driving savings all the way to the bottom line.

eLearning Videos: It’s The Final Countdown

They say all good things must come to an end, and,  sadly it holds true for our FREE e-Learning videos. The good news? You’ve still got a little time to enjoy them! 

Min C. Chiu/Shutterstock.com

You’ve got four weeks to access our eLearning course “Introduction to Procurement” for FREE: enrol here

Good times don’t last forever, and boy has Procurious had some good times in the last three years – don’t worry, that’s not going to change anytime soon!

What is about to change, however, is the pricing of our eLearning videos, which you can find in the Learning Area of Procurious.

If you’ve been with us, and supported us, from the beginning, you’ll know that our fantastic eLearning course, Introduction to Procurement, is currently available to our members free of charge.

But, on the 30th June, everything changes. The entire course of 17 modules, covering everything from Profiling the Supply Market to Developing a Scope of Work and Negotiation for Procurement will  instead be available for the price of USD$135.

Get ’em while they’re hot* (*FREE)

We’d hate for you to find yourself half-way through our eLearning course, which you’d started for free, and suddenly faced with a charge.

We also want to give you, our loyal Procurious members, plenty of notice and opportunity to share the course with your networks and procurement teams, before the new pricing comes into effect.

Tell your mother, tell your father, tell your sister and your brother (and, most importantly, your procurement peers) that they’ve got four more weeks to enjoy the course free of charge! With over two hours of video footage, you better get started. Go, go , go!

About the eLearning course

Introduction to procurement provides the optimal foundation for tomorrows procurement leaders. Structured around our own six-step strategic sourcing tool, participants will acquire strong commercial skills across a broad range of procurement functions.

But it starts off simple. If you’ve ever wished you had an easy and pain-free answer to that awful question from a distant relative, “So…what exactly is procurement?” here’s your answer:

The course progresses to highlight all aspects of the procurement profession. It gives you food for thought on your own approach and capabilities. It discusses topics such as the value of procurement, processes, market research, negotiating, strategy, social procurement and much more.

Module 6, for example, focuses on Spend Analysis:

What happens after 30th June 2017?

From the 1st July, the course will be available for USD$135 (£110) and includes:

  • 2 hours of on-demand video
  • 14 supplemental resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of completion

Don’t forget there’s a whole host of free eLearning content on Procurious ranging from podcasts to webinars and videos.

That’s right! The majority of our eLearning content will still be available completely for free!

Can Procurement See Past The End Of Its Nose?

Procurement must learn to think the unthinkable, predict the world weather forecast and look further than the end of it’s own nose when it comes to technology in order to remain relevant!

luckyraccoon/Shutterstock.com

The Procurious London Roundtable was sponsored by Basware

Procurement 4.0, Cognitive Procurement and Thinking the Unthinkable were among the hot topics canvassed at last week’s inaugural meeting of the Procurious London Roundtable.

Packed with leading-edge speakers, a ready supply of valuable expertise, peer-led market intelligence, and networking, CPOs were unanimous that a reimagined Procurement must be the business’ source of market intelligence on these issues – if it is to secure and maintain a “seat at the table”.

Speakers addressed everything from global politics to AI and making it ito the C-Suite. If you’re intrigued to hear what they had to say, look no further; we’ve managed to pack the finer points into one, handy article!

Learning To Talk Across The  Lily-Pads

Nik Gowing, BBC Broadcaster,  Visiting Professor at King’s College and Big Ideas Summit 2016 Speaker,  joined the roundtable to provide an update on Thinking The Unthinkable.  Unthinkables are critical events that are not being considered or prepared for by organisations or by our governments around the world.

From Brexit to the election of President Trump;  from Putin’s invasion of Crimea to upcoming European elections, unthinkables have been occurring frequently over the last few years and they’re not letting up! In fact, if anything, unthinkable events are happening more rapidly than ever before.

Nik firmly believes that, in a world of social-media, time-scales for unthinkables which were once 20 years could now be 20 months, 20 days or as little as 20 minutes!

Take the infamous United Airlines (UA) flight as an example. Last month,  a passenger was violently dragged off a plane, the incident was filmed and then instantly shared around the globe. In a matter of minutes, UA’s reputation was destroyed and has perhaps threatened  the way airlines will operate in the future.

Nic’s advice for preparing for the future? Instead of destroying mavericks within our organisations, we need to turn them into visionaries and harness a culture where they can thrive. Nic has likened the current situation to frogs on lily pads – everyone is sitting in the same pond but not talking to one another – we need to find a way to come together and talk.

