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Is the electronic market the answer to procurement headaches?

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Procurious is in Cardiff for Procurement Week 2015.

Answering our call of ‘what are other countries doing to innovate in procurement?’ We were given the opportunity to hear from Michal Ohrabio from Anasoft.  In Slovakia procurers are looking towards the Slovak Electronic Market (or the ‘Gov eBay’ as it’s more commonly referred to ). This online portal functions as an alternative buying hub, and encourages procurers to think about the buying process in an innovative and refreshing way.

How can we make the processes more efficient and automate them?

The challenge this project tries to address is the procuring of common goods and services below the threshold, while maintaining good prices. Authorities and state institutions (ministries, state-run business, local governments) can bid at this portal for the purchase of smaller goods and services and construction work.

So what we’ve got is a catalog of subject matters: simplified procedure, anonymous CA, and suppliers during the tender. After closing the contract everything is made public and process is published.

The new portal will reduce the procurement process from 3 to 4 months to one week. Furthermore, it is an important anti-corruption instrument due to the fact that national and local governmental organisations will be purchasing live and online.  It is hoped that this will help to improve the fairness to suppliers as well as government purchasers.

For state procurers, the value range of available goods and services is from 1,000 EUR to 134,000 EUR; for other procurers, the range is from 1,000 EUR to 207,000 EUR. The upper limit for construction work is 5,186,000 EUR. Registered companies can offer their goods, services and construction work.

The pilot was launched in September 2014, and roll-out began in earnest in Feb 2015. To-date the portal has signed-up 6500 suppliers.

Innovation in the public sector: the rise of the smart, super connected city

How are we innovating in the public sector?

Procurious is here at Procurement Week 2015 in Cardiff. We have heard from Jim Smart – Head of Digital Cardiff, on the challenges that public procurement is facing in order to lay down the infrastructure that leads to innovation.

Cardiff is a city primed for growth, and it’s certainly no stranger to innovation – it’s a city that’s prospered not just economically, but socially and culturally over the last few decades.

By procuring broadband and bringing WiFi to the streets of the largest city in Wales, Cardiff will become a real smart city. The welcoming of this first class digital infrastructure will mean Cardiff benefits from the best penetration of superfast broadband throughout the UK Core Cities. It will also offer free to access WiFi on buses across the city and public buildings.

Joined-up procurement is healthy procurement

In this modern age, broadband access and a working Internet connection is taken for granted. But we often forget about the complexities required to get us online in the first place. It’s not just a case of plugging in to connect.

A number of pre-requisites are required to make Cardiff’s wireless dream a reality. The ingredients you will need: an Internet Exchange in the city centre, and a new highly secure Data Centre development. The Exchange itself is worthy of note, it not only represents an important £3.5m investment but it’s one of only four Internet Exchanges in the UK.

Such a monumental piece of work means a joined-up approach is needed in the city. You can’t have one procurement team not talking to the other, every party is required to pull together and champion transparency throughout the tendering processes. Superfast broadband is an enabler for innovation – the procurement itself should champion the super connected ethos, the one infrastructure, that will be borne out of this work.

At this stage it is also one of the first projects that will come in on time and under budget. Music to the ears of anyone involved in the initiative – procurement professional or otherwise!

Once the work is complete, the emphasis will be put back on the infrastructure. BT, Virgin, and Sky (to name but a few) all stand to benefit from the innovation Cardiff is being injected with.

cardiffbay

Cardiff – the ‘One City Planet’

Outside of the work that Jim and his team are involved in, thirty councils have been selected to carry out feasibility studies for something called the ‘Future Cities Demonstrator Programme’- and of those is Cardiff.

Cardiff, like many cities around the world, is facing challenges managing its growth in a sustainable and prosperous way. The project will see the development of a virtual 3D city model to collect and manipulate data in order to monitor and control vital city functions such as, energy, transport, health, water, waste etc, in a holistic manner and develop a full understanding of how they interconnect and inter-depend.

The project will focus in particular on the role of Cardiff City centre as the heart of a rapidly growing city and as the retail, leisure, commercial and transport hub for city-region of 1.4m people. It will work with businesses, universities, third sector and citizens to ensure the delivery of a vibrant, prosperous, low carbon, healthy and happy city, and will form the platform upon which Cardiff can achieve its ambition of becoming a ‘One City Planet’ by 2050.

How can we procure in a smarter way?

