Tag Archives: procurement

Fortune Favours the Bravest Procurement Professionals

Don’t let a lack of confidence hold your career back- Sometimes it pays to throw yourself into the riskiest of situations.

Procurious recently launched Bravo, a new group seeking to address gender disparity in the workplace, and celebrate and empower women working within procurement.

As part of the Bravo campaign, Procurious will be interviewing a number of high profile leaders and seeking their advice on how we can help other women to get ahead in their procurement careers.

Deanna Lomas is the Chief Supply Chain Officer at Super Retail Group, one of Australasia’s largest retailers. Headquartered in Brisbane, Super Retail Group has over 630 retail stores and almost 12,000 team members across Australia, New Zealand and China. SRG provide solutions and engaging experiences that inspire their customers to live their leisure passions. SRG is the owner of iconic Australian brands including Amart Sports, BCF Boating Camping Fishing, Supercheap Auto, Rays and Rebel.

In this interview Deanna discusses her greatest achievements, gives her tips for reducing gender disparity in organisations and explains why confidence is so crucial.

How can procurement motivate more women to join the profession (and stay with it!) ? 

As procurement leaders, we have a role in advocating for the profession and showcasing possible career paths. Procurement and supply chain professionals do not always get a strong voice in the external environment so it’s important we proactively engage and participate in the conversation. Procurious is a great example of this!

We also have an obligation as leaders to support women entering into procurement, specifically to coach and encourage them. This takes a personal commitment of time and effort but we just simply need to do it.

What have been the most successful approaches organisations you know have taken to decrease gender disparity?

Organisations have to be brave and articulate some target aspirations. This focuses leaders on a goal that, with reporting and measurement of progress, has the best chance of success.

The biggest challenge is to ensure that, once you get momentum on increasing the representation of women, you also work to create a culture that welcomes them. This might mean improving and developing the inclusion behaviours in your team members.

Pay equity checks by organisations are a powerful way of reducing gender disparity.  I have worked for organisations that have made commitments to pay equity across the board and this reassures me that I am an equitable and valued team member.

What has been your most rewarding experience and greatest accomplishment to date? 

My greatest accomplishment was paying my own way through University to complete three Bachelor degrees and a Masters qualification. However, my most rewarding career experience was a being a leader of a large team that I had the opportunity to reshape and create, the best team I have led so far!  A big part of my approach was focusing on a ‘service of others’ model in the leadership brand for the team. This enabled us to attract and retain fabulous people that gave their best to the business.

What do you see as being the emerging trends for procurement?

Technology enablement continues to be both a challenge and an emerging opportunity.  Too few organisations have been able to create processes and systems that make procurement efficient, collaborative and real-time.  It’s easy to default to complex process, controls and governance that can restrict the ability of the business to be agile.

The other emerging trend I see is the move towards the creation of genuine collaborative eco-systems between multiple external partners and the organisation. The greatest opportunities will come from cross industry collaboration with the beneficiary – the organisation – who is at the heart of the value realisation. I see this as a reduction in traditional “two-party” partnerships and an increase in “multi-party” commercial partnerships.  This might be seen as an increased complexity level for the profession to manage, but I think it would, in fact, drive simplicity and a true focus on relationship management.

If you could offer your younger self two pieces of advice, what would they be?

Have the confidence to give things a go and find ways to help reduce the fear of failure. My confidence has grown as I have gained experience. However, early ison in my career I know this was something I struggled with which can hold you back at times. Be courageous and step into “risky” situations or opportunities as it can be highly valuable.

At Procurious, we want to make it easier for women to get into, stay in, and thrive in the procurement profession. This is why we are launching Bravo – a Procurious Group celebrating and promoting women in Procurement. Join the conversation here.

Attention Roosters: Don’t Cock Things Up In 2017

HELP! 2017 is going to be an unlucky year for me – the Chinese Zodiac says I’m going to cock things up. 

As a rooster, I’m in deep trouble for 2017. It’s taken me almost 36 years to grasp the fact that in popular Chinese belief your birth sign year is considered unlucky, rather than lucky. Looking back on my last two Rooster years, this makes a sad kind of sense.

