Evan Wolkin on Monday, April 20, 2015
Strategic Sourceror on
As smart consumers, it is our job to ensure those who make our way of life possible are taken care of. Over the years, we've become aware just how precarious the supply chain is, especially down at the manufacturing level. Shoppers want to be able to get the most for their money, and manufacturers want to spend as little as possible while producing as much as they can. While this seems good for the system as a whole, it's actually a very dangerous state of affairs. Sure, the goods on sale are available for a deal and the tag says "Made in" somewhere else, not that it really matters to us.
The problem is that it should matter to us. As smart consumers, it is our job to ensure those who make our way of life possible are taken care of. If our clothes or other material possessions are cheap to come by, that means the men, women and children stitching our garments are most likely making pennies of the sale price. It is our duty as free citizens to make sure that everyone is being properly compensated and working in ethical and safe conditions. Unfortunately, many Australian companies have recently come into the public eye for their non-humanitarian manufacturing practices.
According to a recent report by the international aid group Baptist World Aid Australia, there are some fashion brands down under that are seriously performing far under the bar of excellence. While, of course, it does make sense that companies should want to cut costs and corners where they can, this should never be at the expense of other people's well-being.
The report asserted that 91 percent of clothing manufacturing companies are not aware of where and how their cotton is sourced. There are agencies in place around the world to ensure the safety of individuals in the supply chain, making sure they are paid fairly and treated well. The Guardian disclosed that the fashion report found only 9 percent of companies that paid their outsourced workers a livable wage.
This report comes on the heels of the two-year anniversary of the tragic factory collapse in Bangladesh. More than 1,100 innocent workers lost their lives due to the neglect and mistreatment of those people in the supply chain. While many companies worldwide have altered their practices to ensure humane management of valued employees, there are still clothing factories in Australia that are guilty of poor sourcing and worker exploitation.
Our future duty
Not only does the report reveal disappointing statistics and facts, it also brings into question our responsibility as members of the supply chain. Shouldn't procurement services make sure that workers who provide the products in question are treated just as well as anyone else in the supply chain? The answer is yes, it is entirely unethical to keep the those people in the dark and below the poverty line, as there would be no industry without them.
For consumers, procurers, managers, manufacturers, etc., it's important to make sure that all links in the chain are strong. There needs to be clear visibility from top to bottom, and severe repercussions must be meted out for those who choose not to adhere to the proper standards. Reputations are not the only thing at stake - the well-being of tens of thousands of workers worldwide also hangs in the balance.
Fashion labels should source and produce their materials ethically, with no exceptions. Regular and surprise audits are a good first step toward encouraging responsibly procured materials and work conditions, but the journey is far from over. Labels need to step up and take responsibility for their actions to make the world a better place for everyone.
Strategic Sourceror on Friday, April 17, 2015
It's no surprise that people are promoting gender equality across all industries in many countries across the world. Not only are people fighting for equal pay for equal work, but they are also advocating for the same opportunities to be made available to both men and women in a given field. There are skills both genders possess that would deem them qualified for careers in procurement and manufacturing - no longer are most jobs defined by their need for brute strength, but rather the willingness to put in the time and learn a new trade.
For some, anything to do with labor was seen as a man's job, and in the past, men's perceived superior ability to lift objects and control big rigs may have been deciding factors. In 2015, however, the supply chain has myriad positions for both men and women and there is a call for recruitment within the sector to be as inclusive as possible.
It's a known fact that businesses of all shapes and sizes need to have a certain amount of diversity in their company. The government has even gone so far as to mandate that women and other minority groups make up a certain percentage of workers. And while there are many women who would be willing and suited for jobs in the supply chain and procurement services, Supply Management reported that only 7 percent of senior leadership positions are held by women.
The source indicated that men are more likely to rise in their companies from the very bottom, whereas women rarely join as attendants on the shop floor. To remedy this issue, the article noted that firms should be looking for women graduating from college or vocational programs and creating access to positions that would eventually lead straight to the top. Many agree that having a diverse team in terms of intellectual and emotional intelligence allows for the best decision-making, rather than relying too heavily on gut instincts or analytics.
Visibility is key
One reason that women do not enter into procurement or manufacturing is that many are unaware that there are viable positions to be had. Many efforts are in place to help eradicate the gap, including various websites and symposiums. What these outlets hope to accomplish is to prove to women that they are necessary candidates for jobs in manufacturing or procurement. Sure, not all women will be satisfied with a position on a warehouse floor (just as some men won't either), but that does not mean women need to enter the field from the very bottom.
Women in Supply Chain, or WISC, is an initiative spearheaded by the Van Horne Institute that believes the gap is not a female issue, but rather a talent one. WISC offers information about events to attend and opportunities to grasp, specifically geared toward a female audience. The site makes a point to note some skills required and gained in the field that may appeal to women from various educational and intellectual backgrounds. Some skills include financial planning, knowledge of laws and general management abilities that can easily be transferred to other professions should the need arise.
It is not only important for women to enter into the supply chain to meet government quotas, but to round out the perspective of the employees at firms within the sector. The supply chain affects everyone and men and women should be equally represented within it. It should not be seen as solely a man's domain, but a profession that allows individuals to come together and provide a necessary service to the world.
Carole Boyle on Thursday, April 16, 2015
Whether you are seeking feedback or just an alternative view point, networking
is a great way to share ideas and expand your knowledge. Connecting with other
professionals can support your individual career growth by helping you learn
from the experiences of others, no matter what stage in your career.
- Best Practices: Networking can also be a valuable
strategy for businesses. Learning from what others in the industry are doing
can help in identifying best-practices and benchmarks, and staying current with
- Opportunities: When done right, networking can provide opportunities for both individuals and businesses. If you’re seeking a new position, building relationships through networking can be vital. According to ABC News, 80% of today’s jobs are landed through networking. For businesses, contacts made through networking can open doors as potential leads for partnerships or new customers.
Strategic Sourceror on Wednesday, April 15, 2015
While there is nothing certain in this world - the only exceptions being death and taxes, as the adage goes - it is likely that industries will be evolving thanks to brand new technologies that have yet to emerge. Tech and gadgets have a habit of shaking things up, and the supply chain and procurement services are not immune from the reach of inevitable change. The only thing that is for sure in this business climate is that leaders and employees alike will need to adapt and adjust to the changing tides.
A glimpse into the future
Although we might lack the crystal ball to determine what's on the horizon in the years to come, we can reasonably surmise that as technology becomes more intertwined with our lives, the way in which we utilize collected data will change. Right now, analytics can only go back a few years, but what if the information were detailed and accurate enough to foresee dips due to weather patterns or political events? In 20 or 30 years' time, we might be able to prepare for specific events in a more in-depth manner and control costs down to the dollar.
As Procurement Leaders asserted, analytics and procurement will be very closely linked in the future. The source indicated that many CPOs and leaders are already using the existing data to make intelligent decisions and to better forecast demand, quality levels and performance. Not only will analytics help manufacturing operations, but it will also enhance a procurement service's buying power. "Knowledge is power" certainly takes on a new meaning in the procurement industry.
Preparing for the inevitable
Technology will be changing the field of procurement, most likely for the better, and leaders of the future will also need to up their game. Of course, tomorrow's CPOs will need to be well-versed in their understanding of analytics, but these people will face different challenges.
A separate Procurement Leaders article outlined several obstacles that CPOs need to be prepared to face in the coming years. Leaders need to be aware of unstable political regimes and the risk they present to the supply chain. Should government upheavals and coups be large enough, procurement services will need to practice strategic sourcing to get around new taxes or potential war zones. And as governments evolve, their currencies will go with them, causing a disruption in the exchange rate and leading companies to pay more for various services.
In short, things are changing for all sectors, and leaders will need to be proactive in their efforts to keep up and thrive.
Carole Boyle on
While executives recognize the role of technology in gaining and maintaining a competitive advantage, purchasing decisions are often made without a full understanding of the organization’s requirements, and the risks associated with IT such as security, backup storage, and recovery, and cost. Worse, these factors are not considered until after an IT project has started, hindering its success. This is where strategic sourcing can lay the foundation of success for an IT initiative.
Strategic Sourcing is a proactive approach to avoiding major pitfalls and creating a more collaborative relationship with your IT suppliers. Strategic Sourcing analyzes an organization’s requirements to identify ideal suppliers for those needs, engages stakeholders for initiative buy-in, negotiates contracts to ensure competitive pricing, analyzes and addresses potential risks, and creates a structure in place for supplier relationship management.
Source One’s partnered webinar with Converge-One Program Management, Managing IT Supplier Risk: The Critical Roles of Strategic Sourcing and Program Management, outlines how to manage supplier risk, specifically through the synchronization between strategic sourcing and program management. The webinar provides an in-depth view of the evolution of sourcing and IT, the challenges within IT program management & sourcing, program management principals and how tight coordination between program management and sourcing ensures success, including real life case study examples.
Watch the Managing IT Supplier Risk webinar for insights into how strategic sourcing and program management are vital to ensuring the success of an IT initiative as well as easy to implement concepts that will help make the process more manageable.
Strategic Sourceror on Tuesday, April 14, 2015
The world of business has seen quite a few revolutions through the centuries, with pros and cons accompanying each. As a result, the market landscape has been forever changed. Just as leaders took power and fell from grace over the years, technologies gained prominence in manufacturing and production only to be replaced by newer and more efficient machines.
In recent years, it seems that we have amassed more technology, but have not had a revolution pertaining to it. However, many experts are convinced that a digital revolution is underway, without chance of it fizzling away. How exactly will this transition to a total digital market change the way that business is conducted in the supply chain?
If it hasn't been obvious enough, more companies are turning to software solutions to help streamline ordering and procurement services. This not only creates less room for mistakes, such as under- or over-ordering supplies, but gives details of how efficiently products are being moved through the warehouse. As Google's Renee Niemi asserted in her speech for Promat 2015, companies will need to take on the change towards total technology takeover with a few key players to make the transition smooth and effective, noted IndustryWeek.
Many programs and software will come into play as the digital revolution follows its course, and Niemi recommended that companies ready themselves for the change. By implementing cloud, mobile and applications into their line of work, businesses will stand a chance at surviving the changing climate and emerge on the other side ready to face the next challenges.
Blurring the boundaries
With automated factory floors already a popular sight in certain sectors, the digital revolution and the interconnected system of the Internet of Things won't necessarily be as utterly groundbreaking within manufacturing as it will be to other sectors. However, the supply chain will now undoubtedly undergo some changes as man and machine begin to merge.
DesignNews asserted that productivity in factories where all processes are automated has increased. Many questions are raised with this new information: Are people losing their jobs to machines? Are jobs being created to monitor and service said machines? Are completely automated systems worth the investment?
At this juncture, we are only aware that the manufacturing sector is losing more jobs than any other, noted a separate IndustryWeek article, but the long-term effects of the technology takeover have yet to be seen. The supply chain may not be in peril, but the future may have some unforeseen repercussions due to the revolution in place.
Joe Payne on Friday, April 10, 2015
Strategic Sourceror on
It's no secret that gas is not only a hot commodity, but also a hot-button topic. People can't stop talking about the price of gas, what the fuel cost a decade ago and how harmful the whole petrol procurement process can be. This isn't surprising because oil is everywhere. We use it to heat our homes, power our cars and we rely on it to power the planes and trucks that deliver our goods both in and out of country. Obviously, there are people who subsist without gas and its benefits and detriments, but those individuals are few and far between.
Now that we have finally been dragged through the final bouts of winter, plane, boat and automobile season is coming. The summer months are when people use gas the most, but with the oil reserves in the United States near max capacity and the discovery of oil overseas, what will the summer of 2015 be like and how will it compare to past years?
All new oil
In recent months, companies that make their money from the search and discovery of new oil sources have been experiencing the pinch of maximum capacity reserves. All sectors of the supply chain were feeling the heat, or rather lack thereof, and itching to get back out into the world. Some of the harder-hit industries were out of Great Britain, and so it's a little ironic that an exploration firm found oil outside of London, reported IndustryWeek. According to the source, there are about 100 billion barrels' worth of oil in the ground adjacent to Gatwick Airport.
Unfortunately for the United Kingdom, it's estimated that only 3 to 15 percent of the oil will be able to be extracted. However, the extraction method will likely not require fracking - instead, the Surrey ground will be mined in more traditional fashions. This discovery was huge for the island nation, as only last year the British Geological Survey announced that the whole region of Great Britain only had 8.5 billion barrels of oil left in the earth at the very most. Still, the world is not experiencing a shortage and in demand of oil quite yet, so the celebration of the discovery is on hold.
Feeling the summer heat
Even though spring has hardly sprung in the U.S., analysts are already thinking about the summer and what the gas market will look like. For the third year in a row, the U.S. is the leader in oil and gas production for the entire world. What has allowed for this upswing is fracking, reported Climate Central. Despite countless claims and petitions to desist the oil procurement process, it continues to be successful. However, there are more rules in place about greenhouse gas emissions that the U.S. supports and many believe there needs to be a reconciliation between production and emissions, noted the source.
