Are our supply chains tunnel-visioned, or do they support a diverse range of ethnic minorities, women, military veterans, people with disability, or ex-offenders trying to build a new life?
A few months ago, Beyoncé dropped a surprise new single. Hang on, what’s that got to do with Procurement with Purpose (PwP), I hear you say?
Well, apart from the fact the sing is really rather good, Black Parade is linked to her wider initiatives around charitable work (through her BeyGood initiative), black empowerment and consciousness. Revenue from the track is being used to benefit BeyGood’s Black Business Impact Fund – administered by the National Urban League – to support black-owned small businesses in need.
She has also launched a directory of black-owned businesses ranging from art & design, restaurants, beauty products, lifestyle, wellness, bookstores and more. It’s a fairly basic site, and pretty much all the firms listed there appear to be B2C (consumer focused) rather than B2B. But her move may raise more questions about how organisations approach their corporate buying, in particular when it comes to minority-owned businesses that could be used as suppliers. Recent events and the Black Lives Matter movement have made many of us think about racism and bias in our lives, and that applies in the supply chain as much as it does anywhere. So, that takes us back to procurement with purpose.
Diversity (broadly speaking now) in the supply chain is actually one of the most fascinating topics within the whole PwP world. For a start, there are any different types of diversity. Should you buy more from firms owned by people from black and other ethnic groups? What about female-owned businesses? Or those owned by folks with disabilities or health issues – or maybe those firms that employ such people? What about firms that are owned by support military veterans, or ex-offenders trying to build a new life?
Or maybe it’s not the ownership that matters. What about SMEs (smaller firms)? Some would suggest that those businesses drive successful economies and by supporting them at an early stage, buyers can capture innovation and also promote wider social and economic benefits. Others, particularly in the public sector, look to support local business, on the grounds that this will keep the money flowing in the local economy rather than being sucked up to some distant head office.
All these options mean it can be hard to know where to start. But in many countries, it is clear that minority-owned businesses in particular do have a tough time as they have to overcome all the usual hurdles faced by start-ups anywhere, plus they face the bias (conscious or unconscious) that does exist.
We’re not going to solve that problem in one article today, but as well as highlighting that this may develop into a high-profile issue, a few suggestions for now.
· Firstly, take a look at how easy it is for any new or small firm to become a supplier to you. How can they put themselves forward? Are your supplier qualification and selection processes designed for huge firms, rather than start-ups? Do you put accidental barriers in the way, demanding onerous contract terms, expensive insurance and so on? Too many large firms are virtually impossible to break into, which is not good for the agility and dynamism of their supply base, never mind the difficulty for minority-owned suppliers.
· Secondly, if you haven’t looked at these issues, seek out organisations that can help you work out an approach. MSDUK has done good work in the UK to promote minority owned businesses, WEConnect International does the same with female owned enterprises, and there are others covering different groups and issues and across different countries. The good news is that large organisations don’t have to move very much of their spend into supporting these causes to really make a difference.
· Thirdly, there are some good case studies around. Accenture has been one of the leaders in this area with their supplier inclusion and diversity programme, and there are others who have made strides in this field.
· And finally, how about Beyoncé for US Vice-President?
This article was originally published by Procurement With Purpose on 20 June 2020 and is republished here with permission.
Write the ultimate Procurement resume that is both eye-catching and optimised towards securing your ideal next Supply Chain role.
I have worked in executive supply chain recruitment for 16 years. I built a Supply Chain & Procurement career site that ranked number 1 in Google for a variety of top search terms. As such, I understand how important it is to build a strong resume that makes an early impact with the reader and really aligns you to role that you are applying for.
Throughout this article we will explore the elements to focus on to set yourself apart from the competition and build a strong resume that conveys your skills, values and experience in the best possible way.
I have read claims that the reviewer of a resume will make a subconscious decision on candidate suitability for a given position within around 7 seconds of opening/picking up the document. Although this may seem harsh, it goes without saying that if a role advertisement has generated 200 responses then it is more than likely the reviewer will not be reading all the content of each and every resume. This makes the opening page even more important.
Layout is always high on the list of priorities when it comes to creating an attention grabbing procurement resume. The reader should be able to find information readily and the presentation of the document is key to this being possible. Having reviewed thousands of supply chain and procurement related resumes in my time in recruitment, I can honestly say that layout needs to be your number one priority and should gear the resume towards the presentation of your best achievements and most impressive responsibilities held during your career.
For developing an eye catching design theme there are free tools on the internet such as Canva that offer a resume builder tool with access to hundreds of template themes.
Many job seekers opt for an executive summary or profile at the top of the resume. This is absolutely fine however DO NOT get this wrong as this is the preface to the entire document.
Try to incorporate some of your biggest achievements into your opening profile with plenty of quantifiable data. For example:
MBA qualified Supply Chain executive with 20 years experience within the FMCG and Retail sectors leading teams of up to 600 indirect reports and P&Ls in excess of $600m
In one fell swoop you have provided the reader with an idea of your level of education, number of years experience, sector specific background, size of teams managed and level of budgetary responsibility.
Two or three sentences covering your responsibilities and biggest achievements should suffice to create a captivating opening statement.
Play to your Strengths
Another tip for resume layout is to play to your strengths: if you are educated to MBA or Masters level, or have a function specific Degree(s), then bring these to the forefront of the resume. A brief section for educational qualifications underneath Profile/Executive Summary will suffice. This could be particularly important for a recent graduate who has 6 months work experience but 4 years study in the procurement area – education can take on more of a priority than professional experience in such a case. If, however you do not possess any tertiary qualifications, you should bring your practical professional experience to the forefront and leave any reference to education towards the end of the document.
We have explored the creation of a concise opening statement with plenty of impact and the promotion of significant educational qualifications on the front page, now let’s consider a career summary.
Career summaries are a great way to provide the reader with immediate access to what your most recent role has been, how your career has gone to date, and should demonstrate a consistent increase in level of responsibility up until your current role. Times when career summaries should be avoided include recent graduates (for obvious reasons) and potentially interim contracts specialists. An interim contract project manager for instance may have worked at 20 or more companies in the last 5 years and therefore listing all the individual contracts in one list becomes exactly that – a list and not a summary! For an interim specialist or even a project manager it could be worth considering listing key competencies or areas of specialty – I would even recommend tailoring the resume further towards the opening by aligning all the contracts/projects that are most relevant – For instance “Examples of Strategic Transformation Projects”.
