Preparing for Cyberspace

While cyber security is an important issue for boards, it has not always been top of mind. Because a major corporation like Equifax had a breach in its IT system, many companies are rethinking how to secure cyber security.

Boards around the world are examining the Equifax case to determine how to best secure their organizations valuable information stored in their IT systems. So who is responsible? Since the CEO has stepped down, it is apparent he was being held accountable. However, where was the board of directors?

In today’s world of cyberspace, corporate boards have to think about more than governance, CEO compensation and strategy.

As it stands, it is in the board’s best interest to ensure the company is not exposed to debilitating risks. Companies have workplace safety standards and sexual harassment policies to mitigate lawsuits. They even have disaster recovery plans in the event of natural disasters or occurrences like the World Trade Center plane crash. These plans and policies are in place to keep business running smoothly and perpetually. It protects customers and employees.

However, with sophisticated computer hackers around the world, it is no news that computer systems and valuable information can be breached and stolen. There are hackers who breach computer systems as a business. They ask for ransom in the amount of tens of millions of dollars. If it is not paid, they threaten to release the companies secure information, which sometimes could contain private email communication from top executives.

While many enterprises as large as Equifax may have disaster recovery plans for their physical operation, they may not have the same plan for cyber breach. The disaster recovery policies would include immediate action steps based on size of the breach, who made the breach, what information was taken, were company smart phones breached, what to communicate to employees, the public and shareholders as well as other important factors.

In some cases, it may make sense to inform the FBI. In other cases, it may be better to pay the ransom. The challenge with calling the FBI is that the hackers could be in countries like Russia. In Russia, the FBI may not pursue them. Why? Because the Russian government is always looking for good hackers. If the FBI exposes the hackers in Russia, the government may hire them, which can present long-term problems for the US. When it comes to paying ransom, it’s tricky. If you pay, they may hack you again as though you are an ATM machine. If you don’t pay, they may expose confidential information. These are also the kinds of challenges that directly involve the board.

What’s most important is that the board is talking about cyber security before there is a problem. There should be constant audits of the cyber security system to mitigate any risks. In addition, as a board, they should hold the CEO accountable for that security. Furthermore, there should be clear policies to guide the board and the executive team on how to handle the various moving parts in a delicate situation. Boards with disaster recovery plans and high accountability with the CEO are more likely to be forward thinking about cyber vulnerabilities and proactive about updating the security system.

What Are the Advantages of a Multifunction Printer?

While the first multi-function printers were developed for home use and small business use, more and more medium and large companies are starting to see the benefits of these multi-function devices. All-in-one printers combine multiple capabilities such as fax messaging, scanning, copying and printing in one single unit. In this article we will discuss the many advantages of multi-function printers.

The convenience advantage

When you talk about office automation; multi-function printers are exactly that. These devices offer the convenience of real multitasking, giving you features that you may not have had if you had opted for standalone devices, especially when you run a small business or work from home. For instance, you may not have intended to purchase a fax machine, but now you are able to send and receive fax messages without the additional cost. The same goes for the scanning and copying functions of the machine. They are added bonuses, complementary services if you will; offering you various levels of convenience.

The cost saving advantage

Of course there is the cost saving advantage as the multi-function printer does everything that would otherwise need to be done by an additional three standalone devices. The purchase price of a multi-function printer is a bit higher than a traditional one, but it is nowhere near the amount you would pay for a separate printer plus all the additional devices; allowing you to enjoy all the features at a fraction of the cost. You also save on maintenance costs in the process.

The space saving advantage

One of the biggest advantages by far is the fact that your multi-function printer saves a lot of space, which is great if you have a small office or if you’re working from home. Instead of having to create space for your printer and your fax and your copier and your scanner, you can now enjoy all the different types of functionalities at one central point.

The power saving advantage

Multi-function printers only require one power cable, eliminating ‘cable spaghetti’. All-in-one devices also use less power than if you were to operate several standalone machines simultaneously, leading to increased savings when it comes to electricity usage.

