Ever heard of a thing called inertia? Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion, or the tendency to do nothing. In business speak, this phenomenon is often characterized as analysis paralysis. In a corporate world of business cases, business plans, strategic roadmaps and the push to constantly sell, align and achieve, it’s no wonder procurement leaders are drowning in what needs to be done, but struggle to scratch the surface. How can it be that a top procurement leader whose very career path has been the result of their outstanding productivity and accolades suddenly faces a precipice of declining performance and the disastrous stagnation of innovation? Simple. Because their knowledge impedes creativity, causing inertia.
Procurement leaders who have spent the entirety of their career in one industry, one company, or one function, namely procurement, subconsciously experience limiting beliefs—and by limiting I mean success-hindering, momentum-killing beliefs—about themselves and the procurement function. Without ever intending it, procurement leaders often poison their potential by allowing their knowledge and experience to cloud their creativity and vision of what they can imagine going forward. They often resist any change to the current state of operations because they are so focused on delivering in the here and now. Even if they manage to recall their vision for a world-class procurement organization, the age-old question emerges: where do I even begin? The path of least resistance is to simply do nothing, to change nothing; the alternative could lead to failure. To these skeptics wary of innovative change, I’d like to pose the question: isn’t the very act of doing still far more productive than the act of thinking or talking about doing something, regardless of the outcome?
In previous blogs, SIG has covered the basic concept of sustainability, including an overview of its various dimensions. In this post, I will touch on the role that sourcing professionals can have in meeting corporate sustainability goals.
Why should sourcing have a role?
Sourcing is uniquely positioned to contribute to meeting a corporation's sustainability goals because sourcing typically has expertise in:
Creating alignment to corporate goals
Building frameworks to measure success
Researching market conditions and supplier capabilities
Conducting strategic negotiations
Designing innovative methods for value creation
Ranking the priorities of stakeholders with supplier offerings
Identifying risk and mitigating responsibly
The reduction in costs after implementing a sustainability program can exceed the costs of implementation – in other words, you’re spending money up front but in the long run, you save more than you spend. For example, if an organization were to target the spend category of corporate services and facilities management (FM), capital may be invested in working with a supplier to install a new system that reduces energy consumption at the company's North American headquarters, but in the long run, the reduction in energy costs saves the company money – which of course, can then be reinvested.
In this example, procurement and sourcing are uniquely positioned to make this happen. Most likely Sourcing negotiated the original FM contract, understands the innovative capabilities of suppliers, has heard many recent pitches on new products, and is adept at performing the analysis that proves an investment can have a significant return in hard costs, and even soft costs.
Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence
Given the intensity with which companies today are focusing on innovation and profitable growth, it is imperative that procurement teams drive strategies that support enterprise-level business goals. Beyond traditional sourcing approaches, strategic category management delivers a collaborative way of developing solutions that support both business and category objectives. Category management maximizes category value to the organization, delivering on critical parameters such as total cost of ownership, risk and performance, to name a few.
While procurement organizations around the world realize the significance of building an advanced category management program, getting there isn’t simple. In a number of organizations today, category management is still at a nascent stage, perhaps indicating that though there is an organizational structure for category management, it is not quite aligned with the business strategy. For many though, exhausted sourcing strategies turn out to be their biggest hindrance.
To address this issue, GEP and SIG have teamed up for a webinar with Biju Mohan, vice president of GEP Consulting, to discuss the latest trends influencing strategic category management program design and implementation by global, market-leading procurement organizations.
Key topics include:
Edie Sachs, Senior Marketing and Content Manager, GEP
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 concept of sustainable sourcing, also known as green purchasing or social sourcing, is nothing new. Sustainable sourcing is impacting nearly every area of corporate business and the consumer’s mindset. Everything from sourcing materials, talent attraction and consumer purchasing habits are changing because of the growth of sustainable sourcing. However, the term gets thrown around in the procurement industry quite a lot and is often misunderstood or misused. So, here’s a guide with all the basics you need to know about sustainable sourcing.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE SOURCING
First and foremost, we have to define the term. Sustainable sourcing is the integration of social, ethical and environmental performance factors into the process of selecting suppliers. It includes purchasing sustainably preferable products and services (products made from recycled or remanufactured materials), as well as green purchasing guidelines that might pertain to certain products or commodities.
For those who work in any area of the supply chain, diversity is a word that comes up often. Supplier diversity or diversity in contracting are programs that can be either mandatory (i.e., requirement to fulfill state or federal contracts) or voluntary (i.e., procurement/social responsibility strategy).
Whether your organization chooses diverse suppliers for advocacy and social responsibility reasons, to comply with state or federal regulations, or to simply meet your stated requirements and work scope, the benefits of supplier diversity can have lasting impacts on your community and your organization.
Starting a Supplier Diversity Program (SD Program) in your organization requires input and collaboration from various stakeholders at all levels. The SIG Resource Center has a wealth of information to help you begin the process to implement an SD Program, including how to make the business case to internal stakeholders, best practices and benchmarking studies from your peers.
Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence
Situated in the southernmost part of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, nestled among green rolling hills, coffee plantations and dairy farms is the small town of Santa Rita do Sapucaí. A cursory glance shows Santa Rita as a charming town full of farms and churches but in reality, this picturesque little city has so much more to offer. In recent years, it has become known as “Vale da Eletrônica” or Electronics Valley because it is home to the highly respected technical school, Escola Técnica de Eletrônica Francisco Moreira da Costa and is also known as a hub for technological applications, from carpool and table service apps to toothbrushes with sensors that connect to children’s games. And Santa Rita isn’t the only city in Brazil ramping up their efforts.
Plagued by years of upheaval economically, Brazil is making a comeback and relying on the IT sector to help make their triumphant return. A $200 million joint investment with chipmaker Qualcomm, was welcomed in March by the federal government to build a semiconductor factory in the state of São Paulo where other major tech companies such as Samsung and Lenovo already have operations. Their hope for the investment is that this will be the first step for Brazil in becoming a noteworthy player in the manufacturing of high density semiconductors that are used in 4G and in the future, 5G devices, as well as IoT applications. The investment from Qualcomm is expected to bring in about 1,200 new jobs which only makes a tiny dent in solving Brazil’s unemployment rates—at 11% there is still a long way to go, but it’s a step in the right direction.
At Singularity University’s Global Summit, keynote speaker David Roberts posed the question, “What if machines made more money than people?” Sounds crazy…but is it? With Blockchain, could that be the way of the future?
I confess that when he asked the question, I still didn’t feel comfortable enough with the concept of blockchain to have an informed opinion on the viability of it. So I did what 77% of people do when seeking information on the Web…I Googled it…and I kept Googling it until I found articles that dissected the concept well enough that it made sense. If you are equally confused by the term, hopefully this analysis will benefit you as well…because rest assured, you WILL need to understand it—especially if you work in sourcing, outsourcing or supply chain as the potential is unlimited.
Fundamentally, blockchain allows consumers to transact directly with one another without the need for an intermediary, like a bank. If you use Paypal and select “eCheck” as your payment method to reimburse a friend for say a concert ticket, it appears to go directly from you to them. In actuality it first has to clear your bank, which can take 3-5 business days, or up to 8 days if another country is involved. Blockchain removes the middleman by using digital currency (aka cryptocurrency) which can be spent with companies or people who are set up to accept it as a form of payment. The digital currency can be converted to cold, hard cash, but with thousands of companies now taking digital payments it is not really the norm.
In the Mexican coastal town of Puerto Vallarta, where the weather is hot and the tequila flows like wine, a new trend is emerging from an old Mexican delicacy...chocolate. The town is host to a chocolate museum, chocolate tour and fancy tequila/chocolate-paired tasting. Last week I had the opportunity to attend to one of these tastings where I learned about the different types of tequila and how the chocolates amplify their flavors when properly paired.
This unique experience also came with a crash course on the history of Mexican cocoa, the main ingredient used to make chocolate. Cocoa was once only consumed by ancient Mexican royalty. According to my tequila sommelier and a report by the World Agroforestry Centre, the Olmecs – an ancient tribe in Mexico – were thought to be the first people to consume chocolate. These indigenous people crushed the beans, added water, spices and chilies and drank the delicious elixir.
Ironically, last week an article came across my desk about cocoa. What were the odds that in the same week that I learned about the origins and use of this delicious nut, I’d also circumstantially run across an article about its production? I found the correlation too good to be true until I read the article and discovered the unfortunate state of cocoa production. Sadly, this article did not come with tequila, but the bitter reality of a lack of ethics in the cocoa industry’s supply chain.
As supply chain practitioners know, it is critical to know where and how your products are being sourced, but the farther you are geographically from the beginning of the supply chain, the harder it is to control…and in countries where labor laws are lax, it becomes even more tragic. This gets tricky with products that can only be produced in very specific environments. Cocoa is one such product that can only be grown 10 degrees north or south of the equator with the majority of its production in West Africa, the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Hailey Corr, Junior Editor and Marketing Associate, Outsource and SIG
I have always valued the power of communication. When I entered college, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to study. I realized that although I was “good” at many things in school, there was one thing I excelled at – communication. I was a strong writer, and an even stronger speaker. I saw that when most of my classmates dreaded speaking in front of others, that I always enjoyed the experience, and was excited by it. This was the turning point when I decided to focus my career in communications and marketing.
The power of effective communication cannot be underestimated. It is a critical component of life. I’ve seen the impact of effective and ineffective communication in many types of businesses. Ineffective communication has the ability to break businesses. If you can’t communicate effectively with your customers, your intended messages won’t be received or understood – it’s like you’re speaking an entirely different language from them.
So how can you speak the same language as your sourcing clients?
I’ve worked with many companies that provide services and solutions to sourcing and procurement professionals. It’s very clear what separates the successful providers from the rest of the pack – effective communication with their clients. In order to serve and advise sourcing clients in the best way possible, your team must be able to communicate to them through a common language of sourcing. It’s not just about being highly knowledgeable and educated on all things sourcing, it’s about effectively communicating by speaking their language.
Here’s how you can grow your business and better serve your clients through effective communication: