Tag Archives: 2016 Rewind

2016 Rewind – Top Discussions – You Asked, You Answered!

The Discussions page is one of the most popular on the site. We take a look back at the questions that got you sharing in 2016.

discussions

We’re continuously blown away by the generous nature of our community. Not only do you all connect so well, but you also are willing to share all your expertise. And that’s part of the reason that Procurious was formed in the first place.

We’ve seen it all during 2016, from how to start a procurement career, to the first three jobs you ever had. We also had questions on starting a new function, maverick spend, and social media.

So we’ve brought you the most popular discussions of the year right here.

Career Discussions

It stands to reason that as procurement grows as a career, so does the number of people wanting to join the profession. One question looked at whether to start in a procurement department, or a consultancy.

The consensus was that your procurement career would be better served starting out in a procurement department. Beyond the stigma frequently attached to consultants, it provided the opportunity to build a solid base of knowledge. Then, once experience had been gained, you could look to become a consultant.

Experience is big thing when it comes to procurement roles. However, few of us have procurement experience in our first three roles. Even as it’s less likely for people to ‘fall’ into procurement, the experience we have at the start of our careers is wide and varied.

Within the community, work experience included:

  • Waitress
  • Shelf Stacker
  • Car Washer
  • Sales Assistant
  • Fruit Picker
  • Paratrooper
  • Tele-marketer
  • And even one Santa!

And to tie the career discussions off, you got involved in a question about attracting young people to procurement. While there was definitely interest in the younger generation, a lack of knowledge stood in the way.

However, with more universities and colleges offering degrees linked to procurement this should change. What do you think? Does the profession need to seem more attractive? Or are we attractive enough, just bad at selling this career?

Getting Started & Automating

Does anyone have any advice about setting up a procurement function? This particular discussion got plenty of people sharing, and some great advice on starting from scratch.

The best starting point for a function was the business model – how it would be sold to the business. Within the model, procurement’s value was mapped out, and any blockers discovered. The model could then be built out with recognisable procurement concepts.

Other things to consider included processes and policies, and consideration of sustainability. Another critical item highlighted was engagement with stakeholders. After all, these are the people you’re going to be working with closest!

From the start, to the potential end, of procurement. If procurement were automated, would we need people in the function at all? Happily, most answers agreed that irrespective of automation, there would always be a role for people in procurement.

The consensus being that procurement processes could be automated, but relationships would still be vital. And no machine would be able to outperform a human on that. Yet…

Mavericks and Social Media

Our final trending discussions looked at one age-old problem, and one new one. First up, how to eradicate, or minimise, maverick purchasing.

Two themes ran through the answers – relationships and process. Root cause analysis usually came down to one or other (or both). Either processes were too complicated, or not followed, or people outside the function didn’t understand the value of procurement.

In all cases, listening to, engaging with, and educating stakeholders was a good step to take. It helps to showcase procurement’s role, and why processes need to be followed. And, if all else fails, there’s always a taser…only kidding! (Or are we…?)

Finally, as procurement and social media come closer together, there was the question of how connected the profession is. On the back of a provocative statement from Tania Seary, you discussed whether procurement leaders should have 500+ followers.

For many, it was a case of quality over quantity for connections. Despite there being a wealth of procurement connections on social media, many professionals only connect with people who they can strike up a meaningful relationship with.

Do you agree? Is 500 an arbitrary number? Or, as a leader, have you had enough time to build up this strength of network? You can still get involved in the discussion – all while building up your network on Procurious!

2016 Rewind – Best of eLearning – The True Cost of Supply Chains

For our final 2016 rewind, we’re looking at the year’s top eLearning modules. How can sustainability help limit the true cost of supply chains?

Fast fashion is the embodiment of unsustainable supply chains and consumerism. Why then does it still have such a following? And what can we as consumers do to change this.

Well, we could all start by watching ‘The True Cost‘ – a film documentary that highlights the very worst aspects of fast fashion. It’s an eye-opening, and at times harrowing, look at how consumer trends are impacting the lives of workers in developing countries.

Procurious were delighted to be able to host one of the film’s team, Lucy Siegle, to the Big Ideas Summit this year.

