Tag Archives: supply chain management

Streamlining Your Supply Chain With AI

How can AI help supply chain professionals streamline their processes and improve visibility?

By Chakarin Wattanamongkol / Shutterstock

Did you ever manage to find out what happened when one of your shipping containers went missing? Are you able to recover your products in time?

Many global companies are struggling with this in an ever-changing, digitised world where there is an increasing demand for transparency and visibility. Consumer satisfaction is being tested by speed of delivery, and as a result, accuracy in your supply chain is essential. Supply chain professionals must find ways to deconstruct the barriers in their organisation’s communications, improving visibility, for example, between a supplier in the North and customers in the West.

AI (artificial or augmented intelligence) technology can keep a constant overwatch on your supply chain looking for signs of trouble and alerting you early granting extra time to solve the really damaging issues, such as an impending weather event likely to close a vital port.

In supply chain management, people often work in silos: detached, isolated, and often far removed from the decisions being made in the C-suite or within other functions of the business. This leads to an unnecessarily complex chain of communication that is difficult to untangle when something goes wrong. Imagine if, in the future, all the elements making up your supply chain could be connected into a fully transparent process where internal barriers are broken down.

When you improve visibility across your network you can gain wider insights into your customer demand and be better prepared if things fail to go to plan. For example, if the demand for your product is outselling your current supply you need to communicate with the supplier to increase the stock in order to maintain your profit margins. Instead of an arduous trawl through past invoices, imagine a service that simplifies this, increasing your customer satisfaction by offering accurate and guaranteed product and shipping information.

In addition, by using AI-enabled orchestration your analysis of total costs and value is more precise and time effective, allowing you more time to concentrate your energy on satisfying customer engagement. This ensures the greatest level of accuracy giving you an overview of your products’ end-to-end supply chain journey.  Supply chain professionals will be able to look beyond their network itself and review potential impacts from other areas, such as weather, news, and transport conditions. As your process evolves and becomes more efficient real-time product guarantees, such as same-day delivery, become the norm instead of an anomaly.

As your supply chain becomes more transparent, it furthers the opportunity to increase business results as the time previously spent on administrative tasks can be refocused.

A real-world example that could benefit from this style of operation is the supply chain in the run up to a major sporting event, such as the Rugby World Cup later this year. Supplier A of miniature replica rugby balls needs to ensure these products are well stocked in their customers’ stores two months prior to the start of the tournament. Unfortunately, due to the extreme weather conditions currently hitting America, Supplier A’s usual plastic provider cannot deliver on this order. By making the supply chain more transparent and with the help of AI, this blocker is flagged early in the system before any time delay arises and Supplier A opts for a European plastic provider instead. The issue is managed successfully and in good time. As a result, the quick response enables Supplier A to meet their quota with their retailers, guaranteeing delivery in time before the start of the event, at a lower cost than if they’d spotted the issue later. Supplier A and their retail customers will not be pipped-to-the-post by competitors.

Now let’s consider the situation when Supplier A’s sellers have spotted that the market for their miniature replica rugby balls is projected to be a lot smaller than at first thought. In many organisations, the supply chain team might go to extreme efforts to get the product’s problem sorted, while the sales department is shifting away from selling the product: an exemplar of common miscommunication resulting in delays and increased costs. Up-to-the-minute communication and feedback from the supply chain right the way through to the consumer provides the correct knowledge to facilitate informed decisions. This enables flagship products to be given first priority, as opposed to products that can get away with a delay of a few weeks.

The efficiency illustrated in the example above highlights how supply chain isolation no longer needs to have a detrimental effect on business results because the internal organisational silos have been broken down. Instead, a more transparent system acts as the catalyst for even greater customer satisfaction. Not only does this positively influence Supplier A and their retailers but, most importantly, the fans’ experience of the Rugby World Cup will be that little bit brighter.

In summary, by increasing visibility across communication channels it furthers delivery accuracy, time efficiency, and business results. All of which can contribute to providing your customer with the very best service you can offer.

IBM Watson are sponsoring Procurious’ London CPO roundtable on 13th February. To request an invitation contact Olga Luscombe. 

If you’d like to read additional related content or get involved with thought provoking discussions check out the Supply Chain Pros group – a one stop shop for all your supply chain needs.



Are Smart Contracts A Game Changer for Procurement?

Are smart contracts, enabled by blockchain, the next big thing or just a temporary hype?

What is a contract? Put simply, a contract is any agreement that is built on the logic “if…[ABC] – then…[XYZ]”. And we make these kind of arrangements very day both in business and our private lives.

  • If I’m working on the development of the Procurement department at a particular company from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday – then I’m paid £5000 on the 25th day of every month and I earn the right to have 25 vacation days per year
  • If I pay £45 on the first day of the month – then I get an unlimited internet package for the entire month delivered to my IP address from this internet provider

This is the basic logic behind all kind of contracts.

What is the no.1 problem with contracts today?

Nobody can guarantee the implementation of a contract’s conditions on both sides.

The employee might come into the office every day, but half of their working time is spent watching YouTube in the coffee area.

Maybe you pay each month for your internet service, but the traffic is too slow and connection gets lost at the most important moments…

In business these potential problems are solved by official contracts where a breach of contract could result in legal action.

