Tag Archives: big ideas in procurement

The Big Ideas Summit 2017: The After-Party

No one likes to reach the end of a great procurement  party. Luckily there’s still a whole lot more Big Ideas Summit content to come…

Join The Big Ideas Summit 2017 group to access all of yesterday’s discussions and exclusive video content.

Yesterday Procurious gathered 50 of procurement’s top thought leaders in London for the Big Ideas Summit 2017.

We heard from a number of  inspiring speakers, sparked exciting discussion and shared our Big Ideas for procurement in 2017. Conversation topics ranged from economics to futurism, from cognitive technology to  releasing creativity and everything in-between.

It was wonderful to see some familiar faces at this year’s event and lots of new ones too.

Big Ideas By Numbers

But the fun didn’t stop in London. Our digital delegates from all around the globe followed the day’s events via social media.

3,400 people visited Procurious to access Big Ideas content discussions and videos.

On twitter, the #BigIdeas2017 hashtag  was tweeted 1,850 times and had over 6.4 million impressions.

The Big Ideas Summit After-party

Don’t worry- The Big Ideas party isn’t over just yet!

Throughout the next week, we’ll be uploading all the video content into the learning section on Procurious. You’ll hear from each of our attendees on their Big Ideas  for procurement.

Whether it’s scaring yourself daily, paying your bills or turning statements into questions there’s a whole range of thought provoking advice to take on board.

Here’s a little taster of what’s to come:

If you’re feeling inspired by these videos, there’s still time for you to submit a Big Idea’s video. You’ll find a reminder of how to do so here.

Turning Statements Into Questions

Our first Big Ideas video comes from Creative Change Agent, James Bannerman. James wants procurement pros to start turning statements into questions in order to unleash their creative genius.  Check out the video to find out more.

You can hear more from James in our podcast series, Even Bigger Ideas. 

Even Bigger Ideas Podcast Series 

Want to hear more from some of our speakers? The final Even Bigger Ideas podcast was released today. Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson talks about how we can seamlessly transition between ordinary, analogue world to the extraordinary, digital world and who will thrive in this era of cyber disruption. You can listen to the Even Bigger Ideas Podcast Series here.

Want to catch up on all of yesterday’s Big Ideas Summit activity? Join the group here

Indirect Procurement: Leading By Taking Responsibiity

Authentic leadership is especially important in indirect procurement. Pauline King discusses why taking responsibility is a key aspect of this.

Join The Big Ideas Summit 2017 group to access all of yesterday’s discussions and exclusive video content.

I was recently at a lunch with a former member of our indirect transformation program. I wanted her view was on how we achieved so much and so quickly. Her answer surprised me.

She made no mention of classic procurement methods; it was all about authentic leadership. Indirect procurement, with its high change impact, power struggles and need for excellent business partnering, is especially in need of this kind of leadership.

But what does this mean in the day to day? Thinking back over authentic and inauthentic bosses and my own mistakes in aiming to be an authentic leader, one theme is about taking responsibility. Here are three examples from my past experiences that demonstrate this.

  1. Be confident to make tough decisions 

I’ll never forget the first leadership team meeting with the best boss I ever had.

Bruce told us that each of us should be doing our own job and not the job of our direct reports. This was a powerful message for me because I realised that I had been covering and doing damage control for one of my team leads, Dirk.

Dirk had many talents, but he was not comfortable challenging the business. In indirect procurement, this is fatal.

It was September and we were setting up for the following year’s project pipeline and savings commitments. The numbers were not on track.

We were reviewing his numbers when I realised he hadn’t completed the final, and crucial, step of getting the senior business managers’ sign-off.  With a sinking feeling, I saw I would have to step in and ‘do his job for him’.  It was time for a hard decision.

In this case, it was especially difficult because I had worked closely with Dirk and appreciated his knowledge and skills in many ways.

But, he deserved to hear it straight that he hadn’t stepped up despite many feedback sessions. I didn’t see him being able to develop this particular skill. We instead focused on his considerable strengths and worked successfully to find him a new role. He went on to have great impact.

  1. Manage Relationships Effectively 

During a particularly difficult phase of a worldwide P2P rollout, my responsibility was to lead the global indirect implementation. This was in coordination with my teammates, the regional heads.

One of the most complex regions was in Europe with its many countries and languages. There were endless calls between global and region Europe to hammer out the operational details. One particular teammate, John, the head of Europe seemed to be putting roadblocks in place that didn’t make sense.

I made an error in blaming John and, worse still, being vocal about it. I didn’t take the time to understand his reality on the ground.

Luckily for me, our boss was very blunt and told me:

  • Work with your colleague to fix the disagreement
  • Never complain in public about a team member

I apologised to John and spent time with him discussing how we both thought we could bridge our differences.

Ultimately, he became one of my closest colleagues and together we led the rollout in Europe to success.

  1. Train your team to be independent 

The best way to coach people to take responsibility is by giving them the space to act alone.

I was once working on a series of difficult projects, one of which was reducing travel cost by implementing high-end video conferencing. In order for it to be impactful, a fast worldwide rollout was needed.