Having invested time in developing these areas of your front page, the reader now knows where you have worked, your level of education (if appropriate), some of your greatest achievements and is becoming well equipped to assess your suitability for the position … quickly!
Another point on layout is the age old question of how long the resume should be. The simple answer is the document should be long enough to include everything of relevance to the position you are applying for.
Really focus on what you have achieved in the last 5 years, however if a role you executed 8 years prior is highly relevant (either due to specific industry sector or responsibilities) then develop this further. You should really be including just key highlights in terms of overall responsibility and achievements from your early career. If the last time you updated your resume was 6 years ago, then avoid simply adding to the document. The reason for this is times have moved on and your primary focus is what has happened in these last 6 years. By adding to the old version you will essentially be making the document unnecessarily lengthy and should first trim down the previous version always remembering to quantify responsibility and achievements to build credibility.
Resumes should always be in reverse chronological order (seems logical?) as this highlights your most recent experience early in the document. I would always recommend including a brief description on the size, scope and nature of a business you have worked for. Yes, if you worked for 10 years with a leading bank then of course a resume reviewer from another bank is likely to be well informed on the company you have worked for. However, what happens if you decide to apply for a role in another industry sector? What if the resume reviewer is overseas and knows nothing of your organisation?
Then comes the role title, responsibilities and achievements. Procurement is an area where even the same job titles can have different degrees of focus and responsibility from one company to the next. You should leave the reader in no doubt as to the scope of your role/department/team/project. Never duplicate your job description on the resume: this is obvious to the reader. You can however use your job description as a point of reference to ensure you haven’t missed any key areas of responsibility.
Point of reference
Since your interview will involve questions, The trick around resume content is to include everything that is relevant but to leave enough for you to articulate further at an interview. Remember, you should easily be able to expand upon anything included on your resume at interview. Therefore, for any key achievements (most likely around strategic sourcing/spend reduction/ process formulation and optimisation/ stakeholder engagement/vendor management etc) you should be able to take the interviewer through the exact steps taken by you and the team. This last point is quite resounding since it never looks good to take sole credit for achievements that were part of a wider departmental/organisational agenda with many people involved. It’s absolutely fine to outline the parameters that you and your team drove to achieve a desired outcome if the contribution was significant to overall success.
Me, myself and I
Do not write resumes in third person sense e.g. “Stephen drove improved supplier engagement through….”. This gives the appearance the resume was concocted by another individual. In the same breath it is worth mentioning you should avoid using “I” frequently. In the previous example the sentence could start with “Improved supplier engagement through…”.
We can debate all day long about what makes an outstanding supply chain resume, however the main determining factor around the strength of a resume is what we are benchmarking the document against – i.e. the role to which the resume is being put forward. You could have a really strong general supply chain resume that details everything we have reviewed above, but when we look at the resume against a specific role it lacks depth in certain areas or spends too much time focusing on non-value added topics. If a job seeker is sitting down to write their resume, then as much as they should focus on what they have achieved to date, they should also consider what types of roles they will be interested in that meet their aspirations. Ensure you demonstrate the desired criteria and experience in your resume document for these types of positions. This will also strengthen your resume’s searchability in recruitment systems and it will also help you to concoct a strong Linkedin profile that can be found by headhunters searching for candidates against a role that fits your aspirations.
After having created an impactful and well presented resume you should consider saving the file in a couple of different formats.
Microsoft Word should form the basis of your resume building and editing however you may wish to convert to a PDF file for application submission. My recommendation when dealing through recruiters would be to ask if they would prefer the resume to be sent in Word or PDF format. Most recruitment firms will edit the resume with their own branding and remove and candidate contact details. This can become very difficult if the resume is in PDF format and lead to formatting issues.
The job market is currently at its most competitive and having the best possible resume increases your chances of securing an interview for your ideal next role. Do you have any other suggestions for what makes an outstanding resume? Let us know in the comments below!
You might think that your most strategic suppliers are the ones you spend the most with. But supply chain crises may shine a light on which suppliers are actually strategic.
Modern-day supply chains are truly global, highly complex and getting longer and longer. 20 years ago, most of a company’s suppliers were probably within a very short radius. Today they could be on the other side of the world.
The reality is that organisations have more difficulty than ever keeping track of their entire supply chain – from Tier 1 all the way down to the smallest supplier organisations. This poses enough challenges for organisations when it comes to issues like environmental performance or modern slavery, let alone with supply chain efficiency or continuity of supply.
With so many suppliers to keep track of, organisations have to make decisions about who their strategic suppliers really are. Traditionally, organisations (and their procurement departments) have fixated on the suppliers with the largest spend volumes. In reality, they should be most concerned about a supplier’s risk profile.
This risk profile is thrown into light at times of crisis in global supply chains. This may come from volcanic eruptions disrupting global flights and travel, or from a global pandemic, such as COVID-19.
What Does the 1% Look Like?
All suppliers are unique, bringing different things to an organisation beyond the goods and services they provide. When assessing which suppliers to manage as ‘strategic’, procurement departments have traditionally focused on their visible suppliers. This usually is defined by spend profile and determined using traditional methods such as the Pareto 80:20 principle.
However, it’s the less visible, hidden suppliers that are often the most strategic. These are the 1%.
This group is made up of the suppliers who are easiest to ignore as they supply something low-cost and apparently trivial to the organisation. In truth, this trivial component may be manufactured from an expensive or rare raw material, be a proprietary item, or come from a supplier who has a monopoly or dominance in the market. Despite this item costing very little, the likelihood is that it is difficult, if not impossible to replace. This makes the potential impact on the supply chain huge should the supplier fail to deliver.
Assessing these suppliers using another procurement favourite, the Kraljic Matrix, they would fall into the ‘non-critical’ or ‘bottleneck’ categories (see below).
However, in many cases, the risk aspect of supply is downplayed or removed entirely, leaving the focus solely on profitability. This is where the issues with your 1% lie.
The Role of Technology
In times of supply chain crises, every supplier – even your ‘transactional’ and ‘bottleneck’ suppliers – need the same attention in order to ensure you’re not missing something. What may have once seemed like an impossible and highly inefficient task has been aided considerably by the advancements in procurement solutions and technology.
Organisations have gone from a reliance on their transactional systems, such as their ERP, and the knowledge and experience of their procurement teams to manage their suppliers. This has left organisations exposed through a lack of data to define and manage strategic suppliers, as well as the loss of knowledge when people leave to join another organisation.
Procurement technology and solutions have developed to the extent that they can help provide the necessary foundation for tracking an entire supply base. This has moved the profession from a position of weakness, to a position of strategic responsibility. In the current climate, people are now actively talking about supply chains and procurement’s role now and in the future.
Therefore, the profession cannot undermine itself by failing to manage its 1% effectively. Even big organisations, with highly developed supply chains can be caught out, as we can see below.
Real World #1 – Keeping Supplies Zipped Up Tight
The fashion industry has taken some very public, very high-profile hits for its supply chain. Organisations have a uniquely complex situation to contend with – finding suppliers who are flexible, reactive and usually low cost on one hand, while on the other ensuring that the highest ethical standards are still achieved.
Suppliers can frequently be small, family-owned and geographically challenging too. However, you might consider an everyday item on many items of clothing a product of a 1% supplier – the zip.
You might overlook it, but a zip is a critical item for manufacturers and designers. The market is dominated by two major suppliers, YKK and SBS, but there are other players there too. However, the majority of these are geographically focused in Asia – specifically Japan and China. Switching supply is unlikely to be easy, so all it takes is a supply chain crisis in this region, say a lack of key raw materials or alloys for production, and supply could be disrupted, without viable alternatives.
Low value compared to other items in the fashion design process, but very high risk.
Real World #2 – Bearing the Risk
Manufacturing is another industry with highly complex and multi-layered supply chains to manage. In automotive manufacturing, supply chains have moved towards the ‘Just-in-Time’ method pioneered by Toyota, making continuity of supply and supplier reliability critical at all times. It’s no use having 99% of the parts available to use, when the 1% is stuck in its factory, two tiers down your supply chain.
As such, a greater focus on quality over price is required, but even this is not fool proof. Fiat Chrysler announced in February that it was halting production at one of its factories in Serbia as it couldn’t get parts from China. Manufacturers who would traditionally hold minimal stock to remain competitive and agile are faced with a situation where that very strategy could pose a huge risk to their organisation.
As the impact of COVID-19 related factories closures around the world continues to grow, even large manufacturers may actually stock out before there’s a chance to re-align. And these items could be as simple as ball bearings for wheels – very low value, but huge risk at this time.
De-risking the 1%
Is there a solution that overworked procurement professionals can take advantage of in the face of a supply chain crisis? When it comes to supplier risk, there are a number of actions that may be taken immediately in order to reduce this.
According to KPMG, these can include setting up a response team to manage the flow of information across key stakeholder groups, reviewing key contracts with customers and suppliers to understand liability in the event of shortages, and conducting a full risk assessment to provide a list of actions to take, which may include shortening supply chains and assessing alternative options.
In the long-term, however, the focus needs to be more on supplier management and the creation of truly ‘strategic’ relationships, built on risk profiles rather than value. This should be done across the entire supply chain and aim to go down through the various Tiers that exist in it. This is defined as ‘Holistic Supplier Management’, a concept explored in more detail by JAGGAER in their latest whitepaper.
JAGGAER’s research uses a similar model to the Kraljic Matrix for supplier positioning, but with the key difference that it focuses on risk and cost to the business (rather than cost of supply) in the event of supplier failure.
A concept is all very well but being able to deliver Holistic Supplier Management and manage suppliers on risk and cost requires being able to access data on current performance, the impact of an individual supplier on your organisation, as well as the value that they deliver. This is where technology comes to the aid of procurement and it’s what is offered within the JAGGAER Supplier Management solution.
The solution not only provides the data and analysis that is required by procurement for key decision-making, but also gives a deeper understanding of suppliers to help construct better contracts that deliver greater value to the organisation. By using technology like this, procurement can effectively and efficiently de-risk their supply chains, keeping them better prepared for managing crises when they inevitably hit.
Don’t Get Caught Out
The key message, as every procurement professional knows, is that good communication is key to maintaining a strong and stable supply chain. However, as supply chains grow more and more complex, geographically dispersed and multi-tiered, individual procurement professionals and departments need to make use of all the resources at their disposal.
No matter how safe you think you are, how stable you believe your supply chain is and how strong your links are with your strategic suppliers, there is always an inherent risk within that 1%. By being better prepared and truly understanding your supply chain, you can avoid being caught out in time of crisis.
We all know networking and creating connections with the people around us is important, but how do we do at the moment? Here’s how.
Any successful person will tell you that it isn’t what you know, but who you know that gets you ahead. Forging new connections and fostering existing connections can help you broaden your horizons, discover new opportunities, and even secure a much sought-after promotion. Often though, creating these important relationships happens in person. Whether it be via a kitchen chat at your workplace or at an industry-specific event, great connections often start with a personal conversation, a handshake and perhaps an impromptu coffee.
Yet unfortunately, with the world the way it is at the moment, the face-to-face option is not appropriate and in many places in the world, not even possible. So does this mean that networking needs to stop? Certainly not. Here’s five creative ways to stay in touch with your connections, new and old, without ever having to shake a hand.
1. Check in people in your network
Given that demand for mental health services have soared worldwide, from a care perspective, there’s every reason to check in on people within your network, and a number of ways you can engage with them.
Connecting or reconnecting with people could be as simple as asking them how their pandemic experience has been, and whether they are, personally, doing ok. Doing so will help them feel supported, and could open up any manner of conversations about future plans or potential opportunities. Connecting certainly doesn’t need to happen in person, but instead should be done via industry-specific networking sites such as Procurious.
Given the high amount of people who have lost their job or had their hours or pay reduced, it is also a great time to ask others whether you can introduce them to anyone in your network. Well-timed introductions can make all the difference right now, and could be the source of hope and inspiration a colleague needs to get back on their feet.
