COVID-19 has created a significant opportunity for generation next to lead, grow and advance. Here are five steps to break through.
Are you satisfied with your current position, or are you eager to break out and change the game?
Do same-old, status quo procurement and supply chain strategies work for you, or are you ready to rewrite the playbook for the modern era?
Procurement’s impressive performance during COVID-19, and the critical role the function plays in the ongoing recovery, has created significant opportunity for generation next.
Are you going to take advantage?
The doors are wide open. And the rewards are substantial. Think promotions, increased comp, resources, access to emerging tech, leadership opportunities, validation and trust from the c-suite, and much more.
But the doors won’t stay open forever. Now is the time to hustle and own your opportunity. If you’re not entirely sure where to begin, consider these five key steps to break through in today’s market.
1. Want more attention? Make your mark where it matters.
The fastest way to get noticed: push forward the strategic, board-level objectives of your organisation.
What tops your CEO’s agenda right now? If you don’t know, request an immediate alignment meeting with your CPO or team lead. Our research found that the c-suite’s top three focus areas today are mitigating supply chain risk, containing costs, and driving business continuity.
These three areas are your golden ticket. Get creative and be bold with your recommendations. Leadership is looking for fresh and modern ideas, not a repeat of yesterday’s strategy. Don’t hesitate to share, even if your recommendations represent a new approach for your team.
Start by thinking outside the box: Is there a use case for AI, blockchain or predictive analytics? What about partnering with a peer or competitor to solve the problem? If you can drive the results the company needs faster and more effectively than in the past, the recognition will follow.
2. Market your success like crazy.
It’s always a team game, but if you don’t advocate for yourself, who will?
Keep track of your wins and benchmark performance over time to demonstrate improvement. And report with data, not anecdotes.
Be sure to communicate like an executive when sharing your success up the ladder. The TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) phenomenon is a very real trap. Lead with the headline, back it up with data and close with how you plan to take it up to another level.
Remember, you, and you alone, are responsible for your career growth.
3. Champion digitisation and emerging tech.
COVID-19 rapidly accelerated the enterprise digitisation journey and eliminated all the old excuses associated with delayed tech transformation projects.
Every executive is looking to increase resilience, productivity and performance. Digitisation and emerging tech – like AI and machine learning – delivers on all fronts. Those who proactively adapt and modernise are best positioned to lead today and in the future.
If your department is not equipped with the right technology, take a stand and champion the digitisation effort. Executives will take notice. Our research shows that 93% of organisations are investing to enable procurement’s success. There are three primary areas that companies are focusing on to propel procurement forward:
Data and analytics
Development of existing talent
Two of the three are directly tied to digital transformation. For many companies, September marks the start of the 2021 budgeting season. If you see an opportunity, the time to make a move is now. Make the business case abundantly clear by connecting your requests to what matters most for the organisation right now: cash, resiliency, and business continuity.
4. Learn, develop and then learn some more
Fifty-seven percent of organisations are investing in talent development to propel procurement forward, according to our survey research. That number needs to be higher… and you need to make sure you get your fair share of the investment.
Your job: Put forward your personal business case for investment. Identify the skills that you and your team need to survive and thrive tomorrow. And take ownership of your own development.
There are ample opportunities to improve and develop. Our recent survey uncovered five primary talent gaps facing the function today.
Mastering these five areas will push you forward in a big way. Breaking them down, there are three key themes. The first is analytics – leaders that can analyze data, uncover trends and use insights to make fast and informed decisions will remain in high-demand. This should be area number one for professional development and training. The second centers around tech digitisation and modernisation, which we touched on earlier. The last bucket represents the soft skills necessary to be a great leader – emotional intelligence, relationships, and human connection.
Be the leader you want to follow
As you grow, get promoted and gain more influence, prioritize being a great leader. Make it one of the most important things you do every day.
Your leadership approach can either crack the foundation of your team or launch everyone forward. In fact, Gallup says managers account for at least 70% of the variance in team engagement.
