Organic, original, challenging and aspirational – is this what procurement means to you? Maybe it should.
In a recent conversation with a business partner where we discussed all-things procurement, a new notion came to mind. The more we talked about it, the more it resonated and the more tangible it became. The concept, as simple as it sounds, embodies a holistic vision of what procurement professionals must strive for. We called it “Procurement 100%”.
“Procurement 100%”, is not the same as “100% procurement”. It’s a concept that recognises everything an organisation does is not purely focused on procurement, but that procurement must operate at 100% to enable the organisation to achieve its goals.
Procurement is 100% Organic
Procurement 100% implies that procurement is alive and complex, and that significant effort is required to achieve it. All the moving pieces of an organisation will influence procurement and we must be forever diligent to maintain performance.
Procurement 100% is a moving target, is a relative concept that needs to be assessed and gauged within its ecosystem, as it is no stranger to everything else within a company. It is a set of goals that defines and redefines itself constantly as risks become real and resilience is challenged everyday.
Procurement 100% is both the exemplification of sustainability, and its susceptibility to external variables.
Procurement is 100% Original
The most appealing thing about this concept is that the definition of Procurement 100% will be unique and different for every organisation. Each company must think about what 100% means to the broader vision of the organisation and devise a path and a plan against it to achieve it.
Only one rule applies. Procurement 100% is about achieving full operational transparency, enabling process compliance and capturing value at all times, no compromise.
A procurement function that operates at 100% would be world class – a function that balances process, people and technology in just the right way to enable the most ambitious goals of an organisation without wasting energy. It’s about making the right way to buy the easiest way of buying.
No procurement function is the same, or requires the same energy and resources to reach its full potential. Not every organisation will need the same set of tools, people and expertise in house in order to perform at a high level.
Procurement is 100% Challenging
Procurement 100% is an exclusive club, because it demands mastery of the competing forces of strategic vision and operational functionality. Many companies have great vision, but lack the on-the-ground resources to execute their plan. Others have strong apparatus, tools and operatives, but fail because there is no strategic direction. Everything gets tactical, too granular, and they are unable to change mindsets.
To me, the greatest ideas come from defining, embracing and deploying out-of-the-box approaches that make us a little nervous, where failing is done quickly and learnings are applied before the fear of losing again, anchors us more to our comfort zone where all is safe, where procurement is still tactical at best.
Procurement is 100% Aspirational
Procurement 100% gives everyone a goal, a vision and mission to attain. It speaks about something that must, and can be, measured. Anything under 100% means there’s work to do, everything at a 100% means it needs to be monitored.
I cannot define what Procurement 100% looks like for your organisation, but I can tell you that I don’t know a single entity who has Procurement 100%. It’s not that they don’t strive for excellence and having a high performance procurement function. Those who acknowledge the value of 100% Procurement are the same visionaries who keep raising the bar just before its reached.
What I can tell you is that in the holy trinity of procurement – people, process, and technology – each make up for exactly 33% of your winning formula. Achieving the right balance is the secret ingredient for you to figure out to unlock the full potential of your procurement function.
We asked our LinkedIn community for their top pandemic anthems, and the result was an awesome playlist!
Owing to the myriad Supply Chain disruptions this year, many of us suddenly found that the world was no longer our oyster – or if it was, it clamped shut and trapped us inside. On top of Supply Chain chaos, we had to deal with our own incarceration.
What do I do when my love is away? Does it worry you to be alone? How do I feel by the end of the day? Are you sad because you’re on your own? No, I get by with a little help from my friends
When your personal network is as strong as your business network, its support takes on inertia of its own.
Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
– Greg Parkinson, Director, Turner & Towsend
The right frame of mind is the key to success: a little mindfulness, coupled with an Attitude of Gratitude a la Nicky Abdinor, goes a long way.
Thus set up for success, soon we’ll be poised to take on the world again:
I Want To Be A Billionaire – Bruno Mars
– Matthew Hadgraft, The Faculty
Oh every time I close my eyes I see my name in shining lights A different city every night oh right I swear the world better prepare For when I’m a billionaire
Keep your dreams, goals, ambitions and plans intact because all this will change. Every Procurement and Supply Chain executive knows the importance of a Business Continuity Plan – make sure your own plans are articulated, because who knows what opportunities the future will bring?
Do you have any suggestions for additional songs? Comment below.
How can you centralise disparate tools and requests to receive, triage and manage work across the source-to-pay process without replacing your applications? It’s not as impossible as it sounds.
Are your stakeholders frustrated with finding their way through the procurement maze? As a procurement practitioner are you overwhelmed with navigating your way through a variety of disparate tools and requests, such as procurement, accounting and reporting, to get your work done?
Many organisations are increasingly improving the efficiency of the procurement process by implementing a “Procurement Service Desk,” which is a single, centralised user portal for stakeholder requests, routing, communication and PR/PO status reporting.
One-stop shop for “all things procurement”
By using one portal instead of multiple systems, the Procurement Service Desk provides seamless engagement for procurement and its stakeholders, which helps procurement organisations receive, triage and manage work across the source-to-pay (S2P) process. The single portal improves the overall user experience and outcomes with procurement for stakeholders, including requestors, legal, finance and operations.
With a Procurement Service Desk, stakeholders no longer have to spend days trying to figure out where to go, who to call, and what information is required to engage procurement. The platform provides procurement stakeholders with a simple user experience to submit procurement requests. A dashboard provides full visibility to requests and statuses throughout the end-to-end procurement process. Stakeholders and procurement now collaborate directly in the centralised portal instead of through numerous emails, files and phone calls.
Procurement organisations typically realise these value-based outcomes after implementing a Procurement Service Desk:
Automated triage of work to appropriate practitioners through intelligent routing
Improved user experience for clients, supplier and S2P practitioners
Workflow data captured in a structured manner for utilisation to improve processes, deliver efficiencies and provide an improved experience
Enablement of metrics that matter
Intuitive, easy-to-use platform
E2E flow supported by a single platform
Shortening the process through intelligent triage
Through the Procurement Service Desk, stakeholders submit requests covering the full S2P process, including sourcing, contracts, supplier onboarding, purchase orders and invoices. By using standardised processes and forms, the Procurement Service Desk ensures compliance and gathers required data from stakeholders.
Requests are based on standardised processes and forms, ensuring compliance and that required data is received upfront from the stakeholders. Because procurement professionals don’t have to chase down additional information from stakeholders, the Procurement Service Desk enables a more efficient process and quick turnaround times.
When a request is submitted through the Procurement Service Desk, the platform triages the request through intelligent routing rules to the appropriate procurement practitioner for no-touch handling.
Triage rules based on commodity, request value, country and supplier match the request with the most appropriate procurement practitioner. This automated triage ensures work gets to the right team quicker and more accurately, improving stakeholder customer satisfaction.
The Procurement Service Desk provides procurement with full visibility to the types of requests coming into the organisation through an executive dashboard, helping managers measure and address workload balance and required skills. The platform also provides improved data-driven insights based on the volume and types of requests received from stakeholders.
Integrating processes and systems
Because the Procurement Service Desk sits on top of an integration layer, the intake request process connects with the back-end disparate tools and micro services. Procurement manages their full workload in a single platform regardless of the back-end transactional systems. By sharing data from the intake process bi-directionally with the back-end transactional applications, the Procurement Service Desk eliminates data re-entry, improving process efficiencies and analytics.
The Procurement Service Desk also easily connects to other services, such as Marketplace and Analytics, making them easily accessible. Previously disparate tools and services, they now easily scale and function as a fully integrated platform.
After making the decision to move to a services desk, procurement organisations should begin looking for a system platform to manage the Procurement Service Desk and integrate their key systems. By working with a company with specific procurement experience, organisations reduce business disruptions and speed up implementation.
Learn how IBM Procurement Services can help to reduce business costs and meet the challenges of complex global enterprises through effective data-driven source-to-pay operations by visiting www.ibm.com/services/procurement
Procurement has seen some revolutionary changes over the last two and a half decades. From manual processes to powerful P2P Suites, there is no denying that procurement is becoming more innovative and tech savvy. But as a whole procurement tends to lag behind other professions – it’s time to lead the way for innovation, but where do we go from here?
Technology is driving industry forward at an exponential rate, globally. It’s hard to think of an industry that hasn’t adopted a new technology, at least to some extent, in the last several years. Technological breakthroughs are changing the world over, both from a consumer perspective, but also from a business one. From smart phone companies using fingerprint scanning and facial recognition to car companies implementing park-assist, adaptive cruise control, and in some cases, even self-driving capabilities. This is truly a world driven by innovation, and most industries and business sectors are investing heavily to that end. But what is procurement doing to keep up?