If I could, I’d go back in time to visit the pubescent, socially awkward 12-year-old blundering from one disaster to another in 1993. “It’s not your fault!” I’d yell. “It’s all due to the ancient Chinese Zodiac – events are way beyond your ability to control!” I don’t even want to talk about 2005, where I was essentially the same socially-awkward child in a 24-year-old’s body. Again – not the best year for me, but now that I’m aware of it, I can happily lay the blame at the feet of long-dead Han-era astrologers.

Looking into the characteristics of Roosters, and the wider Chinese Zodiac, has been enlightening – firstly because it’s all way more complex than I thought, and secondly because I’m now aware of my own cultural ignorance in this area – but more on that later. First, let’s look at the attributes of a Rooster.

Rooster characteristics

I was hoping to find a quick list of characteristics for Roosters, but the real story is much more complicated than I assumed. It depends not only on your zodiac sign, but the element associated with your year. Here’s a handy guide from www.chinahights.com:

Type of Rooster Year of Birth Characteristics
Wood Rooster 1945, 2005 Energetic, overconfident, tender, and unstable
Fire Rooster 1957, 2017 Trustworthy, with a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work
Earth Rooster 1909, 1969 Lovely, generous, trustworthy, and popular with their friends
Gold Rooster 1921, 1981 Determined, brave, persevering, and hardworking
Water Rooster 1933, 1993 Smart, quick-witted, tender-hearted, and compassionate

I was born in ’81, which means I’m a Gold Rooster – determined (kind-of), brave (sometimes), persevering (I’m finishing this article, aren’t I?), hardworking (yes boss), and good-looking (I may have slipped that one in). Interestingly, only Wood Roosters have the characteristic I’d most associate with actual roosters, which is (pardon the pun) “cockiness”.

To complicate things further, there are also animal signs assigned by month (called inner animals), by day (called true animals) and hours (called secret animals). Which means that as well as being a Gold Rooster, I’m also a Rat internally, a Goat truly, and a Tiger secretly. Confused? Blame the astrologers.

Should Roosters ask for a promotion in 2017?

Well, at a macro level, it’s an unlucky year for you overall, but perhaps if you get the details right using the list below, you’ll be fine. In short, when you meet your boss to have that all-important career discussion, make sure you pick the month and day carefully with reference to the Chinese lunar calendar. Ensure you’re wearing gold, brown or yellow (NOT red!), pin a gladiola to your top before the meeting, and try to manoeuvre yourself so you face south or southeast during the conversation.

Lucky stuff for Roosters

  • Lucky numbers: 5, 7, and 8
  • Lucky days: the 4th and 26th of any Chinese lunar month
  • Lucky colours: gold, brown, and yellow
  • Lucky flowers: gladiola, cockscomb
  • Lucky directions: south, southeast
  • Lucky months: the 2nd, 5th, and 11th Chinese lunar months.

Stuff Roosters should avoid

  • Unlucky colour: red
  • Unlucky numbers: 1, 3, and 9
  • Unlucky direction: east
  • Unlucky months: the 3rd, 9th, and 12th Chinese lunar months

On a serious note – I’m culturally ignorant

How did it take me this long to find out that Chinese birth-sign years are unlucky rather than lucky? I’m ashamed to admit it, but what I’ve displayed is a lack of cultural curiosity. According to Cultural Synergist Dr Tom Verghese, curiosity is one of the attributes that makes for a culturally intelligent leader. Leaders without this attribute lack the motivation to find out more about the cultures they’re working with by asking lots of questions to develop their CQ, or cultural intelligence.

Dr Tom writes, “I believe curiosity should drive each of us in our own inter-cultural explorations. Understanding the values of other cultures and what their celebrations represent is certainly an important step we can all take towards representing and appreciating diversity and inclusion in our communities.”

Lesson learned. This year I’m going to do two things:

  • Make an effort to display more curiosity as I seek to improve my cultural intelligence, and
  • Tread carefully in what may be an unlucky year.

In short, I’ll try not to make a cock of myself in 2017.

Be Brave or Be Dead – A Futurist View of Supply Chains

There are two types of company left – brave or dead. Considering what’s coming in the next 15 years, now is definitely the time to be brave.

Increasingly, there are only two kinds of companies: brave and dead.

When world renowned speaker and author, Seth Godin, talks about the future of businesses, people listen. And when Godin warns of extinction if companies aren’t brave, then you certainly want to be in the first category.

Change is coming. Not only for procurement and supply chains, but for businesses as a whole. And businesses that choose to bury their heads in the sand on key issues aren’t going to survive long. But what are the key issues they need to be focusing on?

Respected futurist, entrepreneur, and author of global best-seller, ‘An Optimist’s Tour of the Future‘, Mark Stevenson, is one man who understands the key trends heading our way. An expert on global trends and innovation, he will be setting the scene with our opening keynote at the Big Ideas Summit 2017 in London.

A Futurist’s Perspective

We’re well aware of the technological changes coming our way in the next 10-15 years. Automation, AI, and 3D printing, amongst others, have all made headlines already given their impact on manufacturing, supply chains and business models.

Industry 4.0 has presented organisations with an immense opportunity to change the way they work. However, there are still too many companies with their heads in the sand, being left behind.

According to Stevenson, there are several technology waves coming in the next decade. With each one, industries will be disrupted, but new models and strategies will arise. Companies need to account for three key components – geo-politics; geo-economics; and geo-technology.

This isn’t an either/or situation – all three are crucial. But the companies that can take advantage of these waves will not only attract the best staff, they will seriously outperform all their rivals.

The Energy Race

One of the first waves will be in renewable energy, and a final step away from fossil fuels. Even oil-rich nations like Saudi Arabia are planning for this future, advising they will be ‘getting out of oil’ in the next 20 years. Even now, organisations are generating their own energy, or are buying energy through co-operatives. The traditionally big players in the industry will increasingly be bypassed, as energy gets cheaper and more locally generated, something that can only be a benefit for individuals and organisations.

Financial Services Disruption

What will happen to the Financial Services industry? Can it survive this disruption? Yes, but it will need to evolve to survive. Stevenson uses the example of the blockchain as a key disruptor. He is on the board of a new bank which embraces blockchain and has about 50 staff.

This is a far cry from the enormous, staff heavy traditional models, who have thousands of staff praying that blockchain is just a bad dream, hampering their ability to innovate. As the novelist Upton Sinclair noted “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it”.

Manufacturing Revolution

An area where supply chains are already seeing major disruption is in manufacturing. Of this revolution, Stevenson highlights the potential for 3D Printing.

Organisations can bring much manufacturing in house. Designs can be downloaded and printed on site, at a fraction of the cost in some cases. One industry looking at this is pharmaceuticals – the first 3D printed drug is already FDA approved.

Unlocking the Genome

 Genetics and Bio-Technology represent a technological wave that many have yet to consider. Advancements in human longevity change the game for the medical industry, but leave organisations with decisions to make on staff. What do retirement, long-term strategy, even relationships look like if we might live healthily past 100? And, to loop back to the energy race, bio-technology is one disciipline that is already being leveraged to pull CO2 from the skyu and turn it into liquid fuel. Why shouldn’t procurement be at the heart of this revolution too?

Time to Be Brave

 Ultimately, Stevenson’s message boils down to one thing – if you don’t understand the questions technology is asking you, then you’re lost. It might seem brutal, but it’s the truth, and trying to ignore it, or pleading ignorance will mean your company may soon be obsolete.

However, the message here is not intended to be doom and gloom. Stevenson reminds us that one option is a future that we can make better for all. He’s keen to engage people on an emotional level, and get them thinking about their careers, and their children’s futures.

It’s time for leaders to engage their hearts, not just their minds. It’s time for us all to get our heads out of the sand and look up. And if we all listen carefully at the Big Ideas Summit 2017, we’ll certainly learn a great deal about our role in making the future sustainable, human, compassionate and just.

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

What Procurement Pros Should Know About UK Energy Market Competition

Buying energy mightn’t always a top priority for procurement pros but there’s certain things you need to know!

The task of buying energy can often be pushed down the list of priorities especially within smaller businesses where time is precious. However, with proposed changes in how energy suppliers can market to businesses in the UK and the information that is available to them about competitors’ customers, could it now be time to start paying more attention to energy procurement?