Serge was the procurement lead and had never done such a project before.  He had, however, developed a great relationship with his business client. I was convinced, with some support, that he could do the job.

One of the first tasks was in finding a clear way to measure the savings and bring that to the P&L. Together with the travel manager, we did some brainstorming on how to get the data and make the case, reviewed what external case studies we could use from providers and what the storyline could be for senior management. Serge went away with the task to put together a first draft with his colleague.

What he came back with was terrible: no clear story line and fuzzy numbers.

We did another brainstorming session and gathered some more data. At the end of this round, I thought Serge had enough to bring everything together. But, once again, he again came back with meandering slides and no clear way to measure the savings.

I knew he could do better.  I looked him in the eye and told him he had what he needed to pull the deck together and that I was convinced he could do it. And sent him away.

Several days later, Serge came back with the frame that we then polished and successfully got approved. With this success behind him, he stepped up and drove the project through, not only deepening his relationship with his business client, but also increasing his visibility in the company.

Believing and then saying, ‘I have full confidence’ to an employee is a powerful message.

Want to catch up on all of yesterday’s Big Ideas Summit activity? Join the group here

You Appointed WHO As The New CPO?

Increasingly, companies are appointing CPOs from outside of the supply management profession. What does this tell us about C-level expectations of procurement, and why are supply management professionals missing out?

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Years of hard work and a brilliant career in supply management has brought you to within a hair’s breadth of fulfilling your dream – to become the Chief Procurement Officer of your company. Starting at the most junior level, you’ve worked your way up the ladder to your present position as second-in-charge of the procurement function. Your boss announced his retirement last week, and you’re quietly confident your turn has come – after all, there’s absolutely nothing about the organisation’s supply chain that you don’t know.

You step into the meeting room where the out-going CPO and two other executives are seated around a table. Disconcertingly, they stop talking when you walk in and look at you guiltily. Getting straight to the point, they tell you they’re excited to announce the new Chief Procurement Officer is … Jennifer from Marketing.

Is Procurement Being Usurped?

Has this happened in your organisation? There’s every chance that when it comes time to choose a new CPO, the C-Suite will appoint someone from a non-supply background. This means that a colleague of yours in a completely different department may one day swoop in to steal the job that you’ve been working towards for years.

While CEO-level expectations of the CPO continue to blur and broaden, the skill-set required to meet those expectations can now potentially be found in any department. The fact that supply managers are still reporting difficulty in educating their businesses on the value procurement can bring to an organisation doesn’t help the situation. If a CEO (wrongly) believes that a supply manager has spent his or her career focused solely on cost, then they are likely to look elsewhere for candidates for the top job.

Deb Stanton, Executive Director of Research and Benchmarking organisation CAPS Research and former Global CPO of MasterCard, has observed the trend of CPO appointments from outside of the profession. CEOs are no longer as interested in appointing CPOs who possess the traditional skill set that is earnt over years working in supply chain. A savvy marketing professional, or a cost-conscious operations manager who understands how supply management works, makes a very attractive candidate for CPO.

So, what does this mean?

  1. CEOs are looking for a different set of skills for the next CPO

The CPO of the future may have little idea how a tender is run, but they must:

  • Be business-savvy and understand the organisation as a whole
  • Know how procurement works from a customer’s perspective
  • Be completely aligned to overall business strategy (not just the supply management strategy)
  • Have a strong knowledge of the business’ finance function
  • Be focused on the core customer and external audiences
  • Embrace changing technology and external disruptive forces
  • Be an influencer and relationship management expert.

Deb referred to CAPS Research’s “Futures Study 2020”, which projects the skills required to manage a procurement function into the future.

  1. The CPO doesn’t necessarily need supply management expertise

The complex and varied skill-set picked up through a career in supply management may no longer be enough to satisfy the requirements for the job of CPO. CEOs may even regard procurement’s traditional audience of stakeholders, end-users and suppliers to be too focused.

That being said, technical procurement skills do matter, and are still vital for any procurement team’s success. In the example above, the disappointed candidate who missed out on the top job can still play a vital role in educating and supporting the outsider CPO with their supply management knowledge.

What’s the solution? If you believe the CPO role rightfully belongs to you, rather than someone from a completely different department, then make sure you broaden (rather than narrow) your focus as you move upwards in your organisation. This means familiarising yourself on a macro level with the whole business, bringing the core customer into every decision you make, and being known as an influencer who can clearly articulate the value you, and your function, brings to the business.

As Deb pointed out today, procurement professionals are in a unique position to overlook an entire business. They’ve got every chance of seeing where the opportunities are so let’s use it an not lose it!

Neurodiversity – Your Secret HR Weapon

People with Neurodiverse profiles have historically endured stigmatisation and struggled in the workplace. John Floyd explains why, and how, this is changing and what we can do to accommodate and embrace differences. 

Want to follow all of the action today? Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

We know the best performing teams are made up of a diverse group of people, whether that be gender, age, ethnicity or educational background. One of our Big Ideas Speakers, the Headmaster of Bruern Abbey, John Floyd, has just thrown “neurodiversity “ onto the list of must-have employee profiles, to help strengthen and enhance team output.

