Increased Procurement Agility through Improved Mobile Connectivity

supplier discovery, procurement, supply chain, mobile technology, market intelligence

Procurement is becoming a more agile, interactive corporate function. In order to support this expanded outreach, we need instant access to information and a way to capture and preserve knowledge. Given the prevalence of mobile technology, procurement is quickly transitioning from a laptop-based function to one empowered by handheld smart devices.

In a recent article on CPO Rising, Matthew York describes mobility as one of a few key technological advances contributing to procurement agility. “This [mobility] is the essence of agility – being able to pick up the phone, respond to a late-breaking, fast-burning situation (or even just an after-hours inquiry), and move on. Mobile-first or, at the very least, mobile-ready business applications put the power of cloud-based, user-friendly business applications in the palm of one’s hand literally anywhere there is an internet connection, at any time of the day.”

While none of the actions listed above are new to procurement (we are accustomed to being on call and ready with a solution or an answer at a moment’s notice) the way in which York describes them being carried out calls attention to a new underlying assumption. Increasingly, procurement is just as likely to be out in the field as sitting at a desk. This means that all of the activities we have carried out in the past must now be supported by mobile devices and applications.

Procurement is leveraging new models for connectivity, and our demand for information is expanding as well. According to the 2017 Hackett Group Key Issues Study, the top activity (31% of respondents) being piloted or evaluated by procurement centers of excellence is supply market intelligence. This means that not only does procurement need to remain accessible even as we become more mobile, we also need increased access to internal and third-party data. This connectivity must meet the same standards of accessibility described above if it is to keep pace with an agile procurement workforce.

While it is certainly possible to access some market intelligence from the browser on your smart phone, this does not pass the ‘trust test’. Last year, we learned that 70% of procurement and sourcing professionals identify internal peers as the most credible source of supplier intelligence. But we can no more carry our peers with us into the field than our filling cabinets. Internal knowledge must be as accessible to procurement as procurement is to internal stakeholders and executives – no matter where we happen to be working from.

tealbook has believed in mobile access to information from the outset. The tealbook app allows quick access to your current suppliers as well as new suppliers you have just met or heard about. Instantly add them to your tealbook and capture notes about why they are of interest. No more business cards to lose or collect dust. No more vital information being dropped in transitions between team members. Just instant access to trusted supplier intelligence.

We can also help facilitate mobile access to supplier intelligence – from internal as well as industry peers. Simply search for a supplier on the tealbook app and read internal notes or review the endorsement tags that have been assigned to that company by your peers in other companies.

Discovering Supplier ‘Category Jumpers’

Horse Jumping, Equestrian Events

Every strategic sourcing project procurement runs includes a step for supplier discovery. Usually it takes place early in the process, and may even be run in parallel to spend analysis. The goal of both efforts is to understand what the current and potential suppliers are – known and unknown, internal knowledge and external information – so that sufficient competition and potential for innovation are embedded in the sourcing project from the outset.

 

  • Spend analysis (Internal): Provides procurement with information on incumbent suppliers. Who are they? How many of them are there? How much has been spent with them in the past? This may also lead to a list of internal stakeholders that need to be consulted and contracts that should be reviewed. The goal is to create as a complete a picture as possible about the status quo in the spend category and factor it into the project moving forward.

 

  • Supplier discovery (External): Provides procurement with information on alternate suppliers in the market, a list of companies that will go through an initial round of qualification before they are invited to participate in an RFx, etc. Many times, procurement will generate this list by searching for the incumbent suppliers’ primary competition. The goal is to make sure fresh perspectives and alternate methods/materials are incorporated in the project so that the new contracts reflect the best solution available at the time.

 

The combined information from these two tasks tells procurement who the current suppliers are and who the alternate suppliers in the market are. Internal information + external information = complete picture, right?

