Tag Archives: 2021

Digital Goats And Virtual Drinks: 7 Bizarre Procurement Tech Learnings In 2020

Wish you could erase 2020 from your memory? We don’t blame you. But before you write it off, take a look back at the wonderfully bizarre things we learned in 2020.


Many of us wish we could forget 2020. But that would be a mistake!

We learned so much last year about procurement’s influence in the world – both good and bad.

So before you erase your memory, take a look back at the top 7 bizarre things we didn’t know before 2020.

People track Mongolian goats with an app

This gem came from Sally Guyer, Global CEO of World Commerce & Contracting. She explained Mongolia produces nearly a fifth of the world’s raw cashmere. 

And even though cashmere is considered natural and sustainable, soaring consumer demand is fueling overgrazing and damaging the land. 

So Toronto-based Convergence.tech and the UN teamed up to create an app for Mongolian farmers, backed by blockchain technology. 

Now the UN is able to interact with over 70 different herders and eight cooperatives through a simple app – meaning cashmere production can be tracked from end-to-end. 

Read more in her full article >

And managers track staff with an app

With so many employees working remotely for the first time, some companies went totally overboard on surveillance. 

Features vary, but tracking software lets companies monitor everything a staff member does on a company computer. 

This ranges from recording all websites visited, to taking screenshots every few minutes and sending them back to the boss. 

In fact, one surveillance software company, Hubstaff, saw a 95% increase in new customers during March 2020.

Great for productivity? Or a total trust destroyer? You decide.

Read more about companies making sure staff are ‘productive’ >

Nothing attracts liars like a global crisis 

One woman was caught selling illegal pesticide on eBay, claiming it could provide immunity from the virus. Seriously.

And one man allegedly tried to sell 100 million facemasks to the US government, despite not actually having any.

Counterfeit products were plentiful, with one NHS healthcare provider in the UK reporting 95% of the N95 masks she was offered were fake.

“When I informed one supplier that I knew their certificates were fake, they said to me, “Ok, if I give you real certificates for other products will you place an order?’” the NHS provider said.

Oof.

See the full run-down of COVID-19’s dark side >

Networking still matters, even if it’s virtual

It doesn’t matter if you usually lurk in the corner at networking events. Or if the word ‘networking’ makes you break out in hives. You were built to network – even during a pandemic. 

That’s because you’re already a natural at creating partnerships across supply chains and stakeholders, said Tania Seary, Founder of Procurious.

“Procurement professionals are united by the need to be agile, to be savvy, to be bold,” Seary said. “We can do that alone, but we can do it even better by reaching out to colleagues and contacts to fill the gaps.”

So pour yourself a glass and enjoy a good virtual mingle. Or keep watching “The Crown” on Netflix. Your call.

Read the full article on how to network your face off >

Sweatpants are work attire

When COVID-19 hit, the just-in-time strategy fell on its face, said IBM’s Takshay Aggarwal. 

“All those informed predictions about stock levels and deliveries were suddenly obsolete,” Takshay said.

“That’s because consumer behaviour changed overnight. Instead of looking trendy, we sought comfort. Purchases of sweatpants were up 80 percent in April, according to the New York Times.

“We learned that lean management works wonderfully well, until it doesn’t. It’s one of three fatal flaws in procurement exposed by the pandemic.”

Watch Takshay’s must-watch interview with Procurious founder Tania Seary >

We can predict demand based on weather

Instead of basing predictions on past sales, we can now forecast demand based on weather. 

“Companies can actually predict food requirements at a shopping mall food court by analysing parking spaces and the weather,” said supply chain social media influencer Rob O’Byrne.

“They harness data on parking space occupancy, combine it with the weather forecast, and predict how many people will turn up at the shopping centre.”

“That’s real forecasting.” 

See all 8 ideas Rob says you need in your toolkit >

iPhones originally had a plastic screen

When Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in 2007, the screen was plastic. 

Yet the next day, Jobs noticed the screen was covered in scratches and called his VP of Operations, Jeff Williams, demanding a glass screen for the official release. 

Williams said it couldn’t be done in just six months. Every glass prototype they tried had smashed, and it would take years to create a shatter-resistant, thin glass. 

But Jobs insisted. So Williams worked with speciality manufacturing company Corning to create damage-resistant Gorilla Glass in time for the launch. Now every smartphone in the world uses it.

That proves procurement teams can meet specific business needs by working with suppliers to innovate, said Dr. Marcell Vollmer, Partner and Director at Boston Consulting Group. 

See why Dr. Vollmer is enthusiastic about procurement’s future >

To 2021 and beyond

There’s no question 2020 was a hard year in our industry. We saw first-hand how a crisis can bring out the ugly side of supply chain. 

But mostly, we learned how procurement can change the world for the better.

As Supply Chain Revolution CEO Sheri Hinish put it: “We can come from different backgrounds, different parts of the world but at our core, we fundamentally want the same things. So, it’s real and when you think about collaborating within a global context…this is what wakes me up every morning – to create a world that’s bearable, viable and equitable.”

Onwards and upwards, then.

5 CIPS CPD Hacks to Boost your Lockdown Learning

Keeping up with work can be hard enough during lockdown but earning your CPD points can be even trickier. Fortunately, there are still plenty of options available to you.


Given what’s happened over the past 12 months, it might take more than a stroll down memory lane to remember what you were doing at the beginning of 2020. ‘Pandemic’ was a fun board game to play and the only corona that most of us knew of was the popular brand of beer. But perhaps you were one of the many procurement professionals who made a New Year’s resolution to gain their CIPS Chartership.

Even if they had lasted that long, by March most resolutions had been cast aside as people adjusted to a ‘new normal’. Working from home became a way of life, work largely turned to the digital side and chartership may have been put to one side to come back to once things had settled down a bit.

However, once again people are keen to push on with personal and professional development, gaining the skills and knowledge to help them progress. After all, the perfect role may not wait for normal service to be resumed. This is where a digital profession comes to the fore and shows how to turn the new normal to its advantage.

Your CPD ‘New Normal’

We’ve discussed previously about the chartership journey that people will choose to undertake. Previously, gaining and maintaining chartership was a challenge in itself. But without the CIPS Central and Branch events, procurement conferences and industry networking that would normally form the basis for annual CPD hours, maintaining chartership was only going to be harder.

And this is where CIPS have stepped in to provide its global membership with the knowledge, resources and learning that it needs to start earning those hours. And the best thing is, it’s pretty much lockdown proof!

If you are setting out on your chartership journey, or are looking for a way to hang onto your hard-earned qualifications even without being able to travel outside of your hometown, you need these five CPD hacks to help boost your learning and development during lockdown.

1. Attend a CIPS Event

CIPS usually has a wide array of events available to its members for attendance during a year. Even though people aren’t able to attend in person, there is a plethora of events still available on the CIPS Events hub. There is a mix of Central and Branch events and there is a good chance of finding something in your area.

These events are a great way to network and the advantage of them being virtually run is that members have a chance to attend some events they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. Plus, each event comes with 1-2 CPD hours for attending.

2. Do Some Online Learning

If you find yourself with some spare time, why not head over to the CIPS eLearning Portal and do some eLearning. There are courses on Ethical Procurement (key for your Ethics exam) and CIPS Qualification modules to help you brush up before exams. On top of this there are over 250 hours of courses, varying in length and topic, but all great ways of boosting your procurement knowledge.

Each hour of your eLearning can be counted towards your CPD, and CIPS will even credit you for eLearning done on other platforms too. So if – and it’s a big if – you finish all the CIPS courses, you can continue to log your CPD using applicable courses elsewhere.

3. Attend a Conference

We might not be able to attend in person, but there are plenty of procurement conferences available to attend as a digital delegate. If the conference has a theme related to the procurement profession it can be counted towards CPD hours. From CIPS to Procurement Leaders, there are plenty to choose from.

If you missed it, why not go back and revisit the Big Ideas Summit 2020 if you didn’t get the chance to attend ‘live’ on the day. Even attending a conference after the day has passed counts – all you need to do is log the hours you spend at it!

4. Give or Receive Coaching or Mentoring

Exhausted the events calendar but still want to connect with other procurement professionals? What better way to do this than linking up with your team at work, or your peers, for some coaching or informal learning. Think about procurement topics you think you could do with some help with, or maybe something work-related that you could do with some advice on.

In the digital setting, it’s even more important to keep up our connections. Use the digital tools that are available to you, or a platform like Procurious to meet up with like-minded people, and set up some training sessions. Not only do you get a chance to help your fellow professionals, but you can log CPD hours at the same time.

5. Books, Podcasts and Webinars

If virtual conferences aren’t your thing, and you’ve had plenty time sitting in front of your computer recently, you can earn CPD hours by reading a book, magazine, industry journal or published report. Or, if you prefer, listen in to a procurement podcast or webinar.

There some excellent podcasts available in the procurement sphere – here are just a few for you to try:

·   CIPS Procurement and Supply Podcast

·   Art of Procurement

·   Supply Chain Now

·   Procurement Talk with David Byrne

Key Things to Remember

Even if you can’t get out and about to do it, you’re now armed with the tools to boost your CPD hours. But there are a few things you need to remember.

