With the passing of the year, 2020 became more than a hindsight. We saw the emergence of human resilience and world leaders stepping up to shape a sense of leadership in young minds – be it in the area of politics, entrepreneurship or grassroots movements.
Many equate the COVID-19 pandemic to the 1918 Spanish flu. I see the similarities, but the impact today is much larger. Some basic statistics: Worldwide population in 1918 was ~1.8b, compared to ~7.8b in 2020 (4x larger). On mobility, estimates place ~23.5m travelers arriving on U.S. shores in 1918-19, compared to ~79.3m in 2020. Travel and military embankments were at close quarters in 1918, with distancing, tracing and lockdowns more the norm in 2020. On communication, wireless communication was the novel technology in World War I, limiting civilian communication to letters, postcards, newspapers, and some telephone and radio. Today, social media and the internet are primary communication modes today, with hand-held devices now reaching the farthest corners of the world.
With all this evolution in the area of mobility and communications, one would expect the mobilization of essential goods and services, inter- and intrastate communications, interlaced with the very basic of humanity, would be the norm of trade policies and corporate goals.
Padmini Ranganathan, Global Vice President, Product Strategy, SAP Procurement
At the time of writing this piece, I am just one of five million people emerging from the world’s longest coronavirus-related lockdown, in Melbourne, Australia. For nearly two months, I was only allowed to leave the house once a day for essential items and required to stay within three miles of my home. From takeaway meals to IT support, to doctor’s appointments, most of the goods and services I've needed have been ordered virtually. Since COVID-19 hit, I’m amazed at how quickly the world went virtual.
Along with SAP colleagues and millions of workers globally, I’ve quickly adapted to working from home – connecting with others through virtual collaboration and networking tools. Imagine my surprise, then, when I received a notification in the mail that my driver’s license needed to be updated to reflect my correct birth date, requiring me to physically go to VicRoads, the DMV for the state of Victoria. How is it possible that under the strictest lockdown in the world, with thousands of workers operating remotely, I was still required to be physically present at the DMV to confirm my birth date and identity; especially knowing that the documents required could have easily been scanned and sent?
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the journey to digital transformation was underway across many industries. Whether through the purchase of large-scale enterprise resource planning (ERP) offered by companies like SAP, or through individual contracts with suppliers specializing in virtual banking, e-signatures, contracts or hiring, companies have taken steps to manage their businesses digitally. This move has paid off in the current environment.
Baber Farooq, Head of Product Strategy, SAP Procurement Solutions
Strategic relationship management and governance (SRMG) in the absence of a strong operational framework can be challenging in the best of times. As we are all too aware, these are not the best of times. Over the past six months, we have faced enormous challenges; the speed of change and the need for quick decision-making is unprecedented.
As the world struggles to recover and our workplaces, global supply chains, manufacturing and logistics cautiously rebound from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are grappling with what the future holds. Our strategic relationships will require flexibility and scenario planning that incorporates significant uncertainty as we face challenging times ahead.
Partnerships between clients and service providers are being tested like never before. These partnerships require an SRMG framework that adapts quickly to change. You should identify pain points as well as processes or services that must be added or changed to accommodate shifting priorities and workplace requirements.
The pandemic raises many critical questions that must be addressed as we consider what the workplace of the future will look like, and strong SRMG will be essential.
Here are a few critical questions to consider:
Does your contract with your strategic partner have the flexibility you need in the current environment?
Every business has had to adjust during the pandemic. Is your contract holding you to an agreement that doesn’t make sense in the current environment, or requiring your partner to perform in a way that doesn’t suit your current needs? It may be time to renegotiate a new contract that has the flexibility that you and your strategic partner require.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate global economies, businesses across every industry and every size have been making the difficult decision to furlough or lay off workers. As of early July, nearly 50 million people have filed for first-time unemployment benefits over the previous 16 weeks.
Almost one-quarter of all small businesses in the U.S. have already laid off or furloughed their workers due to the pandemic. The majority of the June job gains were not newly created roles, but roles that hired back laid off or furloughed workers.
As time moves forward and the possibility of additional layoffs and furloughs remain likely, maintaining contact with that population becomes increasingly complex and more critical to the future success of your organization.
There is a clear business case for investment -- to improve retention, boost employee morale, and because your brand reputation depends on how you handle this extraordinary situation.
Direct Sourcing with Talent Pools
The pandemic has companies rethinking their talent strategies. Many are finding direct sourcing through talent pools is one way that organizations can engage, manage, support and re-engage talent that has either worked for them before or expressed interest in doing so previously.
This not only saves time and money for companies (a must given the global economy), but it protects and benefits your most important competitive asset -- your talent.
“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it's less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you've lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that's good.” – Elizabeth Edwards
When I was a kid, we never said the word resilience, but we did use the word tough. Being tough is just what we need right now; toughness is our ability to spring back, even when the world around us crumbles (think COVID-19). Our resiliency grows every time we flex – just like a muscle in our body. Developing a resilient procurement team likely means you are “starting over” – or creating a fresh start in some areas of your procurement ecosystem. If you’re feeling stuck or unsure where to start, you aren’t alone. Below are five ways that Procurement can help improve business resiliency:
COVID-19 has created a ripple effect of disruption through supply chains across the world, causing many companies to assess their weak spots and reevaluate their operations to ensure future resiliency and continuity.
