Source One Round Up: February 12, 2016

on Friday, February 12, 2016

Source One Round Up: February 12, 2016

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


Supply Management Recruiting Series Part IV
Bringing the Supply Management Recruiting series to a close, Source One sits down with Nick Lazzara and Kaitlyn Krigbaum of MRA Global Sourcing to discuss the nitty-gritty of the hiring process process for procurement and supply management professionals. The supply chain recruiting gurus share their insight into how both candidates and companies can better position themselves to fill open positions and provide long-term value.


MRO - Controlling the Uncontrollable: Navigating "Spot Buys"
Consisting of thousands of unique SKUs, MRO can be difficult spend category to manage.Even more challenging to control are "spot buys"- those pesky unplanned purchases that occur at random, such as replacing a roller bearing when a line breaks down. How does procurement address these needs while remaining cost effective? This week, Source One's Senior Project Manager and MRO subject matter expert explains how to approach these purchases.


The Future of Procurement: 2016 Edition Part II

on Thursday, February 11, 2016

In this three part blog series, our experts share their supply management and procurement predictions for the upcoming year. In Part I, we took a look at how procurement is growing as a trusted resource in the organizations they serve, the ongoing challenge of lacking spend visibility, and how organizations are no longer measuring procurement groups on savings alone. 

In our follow up article, our executives weigh in on the industry's renewed interest in consultant support, how the talent pool is affecting operations, and how companies are looking at building long-term strategic relationships with vendors and suppliers. 
Renewed Interest in Outside Help 
There’s no doubt that strides in supply management software solutions have provided relief for procurement professionals, however based on Source One’s experience supporting hundreds of clients achieve their procurement goals, we know that software isn’t the sole answer to all the varying category-specific challenges. While e-Sourcing solutions provide organizations significant value in their own regard (e.g., streamlining processes), it doesn’t eliminate the need for man power in the form of procurement and strategic sourcing subject matter experts and analysts. In fact, over the next year, our executives foresee a growing necessity of capable, adaptable, and flexible resources to boost procurement operations and procedures – particularly for managed services. The challenge, however, is understanding the right type of provider for your organization. As we’ve seen over the last year, gone are the days of strictly outsourcing tactical procurement tasks. The future of procurement begins with understanding the maturity of your current operations and selecting a managed services provider that suits your needs and can help you get your operations to next level.

Turbidity in the Talent Pool
As Procurement gains its footing as a strategic advisor, the demands on the function as well as the quality and capability of the professionals staffing the organization are only anticipated to increase. However, as we’ve learned throughout this past year, finding and retaining top talent is a major challenge for organizations. High performers are tough to find, and in many cases even harder to attract. These top procurement talents are in high demand and are aware of their plethora of options when it comes to selecting an employer. What does this mean for companies looking for this top talent? It means facing the challenge head on with internal stakeholders to gain the buy-in to offer competitive salaries to better attract procurement talent. Our experts predict a growing need for procurement leaders to turn to their HR managers to do some convincing on the necessary salaries to attract and retain much needed talent. 

Creating Strategic Relationships
On that same note, cost will also lose some (but, not all) of its grip as the primary consideration for purchasers when selecting a new provider or supplier. Gaining steam are the value-ads suppliers or agencies offer, such as unique tools, subject matter experts, technologies, etc. Guiding this trend is the demand for strategic partnerships with suppliers companies. 2016 will be the year of fostering the evolution happening within procurement leading companies to select partners that will simplify category management and unlock innovation. 

Taking a Holistic Look
Also on the outs this year: segmented investments. While segmented purchasers never really were ideal, organizations have commonly found themselves plugging holes with different technologies and tools as different needs or challenges arise. Instead, based on our experience supporting sourcing engagements for the Fortune 1000, Source One’s executives anticipate procurement departments and company leaders pausing to ask “What are we trying to achieve as a business?” as a guide for making major purchasing decisions. Keeping this question in mind will allow companies to select solutions aligned to their overarching needs, promoting consistency and enabling long-term growth.

What else lies ahead for procurement and supply management professionals? More to come in our final installment of The Future of Procurement Prediction series.

