Category Archives: Sustainability

Compliance – A Complex Problem with few Procurement-Centric Solutions

Why is compliance a complex problem with few Procurement-Centric Solutions? Because compliance goes well beyond the narrow view that many platforms take. At a high level, we have:

  • Regulatory Compliance
    which consists of government regulations at various levels that need to be adhered to and consists of requirements across organizational governance, workforce, materials, services, trade, and environmental considerations
  • Organizational Compliance
    which consists of adhering to the policies your organization puts in place for purchasing, inventory tracking, regulatory compliance, auditing, etc.
  • Industry Compliance
    which consists of adhering to industry standards and collective agreements
  • Governance
    which consists of ensuring that all governance requirements of the organization are met across the regulatory, organizational, and industry efforts

And when you look at the market, most of the solutions on the market are narrowly focussed on:

  • Environmental Compliance across environmental sustainability factors
  • Trade Compliance to insure that all trade regulations are adhered to (and appropriate paperwork filled out)
  • Tax Compliance to insure all appropriate taxes paid (or reclaimed)
  • Workforce Compliance to insure all workers are eligible, appropriately paid, and/or appropriately insured
  • Governance Compliance which makes sure appropriate internal processes are followed (and documentation maintained for audit trails)

… and, to slightly modify a common phase, never any two shall meet. And that’s why it’s a complex problem with few solutions in Supply Management. Will this change soon? We shall see …

Demand Control: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Redefinition and … Requisition Everything!

Part of good cost avoidance in Procurement is good demand management — reducing the consumption, and expenditure, on MRO, T&E, one-time buys for events, etc. We’ve covered the classic techniques in the past, which include:

Reduce: which can be accomplished by accurately predicting needs (and reducing waste) based on past use and current trends (and not maintaining volume levels on toner cartridges for a printer line being phased out)

Reuse: which can take the form of repurposing old equipment (as old developer workstations are probably just as powerful as the business user desktops used in the rest of the organization) or simply collecting unused/discarded collateral at an event and using it again next time

Recycle: where MRO inventory can be replenished by breaking down equipment (like workstations, production lines, etc.) that go out of service and harvesting still working parts that can be used in other equipment

Redefinition: where it’s not a need for more paper, but a need for second / bigger monitors so that people don’t need to print invoices / documents still submitted as (scans of) handwritten documents that can’t be OCR’d or that aren’t in a format the OCR recognizes or for tablets that allow executives to access their reports on the go

but a new type of demand management is popping up in the Procurement world, and it’s called:

Requisition Everything: where you have to literally submit a requisition to the procurement system so that all demand, and consumption, is tracked (and you can be visually guilted to control demand or utilization if you are consuming significantly more of a resource than your peer).

Now, this probably sounds very onerous to you and not worth it, but it all comes down to the implementation and user experience. At Coupa inspire, one company described an innovative method that they used to track and control demand on the factory floor (where workers would forget where they put their gloves, or realize they left them in the lunch room, and just go to the closest supply room or where workers would store extra tools or parts at their desks, just in case, leading to low stock signals and unnecessary ordering). They installed vending machines and when a worker needed something, they needed to go to the machine and punch in their id and slot number. Nothing was restricted (and no limits were placed), but every “requisition” was sent to the central Procurement system which not only updated MRO inventory but also tracked who used what, and allowed Procurement, and departments, to understand usage patterns better. This simple process reduced demand as it instilled the notion of cost consciousness and responsibility in the workers (who knew that their usage patterns could be analyzed and if they consumed considerably more than their peers, it would show), and didn’t really add any time or complexity to the process (as all the workers had to do was punch a few buttons) — especially since this process insured that the workers always knew where the stock was (which wouldn’t happen if it was moved around on the shelves).

Moreover, this technique is not limited to what fits in a vending machine — one could also use cheap RFID tags for larger items (of sufficient value) that would automatically be requisitioned when the tag left the store room (and be assigned to the right person using the employee record obtained from the entry control system when the person swipes their key card).

And, with micro-budgeting, it can be used to insure departments don’t go over their allotted new-hire budget unnoticed. New hire equipment can be kept in the secure storeroom, automatically tracked when retrieved, and automated re-orders made if stock gets too low. Plus, reusable equipment can be returned on employee departure, residual amortization amounts credited back to the micro-budget, and employees / departments who opt to use recycled equipment can be charged a deep discount against their micro-budget (and, more importantly, rewarded at annual recognition events as reuse stats can be tracked).

Now that almost everything can be automated, it might just be the time for Requisition Everything as the new method of employee-based demand management and cost control. Thoughts?

Swegways for Smegheads this Valentine’s Day!

Despite the fact that more and more natural resources are becoming scarce, there are still quite a number of smegheads that haven’t adopted the 3Rs.

Up until now, it’s been quite perplexing as to how we can deal with this problem.

However, after catching up on the public defender‘s blog and reviewing the 10 cautionary supply chain tales of christmas, we think we have a solution!

Since these smegheads often feel entitled (after all, they are taking the environment for granted), play to that entitlement and give them a free Swegway hoverboard and tell them they deserve it, that they shouldn’t have to use their own two feet to get around. And when the Swegway goes up in smoke, chances are, one way or the other, they’ll get the message. ;-)

On the Seventh day of X-Mas (2016)


On the seventh day of X-Mas
my blogger gave to me:
Sustainable Posts
e-Procurement Posts
some SRM Posts
some CLM Posts
some Best Practice Posts
some Trend Bashing Posts
and some ranting on stupidity …

Sustainability. Corporate Social Responsibility. They are more than just buzzwords. They are essential to not only productive Procurement but corporate survival. If you’re not careful, and a critical resource required for production gets exhausted, then what? If you’re not cautious, and banned materials get into your products and you get hit with tens of millions of fines your company can’t afford as it is operating on razor thin margins, then what? And so on.

The reality is, Failure to Monitor a Supply Chain for Risk Can Tarnish Your Brand.

Don’t forget! A Major Disruption to Supply Chains Occurs Every Day — Is Yours Ready?

That’s one reason A Financial Health Check Should Be a Pre-Qualification of Every Supplier Qualification.

You have to Stop Blaming the Supplier! Melamine in the Milk is STILL Your Fault
After all, You’d Think It Would Be Obvious By Now that You Should Not Poison Your Customer!

You Need to Get Sustainable Because Customers Won’t Pay!

Sustainablity Requires Shared Understanding

Waste is costly. More costly than you think.
So here’s A Starter’s Guide to Zero Waste
Reasons you should Waste Not, Want Not
and Grocery Retailers Waste So Much Food It Should Be Criminal!

And even though you’re focussed on that bottom line, remember to ask yourself:
Is Your Supply Management Ethical?
Do You Know the Rules of Ethical Supplier Interaction?
Dilemma or Not, Buyers Still Must Take Ethics into Account!

And while you might not be big on document management,
Content is a Cornerstone of Compliance

In conclusion, come back tomorrow for the eighth day of X-Mas, and Don’t Be a Smeghead!

Environmental Sustentation 20: Oil & Natural Gas

Oil and Natural Gas is an environmental damnation in more ways than one. It’s dirty fuel, that is regularly subject to price shocks, and it’s collection and transport often result in significant disasters to the environment, your bank account, and your reputation.

And even though you should move to greener power, in some cases you can’t. Biofuel is not always a viable alternative for transportation, especially for ocean freight (where it takes a lot of combustion to move those mega-carriers) or air travel. And you still need to power your current energy production systems until the new ones come online. So you are stuck with using oil & natural gas for at least some of your energy needs for the time being. (But hopefully with a plan to use less and less over time.)

And, as a result, have to live with the risks of shortages, price spikes, disasters, and the resulting financial and reputational damage that will result. So how do you survive?

Accurately predict future needs.

If your demand is going to spike because of expected sales spikes, or projected energy shortages in other areas, that is something you want to know in advance so you can be sure to contract for sufficient supply. Similarly, if demand is dropping, that is also good to know as maybe you can cut shorter contracts and buy more on the spot market without serious repercussions.

Acquire expert supply and price projections — from various sources.

Don’t just monitor supply and prices, try to understand where it is going so you can source, or re-source, at the best times. While an unexpected disaster, political decision, or pumping slowdown can change everything, the more informed you are, the better off you’ll be.

Have disaster recovery plans in place.

If there is a shortage due to a disaster, you want an alternate source. Don’t sole source if you can avoid it, and make sure you include a provision with the provider who gets the smaller award to increase business over time and that they can support a spike if you need it. If there is a transportation disaster, hopefully you don’t take possession or responsibility until it’s in your storage tank, but either way, you better have a plan to get another shipment sent through an alternate carrier, possibly from your other supplier, ASAP.

Start sourcing clean power and building your own power plants.

Most places in the world can produce a lot of power from wind, solar, or hydro-power, and not only should you be looking to buy from energy companies that produce this power, which can power your equipment, buildings, and even short-haul transportation (that run on battery packs), but if you are a large factor or office building that uses the equivalent of a small power plant of energy, you should be building your own, and only taking off the grid when you need supplemental. With so many regular failures in overtaxed and antiquated power grids, this is just good planning.

While we can’t rid our dependence on oil and natural gas just yet, we can certainly reduce our need for it and this type of planning will not only make it more affordable (if demand lessens), but also make energy consumption and transportation safer and more reliable.