Not so fast. There is a third segment of suppliers that need to be uncovered during discovery: incumbent suppliers from other spend categories that also have the ability provide the product or service being sourced. These companies combine prospective suppliers’ promise of improvement with incumbent suppliers’ lower levels of risk and potential for disruption. Neither spend analysis nor external supplier discovery will locate this third critical group.

Part of the problem is that this information often does not live in one place. Unless procurement or an internal stakeholder already has knowledge of a supplier that should be invited to ‘jump’ categories, the strategy becomes one of luck or hope. Procurement can hardly search all of their incumbent suppliers to see who has the ability to expand their business. Or do they?

This is one of the key advantages of tealbook. Because suppliers control the content in their profile, the information reflects their full range of capabilities – not just what your company knows them for. Suppliers have an incentive to be as comprehensive as possible. Simply search for the product or service you need and your current incumbent suppliers – whether they currently have your business in that category or not – will be ranked at the top of the results.

Even if you don’t have other incumbent suppliers ready to jump categories, your industry peers may, and their endorsed suppliers will appear at the top of your search results instead.

By taking a broader approach to  supplier discovery, procurement can ensure that the most capable and trusted suppliers are given the opportunity to win the business.

tealbook CEO Stephany Lapierre Recognized as a Supply & Demand Chain Executive “Pro to Know”

tealbook CEO Stephany Lapierre Recognized as a Supply & Demand Chain Executive "Pro to Know"

Toronto, Ontario – Feb. 27, 2017 – PRLog — tealbook announced today that CEO Stephany Lapierre has been selected as a 2017 ‘Pro to Know’ by Supply and Demand Chain Executive Magazine.

The provider Pros to Know is a listing of individuals from a software firm or service provider, consultancy or academia who helped their supply chain clients or the supply chain community at large prepare to meet the significant challenges in the year ahead.

As Ronnie Garrett, editor of Supply & Demand Chain Executive stated in the magazine’s official announcement, “Their accomplishments offer a roadmap for other leaders looking to leverage the supply chain for competitive advantage. Their efforts in developing the tools, processes and a knowledge base for supply chain transformation, as well as in promoting new approaches to supply chain enablement, earned these individuals a rightful place in this year’s Pros to Know.”

When asked about the key challenges facing tealbook’s customers in the year ahead, Stephany noted the critical role of supplier intelligence in creating competitive advantage, “The number one asset of any organization is the knowledge of its people. That said, most companies are faced with the challenge of capturing and preserving what their teams know as well as making that information easily accessible to others in the organization. tealbook is working to enable companies to leverage their intelligence and combine it with third party data and peer perspectives to motivate better informed decisions.”

This award follows other industry recognition of the tealbook team and platform. In December of 2016, tealbook won the prestigious award for Biggest Upside Potential at C100’s ‘48 Hours in the Valley’ entrepreneurial event in San Francisco, CA and in June of 2016 Stephany received three outstanding Women in Business World Awards for 2016, including ‘Female Innovator of the Year’ for her entrepreneurship and accomplishments to date.

 

 

About tealbook

tealbook is the most trusted source of peer driven supplier intelligence and discovery for enterprise. By helping companies instantly access and share trusted supplier intelligence, tealbook significantly reduces the time and effort required for supplier discovery and exponentially increases the scale and productivity of procurement teams. tealbook also helps improve collaboration with internal partners. With tealbook, supplier connections and intelligence are centralized and combined with aggregate endorsements from industry peers and data from Dun & Bradstreet’s common language taxonomy. Suppliers can easily self-update profiles with news, blog/web content and social media activity, providing companies with a valuable, first-hand perspective. For trusted intelligence, instant supplier identification, and elevated industry knowledge, tealbook is your solution. For more information, visit www.tealbook.com or Twitter: @tealbook.

The Multi-dimensional ROI of Sharing Information

Businessman drawing ROI concept

In a recent HBR article titled, “The Neuroscience of Trust,” researcher and professor Paul J. Zak discussed a decade’s worth of findings about the role trust plays in business. He studied the physiology of trust: what natural conditions foster or suppress it, the impact its presence or absence has on an operation, and how we can capture and measure the associated returns.