13 Tips for Maximing Your RFP Results


Whether you're looking to drive down costs in an existing category of spend or source an entirely new category, administering an RFP (request for proposal) is often the preferred method for engaging vendors and suppliers. While we'd like to think suppliers will be jumping at the opportunity to compete for our business, responding to RFPs can be a complex undertaking - requiring both dedicated resources and time. As a result, suppliers are often hesitant to participate in an overly lengthy RFP process, especially if the chances of winning the business appear slim. If you're looking to maximize your RFP results, improving both the quantity of respondents and quality of responses, the first step is taking the contending vendors into consideration and working to keep them engaged through the entire process. 

Here are 13 tips for minimizing the costs and increasing the value of your RFP: 

Need additional support composing and responding to RFPs? Look no further than Source One. Sourcing is our bread and butter. Leverage our decades of experience to learn what it takes to craft business winning proposals or effective RFI / RFP responses.   


Musings from MRA Global Sourcing: Premier Post

on Wednesday, February 10, 2016

In this recurring series, the partners and consultants of MRA Global Sourcing share their learnings, observations, and the occasional rant cultivated from years of experience in recruiting and placement for supply management functions.

At MRA Global, our mission is to help companies secure the right Procurement and Supply Management talent, and help qualified candidates find the right opportunities. We work with individuals of all generations, but for this discussion, we’ll focus on one subset: the Millennials. Defined loosely as people born between the years 1980 and 2000, this group of the population is said to have common traits that set them apart from older generations. They tend to be more bold, outgoing, and confident – as well as very tolerant and open-minded. But in our line of work, “Millennial” can have a pretty negative connotation – describing someone who is self-centered, entitled, and lacking the sensibilities that have historically effected success in the workplace. Now, of course this is not a blanket rule, and every person born between 1980 and 2000 is going to have different qualities, and may or may not exhibit those traits we associate with Millennials, positive or negative.

Generation Unrest
The Economist recently did a special feature on the youth of today.  It’s a global perspective covering everything from education to careers to family and mobility.  It’s quite telling that there continues to be extensive coverage on the Millennials as the debate rages on about what is perception versus reality when it comes to their place in the world.  It’s interesting how these themes are framed up simply as what’s important to the older generation and how those notions are holding back the youngsters. 

Almost 1.8 billion people in the world today are between the age 15 and 30 and live in a world that offers more freedom and education and recreation than it ever has in the past.  And don’t even get us started on how the technological advances are unparalleled and only increasing by the day in terms of what they offer from disruption to revolution.  What is common with hitherto generations is also not uncommon, i.e., unemployment, housing, and global volatility to name a few.  However, the changing demographics as the population continues to grow and live longer have shifted the balance in many countries to the older benefiting at the expense of the youth.  While it’s true that the former have subsidized living conditions and social programs for the latter, it can also be said that the pendulum has shifted to the point where it’s not fair and equitable anymore. The bulk of public spending is going into retirement and medical care costs – which implies that more resources are flowing from young to old when the old have more money.  

Maybe it’s iniquities like this that are causing the youth to flock toward ‘Feel the Bern’ political machinations as they feel that only a Socialistic set up would ensure parity. That obviously would be a mistake but so is the laissez-fare approach the youth take in terms of impacting this reality. They can take an easy first step in this regard.  In countries like the US to Indonesia to Japan, only 20% of the Millennials come out to vote whereas over 60% of the seniors partake of their civic duty and that plays a part in ensuring they can keep their favorable policies intact.  Where the youth are fortunate enough to be living in democracies that allow them to vote, they need to exercise that right to force their governments to pay heed to what’s important to them.

More on this unusually oppressed minority in subsequent musings as there’s plenty more to dissect. 

‘Til then - Save Big and Prosper…


MRA Global Sourcing is the preeminent firm specializing in recruitment for procurement and strategic sourcing, connecting the best talent with the best opportunities. Visit them on the web to learn more.

As online sales increase, logistics jobs decrease

on Monday, February 8, 2016

As online sales increase, logistics jobs decrease
**This article was originally published with erroneous information that has since been corrected. The Strategic Sourceror sincerely thanks The Wall Street Journal for bringing the error to our attention.**

Following the holiday season, many companies saw a significant hike in online sales, which has seemingly impacted a wide range of supply chain functions, including transportation, storage, manufacturing and distribution operations.

But we should look at the overall trends for the industry, not just the post-holiday blues. Loretta Chao, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, recently revealed that while the logistics and transportation market cut thousands of jobs last month, transportation and warehousing are still hiring more, with logistics employment ranking 6% higher since 2011 than total jobs in the same period.

Growing job markets
Chao explained that a rapidly growing e-commerce market is forcing retail supply chains to transport smaller shipments in quicker times, all while struggling to deal with higher fulfillment prices and lower profit margins. The need to support the increase in delivery and distribution jobs resulted in 1,500 jobs being added by trucking corporations, the source said.

Another industry this trend is affecting is industrial real estate, as more businesses invest in warehouse and distribution facilities throughout the country. Chao noted that warehousing and storage companies have added nearly 60,000 jobs since last month. Furthermore, the source revealed that "[t]ransportation and warehousing jobs are still hiring at a faster pace than the overall U.S. job market. The number of people employed in the industry is up 15 percent since January 2011, compared to 9 percent for total jobs in the same period."

According to the BLS, some of the top markets for job growth are retail trade and manufacturing. Since last month, manufacturers have added an accumulative 29,000 jobs to the industry. And while there have been fluctuations in these distinct areas of the economy, the report also found that the overall rate of unemployment in the U.S. has remained relatively steady at almost 5 percent.

Source One Round Up: February 5, 2016

on Friday, February 5, 2016

Source One Round Up: February 5, 2016

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

Listen in to Source One's Jennifer Engel and Kelly Barner of Buyers Meeting Point discuss the ins and outs of Supplier Diversity Programs as they relate to driving resiliency, sustainability, and adaptability in the supply chain. Engel shares her advice for incorporating these factors in the supplier rationalization process to help ensure your company fully benefits from having a supply base. 
Cyber Security and Selecting a Provider

Cyber security in today's world of hacks and data breaches it an utmost concern for companies of all sizes. As a result, many companies turn to a managed security service providers for support and expertise. So, what should you be looking for when sourcing a provider? This week, Source One's IT Analyst Iyana Lester shares 5 core considerations for selecting a provider that is best-fit for your organization's security needs. 

Selecting an Agency for Impactful Marketing
According the the Wall Street Journal, we spend about 2 years watching commercials. With all of that time exposed to marketing campaigns of hundreds of companies, it comes as no surprise that most of those messages we ignore. It takes something extraordinary to make an impact on a consumer - that something for Proctor and Gamble was an inspirational message to their consumers in their "Like a Girl". Source One's Marketing Analyst Nicole Mahaffey explains the components of the agency relationship necessary for an impactful marketing campaign. 

Data Breach Response Planning Part II
Data breaches are a nightmare for any organization and while in the ideal scenario all of our preventative measures would fend off any potential hacks, having a response plan in place is necessary. In her follow up article, Source One Project Manager Torey Guingrich explains the necessary components and departments for a data breach response plan,and procurement's role in ensuring your organization is proactively prepared for the worst case scenario. 

The Future of Procurement - 2016 Edition 
With 2015 behind us, there are a number of supply chain trends to reflect on, learn from, and anticipate in the coming year. Shifts in the market has challenged businesses to focus on sustainability, product transparency, and assess all aspects of the supplier and agency relationships. In our Future of Procurement blog series, Source One's executives reflect on the challenges and trends of the past year, as well as share their predictions for what lies ahead for procurement professionals in the upcoming year. 

Get Ready for ISM2016 and the Exec IN Forum
Bringing the Future of Procurement to ISM2016, Source One has announced its partnership with the Institute for Supply Management as the exclusive sponsor the Exec IN forum. The private conference is an extension of ISM2016's Corporate Team Experience, bringing together senior-level supply management professionals of top organizations ($1.5 billion+ revenue) to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to large supply chain operations.


Supply chain struggles and strategies for eCommerce fulfillment

on Thursday, February 4, 2016

Supply chain struggles and strategies for eCommerce fulfillment

As people have become heavily reliant on technology and increasingly connected, there has been a surge in online sales. This is good for the eCommerce market; however, it presents retail supply chains with a wide range of challenges. In their efforts to meet the rising expectations of consumers, satisfy the need for instant gratification and improve customer service, many companies are having issues with inventory management, order fulfillment and distribution operations.

Today, people can easily find a product they are looking for online and place an order. And, in addition to shopping quickly, they also expect swift shipments. Research conducted by Peerless Research Group, in collaboration with Supply Chain Management Review and Ryder Systems, Inc., recently revealed that 31 percent of buyers expect same- or next-day delivery on locally made orders.

Obstacles in distribution operations
Supply chain leaders are tasked with managing higher volumes of inventory and making faster deliveries, all while trying to offer cheaper shipping fees. This is tough to achieve, considering the cost of order fulfillment is on the rise and can largely be attributed to expenses related to transportation and labor, the study indicated.