But remember, future success requires practice today. According to research from HBR, there are six key areas every aspiring leader should practice right now:
Creating an exciting and challenging vision
Translating the vision into a clear strategy and roadmap
Team management: recruiting, developing and rewarding great people to execute on your strategy
Focusing on measurable results
Fostering an environment of team innovation and learning
Leading yourself — “know yourself, improve yourself, and manage the appropriate balance in your own life.”
If you wait to start practicing these skills until after you get the promotion, it may be too late. As HBR’s Ron Ashkenas and Brook Manville write: “No matter where you are in your career, you can find opportunities to practice these six skills. You’ll have varying degrees of success, which is normal. But by reflecting on your successes and failures at every step, and getting feedback from colleagues and mentors, you’ll keep making positive adjustments and find more opportunities to learn.”
The Clock is Ticking: It’s your time to lead.
For current and aspiring procurement leaders, there’s never been a better opportunity. More than 60% of procurement professionals have seen executive trust increase in the past three months. Similarly, more procurement leaders report having a seat at the executive table today than they did in May.
You have everything we need to step up, lead and earn more recognition and trust. The doors are open: are you going to walk or run through?Interested in learning more about procurement leadership? Get more insights, advice and best practices from our latest report: Procurement’s Time to Lead.
“The international trips that we’ve all been on where we’ve flown over to Europe for a two-hour meeting and flown back…does nothing but beat you up, and you’d certainly be much better accommodated over a video call,” Bastian said.
“But it’s going to be trips that are focused on relationship building or interacting – whether it’s with your customers, conventions, new contacts, reviewing performance on a global scale – those are going to stay.”
There are many ways hackers steal data, but two of the most common are exploiting IT system weakness and employee error.
Why do hackers launch cyber-attacks?
By far the biggest motivation is money. Criminals steal your information and use it to:
· sell on to other criminals
· steal your identity (credit card info, etc)
· blackmail you by controlling your computer, demanding a ransom
These criminals are looking for the quickest and easiest ways to make money. Much like a thief that checks all the doors in a neighbourhood trying to find one that’s unlocked, says security expert Lillian Ablon.
“These [cybercrime] markets are dispersed, diverse, and segmented—rapidly growing, constantly changing, and innovating to keep pace with consumer trends and prevent law enforcement and security vendors from understanding them,” Ablon explained.
“They come in many forms.”
Who are these hackers?
Forget the stereotype of a lone hacker in their mother’s basement; these criminals operate a highly-sophisticated business structure.
They often work in a coordinated pyramid, from the top-dog administrators through to brokers and mules.
There are even vendors so you can buy criminal applications as-a-service. That means the end-buyer doesn’t have to be a tech genius to exploit companies and individuals.
“Cybercriminals are always looking for exotic ways to use or monetise stolen data in ways that law enforcement and security vendors are not looking for or have not yet figured out,” Ablon said.
And they’re only getting sneakier, which is why you need to make sure your drawbridge isn’t lowered.
What happens when your company is cyber-attacked?
Cyber security attacks in procurement generally result in one of two outcomes, says Nigel Morris, Director of Technology Advisory Services at accountancy firm BDO.
“A full or partial shutdown of systems resulting in an organisation being unable to operate as normal, or a hacker gaining access to corporate or personal data,” Morris says.
“Examples of the former are customers and suppliers being unable to process orders, shipping lines being unable to move containers and logistics service providers being unable to manage warehouses and distribution,” Morris says.
He explains the most frequent cause of the system shutdowns is data being encrypted or erased. Then the systems have to be rebuilt by reinstalling applications and restoring data from backups.
And stealing data can include the “loss of customer or supplier bank or credit card details, leading to fraudulent financial activity,” Morris says.
That’s why he encourages organisations to use cybersecurity best practice, ensuring software is kept up to date, anti-virus/malware tools are deployed, data is encrypted, and staff are consistently trained to recognise and avoid cybersecurity threats.
How do you know if you’ve had a cyber-attack?
It’s really hard to tell if you’ve had an attack. In fact, it’s not uncommon for attacks to go unnoticed for months, says Robert Schifreen, an IT security consultant.
As an ‘ethical’ hacker, Schifreen kindly told the email provider about their security blunder – only to be arrested and sent to court.
