Tag Archives: future of procurement

Throwback Thursday – Who Gives a Tweet? Social Media for Procurement Executives

Still not sure about giving a tweet? Procurement professionals and executives need to be on the social media front line – and here’s why.

This article was first published on taniaseary.com.

Will I ever get on top of social media? Slack is the latest team collaboration tool that my 25-year-old whiz kids are pushing me into now. It’s a never-ending cycle of trying to keep up with the Jones’s (in the social media sense).

Since posting my “Who gives a Tweet” blog a few months ago, I think I’ve heard just about every reason why procurement professionals are finding it hard to “pick up the slack” and get social.

We’ve been really fortunate on Procurious to build a strong community of procurement professionals committed to sharing and building the knowledge base of the profession. However, there is still a lot of opportunity for more involvement.

Avoid the Excuses

For the uninitiated (and probably the offline) there are many excuses offered for avoiding being online.

But the most popular excuses are lack of time and not knowing what to talk about.

So, I’m putting forward a “Seary Theory” that is the “Two T’s” – Time and inTimidation (OK, not quite a second T) – are stopping more procurement professionals for being on-line. But more on that later…

procurement-executives

First, let’s all agree that social media is not going away.

I don’t need to explain to this educated group how social media is “disrupting” and “enabling” just about every type of business on the planet. We’ve seen retail, banking, communications and entertainment, and we will soon be finding out what it means for supply chain and procurement…

The way I look at it, social media is something we need to take VERY seriously.

The procurement profession is hosting conferences focussing on digital disruption and talking about the speed of change in today’s world. But I need to ask – are we walking the talk?

Yes, social media could be a fad, but then again, it could be the new way of doing business and therefore we need to embrace it.

I know a lot of procurement professionals think that social media is something that other people do. It’s all selfies on Facebook, cat videos on YouTube, and a plethora of Kardashians on Twitter. All true.

But the reality is, it’s not just Justin Bieber, Oprah and Grumpy Cat that are using social media. Do you realise who else is out there?

So why aren’t the rest of us “out there”? Putting ourselves in the fray? Why should I, as a procurement professional, be on Social Media?

Your Professional Development

By creating a strong network around yourself, you will be stronger for it.

It’s how you can stay informed and get ahead. Be it via LinkedIn, Procurious, Twitter or even Facebook, access the news as it’s posted, discover the world around you, keep abreast of industry gossip.

You need to have your finger on the pulse of the profession; anticipate things before they’ve happened, know who has changed jobs (and where they’ve gone to), identify issues others are experiencing, hone-in on the issues and questions.

You can also use social media to actively seek out information. Identify experts in your specific category or industry and follow their updates. Reach out directly to your network for answers.

Your Personal Brand

Be noticed for being clever and insightful. Don’t let people forget about you. Maintain a consistent and persistent presence on social media.

Social media gives you a voice. It has the potential to transform you into an authority figure. When you share something on social media (or in real life) and people respond, it demonstrates influence.

I appreciate not everyone wants to post their holiday snaps or selfies online and you don’t have to. Sharing online need not be so different to sharing offline.

If you’re feeling a bit hesitant, I suggest you join forums and websites to discuss the things that interest you.

This shows your professional nous, and keeps you front of mind with our clients and lifts your profile personally. It also demonstrates that you’re plugged into the industry, and will have the required knowledge to talk candidly about breaking issues affecting the profession.

What are the topics that only you can talk about? Every procurement professional has a unique vantage point from which they are gathering really interesting information that is unique to the industry, communities and businesses they work in.

Recognise your unique position and share some of the amazing learning’s and insights that come your way.

Your Daily Habit

The easiest way to get social is to incorporate a little bit of social “exercise” every day. Yes, every day. It shouldn’t be a chore and it doesn’t need to take more than 10 – 15 minutes. To prove that’s no exaggeration, here is what you can do in 15 minutes – I timed it.

1. News Scan

Check the latest news and happenings. We’ve made that easy on Procurious with our news tab which sifts through all the major business and procurement publications, so you don’t have to.