The research report also found that dealing with growing shopper expectations, completing orders on time, having high levels of supply chain visibility and managing increasing order fulfillment costs are the main operational challenges companies struggle with. Only 34 percent of those surveyed said that they believe their distribution processes are sufficient.

In an omnichannel environment, resolving such issues is problematic. Multiple platforms translate to different processes and complex data, ultimately expanding the potential complications and risks supply chain managers face.

More retailers are offering consumers the option of ordering online, then picking the products up in-store. This, too, is difficult for companies to manage. According to Neal Leavitt, a contributor to iMedia Connection, research conducted by the JDA Software Group last year found that about 35 percent of people who placed eCommerce orders chose to pick their items up at the physical store location, and approximately half of these consumers ran into an issue while trying to obtain their packages.

"Retailers might experience service failures because picking products from storage and packing them into unique combinations for customers is easier in a streamlined warehouse than in a chaotic store, where other customers need to be helped and orders can be misplaced," JDA Software Group Senior Vice President Wayne Usie told Leavitt.

Strategic sourcing solutions
And it is not just fulfilling online orders that sellers are struggling with. They also have to deal with returned merchandise. Multichannel Merchant recently explained that, "Every year, 15 percent of goods sold are returned or deemed excess, and many retailers do not have adequate systems in place to manage this flood of items. The traditional reverse supply chain is long and complicated, with goods traveling from consumer to retailer to vendor to liquidator to wholesaler to reseller and finally, to a secondary buyer."

However, the source also added that companies can save time and streamline operations by leveraging reverse logistics technology.

Over the next year, many businesses plan to focus on increasing profit margins, improving customer service and satisfaction, making faster deliveries and lowering costs, the PRG study revealed. One strategy the survey participants said has helped with reducing costs and increasing operational efficiency is outsourcing some supply chain functions, such as transportation and distribution.

Another approach that retailers can take to achieve these goals, and which 43 percent of companies have already begun to do, is to invest in supply chain software and applications that provide executives with enhanced access to essential metrics and analytics, as well as real-time visibility.


Sourcing Raw Materials - Looking Beyond Price


There’s no doubt, sourcing raw materials, like many categories of spend, is nuanced. Impacted by a number of factors, it comes as no surprise that costs of raw materials are subject to fluctuation in the market place. So, when it comes to purchasing raw or direct materials, an organization cannot just take a look at pricing trends, conduct a three-bid-and-buy, and call it day on their sourcing initiative. Smart purchasing only begins with pricing trends, but also includes other factors such as assessing the various economic and environmental drivers impacting supply and demand, and additional contending supplier operations. Before signing your company’s name to the dotted line with a seemingly competitively priced supplier, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind to assess a best-fit provider beyond their proposed pricing:

Climate Condition and Risks to the Supply Base
Companies are quickly realizing the impact climate challenges have on their business models and operations, including the shortage of key resources. Storms and other natural disasters are major disruptions for supply chains resulting in damaged facilities, reduced product demand, and lost productivity. As a result, organizations must take a look at not only the geographical regions of their supply base and understand the potential threats of natural disasters, but also the supplier’s ability to prepare and respond to minimize the cost of a supply chain disruption, should the worst case scenario occur. 

Political Environment
Global sourcing is often an enticing and in some cases a necessary option for organizations sourcing raw materials, offering lower costs, new opportunities, and access to unique resources. Along with these benefits, so comes the political risk of sourcing in these new territories. Companies looking to globally sourcing raw materials must be strategic and systematically assess the political risks associated with the region or country. While pricing may be lower in other countries, procurement departments must also take a look at the regulations in place that impact other areas of operations, and as a result, costs such as insurance, logistics, customs, and international banking fees. 

Quality Assurance
While reducing costs for many procurement organizations sounds like an immediate win, in some cases it may come at the expense of quality, compliance, and sustainability. Comprehensively assessing your suppliers and verifying product quality and conditions is critical. This may include obtaining references and conducting facility tours.

Distribution and Logistics:
Understanding the network used by your contending providers to supply a facility is crucial to determine the ideal structure to support your organization’s needs. For example, a low cost supplier may not be equipped enough with the necessary tanks to store the material to be delivered on a timely basis. As a result, in addition to proposed pricing companies must also look at a supplier’s delivery method and lead time, and the availability and capacity of storage facilities.

