Category Archives: Procurious News

6 Elements Of A Robust Category Strategy

A robust Category Plan and a Strategy will guarantee significant impact for your organisation with these 6 elements.


In my last article The #1 Reason You Need a Well- Defined & Formally Documented Category Strategy!, I purposefully oversimplified what a category strategy is by stating that it answers the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When, Why) as well as the How of a particular group of spend. Ultimately, it will act as a guide to the Category Manager in his/her application of different procurement levers & tactics to generate value in the assigned spend area. I want to dive a little deeper on this topic by discussing 6 key elements that make up a robust category strategy:

1) Internal Needs Assessment: this should set a baseline for the category and provide a basic understanding of sub-categories, major suppliers, key requirements & stakeholders, internal controls/policies currently in place, and a brief category history and some of the challenges & successes it experienced. This section is particularly useful when reviewing your category strategy with someone who is unfamiliar with the category and it scope.

2) Spend Analysis: the foundation of any category strategy depends upon a solid understanding of the historical and (ideally) forecasted spend. Without accurate and granular detail, it’s hard to imagine how you can formulate any worthwhile strategy that you can feel confident in. If you didn’t do anything else in developing a category strategy, at least conduct a thorough spend analysis before making any type of recommendations to stakeholders or your leadership. There are a million different ways to slice and dice your data, however, at the bare minimum you should break your spend down by sub-category, supplier, location, and business group/facility. Data visualisation is worthwhile to mention here and a skill in itself: how do you take data and transform it into an eye-opening story that opens the door to powerful business insights? There are several data visualization tools out there like Tableau that can help with this, but you can never go wrong by simply utilising Excel or PowerPoint. One of my go-to formats to visualize spend data is the infamous Pareto!

3) Supply Market Analysis: understanding of the supply market is key to developing a robust strategy. You can begin by gathering market intelligence and benchmarking information via a myriad of places and sources, however, Beroe Live is a decent place to start and it’s free. Commonly used market analysis tools are the Porter’s 5 Forces model as well as the Structure, Conduct, Performance (SCP) model. Personally, I feel Porter’s 5 Forces model is more useful when entering a specific sourcing event or deal negotiation as it will help analyze the level of competition that exists at a specific point in time. Therefore, I tend to utilise the SCP framework as party of my category strategy development process.

4) Category Segmentation: segmentation modeling really sets you up to effectively apply the appropriate strategies for the goods/services you are sourcing and should help prioritize where you spend your time and with who. The Kraljic Matrix, developed by Peter Kraljic, is a segmentation model that evaluates two key factors:

1) the overall importance of the good/service (commonly based off total spend, profitability impact, or value-add to the company) and

2) market complexity or supply risk.

These factors are then evaluated on a Low to High scale across 2 x 2 matrix creating 4 quadrants or categories: 

Strategic Items(High Value + High Market Complexity/Supply Risk)

Leverage Items (High Value + Low Market Complexity/Supply Risk)

Bottleneck Items (Low Value + High Market Complexity/Supply Risk), and 

Non-Critical Items (Low Value + Low Market Complexity/Supply Risk).

Similarly, this tool can also be used to segment your suppliers. This is important to note because your counterpart on the other side of the table has most likely engaged in a similar segmentation process in helping them evaluate the strategies to deploy with their customers. Do you know where you fall in their model? Does your supplier/category segmentation align with how your supplier views you as customer?

5) Strategy: all the fact-based analysis that has been conducted up to this point should highlight and allow you to articulate 2-3 high level strategies that will guide all procurement activity that will occur (I highly recommend anyone engaged in Category Management to read The Purchasing Chessboard as it is a great tool to stimulate thinking around category strategy, procurement levers, and tactics that can be deployed). It should also include goals or KPIs to help measure the effectiveness of its implementation. Leveraging 1 of the 4 general strategies in the The Purchasing Chessboard, if my strategy is to “Leverage Competition Among Suppliers” one of my goals or KPIs could be “Achieve 15% year-over-year costs savings in x good/service for next three years”.

6) Category Plan: now that you have this amazing strategy with lofty goals to save millions, a list of initiatives, projects or tactics must be developed that will deliver the results. The Category Plan should call out the name of the project, description of the project or tactic to be used, strategy alignment, value, and timing. A Project Prioritisation Matrix is a useful tool here to help you through this process. Although you may not formally develop criteria to plot your project on the matrix, it’s important to think about the Business Value and Ease of Implementation of the initiatives you have listed.

In summary, a category strategy is much more than a document that answers the 5 W’s as it becomes the critical guide to the Category Manager in his/her application of different procurement strategies, levers & tactics to generate value for the company they represent. By including these 6 elements in your category strategy, you are sure to deliver significant impact for your organisation and see transformative results.

Let me know your thoughts and the tools you utilize to develop your category strategies (I’ve created a Category Strategy template for those who may be just getting started!)

Managing A New Tech Project? Steal This Company’s Playbook

Make your new tech project a success with these tried and tested tips.


If you’ve managed a new technology project before, then you know the tech is the easy part. 

People are the challenge (and I mean that in the nicest way possible!)

Luckily, people and projects follow predictable patterns – no matter the size of your company. 

So here’s the playbook you need to make your new project successful. It’s the same one I’ve used to help dozens of companies like Credit Suisse and Honeywell launch systems on time and on budget.

And it’s yours to steal.

Step 1: Get the right people in the room

The most successful organisations are those that get the right people in the room from day one and keep them engaged the whole time.  

Who are the right people? It’s likely a mix of people across your organisation. Obvious inclusions are senior level decision makers. You also need to get the best technical brains in the room who understand the legacy system better than anyone else.

You need people who really understand your business – warts and all. Why are things done in the way that they are? What is the history? What are the processes? Are they defined in flowcharts and documents?  

You might think your own processes are well-documented, but they need to be really specific for the design phase (i.e. do emails/reminders have to be sent at a particular stage and what happens after X number of days; who do we escalate to?)

Next, you need to spend significant time making sure everyone understands and agrees the objectives of the new system. You need the people who hold the purse strings to agree, so you can get resources in place.

And prepare for scepticism – especially from people who have been around a while. These long-time employees have seen it all, and they might carry hard feelings from previous projects that didn’t live up to the promises.

So don’t be quick to dismiss those who seem negative; sometimes they are the key to understanding why something was done in the past, and to identifying where complexity can be removed. 

You’ll find if you address stakeholder concerns early on and make sure everyone feels heard and understood, you can get them on board and keep them there. And who knows? They could become your biggest ambassadors for the project. 

Plan for pushback

No matter how great your new system is – or how much time and money it will save the company – you should expect pushback. Most humans hate change. 

So approach their concerns with sympathy; after all, it can be hard to learn a new system.

And don’t forget about potential pushback from your suppliers. I often have customers who struggled previously with getting suppliers on legacy procurement systems.

Avoid that chaos by bringing your key suppliers in early.

For example, Maxim Healthcare struggled for seven long years to get suppliers on their legacy system. The suppliers pushed back en masse against the terms they had to accept, and possible fees faced by the vendor’s supplier network approach. 

So when they asked us to help them launch a new system, we put suppliers at the centre. Their suppliers were thrilled with the friendlier terms and approach. The result? Maxim Healthcare launched a shiny new P2P system in eight weeks with more suppliers than they acquired in the previous seven years. 

Define requirements and objectives

Before you go shopping, do the important work of laying down requirements and objectives.

Think of it like painting a room. The actual painting goes quickly; it’s all the prep work that takes the time.

Now is the opportunity to review your old processes and see if they’re still serving your company.

Get into the detail at the design phase and understand that documenting your processes will help to work out what you are doing now and where you can find efficiencies, cost savings, and better user adoption.

Everyone in your stakeholder group should agree on what your company needs in a new system. That will save you from scope creep (and many headaches) later on – when changes will be infinitely more expensive.

Once you know what you’re looking for, scrutinise different technology providers. Make sure you understand what is possible now with current technology.

At this stage, your provider should act as a friendly interrogator, questioning any areas they find in your processes that could be simplified. However, the act of removing that complexity is up to you. Will you make the most of the new technology you are paying good money for?

Look at the whole puzzle

A system may seem perfect in isolation, but you need to understand how it fits with the rest of your company set-up.

After all, you’re looking for a seamless flow of information, a consistent user experience, and a unified data model that supports 360 degree visibility of suppliers and activity.

None of that is possible if your company systems aren’t compatible. 

Also understand how the new tech system you choose can grow and change as your company changes. 

Some systems are too rigid to support those changes, meaning you could have a redundant system on your hands after only a few months.

And you should also consider how other existing company systems could change in the future. Are any of them due for an upgrade soon? Stay close to your CIO so your company makes the most of tech investments.

Allow for flexibility

Successful projects allow for flexibility in timing. Things will change and bumps will come up over the course of your project – no matter how precise your planning.

That’s why we use a hybrid agile/ waterfall method on our own projects (and encourage customers to use the same).

What does that mean? The waterfall approach is to build the system and then show it. Agile means to build as you go. 

Instead of choosing one over the other, we use both methods. That brings a nice balance of predictability with a level of flexibility to address unforeseen or evolving requirements.

At the design phase we try to lock down 80% of requirements and in this way we still maintain 20% for a level of flexibility. Though as mentioned earlier, it’s wise to get as specific as possible.

You might be surprised how quickly a project can come together this way. Take the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for example. They needed the ability to upload bid submittals electronically, and we helped them launch the feature in just one week. 

Nailing down exactly what you need will make the actual build phase go quicker. And building in contingency time means you won’t get caught off guard when you reach a hiccup. 

Send in the A-team

You need to take people off their day-to-day work and give them the time to focus on this project.  

Have dedicated project team members who solely work on launching the new system. They should be able to answer business and technical questions, and to report back on user issues and gripes. 

This is especially important during the early stages of the project, but no less important throughout the entire process.

The best way to mitigate issues is to plan for them by making sure that you have enough and the right resources.

Once the procurement system is rolled out, it’s key to keep the same team engaged so a knowledge exchange to the support team can take place. They should stay put for at least a few weeks after launch to ensure a smooth transition.

Finish strong

Successful project teams are always communicating. 

At the start of any new project, I set up monthly steering meetings at the executive level. There are weekly project status meetings with project leaders, Ivalua, partners and clients to share what has been done, the challenges and what’s planned for the next week. 

We put any roadblocks or risks on the table and take a realistic health check on the overall project status.

I also schedule “Work in Progress” reviews to keep everything on track and spot issues a long way off. 

These checkpoints allow us to confirm we are headed in the right direction, and we can take some feedback to adjust it when needed.

You can do this

To summarise, when you managing a new tech project of any size, there are the three keys to success:

1) Know what your goals are, and make sure these are communicated to your internal teams and to the companies you are working with. 

2) Have the right people in the room. 

3) Complete a robust, open and transparent design phase to get what you want and guarantee that your organisation gets what it needs.

Finally, make sure you report your after-launch success back to senior management. Ivalua did some research earlier this year that showed 67% of procurement professionals believe that their colleagues consider them to be a key business partner contributing significant strategic value.

They already know you are valuable. Your project is another opportunity to prove it.

Procurement Needs Less Processes – As They Are Slow, Boring And Self-Centered

Perhaps the best way to get things done is, ironically, to abandon the myriad processes we established to get things done!

I’ve discussed with a number of CPOs during the last months on how they have managed procurement during COVID-19. One recurring answer is along the lines of “we broke all of our processes and went to wild-west-mode.” Now, many say this with an interesting combination of sadness and pride. Sadness that they had to give away the great processes perceived to be the basis for any professional procurement organization. Pride and excitement of how procurement teams were able to improvise, work hard, and survive.

There shouldn’t be sadness for the breakdown of processes. This period has shown that processes are slow, boring and self-centered – and that we can live and thrive with much less of them. Many processes are manifestations of control-freak, risk-averse mediocre management but I admit there are cases where they can be beneficial.

Occasionally processes are great – when they allow for (almost) complete automation. For example, it’s great when routine tasks are mapped out as a process and automated to save people’s time and attention. Even in this case I see process more as a tool to enable (software based) automation rather than as the end-game.