Keep your eyes peeled for “water cooler moments”, mentions of your competitors or suppliers in the headlines and be ready to dazzle colleagues and clients with factoids you’ve found on the commute to work.

2. Share

What did you find that was interesting? An article? A comment? A quote? Well, post it to Procurious – get people talking.

3. Be an expert

Start a discussion topic or contribute to a burning issue. There’s already a bustling discussions area on Procurious to dive into, take the initiative!

4. Grow your network

If we are going to be world’s best, then we need to be the most connected. You can invite people to Procurious via a direct email. You should also scan LinkedIn and review the suggested connections often. It is very exciting to see the wide range of procurement professionals present in these forums.

And once you’re in the swing of that maybe consider some of the real pro-moves, for example:

Register for any events you are thinking of attending. Send the invite around your network as others might want to join in.

When you’re at the event, post your thoughts to your network on Procurious. Keep the conversation going even when the party’s ended! On Twitter? Tweet about it.

Want to write something and see your name in lights? Send our Community & Content Editor Euan Granger an email and propose an interesting topic for our blog. Become a published writer!

Givers Gain

Recognise your unique position and share some of the amazing learnings and insights that come your way.

You are all in very fortunate positions but you’re not sharing these insights, so how will people (outside) know the amazing things we’ve all been doing? Feel free to blow your own trumpet, and together we can all be heard!

You are all ambassadors for the procurement profession; you should be using these new tools to help tell our story. What’s more, use Procurious to stay current and remain connected to your fellow procurement professionals.

No Seat at the Table? Time to Build Your Own Chair

The solution is simple, surely. If procurement can’t get a seat at the table, it’s time to build our own chair.

How many times have you heard your peers or even yourself say the inevitable term, “seat at the table”? I am not sure where this proverbial leadership table came from, but we are constantly trying to get a chair. It’s time to build our own chairs and bring them to the table.

Time to Whittle Some Wood

So, how do we build our own chair? It needs to start with education. You can help. Earlier this year I was at a Supply Chain career fair, recruiting some talent, and had a chance to speak to several students about the lack of educational offerings for our profession. It was remarkable how many of them had a strong interest in procurement.

This University happens to be a leader in Supply Chain education, and one of their courses has a procurement focus.

The interest is there, but outside of this University, dedicated procurement courses are as hard to find as one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets, or a Snorlax on Pokemon GO. (See what I did there? I’m trying to bridge the generational gap – you either don’t know who Gene Wilder is, or you never downloaded Pokemon GO and have no clue what a Snorlax is! Anyway, focus.)

I don’t believe that every college and university is going to begin adding procurement programs, because honestly I am not sure if just adding the courses would solve the problem.

I am still not convinced you can “teach” procurement, which is another can of worms I am not ready to crack open. However, I do think there is value in introducing procurement to students; educating them, exposing them to the industry and sharing what we do.

I have been speaking to students and sharing my procurement experience since very early in my career. With only a year of experience up my sleeve, I was speaking at my alma mater. I continue to speak to students of all ages, and am often invited to undergraduate and graduate classes to speak.

I’ve even spoken about procurement at an elementary school! At the time I was working for a large beverage and snack company, so I think they only wanted some potato chips and soda without their parents knowing. But regardless, I was there.

Get Up and Get Out There

Stop complaining that you have to always justify your value. You alone are not going to solve the big issues at your company. You can create some great traction and maybe even get that seat at the leadership table, but keep in mind that it only takes one re-structuring to lose that seat once more. The solution? Get out there and educate.

Share. Be vocal. Don’t just attend procurement events – go to other industry events and get the word out on what we do. Attending procurement events is great, but often we are telling each other the same thing we already know.

How about you go to a CIO, CMO, or CFO conference and share how much value you are adding to your organisation? The movement needs to come from all ends!

The CPO is Not Dead

There was an article written earlier this year with the provocative headline, “The CPO is dead.” I really valued it and don’t entirely disagree with its suggestion of a shift from Chief procurement Officer to Chief Value Officer. The role of procurement has transformed – it’s not just tactical, it’s strategic; not just focused on cost saving, but adding value. I encourage you to read it.