Recently rated by Tatler as one of the best Prep Schools in the UK, Bruern Abbey specialises in educating boys with dyslexia and dyspraxia. It is the only preparatory school of its kind in the UK and John Floyd is its outstanding headmaster.

John is a firm believer that learning difficulties, or learning differences, should not preclude academic success. In fact, after developing the right learning strategies at Bruern, many of the boys from go on to some of the best senior schools in the country.

Unfortunately, not everyone with dyslexia or dyspraxia is lucky enough to go to Bruern Abbey. Education systems around the world aren’t necessarily set up to accommodate those with neurodiverse profiles such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism. Of course, this extends to the workplace as well.

It is estimated that:

  • 5-10 per cent of the population has dyslexia,
  • 5-10 per cent of the population has dyspraxia
  • 5-7 per cent of the population has ADHD
  • 1 per cent of the population has autism

People with neuro-diverse profiles (and there’s a lot of them!) learn differently, think differently and apply their skills in alternate ways. As John succinctly puts it, “The term neurodiversity means that someone has a brain a little bit different to the majority of people”

Turning their differences into a virtue is a great opportunity for any team leader.

Diversity wins out

Organisations are starting to realise that employing people with neurodiverse profiles and optimizing their approach to work is great for business.

A few examples include:

  • MI5’s sister service GCHQ (the Government Communications Headquarters) employs more than 300 employees with neuro-diverse profiles and are actively recruiting more.
  • Organisations such as Microsoft and EY are trialing programs to recruit individuals with neuro-diverse profiles such as Asperger’s.
  • Last May the Labour party in the UK decided to appoint a shadow minister for neurodiversity.

Employers recognise that employees with neurodiverse profiles might offer heightened analytical skills, lateral thinking and a more naturally investigatory mindset than their peers.

How do you manage neurodiverse team members?

Everyone in your team will have different strengths and weaknesses. The opportunity for you, as a leader, is to optimize every member of your team to allow them to reach their peak performance. The key is to determine who has which strengths and to tailor the opportunities and development to suit that individual.

If you’re expecting a prospective employee’s CV to land on your desk with a neurodiverse label plastered across it, think again!

As John pointed out today, “If you start to see some badly written emails from a team member, you’ll know you shouldn’t assign them to write the press releases. But there will be a whole host of things they can do for you, and probably do better than anyone else!”

John gave a few examples of areas in which those with neurodiverse profiles might particularly excel.

Get them to do the interviewing

Dyslexics often have highly developed and fine-tuned listening and oral skills. They are the most studied of all neurodiverse profiles.

Compensating for having potentially struggled with reading and writing throughout childhood, many of them develop excellent verbal and listening skills.They are likely to be a resilient bunch and great under time pressure. Dyslexics  have learnt how to work well under stress.  having been up against it ever since they were first asked to do school-work.

It could be worth relying upon them to conduct interviews with prospective employees. They might be the most socially engaging person on your team and the most capable at listening to, and evaluating, a candidate.

Let them solve the problems

Adults with dyslexia and Dyspraxia quite literally think differently and are good at cracking codes or seeing patterns in problems that those who read with ease would overlook. They’re also great at re-inventing, re-evaluating and thinking laterally.

Give them the time-sensitive or juggling tasks

A number of adults with forms of neurodiversity such as ADHD can deal with juggling a number of tasks at high speed. It’s what they do all day anyway. For most of us it would be exhausting!  They might come up with too many ideas and try to execute them too quickly but they’ll never run out of steam and they’ll be utterly committed.

John concluded his talk today by urging us not to hesitate in employing somebody with a neurodiverse profile. They’ll be grateful to be employed, they’ll be your most resilient team members and they’ll work diligently.

You can guarantee that they’ll be thinking differently about something long before you’ve even entertained the thought that there could even  be an alternate option.

Don’t forget to register as a digital delegate so you can keep up with the rest of today’s events.

The Big Ideas Summit 2017: We Have Lift Off

The Big Ideas Summit will take flight in just a few hours time.  Want to know what’s in store? Look no further…

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

The big day is finally here! Procurious is all-set to spark vigorous discussions, light up social media across the globe and crowd-source ideas for the future of procurement.

We’ll be addressing everything from Procurement 4.0 to Cognitive Technology and Global Economics. We’d also still love for you to submit any questions for our speakers via the Big Ideas Summit group.

Here’s what’s coming up today!

Part One Pivot – Rethinking What’s Possible

 Be Brave Or Dead – Mark Stevenson, Futurist

Mark is an entrepreneur, author, broadcaster, musician and expert on global trends and innovation. Mark would describe his role as helping people and organisations to ask the right questions about the future.

Mark’s Big Idea

Be brave or be dead! Wherever you work and wherever you end up in the next 15-20 years, remember that it’s going to be a very turbulent time. Ask yourself: what’s my best effort for myself, my family and for society (and remember they’re all related). If you don’t, you can prepare to be very irrelevant and very unhappy!