Changes in the Energy Market

June 2014 saw the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) open an investigation into the energy market, on the back of a referral from industry watchdog Ofgem. This was triggered by the energy industry receiving increased political and media attention over its perceived competitiveness. The CMA issued its final report in June 2016 and outlined numerous recommendations with over 30 new measures being brought in, a number of which would affect energy procurement among smaller businesses.

Aiming to overhaul the energy market for the benefit of the customer, the report focused on four main areas – increasing customer engagement, creating a framework for effective competition through settlement, industry governance and wholesale market remedies.

Potentially one of the most noteworthy remedies micro businesses should be aware of is a database created and operated by Ofgem made up of ‘disengaged customers’, defined as microbusiness customers who have been on a default contract with the same energy provider for three or more years. Rival suppliers will have access to the information within the secure cloud-based database and have the opportunity to be able to market to potential customers via post. However it’s important to note that during 2017 energy providers will be contacting any affected customers to inform them of the new database, giving them the option to opt out of having their information shared if they wish.

Another measure to be in place by June 2017 is that energy suppliers will be required to provide online quotation tools for relevant micro and small business customers[i] to assist with price transparency and comparisons, helping buyers to get the best possible price based on their business’ postcode and consumption.

There has also been a significant change to arrangements around rollover contracts, as suppliers can no longer automatically rollover an existing customer for another 12 months following the end of their contract without having to allow the customer to exit on 30 days’ notice at any point. The supplier is also not permitted to charge any termination fees to customers that terminate the auto rollover contract during the rollover period.

CMA Report 

Finally, the CMA report states that in 2013 45% of microbusinesses were on default electricity rates, suggesting that customers had been placed on rates without actively negotiating. The CMA hopes to gain more interest and engagement from small businesses into the energy they procure, and with the end of fixed 12 month auto rollover contracts they believe proactive energy buyers will be able to gain better market rates.

Some remedies will come through amending supplier licence conditions, with many coming straight from the CMA via an order.

Energy buying might not be the top procurement priority for some businesses, however the imminent changes may present a timely opportunity to start paying more attention to energy procurement.

Steve Mulinganie is the Regulation & Compliance Manager at Gazprom Energy.

[i] The online quotation tool is only applicable to a subset of micro business customers, defined as customers who:

  • Consume no more than 73,000 kWh of gas
  • Consume no more than 50,000 kWh of electricity and has a meter profile of 1-4.
  • A small business is defined as an independently owned and operated company that has no more than 50 employees.
  • A micro small business is defined as an independently owned and operated company that no more than 10 employees.

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.

build a 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.

Treading the Fine Line Between Assertive and Aggressive

What is the difference between assertive and aggressive, and why does it matter in job interviews? 

assertive

Assertiveness is saying what you mean without being impolite, asking for what you want without making demands. Assertive behaviour helps you to avoid being manipulated or put off easily. This style is far more likely to create a positive impression than either aggressiveness or non-assertion.

Aggressiveness means that you stand out, but not in a good way. Being overly pushy or contrary will probably irritate and alienate the interviewer. You may get what you want in the short term but it may hinder your progress later. On the other hand, passive or non-assertive behaviour can lead to a loss of your self-respect. This is where you let others get their own way and make yourself into a walkover.

It has been reported that interviewers reach a decision about an applicant within five minutes after meeting them. In this time there is little more to evaluate than how you look and speak, how you carry yourself, and how you greeted the interviewer, all clear indicators of your level of self-confidence.

Being confidently assertive helps you reduce the stress in an interview situation and to exercise more control over your working life. Here are three ways to sail through the interview assertively.

  1. Prepare well

It’s a bit like preparing for negotiations. Research your interviewer and the organisation you are intending to work for. Know how to respond to those difficult, and sometimes inane, questions, like what would you do in a conflict situation or what makes you the best candidate for this job. Remember that assertive behaviour is not specifically designed to get you what you want in every situation; in fact, it involves negotiation and compromise.

Bring your notes and don’t be afraid to use them. It makes you look well-prepared. If something of interest is mentioned about the job, pause and write it down. Be professional and be the best prepared candidate they are likely to interview.

