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Getting started automating procurement processes

There are countless ways to transform a procurement department through the use of technology, but many of these methods share a common thread: Automation of everyday processes holds a prominent role. The rise of automation is based on the idea that when human employees lose their most rote and low-skill tasks, they'll be increasingly free to work on high-level problem solving.

The rise of automation is inextricably linked to strategic sourcing. Procurement teams will have more to contribute to companies' overall direction when the basics of their transactional duties take less time and hands-on attention. Organizations considering implementing these tech tools may be wondering how to get started on the process and one step closer to strategic operations. Some processes are easier to automate than others.

Robotic process automation serves as a good start
As Spend Matters recently explained, one type of automation falls below the complexity of machine learning and artificial intelligence. While those latter kinds of systems use data to learn from input and make decisions, robotic process automation has the simple goal of performing imitations of humans' digital actions on its own.

The source stated that supply chains just beginning to implement high-level digital solutions can begin with RPA. The tech demands of using RPA systems are manageable, and the processes may point the way to more deeply involved automated systems. Spend Matters suggested a popular starting point for companies using RPA in the procurement department: These businesses automate receiving and validating invoices from their vendors. The automated process can open emails and check data in PDF files against existing records.

If both procurement departments and the suppliers they work with employ RPA to handle their invoice processes, it's possible for transactions to be handled by robotic processes instead of human employees. While Spend Matters cautioned that this method is not a sustainable approach to take to a company's highest-profile purchases, RPA can save significant time and effort when applied to lower-level recurring operations.

Automation is a step on the road to strategic sourcing.Automation is a step on the road to strategic sourcing.
Drawing the lines of automation
TechTarget contributor Christine Parizo recently pointed out some ways companies can get the effects of business process automation by using features that exist within their enterprise resource planning systems. This includes functions within the procurement department, with some purchase types being allowed to complete themselves. ERP users can create rules within the systems that define which types of spending needs a manual sign-off before it goes through. This is an important step to ensure the automated system does not get out of hand and waste money while ostensibly saving the company time and effort.

Elevate2 Sales Director David Kennett told Parizo that creating automated processes works best when the software being worked on is cloud-based. Such solutions tend to be designed not to break when upgrades are released. Modern software developers consider custom work by users when designing their systems, offering amenities such as preview environments that roll out before major updates and let users determine whether their automated processes are still working as intended. With software becoming more capable and powerful, adding simple automation to procurement environments may be easier than business owners believe.
Since I started this series I glanced over a concept at the crux and backbone with all things Emerging Tech, Change. It seems almost obvious in the statement itself but I think the topic warrants its own discussion. Gartner now cites 40% of IT staff will be “versatile-ists”, holding multiple roles most of which will be business-related rather than a pure technology focus (Gartner findings 2017). And for a year now Regina Rometty, CEO of IBM, along with others have been inspiring views on the need to prepare for the “New Collar Job”. Whether this directly means you and your career, these facts- at minimum - mean change and with this we need to evolve our perspectives.

The question: How can these two frames of thought be married into an actionable way to be preparing for change in years to come,

Multiple Choice Answers: There seems to be two relevant perspectives here:   
A)      Perspective 1: Technology is nearly synonymous and is regularly mentioned in the same vein as obsolescence… isn’t it? Obsolescence defies expertise and places value on resolving the latest trending new inefficiency.  
B)      Perspective 2: Technology is an opportunity and synonymous with new expertise and value add.

C)      Perspective 3: “my friend knew a guy named SAP”

D)      Perspective 4: I am pretty friendly with everyone at work, I should be good.

Answer: Well, here on this series, we look at the emerging tech in terms of opportunity.