I was particularly interested in the notion of being able to measure the ROI of trust, something so critical and yet so intangible. In an effort to “test the impact of trust on business performance,” Zak and his team identified eight organizational ‘behaviors’ and then surveyed working adults in the U.S. to find out how prevalent they are: i.e. how trusted the companies are from the inside.

Two trustworthy behaviors were less prevalent than the rest: recognizing excellence (67%) and sharing information (68%). Given the fact that increased trust leads to higher retention rates and employee performance, it is clearly worthwhile for companies to emphasize the importance of trust between employees and different functional teams. But is that message getting through on an individual level? Perhaps the solution to sub-par corporate trust is to combine both lagging areas.

Employees want to be recognized for the expertise they bring to the company just as much as executive teams want to capture the knowledge of their best and brightest team members. In procurement, that knowledge is likely to be focused around spend categories or suppliers. Yet, how often is supplier intelligence jotted on a little piece of paper and tucked in a desk drawer – or worse: filed away ‘for later’ in the buyer’s memory.

Knowledge leakage is more than a missed opportunity to share information. It is a missed opportunity to recognize and institutionalize excellence. According to Paul Zak, resolving this situation creates the circumstances needed to achieve the following list of impressive benefits: “74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, and 40% less burnout.”

At tealbook, we hear that what appeals to companies most is our ability to help them ‘know’ what they already ‘know’ about suppliers. We make it so easy to save and share intelligence that there is no reason not to. When you discover a great new supplier, add them to your tealbook (knowledge captured). When you get a deeper understanding of their product/service capabilities, tag them for their expertise (knowledge captured). And if you need intelligence about a supplier or spend category that is new to your company, lean on the knowledge of your colleagues and industry peers – all in an instant through tealbook (knowledge gained!).

Are you interested in more about how tealbook can help your team share information and receive recognition for their intelligence – all in one step? Join tealbook to conduct your supplier discovery on the most instant, trusted platform available.

Creating ‘LOVE MOMENTS’ on your Growth Journey

Chain with heart

I happened to be in San Francisco for client meetings last week when I learned that SaaStr, the largest SaaS conference, was in town. Technology people from all over the world attended to get insight about scaling their SaaS businesses and networking.

Although I would have liked to spend more time there, I was able to squeeze in a few sessions and meet with some other founders. I took so much away from my time at the event, but the idea that really stood out was about creating LOVE MOMENTS.

The journey to building something important is hard! There is no easy way to be successful – even for innovative serial entrepreneurs. Each journey is filled with new challenges to be overcome, but those challenges can not be the focus. Teams need to focus on creating LOVE MOMENTS with all of the stakeholders in their ecosystem.

The words HAPPY and HAPPINESS were everywhere at SaaStr. To become a market leader, people should feel happy about your company and product. Better yet, they should LOVE the solution you offer.

What is the LOVE MOMENT for your customers? For tealbook, it is when a customer starts a VET (tealbook’s search engine) and they receive instant trusted supplier recommendations. It would have taken them days or weeks to gather the same data using a traditional approach, yet with tealbook it happens instantly. The next LOVE MOMENT is when customers receive affirmative responses from suppliers that believe they are a good potential fit and interested in being considered for an RFP.

For suppliers, the LOVE MOMENT is when they receive a notification from a client looking for their specific offerings and responding ACCEPT because they agree that they are a good fit and want to be included in the process. Not only have they found a new potential opportunity, they know that they are a good fit before having to invest significant time and effort responding to an RFP.

Understanding your market and how your product impacts your customers’ life is absolutely critical to success. The product will change and evolve but if there is no market fit… you will have no chance. For tealbook, I saw the need for some love over many years and across the hundreds of companies I consulted for. Even though they had sophisticated procurement and sourcing tools, they did not have an easy way to access and share information about their existing suppliers across different teams in the organization. It required them to spend tactical time piecing together information from different sources to identify a qualified list of existing and prospective suppliers. There was an opportunity, no competition, and a market ready to increase speed and scale by adopting intuitive technology.

