Tag Archives: contracts

9 Big Supply Chain & Procurement Ideas for 2021

It’s time to plan, budget and set your strategies for 2021. Here are 100 proven, practical and fresh ideas to jumpstart your company in the new year.


You’ve probably heard me say it before, but I’ll say it again: all it takes is one idea to positively impact your career, those around you, your organisation and the profession itself. If you don’t believe me, take it from the great and late Robin Williams: “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

While this year was full of chaos and stress, the opportunity for procurement to lead and make a lasting impact in our new normal has never been bigger. But to succeed, we can no longer rinse and repeat. We need to break through the status quo, challenge our paradigms and test new approaches. 

To that end, we reached out to the profession’s best and brightest to round up 100 big, practical and creative ideas for improving all things procurement and supply chain this year. We have an idea for everyone, so you’ll definitely want to review all the ideas (get your access here) as you plan, budget and set strategies for 2021. But 100 ideas is a lot, so here are nine suggestions for priorities we know will be on your radar next year: cost control, risk reduction and talent development.

Procurement Strategies: Cost Control

Our research found that controlling costs is a top-two procurement priority for executive teams. Here are three ideas to make a bigger impact in 2021. Get more cost cutting ideas here.

  1. Idea #1: Implement zero-based spend category strategies. Every procurement professional is trying to save money right now — but simply trimming a percentage or two won’t drive the meaningful change needed in today’s COVID environment, and may hurt supplier relationships. Instead, McKinsey suggests completely rethinking what, and how much, you actually need to meet demand and run your business. Every dollar you spend should have a purpose. If it doesn’t, the category or spend shouldn’t exist. While zero-based spend strategies are not new, they offer a proven, bottoms-up approach for tackling spend management and controlling costs.
  1. Idea #2: Demonstrate more value internally by tracking spend against a market index. With budgets under intense scrutiny, procurement can stand out and increase its influence by being more strategic about how we report savings. Anklesaria Group suggests tracking at least 60% of spend against one or multiple indexes. This is an incredible way to demonstrate the value of procurement. Prices always change — and if prices go up in the market, and your price goes up at a slower rate than the index, then you’re driving a real, differentiating advantage. 
  1. Idea #3: Let the positivity shine. Far too often, supplier negotiations are negative and contentious. There’s no place for this anymore – everyone is hunting and dealing with the same economic uncertainty. Corcentric recommends using trust-based and positive reinforcement negotiation tactics in 2021. We’ve all had a tough year, and now, more than ever, positivity and mutually-beneficial negotiation strategies uncover better savings and terms than old-school, hardline approaches. 

Supply Chain Disruptions: Tackle Risk More Strategically 

The other top procurement priority for executives: risk management. Here are three ideas for improving how your team approaches supply chain risk management in 2021. Get more risk management ideas here. 

  1. Idea #4: Leverage social media and non-traditional channels to monitor supplier risk in real time. Ninety seven percent of supply chains experienced a COVID-related disruption – which means it’s time we rethink our approach to supply chain risk management. IntegrityNext recommends that procurement expand beyond the typical supply chain indicators.  Today, there’s an immense amount of information available about businesses and people online. In 2021, we need to use it to our advantage to vet suppliers, identify exposures and mitigate disruptions before they happen. 
  1. Idea #5: Make sure your contracts have clauses that protect against cyber breaches. We can no longer talk about supply chain risk without mentioning cyber. McAfee, a cybersecurity company, reported 419 new threats per minute in Q2 of 2020, an increase of almost 12% over the previous quarter.  Odesma recommends looking at all contracts to ensure, across all categories, you have clauses for the supplier to certify they are doing everything they can to protect against hacking, and should the worst happen, your vendors have appropriate insurance in place.
  1. Idea #6: Break down barriers to reduce risk. If risk really is a top priority, organisations cannot continue to manage it in silos. riskmethods suggests forming a cross-functional, multidisciplinary risk management council that includes all of procurement and supply chain’s key stakeholders — including AP/Finance, compliance, product development, manufacturing, executives and more. Meet regularly to gather, consolidate and evaluate perspectives and data points on risk as a team, and make more informed, company-wide decisions that improve risk awareness and mitigation. 

Talent Development: Build the Best Procurement Team  

With the spotlight shining bright on procurement and supply chain, you and your team need to be at your best. Here’s how to grow and improve your team, and yourself. Get ideas for growing and expanding your team here. 

  1. Idea #7: Add good story tellers to your team. During the hiring process, MRA Global Sourcing suggests prioritising a candidate’s ability to tell stories. As a result of the pandemic, procurement is getting more attention and opportunity than ever before. But sharing ideas with the C-suite and briefing executives is a learned skill. Find people who can deliver by prioritising the candidate’s storytelling ability and executive presence during the interview process.
  1. Idea #8: Seize market uncertainty to strengthen your team. The collapse of certain industries has flooded the market with talent. Ronin, LTD, recommends looking beyond your traditional candidate pipelines to go after talent in affected industries that would normally be hard to attract. Engage with your workforce management team or head-hunter to track and interview new candidates that enter the marketplace from affected industries.
  1. Idea #9: Invest in yourself. This idea isn’t new, but it’s a game-changer for those that actually put a plan in place and make it happen. Connect with your peers, find training, get procurement certifications, and develop new skills. Think about it: What skills will you need next year that you don’t have right now? What about five years from now? “Everyone wants to grow professionally in the new year. But very few people actually put a concrete plan in place. You’ll naturally grow through your experiences, but if you are intentional, proactive and really invest, you’ll be way ahead of everybody else,” says Procurious founder and chairman, Tania Seary. 

