Have you got the eye of the tiger?

When people bang-on about training, your first thought usually turns to this…

As empowering and utterly brilliant that may be, we’re here today to talk about something that can do for you what Survivor did for Rocky in the ring.

Procurious has an ever-growing collection of fine training videos and learning materials for your consumption. What’s more, they’re bite-size, so you can graze as much as you like without ever having too much.

Browse our selection of educational videos

Our Learning page can be accessed from anywhere on the site – here you’ll be presented with a selection of videos (we call them ‘featured classes’) to browse.

You might have noticed that some videos are listed as free, while others carry a charge. If you’re not looking to spend there’s still a healthy selection to choose from, but some of the more specialised lessons will require you to dip into your pockets.

How will I know if a lesson is for me?

Never fear, each paid video provides a short second sampler (anywhere from 25-45seconds), so you can watch and decide if it’s really for you. If you like what you see – just click the ‘Add this class to cart’ button, and proceed through the checkout process.

Purchasing lessons on Procurious

You can opt to have your billing information saved for future purchases if you so choose – just tick the respective box before making your payment.

Changed your mind? You can remove the class from your shopping cart in two ways: Either click the ‘X Remove from cart’ prompt, or select the ‘Clear cart’ command from the Your Cart screen. You can access this at any time, just click the shopping trolley icon next to your mailbox and notifications.

Exploring the lessons tree

Training videos on Procurious

After selecting lesson, the next thing you’ll want to do is watch the thing. In the player view you’ll also see the Lessons tree – this can be used to navigate between the different sections of the video (if the lesson is split into parts).

A (tricky) lesson learnt

Each class also carries its own difficulty rating. These range from videos suitable for all levels, through to the more advanced/intermediate where prior knowledge of the topics covered is advised.

Armed with this knowledge, go forth and explore the Learning available on Procurious! Alternatively if you’d like to talk to us about adding your training materials to our collection, please get in touch here.

Social network faux pas

If you’ve got even a smidgen of a presence on social media then you’re in the public spotlight. Don’t damage your carefully constructed image by falling foul of these common faux pas.

Social networking faux pas

Inappropriate material

When we refer to inappropriate material, we’re not just talking about the sort of content that caused upset for Hollywood’s superstars… Insensitive opinions, jokes in bad taste, photos from that party, in-fact anything that makes you look the opposite of ‘ha ha’ silly should be pretty much avoided.

Don’t ever post anything that could harm your image, or cause major embarrassment. You never know who’s watching. Your career might thank you for it later. The Internet never forgets you know…

Changing your name

It’s all very well to hide behind a clever alter ego, but when you replace your surname with nonsense it really goes beyond the pail…

Matt ‘Twinkletoes’ Jones doesn’t imply a healthy sense of humour, it makes you look a twerp.

Game invites

This one only really applies to Facebook but it’s a humdinger… If we want to play a life-sucking, cutesy (yet mildly addictive) online game then we’ll do it of our own accord. We don’t want spurious invites and intrusive notifications cajoling us to join your sad existence.

Oh it has cute fluffy cats? OK, maybe just for a few minutes…

The written word

Are your social networking accounts wanted for crimes against the English language?

Do you flout a flagrant disregard for sentence structure, needlessly employ CamelCase in the Very Middle of Sentences, make serious spelling errors, or babble in incomprehensible text-speak? These are just some of the offenders on our list.

To all those that answered ‘yes’ – just stop it. Stop it now.

Laziness

Social networks are communication tools, let’s not forget this… But there are times when you can’t help but wonder whether this is really the right platform for your verbal diarrhoea.  It really comes to something when you’re holding conversations with your nearest and dearest when they’re in the same room.

By all means like a photo, or share an amusing anecdote but don’t use social media as an alternative to meaningful, real life interactions. Far-fetched? Nope, we’ve seen it play out on Facebook and the results made us reach for the ‘hide’ button.

Hashtags

Ah the humble hashtag (#). Hashtags have their uses, but in the wrong hands they can turn into weapons of mass annoyance. Don’t litter your status updates with the things, instead employ a shred of common sense. A general rule of thumb is stick to a maximum of 2-3 in one Tweet. Plus, stop using them on Facebook (although the social network added support for them, the experience remains mediocre at best). Stick to Twitter and Google+ for your hashtag fix.

Arguing in public

Don’t air your dirty laundry in public. All of the major social networking platforms offer private or direct messaging functionality – use them instead of causing a social media storm. It also looks wholly unprofessional, so keep your diatribe private.

Social networks

Validation services

We all need validation… Twitter validation services however are a trifle unneeded if you’re anything but a large company trying to weed out armies of zombie accounts.

If you’re on social media you should be fully aware of who’s following you, liking your pages, and interacting with your ‘brand’. Therefore leaving it to an automated tool like TrueTwit or TweetDeck (for instance) almost feels like missing the point. You shouldn’t be doing it.

Saying that, there is nothing wrong with TrueTwit  (and others of its ilk) but if you’re just starting out on social media we’d encourage you to cultivate personal connections first.

LinkedIn embarrassment

Ever receive those emails from LinkedIn telling you to ‘congratulate’ Bob Mills on his work anniversary?

In this fast-paced modern world, roles and functions change all the time, so there’s every likelihood the poor sap you’re being told to shower with glad tidings has been moved on. Maybe send condolences to Bob in the form of flowers instead?

Commitment

If your heart’s not in it then it soon becomes blindingly obvious to the people sitting at the other end. No matter your social network of choice, people ultimately choose to follow you for a reason – so don’t let them down. Post often, be friendly, engaging, and show some personality will you? A dormant account is a waste of everyone’s time and network.

Join an entirely new online network – Procurious.com
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
We’re even on Google+

Enjoyed this article? Vote for Procurious at the #UKBA15 

Responsible sourcing: top 500 ranking

You can pack a great deal under the responsible sourcing umbrella – from businesses practicing sustainable procurement, specialists in environmental and ethical trading, thought-leaders in social impact, to those organisations sharing strategies and solutions.

The leaderboard is arranged by social media clout – those with massive influence undoubtedly sit nearer the top, indicating that meaningful interactions via social media channels count for a lot here.

The list is compiled by McClelland Media Ltd, and UK retail giant Marks and Spencer.

We’ve provided a small sample below, but we suggest you head on over to https://www.leaderboarded.com/responsible-sourcing to view the top 500 in its entirety.

You can pack a great deal under the responsible sourcing umbrella – from businesses practicing sustainable procurement, specialists in environmental and ethical trading, thought-leaders in social impact, to those organisations sharing strategies and solutions.  The leaderboard is arranged by social media clout – those with massive influence undoubtedly sit nearer the top, indicating that meaningful interactions via social media channels count for a lot here. The list is compiled by McClelland Media Ltd, and UK retail giant Marks and Spencer.   We’ve provided a small sample below, but we suggest you head on over to https://www.leaderboarded.com/responsible-sourcing to view the top 500 in its entirety.  See something missing? We’ve been told it’s possible to nominate organisations (or people) for consideration. Best visit the publisher’s website for more information.

We’d also recommend bookmarking the page, as it updates weekly every Friday.

See something missing? We’ve been told it’s possible to nominate organisations (or people) for consideration. Best visit the publisher’s website for more information.

Cracking-down on Africa’s illegal Ivory trade

Get your weekly fix of the biggest news stories affecting the supply chain world, procurement profession, and sustainable businesses.

Africa's illegal ivory trade

Focus on supply chain to tackle illicit ivory trade

  • The Born Free Foundation is calling on enforcement agencies to tackle the illicit trade in ivory by addressing the supply chain behind it. The charity has produced a report detailing the supply chain behind the trade, which involves a complex network including poachers in Africa, freight forwarding companies, corrupt port officials and organised crime syndicates.
  • The report, called Out of Africa, said: “Disproportionate attention is currently being paid to the beginning and end of the ivory supply chain, on tackling poaching through deterrence, and on reducing the end-demand by re-educating consumers.
  • “Both are extremely important, but also extremely difficult, especially in the short time frame available. Disrupting the intermediate sections of the supply chain, however, is likely to be a more tractable intervention.”
  • The report said between 2009 and June 2014 170 tonnes of ivory had been seized, that assuming a 10 percent interception rate was equivalent to the deaths of almost 230,000 elephants. Ivory is collected in the bush at $50 to $100/kg (£30 to £60/kg), sold wholesale at $2,100/kg (£1,300/kg) and then retailed in the millions.

Read more on Supply Management

Aerospace groups voice concerns over supply chain

  • Some of Britain’s smaller aerospace companies have expressed concern that capacity issues in the supply chain could derail the big aircraft makers’ ambitious plans to step up production of passenger jets.
  • The thousands of companies that make up the UK’s aerospace supply chain are at present benefiting from the launch of an unprecedented number of new aircraft and engine programmes under development in the industry simultaneously.
  • “There is definitely cost pressure and that’s coming now with the challenge of volume that is there,” says Craig Gallagher, chief executive officer at MB Aerospace, a key supplier to aero-engine manufacturers, such as Rolls-Royce.

Read more at FT.com 

Water scarcity a challenge to cotton supply chains

  • World Water Week kicked off in Stockholm on 31 Aug, and with it increased attention on putting increasingly limited water resources to better use.
  • Water scarcity poses a potential risk to the global cotton industry, and the apparel supply chain is being urged to do more to tackle the fibre’s huge water footprint.
  • Cotton is one of the largest and thirstiest crops produced – accounting for around 2.5 per cent of all available arable land and more than 3 per cent of the water consumed across all crop production.
  • The world is likely to face a 40 per cent global shortfall between forecast demand and available supply of water in the next 15 years.

Read more on Just Style

Arcadia entertains supply chain overhaul

  • Arcadia is continuing on its quest to overhaul its IT systems, this time announcing a contract that, it is hoped, will speed up and improve its supply chain overhaul.
  • The retail group, owned by Sir Philip Green, has started a multi-million pound migration to a new supply chain system and is working with suppliers including Oracle and Manhattan Associates.
  • The retailer has employed a testing partner to help make sure its new supply chain systems are glitch free by the time they go live. The challenge is made more complex by the fact that Arcadia operates several brands, including Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and BHS.

Read more on Retail Week

Hospital food

Hospitals must adopt food procurement sustainability plans

Read more on Supply Management

Apple iPhone 6 screen delay leaves supply chain scrambling

  • Suppliers to Apple are scrambling to get enough screens ready for the new iPhone 6 smartphone as the need to redesign a key component has disrupted panel production ahead of September’s expected launch, supply chain sources said.
  • It is unclear whether the hiccup could delay the launch or limit the number of phones initially available to consumers. But the issue highlights the risks and challenges that suppliers face to meet Apple’s tough specifications, and comes on the heels of a separate screen technology problem, since resolved, in making thinner screens for the larger iPhone 6 model.
  • Cupertino, California-based Apple, has scheduled a media event for Sept. 9, and many expect it to unveil the new iPhone 6 with both 4.7 inch (11.94 cm) and 5.5 inch (13.97 cm) screens – bigger than the 4 inch screen on the iPhone 5s and 5c.
  • In addition: the Cupertino company’s long-rumoured ‘iWatch’ may not ship until 2015 according to recent rumblings.

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

Is shipping & the supply chain the ‘next playground for hackers’?

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) is warning the maritime sector to be extra vigilant in light of increasing attacks from cyber criminals.

Do hackers pose a risk to the maritime industry?

For a bureau that has traditionally focussed its efforts on fighting piracy and armed robbery at sea, this new digital threat puts an entirely different menace in its crosshairs.

The IMB has been quoted as saying, “Recent events have shown that systems managing the movement of goods need to be strengthened against the threat of cyber-attacks.

“It is vital that lessons learnt from other industrial sectors are applied quickly to close down cyber vulnerabilities in shipping and the supply chain.”

This is cause for concern for the maritime industry especially as ships, containers and rigs are all connected to computer networks. If hackers find but one weakness, it can expose the entire network and make it open to exploitation on a grand scale.

Various cyber security experts have sounded off on this very subject during the past few months, and the media has been quick to pick up on it.  Reuters reported that a floating oil rig was compromised by hackers who tilted it onto its side.  The rig was out of action for an entire 19 days while harmful malware was removed from computer systems.

In Antwerp hackers gained access to port-side computers that enabled them to target specific containers, before making off with the booty and wiping away any telltale digital fingerprints.

The latest warning from the IMB quotes Mike Yarwood – TT Club’s insurance claims expert, speaking at the TOC Container Supply Chain Europe Conference in London. “We see incidents which at first appear to be a petty break-in at office facilities. The damage appears minimal – nothing is physically removed.”

Mike continues: “More thorough post incident investigations however reveal that the ‘thieves’ were actually installing spyware within the operator’s IT network.”

In scenarios similar to the incident in Antwerp, hackers tend to track individual containers through the supply chain to its destination port. Along the way the IT systems related to the cargo are infiltrated, resulting in the hackers either gaining entry to (or generating release codes for) specific containers.

The International Maritime Bureau is a specialized department of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Can you be a creative and still excel in procurement?

“Beware the team building exercise” 

At first, Karen Carmichael wasn’t sure that her creative streak would fit with the serious business of procurement. She loves to sing and dance in amateur theatre, which means dressing up.

Karen Carmichael

“So, beware the team building exercise, as you will need to dress up in some way. During my career I’ve dressed up as a leopard on stage for a divisional conference, I have been a penguin, the Mad Hatter, the Wicked Witch of the West, Santa’s Elf, the Starlight Star and more. My team and I have walked through Sydney dressed as princesses and Mexicans.

“How has this shaped my professional journey? Not really sure, but I truly believe that we work with people, and people need to have fun where they work, or why get out of bed?”

Karen was most recently the Head of the Procurement Team for Singtel Optus and specialises in transformational and digital change. The experienced finance executive has a diverse career spanning retail, telco, manufacturing and engineering.

The qualified CPA was also awarded the Who’s Who Worldwide Financial Management Professional of the Year 2012 for her achievements.

She’s now moved into consulting to help other organisations achieve excellence in their procurement function.

Karen is a problem solver who loves a challenge and passionately believes there’s always room for improvement.

“I love diversity because I get bored easily. I love to inspire people and watch them reach their true potential. Never be afraid to do something difference, even if you’re not clear where it will lead you. Who knows, you may end up in procurement, like I did.”

She wishes she could change people’s perception of what she does for a living.

“The function of procurement is still largely seen as an administration task focused on cost-cutting. But used correctly, it’s a truly strategic competitive advantage that can help business achieve their goals and drive better value from their supplier base so that customers receive what they really need at the best possible value.”

Karen also likes to make a difference to the world. She was a corporate mentor for student refugees from war torn countries or whose families struggle with substance abuse or domestic violence in 2007-2009.

At the time, Karen was being treated for breast cancer. A number of the intellectually and physically handicapped students from the support unit of the school presented her with turbans to keep her then-bald head warm.

“It was the most humbling experience of my life and one I accredit for my speedy recovery.”

Would you trust your deliveries to a drone?

Google has just shown its secret ‘Project Wing’ drone-based delivery system to the world.

The fruits of the work  Google’s shadowy X research arm has achieved so far can be seen in the video below:

During a test-run Project Wing flew through the Queensland skies to successfully deliver supplies to Australian farmers.

To accompany the video Google provided the following:

“Throughout history, major shifts in how we move goods from place to place have led to new opportunities for economic growth and generally made consumers’ lives easier. From steam ships to the railroads, from the postal service to delivery services like FedEx and DHL, speed has reshaped society not only with greater convenience but also by making more goods accessible to more people.”

It continued: “Self-flying vehicles could open up entirely new approaches to moving goods – including options that are cheaper, faster, less wasteful and more environmentally sensitive than what’s possible today.”

The prototype is based on a single-wing drone design, and measures just 1.5m-wide (5ft). Four adjustable propellers control the drone through the flight, moving accordingly throughout its journey. In this example the goods to be delivered fit snugly in gap located in the middle of the wing.

Drone wars

For once Google isn’t first to the punch… Internet retailer Amazon has been toying with a drone delivery programme since it announced the ‘Prime Air’ service towards the latter end of 2013.

Of course, the fight for air supremacy doesn’t end with Amazon vs. Google… Aviation rules would need to be changed to allow use of unmanned civilian aircraft systems. What’s more, drones also fly in the face of dyed-in-the-wool privacy regulations, as many believe that drones have the potential to infringe on our base privacy rights.

And finally: Disney wants to use floating drones to power floating puppets… further proof (if it were needed) that the future is shaping-up to be pretty weird.

Google’s asking for interested parties to express their interest using this online form. Want to read more? The Atlantic has a comprehensive write-up about Project Wing on its website.

Procurious is mobile – are you?

If you’re just visiting Procurious via your PC, laptop, or Mac, you’re missing out… Sorry about that.

Procurious.com on mobile

Did you know that you can also find us on your tablet devices (including iPad), as well as your iPhone and smartphone? No? Well consider yourselves informed. Let us take you through the Procurious mobile experience – soon you’ll be networking on the go, and shackled no more!

Sometimes when you think of mobile, you immediately jump to conclusions: be it a lesser design, or the watered-down functionality – it’s OK, we think the same. That’s why Procurious on mobile is the same smooth experience as the ‘full-fat’ desktop version.

Procurious is perfectly suited for mobile viewing – this is achieved in-part to its responsive design. Fire-up Procurious.com on your smartphone and you’ll see that it’s scalable so it will render on your device perfectly (no matter what the screen-size).

Enjoy all of your favourite features: leave posts for the community, watch learning videos, view and RSVP to events listings, participate in discussions, catch-up on the latest articles in the blog, and take a look at the latest news headlines.

We want to be front of mind and to do that Procurious must be easily accessible to the user wherever they may be. Whether that’s killing time on the commute to and from the office, waiting bleary-eyed in the queue for the morning coffee, or safe in the comfort of your couch…

Let us know about your experience of Procurious on mobile in the comments below.

High risks and high rewards: dangers of low-cost sourcing

This is the second article in a fortnightly series from Gordon Donovan.

This blog concentrates on international sourcing activities and the trends and pitfalls of this high risk and high reward strategy.

Apple and Nissan

You may have heard lots of talk over the last couple of years about reshoring or nearshoring. Basically this means goods and services that were previously bought from international environs are now being purchased more locally. Several reasons for this, one you can only have a supply chain as long as your forecast is accurate (i.e. if you can forecast your requirements a week in advance, your supply chain must be about one week – otherwise we are into the world of safety stocks- amongst other things)

Several notable organisations have decided on this strategy for a number of reasons:

  • Politics, energy costs, supply chain inefficiency (GE & Apple)
  • Risk Reduction (Nissan)

All in all what this means is that CPOs are looking at all the elements of cost – the total cost of ownership (TCO) -rather than just a few costs in the quest to achieve corporate objectives. Some US States are hosting reshoring workshops in an effort to drive more of these initiatives. I’m not sure if it’s a trend as yet but it could be.

Of course sometimes these strategies go badly, badly wrong.

On the subject of low cost sourcing I read an interesting article from Jim Kiser about a client he had advised about a low cost sourcing initiative for resins. Essentially he states that the lack of work done upfront meant that the initiative created a blind spot for procurement. Namely:

  • No planning discussions around contract areas needed, payment terms, exchange rates, shipping, capacity of product, quality assurance, and so forth.
  • Not understanding the supplier’s financials, this was an Asian supplier and no records were accessible, it was a privately held supplier and only there was only one location from where the product was derived.
  • Analysing other countries for suppliers that could provide this material and a good landed cost.
  • No planning on a bonded warehouse arrangement overseas or at home for forward inventory control or capacity needs.

I think that these (amongst others) are good thoughts for any sourcing plan.

I was recently asked to give a presentation to a group of CPOs recently about culture within organisations and how does procurement influence and be influenced by it.

In preparing for this presentation I remembered a great quote from Peter Drucker, in that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and therefore the need to ensure cultural alignment with suppliers is highly important (read my previous article on supplier selection). It’s a topic of huge interest to me. We live in a multicultural society and understanding cultural impacts in decision making is imperative.

Recently Harvard business review published a link to a simple cultural tool, it’s easy to take and makes for interesting reading when you analyse the results.

The profile test suggests that to get an accurate picture, you need to gauge cognitive, relational, and behavioural differences where cultural gaps are most common—and to assess yourself in those areas.

There are two other notable researches on country culture that are worth understanding if you are sourcing internationally as part of understanding risks.  See The Hofstede Centre and Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology

You may also consider that as organisations are now more international, the heritage of the company may be as important as the country in which they are operating in.

You can subscribe directly to the sources I have identified here (nothing is my copyright), and if you wanted to discuss please feel free to contact me via Procurious, or follow me on Twitter.

Supply chains all mapped out

Thanks to the likes of Google Maps – you’ll find that source maps are becoming more and more commonplace on manufacturer’s websites.

Added to that, consumers are increasingly more savvy and want to be able to trace a product’s complete  journey – from humble beginnings to the very end of the supply chain.

Les 2 Vaches source map - supply chain
Les 2 Vaches maps out the supply chain for its organic yogurts

Ever wondered how yogurt gets to your door?

Head on over to the website of the French yogurt producer Les 2 Vaches and you’ll be able to see  where all the ingredients that go into the yogurt are produced or grown. Not only that, but the map also marks out the locations where ingredients are stored and prepared.

Clicking on one of the maps’ markers will reveal more details; for instance you can glean more about what happens at each site,  the routes between sites are also marked for extra visibility.

If you want more of a steer, look to the right-hand side of the map and deep-dive down down into an ingredient of your choosing.

(Oh, it’s all in French – but your modern browser should be able to translate it for you).

Loomstate t-shirt supply chain
Be sure to check out Loomstate’s interactive map

Shirty business

What about that shirt off your back? Loomstate has  created what it calls the ‘Loomstate Difference’ – an interactive map that follows the journey of the company’s newest tee, all 100 per cent grown and sewn in America.

It is Loomstate’s ambition to create the most traceable tee in the world – and by supplying the public with full transparency of its supply chain, along with creating sustainable business relationships, it looks set to achieve just that.

Where things really come from

Of course SourceMap has slowly been gathering info on product supply chains for years. The beauty of SourceMap lies in its use of crowd-sourcing, meaning smaller (sometimes perhaps less-known) producers are represented too.