Knowing that the words we casually use frame thoughts, perspectives, and actions, “perspective one” in the foremost goes wrong with idea of obsolescence. For all you “non-techies”, just because you are trained in a certain tech does not mean the new tech will be foreign. It is really more about a frame of thought. Take for example coding languages. On the surface there seems like there are as many coding languages as there are Baskin Robins flavors, 31 ( or for a reference set now, 16 handles X 2). But truth of the matter is people are trained to think like a programmer and the details of syntax with the nitty gritty out there on the web with the tech communities all around. Once the fundamentals are understood it becomes a sort of learn as you go model.  And so with this I say, to all those “non-techies” out there, becoming a “techie” is kind of like sky diving. Someone will be on your back the whole time for the first ten jumps or so and that someone is the online community 😊. features a bunch of group with mini classes and info sessions (some for fee/free)
My personal favorite meetup group is:  - it’s a very helpful blend of a community network and formalized sessions where you can learn.

Coming soon Emerging Tech Series: The Horror Chronicles of Tech in your place.

After suffering one of the worst years ever for catastrophic claims, insurers and reinsurers are under extreme pressure as a result of anticipated insurance renewal increases ranging from 5% to 20%.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria along with California wildfires, Mexican Earthquakes and other natural disasters have generated historic losses throughout North America.  The $135 Billion paid out by insurers is the highest figure ever recorded for the continent.   Worse still, international reinsurer, Munich Reinsurance Co. reports that last year's total global losses, including those not insured, amounted to a whopping $330 Billion.  This number is second only to the losses recorded in 2011 the year of earthquakes and tsunamis wreaking havoc on Japanese supply chains.   

Additionally, U.S. primary flood policies, backed by the government, have experienced coast-to-coast premium increases in locations designated as flood zones.  As a result,  property renewals for commercial insurance are now significantly more prolonged.  Negotiations that might have concluded within a week can now drag on for well over a month.

Corporate insurance programs both at home and abroad can expect the price of commercial property to go up during the next round of renewals.  Though no one can forecast the future for certain, it's worth noting that many reinsurers are calling our current situation a "new normal." Real estate, particularly along coastal exposures, looks poised for many more years like 2017.  

It's an unfortunate - some might even say inconvenient - truth, but there's no getting around it.  Extreme weather brought on or exacerbated by climate change is here to stay.  Reinsurers in particular have to take notice.  As weather patterns intensify, it will become increasingly crucial to reexamine and reconfigure risk model simulations.

2017's myriad catastrophes dealt a blow to a sector that has suffered through thin profit margins for some time.  It's not too late, however, for insurance companies to turn the tide and recoup their losses.  Forward-thinking organizations should consider getting some expert advice from practiced insurance procurement professionals.  The right preparations today could save you from drowning in losses when the next disaster strikes.  

What is important to have a successful stakeholder relationship? Trust. Gaining trust is the quintessential keystone to a successful engagement; getting the client on your side ensures you give the project the best chance of success.

When meeting my stakeholders for the first time, my three primary goals for the engagement are to:
1.      Come prepared; this means going into meetings with the proper knowledge on their category, supplier base, spend and potential strategy options that best suit their needs
2.      Encourage collaborative thinking and communication through comprehensive conversation, brainstorming and goal setting while keeping the stakeholder’s category strategy and goal in mind
3.      Gain trust by showcasing my expertise and speaking their language, “Marketing Speak”

I have found through my experience that with these three mindsets, I have been very successful in gathering all of the information I need to present a comprehensive opportunity assessment and strategic plan for project execution and success. Where I want to draw your attention is to the term “Marketing Speak”; when you speak someone’s language in any aspect of relationship engagement, don’t you find it easier to communicate in a more fluid and open manner? The same goes for stakeholder engagement. Marketing speak, specifically within marketing procurement, refers to utilizing marketing terminology when speaking with your stakeholders to showcase your expertise in marketing. For example, if you are you working on a Content Syndication project, you should understand what content syndication is, what it is used for, how it is typically priced and the benefits/downfalls it may produce; this alone will show your stakeholders that you know what you are talking about, gain their trust and as a result, they will naturally open up and provide the information you need to execute a positive project outcome.

Speaking the stakeholders language is only one piece of the puzzle to gaining trust; you not only need to come prepared to the meeting but to continuously encourage collaboration. Keep in mind, the kickoff meeting sets the tone and image for the entire engagement! Going into a kickoff meeting with a knowledgeable team and applicable plan(s) will help you get the most out of your discussion with the client and the stakeholders; it’s crucial for your team to do their homework and know as much as possible about the client and project before questions are asked that should be. It’s also significant for the team to work together to come up with a few applicable strategies that are going to instill confidence in the client and to collectively align ahead of time, so that valuable hours, money, and face-to-face client time isn’t wasted with internal debates with the client watching, who rest assure me, will become progressively apprehensive that your team doesn’t really know what they’re doing.

Communication, communication, communication! I cannot say it enough how imperative collaborative, clear and empathetic (yes, empathetic!) communication is to a successful engagement. Let’s discuss the shocking word, empathy, which isn’t present in many business transactions. You must establish a human connection by being empathetic to your stakeholder’s situation; you and your team just walked in and to them, you are potentially taking over, diminishing or completely wiping out their job. This absolutely causes stakeholders, the information keepings, to regress and not engage in open conversation; this is why being empathetic to their situation, setting the tone of collaborative synergies, conversations and working towards the same goal is a positive and calming way to kick off a project. What can you do to ensure this? Discover your stakeholder’s goals, apply strategies that that support said goals, establish teamwork and constantly provide transparency and drive communication over and over again.
Again, gaining trust is the quintessential keystone to a successful engagement; getting the client on your side ensures you give the project the best chance of success. Practice and implement the three primary goals for a successful engagement and you (and your client) will push through projects, roadblocks and successes together.

ICYMIM: January 15, 2018

Source One's series for keeping up with the most recent highlights in procurement, strategic sourcing, and supply chain news week-to-week.  Check in with us every Monday to stay up to date with the latest supply management articles.

Naseem Malik, Procurious, 1/9/2018
It's not enough to locate top talent.  To optimize Procurement's performance, companies need to identify the right talent.  Procurement's responsibilities are consistently evolving. As a result, it's essential that practitioners exhibit a mix of technical and collaborative skills.  Malik suggests a novel approach for developing an optimal Procurement unit: hire an entire team rather than a number of individuals.  Hiring a group that's enjoyed a history of success will help reduce conflict, eliminate bias in the hiring process, and make for superior collaboration down the road.  For many companies, the risk of developing a new hiring philosophy could very well pay off.
Nick Heinzmann, Spend Matters, 1/11/2018
Heinzmann shares insights and predictions from UK procurement leader Peter Smith.  Smith urges supply management professionals to remember the fundamental components of their role in serving clients. For example, he implores readers to remember that Procurement should strive to reveal its value by aligning itself with a company's objectives, goals, and culture.  He is also quick to reiterate that the only two raw materials at Procurement's disposal are people and tools.  For 2018, he stresses the importance of continuing to identify emerging tools and apply them appropriately.  Interested in more predictions and reflections from Procurement leaders? Check out Source One's recent whitepaper on trends to watch in 2018. 

Michael Lamoureux AKA The Sourcing Doctor, Sourcing Innovation, 
Business and project management skills are a nice bonus, but what Procurement professionals really need is demonstrable, hands-on supply chain experience and subject matter expertise.  Too often, companies staff their Procurement departments and waste valuable resources on individuals who are only equipped for the tactical aspects of sourcing.  However many degrees a tactical resource might have, there's no excuse to keep them around in a time where machine learning and automated reasoning have made them expendable.  Tomorrow's supply chain leaders likely haven't gone to business school.  They have, however, embedded themselves in supply chain operations and learned to identify and implement emerging cognitive systems.   

Hospitals have one of the most difficult cost-management tasks in any industry. With patients' lives at stake, these organizations have to keep their budgets as slim and efficient as possible while never letting the quality of care slip. As with any organization, procurement and sourcing processes provide ample chance for budgetary savings, provided supply chain leaders are able to introduce new efficiency and well-tuned processes.

The methods these managers use to attain savings will be like those used across sectors: New technologies will be crucial in lightening the load on supply chain professionals, opening up opportunities for them to contribute more to the skill-intensive decision-making processes that drive real results.

