Apple’s iOS 10 Update and the Impact on Your Business

on Friday, September 23, 2016

If you’re an IPhone user, you’re probably already dealing with the recent iOS 10 update or trying to get your hands on the newest iPhone, and if you’re not team iPhone, you’ve at least heard about the recent update. However, for those of you who may be living under a rock, last week Apple CEO, Tim Cook, announced the new iPhone 7 and iOS 10 updates. Since not all of the millions of Apple users are eligible to upgrade to the iPhone 7 or would want to upgrade, the most important announcement is that of iOS 10. All iPhone users will be able to update their phone’s software. The update was available Tuesday, September 13th and even though there are many changes that may take some getting used to it all seems to be for the better.

Here are some of the enterprise features in iOS 10 that could have the most tangible impact on how your employees operate on mobile devices:

1.       Raise to Wake: This is an exclusive lock screen feature in iOS 10. Once enabled, it allows you to automatically turn on the screen of your device whenever you pick it up. This means you no longer have to press the home button or power button to wake your device’ screen. All you have to do is simply pick up your iPhone and you can see all your notifications. This can be a great for employees as we all know that even a few seconds saved throughout the day is crucial in the busy working world and imagine how many times a day you pick up your phone too see your latest email or check the time.

2.       Unsecured Wi-Fi Network Warning: To avoid your organization being vulnerable when connecting to an unsecured network, this iOS 10 feature will alert you that the network is not secure. After connecting to an open network, iOS 10 displays a “Security Recommendation” notification beneath the Wi-Fi menu settings with the message: “open networks provide no security and expose all network traffic.”

3.       VPN IKEv2 EAP-only Mode: This is just a confusing way to say employees can now access secure corporate VPNs from their iOS devices. In order for mobile employees to access corporate data, it is imperative that they connect their iOS device via a VPN. Until iOS 10, Apple did not support this therefore many organizations didn’t allow VPN access from iPhones and iPads. 

4.       Visual Voicemail: You no longer have to struggle to write down the information in a voicemail, like contact details. iOS 10 has you covered with the feature that will automatically transcribe any voicemails and present it as a text. You can also listen to the full message as well as pause and rewind it.

5.       Siri 2.0: Developers can now integrate Siri, with the new SiriKit, into their various apps. Using voice commands, you can get Siri to book you an Uber or Lyft for your next meeting, send a Slack message to a colleague, and call clients or colleagues using Skype, Cisco Spark or WhatsApp. This is merely the start of the tasks that Siri will be able to complete for you.

With all of these upgrades to iOS 10 it seems that Apple has definitely been listening to its users and wants to make everyone’s lives easier from your work life to your home life. This is only a handful of the new updates that come with iOS 10 which means there are many more hidden new features within your phone that you must explore in order to find.
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Digitalizing the supply chain Part 2: Implementation

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Digitalizing the supply chain Part 2: Implementation

As we discussed in the first part of this blog series, it is virtually impossible for companies to effectively digitalize the supply chain without a clear strategy. Once the organization establishes which technological investments offer the greatest value, the next step is implementing them.

When it comes to adopting a new system or solution, companies should be cautious about prematurely deploying them. Launching an application before it - or the people who will be using it - are ready can have devastating impacts, including production delays, security risks and unnecessary costs.

All employees should be informed and aware of the new processes and receive in-depth training on how to use them. Furthermore, prior to fully transitioning to a digital technology, it is highly recommended that managers put policies and procedures in place that clearly lay out what to do in the event the system stops working, as well as who will be responsible for executing specific functions and tasks.

Training and timing
As Inbound Logistics pointed out, a common mistake companies make with supply chain digitalization is cutting the training process short because they start to run out of time as the go-live date nears. But skimping on employee awareness, training and education should be avoided at all costs, since operational disruptions are often attributed to human error.

Going back to the importance of having a clear strategy and plan for the digital supply chain, company leaders are less likely to have to choose between pushing back the launch date and rushing training if they have a comprehensive timeline for the project laid out.