Even internal teams need to have LOVE MOMENTS, although it usually means something quite different. Successful companies have made plenty of mistakes, and each mistake can be traced back to someone internally. People are only human, after all. Allow your team to make mistakes too. It is hard, but you will all learn and be better for it. If you don’t mess up, it probably means that you are not pushing the boundaries. You are keeping your team from achieving something extraordinary. Be up front about mistakes, find a way to create a productive LOVE MOMENT, then learn and move forward.

A healthy growth attitude starts with founders and pulls in employees, customers, and investors. Focus on those LOVE MOMENTS and watch your success spread!

Rising Trust in “A Person Like Me”

Digital handshake on blue background

“In our everyday lives, we are moving from a system based around vertical axes of trust, where we trust people who seem to have more authority than we do, to one predicated on horizontal axes of trust: we take advice from our peer group.”

– Gillian Tett , “Why we no longer trust the experts,” FT Magazine, July 1, 2016.

 

The whole world is undergoing a paradigm shift in trust, as described by Gillian Tett in the article quoted above.  From simple personal examples like hotel and restaurant reservations to professional networking and thought leadership, the Internet has completely democratized the exchange of information.

This has two primary effects:

  1. It diminishes the influence of traditional ‘authority figure’ individuals and organizations.
  2. It increases the influence of everyday experienced professionals working in the field that have valuable knowledge and information to share with their peers.

 

This shift comes at a particularly critical time for procurement. Most procurement teams are expanding from their traditional savings-driven approach to one that emphasizes value creation and relationship building. Procurement has always looked at the world from a unique point of view, and that provides an incentive to get feedback and suggestions from someone with a similar set of experiences and objectives.

We hear about the preference for peer information all the time in our conversations about supplier discovery and knowledge. In fact, at a conference last year, we conducted a study about the exchange of supplier intelligence and discovered that 82% of procurement professionals trust peer recommendations the most. At the same time, we learned that this preference hasn’t made the supplier discovery process easy in the past: it has been time consuming, inefficient, and has left very little trail for future company needs. But procurement professionals are dedicating to find the information they need to do the job right.

Fortunately, the same technology that makes it possible for every professional to have both a voice and a platform through which to share their knowledge, also makes it very easy to share information globally. The digital revolution has brought professionals that are industries or worlds apart into the same circle, where everyone can benefit from the peer exchange.

Our modern circles of trust are no longer limited by the range of people we can sit across a table from. Today we can build trust with peers we may never meet, but whom we have much in common. And with the tealbook platform, not only can you scale the amount of supplier intelligence procurement has access to instantly, you also build a legacy of information available for future colleagues.

The rise of digital alternatives to traditional methods of working and communicating has changed many of the ways we interact with the world around us. Anyone can be a restaurant critic, or a source or breaking news, or a specialist. And now, procurement can have instant access to trusted supplier intelligence from ‘a person like me’.

Reflecting back on a Decade of Entrepreneurship

Go it blind . Mixed media

I received an incredible amount of messages this last week congratulating me on Matchbook’s anniversary. LinkedIn provides great PR for work anniversaries, but what touched me most was the gratitude coming from people who said I had inspired them as an entrepreneur.

I founded Matchbook 10 years ago. It is great business that provides strategic sourcing and procurement services to an expanding number of fast growing companies. It has given me the opportunity to work across a hundred different organizations and gain deep industry insight. Over the past couple of years, I have been able to attract a talented and experienced team to carry the torch while 150% of my time and energy is spent building and growing tealbook.

As I enter my second decade of entrepreneurship, I can’t help thinking how much I have grown and learned. I know that being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. It is risky, scary, and a constant roller coaster. But I wouldn’t want it any other way… For me, it is freedom, passion, and perpetual change that allows me to devote myself so completely to building my vision. Creating something from nothing and being so directly accountable for its success is enormously gratifying.

Growing a service company was no walk in the park. It required putting myself out there and acquiring new clients on my own until I was finally able to build a team. The work depended on my ability to manage processes and leverage my deep industry experience. It has been a gift that has allowed me to become somewhat of an industry expert and uncover an unmet need in supplier intelligence and discovery. It led me to tealbook.

Building a technology company is a completely different beast. It has tested every inch of me and has elevated me from entrepreneur to CEO. It constantly pushes me to step outside of my comfort zone in a giant jigsaw puzzle that has required me to lean on an army of people to reach each critical milestone. In this new phase of my journey, I am excited to be growing our team and working with them, our customers, and suppliers to accelerate our growth and reach new heights.

For anyone in the early stages of an entrepreneurial journey or thinking about taking the leap of faith, here are some of my key learnings which I hope can help:

1) Naiveté is a gift. If I had known how hard it was going to be to build technology from scratch, I could have been persuaded not to do it. Not knowing allowed me to take the plunge and put the pieces in motion. Once you’re in it, the only direction is forward and my appetite for learning is insatiable.

2) Don’t start with a plan. This goes against everything you’ll read in business books, but it helped me to get started without finding excuses. The business plan would have been hard to develop without truly understanding the market opportunity. For this, I needed real insight from my extended network and they were much more inclined to help knowing that I was truly invested. The plan evolved and became much clearer as the business grew.

3) Surround yourself quickly with smart people that complement your skills. Recognizing your weaknesses and skills early on and complementing them with experienced people is critical to survival. You need to learn quickly how to sell your vision and find people that can get really excited about it. When someone doesn’t buy in or is not aligned on your vision, don’t wait and see. Move on. You will both be better for it.

4) Step outside of your comfort zone every day. You’ve stepped outside of the ‘known’ by starting the company, but in order for it to be a success you have to continue to push yourself. You should have a ‘feeling scared’ moment every single day. :-)

5) Listen to your customers and industry experts. Bringing in clients and industry experts early into our journey allowed us to learn the real market opportunity and build strong advocates for tealbook. They have been an integral part of building our platform so it best meets their needs. As the product evolves, it is important to continue asking questions and welcoming criticism. It is the only way you can truly improve and deliver a better product and experience.

6) Don’t give up. Being an entrepreneur is the loneliest job in the world. In the early stages, everything depends on you and you will doubt yourself a million times. Surround yourself with positive people that believe in your vision. Remember that you did this for a reason that was strong enough to make you choose this path and take this leap of faith.

I invite other entrepreneurs and founders to add to this list and hopefully inspire many more people to start their own journey.

The Digitization of Supplier Discovery

digital supplier discovery and knowledge management by tealbook

“According to The Hackett Group’s 2017 Key Issues Study, 84% of procurement organizations believe that digital transformation will fundamentally change the way their services are delivered over the next three to five years. Yet only 25% say that procurement has the right resources and competencies today to execute that transformation.” 

– Patrick Connaughton, “The 2017 CPO Agenda: Keeping Pace with and Enabling Digital Transformation – Part 1,” The Hackett Group, 13 January, 2017.

Although ‘digital’ has already emerged as one of the top buzzwords of 2017, procurement would be wise to give the term serious thought before we start using it with any regularity. Going digital requires more than just the involvement of technology. Procurement has been down that road before, in some cases more than once. Implementing technology is not the same thing as initiating a digital transformation. So what’s the difference?

Taking a process digital requires technology to be involved in such a way that it completely changes the way the company carries out the related processes, leading to a sea change in results. What better area to take digital than supplier discovery and knowledge management?

Historically speaking, supplier discovery has been one of the least digital activities in procurement. When we need new prospective suppliers, we might call a colleague on the phone, browse an online directory, or poke around in our desks looking for an old business card. None of these activities is particularly efficient, and they are probably even less effective.

What procurement really needs is to leverage the powerful intelligence that is created by the combination of trusted data, internal knowledge, and peer-driven intelligence. That way, when the need arises for suppliers of a product or service, procurement can quickly and reliably access suppliers and instantly identify what they are known for.

Let’s see if ‘digital’ supplier discovery meets the requirements for using the term.

1.    Completely changes the way the company carries out related processes: We’ve already talked about procurement’s ‘traditional’ methods for carrying out supplier discovery. Not only are they loosely based on ‘hope’ as a strategy, they are incredibly time consuming. No one would stand for such an approach when looking for a place to buy something personally when the option existed to go straight to one, large, trusted, consumer friendly source. Why should we tolerate anything less in our B2B buying habits?

2.    Leads to a sea change in results: Digital supplier discovery is instant, comprehensive, and trustworthy. It also maximizes the savings and value creation potential associated with the project by having the right mix of suppliers involved from the outset. In fact, when procurement carries out supplier discovery early in the sourcing process, new approaches and alternative solutions may come to light in time to not only qualify them, but also present them as bidding options to all of the suppliers invited to compete for the business.

If there is another benefit in the process of digital supplier discovery, it is related to supplier knowledge management. Making supplier intelligence so easy to capture that there are no barriers to doing so, and putting that intel in the hands of colleagues in the exact moment a need is identified creates a powerful opportunity for procurement. Fundamentally changing how the organization preserves and leverages supplier intelligence makes it far easier to re-use that information in the future to improve results: meeting the requirement to fundamentally change the process and also increase the results generated by it.

Growing into 2017

tealbook supplier discovery SaaS platform

My team and I have spent the last two years uncovering the real challenges created by poor supplier data, lack of shared supplier knowledge across organizations, and inefficient supplier discovery processes. We wanted to know exactly how tealbook fits within existing systems and to capture the value of optimized supplier intelligence, discovery, and identification for procurement teams and their internal stakeholders.

We sponsored surveys, held roundtable and advisory board meetings, and collaborated with procurement professionals on articles and a whitepaper. We asked questions and listened carefully so that we could build a platform to solve the unmet need across procurement teams and their organizations.

Our ability to integrate feedback from procurement professionals. internal stakeholders, and suppliers enabled us to win 6 large enterprise customers within the first year. Our outreach generated curiosity and interest among procurement leaders interested in changing the status quo and bolstering their collective supplier intelligence to increase collaboration, speed, and value to the business.

We are entering 2017 with a robust pipeline of new customers and the burning desire to be the best in class source of peer-driven supplier knowledge and intelligence for enterprise. With the help of our customers, tealbook is building the most trusted and valuable supplier community by inviting their suppliers to enrich and manage their information in one place. So far, our initial outreach has led to over 10% of suppliers updating their profile . We are confident that invitations from multiple clients and increased multi-channeled awareness of tealbook’s unique value will rise supplier adoption as we reach over 2 million suppliers in 2017.

As I look into the future, there are two important factors that will drive our continued success and scalability:

1) TECHNOLOGY: We will provide a best in class platform that uses machine learning and AI to provide value, leading to predictive intelligence and strong adoption by all users, and

2) EXECUTION: We want to offer a painless implementation and an overall experience that turns our clients, suppliers, and employees into raving fans.

To support the above, I am honored and excited to welcome Geoff Peddle (CTO) and Ian Woodbury (COO) to the tealbook executive team. I can’t think of two more qualified partners to join the next phase of our journey to significantly improve supplier intelligence and discovery. They are the real deal. They bring the experience, the focus and commitment needed to support our growth. I am excited for the opportunity to lean on and learn from them as my role becomes that much more focused on our customers, building industry-wide advocacy and drive our vision forward.

Please join me in welcoming Geoff and Ian to our team!

