Tag Archives: planning

9 Big Supply Chain & Procurement Ideas for 2021

It’s time to plan, budget and set your strategies for 2021. Here are 100 proven, practical and fresh ideas to jumpstart your company in the new year.


You’ve probably heard me say it before, but I’ll say it again: all it takes is one idea to positively impact your career, those around you, your organisation and the profession itself. If you don’t believe me, take it from the great and late Robin Williams: “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

While this year was full of chaos and stress, the opportunity for procurement to lead and make a lasting impact in our new normal has never been bigger. But to succeed, we can no longer rinse and repeat. We need to break through the status quo, challenge our paradigms and test new approaches. 

To that end, we reached out to the profession’s best and brightest to round up 100 big, practical and creative ideas for improving all things procurement and supply chain this year. We have an idea for everyone, so you’ll definitely want to review all the ideas (get your access here) as you plan, budget and set strategies for 2021. But 100 ideas is a lot, so here are nine suggestions for priorities we know will be on your radar next year: cost control, risk reduction and talent development.

Procurement Strategies: Cost Control

Our research found that controlling costs is a top-two procurement priority for executive teams. Here are three ideas to make a bigger impact in 2021. Get more cost cutting ideas here.

  1. Idea #1: Implement zero-based spend category strategies. Every procurement professional is trying to save money right now — but simply trimming a percentage or two won’t drive the meaningful change needed in today’s COVID environment, and may hurt supplier relationships. Instead, McKinsey suggests completely rethinking what, and how much, you actually need to meet demand and run your business. Every dollar you spend should have a purpose. If it doesn’t, the category or spend shouldn’t exist. While zero-based spend strategies are not new, they offer a proven, bottoms-up approach for tackling spend management and controlling costs.
  1. Idea #2: Demonstrate more value internally by tracking spend against a market index. With budgets under intense scrutiny, procurement can stand out and increase its influence by being more strategic about how we report savings. Anklesaria Group suggests tracking at least 60% of spend against one or multiple indexes. This is an incredible way to demonstrate the value of procurement. Prices always change — and if prices go up in the market, and your price goes up at a slower rate than the index, then you’re driving a real, differentiating advantage. 
  1. Idea #3: Let the positivity shine. Far too often, supplier negotiations are negative and contentious. There’s no place for this anymore – everyone is hunting and dealing with the same economic uncertainty. Corcentric recommends using trust-based and positive reinforcement negotiation tactics in 2021. We’ve all had a tough year, and now, more than ever, positivity and mutually-beneficial negotiation strategies uncover better savings and terms than old-school, hardline approaches. 

Supply Chain Disruptions: Tackle Risk More Strategically 

The other top procurement priority for executives: risk management. Here are three ideas for improving how your team approaches supply chain risk management in 2021. Get more risk management ideas here. 

  1. Idea #4: Leverage social media and non-traditional channels to monitor supplier risk in real time. Ninety seven percent of supply chains experienced a COVID-related disruption – which means it’s time we rethink our approach to supply chain risk management. IntegrityNext recommends that procurement expand beyond the typical supply chain indicators.  Today, there’s an immense amount of information available about businesses and people online. In 2021, we need to use it to our advantage to vet suppliers, identify exposures and mitigate disruptions before they happen. 
  1. Idea #5: Make sure your contracts have clauses that protect against cyber breaches. We can no longer talk about supply chain risk without mentioning cyber. McAfee, a cybersecurity company, reported 419 new threats per minute in Q2 of 2020, an increase of almost 12% over the previous quarter.  Odesma recommends looking at all contracts to ensure, across all categories, you have clauses for the supplier to certify they are doing everything they can to protect against hacking, and should the worst happen, your vendors have appropriate insurance in place.
  1. Idea #6: Break down barriers to reduce risk. If risk really is a top priority, organisations cannot continue to manage it in silos. riskmethods suggests forming a cross-functional, multidisciplinary risk management council that includes all of procurement and supply chain’s key stakeholders — including AP/Finance, compliance, product development, manufacturing, executives and more. Meet regularly to gather, consolidate and evaluate perspectives and data points on risk as a team, and make more informed, company-wide decisions that improve risk awareness and mitigation. 

Talent Development: Build the Best Procurement Team  

With the spotlight shining bright on procurement and supply chain, you and your team need to be at your best. Here’s how to grow and improve your team, and yourself. Get ideas for growing and expanding your team here. 