Trumpism In the Supply Chain – Linda Yueh, Fellow at Oxford University & Adjunct Professor at London Business School

Uncertainty, uncertainty, uncertainty is how Linda explains 2017. At the moment, it’s over President Trump, European politics: elections and Brexit, and the slowdown in growth of China and other major economies. Thankfully Linda’s message to CPOs is one of caution but reassures that it’s not time to panic.

Linda’s Big Idea

Keep calm but be sure to keep an eye on what’s happening around the world as the globalisation landscape is shifting significantly. Global trade won’t end tomorrow but it is going to look rather different in the coming years.

Part Two Scrum – Procurement in the Digital Age

Watson: What’s The Big Idea – Barry Ward, Senior Procurement Brand Manager, IBM Global Procurement

Barry has drawn a parallel between the cognitive technology journey of Watson and the space programme and moon landing journeys of the last century. For IBM, developing and deploying Watson is something like the moonshot in the 1960s where IBM technology helped NASA make the lunar landings possible. 

Barry’s Big Idea

Cognitive technology is merely in its infancy in terms of where it can go. This journey will mostly likely take 50 years or more to be fully realised. Millennials have the chance to be there at the outset. They will see cognitive technology evolving and developing throughout their entire careers. But first we need to know how to get on them on board and enjoying the journey. 

Creating Agility In The Digital Age – Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader at The Hackett Group

Chris has nearly 20 years of experience in supply management, working directly with Fortune 500 and mid-sized companies around the globe. He believes that agility is the defining trait of the procurement team of today and the future. He reminds us that many of the problems procurement will face in the coming years have not even been thought of yet!

Chris’ Big Idea

The future is an ‘Unknown Unknown’, but with a match fit, agile procurement team, at least you’ll be prepared for what comes next. 

Reinventing The Public Sector Wheel – Paul Smith, Executive Director YPO & Board Member SOPO 

Paul has been the driving force behind Procurious’ first private, “corporate” version of the platform, which launched in January 2017. SOPO are using social media to reinvent the way in which public sector procurement professionals work , network and collaborate.

Paul’s Big Idea:

Bring together local government via social media to collaborate and network

Part Three Reboot – Building Your Workforce

Unlocking The Creative Genius In Your Procurement Team
James Bannerman, Creative Change Agent. 

James Bannerman is author of non-Fiction best-seller Genius: Deceptively Simple Ways to Become Instantly Smarter. He believes the maxim that organisations must innovate or die has never been more true thanks to rapid technology developments and fierce competition. In procurement, CPOs need to foster their intrapreneurs and work to achieve what James calls a ‘return on inspiration’.

James’ Big Idea

Miraculous and fully-formed ideas won’t simply land at your feet. Procurement pros must attempt, what James calls, “deliberate creativity.”

Unlocking The Case For Neuro Diversity – John Floyd, Headmaster at Bruern Abbey

John wants to dispel the negative connotations that are so often associated with conditions such as dyslexia and ADHD. He explains that neuro-diverse profiles are actually a bonus for employers because of their different approaches to solving problems and finding answers. 

John’s Big Idea

One in every ten team members should be someone with a neuro-diverse profile.

Panel Interview – Graham Lucas, Managing Director at Michael Page

What are the best Procurement Teams already doing to set up for success? What are the trends in creating more innovative and engaging Procurement workplaces?

Graham believes that for procurement to survive in the digital age, it might not even be called procurement! Those who try to resist the coming changes, are more likely to be part of the redundancy.

Graham will be joined on the panel by Gautam Singh, The Smart Cube and Juliet Sotnick, Babcoc.

Digital Procurement Transformation – Paul Blake, Senior Manager, GEP 

Paul Blake leads the technology product marketing team at GEP. He’ll be addressing the topic of digital procurement transformation. Paul believes that if procurement continues to accept the technological status quo as some kind of given, it’ll continue to be fed the same poor diet. Procurement must start to challenge the hard-and-fast rules we’ve adopted for so long without question.

Paul’s Big Idea

There is no point continuing to do things as we have always done, just because that is the accepted status quo. Instead we should be embracing change and adapting to future possibilities.

Procurement Talent 4.0: Future Skillsets to Build Your Procurement Organisation – Deb Stanton, Executive MD, CAPS Research

Following conversations earlier in the day about what will evolve in the next 50 years, Deb will bring us back to the here and now. Procurement teams should be focused on ‘doing the do’ and getting the basics right whilst keeping their eyes on the horizon 

Deb’s Big Idea

“Be bold, but nice” is my favorite motto and advice that I give all supply chain professionals.  We need to be bold enough to challenge, ask the right questions, and bring new ideas forward; yet do it in a way that people still want to work with us.

Leadership, Tough Love and Long-Term Partnerships – John McFarlane, Chairman, Barclays PLC

With a background that includes being Chairman of Aviva and CEO of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, leadership is an area in which John has become an expert. But guess what? He has also worked in procurement! In 1969 he joined Ford as a buyer!

John’s Big Idea

I would encourage longer-term partnerships with supply chains and encourage procurement to approach this with a win-win mentality. It’s win-win or no gain. Aim to be the customer of choice so suppliers approach you with best products.