A Founder’s Experience For Procurement

Problemlsung mit einer Idee

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend 48 Hours in the Valley, an event organized by the C100 to help top Canadian emerging companies gain access to The Valley’s elite community of tech founders, mentors, and investors.

tealbook was one of 20 carefully selected companies from a pool of 170 sponsored candidates. After spending 2 1/2 days with the founders and CEOs of these companies, it was clear that the committee had thoughtfully combined some of the most promising new Canadian tech companies and an impressive group of founders.

The event was a mixture of team building activities, workshops, speakers, and investor meetings. It was an amazing opportunity to step out of the day to day race and share notes with other passionate entrepreneurs at all stages in the journey. I was grateful for the experience and made connections that will last a lifetime.

As I reflected back on my experience, I realized that many of the insights I received during the event are transferable to any procurement leader wanting to gain a seat at the executive table. Here are some of the key take aways that influenced me as a founder and CEO – any of which are applicable to any procurement leader interested in growing their impact on the business:

Scale yourself and your team

Sukhinder Sing-Cassidy (CEO, Joyus) spoke about scaling yourself. She compared the process of scaling from founder to CEO to transitioning from author to publisher. Like founders, many procurement professionals have a hard time not getting caught in the weeds. Scaling yourself and your team is critical for success. Here are some of the tips that Sukhinder shared:

·     Hire smart people that complement your skills and give them the time and autonomy to brainstorm new ideas as a team without you. Remove your influence and let them develop a solid business case for opportunities that have the greatest chances of success before presenting them to you. Giving them the freedom to push boundaries and preparing to support their ideas will empower them and help drive systemic innovation.

·     Allow your employees to manage you. Let them know what is important to you and what you expect from them early on. Clear communications and expectations go a long way in building trust and relationships.

·     Find a ‘priest’, someone that you trust but that is not involved in your business. Don’t make your employees, friends, or spouse your priest. A mentor, life, or career coach can be a good investment when setting goals and working through challenging times.

Think Big

Tim Draper (Founder, Draper Associates) talked about wild ideas that are not too far distant in the future. Look ahead of today’s possibilities and think BIG. Don’t be afraid of shooting for the moon when developing short and long term plans. Encourage your team to think big about how procurement can impact the organization – and allow for failure. Nothing innovative happens without big ideas and healthy risk taking.

Positioning and Winning

David Baga (Chief Business Officer, Lyft) brought up the importance of positioning. It reminded me of the importance for procurement to set up a clear mission statement for its role in the company. That vision can be built by truly understanding senior leadership’s expectations and internal stakeholders’ goals and needs. Branding procurement with a focus on winning can be a powerful way to generate more value and improve internal collaboration.

Power of the Network

Jasper Malcolmson (CEO, Skylight) facilitated a workshop on the power of the social network. Any good procurement leader understands the importance of connecting with internal stakeholders. Jasper mentioned that some of the best conversations he has were in Uber Pool. Find ways to connect with people internally by spending time in social places like the cafeteria or team building events. Beyond visibility, you will always learn something by connecting and listening to others.

ABR – Always be Recruiting

Jen Holmstrom (GGV Capital) shared her experience recruiting for Facebook among other companies. We know that finding great people is difficult in general, but finding good procurement people is a greater challenge. Look for skills that can be leveraged to support your goals such as great account management people from the supplier side or internal stakeholders that have deep category expertise and are looking for a new challenge. The more innovative and forward thinking your team is, the better the people you will be able to attract.

We wrapped up the event with a pitch competition. Each founder had 3 minutes to pitch their company in front of an investor judging panel. We worked on perfecting our story to make it as attractive and clear as possible to potentially interested investors. Being prepared and getting your story down to the most value-added essentials should be imperative for procurement leaders when presenting to the executive team. This would be a great exercise to better articulate procurement’s mission, what it has done for the company, and what it will do going forward. This should be the beginning of any leadership team meeting where you want them to learn more and invest to take procurement to the next level.