Tag Archives: procurement capabilities

The Year That Changed Everything

As 2020 comes to a close, let’s take a moment to reflect on the year that changed everything and prepare for what comes next.


Close your eyes. Breathe in… breathe out. And again: Breathe in, breathe out.

The chaos of 2020 is nearly over.

Back in February, we knew that COVID-19 would represent a watershed moment for procurement and supply chain professionals everywhere. But little did we know just how severe and lasting the impact would be. Our own research found that 97% of the world’s supply chains were disrupted. Fast-forward nine months, and procurement and supply chain management has changed forever, and so has our world. 

2020 was, simply put, difficult, stressful and disruptive. Everything we did and experienced was in the backdrop of a global pandemic – which affected how we think and interact, to how much we work and see our friends and family. But amidst the craziness, the pandemic also created new opportunities for our profession to shine, make a difference and get the recognition we deserve. And we delivered, in a big way.

Regardless of how you are feeling right now, there’s no turning back. The new year is around the corner. As 2021 approaches, what matters is how we adapt, move forward and chart our next course.

Unfortunately, and despite our best hopes, the first half of next year likely promises more of the same stress. But if we’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that we are remarkably resilient, capable and in many cases, supernormal. We have everything we need to thrive and rise above the challenges, regardless of what is thrown our way.

Procurement Reflections on 2020: Super Heroes and Change Makers

While it’s easy to harp on the chaos of 2020, we prefer to think positive – and you should too. Consider all that we accomplished. In less than a year, our profession:

  • Overcame the biggest supply chain disruption this world has ever seen
  • Kept supply lines for critical goods and services operational
  • Used our influence to make a big mark on sustainability, diversity and social issues
  • Supported our supplier and small business partners, often during their hardest hours
  • Stepped up to lead and strategically contribute amidst crisis
  • Digitised and modernised the way we operate and collaborate  
  • Helped our colleagues make connections and find new jobs
  • Played an essential role in helping our organisations navigate the financial crisis

We also experienced a crash course in supply chain risk. We got knocked down, picked ourselves up and made seismic changes to the way we think, plan and operate. In the process, we created a more secure, reliable and sustainable supply chain than ever before.

As a profession, we should be proud. Sure, we have battle scars, but those scars make us stronger and prepare us to tackle whatever is thrown our way. That’s key – because 2021 promises to be another watershed year. Along with the ongoing financial crisis, many procurement and supply chain leaders will be tasked with protecting and accelerating the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain – and all the supporting elements that come with it. For those that play a role, whether big or small, it will be one of the most important initiatives they ever take on. Thankfully, after the year we have just experienced, we can be confident that our profession is ready and prepared.

Your New Year’s Resolution: Gratitude and Reflection

If you’re like me, there’s a million things you want to do next year. There are goals to set and plans to make. Everything can and should be made better in 2021. 

Instead of obsessing about all the things you want next, give thanks for what you have right now. Be proud of what you have accomplished. Celebrate with all those who helped you along the way.

I’ll go first. I am profoundly grateful and appreciative of our entire community. Thank you for reading and contributing. Thank you for sharing your strategies and experiences. Thank you for lifting each other up and lending a helping hand to your peers in need. Our community was all-in in 2020 – and we helped thousands of people and companies along the way. For that, I am both grateful and amazed.

Now it’s your turn. We have another big year ahead of us. But before we get caught up in it, let’s take the break we deserve. Let’s reflect on all the good we have done. Let’s spend more time with friends and family. Let’s celebrate our successes.

And let’s remember to breathe. In and out. Over and over again.

6 Ways To Keep Supply Chain On The Executive Agenda

Supply chain is firmly on the executive agenda (at last!). But how can we keep our seat at the table? Procurious talks to Kearney partner Kate Hart about the burning issues in supply chain – from attracting new talent to co-creating with suppliers.


Supply chain is firmly on the executive agenda (at last!). But how can we keep our seat at the table? 

Procurious Founder Tania Seary recently sat down with Kate Hart, Partner at consulting firm Kearney, to talk about the state of supply chain and what’s coming.



Change, pivot, attract

Supply chain management is increasingly about dealing with disruption, says Kate.

“Recent events have highlighted how susceptible our global supply chains are to disruption, from the pandemic to ransomware attacks to global trade wars,” Kate explains.

So how do we cope? It all comes down to two critical capabilities.

The first is the ability to sense the changing environment and pivot. And the second is the ability to attract and retain core talent. 

That need hasn’t changed for a decade, says Kate. So why is it worth mentioning now? 

“What it means today is very different to what it meant 10 years ago in regards to the importance of being able to sense a change environment and pivot,” Kate says.