His trial led to the first ever UK law against hacking. Now Schifreen helps companies prevent and detect attacks.
“If you’re lucky, there will be tell-tale signs,” Schifreen says.
“I always tell my clients that the ideal sort of hack is when someone defaces the front of your web site and fills it with something offensive. Because you’re going to find out about it within seconds of it happening. You then simply wipe the server, restore from backup, change all your passwords, and job’s done.”
But often, it’s a lot more subtle. “It might be months before you notice it as part of a routine audit,” Schifreen says. “There probably won’t be any signs on the server that this has happened, unless you look carefully.”
He says your IT team should be monitoring key files on your servers, looking for unsuccessful attempts to log in. They should also revoke user passwords when a staff member leaves the company.
What to do if you discover a security breach
If you realise your company has experienced a security breach, there are a few actions to take immediately.
NadiaKadhim, a legal advisor and co-founder of cybersecurity company Naq Cyber recommends these steps:
– Contact relevant law enforcement
– Tell senior leadership and staff what happened, the suspected cause, and any other relevant information
– Let customers and other external people like suppliers know if they could be affected
– Analyse what happened
– Contain the spread
Kadhim also says when a potential data breach occurs, you should immediately start collecting data. Not only is this important for your own records, but you might need it if you’re legally required to tell authorities about the breach.
“You have to create a report that analyses the situation and really sets out in detail what has happened, what the possible cause is, what you’ve done to contain it, solve it, and prevent it for future reference,” Kadhim explains.
“On the basis of this you have to decide whether you will have to report externally. After that, you will do an in-depth (technical) analysis and put that into the final report, but for the external reporting, you have to act quick, so you can’t wait for this.”
How to avoid future attacks
It’s impossible to fully protect against an invasion, even with all the best technology defences in place.
As legal advisor Nadia Kadhim says, companies often focus too much on the tech and not enough on the people.
“Most cyber-attacks happen because of human behaviour; whether it is reusing passwords, leaving laptops unlocked, sending and storing personal data through and in email, clicking on dangerous links, or visiting “those” websites,” Kadhim says.
“Only when awareness is created throughout the entire company, and is combined with the necessary technical measures and legal safeguards and documentation, [companies] can really protect themselves and [minimise] legal repercussions following cyber-attacks,” Kadhim says.
Part of staff awareness is knowing the sudden jump in remote working makes companies more vulnerable.
Nigel Morris, from accountancy firm BDO, says: “There is no doubt that remote working increases the cyber-attack surface area; put simply, there is more technology for a hacker to attack.”
If employees are often the weak link, what do your teams need to know?
– Do not open attachments from unknown sources or follow links to unknown websites. Doing so will frequently activate malware (software designed to damage your computer).
– Be aware of the various forms of phishing (when you’re sent an email or text that looks like it’s from a legitimate, well-known company, but it’s actually from a criminal trying to persuade you to hand over personal info like log-in details). More on how to spot phishing.
– If in ANY doubt, don’t click the link or open the attachment. Contact your IT team who can check the validity of the email content.
The crimes don’t always happen on your own soil.
Employee accounts can be compromised by huge data breaches at other global companies. Like the infamous 2017 Equifax hack where criminals stole personal details from 147 million Americans and 15 million British citizens.
That’s why your employees should change passwords often.
Put simply, your company is a target because it stores valuable information that criminals want. They don’t care if you’re a big company or small.
One cyber-attack could be enough to shut down your operations until you get to the bottom of it.
That’s why it’s so important to guard your information, says Michael Rösch, Senior Vice President of Customer Engagement Europe at procurement software provider JAGGAER.
“In procurement, price information could be very valuable if you as a supplier participate in an online auction for a multi-million euro deal in the automotive sector,” says Rösch.
On the other hand, commodity products like pencils, notebooks and other office supplies aren’t of interest so the information isn’t as sensitive, Rösch adds. He recommends classifying data carefully and protecting accordingly.
Procurement teams are responsible to defend against attacks by understanding weaknesses across the supply chain, says Jon Hansen of the Procurement Insights Blog.