Furthermore, businesses should try to plan for the digital implementation to happen during a slow or easy time of year for the supply chain. There is too much at stake during a peak or high-demand season to run the risk of adding to what is already a chaotic and stressful environment.

Preparing for the unexpected
Simply taking the time to anticipate any potential problems they may run into during the implementation process can help supply chain managers facilitate a smooth and seamless transition. For example, according to TechTarget, some of the biggest challenges supply chains face when integrating new technology include dealing with inaccurate or outdated data and trying to implement everything at once.

To ensure a new digital supply chain tool provides the greatest benefits possible, it is crucial to understand its full functionality. Failing to do this can quickly translate to wasted money and overlooked opportunities to enhance operational performance.

Trial runs should be conducted prior to it going live so that any issues, challenges or inefficiencies can be identified - and resolved ahead of time. This will also help make employees feel more comfortable with using the technology and point out any problem areas that weren't otherwise considered.

Leverage the right resources
Digitalizing the supply chain can offer tremendous advantages to companies. However, these benefits won't be realized unless the new technologies and systems are implemented correctly. Integrating technology with existing platforms requires some IT skills, which is why it is important that supply chain managers involve people who have experience working with similar tools, whether that is an internal or external resource. Consulting with a third-party supply chain solutions company can help ensure that the implementation process is as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

Once the application has been launched, the next step to successful supply chain digitalization is making sure that is properly monitored and protected - which we cover in the third part of this blog series.

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Stakeholders - how to get 'em onboard

on Thursday, September 22, 2016

Whether they're your C-suite, or your IT, Marketing, and Finance departments, stakeholder engagement is a critical component to the success of your supply management initiatives. Unfortunately, getting these groups onboard with your plans to trim costs, change processes, or switch suppliers isn't always easy. In fact, you may even encounter some resistance like a lack of responsiveness from team members, constant challenges to your recommendations, and even a flat out refusal to comply. 

So, as a procurement and supply management professional looking to drive change within your organization, how do you go about engaging stakeholders? 

1. Empathy: First, you need to understand your stakeholders' perspective. Find out why they aren't onboard with your recommendations. What is it about their current supplier that makes them unwilling to switch? Understanding their current perspective and reasoning will help you better formulate your argument for your proposed solution. For example, your stakeholders may really be attached to the level of customer service they receive with their current vendor. Knowing this may help you establish improved customer service level agreements within your new vendor contracts, including KPIs surrounding response times, etc. 

2. Partnership: Along the same lines as empathy, collaborate with your stakeholders. Try to get their involvement early in the process so they can provide input. This will not only allow you to make decisions that are aligned with their expectations, but also help them feel like decision makers in the process. 

3. Create Advocates: Leverage your success stories to build credibility within your organization. Think about it- how often do you read product reviews before making a major purchasing decision? The same concept applies here. Your customers (aka. department stakeholders) want to understand the value you deliver. Leverage your success stories as references and advocates for the work of your procurement department. Presenting these success stories may help you get stakeholder buy-in and build credibility from the start. 

Of course stakeholders are an undeniable component to any strategic sourcing and procurement (SS&P) initiative. In some case, they are absolute advocates for the changes SS&P groups recommend. In others, they are hurdles we need to overcome to get to the finish line. On this topic, Source One's VP of Professional Services Joe Payne will be leading an interactive webinar as a part of the inaugural Procurement Revolution.

On Tuesday September 27th from 12-1 PM EDT, join Joe Payne, Greg Tennyson, Kelly Barner and Philip Idelson for Is Stakeholder Alignment the Key to Procurement's Survival? Together, the procurement leaders will discuss stakeholder engagement and how procurement can become better business partners. To register, visit The Procurement Revolution

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Digitalizing the supply chain Part 1: Planning

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Digitalizing the supply chain Part 1: Planning

With access to more technologies and tools than ever before, it is becoming increasingly necessary for businesses to optimize operations to improve workflow efficiency and accuracy. Across the globe, supply chain managers are looking for ways to go digital - leveraging robotic processes, automation technology and other electronic systems to accelerate production, increase visibility and reduce costs. However, because the concept of a digital supply chain is still in its infancy, the landscape of it is fraught with challenges and complexities. In this three-part blog series, we will be covering the benefits, latest trends, best practices and strategies involved in digitalizing the supply chain.

