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Four Ways Brexit Has Rattled CPOs

With Brexit headlines continuing to dominate the daily news, what have been the biggest lessons for procurement leaders on how to approach geopolitical risk?

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As cross-party Brexit talks collapsed, stockpiling reached its highest level since records began in the 1950s. A final decision on Brexit looks like it has, yet again, been thrust into the distance. But by now chief procurement officers (CPOs), those charged with ensuring businesses have enough raw materials and goods, have learnt to live beyond politicians’ promises. 

Procurement teams have begun to view geopolitical risk as an unwanted yet permanent factor. It’s no longer just the prospect of Brexit that has procurement officers grappling with greater risk in their jobs. Any emerging geopolitical risk poses potential obstacles for global supply chains, which over the past few decades have become tightly interwoven. 

Lesson 1: Uncertainty is certain 

Procurement chiefs have learnt quickly that they cannot count on politicians. But they can control the steady flow of goods and materials to their organisations by risk-mapping and establishing alternatives. 

Dairy Crest, a manufacturer of British food brands, approved additional suppliers, extra sources of material and alternatives by identifying pinch points in the supply chain, ensuring greater flexibility. 

CPO Chris Thomson reviewed the stock management processes in terms of ingredients and packaging, factory planning processes and customer order to stock processes. All these processes had been in place for many years and were effective, but Brexit made it necessary to revisit all systems and processes. 

“It’s been quite an interesting experience to have a serious situation like this to open your eyes again and to challenge some of the existing business processes,” he says. 

He is not alone in his approach. Neil Butters, head of procurement at Inprova Group, says: “Before you think big, think small. I’d been trying to understand geopolitical risk and Brexit and other areas, and trying to work out how that impacted my organisation. What I ultimately decided to do was to take a fresh view of my organisation and the risk factors, and map them out.” 

Lesson 2: Revisit systems and processes 

“Brexit has forced many CPOs and their teams to look again at their suppliers, local sourcing plans, local versus international, and start to make some decisions about what their future supply should look like,” says Duncan Brock, group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS). 

Indeed, CPOs have been evaluating their supply chains at a more granular level. Many procurement teams have looked at what happens in the supply chain beyond the first contact with their own company. The view is if they can understand the risks posed at that distance, then they will be able to manage them before there is a direct impact on their business. 

“We haven’t fundamentally changed our sourcing approach. What we have done is put a lot more emphasis on our category management in our processes, and a lot more emphasis on how far up the supply chain we understand what’s going on,” says Dairy Crest’s Mr Thomson. 

Localisation might help some businesses, but switching to UK suppliers doesn’t always solve the problem. Establishing new suppliers has its own challenges and is rarely a seamless process, particularly if you are sourcing a strategic supplier. 

According to research by CIPS, almost a quarter of companies it surveyed were looking for alternative non-European Union suppliers. But the study also showed that half of British companies would struggle to find the suppliers and skills they need in the UK if they were forced to bring parts of their supply chain back home post-Brexit. 

“Anybody who approaches their suppliers in business as purely a transactional thing misses the opportunity to work special situations and to work closely together to manage whatever it is thrown at us. We treat our suppliers really as part of the business,” says Neil Ginger, chief executive of Origin, a UK manufacturer of aluminium doors and windows. 

Lesson 3: Stockpiling can’t solve everything 

Filling up warehouses with raw materials and medicines is a short-term solution. Stockpiling is an option for some, but many do not have the facilities to store surplus stock and those with perishable goods simply won’t be able to. 

Longer-term stockpiling won’t fix the challenges companies face over trading with EU customers and suppliers. Moreover, the additional costs of paying for the stock and then paying for warehousing that stock can be crippling, particularly for smaller businesses with fewer resources. 

Earlier this year, door and window manufacturer Origin began stockpiling aluminium extrusion from its supplier based in northern Spain in preparation for Brexit and disruption at the border. In total, the company stockpiled around £750,000-worth of materials, which is not an insignificant amount of money to add to your inventory. And then Brexit Day never came. 

“Beyond the things you can’t control, you’re just trying to stay as flexible as you possibly can. We bought more material to make sure we could see ourselves through some very short-term disruption at the border,” says Origin’s Mr Ginger. 

Lesson 4: Ditch the silos 

CPOs have become more rounded business people as a result of Brexit. They have had to work more intensively with other teams within their organisations, and have had to explain what they are doing to the board to ensure the business can keep functioning and fulfilling customers’ orders. 

Like many companies, Dairy Crest set up a cross-functional leadership group focused on medium to long-term Brexit planning. In addition, the company established a standalone cross-functional group focused solely on preparing for Brexit Day. They based their business planning on a hard Brexit, the worst-case scenario for many businesses. 

“We really focused our efforts on planning for the worst case and knowing that if it didn’t turn out to be the reality, we would be in a sensible position,” says Dairy Crest’s Mr Thomson.

This article, edited by Peter Archer, was taken from the Raconteur Future of Procurement report, as featured in The Times.  

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Are You In The Right Job?

The average working life is more than 3,500 days, so that is a long time to spend doing the wrong job. The sooner you switch, the easier it is. So how do you begin?

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If you dread going to work in the morning, get a sick feeling every Sunday night, or spend hours sitting at your desk desperate to be anywhere else, then it’s obvious that you should find a different job.

However, is it really the career path that’s wrong for you?

Perhaps you are doing the right job, just in the wrong place… or with the wrong people.

If you work in a toxic environment or with the boss from hell, there is no need to make a drastic career change. All you need to do is find the right employer.

You don’t have to hate your job for it to be the wrong one

However, not everyone who is in the wrong job is miserable. Many are just not fulfilled or energised by what they do.

Nearly nine in ten UK professionals are considering moving jobs right now, according to CV-Library – and they want to move for a range of reasons from career progression to a pay rise.

Only one in ten (13 per cent) of UK employees are actually unhappy at work according to research by recruiters Robert Half UK.

Although that is still 4.3 million people nationwide, that a lot less than the number wanting to leave for pastures new.

So, don’t assume that you have to hate your job, for it to be the wrong one.

Simply ask yourself this: “If I am still working in this type of job in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time, will I look back with regrets that I had not done something else – or be happy to have done a job I loved for so long?”

The average working life is more than 3,500 days, so that is a long time to spend doing the wrong job. The sooner you switch, the easier it is. So how do you begin?

Step 1: Take the test

Before jumping into another job, it pays to work out what career path you should be on.

Many of us fall into a particular career and often end up accepting a role because we were offered it, rather than because it was the job of our dreams.

One of the most highly regarded tests is a Myers & Briggs personality test. If you have never taken one, you can pay for one online (myersbriggs.org) or do a similar free test such as 16personalities.com or humanmetric.com.

Whichever test you take, it’s important to be honest – then read through the results to gain a better understanding of what types of careers could suit your personality. Giving some thought to your strengths and weaknesses is a great way to reassess why you do what you do.

If you are an extrovert, who is intuitive and relies on your feelings when making decisions, then being stuck behind the scenes in a process-driven, methodical, technical role, might understandably make you miserable. Or if you are naturally quieter and more reserved, being thrust into the limelight and forced to make presentations, might be your idea of hell.

So if you are the proverbial ‘square peg in a round hole’ it is time for a change.

Remember, it is much easier to change your job than trying (and failing) to change your personality – after all, one is what you do, the other is who you are.

Step 2: Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis

If you are in the wrong job, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about what else you could do – but are then deterred because you don’t have the qualifications/ don’t have the experience/cannot afford to retrain/ cannot afford to step down the career ladder…. and so on.

It is easy to come up with dozens of reasons to stay where you are.

That means you will inevitably stay just there.

So stop thinking, start doing. Talk to people who are doing the jobs you are interested in, join a networking group for that industry sector, seek out others who have made a career change – and step out of your comfort zone. Once you can visualise a new job for yourself, it will be easier to start making the change.

Also visit careershifers.org for some inspiration. When you read other people’s stories you will realise they were all just as terrified of making the wrong career move…and once you discover how they overcame their fears to find a more fulfilling working life, you will realise that it is possible to do something that makes you want to get out of bed every morning.

Also do a 360 – ask people you trust what career they see you doing. They may say ‘I always imagined you as a teacher’ or ‘Why aren’t you in marketing, you love being creative and persuading people about your ideas’. Remember, to listen.

Step 3: Try before you buy (into a new career)

Before handing in your notice, and taking up one of these new career paths, give it a try.

Take two weeks off and find someone to work shadow. Volunteer in the sector. Use LinkedIn to reach out to those working in roles you are interested in and talk candidly about their careers.

If your personality tests show you would make a great teacher, but you really think you would lack the patience to deal with dozens of children every day, give it a go – volunteer as a reading partner or to help run a school club. You will still find out if this is something you are going to love – or hate.

The other drawback of a career change to something more fulfilling is that many rewarding roles are low paid.

The solution? Stick with the day job, and have a side-hustle doing something you really enjoy. So, if you have always wanted to be an artist, illustrator, cook, actor, gardener, photographer or fashion designer, then do this part-time while seeing your day job as a means of funding your dream career.

At least that way, you won’t have any regrets when you look back on your working life – instead of a “I could have been” you will be an “I was”


Want to get your wheels turning towards a supply chain career one could only dream of? Then don’t miss our upcoming Career Boot Camp with IBM – a free 5-part podcast series with some of the very best of the best. Check it out here: https://www.procurious.com/career-boot-camp-2019

6 Recruitment Mistakes To Avoid

Here are six pitfalls to avoid in order to create a better recruitment process for all involved.

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Creating a better candidate experience seems simple enough and creating an experience that continues to improve is even better. Recruiters are often under tremendous pressure to recruit top candidates from hiring managers, organisational objectives, and the competitive landscape. Below we discuss six pitfalls recruiters can avoid to create a better recruitment process for all involved.

1. Posting Vague Job Descriptions

Posting a generic job position can ensure that a large pool of candidates applies. What it doesn’t ensure is that the candidates’ skill sets will accurately align with the functions of the position. A vague job description is a problem for both the hiring manager and candidate, as it effectively means that either someone’s time is wasted during screening and interviews, or a candidate will be hired for a position that doesn’t match their skills.

2. Not Engaging Hiring Managers/Operations Team Leaders

There are functions of a human resources department that need to be sealed off from the rest of the company. For instance, compensation, firing, promotion, etc. However, recruitment shouldn’t be as confidential. Recruiters should engage with hiring managers and operations leaders to build job descriptions and create recruitment processes that create an optimal candidate experience and hire the best talent available.

3. Creating a Time-Consuming Application Process 

An extensive application process is perceived as a strategy for recruiting only the most serious and interested candidates. Is it though? Front loading information gathering into the online application process will get you just that – people who are good at sitting at the computer and applying for jobs. What it doesn’t confirm is if the human behind that computer is the person best suited for the position you’re filling.

4. Having an unprepared interviewer 

An unprepared interviewer can send a “disturbing signal” to the candidate, leaving them turned off by the experience and the brand. Recruiters should conduct prep meetings, provide sample questions, and confirm interviewers are aware of the entire process and desired results before an interview is conducted.

5. Failing to Stay in Contact for Future Opportunities 

Failing to engage a quality candidate who was not given an offer is an enormous waste of resources. Sometimes great candidates don’t receive offers simply because there was a better-suited candidate for the position. If there is mutual interest, there should be a process in place to remain in contact with them for either future opportunities or current openings they may fit into.

6. Not Soliciting Candidate Feedback 

There is always room for improvement. Giving candidates an opportunity to provide feedback on the recruitment process gives recruiters some valuable insights which could help improve the process you currently have in place.

This article is written by Phillip Gold of empireresume.comand was originally published on vervoe.

After A Slow Start, AI Is Starting To Make Its Mark

Procurement has traditionally lagged behind when it comes to technology, but does AI offer an opportunity for things to change?

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is going to make business better, at least that is what the solutions providers would have us believe. Businesses will be more agile, more efficient and, importantly, more profitable. Yet it still feels procurement is behind the curve when it comes to AI adoption, despite those that have implemented things, such as machine-learning and AI-driven data analysis, seeing the benefits.

Simon Geale, vice president of client solutions at transformation procurement services provider Proxima, says: “It is early days. On the procurement side of things, we are seduced by the hype over practicality. Most of what we are seeing is either aggregating data or speeding up a process, so far.”

That is not to say that businesses are shunning AI. A recent survey by McKinsey found 47 per cent of companies have embedded at least one AI function in their business processes, up from 20 per cent in 2017.

McKinsey’s research showed that while most companies were adopting AI in areas such as service operations, marketing and product development, a significant number have started to use the technology in managing their supply chains.

Some sectors, such as retail, are adopting the technology far more rapidly in supply chain management than others.

It may be time for those businesses on the long tail of adoption to speed things up. Of those that have adopted AI in supply chain management, McKinsey reports 76 per cent have seen moderate or significant benefits.

AI Focus on Efficiencies and Productivity

So how are companies using AI? A survey by RELX Group late last year shows a focus on using AI and machine-learning principally to increase efficiencies or worker productivity (51 per cent), to inform future business decisions (41 per cent) and to streamline processes (39 per cent).

There are those in procurement who believe AI will destroy their jobs. Yet not all are convinced of this nightmare scenario.

Trudy Salandiak of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply says: “Unlike many professionals, we think procurement will be future-proofed from being completely taken over by technology due to the human interaction and relationship management required.

“What it will do is provide much more visibility over supply chains to manage risk and seek out opportunities for innovation. It will also take away the process back-office side of the role to allow procurement teams to focus on more strategic areas.”

Ms Salandiak sees a role for AI in quicker and more accurate fraud detection, intelligent invoice matching and categorising vendors to rank their strategic importance in the supply chain.

Chatbots for Procurement?

AI chatbots have started to be used to help businesses articulate their needs with procurement, instead of completing lengthy requests on enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. This echoes the voice experience consumers get through the likes of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Turkish telecoms company Turkcell has implemented a procurement chatbot, which learns continuously and simulates interactive procurement professionals’ conversations with business partners and vendors by using key pre-calculated user phrases and auditory or text-based signals. The chatbot interfaces with the company’s ERP system and it has enabled procurement professionals to cut out non-value-added activities and allocate their time to more strategic topics.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s Moyee Coffee has been working on a project in Ethiopia where farmers, roasters and consumers can access data as beans are moved from farm to cup. Consumers are able to use QR codes on the back of coffee packs to see where the beans have been sourced and how much the farmers have been paid, bringing unprecedented transparency to the supply chain. The project uses Bext360’s Bext-to-Brew platform with AI, blockchain and internet of things technology.

AI Procurement Policy

As consumers demand more authenticity and transparency, this trend is likely to continue.

The forecast value of AI to the global economy is being recognised by the World Economic Forum (WEF). In September, the WEF’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution unveiled a plan to develop the first AI procurement policy.

The work is being done in conjunction with the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. A pilot starts in July and it is hoped it will be rolled out in December. This will include high-level guidelines as well as an explanatory workbook for procurement professionals. A further eight countries have expressed interest in extending the pilot globally.

The reason for putting together a policy now is that “regulation tends to be too slow”, says Kay Firth-Butterfield, WEF’s head of AI.

“From the procurement perspective, it’s drawing a line in the sand, saying this is how we expect AI to be produced in our country and we will not accept AI products that do not meet these criteria. It is agile governance,” says Ms Firth-Butterfield.

Reorganising Time for Strategic Tasks

The technology will also allow public sector employees to do more strategic work. “In government, there are back-office gains to be had to free up civil servants to do more,” she says, adding that work on AI procurement in the public sector is expected to transfer to the private sector.

“Governments want their citizens to be at forefront of developing and using this tech, and benefiting from the economic gains,” says Ms Firth-Butterfield. “Governments’ significant buying power can drive private sector adoption of these standards, even for products that are sold beyond government.”

The 53 per cent of companies that have not started implementing AI may like to start thinking about it now.

This article, edited by Peter Archer, was taken from the Raconteur Future of Procurement report, as featured in The Times.  


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Shifting The Dial In Procurement

Procurement has an opportunity, indeed an imperative, to transform from an enabler of cost reduction to a creator of sustainable competitive advantage.

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Traditionally procurement has been the efficient workhorse for organisations, driving cost savings percentage point by percentage point, contract by contract. Yet despite the tremendous impact that strong spend management can have in value creation, the reality is that in many sectors, procurement is still primarily a transactional function with a limited scope of influence. Minimal deference is currently given to a function that, in light of the unprecedented rate of change in the world today, could in fact unlock distinctive competitive advantages for their organisation.

There are major shifts taking place globally today to which procurement must respond: value chains are becoming more complex and volatile, with increased risks and opportunities that accompany that complexity; developments in digitization, automation, and analytics that can unlock previously untapped potential; and acceleration of technological advancements and innovations are now more difficult than ever to keep pace with without external partnerships. This rapidly changing setting brings an imperative to change how procurement operates as a business function, as well as an opportunity to extend the scope of procurement’s influence in an organization.

Winning in this more complex and digital future will require a complete transformation of procurement as a function: having a broader mandate, way beyond just cost reduction; investment in digitization, automation and analytics; and rethinking the procurement organization.

So, exactly where should procurement leaders start to transform their functions? As a starting point, let’s take a closer look at the most important global shifts, and the corresponding implications.

Volatility brings risks—and opportunities

Since 1980, global inter-regional trade has increased eightfold, making supply chains more global and interconnected. However, with rapid growth across emerging markets, ever-increasing talks of trade wars, and intensifying concerns about sustainability, global supply chains are becoming more complex, more volatile, and more risky. Procurement functions need to be more adaptable as ever to respond.

Recent changes in trade policies are forcing large multinationals to rethink their supply strategies. By some projections, for example, Brexit could cost automakers in the UK billions of dollars in additional tariffs, and potentially force some to shift production elsewhere. Many other industries are also experiencing significant upheavals due to the changing nature of trade relationships between the United States and other countries.

At the same time, by 2025, emerging regions are expected to be home to almost 230 companies in the Fortune Global 500, up from 85 in 2010 (Exhibit 1). In a rebalancing global economy, procurement teams need to look beyond traditional low-cost locations in China and Latin America and explore new emerging markets in Africa or Southeast Asia, which have become attractive for new global sourcing opportunities.

Increasing corporate attention to socially responsible practices adds another challenge in managing complex global supply chains. Greater transparency—and greater expectation to be transparent—means unethical behavior in even a tier-2 or -3 supplier has reputational impacts on the purchasing organization. While ethical sourcing isn’t a new trend, the extent to which consumers are now making purchasing decisions based on this is. And companies are responding: in the 2017 McKinsey Global Survey on Sustainability, respondents across all regions reported significant increases in the adoption of sustainability-related technologies.

Take, for example, the use of blockchain for the mining of cobalt, a critical mineral for the automotive and mobile-device industries. Reports of labor abuses in cobalt mines have led producers and customers to deploy blockchain technologies: each bag of cobalt is sealed with a digital tag that ensures full traceability to compliance-accredited mining locations, creating a new source of competitive differentiation.

This article is an extract and has been reproduced with permission from McKinsey & Company. It is co-authored by Tarandeep Singh Ahuja, a partner in McKinsey’s Melbourne office, and Yen Ngai, an expert in its Sydney office.  Full article is available here.

A Letter To The Board

Sorry to bother you, I know you’re all so much busier than me. It’s me, the chief procurement officer; the one who buys the custard creams.

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Dear C-suite,

Sorry to bother you, I know you’re all so much busier than me. It’s me, the chief procurement officer; the one who buys the custard creams.

Just wanted a word about this procurement lark that I’m beavering away at, while you all do much more important stuff like tweeting the latest thought leadership thought. It’s just that I’m feeling a bit, well, ignored by you all.

No, finance director, I haven’t come over all touchy-feely, though it would be good if you did; don’t you know empathy is one of the key skills of the future, even in the finance function? I have more hard facts than you can shake a stick at, if you’ll bear with me. Yes, that means you too, CEO.

I know procurement is hardly the bad boy of the C-suite, but let me tell you, that’s about to change. Think Olivia Newton-John at the end of Grease; that’s how much procurement is about to change. No less a person than Kai Nowosel, Accenture’s procurement chief, agrees with me. “I want to break the mould of traditional procurement,” he says. “Procurement is the tinder of innovation. I want to get into that model of being sexy instead of being a back-office function.”

See? But I’m not feeling the love. I know some of you are a bit vague about what I do; let’s face it, less than 10 per cent of global corporations have a board-level procurement director. So here’s your starter for ten: how much of the value of a company’s products or services is derived from its suppliers? Anyone? No? Almost two thirds, that’s how much. Write it down in your notebooks; 65 per cent, according to CAPS Research for the Institute for Supply Management.

And here’s another fun fact: world-class procurement organisations have 22 per cent lower labour costs, according to the Hackett Group. I heard that, marketing! Yes, of course I’m running a world-class procurement organisation. This company’s costs would be a darn sight higher without me.

That means you’ll miss me when I’m gone. No, public relations, it’s a figure of speech, I’m not actually going. Here’s an example of why procurement is important. The government has plans to name and shame anyone breaching the slavery law. So I’m the one standing between you and those headlines about our products being made by vulnerable illegal immigrants living in sheds, because you used some dodgy temp agency. Do you want to finesse that kind of PR disaster? Thought not.

But I could do so, so much more if only you’d put a bit of welly behind me; everyone seems to be getting a piece of our digital transformation except me. Fewer than 10 per cent of companies have deployed procurement solutions based on key technologies such as big data, the internet of things, serverless architecture or blockchain technology, according to Procurement Leaders (that’s an intelligence and networking company just for people like me).

It’s just not fair, especially when I could save up to $86 billion a year with a fully automated procurement function. Well, when I say “I”, I mean the Global 5000, but that’s 5,000 of my closest friends.

The thing is, digital is going to mean a bit of an upgrade in the old skills front. I’ll be honest, chairman, it’s going to be tough for that uncle of yours who works with me. But he did join the procurement department in 1973, didn’t he? I bet he’d rather work on his golf handicap than learn about embedding data science and analytics expertise.

So there might be some work to do for you, HR. Egeman Tumturk, global sourcing director at Bugaboo, said digital “requires a huge change in talent and the way we do our day-to-day activities, our jobs”, when he was interviewed by Procurement Leaders for its CPO Insights. He called it “a revolution”.

See, that’s really what’s happening here. We’re not talking about a bit of an upgrade, a few new smartphones and fling in a bit of software while we think about it. This is properly transformational; it’s not just about efficiency.

My job is about to morph from tactical biscuit-buying to strategic business innovation; that’s what management consultants Bain & Company says, anyway. “Artificial intelligence and robotic process automation are automating manual tasks and freeing up time for more strategic activities,” wrote Coleman Radell and David Schannon last autumn. “Digital technologies also provide a competitive edge by improving the speed and quality of procurement, reducing risk and enhancing innovation.”

Let’s face it, you need me to do this stuff, otherwise we’ll be overtaken by our competitors, who are already using advanced analytics to get value out of their historical data. It’s not really an option to leave me with an Excel spreadsheet and a glitter pen any longer.

Like me, Accenture’s Mr Nowosel sees the procurement role moving away from simply control and compliance, and into a core business function. It’s now about finding the right partners in the ecosystem, mitigating risk, protecting the brand and staying competitive. He says: “Getting competitive is more than having a great negotiated price. It is having the right solution for your customers at the right point.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself. We have a hyperconnected and increasingly transparent world out there and I’m the one with the bird’s eye view of it. If you invest in me and provide me with the right tools and people, I can develop an agile ecosystem that learns from its mistakes, protects our corporate reputation, cultivates a sustainable supply chain, delivers real-time data insights and predictive analytics, and saves you money – worth more than a few chocolate Hobnobs I expect…

Best wishes,

Chief procurement officer

This article, edited by Peter Archer, was taken from the Raconteur Future of Procurement report, as featured in The Times.  


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Minding The Procurement Gap: Where You Are Vs Where You Think You Are

To meet the ever growing list of procurement objectives, procurement leaders must effectively transform their organisations. While most organisations have begun this journey, many hit roadblocks along the way, which could easily have been avoided. During our latest CPO roundtable in London, sponsored by Ivalua, Arnaud Malardé, Senior Product Marketing Manager – Ivalua discussed how to map a path that enables you to rapidly progress to best-in-class procurement, and beyond, to establish a true competitive advantage for your company.

The keys to effective procurement Transformation

To meet the ever growing list of procurement objectives digital transformation is critical to success. But less than 30 per cent of procurement organisations have digitised more than 50 per cent of their processes. And a great deal of technology initiatives that are implemented fail to deliver.

According to a survey commissioned with Forrester, who surveyed over 400 procurement practitioners, those that have switched eProcurement technology, list the following three reasons for failure:

  • Supplier onboarding 30 per cent
  • Poor user adoption 27 per cent
  • Implementation issues 25 per cent

Of course, the obstacles to your digital transformation success differ depending on how far along you are on your journey. Beginners are more likely to suffer with insufficient budget or lack of executive support whereas teams in the advanced stages might find integration of S2P tools or procurement’s change resistance the most challenging areas.

Arnaud believes there is a gap between where procurement think they are and where they actually are. True digital transformation is a long way off for most.

His advice to plotting your path to successful transformation:

  • Don’t overestimate your maturity
  • Successful leaders focus beyond procurement
  • Evaluate technology carefully: avoid the key obstacles, assess based on today’s and tomorrow’s requirements

Delivering a story with style

As we grow older we increasingly feel as though we’ve lost our ability to trade freely in stories the way children do. But that’s not entirely true. Story telling expert, author, actor and inspirational speaker David Gillespie believes that we don’t ever lose our story-telling skills, just the confidence to use them. But it’s so important to see storytelling as king and queen because it is at the heart of everything we do in our personal and professional lives.

David revealed the seven basic plots of storytelling, one or more of which can be applied to any story. Try it for yourself!

  1. Overcoming the monster
  2. The quest
  3. Voyage and return
  4. Comedy
  5. Tragedy
  6. Rebirth
  7. Rags to riches

David also shared his advice for delivering a story with style

  1. Structure is essential – We can’t all be like Charles Dickens or Stephen King who don’t know how their stories will end when they start writing. A good place to start is the end. Decide where you want to take your audience to and work backwards to find the middle and the beginning – the set up, confrontation and resolution. Get your framework right to hang the narrative on
  2. Take your audience on a journey – You’ve got to take the audience on a trip. If you don’t there’s not sense of movement and no change affected. The point of stories is to effect change by taking your audience from point A to point B
  3. Fluidity of the journey – best stories are fluid and easy to follow – you shouldn’t be asking readers to connect from one point to the next
  4. Edit, edit and edit again – When in doubt chuck it out. that’s what the mantra of storytelling should be. As humans, we tend to hang on to things even if it’s not serving the plot. Take it out!
  5. Bring the story to life – All the best stories deserve to be told with the same passion and enthusiasm as how we conceive them

Cyber Security – are you prepared?

There are more reasons every day for organisations to consider the implications of a robust Cyber strategy but many are not sure where to start. There are more reasons every day for organisations to consider the implications of a robust Cyber strategy but many are not sure where to start. Mark Raeburn, CEO – Context discussed how we can manage cyber risk, avoid potential breaches and deter, detect and respond to the most sophisticated cyber-attacks.

Mark talked through the threat spectrum, which plots the desire of certain groups or nations to commit cyber attacks versus their capability to execute these attacks. Russia are by far the most capable foreign power and they have intent. In general, people are fearful of terrorism and, of course, they are massively keen to exploit cyber security but at the moment they are not capable. A big concern would be if ‘hackers for hire’ start working for terrorists.

Key motivations for targeting

  • Prepositioning and disruption
  • Intellectual Property Theft
  • Espionage
  • Stepping Stone Access

If you’d like to find out more about sponsoring or attending our CPO roundtables please contact [email protected]

10 Phrases You Should Never Say At Work

What are the phrases you should avoid in the workplace? We reveal the top ten most irritating and annoying phrases that are guaranteed to wind up your colleagues…

Some are just totally meaningless pieces of jargon – thrown into the conversation to disguise the fact that you have don’t know what you talking about. Others are downright rude or deliberately confusing. While some of the things we say at work just make us look stupid.

So, what are the phrases to avoid? Well the top 10 most irritating and annoying phrases to say at work (things that are guaranteed to wind up your colleagues) are:

1. With all due respect

When someone says this, what do they actually mean?

Often, it is the exact opposite… this is just a passive/aggressive way of saying, “I know better than you”.  Respect you? Well, they obviously don’t.

So, it is probably no surprise that these four words really wind us up and have been voted the most aggravating in the workplace by around half of those surveyed by CV-Library. If you are ever tempted to use this phrase (even ironically), don’t.

2. Reach out

The problem with this phrase, is that it can have so many meanings. When you thank someone for “reaching out” to you, are you implying they are offering to help you or that they are asking for help? Telling someone else to do this (as in ‘go and reach out to accounts’) is patronising particularly if what you really want them to do is make contact in a highly professional manner.