Where We’ve Been
To answer that, first it is important to see how far the profession has come. Although it has taken longer than other markets – the progress has been remarkable.
· Manual Processes – Like most, this is what dominated the industry for a large period of time. Everything was done manually, from drawing up contracts, to sourcing and purchasing materials. This was quite a time-consuming process at a time when procurement lacked the complexity of today.
· Emails & Spreadsheets – As technology began to become more mainstream the manual communications started to give way to emails, no longer requiring procurement professionals to travel onsite as often. The use of spreadsheets began to build the framework of an organizational system with excel becoming the main database of choice for many in procurement.
· ERPs – Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a software that handles business process management it allows an organization to use a series of integrated applications to control and automate many functions related to technology, services and human resources. This is one of the most widely adopted pieces of technology used in procurement today.
· S2P Systems – This is the current cutting-edge procurement technology. A good S2P suite can bring cost savings, efficiencies and data visibility to your business. Our source-to-pay (S2P) platform, JAGGAER ONE, is a comprehensive suite that automates, optimizes and provides insights across the source-to-pay spectrum. Integrating seamlessly with your ERP, JAGGAER ONE can provide data transparency and visibility, while giving access to a powerful suite of end-to-end supply chain and sourcing solutions.
Procurement is at a Cross-Roads
Procurement has long been a cost-focused profession, largely relying on siloed processes and teams, taking a reactive and tactical approach. And, at one time, that was all that procurement needed to do. But it is now time for procurement to move into a new role – one that takes charge of the business and leads the way, becoming an integral part of the overall business strategy.
I believe that procurement professionals around the world stand on the threshold of a new age. The old paradigm of cost reduction, being reactive and only focusing on purchasing is drawing to a close. In this dynamic, complex and disruptive era, procurement leaders and experts the world over are searching for a secure, successful future.
With technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) becoming more mainstream, the applications for procurement are virtually limitless. Technology like JAGGAER’s Smart Assistant, which is powered by AI, is one such possibility. This conversational platform designed for procurement is a powerful tool, which will eliminate much of the tedious and manual processes that still plague the procurement profession today. AI will be a driving factor in the development of the procurement profession.
Where We’re Going
The result of all these technological advances in several years’ time will be autonomous procurement. As I’ve written in a previous blog “autonomous procurement is a platform with embedded intelligence, but a system that also continues to build on those capabilities to automate the full source to pay process without human interaction. However, this will happen only in instances where human input isn’t necessary or desired, such as repetitive or time-consuming tasks”.
It is incredibly important to remember that autonomous procurement is not meant to eliminate human input or the role of procurement professionals. The end goal here is to augment people, freeing up time to focus on value adding tasks and strategic thinking. Human insight is crucial in business – but this is all about using technology to eliminate mistakes, monotony and cut out repetitive patterns. The future platform will assist you at every step of the source-to-pay process and over time it will manage more & more complex activities autonomously, so we can focus on doing strategic analysis to unlock new opportunities.
The procurement leaders of the future will need to combine strategic thinking, along with an analytical mindset. Leaders are crucial in today’s times, especially with the rise of AI, algorithms and automation. In order to stay ahead of the curve procurement professionals will have to evolve – becoming more data-driven and strategic, because that is something that will always require a human touch.
Here at Procurious, we saved the best for last. Register today to reflect, re-energise and refresh for another year of innovation at the most inspiring supply chain and procurement conference of the year.
We’ve (finally) entered the homestretch. However, before we can bid farewell to 2020 – the year that quite literally turned our world upside down – we still have quite a bit of planning and ideation left to do. That’s why now, more than ever, you deserve a distraction.
But do not head for the couch and sign into Netflix just yet. Instead, step back from the day-to-day chaos and join us virtually for the 2020 Big Ideas Summit (BIS). Reflect on the year that was and the opportunities ahead; represent your organisation and all its accomplishments despite the pandemic; regroup and re-energise among like-minded professionals.
Procurious itself is proof that great things can happen when we come together. As a community of 42,000-plus supply chain and procurement professionals, we adapted to survive and thrive under the conditions of the “new normal”.
BIS 2020 takes us a step further. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve gone above and beyond what was asked of us. Now, together, we’ll welcome 2021 stronger than ever – both individually and as a community.
Take, for example, our response to the challenges McKinsey & Company presented us with earlier this year:
We redefined the procurement mandate and fostered a culture of innovation to evolve beyond the traditional, transactional stereotype.