  1. Practice your success stories

It is crucial to create a strategy for communicating your accomplishments to your interviewer in a succinct and memorable fashion.  Do you have a C.A.R?  Skilled interviewers will look for proof of your stated achievements by drilling down into the details of what you say you have accomplished.

C.A.R. stands for Challenge » Action » Result.  Write down a few gems relating to work areas that will come up in the interview. By dropping a story into the conversation you can showcase the action that you took to overcome a problem and can demonstrate to your interviewer that you achieved the desired result.

Mini-stories should be succinct and limited only to relevant details, just a few sentences. They will allow you to share examples of your past successes and let your actions speak.

  1. Polish your communication skills

Candidates demonstrate their assertiveness by the questions they ask, as well as the questions they answer. One trait employers look for is the ability to communicate effectively at all levels in an organisation. Being too tentative with senior managers is not a good sign.  People are just people, so speak with confidence and show a positive attitude but with respect.

Come prepared with questions about the job, such as expected results after the first year, where it fits into the organisation and what happened to the person who had the job before. Practice your questions as well as your answers in preparation for your interview.

Speak clearly and use good diction at a reasonable volume. Talking too quickly and loudly is not being assertive, it shows nervousness. Non-verbal cues influence an interviewer’s impression of you just as much your words do, so keep up the eye contact. Express your opinions honestly, but wisely.

What the recruiters say

Candidates show a poor level of assertiveness when they:

  • Show a lack of confidence in expressing achievements and abilities
  • Sound unsure of themselves when answering questions
  • Are overly agreeable to everything said by the interviewer
  • Trail off or mumble instead of clearly completing a thought

At the end of the interview, ask what’s next in the hiring process.  You may not get a straight answer but it is clear that you want to know.

The Accidental Procurement Engineer

What makes the exciting world of procurement the perfect place for a curious engineer?

Procurement engineer

Some people begin their procurement careers with a big bang. Others start theirs with lots of sweat and toil. I started mine with a freak event. I was an Accidental Procurement Engineer.

Since this freak event, I have never looked back. I went on to have a fifteen-year career that would take me across North America, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Now I work on improving the Procurement experience with the software solution, POOL4TOOL.

Procurement is an ideal career for an engineer at the beginning or in the middle of their career, especially if you’re looking for a little more from life.

Procurement by Accident

Let’s start with the freak event. I was working for a large multinational company headquartered in France. My job was based in Turkey and was technical. It also happened to be the first job I had after the completion of my engineering degree in France.

Following Turkey’s 2001 economic crisis, the stock market crashed and the interest rate shot up to 3000 per cent. There was an immediate slowdown in our business activities and an immediate impact on my income.

The Turkish Lira lost approximately 50 per cent of its value against foreign currencies which meant that, in one day, I had lost 50 per cent of my salary against the French Franc.

These circumstances, of course, made me consider leaving Turkey. I got help from the local management who took my CV and forwarded it to their network in the company.

Among the proposals was the offer of a position in Procurement for manufacturing plants in France. I knew nothing about Procurement so I rushed to the office of the Purchasing Manager in the Turkish plant and within two hours had made my decision.

I was going to become a Procurement professional! It was a perfect career move: an ideal profession for the Curious Engineer.

The Curious Engineer

In recent years it has become evident that Procurement is an ideal professional path for engineers. Many people choose to embark on this path at the start by studying Supply Chain Management.

More and more mechanical engineers are coming into the profession and the Head of Material Flow & Logistics at the famous Fraunhofer Institute has even campaigned for there to be educational opportunities for Procurement Engineers.

What makes Procurement a great career path for engineers? The field of engineering attracts curious people and, whilst many engineers are curious about how things work, some have an even broader scope of curiosity.

They are interested in a wide range of fields and want to pick up skills outside of what is normally associated with engineering.

Procurement and Supply Chain gives these people the opportunity to exercise their technical knowledge but also allows them to follow market and business developments and develop networking and people skills. It’s a place to use both your right and left brain.

