Tag Archives: supply chain tools

Your Top 4 Tech Tools for Influence

Want to up your influence and get some engagement for new ideas? Then you need these tools to help out-contribute the competition…

Photo by Elijah Macleod on Unsplash

Influence is always a matter of consistently making a more valuable contribution to your target market than your competitors. The challenge is that consistency takes time – how much time depends on how smart you get.

Recently I was speaking with a procurement professional who was struggling to find time to create content. His influence within his networks was growing, but he was stuck in the trap most of us get caught in – focusing on stakeholder management. My advice was to apply the 6:3 rule. Schedule and commit to six solid hours once a quarter, then three hours every week to ‘out-contribute’ your network.

To break 6:3 down into its simplest form – once a quarter you focus on creating a large piece of cornerstone value. This could be a video, podcast interviews or an emerging trends report. The most important factor is that it’s tailored and valuable to your target audience.

This then gets broken down into a number of smaller pieces of content over the next 90 days, such as articles, social posts or ‘Trend Update’ emails. The three hours each week is then spent keeping on top of industry news and trends. Pulling out key insights, saving them for the next quarters content drive and sharing them within your network via email or social media.

Sound like too much? Consider this. The latest research shows that it takes 10 ‘touch points’ to get someone to take action on a new idea or product. However unfortunately most of us give up after one or two attempts to get real engagement. The good news is it’s easy to increase your output with the right support. Here are my top four simple tech tools to keep your influence on track:

Flipboard

Flipboard runs my brain. It’s an online magazine that allows you save articles straight from your smart phone under a variety of different topics. Any time I find something interesting, I save it to my Flipboard magazine and then once a week (usually early Monday morning over coffee) I go through everything and decide what to share. I have a magazine for content, one for possible podcast guests, one for industry events, and so on.

Buffer

Buffer is a great social media scheduling tool. There are tons out there at the moment, with varying degrees of functionality. However I’ve found Buffer has the simplest interface on a mobile device – which is where I spend most of my time. It basically allows you to create and then schedule posts across nearly every social media platform. In just half an hour (again usually a Monday morning) I can schedule the core posts for the week and then just top up as the week unfolds.

Unroll.Me

This website changed my email life. It’s a free tool that takes your email address – then scours your account to find every single subscription – creating a long list from which you can unsubscribe en mass. However that’s not all. You can then add the rest to your ‘Rollup’ – which gets sent as a short summary of every single newsletter you wanted to keep – all in one email. Hours of Inbox space given back. You’re welcome.

Canva

Canva has been a complete game changer for graphic design. A super-simple design platform – it offers a huge amount of quality free presentation slides and social media templates for those that want impact without the hassle. However, if you want to take it up a level – you can also upload your own templates and change the text and images as you need them. Best of all you can do it all on your smartphone in 30 seconds from the back of a cab, which is my test for anything that claims to be time-efficient.

Staying ahead of the ideas and trends in your space – then having the time to translate them with your own insights takes work. If it didn’t, everyone would do it. But if you can get the right schedule and tools in place, “I don’t have time” should never be an excuse.

Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the soon to be launched weekly podcast Inside Influence. An exploration into what it takes to find and own your voice – and then use it to drive a conversation, an idea, an industry or a Nation. To subscribe check out iTunes or her website.

Stop Ignoring Twitter As A Supply Chain Tool

Using social media as a supply chain tool? Don’t dismiss Twitter – it can add real value for your organisation.

Many procurement teams and companies have realised the crucial role that social media plays in their marketing efforts. However, while Facebook and LinkedIn are often used effectively, Twitter is frequently relegated to an afterthought – and it shouldn’t be.

From brand awareness to customer engagement and trend monitoring, Twitter provides many opportunities for supply chain organisations to stand out from the crowd.

In addition, the microblogging platform can be an asset that extends beyond your marketing efforts and shapes your overall business strategy.

Below are just a few ways Twitter can be a game changer for your company:

Use Hashtags To Showcase Thought Leadership And Discover New Supply Chain Trends

Twitter’s hashtags are a great way to get a pulse on the supply chain industry. In fact, there are 228 tweets per hour that include the hashtag #supplychain. Some of the other most popular supply chain hashtags include #Procurement, #SCM, and #Logistics.

Use these hashtags in your posts to showcase thought leadership and uncover potential business development opportunities. You can also follow these hashtags – and others – to uncover new trends, technologies and best practices that you can use to implement in your organisation.

Tools like Hashtagify make it easy to find hashtags relevant to your company and industry.

Recruit The Right Talent

Recruiting and retaining top supply chain talent is becoming more competitive, so companies need to find new ways to recruit the best in the industry.

Showcasing your company’s corporate culture through Twitter can entice the right supply chain talent to apply for job openings at your organisation.  

Not only can Twitter help find the right talent, it can also help your organisation research and vet candidates. Your organisation will understand the candidate’s perspective on the supply chain industry, as well as get a better sense of whether or not the candidate would be a good fit in your organisation.

Discover Potential Demands And Risks in Real Time

Twitter acts like a real-time news ticker, which can help supply chain professionals prepare for unexpected demands and risk. Twitter is able to add rich, real-time insight to operational data that can help your organisation make timely and better-informed decisions.

According to IBM, Twitter is a valuable indicator of demand for certain sectors of manufacturing. For example, if a major influencer discusses one of your products on Twitter, the awareness of your brand may skyrocket, causing a large demand for your company’s product without any warning.