As with any new business venture, the first - and arguably most important - part is the planning stage. Transforming legacy systems into innovative solutions requires a specific and strategic approach. Often, companies are too quick to adopt a new technology and prematurely deploy it before proper training and planning have taken place. Doing so can result in major supply chain disruptions, production delays and inefficiencies that end up hurting the business's bottom line, rather than helping it. 

Structure and strategy
A critical aspect of the preparation process is identifying which technologies to invest in. According to Supply & Demand Chain Executive, over the next year, 50 percent of companies will spend use as much as 40 percent of their budgets on digital technologies but the majority of them aren't using them effectively - which is to say that they are not leveraging them in a way that would provide them with a competitive advantage. And part of that problem can be attributed to the organizations failing to tailor the solutions to meet their specific needs. A Supply Chain Digest 2016 benchmark survey found that only 21 percent of companies said they had a clear digital supply chain strategy. Forty-one percent said they did not - whereas 37 percent indicated they had a partial strategy. 

Identifying valuable investments
At this point, it's safe to assume that most supply chain leaders realize the importance of being responsive and adaptive in their business models and ensuring they are not being held back by outdated and inefficient processes. However, the benefits of digitalizing the supply chain can only be realized if it is done correctly - and investments are made in the areas that offer the most value. 

For example, the SCDigest research revealed that the top areas where supply chain leaders said digitalization can offer the greatest benefit include:

  • Advanced analytics (51.9 percent)
  • Supply chain visibility (58.6 percent)
  • Supplier system integration (43.9 percent)

When deciding which technologies to invest in, it is important to define key metrics and goals. The more in-depth and specific, the better. It is difficult, if not altogether impossible, to ensure that the right solutions are selected without knowing exactly what the current weaknesses are and where improvements need to be made to drive profitability. Furthermore, key performance indicators (KPIs) are important for ensuring that the new technology is operating effectively. Being able to track and monitor its progression is the only way for businesses to guarantee that they are optimizing performance.

Getting C-suite support
A major barrier many supply chain managers face when it comes to digitalization is a lack of budget - as well as a lack of support from upper management. Essentially, the two go hand in hand. In order for SCMs to get the resources they need to effectively adapt their operations and processes, they need to get the C-suite on board with the initiative. 

Supply & Demand Chain Executive reported that more than 31 percent of companies say not enough interest in shown among executives in digitalization - and nearly 40 percent agree that they are simply not an organizational priority. The source added that, to overcome such hurdles, it is necessary for supply chain leaders to create "additional key performance indicators (KPIs) specific to digital performance that capture market share and more cross-functional governance."

Key players
A final component involved in the planning stage of the supply chain digitalization process is to figure out which key players will be involved. Which decision-makers need to have a say in which solutions investments are made in? Who will be responsible for implementing the new systems, training workers at all levels of the organization, as well as measuring and reporting its progress? Each department has different objectives it is focused on achieving - so it is important to make sure there is a healthy level of internal integration and collaboration throughout the process. This will help ensure that the digital supply chain benefits all parties. 

The more thorough and careful you are in the planning stages, the more likely it is that the implementation stages will go smoothly - which is what we will cover in Part 2 of this series. 

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Are robotic boats the next transportation innovation?

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Are robotic boats the next transportation innovation?

Robotic and automated processes have emerged along supply chains across the globe, presenting businesses with new, cutting-edge solutions for improving workflow efficiency, increasing accuracy and reducing costs. And as machines continue to become more intelligent and self-learning, they are expected to disrupt the operations of organizations across virtually every sector.

Commercial and retail supply chains, for example, have recently been teased by the possibility of soon being able to make residential deliveries to consumers using drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Although still largely in the testing and regulatory-development stage, the flying robots have showed promising signs for future applications, with companies such as Amazon, 7-Eleven and Flirty all playing a hand in demonstrating how they could be used outside manufacturing and warehouse facilities to enhance operations. Ideally, these self-flying machines would provide organizations with a way to make quicker deliveries while reducing costs.

And it seems that, eventually, autonomous vehicles could make their way into the shipping industry. According to The Verge, the Amsterdam Institute for Metropolitan Solutions recently revealed that MIT researchers, as well as the Delft University of Technology and Wageningen University and Research, are collaborating on a new research project, forecast to span the next five years, in which they will study the possibilities of self-driving boats.

"Imagine a fleet of autonomous boats for the transportation of goods and people," MIT Principal Investigator and Researcher Carlo Ratti said, according to the source. "But also think of dynamic and temporary floating infrastructure like on-demand bridges and stages that can be assembled or disassembled in a matter of hours."

In what they referring to as "Roboat," this research initiative will have €25 million, or $27 million, in funding, The Verge reported. Furthermore, the goal is to have prototypes for the self-driving boats in Amsterdam waters by next year.

This project is about more than enhancing transportation, though. Those involved explained to the news source that they will also be considering ways in which the robots may help improve environmental and health issues. For example, they want to use data collection, sensor and monitoring tools in sewer systems to create safer conditions. Additionally, one of the researchers suggested that the floating robot boats could be useful in combating the rising sea levels plaguing certain regions.

Although still very much in its infancy, the development of floating robotic boats indicates where the future of shipping and maritime transportation may be headed.

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A Case for Supplier Performance Scorecards

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Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) is a hot topic in the procurement world these days, as it gives the corporate buying side increased opportunity for strategic direction. A pivotal stepping stone towards developing an effective SRM program is the inclusion of supplier performance scorecards. Scorecards are put together during the beginning of a contract and/or relationship, and are used throughout the duration of the Agreement to track the supplier’s performance against identified goals, or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). When used effectively, this tool can bring significant value to both the buying team and its supply base.

Scorecards are most beneficial when they align supplier performance with corporate goals. Such goals often include risk reduction and mitigation, as well as identifying and decreasing cost. The buying team can work with the supplier to ensure those goals are turned into KPIs within the scorecard, thus ensuring they are pivotal focus of the supplier/buyer relationship. This kind of proactive management also helps to drive strategic direction. Suppliers who do not meet expectations can be held accountable for under performance and if necessary, receive less opportunity for future business. Suppliers who demonstrate strong performance may be able to gain future business, can be turned into strategic partners, or at a minimum, are able to continue working with the buying team.

Since scorecard KPIs often refer back to Agreement terms, this tool also helps to ensure terms that are agreed to are both realistic and understood. It is not uncommon for agreements to be written in favor of the side from which the terms originated. This kind of practice necessitates that the alternate side fully and adequately review all aspects of the contract. By initiating the scorecard conversation during the contracting phase, both sides are inherently forced to speak to essential aspects of the working relationship. Terms that are turned into KPIs and are measured will likely be those that the supplier is most attentive to. Similarly, KPI related conversations can bring out any cause for concern or risk within the supplier’s service offerings, or even mitigate the risk of breach of contract.

A third benefit to supplier performance scorecards is that they help strengthen external relationships. Scorecards give the supplier visibility into the buying team’s priorities, which enables them to meet or hopefully exceed those needs. When appropriately implemented, scorecards are used to discuss supplier performance at identified intervals during the duration of the contract, and help to open the floor for conversation. These conversations refer to factual data and help to keep the conversation away from any he-said, she-said blame game. It can also help buyers speak to areas of the relationship that are going well, which is easily overlooked during feedback type conversations. Both sides can be transparent with their strengths and areas of opportunity and then work together to make improvements on both sides, where needed.

As discussed, performance scorecards have multiple purposes and benefits for suppliers and buying teams. They are an invaluable tool that allows a corporation visibility into how its supplier relationships contribute to the company’s own performance, and proactively manage any need for revision. Such evaluation inevitably enhances the relationship through increased collaboration and innovation. To learn more about opportunities for supplier performance scorecards or Supplier Relationship Management as a whole, feel free to visit www.sourceoneinc.com.


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Source One Recruiting at St.Joe's University!

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Catch members of Source One team at the College of Arts & Sciences and Haub School of Business Career Fair at Saint Joseph’s University today from 10 am-1 pm. We're looking for highly motivated future graduates to join our team as Analyst Interns. 

What is the role of an intern?

While providing support for our consultants through data analysis, contract review, research and other related tasks, interns experience in-depth exposure to a variety of industries. This opportunity allows you to collaborate with other excited professionals in a fast paced environment. Other helpful skills include verbal and written communication, experience in procurement, consulting or technology, ability to learn quickly and above average computer skills including proficiency in Microsoft Excel.

Interested in joining the team? Apply now at jobs.sourceoneinc.com!

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Supply Chain Leadership at Work

on Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A true leader in supply chain is someone who can successfully turn aspirations, such as impacting the bottom line, into tangible results, like building stronger supplier relationships and reducing costs. While effective communication skills, confidence, and a positive attitude can be accredited for great leadership, it requires more than these aspects alone to be considered a remarkable leader.

Honesty
To be considered dependable in the supply chain management industry, a leader must be honest so stakeholders. This applies to both suppliers, as well as internal departments, to best align expectations and build strong relationships. When managers are honest about where they stand, colleagues, clients, partners, and suppliers alike will consider them a genuine individual and the relationship will benefit from this security. 

Creativity
While a supply chain leader must be able to take control in situations of chaos and serve as a central authority, they also need to be able to think outside the box. It’s important for leaders in general to be collected and sensible, and a source of reason but in order to do so effectively they must be able to think quickly. A leader who can ‘be handed lemons and make lemonade’ is someone that earns further respect by their companions.

Trust
Delegating assignments to the respected groups or individuals is a crucial responsibility of any good leader. To set up those around you for success not only guarantees an overall quality of work for yourself as the leader and your team as a whole, but it also demonstrates the trust you have in your team members. Not only will they be grateful at your attention to their strengths, but when everyone is preforming at their best it reflects positively on your organization. This can be easier said than done, but if utilized the results will be significant.

It's the combination of these qualities that are continuously applied in unison that differentiate someone who is in a leading role from a truly great leader. Each year the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) honors a select few of excelling supply chain and procurement professionals as Emerging Leaders for their outstanding contributions in the industry. This year, Source One’s Diego De La Garza is a recipient of the CSCMP Emerging Leader Award and will be recognized for his accomplishments at the annual CSCMP Annual Conference being held next week in Orlando, Florida. The CSCMP Annual Conference brings together a global community of supply chain management professionals from wide range of industries. Companies expected to attend include Blue Apron, Ciena Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Pfizer, and more. 

De la Garza is also a featured speaker during the event, presenting a session titled Sourcing from Mexico- the Supplier Development Challenge, as well as participating in the “Fact vs. Fiction- Generation Stereotypes” panel. Attendees of the conference are also welcome to stop by the Source One Booth #118 to learn more about Source One's portfolio of procurement services including Strategic Sourcing, Nearshoring, Procurement Transformation and more. 


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Apple commits to using 100 percent renewable energy in supply chain

on Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Apple commits to using 100 percent renewable energy in supply chain

When it comes to being socially or environmentally responsible, Apple Inc. hasn't always had the best reputation. However, the tech giant is making some significantly attempts to change that.

This week, the company announced that it has joined RE100, a worldwide renewable energy initiative, and declared that it is committed to driving clean energy throughout its supply chain and hopes to eventually make it entirely renewable.

"Apple is committed to running on 100 percent renewable energy, and we're happy to stand beside other companies that are working toward the same effort," said Apple Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Vice President Lisa Jackson. "We're excited to share the industry-leading work we've been doing to drive renewable energy into the manufacturing supply chain, and look forward to partnering with RE100 to advocate for clean-energy policies around the world."

According to the press release, Apple operations in 23 countries (including China and the United States) use 100 percent renewable energy already. Furthermore, last year, the majority, or 93 percent of its global operations were powered using renewable energy.