Sometimes, processes can be helpful guidelines for a less experienced employee, and/or to facilitate coordination in teams. If you’re doing a supplier risk evaluation for the first time (and if it needs to be manually done), it may be good to have a process description to guide through the first steps. In these cases, processes should be seen as a learning method. Having consistent vocabulary and descriptions of a process helps communication and coordination across individuals.

Those are the exceptions. In most cases processes bring many hidden costs to our businesses.

Why procurement needs less processes

Processes are, almost by definition, designed to cover all sets of actions taken. This tends to lead to complex multi-step processes that often include a number of bottlenecks in the form of approvals and reviews. Whenever something bad happens in a company, management often asks “how we can prevent this from happening again.” The answer commonly is “let’s create a process.” Over time, there are more and more complex processes in place, gradually suffocating the organization and its creativity.

All this put together brings on a number of problems with processes:

  • Things get slow – there are so many steps to cover and so many approvals that getting even a simple task done takes a lot of calendar time. I believe this is the reason that lot of processes were broken during COVID-19: they were just way too slow to create a meaningful result.
  • Things get boring both for managers and the people driving the processes forward. CPOs often talk of a talent shortage in procurement. How to fix this? Definitely not by trying to reduce our exciting work to a process-led obstacle course. Nobody ever said “I just completed a 15-step sourcing process and that was the greatest moment of my life.” People don’t get excited about running processes but, unfortunately, they may get overly excited designing them. People get motivated about purpose, outcome, creativity and freedom, but not about executing processes. If we provide processes as tight guidelines on how to do things, we don’t get talent. Once we get real talent, we definitely can’t keep them with strict processes. It’s equally bad for managers – their job becomes one of reviewing and approving. Approving POs, business cases, vacation requests, what not. The brightest people who have worked hard, learned a lot, and would have a lot to give become rubber stampers.
  • Processes are also very self-centered. They assume that we can dictate the timeline – it may make our own lives more plannable, but it also takes out any options to leverage the opportunities that are coming up. Say, for example, you follow a strict quarterly business review cycle with suppliers. If supplier collaboration happens only through process-driven reviews, you are not leveraging opportunities coming up in between.

The world is getting faster and more volatile. In this new world, as the COVID-19 era has proven, processes are just too slow. I truly hope that COVID-19 did not only teach us that remote work is possible, but also that a more action-oriented, exciting procurement world is possible … But more on that on my next blog article.

This article was originally published here – it has been republished on Procurious with kind permission.

The Recruiter Games

Ever wonder what recruiters are REALLY thinking when they give you “the news”? I’m dishing out the real dirt to help you better understand the process behind finding your next job!


If you have ever played a game with a small child, you know it can be frustrating because they seem to change the rules halfway through. My daughter is always making up new cards for Uno [she wanted to create a card that made us switch hands whenever I called “Uno”!]  so I never quite know what to expect when we play! 

Looking for a job isn’t much different, is it? 

Each company has its own process, its own application, and not too many are very transparent about what to expect once you hit that submit button. Wouldn’t it be handy to have a few ideas of what might be happening on the other side? 

Even though from the outside, company applications all look different, the general recruitment process is essentially the same.  All recruiters seem to use the same playbook when giving feedback to candidates. I hope my insights can help you better interpret their comments, see the other side of recruitment and make you feel a little more confident when playing the game.

What recruiters say: “We decided to go with an internal candidate”

What recruiters really mean: It really can come down to who you know. You should be networking within your industry before you need a job. Someone you know can open a door for you for an interview. You still need to have the knowledge, skills, and abilities, but sometimes there are so many people in line for a position, you need a hand up. 

What recruiters say: “We are looking for someone with “x” experience or “y” education”

What recruiters mean: As much as we’d like to give you (and everyone) a chance, we aren’t working for you. We are working for the hiring manager to fill a role with a specific set of qualifications that need to be met. And we aren’t writing job descriptions; we try to write job postings (and we aren’t all that good at it).

Many times the application system is set up to just post the actual job description. We aren’t huge fans of this. But it can be cumbersome to change the posting and chances are the day-to-day recruiters weren’t involved in the selection or implementation of the system anyway. The main point here: we aren’t setting the qualifications.

  • Which means, if you don’t meet the qualifications of the position, we won’t send you on. Sorry. (See above) And yes, we likely don’t quite agree that a Master’s degree or a minimum of 10 years of experience should be required. There may be lots of folks we want to consider for a role but just can’t — and trust me, this frustrates me as well, as both a recruiter AND a candidate. I’ve been rejected for many positions because I haven’t had the right title or right years of experience. I’m confident I could have done the job and done it well, but as there are many others with similar experience, I can’t fault the recruiter for rejecting my resume.
  • Experienced Recruiter Amy Miller explains “we take direction (and work for) the companies that pay us … the hiring manager is the ultimate decision-maker on who gets hired (or invited to the interview in the first place!); we can only work with the information we’re given, which is why a targeted resume which fully demonstrates fit for the role you want is so important.”
  • And sometimes, even if you meet the qualifications of the role, you might not get an interview. You aren’t owed an interview just because you meet the qualifications. If you are in a role that isn’t in high demand, there may be 30 others who have similar qualifications. We can’t interview everyone.

What recruiters say: So, we don’t actually say anything here, you just get the generic rejection email, but it doesn’t feel like we even reviewed your application. So you complain that the “system” kicked your application out or look for someone to help you rewrite your resume so it won’t get kicked out.

What recruiters mean: We were likely reviewing applications when yours came in or in the process of finishing up the hire. Artificial Intelligence likely did not reject your resume. I did. Most recruiters I know do not work with an applicant tracking system (ATS) that automatically rejects anyone’s resume. Most applications are reviewed by a person. And getting rejected quickly doesn’t mean it was AI either – just means I happened to be reviewing applications when yours came in.

What recruiters say: “We’re still reviewing candidates and should be back in touch soon”

What recruiters mean: The hiring manager STILL hasn’t made a final decision. Most hiring managers really do believe there is a “perfect” candidate out there. Rarely is this the case. We want the right fit, but often we have to talk the hiring manager out of keeping the posting open “just a bit longer” for that “perfect” candidate that they think is out there. We know that there are likely many people that can do the position and we want to find one of them.