But why should I trust my lawyers, my banks and the courts more than I trust my own business partners? Ultimately we are mutually dependent on each other so my business partner should be interested in maintaining that mutual trust. Moreover, why should I pay all these middlemen to implement and monitor contracts, why should I spend my time and money on court cases if the contract conditions have clearly been violated by the other party?

Blockchain is already addressing these issues with some success. And these “if… – then…” algorithms created with Blockchain technology are called smart contracts.

Example of Smart contract logic: Purchase of manufacturing equipment

Imagine a manufacturing company, MANCOM, needs to double its packaging line capacity. They are planning to get the new packaging equipment according to their technical specification, with production output of 10,000 pieces per shift, up and running at full capacity until 1st of June 2019.

After running their request for quotation (RFQ) – they have selected a company, YOURPACK, and prepare their Smart contract.

These Smart contract can include the following conditions in the protocol:

In the best case YOURPACK delivers the equipment to MANCOM before the 1st of March 2019, and gets 50 per cent payment automatically. Then before the 1st of June equipment runs with the planned capacity, and gets another 50 per cent automatically from MANCOM’s account.

If there are delays with delivery or installation – payment is reduced accordingly. So YOURPACK’s interest is to do everything in their power to make things in time.

If MANCOM delays the payment – the equipment blocks itself and cannot be used. So it is in MANCOM’s interest is to pay in-time and in full.

Once again, the main principle of the Smart contract is to use “if…then…” logic. And to decide upon the precise triggers that will lead to specific consequences. An important aspect of Smart contracts is automation – that is avoiding the human factor after the agreement is validated from both sides.

Invest time and efforts in writing down the causes and effects, which should be clear and transparent and which cannot be misinterpreted.

After you have agreed on the principles and the “if… then…” algorithms – give the assignment to programmers who will create their codes and protocols based on Blockchain.

Blockchain: the enabler of Smart contracts

At the heart of Blockchain we need the following core ingredients:

  • asymmetric cryptography – which gives the ability to create the records and protect them
  • distributed systems – which gives the ability to transfer value by making updates to the records

And the beauty of blockchain is that is allows us to digitally sign transactions. And what is even more important – you can prove it. After the record is created and distributed to the network, no one can modify or change it without others being aware of it. The levels of security and traceability are incomparable to traditional contracts and transactions.

Today we create huge contracts with numerous clauses and appendices. We hire expensive lawyers to create these contracts and then we hire yet more expensive lawyers to protect our rights, and prove in court what we meant by all those numerous clauses when the contract was first written.

Comparison table: Smart and Traditional contracts

Smart contractsTraditional contracts
Program or protocol, which uses Blockchain technology Paper documents composed using corporate and legal standards
Based on code, written in computer language Based on legislation and written by lawyers
You need assistance with defining terms of contract and with coding You need legal assistance to compose and register contract
Contract conditions are unchangeable once approved by all parties. They are transparent and automatically checked. If contract terms are violated – certain penalty, punishment or sanction occurs automatically Can be amended or interpreted differently by different lawyers. Conditions may be partly fulfilled or poorly fulfilled. If contract terms are violated – you resolve conflicts by negotiations or in the courts
The security of the transaction is guaranteed No guarantee, most laws can be bypassed
All transactions carried out without third parties and intermediaries Transactions are made with a number of other involved parties: lawyers, banks, courts or public services…
Transactions may happen using Crypto-currencies Transactions are made using traditional currencies through banks
When the terms of the contract are fulfilled, the exchange of values takes place instantly Exchange of values occurs with delays
The contract can be concluded with a person from anywhere in the world without personal presence The contract is signed only with the personal meeting of the two parties
Protection from corruption or fraud High risk of fraud, corruption or bribery

The next big thing or just a temporary hype?

Smart contracts are facing many challenges on the way to mass application in Procurement.

I don’t know how fast it will become a common practice, or the full possibilities behind blockchain technology for Procurement and Supply Chain Management, because we are only at the beginning.

In today’s world new technology can challenge and change the status quo within a matter of years. And I advise you to be at the forefront of these changes.

Modern Slavery: Don’t Get Named & Shamed In 2019

How should procurement and supply chain professionals prevent and address modern slavery in their supply chains?

The first day of 2019 saw the implementation of the Modern Slavery Act in Australia, requiring organisations above a certain size – consolidated revenue of A$100 million – to report annually on the actions they are taking to address modern slavery.

The Walk Free Foundation’s Global Slavery Index 2018* estimates:

•  In excess of 40 million people globally are subject to some form of modern slavery and approximately US$150 billion per year is generated in the global private economy from forced labour alone

• 24,990,000 people in the Asia-Pacific Region are ‘enslaved’, which accounts for 62 per cent of all modern slavery victims

•  15,000 people are currently victims of modern slavery in Australia

As organisations in Australia begin turning their focus to understanding their risk profile, there could well be a significant rise in these figures. With the legislation ensuring access to a public register revealing all the details of the submitted company statements, we can expect more noise online about the state of the nation when it comes to modern slavery, as well as the organisations implicated.

Organisations might be named and shamed for their lack of reporting, incomplete reporting or lack of action. As a result of the public access, board directors will be acutely aware of the risks to their brand reputation and demand much greater visibility of their supply chains.

Enter the procurement and supply chain leaders who are increasingly becoming the custodians of social responsibility in their organisations. Many organisations will be ignorant as to the scale of modern slavery risks in their supply chains. Forcibly detained adults and enslaved children work in many industries including fashion, fishing, cocoa, cotton, clothing, cannabis, construction and prostitution.

Integrated, global supply chains make it hard to tell whether products, even those that are stamped “Made in Australia” have at some stage relied on slave labour or underage workers as part of the production and supply processes.

Boards of organisations will need to accurately report:

1.The extent of their exposure to risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains

2.The action they have taken to assess and address those risks, and importantly

3. The effectiveness of their response

Some organisations may even take the next step and act strongly and visibly to help address the issue and help reduce or eliminate the slavery issue

How should the procurement and supply chain professional prevent and address modern slavery

  • Policy and Process Frameworks

It’s important to have a policy of some description that covers all the relevant principles. Policy also needs to extend into action by embedding changes into processes that cover things like supplier due diligence and ongoing performance monitoring

  • Understanding forced labour and monitoring slavery red flags in your data

Understand the areas of your organisation’s supply chain that will be particularly vulnerable to slavery practices. Many procurement platforms have additional features that can connect you to suppliers with known issues. There is no doubt that procurement and supply chain professionals will need to conduct extensive research into high-risk areas; certain countries, regions, suppliers, suppliers to suppliers, high risk supply chains, certain industries and products. Ignorance to the issue is indefensible.

  • On-site inspections

Determining high-risk suppliers is important but it will also be necessary to conduct on-site inspections to investigate further. On-site audits are one of the key mechanisms for monitoring supplier performance against agreed standards.

  • Developing and implementing a corrective action plan

Where an audit or an on-site inspection has confirmed instances (or suspected instances) of modern slavery, it is critical that the supplier develops and implements a Corrective Action Plan (CAP). The purpose of the response should be to clearly define corrective and preventative actions for resolving any non-compliance identified during the audit or inspection.

  • Engaging Suppliers

A problem as large as modern slavery will never be effectively impacted by policies alone, setting standards for suppliers, developing action plans and monitoring their implementation. CAPs will only be effective in their remediation activities if they are combined with programs that build a supplier’s capability. The ideal is for the supplier to integrate and drive antislavery policies into their own business. Be prepared to be involved in this activity and in some cases sponsoring the necessary business changes.

  • Building supplier incentives

The key to effecting changes needed is to develop supplier incentives, which ensure that the supplier takes ownership of the process and ensures continuous improvement.  Improvements need to be measurable to support the reporting and prove that progress is being made.

Such incentives may involve publicly announcing a supplier preference, in cases when the correct steps have been taken to address slavery. An alternate incentive might be to automatically qualify suppliers that have implemented robust procedures into their second tier supply base

What is the bottom line for Procurement and Supply Chain professionals?

While these changes to the regulatory environment are disruptive there is a silver lining in that it will bring new opportunities for the CPO to ensure increased visibility into the supply chain. Larger organisations, that have invested heavily in leading supply chain practices, may find themselves better equipped for responding to these changes. For others, the legislation will mean additional investment in order to play catch up, resulting in higher capital and operational expenditure.

Ultimately, the most effective response is likely to be organisations joining forces and jointly managing the supply-side, thus building an over-whelming demand for suppliers to abolish these practices. A slavery-free catalogue or certification may become the ticket-to-play for suppliers. A co-operative response will have the hardest hitting message of all and now is the time to be working together.

Procure with Purpose

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Diversity and Inclusion.

Click here to enroll and gain access to  all future Procure with Purpose events including exclusive content, online events and regular webinars. 

Transactional Supply Chain Activities: Your Days Are Numbered

The days of transactional activities in supply chain management are numbered and look set to exit our organisations very rapidly…

Chris Crozier, Chief Digital Officer – Orica International has seen first-hand how the perception of supply chain management has changed over the years.

As little as thirty years ago he can remember there being “very little recognition [of the profession] and the nuances around the skillsets required. In fact, most people talked about the smartest people in the room being in marketing and I saw that there was plenty of opportunity around skillset affirmation around supply chain.”

On Day Three of Career Boot Camp we speak to Chris about the evolution of the supply chain management profession, the importance of embracing new technology and implementing digital transformation.

Supply chain management across company borders

As someone whose, very impressive, career has criss-crossed several industries, Chris is a keen advocate for supply chain professionals working across functions.

“Supply chain is such a beautiful function where you do get that end to end view of an organisation,” he explains.  “We need to make sure that we leverage that and the relationships we have with other functions [including] any career opportunities  – not just for ourselves but for our teams.”

He warns against leaders becoming too defensive of their supply chain talent; “I think that’s a real blind spot in some of the supply chain functions as they stand today. So share the talent and surround yourself with highly capable people but be prepared to move them in and out of supply chain.”

In seizing any opportunities to move talent in and out of teams supply chain pros are facilitating the creation of “a really virtuous cycle of understanding” and ensuring that there are “supply chain evangelists in other functions.”

Indeed, working in both tech and supply chain has proved to be the perfect balance for Chris, “one of the things you get from working in supply chain is a broad analysis and encompassing oversight of the organisation and I think that’s what technology also requires. So there was a lovely fit between the technology understanding that was necessary in a CIO role and that broad business perspective you get from [working in] supply chain.

“Having that very broad business understanding meant I could provide that bridge between business requirements and a technology outcome.” 