Finally, it’s been a tough year for everyone, and every extra endorsement can help boost not just someone’s profile, but their morale as well. If you get a chance, give a colleague a recommendation. It could just be the boost they need to secure an opportunity.
With the unprecedented number of people out of work at the moment, many may be looking for work for the first time, so offering to look over someone’s CV could be of real benefit. Alternatively, you could direct them to opportunities within your network, or even recommend online events or upskilling options that might help. Helping others in need is what networking is all about – you never know when you’ll need to call in a favour and your connections won’t forget that you helped them out.
3. Give recognition and show as much appreciation as you can
When it comes to feeling appreciated by our colleagues and managers at work, people typically believe that money speaks louder than words. But research shows that isn’t true. In fact, simply saying thank you can go a long way – and can help deepen your connections with those around you.
Research conducted by Gallup of over four million employees showed that recognition at work boosts not only someone’s morale, but their productivity and engagement with those around them. In other words, recognition makes us happy! But how do you do it in a sincere and meaningful way?
One great way to do it is to give someone praise for something they individually contributed. Ideally, do this in a public forum, such as a procurement industry group discussion board. Giving someone praise publicly for their great work will help them amplify their impact.
4. Recommend learning content
While many of us in procurement have found ourselves busier than ever during the pandemic, some in certain industries may have found ourselves scratching our heads, wondering what to do. This might particularly be the case if we’ve been furloughed or worse, made redundant.
But if we’ve found ourselves with spare time, there’s plenty we can do about that! When this pandemic is over, the procurement landscape will look a little (or entirely) different from what it did before. That’s why now is the time to focus on a number of different technical and soft skills, including resilience. Many courses that you might be interested in are inexpensive or even free, and recommending them to other people can help showcase your industry knowledge and give you a reason to get in touch with your connections.
5. Start a group chat (and talk about things besides work)
The point of creating connections is to broaden your network and potential opportunities. But in creating and fostering these connections, sometimes it’s important to talk about everything but work. Plus, having a casual chat and even sharing some humorous banter with colleagues can inject some fun into your day and help you feel less lonely and more connected.
Whether it’s you sharing cat snap chats or talking about your children or the (limited) activities you’ve been able to undertake during lockdown, bringing your whole self into group conversations can help foster more authentic connections with those around you.
How have you been staying connected with your colleagues and those in your broader network? Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know in the comments below.
Considering this macro-economic turmoil, new research shows that most contracts and supplier partnerships held strong during the pandemic
The early days of COVID-19 were financially tumultuous and incredibly stressful. For most business executives, uncertainty ruled the day: Would my contracts hold? Will I get paid on time? And will I have enough funds to pay my team and suppliers?
The issue is exacerbated in the supply chain, where late payments and cancelled contracts in one part of the world create chaos for unrelated businesses located millions of miles away. Of course, these short-term concerns were ultimately trumped by even bigger issues relating to bankruptcies, business closures and unemployment.
Considering this macro-economic turmoil, Procurious’ latest research shows that most contracts and supplier partnerships held strong and stood up to the stress test – which is a major testament to procurement’s response and the strength of existing buyer-supplier relationships.
Our survey of 600-plus procurement and supply chain leaders found that nearly 60% of organisations (58%) are still operating and paying their suppliers per their contract. In fact, 14% of organisations are speeding up payments to suppliers and 6% are providing direct financial support. On the other end of the spectrum, 10% said they are delaying payment to all suppliers, and another 11% said they were delaying payments to non-strategic suppliers. Overall, this is positive news – for buyers, suppliers and the broader economy.
However, the longer the crisis plays out, the more financial strain it will cause. Despite the positive news on payments and contracts, there has already been substantial financial hardships and fallout among suppliers. Our research found that as of May 12, 2020:
6% of organisations said they had a key supplier go out of business
11% said they had multiple key suppliers go out of business
20% said they had a supplier declare fore majeure on contract obligations
Our analysis shows that the companies hit the hardest by COVID-19 were more than 50% likely to have multiple key suppliers go out of business compared to other organisations.
The Economic Forecast: Cloudy with 100% Chance of Unpredictability
Predicting what’s next economically is difficult, and possibly even an exercise in futility. We’ve heard it all from the experts, with projections changing by the day: V-shaped recoveries, U-shaped recoveries… and even the swoosh.
What’s not hard to predict: regardless of how fast the economy recovers, the response from procurement teams will continue to play a critical role in ongoing business continuity and financial resiliency. During the pandemic, 65% of organisations had to source alternative supplies for affected categories. Procurement responded quickly and effectively – with 53% able to lock down new suppliers in less than three weeks, and 18% finding new suppliers in a week’s time.
Post-pandemic, it will be interesting to watch if and how contracts evolve, and the weight put behind different conditions and KPIs. We are already expecting macro supply chain strategy shifts , which will naturally impact sourcing decisions and contract negotiations. Expect to see even more emphasis put behind collaborative supplier relationships, and new investments in predictive analytics and supplier risk monitoring, specifically as it relates to financial viability.
The financial picture remains uncertain at best. How are procurement and supply chain leaders responding? Get the latest in our “Supply Chain Confidence and Recovery” Report.
And almost half of respondents plan to invest in blockchain over the next two years.
Yet for all the ways blockchain is modernising the supply chain, some still view the technology with a healthy dose of scepticism. There’s still a great deal of room to establish what role blockchain plays. Its place in the supply chain toolkit still isn’t fully defined.
And that leads to ongoing misconceptions.
It’s time to bust some of the myths surrounding one of the most coveted 4.0 technologies.
Widespread disruption highlighted issues that already existed in the supply chain.
One of the most apparent issues is paper documentation for important processes and transactions.
Important documents like Bills of Lading and Certificates of Origin are still largely paper-based.
Yet, these documents are often late to the destination port, or even lost – costing businesses $200 billion each year (World Bank).
“Despite…strikingly obvious inefficiencies of paper documentation for international trade, it is still considered to be the industry standard, largely due to lack of trust between different members of the international supply chain,” the CBT notes.
Luckily, blockchain technology could solve this and other trust issues that make it hard to do business internationally.
Blockchain allows companies to track products throughout the supply chain using digital, unchangeable records.
It’s the logical solution, especially in today’s economy, says Professor Olinga Ta’eed from Birmingham City University.
“Covid-19 has highlighted a crisis of trust in countries, people, organisations, products, and processes,” he says.
“Blockchain has features that do not require trust to operate effectively. Decisions are automated and not dependent on personal relationships, politics, or bias.
“It is thus a panacea for our current ailments, both immediate, but also structurally in a future society.”
That might seem counterintuitive. After all, how can a system that doesn’t require trust actually improve trust?
The beauty of blockchain is everyone across the supply chain can access the same information at the same time. They can be confident the information is verified and unchangeable. Just what we all need in this brave new world.
Using blockchain technology lets you track in real time:
· Where goods are
· Their physical condition
· Changes made during the transaction lifecycle
· Who or what is causing a delay
· The quality and authenticity
· Discrepancies in transaction documents
· Contractual terms and conditions
That equal access to information fosters trust between business partners. And you can build a lot of great things from a base of trust.
Trust is something we sorely need. So, what’s keeping companies from adopting blockchain more widely?
There is still a lot of misinformation circulating about the technology.
That’s why it’s time to stamp out five of the most common blockchain myths:
Myth 1) Blockchain is bitcoin
One of the biggest scepticisms about blockchain is rooted in its links with bitcoin.
Bitcoin and blockchain are NOT the same thing. Bitcoin is a form of ‘cryptocurrency’. It was invented in 2009 as a way to store value without relying on a central authority (like the government).
But it couldn’t work on its own; it needed new technology to make it work, so blockchain was invented.
That’s how the two are related. Blockchain is the engine that makes the bitcoin car run, but just as you can use an engine in lots of things besides a car, blockchain has more applications than just bitcoin.
Companies are taking advantage of the proven strength of blockchain in solving new challenges beyond financial.
In fact, one of the most celebrated uses of blockchain technology is in supply chain management.
The system allows new vendors to be onboarded in as little as 30 minutes.
“[We] help members of these essential supply chains continue to find the vendors, materials and tools they need so that time and attention can be focused on addressing the current and ongoing requirements as a result of this pandemic,” Kelley says.
Myth 2) Blockchain is only useful for projects that are massive in size and scale
Blockchain makes obvious sense for global retailers with thousands of suppliers.
But what about for smaller companies?
Yes, and it’s a lot easier than you might think to get set up on a blockchain network.
The bulk of supply chains rely on point-to-point communications. Blockchain makes it simple to collaborate using many-to-many communications – giving you a single version of the truth.
That’s something that companies of all sizes need.
And it’s even more practical now that there are blockchains built specifically for enterprise use.
It eliminates time-consuming admin, like trying to verify supplier identities and track documentation.
Through Trust Your Supplier, businesses of all sizes can validate and onboard suppliers in a secure and efficient way.
Myth 3) It takes a long time to get suppliers set up
Many companies like the idea of blockchain, but they worry about the time and effort of getting suppliers set up.
The reality is it can actually be quite fast.
For example, IBM lets you onboard suppliers in hours versus days or weeks to a permissioned blockchain relationship.
And as we all know too well after recent disruption, speed is everything.
Once set up, companies see quick returns on investment through visible deliveries, reconciled invoices, and better return management.
And not to worry – no advanced computer programming degree needed. Your enterprise blockchain supplier can walk you through the entire process of getting on the network.
Myth 4) You have to abandon systems you already have
Another common belief is you need to throw out all your existing supply chain management systems if you use blockchain technology.
Not necessarily. As IBM puts it, “We believe that traditional methods like EDI, when complemented and extended by emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain, will be the fastest path to realizing a new era of B2B transaction efficiency gains.”
So it’s totally possible to see a fast return on investment without scrapping your current processes.
That said, you may want to consider if your legacy systems are really serving your needs, advises Jack Shaw, a technology futurist and leadership speaker.
“I think most business professionals are far too concerned with trying to use their existing tools, technologies, and processes to solve their immediate, short-term problems to think about how blockchain…could actually help them do their jobs much better both now and in the long-term,” he says.
“This is really a strategic shortcoming as they should be thinking about how the current pandemic necessity could be the mother of innovation, leveraging emerging technologies for strategic benefit.”
Myth 5) There is only one blockchain network
There isn’t one central blockchain network that everyone uses.
There are actually several different types of technology that go by the name ‘blockchain’, and there are public and private blockchain networks.
In public blockchain networks, like the ones used by bitcoin, the data is open for anyone to access. The transactions are still unchangeable, but they are visible for scrutiny.
On the other hand, there are private blockchain networks, like the ones used by IBM enterprise clients. You can place restrictions on who is allowed to participate, and anyone who wants to join needs your permission.
That gives you tighter control on who can see what, while still maintaining transparent records.
Is it time for blockchain?
For all its benefits, blockchain will not magically solve all supply chain issues overnight.
But the ability to strengthen, connect, and improve the resilience of supply chains will be key to recovering from the pandemic, according to Mariam Obaid AlMuhairi of the Dubai Future Foundation.
“If there were any lingering doubts over the value of blockchain platforms to improve the transparency of businesses that depend on the seamless integration of disparate networks, COVID-19 has all but wiped them away,” she said in an article for the World Economic Forum.
“We should look at this healthcare crisis as a vital learning curve that can show us how to build transparent, inter-operable and connective networks.”
Today we released the results of our How Now? The Supply Chain Confidence Index. The research reveals that nearly all (97%) of the 600+ professionals we surveyed experienced a supply chain disruption related to COVID-19. In response, the majority (73%) of organisations are now planning major shifts in supply chain and procurement strategy post-pandemic, including supply base expansion (38%), reductions in supply chain globalisation (34%) and increases to inventory levels (21%).
When asked where COVID-19 had the biggest single impact on their supply chains:
31%: Decreased demand for products and services
26%: Lack of available supply due to production downtime and shutdowns
21%: Logistics and transportation slowdowns and delays
“We expect to see seismic strategy changes in the months ahead that fundamentally alter the makeup of global supply chains,” said Tania Seary, founding chairman and CEO of Procurious. “For decades, low-cost country sourcing and offshoring was the foundation of global supply chains. The pandemic has many executives considering reducing globalisation—and for good reason. But these changes won’t come easy.”
Reflecting on lessons learned, 39% of those surveyed said they were blinded by a lack of supplier and geographic risk and 29% said they didn’t understand the upstream supply chains of their suppliers. Fifty-nine percent of respondents believe the Fortune 500 should reduce globalisation by localising supply chains and bringing manufacturing back home.
Confidence Remains High, Despite Looming Uncertainty
Uncertainty around when the disruption will peak continues to loom. Procurious found that while 34% of business leaders believe the worst has come and gone, nearly half believe the peak impact will occur within the next six months.
“The message from frontline practitioners is that the end to these supply chain disruptions is not near. Most professionals believe the crisis will peak in or after June,” said Seary.
As a result, supply chain and procurement teams will continue to play a key role in recovery and resiliency initiatives. During the crisis, 40% of respondents said their recommendations were solicited more than usual internally, and 22% said they now have a seat at the executive table.
This growing platform has inspired a new generation of professionals to further pursue careers in supply chain and procurement. Procurious found that 62% of all respondents and 71% of millennials said their interest in procurement and supply chain has increased as a result of the pandemic.
“We found that most practitioners stepped up in a big way and responded effectively to a crisis that literally brought the world to a halt,” said Seary. “The spotlight on performance will lead to increases in budgets, tech investments and board-level involvement, and create new opportunities for practitioners to make their mark at the executive level.”
Analyzing employment trends, Procurious found that 20% of supply chain and procurement departments experienced job cuts and 23% of departments were forced to take pay cuts. However, go-forward job confidence remains high. On a scale of 1 – 5, weighted job confidence for the next 12 months is a 3.96—meaning employees are more confident than not.
The full report, which dives deeper into COVID-19’s effect on supplier payments, technology investments, jobs and supply chain and procurement operations, as well as plans and predictions for the future, is now available for download.
Medical equipment: face masks, virus test kits, gloves
Disinfectants: alcohol-based hand sanitiser, disinfectant cleaning wipes
Medicine: choloroquine (an anti-malaria drug initially thought to help treat the Coronavirus), other fake cures
Europol says the fake goods are sold through online stores created just to profit from the pandemic. Some even target victims through messaging apps like Telegram.
The goods originate from ‘frequently changing addresses in Asia’, making it extremely difficult to trace.
Europol is concerned these inferior goods could put people at serious risk.
“Counterfeit goods sold during the corona crisis do not meet the required quality standards and pose a real threat to public health and safety,” says Europol Executive Director Catherine de Bolle in the report.
“People who buy these fake products have a false sense of security, while they are in fact left unprotected against the virus.”
Substandard masks in the North America
And it’s not just Europe. The pandemic is keeping United States’ Homeland Security busy, with more than 200 criminal investigations related to COVID-19 so far.
One woman was caught selling illegal pesticide on eBay, claiming it could provide immunity from the virus.
Another man allegedly tried to sell 100 million facemasks to the government, despite not actually having any.
The man claimed his stash came straight from 3M, one of the biggest healthcare equipment manufacturers in the US.
3M responded with a lawsuit, saying: “3M’s legal team is taking strong action to protect 3M and the public against the conduct of those who seek to exploit 3M’s brand and reputation and defraud others during this time of emergency and crisis.”
3M is also suing a Canadian company for re-selling 3M masks at five times the retail price, vowing to “[put] a stop to those who are trying to cash in on this crisis.”
Another worrying trend in inferior products is testing kits.
The University of Washington School of Medicine spent thousands exporting kits from Shanghai, only to find some of the tests were tainted with bacteria.
The university has since recalled all tests to be on the safe side.
Seizing test kits in Australia
Australia has similar issues with shoddy test kits, according to Zoran Kostadinoski, Head of Border and Biosecurity at the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia (CBFCA).
He said the border force has intercepted hundreds of dubious testing kits and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Even though members of the CBFCA aren’t directly responsible for checking the authenticity of goods, they warn importers and exporters to be diligent.
“Procurement professionals need to ensure they source PPE from reputable manufacturers that provide quality products and meet the health standards of the importing country,” he warns.
“Until there is a global regulation of such products that provides certification, the issue of counterfeit goods in the supply chain will continue, as some look to make quick profit based on demand of such products due to COVID-19.”
China pledges to clean up
Authorities are doing their best to help people identify goods that meet safety standards.
“It’s common for Chinese suppliers to export a product under one licensed company’s name but to source their products from second, third or fourth factories, like a chain of Russian nesting dolls, with little to no traceability down the chain of supply,” she writes in an article.
She also points out not all suppliers set out to produce inferior products. Many factories shifted to PPE production at the government’s request without knowing the proper quality controls.
Regardless, the Chinese government is making a concerted effort to shut down offending manufacturers and revoke their export licenses.
Fighting online crime in the UK
That process isn’t happening quick enough for people like Sarah Stout, however.
She’s the CEO of Full Support Healthcare Ltd, a supplier to the UK’s National Health Service.
Recently, she shared on LinkedIn that her company gets dozens of offers every week from manufacturers of the sought-after N95 mask.
95% of the masks are fake with forged certificates, she says.
“When I informed one supplier that I knew their certificates were fake, they said to me, “[O]k, if I give you real certificates for other product will you place an order?’” she writes.
Her experience isn’t unique. UK authorities say they’ve taken down 2000 Coronavirus scam websites so far, including 471 fake online shops.
Many of these websites were discovered through spam emails. One common email appears to come from the World Health Organization and offers COVID-19 health tips in exchange for personal password information.
James Brokenshire, UK Minister for Security, urged people to be aware of the many ways criminals exploit technology like email to gain advantage.
“It’s despicable that they are using the coronavirus outbreak as cover to try to scam and steal from people in their homes,” he wrote in a press release. “We all have a part to play in seeing they don’t succeed.”
In response, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre is asking for people to send them any suspicious emails.
It’s not just a UK problem, though. Pandemic spam mail is a global headache, with Google detecting 240 million COVID-19 related spam messages so far.
