Friday 19 December 2014

How to Outsource Christmas

By Steven Low

First off, I love Christmas.  It’s a great time of the year and a wonderful opportunity to get together with friends and family to celebrate the holiday season.  However, what I loathe more than anything is the trudge round the shops, fighting with fellow citizens for cheap-price TVs and for the woolly jumper my dad is probably never going to wear.

What if there was a better way?  Let’s say I wanted to outsource Christmas?  What are my options?  Do I want to outsource certain elements or do the full-outsource – well until the meal is served on Christmas Day!

Here’s my take on a successful Christmas outsource.

Thursday 11 December 2014

Broken Chains, the NHS Core List & Medical Supply Chain

by Scott Pryde

They might not be the most glamorous of technologies that the NHS buys, but items like bedpans and patient wipes are big business.

After reviewing the spend in the Southern Procurement Partnership (SPP) on these products, and 10 categories like them, we would estimate the NHS England secondary care market size to be £250m, and if the recent focus week on driving better value in these categories is anything to go by, there is a £40m national savings opportunity for aggregating demand, rationalising products and making commitment.

Monday 8 December 2014

‘Gloves Off’ – Benchmarking NHS Procurement

We met in a beautifully renovated farm courtyard just outside the quiet village of Ilminster for the first of the Southern Procurements Partnerships Buyers events. The sunny, calm surroundings blended seamlessly into the spacious and professionally equipped  presentation room, the service and technology flawless proving once again that low cost can mean high value when you’re willing to search for it.

Friday 28 November 2014

Movember…time to grow some whiskers for procurement and supplier executives? (Part 2 of 2)

Following on from part one of the Movember themed post, where we asked whether supplier A should take a haircut despite mutual recognition of over-performance, and no price increase for several years, this week we consider a different scenario, that of a buyer.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

To Err is Human: The Perils of Auto-Correct

By Anderley Walton

With ever evolving technology and the increased use of smartphones, more and more business deals are taking place remotely, on the go or from various corners of the world. Sourcing events are no longer confined to the board room over an array of stale biscuits but can instead take place swiftly and effectively via the Internet. However, with this rising use of remote communication, the need to be clear is imperative, but what can we do when our communication skills are outsourced or even predicted?

The following will discuss a common topic which will no doubt have affected us all at one stage: auto-correct.

Monday 24 November 2014

HCSA Conference: A system and supply chain in crisis?

By Scott Pryde
Article cover image
The UK healthcare system is in crisis. Demand exceeds supply, innovation continues unabated and funding is restricted. More and more trusts are heading into deficit and key supply chains such as; clinical staff, pharmaceuticals and medtech remain some of the most inefficient in the world.

Friday 21 November 2014

The Carrot & The Stick: Part 1


It’s a small word that can mean a lot. In a personal context it can be the difference between a close friend and an acquaintance. But in a business context it can be the difference between profits and growth or losses and bankruptcy.

In procurement, it is now widely accepted that we must build strategic relationships with our suppliers; not simply drive down the price and to hell with the consequences. The advantages of a strategic relationship can be harder to quantify, but are just as important. How many times have any of us needed a quick turnaround due to unforeseen demand and found ourselves being bailed out by a supplier with whom we have a good working relationship?

Thursday 20 November 2014

10 Bits of Kit You Wish You Had at Work

By Steven Low

With Facebook now releasing details of their new product ‘Facebook at Work’, and clearly no expense spared in coming up with a snappy title (although this idea was something I talked about years ago!), I got to thinking about other technologies that I wished we had at work – with necessary tweaks obviously!

So here’s my top ten of products/software/equipment that I wish were in my work environment and would make me an even more awesome employee than I already am.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Movember...time to grow some whiskers for procurement and supplier executives? (Part 1 of 2)

We’re mid-way through November, and the annual Movember charity initiative started by those crazy Antipodeans is hitting home with some really ‘interesting’ facial sculptures trotting round the streets (and offices) of many towns and cities.

So, what’s this got to do with procurement and supply?

Friday 14 November 2014

The End of the Line? EU Membership and UK Public Sector Procurement

By Thomas Paiva-Pennick

Jumping aboard the railway theme, started in Scott’s earlier article about HS3, I'd like to discuss the possible effects that leaving the EU will have on UK Public Sector Procurement.

This fact again made the headlines recently following Abellio winning the ScotRail contract from Aberdeen based company First, adding the Scottish rail network to a portfolio that already includes the Greater Anglia rail service, bus services in London and Surrey and a number of other concerns in a joint-venture with Serco.

Friday 7 November 2014

HS3 - Coming to a station near you?