The need for smarter procurement

Procurious is in Cardiff for Procurement Week 2015. We sat in on the 4th FAPPE (Faster Adoption of Public Procurement in Europe) Meeting where the group discussed  pertinent issues that need addressing when deciding on a roadmap for smarter procurement.

We’ve taken these concerns and have chosen to present them to you in the form of an infographic.

Smarter procurement infographic
Smarter procurement infographic

FAPPE is the brainchild of Rui Patricio – the Managing Director (Procurement & Innovation Management Consulting) of Digitalflow. Digitalflow is a Portuguese boutique consulting firm that offers a full range of services to support the implementation of business-to-government processes making use of electronic platforms.

Internet retailer Amazon on putting people first

File of a box from Amazon.com is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, Colorado

Work hard, have fun, make history

Procurious is at Procurement Week 2015 in Cardiff – ahead of our exclusive interview with Amazon’s Gary Elsey – Operations Manager for Amazon.co.uk, we present some bite-size tidbits into Amazon’s people-centric philosophy.

Amazon in 1995 – started life an online bookstore (VHS, DVDs, CDs etc. came later), but at that time there was no discernible way of searching through the product listings. A far cry to the behemoth that stands before us today.

Amazon on customers

Amazon’s vision is simple – no matter what it’s doing, what products it’s launching – the customer is always the end goal.

As a company Amazon has always strived to work backwards from the customer. ‘What can we do differently, how can we distinguish ourselves and innovate?’ These are all essential touch-points that the Seattle-born retailer has obsessed over since day one.

For an example of Amazon’s customer-centricity, look no further than the release of Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system. When it went on sale, as soon as Amazon sold through all its original allocation, it made the ballsy move to direct customers to competitors websites. No ‘out of stock’, or ‘awaiting stock’ messages here… Amazon is an altogether different beast.

With seperate online properties operating in United States, United Kingdom & Ireland, France, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Australia, Brazil, Japan, China, India and Mexico, ultimately logistically problems do arise… But here is where Amazon plays its trump card, as the retailer offers almost-instantaneous conflict resolution. If you choose not to opt for online chat or a response by email, an Amazon representative will offer to phone you back.

In Amazon’s history there have even been examples of purchases being personally delivered when the situation dictates…

…On passing back savings

Unlike most, Amazon employees don’t carry business cards. Why? They’re an unjustifiable spend. Amazon always asks, ‘does the customer need this?’ If the answer is no, then the outcome is quite clear (no business cards…) It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that every decision is examined in this way. Amazon always seeks to maintain low operating costs, so it can pass the savings back to the customer.

…On hiring

Amazon’s ethos is very much: ‘I’d rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person’

…On inspirational leadership

‘My own view is that every company requires a long-term view’ – Jeff Bezos. It is worthy to note that making a profit is not one of Amazon’s goals. Instead it employs elements of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Theory: ‘What, how, why’.

It is said that Amazon’s CEO – Jeff Bezos, spends a couple of days every year on the service desks to field customer feedback. Even better than that, send him an email and he’ll personally see to it that someone from Amazon responds to your query.

Nurturing new talent – the lure of the graduate

Procurious is in Cardiff for Procurement Week. Are you attending?Come and join our #PW2015 group!

Today we’ve heard from Chris Nye of Axiom. Axiom is a service-driven business, specialising in the medical, industrial, and military fields.

In just a couple of years Axiom has doubled its workforce and trebled its turnover – and as any organisation knows
keeping this momentum is paramount to the success of the business.

And of course there are always challenges – for Axiom, number one was the realisation that its recruitment strategy needed a little help.

Axiom woke up to the idea that graduates can fill the skills gap.

What improvements can be made?

Axiom previously had trainees come and go, it was classically recruiting the wrong individuals. What it needed was a blank
canvas (with the right skill-set), and saw determined graduate trainees to be the best fit.

Graduates represent young, intelligent, questioning minds, and more importantly a lack of baggage. By hiring graduates
you can allow them to find their own skills and own career fit. Give them the opportunity to find themselves within the
business, to see what sticks and what interests them.

Axiom’s approach is not overly prescriptive – an entrenched view falls prey to shortsightedness, and errors can be locked into a vicious cycle. Instead you shouldn’t dictate the graduate’s path, encourage independence and let them find their own way. It is important that after the training period ends, graduates are deployed into only what they enjoy and
excel at – the fields they have chosen to specialise in and want to develop these skills further. The path should be continuously monitored and adapted as necessary to ensure the graduate is shaping the role.By adopting this approach it is possible to maintain the graduate’s youthful enthusiasm throughout the development plan.

