Procurement has evolved to become more strategic and collaborative and has moved from an isolated, back-office function to a boardroom partner. While the procurement function must continue to drive hard savings, manage suppliers and mitigate risk, it must also pivot to look for opportunities to deliver future savings and innovation.
“Procurement is at an inflection point,” said Dr. Marcell Vollmer in a recent interview with SIG CEO Dawn Tiura. “Procurement needs to transform into a value-added function focusing on strategic tasks.” How can procurement teams do this?
For all the great advancements that technology brings, it requires people to manage the technology. Oxford Economics’ survey among procurement executives and practitioners found that the top three investment priorities include new talent recruitment, training/upskilling programs and procurement/supply-chain technology.
The relationship between buyers and providers can be a tricky one, especially when operating across multiple continents. Speaking during a podcast interview with Dawn Tiura, Sean Delaney, Vice President of Sales for cloud platform Determine, draws on his experience as both a buyer and provider to share best practices for relationships that are sustainable and strategic.
WORK ON YOUR SOFT SKILLS
Technical expertise is valuable, but your ability to establish a rapport with customers is important for sustainable relationships. “Candor is important because there's a large degree of personal credibility that buyers are putting on the line when selecting a vendor," says Delaney. "That needs to be understood as a seller and we need to make sure that we don't break that trust. That's our role.”
Nearly five years ago I wrote a blog about Big Data and how it could be relevant for sourcing and supply chain professionals. Needless to say, a LOT has happened since then. In a Gartner survey performed in October 2016, 48% of companies indicated that they have a Big Data initiative currently underway, with another 25% who stated they had plans on the horizon. So it is no longer a question of whether or not companies are using Big Data…that is a given. Now the question is how companies are using it and how they are incorporating Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the equation.
The information being collected from Big Data initiatives is powerful and can provide predictive analytics and insightful information. For example, a shipping company being able to change delivery routes based on current traffic patterns increases productivity (not to mention customer frustration). A large company using it to detect anomalies in behavior by third party vendors and mitigate the risk associated with that information could protect them from millions in cyber security damages.
Have you ever tried having a productive day at work after being involved in a head on collision the previous day? It is pretty rough! The concussion sure made it hard to focus on what Sally was explaining at the executive meeting. You did not make the best decisions that day and I’m pretty sure you ruined your chances of bringing that one strategic partnership to fruition when your slurred speech was mistaken for intoxication. Actually, I bet you didn’t go to work the next day and I bet your employer told you to take the time you needed to heal, see the right doctors and come back stronger. Physical health issues can affect anyone at any time. For that reason, many workers are given medical insurance, sick time and other benefits to ensure they can recuperate before returning to the work place.
Yet, less visible injuries occur to our mental health and they can be just as frequent and debilitating. However, rather than providing the necessary support to workers, many are not given benefits to take time off or get a mental health checkup. Rather than receiving well wishes of getting better, most people with mental health issues deal with them in quiet because of stigmas that exist.
I decided to write my blog this week on this topic after being inundated with news reports in the recent days, weeks, months and unfortunately even years of crime and other tragic outcomes related to various forms of hate, anger and frustration. As I question my bi-racial child’s future in a hate entrenched society, and reflect on the loss of a friend at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last year, I can’t help but think that there has got to be something that could have been done to prevent this. Is there something I can do? Is there something anyone can do other than teach our children how to show compassion, consideration and love for others?
Of the many laws that affect the international outsourcing space, one of the most important must be that of diminishing returns. At its heart outsourcing is about efficiency – a provider can only offer a decent value proposition, and turn a profit, if it can achieve a desired output more efficiently than can a would-be buyer of its services – and yet there’s only so much money in the hypothetical pot to invest in driving efficiencies: as a very basic example, if one can spend $x to achieve 10% savings, by the fifth investment of $x the savings made are only around 60% of what was achieved with the first tranche. The returns diminish. After a while, it becomes less and less worthwhile to invest $x in that project, when the same amount put into another deal can yield significantly more.
Finding the right balance between investment and returns (and knowing where is the line beyond which further investment will yield returns too paltry to justify) is vital in any business, but especially one as efficiency-based as outsourcing, where relationships have historically often featured buyers demanding constant and consistent efficiency gains and savings – and, moreover, where the necessary investments in technology and people can be gigantic. Hence the desire on the part of providers to share the value gained by any given investment across as many clients as possible – and the complications resulting from buy-side demands for bespoke work and customisation without a simultaneous understanding of why this of necessity means higher costs, which need to be passed on somewhere, somehow…
The global regulatory environment is heating up – and not just because it's summer. As government enforcement actions capture headlines, corporate leaders are rightfully concerned about whether their due-diligence strategy can hold up to the increased scrutiny. Richard Girgenti, KPMG LLP's National and Americas leader for Forensic Advisory Services, wrote in an article in Metropolitan Corporate Counsel recently, that the rapid and ongoing nature of regulatory changes, the array of agencies involved in bringing enforcement actions and the aggressiveness with which they are enforcing such actions are resulting in "record fines and penalties, class action lawsuits, lost earnings and reputation damage." Girgenti would know, having more than three decades of experience – not just in advising organizations but in conducting investigations and overseeing policies on the enforcement agency side of the coin. So, what does he see as some of the top of mind issues for corporate leaders who want to stay out of hot water with regulators?