These criminals are relying on the same old methods of stealing information (like phishing and malware). The only real difference is criminals swapping disguises – shifting to imitate a World Health Organisation official instead of a Nigerian prince for example.
Stay vigilant, educate staff on these common tactics, and you’ll have the best possible defences for your procurement kingdom.
Gone phishing – how to spot a fake email
Phishing is a common tactic used by cyber criminals to steal your personal information.
They send you a fake email or text that appears to be from a legitimate company. Then ask you to ‘confirm’ details like account numbers, passwords, etc
Even though these scams are becoming more sophisticated, it’s usually easily to spot a fake if you know what you’re looking for.
Kate Bevan, from UK consumer advocate site Which?, says there are common red flags in these phishing messages.
1)Urgency: A phishing email will usually have an urgent tone. It says things like “you must fill in your details/confirm your account/whatever immediately to avoid losing access to your account/to pay an outstanding bill/complete a failed payment.”
They are absolutely designed to get the pulse racing, so don’t fall for that. Check your account with the provider the email claims to be from by going to the website and signing in by typing the address into the browser: do not click a link in the email.
2)Not personalised: It almost certainly won’t address you by name. Instead, it’ll say “Dear Customer,” or something generic. A genuine email from a service provider will address you by name.
3)Bad grammar: Watch out for the language and how it’s written: a lot of these are written by people who don’t have English as their first language. Watch out for odd phrasing, poor spelling, and poor punctuation.
4)Weird links: Look at the link they want you to click. Ignore the text in the hyperlink; hover your mouse over it and see where it’s really taking you.
5)Leave it: If in doubt, don’t take any action. If it’s genuine the organisation will follow up.
What to do if you fall victim to a phishing scam
If you think you’ve given away your details to a phisher, change your password immediately and if you use that password on any other website, change it on those, too, Bevan suggests.
Based on our research, here are five ways that procurement professionals can generate more social value from their next construction project
Many governments around the world, including the UK, are focussing on construction-led recovery post-COVID.
Here are 5 ways Procurement can play a key role in re-shaping not only our buildings and the way we live, but also our communities through the way we buy during the construction process.
1.Have a clear social value strategy and framework
There needs to be a clear, transparent and needs-based social value strategy and framework for both procurers and bidders which is embedded at all stages. Procurement frameworks, with required levels of social value commitments, can bring efficiency and good practice application across public sector contracts. They can provide suppliers with more clarity on what is required for social value and how this will be recorded. Procurement services that guarantee work once suppliers are on the framework can incentivise well-considered social value commitments for both SMEs and larger organisations.
2.Prioritise outcomes in monitoring and evaluation
There is fragmented market of tools and metrics used in both procurement and evaluation. Most do not take into account geographic disparities in their monetisation, nor include negative effects of development to arrive at the final value. A focus on ‘tick box’ outputs like number of people trained, or number of apprenticeships started, can lead to more aware suppliers knowing how to score well on social value weightings in the tender process, as discussed previously. By procuring outcomes instead of outputs, the procurement profession can open up the doors for innovation and creativity in bid responses, and evaluate bidders on the impact they will achieve, rather than bums on seats.
3.Consistency and holding to account
There are different procurement frameworks, regional models, and different sector frameworks, adding to the confusion in this area, and sometimes a ‘buy local’ requirement as well – there is no homogeneity in the procurement landscape. Given that Social Value typically accounts for anywhere between 2%-25% on tender scores, it is a key part of the procurement process. Having consistent, appropriate, clear goals at all stages, engaging in more pre-tender dialogue with bidders, and stating the evaluation methodology or tool to be used, will help achieve greater outcomes. Most importantly, hold suppliers to account for their contractual outcomes. Our research showed that rigorous monitoring and enforcement of contracted social value activities was very variable and inconsistent. With the high value of contracts in construction, ensuring that what may have secured a major win is actually delivered on the ground is imperative.
4.Enable straightforward comparisons of value
We recommend that environmental components are separately weighted in procurement, and that ‘normal or good business practices’ e.g. internal diversity/inclusion initiatives, prompt payment codes, training of existing supply chains, modern slavery, managing noise or disruption, should be considered as a given. Social value has to go beyond ‘business as usual’. Activities which may be commercially beneficial to the supplier, such as apprenticeships and educational visits, could be considered as social value if they were supported by a robust needs analysis in the area that this is going to make a difference. Even so, focusing on apprenticeship completions rather than starts would be a step in the right direction.
5.Guard against potential for disconnect
Our research suggests that a procurement framework approach may provide a further layer of disconnect between local beneficiaries and the provision of social value. The delivery of a locally responsive approach, which links to and utilises community groups and organisations, requires greater clarity. There could be an opportunity for procuring organisations to identify initiatives and local organisations in the tender documentation, embedding local knowledge and understanding of need into the brief, rather than leaving suppliers to try to work this out or to ‘reinvent the wheel’ during the process. Procurers could also consider requiring the upskilling of the voluntary and community sector, as well as the enabling of local businesses not in their supply chains to become fit to supply, which would leave a more enduring legacy.
The construction sector is the sixth largest source of employment in the UK, contributes nearly 7% of the UK’s GDP and is a major recipient of public spending – it is critical for placemaking, economic development and job creation, all of which highlight its importance to Boris Johnson’s ‘New Deal’ and post Covid-19 recovery.
With construction spend estimated to be £500 billion by the end of this decade there is also a need to make sure that every one of those pounds delivers additional tangible social impact, and makes a major contribution to addressing the significant inequalities faced by our most disadvantaged citizens and left-behind communities.
The Social Value Act, published in 2013, requires people who commission public services to think about how they can also secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits. Before they start the procurement process, commissioners must therefore determine how they can secure maximum benefits at all stages of the project for their local communities.
“No common definition of social value”
Given the significance of construction to our economy, we undertook research to support greater understanding of what ‘good practice’ social value looks like, and to find and share examples where innovative, replicable and impactful social value has been delivered at all levels of place-based interventions as a result.
Our final report,From the Ground Up – Improving the Delivery of Social Value in Construction, finds that we are a very long way from the social value nirvana we desire. The barriers are significant, and whilst social value plays an increasing part in the procurement process, there are some pretty hefty challenges running across procurement, definitions, activities, partnerships, monitoring and evaluation.
There is no common, comprehensive definition of what counts as social value, to frame understanding, benchmarking or reporting, and aid comparison of tenders and to determine best practice. This has given rise to significant disparities in what counts as social value activities, and no requirement to focus on improving the wellbeing of the most disadvantaged.
Current examples include attracting/retaining staff, prompt payment codes, internal equality and diversity programmes, fair pay, training of the supply chain, ethical/low carbon sourcing, managing risk/noise, and increasing awareness of the construction sector as a career for young people. So there is a high risk of social value lacking focus and becoming too diffuse.
We also found that projects spanning geographies have multiple project stakeholders often competing for social value outputs, different frameworks with differing social value requirements, and a real lack of alignment around desired benefits and outcomes. There was clear consensus on one of the biggest barriers – the lack of understanding of what social value is – and that substantial improvements need to be made in its monitoring and evaluation.
“Procurement must be a much more effective tool for change”
As covered previously, social value procurement must be a much more effective tool for change. This means putting people at the centre of place-based development, engaging and working with them to understand their needs and wants, so that the development happens with them, not to them. We need to change how we measure the value of our place interventions to take into account what matters to the stakeholders in them, and move from outputs to considering how we can achieve an improvement in wellbeing outcomes as an important deliverable.
In our report, you will see we have made five recommendations in response to our key findings. You can also view our report launch. To join us in the next phase of our discussions for driving change, please email me at [email protected].
Bev Hurley CBE is Chair of the Institute of Economic Development, the UK’s leading independent professional body representing economic development and regeneration practitioners working for local and regional communities.
Should you ask for a raise during a pandemic? It depends on how well you perform, and how your company is doing.
You consistently deliver, you always exceed your targets, and your boss is thrilled.
Does that mean now the right time to ask for a raise – despite everything going on in the world?