The Pros of Procurement

1. Procurement is a Great Place to Use Technical Knowledge

A technical background is a clear advantage in direct procurement, in fields such as discrete manufacturing. It’s important to understand how your company’s product is made and what material properties and specifications are needed and why.

Moreover, a technical background gives you insight into quality management and standards. Be it consumer goods or automotive industries, understanding quality standards is useful when it comes to sourcing parts and selecting the right suppliers.

2. Procurement Satisfies Your Analytical Side

Engineers are trained to be analytical and data-driven. We design and then we implement – with analysis being a key preparation process of the design. Procurement and supply chain produces a vast amount of data to analyse.

In this profession, you collect and analyse data to then be able to make optimum sourcing decisions, be it operational or strategic. You also need to calculate hidden costs and incorporate business priorities and market behaviour into your decisions.

3. Procurement Takes the Curious Engineer Into an Exciting World

Procurement gives you the chance to add to your knowledge and skills well beyond traditional engineering. It requires you to hone your people and networking skills.

This means managing not only suppliers, but also relationships with other departments. It requires sales skills: selling change and ideas to your colleagues across the organisation. And, of course, a whole new set of skills comes in with Change Management.

I’m a huge advocate for engineers considering procurement careers as a serious option. It will be interesting to see if more educational and training opportunities come up for this kind of talent in the future and how that changes peoples interest in the function.

Bertrand Maltaverne is Senior Business Consultant and Product Marketing and Content Manager (Int’l) at POOL4TOOL. POOL4TOOL is the market leader for electronic process optimisation in direct procurement. 

The Evidence Behind Using DPS in Procurement

Increasing use of Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS) could mean the end of frameworks in public procurement. But is there empirical evidence supporting the benefits of these systems?

Evidence for DPS

In the first part of this series, we discussed the benefits and drawbacks of Dynamic Purchasing Systems for public procurement. Some of the benefits discussed were:

  • Increased Competition and Competitive Pricing
  • Spreading and Minimising Risk
  • Bridging the Talent Gap

But what is the evidence for these benefits? And will this help to lead to an increased use of Dynamic Purchasing Systems in public procurement?

Research Findings

Research published by PwC in 2011 provides some empirical evidence regarding the use of Dynamic Purchasing Systems in the EU. At this time only 1.1 per cent of procedures were DPS, with the greatest use being in Greece and the Czech Republic. Where there was joint purchasing, DPS was used less and this could be one reason why take up in the UK has been low as there has been a focus on collaborative purchasing arrangements across the public sector.

Looking at the recent contract notices (including PIN’s) on Sell 2 Wales, Contracts Finder and Public Contracts Scotland, there is evidence that Dynamic Purchasing Systems are currently being used across the public sector to source a wide range of goods, services and works. From this crude research by far the most popular category to apply a DPS to is transport with the majority of these contracts being for home to school transport.

Transport accounted for 34 per cent of the DPS contracts that were found on the above mentioned sites. Other categories where there were several DPS contracts in place included Care (12 per cent) and works/maintenance (12 per cent).

From the research it was clear that DPS is more widely used in England than in Wales and Scotland. Only 4 of the 65 contracts found were in Scotland and Wales. Possibly devolution and the application of national purchasing policies which often promote collaborative purchasing has affected this.

There was evidence of the DPS being used across the various types of public sector organisations including central government departments, local authorities, housing associations and colleges. It was the local authorities that accounted for the majority of the DPS’s that were in place, this could possibly be due to their responsibility to provide the home to school transport that made up over a third of these contracts.

From the research conducted there were no examples found within the NHS, this could possibly be due to the low number of suppliers available for some specialised products.

Industry Case Studies

Two case studies give us a more in-depth look at the use of DPS. Local Authority 1 (LA1) had set up one DPS contract for home to school transport for children. Local Authority 2 (LA2) had set up three DPS contracts, the results here focused on the health services DPS. Both Authorities stated that greater access to new suppliers and allowing suppliers to enter the system at any time were the main reasons they had used the DPS.

This was particularly important to LA2, as the contract was for the purchase of a new category area, for which new suppliers regularly entered the market. For LA1 increased competition in the market was the driving force and an increased number of suppliers would help to achieve this.