Suppliers pledging sustainability
The smartphone manufacturer has invested in clean energy projects, including the development of an Arizona-based solar panel farm, which will power its global command data center.  And it's not just its own internal operations Apple is focused on making more "green."

The source also said that it is working to help transition its major suppliers to renewable energy. For example, Solvay Specialty Polymers, a maker of iPhone antenna parts, recently pledged to use 100 percent renewable energy in producing supplies for Apple by the end of 2018, which includes 14 manufacturing centers spanning 8 countries. Similarly, Catcher Technology, a manufacturer of aluminum enclosure, made the same promise - which means it will be reducing annual emissions by almost 600,000 metric tons.

And these are just a few examples. The amount of clean energy accounted for by all the Apple suppliers that have made renewable commitments in manufacturing products over the next two years so far equals more than 1.5 billion kilowatt hours per year. The source noted that this amount is comparable to how much electricity is consumed by more than 1 million houses in China.

Committing to clean energy
According to Mashable, Apple's global supply chain is responsible for approximately 77 percent of its total carbon dioxide emissions. And, because most of these suppliers are organizations that it does not own or manage, it can hurt efforts to ensure 100 percent renewable energy is used. 

"So Apple can say, if you're using iTunes, that's from 100 percent renewable electricity, but they can't necessarily say the same for your Macbook Air," Emily Farnworth, member of the nonprofit organization The Climate Group, which is directing the RE100 campaign, explained to the news source. 

Mashable also noted that, considering Apple's popularity, these efforts demonstrate that the brand is using its position to positively influence the conversation surrounding climate change, indicating the importance of companies moving toward more clean, renewable sources of energy - especially along supply chains. 

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Don’t Let Your Outdated IT and Telecom Technology Hold You Back

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The criticism to Apple’s new iPhone 7 and wireless Airpod headphones is a classic example of how new or innovative technology is initially perceived. New technology is often faced with complaints of inconvenience and disruption. These concerns are also typically the very reason companies are reluctant to actively look into migrating to new technology. Information Technology (IT) and Telecom services particularly face the grunt of this backlash. Contrarily, companies fail to realize that the outdated technology currently in place can actually be holding the company back in several ways.

The constantly evolving technologies available in the IT and Telecom realm present numerous opportunities for cost reduction. IT and Telecom architecture optimization through the use of technologies and services like Unified Communications and SIP allow for consolidation of equipment and services and central management of networks. Multiple older communications systems can be consolidated into a single, integrated platform and there are options available for deployment of voice and data communications enterprise wide without the need for traditional hardware at each site; all resulting in cost savings. New technologies and services also offer the opportunity to improve business process efficiencies, cutting both the time and labor spent on communications-based tasks and eliminating the communications-based delays, duplication, and rework in business processes.

As your organization continues to grow and change, it is also imperative to have the flexibility to easily respond to evolving requirements. Unified Communications includes individual platforms that are customized for the correct fit of an organization, at the current time, but can also be easily grown or reduced to fit changing business needs. Implementation of SIP allows for prioritization for different types of traffic (e.g. voice, video or data) which can be adjusted based on unique business needs.  The improved efficiency and scalability available through new technology services like Unified Communications and SIP are simply not available in legacy equipment and may be holding your organization from operating optimally.


It is most important to first gain organization buy-in in order to ease some of the primary concerns your organization may be faced with while exploring new technologies. Understanding how the new technology will best benefit everyone will allow you to properly educate those involved on the benefits and aid in gaining buy-in. There are also abundant resources available for outsourcing any specialized expertise required, if lack of resources is a primary concern within your organization. While the options available can be overwhelming, talking to an telecommunications expert can help you identify where upgrades are needed and how to do so cost effectively.
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Source One Round Up: September 16, 2016

on Friday, September 16, 2016

Source One Round Up: September 16, 2016

Here's a look at where Source One's cost reduction
 experts have been featured this week!