True Cost of Supply Chains

When it comes to Fast Fashion, Lucy is one of the UK’s primary experts. At the Big Ideas Summit, she delivered a message to the assembled procurement leaders – you are in a position to change this.

She believes that there needs to be a more holistic view of the supply chain. This can start with procurement, but needs to include consumers too.

Consumers can help develop sustainable clothing and fashion brands by investing in them. Instead of buying attractively cheap clothing, we need to consider the true cost of the garment. Your cheap t-shirt could be driving poor working conditions in another part of the world.

So what’s procurement’s role in this? Well, as the key stakeholder in ensuring supply chain transparency, procurement can ensure suppliers are adhering to proper procedure. The profession also has the chance to change fast fashion trends by supporting truly ethical suppliers. Only then can we break the cycle.

You can read more about Lucy’s work on the Procurious Blog. You can also catch up with all the thought leadership from the Big Ideas Summit 2016 on the eLearning Hub. And there’s a whole lot more there to keep you interested too! Happy viewing!

2016 Rewind – Procurement KPIs – Measuring the Unmeasurable

Our final rewind article for 2016 is on one of the hot topics of the year – procurement KPIs. More specifically, how do you go about measuring the unmeasurable? 

Procurement KPIs

Is it time to develop new procurement KPIs? As the profession delivers more value, we need to consider measuring the ‘unmeasurable’.

How on earth do you put a KPI against innovation in procurement? How about risk management? Or talent? It’s time for the profession to come together and quantify the value we deliver beyond cost savings.

For me, a revelation that came out of the discussion at The Beyond Group’s “Productivity in Pharma” (PiP) Think Tank in Basel last month, was that there is an urgent need to create procurement KPIs that fully reflect the broader value our profession delivers.

Unfortunately, we will never escape the requirement to track savings (and nor should we; we’re good at it!), but it’s time to define the value-addition areas of what we deliver – productivity, innovation and risk management – in hard dollar terms so that we can quantify our value delivery in these areas.

In my previous post, I shared five rules of thumb for good procurement KPIs. To recap, each KPI should be:

  • clearly linked to an overall business objective,
  • uncomplicated and measurable in hard-dollar terms,
  • based on outcomes, not inputs,
  • not too long nor too many (five to six KPIs at a maximum),
  • achievable and inspirational.

Taking these rules as a starting point, let’s look at five value-addition areas that every procurement professional should be measured against:

  1. Productivity

I know there are a lot of CPOs out there who are tired of the old ‘cost savings’ metric.  And I understand it. But the reality is that cost savings is at least ONE thing that clearly defines our contribution. If we walk away from this, then we have lost an important anchor.

However, we do need to ensure that the broader business audience understands procurement is about so much more than savings, and that we can clearly define value in other areas as well.

One important point I would make (an opinion also shared by ISM CEO Tom Derry at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit) is around cost avoidance. Don’t insult yourself, or your CFO, by reporting on this metric. Costs that have been avoided simply don’t count.

  1. Efficiency

There are so many ways CPOs can deliver efficiency gains that result in bottom-line value for their organisations. In the pharmaceutical world, I imagine this would be measured in terms of speed to market (or “speed to patient”, as one clever pharma Procurement Head put it), faster clinical trials or even the good old basics like reducing inventory.

There are so many ways that procurement can free up cash in the business, but the hard dollar value of this needs to be quantified – which is not impossible.

Business cases are always based on the time value of money. Net Present Value (NPV) is a fundamental financial measurement for businesses. So, before you embark on one of these efficiency projects, work with your finance team to agree on a calculation for the hard dollar value of the efficiency gain, then deliver it, and stick to the agreed value!

  1. Innovation

Procurement rock-star and former CPO of Deutsche Telecom, Eva Wimmers, talked last year about incentivising procurement-driven innovation by creating a suite of relevant KPIs, including cost and time savings achieved as a direct result of innovative improvements.

Innovation KPIs can be process-centric, behavioural or customer-focused (such as service and net promoter scores). What’s important is that every KPI is measurable in its own right and clearly connected to overall corporate objectives. 

  1. Risk management

This is a powerful measurement that will capture the attention of your CEO and other executives. You see, the challenge with risk management (like safety) is that the ultimate success is when nothing goes wrong!