We made investments in digital and analytics, integrating automation and digitisation to optimize performance and leverage untapped data that enhanced productivity across the board.
We future-proofed our organisations by making proactive investments that develop existing talent and enable a more agile workforce.
Somehow, we were able to find the silver lining, increase our influence and succeed against all odds, positioning our function for a watershed 2021. So, together, let’s make next year full of innovation and shared success. That journey starts at BIS 2020.
Big Ideas: Make a Difference and Get Ahead
All it takes is one idea. A single idea can change the trajectory of your company and your career. A single idea can make a difference. A single idea can solve problems for people and businesses across the world.
But good ideas don’t always come easy.
You need time to think, create, learn and share. We’ll provide this in a BIG way at BIS 2020 – and give you everything you need to ignite your passion, fuel your creativity and THINK BIG.
BIS 2020 will have dedicated sessions on everything that’s top of mind for you right now: leadership, supply chain threats, supplier management, digital transformation, supply chain continuity and more.
Together, our community will present and share hundreds of ideas and best practices to help you make a difference, advance your career and get ahead in 2021. But remember, you only need one.
Think the Unthinkable and Prepare for Anything
Those that have joined us at Big Ideas in the past have learned the importance of thinking the unthinkable. Never has this lesson been more true than in 2020.
We’re in the midst of a transformational journey that is changing business and life as we know it.
The good news: our digital-first network is designed to change the face of the profession from the inside out, starting with each individual member of the community. The BIS and our Procurious community will help you think differently: we provide big ideas, first-hand experiences and lessons learned – from the best and brightest from across the world – to help you navigate through this unchartered territory and stand out from the rest of the pack.
Trust me, events don’t have to be in-person to be inspiring. Come ready to share what you are proud of and encourage others to do the same. The more you put in, the more you get out. It’s time to lead, thrive and take back control of your professional development. Rest assured; you’ll leave with everything you need to do just that.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
The core of the CIPS offering for procurement and supply chain professionals is in the professional accreditation that the organisation offers and supports.
Who can become a CIPS member?
The designation of MCIPS represents the gold standard for procurement professionals and is an internationally recognised award that brings the individual holder a number of benefits.
The qualifications are open to anyone working in the procurement and supply chain profession, taking them from Studying Members all the way to MCIPS, and potentially even a fellowship (FCIPS) for the senior advocates of the profession.
Will having CIPS accreditation advance my career?
In recent years, CIPS has brought its qualifications in line with other professional bodies and offers its members a chance to become chartered through its programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
Joining CIPS and taking a full part in its activities as a member is no small investment, and the qualifications should not be undertaken lightly.
But, as a fully paid up member of the procurement profession, why wouldn’t you want to invest in your career and your future in this way?
As with other qualifications, achieving MCIPS does provide benefits to individuals.
It’s not only going to help you get through the door either. Professionals with MCIPS earn, on average, 17 per cent more than peers without the qualifications.
And at a time where the expertise of procurement and supply chain professionals is becoming more widely sought, having these qualifications could be the key to unlocking the full potential of your future career.
The test is free for all members and can be purchased by non-members too. This works alongside the CIPS Code of Ethics, which organisations can sign up to as a public commitment to proper work practices in the field of procurement.
Over the past few years there have been several high-profile global events linked to poor ethical procurement practices.
At a time where global supply chains, and by association procurement, are in the spotlight, having a widely agreed and signed Code of Ethics, backed up by an annual ethics exam for individuals is crucial.
Supporting the ethical agenda is something all procurement and supply chain professionals should be doing.
Accreditation and Chartership provide the foundation for developing a profession that operates within these bounds and is something that should be an expectation for all professionals in the coming years.
Play your part and take the first steps on your chartership journey by joining CIPS today.
Write the ultimate Procurement resume that is both eye-catching and optimised towards securing your ideal next Supply Chain role.
I have worked in executive supply chain recruitment for 16 years. I built a Supply Chain & Procurement career site that ranked number 1 in Google for a variety of top search terms. As such, I understand how important it is to build a strong resume that makes an early impact with the reader and really aligns you to role that you are applying for.
Throughout this article we will explore the elements to focus on to set yourself apart from the competition and build a strong resume that conveys your skills, values and experience in the best possible way.