Companies need to not only look at the past changes in the costs of these raw materials, but also anticipate how these considerations impact future changes in costs. These drivers impact the costs of a raw materials regularly, and must be monitored proactively to ensure a company is making smart purchasing decisions.  However, many organizations lack the time and resources to manually track all the constant market changes relative to a particular commodity. This is where predictive analytics can help. Predictive Analytics provides increased visibility when managing costs and suppliers – working to streamline the strategic sourcing process by taking into consideration market changes, data, indices’ commodity pricing, and other factors. With clear insight into these market changes, organizations can make smarter and faster business decisions in regards to validating pricing and sourcing the best-fit supplier. 

This is just one of the many benefits of implementing Predictive Analytics in strategic sourcing and procurement.  To learn more about the advantages and new opportunities of Advanced Analytics, check out Source One’s latest whitepaper: The Future of Spend Management: Predictive Analytics.” The new white paper explores the gaps that lie between traditional and advanced analytics and how utilizing these tools is shaping the future of procurement. 

FMC directs 'supply chain innovative teams' to resolve port congestion issues

on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

FMC directs 'supply chain innovative teams' to resolve port congestion issues

West Coast ports in the United States have faced an ongoing battle over the past year to maintain productivity despite high levels of congestion, delays and disruptions.

To mitigate these issues, Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero announced this week that the FMC unanimously voted to have Commissioner Rebecca Dye head an engagement project to "work with U.S. international supply chain stakeholders to form supply chain innovation teams that will develop commercial solutions to supply chain challenges and related port congestion concerns."

Industry leaders asked for commercial shipping solutions
Dye will collaborate with  the stakeholders of global supply chains, specifically those within companies linked to the San Pedro Bay ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. Cordero also added that the project intends to identify and address any problems that could threaten future operations and that more details would be released at the FMC's public meeting later this month.

The source also revealed that this development is independent of the current analysis of PierPASS's extended terminal gate program being carried out by the Bureau of Trade Analysis. Cordero explained that the issued order to have Commissioner Dye address inefficiencies in the supply chains will contribute to the ongoing efforts being made to "encourage collaborative, innovative supply chain integration."

"Their message is clear," Dye said. "We need to assemble a committed team of industry leaders who, by stepping outside of their usual silos, will identify commercial solutions that enhance supply chain effectiveness, reliability, and resilience."

She also added that the effectiveness of this project will be dependent on industry leaders' participation and that maintaining privacy throughout the conversations and planning will be important.

Port demurrage and delay impact
According to American Shipper, Cordero said in an interview last month that primary goals for the FMC this year are to resolve congestion-related issues affecting ports by collaborating with supply chain stakeholders and to focus on alleviating the negative repercussions experienced from an increase in large container ship vessels.

Previous protracted negotiations between shippers and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union had led to detention costs and delays. About 250 of these complaints, which had an accumulative total of approximately $667,000 in fines, were handled by the Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services office of the FMC.

In the FMC announcement, Dye noted that the innovative teams and engagement project intends to build stronger, more resilient supply chains, rather than introduce new regulations.


The Future of Procurement: 2016 Edition Part I


2015 was quite a year for the supply chain industry. Constant market changes have placed an increased pressure for companies to evolve and adapt to potential threats, leading many to turn to the procurement and strategic sourcing functions (both internally and outsourced) to remain competitive. Shifting global landscapes have prompted companies to evaluate where they seat supply chain operations; food recalls have created a greater consumer demand for product transparency; a growing environmentally-cautious consumer base has created pressure for companies to make more ethical and sustainable business decisions; advances in technology and data analytics are prompting companies to evaluate all aspects of their supplier and agency relationships.
So, what does all this mean for procurement in 2016? We sat down with our executives at Source One and asked them to both reflect on recent trends and look into their crystal ball to see what lies ahead for supply management in the New Year. 
In Part I, of this series we'll explore how Procurement is growing as a strategic arm for organizations, how data visibility remains an ongoing challenge, and how savings isn't the only metric procurement and sourcing departments are focused on anymore. 
Increased Strategic Reliance on Procurement
More organizations are relying on Procurement to lend their subject matter expertise in business decision making - a trend that has been gaining ground recently, and will be a hot spot for Procurement pros in 2016 and the years to come. What may have begun as an opportunity for companies to reduce costs during times of lull, organizations are now leveraging Procurement proactively to guide company-wide investments 
beyond direct materials, in even previously untouched categories such as Marketing, Human Resources, and Professional Services.
Why? The proof is in the competitively-priced pudding. Think back to all the media agency reviews that took place this past year. Major companies in industries ranging from consumer packaged goods to automotive have revisited their marketing spend with the goal of optimizing budgets - with Procurement at the helm. Lending subject matter expertise and market intelligence, Procurement departments review everything from agency fees, production costs, and payment terms and conditions. 2016 will be the year this trend kicks in to full force as more organizations realize the budget optimization potential of bringing in the support of Procurement into “untouchable” categories.
Challenges Stemming from a Lack of Spend Data Visibility
While companies are in the process of growing, right sizing, investing in different tools and technologies, or simply making purchases for an array of organizational needs, losing spend visibility is an all too common challenge – a challenge Source One’s executives know will continue into 2016 and further in the future. With a fresh start in the beginning of the year, Source One’s spend management experts recommend that companies resolve to take a deep dive into their spend. Conducting a spend analysis exercise will not only bring to light opportunities for cost saving initiatives, but also provide much needed insight for strategy readjustments.
Focusing on More than Savings
Procurement departments have long demonstrated their value based strictly on savings – but simply being measured on savings is selling procurement short. In fact, many best-in-class organizations actually de-emphasize savings, focusing procurement’s efforts on driving sustainability, managing supplier relationships, and mitigating supply chain risks – and measuring themselves accordingly. Source One’s executives’ anticipate 2016 being a year of shifting KPIs, as organizations large and small begin to catch on to the added value procurement brings to the table in impacting organization-wide strategies.

What else does the future have in store for spend management in 2016? Stay tuned for more predictions and reflections from our executives. 


Humanity United tackling supply chain modern slavery with technology

on Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Humanity United tackling supply chain modern slavery with technology

Over the past few years, there have been a number of high-profile cases highlighting the issue of inhumane working conditions along global supply chains. And while some laws have been enacted to combat the issue, such as the California Transparency in Supply Chain Act and the United Kingdom Modern Slavery Act, both of which require businesses to publicly disclose the measures taken against human trafficking, they have not been entirely effective.

However, The Partnership for Freedom is trying to change that. Led by Humanity United, in collaboration with several United States government agencies, including the Departments of Justice, Housing and Urban Development, State, Health and Human Services, and Labor, the PFF was created "to spur innovative solutions to human trafficking challenges." In October 2015, the organization launched the contest "Rethink Supply Chains: The Tech Challenge to Fight Labor Trafficking," calling on companies to propose technologies that could be used to help eliminate identify and eliminate occurrences of slave labor.

Mitigating unfair labor practices
This week, the foundation the announced that the top finalists are Good World Solutions, IST Research, Mobile Accord, Inc., Sustainability Incubator and Trace Register and Ulula. All of these businesses will advance to the next round to collaborate with experts on the development of their ideas. In addition, each company will be granted $20,000. The official winner will be chosen in April of this year and will receive $250,000. The runner-up will be awarded $50,000.

"Forced labor in global supply chains is a systemic problem. The solutions surfaced by these finalists leverage technology to combat this problem by bringing transparency to global supply chains and elevating workers' voices across industries," Humanity United Director of Investments Catherine Chen said in a statement.

In the press release, the PFF outlined the proposed solutions of each of the finalists which include mobile mapping technology, data analytics systems for scraping Web data, social media monitoring and traceability software.

This is not the only measure Humanity United has taken to mitigate slavery in global supply chains. KnowTheChain is another project the group created, in partnership with the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, Verite and Sustainalytics, to illuminate the growing issue of forced labor. Last month, the foundation released the "Transparency Snapshot," a pilot benchmark report that examined 20 businesses throughout three different sectors: food and beverage, apparel and footwear and Information and Communication Technology, or ICT.

Examining legal compliance
The report found that the footwear and apparel sector has the best transparency and disclosure practices, scoring 65 out of 100, whereas the ICT industry scored the lowest, with a score of 34. And while 75 percent of companies formally recognize the chance of forced labor in supply chains, only a quarter have publicly disclosed how workers can access these policies and standards.

"By benchmarking, we hope to incentivize companies to adopt measures that go beyond legal compliance to more meaningfully address this issue by adopting policies and practices that truly ensure the well-being of workers and reduce labor exploitation," Humanity United Vice President of Investments Ed Marcum explained in the announcement of the report.