Disadvantages

There are some disadvantages to multi-function devices as well. One of them is the fact that if something goes wrong, everything goes wrong. If there is a problem with the printer, for instance, it can result in all other features failing as well; if you have run out of toner, it will affect the printer, the fax, and the copier. Also, the overall performance quality of these all-in-one machines is generally not as top-notch compared to individual machines.

Multi-function devices enable you to enjoy every possible office function from one device which is a great space saving and cost saving option for small office setups. Multi-function printers also provide convenient centralized document management facilities in a larger office environment.

The Strategies to Empower Your Call Center Business

Running an operationally efficient call center that delivers a high-quality customer experience can be a difficult objective to achieve. Consumers are becoming increasingly know-how and their expectations for quality customer service and support is steadily growing. Most corporations may see a contact center as an added expense but as you weigh things down, you find that a call center is a necessity for your business to thrive. It is quite a task to systematically deliver excellent customer service while cutting down additional costs. This may seem intimidating, but it is definitely possible to transform your contact center into a profit-producing asset. But it is difficult to handle a call center with the upper level of customers’ satisfaction.

Here, I am going to represent some ideas of specific strategies to empower your call center business to get the high level of customer satisfaction which will affect your sales graph positively.

Support social media:

While the phone remains at the heart of customer contact centers. There is an increasing need to effectively manage data from multiple channels thanks to the exponential rise in social networks like Twitter and Facebook. This requires solutions that have both the intelligence and flexibility to adapt changing market and consumer needs.

Social media has empowered consumers to become broadcasters or journalists, so speedy and flexible customer service is critical. A complaint sent via Twitter that is left unanswered could spread internationally overnight.

Empower your employee:

Employees are the main factor of a call center who have to communicate with customers directly. We can say that the employees are the heart of a company. So, enable your employees to make their own recommendations on improvements, after all, they are much closer to the working procedure than senior management.

A focused call center can help a brand realize its goal whether that be higher levels of customer satisfaction, more revenue per customer or driving increases in sales. Establishing the right policies and working practices can empower call center employees to support the brand and the business.

Refining Your Customer Service Strategy:

Your customer care center will work in tandem with your call center software to create synergies in your customer service department. One of the biggest advantages of this software is its ability to collaborate with your customer history. For instance, say you get calls from a long time customer on a monthly basis. Call center software can be set to display “screen pops,” which allow the agent instant information as soon as the call is answered, reducing call times and customer satisfaction. Screen pops can be customized but most commonly will include customer purchase and return data on every inbound call.

It doesn’t matter if you are making inbound or outbound phone calls providing customers and prospective clients with the right answers, faster can really streamline your sales efforts.

Know your customer:

Understanding the demographics of your customers is a key first step toward determining which tools and approaches will best help you achieve your business objectives. For example, tech-savvy customers will likely expect to connect with you through more technical channels, such as online forms, chat sessions, or social media drove community-based solutions. Less tech-savvy customers, on the other hand, may require more traditional, higher-touch solutions, such as phone, fax, or email.

Human Resource Practices

What we have in the prevailing marketplace in today’s economy is the effort that has been made by some well-recognized companies, among them, the Fortune 500 companies based in the United States, who have come to take note of the contribution of their human resource department towards the success of their organizations, SHRM. This has led to the creation of human resource practices by HR department, that motivate its members to continuously being proactive in looking at the business organization, as it engages its employees to determine how they can be supported in strengthening the company’s strategic policies.

A business organization’s human resource practices coupled with its policies are very important in the creation and maintenance of a work culture that is meant to reward, support and then create the expectation for the employees to be consistent in the performance of their work and provision of services. The ultimate goal is the achievement of an optimum customer satisfaction, which at the end leads to a satisfactory financial outcome that create a tremendous success for the company involved, SHRM.