NEW BLOGS:

5 Reasons Your Marketing Procurement Strategy is Doomed 

Listen up Procurement Professionals! If you're trying to make an impact in Marketing Spend, your tried-and-true traditional approaches aren't going to fly. Marketing is different than other spend categories - and your procurement strategy needs to be tailored accordingly. The relationship between Marketing and Procurement has a rocky history, but it is possible to find common ground that better serves your overall organization. This week, Source One Senior Project Analyst Peter Portanova breaks down 5 common preconceived notions procurement has about marketing that often prevents an effective budget optimization strategy. 



UPCOMING EVENTS:

St. Joe's University Fall Career Fair
On Thursday, September 22nd, members of the Source One team will be attending St. Joseph's University's Fall Career Fair. We're looking for analyst interns for the spring semester. The St.Joe's Career Fair kicks off a busy season of collegic speaking engagements and recruiting events for Source One! We're looking forward to meeting the early talents!



SPECIAL THANKS:

Synergy 2016 

Our spend management consultants kicked off this week with a trip to Atlanta, Georgia for Synergy 2016, hosted by Corporate United. The two-day event was packed with insightful presentations aimed to Inspire, Educate, and equip supply management professionals to Perform. Special thank you to everyone who made the event such a success! 







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Excellence in Procurement, it’s about time…(Part I)

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Victor Hugo once said that Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, and in the world of procurement, I couldn’t agree more. I personally have witnessed instances in which it’s almost as if a magical trigger is pulled and suddenly all procurement entities align towards a shared vision, processes are optimized, initiatives are kicked off, and a strong drive towards excellence in procurement is embedded across the organization.
The reality though is that “excellence”, especially in procurement, is not a concept that is widely addressed, and unless it’s triggered by drastic organizational shakeups involving sudden and accelerated actions, the strategic relevance of procurement is often underestimated. Situations such as a mergers and acquisitions, IPO efforts, divestitures, or really any new market conditions that represent risks and opportunities will open up the right conditions to revisit the procurement operation as a whole and for the most part will generate the adequate visibility and sponsorship to get things done.

Remember that excellence in procurement – as in everything else – is not a process, but a mindset, it’s a concept that in order to work, it must first be implanted in everyone’s mind. The very reason why organizations kickoff ambitious initiatives in procurement transformation when “situations” like the ones mentioned above occur, is because everyone is aligned (or sometimes forced) to act towards a common goal and the “best interest” of the company by mandate of its leadership.

That being said, in order to really embrace a culture of excellence, companies shouldn’t wait until those conditions present themselves, but instead prompt those procurement strategic efforts at a holistic level and initiate transformative efforts towards excellence on their own.  Consider that excellence is not something we do, it is something we are. It entails a never-ending state of improvement, in which we challenge ourselves, our processes and even our suppliers constantly in which we try to raise the bar at every possible opportunity. But excellence is also about balance, it’s about doing all those things while not exhausting resources or overburdening out teams, it’s about knowing when to hit the gas and when to hit the brakes.

As pretty as this sounds, the abstract nature of these ideas is hard to put in practice without a roadmap. So how do we achieve excellence in procurement?

We need to start by recognizing the strategic value of the procurement operation within the organization, and acknowledging the gaps and strengths of the current status of OUR operation. Excellence in procurement doesn’t only mean reaching a point of “world class” operations as quickly as possible, but a state is which a perpetual state of improvement can be achieved. In other words, a procurement department that has lean processes, strong technologies, capable people, and implemented best practices and can be consider best in class across these dimensions is not necessarily in a state of excellence; while it is certainly better suited to support the strategic goals of the company and poised to achieve results rapidly, that doesn’t mean it will never become stagnant or will struggle with innovation. On the other hand, a procurement department that runs archaic technologies and operates under convoluted processes is not necessarily doomed, and though it will very likely be in a much direr situation to support the organization strategically, it could still achieve a state of excellence. 

On my next posting I will focus on the transformative efforts that must occur to challenge the status quo and eventually change the paradigm towards sustainable excellence. In the meantime, I hope to see you at the Council of Supply Chain Management's (CSCMP) Annual Conference from September 25-28 in Orlando, FL!
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