How to tackle it
Even though technology is used for exploitation, it’s also a key to stopping Corona crime.
One company in the fight is Systech, which lets you check if PPE product is authentic by simply scanning the product’s barcode with a smartphone.
The company uses blockchain technology to trace the product journey throughout the entire supply chain.
Similarly, Zuellig Pharma, an Asia-Pacific pharmaceutical giant, utilises SAP’s blockchain platform to verify authenticity.
Customers can scan a barcode on the package using the eZTracker app, and know instantly if the medicine is a legitimate Zuellig product.
This use of technology, along with the efforts of governments and the vigilance of the public, go a long way to combat the dark side of COVID-19.
However, until essential goods supply can match global demand, criminals will find a way to cash in.
Want to keep up with the latest coronavirus and supply chain news? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group. We’ve gathered together the world’s foremost experts on all things supply chain, risk, business and people, and we’ll be presenting their insights and daily industry-relevant news in a content series via the group. You’ll also have the support of thousands of your procurement peers, world-wide. We’re stronger together. Join us now.
At times of enormous disruption to global supply chains, it’s easy for procurement only to think about direct spend. But it’s just as critical to ensure value is delivered in outsourced service contracts.
“Today’s health and economic crisis, as a result of coronavirus, means that typical approaches to cost management will need careful consideration as business’ key focus has to be staying in business” Lorna Brown, Former CPO, Global Financial Services
We live in an ever-changing world, where what had been predicted as a prosperous year for a business could turn into a fight for survival thanks to something that it has no control over. As the world pulls together to combat COVID-19, businesses face the challenge of reduced revenue forcing them to tighten their belts and search for further savings.
In times of crisis, most organisations will fall into the same pattern and focus their cost reduction effort on direct spend categories. After all, your first thought in a crisis or risk management situation is more likely to be ensuring the stability of your production supply chain, rather than identifying the cost savings you can secure from the organisations delivering your HR or IT Support services.
But why is this the case? Organisations may consider their direct categories as more business critical, or believe that they can release greater value from them with closer management of their global supply chain. For an increasing number of organisations, however, outsourced services form the core of their business. And by focusing on the right cost levers, review of these service contracts could deliver just as much in terms of savings as direct spend.
Pulling on the Cost Levers
Structuring a contract for the procurement of services is can appear to be a different beast to one for the procurement of goods. Many procurement professionals will go their entire careers without creating a single RFQ, tender or contract for an outsourced service.
The reality is, however, that there isn’t a great deal of difference beyond what is delivered by the supplier. Procurement still needs to know that suppliers are able to meet an organisation’s requirements. A robust contract needs to be put in place to ensure that services are delivered efficiently and effectively.
And when it comes to cost levers, there’s no need to start with a blank sheet of paper when proven procurement strategies will still fit the bill. Everest Group, a consulting and research company with an established history in the outsourced services space, has conducted extensive research on this topic. Amy Fong, Vice President in Everest Group’s strategic outsourcing and vendor management practice, is clear that this research has highlighted five key cost levers for procurement to use right away when it comes to their outsourced services: “we see a lot of common themes where buyers can do a better job.”
1. Pay the Right Price
Former CPO in Global Financial Services, Lorna Brown, believes that organisations need to be “a bit curious and engage with the supplier to understand how they are delivering the services.” This will allow for a greater understanding of how the service is built up, but also what is driving the costs, and consequently the price in the market.
Services in high demand, but with a lower supply where there are fewer people capable of providing a quality service will cost organisations a premium. In the IT services market, this premium has been charged for everything from basic digital skills all the way up to large-scale, highly complex data analytics over the years. The availability of labour with these skills is the key cost driver. With each ebb in the requirement for these skills, rates for outsourced services will come down.
Being clear about how the cost of labour has influenced your price is a great way to pull this particular cost lever.
2. Understanding Total Cost
Procurement’s consideration of cost needs to go beyond the ticket price that is paid. There are other factors to take into account such as quality of support and adherence to Service Level Agreements (SLAs). It’s all about Total Cost of Ownership.
Got a great price for your basic service agreement? Great! But did you discuss and agree a price for ongoing support? Or agree how many people are assigned to your contract? Or how much you are paying for secure data storage? It’s critical to understand the whole picture beyond the basic price.
If you are just looking to drive savings on the bottom line price by whittling down your supplier’s margin, they will look to move or hide costs elsewhere. No matter how good a deal you think you have at the outset, if you aren’t tracking TCO you’re probably losing any savings you may have initially achieved and leaving this cost lever un-pulled.
3. Find the Right Deal Structure
One of the key decisions an organisation will have to make regarding its services is which model or structure their deal is going to take. In outsourcing of services, a fully Managed Service can be very attractive to an organisation with day-to-day operation provided by an external specialist, with the business free to focus time and effort elsewhere.
However, organisations using a Managed Service have to accept the fact that they will hand over a level of control, which in turn raises their risk. Procurement still needs to understand what’s happening throughout the outsourced service provider’s supply chain.
Organisations may also choose to use on-demand outsourcing, where they pay for support based on the number of times it is used, or a ‘Break/Fix’ service where it pays for just the work that is done. There is no right or wrong answer as this will differ from organisation to organisation. What’s important is picking the right option.
When it comes to cost savings, innovation is a key part of the puzzle that cannot be missed. And when it comes to pulling the innovation cost lever for outsourcing services, the focus should be on “Big I” Innovation (i.e. digital transformation), rather than “Little i” innovation (i.e. continuous improvement activities).
As with the other cost levers we have shown, innovation that is being looked at in other areas of the business can just as easily be applied to outsourcing too. Consider all the current industry favourites such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), AI and Machine Learning – these can have an impact on costs.
However, despite the fact that there is increasing importance placed on innovation in outsourcing, many organisations are still missing the mark. There’s a lot that can be achieved from deploying this cost lever in the right way at the right time.
5. Financial Engineering
Cost lever number 5 takes the modernisation and digital transformation found in the innovation space one step further: when it comes to the concept of innovation not just about the business scoping out activities for different areas of its categories, but more about how it modernises the entire solution.