By monitoring your products and services on Twitter, you’ll be able to learn about the demand as soon as you can. Social listening on Twitter can also help your organisation prepare for low-probability, high-impact risks such as natural disasters that could disrupt your supply chain.

Showcasing your knowledge, connecting with top talent and keeping your finger on the pulse of the supply chain are powerful ways to gain a competitive advantage over the competition, and Twitter makes it simple. Be sure to integrate it into your social media strategy.

Ed Edwards is Audience Outreach Manager at THOMASNET.com. He leverages his extensive experiences in engineering, manufacturing and procurement, to educate procurement and engineering professionals on how to streamline and improve their work.

Ed provides customised training to organisations’ engineering and sourcing teams and helps buyers with their challenges and finds them new opportunities.

Unpicking The Kraljic Matrix for Procurement

In 1983, the world was introduced to The Kraljic Matrix. But is it still as relevant to procurement today?

September 1983: Peter Kraljic publishes an article that will deeply change both the working methodology and concept of many Procurement departments.

The article, published in the Harvard Business Review was titled “Purchasing must become Supply Management”. It introduced a concept that has been a key tool for procurement ever since: The Kraljic Matrix.

In this article, Kraljic advocated and argued for the need for profound transformation of the Purchasing Department into a much more strategic role. He included several examples of large organisations that had already done so, and achieved excellent results.

In order to support the required change to a more strategic role, Kraljic introduced a decision matrix. In this article, we will explain how the matrix works, and how organisations can apply it in their procurement department.

Defining The Kraljic Matrix

The Kraljic Matrix classifies the sourcing scope (also known as acquisition perimeter) from a company according to two factors.

1. Financial Impact

Measures the impact on both the manufacturing costs of the product and its impact on the profit margin.

Look at the example of manufacturing a Lego brick. Plastic would have a high financial impact, both because it accounts for most of the product cost, and because the current volatility of oil (the price of which impacts directly on plastic cost) greatly affects the profit margin.

2. Complexity of Supply

Sorts the market complexity to achieve a stable and uninterrupted supply. In this case, we must consider whether there are monopolies, logistic issues, volatility, or impact of technological changes.

An example of highly complex supply would be the chipset manufacturer for mobile phones Qualcomm. The company took over Intel and Nvidia, giving them a monopoly on the market, and the ability to refuse to supply certain organisations.

Whereas some organisations, like Samsung, chose to manufacture their own chipsets. However, not all companies can do the same.

The Kraljic Matrix

By combining both factors, we produce a chart with four perfectly differentiated groups:

  • Leverage Items

Standard commodities with an abundant source of suppliers. They are usually highly standardised, and easily available, products. Supply risk is low, though there is a high impact on costs and benefits. For example, plastic or raw material for Lego bricks.

  • Strategic Items

These are critical products for a company, and are the key focus for the Procurement team. There is high risk against supply, and a high impact on cost. For example, the Qualcomm chipsets for mobile phones.

  • Non-Critical Items

Those products that have a low impact on costs, and the supply of these is low in complexity. A good example would be, for example, standard screws in a computer factory.

  • Bottleneck Items

These are products with limited source of supply. Their supply risk is high, but do not have a major financial impact. For example, an integral part of technology hardware, the power pack for a laptop.

Analysis and Strategy

Once you have classified the products, you can define the strategies to be applied on each group in order to optimise supply. While each item will likely have it’s own specific strategy, the categorisation in The Kraljic Matrix points to a common direction and goal for each, and shows common pros and cons for each group.

kraljic-categories
Adapted from ‘Purchasing Must Become Supply Management’ – Peter Kraljic, Harvard Business Review, 1983

  • Leverage Items

We are in a so-called “buyer’s market”. Because of this, we need to negotiate to achieve the best supply conditions from a dominant position. Procurement can do this through the use of tenders, reverse auctions, setting specific target prices, or framework agreements.

  • Strategic Items

In this case, the need to mitigate risk is mutual between the supplier and the buyer. The goal here is to ensure long-term availability. Therefore, procurement needs to consider suppliers as an equal and look for a “win-win” negotiation that benefits both parties.

In these cases supplier development strategies, partnerships, and supplier innovation are recommended.

  • Non-Critical Items

There are products with low economic impact and low complexity of supply. This makes them usually the lowest priority in a sourcing strategy.

Habitually supply agreements are negotiated based on high volumes, or Kanban type solutions are implemented. A good example is the screws in the computer factory described above. These would be bought in bulk, but have a variety of suppliers available in the market.

  • Bottleneck Items

These are the opposite to Leveraged Items – we are in a “Supplier’s Market.”

In this case two parallel strategies must be followed. The first is to secure supply through framework agreements, providing for penalties for the supplier due to lack of supply while maintaining good relationships with existing suppliers.

The second, which should be done at the same time, is for procurement to work with R&D or Engineering departments to establish alternative products that can be used. This enables the organisation to reduce supply risk, turning bottleneck items back to non-critical items.

Some Advice to Heed

Although the information provided by The Kraljic Matrix may seem very generalised, it’s purpose is to help set up a basis of supply strategy.

By classifying sourcing activities using the Matrix, organisations can get a clearer picture of its available resources, priorities for negotiations, and objectives it wants to achieve.

The article wouldn’t be complete without some advice. The Kraljic Matrix is a dynamic tool – it changes, so it needs to be reviewed frequently. Markets have become more dynamic, and the supply situation can change significantly in short time periods.

Being able to adapt to these changes is a critical success factor for Procurement. Therefore the tools used to develop strategies must also be dynamic and flexible, which is why the Kraljic Matrix can provide great value for organisations.