Stay up to date with the day’s events and submit your questions for our speakers via our Big Ideas Summit Group. Follow us on Twitter via  @Procurious_  using the hashtag #bigideas2017

Procurement And Its Role in the Gig Economy

Predictions suggest that gig workers will represent a third of the workforce by 2020. What does the gig economy mean for procurement?

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

The Gig Economy – an overused buzz phrase, refers to the growing number of people who work on a contingent basis. These people are not on a company’s payroll; they provide services on a consulting, freelance or temporary basis, either full-time or part-tine.

The number of people taking this route, because of a tight job market and pressures on the global economy, has risen dramatically in the past few years.

Millennials love the opportunities it brings and some over 55s are reinventing themselves in a new role. This is the new world of work. It is projected that gig workers will represent a third of the workforce by 2020.

Benefits of the gig economy for companies

Companies are struggling with rising labour costs and they need a workforce that can quickly adapt to market conditions. the benefits of a gig economy include:

  • Easily source skilled workers and experts for projects via on-line platforms or using third party staffing agencies
  • Scale their workforce up and down quickly to meet business demand
  • Increase speed of hiring and mobilisation due to simpler recruitment and faster budget approvals
  • Invest less in training and employee benefits
  • Reduce the cost of administration, office space and facilities

However, this attractive solution to the talent management headache comes with challenges for both Human Resources (HR) and Procurement.

What does it mean for the procurement function?

The procurement function is already benefitting by engaging contingent or temporary staff for its own use but has not fully explored the potential of the gig economy for filling job roles that are not repetitive or are not project-based. CPOs can ramp up their procurement savings and process efficiencies through using contingent workers more extensively.

Procurement  also has a role to play in the wider business, along with HR, to manage this growing trend. The ways of engaging with suppliers of services will change; potentially simpler contracts but using more specialist suppliers and even engaging with individuals.

What does it mean for the HR function?

Line managers will have staffing requirements and demands that HR has not experienced before, attracting and engaging a diverse workforce to satisfy their internal clients will require an adjustment in mind-set. It may help HR to engage with procurement professionals to apply tried and tested stakeholder management techniques.

  1. HR strategies for recruitment and retention will have to change.
  2. Policies for non-permanent employees must be more flexible
  3. Performance management measures such as key performance indicators (KPIs) will have to be adapted to suit the new ways of working
  4. More attention is needed to benchmarking market pay rates
  5. Additional effort is required to engage and motivate people working remotely

Risk and compliance

A bigger contingent workforce means increased risk. How do you manage to control hundreds or even thousands of workers that have access to your systems and technology?

It can become an HR nightmare to ensure compliance with policies and procedures and, at the same time, handle the administration. Specialist recruitment companies and HR service providers are relishing the opportunity and taking up the slack. They have experience in the legal and compliance issues in HR and have more capacity and energy to handle the day to day issues. Who sources and manages the outsourced services? Why, procurement of course!

Experts and advisors

There are also interesting developments among the more experienced and specialised independent consultants offering their services, especially in procurement. These people are not to be found through conventional recruitment channels, they are mobilising themselves into small professional services firms that network and collaborate to provide skilled professionals to commercial companies and government. 

Success factors for managing gig workers

  • Managing a remote and mobile workforce means providing the right collaboration tools and technology to ensure that they can honour their deliverables. Connectivity is the key: wireless links, video conferencing, internet access and suitable work spaces.
  • An organization needs to be agile enough to mobilise new teams and scale operations up or down to adapt to changing business needs. Inflexible polices, fixed locations and traditional office hours do not suit this solution.
  • A robust administration system is needed to manage a contingent workforce – external support may be the answer.

There’s no question that the benefits of the gig economy to an employer are many but it also comes with complexity.   Procurement and HR both need to play roles in this process but can they work together on the best solution?

No budget, no problem! Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017 now!

The Big ideas Summit 2017: Join The Ride

If you’re bursting with questions for our Big Ideas 2017 speakers, now’s your chance to put them to the test and have your voice heard.

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

There’s less than a week to go until the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 but, there’s still time for you to make your voice heard as a digital delegate. Wherever you are in the world, you can help us to shape the event’s agenda by driving discussions and debate from the comfort of your own office, home or on the go.

Helen Mackenzie attended the event last year and particularly enjoyed the opportunities for meaningful discussion:

The Big Ideas Summit offers a chance to take stock of where things are both in the world we’re operating in and also within the profession itself.  The chance to discuss and debate some of the biggest issues of the day with a fantastic group of senior procurement people is an opportunity not to be missed.

Among our key themes underpinning the 2017 event are:

  • Industry 4.0 and how it’s reshaping procurement
  • Rebuilding your workforce for  Workforce 4.0
  • Procurement in the digital age
  • Authentic Leadership – Inspiring Trust and Driving Change in Uncertain Times

But we need your input too!

Why should I get involved?

Everyone in our 20,000 strong Procurious community has a unique opportunity to put our speakers to the test by asking them the toughest questions. In the Big Ideas Summit 2017 group, the conversation has already begun . Participants are reading exclusive, advance insights from the event’s presenters and contributing to topical discussions.