The arrival of HS2 and now, HS3 has been mooted for a few years and is now more of a formality than a possibility; the UK will finally have a mainline high speed network to compete with many of the other developed and industrial powers of the world. It is seen as imperative not only by the government, but by business leaders in the Midlands and North of England, that a fast, reliable and efficient mode of transport is created to former powerhouses of the UK and the Empire, such as Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

Friday 31 October 2014

Real World Sourcing Series: Making Spend Governance Work

By Alisa Matterson

On Wednesday 22nd October 2014, a diverse mix of the Procurement professionals assembled in the wonderful location of The Don restaurant for the fifth round of the Real World Sourcing Series. This session covered the hot topic of, Making Spend Governance Work.

This series is promoted and supported by BravoSolution, and developed by Peter Smith (Spend Matters) and Guy Allen (Real World Sourcing Limited).

Guy began the session by discussing what does the frequently used term “Governance” actually mean? Ideas were bounced around the room, and then the dictionary definition of was revealed, “The action of governing a state or organisation.”

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Let me Google that for you; do you really know what you’re buying?

By Scott Farrance

In an industry now underpinned by the Internet, itself an unstoppable and unavoidable force of human engineering (thanks Sir Tim Berners-Lee) it has become very easy to find out almost anything.  However, this ‘world at your fingertips’ working style which has been created has some drawbacks.

Friday 17 October 2014

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades...

By Steven Low

Disruptive technology and new start-up companies taking unique approaches to traditional markets are a common news item nowadays. From Uber, Airbnb through to wearable gadgets and self-driving cars, we are on a never ending journey of discovery, adaptation and re-invention. Looking into the future of procurement and how technologies and working practices might change our industry, I think it leads to an interesting, challenging - if maybe a little uncertain - time ahead.

Monday 13 October 2014

Why Won't My Wife Use a Potato Peeler?

By Ian Dawson

A few days ago I arrived home from work to find my wife busily preparing dinner. As I walked into the kitchen I noticed a large pile of waste potato skin and flesh building up by the sink and I saw that she was peeling the potatoes a little awkwardly with a small knife. "We've got a potato peeler for that" I offered helpfully (or so I thought), fetching the peeler from the drawer.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

South African Police in Keystone Cops Style Procurement Practices

By Ben Turner

As procurement professionals, we’re constantly exhorted to ensure we follow a proper, robust process in our tenders; to ensure that the contracts are ultimately awarded to the best placed supplier to deliver the service.

Monday 6 October 2014

Supply Management on the move - BravoSolution's Latest Mobility Offering

In the coming weeks, we will be releasing the latest version of the BravoSolution eSourcing platform. This latest release contains a bonus for the smartphone junkies amongst us – it will have an enhanced app* available for Apple and Android based devices.

Monday 29 September 2014

Germany Vs Housewives: Does the EU know best?

By Frankie Lampl

Far from being a fringe support industry, procurement finds itself at the heart of the EU debate; for example when a directive on the carbon footprint of Vacuum Cleaners becomes the hot news story of Germany vs Housewives. Tensions have run high with the Daily Mail warning us that the EU are coming for our hairdryers and lawn mowers next, while Dyson have not missed the golden opportunity to promote their brand by accusing Germany of influencing the legislation to favour their own archaic and undemocratic non-bagless technology.

Friday 26 September 2014

Real World Sourcing Series: Procurement Skills & Careers – The Next 10 years Part 2

By Scott Farrance

Following on from my post on Wednesday about the latest Real World Sourcing Series event on what Procurement may look like over the next ten years, this instalment looks more at Peter Smith's ideas about current models and thinking around the role of a "procurement professional".

Peter raised a few different ideas around ‘Current Models and Thinking’’ with regards to the make-up of a modern day Procurement Professional. The first, a four box matrix published in a Spend Matters paper in 2012. The 4 boxes have different skill areas; Leader, Diplomat, Investigator and Analyst. No one person fits into all of them with the same amount of focus, but you will find most staff will find their way into one, with a different skill set and a focus of internal or external.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Real World Sourcing Series: Procurement Skills & Careers – The Next 10 years

By Scott Farrance

Last Wednesday, an eclectic mix of the Procurement Industry’s finest gathered in the delightful setting of The Don restaurant for the latest round of the Real World Sourcing Series, based around Procurement Skills and Careers over the next 10 years.

Monday 22 September 2014

U2 – Songs That Were Not Very Innocently Downloaded To Your Phone

By Steven Low

Have you got an iPhone or iTunes? Well, if you have, quickly browse to your music collection and see what has been recently added. If you are one of the very lucky ones (and by this I mean everyone!), you now have U2’s latest album downloaded to your phone. Great huh? Who doesn’t love U2 and who doesn’t love a free album!? Well, it seems quite a lot of people in fact – just Google and be prepared to read a lot of bad sweary words that I couldn’t possibly copy and paste up here...