At the moment, the summer of 2015 seems to be shaping up to have the lowest prices for seasonal gas on record in the last six years, reported The Times Leader. But now that the demand for more oil is sinking as the reserves are filling up, what will become of the booming gas and oil sourcing sector that been created? Crude oil prices are depressed due to the constant gas collection, but at what point will companies see that the more gas there is, the worse off the industry becomes? Perhaps this summer, with the expected high temperatures and the low gas prices, will shed more light on the issue than predictions can claim.
The Largest Price-fixing Prosecution in US History: Supplier Collusion in American and Asian Automotive Industries
Braden Picardi on
Image courtesy of telegraph.co.uk
Strategic Sourceror on Thursday, April 9, 2015
Sometimes, doing things the old-fashioned way is the only method worthwhile: A classic cookie recipe doesn't need a hip, new ingredient and the best way to knit a scarf will always be with needles and yarn. However, innovations in technology and other sectors have treated us very well and the life we lead would be impossible without them.
In the business world, technology has been an invaluable resource. Regardless of what field people might find themselves in, there is probably some sort of gadget or software that has streamlined or improved a certain process. Recently, there have been some impressive tech upgrades for the supply chain that promise improvements in efficiency and the potential to maximize profits.
In mid-March, the cloud planning company Anaplan released a suite of supply chain planning applications that will simplify and maximize operations. All steps of the process from purchasing to procurement are immediately available for implementation through Anaplan's App Hub. What these apps provide is an insight into company plans. Looking at real-time supply and demand allows planners to make changes and track trends. In a recent press release, Anaplan Vice President of Product Marketing Folia Grace asserted that this technology will let planners and managers "embrace the chaos in the supply chain and use it to their business advantage."
These are very diverse apps and will work across an array of fields. One of the real draws for this suite of products is that they can be monitored and utilized by a small staff that doesn't require intensive IT training. This is rather appealing to smaller companies, as they are able to maximize the manpower already available to them without adding too much added cost to simplify the supply chain.
Another company making impressive advancements in the supply chain world is Terra Technology out of Connecticut, which was recently named as a "Cool Vendor" in the Cool Vendors in Supply Chain Planning, 2015 report by Gartner. With its transportation forecasting that allows for businesses to cut costs and better synchronize where labor needs to be distributed throughout a warehouse, Terra is simply looking to fill the gap in the tech side of the supply chain that was seriously lacking. With Gartner's seal of approval, the company should expect to see more businesses trying out the transportation forecasting technology in the coming years.
Both Terra and Anaplan are filling in the spaces where there was a need to make the most of the business day and are doing so thanks to technological advancements.
Strategic Sourceror on Wednesday, April 8, 2015
The Silk Road was once a series of lucrative waterways and trade routes connecting the West with the East, the old with the new, the exotic with the domestic. Over millennia and 4,000 miles of land and sea, the trade market underwent a revolution and gave rise to the intercultural world we know and are familiar with today.
In recent years, the Silk Road has meant nothing more than a chapter in a history book... until now. China's President Xi Jinping has proposed a new Silk Road initiative that could potentially generate $2.5 trillion in a decade. What are the implications for the world stage should the Silk Road once again control the reins of trade?
"One Belt, One Road"
China's plan for a new trade route that mimics the Silk Road of old would extend across all of China and Asia and reach as far West as Greece, noted the International Business Times. President Xi is hoping that more countries from the West will want to join in on the action and participate in the $50 billion project that is being funded by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This coop, in direct competition with the World Bankthat Washington, D.C. helps control, would provide funding for infrastructure for countries in need of repair.
With the massive over-reaching arm of the trade route and the AIIB (and the support of countries such as Russia, Denmark and Australia, reported IBT), many are concerned about the amount of power China is trying to amass under the guise of cross-country friendship. To this effect, China vows to have a more open policy in addressing global concerns.
Rough roads ahead?
America sees the new project as something of a red flag, not a white one. The main concerns lie mostly with the technology and restrictions in the banking sector with the AIIB at the helm, reported The Maritime Executive. The source indicated that partners in the Chinese bank would need to forfeit their own secret source codes and adopt the cybersecurity encryptions provided by the bank.
Some see this as an abuse of world power while others have still not made a decision on the matter. At the very least, it would seem that the Silk Road initiative will have a strong impact on the supply chain as we know it. What changes will arise should President Xi's plan become a reality? That remains to be seen, but let's hope for a transition as smooth as silk itself.