Your contributions needn’t stop ahead of the event, either. On the day we would love your input on the day’s  key themes and topics, and further questions based on what you’ve been hearing.

If there’s anything you’re burning  to ask one of our procurement thought leaders, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.  This is your chance to connect with our speakers, senior executives, thought leaders and CPOs, thus gaining insights into the future of procurement.

We’ll be monitoring and updating the group and our twitter account throughout the day to feedback your questions.

Who’s answering my questions?

We’ve secured a stella line up for this year’s event and they’re ready and eager to answer the toughest questions you can put to them.

  • James Bannerman, Creative change agent and author of Non-Fiction best-seller Genius: Deceptively Simple Ways to Become Instantly Smarter
  • Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader at The Hackett Group
  • Linda Yueh, fellow in economics, Oxford university and Adjunct Professor, London Business School.
  • Mark Stevenson, Futurist, entrepreneur, and author of global best-seller, ‘An Optimist’s Tour of the Future‘.
  • Paul Blake, Senior Manager, Technology Product Marketing at GEP Worldwide
  • Barry Ward,  Procurement Brand Manager, Global Business Services at IBM
  • Graham Lucas, Managing Director – Procurement & Supply Chain and Logistics at Michael Page
  • Deb Stanton, Executive Managing Director, CAPS Research.

How do I submit a question?

It couldn’t be easier to submit your questions and you’ve got couple options to do so:

You can also stay up to date, and get involved in real time via LinkedIn or Facebook  using the hashtag #BigIdeas2017.

Not yet registered as a digital delegate?

It’s as easy as pie to register as a digital delegate, simply join the group on Procurious and get stuck in.

And, in case you needed any more persuasion, here’s what Chris Cliffe, Director – CJC Procurement Ltd, had to say about last year’s event:

It goes without saying that this is a no brainer event to follow for everyone working, aspiring, thinking about procurement.  The quality, breadth and variety of the content was exceptional.

No budget, no problem! Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017 now!

Food, Glorious Factory Food! – Challenging the Tech Status Quo

If procurement continues to accept the technological status quo as some kind of given, we’ll continue to be fed the same poor diet. Paul Blake explains why it’s time to challenge the hard-and-fast rules we’ve adopted for so long without question. 

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

Have you ever wondered why food made in factories is so awful?

Please don’t assume this is going to be a rant about organic carrots and the danger of the shop-bought cake. Let me reassure you that it’s on the contrary.

There’s nothing quite like a home-cooked meal 

Modern living and demands on personal time mean that conveniently available, ready-to-eat food is a fact of everyday life. Everything from jam to lasagne is made in factories, often with minimal human interaction. This can be a very good thing in many ways.

So, if we accept that industrially manufactured food is a thing, one question still remains. Why is it just not as good as the homemade or handmade equivalent? Again, we should allow for the dependency on precisely whose hands are involved. But, all things being equal, a dish made by a competent cook, from scratch will out-score a factory-made one.

At first glance, it might seem obvious. Factory products resource lower cost raw ingredients, preservatives and flavourings for longer shelf-life. No wonder your canned chilli ain’t a patch on your own efforts. This is basic profit-driven economics. And, it’s true, you get what you pay for.

But there is another, more subtle reason, that factory food doesn’t quite hit the mark. A reason that is in no way immediately apparent. And it has to do with our relationship with technology.

Robots that POUR!

For a dish to be easily manufactured in a factory, in large quantities, on a production line, it is crucial that the components, from raw ingredients to part finished elements, are able to be pumped.

How do you get the meat sauce for your lasagne from its cooking vat to the line where it’s assembled? The sauce, the pasta and the béchamel must be sent through a pipe, and often for a considerable distance. The pumping of certain traditional ingredients, such as butter, is impossible. As such, the food industry has had to identify, develop and sometimes engineer alternatives.

The infrastructure, the routing process has had such limitations that it has defined the very nature of the outcomes that are possible. But, as the presenters of the great BBC technology show of the 70s and 80s, Tomorrow’s World, used to say “that is, until now!”

The food factory of the future will be populated, not by machines that pump – but by robots that POUR. And with that simple change, a whole new world of possibilities opens up.

By analysing how a chef systematically puts a dish together, and replicating that, with industrial upscaling, into a robotic process – and eradicating the notion that the conventional wisdom of “pumpability” was some kind of hard-and-fast rule. This new paradigm in food production could forgo the need for chemically-altered shortening agents. You know those ones that taste terrible (requiring added salt as a mask), have dubious health impacts but which, can  at least,  be pumped along a pipe.

Limitations in procurement

In business, and without doubt in the procurement business, we have precisely that same relationship with the technology available to us. We’ve been limited in the quality of the results we can produce because of how the tools and technologies we use are built.

Until recently, the software used in procurement has restricted the procurement professional to working in ways determined by how the software was written, and not by what is best for the outcome. This means procurement has become attenuated to these limitations and now accepts them as hard-and-fast rules.

A good example of this is the notion of “best of breed”.  This uses the most sophisticated software tool available for each step in the source to pay process. We’re indoctrinated to see lists of features and functions as the sole measure of suitability of software.