Human resource professionals have been traditionally aligned with administration and finance, tasked with paperwork and far removed from where decisions are made in C-suite level leaders. It has been acknowledged in today’s organizations the value of employees as a key resource, therefore are embracing HR as a key strategic partner with organizational leaders. The new role being given to HR is behind the drive to have companies invest more in advanced technologies that will enable them to manage the workforce, in order to allow HR to spend more time in making valuable contributions.

It has been found based on an audit of Fortune 500 companies that having an HR executive officer among the company’s executive leaderships lead to high performance. In the audit, it was made clear the impact of having Chief HR Officer in the C-suite, which is that the companies with CHRO are averaging 105 percent more profit than their industry peers that do not have one.

Having a chief human resource officer at the C-suite conference table means that the person with the title is able to bring to the table issues affecting the HR department that could not have been possible were the person not there. So the CHRO presence is able to make the argument of the impact of having human resource on the company’s bottom line, the value it brings to the company’s strategic decision making process, and also the need for the company to create HR that is high performance and is involve in the learning and development of its employees, and also the need for an effective technological solutions.

According to some of the Fortune 500 companies audited, the CHRO in those companies embraced the use of customer analysis, proactive talent management as human resource practices. Some of the human resource practices policies enacted that directly lead to high performance in those companies include the exposure of HR risks, like the need to retain key talent in the company’s annual reports and instituting the continuous review of goals and performance throughout the year, particularly:

When the company involve identify risks in their annual reports, the company performs better when compare with peers that do not identify risk in their key financial and market metrics like return on assets (55%), operating profit (by 95%) and earning per share (by 54%).

The organizations that review its employees performance throughout the year are likely to continuously meet its quarterly financial expectation, and show a better average compound annual growth rate (CAGR) when they are compared to their peers that only review performance on an annual basis.

Organizations that have a higher part of its goals aligned and completed does better than its industry peers in key financial metrics, such as quarterly financial estimates, operating profit, earning per share, and price-earnings ratio.

Having a CHRO has proven to have a link to a company’s bottom line, demonstrating the vital correlation between effective talent management and business performance. There are many companies that are very successful in today’s marketplace because they have been able to institutionalized human resource practices platform that put forward an advanced, connected HCM solutions that manage an entire employee life cycle; starting from recruitment to retirement- taking the role from being transnational to strategic, also predictive.

What You Need To Know About App Notifications

Notifications rank amid the most widespread features in mobile apps. Whatever they may concern – a message or a comment in a social network, an update of an app, an announcement or a reminder – notifications are made to bring useful information to users in a convenient way. However, these seemingly simple parts of your software require as much thinking as anything else, especially in terms of the message you want to send. After all, if you pay less attention to tinier things, it’s much easier to make them bad.

What’s In A Notification?

Apple divides notifications into local and push (remote) ones. The difference has been very clearly set by Apple:

– Local notifications are scheduled by an application and delivered on the same device.
– Push notifications, also known as remote notifications, are sent by your server to the Apple Push Notification service, which pushes the notification to devices.

Aside from alerts and banners, notifications include sounds and badges, as exemplified by iOS. This is what’s visible to users. Badge numbers usually indicate a number of specific things (upcoming events, unread messages, or updates /files to download). An app can also specify a short distinct sound to alert the user.

Functional Notifications: Right Time, Right Place

Local notifications are delivered to users when the app runs in the foreground. They are often used for asking users to rate the app and write a review, offering rewards, offering to download and install a new update, as well as offering to show new features afterwards. All this works for encouragement of users, for the sake of rich experience.

Push notifications involve interactions with the server, and they are usually delivered to users when the app runs in the background. While local notifications engage users, push notifications draw users back to the app.

In a nutshell, quality of the message defines its success. Both push and local ones are widely used in mobile marketing. And it’s quite easy to keep in mind the following things that will help your notifications be healthy.

Notifications In Marketing: How Not To Overdo

Notifications are made to draw users’ attention. But for the same reason they get overused, since any app owner can find so much to inform users of. But notifications in marketing must mean effective dialogue and clear answers to their questions, not mobile spamming. Let your users decide whether they want to receive anything, how they will receive it, and which topics would be relevant for them.

– Abusive apps are generally hated – irrelevant and interruption notifications are treated by many as eye-offenders, and are hated as much as irrelevant ad banners with striking colors. While users love the value that’s given by apps, they hate everything valueless.

– Content and frequency of notifications matter. The less personalized these notifications are, the more annoying they will seem to users. Different users find value in different information and different message. Then they can decide whether to open the app or dismiss the notification.

– Timely notifications mean success. The schedule of notifications must be properly written, with adjustments to time zones. They can be recurring – daily, weekly, monthly, etc.

– It is always recommended to take notice that push notifications, requiring Internet access, drain the smartphone battery – another good reason for not to overdo it.

The rule here is turn to the right people with the right offer and be moderate at that. Unfortunately, each of us must have encountered at least one app where this rule is broken to a certain extent. Instead of location-aware and relevant offers, news, and reminders, users can simply get a perfect anti-engagement tool, which will be abandoned.

Cutting Costs Without Reducing Your Team

One of the things that many businesses around the world are notorious for is layoffs of their workers when they have to cut costs. It appears as though the least required asset for these companies is their workers. As brutal as it may sound, many businesses reduce their team sizes to reduce their costs every day. It is quite surprising because there are in fact dozens of different ways for businesses, especially small ones, to cut their costs without sending their employees home. Not to mention, small businesses aren’t in the best position to terminate their employees when they are already struggling with growth and expansion.

Let us first look at the circumstances and reasons why small businesses resort to firing their employees and terminating their contracts.

Reasons Why Businesses Terminate Their Employees

Your Employee’s Performance is below Requirements

The biggest and probably the most valid reason for firing an employee is when they are not able to perform according to the set targets. Despite this being a valid reason, you should always follow the complete procedure and let go of your employee most ethically and professionally possible. Tell them that they also have the right to quit a company when a company does not pay them as promised and vice versa.

Your Employee Isn’t Honest

You have noticed that your employee is not honest. They try to spend time doing nothing behind your back and are interested in things that they should not be concerned with. It is a risk to have such a worker working at the company.

Your Employee Is Having a Hard Time Assimilating

One of the reasons why many employees are not able to give their best is because they can’t fit in the culture of your workplace. It’s either their religious, personal or moral beliefs that don’t let them feel being a part of the team.

Your Employee Doesn’t Care

Believe it or not, some employees don’t care about the rules and regulations of your workplace and being at a professional place. They bully people around them, try to act pretentious, are not punctual and do not pay any attention to the dress code policy.

Your Employees Cost You Too Much

This is quite an oxymoronic situation where the people who bring you business are the ones costing you money. Sometimes, companies become financially weak, and the only way they have to reduce their costs is firing employees. This helps them save money on employee compensation, bonuses, and incentives.

Is Employee Termination the Only Way to Cut Costs?

Not at all! There are many other ways for companies to reduce their costs without letting go of their employees. Here are some.

Negotiations with Vendors and Suppliers

You can look into your current list of suppliers and vendors and look for opportunities to reduce costs. You have to realize that there are group purchasing organizations developed specifically for this purpose. Furthermore, there are online search engines designed specifically for businesses where you can find other businesses that can help you reduce your costs.

Buy in Bulk

One simple way to reduce your costs is to purchase in bulk. Whether you are buying products or subscribing to software or online platform services, bulk purchases will always help you reduce your costs. As a business, you are subscribed to dozens of different online services and buy various items on a monthly or weekly basis. Buy them for several months or a complete year to save your costs.

Reduce Lavish Expenses for Now

It is amazing that businesses offer their employees with refreshments, coffee, and teas for free, but there is a time when you can do this with ease. Until and unless you have reached a point where affording such luxuries do not bother you at all, do not introduce them.

Invest in the Right Technology

Whether you are buying an electric generator for your office, bulbs and lights, ceiling fans, air conditioning units or machinery, you must invest in latest and energy-efficient technology.

Market Wisely

Marketing can suck a lot of your capital out of business depending on the type of marketing you are doing. However, it will be rewarding for you if you use analytical data to narrow down only the marketing campaigns that are lucrative for your business. Spend on them and keep away from spending on marketing efforts that have not yielded any good results.

Similarly, you can find many other ways to reduce your costs without sending your employees home.

Risks Associated with Firing Your Employees

While firing your employees should be the last thing on your list of methods to cut costs, you must also know the many risks that come with employee termination. Here are a few.

Sharing of Company Secrets with Competitors

When employees are not happy with your decision of firing them, they may not care about what action you can take against them. They may go for interviews with your competitors and share your trade secrets. This can be a big set-back for you if your competitor decides to take advantage of the situation.

Lawsuits

When employees believe they have been fired based on unreasonable grounds, they may try to take you to court. If any wrongful termination is proved, it can be expensive for your company. Always be sure to complete the procedure of termination or make sure the termination is justified.

Attack on Brand Image through Social Media

Today, people have a voice, and some people are ready to listen to their voice. Social networking platforms are great places for employees to discredit your brand and slander your image if they believe they were terminated by you wrongfully.

Bad Performance of Existing Employees

It does not matter how much you care about your employees. They may have a stronger connection among themselves than they have with you. Therefore, when you terminate an employee and cause some dissention among the ranks.

So, it is highly recommended that you consider the many other ways of cutting costs for your small business before choosing to terminate your employees.

Catering To A Wide Range Of Industries

The company that is engaged in the manufacture of precision turned parts produce the parts with diameters in the range 2mm – 35mm. The parts are made out of different materials such as stainless steel, mild steel, aluminium, brass, bronze and plastic. These companies ensure the best quality products and they offer to supply custom parts against orders placed by the customers. They follow strict procedural norms at all stages of the production to inspect the quality of the product. They manufacture automotive components, components for house appliances, fittings, connectors, etc. They make use of the latest technology to ensure the supply of high quality products on time at reasonable prices. They would have employed highly qualified and experienced engineers and skilled craftsmen who are committed to cater to the needs of each and every customer. The production team has the expertise to develop the final product right from the basic concept. In order to make quality products in the most cost-effective way, the company works with their customers also.

The customer service team of the company that manufactures precision turned parts coordinates with every individual customer to know their requirements and assures to meet their requirements in the most cost-effective ways. The management of the company is committed to provide 100% safety and the best working conditions to all the employees. They provide the most advanced manufacturing facilities. They follow a healthy procedure for the manufacture which is smoke-free as well as non-hazardous. Some of them are committed to implement and adhere to ‘Green’ practices. Materials like oil, metal parts and minerals are recycled. The company entrusts various other processes related to their production such as plating, grinding and heat treatment with sub-contractors who assure quality and the best customer service. They have a very efficient system to monitor the shipping of finished goods and also they closely monitor the inventory levels.

The aluminium components manufactured by the company are used for numerous applications owing to its strength, light weight and elasticity. The aluminium components are also known for their conductivity and resistance to corrosion. The components made from various grades of brass and copper are used in various applications including plumbing and sub sea operations. The stainless steel parts are used by various industries like Oil and Gas, Petrochemicals, medical and surgical instruments and brewing. The plastic components manufactured by these companies are used for many industrial applications. The various types of industries that are served by these companies include Oil, Chemicals, Energy, Locomotives, Automotive, Electronics, environmental engineering, Marine, Food and Beverage, Defense, Medical devices, Scientific research equipment, pumps, valves and many others.

