Tag Archives: ProcureCon Europe

Procurement Translation? Now You’re Speaking My Language

Sometimes in procurement it feels like you’re speaking a different language to the rest of the business. 

speaking my language

Procurious is at ProcureCon Europe this week. Stay up to date with what’s happening on Procurious, and by following us on Twitter.

If we’re perfectly honest, procurement wasn’t the first thing on everyone’s minds this morning. With both media and social media, dominated by US Election coverage, you might have been forgiven for not having your eye on the procurement ball.

However, if you didn’t, then you were likely to miss some great nuggets of procurement knowledge on Day 2 of ProcureCon Europe.

Do You Speak the Language of the Business?

A prevailing theme at the conference has been communication and collaboration between procurement and the rest of the business.

Kristian Saksida’s gave a Finance to Procurement perspective yesterday in his keynote. Today gave us the Engineering to Procurement perspective from Gordon Tytler, Director of Purchasing at Rolls-Royce.

It’s worth noting that none of these speakers have used this as a criticism of procurement. In Tytler’s case, his Engineering and Supply Chain background gave him a broader perspective both inside and outside the profession.

According to Tytler, Procurement as a role and a function is appreciated but, crucially, not fully understood by the rest of the business. If procurement is too insular, then it can’t be sure it’s delivering what the business actually wants.

However, by communicating well (and speaking the right language), procurement can be sure it’s meeting the strategic needs of internal and external stakeholders.

Fly the Plane While Fixing It

Collaboration was also picked out as a vital part of procurement transformation and procurement excellence.

Thibault Eissautier, CPO at pladis (a newly formed organisation in the FMCG industry), was discussing the factors procurement must consider when choosing its operating model. He highlighted collaboration between functions as the only way to definitely deliver significant value.

Procurement needed to speak the language of the business to make sure that senior managers were on board. From Decentralised, to Centralised, to Centre-led, there was no way that procurement could operate in isolation.

The current POM is often defined by the maturity of the organisation. However, many organisations will be changing their POM, while still trying to deliver for the business. Eissautier likened to “flying the plane while fixing it” – not really an image you want with a flight back to the UK later on!

The Future of Air Travel?

The flight metaphor leads nicely into an afternoon session on the construction of a new airport in the Netherlands. Not your common fare for procurement, but there were some amazing insights into the potential future of low-cost air travel.

The Royal Schiphol Group has been charged with the project to build Lelystad Airport by 2018. Two of the team, Budi Darmadi and Peter Mustert, showcased the very different approach the Group is taking to the project’s procurement strategy.

Competition in the sector is fierce, and Lelystad Airport is aiming for the low-cost market, so needs to price accordingly. Given a $58 million maximum budget to work with, Mustert said that they knew a best-value approach would be needed.

For this, they needed to work with experts, but first they needed to identify them using a 4 step model:

1. Approach the Experts

Using a functional, rather than technical specification, and a maximum budget for a ‘good’ solution.

2. Assessment

Experts are asked to supply a 6 page only bid. This is to focus on proven performance and results.

3. Clarification

Following selection, the two parties discussed unclear items, risks, etc. to form a contract.

4. Execution

Let the supplier do their job, procurement is not to interfere. A weekly risk report helps to ensure that there are no blockers for the supplier in completing the project.

And that was it! There was no question of SRM, or partnerships, or even the endless meetings usually associated with contracts. The process aimed to have all parties working together in an open, functional way.

Whether this proves to be successful, we’ll have to wait until April 2018. But if it is, Lelystad Airport will showcase the future of the form of travel. Fully automated, simple, but highly innovative designs, all aimed at providing customers what they need, and want, from low-cost travel, and nothing more.

And who knows, maybe if this is a success, then best-value, non-interference contracts will become the norm. A great vision of the future (so long as you don’t manage contracts…!).

Take the Disney Approach to Procurement

Take some advice from Disney – storytelling lies at the heart of every successful change programme.

disney approach procurement

Here’s a little-known fact – I used to work for the Walt Disney Company. Over twenty-five years ago I was a Marketing Co-ordinator in Disney’s International TV Department based in Soho Square, London.

The rest of the team (not me, unfortunately) used to travel to Cannes for the TV Festival each year to support our roll-out of Disney Clubs. It was all very glamorous (for some) and very educational for me.

In one way (at least), I was a perfect fit for a job with Disney. If you’ve ever caught one of my podcasts here on Procurious or elsewhere, you may have heard my voice.

Let’s just say it’s “unfortunate” – quite high in pitch, scratchy…not pleasant! Some of my friends at the time claimed that my role with Disney was actually as the voice-over for Minnie Mouse. Cruel, but understandable!

I learned so much during my time there, but today I want to focus on what I picked up by experiencing the Disney marketing machine first-hand. I am sure many of you have heard about “the Disney formula”, which involves a core asset (the story) being rolled out and leveraged in its many formats.

My short-hand way of summarising this phenomenally successful technique is to categorise the formula into “the book, the movie, the merchandise, the ride – and the tweet”.

Drive Procurement Change Programmes like a Disney Executive

CPOs today are paid to drive global change – but are the programmes we put in place really that effective? Deft change management is what separates the good from the great.

I want to encourage you all to take a very professional, systematic approach to driving change with this Disney-inspired formula.

The Book

At the heart of every Disney project lies the book, or the original script. For CPOs, our “book” is the business case for the change program. This proposal, or argument for action, is the foundation of your change programme that must win the endorsement of your senior leadership team. Without the business case, your campaign has no foundation and will always be on shaky ground.

My advice is to treat your “book” the same way that the world’s best authors approach their craft – write, re-write, and re-write again until you’re 100 per cent confident that you’ve created a rock-solid, engaging business case that meets your organisation’s requirements.

The Movie

Think about some of the lengthy classics that Disney has converted into film. Whether it’s The Jungle Book, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame or Treasure Island, the editors have managed to bring the story down to an average of 1.5 hours. Your “movie” is the public, dramatic expression of your story.

Not everyone will have the time, nor the interest, to read the business case for your change programme, so it’s important to condense it into a version that’s palatable for all. In the corporate world, this is often referred to as “the deck” – or even just a snappy executive summary. 

The Merchandise

Disney has always done an amazing job of licensing their characters to consumer goods companies. Procurement, on the other hand, is notoriously poor at marketing themselves internally.

I’m not suggesting that you order in a range of paperweights or mousepads to promote your change management programme, but it’s worth considering an effective logo or even a slogan that will encapsulate and amplify your message.

Why not reach out to your colleagues in marketing for their creative input? 

The Ride

When I worked at Disney all those years ago, the most profitable part of the business was their theme parks. As part of their marketing formula, amusement rides were based on Disney’s most popular movies and TV shows. But how can this be applied to your change management programme? 

Well, I once heard that if you want to get a message across to employees, you need to communicate it eleven times before it’s absorbed. Why eleven, I have no idea! This is where the ride comes in.

Once you’ve converted your “book” into a “movie”, hop on “the ride” which will repeat the same message over and over again until your program has been accepted.

It doesn’t necessarily need to follow the same track – best-practice communication involves delivering your message via multiple platforms (newsletters, emails, the company intranet, posters and social media) to keep the message fresh and engaging.

A Modern-Day Addition: The Tweet

When I was at Walt Disney, there was no social media. I’ve just checked the #Disney hashtag on Twitter and it’s incredible to see how many accounts they’re running concurrently: @Disney, @DisneyPixar, @WaltDisneyWorld, @Disney Channel, @DisneyMusic. This doesn’t even cover the individual hashtags dedicated to each new movie, along with a legion of unofficial, fan-based accounts.

Disney understands that social media is essential for getting their message to where their audience spends its time. CPOs need to take the same approach. Social media, used intelligently, is an irreplaceable tool in their global change management kit.

Yammer, Procurious and LinkedIn are just some of the many platforms that can be used to engage and influence your team to help them understand the why – and the how – of your change program.

I’ve looked to Disney for my inspiration due to having first-hand experience with their marketing techniques all those years ago in Soho. However, they certainly aren’t the only organisation with a magic formula.

If you’re considering a change management programme, save yourself some time and energy by finding your own inspirational company who demonstrate best-practice, steal their formula, and get to work!

ProcureCon Europe, now in its 17th year, is Europe’s most strategic procurement conference for CPOs and senior procurement executives. See the full range of topic and speakers at the event here.

Will Procurement Have a Fight to Stay Relevant in the Future?

Is procurement facing an uphill struggle to stay relevant? Could strategy and technology hold the key to both destruction and survival?

fight for relevant

Procurious is at ProcureCon Europe this week. Stay up to date with what’s happening on Procurious, and by following us on Twitter.