That’s because the demands on supply chain professionals have changed dramatically – and certain industries adapt quicker than others.

“Some global geographies are a lot more mature than others so far as their uptake of e-commerce and some geographies have really been lagging,” Kate says. 

Why technology means survival

If retailers were hesitant to adopt new technology, they have an extra incentive now. It’s their key to survival.  

“Amazon has been a trigger for some of those geographies to uptake, but obviously the pandemic has just increased the proliferation of retailers offering e-commerce platforms,” says Kate.

Companies are also becoming more innovative in the way they handle the actual distribution of their supply chains, particularly in the business-to-consumer route.  

“We’ve seen a proliferation of sort of rideshare ‘uberisation’ of that last mile,” Kate says.

“What we’re seeing is those companies that invested in the technology and got ahead of the game really have thrived during this. Now it’s going to be a matter of, you know, catch up or who survives, so it’s going to be quite interesting.”

Understanding the risk

So what are smart companies doing now to avoid future disruption? Supply chain network mapping.

Kate has seen a huge influx of companies not just looking at supplier risk, but looking at suppliers’ suppliers risk and building that information through their supply chains.

Interestingly, this is largely driven by senior executive interest. Never before has supply chain resilience enjoyed such a prominent position on the c-suite agenda.

“It’s beyond just enterprise risk. There is reputational risk, there is financial risk, there are lots of different risks that are inherent in the supply chain and that is very much front and centre in many of our board conversations at the moment,” Kate says.

“The key question that we’re getting asked by boards is how they get visibility in their end-to-end supply chain risk and how they manage that resilience.”

Making it automatic

Companies are also investing more heavily in automation to improve resilience.

‘It’s been quite extraordinary. Some global areas, particularly in the US and in the UK, are seeing a lot of advantage from automation,” Kate says.

“But the investment in automation needs to be deliberate, with a very sound business case, otherwise organisations are investing but not necessarily seeing returns in some areas.”

Technology, like automation, is providing supply chain teams with new levels of influence, Kate says. 

“We’re seeing supply chain organisations use digital tools to create a triage process with a front door to supply chain – a self-service functionality,” Kate explains.

“[It] enables their internal talent team to then work with their business stakeholders to drive extraordinary value.

“So, supply chain is really being impacted positively by digitisation and automation. It’s all part of a focus on resilience which elevates the conversations and, in turn, the value that supply chain can deliver.”

Working as partners

That’s why Kate says the future will be all about human decisions facilitated by technology.

“What does that mean for partnerships across your supply chain?” Kate asks. “It means that the problems that need to be solved are increasingly complex. It requires a very strategic view of your supplier base.”

The strategic view increasingly means changing the relationship to a close partnership.

“In some of the scenarios that we’re working on at the moment, the clients don’t know what the solution is and actually need to engage the suppliers to co-create solutions for problems that are new to both of them,” Kate says. 

That means seeing suppliers as extensions of your own organisation, which is positive.

But as Kate points out, companies still need to maintain “control and visibility so you are not anchored to them in perpetuity. So getting that balance of control versus collaboration right is going to be really, really important.”

The right people

As Kate puts it, the bright future of procurement isn’t possible without the right people.

“All of that is very contingent on the ability to attract, retain, and grow talent – the conundrum of supply chain management for aeons,” Kate says.

“But never is it more important than now. For supply chain management to have a seat at the table it needs to be attracting the core talent that we’re seeing coming out of the universities.

“There needs to be a very strong talent pool that’s feeding into the industry.”

Kate Hart – Partner at consulting firm Kearney, overseeing the supply chain practise within Asia Pacific – can be heard in the webcast series The Future Of Supply Chain Now.

Supply chains are changing. Here are 5 things we know now.

Order Up! 5 Supply Management Capabilities You Can’t Leave Off The Menu

When it comes to supply management, are you managing your customer orders effectively? Dave Food discusses Order Management and five more capabilities you just can’t go without.

Last week, Dave Food talked us through five of the key supply chain capabilities that everyone needs. This week, he’s come up with five more!

From order management to shop floor execution and supply chain visibility, these are the things procurement and supply chain professionals should be on top of.

1. Order Management (OM)

Knowledge and skill necessary to manage the receipt and scheduling of customer orders. An integrated OM system may encompass these modules:

1) Product information (descriptions, attributes, locations, quantities)

2) Inventory available to promise (ATP) and sourcing

3) Vendors, purchasing, and receiving

4) Marketing (catalogues, promotions, pricing)

5) Customers and prospects

6) Order entry and customer service (including returns and refunds)

7) Financial processing (credit cards, billing, payment on account)

8) Order processing (selection, printing, picking, packing, shipping)

2. Shop Floor Execution

This is the area in a manufacturing facility where assembly or production is carried out, either by an automated system or by workers or a combination of both. The shop floor capability may include equipment, inventory and storage areas. You can create customer orders and shop orders for each product manually or import shop orders from an ERP system. When this shop order authorisation is created or received, it contains a specified quantity of the product to be built on the Shop Floor.