The new power generation

By training (and inevitably employing) graduates you will often find this exercise opens-up new opportunities, and  you’ll be able to fill newly-created roles. What’s more graduates can be thought of as thought-provoking and questioning assets to any team. By mixing up your team and employing new blood, it encourages an honesty when it comes to looking for solutions. It’s all about balance – the graduates provide the business with a different view. Sometimes all it takes is fresh eyes…

Axiom put this into practice a couple of years ago – now, 2 years on it has welcomed 5 graduates through its doors.

By looking towards graduates you’ll be furnished with bright, young minds who possess an unquenchable thirst to continuously improve. The graduate solution is indeed a brave new world, the only constant being change…

How to Achieve Award Winning Procurement – Learn from the Experts

Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional of the Year – Fabienne Lesbros, CPO, Britvic Soft Drinks

fabienne

Fabienne Lesbros started her procurement career in 1991 on the Channel Tunnel project. Since then she has worked across a number of sectors and industries, procuring for well-known companies such as Future Electronics and GlaxoSmithKline, before being appointed CPO for Britvic Soft Drinks in 2010.

Britvic has an annual global spend in excess of £1.1 billion, with suppliers in over 40 countries. Since 2010, Fabienne’s team has achieved great success in both savings and value creation, but has also led the way in sustainability, innovation and education.

In 2014, Fabienne was awarded the CIPS ‘Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional of the Year’. Of her career she says, “My passion for the profession is stronger than ever, fuelled by a changing world focussed on sustainability, responsibility, innovation and the digital age.”

Fabienne talks to Procurious about her continuing journey and where she sees procurement in the future.

How did you get started in procurement?

Like a lot of my peers, I ‘fell’ into procurement at the start of my career. I had finished my studies and procurement was the first role I got. Again, like many of my peers, I didn’t really understand what procurement was or what the job entailed.

I started as an analyst in the procurement department as part of the channel tunnel project for Eurotunnel and I loved it from day one. I’ve always thought that procurement was a fascinating profession to be part of. You work with one of the few functions where you have contact with all parts of the business. You can touch so many things – the scope for procurement is immense.

What is your proudest achievement in procurement so far?

About a year ago, our CEO (Simon Litherland) spoke to the city about Britvic and how procurement was one of the key pillars to deliver the company’s strategy going forward.

This was a big achievement as it showed how much the procurement team was valued by the business. In many organisations, procurement simply doesn’t have that level of focus, although this is changing as more and more organisations realise that procurement is one of the most powerful tools at their disposal.

Similarly, getting the award from CIPS has to be right up there as one of my proudest achievements, both from a personal perspective but equally from a team perspective. I see this award as just as big an achievement for them.

What prompted you to submit a nomination for the CIPS award?

I hadn’t intended to submit a nomination for the award at all. However, a friend of mine from the CIPS Fellows said that I should and kept asking me until I applied!

The way it works is as follows: you write the submission yourself, but a lot of documentation comes from peers about your work, line manager testimonies and recommendations from colleagues and people you have worked with throughout your career.

After you have submitted the paperwork, a pre-selection takes place and people are informed if they get through to the next stage. If you are selected, you are given a month to prepare a presentation to be delivered to a panel of industry experts.

The key success factor in this part of the process was the ability to communicate, specifically being able to consolidate your message into something clear, concise and pitched at a business level. Of course getting it right first time is essential! This was a challenging exercise preparing 6-7 slides to cover a 20 year career to date.

However, this is no different to everyday procurement activity – one of the main areas I look to develop my team in is the ability to avoid procurement jargon and get their message across by tapping into business issues through the language of the wider organisation

What does the award mean to you and your team?

What the award gives to the team is a great external benchmark and recognition, which then leads to more gravitas internally and the ability to influence the business agenda at pace. People start to understand procurement’s role in more depth and realise that they can reach and surpass their own business objectives by collaboration with us.

Procurement can unlock the potential of the supply base to directly deliver the needs of the business rather than getting lost in the complex world of third party supply chains, which if handled incorrectly can have serious detrimental impact to an organisation.

Quality leads to recognition, which in turn leads to trust and building this trust means our business partners rely on and want to work with procurement for a quality output.

It of course works externally too, as suppliers clamour to work with an award winning team.

What is the most challenging aspect of being the CPO in an organisation the size of Britvic? And the best thing?

The most challenging aspect is the high number of initiatives that the organisation has running at any one time – we are an ambitious organisation and that means there is lots to do!