Grab An Umbrella And Face The Future

Justin Crump, CEO Sibylline, shared Nic’s concerns for the future and expressed his desire for organisations to address the current void of awareness about, and study of, the corporate security intelligence environment.

An intelligence-led approach to managing risk and predicting disruptions to your business  is absolutely the  way to go. It allows you to work out when you might be forced to take risks and when it’s worth taking them!

But how do you go about doing this? It all starts with reading your morning paper with purpose! Justin suggests you ask yourself why you’re reading it  and how and why it’s relevant or interesting to you. Consider where your clients work and where your supply-chain  is based. If missiles started flying over a particular country, would it be critically damaging to your business?

It’s possible, and preferable, to turn reading the news into a data-collection process by collating information and highlighting the important areas to disseminate to people within your organisation.

If in doubt, implement the ADAM model:

ASSESS – Understand your business and your world and what these interactions mean to you

DECIDE – Derive actions to help mitigate risks and refine into an achievable plan

ACT – Implement planned actions

MONITOR  – Use ongoing world risk register outputs to understand what is changing in your world. This will help you predict the world weather forecast and figure out when you’ll be needing an umbrella!

Looking Further Than The End of Your Nose

Eric Wilson, head of Basware‘s Purchase-to-Pay business for the Americas and APAC, discussed the critical actions CPOs can take today in order to safeguard against technology obsolescence. When 90 per cent of technology is about to become irrelevant can procurement implement a watertight process that evolves with industry trends?

Eric asked our roundtable attendees to consider the following scenario:

A new CPO comes into an organisation and instantly sees that there is  a problem with procure-to-pay and maverick spend.  They know they can save a whole load of money for the business. They challenge their employees to develop a business case, which a cross functional team evaluates and a score-card of criteria is developed.  Whilst this might sound like a totally reasonable approach there is a one major problem. Eric explained that the challenge with this process is that it focuses five inches in front of the CPO’s face; they’ve seen a problem and they’ve fixed it.

Remember Siebel? Not so long ago it was the best CRM system you could possibly use and was responsible for shifting the entire workplace environment into customer relationship management. Anyone who hadn’t bought Siebel already was about to and huge investments were made.

But, almost overnight, it became completely obsolete thanks to arrival of the Cloud. Siebel went bust, many a CMO lost their job and money was wasted, all because no-body looked further ahead.

Eric explained that the next wave of procurement technology is not just about the traditional goals of visibility, control and savings.  Harnessing the value of the transactional data running through the system will be key.

Given the way tech is trending, particularly AI, within three years 90 per cent of procurement tech will be obsolete.  People will not raise requisitions – robots will! And procurement must prepare for that.

What’s Holding Up Cognitive?

Pascal d’Arc, former GM of Cognitive Scale, talked us through the journey to cognitive and what some of the practical applications are in today’s world. Is cognitive really all the fuss it’s hyped up to be?

Judging by some of the fascinating examples Pascal gave us, absolutely! One such example was a cognitive system that had been given the ability to experiment with building a drone. The resulting machine had a frame shape which was modelled on the pelvis of a flying squirrel, representing something very close to nature.

But why is the progress of advancing and using cognitive tech so slow, what’s holding us back in procurement? According to Pascal it comes down to a number of things:

  1. The technology so far has been very experimental. There has been a sense of frustration towards IBM but they are still experimenting
  2. Expectations are huge. We are often missing the low hanging fruit when it comes to deciding what to tackle
  3. Procurement isn’t a key investment area…yet! Fintech and healthcare are the current priorities

Aiming For The C-Suite

Damian Walsh, Partner at Heidrick & Struggles,  gave our CPOs some top tips on what it takes to get to the very top. How do you successfully move on to a bigger CPO role, step up to CEO or take on a non-executive role.

  • Whatever it is you want to do, tailor your approach accordingly
  • Be clear about what you want and position yourself for it
  • Be clear about what you have to offer – think in terms of business solutions. There is no such thing as a “transport”company any more
  • Get your CV in order and make sure it’s accurate- so many people don’t!
  • Manage the search firms – be selective and understanding and clear about what you’re looking for
  • Work on your personal brand- thought leadership, speaking engagements etc.
  • Work your business and personal networks

The Procurious London Roundtable was sponsored by Basware

If you’d like to secure your seat for our second London Roundtable on 11th October 2017, please register your interest with Olga via [email protected]

Cyber Criminals Could Hold Your Data Hostage

Password theft, identity theft, ransomware – in an age where hacking has become the career of choice for tech-savvy criminals, data protection must be a top priority for CPOs.

“Cyber criminals don’t need to even leave their house to do damage,” says Craig Hancock, cybersecurity expert and Executive Director of Telstra Service Operations. “One breach of trust and the consequences can be irreparable. These days, the traditional idea of criminals – think balaclavas, weaponry, a getaway car – has moved off the streets and into cyberspace.”

Are you prepared for cyber criminals? Do you have your business information secured? How do you manage the confidential information of your customers? And what do you have in place to mitigate risk?

Hancock will deliver a cybersecurity update at the upcoming 10th Asia-Pacific CPO Forum, where he’ll demonstrate how frighteningly easy it is to steal data from a computer by showing a live hack. “I’m planning on showing the group how easy it can be to hack a business, with basic tools and knowledge. I want to make sure everyone is aware about what goes on in the world of cybersecurity threats, and give them some understanding of what they should be doing to help mitigate these threats.”

“Mitigate” is a key word here, as Hancock predicts the cybersecurity challenge faced by businesses and organisations will continue to grow year on year. Notably, he says that any organisation offering a fix-all solution to “solve” your cybersecurity challenge should be avoided.

“It’s an ongoing challenge – cybersecurity has evolved enormously from five years ago, and is likely to look entirely different again by 2020. There’s no single ‘fix’ and there are plenty of bright, shiny objects to distract your security team. You would be wise to put in place some basic, common-sense measures and controls and partner with an organisation that understands the extent of the threat.”

What are the risks?

Cybercrime can be initiated through your head office, at weak point in your supply chain, or even through IoT-enabled devices with low-level protection. Among the types of crime that can take place, Hancock mentions:

  • Password theft: with the obvious prize being the password or access code to users’ bank accounts.
  • Identity theft: a customer’s date of birth and other key information (such as health records) enables criminals to assume their identity, or to sell on this information to others. This can be very expensive for the company that has suffered the breach.
  • Ransomware: Hackers can lock your company’s data in an encrypted vault and demand a ransom for its release. A famous example of this occurred last year when a cyberattack on a Los Angeles hospital left doctors locked out of patient records for over a week, with the hackers demanding a ransom of $3.7 million in Bitcoin.

Telstra’s Craig Hancock will deliver a cybersecurity update at PIVOT: The Faculty’s 10th Annual Asia Pacific CPO Forum.

Do CEOs Dream Of Robotic Sheep?

…Or are they kept awake at night worrying about how to adapt their business to a robotic-centred future? KPMG Australia Chairman Peter Nash reveals two concerns playing havoc with the sleep patterns of business leaders.

How can I adapt my business to a robotic future?

The thing about technological disruption – and machine intelligence in particular – is that people tend to regard it as a challenge to deal with at some point in the future. The key to understanding the scope of the challenge is to break it down into two categories – disruption that we’re already dealing with, and disruption that is yet to emerge.

Robotic process automation (RPA), for example, has been around for decades, with disembodied robot arms a common sight on production lines. Typically, they automate a series of existing processes that were once carried out by humans. We’re just starting to realise the full potential of RPA, with the emergence of bots that sit inside software to automate administrative labour becoming more common.

From his viewpoint into many of KPMG’s client organisations, Peter Nash has seen what an RPA bot is capable of. “If you go into any call centre, you’ll observe staff doing a series of processes as they engage with customers – typically around data capture and data entry. Through observation, you can create “process flows”, and then build software that can be inserted into the call centre and automate the data capture. That’s a classic example of robotic process automation, and it’s happening at pace.”

Interestingly, RPA is resulting in the reshoring of capability from overseas. Nash comments: “You can track the life cycle of offshoring and reshoring. 10 years ago you may have had 100 people doing a job in Australia for the cost of $5 million. Those 100 jobs were offshored to India, resulting in costs being reduced to $1 million. Today, with robotic help, you can have only 10 people doing the same work that 100 used to do – at a cost of $0.5 million. Yes, 90 jobs have disappeared, but there’s the exciting potential for completely new jobs to be created with each technological leap.”

“Artificial (or Cognitive) Intelligence, for example, is only just beginning to emerge. People are very excited about AI’s enormous potential, but at present it’s essentially a solution looking for a problem.”

How do I effectively harness innovation?

Nash comments that there are several models that have emerged in the ways corporations seek to harness innovation. “Many CPOs look for innovation to emerge from down the line, and encourage people, whether they’re in-house employees or suppliers, to bring ideas forward. Other organisations set up innovation capability ‘hubs’ or ‘accelerators’. Another approach is to acquire, or partner with, innovation capability outside of your organisation. Some business are doing a mix of all three.”

“What’s encouraging is that most businesses understand that today, it’s innovate or perish. A culture of innovation, partnered with a culture of flexibility where people have the ability to react and respond to disruptive technology, will ensure businesses are able to take advantage of anything that comes their way.”

KPMG Australia Chairman Peter Nash will deliver a keynote speech at PIVOT: The Faculty’s 10th Annual Asia Pacific CPO Forum.

 

Procurement Pay Gap Shock

The gender pay gap in procurement and supply management has INCREASED, according to US and UK survey results released this week. Have you sponsored your own internal gender salary gap analysis?

Ever considered how procurement salaries measure up with the rest of the working world?

Are you suspicious that your  procurement colleagues might be getting a better deal than you?

If you’re a woman working within procurement and supply chain, have you ever wondered how glaring the pay gap is within your industry or organisation?

This week, ISM’s Twelfth Annual Salary Survey in the US and the CIPS/Hays Salary Survey in the UK have shed some light on all of the above. Whilst there’s clearly still a very long way to go in terms of the  gender pay gap (predicted to take another 170 years to close), things are otherwise looking pretty comfortable for the procurement and supply chain profession….

ISM Salary Survey Results

Now would be a great time to convince your boss you deserve that pay rise, because the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) Twelfth Annual Salary Survey has been released. The results are based on data from 3808 supply management professionals who were surveyed throughout February and March 2017 to determine these average salaries:

Average Salary: $115,440

Median Salary: $90,000

Average for Men: $126, 710

Average for Women $96,990

In the US, a person working in professional, management or related occupations earns an average of $63,076 annually, which means these results are pretty good news for the supply management profession.

The figures show a 5 per cent increase in average compensation since 2015. Men’s salaries have risen by 8.2 per cent and women’s by 3 per cent.

The super bad news is that procurement appears to be taking a step backwards with regards to equal pay. In 2015 women earned 24 per cent less than men, compared with 31 per cent this year.

Download a summary of the report here.

UK Pay Gaps Revealed

It’s not just ISM’s figures proving to be disappointing in terms of gender equality.

As of last month, UK organisations employing more than 250 people are obliged to publish their gender pay gap figures.

Virgin Money disclosed that men who work at the bank earn, on average, 36 per cent more than women, asset manager, Schroders, reported a  31 per cent gap and Utility SSE a 24 per cent gap.

Some are against the new legislation arguing that the numbers don’t give a full picture and place all the blame in the hands of the employers. Others are in favour of the full disclosure and think it will spur organisations and governments to crack down harder on gender inequality.

McKinsey’s Global Institute report found that $12 trillion could be added to the Global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality, which is as good a reason as any to close the gap, pronto!

UK Procurement Salaries Outstrip Average

The CIPS/Hays Salary Guide and Insights 2017 has surveyed over 4,000 procurement employers and employees to learn everything from key trends in salaries to challenges faced by employers and the top benefits desired by procurement professionals at all levels of seniority.

Whilst the average annual UK pay increase is 2.2 per cent, procurement professionals in the UK are receiving an average of 5.3 per cent more! Jacki Buist, writing on Supply Management, believes the results show a “continuing enthusiasm for the profession in all regions.”

Unpredictably,  the cause for concern falls once again in the region of gender disparity. Overall, the pay gap is reducing but at the advanced professional level, men receive an average  of £82,000, compared with a woman’s £65,700.

Registrations are open for the CIPS/Hays Procurement Salary Guide and Insights 2017 Webinar, which takes place on Thursday, 11 May 2017 13:00 GMT.

Are you surprised by the figures released in these two surveys? How do you think the UK’s new legalisation will impact the fight for equal pay? Let us know in the comments below.

In other  news this week….

Google Customers Subject to Phishing Attack

  • Google customers have been targeted with a scam that gave hackers access to the contents of emails, contact lists and online documents of victims
  • On opening a given link, Google’s login and permissions page asked users to grant the fake Docs app the ability to “read, send, delete and manage your email”
  • Google has now shut down the attack but have asked customers who received such an email to flag it to them.
  • Victims have been advised to change the passwords to their online accounts

Read more on The Telegraph

Amazon to Expand in the UK

  • Amazon is adding 400 staff to a new research and development centre focused on machine learning, in a move that reinforces the retail group’s long-term investment in the UK
  • The lab will develop  the voice-activated Echo speaker and Prime Air drones
  • By the end of this year, Amazon plans to add another 5,000 British employees to its payroll, open a new 600,000 sq ft headquarters in central London, and operate three new fulfilment centres around the country

Read more on the Financial Times

The future of Blockchain

  • Put simply,  blockchains take out the middle man (banks) and make the transfer of funds more streamlined and safe
  • The United Nations (UN) used one particular blockchain, Ethereum, to distribute funds from the World Food Program (WFP) in a pilot program earlier this year. The experiment successfully, distributed aid to 100 people in Pakistan
  • The system will now be used in Jordan to distribute funds to more than 10,000 people. It’s expected to help support 500,000 recipients by 2018

Read more on Futurism 

How To Turn Your Procurement Team Into A Cracking Intelligence-Gathering Organisation

According to Justin Crump, CEO, Sibylline, procurement professionals would be foolish to underestimate the value in becoming more active intelligence-gatherers.

Sarah Hipwell/Shutterstock.com

Justin Crump spoke at the Procurious CPO Forum in London, Big Ideas In Action, sponsored by Basware

In his book, Corporate Security Intelligence and Strategic Decision Making,  Justin Crump, CEO Sibylline, addresses the current void of awareness about and study of the corporate security intelligence environment. “The increasing size, scale and sophistication of corporate activities  on the world stage – coupled with increasing legislative attention is driving an increasing focus on the [topic of corporate security], and the traditional gap between “business” (which makes money) and security ( a corporate cost center) is markedly narrowing.

Procurement’s value to an organisation has long been due to it’s position at the interface between the supply-chain and the business itself.  Its external reach offers a unique insight into market trends across the globe.

But is your team sufficiently engaged with the external world to spot these trends and push them  back out to your organisation to ensure that you, the CPO, get a seat at the table.

Justin outlines Sibylline’s five tips to bear in mind for anyone seeking to build out their internal process:

Corporate Intelligence is both an art and a science, and is often misunderstood. It is, perhaps sadly, not the province of dashing secret agents and beautiful women in fast cars; rather it is a process that involves everyone in the organisation, refining the myriad data in the world around us into some sort of meaning. Put simply, intelligence is the process which delivers timely, accurate and relevant insight to decision makers, allowing them to value risk and weigh opportunity effectively for their organisation.

The state of the world at present makes the need for an effective security intelligence process in businesses more important than ever. Drivers include:

  • Legislation – duty of care, safe workplaces, negligence
  • Threat environment – scale and tempo
  • Complexity of supply chains – “just in time”, dependencies
  • Information availability – expanding, data overload
  • Global marketplace – challenges and opportunities

Research has shown that truly resilient organisations not only survive but thrive in this environment. Taking an intelligence-led approach allows for effective and efficient risk management and demonstrates clear value add. After all, if you’re not intelligence-led, then what are you being led by…?

1: Perfect is the Enemy of Good

Intelligence is an imperfect process – inherently, returns are a the function of time and resources. While we equate security forecasting to weather forecasting, the weather does not deceive or lie to you – humans do, whether accidentally or deliberately ! In this uncertain world, everything represents a “best effort” – and you more or less get out what you put in.

 2: Understand what you Care About

Understanding what you care about is at the heart of an effective intelligence function. Faced with a mountain of information, it is answering the “so what” question that matters the most – and clear requirements are the fuel for this. Thorough understanding of the organisation, including its people, its business processes, its strategy and its areas of key exposure, is a key facet of making this all work.

3: Make the Most of People, Processes and Technology

Overcoming the constraints of limited time, imperfect information and strained resources relies on a combination of well-trained people, slick processes and appropriate technology. This helps to generate the best possible results in the time and resources available. All too often companies address only one of this triad, meaning that results are imbalanced and opportunities to provide effective insight are missed.

4: Make an Impact

The best analysis, from the most perfect process, is no good at all if people are not listening. One way to ensure this is to speak to their needs; but sometimes even this is not enough. Presentation is therefore important; what suits your consumer? How much detail do they need, or can they absorb? How much information is too much, or not enough? These are the questions that the practitioner must answer in order to ensure that they make a meaningful impact.