Friday 19 September 2014

Procurement in Scotland – What’s next?

By Scott Farrance

As the dust, tension, heart rates, blood pressure and expectations begin to settle up and down Scotland today, there is still one very important question on the lips of Scots everywhere; What’s next?

Tuesday 16 September 2014

The Internet is Dead, The Internet is Dead! Long Live the Internet! (Part 2)

By Sarah Clarke & Steven Low

A few weeks ago, I attempted to spend a day without the internet and the honest truth is that my efforts were completely and wholly unsuccessful and I was back online a mere 40 minutes into my working day.

A lot has changed since I entered the office workplace almost 20 years ago. Gone are the days of posting, faxing, and photocopying; they’ve been replaced by email and web based solutions.

An article on the Guardian website titled “Is the internet full and going to shut down?” sparked much conversation in the BravoSolution offices a few weeks ago; what would the modern procurement professional’s day look like without the internet?

Thursday 11 September 2014

Executives: Do You Have the Right Resources?

By Mickey North Rizza

Resources are the lifeline of our business and work places. Technology, talent and processes are all resources and directly influence the outcome or performance achieved. Each has its own intelligence, qualities, maturity and life cycle. At any point in time we can measure the maturity of each, suggest improvements and watch as they become fully developed; topping out a resource to its fullest potential. Maturity, it is said, comes from experience.

Thursday 4 September 2014

The Aims of the New EU Procurement Directives

Earlier this year, the EU voted in a new set of Procurement Directives to update and add to the existing set originally published back in 2004.

It’s true that the world has moved on and certainly within Public Procurement, there is a need to ensure further clarity and transparency in many areas.  Given that it’s likely to be between 6 months and 2 years before many countries transpose them into workable national laws, there is still a time gap before we see these new directives fully in action.  The new directives have come out of a commission set up in 2011 that sought to, amongst other things, simplify and modernise EU procurement legislation.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

With best practice tools comes best practice use

By Matt Gradidge

So you’ve adopted the best practice tools, now what?

You’ve bought into the idea that eSourcing is the way forward to deliver efficient, cost saving, risk procurement and sourcing activities. You’ve reached out to the market; awarded to the provider of eSourcing tools that you have the most confidence in to deliver a solution that meets your needs and your users are set up and trained to use the platform. It has been live for some time, but where are the benefits and promised savings?

Friday 29 August 2014

The Internet is Dead, The Internet is Dead! Long Live the Internet!

by Sarah Clarke

For most of us, the Internet is the focal point in our daily lives. It facilitates our work, helps us build professional networks, organises our social lives, acts as our personal shopper, travel agent, tour guide and modern day Encyclopaedia Britannica. Personally speaking, I get almost nothing done (either in the work place or at home) without it nowadays. The more the internet offers me, the more and more I want, it’s seemingly impossible to live without it.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Procurement in an Independent Scotland (part 2)

By Scott Farrance

As mentioned in Part 1, Scotland must also consider its Currency options if it were to go Independent. There is a lot of uncertainty over which currency would be used in an Independent Scotland, and in which manner. How would Procurement be affected between Scotland and the rest of the UK if no-one knows which currency Scotland will use?

The Yes campaign have said they will enter in a Currency Union with the rest of the UK, but the 3 main political parties in Westminster have said this will not happen. Scotland could of course still use the pound without the agreement, but this has a whole serious of issues itself.

Monday 18 August 2014

Procurement in an Independent Scotland (part 1)

By Scott Farrance

This time next month (18th September to be precise) myself and my fellow Scots will be heading to the polls to vote on the future of Scotland; should we remain in union with the rest of the UK or strike out on our own?

There is, or certainly should be, only one question on the mind of all Procurement professionals in Scotland; what effect would Scottish Independence have on Public Sector Procurement? If Scotland achieves independence, how would this affect trade between Scotland and the rest of the UK?

70% of Scottish trade goes South of the Border to England, here at BravoSolution we are one example of the cross-border trade; a London company, a small team based in Glasgow, working for a Scottish Client. Yes the wages of the ‘lucky few’ who reside in Glasgow will remain in Scotland, but all fees to BravoSolution go back to London. Everything could be the status quo, but there are a couple of serious unknowns if it is a ‘Yes’ vote on the 18th of September.