Procurement and other parts of the organisation can spend a lot of time and energy securing supply relationships and carefully managing contingencies, which result in absolutely nothing happening (which is a good thing!). At the C-level it is, therefore, quite easy to take risk management for granted and be tempted to reduce funding and resources in this area.

Actually, safety is a very powerful metaphor for the role procurement plays in managing risk. Nothing captures an executive’s interest more than safety. The language and methodology of safety measurement is well known to executives, most of whom are rewarded on safety metrics.

So, rather than re-invent the wheel with a whole new set of measurements around risk, simply reframe risk in a safety context.  Work with your safety department to understand their metrics, explain what you are measuring and get their advice on how they would construct metrics for risk management in procurement.

When ‘selling in’ your risk management KPI to senior management, don’t underestimate the power of good storytelling. It is critical to illustrate your business case with rich examples of how much market share and stock market value has been lost by competitors and peers when supply chain risk is not properly managed.

Disaster Protection

Traditionally, we have valued this in terms of potential legal costs, but today it is so much more than that. Social media now ensures that your end customers (and the press) quickly become aware of supply chain issues, and these are amplified to such a point that they result in loss of market share and ultimately share price value.

Supply chain disruptions can have catastrophic impacts on corporate brand and equity value. Procurement, however, can play a huge part in protecting the company from this type of disaster, and I believe this is one of the most valuable roles we can play today. Risk management must therefore be highlighted and reported upon in our procurement KPIs.

As you will see at the close of this story, my bold recommended KPI for risk management is number of days supply chain disruption reported in media (with the objective of keeping this at zero!).

As a side point, research in the US has shown that companies who have invested in appropriate social procurement (projects that aligned and complement your brand) will bounce back faster after a market ‘shock’ event.

  1. People

Call people what you will – ‘assets’, ‘human capital’, or even ‘resources’ – but I prefer to use the word ‘talent’. People are frequently regarded as an enabler metric, but I think it should be much more than that.

We should position procurement as a source of leadership talent for the business. Particularly if we believe what we say (and I do!) that procurement provides some of the best commercial training of any function.

Procurement offers its team members the opportunity to work across the business internally, as well as externally. So let’s put our money (and our KPIs) where our mouth is! Develop a metric that measures procurement’s contribution to developing leadership talent. Once again, this is something to which senior leadership is very committed in the best organisations. 

So, to be provocative – here are six procurement KPIs that I would put forward as a CPO today:

  1. Cost savings – $ saved in financial year
  2. Productivity – $ released through working capital initiatives
  3. Innovation – Projected $ value delivered through procurement-negotiated supplier-led innovation.
  4. Risk management: Number of days supply chain disruption reported in media.
  5. Talent: Number of employees who have worked in procurement and are now on the enterprise leadership development program.

Procurement KPIs are a hot topic for everyone, and I’m sure you won’t agree with all my points. So…what are your thoughts?

2016 Rewind – Best of eLearning – Disrupting the Status Quo

We’re counting down to the new year by looking back at some great eLearning content from 2016. Here, we learn how technology can help procurement disrupt the status quo.

disrupting status quo

“If you’re not disrupting, them you’re being disrupted.”

This was one of the key learning points we heard regarding procurement technology this year. And when it comes to technology, you always need to ask the experts. That’s exactly what we did in a webinar in early November.

We invited representatives from Oracle and Enrich to Procurious HQ to talk about the way procurement can leverage technology in key areas.

Status Quo No More

The current pace of change around the world is unprecedented. Procurement and the wider organisation are quickly recognising that maintaining the status quo will not suffice in staying ahead of the pack.

This is only a small sample of the webinar, but you can download the rest here.

While many organisations talk the talk about technology, few actually walk the walk. And for many, the status quo is still how they go about their business. But as times change, organisations are recognising that they need to as well.

During the course of the webinar, we heard:

  • Why the challenge for business is to be able to adapt and apply new solutions for innovation and competitive advantage;
  • Why many organisations are still grappling with getting data into a structured and accurate form that they can use for predictive analytics;
  • That people tend to underestimate the complexity of stitching together the myriad vendor solutions as they aim for a more B2C-type interface; and
  • That change management is vital in technology implementation, or people will revert to old habits.