I have read claims that the reviewer of a resume will make a subconscious decision on candidate suitability for a given position within around 7 seconds of opening/picking up the document. Although this may seem harsh, it goes without saying that if a role advertisement has generated 200 responses then it is more than likely the reviewer will not be reading all the content of each and every resume. This makes the opening page even more important.
Layout is always high on the list of priorities when it comes to creating an attention grabbing procurement resume. The reader should be able to find information readily and the presentation of the document is key to this being possible. Having reviewed thousands of supply chain and procurement related resumes in my time in recruitment, I can honestly say that layout needs to be your number one priority and should gear the resume towards the presentation of your best achievements and most impressive responsibilities held during your career.
For developing an eye catching design theme there are free tools on the internet such as Canva that offer a resume builder tool with access to hundreds of template themes.
Many job seekers opt for an executive summary or profile at the top of the resume. This is absolutely fine however DO NOT get this wrong as this is the preface to the entire document.
Try to incorporate some of your biggest achievements into your opening profile with plenty of quantifiable data. For example:
MBA qualified Supply Chain executive with 20 years experience within the FMCG and Retail sectors leading teams of up to 600 indirect reports and P&Ls in excess of $600m
In one fell swoop you have provided the reader with an idea of your level of education, number of years experience, sector specific background, size of teams managed and level of budgetary responsibility.
Two or three sentences covering your responsibilities and biggest achievements should suffice to create a captivating opening statement.
Play to your Strengths
Another tip for resume layout is to play to your strengths: if you are educated to MBA or Masters level, or have a function specific Degree(s), then bring these to the forefront of the resume. A brief section for educational qualifications underneath Profile/Executive Summary will suffice. This could be particularly important for a recent graduate who has 6 months work experience but 4 years study in the procurement area – education can take on more of a priority than professional experience in such a case. If, however you do not possess any tertiary qualifications, you should bring your practical professional experience to the forefront and leave any reference to education towards the end of the document.
We have explored the creation of a concise opening statement with plenty of impact and the promotion of significant educational qualifications on the front page, now let’s consider a career summary.
Career summaries are a great way to provide the reader with immediate access to what your most recent role has been, how your career has gone to date, and should demonstrate a consistent increase in level of responsibility up until your current role. Times when career summaries should be avoided include recent graduates (for obvious reasons) and potentially interim contracts specialists. An interim contract project manager for instance may have worked at 20 or more companies in the last 5 years and therefore listing all the individual contracts in one list becomes exactly that – a list and not a summary! For an interim specialist or even a project manager it could be worth considering listing key competencies or areas of specialty – I would even recommend tailoring the resume further towards the opening by aligning all the contracts/projects that are most relevant – For instance “Examples of Strategic Transformation Projects”.
Having invested time in developing these areas of your front page, the reader now knows where you have worked, your level of education (if appropriate), some of your greatest achievements and is becoming well equipped to assess your suitability for the position … quickly!
Another point on layout is the age old question of how long the resume should be. The simple answer is the document should be long enough to include everything of relevance to the position you are applying for.
Really focus on what you have achieved in the last 5 years, however if a role you executed 8 years prior is highly relevant (either due to specific industry sector or responsibilities) then develop this further. You should really be including just key highlights in terms of overall responsibility and achievements from your early career. If the last time you updated your resume was 6 years ago, then avoid simply adding to the document. The reason for this is times have moved on and your primary focus is what has happened in these last 6 years. By adding to the old version you will essentially be making the document unnecessarily lengthy and should first trim down the previous version always remembering to quantify responsibility and achievements to build credibility.
Resumes should always be in reverse chronological order (seems logical?) as this highlights your most recent experience early in the document. I would always recommend including a brief description on the size, scope and nature of a business you have worked for. Yes, if you worked for 10 years with a leading bank then of course a resume reviewer from another bank is likely to be well informed on the company you have worked for. However, what happens if you decide to apply for a role in another industry sector? What if the resume reviewer is overseas and knows nothing of your organisation?
Then comes the role title, responsibilities and achievements. Procurement is an area where even the same job titles can have different degrees of focus and responsibility from one company to the next. You should leave the reader in no doubt as to the scope of your role/department/team/project. Never duplicate your job description on the resume: this is obvious to the reader. You can however use your job description as a point of reference to ensure you haven’t missed any key areas of responsibility.