Dividing up the entire spend management process from strategy planning to invoice payment into a set of silos, and then equipping each step with the best tool for that task might at first seem to be a sound approach.  But this is only if you look at the steps in isolation. That’s just the same as looking at each ingredient in your recipe and only considering whether you can pump it around your factory.

How can tech make procurement processes more palatable?

In procurement, the separation of sourcing from contract into entirely different systems does nothing to promote positive outcomes and the isolated software components actively compound the difficulty of realizing savings and value.

However, technologies are emerging that are permitting us to look at the entire source to pay process as a single business requirement.  This allows us to consider how the various “ingredients” interact and work with each other to create the optimum result.

In the future, we will no longer be restricted to working the way the software dictates. Whilst a good part of the process may be run automatically, we will get to determine the ideal set of inputs and outputs to suit us.

The emergence of AI founded on big data, mobile, always-on connectivity and, crucially, the unification of strategic procurement and day-to-day purchasing into a single operational environment are changing the effectiveness of the procurement operation.

Challenging the status quo

By accepting the technological status quo as some kind of given, we will only continue to be fed the same poor diet.

Returning to the analogy, we don’t have to reject the notion of manufactured food entirely. Not if we can see that technology can actually make it better, possibly even better than we can do ourselves. There’s a thought!

The same applies completely to the idea of the automated supply chain. It needn’t (and won’t) be the death of Procurement. The smart use of new technology will actually give our industry new lease of life. As long as we stop adhering to the outdated technology rule book.

There is another way. The time is now.

Paul Blake is Senior Manager, Technology Product Marketing at GEP Worldwide. He’ll be speaking at the 2017 Big Ideas Summit next week. Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate here.

How To Hold On Tight To Prospective Procurement Talent

The recruitment process can be brutal. You’ve work hard to identify and attract the best procurement talent. But,  at the last minute, the candidate pulls out leaving you back at square one.  Michael Page’s Graham Lucas has some top tips for achieving a successful recruitment process.

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

Procurement has come a long way and holds a position of positive influence within many organisations. The agenda for the Big Ideas Summit  – Procurement in the Digital Age, Rethinking What’s Possible, Building Workforce 4.0, and The View from the Top – shows that there has never been a more urgent need for bigger change and greater evolution.

You need only to look at the progress over the past few years to recognise this. SRM, improved supply chains, driving both value and innovation from suppliers, and category leads shaping strategic agendas are some of the developments we have seen.

Whilst the progress is positive, the evolving shape of organisations and the disruptive nature of technology is only going to increase both the degrees, and speed of change required. I genuinely don’t believe that procurement as a function will continue to exist unless it drives a much greater breadth to its commercial influence over an organisation.

So what affect does this have on talent attraction, acquisition and retention in procurement teams?

The Procurement Talent Pool

It is clear that 80 per cent of the roles on which we are being briefed carry very similar requirements. Organisations are competing for the 20 per cent of  candidates in any potential pool that possess  the key skills needed to help procurement teams deliver that broader value. Influencing skills, communication, being able to connect with stakeholders and suppliers, and driving innovation etc. Most procurement teams will have advertised a role recently specifying many of these requirements.

Identifying the talent you want to hire is only one aspect of the challenge. You’ll also need to ensure that you are able to acquire them. Three in every  four of the offers that our clients are making are being met with counter offers, many of them substantial.  In half of these cases the counter offer is equal to or greater than the offer made by our client.

Fortunately Michael Page are mitigating most of the risks associated with this for our clients.  It’s important to prepare a candidate for what is to come when they resign. We also consider  what they need from the process and screen out those that are not serious. This is all part of what a good recruiter will do. And after that, it’s down to you….

What  can procurement teams  do to avoid losing talent they have worked so hard to identify and attract? It comes down to six key factors. 

Understand key motivators

Understanding candidates’ key motivators is crucial to ensuring that any chance of buy back is reduced, and to make the right hiring decisions for long-term performance and retention. If you have truly understood their motivators you are more likely to run a process that allows them to see how these can be met by you and your organisation. Where these don’t match you can save yourself critical time. This will allow you to focus on better prospects in terms of those that will actually join and, just as importantly, stay.

Get clarity on the full package

Package clarity: as with motivations, it is vital to get into the detail of a candidate’s current package at the beginning of the process so provide a full breakdown of the package and the value of it.

This will allow for an accurate comparison of a candidate’s current situation vs. the package on offer. Bonuses (likely earnings and also when they are paid), pensions, healthcare, car packages…. Not only do they mean different things in different businesses but many people don’t know the details until they are asked to look. Get in the detail early and manage expectations from day one. Otherwise you could be either under offering or underselling your own offer.

Offer a healthy balance

It’s easy to overlook the importance of a work life balance. There’s no point getting into the middle of a process only for a candidate to decide the commute is too tough or expensive. Likewise, what is the realistic work/life balance you can offer  in the new role? What are the candidate’s personal circumstances? Will this impact their final decision? It is crucial to be upfront about this from the start.

Ensure that people want to join your people!

This has a huge impact on candidates but is, strangely, sometimes underestimated. Candidates will form an attraction to a business and a team. This is separate from things like role specification, package, location etc. If you can get your prospective employee to meet people that they believe they can work with, and most importantly learn from, it makes the organisation much more desirable.

People join people more than they join companies.

A competent recruitment process

Candidates often judge businesses by their processes particularly at interview stage.  Make sure there are  clear timelines in place to manage expectations. Does the advised preparation match with the content of the interviews?

Whilst these may seem like small things, they can make a big difference. A company that is well organised, thorough and effective at recruitment, can either impress or put a candidate off. Asking someone to deliver change in an organisation that doesn’t appear able to do what it says it will do sends out the wrong signals.

Make your offer compelling

An offer should always be made based on what the hiring business thinks the candidate is worth, not just on the advertised package. For each role it is worth considering what a compelling offer would be. Both as a statement of intent to secure the candidate and also to ensure your remuneration is in line with the rest of the market. Importantly, this might not just be salary; it could be a bonus, private healthcare package or flexible working hours.

Graham Lucas is Managing Director – Procurement & Supply Chain and Logistics at Michael Page. He’ll be speaking at the 2017 Big Ideas Summit next week. Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate here.

Are You A Procurement Starter Or A Finisher?

Are you a starter or a finisher? According to IBM’s Barry Ward, you’d better be both! Barry discusses the key skills most critical to procurement in the coming years.

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Barry Ward, Procurement Brand Manager, Global Business Services at IBM is a keynote speaker at Big Ideas Summit 2017.  He’ll be explaining the big ideas behind Watson and the opportunities that cognitive tech presents to procurement. When we spoke to Barry ahead of the event he was keen to remind us that, despite rapid tech developments, traditional procurement skills are far from being made redundant.

How do you stay productive and current in a world of fast-paced innovation?

  • Collaborating with colleagues
  • Networking with others – using social media and other channels
  • Building and nurturing an ecosystem of organisations that are leading or developing solutions that may have or will have an impact in your function

What key skills are critical for procurement in the next 5 years?

We will always need traditional procurement skills such as the ability to be a strong negotiator, to communicate well internally and externally, to be a starter and a finisher. But, on top of this I think the importance of an open mind and curiosity in terms of the role that technology can play in the future is going to be more important than ever.

There will be an increasing need for project management skills, change management, relationship management skills. This is on top of the usual and still critical traditional procurement skills such as category expertise or negotiation skills. I can also say that there is a growing importance in soft skills: communication, teamwork and collaboration and problem solving.

How has technology, the Internet of Things and e-Procurement affected IBM?

Technology has placed a key role in IBM’s transformation over the past 20 years or so. Its importance is perhaps more critical in the the current phase of our procurement transformation. Understanding how digital technology can transform the supply chain and our source to pay activities is critical in terms both driving our efficiency and effectiveness but also to showcase how procurement can drive value throughout our organisation.

This positions Procurement in a much more strategic role than ever before. Procurement data is much more visible than ever before.  Insights through combining unstructured and structured information augment our knowledge, with alerts being posted to mobile devices instantaneously means that buyers can have much better assurance of supply continuity, of being able to understand price opportunities and to focus their time and energies on higher value activities than ever before. Lower value work will become automated or systems-driven. This is all good news for Procurement.

One clear impact of this transformation is that our key stakeholders now have very high expectations of high performance from Procurement personnel, perhaps more so than ever before, but the rewards are clearly evident in terms of the value that individuals can bring as well as the procurement organisation as a whole.

How valuable have mentors been in your career?

Mentoring is a highly personal thing. Some people need to have guidance and direction particularly in an organisation that may be widely spread and fast-moving, and if you are looking to move around different functions. Similarly for those who are in a smaller organization, mentors can bring an external, broader perspective.

Others are confident of their own abilities in charting a course for their own development and progression. I have had mentors in the past, particularly when I was in the early stages of my career. The more confident you are of your attributes and ambitions the less I have found that I needed mentoring. I spend time mentoring others mainly from within IBM and mainly from other geographies.

How did you first become interested in procurement?

I didn’t know very much about Procurement in my time as an undergraduate. It was not a profession that had much coverage when I was at University, unlike Finance or Engineering.

My first job as a business graduate was as a Purchasing Analyst running Bill of Material queries in a MRP system for a large manufacturer. This brought me into contact with many parts of the organisation including procurement. The procurement manager at the time was quite an intellectual and gave me a broad view of the role that procurement can play in an organisation.

Clearly he influenced me as I have spent my subsequent career in procurement and supply chain roles!

How will cognitive technology impact procurement professionals?

Cognitive technology will transform the role of the procurement professional and the impact that he or she can make for their organisation. It will be able to remove some of the more prosaic parts of the procurement role, such as data gathering and analysis, together with augmenting a buyer’s knowledge thus enabling them to spend more time on higher value tasks and ultimately make better decisions and be more effective.

Procurement professionals will need to understand how cognitive technology works – so they can be alert to potential mistakes that can happen from cognitive solutions, so that data input from these solutions is relevant and accurate.  It will eventually help, and force, them with their career progression as well as developing their expertise.

Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017