Variation must fall
When hospital systems can reduce the variation in the items and methods they use clinically, they can consolidate sourcing efforts and cut a significant amount out of their budgets. According to Supply Chain Dive, procurement professionals should begin working on ways to examine current levels of variation within hospitals. They can crunch the numbers to show how much the organization could save with a more streamlined process.

Of course, changing the way clinical procedures are handled and the equipment used by physicians requires doctors to sign onto the plan. Getting such a level of buy-in is one of the unique challenges associated with supply chain operations in health care. Showing off hard numbers, and pitching the variety reduction in terms of dollars saved, can help make this a smooth process, according to Supply Chain Dive.

Incentives may also prove important. If there is a tangible benefit for an employee getting on board with a new type of equipment, the supply chain may be successful in reaping the sought-after benefits. Supply Chain Dive reported that PricewaterhouseCoopers' Ben Isgur sees the challenge as one of cultural alignment. Ingrained ways of performing procedures may have to be wiped away to
create a more efficient and financially responsible way of sourcing supplies and equipment.

What makes a hospital supply chain unique?What makes a hospital supply chain unique?
Technology on the rise
While some issues, such as physician buy-in, are unique to the health care market, there are a few universal concepts at work in supply chain improvement. Increasing use of newly developed technologies is one such idea, as PricewaterhouseCoopers health care technology practice director Dennis Brown explained in a Silicon Republic article. Better decision-making is one of the main benefits of advanced solutions such as artificial intelligence.

Brown added that the first step in health care tech improvement will likely be subtle, with these systems working alongside existing processes. Next, whole operational styles will change to make use of highly-automated solutions. For instance, 3-D printing could soon become viable for finished health care devices such as hearing aids, cutting the need to ship them at all and radically simplifying the supply chain.

The discussion of future breakthroughs including automated vehicles, 3-D printing and artificial intelligence shows that at its core, the hospital world is just another industry, with universal supply chain needs. On the other hand, the sourcing leaders who see the greatest success in this field over the next few years will likely be those who work hard to overcome the unique challenges of the health care world.

2017 was an eventful year for Procurement professionals working in the Telecom space.  The continued emergence of new technologies and the constant threat of data breaches have led companies of all sizes to take a more proactive approach to their Telecom purchasing.

Recently, Source One Director David Pastore sat down with the Source One Podcast.  Sharing his Telecom procurement expertise, Pastore reflects on the past year and predicts the trends that will define Telecom sourcing in 2018.

Check out a transcript of the conversation:

Source OneWelcome to the Source One Podcast.  Consider us your source for all things Procurement, Supply Management, and Strategic Sourcing, anytime, anywhere. 

In the final days of 2016, Source One Director Dave Pastore reflected on the year in telecommunications sourcing.  Three emerging trends stood out.  Increasingly popular with companies of all sizes, these areas promised to gain even more momentum in 2017: the adoption of Software-defined networking technologies, carrier cloud connected services, and managed security services.

Twelve months later, Dave joins us to discuss how those predictions panned out and provide a forecast for Telecom procurement in the coming year.

Last year, you mentioned that we tend to hear about new developments in Telecom for a long time before we see them practically applied.   Did 2017 meet your expectations for practical applications of these three emerging systems? 

Dave Pastore: It did.  In fact, in many ways it exceeded expectations.  In the past, adoption of emerging technologies in the telecom space tended to have much longer ramp periods, but in areas like SD-WAN, cloud connected services, and managed security the take up has been much more rapid.

S1Were there any industries in particular that met, exceeded, or failed to meet your expectations? 

DP: We’ve got clients in a wide variety of industries from financial services to retail to high tech and so on and my previous statement holds true across the board –there is a lot of interest in what’s going on in the marketplace and so many organizations are looking to us for insight into how they can better support their business with the new technologies and services offerings being made available.

S1In 2016, most of Source One’s clients leveraged SDWAN technology as a backup or to cover low-priority areas at minimum.  How have SD-WAN technologies evolved?  

DP: Well, the evolution of SD-WAN has been interesting in that it brought with it many small, new players, many of whom have already been gobbled up by the 800 pound gorillas -Cisco buying up Viptela and VMWare buying VeloCloud come to mind.  Meanwhile, the carriers have their own offerings, in many cases through partnerships with some of the same players.  Really, things are moving at breakneck speed as everyone is clamoring to try to get the edge on competition and become the behemoth, clear market leader in the space.  Of course, that introduces some challenges in truly qualifying service offerings because quality and completeness can vary fairly substantially due to the pace of things.

S1Has the rapidly changing market caused clients to consider SDWAN any differently than other technologies?  

DP: I think it’s definitely a factor.  There’s an interesting balance between general interest in new technology, which –like I said- often moves a bit more slowly, and a keen awareness that things are still a bit volatile and so it’s prudent to proceed with caution.

S1Switching gears to cloud connected services, have the carriers made it easier to establish connections with companies?

They definitely have.  The carriers started a few years ago with some of the heavy hitters like SalesForce, Azure, and AWS.  I’m not sure if they were testing the waters to see if it would sell or if they were going with the obvious companies as a proof of concept to get other service providers on board.  I would guess mostly the former, but the latter probably factored into at least some cases.

S1What’s next for companies who’ve integrated cloud services into their WAN?  

DP: The most interesting thing to me about this trend has been that within just the past few years many had speculated that network connectivity is just getting dumber.  All people cared about was big pipes to connect data and applications between point A and point B.  Now, with cloud connected services –not to mention SD-WAN and managed security- the conversation has changed quite a bit.  Networks are now enabling business in a different way than just providing pure bandwidth.  

So in terms of what’s next, I think we’ll continue to see a trends of the carriers layering additional third party services as well as native services into their offerings in order to further enable new technology and fulfill even more complex business requirements.  VMWare throwing their hat into ring on the SD-WAN front is evidence of that, I think.

S1In your opinion, do companies seem willing or able to invest in the necessary cybersecurity services?  

DP: For the most part yes.  It’s becoming an increasing priority.  In banking, for example, regulation requires it.  In other industries like healthcare, insurance, and pharma security is critical due to the sensitive nature of the data these companies deal with.  In retail, companies are extremely wary of becoming the next news story about a breach.  So yes, security will continue to be a trend in our increasingly connected world. 

In fact, I saw a statistic recently that said there would be a shortage of 2 million IT security jobs in 2019…just that gives you an idea of where the security trend is heading.

S1What new threats have emerged in the last year? 

DP: I’m not really a security expert, but based on just this discussion alone, we’re talking about potentially introducing more physical connections to the outside world to networks in some SDWAN configurations.  We haven’t talked about it, but even the shift from traditional voice communications to VoIP or SIP introduces new security challenges.  Generally, like I said, we’re increasingly interconnected, which introduces a lot more complexity, and with complexity new vulnerabilities are often overlooked and exploited.  

That’s why many organizations are looking to stay ahead of the curve and are being proactive about ensuring security –finding problems before someone else does.

S1How do you predict providers will win over companies who’ve previously resisted investing in security solutions?  

DP: I’ll be interested to see how that plays out.  On one hand, many organizations are bolstering their own internal capabilities.  On the other hand, the deep expertise that third party firms can bring is often difficult or impossible to develop and maintain in a vacuum of today’s enterprises.  I really do think that most companies will identify a need at some level to bring in expertise at least as an enhancement of their own internal capabilities.

S1Are there some companies who won’t invest until they’ve suffered a serious breach?  

DP: There always are!

S1Do you predict these trends will continue to gain momentum in 2018? 

DP: Absolutely –we’re just getting started and 2018 will be an interesting year –these trends will continue to gain momentum and speed.

S1What surprising trends did you observe throughout 2017? 

DP: Beyond what we’ve already discussed, I would just say in general that the pace of adoption has been the biggest surprise.  It’s quite a shift from the previous decade or so of technology adoption in the networking space.

S1What new trends do you see emerging in the new year?  

DP: You’ll have to read my upcoming blog to find out!