While “I’ll get my people to reach out to you” is incredibly confusing. What does mean? That they will be in touch next week? Or is this just a polite way of saying “don’t call us and we won’t call you”?

3. At the end of the day and 4. It is what it is

So, the boss is stumped…and cannot think of a solution. So, they say “it is what it is” as a way of saying let’s just accept a bad situation. Worse, “at the end of the day” implies that what will be, will be. Put the two phrases together – At the end of the day, it is what it is – and you might as well throw your hands in the air and give up. Please: just say it like it is.

5. Think outside the box

What is wrong with telling someone to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions? Context. Generally, you are told to “think outside the box” when everyone else is stumped for ideas. So, you are being asked to do the impossible. Also, most organisations don’t actually welcome unconventional and original thinking.

6. Let’s regroup

This is another phrase that has too many meanings. Is this a polite way of telling a group that they are all useless and new people need to be brought into the meeting? Or that you need fresh ideas? Or just more time to think of new ideas? Confused? You will be.

7. Can I borrow you for a second? and 8. Have you got two minutes?

Another irritating habit is using a euphemism to impose on your time when you are already extremely busy. Let’s face facts: the interruption is never for two minutes let alone a second. The person who uses this phrase, knows you would refuse to give up your afternoon to help them. But when they pretend that all they need is just a small amount of your time, it is really hard to say “’no” without appearing difficult. Irritating, isn’t it? When you are tempted to use either of these phrases, think about that.

9. At this moment in time

This is a great way to obfuscate when you do not have a clue/haven’t completed the project/forgot to follow a lead/don’t want to commit to a yes or no.  etc. So, “Is the client going to make that purchase?”. Answer: “At this moment in time, they are considering it”. The truth? Anyone’s guess.

10. Get the ball rolling

This is a bit last century when sporting metaphors dominated the world of business gobbledegook. Remember: “pass the ball”, “left field”, and “knocking it out of the park”?  Not only is this dated, once again it is not good communication… tell it like it is.

Surprisingly, motoring metaphors such as “in the fast lane”, “shift up a gear”, “put the brakes on”…or that highly annoying “let’s park this to one side”, don’t feature in the top ten.

So next time you are tempted to slip into jargon remember it is highly irritating. Also, being direct gets better results. “People may take what you are saying the wrong way,” says Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library. “If you’re hinting a circling back to the task later or asking for more hands on deck, this can come across as rude. Are they not good enough for this task?”

….AND THE 10 THINGS THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY IF YOU WANT A PROMOTION

While jargon is annoying, in an interview for a step-up the career ladder, it is being too informal that is the problem.

What are you trying to convey? If you are a more mature candidate, perhaps you believe (wrongly) that saying words like “epic fail” makes you down with the kids. It doesn’t.

Or if you genuinely litter your conversations with “totes” perhaps you don’t realise that this is NOT the way to get a better job (even if it is a very informal setting). It is just not professional.

So don’t be tempted. These are the buzzwords employers are fed up with hearing:

  1. Literally 
  2. Like
  3. Just sayin’ 
  4. Banter
  5. Totes
  6. Amazeballs
  7. My bad
  8. Yolo 
  9. Me thinks
  10. Sorry not sorry

“Be mindful that if you’re after a promotion, your employer won’t appreciate you saying a buzzword like ‘my bad’ to excuse yourself for making a mistake,” advises Lee Biggins who warns that using colloquialisms makes you appear less intelligent, can confuse colleagues if they don’t know exactly what you mean and frustrates those you work with because there is a “lack of substance” behind what you’re saying.

Want to get your wheels turning towards a supply chain career one could only dream of? Then don’t miss our upcoming Career Boot Camp with IBM – a free 5-part podcast series with some of the very best of the best. Check it out here: https://www.procurious.com/career-boot-camp-2019

Do You Know What Your Procurement Function Can— And Can’t—Do?

Leaders who know more about their procurement functions are more realistic about what procurement can do—and how much more it can achieve.

By RZ Images/ Shutterstock

For many business leaders, the procurement department may seem to rank low on the list of worries. In many companies, procurement accounts for less than one percent of the total functional budget, so it may not attract the same attention as functions with larger budgets. More importantly, however, we find that executives see procurement as purely a transactional function that executes commands and delivers goods, rather than a potential source of value.

But that myopia has consequences. The Global Procurement Excellence survey, encompassing more than 1,100 organizations worldwide, shows that the best-run procurement organizations have a far more accurate understanding of their own capabilities than other businesses have (Exhibit 1). Procurement followers, by contrast, are especially prone to overestimating their procurement skills.

Overestimating existing capabilities blinds companies to the need for improvement. And where is that improvement needed most? Certainly, procurement functions need to get the basics right in category management, global sourcing, supplier development, and risk management. But the survey data show that single most important driver of procurement performance isn’t in these “hard” metrics, but in “soft” metrics regarding the people in the procurement department (Exhibit 2).