Actually, now could be the perfect time.
It might seem counterintuitive, but economic downturns often mean steady wages, says Dr Michael Gravier, Professor of Marketing and Global Supply Chain Management at Bryant University.
“Layoffs and workforce reductions are done partly to preserve the salaries of remaining workers, and companies know that they must keep up the morale of remaining workers,” Professor Gravier says.
Since recessions don’t last forever, businesses have an incentive to make sure their best employees stick around to ride out the economic storm.
“Companies that are most well prepared tend to come out of economic downturns stronger than competitors,” adds Gravier.
“This means that workers who haven’t been furloughed are, on average, well-positioned to request reasonable pay raises, especially if they’ve shown a talent for doing more with less or improving operations or succeeding despite the odds during these difficult times.”
Where to start
Are you a high performer? Then it sounds like you’re ideally placed to ask for a raise.
Start by understanding how well your company is doing, and its priorities for the next several months.
And don’t be put off by reports that overall wage growth is weaker now. Professor Gravier points out that supply chain industry wages have remained fairly robust.
Bottom line: go get that raise.
Build your case
Start by assembling proof that you deserve a raise. Remember, the topic of your paycheck might be deeply personal and sensitive to you, but it isn’t to your boss. All they want are hard facts that prove you meet and exceed expectations.
For that reason, it’s smart to get in the habit of jotting down this evidence regularly. For example, Professor Gravier set aside time every Friday to write about what had happened during the week, and how key performance metrics were going.
‘“You must first know thyself,” as the old saying goes,” Gravier says. “If workers cannot justify their performance, clearly there is not much need to entertain their request [for a raise].”
So what sort of accomplishments should you record? Anything that proves how valuable you are, says Scott Dance, Director of Hays Procurement & Supply Chain.
“[W]rite down all the things that you’ve achieved individually or contributed to significantly as part of a team, [and] back up these achievements with real, measurable evidence,” Dance says.
“Your fundamental objective is to prove that you’re an asset to the business and that you have made a significant contribution during what has been a particularly challenging time for many organisations.”
Know your market value
The next piece of evidence you need is your market value, says Jacqui Paterson, Director of Supply Chain and Procurement at UK recruitment agency Drummond Bridge.
“I would advise [employees] to look at all of the factors associated with their current role, [like] ease of location, job satisfaction, working conditions and then research what the current market rate would equate to for the role they deliver,” Paterson says.
Paterson also recommends asking yourself questions like:
How long ago was my last pay rise given?
Can my company accommodate a rise right now?
Are my skills in high demand?
It’s all about doing your homework first so you’re prepared, professional, and ready to make a strong case.
Choose your timing
People often ask for a raise during a performance review. But that’s a mistake because many other employees are asking for a raise then too, Paterson says.
When is a better time, then? Paterson advises to “time the conversation strategically – perhaps after a series of successful, valuable contributions have been delivered.”
And don’t forget to approach your discussion diplomatically. “A confrontational or “expectant” pay rise conversation doesn’t usually end positively,” Paterson warns.
What if they say no?
Even if you make a convincing case, you might still get rejected.
What should you do next? Find out why you were turned down, says Paterson. “No to a pay rise just now does not mean never.”
“If the [employee] is generally happy where they are, this can be the trigger to initiate conversations in writing that if certain savings, KPIs etc are met that the raise will be reviewed after a three-month period.”
After all, “[n]ot all businesses can afford to consider a salary rise in the current market conditions, or they may want to review how business is moving when the economy shows signs of improving before committing to any salary rises,” Paterson adds.
Another possibility is your boss can’t give you a raise, but they can sweeten the deal by giving you other benefits.
These could include a job title change, extra time off, or the ability to work from home permanently.
So before your conversation, you should consider if you’ll only accept more money, or if you could be satisfied with recognition in other ways.
Is it time to leave?
Only you can decide if you’re happy sticking around without a pay raise. If your top priority is a bigger salary, leaving may be your only route.
“If your current employer can’t meet your requirements in terms of salary or otherwise, it’s certainly worth testing the waters and seeing what you could be getting elsewhere,” says Scott Dance from Hays.
“Despite ongoing uncertainty, there’s no reason why you should hold off looking to the future and considering how you can make your professional ambitions a reality.”
Dance advises updating your CV/ resume with any new skills or expertise you might have learned over the last few months of lockdown.
“Refreshing your CV might open up new avenues which you thought weren’t possible before,” Dance says. That’s why you should be open to trying something new.
“The long-term reality of the Covid-19 crisis may mean that we see surges in demand, industry shifts and emerging trends that impact the jobs market,” Dance adds.
“Being flexible and open-minded about your career may help you secure that pay rise you’re after and take your career in an exciting new direction.”
Do you have any tried-and-true advice? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
A new survey of 500+ professionals reveals where procurement must focus to establish leadership and earn executive trust.
Procurement: it’s your time to lead. New research from Procurious and Coupa, released today, reveals that nearly two thirds of professionals have seen trust increase with the c-suite over the past three months. Similarly, more procurement leaders report having a seat at the executive table today compared to May, when we asked the same question as part of our Supply Chain Confidence Index.
“Procurement leaders continue to step up and executives are taking notice,” said Tania Seary, Founding Chairman of Procurious. “Procurement plays a critical role in navigating the uncertainty we face today. The function’s stellar performance opens the door for more – more recognition, trust, and opportunities to lead. It’s time to take advantage.”
Procurious and Coupa surveyed over 500 procurement and supply chain professionals in July to assess the state of the function and what’s on tap for the second half of 2020. Reflecting on procurement’s strategic position within the organisation, just one-fifth (21%) report that they are still being viewed tactically internally. While that number is still higher than we’d like, most would agree that for a function that’s historically struggled to stand out and get the recognition it deserves, we’re moving in the right direction – in a big way. Consider that over the past three months, only 7% said they did not see trust increase between procurement and the c-suite.
“Procurement today has a clear opportunity to capture our seat at the table. The findings of this survey highlight how important it is for us to think strategically and ensure our objectives are aligned to the board and our peers in the c-suite,” said Michael Van-Keulen, CPO, Coupa. “We must step up to help our organizations not only control costs, but also mitigate risk, maximize value, and increase the agility needed in today’s business environment.”
These results build off Procurious’ research findings from earlier this year. “In June, we uncovered clear indicators that the c-suite was paying more attention to procurement and supply chain. This trend is accelerating as executives recognise procurement’s unique and essential position in the ongoing recovery,” said Seary.
Procurement leaders looking to capitalise on this newfound opportunity should focus on delivering results that increase resiliency and continuity, and improve the bottom line. According to our research, the top three areas the c-suite wants procurement to contribute to are mitigating supply risk (70%), containing costs (69%) and driving business continuity (64%).
“At first glance, we’re seeing a back-to-the-basics approach for procurement teams, with a laser focus on savings, spend visibility, resilience and risk mitigation. However, when you step back you quickly realise this approach is anything but traditional. The desired outcomes may be similar, but companies are investing more strategically, aggressively and intentionally,” commented Seary.
Second Half Procurement Priorities: Controlling Costs and Risk
Procurement’s top three priorities for the second half of 2020 are similar to what we referenced above: containing costs, mitigating supply chain risk, and supplying the products and services needed to maintain operations.
Naturally, managing supply chain risk remains front and center for organisations across the world. But risk takes on many different forms. What are executive teams most concerned about right now? The top five areas, in order of concern, are:
· Operational risk
· Supplier Risk
· Business environment risk
· Reputational risk
· Cyber risk
Interestingly, the most prominent risk differs geographically. In North America and Asia Pacific, executives are most concerned about cyber. In Europe, the primary concern is operational risk. Either way, stronger investments in supply chain risk management will undoubtedly become one of the lasting marks of COVID-19. Mature procurement teams will never take supplier health, collaboration and risk lightly again.
When it comes to business risk, there’s often more than meets the eye. The survey also found that more than 80% of organisations have significant gaps in spend visibility, which is its own risk. This finding poses an important question: How can procurement teams lead and control supplier risk if they lack full visibility into where money is being spent?
Equipping Procurement to Lead and Thrive
Looking at the next 6 – 12 months, economic uncertainty was the number one concern for survey respondents, followed by cash and risk. Given the stakes – and procurement’s proven ability to add value in business-critical areas, including risk, resiliency, and cost containment – the majority of organisations (93%) are investing big to propel procurement forward. The top three investments organisations are making in procurement leadership are:
· Data and analytics
· Talent development
“COVID-19 continues to act as an accelerant for procurement transformation. The business case is right in front of us, and organisations are investing accordingly.” said Seary.
While organisations are finally stepping up to fund procurement initiatives, the function still has an important role to play to shape the future.
“We need to ensure the investments are strategic, and not tactical. We need to set the agenda, and ensure the c-suite’s vision for procurement is aligned with what we know is possible. It’s our time to lead, and we need to do it right,” said Seary.For more insights – including details on procurement priorities, operational gaps, investment strategy, supply chain risk and more, join Procurious and get the full report:Procurement’s Time to Lead.
The best way to build a strong network is being helpful.
If you post useful, interesting information, you can positively influence the way you’re perceived.
To put it another way, it allows you to build your personal brand.
But what does that actually mean? Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is credited with saying: “Personal branding is the story people tell about you when you’re not in the room.”
Why is it important to build your personal brand? In short, future opportunities, says Andy Moore, Digital Marketing Manager atProcurious.
“Social media has become a staple in society,” Moore says. “And in the world of getting hired, having an online profile has become essential in the last few years.
“So it’s important for professionals to first understand the ‘why’ of building their personal brand – it can help with future connections and can generate better leads.”
But where do you start, especially if you haven’t done much networking online?
It’s as easy as posting an article you find interesting. Or sharing your opinion on an industry hot topic. Or asking your network’s opinions.
The important thing is to show up consistently and make a contribution, Moore adds.
“People want to hang out with the ‘life of the party,’” says Moore. “This is the same for social media. People want to be connected with those who have a voice and get involved.”
That includes liking, sharing, and commenting on other people’s posts. Everyone loves a bit of validation, and your network will appreciate your support.
Keep in mind that a strong digital network won’t happen overnight, especially if you don’t have much of an online presence right now.
Like any other relationship, networks require consistency over time.
But it’s worth the effort, says Mark Holyoake, Managing Director of supply chain recruitment firm Holyoake Search.
“I’ve long been a proponent of personal branding,” Holyoake says. “Technology has made this easier than ever, and with conferences and networking opportunities still all virtual for the time being, it has never been more important.”
You get what you put in
Your success at building your online network will largely depend on your attitude.
After all, few things kill a relationship quicker than self-centredness. So don’t view your network as a group of people who only exist to get you a job.
Instead, approach them as a worthwhile group of your colleagues and peers. What would they like to know from you? What is interesting to them? What can you share that will make their lives better or easier?
Likewise, think of people in your network that you could introduce to each other, knowing that both will benefit from the connection.
There are lots of ways to add value to your network.
Where to network
There are plenty of social platforms to choose from. Where should you invest your time? The simple answer is where your professional associations hang out.
And you don’t need to be on every platform. Why put time into building an Instagram profile when your network spends all their time on LinkedIn?
You should also join and contribute to online groups that are specific to your professional interests.
Procurious is a great example of this, where you can find groups dedicated to any aspect of procurement.
CPOs in Scotland, supply chain sustainability, and Indian procurement professionals – you name it. And don’t worry if you can’t find your tribe. Just start your own group!
There are 40,000 procurement professionals from all over the world on Procurious, and they want to build their networks too.
So get involved in the groups and the discussion boards. You’ve got answers and experience that people are looking for right now.
“Procurement professionals are united by the need to be agile, to be savvy, to be bold,” Seary says. “We can do that alone, but we can do it even better by reaching out to colleagues and contacts to fill the gaps.”
Networking is about watering the seeds of possibility, nurturing existing relationships, and growing the best you can from each encounter, Seary adds.
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.
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 Potentialon July 12 2020 and is republished here with permission.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.