5: Manage Intelligence as a Project

Introducing an intelligence function need not be complex, but needs to be managed as a project and with rigour. As the function begins to build a head of steam, it will start to generate more client interest and greater demands will be made, requiring a steadily evolving approach in order to satisfy expectations. It is therefore best run as a project, within a coherent framework that allows it to grow in a controlled fashion.

We at Sibylline earnestly believe that the best decisions are taken on the basis of intelligence, and an intelligence-led process helps make organisations resilient – allowing them to cope with the challenges of the modern global marketplace. This is a minor investment that returns a great deal, often requiring little more than enforcing things that are already happening within a more effective and disciplined system.

The process of examining yourself and examining the world, within a cohesive framework, gives a stable way to reference what is changing in your environment and therefore highlights both risks and opportunities. Procurement functions in particular are well placed to understand the world and the organisation, and so have a vital part to play in making sense of it all – however crazy the world threatens to get, and well know that there are opportunities amidst the doom, gloom and fake news!

Save The Planet With Garbage-Powered Trucks And Edible Water Bottles

Earth Day is about more than switching off the overhead lights – it’s about making purchasing decisions that will minimise our impact on the environment. From eerily-silent zero-emission trucks to seaweed-membrane edible water bottles, these are just some of the products that should be on the radar of every innovation scout.  

Modernise your fleet with hydrogen-fuelled, electric or biomethane trucks

Although the petroleum industry is grudgingly beginning to recognise that an increasing number of car drivers will hang up the fuel bowser (gas pump) for the last time within the next decade, there’s still a sticking-point when it comes to heavy vehicles.

“Sure, you can move a car with an electric battery, but an 18-wheeler truck is always going to need diesel.”

Wrong. Alternatives are already available for zero or low-emission trucks that match, or even beat, the performance of a diesel-fuelled truck.

Toyota’s hydrogen fuel-celled semitrailers

The Ports of Los Angles and Long Beach took delivery of a zero-emission, 670 horsepower 18-wheeler earlier this month. The hydrogen-fuelled truck is completely silent and emits only water from its tailpipe.

The twin ports are a major source of pollution in the region, due in part to an estimated 19,000 cargo containers moving through daily, carrying $450 billion worth of goods annually. If the test is successful, thousands of conventional trucks could potentially be replaced by hydrogen-fuelled trucks.

Toyota is yet to announce a price for the truck but have predicted it will be competitive with new, diesel-powered trucks when it hits the market. Mileage looks good, with a range of 200 miles on one 20-minute charge. The fuel-cell stacks can be fed water, natural gas or a variety of waste products, with one Toyota spokesperson telling the press that abundant hydrogen can be reclaimed from landfill waste.

Tesla’s all-electric semi-trailer

Mystery surrounds Tesla’s much-anticipated electric semi-trailer, with most reports centred around a tweet from Elon Musk announcing that the truck will be unveiled in September 2017, and that it is “seriously next-level”.

Musk has also confirmed that the semi-trailer will be followed by a ute (pick-up truck) within 18-24 months, and has suggested that Tesla should also enter the bus and heavy-duty truck markets.

The company has yet to share details about how large the battery itself would be or how the truck would overcome range limitations, but commentators from Morgan Stanley have predicted that the truck would be “relatively short-range” (200-300 miles), and use Tesla’s charging stations to quickly swap the batteries for charged ones (a 5-minute process) and get the vehicles back on the road.

Waitrose’s rotten food-powered trucks

Waitrose has partnered with bio-fuel company CNG Fuels to place an order for 10 flatbed trucks that will be powered entirely by rotten food, sourced from unsold food at supermarkets across the UK.

This investment ticks two boxes for Waitrose’s sustainability targets – lowering carbon dioxide emissions, while addressing food waste. Globally, an estimated one-third of all food, or 1.3 billion metric tons of produce – goes to waste every year. The new biomethane trucks have an average range of nearly 500 miles, with the biofuel to cost 40% less than diesel fuel. The biomethane emits 70% less carbon dioxide than diesel.

The next challenge? Lifting a commercial airliner off the ground with rotting vegetables. It may seem unthinkable today, but so was the technology that’s now enabling zero-emission semi-trailers.

Procuring for an event? Try edible water bottles

With an estimated 100 million plastic water bottles being trashed globally every single day, there will soon be more plastic than fish in the ocean. That’s why it’s vital that a solution is found to stem the (literal) tide of plastic.