The impact of technology on supply chain  

As is the case with every single function in every single organisation, supply chain professionals will be significantly disrupted as a result of incoming technologies.

And Chris, a self-proclaimed advocate and evangelist for the technologies coming through his door believes it is imperative for supply chain professionals to have a decent understanding of the latest technology in order to be successful in the long term.

Professionals need to know “how to apply it, where to apply it, how to leverage it most effectively and, most importantly, what’s coming in in the future that can help you to be even better in your role and therefore have a more productive organisation and ultimately underpin the broader company that you work for.”

Chris believes that the days of transactional activities in supply chain are numbered and will exit the organisation very rapidly, which is, of course, bad news for the supply chain professionals who are doing these transactional activities! “We will move to the world of the seamless end-to-end supply chain, which we were talking about in 1998-1999! We were all talking at that stage about real-time supply and demand activity.”

And Chris believes we’re fast approaching that point today with “the compute power that we have available, the network capacity we have available and the technology we have available.”

“People will talk about blockchain and other technologies and, yes, that’s all part and parcel of the way forward. But ultimately supply chain professionals now need to continue to go up the value curve.

“A lot of the things we do around competitor intelligence, around negotiation strategy and so on will be superceded by the technologies coming through the door.”

“Those things are just going to become endemic as tools for professionals in supply chain so we need to be on top of that, prepared for that and able to leverage that because it’s going to hit us very soon.”

Chris Crozier is speaking on Day Three of Career Boot Camp 2018. Sign up here (it’s free) to listen to his podcast now.

Supply Chain Management – Much More Than Just The Wire Between Switch And Light…

Sometimes supply chain is viewed as an abstract part of the business – we’re the wire between switch and the light. But that wire is not always fully understood…

Career Boot Camp 2018 kicks off this week! And this year’s series, Your Supply Chain Career: Accelerated, has been designed to help you sprint outside of your comfort zone and get into the best career shape of your life!

On Day 1, we catch up with Rick Blasgen President and CEO of CSCMP who has a lot of hope for the future of the supply chain profession.

“I think our professions have come such a long way already and have such a long way to go. Procurement and supply chain management will be an embedded feature of every competive global company around the world because they see so much of what goes on.

“[At CSCMP] we see it really growing into the fabric of successful companies. There is so much opportunity before us as our global economies kick in and we use technology and productivity processes to improve our ability to serve customers in markets that are yet to be conquered.”

The value in professional certifications

The debate rages on over the true value in professional supply chain certifications. But Rick is pretty sure they’re here to stay!

“This profession changes so rapidly –  think about risk management or about deliveries by drones or autonomous vehicles. These types of systems or technologies were not even part of our lexicon ten years ago and so certifications allow us to keep fresh, allow us to continue to demonstrate that we have a mastery of the supply chain and procurement professions by being on the forefront of what’s coming down the line that we might be able to use in our professions.

“One of the things important to CSCMP is to advance the logistics, supply chain and procurement professions and the careers of those working in them. The only way we do that is by being thought leaders and thinking about using the new technologies and tools that have never before existed. Our certifications will educate you on these things and then test that you have the understanding and can utilise the complexity within them.

“So I think [professional certifications] are a normal course of continuing to educate yourself and continuing to be knowledgeable about such a dynamic and ever-changing field.”

Upskilling your supply chain team

How does Rick feel about experienced hires versus the value in up-skilling talented professionals from diverse backgrounds?

“There is no reason that someone with a lot of experience in a different field can’t be very successful working in supply chain. If you have the ability to analyse data or if you’re an engineer – those types of talents and skills play a very important role within the supply chain world.

“Sometimes supply chain is viewed as an abstract part [of the business] – we’re the wire between switch and the light. You flick the  switch and the light goes on you don’t call your power company and thank them because you expect the light to go on.

“Well that wire is sometimes not truly understood – supply chain and procurement professions struggle a little bit with awareness.

“But there’s so much opportunity and different types of jobs that folks can come into. If you have a set of skills like great interpersonal skills or great managerial and leadership skills you’re going to do just fine in a supply chain position as long as you can analyse data and think logically about this flow of inventory and information.

“We’ve seen folks come from the medical industry, consumer products, consumer electronics or even different types of functions such as English or History majors who have come and done a wonderful job.

“Is it great to get supply chain education? Sure it is!  Universities these days are doing a great job of explaining modern day supply chain theory. But you can certainly be successful as you fly into this profession with a set of skills that really make a difference.”

Rick’s parting words to any aspiring supply chain professionals?

“Young folks have a great opportunity – I have never seen a hiring market like it is now. If youre looking for a job on another continent I can’t think of another field where you can go ahead move to another part of the world If you so desire and have a very fruitful experience. If you have a global experience or a global mindset  you’ll do very well in supply chain because it is such a global field.”

Rick Blasgen is speaking on Day 1 of Career Boot Camp 2018. Sign up here (it’s free) to listen now! 

Your Supply Chain Career: Accelerated

What do supply chain leaders predict for the future of the profession and how do you ensure you’re prepared seize the opportunities and get the most out of your career?

What is the biggest mistake supply chain professionals make?

What are the five key skills you need to make it to the top?

How should supply chain leaders embark on a major transformation?

Will the profession evolve in the coming years in preparation for an AI-enabled world?

We’ll answer all of these questions and more when Career Boot Camp 2018 kicks off at the beginning of October.

This year’s series, Your Supply Chain Career: Accelerated, has been designed to help you sprint outside of your comfort zone and get into the best career shape of your life!

Featuring tips and tricks from some of the best in the business we’ll be discussing how to make it as a Head of Supply Chain, the true value of professional certifications, how to persevere in the face of adversity and what the future holds for the profession.

Sign up here ahead of our launch on October 1st.

FAQs

What is the Procurious Career Boot Camp ?

Procurious’ Career Boot Camp, sponsored by IBM, is a global professional development event for supply chain professionals. The series, features five, fifteen-minute podcasts that have been designed to help you get into the best career shape of your life.

How do I listen to the Career Boot Camp podcasts?

Simply sign up here and you’ll be re-directed to the Supply Chain Pros group where you can access all five podcasts. You will also join a mailing list, which will alert you each time a new podcast is released.

How will I know when each podcast is published?

The series will run for one week, starting on October 1st, with a daily podcast released on Procurious each day. We’ll drop you an email to let you know as each podcast becomes available.

Is the podcast series available to anyone?

Absolutely! Anyone & everyone can access the podcasts and it won’t cost you a penny to do so. Simply sign up here!

When does Career Boot Camp take place?

Starting on the 1st October, Career Boot Camp will run for five days. The podcasts will be accompanied by daily blogs from our Supply Chain Career Coaches plus group discussions and articles on Procurious. When the series is complete, all five podcasts will be available for registrants via the Procurious eLearning hub, FREE of charge.

Why should I do Career Boot Camp every day?

Dedicating 15 minutes a day to developing and progressing your supply chain career can make the difference between standing still, or sprinting quickly into more impactful roles. At Procurious, we firmly believe that daily procurement learning is essential for career advancement. And Career Boot Camp will help you get into the habit!

Speakers

Rick Blasgen, CEO & President – CSCMP

Rick D. Blasgen has been the president and chief executive officer of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) in Lombard, Illinois, USA since 2005.

Rick Blasgen has responsibility for the overall business operations and strategic plan of the organisation. His efforts support CSCMP’s mission of leading the supply chain management profession through the development and dissemination of supply chain education and research

Ron Castro , Vice President – IBM Supply Chain

IBM Supply Chain Vice President leading a remarkable team through the digital and cognitive journey to an end to end AI-enabled supply chain. Driving adoption of cutting-edge technology and applications inside and outside of the manufacturing walls.

Chris Crozier, Chief Digital Officer – Orica

Chris Crozier is the Chief Digital Officer for Orica International, the world’s largest manufacturer and supplier of explosives for mining and civil construction. In this capacity, Chris’ digital teams supports the global footprint of the organisation across Business, Customer and Manufacturing systems, including governance of Orica’s digital ecosystems, architecture, data and cyber posture. Prior to this, he has held executive roles within Orica as Global Vice President Supply Chain, and BHP Billiton.

Tom Evans, UK Ultramarathon Runner

Tom Evans is a 26 year old professional Trail Runner and Red Bull athlete. In 2017 he discovered ultra running and finished 3rd in the famous Marathon des Sables, which was his first ultra marathon. Since then, he has become a full time athlete. He finished 3rd in the Trail running world championships while representing Team GB. He has recently won the CCC – one of the most prestigious 100km mountain races”

Samantha Gash, Australian Ultramarathon Runner

Samantha Gash, as a World Vision Ambassador, ran 3253 km in 76 days across India, raising over $150,000 to fund education programs. Her other achievements include a 1968km expedition run along South Africa’s Freedom Trail and four 250km desert ultramarathons as part of the Racing the Planet – Four Deserts Grand Slam.

Laura Faulkner, Director Supply Chain Management – Nationwide Building Society 

After graduating from Strathclyde University with a BSc in Technology & Business, Laura joined Polaroid as a Graduate Buyer. Laura then spent time with GSK and Ernst & Young before taking a role with RBS that led to her being appointed CPO in 2014.

Laura is now CPO and Director of Supply Chain Management (SCM) at Nationwide Building Society where she has brought together Procurement, Property Services, Third Party Risk, Vendor Management, Accounts Payable and Offshore Operations.

SCM’skey focus is to maximise the value of 3rd Party Relationships across the Society, leading the Supply Chain Strategy to drive efficient, resilient and innovative solutions for the benefit of all Nationwide Members.

Career Boot Camp, Your Supply Chain Career: Accelerated kicks off on October 1st 2018. Sign up here (it’s FREE!)

Critical Factors When Selecting Your Suppliers

Procurement exists in a dynamic, fast-paced, constantly changing environment. So surely the reasons we use to select our suppliers and supply partners would change over time too? Wouldn’t they?

It’s been over three years since the Procurious network was canvassed on what critical factors they look for in their suppliers. The world has moved on a-pace in the intervening period and it’s interesting to take an inward look to see if procurement has developed at the same pace, particularly in its supplier selection processes.

Gone are the days of the cheapest price (or at least they should be!). Gone, and consigned to a very dark part of history, are the days where supply decisions were made over lunch or in private meetings, and related more to who you knew than what you knew, which golf course or members’ club you were part of. Or even (sharp intake of breath) what you might be offering the buyers in return.

Even the list below, the key factors highlighted last time out, may have been superseded. So what are the new criteria? Or, if they are still the same, why is this the case?