Talent management is an especially major challenge, showing significant gaps between procurement leaders and followers. Scores were especially low on procurement career paths, consistent with perceptions of procurement as a field with limited advancement potential. Organizations that created selective job-rotation programs within procurement were more likely to be procurement leaders, as were those that made sure that high performers were well rewarded and moved on to other parts of the business.

Exhibit 1

Procurement leaders invest in talent management and set high aspirations

Exhibit 2

Procurement leaders are accurate in their self-assessment while followers fail to see performance gaps

Furthermore, with digital proving just as critical in procurement as in any other part of the organization, talent attraction and retention are becoming even more important for the future. Only by hiring, training, and retaining people with digital skills will procurement be able to deliver in an increasingly disrupted and competitive landscape.

These findings illustrate how important it is for businesses to keep procurement from becoming a backwater. It’s worth management attention, and it’s worth investing in procurement’s people.

This article was written by Riccardo Drentin, an associate partner in McKinsey & Company’s London office and Fabio Russo, an engagement manager in the Milan office.

Want to get your wheels turning towards a supply chain career one could only dream of? Then don’t miss our upcoming Career Boot Camp with IBM – a free 5-part podcast series with some of the very best of the best. Check it out here: https://www.procurious.com/career-boot-camp-2019

The (Office) Walk Of Shame: Workers Who Quit Because They Are Too Embarrassed To Stay

It’s not all about the money. The real reasons why we quit range from bad bosses who make passes to wars over stolen food from the office fridge as well as shame – doing something so excruciatingly embarrassing we just have to resign.

By worradirek / Shutterstock

You might think that a chance to earn more money would be the number one reason why we quit our jobs. But you’d be wrong. Being offered more cash actually comes in at number three.

Topping the chart is the desire for a better work/life balance whether that is a job with more flexible hours or at least without the long hours most of us have to put in to get the job done.

Also making the top ten are long hours and long commute, which are basically other ways of saying the same thing: many of us are fed up with living to work and want to work in order to live.

We’ve had enough of bad bosses

The appalling behaviour of some managers is another reason why employees can’t wait to hand in their notice according to research commissioned by SPANA the working animal charity (yes, some animals work too!)

 “I thought the boss was useless” comes in at number five, “I fell out with the boss” at number nine and just making it into the top 20 at number nineteen “I had a physical altercation with the boss”. If things get violent, you know it’s time to leave (and perhaps sue?).

Despite #MeToo coming in at number sixteen for the number one most common reason for quitting is “My boss made a pass at me”.

Some of us get stroppy over petty squabbles

However, some reasons for handing in your notice are quite frankly ridiculous. Leaving because the free tea and coffee was taken away, because a colleague stole your food from the work fridge or you are not allowed to change the radio station or don’t like your desk position (all in the top 40) are a bit drastic…. There is no guarantee your next workplace will be any better.

That is why you should spend time really researching your new workplace – not just the job, but also who you will be working with including the boss, the office environment – (it might be a dingy basement not the plush interview office – and important work/life factors such as the commute to work.

Putting two fingers up to your employer

Half of us are so fed up, we just hand in our notice without having another job to go to.

Still, you can’t beat that “I quit” feeling… with half saying they felt a massive sense of relief after doing so. That probably includes those who did something so embarrassing (possibly at a work party or with the photocopier) that they just had to leave and never go back. In that case it is entirely understandable that you would not want to hang around while you find a new job.

But we’re not up to admitting why

You can see why someone would not want to admit that they had done something so shameful that they could not bear to return to work.

However, these quitters are not the only ones who shy away from the truth. One in four British workers have lied to their bosses when it comes to the real reason for quitting their jobs according to global recruitment specialist, Michael Page.

We may be leaving because we are not paid enough – or not feeling like we are valued – but we haven’t got the guts to fess up. Ironically, in this candidate-short market, saying you are leaving for a bigger salary could lead to a counter offer from your existing employer, so it might be worth making your point (after all, you are leaving anyway!)

The survey also found that one in ten just do not feel like they fit in – particularly LGBT workers, those from an ethnic minority background, workers with long-term health conditions and younger workers (aged 18 to 34.)

Top 20 reasons for quitting a job

1. Wanted to improve work/life balance

2. It was too stressful

3. Was offered more money

4. I didn’t like the company culture

5. Thought the boss was useless

6. Felt I wasn’t learning anything new

7. The hours were too long

8. The commute was too long

9. Fell out with boss

10. I hadn’t been given a pay rise in ages

11. The perks weren’t good enough

12. I felt I’d hit a glass ceiling

13. The atmosphere was dull

14. Fell out with colleagues

15. Hated my desk position

16. Boss made a pass at me

17. My ‘work best friend’ quit and it wasn’t the same without them

18. Had a physical altercation with colleague

19. Had a physical altercation with boss

20. Did something so embarrassing I was forced to move company