What as a Procurement Professional I have learned in 2016?

Firstly, a big salute to all at Procurement and Supply Chain fraternity for cruising through some very ever volatile marketplaces and a roughly, tightened budget situations across the Middle Eastern market in 2016.

“Deconstruct, raise awareness, repeat and refine”

As we started a new year, I believe one of the best ways to see and anticipate actions would be to deconstruct the past 12 months to raise awareness so we can repeat and refine what worked and remove what didn’t.

I thought it might serve us well if I shared‎ 20 of the lesson I learned in 2016 with you and here you go:

#1. A “superb mindset” with an updated “marketplace understanding” along with “healthiest objectives” (obviously, business) and “dynamic economy” is a sure win. We need all four of these components operating at world-class to bring our brightest result into the procurement field.

#2. Being result oriented at our art of buying is important. Being “making things happen” in our devotion to sustaining as a procurement professional is essential.

#3. Be a Ninja when it comes to delivering on our trust. And be an ethical icon when it comes to treating suppliers by providing equal opportunity, providing a development opportunity and treating colleagues with respect.

#4. The most important things in our profession have nothing to do with so-called savings, because it is embedded in our job specs like a surgeon is expected to do surgery!

#5. Procurement Gurus introducing innovation get all applauses if that also provides a savings opportunity. There’s a difference between being buying what has been asked to buy and offering innovative substitutes. And that could be one of the reasons a company could remember about your contribution.

“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”  ~ John F. Kennedy

#6. Being unable to source could question your abilities and is a scary thing when you couldn’t convince even. Not to be intimidated by your weaker self-saying that you’re “sourceless”, so be empowered to develop as many sources as you could, then filter and keep elite sources that you could rely on. People think you’re different. Peers will copy you when you succeed. But this is ‎where the great professionals sustained.

#7. Your influence on decision making reveals your personal story. So, claim individuality, try to be part of the upper layer with voice so that you could tell them what could be the financial implications of buying a phone with ‘Facebook button’ on it.

#8. There is no way you could say “impossible”, there might be a marketplace you have untried, there might be a sourcing method you haven’t dare to experience.

#9. Every one of the supply chain professionals today is doing the best‎ they can do based on the way they see various marketplaces. Their level of understanding is driving the quality of their supplier sourcing. Don’t judge the local suppliers as a weaker source which couldn’t deliver the result. Understand them and develop them.

#10. Be a people oriented person, approachable by suppliers, ‘a stitch in time saves nine’, who knows.

“Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.”  ~  Seth Godin

#11. Your departmental performance routines will not work if they are not aligned with influencing factors like, bullish economy of various continents, unexplored market places, changing sourcing strategy and developing and experimenting new suppliers.

#12. Own your Mondays and you’ll win your week, because that is the day West and East meet after holidays. Yes, you know what I mean!

#13. Get organized, work on a priority list. Your last week was perfect preparation for your fruitful next week. Mondays would be a makings things happen day.

#14. Developing matured relations with top performing supplies would be ‘a friend in need’. Walking the ways with new comers and underperforming suppliers are important, so that you would understand them, share your vision and empower them to address their issues, there you go, you have a “new friend in need”.

#15. Instead of penalizing for their nonperformance, it is better to understand issues of supplier base and address them coherently. Humility shows the greatness of an organization. Sometimes, you might want to swap products between various suppliers. A little juggling eventually would address two issues like, nonperformance and non-availability.

“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand.”  ~ Chinese Proverb 

#16. Be at their service. Your stakeholders should trust you and should get the feeling that you can make it happen. They are the reason that your department exists. They are your daily inspiration of sourcing, meeting their need is your purpose.

#17. Most people you meet on a daily basis have a different story to tell you. They have their weird need to source. Be dared to take away your reactive armor that has allowed them to strike now and then. Be pro-active, ‘wear’ the transparent professional attire.

#18. My life works a lot better when I’m googling for new sources, use social networks to connect with resources on the other side of the world. A house full of catalogues are your immediate saviors.

#19. Find and make the time to mentor, coach and develop your team. It is equal opportunity is shared. You learn from them and they too share your passion. A bunch of ants can defeat an elephant (yes, all the supply chain challenges).

#20. Invest in personal growth plus professional changes, the more you compliment your professional growth is the foundation which tells you to where you are heading to.

Well, the good news is, the market is getting stable, the oil barrels are getting pricy every day. And they, our organizations are counting on us to bring on the fullness of our talents in the new year for the benefit of our company, our professional potential and all of us who are longing to see us fly.

With care and respect – Austine Jarome


Procurement and Risk – Use Microsoft Excel to create tools to identify and address the risks

After a long gap, I found time today to write in my blog about Procurement Risks.
So, What is risk?
The Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines risk as, “The exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance.”
In any procurement function there are these elements of risks; the auditors always pick them up!
Why we only realize when auditors questioning the credibility of a procurement transaction? Why we are unable to identify these risks prior to its occurrence?
The answers to these questions are either we never had a mechanism to identify and address the risks or we never had the required tools to address the risks.
I thought to finish this subject by start writing about few of the risks, and I thought I could provide a helicopter view of this subject by writing about few risks and say “That is all folks!”, but once I approached the core of this posting I realized how difficult it is to explain the depth of this subject in one post.
BTW, the procurement risks can be classified under following categories (get ready to scroll and scroll);

Strategic Risks
Process Risks
Information Risks

1.    Strategic Risks are again classified in to 11 sub categories
  1. Competitor Risk:
  2. Customer Wants Risk:
  3. Technological Innovation Risk:
  4. Stakeholders Expectations Risk:
  5. apital Availability Risk:
  6. Sovereign / Political Risk:
  7. Legal Risk:
  8. Regulatory Risk:
  9. Industry Risk:
  10. Financial Markets Risk:
  11. Catastrophic Loss Risk:
2.   Process Risks are the major risks spread under many other sub categories
2.1.Financial risk
2.1.1.  Currency Risk:
2.1.2.  Opportunity Cost Risk:
2.1.3.  Commodity Risk:
2.2.Empowerment Risk
2.2.1.  Leadership Risk:
2.2.2.  Authority / Limit Risk:
2.2.3.  Outsourcing Risk:
2.2.4.  Performance Incentives Risk:
2.2.5.  Change Readiness Risk:
2.2.6.  Communications Risk:
2.3.Information Technology Risk
2.3.1.  Relevance Risk:
2.3.2.  Integrity Risk:
2.3.3.  Access Risk:
2.3.4.  Availability Risk:
2.3.5.  Infrastructure Risk:
2.4.1.  Organizational Culture Risk:
2.4.2.  Ethical Behavior Risk:
2.4.3.  Board Effectiveness Risk:
2.4.4.  Succession Planning Risk:
2.5.1.  Image & Branding Risk:
2.5.2.  Stakeholder Relation Risk:
2.6.1.  Management Fraud Risk:
2.6.2.  Employee and/or Third Party Fraud Risk:
2.6.3.  Illegal Acts Risk:
2.6.4.  Unauthorized Use Risk:
2.7.1.  Customer Satisfaction Risk:
2.7.2.  Human Resources Risk:
2.7.3.  Knowledge Capital Risk:
2.7.4.  Product Development Risk:
2.7.5.  Efficiency Risk:
2.7.6.  Capacity Risk:
2.7.7.  Performance Gap Risk:
2.7.8.  Cycle Time Risk:
2.7.9.  Sourcing Risk:
2.7.10.Partnering Risk:
2.7.11.Compliance Risk:
2.7.12.Business Interruption Risk:
2.7.13.Product / Service Failure Risk:
2.7.14.Environmental Risk:
2.7.15.Health & Safety Risk:
2.7.16.Brand Erosion Risk:
3.   Information Risks
3.1.Business Environment Risk
3.1.1.  Environmental Scan Risk:
3.1.2.  Business Model Risk:
3.1.3.  Business Portfolio Risk:
3.1.4.  Investment Evaluation Risk:
3.1.5.  Organization Structure Risk:
3.1.6.  Measurement (Strategy) Risk:
3.1.7.  Resource Allocation Risk:
3.1.8.  Planning Risk:
3.1.9.  Life Cycle Risk:
3.2.Business Reporting Risk
3.2.1.  Budgeting & Planning Risk:
3.2.2.  Accounting Information Risk:
3.2.3.  Financial Reporting Evaluation Risk:
3.2.4.  Internal Control Evaluation Risk:
3.2.5.  Taxation Risk:
3.2.6.  Pension / EOSB Funds Risk:
3.2.7.  Regulatory Reporting Risk:
3.3.Operational Risk
3.3.1.  Product / Service Pricing Risk:
3.3.2.  Contract Commitment Risk:
3.3.3.  Measurement (Operations) Risk:
3.3.4.  Alignment Risk:
3.3.5.  Selection risk (supplier selection, product selection)
Wow, these all? Yes, so, how we can address them, even not all of them though, at least few of them.  Well, but even before we go to this subject, it is important for a supply-chain practitioner to realize and identify the risks (either inherited or perceived) in his organization to address them.
Here is where the importance of Microsoft excel lies.
I used three following tools to identify the risks in my organization in my past life; they are:
1.   Gap Analysis
2.   Control Frame Work Analysis and
3.   Various Reporting Tools
        Gap analysis
In order to prepare this tool what I did was,
1.    I have researched CIPS and used my knowledge to identify the international standards in the procurement process chain, so now I have the international best practices of procurement in my hand.
2.    I started writing down questions, to get the answer, to clarify whether my organization has achieved the best practices which I have compiled in the previous step, then;
3.    I applied a 80:20 rule to identify the relevance of the question and answers later
4.   I used weighted average scoring method to optimize the tool to get the right result and the result is a fantastic automated spread sheet tool which identifies, where the problem (gap) lies in my organizations functions, which of course cause and reason for risks 
(Please see the screen shot below)





1.   Control Frame Work analysis

Before I prepare this tools, I thought I would give emphasize on identifying financial risks by using this tool, by thinking so, I made sure what kind of risks I should identify by using this tool
In order to prepare this tool what I did was,
1.    I chunked down the frame work required in to
1.    Supervisory controls
2.    Monitoring controls and
3.    Regulatory controls
2.    I have prepared a spread sheet tool asking generic questions related to control measures and used again weighted average to measure the answer and get the result.
3.    Lastly, I virtually let each procurement functions to pass through each controls frameworks by drawing a flow chart in order to identify where the breach occurs
The result was great again (Please see the screen shot below)
  NVarious Reporting Tools
See the following report; the below screen shot is about a price movement reports, which addresses the part of Business Reporting Risks
The above mentioned tools help us to identify and address the risks. But what are the common solutions and methodologies we apply to resolve the identified risks?
I would say, the supply-chain practitioner should be able to master in managing risk by using the following methods:
  1. Avoid the risks by applying the best practices
  2. Mitigate the risks by continuously using the reporting tools
  3. Transfer the risks to a decision making level by using the reporting tool
  4. Reduce the severity (for example from High to Medium) by integrating the control measures to the function
That is not the end of it mates! We got plenty of this to think and do. Please contact me to get these tools and dashboards.

Supply Chain and Performance Measurement using Microsoft Excel

Supply Chain / Procurement / Purchasing Professionals – What’s up for New Year?

As globalization accelerated in such a pace which opened vast possibilities, opportunities and challenges for procurement teams across the globe. The growths of support services are considered as key points of differentiators in the market place which forced the Procurement team to increase its competitiveness.

It is key at this stage that organization identifies and assesses their current procurement strategies and need to validate its effectiveness considering the expected future developments available in the pipeline.

So what should be the priorities for procurement departments in the New Year? I have mentioned few of them below:

  • Accessibility to data and information,
  • Transparency in process and compliance,
  • Involvement in decision making,
  • Greater efficiency in procurement and demand planning,
  • Flexibility in order management,
  • Empowerment as a core function
What else….?
The above mentioned subjects could be part of your vision or probably part of your wish list to be achieved in 2011 and now you know that it is time to awaken and move…

So the best steps forward I believe are:

  1. Measure the gap and understand the position of your Procurement Department against International Best Practices and Standards. (this will allow you to strategies and plan to achieve a minimum performance required, in a short period)
  2. Identify how your department is performing by analyzing the following (this will help you to identify, your current manning and future requirement to achieve department’s potential)
  • Amount spend under management v/s purchase orders processed
  • Spend on direct purchases
  • Spend and ROI
Now, how YOU wish to move forward and what are the steps you may adopt / try? Do you agree me with the following few points like (?)
  1. What can we do to achieve competitive excellence in and through supply chain / procurement management?
  2. What non-value added services and functions in the procurement can we eliminate (e.g. do we add value every time we sent a report?)
  3. Do functional boundaries (titles and sub divisions) present obstacles in our procurement Department? (e.g. are we really managing all functions related to procurement or just buying products and services but still called procurement or supply chain?)
  4. Instead of mitigating, are we avoiding risk by tossing a process over the wall to the other Departments? (e.g. supplier selection)
  5. What can we do to improve liaison with other parts of business units or supporting units? What does the customer really want?
  6. How can we really transform into a procurement / supply chain entity rather than just managing a series of functions and sections?
  7. How long it takes to turn a requisition to a purchase order? And how can we shorten this cycle?
  8. What measures we take to re-assure the customer that providing service is the ultimate aim of procurement / supply chain department?
  9. How do we identify what is important to the customer – usually things that are not important for us?
  10. Do we understand the customers operating environment or business model?
  11. What can we do to form partnership and collaboration with suppliers?
  12. How do we interact with suppliers to get regular feedback from them?
  13. Would training program for suppliers be appropriate?
  14. Does teamwork prevail over interdepartmental rivalry and politics?
  15. Is the following changes are visible or considered?
  • From function to process
  • From profit (savings) to profitability (ability to create more opportunity to make greater savings)
  • From products to customer
  • From transactions to relationship
  • From inventory (spend) to information

The question to you is in order to brainstorm the above points, have you ever measured the gap of your department or did you ever identify how your department is performing….?

To get this done you don’t need to spend a lot on new software or technology. We can use Microsoft excel to do it. I have attached few screen shots below, which I have prepared and will be available for a download later next week.

Meanwhile, please drop me your comments or subscribe my blog, so that I will advice you once these downloads are ready.