As commodity experts there is always a lot of pressure on procurement to avoid volatility and equally the cost consciousness agenda that runs through the organisation means our Indirect Procurement team is at the forefront of this – challenging but that’s the way we like it!

The advantage is the size of the company – we are not a behemoth and the closeness to the product that procurement has means we can act with pace. You can see the immediate impact on the bottom line that your decisions are making.

It’s also easier to get round all the business partners and you are able to do more of that face-to-face.

One of the best things about being CPO is being in charge of the coaching and development of the team. I find it very rewarding to develop the team and to see individuals achieve things that they didn’t previously think would be possible – we are nothing without a team that has development opportunity, ambition and talent.

What are your key aims for 2015?

Professionally, I am trying to get the team to develop greater engagement with the commercial and sales teams. The engagement often stops with the marketing or operations teams, but I believe that there is a lot to get from engaging on the commercial side.

They understand the competitive edge, trends and where future products might be heading. I’m pushing the team to work in this area, which will be a big change in terms of engagement, as it doesn’t really happen at the moment. I think you need to do things in a collaborative way and work very cross-functionally.

After all, sales can help procurement on getting into the mind of a seller and vice versa – it’s a trick many organisations miss, which could really strengthen supplier and customer negotiations and relationships.

How can procurement become more strategically involved in organisations?

For me, it’s all about understanding the business needs, adding value and not doing procurement in a silo. This goes back to the engagement with other parts of the business.

The procurement team doesn’t speak in procurement terms to other teams; they try to speak their language. You engage the business better by speaking in IT, marketing or operations terms to those other teams and understanding what their key drivers are

You constantly need to understand what the business’ needs are. You fulfil a need from the business, but finding a need that the business never knew it required in the first is far more powerful: this is how procurement adds value to the business.

Procurement can be seen as part of the team and can bring so much functionality into the business. It’s the only team that can touch everything internally and externally every day.

What do you see in procurement’s future and how can social media play a role?

You can look at this from two angles, the first being the impact from social media on the supply and demand for goods and services. We live in a world of multiple social media streams, which has completely changed the way we interact with our consumers.

This is at the forefront of our marketing strategies which ultimately impacts us all – for procurement reacting to customer preferences and rapid changes in trends means we have to be quicker than ever in dealing with the supply base and sourcing innovation to match our needs. We have more information at our finger tips to inform us of supplier performance/preferences and this will only accelerate over the next 5 years.

Secondly, I look at social media from a perspective of developing the profession. Procurement is not a profession that is really on people’s radar, you don’t see procurement anywhere in terms of being a career. Kids don’t come home from school and tell their parents that they want to be a buyer!

We need to establish procurement as a profession in the same way as law and accountancy, and make people in schools and universities aware that there are careers in procurement out there.

Social media can help this happen. Engaging with schools, showing them what procurement is and how to qualify, what careers are available and what you can do in procurement – all of this can be shown on social media.

How can we engage with the next generation of procurement professionals?

As with the previous question, we need to show procurement as a profession. There should be programmes in schools about it, have universities linked up with CIPS to offer information and qualifications and courses in procurement and then for companies to create graduate programmes where they can.

The profession needs people. At the moment, we don’t have enough people with the right skill sets. Procurement should be a profession for which there should be a degree/professional accreditation, the same as being a lawyer or an accountant.

It’s vital for procurement to become a recognisable profession. It’s becoming too critical to organisations not to have people coming naturally from a professional stream.

Gravitas skills are key to unlocking door to boardrooms for women

Less than 25 per cent of board members of FTSE 100 companies are women…

Getting women into the boardroom

Britain’s boardrooms would change from ‘male and pale’ if more would-be leaders learnt to develop the skill of gravitas, according to author and leadership communications coach, Antoinette Dale Henderson. 

Antoinette regularly speaks on leadership identity, influencing with integrity, building inner confidence and communication excellence. In 2007, she launched Zomi Communications to commit to that mission, working with people to identify their purpose and define their unique leadership voice.

“Women, younger people and people from ethnic minorities often face particular challenges in tackling misconceptions about gravitas needed for the boardroom and that needs to stop” – says Antoinette.