Disadvantages stated by LA1 included the need for extensive training for buyers and the market place as well as the need to resolve IT issues quickly. On a similar note LA2 stated that the resource intensive nature of dynamic purchasing systems was a downside.

Both stated that they would consider using DPS again in the future; indeed LA2 already had more than one live DPS. LA1 noted that DPS is now considered as part of their category management approach and that the changes to the procurement regulations had assisted in this. LA2 considered dynamic purchasing systems to be a valuable procurement option.

It is difficult to tell if there has been an increase in the use of DPS since the regulations changed. All of the contracts that were found during the research process were procured after 2011 when the PWC research was published and this research only covers the UK. An analysis of the number of new DPS contracts advertised in the ten weeks before the regulation changes was compared with the number in the ten weeks after the changes.

In the ten weeks before there were eight new contracts advertised but in the ten weeks after there were thirteen. This does suggest that there could be an increase in the use of the DPS however it is very early days. What it does show however is an appetite amongst public sector professionals to use this type of procurement vehicle.

In Conclusion

The practise of adding or removing suppliers to a framework is not a stranger to our private sector colleagues. However, frameworks are entrenched in the culture of public sector purchasing and, more recently, the collaborative procurement vehicles that have sprung up. In terms of the affect of the new regulations, it is still very early days and so it is difficult to tell whether the changes will drive an increase in the use of DPS.

The benefits of using a dynamic purchasing system appear to far out weigh the disadvantages, if applied to a suitable category of spend. These tangible benefits could very well pave the way for Dynamic Purchasing Systems to begin to form a more prominent role in public sector purchasing strategy.

4 Ways Procurement Should Be Using Big Data

While it might be a difficult term to define, there are a number of practical applications for using Big Data.

Using big data effectively

In our previous article, we looked at defining (or rather, not defining) the term ‘Big Data’. Now we are going to explore the potential big data analytics and computing may hold for the procurement function.

There are a number of high-profile ways in which organisations are using Big Data. For example, hospitals and public health organisations are using Google’s search trends and history to predict future outbreaks of the flu and colds. You can read the details here and see the counter argument here.

The application of Big Data in the procurement space is a little less apparent, or at least, less well publicised. With that in mind, we’ve put together four ways that procurement could be using Big Data to its advantage.

1. Understanding supplier risk

By leveraging the vast amounts of unstructured data now available to organisations, procurement teams can get a far better understanding of their key suppliers.

Previously supplier information could be found through the media, suppliers’ websites and personal relationships with the people being bought from. Data mining allows procurement to go much deeper than this and provides an unbiased, opinionated view of their suppliers’ standings.

2. Uncovering new savings

In the same way that harnessing data allows us to understand more about our current suppliers, correctly utilised, it can also help procurement understand more about its supply markets and where it sits within them.

By understanding the global supply market at a more granular level, a whole new set of opportunities to uncover savings is opened up. These savings can come about either through direct pricing improvements or through new innovative solutions.

3. Predicting negative external factors

In the past, Big Data has been used to predict unforeseen weather events with varying degrees of success. However, many organisations and governments are investing heavily in this technology.

These insights and predictions would, understandably, garner strong commercial interest, particularly from procurement teams looking to understand just how exposed their supply chains are to both natural, and man-made, disasters.

4. Opening up collaborative supplier projects

Understanding and using Big Data means understanding a category more clearly. Organisations that are able to get this level of understanding are in a position to open up conversations around innovative solutions.

The critical part of this is that transparent relationships with suppliers must exist first. The companies can then work together to solve problems and benefit from opportunities, even if some of these opportunities are not even visible yet.

In our next article, we’ll be be looking for some real life procurement examples where Big Data has been leveraged successfully. If you know of any great examples, please get in touch.

Big Data will be one of the themes discussed at the Big Ideas Summit on April 21 in London. Tell us your Big Data story and pose questions for our experts on this subject by registering today.

Social Media Clinic – You Asked, We Answered

Our Social Media Clinic gathered some common issues from attendees about social media. We aim to set your minds at rest with these answers.

Social Media Clinic

Procurious were lucky enough to attend the eWorld Procurement and Supply Conference in London at the beginning of March, where we ran a social media clinic. Despite looking like we were just having a good time (which we were…), there was a more serious side to our day.

We are huge advocates of social media in procurement, and we want to help as many procurement professionals get as much from social media as possible. However, professionals still have so many unanswered questions about social media, leading to many of them avoiding social media in their professional lives.

We were given a number of questions and issues on the day at eWorld, about all aspects of social media. We’ve done our best to provide answers to them here.

The Social Media Clinic in Action
The Social Media Clinic in Action

General Tips and Advice

Our first set of issues relate to general social media use, not specifically linked to one platform.

  • Struggling to find interesting content

There is a world of great content on social media, you just need to know where to look. Procurious publishes new content to its blog daily, and there are other influencers and experts in procurement who share their knowledge across various platforms.

Check out Procurious’ top influencers list, as well as this one from Vizibl for suggestions on who to follow. You can also set up Google Alerts and get all the top procurement and supply chain stories delivered daily, straight to your inbox.

  • Struggling to Attract, Retain & Interact with Followers and make my voice heard

There is no hard and fast rule on how to attract and retain followers on social media. The best thing you can do as an individual is to keep sharing great content and thought leadership, and people will be interested in what you’re saying.

If you want to make your voice heard, think about the topics that you are passionate about, or things that only you can say. Followers interact more with a genuine voice, rather than one copying what someone else has done. You can build influence by taking part in discussions and sharing your views.

Think about sharing content from followers, or people you follow, and using tagging on platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter to start a conversation with an individual or Group.

  • Should I have all social media platforms for my business?

You’re probably better off working out which platforms suit your business best, and which ones you can make the most of. If you are sharing images, then Instagram is worth trying. If you’re creating video or audio content, then try Periscope or YouTube.

Try looking at one or two platforms to begin with and maximise your offering for followers. There’s nothing worse than a half-hearted effort on a social media profile. You take that risk by spreading yourself across all of the available platforms.

LinkedIn

  • How can I improve my LinkedIn profile?

Take a look at our top tips for social media profiles here. Make sure you have a good photo, that your information is up to date, and talks about achievements, rather than responsibilities. It’s worth investing the time in getting your profile up to scratch.

  • Is LinkedIn just for job seekers?

Not at all. It’s a great tool for recruitment and marketing, but that’s by no means the only thing you can use it for. Make use of the site for global networking, connecting with like-minded individuals, and sharing content.

If you’re worried about it being too recruitment heavy, then a more niche network, like Procurious, might be what you’re looking for.

  • Is it ok to ask people for advice over LinkedIn, if I don’t know them?

Absolutely. LinkedIn is first and foremost a networking tool. You can ask people for help, advice and their opinions. They will choose whether or not to respond. We’ve found that people are very willing to share their knowledge if you are asking for the right reasons.

Twitter

  • How to use hashtags (to find followers and relevant content)

Hashtags have been set up on Twitter to help you search more easily for content and people. Unless you are planning on using a hashtag a lot, it’s better to use existing ones, rather than creating your own.

There are hashtags for both #procurement and #supplychain which will lead you to good content, up to date news, and good people to follow. If you have a particular area of interest, hashtags can also help you attract followers.

  • How many times per day is it acceptable to tweet?

This is up to you. Most advice will recommend tweeting between 5 and 8 times per day. Make sure you don’t just keep tweeting the same things, as this is likely to drive followers away. Keep it interesting, relevant, use the correct hashtags and maybe some images, and you’ll find the right balance for you.

Facebook

  • How can I use Facebook more effectively for business?

Facebook might not be a great platform for your business, particularly used in isolation. We’ve found that the best way to leverage the site is by using their advertising and targeting a specific audience to raise awareness of your business. There are good tips on Facebook itself, and you can have a look at these for information.

There you have it. This is by no means a comprehensive list of the questions people have, but hopefully it’s enough to allay some fears and get you started on social media.

Social Media Clinic Scribe by the fantastic Abbie Burch
Social Media Clinic Scribe by the fantastic Abbie Burch

The Procurious team would love to help you out if you have a question or issue on social media. Also, if you want to run a social media clinic for your organisation, get in touch!