Writing For Professionals

Having a great resume is the first step to landing that ideal job. Resume writing can be the most stressful part of the job search. But it is also the most effective way to share your experience and qualifications. The purpose of your resume is to create enough interest that the employer will want to see you for a more in-depth face to face interview. Those resumes receiving the most attention are structured with the following components:

Value Proposition Statement

This section should state to the employer the immediate value you will bring to their organization. If you are a business development professional with successful experience working with companies in the medical industry you should have this listed in this section. An example of this statement would be “an experienced business development professional with established existing relationships in place with key regional medical equipment companies. These established relationships will allow me to gain immediate access to key decision makers early within the sales cycle”. The value proposition statement allows the employer to visualize you in this position and as an immediate contributor to their organization.

Keywords In Resume Writing

Effective resume writing should be done in a way that allows you to stand out from the crowd. One of the most effective ways to do this is to make sure you use the appropriate keyword (s) for the job posting. So we know that most companies are using parsing software in reviewing resumes. This software is designed to filter for keywords from the resumes they receive. This software will look through resumes for these keywords.

So simply put keywords are those words that easily describes the position you are applying for. In the example above the position is business development professional. So what words immediately come to mind with this position? Correct, business development. Therefore you will want the keywords to be the words business development. To tell your story you should use these keywords in a natural story telling manner.

Highlight Your Experience

Many professionals have a wealth of valuable relevant experience to share. The key is how much of this experience should you share on your resume? Resumes are parsed and if selected will be reviewed by the employer for about 20 seconds or less. In resume writing it is totally acceptable to construct a 2-3 page resume if you are applying for an executive level position. All other positions 1-2 pages are common. Remember most employers know that the average job seeker has three plus jobs in their career. The length of the resume is not as important as the use of keywords and highlighting your relevant experience and qualifications. The only experience you should highlight are those experiences that apply to the job. As mentioned above you should naturally tell your story using keyword and relevant job experience.

Having a great resume is easily accomplished and doesn’t require fancy words, design or layout. There are many free resume writing templates on the internet that can help you with layout etc. Because this document is so important in getting you closer to your new job we encourage you to devote the necessary time to get it right. Most importantly before you send your resume to a perspective employer you should have a trusted person review it and provide feedback. Be sure to use spellcheck and look for grammatical errors etc. Remember you only get one chance to make a great first impression.

Resume Writing Made Affordable

Many professionals choose to write their resumes and with tremendous results. But if you feel the need to use a professional service know that these companies and professionals fees range in price from $300-$1500 based on the required technical copy writing skills. In other words if you are applying for an IT or Medical position you would want a resume writer with that level of experience to write impact copy or content on your behalf.

You are now closer to securing that position that most fits your skills and qualifications. Wishing you the very best

We hope this article clarifies some of the confusion in the use of keywords and value proposition statements. Resumes are designed to gain the attention of the prospective employer. Take some time in listing your qualifications and skills. With this article you are now equipped to tell a great story about your qualifications and experiences.

Quick Payback With Cheap EDDM Marketing

Every business needs a marketing plan to be successful. An effective way to get a fast return on promotional marketing campaigns is Every Door Direct Mail, (EDDM), a U.S. postal service for local business that can benefit from targeted zip codes to every house or house and businesses right down to the individual carrier route. Compared to traditional direct mail has very low distribution costs. The cost is $0.183 for each piece. This is cost-effective marketing solution that generates fast sales to new and old customers. Another benefit to EDDM is that it is delivered the day after it arrives at the post office. Direct mail can take weeks to be delivered and you may not know when it is delivered.

There are 6 standard sizes for EDDM: 4.5 X 12, 6 X 12, 6.5 X 12 6.5 X 9, 8 X 6.5 and 8.5 X 7. All sizes cost the same to mail. In addition to cheap mailing fees, there is no need to buy expensive mailing lists and address imprinting. Just select the zip codes in your target areas right down to the individual carrier route. To make this even easier, let your printing service handle the paperwork and delivery to post offices of your choice.

With this EDDM marketing, you can mail directly to local residential customers in the address area of the card. The maximum quantity allowed in this retail program is 5,000 to 25,000 a day at any one post office. Mailers must be bundled in 50 or 100 so they can be quickly distributed to the right carrier.

Put in your target zip codes and choose using breakdowns showing residential, business, total, age 25-44, size, income and cost. This free easy-to-use demographic guide map lets you select the best neighborhoods to give you a fast return on your investment.

You can deliver to other post offices as long as you send a minimum of 5,000 to each. This is so the post offices are not overloaded with EDDM mail. Another advantage is that many printing services offer full service mailing. They do the paperwork, bundling and delivery to your post offices of your choice. Having your printing service do the mailing for you allows you to not pay sales tax as you are not taking possession of this printing.

This quick return marketing plan is best with local businesses such as take out and restaurants, realtors, dry cleaners, retail stores, auto dealerships, contractors and home services, medical professionals, health and beauty services – to name just a few business that can benefit from this promotion.

One very important tip is that this is not a one-time test to see if you can recover your cost in your first mailing. If you offer a valuable discount sale you should get your investment back in a short time. The best way to get high returns is by making your EDDM campaign a monthly mailing to keep you brand in front of people’s eyes so they remember your business.

Using this EDDM program is a great way to get a fast return on your promotional marketing campaigns. It can save you in mailing costs as well as saturate any area you want to concentrate sales. Whether you use full service EDDM printing or do it yourself, this is a successful way to target your audience without spending a lot of money.

Procurement Skills: How To Demonstrate Your Value To Your Organisation

As procurement professionals we have to continually demonstrate our value to our organization by focusing on the key activities that deliver the most added benefits. What gets in the way of doing this is the myriad of other things that we have to do each day. Often there is more to do than we are able to achieve in the time available to us.

At this point we need a good process for prioritizing our tasks, planning our work and working our plan. The best analogy I have ever heard on prioritizing work came from Stephen Covey; it is called the “rocks, pebbles and sand” analogy for time management.

The story as told by Mr Covey is that an expert was addressing a group of business students. He reached beneath the desk to produce a large glass container and proceeded to fill it with rocks. When he could fit no more in he asked the group whether the container was full to which the group replied yes it was.

He then produced some pebbles and through a process of shaking the container managed to fit them all in the gaps between the rocks. Similarly, he managed to fill the gaps between the pebbles with sand. The group then thought the container was full until the expert successfully poured a jug of water into the container.

The lesson of this story is clear. If the container represents the time we have available to us in a period of time and the rocks, pebbles, sand and water represent the tasks we have to carry out then we can only do them all if we do the rocks first and the rest in order of size. In other words, start with your biggest tasks first and only go to the next level of tasks once the big ones are complete. If you do the tasks the other way round, you will never get to the big rocks (tasks).

So what are the big rocks that procurement professionals need to do first before they give their attention to the smaller tasks? I would suggest the following:-

  • Understanding your supply markets – what is their scope, who are the major players, are they growing or declining, is there scope to bring in new entrants and so on.
  • Understanding the demand for products and services in your organization and how this relates to your supply market knowledge. For example, is there a need to develop a particular market by stimulating innovation or attracting new entrants?
  • Organizing price and cost analyses and carrying out bench-marking exercises to understand the opportunities for savings. This might be linked to value analysis and value engineering exercises.
  • Carrying out supply chain risk assessments so that you understand the potential vulnerability for your organization and then put in place effective monitoring and mitigation.
  • Working with key suppliers to bring about product, service and cost innovations, improve delivery processes and carry out joint planning and product/service co-design (all part of a supplier relationship management program).
  • Building effective working relationships with other parts of your organization.
  • Measuring performance (both the procurement organization and suppliers) as the basis of designing and delivering improvement programs.
  • Continually improving your capability through knowledge exchange, training courses and coaching.

Do these big rock activities well and you will show your organization what great value you can add. This then becomes a “no brainer” case for investing in more resource to do the other, smaller tasks if you can’t do them all yourself.