Rajeev Karmacharya is Head of the Strategic Sourcing and Category Management group at Fannie Mae. Rajeev leads a team of category management, sourcing/contracting and supplier operations professionals managing $4.5+ billion in external spend. He is a member of the SIG Advisory Board and was a featured presenter at SIG’s virtual SIGnature Event that took place in September 2020. Virtual SIGnature Events are free to all qualified buy-side practitioners and sell-side members.
What role does procurement play when it comes to transitioning employees to a work-from-home environment?
I would argue that procurement is a key enabler for several reasons. Many of us have been working from home now for several months. If you think about what was needed for a seamless transition to a work-from-home model, technology and digitization come to mind. Procurement has had a role to play in the acquisition of these technologies and ensuring there are appropriate controls and SLA’s to mitigate any potential performance issues.
Procurement has been an early adopter in implementing solutions such as digital signature, which has seen broader adoption across the enterprise in a work-from-home environment. Specific to the procurement function, approval workflows built into our source-to-pay solutions have enabled our business stakeholders to review and provide necessary approvals electronically.
On a more tactical level, our procurement team worked to ensure that office supplies and peripherals needed to work from home effectively could be ordered online via our procurement portal to be shipped directly to our employees’ homes. Our Category Managers negotiated deals with technology and office furniture suppliers so employees could take advantage of our volume leverage.
Rajeev Karmacharya, Head of the Strategic Sourcing & Category Management, Fannie Mae.
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.
Amy Fong is a Vice President in Everest Group's Strategic Outsourcing and Vendor Management practice. In this role, she advises enterprises on maximizing value from strategic provider relationships in outsourced services categories. She is a featured presenter at SIG’s upcoming virtual SIGnature Events taking place throughout the fall of 2020. Virtual SIGnature Events are free to all qualified buy-side practitioners and sell-side members.
What is your role and what are your day-to-day responsibilities?
I work with our procurement members to ensure they are getting the research and support they need to maximize value in outsourced services categories. We have 200 analysts focused on the outsourcing, global services and intelligent automation space. My role is to work across those content areas to bring it all together and ensure we’re helping procurement.
For instance, developing category strategy templates with the market intelligence we provide, facilitating briefings and peer discussions, and designing surveys that answer top of mind questions. I’m available to our members to answer their questions or guide them to the right expert analyst to dive deep into their challenges.
In the time of COVID-19, this also means helping procurement teams understand how service providers are reacting and what they can expect. Also, helping them identify cost takeout and risk reduction opportunities for the “next normal.”
“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.
Business today isn’t business as usual, as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts organizations and supply chains across the globe. And in uncertain times such as these, leaders in every industry and business function must step up. New leadership skills and traits will be necessary to ensure business continuity, and to inspire teams to work together to support each other and remain productive.
We recently interviewed Dawn Tiura, President and CEO of Sourcing Industry Group (SIG). Dawn will be presenting a thought-leader keynote titled “Leadership in Uncertain Times” at Ivalua NOW, the premier virtual event for procurement leaders, on May 5. During our interview, she shared with us her thoughts about how leaders must draw on different skills and traits when unexpected circumstances arise, and how the COVID-19 pandemic is inspiring them to employ different leadership styles to unite and motivate employees.
Today, procurement leaders have a seat at the table in e-staff meetings. How has the role changed over the past few years?
It’s changed dramatically. In the past, we were seen as overhead, not as a strategic partner. Procurement teams were just buyers who delivered what other departments told them to buy. Organizations viewed procurement as the bottleneck between what they wanted and when they received it. In reality, procurement sees all the waste and redundancy that exists in the supply chain, and has a significant impact on a business’s bottom line.
Aurelie Teyssier, Sr. Director of Marketing, Americas
Like most of you, when I try to fall asleep and clear my mind, I can't help but dwell on these questions. The world has proven itself to be very small and more interconnected than we might have realized. I also feel that this is a test of leadership as well as a test of people's character.
Impacts on the Gig Economy
4. Do you think about the gig workers and what this might mean to the future of the gig economy?
5. Will people drop the flexibility they once craved for more traditional employment that has PTO, sick time, health insurance and other benefits?
6. Do you think that when half of the workforce embraced the gig economy for flexibility and the thrill of ever-evolving work experiences that they thought about what a pandemic means for them or not being able to file for unemployment?
7. Will we think about localizing and diversifying more of our supply chain to protect against the risk of a future pandemic?
8. Will companies retreat to adding costs to their supply chains by adding inventory to protect against risk, or will we learn to open our inventory to share with other companies?
Impacts to the Government and the Economy
9. In the future, who will you trust to lead you?
10. Have you gained or lost trust in the government or the media; and did it change once the pandemic got closer to home?
11. Do you ever think that people were maybe overreacting, or did you hold firm in your urge to protect every human life, the economy be damned?
12. Do you ever wonder about all the self-employed small businesses and get stressed trying to think of a way they can survive?
13. Once the government started talking about “the cure being worse than the virus,” did you capitulate, if even for a minute?