There you have it: nine ideas to jumpstart 2021 planning. Interested in hearing the other 91? Get the full report here, and add your own ideas in the comments below.

Is Your Contract Rollout Turning Into A Psychodrama?

The critical moment between signing a contract and handing it over to the business seems like the perfect time to take the hands off the wheel and celebrate. But don’t pop that champagne just yet – this is a time for procurement pro’s to shine! Ensure you remain front and center for the contract roll out and implementation to make sure you deliver the value identified during the sourcing process!


You’ve gone through the pain of a long, drawn out sourcing and negotiation process. You’re exhausted. The business agrees that you’ve selected the right supplier to award the business to. After all, they signed off on the decision…right???  Oh no. The ink isn’t even dry on the contract when the backstabbing and psychodrama begins!

5 contract implementation pitfalls

Read on to find out the top 5 reasons contract implementations go wrong and what you can do to get it back on track.  

1. Lost your true north

The supplier is delivering the services in accordance with the new contract, but the reactions seem mixed.  Some people are happy and some people are not. Key stakeholders are offering completely different views of how successful this project implementation has been.

  • Pitfall: The problem definition or opportunity statement was not correctly nailed down. 
  • Resolution: Facilitate a group meeting about the purpose and scope of the contract. Reset expectations about what the supplier has been contracted to provide. You may be able to get the supplier to make minor adjustments to appease some of the requests.
  • Tip: Ensure the focus is on resetting stakeholders back to the shared outcome and not individual desires or opinions.

2. People don’t like change, get in front of this

New people have come out of the woodwork that suddenly have an opinion about how things should have been structured or worse – who you should have chosen and they’re kicking up a fuss. Drama!

  • Pitfall: The wrong people were involved or the right people weren’t in the room.
  • Resolution: Most big project changes or contracts need a reference group or project team to help the implementation phase bed in for the first 6 months to a year. Offer to bring these people into the project team and get them involved with future reviews. It’s hard to complain if you’re part of the group….right? 
  • Tip: Make sure there is a solid communications and change management plan taking people along the journey and communicating the major project steps. Try to think of ways to involve end users to gain maximum chances of buy in e.g. trialing new furniture for a fit out project or sampling coffee for a new catering contract.

3. You specified the how

Things aren’t quite right and you can’t really put your finger on it. Things aren’t happening like you planned. The issues aren’t disappearing. Your managers aren’t as wowed as they were expecting and they’re starting to ask questions.

  • Pitfall: You got what you asked for and that’s the problem. Buyers can sometimes feel the need to define not only what they need, but also how the supplier should solve this problem.
  • Resolution: The market will respond to what you put out, so be careful what you ask for. Leave as much room as possible for suppliers to make their mark and do what they do best, which is to know their stuff and their industry. Ensure you leave room for creative solutions, suitable alternatives and innovation.
  • Tip: If you’re trying to solve a problem have you nailed down the right root issue? Try the five whys concept to ensure you buy what you really need

4. Contract Management, what’s that?

The project team disappear once the contract is signed, they high five each other as they head back to their day jobs and slap the documentation on the contract manager’s desk. You check in one month later and the contract isn’t working – complaints are rolling in from all fronts.

  • Pitfall: Often the time investment of managing a contract particularly at the mobilisation phase is not properly scoped out and/or other priorities creep in. 
  • Resolution: Ensure the project team sticks around for the all important start-up and that the contract manager is in the sourcing project from the beginning. You’d be surprised how often this simple action is not undertaken.
  • Tip: Keep the regular project meetings for the first three months of the contract. Ensure you try to realistically gauge how much time this contract will take to manage and get the right cover.

5. Different supplier but same result, what happened?

This contract was meant to deliver real changes, but a year or two in, it’s just the same service and results the last supplier gave. What happened to the agreement of innovation, ideas, incentives for high KPI scores and phase 2 of implementing a new system?

  • Pitfall: There are a few things that could be going on here: either the process asked for a whole lot of things the buyer wasn’t ready for, or didn’t have the commercial readiness to be able to realistically achieve; The supplier hasn’t been managed or given any clear direction; Protracted contract negotiations stifled innovation, goodwill and squeezed margins.
  • Resolution: Time for an honest 360 feedback meeting. Be clear on what you want and what you are able to achieve.
  • Tip: It’s great to have thirst and hunger to do things differently, but be careful not to over scope what you need or what the organisation is ready for. If you aren’t going to portion risk evenly then don’t enter into a pain / gain share model (for example).