Three Enforcement Areas that Demand Enhanced Due Diligence
Mark Dunn, Segment Leader, Entity Due Diligence and Monitoring, LexisNexis
Two weeks ago my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It rocked my world. We've been blessed with four healthy and happy children and frankly haven't had many concerns when it came to their well-being. But there we were at a regular doctor's appointment, being told that our daughter, Hayden had blood glucose levels that were so high that we needed to go directly to the hospital. It doesn't run in my family, so it wasn't a condition I would have ever thought would "happen" to us. But it did. And now for the rest of her life, my little girl will be dependent on insulin to do what her pancreas cannot. For several days, I wondered what I could have done to prevent this diagnosis. But in the case of Type 1 diabetes, the answer is...nothing. It is non-preventable and currently non-curable. But it did make me realize that I could become more aware of the risks associated with it. I could tap into every person I know with first-hand experience, including one of the best resources I could find, my own CEO Dawn Evans whose daughter has been diagnosed for 10+ years. Through Dawn and every contact, website, blog and organization I could find, I could educate myself on the possibilities associated with a Type 1 diagnosis, and prepare myself for what MIGHT happen down the road. In much the same way, companies that engage in global sourcing strategies must also be aware of the risks and understand how to mitigate them. At our upcoming Global Leadership Summit in Fort Worth, we have many sessions focusing on this topic. Companies engage in global sourcing because the benefits are thought to be greater than the risks. But understanding the risk categories, weighing the possible outcomes and coming up with a risk mitigation plan can help companies find the balance between lower cost and higher risk.
The issue of Supplier Risk Management has been in the news recently. In January, Wal-Mart released its 'Ethical Sourcing Update,' wherein it announced, amongst other changes, a new zero tolerance policy for suppliers that used unauthorized subcontractors. The new policy was in response to the fierce criticism that Wal-Mart received in November 2012 after a fire in a Bangladesh garment factory claimed the lives of 112 workers. In that case, Wal-Mart claims that the factory in question was used without its knowledge and that it had stopped authorizing production there. The rise of highly fragmented and global supplier networks has necessarily lessened the amount of control that any company has over its supplier network. Accordingly, Supplier Risk Management is a growing discipline that is receiving increased attention. Current globalization trends only serve to reinforce the need for a dynamic, fluid and strategic Risk Management program. A recent but already classic example of poor Supplier Risk Management involved the hard disk drive industry. The industry was highly concentrated in Thailand, with over 1,000 factories operating in the sector. In late 2011, the country experienced a particularly strong monsoon season that caused widespread flooding. The flooding set back hard disk drive manufacturing for months and caused global prices to increase approximately 10%, affecting PC sales worldwide. It was almost a full year before production returned to pre-flood levels. The classic methodology utilized in approaching Risk Management hinges on three core work streams: Risk Analysis, Risk Assessment and Risk Mitigation. At the highest level, the goal is to determine the probability of a negative outcome, determine the impact of such an event and introduce measures which will lessen the impact.
Patrick Reymann, Director, Strategic Sourcing Operations, Corbus
I just finished viewing insights from Risk Expert Joe Yacura of ISG, in the video, Supply Chain: Understanding The Risk Factors. This was an excellent, less-than-30-minute overview of supply chain risk management that I enjoyed with my bagel and tea. Joe discussed the critical nature of supply chains and the sources of risk, and he made some recommendations on how to harden the supply chain, specifically addressing cyber-attacks. A company’s supply chain and it's criticality to the company’s reputation is more evident as the sources and frequency of risk increase. Joe defines supply chain risk simply as "the disruption of the flow of products or services that meet the requirements [of the company]." Consumers and regulators alike want greater transparency into supply chains, with a better understanding of vulnerabilities, and as a result we are seeing an increase in mandates for company supply chains. Major sources of risk include weather, natural disasters, product reliability and consistency, counterfeit information and misrepresentations. Let's consider some of those risks: weather...who among us thought Manhattan could be so vulnerable until Sandy hit? How many of us, our hearts aching for the victims, were also concerned about our financial institutions and information, servers and files drowning in rancid water? Were there back-ups? Was my credit card statement floating in Battery Park or the basement of the bank I use? Cyber-attacks: wow, even the New York Times went down recently. If they can lose their bread and butter who else can be hit?
Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG