Posts

Promoting Sustainable and Innovative Procurement Culture: Business Opportunities for Public Partnerships

What is Innovation Procurement?

Innovation procurement can deliver solutions to challenges of public interest, presenting businesses with opportunities through innovative product response. IDDEA procurement expert, Mary Ryan, provides an overview of the Innovation Procurement Brokers Project, offering valuable first-hand insight.

 

Through her involvement in Procurement Transformation Institute (PTI), Mary has had the pleasure of collaborating on the Innovation Procurement Brokers Project. The project aims to facilitate the procurement of goods and services by strengthening links between public buyers on the demand side, and innovative businesses on the supply side. Public buyers are assisted with identifying their needs and are connected with businesses able to develop innovative solutions providing for their requirements. The project provides increased opportunities for businesses, with guidance provided on public authority needs to bid for tenders.

 

The project is EU funded, where five regional schemes are being piloted in Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland and Andalusia (Spain). The project will finally operate at European level, facilitating the connection of public buyers and suppliers of innovation.

 

Mary explains that “working with such a diverse group of professionals was very rewarding. All participants brought expertise and experience from their own organisations and countries. PTI is a relatively new organisation in Ireland, and through our collaboration in European projects (Innovation Procurement Brokers, Procure 2 Innovate) we can learn so much from our European counterparts.”

 

Innovation Culture and Sustainability: Sourcing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Mary highlights that encouraging an innovation culture is crucial. “It is important for public buyers to look beyond existing frameworks to fit for purpose, innovative goods, that can offer benefits and improvements on what is currently available. Buyers involved in the Innovation Procurement Brokers project, are searching for an innovative solution as a replacement for an existing or new need. In Ireland, a need was identified for sustainable PPE workwear. This encouraged suppliers to think about innovation and provide sustainable solutions.

 

She continues to explain that, while there are many drivers for innovation, sustainability has become a topic of huge interest. “While interest is building in more sustainable products, buyers in the market have not yet driven the need for suppliers to provide more sustainable product solutions. In the private sector, distributors and agents are beginning to look for innovative products from manufacturers to better match sustainability requests from their end users.”

 

In many cases, an alternative solution for PPE products is already available on European markets. Sustainable clothing and equipment are something relatively new, and alternative solutions are being developed and evolving as the demand from the public and private sector is increasing. There are many examples of such innovation procurement solutions. For example, Denmark is looking at sustainable clothing for hospitals and public procurers in Belgium have written a guide for public purchasers to help them to source socially responsible work wear. As momentum grows in the area of circular and sustainable economies, the opportunities for manufacturers and suppliers to supply innovative solutions are growing.

 

Sourcing Sustainable PPE Suppliers

PTI undertook a number of research techniques to determine the best approach to source suppliers for the need identified by Irish buyers of PPE equipment. Mary explains that “we firstly held workshops to establish what the need and requirements were. I then conducted desk research on suppliers of PPE workwear in Ireland and attended supplier trade events.”

 

Mary outlines how the PTI researched recyclable options which can be applied to PPE at the end of its lifecycle. “Participants in the Innovation Procurement Brokers Project are keen to see improved product sustainability and performance. Through their search for a more sustainable solution, the public authority buyers hope to source products that will reduce carbon footprints in logistics and manufacturing. Furthermore, establishing a system which facilitates repair and recycling of products at the end of life and work towards a more sustainable solution. These measures will help to reduce waste and dependence on unsustainable resources.”

She explains that one challenge encountered was that the level of contamination at the end of life of some PPE products may not allow for them to be recycled, “however buyers are keen to understand all of the information available from the market and learn from the proposed solutions.” Mary details how she has encountered industries in the private sector who have shown great interest in recyclable PPE products.

Mary tells us that “the whole area of sustainability and circularity is a fascinating one. I developed a great understanding of these concepts and the challenges manufacturers face when developing a sustainable yet disposable product. My colleague in IDDEA, Rebecca Byrne, is an specialist in this area and her expertise was invaluable when facilitating workshop for public buyers.”

Key Takeaways

  1. Innovation procurement brokerage can provide increased opportunities for businesses to bid for tenders where they have solutions to public needs.
  2. Public authorities benefit from being connected with potential providers in the market and have access to new product innovations.
  3. By offering sustainable solutions to public problems, all stakeholders, including the environment, can experience value and success.

 

How to Learn More?

The Catalogue of Best Practices was published by the Innovation Procurement Brokers. This shows different approaches taken by partners and what was successful for them; very valuable learning for other buyers.

PTI promotes innovative solutions and is working to increase knowledge and skills in Innovation Procurement. PTI aims to improve competitiveness and the innovative mindset of Irish organisations in Europe. Please find more information here.

The ‘New Normal’ is the Triple Bottom Line: Changing Trends Emerging from COVID-19 Recovery

In 1859, Charles Darwin’s ground-breaking text, On the Origin of Species, changed the very fabric of scientific knowledge and the way we perceive the natural world. Darwin revealed to the world that ‘it is not the strongest of species that survives, but rather, that which is most adaptable to change.’ A veil had been lifted and a new period of enlightenment began.

Never before, in our modern era, has a lesson from the past held more truth. Recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic will require the building of businesses and societies that can thrive in the face of continuous change. The lessons businesses are learning during the pandemic are profound; the cost-effective supply chain model revealed its brittle nature, digital business transformation accelerated at lightning speed, innovative agile teams problem solved complex tasks, necessity illustrated what products are truly important, and the planet, in our absence, began to heal. We are living through a turbulent period in history, with climate change, political unrest, and COVID-19 challenging our perceptions of ‘normal’. However, we decide as to whether this can be another era of lifting the veil, of revealing important natural, political, social and business truths to enlighten and improve our ways of life, or, we can revert back to ‘normal’, business as usual, with no lessons learned.

I believe that the veil has been lifted. Today, I hope to give you a look through.

Innovation and Agile Leadership

The current crisis has ignited the spark of innovation often hampered by rigid, bureaucratic structures. The businesses that most aggressively adapted their ways of working have turned the crisis into an opportunity for innovation, solving important social problems. Dyson designed a new ventilator in ten days responding to UK hospital demand, Alibaba built an unmanned store providing essential items for citizens in Wuhan, and Irish spirit distillers are collaborating with the HSE producing alcohol sanitisers for frontline medical workers.

These innovative responses weren’t part of any business plan. Instead, small teams recognised an urgent need, shunned aside unimportant activities, broke rigid bureaucratic structures and adapted their standard operations. This social innovator transformation strengthened both their businesses and society. 47% more business ‘rising stars’ are viewed during periods of turbulence rather than stability, with 89% of ‘sinking ships’ capsizing (Bain, 2020). Agile leadership and innovation appear to be key determining factors in whether businesses sink or swim, while simultaneously brining value to profits and society.

 

Building Resilient Supply Chains: ‘Going Local’

The current pandemic has shown the fragility of global supply chains and the importance of good procurement practices. Market demands for cost competitiveness have put unsustainable pressure on supply chains. This became most evident in the personal protective equipment (PPE) global bottlenecks. The brittle, inflexible, and often obscure nature of these cost-effective supply chains has been laid bare, exposing the need for change.

A Thomas Reuters’ study, on the ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Global Supply Chains’, reveals that 63.5% of businesses foresee nationalism on the supply chain rising. This has important implications for producers and service providers who can avail of this opportunity by offering sustainable, local solutions to businesses who wish to shorten their supply chains. In turn, this will satisfy shifting consumer trends. Euromonitor’s ‘Proudly Local, Going Global’ 2020 megatrend sees consumers valuing home culture and products tailored to local tastes and preferences.

As an open economy, we should avail of our position within the Eurozone and build collaborative relationships with our local European neighbours. As we are an export and import dependant country, cooperative trade relationships within our Eurozone could prove mutually beneficial; export opportunities continue, with supply chains also shortening and strengthen.

Together, businesses and consumers can support local while also availing of the value that they desire. This ‘new buying normal’ can help boost local economies, assist small businesses and start-ups, and add value to the triple bottom line by supporting people, the planet and profits.

 

Technology: The Digital Transformation

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of digital readiness, allowing businesses to continue operations. Digital technologies are playing a crucial role in keeping our businesses and societies functional and preventing the spread of the virus.

Remote work is redefining consumers daily routines and, as they adapt to life at home longer, drives trends towards ecommerce, home entertainment and new digital experiences. This creates strategic opportunity for businesses across products and services.

Ecommerce and digital marketing must be embraced by businesses if they are to answer to shifting consumer behaviours. L’Oréal responded successfully to the crisis by quickly moving its marketing spending online, seeing e-commerce sales rises of up to 400%. L’Oréal executive, Lumboria Rochet, explains that “we are setting ourselves up for a world where half of the business is e-commerce and 80% of consumer interactions will happen online…In e-commerce, we achieved in eight weeks what would have otherwise taken us three years to do.

B2B buyers are also embracing the digital transformation. Research shows that 70% of B2B buyers believe that virtual sales calls are as effective as in person calls for complex products, with ‘virtual experts’ being presented as new service offerings (Bain, 2020). Digital transformations will be key in building sustained competitive advantage.

Sustainability with Purpose

While researching for this article, I came across an interesting misinterpretation of the Chinese word for ‘crisis’. Many motivational speakers correctly translate the first character as ‘danger’. However, the second logograph does not mean ‘opportunity’, as many believe, instead it translates as ‘a point where things change’, with the derivative being ‘chance, good timing’.

The theme of change is again evident. Now, more than ever before, we have the chance, the good timing, to get things right and recover from this period of danger.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, we have added environmental (climate change, pollution, biodiversity destruction), social (inequality and injustice), and political (Brexit and Trump) crises to our list. We now face the current COVID-19 crisis which has brought us collectively to our knees. Evidently, something is not working. Managing Director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, states that “the best memorial we can build for those who lost their lives to the pandemic is a better, greener, smarter, fairer world.” Realising how past inactions have deepened global inequalities, her proposed ‘Global Reset’, promising mass investment in people, education, society and the planet, again echoes the desire and need for change.

During the pandemic, as humanity halts, nature is healing. COVID-19 is triggering the largest ever annual fall in carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels, heading for an 8% global reduction. Crude oil is close to worthless. The waters of Venice, normally choked with diesel and petrol, are now clear and frequented with dolphins. Lions roam freely on African roads that usually teem with safari jeeps. People in India now see their neighbouring Himalayan mountains for the first time, as the cloak of air pollution lifts.

The call to action is clear. We must embrace this opportunity for a global reset and build a ‘new normal’ where we live in equilibrium with our natural planet.

For too long environmental responsibility has been transferred to the individual citizen and for too long greenwashing has tainted businesses CSR policies. COVID-19 has highlighted humanity’s fragility in the face of nature’s power. We cannot allow climate change to teach us another fatal lesson. The pandemic has also taught us that no one can prosper alone and that collaboration for the common good can be achieved. We must adopt a holistic approach to our businesses, the triple bottom line, and create social, environmental and economic value for all our stakeholders, including our planet.

Ask yourself:

What kind of business do you lead?

What kind of business do you work for?

What kind of business do you buy from?

Is this business promoting the type of ‘new normal’ you want in this world? Or are they inhibiting it?

 

The secret of change is not to focus all of your energy on fighting the old, but on building the new. Together, we can build a stronger, fairer, safer, healthier, planet. Together, we can achieve anything.

 

Written by Marie Muckley

5 Critical Steps to Stop your Supply Chain Disintegrating

This global pandemic we are experiencing is the most significant economic disruption since the 1930s. Apart from the human tragedies every day, we have to consider the global disruption to business in general, and in the supply chain in particular.

In response to that the team at IDDEA are helping companies ensure they have what they need to keep delivering and keep their promises to their customers.

  • Helping a construction company source the materials it needs to build much needed homes.
  • Guiding a transport company to ensure that it can procure what it needs to keep trains on the track.
  • Partnering with a major grocery retailer to keep bread, flour and canned products on the shelves.

Supply chains are under pressure; but the winning companies have developed a Five Point Procurement Plan to increase the resilience of supply and build better relationships with key suppliers. (In many cases they have also achieved significant cost savings, by focusing on the problem.)

Step one: Where do you start? Identify your top suppliers

To assist with strengthening your supply chain, start with the information you have at hand. Look at the data which can be used within your business. Your financial data provides visibility and a window into your supply base; it is the first step in identifying your critical suppliers. This spend information will tell you the story of where you are spending most of your money. It is important to measure these suppliers by spend but also by the risk they pose to your business.

To help identify top suppliers ask yourself:

  • What would happen to my business if this supplier stopped trading?
  • Would there be an immediate impact?
  • Would you experience a supply interruption or how many weeks would it take to impact your business?
  • What are the attributes of your current critical suppliers?
  • How quickly can you change to an alternative?

Any single source supply channel, regardless of spend, may be a potential issue to your ongoing operation.

What supply criteria is key for your business? – it may be cost, quality, delivery or lead-time, service or brand reputation. Make a list of your essential requirements and reference it with your supplier base. Identify your critical suppliers and make a finalised list of who they are.

Step two: Reach out and communicate – suppliers

Once identified, it’s important to stay connected with these top suppliers even if you don’t need to buy currently.

Key questions to ask them:

  • Are they still operating? (and in what capacity?)
  • Have they new ways of working? If so, what are they?
  • Are their strategies changing? (responses to difficult times tells a lot – flexibility, determination to get ahead of competition, etc.)
  • What are they doing to minimise your risk as their customer?
  • How can they support you? (renegotiate credit terms, redistribution of stock, buy back etc.)
  • Can you work together to resolve any issues or think of better ways of working going forward?

Brainstorm to find opportunities within the conversation and ensure you continue to check in with them regularly.

Step 3: Establishing new suppliers – what’s involved?

If you feel you need to explore potential new suppliers, conducting market research will better inform you. Tools like Porter’s 5 forces, SWOT analysis and PESTLE analysis are very useful in conducting market analysis.

Think about the key questions you need to ask potential suppliers. Condition them effectively by developing an RFI (request for information) template.

This should include your important considerations and criteria such as:

  • Do you require quality standards or certifications (e.g. ISO, QS)?
  • Is the supplier financially viable?
  • Will they extend you credit terms and establish a line of credit?
  • What are the costs associated with shipping goods?
  • Is location something you need to consider?
  • What are the tiers of their raw materials?
  • What are their product specifications or technical information?

Also think about the key questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Should you change your sourcing strategies to include a more local approach?
  • How will establishing new suppliers impact your costs?
  • What is your breakeven figure?
  • Can you absorb cost increases, or will you have to increase prices?
  • Will new suppliers impact your brand?
  • What are your competitors doing? Market research into your competitors response can provide interesting insights.
  • Are there government funding schemes available to help with your capital and cash flow?

When you have answered the relevant questions above, finally ask yourself: How can you use this information to bring value to your organisation?

Step four: Reach out and communicate – key clients

Reach out to your key clients and share how you are building supply resilience with them; they will appreciate being informed and knowing that their demands can be met.

Points to discuss with clients:

  • Advise clients on the work you are doing to minimise risk.
  • Listen to their concerns and enquire as to how you can help.
  • Ask can you work collaboratively to joint measure risk and plan for future growth.
  • Inform your clients of the inventory you are holding and ask would they be interested in forward paying for this stock at a reduced cost?
  • Find out if their strategy is changing and find an opportunity for you to be involved, this will help to strengthen your relationship.

Remember, you are the vital link between your suppliers and your clients, and you must endeavour to tighten that chain of supply.

Step five: Use this time wisely

Finally, look at your existing business operations holistically. Companies rarely have time for reflection and observation, now is the perfect time!

To identify what you can improve on ask yourself:

  • What were those initiatives you felt were interesting but never had time to focus on?
  • Do you need to enhance your marketing capabilities?
  • Is there an opportunity for online trading?
  • If you’re already online, is your eCommerce platform fit for purpose?
  • Is it time to enhance your online presence?
  • Can you build specifications to future proof your business?
  • Can you avail of government grants and support to enhance your online platform?

Remember …

Use this time to improve your business and plan for the near future. We will shortly see the return of employees to work and the reopening of non-essential retail outlets. You will need to develop new and innovative ways of working, both in your company and with your suppliers, that are compatible with social distancing.

  1. Analyse your data and making note of your key suppliers and materials.
  2. Collaborate with your suppliers
  3. Communicate with your customers – remember you are their supplier.
  4. Identify risks and opportunities in your supply chain and broaden your supply base. (Look for local opportunities; we all need to help each other and the answer to your supply chain might be closer than you think.)
  5. Use this time wisely.

Finally, remember that we will emerge from this period of uncertainty. What is important now is to take the lessons we have learned to build a stronger foundation from which we will rise and rebuild our businesses. We can be changed by what happens to us, but we will refuse to be reduced by it.

Stay safe and stay strong.

At IDDEA, we are committed to empowering professional buyers to positively impact their businesses through strategic sourcing. Changing buying behaviours can prove challenging, however our strategic procurement framework is proven in bringing success and improving results for businesses. Get more info here: https://iddea.ie/

 

When ”I” is replaced by ”We”

As the Irish nation re-adjusts to life working at the kitchen table, it can be difficult to switch off after ‘’a day in the office’’.

The IDDEA team are lucky in one sense as we have been developing remote working skills over a period of time and working from home is part of our weekly routine. We have a good balance between visiting clients on site and working remotely. I would love to share our top tips for staying connected during these unprecedented times.

Top Tips:

Stay in contact: Zoom or Teams are great media platforms to connect with your colleagues. Iddea schedule a Team’s call every second day to check in with each other and we never leave without a smile on our face. It is great to connect on non-work-related topics and catch up on all the latest Netflix recommendations. If you are feeling demotivated, pick up the phone and contact one of your colleagues as it can be good to hear a friendly voice and its good to know that you are not alone during this isolation period.

Stay Active: Mary Ryan- IDDEA’s eAuction Coordinator aka our virtual fitness motivator has set up a great initiative to get the team moving. She has set up an online tracker whereby we list our weekly workouts. Whether it is the daily household chores or a 2km walk, everything counts and gets tracked. At the end of every month it is very rewarding to reflect on all the good work that you have done! Yoga is also a great way to start your working day and some Instagram handles that have come highly recommended by the Iddea team: ‘’yogawithmaura’’ and ‘’yogaandval’’ both accounts run free daily yoga classes from the comfort of your own home.

 

Come dine with me: You always have the smart (or lazy) ones who take advantage of a situation to create an opportunity. Working from home has its challenges for working moms so our CEO Ingrid proposed to her family to start a “come dine with me” competition where a rota was agreed that every day, everyone different in the household was going to show off their cooking skills. A balanced scorecard was set up to track the performance and criteria such as taste, texture, innovation and presentation were rated. So every few days, food recipes are being discussed on our zoom call and recipes have been shared. And she is happy to share that her youngest 15-year old daughter is showing amazing flavour combinations and is winning by a mile!

Party-Animals: The “Young ones” of our team have their own challenges with social distancing while keeping their social life active. Every time, the “Old ones” in the team are delighted to hear about what new social media game or virtual party was organised. Bingo Loco, which was Ireland’s, go to night out has now launched via Facebook live. Bingo Loco has the same concept as traditional bingo but with a modern twist. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for updates on their next virtual bingo party https://www.facebook.com/bingolocoie/ 

 

Meet the Fockers: We have been introducing our friends and families to one another via Zoom. In many circumstances we are away from our family during covid 19 therefore, we show photographs of our loved ones whom we miss dearly or family members that live in the household pop on the screen and give a wave. We are so close as a team and it is a nice to connect on both a personal and professional level.

Back to the Future: Making a list of future plans to offset somewhat the current feeling of loneliness, anxiety or the general feeling is a great mood-booster: when the “New Normal” starts, the top 3 things I will do is…..! Sharing the big and small things we look forward is very powerful and triggers a sense of hope, excitement and energy. The negative thoughts of cancelled holidays, festivals, foodie experience, city trips and family occasions, we turn in o future plans. Only the positive “what if” scenarios can be talked about and we all get excited about each other dreams. “The Return of Investment” of sharing each future plans is 2000:1 as that is where our hope and future self lies

Staying connected and staying true to yourself, we empower each other in good and hard times. There are 3 choices in life you can make: give in, give up or give it all you got! Finding a way together to give it all you got, will make you stronger. As they say, tough times never last, tough people do. Finding the “we “ in “I” is what we are trying to do at IDDEA. We hope some of top tips of our remote working experience, might work for you. Be well, stay safe, keep close and mind each other.