Check out the Source One Podcast every week for more Procurement and Strategic Sourcing insights from Source One's industry leaders. 

January 12, 2018

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

New Whitepaper:

What's Next for Procurement: 8 Trends to Watch in 2018
2017 was another surprising year for Procurement and Strategic Sourcing professionals.  All around the world, disruptions like natural disasters, political upheaval, and new technologies wreaked havoc on supply chains.  Nevertheless, 2017 saw a number of Procurement trends continue as expected.  Leading companies are still transforming their Procurement teams and embracing the benefit of more strategic purchasing.  In what's becoming an annual tradition, the supply management experts at Source One have published their predictions for the year ahead.  Whatever shocks and surprises 2018 has in store, stay on the look out for these industry developments.

Recent Blogs:

The True Cost of Non-Compliance
Jonathan Groda, Buyer's Meeting Point, 1/10/2018
Countless Procurement groups fail to achieve their projected savings numbers because of noncompliance.  Whether business-wide or site-specific noncompliance undercuts Procurement's cost reduction efforts and introduces inefficiencies the supply chain.  An especially dangerous and common form of noncompliance is the passive variety.  When sites engage in transition and implementation efforts without the necessary level of commitment they present an especially challenging situation.  Their noncompliance can prove difficult to detect.  As a result, companies dealing with passive noncompliance often discover lost savings after the damage is done.  Groda suggests consistent communication and regular monitoring as preventative measures. It's of particular importance that Procurement teams continue to drive sourcing engagements well after contracts are signed to ensure compliance and savings.

New Podcast:

SD-WAN, Cybersecurity and More: Telecom Trends to Watch in 2018
Source One Director - and Telecom Procurement expert - David Pastore joins the Source One Podcast to discuss the category's emerging trends.  2017, Pastore suggests, was an uncharacteristic year for technological implementation in the space.  Though Telecom and IT solutions typically take time to catch on, 2017 saw companies of all sizes move at breakneck speed to implement software-defined networking technologies, managed cybersecurity systems, and cloud-connected services.  The trend shows no signs of stopping.  Expect these technologies to continue gaining momentum throughout the coming year.

SD-WAN, Cybersecurity, and More: IT and Telecom Trends to Watch in 2018

At the end of 2016, Source One Director Dave Pastore looked back on the year in Telecommunications sourcing.  Three trends in particular stood out.  Companies of all sizes were investing in software-defined networking technologies, managed cybersecurity services, and cloud-connected services.

Historically, technologies in the Telecom space have been slow to catch on. Increasing interconnectivity and emerging cyber threats, however, compelled companies to take a more proactive approach to spend in this category throughout 2017.  The pace of adoption impressed Pastore as the defining Telecom trend for the year.

Recently, Pastore sat down with the Source One Podcast to reflect on recent developments in Telecom procurement and forecast the year ahead.  He predicts the pace of adoption to ramp up throughout the year as more companies embrace the benefit of emerging technologies. Listen today.

For the third-consecutive year, the Procurement and Strategic Sourcing leaders at Source One will attend ISM2018 as Diamond Sponsors.  ISM's Annual Conference is the premier event for supply chain professionals and a prime opportunity to network and absorb thought leadership.  This year, the four-day conference will bring together thousands of supply management leaders as well as keynote speakers Mitt Romney, Ariana Huffington, and John Rossman.

Source One and its expert consultants are a fixture at ISM's Annual Conference.  In the past, they have led discussions on topics including category management, talent development, and supplier relationship optimization.  At ISM2018, they'll present their insights and best practices for conducting Procurement transformations and communicating Procurement's value internally.

The Procurement leaders will also serve as the exclusive sponsors of ISM's ExecIn subconference.  This executive-level event provides private sessions with keynote speakers and additional networking opportunities for Strategic Sourcing leaders.

Source One's Procurement team looks forward to ISM's conference all year.  ISM2018 promises to provide the valuable networking and learning opportunities they've come to expect.

This blog is brought to us by MRA Global Sourcing

Dow Jones and the HR Certification Institute recently conducted a survey of C-suite executives.  One key takeaway? They consider identifying, retaining, and optimizing talent a primary concern.  The majority of respondents list it as a top-five item on their corporate agenda, but only 59 percent believe their companies have effective talent management systems in place. Nancy Halverson, MRINetwork's General Manager of Franchise Operations, says, "More organizations are making a talent management a top priority for 2018 . . . We've identified several significant trends that are already having an impact, or that are poised to become increasingly relevant."  Check them out.

1. Gig Economy

According to a recent report by The McKinsey Global Institute, 20 percent of the working population is employed independently in some capacity.  Couple that with the evolution of cloud platforms, and it's no surprise that more and more companies are leveraging a blended workforce. With the number of gig employees expected to nearly double by 2020, this trend shows no sign of stopping.  Do new technologies mean traditional staffing firms are on way out? Far from it, suggests Brett Felmey, MRINetwork's Director of Contract Staffing Sales.  For industries that require highly-skilled contingent talent they could prove as valuable as ever.  "Partnering with firms that have relationships with top candidates, and expertise as a single source provider," says Felmey, "can provide employers with the competitive edge required to recruit top performers. 

2. Predictive Analytics 

Predictive analytics are no longer the stuff of science fiction.  As new technologies develop, companies are increasingly able to anticipate and assess employee performance. Google, for example, has employed predictive analytics to determine the impact of every interview and hire since at least 2015. Collecting performance data early and often and comparing it to past assessments creates a feedback loop for companies.  They are able to continually perfect their profile for the ideal employee and make more strategic hiring decisions.

3. Blind Hiring 

To avoid accusations of bias or other controversies, many companies are developing a blind hiring process.  During the screening and interview stages, information that gives away an applicant's background or demographic data can easily introduce unconscious bias.  Eliminating this information makes for hiring decisions based exclusively on achievements and ability.  Thanks to the popularity of social media, however, initiating a totally blind process could prove challenging.  Many companies will find it necessary to utilize third-party recruiters. 

4. Gamification

A number of companies are beginning to introduce competitive games to their candidate screening process.  Using tools like ConnectCubed, makes for a more interactive, inviting application process and provides employers will valuable insights into applicants. Millennials, raised on video games and the internet, tend to find competitive applications especially appealing.  Reagan Johnson, MRINetwork's Director of Technology Operations remarks, "For candidates, gamification can take the chore out of the application process and add a bit of competitive fun."  Employers, Johnson suggests, "Gain access to valuable, actionable data to predict candidate fit and future performance." Once again, an independent recruiter could help facilitate this process by evaluating data and providing suggestions.

5. Preparing Employees for Future Change

New technologies both create and eliminate jobs.  When robots replace a tactical employee, for example, a company still needs highly-skilled human assets to manage and maintain these new, automated tools.  Companies need to look ahead and seriously consider how they'll leverage human and technological resources down the road.  "A key part of this," writes Marquis Parker, MRINetwork's VP of Business Services, "will be to identify people who are willing to embrace different aspects of jobs, including management, problem solving, troubleshooting, and other areas that require a human element, and determine how they can be deployed to align with a company's growth strategies." For many companies, this could mean fundamental changes to their human capital strategy.

Now is the time to act.  A competitive, ever-evolving labor market means companies need to develop strategies today.  As industries change, they demand a new caliber of employee.  These new employees expect new processes for hiring, career pathing, and skills development.  If your company can't offer these they can hardly expect to retain leading individuals.  Organizations that rely on the old methods for talent management will likely find themselves experiencing a distinct lack of talent before too long. 

As recounted in 2018 Procurement New Year Resolutions Part 1, there's no better way to ring in the New Year than through data cleansing! Data cleansing can be a procurement firm’s worst nightmare – or sweetest dream, depending on the spend analysis tools they equip themselves with. To help your firm strategically position itself and streamline its spend analysis process, consider checking out Source One’s recent blog, New Year’s Resolution: Clean yer Dang Data Part Two, where our spend analytics expert discusses risks and best practices.