A start-up called Skipping Rocks Lab has created a product that won’t completely replace plastic bottles, but could potentially make a big dent in their consumption.

“Ooho!” edible water spheres are created by dipping frozen balls of liquid into an algae mixture (seaweed), forming a watertight membrane around the water, which then melts inside. To consume the liquid you simply bite into the membrane (apparently tasteless) and sip it out, or just eat the entire ball.

The spheres generate 5x less carbon dioxide and require 9x less energy to make than a conventional PET (plastic) water bottle. But here’s the catch – they’re perishable. The product has been compared to fruit, with a shelf-life of just a few days. Try keeping one of these in your pantry for a week and you’ll find that it has dissolved into a puddle. However, Ooho would be perfect for events where bottles are bought in bulk and distributed to enormous groups of people, only to be trashed in huge numbers during or immediately after the event – think music festivals, marathons and conferences.

In other news this week:

New study finds that Brexit fears are impacting growth for 80% of UK businesses

  • eProcurement provider Wax Digital has surveyed 200 UK business on the impact of Brexit, finding that 4 out 5 business fear it will hinder their growth. 79% also stated their growth is being hindered by suppliers being unprepared for growth amidst Brexit.
  • 37% said that Brexit will restrict their ability to do business in Europe and 35% said that it will make EU business more costly and complex. 26% expect to reduce their business operations on the continent and 24% will look at alternative international opportunities. Interestingly, 65% of surveyed UK business leaders voted “remain” and would still do so today.
  • The survey also explored perceptions of the Trump Presidency, with 82% saying that a ‘business mogul’ type figure in the White House is positive, and 40% expecting Trump to improve UK to US business opportunities.

Forget the Bus, I’ll Travel To My Meeting By Drone!

What will business travel look like in 2017?  We’re not going to see people riding around in personal drones (yet) but it’s starting to look more like The Jetsons all the time.

Technology is having a big impact both on the way employees travel and how managers help them move around the world with ease. Sunny Manivannan and Ethan Laub of our travel and expense team, and Jack Miles, a long-time procurement executive and business advisor share their thoughts on what the year may bring.

1.    Travel and expense management goes mainstream

For firms with good governance and a cost management mindset, travel and credit card spend has always been a focus. Due to rising costs, and a new generation of technology for automating in this area, we will see laggards start to pay attention and begin to focus here as well. –Jack Miles

2.    Loosening of T&E policies

Companies with modern automated tools will relax their travel and expense policies, paradoxically because they now have so much granular T&E data. This might come as a surprise, but we see the T&E spend culture at customer organizations undergoing a once-in-a-generation shift. Given the rise of knowledge workers, the competition for talent and the focus on employee happiness in today’s leading organizations, companies are trying to find ways to give their employees more flexibility. With the data now available to administrators, companies can relax their policies in certain areas and give their employees more flexibility while still protecting the organization from fraud. -–Sunny Mannivanan

3.    Savvier negotiations as hotel costs rise

Travel costs–typically one of the top four expense categories in most firms–will rise as consolidation in the hotel industry continues. Given Marriot’s acquisition of Starwood and other hotelier consolidations, expect to see an increase in average room night cost. Companies with a focus on sourcing for this category will use their data to look beyond room night cost and add in ancillary costs such as food and beverage, parking, and conference and event spend if they have it to give them more leverage in negotiations. –Jack Miles

4.    Airbnb makes inroads with corporates

Airbnb will continue to grow share in business travel as its integrations with corporate travel agencies and booking tools starts to pay-off. Three major travel management companies (TMCs) signed partnerships with the homesharing platform last year, driven at least in part by corporates expressing interest. According to Lex Bayer Airbnb head of global payments and business travel, Airbnb’s average business trip booking is six days. Again, it’s about giving employees options, and a home may better suit travelers in town for a longer-term project than a hotel room.  –Ethan Laub

5.    Ground travel prices fall

Ground travel (Uber, taxis, limos) is one area where prices will decrease. Black car services will continue to lose share to Uber and Lyft, as the car sharing titans roll out more corporate-friendly controls and reporting. Gaining corporate clients has been harder for pink-mustachioed Lyft, according to sharing economy expert Arun Sundarajan, but it scored a major win when Apple announced them as a preferred partner last spring.