  1. Idea #7: Add good story tellers to your team. During the hiring process, MRA Global Sourcing suggests prioritising a candidate’s ability to tell stories. As a result of the pandemic, procurement is getting more attention and opportunity than ever before. But sharing ideas with the C-suite and briefing executives is a learned skill. Find people who can deliver by prioritising the candidate’s storytelling ability and executive presence during the interview process.
  1. Idea #8: Seize market uncertainty to strengthen your team. The collapse of certain industries has flooded the market with talent. Ronin, LTD, recommends looking beyond your traditional candidate pipelines to go after talent in affected industries that would normally be hard to attract. Engage with your workforce management team or head-hunter to track and interview new candidates that enter the marketplace from affected industries.
  1. Idea #9: Invest in yourself. This idea isn’t new, but it’s a game-changer for those that actually put a plan in place and make it happen. Connect with your peers, find training, get procurement certifications, and develop new skills. Think about it: What skills will you need next year that you don’t have right now? What about five years from now? “Everyone wants to grow professionally in the new year. But very few people actually put a concrete plan in place. You’ll naturally grow through your experiences, but if you are intentional, proactive and really invest, you’ll be way ahead of everybody else,” says Procurious founder and chairman, Tania Seary. 

There you have it: nine ideas to jumpstart 2021 planning. Interested in hearing the other 91? Get the full report here, and add your own ideas in the comments below.

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. 

5 Top Tips For 2021 Procurement Planning – It’s Not What You Do, It’s How You Do It

How can a few tips in the short term fundamentally change not just your long-term plans, but the way you plan altogether? Our Principal Advisor Helen Mackenzie writes.


Are you starting to plan for 2021 and what the next phase could be for your category or your team? Are you pondering what the future might hold and how to prepare? 

Planning in time-horizon chunks, being in a “perpetual state of beta” and measuring your performance twice a week are just five of the ideas a group of senior US procurement leaders recommended for guiding your 2021 strategies at a recent Procurious Roundtable.

1. Time Horizon Chunks

Terence Mauri, founder of the Hack Future Lab urged us to think in time-horizon chunks.  “Think about what’s probable for your business, suppliers and supply chains in the few next years? What could be plausible in a decade’s time?  And then stretch that time horizon still further to envisage what could be possible in 20, 50 years’ time.”

2. Perpetual State of Beta

Mauri believes that our default mode of operation needs to be “a perpetual state of beta”.  Referring the 4-24 Project, a movement seeking to encourage a questioning mindset, Mauri issued a challenge, “What’s the bravest question you can ask right now?”  Could we start to prepare effectively for the post-Covid world by asking:

·  why are procurement processes complex not simple?

·  what do our stakeholders really need from us?

·  can we collaborate with our suppliers in a more effective way and build trust?

But being more disruptive in our thinking requires practical application on the ground.  And that’s where insight from Alex Saric, Ivalua’s Chief Marketing Officer at the Roundtable was invaluable.

3. Measure what Matters

 “If we measure what matters”, advised Saric “that means we won’t let near term pressure derail long term direction.”  He cited evidence from research undertaken by Ivalua and Forrester earlier in 2020 to prove his point:

The majority of high performing procurement organisations measure key performance indicators twice a week.

Not once a month, not quarterly, but bi-weekly.  And the reason is that those KPIs are used to measure success and – importantly – to course correct when targets linked to long term direction aren’t being achieved.  A great way to operate whether the pandemic is with us or not.

4. Strategic Not Tactical

And thinking about the way ahead, forward-thinking CPO Gareth Hughes from UK based Whistl, urged us to put the strategic, rather than the tactical, at the heart of our team structure.  Gareth’s version of the perpetual state of beta is to dispense with category management, and “do the procurement that the business needs”.

By deploying a team with commercial focus, a curious nature and fine-tuned stakeholder engagement skills.  Hughes urged CPOs to stay strategic, “Measurement needs to focus on commercial outcomes and increasing speed.”…

People remember you for the 80% of things you do well so make sure they’re the things that matter!

5. Promote and Measure Diversity

And keeping the focus on teams and people, our final speaker Naseem Malik, urged a focus on promoting and measuring diversity as a way to demonstrate procurement’s value post-covid.

Observing that procurement and supply chain continues to have the C-Suite’s full attention Malik urged CPOs to “Leverage your team’s supplier diversity expertise to help guide your organisation’s wider diversity efforts”.  And, of course, measure the impact.

So preparing and navigating through the post covid period may be more a question of how we do it, rather than what we do.  And whether it’s the quest for the perpetual state of beta, high performance or being more diverse, the key as always is to measure it and to measure what matters.

If you would like to find out more about Procurious Roundtables and the 2021 program email [email protected]