“Gravitas is not an inherent trait – but it is an essential skill for successful leaders. My aim is to turn the old-school image of gravitas on its head and demonstrate that it’s a skill that can be developed by anyone who wants to fulfil their potential as a manager or leader. This book will help anyone, no matter what level of experience to use their own individuality to command respect and make a lasting impression. “

Leading with Gravitas is based on research conducted with a broad range of leaders including politicians, business and community executives, small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Her book aims to demystify the concept of ‘gravitas’ through exploring what it means for Britain’s successful leaders. Using a six-key model, it explores what the reader can do to develop their own gravitas and leadership style through practical exercises and tools.

Developing your own gravitas and leadership style

There are a number of practical exercises and tools which will allow you to develop your own gravitas.

The following is encouraged:

•Gain a clear understanding of the vital components of gravitas by analysing how you currently perform and what you can do to improve
•Increase awareness of your unique expertise and qualities as an authentic leader
•Access a range of powerful techniques to help communicate and present with impact
•Enhance your confidence, influence and ability to inspire others and deliver results
•Harness your passion and individuality to maximise leadership presence and project your best self

More information about Antoinette and her learnings can be found at www.leadingwithgravitas.com

Blast off! NASA announce new procurement chief

In what may be one of the most interesting jobs in procurement, NASA has announced that Kaprice Harris will take office in the space agency’s Executive Service position of Procurement Officer and chief of the Procurement Division.

Harris started her career at the NASA in 1996 and has held various roles both within and outside of the procurement function over a career spanning more than two decades.

Harris will hold responsibility for planning, organisation and establishing the strategic direction of the organisation’s procurement function.

Speaking on the appointment NASA Glenn Research Centre Director Jim Free said: “Kaprice’s agency wide experience combined with her leadership will be a valuable addition to our Procurement Division.”

Top five ways mindfulness can help you in the workplace

areebarbar/Shutterstock.com

A new study has revealed that cases of anxiety and stress are on the rise and taking their toll on our careers – in fact, other than being poorly, stress and depression are listed as the top reason people take time off work with one in five respondents admitting to taking time off work due to stress.

Is work-life stress taking its toll?

The research, which questioned 1,000 respondents and was commissioned by Anamaya to examine the impact our stress levels have on both our work and home lives, also revealed that more than half of us (52 per cent) actually only feel fully relaxed for just a couple of hours each week.

So what’s the answer?

Almost a third (32 per cent) of people questioned acknowledged that they felt mind training and meditation could make a real difference to their day to day stress levels but a quarter were unsure how to integrate mind training into their busy schedules.

Graham Doke, founder and narrator of the Anamaya app and ex-city lawyer, comments: “The majority of us have experienced how, at one point or another, the stress and strains of our work life can be brought back home with us on an evening. If not addressed, this stress can have a detrimental impact on our lives.

“When you look at the US and UK firms that have introduced mindfulness in the workplace, the results are overwhelming and show that simply taking 5-10 minutes out during your work day to focus on mindfulness, relaxation or to meditate, can have some truly remarkable results.”

Last year the US trend of focussing on mindfulness in the workplace began to take off in the UK, with firms such as the NHS and Transport For London introducing mindfulness and meditation sessions for their staff. 

The top five ways mindfulness can help you in the workplace:

1. Increased awareness of your emotions – office politics, rivalry, jealousy and competitiveness can all have a major impact on your work experience.  When executed properly, meditation and mindfulness training can increase awareness of emotions and the awareness of other’s emotion – helping you to control your reactions and be more aware when people are trying to provoke.

2. Manage anxiety levels – anxiety is proven to be an inhibiter of good performance, and it produces a self-feeding cycle of greater anxiety and stress. Awareness of your anxiety leaves you able to deal with the emotion itself, and clears the way to better performance.

3. Ease the pressure – People claim they ‘work best under pressure’, and managers often feel they get the best from their team by being aggressively demanding. However, neuroscience shows that stress, pressure, reaction to aggression all produces a negative reaction in our brains. Anyone who thinks they operating best under pressure is simply not thinking straight! Meditation reduces the activity of this part of the brain and means we can think clearer.

4. Problem solving – meditation can change the structure of the brain, particularly the pre-frontal cortex – this change is measurable with MRI scans and leaves the meditator able to modify their behaviour. One of the most empowering changes that mindfulness can bring is the ability to be less fearful and more willing to approach a problem than previously.

5. Work/life balance – In the modern environment of instant information, instant reaction, and 24/7 availability, it is difficult to achieve any kind of balance. In this ‘always on’ culture, where it has become increasingly difficult to switch off thanks to technology, employers are now much more obligated to ensure their employees’ health and wellbeing is maintained.

You can download the Anamaya app here via the iTunes store.