Rebounding from the current crisis with more solid resilience is itself creating immense value. Forward-thinking companies are looking a step further, perhaps with the climate crisis clearly in view. They are leveraging sustainability and purpose – with an upside creating long-term value across a wide range of business levers, from competitive differentiation, grow sales revenue, supplier innovation to support future circular business models, talent recruitment and retention.
Procurement’s Key Role in Turning Purpose into Profit
With momentum growing toward stakeholder capitalism, businesses have made a greater commitment to sustainable purpose through reducing emissions of greenhouse gas, limiting plastic use, providing decent working conditions and more. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has brought risk mitigation and resiliency top-of-mind – and we’re seeing clear proof points that sustainable procurement is the answer.
It’s been a long year and we’re only halfway through it. Many of us have scrapped our plans, both personally and professionally, retooled our strategies and reprioritized our resources. It’s frustrating to make drastic changes with no clear forecast on the horizon, but growth comes from being uncomfortable and taking risks. Instead of dwelling on what could have been, let's take a look at what’s to come.
Summit Presentation Anthology
Following each Summit, we release our Summit Presentation Anthology that offers a snapshot of each presentation along with the presenter’s contact information. The inaugural Spring Procurement Technology Summit was supposed to be an in-person event in April, but the global pandemic upended our plans and we had to pivot our strategy to go digital.
While we missed catching up with old friends and making new connections at the Summit, we welcomed over 1,100 delegates from all over the world to our digital platform. The best part? Every single session is recorded! Not only can you get the presentation decks, but you can watch any sessions you missed or revisit sessions to dive deeper in the subject matter. The Anthology is only available to SIG members. If you’re not a member and want to join, reach out to us.
COVID-19 Resources for Procurement, Sourcing and Workforce Management
When we switched our spring Summit from in-person to virtual due to the global pandemic, many Summit presenters also changed their topic given the current events. What we are experiencing now is historical on many fronts, not the least of which is the role of procurement in a global emergency.
SIG is always asking our event attendees, current and future members, and readers about their current issues and concerns. I have been tracking and analyzing their responses for almost 10 years now. While cost savings and value-add remain consistent and strong priorities, there's no doubt many are very concerned about meeting pandemic-related needs.
We are blessed to have a community of thought leaders and generous, experienced professionals who are willing to share their experiences and describe their wins.
We offer the following resources in your quest for COVID-19 related items specific to sourcing, procurement, and workforce management. SIG members can continue to search for related articles here.
In the resources listed here, you can learn how to set up crow's nest and a war chest, hear how Sprint/T-Mobile are managing the crisis using AI for their spend analytics, specific procurement best practices for today's market, how technology enhances continuity in your workforce and what happens if and when this is "all over." Plus, so much more.
The inaugural SIG Procurement Technology Summit was unlike any other industry event. As COVID-19 swept across the globe, my team and I had to pull off something we’ve never done before: turn our in-person Summit into a completely virtual event.
While the circumstances were less than ideal, it was a humbling experience and a good reminder that to stay relevant, you must be flexible and agile when disruption strikes. Admittedly, a global pandemic was not in our risk scenario playbook, but you can bet that it will be going forward.
New Concerns for Procurement
In order to provide SIG members with the most up-to-date and relevant content, we ask for your feedback to find out what’s top of mind for you, your colleagues and your organization. For the first time in six years, the economy is a top business issue. This is markedly different than what you told us was a top concern just six months ago. Now, most people are concerned with how the crisis will impact:
Income and business opportunities
Negotiations in a virtual world
Business resiliency and continuity
Resiliency of their organization and the talent they support
Addressing risk – in the supply chain, in supplier negotiations, in online business operations and transactions
Many of our Summit presentations pivoted to reflect these new realities, and our upcoming events will feature practitioners and thought leaders sharing how their organizations responded to the disruption with flexible, proactive measures. The common thread in all of this is advanced technology and strong leadership.
With work-from-home and social distancing measures still in place, you might be feeling a little bit stuck – and that's okay. SIG has some exciting virtual events and opportunities to keep you engaged with your peers in the industry so you can keep your skills sharp and stay connected.
Procurement Technology Summit
While we missed seeing everyone in-person for the spring Summit, we invite you all to attend our digital Procurement Technology Summit! This event will be unlike any you have ever experienced! We have a really unique line-up of keynote speakers who are covering topics like cybersecurity, procurement technologies and impacts on the industry in light of a global pandemic.
Because we can’t all be in person, we’re inviting SIG’s buy-side members and their ENTIRE TEAM to attend free. Yes, you read that right! Whether you’re a team of two or 200, everyone on your team gets to attend for free! Access to information is imperative now, and we want you to be informed with best practices.
We are featuring interviews on our blog with breakout session speakers and doing spotlights on companies that will be featuring their technologies in the virtual Innovation Hall. Make sure you're following SIG on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up with what's happening.
The Summit will take place on May 11 – 15 and will be 100% online so you can attend sessions as it fits your schedule. To make this event extra special, we are giving away over $20,000 in prizes, like Peloton Bikes, Yeti Coolers, wireless sound systems and more! You do not want to miss this event, so register today and get ready to be impressed!