Once you define your production work floor processes and rules, the platform to optimise operations can be implemented. Real-time status updates can be provided to your organisation and your customers as they need them. A SF provides an on-demand view of bill of materials, routing details, work instructions, material availability, part and product images and programs, to develop optimal SF processes. These should match your business needs, increase view production work orders at any stage of manufacturing, and rework instructions are sent directly to the factory floor to coordinate processes efficiently and improve customer service.

3. Supply Chain Continuity Planning

This is the process that seeks to optimise Supply Chain strategy, processes, human resources, technology and knowledge. Supply Chain Continuity Planning controls, monitors and evaluates Supply Chain risk, which serves to safeguard against new uncertainties that may emerge affecting profitability. The continuity of the company is vital for the long-term success of the business, in today’s world; all aspects of the functioning of an organisation are vulnerable to disruptions and risks. Supply Chain Continuity Planning controls, monitors and evaluates Supply Chain risk.

4. Supply Chain Visibility

Supply chain visibility (SCV) is defined as the ability of parts, components, or products in transit to be tracked from the manufacturer to their final destination. SCV enables you to perform “what-if” scenarios. Visualising these different scenarios can help you predict issues and problems that may arise, and then plan for them and their solutions.

Visibility allows people in the supply chain to see problems before they occur and take necessary steps to avoid the expense in real time. Visibility also provides insight to make more intelligent decisions early in the order cycle (just in time inventory) and perform more intelligent audits in the distribution centres on inbound shipments. Finally, visibility can also be a major driver increasing throughput in the existing distribution network and thus delaying the need for costly new DCs

5. Supply Chain Network

The collection of physical locations, transportation vehicles and supporting systems through which the products and services firm markets are managed and ultimately delivered; it can be manufacturing plants, storage warehouses, carrier, docks, major distribution centres, ports, intermodal terminals whether owned by a company, suppliers, a transport carrier, a third-party logistics provider, a retail store or an end customer.

Emerging technologies and standards such as the RFID and the GS1 are now making it possible to automate these SCNw in a real time manner making them more efficient. A SCN can be strategically designed in such a way as to reduce the cost of the supply chain. Designing a SCN involves creating a network that incorporates all the facilities, means of production, products, and transportation assets owned by the organisation or those not owned by the organisation but which immediately support the supply chain operations and product flow.

There is no definitive way to design a SCN as the network footprint, the capability and capacity, and product flow—all intertwine and are interdependent. Following on from this, there is also no single optimal SCNw design, in designing the network there is an apparent trade-off between responsiveness, risk tolerance and efficiency.

Dave Food is a supply chain innovator, a passionate educator, a futurist, a trend-watcher, an insightful consultant and a marketing strategist. This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

5 Core Supply Chain Capabilities Everyone Needs

What are the supply chain capabilities that everyone needs? Dave Food gets to the core of the issue…

What are some of the key capabilities for supply chain professionals?  When it comes to acing decision-making, cost effectiveness, forecasting, and productivity you can’t go wrong if you’ve nailed these five things.

1. Capacity Planning

CP is essential to determine the optimum utilisation of resources, and plays an important role in the decision-making process. It is a technique used to identify and measure the overall capacity of production. CP is utilised for capital intensive resource like plant, machinery and labour. Capacity planning also helps meet the future requirements of the organisation; it ensures that operating costs are maintained at the minimum-possible level without affecting the quality, and ensures the organisation remains competitive and can achieve its long-term growth plan.

2. Inventory Management & Optimisation

IMO is a top investment priority for manufacturers. It is driven by a set of values which are typically service level and inventory investment. IO is widely known as a way to free-up working capital or cost-effectively increase service levels. IO can:

  • identify all the stages of inventory
  • point out exactly which stock is excess inventory and where it is stored in the supply chain
  • understand which warehouse space can be freed up (and which shouldn’t be)
  • create a series of “what-if” scenarios based on the organisation’s improvement ideas and alternative configurations.

An IO solution should offer opportunities for supply chain professionals to understand the causes of inventory, accept or reject recommendations, and build trust in fact-based decision-making.

3. Demand Management

Demand Management is a planning methodology used to forecast, plan for and manage the demand for products and services. DM has a defined set of processes, capabilities and recommended behaviours for companies that produce all manner of goods and services. DM outcomes are a reflection of policies and programs to influence demand as well as competition and options available to users and consumers.

4. Master Production Scheduling

Scheduling is the process of arranging, controlling and optimising work and workloads in a production process or manufacturing process. Scheduling is used to allocate plant and machinery resources, plan human resources, plan production processes and purchase materials. It is an important tool for manufacturing and engineering, where it can have a major impact on the productivity of a process. In manufacturing, the purpose of scheduling is to minimise the production time and costs by telling a production facility when to make, with which staff, and on which equipment. Production scheduling aims to maximise the efficiency of the operation and reduce costs.

5. Materials Replenishment Planning

Most MRP systems are software-based, but it is possible to conduct MRP by hand as well. In almost all supply chains, materials need to be stored or buffered. This competency involves different steps, considering aspects of the planning environment/conditions about the product and the supplier. The importance of the companies’ goals/motives for materials supply must also be assessed.

MRP uses global demand plans to create a pull-driven replenishment process; this prevents ordering from the supplier when there is excess stock elsewhere in the supply chain.

Dave Food is a supply chain innovator, a passionate educator, a futurist, a trend-watcher, an insightful consultant and a marketing strategist. This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Learning the Fine Art of Creativity

We live in an ideas economy where creativity is the new currency. So is it possible for those with less artistic flair to learn how to get their creative juices flowing? 

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

Everyone’s A Little Bit Creative 

Many of us enjoyed a childhood spent imagining, innovating and creating whether we were painting pictures, constructing dens from cardboard boxes or inventing fantastical make-believe games.

Indeed, the vast majority of research into child psychology suggests that we are all born naturally creative but we subsequently endure an education system or working environment in which our imaginations are more or less stamped out of us.

James Bannerman, a creative change agent and author of Non-Fiction best-seller Genius: Deceptively Simple Ways to Become Instantly Smarter, firmly believes that everyone has the capacity to be creative and innovative. Of course, some adults demonstrate greater potential than others but by employing certain techniques and embracing our inner creativity, we can all achieve additional moments of pure genius.

In a world where innovation is the new currency, procurement teams that fail to execute their ideas with originality will fall behind and die. James will be on hand at the Big Ideas Summit 2017 in London to give our CPOs and online delegates tips to release the creative genius in their teams.

Innovate Or Die

The maxim that organisations must innovate or die has never been more true thanks to rapid technology developments and fierce competition. In procurement, CPOs need to foster their intrapreneurs and work to achieve what Bannerman calls a ‘return on inspiration’:

“ It is easy to become fixated by Return On Investment in business, and often with good reason. The problem with traditional ROI, however, is that it is built upon ‘known returns’.

Creative Thinking, however, is more closely connected with ‘surprise returns’. You don’t always know what you’re going to get at the end of it – because creativity involves ‘the defeat of habit by originality’ (as Arthur Koestler once said in his 1964 classic The Art of Creation.

Yet, to those with an open mind, it can still be worth exploring the world of “return on inspiration”, as the ad agency Golley Slater referred  to it,  to see what comes out the other side”

At the Big Ideas Summit 2017, Bannerman will be putting 50 CPOs through their paces as he introduces them to lateral thinking exercises.

“ During our interactive session we will look at the C.A.N.D.O. model – which I write about in Genius!  This pinpoints the 5 main ways to come up with new ideas, whatever the challenge and whatever the problem: New Connections, New Alterations, New Navigations, New Directions and New Oppositions.

Before we explain what they are, and how they can be used in the real world of work, however, we’ll start off with a few Lateral Thinking exercises.

Take the question ‘What do you lose everytime you stand up ?’ for example. Many people struggle with this question, because they approach it far too rigidly and logically.”Maybe you lose your balance?” or “Maybe you lose the comfort of your chair” etc… If you apply a little Lateral Thinking and spin the question around, however, it can start to become much easier. ‘What do you gain everytime you sit down’ ? You gain a lap!

Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017 now!

5 Skills To Drive Supply Chain Success This Year

The skills required to drive supply chain success are forever changing. However, there are some skills that will serve you well over time.

Far from abating, the pace of change in the supply management procession continues to accelerate. It’s critical for supply managers and for the survival of the profession itself that practitioners continually update their skill-sets to avoid being left behind.

It doesn’t matter how experienced you are. If you let your capabilities fall behind while the profession continually reinvents itself, you might as well hand in your resignation today.

A common discussion we see on Procurious revolves around the new skills required for today’s procurement and supply managers. The catch is that even the latest skills are likely to become outdated with a matter of months as new technology and unexpected shifts in the global economy change the game again and again.

That’s why the list below is comprised of five skills that will see you through the next year and beyond, despite the galloping rate of change.

1. Becoming a lifelong learner

The most important skill for 2017 is more of a habit. Starting a new, lifelong routine of daily learning will open your career horizons, keep you informed of disruptive technology, and will rapidly transform you into the best-informed member of your team.

Your daily routine may involve reading industry news and blog articles, or targeting your capability gaps with online microlearning. Investing only a few minutes of professional development every day will make an enormous difference.

2. Improving your cultural intelligence

Although globalisation suffered at least two body-blows in 2016 (UK’s Brexit and Trump’s protectionism), it’s safe to assume that supply managers will increasingly work across borders and, subsequently, across cultures. The best global procurement and supply professionals have high cultural intelligence. This means they:

  • have the drive and curiosity required to understand the norms and behaviours found in different cultures
  • actively seek to understand cultural similarities and differences to avoid cultural missteps
  • plan ahead for cross-cultural interactions – making the time to learn common phrases such as greetings and farewells
  • are flexible enough to adapt their tone and manner during cross-cultural interactions according to their observations.

3. Mastering your elevator pitch

Every procurement and supply professional needs an elevator pitch. This is important not just for the benefit of your own career, but for the profession as a whole.

Even in 2017 we’re still in a situation where there’s a vast ignorance out there about what procurement is, and what we do. Being able to confidently spread the word with a short, engaging summary of procurement’s value will help your own prospects, improve stakeholder understanding of procurement, and (most importantly) help attract top talent to the profession.

4. Building your brand online

Are there still some stalwarts out there who are holding out on embracing social media as a career-building tool? Again, this skill-set is not only good for your own networking and career development, but very important for the wider profession.

We need as many people as possible being positive about procurement and supply management online.

Why? Because the alternative is a mire of online negativity from disgruntled stakeholders or suppliers with a grudge. Join two or three social networks, talk up the profession, and reap the professional benefits of a strong online network.

5. Embracing social procurement

Social procurement has gone from a nice-to-have, good-for-the-brand exercise to an integral part of business strategy. Before launching your first social procurement project in 2017, ensure you’re able to articulate how it benefits the business by aligning your efforts to enterprise-level targets and organisational values.

Setting KPIs for Beginners: Measuring Success

Now we have our KPIs agreed, how do we measure our data in order to ensure success in supplier relationships?

Catch up with part one and part two of this three-part introductory overview of the role and relevance of KPIs to support Supplier Relationship Management (SRM).

So, we’ve established the why, the what, and the how for setting KPIs. Now we need to understand how we are going to measure the KPIs in order to provide meaningful reports, and set a recipe for success!

Systems for Capturing KPI Data

In a perfect world, KPI data should come from automated systems. However, when you receive the data from the supplier, you may want to corroborate some of it with your own.

Commercial software vendors like SAP-Ariba, Coupa, Oracle, Emptoris and others have features that monitor and track some KPIs. The base functionality comes through the core purchasing systems. Some organisations, however, choose to develop their own reporting systems to ensure they have the features and flexibility they need.

Another option is to use manual systems and processes. This could include disseminating data through spreadsheets, email or any other format that users have access to.

These methods are simple and can be very effective if applied consistently, but obviously take a lot more time than automated reporting. One concern with manual systems is the higher potential for human error.

Typical Data Points for Measuring KPIs

The types of data points you can collect depend on the system you’re using. Below is a sample list – keep in mind that your list will depend on your organisation’s tools, systems and reporting requirements.

  • At the point of ordering: you can check the order against the contract to track compliance.
  • At the point of receipt: you can verify whether goods are delivered in full or delivered on time.
  • At the point of invoicing: you can check invoice accuracy and blocked invoices.
  • At the point of inspection or usage: you can collect quality metrics, including defects and out of specifications.
  • At the completion of the order: you can poll end-users to gather feedback on the ordering process and the goods or services delivered.

Multi-Supplier Performance Dashboards

These dashboards can be used to compare several suppliers across the same or multiple categories, depending on your objectives.

Comparing the suppliers in this way can be powerful motivator. For example, you could use the comparison data to push your suppliers towards best practice.

Alternatively, you could identify the least competitive suppliers for elimination, or identify other improvement opportunities. If your objective is to reduce your number of suppliers, KPI data could help you make a decision based on the suppliers’ ranking.

Recipe for Success

Keep the following five tips in your procurement toolkit for the next time you’re drafting KPIs and thinking about how to get the most out of your supplier relationships:

  1. Avoid an adversarial approach. Remember, this is all about relationships – and about people. People are more relaxed and inclined to come to an agreement when they aren’t in an adversarial environment. As a procurement professional, you’re going to lead your supplier to success through innovative and progressive means. Essentially, you are the champion of their cause to your senior management.
  1. Work collaboratively with your supplier to develop each KPI and agree on how it will be used. Let the supplier know which KPIs are critical to your organisation – the ones you’ll be listing on the dashboard and sharing with senior management. This enables the supplier to work with you to develop the best approach for success.
  1. Have regular reviews with the supplier – both formal and informal. Always keep the lines of communication open.
  1. When issues do arise, address them as soon as possible. Workshop with the supplier on how to best solve the issue. Remember, don’t focus on the symptom, but try to identify the root cause of any problem and find a solution that will work for everyone.
  1. Let your supplier know how they’re performing compared to others suppliers, while keeping their identities anonymous. This is a form of benchmarking and can help motivate suppliers to improve.

That wraps up our three-part series on setting Key Performance Indicators! Hopefully this will set you on the path to KPI success, but if you have any comments or questions, you can ask them in our new Procurement Tools and Templates Group.

Setting KPIs for Beginners: Types of KPI

We know the why in the role of KPIs in Supplier Relationship Management. But we also need to be able to identify which type of KPI will bring the best results.

KPI for beginners

Catch up with the first part of this introductory overview of the role and relevance of KPIs to support Supplier Relationship Management (SRM).

So now we have established the role of the KPI in the SRM process, we need to think about the type of KPI we’ll use. Much of the decision making around this will be based on what procurement is measuring with the KPIs.

Remember – procurement should discuss KPIs with other stakeholders and, where possible, involve suppliers too. This engagement could make the difference between success and failure.

Types of KPI

Here’s an overview of the three different types of KPIs:

  1. Quantitative – these are measurable, numeric and objective, like rating on a scale of 1 to 10. An example of a quantitative KPI would be the number of late deliveries per quarter.
  1. Qualitative – these KPIs are more subjective. An example could be how responsive the supplier is to a request – let’s say you have a special order that needs to be delivered to an unusual location. It’s a one-off request, but if the supplier makes the delivery it would save you significant costs in transport and you know they make deliveries to that location for other customers. Is the supplier reluctant to change the delivery location, and is there a fee involved? Is the fee reasonable?
  1. Cultural – are the KPIs aligned with your organisational values? Let’s say your organisation has a drive to always buy locally-made products. You want KPIs to capture whether your suppliers are buying locally as well.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all set of KPIs. Whether you are working on direct or indirect categories, manufacturing or distribution, you need to match the KPIs to the supplier.

For your Toolkit: KPI Checklist

This checklist is a quick summary to confirm if your KPI will stand up to scrutiny.

  • Is it measurable? If it’s not measurable, than what good is it? How will you know if your supplier is meeting the required standards?
  • Is it meaningful? Do you or anyone else in the organisation care about it – if not, why collect it?
  • Is it actionable by the supplier? There’s no use measuring a data point and feeding that information back to the supplier if the supplier is unable to act on or improve the situation. If it’s not within their sphere of influence, they probably won’t accept the KPI to begin with.

Keep the KPIs simple, easy to understand and easy to measure. Ensure they support your overall business strategy and objectives by aligning them to your customer requirements.

Experience shows it’s better to capture a few vital measures that can be tracked consistently and repeatedly. This is much more effective than measuring randomly and or inconsistently.

Institutionalising the measurement process and regularly reinforcing it with suppliers and stakeholders will provide a common ground and common language, support a collaborative environment and make it easier for everyone to understand, participate and achieve.

Finally, you want to reinforce the value of the data collection to support improved business performance – that is, now that you’ve collected the information, make sure you tell the right story.

Contract Level KPI Reports

The dashboard (or scorecard) summarises your KPIs and measures them against a particular supplier.  This tool can be used internally to review a supplier’s past or current performance. It’s also important to share this information with the supplier so they are aware of the data and can act upon it.

KPI status reports should be delivered in a timely manner to enable you to address stakeholder concerns quickly and responsively. The reports need to include all the relevant information your stakeholders require – this includes the good and the bad.

You don’t want the senior management finding out bad news from the inter-office grapevine or worse, the media. This is your chance to deliver important details relevant to the success of the business. It’s your news and you want the kudos that go along with identifying and sharing it first.

You also want to define a clear escalation process to address issues and problems as they arise. For example, in a supplier review meeting you may realise the supplier’s data doesn’t match yours.

The supplier is reluctant to change their process based on your data, when their own data says everything is okay. You need an agreed escalation point to review and resolve this disagreement.

Finally, you want KPIs that will deliver predictive measures, not just historical. This allows you to stay one step ahead by being in a position to identify and act upon issues before they become serious.  Predictive measures will also help you to identify targets for the supplier to meet and beat over the course of the contract.

All of this information fits into the reporting documentation to demonstrate how and why you’re spending your organisation’s money. The highlights of this report can be summarised in the dashboard and presented to senior management.

Stay tuned for the third and final article in this series, which explores systems used to capture KPI data, typical data points for measuring KPIs, and multi-supplier performance dashboards.

Setting KPIs for Beginners: Why Bother?

An introductory overview of the role and relevance of KPIs to support Supplier Relationship Management (SRM).

KPIs article 1

In this three-part article, we discuss some of the different KPIs that are used specifically for SRM. This list is by no means exhaustive; it can’t be, as performance indicators must be relevant to your own organisation, customers, and requirements.  However, this list can be used as a guide and can become an essential part of your toolkit.

We’ll also review some of the popular ways people measure and monitor KPIs through systems and reports. Again, this won’t be an exhaustive list because of cultural and technical requirements unique to every organisation.

You’ll also find some key tips for implementing KPIs successfully, including a checklist (more tools for your toolkit!).

We will explore how dashboards can be a fantastic tool for procurement professionals to use when communicating to stakeholders and promote hard-won benefits to the business. An effective dashboard will include KPIs that demonstrate how suppliers or categories are being managed and their impact on the business. Remember, the KPIs you set may influence senior management decisions. Therefore, you need to get it right.

Why bother with KPIs?  

To get started, let’s talk about why we use KPIs.

As procurement professionals, we’re responsible for making smart purchasing decisions that support the values and principles of procurement, such as probity and value for money. These decisions must also support the philosophy and strategy of individual organisations. Importantly, we need to be able to justify and document how (and why) we’re spending money.

KPIs can help us justify spend. In fact, KPIs can be used to identify risk, cost savings, innovation opportunities and successes, value-for-money initiatives, customer satisfaction and any number of other factors that we or our customers feel is important.

The role of a supplier KPI is vast. They set the performance standard and have measurable features used to identify areas of improvement, such as establishing a baseline, identifying where you want to be and developing a path to get there. But it doesn’t stop there – KPIs can also be connected to payment milestones, credit payment and liquidated damages.

The important point to remember is that supplier KPIs must be agreed upon by all parties involved. If your supplier doesn’t know what is expected of them, they won’t be able to comply, let alone excel. That’s just one side of the relationship.

The other side of the relationship involves the professionals within the buying organisation. How do you, the procurement professional, know which KPIs to use? Are cost savings important? Delivery times?  ISO standing? Inventory reduction? You won’t know unless you ask your customers about their requirements.

So, why are KPIs important?

What gets measured gets done. KPIs are a way of ensuring your supplier focuses on your fundamental business needs. We can do this through:

  • Incorporating our customers’ requirements into the KPIs to align supplier performance with organisational goals.
  • Providing constructive feedback (rather than punitive criticism). Why? Because the end goal is a win-win situation where you get what you and your customers need, while the supplier gets to improve its reputation and build its business.
  • Promoting a continuous feedback loop using KPIs to drive supplier performance, initiative and improvement. KPIs should be linked to the terms of the contract but remember, the focus is on the relationship. Indicators should therefore reflect the “spirit” of the contract as much as the “letter”.
  • Bringing clarity to overly generic contract requirements to drive meaningful performance.

Challenges in KPI management

Here are some common challenges that we’ve seen through our own experience:

  • Capturing the data – identifying the relevant data and accurately acquiring the data points.
  • SRM fatigue – motivating yourself, your team and your suppliers to continue SRM activities over the life of the contract, which can be months or even years. Activities can easily become stale and sometimes you’ll need to push them along.
  • Comparing and contrasting suppliers – supplier performance will be very different depending on their size, sector and region. Ensure you’re comparing apples with apples.

Engaging end-users is important

When driving supplier performance over long-term contracts, we want to keep things moving so end-users don’t feel that nothing is happening. Keep end-users in the loop, ensure their voices are heard and let them know how things are progressing.

We often focus on senior management as our primary “customer”, but the end-user is arguably more important – especially when it comes to compliance. After all, they’re the ones who will use the product, system or tool that is being purchased.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, which will explore the different types of KPIs, complete with a KPI checklist and contract-level KPI reports.

Are You One of Procurement’s Game Changers?

As disruption is increasingly recognised as a strategic business skill, being one of the game changers is a highly coveted role.

In a world increasingly recognising ‘disruption’ as a strategic business skill, where an army of highly talented and ambitious professionals are fighting their way to the front line in the war for talent, the idea of being identified as a ‘game changer’ is quite coveted.

After all, we all want to get named on the high potential talent list, don’t we?

Game Changers – A Bad Thing?

That was the premise that started the procurement talent discussion at the Productivity in Pharma Think Tank in London. But then there was a revelation.

Despite media hype and discussions at high brow HR think tanks about these ‘unicorns’ – game changing individuals – it turns out that being a game changer isn’t necessarily a good thing.

You see, what most large organisations actually want are executives who can execute the strategy and implement. In other words – get stuff done. What has been discovered is that game changers can sometimes lack EQ, and have the potential to bulldozer their way through an organisation, eventually proving themselves to actually be too disruptive.

Those organisations who actually do need a disruptive or transformative force are now separating out these individuals from the rest of the pack, and placing them in “garages”, “incubators” and “shark tanks”, to use their unique skill sets for good, not evil.

Increasing Collaboration

In fact, well known procurement search and interim consultants, Langley, put forward a case that procurement should actually be the “great integrators”.

“Today’s procurement professionals need to integrate the link between company, suppliers and the environment. They need to be able to bring the outside, in,” said the Managing Director of Langley, Cristina Langley.

In talking about the talent he is trying to attract to his organisation, Tyson Popp, CPO at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, further reinforced this need for an increasingly collaborative style. Popp mentions that he is looking for talent with “an intellectual curiosity and a need to connect across the organisation”.

The Science Bit

The good news is there is some science behind this debate. The Game Changer Index (GC Index®) has been created by eg.1’s CEO Nathan Ott, and Chief Psychologist Dr John Mervyn-Smith, in collaboration with Professor Adrian Furnham at UCL.

The Index was developed in response to client demand for a more useful way of identifying people who could implement transformation. It was born from a frustration with the way that traditional tools, such as Belbin and Myers-Briggs, neglected this special group of talent.

The team believed that Game Changers were fundamentally different from ‘High Potentials’ and ‘Traditional Leaders’, and would not be identified by existing, antiquated assessment tools. This was an issue for businesses searching for individuals who could drive transformational change.

This was the foundation for the development of The GC Index. The tool, through several phases of research, highlighted the ways in which individuals differed in terms of Imagination and Obsession. Those high on both emerged as the Game Changers.

Applications in Procurement

Despite me having given game changers a bad rap earlier in this story, and given that my personal mission is to change the face of procurement globally, I really do hope we have a lot of CPOs out there who are game changers. That is, transformational leaders who can deliver paradigm-shifting change. The real issue is how best to enable them to succeed in a structured environment.

The GC Index® identifies these dynamic individuals, but has evolved to also assess four other profiles, which are equally valuable and are necessary to ensure genuine, long term, game-changing transformation.

These profiles could apply to anyone within your procurement team. However, I thought for demonstration purposes I would share my thoughts on what the generic procurement roles for these profiles could be:

  • The Strategist – This could be Category Leaders. They have an ability to analyse patterns and trends. They will be most comfortable leading by giving a focus to action, through direction and purpose.
  • The Implementer – This profile could best be characterised as sourcing professionals and transactional (P2P, etc.) executives.  They are essentially task-focused individuals, driven by a need for tangible achievements. These are the leaders who will be in the ‘thick of the action’, and get on with things.
  • The Polisher These people lead through setting standards, and could therefore be best characterised by our Compliance and Procurement Process Excellence leaders. They are demanding of themselves and others. Their mantra will be, “If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. They instil belief in people in action, and in the possibility of a better world. This definitely sounds like our best practice procurement leaders!
  • The Play Maker – This probably epitomises the poster-child version of the modern-day procurement professional. Perfectly placed right in the intersection of all four profiles, this individual is interested in people and relationships. They are, therefore, best equipped to take on the all-important task of stakeholder engagement, but also managing upwards (C-level) and outwards (supply markets). Play Makers at their best will lead through building productive relationships and helping others to do the same.

Apparently Richard Branson is a playmaker – not only driving outcomes, but making sure the whole experience is enjoyable, even potentially playful! (Heaven forbid in procurement!)

Making a Contribution

So the real question is, how do you develop your skills to maximise your success in this new corporate reality?

The good news from eg.1 is that you don’t necessarily fit into one box. Their data shows that while some individuals have a dominant profile, they also have an ability to ‘flex’, moving, for example, from being a Strategist, when the situation demands it, to being an Implementer.

The other good news is that just about all leadership styles can work. You just need to understand what your style is and play to your strengths. And as Nathan Ott commented at this year’s Big Ideas Summit:

“Not everyone can be a Game Changer, but everyone can make a Game Changing contribution.”

The Productivity in Pharma Think Tank brings together a conclave of senior procurement leaders from the Pharmaceutical industry, creating a unique, mini-MBA style environment, where the most pressing issues facing the function are explored in detail and, from which, key insights and applicable takeaways are derived.

You can find out more about this event at The Beyond Group website, and connect with the event hosts and facilitators Giles Breault (@GilesBreault) and Sammy Rashed (@RashedSammy) on social media.