Besides increased competition, lower costs are also driving prices down. Newer, more fuel-efficient cars make up a bigger share of fleets, and fuel rates are currently low. There’s one thing that could cause rates to plummet, rather than just tick down: driverless cars. Fuel isn’t the biggest cost. Neither is the car–cars these days are made so well they can easily last for ten years or more. The biggest cost is the driver. Without drivers, rates for rides could fall by as much as 90 percent over the next two or three years, some analysts say. –Sunny Manivannan and Ethan Laub

6.    Expensing of a driverless ride

 Speaking of driverless cars, here’s a bold prediction: 2017 will mark the first time we see an expense line filed for an autonomous car ride. While Uber had to halt its test of autonomous vehicles in San Francisco last December, there are more than a dozen companies either publicly or secretly working on autonomous vehicles. It’s only a matter of time before this technology makes it to the business market. Our question is, what will this expense line look like? What will the amount be? Who will be the vendor of record?

Perhaps there’ll be a time in the not-too-distant future where transportation isn’t something employees even expense. It will simply be a public utility like electricity, where every company simply pays per employee-mile at the end of each month. –Sunny Manivannan 

7.    Virtual assistants everywhere

Since we’re getting all futuristic here, we’re going to go out on a limb and predict that in 2017, every employee will have an assistant, not just executives. These assistants will be virtual, not physical. With Apple’s Siri, the Google Assistant, and the Amazon Echo, consumers have been exposed to the grand idea of a digital around-the-house helper a la Rosie the Robot. And, many business travelers have already experienced a degree of this with mobile apps that do things such as automatically fill out your expense lines based on geolocation data.

This concept will really take off in 2017, with employees having access to really intelligent, self-learning assistants, no matter where they are. And, we will be able to call on these assistants with the touch of a button, a few taps on our keyboards, or simply our voices.

Sunny Manivannan is senior director of special projects at Coupa. Ethan Laub is director of product management. Jack Miles is principal consultant at Mainspring Advisors, a business strategy consulting firm. This article was originally published on the Coupa blog

A Futurist, An Economist, A Professor, A Psychologist and a CFO Walk Into A Bar…

A Futurist, An Economist, A Professor, A Psychologist and a CFO Walk Into A Bar…It may sound like the start of a terrible joke, but in fact, this is the stellar line-up of experts featuring in Even Bigger Ideas. And alright, they didn’t  actually walk into a bar, it was more of a podcast series…

Whether you love learning on the go, at your desk, on your lunch break or from the comfort of your own sofa, Even Bigger Ideas is made for you! The series is free for all Procurious members and can be found in the learning section of the site.

Why not spend 15 minutes with each of our procurement power-players as they highlight the trends disrupting business. Here’s what you can expect:

1. Make Sure You Still Have A Job In 2020

Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson warns that unless procurement pros act now, there’s a good chance they’ll find themselves unemployed as early as 2020. It’s time to embrace the gig economy, learn to speak the language of digital and invest in our education.

Listen to Anders’ podcast here or read more here

2. The Unpalatable Update On Thinking The Unthinkable

It turns out that thinking the unthinkable in the current climate is becoming a rather unpalatable affair. Nik Gowing, BBC Broadcaster and Visiting Professor at King’s College, explains why leaders must learn to recognise and handle impending unthinkables or risk going out of business.

Listen to Nik’s podcast here or read more here

3. How Do You Know When Your Idea’s Got Legs?

Creating an encouraging environment for intrapreneurs in the biggest organisations can be tough. Rio Tinto CFO, Chris Lynch, offers advice on fostering innovation and some top tips on assessing when an idea has legs. How do you know if it’s worth investing time, and money, into someone’s idea and what can the biggest companies do to encourage and motivate their employees to think big.

Listen to Chris’ podcast here or read more here.

4. Unleash Your Creative Genius In Fifteen Minutes

Innovation is now firmly on the agenda for businesses worldwide. According to Creative Change Agent James Bannerman, there’s no such thing as a lost cause when it comes to unleashing creativity. It’s simply a matter of re-educating ourselves and learning some tips and tricks to unlock our creative potential.

Listen to James’ podcast here or read more here.

5. Trump & Trade: Hope For The Best & Plan For The Worst

Dr Linda Yueh, a renowned economist, broadcaster and Adjunct Professor of Economics for London Business School, discusses how supply managers can prepare for the major shifts in globalisation, trade and protectionism under Trump. With any luck the potential impacts on our global supply chains are over-exaggerated!

Listen to Linda’s’ podcast here or read more here.