I do, however,  disagree with the concept that the CPO is dead, because I think the CPO is just growing up. There is so much more work to do to get this industry further exposed, so that there is no second-thought for a company to focus on procurement top-down.

Pull Up a Chair – Let’s Eat!

So, what are you going do? Read this – great! Share this – great! If you’re reading this and want to make a difference, please connect with me here on Procurious, and let’s figure out how to get more schools involved and how you can drive this movement locally or even nationally.

Utilise your company, and your position, to be an external voice for the profession.

Nicholas Ammaturo is the President and Chair of ISM 7 Counties and a former winner of ISM and ThomasNet’s 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars award. Nicholas is Managing Director of Cormac Advisory Services, a retail and wholesale consulting service.

Connecting the Dots: 5 Key Learnings from Interviewing Procurement Thought Leaders

How can we elevate the role of procurement? What are the key lessons we need to be learning from the profession’s thought leaders?

canbedone/Shutterstock.com

I love working in procurement! From my first day as a Junior Buyer I got the bug and never looked back! However, our profession is now at the crossroads of profound change.

Never before has the value that we can bring been needed more by our employers, as they seek to become more agile and rely more on their supply base. Yet we run the risk of irrelevancy if we do not adapt as the world around us changes.

It was with this in mind that I founded the Art of Procurement podcast last November. I interview thought leaders every Tuesday so that we can all benefit from their experience and perspectives as we seek to collectively elevate the role of our profession.

I want to share five key themes, or learnings, that I have taken from the first 50 episodes: 

  1. Alignment holds the key to our relevancy

Alignment differentiates the haves and have nots in procurement.  Yet, too often, we operate in a silo. It starts with the way our performance is measured. We are measured on a metric – cost savings – that is not the primary objective of our leaders and our internal clients.

We then look at a stakeholder as an opportunity for us to achieve our objectives, rather than help them achieve theirs. Every guest that I talked to agrees: to become or remain relevant, we have to be aligned with the objectives of our executives, and focus on helping our stakeholders excel in whatever it is that they do to contribute to our organisation’s value proposition.

  1. A two-tier procurement model is imminent

This is already occurring. Every activity that is not a core competency, that materially impacts our ability to bring competitive advantage through procurement, will go away. Some of it will be outsourced, but a lot of it will ultimately be automated out altogether.

A point that interviewees often stated, is that with this shift will also come a change in what we actually view as strategic. There will be no sacred cows.

  1. The value of the traditional skill set is diminishing

The executives that I talked to believe it will be our ability to bring a commercial mindset to our stakeholders, to influence and facilitate their use of external partners, to help our businesses build and retain a competitive advantage in our marketplaces, that will define our value in the future.

The new procurement skills most often cited are business acumen, relationship building, influencing and data analytics. CPOs tell me that it is easier to train procurement skills to an outsider who already has the soft skills needed, than vice versa. We need to step up or face becoming redundant!

  1. Collaboration is a competitive advantage

Is collaboration the latest procurement buzzword? The thought leaders I don’t believe so. In a world where third party spend is representing a larger percentage of revenue than ever before, an organisation’s success is becoming more and more dependent upon their relationships with their most critical suppliers.

The likelihood is that competitors in any market rely on many of the same suppliers to supply the products and services that materially impact their success. Competitive advantage will be gained by those who are able to foster true, two-way, collaborative relationships with those partners – where the sum of the relationship is greater than the parts. If you do not achieve this, your competitor will! 

  1. Change must come from within

Too often we lament the fact that we don’t have a seat at the big table. As thought leaders repeatedly told me, the seat is there, we just have to take it. Members of the C-suite at most companies do not understand what we are capable of, and so we will never make progress if we wait for an invite.

We need to have courage to demonstrate the value that we know we can deliver in procurement if we focus on the right things – and change the conversation around how that value is defined and measured.

Doing so will make our desire to become the trusted business partner a reality across all of the organisations within which we work, rather than the isolated few. 

Philip Ideson is a long time procurement practitioner, leader and service provider, who hosts the Art of Procurement podcast. You can listen to the show here, or subscribe via your favourite podcast app.