He also added that, through this process, businesses will be able to stand out as leaders in their industries by demonstrating social responsibility and that it will also identify the companies that are not doing enough to ensure safe working conditions for employees.

"Transparency Snapshot" is one of three benchmark reports that KnowTheChain said it will publish this year.

As investigations into supply chain practices continue, companies will face increasing pressure to identify the measures they have taken to halt forced labor and modern slavery.


Can we really trust the procurement process in 2016?


Arguably, one of the greatest strengths of any Procurement team is their established process. This process is tried and true, carefully followed, and executed without question. In many industries, this process works, and can be useful in identifying and securing value. However, with Procurement becoming more deeply embedded in non-traditional categories, applying the traditional process no longer works.

I recently pitched my adaptation of the marketing procurement process to a Procurement director of 20+ years. Following the pitch, this director commented that the process was very impressive, but that he was far more concerned with my social skills, and my ability to relate well. He finished with a profound statement, commenting that “Procurement is currently viewed [in this organization] as a value-add, but the instant [procurement] becomes a hindrance, stakeholders will quickly disengage.”

I found his sentiment echoed in an excellent podcast featuring Bob Rodwell on the Art of Procurement. Prior to working in Procurement, Rodwell spent time in Marketing and comments about the importance of relationships in marketing, and the rigidity of the procurement process .Through his career, Rodwell has identified a marketer’s three major complaints about Procurement. “[Procurement is] much too rigid, too slow, and does not understand what [marketers] are trying to accomplish.”

The question remains, how does Procurement transform their image to become palatable to marketers? While history affects the sentiment between the departments, the procurement process with its many steps and careful execution are daunting to marketers, who rely on quick decision making to remain relevant. If procurement cannot present an abbreviated, yet comprehensive process, the battle between the departments will continue, and value will be minimal.

Relationships come first. Many departments are wary of procurement’s involvement in their activity, but none more than Marketing. Begin any potential sourcing exercise with understanding the needs associated with team. A stakeholder questionnaire or interview should be step in one in the process, and sourcing should remain largely out of the conversation. Through a candid conversation, the Procurement team can determine next steps and an effective timeline prior to presenting a capital-intensive RFP process that may require several months or more of activity.

Stakeholder alignment is second. After embedding yourself with the team, the nest step should be onboarding key decision makers. While the CPO and the CMO are logical choices, including the CFO provides additional value when working to align departments and budgets. Ensuring that KPIs match across departments allows for organizational success, and defining the methods of measurement enables tracking of the elusive metrics known as ROI.

Being tasked to do more with less is where procurement truly thrives, and it is in this challenge that having the alignment of C-suite decision makers becomes critical. For example, your organization wants to save 5%, while your agency wants to increase fees by 5%. In what could be a tenuous situation, procurement has the advantageous position of being unbiased, and can work to find a compromise that keeps service-levels the same with less of an impact on budget. Do you want an immediate 5% decrease, or would you like marketing to drive sales up 10%. Procurement can secure this situation, but recognizing that a tradeoff still exists is critical, and having C-suite buy-in from the outset eases and expedites the process.

Now that stakeholders are on-board, process development can begin. As discussed prior, the traditional procurement process struggles in marketing, because it is time intensive in an industry that relies on quick decisions and flexibility for success. Instead of quickly rushing toward an RFP, consider an Agency Relationship Management process, and identify the issues plaguing the relationship. Often, these issues are addressable and can be mediated, enabling both the business and the agency to continue normal operations. Simply changing teams, leads, or processes can lead to an immediate benefit.

If an RFP is unavoidable and the relationship has completely soured, consider a more-comprehensive RFI process. With so many agencies offering such a wide-variety of services, it is impossible to have complete knowledge of all opportunities, even with an exhaustive RFP. Utilizing the RFI as an opportunity to create a short-list should be of primary importance, and this should also be an opportunity for marketing stakeholders to identify fit and culture. If comfortable with the short list, a formal questionnaire may even be skipped, in favor of a comprehensive pitch agenda and assignment, which further reduces the total process timeline.

In summary, those engaging in marketing procurement should challenge their current process, and consider the importance marketers place on relationships and flexibility. As procurement continues to become embedded in the process of marketing, the importance of deviating from the proven procurement process becomes critical in continuing to drive procurement value and deliver on organizational success.