It’s important to use financial engineering to have the impact on profit that is required as the initial outlay or investment across the board will be significantly higher than a service that doesn’t include these types of outcomes. Organisations may choose to look at alternative sources of finance, assess potential Joint Ventures or Managed Services with flexible margins (in line with traditional Financial Engineering). Using this cost lever is about getting creative and perhaps walking the path less travelled for success.
Pull the Levers with Care
The 5 cost levers for outsourced services represent an individual and collective strategy for cost savings in the outsourced services space. Pulling one alone would be effective, and using all of them in some way could deliver also deliver great results.
To find out more about these cost levers, and to access expert advice on how to use them, register for the Everest Group sponsored webinar 5 cost levers to pull right now with your outsourced services, to be broadcast on Thursday May 7th 2020 at 2:30pm GMT. To find out all the information you need, including how to sign up, visit the Procurious website or click here.
How should you set your supply chain up for coronavirus recovery? Find out the steps here.
With the majority of the world still in lockdown, no detailed blueprint for economic recovery, and no vaccine in sight, the end to the coronavirus pandemic still seems a while off. But reassuringly, there’s signs that we may now at least be in the recovery phase, with many European countries contemplating easing restrictions, and the US announcing they may do so in May. With these reassuring steps, supply chain managers the world over, many who felt blindsided by the speed and force of coronavirus disruptions, are keen not to make the same mistakes again. So they’re now asking themselves the critical question we all need to know the answer to: How do we set our supply chains up for coronavirus recovery? And when we do enter the recovery phase, how do we ensure it’s successful and ideally, fast?
Step 1: Ensure your cash strategy is fit for purpose
Early on in the crisis, many optimistic leaders predicted that our economies would simply bounce back in what they called a ‘V’ shaped recovery. But as the pandemic has unfolded, it’s become clear that this is most likely not going to be the case. Economists now predict that we’ll have more of a ‘U’ shaped recovery, where business and consumer spending slowly return over time, although activity is still expected to be significantly subdued until a vaccine is found.
This leaves most companies, and as a result, most all of us in a tight spot. The uncertainty of it all means that you may need to adjust your cash strategy to ensure it’s fit for purpose.
Adjusting your cash strategy may take many forms. One strategy is to try to ensure you have more cash available by adjusting your accounts receivables strategy, for example, trying to get invoices out and paid more quickly, and removing barriers to debt collection.
Another method is to adjust your accounts payable strategy, although if you do so, ensure you do it strategically. Take this opportunity to analyse your suppliers. Who provides the most strategic value? Can you strike a more favourable deal? If you can, ensure you negotiate, for example, perhaps you will give more business to a certain supplier in exchange for favourable payment terms? Analyse everything and strike the delicate balance between looking after suppliers and maintaining your business’s cash reserves.
Step 2: Identify and assist at-risk suppliers
Conserving cash is the first critical step in coronavirus recovery, and the key one when it comes to pure business survival. But recovery, when it comes, will be about much more than that.
By now, most of us have realised how resilient – or not – our supply chains really are. Hopefully, we’ve all had time to look deeper into our supply chains, and map the manufacturing capabilities of each of our suppliers, looking into exactly what part is made in what location. Beyond that, hopefully we now understand – if we didn’t before – the exact dependencies of our products and what needs to happen when, and from where, in order to give our customers what they need. If you haven’t yet undertaken this analysis, now is the time to do so.
Assuming you have, though, you may have encountered suppliers who are now struggling, or who will be struggling in the near future. Even if your suppliers may not have told you as much, signs that a struggle is indeed present include incomplete or delayed deliveries, changes in debt covenants, or sudden changes in your key contacts.
As any supply change manager would know, protecting your suppliers is key, and now, more than ever, you may need to do what you can to help. If you’ve identified a supplier who is struggling, try to help by committing to orders or even exploring credit options, such as lending against future orders or applying your company’s credit to loans. In extreme cases, you may even need to look at an equity investment scenario if that supplier is critical to your production.
Step 3: Look after your people
Cash and suppliers may be fundamental to our day jobs. But what would those look like without … us?
As any seasoned leader understands, your people are critical to just about anything you want to achieve, and especially a ramp up after a prolonged period of stress and uncertainty. And while, with the current job market, you’re not likely to lose staff if you don’t make an effort right now, when recovery is in full swing, the difference in productivity between disengaged and engaged and motivated staff (which can be up to 22%), can be monumental.
But what’s the best way to look after your staff right now? Experts recommend:
Be realistic, kind and flexible: With the current crisis affecting the lives and livelihoods of most of the world, now is an extremely stressful time for all of us. Be clear about what you need from your staff, but also be kind and realistic about what you expect them to achieve, and be flexible about when you need it.
Offer mental health support: Right now, the WHO (World Health Organisation) estimates that one in four people are experiencing new or heightened mental health issues due to the crisis. If you can, offer your staff counselling support or direct them to government resources so they can seek help, if needed.
How you treat your staff during a crisis will determine whether or not you’re able to retain them in the recovery period and beyond. Likewise, how you treat your customers is just as important.
With significant disruptions to supply chains, freight and logistics worldwide, there’s a high chance that at some point, you may disappoint your customers. There’s two key ways you need to manage this: through communication, and through prioritisation.
For the first, communication, you need to do your best to determine, far ahead of time and with your own suppliers, what delays might exist or what changes in orders you foresee. Once you know, let your own customers know and keep them regularly updated on progress. As always, it’s better to give a worst-case scenario and then delight them when orders do come through faster than expected.
For the second, prioritisation, if you’re facing considerable shortages and you can’t find an alternate supplier, you may need to prioritise your most valuable customers. Look at factors such as profit margins and key customer segments when figuring out who to prioritise, or alternatively, look at allocations to certain customers if required.
Get prepared – now
Recovery might seem a while off, but it’s closer than you think. Make sure you take these steps, now, to ensure you’re in the best place.
Is there anything else you’re doing to plan for recovery? Tell us in the comments below.
Want to keep up with the latest coronavirus and supply chain news? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group. We’ve gathered together the world’s foremost experts on all things supply chain, risk, business and people, and we’ll be presenting their insights and daily industry-relevant news in a content series via the group. You’ll also have the support of thousands of your procurement peers, world-wide. We’re stronger together. Join us now.