Point of reference
Since your interview will involve questions, The trick around resume content is to include everything that is relevant but to leave enough for you to articulate further at an interview. Remember, you should easily be able to expand upon anything included on your resume at interview. Therefore, for any key achievements (most likely around strategic sourcing/spend reduction/ process formulation and optimisation/ stakeholder engagement/vendor management etc) you should be able to take the interviewer through the exact steps taken by you and the team. This last point is quite resounding since it never looks good to take sole credit for achievements that were part of a wider departmental/organisational agenda with many people involved. It’s absolutely fine to outline the parameters that you and your team drove to achieve a desired outcome if the contribution was significant to overall success.
Me, myself and I
Do not write resumes in third person sense e.g. “Stephen drove improved supplier engagement through….”. This gives the appearance the resume was concocted by another individual. In the same breath it is worth mentioning you should avoid using “I” frequently. In the previous example the sentence could start with “Improved supplier engagement through…”.
We can debate all day long about what makes an outstanding supply chain resume, however the main determining factor around the strength of a resume is what we are benchmarking the document against – i.e. the role to which the resume is being put forward. You could have a really strong general supply chain resume that details everything we have reviewed above, but when we look at the resume against a specific role it lacks depth in certain areas or spends too much time focusing on non-value added topics. If a job seeker is sitting down to write their resume, then as much as they should focus on what they have achieved to date, they should also consider what types of roles they will be interested in that meet their aspirations. Ensure you demonstrate the desired criteria and experience in your resume document for these types of positions. This will also strengthen your resume’s searchability in recruitment systems and it will also help you to concoct a strong Linkedin profile that can be found by headhunters searching for candidates against a role that fits your aspirations.
After having created an impactful and well presented resume you should consider saving the file in a couple of different formats.
Microsoft Word should form the basis of your resume building and editing however you may wish to convert to a PDF file for application submission. My recommendation when dealing through recruiters would be to ask if they would prefer the resume to be sent in Word or PDF format. Most recruitment firms will edit the resume with their own branding and remove and candidate contact details. This can become very difficult if the resume is in PDF format and lead to formatting issues.
The job market is currently at its most competitive and having the best possible resume increases your chances of securing an interview for your ideal next role. Do you have any other suggestions for what makes an outstanding resume? Let us know in the comments below!
How do you set a strategy for your procurement function? Discover what not to do.
In 2020, we’re all au fait with the word ‘strategic.’ Procurement needs to be strategic, metaphorically yells every advice piece we read. What’s the strategy behind that, what’s your function’s strategy, what’s the strategy this year? Exclaim C-suite executives we run into; or perhaps a strategy consultant they’ve engaged.
But when it comes to procurement – what does a strategy even mean?
As an internal function, a procurement strategy is a complex idea. As procurement’s purpose is inherently to serve our stakeholders, should our strategy simply be to do just that? Or should we set a separate procurement strategy, based on best practice we observe in our particular function, elsewhere? Both approaches have their benefits, but also significant downsides. So which one is it, or is it neither? Here’s a detailed explanation of the two different ‘strategies’ that most procurement teams execute, and exactly why they may not be the best choice going forward:
Bad strategy #1 – The ‘Your Wish is My Command’ Strategy
What is the ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy?
Ken had not long been in his role as CPO at a utilities company when a meeting entitled ‘Procurement Strategy’ appeared in his diary. He hoped – and assumed – that the meeting would be about the business’s long-term strategy, which he would then translate into a roadmap for his team.
But he was wrong.
Alison, the company’s CEO, told him that he need not bother himself with strategy, because ‘that’s what I’m here for.’ She said, unapologetically, that the job of internal functions like procurement was to ‘keep all internal stakeholders happy’ and that she expected his team to ‘do whatever was required’ to do just that.
‘That was the problem with the last CPO,’ she told Ken, ominously. ‘She was always on a different wavelength, always chasing her own version of success. But while she did that, no one here was happy. Don’t repeat that same mistake.’
Why is the ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy so appealing?
The ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy, or the idea a procurement function exists to simply do whatever is required by stakeholders within the business, is frighteningly common. This is because the basic premise of this strategy – the idea that internal functions are created to serve the wider corporation – is in fact correct. Many CEOs believe that the business units that create products or support customers should be supported by internal functions. While this is true, it can also be deeply frustrating for functions that need – and deserve – to create their own strategy.
But the problem with the ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy runs much deeper than just frustration.
What’s the problem with the ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy?
The ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy works in theory only; as many CPOs will have now no doubt learnt. By granting ‘wishes’ – so to speak – to a multitude of different commanders, without any regard for what to prioritise or how to allocate resources, staff quickly become overworked, resources get spread too thin, and stakeholders are often underwhelmed. All decisions become reactive and nothing is done well, meaning that the all-important procurement influence is lost, with little room to show value added. Business units start ‘insourcing’ – either doing part of procurement’s job themselves, or looking for cheaper, external resources to do it for them.
Overworked staff, insourcing and little value perceived to be added leads the C-suite to fundamentally question whether procurement is ‘worth it,’ meaning ever-more pressure on cost savings, and eventually, redundancies.
The ‘My Wish is Your Command’ strategy is something that Dave Pastore, Senior Director, Sourcing Operations at Corcentric, has seen too many times – but, in his opinion, it never works:
‘Any strategy that reduces the procurement function to a shared service without providing it with the ability to challenge the organisation is a squandered opportunity at best, and a self-inflicted wound at worst.’
On the surface, the ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy seems to make sense. But dig deeper, and it’s a deeply fraught concept that deprives procurement as a function of fundamentally doing what they need to do – adding value.
Bad strategy #2 – ‘Market Leader’ Strategy
It’s clear that the ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy is no way forward. So is the opposite strategy, one whereby procurement makes clear choices that set the company apart vis-a-vis other procurement functions externally, the better choice then?
What is the ‘Market Leader’ strategy?
As a new CPO in one of the world’s fastest growing tech companies, Karen thought she’d secured her dream role. And in her first few months on the job, that seemed to be the truth.
As someone who was quite entrepreneurial and strategic herself, Karen knew that to become a ‘market leader’ in procurement, the company needed to invest heavily in tech. The CEO, himself a young entrepreneur, gave Karen the green light to do whatever she needed. ‘Just make sure we’re the best,’ he said, while signing off on a budget that made Karen’s eyes water.
But as time passed by, problems materialised for Karen. It turned out that being ‘the best’ wasn’t as easy as emulating best practice in the marketplace, for a number of reasons.
Why is the ‘Market Leader’ strategy so appealing?
For ambitious CPOs, the chance to implement the ‘Market Leader’ strategy can feel like a career-defining moment. Firstly, it treats procurement with the respect it deserves, and places it equally with the rest of the business in terms of power and importance. Secondly, it just seems like the right thing to do. If you’re trying to be ‘the best,’ why not look for an example of that and then try and do the same?
Creating a ‘market leading’ procurement function may well look good on your CV. It may be the case study that nets you media coverage; that amplifies your personal brand and that makes you an authority in the space. But at the same time, there’s every chance it will fail within your organisation.
What is the problem with the ‘Market Leader’ strategy?
The ‘Market Leader’ strategy seems perfect until you consider one thing: context. And given that procurement is not separate to an organisation, but an integral part of it, context is hugely important.
Take the example of Karen detailed above. What evidence did she have, beyond the fact that she was working for a tech company, that investing heavily in tech was what was needed for her function? Precisely none. Many procurement leaders have chased ‘best practice’ before, only to discover that what might be best in the marketplace may not suit their organisation for a number of reasons.
Jennifer Ulrich, Senior Directory, Advisory, at Corcentric, believes that the idea that you have to be a ‘market leader’ in all aspects of procurement is misguided:
‘You don’t have to be a market leader on every aspect of procurement in order to generate a competitive advantage to the organisation.
‘Doing what is right for the business will put you in a winning position more often.’
While market-leading strategies look externally focused, they actually function more like internal monopolies, where procurement serves themselves, rather than the needs of the business leaders around them. As a result, the function falls victim to the typical problems experienced by monopolies, including arrogance and overresoucring. Managers within the business complain that resources are being used for ‘show’ as opposed to invested in things that would actually give the company a competitive advantage.
As a result, backlash ensues. The ‘value’ added by procurement is again called into question, and the function is seen as the exact thing it is trying to rebel against: burdensome cost.
So how should you set a procurement strategy?
If a ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy doesn’t work, and neither does a ‘Market Leader’ strategy, then how should procurement create a meaningful, long-term and effective strategy?
‘Start with defining what success should look like for procurement in your organisation, finding those answers early is a relatively easy way to build a strategy that will drive healthy support across the organisation.’
Want more detail? Discover exactly what to do in our next article: How to Set a Procurement Strategy Part 2: What to do. Join Procurious now to be notified immediately when it’s published.