  • It is also likely the hiring manager hasn’t been well trained in the selection process. So, sometimes, the hiring manager will pass the buck onto the recruiter for a bad experience. As experienced recruiter Laura Mazzullo shared “it is the hiring manager who needs education! It’s the hiring manager who may need more training on overcoming bias, being more open-minded with qualifications, learning candidate experience —it’s a bit of a “don’t shoot the messenger” situation more often than not!”

Recruiting can feel like a game. It can take time to figure out what you need to do to move forward, and then the rules change. But just like in a game, once you understand the rules, you may enjoy the challenge and even have a little fun. May the apps be ever in your favour!

Three Ways Businesses Can Emerge Stronger From The Pandemic

Three main trends will positively impact the Procurement space post-COVID-19 and beyond and help in responding to unexpected challenges


What a strange year it’s been. As we marked the start of 2020, and news started to circulate about a virus in China, no one could have anticipated the global health crisis that was on its way.

As more countries ease lockdown restrictions and business find new and creative ways to meet the needs of their customers, there are many learnings we can take from the pandemic. These range from critical changes to growth plans to adjustments to company culture to operational improvements to increase supply chain agility.

Like many companies, we recognized early in the crisis the difficulties we would all face in this new reality. To get ahead of the curve, our co-founders Samir Bodas and Monish Darda, along with our leadership team, developed a framework based on our values of Fairness, Openness, Respect, Teamwork and Execution—FORTE—to help everyone at Icertis make decisions to meet the demands we faced.

We call that framework our four rings of responsibility—taking care of self, taking care of family, taking care of community and taking care of business—and prioritize them in that order. We see the Four Rings of Responsibility as our way of amplifying our FORTE values to ensure we do our part to help win the battle against COVID-19.   

COVID’s Impact

Outside of our own workplace, I’ve been speaking with our customers about how the industry is coping with the upheaval. Their experiences map closely with the findings from the ‘How Now? Supply Chain Confidence Indexfrom Procurious that show only 1% of procurement/supply chain professionals felt ‘frozen’ by the COVID crisis. This is a testament to the rate of innovation across the profession and the strong role technology is now playing in helping drive speed and agility within procurement.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic exposed weaknesses in modern supply chain strategies as evidenced by the survey’s finding that 38% of respondents plan to expand their supplier base over the coming months. One of the main lessons that we are hearing from customers and prospects is that businesses need to create stronger, more flexible and diverse supply chains. To do this, it will be essential for businesses to identify areas in their supply chain where efficiency improvements can be made.

Leading brands are increasingly realizing this work starts with contracts, which define how your supply chain runs. By harnessing the critical business information in their contracts, companies can quickly address areas like value leakage and regulatory compliance, while accelerating the pace of supplier onboarding and reducing business risk.

Three Post-COVID Trends

In fact, a greater focus on risk management is one of the three main trends that will positively impact the procurement space post-COVID-19. Risk management used to be an abstract concept in the C-suite, only a concern for the CFO or the audit committee; now it is painfully tangible to everyone in the organization. Every business now recognizes (or should recognize!) that they need to take a programmatic approach to responding to black swan events. This underlines the need for having solutions in place that will allow organisations to clearly understand the risk/reward trade-off in all business processes. For example, being able to identify and manage risk throughout the contract lifecycle, is enabling procurement teams to examine their sourcing strategies to ensure they are not overly dependent on a single supplier. In the current business environment, where unfortunately many businesses are still struggling to survive, having a multi-sourcing strategy in place is a business imperitive.

Secondly, we will see greater alignment between the CFO and CPO. By the nature of their roles, CFOs have always been focused on those technologies that can give them business oversight of income and spending. However, the impact felt by COVID on that cashflow—from supply chain failures to shift in demand—has increased their focus on working with other areas of their organisations to identify and mitigate risk. As a result, they have become more invested in being able to structure and connect all of their company’s contract data, applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to enable them to quickly surface and respond to threats, growth opportunities and challenges.

And finally, it’s well documented that the pandemic has forced an acceleration of digital transformation efforts. Satya Nadella put it best when he observed, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” It is clear that innovation will take a front seat in the post-pandemic business world. Companies have seen the benefits of having cloud-based technologies and processes such as contract lifecycle management available to them when working remotely. I anticipate that we’ll start to see increased investments across the board as businesses look to protect themselves for future disruptions and reinvent how they do business.

Then beyond digitisation, a greater focus will be placed on investing in technologies that can enable advanced data analytics, so that businesses are able to use this insight to keep out in front. This is where contracts will take a central role, providing more intelligence and connecting to key business processes so they are able to provide the right foundation for growth and evolution, and allow organisations to respond to unanticipated challenges and changing marketplace dynamics. 

It’s been a challenging few months for everyone, but I am more confident than ever that if we keep our four rings of responsibility top of mind and take the lessons learned from COVID seriously, we will look back at this strange time and realise that it transformed the way we do business for the better. 

How Dawn Tiura Built The Largest Sourcing Network In The US

If you’re an ambitious procurement or supply chain professional, there’s plenty to learn from Dawn Tiura about the power of networking, and upskilling yourself in the important areas of third party risk.


“You’ve got to meet Dawn,” said Gabe Perez from Coupa.

“You’ve got to meet Dawn,” said Chris Sawchuk from Hackett Group.

“You’ve got to meet Dawn,” said Alpar Kambar from Denali.

So, I said to myself – “I’ve really got to meet Dawn!”

There’s literally only a handful of women in the world who own and operate their own businesses serving the profession.

So… it was great to finalIy meet the much-admired Dawn a few years ago at the LevaData conference in San Francisco. Finally – I had found someone out there just like me – someone who also believed in the power of bringing our profession together.

Dawn and I are still really getting to know each other. We next met up at the SAP Ariba conference in Austin. Then she did a fantastic job keynoting at our Big Ideas Summit in Chicago last year (on third party risk…which is her specialty and very timely for what we were about to experience this year!).

SIG is a powerhouse. They dominate the U.S. Their member companies are a who’s who of Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies who get together frequently. Their upcoming Global Executive Summit will feature insights from senior executives and disruptive thought leaders; they host weekly webinars, one-day events and CPO Roundtables; drive thought leadership in Future of Sourcing; and they have a training and certification program for sourcing, procurement and risk professionals.     

So, I wanted to make sure the Procurious community knows all about Dawn and her amazing company….so I asked for this interview..

When you started SIG, what was your vision? Were you trying to build the largest sourcing network in the U.S.? 

I actually am not the founder of Sourcing Industry Group (SIG). I took over the leadership in 2007 and my original intent was to remake it from a “good ole boys” network into the leading organization for sourcing, procurement and outsourcing professionals. My vision was to be a disrupter to the industry, pushing the latest ideas to members and to help elevate the role of the CPO.

Has your vision become a reality? Has SIG become what you thought it would be?

Yes and we’re making progress everyday as we continue pushing the envelope to adopt emerging technologies and find new ways to streamline the process of procurement. Over the last 10 years, SIG has become the largest network for sourcing professionals in the world. But more important than the size of our membership is the collegial nature and information sharing that we have fostered. SIG brings people together to share best practices and next practices in a non-commercial manner that creates success.

What have been your secrets to success?  And what advice would you give to others thinking about starting their own entrepreneurial venture?  

The secret to my success is surrounding myself with people who are smarter than me. They are my inspiration and they never say “no” to my new ideas. I also pride myself with only hiring people who volunteer in some capacity in their personal lives. For me, I think that people who give back to their local community or for a nonprofit says a lot to me about their character. We also allow people to take time off work, with pay, to support their own causes. The people I have recruited to the team often come from my volunteer work where I’ve seen their work ethic up close and personal. 

Why do you think people join networks? And, in particular, your network, SIG?  

The reason people join is most likely not the reason they ultimately stay.  People join SIG to network, share best practices and to become better educated. They stay largely due to the network itself and the fact we are non-commercial. People enjoy the camaraderie, the fun we have and most importantly how we lift one another up and help each other.  Our members are all great people, they participate fully and care for one another.  

Why did you decide to have both buyers and suppliers in your network? 

This was easy for me, I came from the supplier side, having consulted in sourcing for more than a decade. I know first hand that consultants/suppliers/advisors/tech companies each work with hundreds of clients and therefore bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. I encourage this interaction and these relationships. 

I really admire how you have very clear guidelines on how your suppliers, vendors and sponsors can interact with your members. What are some of those guidelines and why did you put them in place?  

I am proud of our Provider Code of Conduct and it is critical that providers acknowledge the fact that our practitioners are very sophisticated and won’t buy from you if you are a “slick salesperson.” They engage you because you have the right thought leadership that strikes a chord, or the right technology at the time they are ready to investigate it. They don’t buy from brochures or from being “sold to.”  If you are found to be actively selling, you are given one warning and the second time your membership is revoked and you have to sit out of SIG for two years. At that time we will allow you to come back into the SIG Tribe.  

When we caught up last year at the Big Ideas Summit in Chicago (by the way, you did an amazing job talking about Third Party Risk!  Very timely!), I really learnt how busy your life is – running your business, organising your major events, hosting webinars, mentoring young people….you fit a lot into your day, week, month, year!  What’s your advice to others who are trying to manage and prioritise their time better? 

I feel best when I have a lot of projects to take on, from building curriculum, to mentoring and parenting. The more I have to do, the more deadlines I have, it motivates me. Without deadlines, I would achieve very little. For example, you didn’t ask me for a deadline for this article, so it didn’t get done for over a month. I set my priorities by keeping them balanced. I must do something to help someone else every day, that is one thing that I believe in. Whether it is donating time or money to a good cause, shopping for an elderly neighbor or mentoring youth, we have an opportunity to be kind and to give back every single day and we should take advantage of that opportunity. 

What’s your advice to ambitious professionals out there? What should they be doing right now to make sure they succeed into the future? 

Learn to open your mouth wider so you can drink more easily from the fire hose, because technology is going to change at an increasing rate of acceleration. Accept it, embrace it and never fight it. Also, bring your authentic self to your role, whatever it is. You can’t be successful without living your own truth. Don’t try and be what someone else wants you to be, be who you are and who you want to become. Err on the side of kindness always. 

Most importantly, how are you personally right now? Florida is being hit hard by COVID. Are you and your family OK? What’s happening in Florida right now? 

Thank you for asking, we are doing well. I have a high school senior in virtual school and kids in college all working from their apartments. 

Summary

Wow!  Whichever way you look at this, Dawn is an inspiration.

If you’re a budding entrepreneur out there, you have hopefully been inspired by Dawn’s vision and determination.

If you’re an ambitious procurement or supply chain professional, there’s lessons to be learned in the power of networking and upskilling yourself in the important areas of third party risk.

If you’re a supplier, looking to truly partner with our profession, SIG provides a trusted and valuable conduit into the important buying community.

What did you learn from today’s story? Let us know.

How To Skyrocket Your Influence In 2 Steps

Step away from the emoji button. Read on to learn how to build genuine influence in your personal brand. Learn to move beyond the micro engagements of liking and sharing. Be bold and brave – expand your connections and network by following our pro tips.


Mirror mirror on the wall

While browsing idly through social media recently I concluded that many of my peers have confused visibility with influence. Procurement is a small industry especially if you’re in a niche field or a small country. What makes this contracted market even smaller is that we stare into our own reflection. 

Seek to expand not reinforce the bubble 

Commenting, liking, gaining followers and profiling only those within your bubble only serves to reinforce the echo chamber that you reside in. Expansion and growth should be the aim of the game and that’s the trick that many are missing!

Number of likes and connections is not influence

All the chat about the importance of “raising your profile” has seen many people reach for the emoji button. They equate visibility and these micro engagements with achieving influence. I’ve even heard some peers brag about it “mate did you see my pic? Got 12 likes, brilliant ay? I’m raising my profile and building influence.” Um no, but I’m glad people liked your photo.

Sure, visibility will get your name out there and you’ll make connections but just like the platforms we use in our personal life, professional networking sites can create a trap for the uninitiated. They offer so much more than just how many followers you have!

Untapped potential

Think about how you engage online, do you make the most of all opportunities?

  • Chance to connect with and observe thought leaders
  • Expand your learning beyond your sector and follow other industry trends
  • Grow your knowledge of different areas within your technical field
  • Expand your support base by utlising online connections
  • Taking part in free webinars

Check out these tips to ensure you are getting the most out of your Procurious experience!

Fear stops meaningful engagement and expansion

Platforms where personal profiles are created on a “work self” image can fuel the fire if people view their professional / work self as separate to their “real life” self. On professional networking sites people can struggle to make genuine comments, challenge / ask questions or engage meaingfully for fear of looking dumb or speaking out of turn.

It’s such a lost opportunity! Don’t be afraid to be yourself, engage and connect with people.

What is influence and why care?

Influence is earned and grows over time. The difference between visibility and influence is that with a focus on your sphere of influence and who you engage with, you are building longevity and sustainability into your personal brand and therefore your career. You are thinking beyond your immediate role or even career.

There are many studies out there that have shown that people will change their careers significantly two or three times over the course of their lives, as described in this NY Times article.

How to get started

Hold up, I hear you… how on earth and am I meant to do that?

Start the same way everyone else does but don’t limit your professional networking to just likes, commenting and growing your connections. Keep your eye on the bigger prize.

Step one: getting started

  1. Join an accredited membership organisation like CIPS or IACCM. There are usually many ways to get involved and connect with lots of people through these avenues. This provides a supportive environment to get involved in chairing committees and speaking / hosting events.
  1. Awards. Keep an eye out for industry awards, nominate your team or yourself! I’ve seen some surprise winners – the only thing that set them apart from others was that they simply backed themselves and applied.
  1. Network. Don’t simply add just people on social media, if you do send an invitation add a note and make sure it’s relevant to something they just posted or wrote about. Think of people in your industry, can you reach out to any of them for a coffee chat? And then ask, who else do you think might be of value for me to connect with?
  1. Content. Remember the dictionary definition of influence: “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.” what content are you producing or contributing to that is building impact?

Step two: grow

Use your network of genuine connections to try and find ways to get involved in different projects and start expanding your reach.

  • Offer to mentor someone
  • Offer to host an event at your organisation
  • Ask for speaking opportunities
  • Write your own blog on an existing platform or your own profile
  • Connect with people through the content you’re consuming e.g procurious webinars and groups!
  • Ask to shadow a senior for a day to learn what they do
  • Talk to your suppliers and learn the other side of the fence
  • Learn from other sectors and follow other thought leaders for inspiration
  • Find someone you admire and see if you can unpick what makes them tick. You can check out Kelly Barner’s journey for some inspo
  • Think about yourself as a brand, what do you want to be known for?

Take the plunge! Expand your connections beyond micro engagements and you will add sustainability and longevity to your personal brand. 

Remember: be yourself, be humble and be authentic.

Picture source: www.brenebrown.com

Five Simple Ways To Make Recruiters Love Your LinkedIn Profile

If you want to make great connections and open yourself up to new career opportunities, you need to be on LinkedIn. Here are proven ways to attract recruiters and hiring managers on the platform.


If you want to make great connections and open yourself up to new career opportunities, you need to be on LinkedIn.

But you must go beyond just having a profile on the business networking platform. You need to have a presence. 

It’s not enough to log in once a year to update your job title. You need to be far more involved if you want to build your personal brand.

And why does your personal brand matter? It’s your key to attract attention and build credibility with your peers and industry.

Every time you post, you are telling the world (and potential employers) who you are, explains Amy George from George Communications.

“Your profile, or lack of, is your brand,” George wrote in a recent post. “What you present on LinkedIn, or anywhere, is your story and your brand – and it speaks volumes.”

So if you are on LinkedIn, you should really be on LinkedIn says George. “Having sparse information isn’t helpful to your audience, and you are passing up important career storytelling opportunities.”

Can you really get hired by being on LinkedIn?

Yep, people really do get hired just by having an active presence on LinkedIn. Stats show 122 million people received an interview through a connection on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is excellent for your career prospects, says Andy Moore, Digital Marketing Manager right here at Procurious.

“When you build a strong personal brand, you’re rarely short of career development, mentoring or employment opportunities,” Moore explains.

So how can you use LinkedIn to get attention from recruiters and hiring managers?

1) Get active

Apparently, only 1% of LinkedIn users post regularly

Are you part of the 99% who don’t? And what’s stopping you from taking advantage of this free, simple way to reach people?

Maybe you’re worried about what to post, which Moore says is a common concern.

That’s why you should write something that is authentic to you. “This can be your opinion on an issue, an article that speaks to you, or even proposing a simple question to your connections,” Moore advises.

“Writing from a place of sincerity can really reduce the social angst in deciding ‘what’ to post or ‘when’ to post. When we do something often, we feel less nervous about it as we have acclimatised.”

Moore suggests making it part of your routing by blocking out 15 minutes in your calendar each week to post something. Also use that time to ‘like’ and comment on other people’s posts that you find interesting.

Recruiters like to see candidates who use LinkedIn regularly, says Martin Smith, Managing Director at Talent Drive – a UK procurement recruitment specialist.

“We look for people that are…clearly active on their LinkedIn whether that’s someone that has written blogs, engaged in webinars or just generally engaged with their audience,” Smith says. 

“This allows them to stand out from their peers and if you can put some personality and authenticity behind that engagement that’s the key differentiator.”

2) Make it personal, but not too personal

A mistake Smith sees is people who blur their personal and professional lives on LinkedIn.

“Your LinkedIn is a professional network and there is nothing wrong with every now and then posting a day’s leave or a picture of your kids to show your human side,” Smith says. 

“[B]ut LinkedIn is a professional social media platform and should be used for work-related content, not what you had for breakfast or what your favourite 80s band was. Keep that for Facebook, TikTok and Instagram!”

If you’re stuck on how to balance human and business, have a look at this list of 80+ post ideas.

You should also aim to strike a human yet professional tone in the way you interact with other people on the platform, says Andrew MacAskill, Founder of Executive Career Jump.

“Pay into the ecosystem by providing comments, taking on mentees, appearing on podcasts and sharing valuable insights,” says MacAskill.

“The best way to get what you want is to help other people get what they want!”

3) Keep it clear and simple

When it comes to your own profile, MacAskill advises describing yourself with keywords that match the kind of role you want.

These keywords are unique to your skill set and make you more searchable on LinkedIn.

“Above everything else, candidates need to ensure they have the right keywords in their headline, ‘about’ box, and job detail to be found,” says MacAskill.

Recruiter Martin Smith adds another way to catch a recruiter’s attention: have a clear overview on your profile of what you do and where you are working at the moment.

“We see too often now people have very over-complicated LinkedIn profiles with grand titles such as ‘Procurement Leader/ Top 100 Procurement Influencer/FTSE 100 leader/ Thought Leader and engagement consultant,’” says Smith.

“This can make it confusing and can dilute the message on who they actually are and what they do.”

So drop the multi-hyphenated-super-title in favour of clarity.

4) Reach out to recruiters

Ideally, the recruiters come to you with suitable roles. And they likely will, once you spruce up your profile and get active on LinkedIn.

But if they aren’t chasing you yet, is it ok to approach them directly? Especially if they often post roles that seem ideal?

Of course, says Smith. But brevity is key. 

“Recruiters don’t want you sending them a 10-page document via LinkedIn on why you feel you are appropriate for the job,” Smith points out.

“The market is tough right now and is very candidate-rich and job-light which can be a challenge.

“But if you really want to stand out, send a personal yet succinct message to the recruiter on who you are, what you do and why you want the job with a follow up number and that will get the best engagement.”

Smith says recruiters are very busy at the moment trying to manage candidate expectations in a challenging market, so be considerate. You can still be persistent, but always be courteous.

“A recruiter will see every approach they have and if you look right for a role they will follow up,” Smith advises. 

And it doesn’t hurt to make connections with recruiters long before you need a job.

“Build your network, reach out to businesses that interest, build relationships with recruiters to help you with your search but ensure it’s a targeted and measured approach without too much distracting noise around the message you want to give,” Smith says.

Emphasis on the word ‘relationship.’

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential hiring managers and build a relationship with a soft approach,” says Imelda Walsh, Manager at The Source – the Melbourne-based procurement recruitment firm.  

“Don’t start the conversation asking about job opportunities of course. Don’t just connect with someone without following through with an introduction message to kickstart a relationship that can add value to both parties.” 

5) Ask for recommendations

You can also improve your chances by identifying the right people in your network to ask for LinkedIn recommendations, Walsh says. 

“Be strategic about who to ask for recommendations – professionals that are well connected and respected in your industry and that know the value you bring to a role/organisation,” Walsh advises.

And it’s ok to guide the people who are writing you a recommendation. 

Obviously don’t force words on them, but you can give some pointers to help them write something truly unique to you.

Aimee Bateman from the Undercover Recruiter suggests these guidelines:

  • What is my key strength (include an example) 
  • What did you enjoy about working with me the most (include an example) 
  • What word would you use to describe me and why (include an example) 
  • One problem that you had, which I helped you overcome and how (include example, their feelings, and your action points)

These can help your recommendations stand out from the generic but ever-popular: “Joe is a team player.”

Attract job opportunities to you

This might sound like a lot of work, especially if you’ve not spent much time on LinkedIn before. 

But in strange times like these, you’ll want every advantage you can get your hands on, adds Imelda Walsh.

“If you don’t have an online presence, it’s not a matter of ‘you might be missing out on roles,’ it’s a case of you will be missing out on opportunities,” Walsh warns.

So it’s worth investing the time to make your LinkedIn presence shine. 

And think of the possible rewards. “HR, hiring managers and recruiters will bring opportunities to you instead of you having to apply for roles through various company pages and job boards,” says Walsh.  

So if you’re tired of throwing your CV into the job board black hole, you might want to try the LinkedIn route to your next role.

The Three Fatal Flaws In Supply Chains

The pandemic exposed three fatal flaws in the way companies manage supply chains. Hear from IBM’s Takshay Aggarwal on how to recognise your supply chain flaws and be ready for the next disruption.


In 20 years of supply chain experience, I’ve never seen a supply and demand shock at the same time.

Yet COVID-19 hit, and instantly the just-in-time strategy fell on its face. 

All those Informed predictions about stock levels and deliveries were suddenly obsolete. 

That’s because consumer behaviour changed overnight. And it hit retailers hard.

Instead of looking trendy, we sought comfort. Purchases of sweatpants were up 80 percent in April, according to the New York Times.

Time travel

And who could have predicted the mass shift to online shopping and remote working? McKinsey estimates US e-commerce jumped forward 10 years in just three months

No wonder we’re all a bit dizzy. 

And as volatility went up, people focused on the basics – paying off debts and stashing cash to weather the storm. 

Suppliers and consumers were equally frustrated by empty shelves, never knowing when the next shipment was coming in.

The truth is, we had this disruption coming. The pandemic exposed three fatal flaws that were otherwise laying dormant in supply chains. 

  1. Single sourcing

It’s no secret many supply issues during the pandemic stemmed from an over-reliance on Chinese suppliers. When major industrial cities in China went into lockdown, production ground to a halt.

Companies developed a reliance on Asia by wanting the lowest cost at all costs. It didn’t matter where material came from, as long as it was at the right price.

  1. Low inventory

Who wouldn’t love a just-in-time supply strategy? It works wonderfully well, as long as you stay within a certain degree of volatility.

It’s cost effective, and ensures you aren’t left with mounds of unsold product taking up space.

But then a pandemic hits and volatility skyrockets. The result? A huge unmet demand for basic staples like flour and toilet paper. 

  1. Reliance on suppliers to manage inventory

Someone has to keep an eye on all that stock. Since retailers don’t want to, they pass that responsibility to suppliers.

The issue is those suppliers are also relying on suppliers, and if you don’t know who they are, you don’t know the extent of your supply chain weaknesses and risks. That’s why so many companies were caught off guard.

So where do we go next?

We’re already seeing a monumental shift in the way companies approach supply chain management.

The first trend is multi-sourcing, to make sure a chain is not dependent on a single point of failure.