Next time you’re part of a large project team or leading a procurement process that will result in a new supplier, make sure you think ahead and mitigate these potential pitfalls to ensure your next contract implementation ain’t no drama llama.

What Will The 4 Hot Topics In Procurement Be In 2030?

Look at your latest supplier contract. Does it specifically mention Zoom catch-ups? If not, why not? Sally Guyer from World Commerce & Contracting talks with Procurious about getting the most from suppliers and technology.

Have a look at your latest supplier contract. Does it specifically mention communication like regular Zoom catch-ups or phone calls? If not, you’re missing a trick.

Procurious Founder Tania Seary recently spoke with Sally Guyer, Global CEO of World Commerce & Contracting on getting the most out of supplier relationships and predictions about the future of procurement. 



Hide or take action

It’s been a wild year, but disruption isn’t unique to 2020. 

“I think it’s really interesting because there have been numerous supply chain upheavals inflicted by disaster in the last decade,” Sally says.

“You’ve got things like the volcanic eruption in Iceland, Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the Thailand floods, numerous hurricanes, not to mention the global financial crisis which also needs to sit on that list; yet we don’t seem to have learned very much,” Sally explains. 

“Most companies still found themselves totally unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.”

After this crisis is over, companies will fall into two categories: those that don’t do anything and hope that a disruption like this never happens again, and those that map their supply networks.

Supply networks

You should know how your suppliers (and your suppliers’ suppliers) fit together, which is why mapping out your network is so useful.

Companies who already made the effort to document their network acted quickly when the pandemic spread. Other companies were floundering and reactive. 

“We know from our research that many organisations typically don’t see beyond the first tier of suppliers, or possibly tier two,” Sally says.

“If we ever doubted the importance of visibility, the pandemic has provided a dramatic example of why it’s absolutely essential to have insight into sources of supply.”

Sally is seeing leading organisations require suppliers to participate in supply chain mapping efforts as part of their contract.

And it serves an important part of rebuilding.

“[We’re] moving away from the linear and much more to a recognition that supply networks’ supply ecosystems are a huge number of organisations all interacting with one another where there needs to be fluidity amongst them all. 

“And that’s essential to accelerate and support recovery.”

Sustainable cashmere

Companies are also investing more heavily in technology to help them gain end-to-end visibility.

Blockchain technology is particularly noteworthy.

Sally gives the example of tracing Mongolian cashmere production. The country is famous for its luxurious fibres – producing nearly a fifth of the world’s raw cashmere

And even though cashmere is considered natural and sustainable, soaring consumer demand is fueling overgrazing and damaging the land. 

So Toronto-based Convergence.tech and the UN teamed up to create an app for Mongolian farmers, backed by blockchain technology. 

Now the UN is able to interact with over 70 different herders and eight cooperatives through a simple app.

Farmers use the Android app to register and tag their cashmere. Then their location is pinned on a map to allow for end-to-end tracking. The UN works with the farmers and other producers along the supply chain to improve sustainability.

“Farmers are willing to have their goods marked in return for training on better practises, and then open markets pay fair prices for truly sustainable and high-quality cashmere,” Sally explains.

“Everybody benefits. Everybody wins.”

Better contracts, better relationships

Another way technology is transforming the supplier/client relationship is through communication.

Sally advises all clients to include communication obligations in supplier contracts.  

“It comes down to simple things like if we want to do video conferencing does your organisation support Zoom or not, because if I do and you don’t then [that’s an issue],” Sally says.

It’s not rocket science. All good relationships hinge on good communication, says Sally.

“Fundamentally, partnerships are founded on robust and clear communication, and you know I always talk about professional relationships in the same context as I talk about personal relationships,” Sally says.

“If you don’t have clear communication with your friends, with your partner, with whomever is around you, then you are not going to have a very successful relationship.”

While you can’t provide for every eventuality in your contracts, you need a robust framework to support the relationship which means communication needs to be at the top of the agenda.

Predicting the future

The year is 2030. What are the hot topics in procurement? Here are Sally’s predictions:

1) Sustainability

“We’re still a long way from creating our sustainable planet and it has to be something that we all continue to champion,” Sally says.

“We need to be promoting best practises to reach the next level where we’re actually starting to give back. Not just to seek neutrality but actually give back.”

2) Social inclusion

“I can’t imagine that social inclusion wouldn’t be important in 2030,” Sally says. “Perhaps a scorecard of corporate performance on social inclusion and social value.”

3) Technology

“Numbers suggest we’re only using 30% of the data that we are producing,” Sally says. 

“And if organisations are genuinely on a journey of continuous improvement then they need to be using data and the likes of artificial intelligence natural language processing if they’re going to continue to advance.”

4) Integration

“We need to organise for integration,” Sally adds. “We need to break down the internal barriers that exist.

“We all operate in silos. We’ve got organisations who have a buy side and sell side and they have no idea what’s going on on either side of the organisation. So those companies are starting to look at how they create an integrated trading relationships function.”

Sally Guyer can be seen in our exclusive series The Future of Supply Chain Now.