So make sure that your technology implementations in 2017 go smoothly by learning the lessons of the past. If you want next year to be the one where your procurement team leaps forward, you’ll need to ensure your technology is working for you, not against you.

You can read more about how technology can help boost procurement on the Procurious Blog. You can also catch up with other thought leadership from our community on the eLearning Hub. And there’s a whole lot more there to keep you interested too! Happy viewing!

2016 Rewind – Only 24 Hours in a Day – Manage Your Time Wisely

Our second rewind article for 2016 might be one you can put to use early in January. We all could manage our day better, and here are some top tips for you.

time day management

Time. The one thing we could all do with more of, but relentlessly slips past. Are you spending your day wisely?

Tick, tock, tick, tock. The seconds tick past, even while you’re reading this article on using your day efficiently. Have you allowed for some personal development in your day? Or are there more important things you need to be doing?

There are 24 hours in a day, but it never seems to be enough for busy people. To achieve what we want to in a day, we have to become better at managing our time. It is possible to find more time in a day, or even in an hour, if you put in place some simple strategies.

Here are 7 tips for getting more done in your working day.

  1. Work to your full potential

Do you notice how you accomplish more in a few days before you’re due to head off on annual leave than what you do in the weeks prior?

This is because you’re driven to complete the tasks in time. You’re fully engaged and focused on the tasks at hand. Putting the same energy into your work every day will achieve a major boost to your productivity.

To do this, forget time-wasting activities like checking your emails and social media accounts constantly throughout the day. Turn off your phone, where possible. Scheduling large chunks of the day to the major tasks you have to complete and eliminating distractions will enable you to fully concentrate on the job at hand.

You’re more likely to finish the work in far less time than it usually takes.

  1. Complete your most important task first

Sounds simple but we can easily fall into the trap of putting off the most crucial task of the entire day. As more emails, phone messages and issues crop up, it becomes even more difficult to tackle that important task.

Instead, make it your top priority. Put it first and complete it. That way, you’ll accomplish an important task each and every day. You’ll never have an unproductive day again.

  1. Plan your work day

Keep a diary or to-do list, either on paper or in digital form such as an app, which allows you to map out your work day.

Prioritise your tasks for the day and schedule the time it will take you to complete them. Schedule in a time slot to get on top of your emails and messages and stick to it. Disconnect from emails and phone calls at all other times.

This way, you won’t be letting emails and phone calls cut into the time you’ve allocated for the work that you want to complete. Keep your to-do list up-to-date – cross off your tasks as you complete them and add new tasks as they arise. You’ll be able to see progress in your productivity and remain organised.

  1. Delegate

Delegating tasks is not a sign of weakness. The reality is that one person cannot achieve everything. Consider where you can use your employees’ capabilities and skills to your advantage. Delegate more and you’ll be able to focus your attention on other important goals.

  1. Leave time for yourself

You’ll be far more effective in your work if you also schedule in time for yourself on a regular basis – whether it’s going out for coffee or lunch or ensuring that you get to an exercise class or another personal commitment.

Block out that personal time as if it were a business appointment. The productivity of your business depends on it.

  1. Have an accountability buddy

Someone you check in with who is able to ask the hard questions on whether you’re meeting your own targets can be hugely useful. This could be an executive coach or someone you work with, for example.

  1. Use a time tracking tool

It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re swamped with work. Consider using a time tracking tool, which can ensure you know exactly how long you spend on a task.

Check out Toggl, for example. But don’t fall victim to irony in this respect and spend too much time marking how long you’re spending on things. It’s a guide, not a military operation.

2016 Rewind – Best of eLearning – Incubate Your Big Ideas

As part of our 2016 rewind, we’re taking a look at the top eLearning modules added this year. Our first looks at how to incubate your big ideas for success.

So you’ve got a big idea for your organisation. But how are you going to get support to help make it a reality? And how are you going to grow it into a successful project?

That was the thinking behind one of our most popular podcasts from September’s Career Boot Camp. Gabe Perez, Vice President – Strategy and Market Development at Coupa Software, discussed how to incubate an idea on the job, and ultimately grow it for success.

Incubate, Grow, Succeed

How can you incubate your big idea on the job? Gabe’s top tip was to forget about the size of the idea and focus on execution. Without execution, an idea is worth nothing.

Gabe expands on all of this during his podcast.

In order to get the best from your idea, you need support from senior people. And in order to get this support, you need to understand, and then convey, the value this idea will bring to the organisation. After all, it’s not worth incubating an idea unless value can be derived from it.

Gabe also argues that the problem with big ideas is that they are often difficult to execute. But if you can focus on the outcome, then you can drive support, and get people on board. Ultimately, this can help build your, and procurement’s credibility, and make it easier in the future to execute other big ideas.

You can read more from Gabe on the Procurious Blog. Also, if you missed Career Boot Camp, you can catch up with all the podcasts on the eLearning Hub. And there’s a whole lot more there to keep you interested too! Happy viewing!

2016 Rewind – Should We Stop Using the Term ‘Strategic’ in Procurement?

Our first rewind article comes courtesy of a great panel discussion at ISM2016. The debate is likely to rage on all next year too – should procurement stop referring to itself as strategic?

No other profession puts the word ‘strategic’ on their business cards. Why do we do so in procurement?

 

A high-powered panel at ISM2016 drove a spirited debate about the use of the term ‘strategic’ in the profession. Chaired by Joe Sandor (Professor of Purchasing and Supply Management, Michigan State University), the panel included:

  • Hans Melotte (ISM Board Chairman, Senior Vice-President and CPO, Johnson & Johnson);
  • R. David Nelson (procurement veteran and Chairman, Dave Nelson Group);
  • Jeff Smith (Global Sourcing Director – Indirect at DuPont); and
  • Beverly Gaskin (Executive Director Global Purchasing, General Motors).

Actions Not Words

Actions speak louder than words. That’s the message from Hans Melotte, who argued that it’s unhelpful for the profession to continually emphasise how ‘strategic’ we want to be.

Overuse of the term dilutes the concept, especially when having a conversation with sceptical stakeholders. “Procurement needs to be strategic”, says Melotte, “rather than just talk strategic.”

Being strategic comes down to having the right people in procurement, who can talk the language of the business, define their value contributions in a way that resonates with stakeholders, are forward thinking, proactive, and focused on the future.

Historical Overuse

When did procurement start to use (and overuse) this term?

R. David Nelson, who started out in an enormously different procurement landscape in 1957, has watched the profession grow from a back-office function to a highly-influential business partner.

As any modern professional knows, there are plenty of stakeholders who still remain unconvinced. It’s very possible that our constant repetition of the term was a somewhat ham-fisted attempt to convince these sceptics that we do indeed deserve a seat at the table.

Interestingly, none of the major organisations represented on the panel use the term any more. Hans Melotte explains: “At Johnson and Johnson we abandoned the use of this word, because you shouldn’t label yourself who you want to be – you should be who you are. The whole notion has passed its expiry date”.

Strategic is “Divisive Term”

The other problem with the term is that it’s divisive. By calling half the population “strategic”, you’re implying the other half of the function is non-strategic. This sends a negative signal throughout the organisation, and breeds resentment around job titles.

Beverley Gaskin agreed: “Strategic buying is like an oxymoron. If you’re doing anything in the buying field that isn’t strategic, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

Even the term “purchasing strategy”, says Gaskin, is misleading. “There’s no such thing as a purchasing strategy. There’s a company strategy and you have to understand your role in getting that done.”

The same concept appliers to how we talk about strategic and non-strategic suppliers. Again, it’s our responsibility to move away from divisive language. After all, you’re never going to tell a supplier that they’re ‘non-strategic’.

Definitions are important. Melotte reasons that if you define ‘strategic’ as something that serves the strategy – a choice wisely made, based on facts and intelligence – does that mean ‘non-strategic’ is defined as the opposite of this? No CPO would want any resources who are not aligned with the company strategy or value mission.

This isn’t to say that the term ‘tactical’ is the opposite of strategic. Professor Joe Sandor provided a valuable reminder that the word ‘strategy’ comes from the military, and simply means planning. ‘Tactic’ means execution, and a plan must be executed. Tactics, therefore, are strategy in action.

Jeff Smith of DuPont summed up the sentiment of the panel: “It’s time the profession moved away from the term”, he said. “If you behave strategically, you’ll always be invited back”.