The second, is planning for a higher degree of volatility. Because the world will continue to experience volatile events, like natural disasters, with greater intensity and frequency moving forward.  

And the third, is becoming risk balanced. Rather than the absolute lowest cost, companies are looking for a better balance between delivering value and managing supply risk.

What successful procurement will look like

All of these fatal flaws – and the new strategies emerging as a result – all point to one crucial need: end-to-end supply chain visibility.

It might sound like a dream, but it’s actually possible.

The most resilient companies are using control towers to keep eyes on the entire supply chain, and gain advanced warning to avoid disruption.

And I don’t mean the spreadsheets that people call ‘control towers.’ I mean genuine systems that pull in essential data from across departments and across suppliers. Without that total oversight, you’ll never have the visibility you need to make informed decisions. 

For example, IBM’s global supply chain uses IBM Sterling Control Towers so that we’re alerted to potential issues far earlier than our companies.

That gives us time to react, and avoid much of the disruption. 

Control towers can help you understand the next steps to take, so you’re much more resilient to shocks.

Embrace technology

Investing in control towers is the right way to start improving supply chain visibility. But you also need the right tech infrastructure to match.

For example, I’ve noticed retailers making great strides in becoming omnichannel. Without that seamless experience in store and online, companies risk becoming irrelevant in the next decade. 

The fact is, there are tools out there to help your company survive and thrive during this crisis. It’s truly an amazing time to be a supply chain leader, and with the right partner you can offer the answers your company sorely needs right now. 

Invest in the right technology and gain end-to-end visibility across your supply chain. You’ll spot opportunities, and you’ll be prepared the next time an ‘unprecedented’ event hits. 

IBM’s Takshay Aggrawal recently sat down with Procurious Founder Tania Seary to discuss end-to-end visibility, and how supply chain management will never be the same. Listen to their full discussion now.

The Truth? Technology Might Make Your Supply Chain More Resilient

Technology will only make a difference in supply chain management if it’s tailored directly to your company’s needs.


Let’s get this straight: technology can’t fix everything. There’s no magic wand to solve every supply chain problem. 

But technology can make your processes better. That means more time, money, efficiency, happy customers, and happy bosses.

And who doesn’t want that?

I’ve seen companies of all sizes improve their process flow with technology and make huge savings.

But that only happens when two conditions are met:

1) They choose the right technology. What does “right” mean? It depends on a host of factors, but in essence it’s solving a need or filling a major gap. Understand the business need first, then find the tech that fits – not the other way around.

2) The system is used the right way. That means getting full use out of it without exceeding the intended purpose. You get the maximum benefit without depleting other resources. 

Don’t get wet

Consider this analogy: you need to go from one side of town to the other in the middle of a storm without getting wet. You know a motorcycle and a car can both get you there in time, but only the car would get you there dry. 

This is what selecting the right technology is about. To borrow another vehicle metaphor, don’t use a Ferrari when a Ford will do. An all-singing, all-dancing system might look flashy, but it might be way too much for what your company actually needs.

Procurement and Supply Chain work the same way; getting to the other side of town means nothing more than sustainable profitability, competitive edge and market share. And the storm? Well, that’s just risk mitigation in the business world.

Getting the job done

Here’s a look at how real companies are using the right tech to save money and be more resilient.

Automate processes 

From Purchase Order to Processing payments, streamlining a workflow within the supply chain allows for people to focus on decision making while facilitating resolution, eliminating paperwork, accelerating compliance, and managing exceptions.

Look no further than a global distributor of chemicals who recently chose a full guided-buying suite. They took away the manual labour by processing POs automatically. The result?  Increased supplier payment compliance, reduced tail spend, and more resources for tactical and strategic decision making.

Accelerate communication

The right technology enables and accelerates communication. Your ability to react effectively to market conditions relies heavily on promptness and clarity. Technology can link your business operations to your supply base so you never miss a beat.

Improve visibility

Suppliers need to know where things are at any given point. And equally, you need to know what is going on with your supplies, assessing all potential risks. That way, you can mitigate disruption in real-time.  

Take a US leader in food distribution for example. We recently led them through a full spend analytics effort to identify cost savings opportunities. The result? They saved USD $10M in one year.

Interpret and analyse data 

Data analytics is no longer a competitive advantage; it’s a core necessity. Even something as simple as spend analytics is a powerful tool that can inform strategic decisions at the top level.

Break down silos and bridge functions

From Procurement to Accounts Payable to Operations, technology can provide a collaborative platform that everyone can access and understand. Everyone has access to the full information across the board, taking what they need and staying aligned.  

That level of visibility across different functions can showcase how valuable you are to the company. Like a global leader of consumer products who recently leveraged a mix of eSourcing technology and advisory services. 

They were able to demonstrate savings on a multitude of sourcing and category events while tying them to the financial goals of the organisation, effectively impacting the EBITDA and Cash metrics.  

What CEO wouldn’t love to hear that?

Decrease redundancy, increase efficiency

Technology provides a platform for businesses to digest more, process more and err less. This alone saves significant resources, making the organisation and its suppliers more productive.

Enable compliance

Within the supply chain commitments, adequate performance and managed expectations are as critical as regulatory compliance. Technology can provide a platform for managing relationships, honouring commitments, and upholding agreements. All of that leads to better relationships.

Just look at a global pharmaceutical leader who implemented a supplier management module across the board. As a result, it can now classify its entire supply chain based on critical risk metrics. 

That means the global operations are adequately diversified and critical suppliers are handling processes and data with the highest security compliance, privacy, and environmental sensitivity.

The smooth road to resilience

All of the companies I mentioned had different priorities. That’s why you need to choose technology that meets your specific needs.

And as you can tell, there are infinite combinations of tools and applications that can be used to “get to the other side of town”. But the idea is to get to the other side not just in one piece, but also in sturdier conditions. It’s about learning in the way, enduring and increasing resilience.

The key to come up with a combination that balances needs with budgets and aligns with your strategic vision, starts with defining what success looks like for your supply chain and those entities who manage it. 

Modular, cloud based, and service driven technologies provide the needed flexibility toward the easiest and most yielding path to success.