Firstly, there is more that you can do to earn CPD hours than you might think – all we’ve picked out here are some of the most common ones. If you’d like more information on the CPD process and how to earn your hours, CIPS has an easy to follow guide right here.

Secondly, to make sure your time counts you’ll need to complete the CIPS Ethical Procurement and Supply eLearning and Test. You can’t be Chartered without passing this on an annual basis. Plus, it has the added bonus of making sure you’re up to date with the latest ethical procurement regulations. Finally, remember to log your CPD hours. You can do this by completing a log and updating this on your ‘My CIPS’ account online. All that’s left now is to decide how you want to earn your hours!

Top 5 Supply Chain Risks to Watch in 2021

Even the greatest plans can come crashing down if you haven’t weighed up the risks! What will be the chief risks threatening your plans in 2021?


As 2020 draws to a close, the question is no longer what we could have done better this year, but instead, what can we – and do we – need to do next year to ensure we’re better prepared? 

The answer to that is complex, but the essential first step is to understand what the top supply chain risks will be next year. Tony Webster-Smith, Regional APAC VP at Avetta, believes that the following five risks will be the most important for next year: 

1. Cash flow

It’s been a tough year for businesses big and small the world over, but what is even more frightening is that we’re yet to see the true effects of the hardship. In many countries, governments have introduced temporary provisions to help businesses (especially small ones) temporarily weather the economic impact of the virus. Yet in 2021, we may see many of these changes wound back or cancelled altogether. 

One such provision is the COVID-19 Insolvent Trading Safe Harbour, which was introduced in Australia in March, but is due to expire in December this year. The ruling absolves company directors of liabilities if the business does continue to trade while insolvent. A similar rule was introduced in the UK, but has now ended, while in the US, many companies continue to claim protections under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy rule, but this may not be sustainable.

What this means, says Tony, is that many smaller businesses may go into administration. It’s more important than ever, he says, to monitor the risks associated with the financial health of your suppliers. 

2. Reputational damage 

With the world distracted by the pandemic, many less-than-reputable suppliers may think that their discretions will go by unnoticed. Not so, says Tony. In 2021, reputational damage will continue to be as important (if not more important) than it has been in the past, and customers will increasingly expect transparency as to how and where their products are made. Modern slavery will continue to be an issue, with some of the world’s most famous companies, including Mars, Nestle and Hersheys, still unable to eradicate child labour.

As concerning as modern slavery is, though, there are many other reputational risks caused directly by the pandemic that we all need to be aware of. These include, but are not limited to, project delays, non-fulfillment of contracts, and a lack of business continuity planning that naturally follows a business disruption as all-encompassing as the pandemic.

3. Regulatory environment 

While it’s hard to say what will happen with the business regulatory environment in the US next year, in Australia at least, a number of new regulations will come into force that may represent a significant risk for businesses. 

The first one of these regulations is the new Labour Hire Licensing Scheme. The scheme was introduced to protect workers from exploitation, and means that suppliers need even more oversight into their contractors, and even their contractor’s contractors.

On the topic of oversight, another piece of legislation that will be introduced in Australia is around the chain of responsibility in the transport industry. In a nutshell, transport providers will have more legal responsibilities when it comes to driver fatigue and maneuvering heavy vehicles. 

All of these changes will mean increased risks and costs for suppliers. 

4. Sustainability

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world as we know it, but one change that hasn’t been all bad has been increasing focus on building reliable and sustainable supply chains. This change, Tony believes, represents a great opportunity for all of us to build better supply chains where we’re even more focused on customer centricity, a commitment to reducing CO2 emissions, and an increasing awareness of our environmental impacts. 

But of course, where there are opportunities, there are risks, and the risk with sustainability is that some companies and suppliers simply won’t keep up, and will be penalised by the market as a result. 

5. Natural disasters

They were always something we planned for, but now they seem to be happening with increasing frequency. Outside of the coronavirus pandemic, this year has seen the Australian bushfires, which cost the economy $100 billion dollars, as well as the California ones, which cost the US economy $10 billion. 

And there is no sign that these disasters will let up in 2021. In fact, the frequency and severity of storms, floods and bushfires is expected to increase, representing a very real risk for suppliers and businesses alike. 

2020 has been an extremely challenging year with many unexpected risks. But as the business environment we operate in gets more complex, so do the risks associated with it. Although the five categories of risks detailed above will feature in 2021, what is more likely is that the risks we face will not fall into neat categories. As Dawn Tiura, CEO of SIG, reminds us, risk events very often cascade from one risk category to the next, and can, at any one time, be strategic, compliance-related, financial, reputational or operational. 

What we know for sure is that 2021 will represent a unique set of circumstances, challenges and risks for every business. But as the old adage goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Risk management planning for next year should start now.