Friday 15 August 2014

Commonwealth Games 2014 - The legacy awaits

By Steven Low

A brilliant summer of sport has saw us with two major sporting events in the calendar – the World Cup and bigger and better from a Scottish perspective at least (we never qualify for the World Cup!) the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014.  Over a million tickets were available for 17 different sporting disciplines across a whole host of new and renovated venues within Glasgow and beyond.  According to the BBC, 96% of tickets were sold which is a fabulous result for any event.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

What the Heck is SRM? - Part 3

By Paras Sood

Now that I’ve had a chance to review some of the challenges in bringing supplier relationship management to the forefront of procurement exercises, I’ll try my best to consider some of it in practice using the benefit of hindsight J. For this, I’d like to focus on 2 elements that are pertinent in most of my discussions on SRM:

1)      The SRM life-cycle
2)      SRM collaboration

Friday 1 August 2014

NHS – World Class or Merely the Best of a Bad Bunch?

A recent report into healthcare systems by the Commonwealth Fund, an international panel of experts, put the NHS first overall out of the 11 countries assessed. The assessment was based on a vast range of data sources including patients, doctors and the World Health Organisation.

This result immediately drew me to two conclusions:
1. The NHS operates as a thought leader through its people, processes and outcomes.
2. It was simply assessed to be the best of a bad bunch.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Generation Y: An Untouched Procurement Goldmine?

As my internship with BravoSolution comes to an end and the fear of going back to complete my final year of uni (and writing that dreaded economics dissertation) shifts ever closer to becoming a reality, I thought I would reflect on my time in procurement.

If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be working in the procurement industry, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Why? It wasn’t something I knew much about, nor was it an industry I’d ever really considered pursuing a career in.

And that got me thinking... was I the only one who felt like this?

Monday 28 July 2014

For Sale: 898,893 miles, One Lady Owner (HM The Queen)...

By Sarah Kingdom-Evans

Last week I was lucky enough to be on Portsmouth quayside to witness HMS Illustrious returning home for the very last time. Crowds lined the port to welcome the warship, which will retire after 32 years of service and we were also treated to a military aircraft flypast (it turns out that Richard, our MD, is quite the helicopter spotter!)

Thursday 24 July 2014

Malaysia Airlines - The Last Straw?

By Paul Sarjeant

As a frequent flyer, I like to keep track of the main global airlines and their successes and failures. At the end of 2013, I read that Malaysia Airlines had posted their 3rd successive year of financial losses totalling over £770 million. Even though they are majority owned by the Malaysian Government, it was obvious that they were struggling. Competing against the low-cost airlines was proving a challenge, and they were looking at new ways of cutting costs to try to please us, the customers.

Their biggest move was to initiate a programme designed to rationalise their routes, scrapping infrequent routes such as Cape Town and Rome in favour of their bread and butter. The expectation was for the company to break even in 2014 for the first time in over 4 years.

What happened next might just have damaged the reputation of an airline I once trusted forever.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Manchester United: How Much is the Shirt Worth?

The perfect example of a football club with an excellent business vision is Manchester United. They have prioritised securing long term success via strategic partnerships and clever business rather than a short term quick fix (Spurs post-Bale cash splash on mediocre solutions).

Even prior to the latest Adidas deal they could consider themselves up there with the top dogs, receiving £25 million a year from Nike. Only Real Madrid and Chelsea had a better kit deal.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Single Male Buyer Seeks Female Procurement Professional for Tender Related Activities

By Steven Low

I have just figured something out. We procurement professionals should be absolutely awesome at online dating. Yup, there should be no reason why there are any single buyers out there. Get online and work your amazing procurement skills and net yourself that perfect man or woman that you clearly deserve.

You are now thinking I am clearly a little mad but bear with me... I’m sure my theory is sound!

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Spend Analytics and Benchmarking - Part 2

At the recent BravoConnect conference, I attended a session in which a diverse audience of procurement professionals was challenged to find ways of achieving cost savings within the NHS.

Reviewing some of the high level reports, our table immediately started proposing actions. For example, several major categories showed only a minority of spend going through top vendors, reflecting an opportunity for rationalisation. In many common categories, it was said, there was no excuse for not buying centrally. Even where a large body of small vendors is unavoidable, for example in the case of local medical consultants operating independently, our table proposed that the NHS should seek to classify services and standardise rates on a national scheme.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

What the Heck is SRM? - Part 2

By Paras Sood

So continuing with my supplier relationship management self-discovery...

It’s apparent that procurement organisations are all in different phases of SRM implementation e.g. some will have established programmes, others won’t even have SRM on the radar. In fact, research commissioned by Procurement Leaders global intelligence group suggests that up to 76% of organisations make use of SRM practices (this was actually more than I was expecting). And as mentioned in my previous blog, the definition of SRM is up for interpretation dependent on the needs of the organisation, reiterating the fragmented starting points in the SRM rat race.

But for now, I’ll try to concentrate on the as-is position before we get into bluey-grey sky strategic thinking...

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Spend Analytics and Benchmarking - Part 1

At the recent BravoConnect conference, I attended a session led by Scott Pryde, which explored the role of Spend Analytics and Benchmarking, with a focus on Public Sector Healthcare. The audience was highly diverse, representing 41 organisations from industries ranging from waste management to luxury goods.

The presentation began with an introduction which felt like it could have fitted in almost any topic. Technology is a disruptive force, we were told. Smartphones are now everywhere. For example, with a nod to the healthcare emphasis, a wide range of social fitness apps are available, which monitor your running or cycling speed and distance, and sometimes even your heart rate. Increasingly users are sharing their results with friends and colleagues. That’s all very well- I’m a recent adopter of such an app myself- but what has it got to do with Spend Analytics?

Thursday 3 July 2014

The Conflicting Priorities of the Modern Procurement Professional

By Steven Low

2014 is not an easy year to be a Procurement Professional. Gone are the days of locking the meeting room door and not letting the poor supplier leave until you got what you wanted (did that ever happen?). 

Nowadays, procurement is such a lever to the outside world – one which every organisation needs to deal with to be successful. This has meant that you and your fellow professionals now have to comprehend and make sense of the most amazing amount of priorities, many of them conflicting.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Back to Work and Ready for Gold!

By Jennifer Whelan

I sat down the other day and wondered where the last 12 months have gone. It’s been a little over 12 months since I returned to work following a year of maternity leave. Prior to going on maternity leave, knowing no different, I had the notion that I would be back to work within a few months... wow how wrong was I!

I took my full year off and cherished every moment I had with my son. Nevertheless the time was fast approaching for me to return to work. Feeling quite nervous, I wondered how or (perhaps more crucially) if I could balance my family and professional life. Numerous concerns were at the forefront of my mind; would I get my confidence back? Could I settle back into the team? Could I give the same commitment to my job that I did before? Could I give the same commitment to my son that I had done?

Monday 30 June 2014

BravoConnect 2014: The Evolution of Procurement

By Matthew Gradidge

My last blog post on Jim Wetekamp’s session about technology in Procurement left us thinking about whether or not we’re keeping our Procurement processes up to date. A great question which led us nicely onto David Smith, who provided insight into the evolution of Procurement (predominantly with the UK public sector, but with the odd nod towards private sector).

We began with a history on the profession from IPS to CIPS with only a few in the room recognising this humble beginning 82 years ago. We then jumped to the 80s where the use of technology was very much limited to requisitions on carbon pads & paper based orders. David at this point posed the question; is procurement sexy? Much like the fashion of the 80s, I think the view in the room was that it is not. But it can be. We could and should be involved in all procurements, from battleships to biros. How is procuring a battleship not sexy?

Friday 27 June 2014

Capital to Coast 2014 – TeamBravo

By Aleiya Lonsdale, Paul Sarjeant, Matt Gradidge, Warwick Jackson and Maria Jones!

On the day of the summer solstice (the 22nd day of June), quite possibly the sunniest day of the year! 5 fearless adventurers set off on a journey. A journey that would break and then re-form these characters in a way they would never imagine. From bright-eyed enthusiastic cyclists, to a company of hummock hating, rise resenting, down despisers.

For those who are interested to see the exact route we took, I have configured a route based on elevation from our start point at the London eye DOWN to the lovely Brighton coast. If anyone you know ever says that they are going down to the coast then they are liars! I would like you all to take a look at this highly accurate map, as quite clearly the coast is in no way a downhill journey from London.

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Could a More Collaborative Approach Have Saved English Football?

By Sarah-Kingdom Evans

...So a slightly controversial yet timely topic, especially given the Costa Rica result = England has officially finished last in group D. (Please note that I am Welsh, and given that we failed to qualify I am totally independent!)

The disappointing results from Brazil lead me to question if a more collaborative effort between Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, along with the English squad could have resulted in a stronger side?  If we had been Team GB, would the results have been better, would the resource pool have been richer and could the random Scottish Guy have cheered for GB instead of Uruguay?

Tuesday 24 June 2014

BravoConnect 2014: Technology in Procurement

By Matthew Gradidge

After Marc Woods kicked off our customer conference, Jim Wetekamp led the way on the technology side, with David Smith following on with the Evolution of Procurement.

Innovation is ever advancing and increasing, placing more and more demand on the procurement function. We, as a procurement function, therefore need to make sure we are communicating well enough with the organisation. Jim pointed out that we need to be more agile, analytical, strategic, technological, better at managing change, being change agents; lots for us to be thinking about!

So with this in mind, what can procurement organisations do to tackle this?

Thursday 19 June 2014

What the Heck is SRM?

“SRM”... the latest frontier in the procurement space, or is it just good procurement practice?

Amongst clients and colleagues, I get the invariable feeling that there’s widespread frustration around implementing supplier relationship management (SRM) / strategic supplier relationship management (SSRM) / supplier performance management (SPM) / vendor performance management (VPM) programmes – all of which are different by the way – however, the lack of practical understanding creates a massive grey area and nightmare for procurement executives trying to drive best-in-class procurement and supply management organisations.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

BravoConnect 2014: An Introduction

By Matthew Gradidge

Another year passes and so does yet another brilliant BravoConnect, bringing together procurement leaders from all walks of life, industries and countries, with two things in common; the first being connection to BravoSolution and the second being a desire to connect with other procurement professionals.

Day one of this two day conference and networking event (with additional dinner and all out party between the two days) opened with the event chair and BravoSolution UK & Ireland Managing Director Richard Hogg along with BravoSolution CEO Nader Sabbaghian. The event, in Richard’s words, was about connecting with clients and stakeholders to help us shape our offering to meet the needs of our client base. Nader introduced a few concepts that were built upon throughout the morning sessions. He likened procurement to the roots of a great tree, an interesting concept with procurement managing connections both inside and outside of organisations through the supply base. The efforts and connectivity is not always visible at the end result but has a huge influence on helping the organisation stay upright. I agree whole heartedly with this analogy. It adds a lot of weight to the growing importance of procurement.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Mum's the Word - Part 2

Those who have not yet had the chance to read part 1 of this series, I was asked by my mum to help her buy a car. With the specification and budget established we decided to visit the preferred car dealership having reviewed other substitute models and offers.

Within seconds of arrival we were approached by a salesman who invited us to his desk to discuss our requirements. Before we arrived I laid down some ground rules with my mum to try and give us as much ‘buying power’ as possible. Mum agreed, ‘its all with you’.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

100 Days of Efficiency

By Soraya Sackey 

The recent social media craze '100 days of happiness' challenged participants to capture an image every day for 100 days of something that made them smile - posing the question, ‘Can you be happy for 100 days in a row?' The aim of the challenge was to encourage people to train themselves to focus on the little things that lift their spirits every single day.

Monday 9 June 2014

Apps are Changing the World - Don't let your Commercial Team fall behind

By Henry Shepperd

Back in 2007 Steve Jobs walked on to a stage and proclaimed that Apple was going to reinvent the phone as we know it. As it turns out, it did much more than this. The mobile revolution that Apple began has fundamentally changed the way the majority us go about our day to day lives. Today, many of us use mobile apps to help us improve many aspects of our lives, but one area in particular I found most interesting was the use of mobile apps to improve one’s health and fitness.

Friday 6 June 2014

Mum's the Word - Part 1

My mum asked me if I could help her buy a new car the other day, to which I agreed. I would like to think this was down to the fact that my background is in procurement. In part, this was true. She admitted that it was the face to face negotiation with the dealer that she really wanted my help on. Although she bought her last car by herself and has been very pleased with the purchase, the actual exchange of information and possible deals left her feeling a little confused. It was fast paced with lots of options and figures changing on the basis of comments.

I am sure we’ve all been in a situation where we’ve struggled to articulate the information presented and then feel pressured to make decisions which, upon reflection, may not have been the best choice.

Monday 2 June 2014

Owning the Space - Working with Stakeholders

By Matt Gradidge

The other week, BravoSolution held their third event in the 2014 Real World Sourcing Series: Owning the Space – Working with Stakeholders, led by Guy Allen.

Now I'll be honest, the title made me sceptical. I was expecting some sort of motivational speech; however, I was more than pleasantly surprised. This session contained minimal motivational "go get em's" or "you are lions" style quotes but more of a dose of psychology, self diagnosis and truth telling.

Thursday 22 May 2014

The NHS eProcurement Strategy: What’s Not Mentioned in the Recent NHS eProcurement Strategy? (Part 3/3)

By Scott Pryde

Today I wrap up this series of posts on the NHS eProcurement strategy, if you've missed the earlier commentary, you can access the posts here: Part One, Part Two. Today I’ll be taking a look at Social Networking, Knowledge Sharing & the Virtual Procurement Landscape.

New networking and communication technologies are disrupting industries and empowering consumers. From social networking and Google, to Wikipedia and Amazon, access to knowledge and expertise has never been greater. The power of these solutions is yet to be applied to NHS procurement. Whilst ambitious in scope and scale, the eProcurement strategy says little about the adoption of new emerging information sharing solutions.

The most innovative trusts are already looking beyond the traditional procurement and eProcurement models to a virtual procurement landscape where access to not only data but also information and knowledge is a given. Where expertise is no longer in a single trust or hub but where the expertise of an individual can be more effectively shared throughout the system.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

It’s Not All About the Stats – Learn to Love Your Analysts

By Andrew Heywood

Statistics and reports are great for showing that you’re managing spend: True or False?

Churning out the same report month after month is all very well, but only if you’re actually doing something with what you’re seeing and those reports are actually monitoring the key risks and categories in your business. Figures for the sake of figures can be futile. Be honest, when did your management stats last change? And how often do you create them?

Tuesday 20 May 2014

The NHS eProcurement Strategy: Procurement Intelligence & Transparency - What’s in and what’s out? (Part 2/3)

By Scott Pryde

Last week, I published the first in a series of posts on the NHS eProcurement Strategy.

Today’s post will concentrate on Procurement Intelligence & Transparency - What’s in and what’s out?

In the past decade, the spend analytics, benchmarking and supply chain intelligence industry has grown apace across the wider private and public sectors. Core competency in analytics and procurement intelligence have been recognised as specialist capabilities and have delivered value in almost all other industries. Just imagine Tesco or Amazon running their business without comprehensive supply chain business intelligence.

Years of under investment, under resourced DIY efforts, commercial secrecy and ambiguous non-disclosure agreements with key suppliers, have meant that the NHS lags behind in adoption of procurement intelligence solutions. The NHS remains in the dark ages in comparison with these other industries.

Monday 19 May 2014

The Living Wage within Public Contracts in Scotland Debate

By Steven Low

Last week, a vote to enforce a ‘living’ wage into all public contracts in Scotland was defeated at Holyrood.  As part of an amendment to the Procurement Reform (Scotland) bill, Labour had hoped to make it a condition that companies who get public sector contracts must pay their workers the Living Wage - currently £7.65 an hour in Scotland.  To put into context, the minimum wage is currently set at £6.31 per hour for over 21s.  The living wage has been a talking point over the last couple of years as those lower down on the pay scale are still struggling to see any benefits from economic recovery.  While the minimum wage is a legal requirement, the living wage is voluntary although some suppliers have taken on the burden to give a wage that reflects some say more accurately, the actual cost of living.

Thursday 15 May 2014

The NHS eProcurement Strategy: A Practitioner & Solution Developer Opinion (Part 1/3)

By Scott Pryde

‘The problems we face are system-wide and demand system-wide solutions, delivered with urgency and vigour’

Both ‘Better Procurement, Better Value, Better Care’ and the new eProcurement strategies emphasise a 7.5%-10% savings target on £22bn of NHS spend, but the reality is that the imperative for savings and efficiency at the front line of health and social care are increasing even beyond this. The system is caught between rising demand from an ageing population, unhealthy lifestyles and increasing supply chain inefficiencies. Improving quality and outcomes across the NHS and its supply chain are even greater and more challenging objectives than hitting the savings target alone.

Across society, industries and supply chains, enabling technologies are stimulating revolutionary and disruptive innovation and efficiency. So of course it is fascinating to find out to what methods and technologies the Department of Health have chosen to emphasise for NHS procurement as we enter the next cycle.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

The Art of Reporting

The start of a new procurement project is an exciting, hectic, emotional and educational experience. A team is thrown together from all parts of the business and management provides them with motivational speeches and gruelling targets. The mood is: hit the ground running now if you're going to deliver what the stakeholder needs, when they need it.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Attitude Opens Doors

By Mickey North Rizza

George Palmatier said, “The biggest challenge is not getting people to change the way they do their jobs, but in getting people to change the way they think about doing their jobs.”  In the post, The Journey of Excellence Starts with Change, Jane and Jim illustrated that the way they each approached their jobs was directly related to the outcome.

Thursday 1 May 2014

The Future’s Bright, the Past is Orange

By Peter Ashford

“Although we've come to the end of the road, still I can’t let go; it’s unnatural, you belong to me, I belong to you”
Boyz II Men

It may seem like a strange time to write a blog post, as I prepare to leave my own post at BravoSolution, but I think it’s sometimes a good idea, if you want to keep on eating cake, to take a step back and learn about the process that went in to making it.

Having worked as a carer, a security guard and a delivery driver, as well as completing a course to become a personal trainer, in the three years subsequent to finishing my Mathematics degree at the University of Manchester, (and graduating with a 1st class honours degree), my lack of ‘technical experience’ didn't leave me too hopeful of finding a job in the summer of 2011, when most businesses were carefully counting their pennies. Thankfully, BravoSolution's star was on the rise and they were looking for new employees to support their many clients. 

Monday 28 April 2014

What's in your Pocket?

Whenever I drop Spend Management into conversation (which is probably more often than you think), those that don’t stare blankly back at me usually understand it to mean what BravoSolution define as:

“the collection of detailed data extracts from finance and procurement systems, the cleansing and enrichment of this data, followed by the classification of suppliers and items into relevant spend categories.”

Friday 25 April 2014

"You Mean Buying?"

By Sarah Kingdom-Evans

...One of our blog posts last week (So, what do you do?) made me smile, as I recognised many of the responses to “I’m in Procurement”. However, more importantly it reminded me of the need for us to have an ‘Elevator speech’ which, as you know should be the ability to summarise what we do in a short time.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

What Does Procurement Maturity Do For Your Business?

by Mickey North Rizza

Procurement maturity. Yes, for some businesses this is an oxymoron, but at most, when the Procurement Organisation has become more mature, so does the value contribution and increased financial performance.

Thursday 17 April 2014

"So, what do you do?" - 10 Reactions Procurement Professionals Often Receive

by Aleiya Lonsdale

We’ve all been there... you've managed to avoid it for as long as possible by steering the conversation and keeping it about other people, but eventually it arrives; that dreaded moment at  a dinner party when it’s your turn to answer that fear-instilling question; “So, what do you do?”

Wednesday 16 April 2014

The Journey towards Excellence Starts with CHANGE

The journey towards excellence is fraught with many challenges: organisational structure, technology, business process, talent, performance, etc.  Challenges are the norm on a journey, as is change.  However, change is the most ignored requirement for the journey.  Changing the way you think, the way you view challenges and embracing the flip side of change opportunity – is what makes the journey more enjoyable.  Staying focused on the successes along the way, the great outcomes that are just over the horizon vs. the struggle and grind of the daily issues focuses a team on winning, rather than just getting by.  Attitude is everything, as Jeff Keller noted in his book of the same name. Changing your attitude – the way you think and look at the world – can bring greater returns to you and your business.

Monday 14 April 2014

Procurement Savings Targets VS Diversity and SME Spend

After few months in the company I was kindly nominated by Richard to produce an article for our blog. This gave me an opportunity to raise a topic that has been in my mind for the past 18 months. How to cope with two sets of targets that appear to conflict? Is there a way to transform these challenges into opportunities that could yield additional benefits?

Friday 11 April 2014

What’s in a Name? There is only one Hull City/Tigers* (*delete as appropriate)

My mum almost called me Hamish..  I have my big sister to thank for not letting that happen and I can be mildly content with my overtly-popular 70/80’s first-name.  Everyone pretty much has a name whether they like it or not.  Same as every company has a name and subsequent image/reputation that the name conjures up.  Again, some companies like it and some don’t.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Evaluating Bids and Tenders

Last week we hosted our second event in the Real World Sourcing Series: “Evaluating Bids and Tenders” lead by Spend Matters’ Peter Smith. Procurement professionals attended from various industries, sharing real world experiences of choosing the “right” suppliers.

Monday 7 April 2014

Russian Sanctions - Part 2

By Richard Hogg

Following on from part 1, when I ended up sharing a bed with a client, we continue to look at the theme of sanctions...

Monday 31 March 2014

POP QUIZ! How Much do you Know About the History of Procurement?

By Sarah Clarke

On Friday we published the BravoSolution take on 'A Brief History of Procurement' and as promised, we're publishing Monday's pop quiz on the very subject!  It's 7 questions, none too challenging, (it's only meant as a little piece of fun to brighten up a Monday afternoon) see how you get on ...

Friday 28 March 2014

A Brief Wander Through the History of Procurement

By Sarah Clarke

We've been slaving away this afternoon in the BravoSolution offices thinking about the history of procurement and some of the defining moments that made our industry into what it is today. We've come up with this timeline. We've even prepped a little quiz to test your procurement smarts, which we'll be publishing next week.  Sign up here and we'll let you know when the quiz goes live.

In the meantime, here's our top seven defining moments.  Which ones do you think we've missed?

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Shotgun Training – (Part 4 “Don’t take your shotgun to town”)

Today’s the big day! We have done the leg work and it is time for us to propose a training plan for our sourcing organisation. Now that we are armed with actionable data, we can put down the idea of trying to train everyone on all sourcing skills and take a focused approach.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Maximising Success from eAuctions

In anticipation of our next Real World Sourcing Series expert briefing, 'Evaluating Bids and Tenders', we'd like to offer you the opportunity to access some of the sessions we've previously delivered. Our industry experts (and former CPOs), Guy Allen and Peter Smith have spent some time in the BravoSolution recording studio and these briefings are now available online.

Monday 24 March 2014

Risk Management in the Supply Chain: Part 3 - You know the issues, but how do you retain the value?

For the final part of this series, I want to focus on how technology can facilitate both the people and process elements of procurement and supply risk management.