Cost and Quality vs. Social Value and #MeToo?

If we take a look back at the responses from the network in 2015, we find ourselves looking at a list with a number of the usual suspects on it:

  • Cultural Fit – including values
  • Cost – covering price, Total Cost of Opportunity/Ownership
  • Value – value for money and value generation opportunities
  • Experience in the market and current references
  • Flexibility
  • Response to change – in orders and products
  • Quality – covering products and service quality and quality history

In addition to this, some that didn’t make the top 7 as it was included trust and professionalism, strategic process alignment and technical ability. There’s nothing that looks out of place on the list. In fact, they’re all eminently sensible and fair criteria to be considering.

The problem is it that it reflects a very traditional view of procurement.

Given the changing environment that procurement operates in, wouldn’t we expect to see these criteria changing too? In the past couple of years, geo-political instability has dominated the landscape and shows no sign of disappearing soon with Brexit and a potential trade war between USA and the rest of the world just two examples.

But what about the other factors we need to be considering? Social value has jumped to the top of many organisations’ lists, increasing work with SMEs and Social Enterprises. And let’s not forget an increased focus on harassment, discrimination and equal opportunities following #MeToo and campaigns like Procurious’ own ‘Bravo’.

What Does the Network Say?

When asked their opinions on what the critical factors were, the Procurious network highlighted the following:

  • Previous Safety Performance
  • Service Delivery
  • Efficiencies
  • Cultural Fit
  • Price/Cost
  • Flexibility
  • Ethics
  • Quality and Consistency
  • Supply Chain
  • Financial Stability
  • Environmental Policies
  • Communication

I’ve highlighted in bold the criteria that appear in the previous list that also appear in the new one. As you might expect, they are the common criteria that procurement are known for, and may be expected to deliver as standard.

It doesn’t appear that other factors in line with Sustainability, Social Value and Equal Opportunities (to name but a few) are getting much of a look in. However, we’d need a much bigger sample to be sure. And that’s where the wider knowledge base comes in.

Procurement’s Response

Having a trawl through the latest articles on supplier selection and key criteria two things struck me. One, there were very few articles, blogs, thought leadership posts or even research papers from the past couple of years. The most recent one I found was from early 2017 and even using a broad range of search terms, it was difficult to find anything relevant.

The second, and perhaps most surprising/concerning, thing was how few mentioned any different criteria for suppliers. Only one article I could find mentioned Social Responsibility or Environmental Performance/Sustainability. The remainder still focused on the criteria commonly found in a Commercial or Technical/Quality evaluation. The most common criteria still were:

  • Years in business and financial stability
  • Price/Cost
  • Quality and Delivery
  • Reliability
  • Communication
  • Cultural Match

What does this say about procurement? Is the profession still falling back on the old favourites when it comes to supplier selection? Or could it be that traditional “thought leadership” is no longer leading the way, and organisations are working differently without shouting it from the rooftops?

For me, it’s a combination of all of the above. There’s no denying that it’s hard to separate procurement from cost and quality (after all, it’s what we’re there to do). And why wouldn’t professionals use criteria that are both reliable and easy to measure, particularly when time and resources are tight?

Getting our Message Across

Speaking from experience, however, there are areas in which overall value is much more prevalent. In the Scottish public sector, organisations are mandating Community Benefits for contracts above a certain value. These can cover everything from creating apprenticeships to financially supporting community projects.

In addition, Local Authorities have started to mandate evaluation of ‘Fair Work Practices’ in all procurement exercises. Again, this can cover a multitude of elements, such as paying the living wage, no zero-hour contracts, equal opportunities and good training and development. Suppliers are being forced to consider these criteria to the benefit of their employees and the wider society.

There is good work going on in procurement, but maybe we aren’t making the most of communicating our message to the wider market. And if communication is one of the key factors in supplier selection and subsequent relationship management, it’s high time the profession started telling suppliers what is important to us and seeing what they have to offer.

3 Mega-trends In Procurement You Need To Understand Before 2019

What are the key mega-trends procurement pros need to get their heads around before 2019?

CatwalkPhotos/ Shutterstock

1. Co-Creation –  Using collective efforts to bring the best value

Since the very beginning of my career in Procurement competition was a key.  Competition helps procurement drive down prices using quotations, tenders, e-auctions or other tools.

And, of course,  it is much easier to negotiate contract terms and conditions with  if you have alternative sources.

Striving to establish, at least,  dual sourcing for every product helps you to decrease supply related risks.

But with greater experience I started to see that competition has its limits,  that RFQ’s and tenders were not bringing the desired effect.  This was particularly apparent for certain groups of products with limited supply possibilities and higher complexity.

I learned that for such segments a more efficient strategy is to cooperate with your key suppliers.

Cooperation is about alignment and harmonising performance, goals and strategies.  The very first step should be about aligning performance and KPI’s. Then you align the goals, including price reduction. At this point, the strategies of both companies should be aligned.

So cooperation is the alignment and harmonisation between two parties: the procurement organisation and the vendors.

But is cooperation and competition with suppliers enough in the modern world?   My simple answer is no. Procurement of tomorrow is about more than delivering goods, reducing prices and mitigating risks. The future of procurement is creating value for the final customer. And so the new buzz-word coming in 2019 is Co-Creation.

Co-creation is about developing and delivering products, services or systems using the common efforts of all interested parties.

2. Digitalisation

In my consultancy work I meet ten to twenty Procurement and supply chain organisations every year. It’s a big privilege to meet so many great people, and work in a variety of industries and businesses.

But one thing that surprises me is the fact that the majority of organisations are not making procurement decisions based on  complex benchmarking or performance indicators.

In fact, the majority of organisations in Europe and North America are making Procurement decisions based entirely on  cost reduction. Whatever has been discussed before quotation is ignored and whatever might happen after is neglected.

“Give me the best price: here and now! And you get the business…” – is still the driving force for many procurement organisations.

Of course, this approach is beneficial in the short term. But on a strategic level it will not work.  In the era of big data this approach is a crime. I know that digitisation and fact-based Procurement decisions may not sound like a mega trend for many readers. But before you skip this point – answer one simple question. Do you really include performance evaluation and risk analysis in all your Procurement decisions?

3. Sustainability: Part of our new reality

Sustainable procurement is not a new term.

The United Nations definition says that sustainable procurement practices are the ones that integrate requirements, specifications and criteria that are compatible and in favor of the protection of the environment, of social progress and in support of economic development, namely by seeking resource efficiency, improving the quality of products and services and ultimately optimising costs.

It might look a little complicated at first glance, but it is quite a straight forward definition.

More and more countries are shifting towards sustainable procurement; improving national procurement policies and procedures. But the true leaders in this shift to sustainable procurement are the international corporations. Using their massive purchasing power, they are able to make real impact to ecological, technological or social standards across entire industries.

Some companies use the sustainability messages for marketing of their products or services, creating positive buzz and media attention to their brand. Many more develop their sustainability agenda for mitigating or preventing risks within supply chain.

One thing that I can say for sure; sustainability is becoming part of a new reality for procurement organisations. It is not a buzzword anymore, it is an expectation customers. People are beginning to understand that low prices should not be achieved by unethical or unsustainable means.

So what can you do to introduce sustainability to your Procurement agenda?

Start by investigating in more sustainable sources and raw materials. Look around your industry or category to identify the best practices and get some inspiration.  I guarantee that you will find great cases of good environmental, social and sustainability impact for any area and any category.

Of course you should also include sustainability parameters to your RFI/RFQ evaluation criteria.

Another great idea would be to involve some measurable indicators for your sustainability progress. For example, carbon emissions, water footprint, share of renewable energy used for manufacturing or recycled materials used for products.

And remember: responsible sourcing is more profitable in a long term!

One Year On: Has Grenfell Changed Procurement?

How can procurement professionals learn from the tragic events at Grenfell tower in June 2017? 

Sasa Wick / Shutterstock.com

It’s just over a year on from the Grenfell Tower fire, which claimed the lives of 72 people and marked the UK’s worst residential fire since World War Two.

With the Grenfell Tower Inquiry ongoing; there are still so many unanswered questions regarding the circumstances of the fire. And for those directly impacted by the events, the trauma experienced is still very present.

As several victims and commentators have pointed out; those who lost their lives should not be allowed to die in vain. There are opportunities to learn, to improve policies and to ensure that the mistakes that were made will never be made again. Procurement should be at the forefront of these changes.

Last month, Claire Curtis-Thomas, British Board of Agrément chief executive, spoke at a select committee hearing on Dame Hackitt’s review of Building Regulations. She labelled the procurement process a “fundamental problem” that has led companies to become “complicit in poor outcomes”.

Has Grenfell changed procurement?

Alan Heron, director of procurement at Places for People (PfP), is one who believes the landscape has now changed for procurement. “It took something as horrible as Grenfell for people to realise there’s a consequence to looking for the lowest price,” he asserts. “It’s refocused everyone away from ticket price and back to value, which is where it should have been all along.”

A recent report conducted by Fusion21 investigates how procurement professionals working in the housing sector are reacting and adapting to the tragedy.

Throughout April and May 2018  Fusion21 surveyed 80 procurement professionals working for organisations that
collectively own more than a million homes.

The results suggest that social landlords are placing a much greater emphasis on quality when making procurement decisions following the fire.

  • 50 per cent of respondents said the Grenfell Tower fire has meant their organisation now places greater emphasis on quality when making procurement decisions. Among those who said Grenfell had not affected their organisation’s approach, were many who stated that quality was already vital
  • These professionals stated that there is now a greater focus on quality especially in relation to fire safety, and ensuring contractors had completely up-to-date information
  •  75 per cent of procurement professionals described compliance as “extremely important” when achieving value for money

Sarah Rothwell, Head of Member Engagement at Fusion21 explained “we conducted our Procurement Trends research in order to find out what was most important to procurement professionals after a hugely challenging couple of years for everyone in the housing sector.

“It will surprise no-one that, in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the work of procurement teams around compliance hasbeen the focus of renewed scrutiny. The research findings [confirm this].”
Concerningly, 55 per cent of respondents admitted to feeling  some pressure to procure at the lowest price and one respondent, wished Grenfell had altered the emphasis their organisation placed on quality.
In other procurement news this week…

EU warns the US and China against a trade war

  • US president Donald Trump, Russian president Vladimir Putin and China have been urged to work with Europe to avoid trade wars and prevent “conflict and chaos”
  • Last week, European Council president, Donald Tusk, lambasted the US president’s constant criticism of European allies and urged him to remember who his friends are when he meets Mr Putin
  • He said that Europe, China, the US and Russia had a “common duty” not to destroy the global order but to improve it by reforming international trade rules

Read more on The Independent

Could automation increase modern slavery?

  • In its annual Human Rights Outlook, Verisk Maplecroft warned “drastic” job losses caused by robot manufacturing were predicted to cause “a spike in slavery and labour abuses” over the next 20 years
  • It said more than half of jobs across the ASEAN-5 countries of Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand could be lost to automation, which could push already at-risk supply chain workers into forced labour
  • Women are likely to be disproportionately affected because of their high representation in the garment, textile and footwear industry, an area that is particularly at risk of automation, the report said

Read more on Supply Management 

Brexit puts food supply chains at risk

  • Perishable goods are particularly at risk when supply chains are delayed, and U.K. and EU food producers are on edge as the clock ticks down toward March 29, 2019
  • Earlier this year, food suppliers and manufacturers signed onto a manifesto advocating for frictionless trade and innovation-focused regulation
  • If, post-Brexit, enhanced border controls and regulatory checks are implemented between  nations, delays and even failed deliveries could result
  • With negotiations in flux, many U.K. and EU businesses have taken matters into their own hands. Several European companies are planning to relocate parts of their supply chain out of the U.K. About one-third of U.K. businesses with EU suppliers plan to replace them with British vendors

Read more on Supply Chain Dive

Eight Critical Actions for Managing Your Supplier Pool

Establishing a pool of preferred or pre-qualified suppliers is  a great idea as long as you are actively managing your supplier pool.  Here’s how it’s done…

Last year Government Technology published an article describing how the state of Colorado has turned to a process they call “mini-RFP’s” to streamline and expedite procurement in their IT category.

The author Jessica Mulholland reports the state performed a prequalification of vendors and awarded multiple contracts to address a “specific set of issues and implementations”.

This select group of vendors operating under pre-negotiated legal terms are solicited when new work comes up.  The lowest bidder is awarded leveraging their prenegotiated terms and conditions.

This is a concept that I have seen quite a few times before.  Many private organisations operate in this manner.  Essentially awarding MSA’s that include no rates or commercial terms, just legal terms.

It should be noted that the reason this is more expeditious is because it streamlines the contracting portion of the procurement process.  This isn’t a shortcut to procurement, you still need a scope of work, you still need a bid period, and you still need analysis.  The time saved is the time with legal.

Prequalification of suppliers isn’t anything new, but it is a unique approach in public procurement.  I’m no expert on the legality of this as a government practice, but I will address this from a private business perspective.

1.Agreements without Commercial Rates

Perhaps this is a nuance of the public sector and possibly the reason why the state of Colorado can have a closed bid, but in private business there is simply no good reason to have an MSA without pre-negotiated rates.  Nonetheless, I have seen this quite a few times.  If you are going to go so far as to negotiate legal terms, locking in rates and commercial terms should be a no-brainer.

2. Obstacles to inclusion

If you plan to add a pre-qualification process to your organisation, consider keeping the process simple and straight-forward.  It should not take more than a couple of weeks to complete the process.  Anything more than that and you may find that your process becomes an obstacle for inclusion.

3. Scale the Pool

Be sure to have a large enough pool to allow for multiple projects to occur at the same time without depleting your bench.  There is nothing worse than having an emergency project when all of your pre-qualified vendors are at capacity and you have no one left to award.

4. Diversify your Pool

Your pool of pre-qualified suppliers should be as diverse as the projects you contract.  When I talk of diversity here, I’m not speaking of minority owned businesses.  That is important too, but more than that you need to make sure your pool of vendors has large firms for the big projects as well as small firms for the small projects.  Don’t just include all the big guys or you may find you have no one at all.

5. Score Performance

If you are going to establish a pool of pre-qualified suppliers it’s important to score each performance.  Develop Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to evaluate how the suppliers performed and make sure to collect a report for each engagement.  This will give you actionable data to evaluate the performance of each supplier.

6. Aggregate and Report KPI’s

Grading the suppliers on each project is essential, but when you collect and aggregate that data across a year, now you have powerful data.  Anyone can have a bad project, but with a consolidated view of a vendors performance over a year, you can address specific problems, identify weaknesses, and generally grade each supplier objectively. With this data, you can elevate suppliers that perform well and downgrade those who perform poorly.

7. Evaluate your Pool at Least Once per Year

With your performance data in hand, you should meet with your suppliers annually and share the results of your scoring.  This may be a difficult conversation, but if you are basing your comments on facts, it will be easier.  In addition to reviewing existing suppliers, this is the time to look outside of your pool to identify new or up-and-coming suppliers to add.  You should also evaluate the state of your organisation to right-size your pool.

8. Update your Agreements

Above all else, don’t let agreement expire.  Track the end of all agreements and create reminders on your calendar to ensure you are proactively renewing, terminating, or renegotiating agreements before they expire.

Establishing a pool of preferred or pre-qualified suppliers is  a great idea as long as you are actively managing your supplier pool.  Keep on top of your contracts and you will soon see the fruits of your labor.

Do you have prenegotiated or prequalified Suppliers in your organisation?  If so, do you follow these recommendations?  Are there any best practices you recommend?  Tell me your stories.


This article was originally published on Luis Gile’s website. Check out more of his content here. 

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