It’s the end of Day 1 at ProcureCon Europe, and the Procurious team are looking forward to winding down with the best Berlin has to offer. First, though, we’re reflecting on what we heard from the speakers and delegates at the conference.

Procurement’s Burning Platforms

After fortifying ourselves with the great coffee on offer, Procurious stepped into the conference hall to listen to David Noble’s ‘State of the Profession‘ address. The CIPS CEO was positive about the situation procurement currently finds itself in, but had words of warning for the future.

One particular quote stuck in our minds as we considered the question of how procurement could remain relevant:

“If we don’t show our true value, our profession will cease to exist in its current form.”

Noble outlined what he termed as procurement’s “Burning Platforms” – those factors the global profession needs to be aware of now, and in the next few years.

First, the spectre of supply chain risk. Global risk is at its highest level (a peak of 80.8 in CIPS’ Risk Index in Q2 this year) since 2013.

Second was ethical supply. Linked heavily to supply chain risk, it appears that procurement is still struggling with transparency and ethics. Only 57 per cent of buyers have visibility of their Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, and the percentage drops to single figures when it gets to Tier 3 and beyond.

The final burning platform was professional relevance, and how procurement could embed strategies to remain relevant. Noble touched on the ‘gig economy‘. This area is a double-edged sword, giving procurement the opportunity to train those not in the profession, but also challenges in maintaining the profession’s reputation.

Innovation & Frank Assessments

Automation and technology was a topic covered by a number of keynotes (more on that in the near future). However, it’s worth touching on a couple of areas of innovation, particularly in the area of stakeholder engagement.

JJ van der Meer, Partner at PA Consulting, outlined some of the activities that procurement can do to bring stakeholders on board. He and his team have coined a new word, “entreprocurement”, as a way of describing this innovation. While a bit unusual, it’s a term that’s likely to stick in the procurement world, we’re sure!

Innovation, and the drive to do better and better, was also the focus of Kristian Saksida’s keynote. Saksida, CPO at Solvay, offered a refreshingly honest assessment of his team’s transformation journey.

He was open to admitting the mistakes they had made while striving for more, but it was clear he wanted the room to have the benefit of this knowledge to avoid the same pitfalls.

Saksida’s background in Finance helped put an interesting spin on his material. However, he made some key points about the need for procurement to be speaking the same language as the business.

For two functions which have often had a troubled relationship, Saksida’s keynote gave a sense of positivity for the future at Solvay.

Sport and Procurement – A Creative Mix

Lastly we stopped in on Celia Sanchez San Juan’s interactive case study on optimising business partnering. Having seen Sanchez San Juan in a panel earlier, it offered a chance to dig deeper into Adidas’ fledgeling procurement team.

You may not see how sport is relevant to business partnering, but the link was far from tenuous. Adidas look at sport as having the power to change lives, and approach their procurement in the same way.

Sanchez San Juan offered Adidas’ maxim, “The Guiding Principle is Helping to Make a Difference, in the Game and in the World”, by way of explaining how the company puts its people at the heart of its change in procurement.

The journey to becoming a strategic business partner drew on the ideas of insights, impact, and innovation. Moving procurement from ‘Support’ to ‘Creator’ drives greater collaboration, and ultimately delivers greater value for the customer. In the world of sport and procurement, it was all about playing on the same team.

Isn’t that a good thought to finish the day with!

Business Backwards – Putting the Customer at the Heart of Procurement

Everyone knows that the customer is always right. And it’s time for procurement to put them at the heart of their work.

customer at the heart

Procurious is at ProcureCon Europe this week. Stay up to date with what’s happening on Procurious.

They say every day is a school day. And today is no different for the 250 procurement and supply chain professionals in the room.

Far from focusing on the supplier relationships (though there is plenty of that too), one panel discussion got the assembled masses considering a relationship that doesn’t always get the focus in procurement.

The internal customer interactions have not traditionally treated procurement well. Blamed for late deliveries, for complicating processes, and for being a “roadblock”, the profession takes its fair share of flak.

However, a change of thinking, to put the customer at the heart of the relationship, could change all this.

Don’t Stray too Far from the Customer

Titled ‘5 Changes to Make to Your Procurement Teams to Transform to a Higher-Performing Organisation’, the discussion showcased some great ideas about how procurement could change its focus.

The panel, chaired by Richard Beaumont, former CPO at Prudential Digital Services, consisted of:

  • Antonia Wanner – Director Global Commodities Procurement at Nestlé
  • Axel Horst – Operational & Commercial Excellence Manager at Shell Global Solutions
  • Celia Sanchez San Juan – Director Group Procurement at Adidas

The overwhelming message from all three procurement leaders was that there needed to be a greater focus on the customer. According to Sanchez San Juan, the right business plan should put customers at the centre. If procurement is too far from its customers, then it’s too far from the core of the business.

Antonia Wanner gave an example of the focus that Nestlé gives to its customers in procurement. In the past, the organisation had used 10 types of topping for its chocolate ice cream (competitors used 2).

However, procurement established that its customers were more interested in having natural vanilla in the ice cream, than the chocolate toppings. By reducing the number of chocolate toppings, it allowed Nestlé to procure the natural vanilla, ultimately meeting an important customer requirement.

Business Backwards

Axel Horst then shared the strategy that Shell are using the help drive a customer focus – “Business Backwards”. The strategy takes the traditional top-down process model, and turns it on its head, starting with the customer requirements.

Once these are known, strategies can be defined as to how to deliver this, and then finally, leaders know what they need to do to make the strategy a reality. And it’s not just in process that Shell are demonstrating the drive for serving the customer.

Each Shell employee, including the procurement function, is required to work one full day each quarter on the retail site. According to Horst, this helps each employee understand the customer more, and, for procurement, what they need to consider when buying for the retail side of the business.

Advice from the Future

Beaumont finished the panel by asking the three leaders what advice they would give to their past selves. Though they focused on the key to current success, all three showed that customers were still at the forefront of their thinking.

Wanner highlighted the constant innovation required to stay ahead of the game, with the key being to “try, fail, and learn fast”. Horst built on this by saying that if you were going to fail, fail fast, so that innovation wouldn’t be held up.

Finally Sanchez San Juan said that she would tell herself to push harder for what she really believed in, which was key to driving great innovation across the business.

Will customer-centric procurement really take hold? Or will we be looking back in three years at an opportunity lost? Sadly, without a crystal ball, only time will tell.

ProcureCon Europe, now in its 17th year, is Europe’s most strategic procurement conference for CPOs and senior procurement executives. See the full range of topic and speakers at the event here.

Getting the Smartest Guys in the Room

Is it just me, or does it feel like procurement is forever running in circles? We’re spending a lot of time worrying about whether we are ‘at the table’, when the real question might be, “Are we on the menu?”

albert-einstein smartest people in room

Last year I had a one of those rare “A-ha!” moments. I was chatting to a CFO of a global company, with 50,000 people working across more than 30 countries.

He was in the middle of a major cost transformation and I asked him whether procurement was playing a leading role. He said he didn’t know.

More than a little surprised, I asked him politely how was it that he didn’t know. He responded:

“Well, when we have our team updates it’s usually via Halo and all I see is a group of faces. I really don’t care whether they’re from HR, Operations, Finance or Procurement. All I care is that I’ve got the smartest guys in the room, solving our problems.”

And that was my A-ha! moment.

Quality Rises to the Top

Procurement shouldn’t fret about promoting its brand or carefully crafting a value proposition because ultimately, the quality of our people will speak for itself. What we need to ensure is that we get the smartest people onto “Team Procurement”.

Today at ProcureCon Europe I’m sharing three short, sharp “big ideas” for how procurement can get the smartest guys in the room.

1. Set Daring Talent KPIs

The power of KPIs has become a hot topic among the Procurious community with discussions about how metrics can be used to influence procurement’s perception within the business.

In my blog article ‘Measuring the Unmeasurable‘, I suggested we ought to measure how many members of the Procurement team are promoted to enterprise-wide leadership development programs. You know, those rising star or high potential programmes. (When I was working in corporate, we called it “charm school”).

If CPOs were brave enough to call out this KPI as your bold aspiration for their team, it would have a double-whammy effect. Firstly, it would promote procurement internally as a source of real leadership talent. Secondly, it would increase procurement’s level of attractive proposition for ambitious candidates looking to really ‘get somewhere’ in their career.

2. Find a Millennial Mentor

If you want to attract the brightest stars, you need to understand how the next generation of talent thinks. One of the best ways to doing this is to find yourself a millennial mentor.

I have had more than a few millennial mentors in recent years who have taught me two important lessons. One, there is enormous power in social media. And, two, why job selection is more about their boss and how likely they are to champion and influence on their behalf, rather than the company itself.

At Procurious, we believe there is a direct correlation between the strength of your online brand and the calibre of millennial talent you attract to your organisation.  Put simply, in the minds’ of millennials: “If you’re not online, you don’t exist”.

3. Incubate Intrapreneurs

Leading global CPOs are not paid to reduce costs – they are paid to drive change. But implementing ‘big ideas’ in big companies is not easy, as we were reminded last year at The Big Ideas Summit by Rio Tinto’s Finance Director, Chris Lynch.

If you want to get the smartest guys in the room, you need to find and develop people who think and act like entrepreneurs, but can still work and importantly, get things done in a corporate environment.

Some questions worth asking yourself:

  • What are you doing today to promote the image of your team as “entrepreneurial”?
  • Are you attracting candidates who can innovate?
  • Do you have a culture that will enable ‘intrapreneurs’ to thrive and gain momentum?
  • Are your stakeholders willing to embrace entrepreneurialism?

What’s your plan for getting the smartest guys in the room?

How to Stay Ahead of the Curve with Process Automation

Traditional supplier relationships are under scrutiny as organisations assess capabilities for the future. Could process automation help procurement teams stay ahead of the curve?

process automation
Image courtesy of Opus Capita

ProcureCon Europe 2016 is rapidly approaching! The ProcureCon team has been investigating some of the fast-moving issues which are affecting CPOs across Europe today.

Perhaps more than any other factor in the industry right now, process automation and advanced analytics are having a huge effect on the ability of Procurement teams to deliver improved cost performance.

This changing landscape calls into question traditional supplier relationships. Of the CPOs and Heads of Procurement we interviewed in advance of the event, 76 per cent told us that they are concerned about the ability of their existing supplier base to serve their business needs in future.

At the same time, more than half of our research participants think that implementing automated procurement is a high priority for their business. This raises questions about how best to manage your supplier network to make sure that you’re ahead of the curve when it comes to process automation.

We spoke to Kelly Babbit from jCatalog and the Opus Capita Group to find out more.

ProcureCon: How is digitisation and process automation affecting CPOs today?

Kelly Babbit: In the digitised, networked economy, companies find themselves in a changed competitive field. The game is no longer primarily based on unique business relationships.

The success of a corporation is premised on the performance of its network of supply chains – its entire business ecosystem. Corporations are looking to strengthen relationships, and create new forms of collaboration – and gain control and compliance over their extended business processes.

It is significant that more than half of respondents to this research gave high priority to the implementation of automated procurement processes. Furthermore, we expect a future adjustment to the demand drivers and criteria used for selecting P2P service providers.

This trend is due to a far-reaching shift in business priorities toward digitisation and automation.

What kind of processes are we talking about?

Progressive solutions cover the complete process from sourcing to payment – from managing the first request for quotations (RFQ) to optimised working capital management and supplier settlement.

This is where the traditional view of P2P processes needs to be expanded. Enterprises will no longer evaluate the quality of solutions with a sole focus on basic procurement functions. Solutions need to be part of a global strategy and based on pivotal interconnections between buyers and suppliers.

As a result, the responsibilities of the CPO and CFO functions will begin to converge. Cloud based SaaS solution providers will need to support this interconnection with a global perspective and inclusion of diverse company stakeholders.

Connecting and automating processes from sourcing through to payment will become the expectation of leading companies.

What features should CPOs / CFOs be looking out for in a source-to-pay solution?

Cloud-based business network solutions must support effective sourcing, procurement, invoice, and payment automation. This includes implementation and adoption across their global business.  Some of the key features to look out for are:

  • Complete transparency, real time control and compliance with full audit trails across the entire source to pay process.
  • P2P automation and integration of the purchasing department with the accounts payables department. Plus full visibility to all purchasing and accounts payment data.
  • Visibility to company spend with total cost monitoring and supplier performance tracking as well as contract improved contract compliance.

Thanks very much for your time, Kelly.

To read the full results of our research amongst 100 CPOs and senior procurement executives, download the Procurement Challenges report here.

ProcureCon Europe, now in its 17th year, is Europe’s most strategic procurement conference for CPOs and senior procurement executives. See the full range of topic and speakers at the event here.