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CPO Superpowers

By  Ginny Warr, Head of Procurement – British Land  on  30 Jul 2020

Rosslyn Blog

How can CPOs remain priceless by protecting against costly commercial risk and misinformed decision making?

Consider the Eagle; one of nature’s greatest hunters and resilient survivors.  It has a unique combination of a clear line of aerial sight, ability to gather information, process that information, assess the situation and then move with immense speed to optimise the opportunity or avoid the danger.

 

Data rich, but insight poor

Like the eagle, CPOs have to act quickly to capitalise or protect. But as humble human beings, we must find ways to achieve great outcomes without the eagle’s skills.   We rely on high-quality, readily available sources of data. But now more than ever, the CPO’s most critical superpower is drawing insights from the data to make predictions that can lead to action.

With an overwhelming volume of data from multiple source systems, ERP, spend analytics, contract registers, third party risk monitoring tools and supplier databases, many CPOs suffer from being data rich and insight poor.   Procurement must use this rich resource to create a solid and reliable bridge between the buying and supplying organisations.

A great CPO will spend a significant amount of their time not looking at data but spotting trends and changes in performance patterns and risk profiles within their extended supply chain and its competitors.  Never has this skill been more critical than in the current economic environment where agile decision making is the key to having a relevant and resilient, bullet proof business. 

Over the last few months, I have noticed an increase in appetite within my own business to engage with the Procurement Team.  We have worked effectively in cross functional teams to resolve what many may see as new challenges, although they have always been there but are now more magnified and urgent.  This approach has had a positive impact in accelerating our stakeholder engagement and business partnering agenda.

One of the ways that I have found I can actively engage parts of the business that I have previously struggled to get traction with, is to provide them with ‘did you know?’ teasers of insight.

Examples of this may be: -

‘I have recently noticed that we have become the biggest single customer for x supplier due to them recently losing a contract renewal with y.  Maybe we should consider ………… or

‘I have noticed that our spend with x supplier has doubled in the last three months, this is interesting bearing in mind this is typically a quiet period for us’

This is often more powerful than sending a whole report crammed with charts and data sets.  Of course, the charts and data exist behind the message, but the first challenge is getting the business to want to know more and then you have achieved the active engagement which is where the procurement function can really add value.. 

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SHARING IDEAS TO DRIVE INNOVATION

Follow Ginny’s lead at British Land, for handy hints, tips and tricks on:

  • Turning data into insight and action.
  • Engaging the wider business.
  • Supply chain resilience
Download now

Procurement has progressed in leaps and bounds over the last few years, moving from being a cost focussed function, to a department that adds strategic value through risk management, supplier collaboration and building sustainable relationships that benefit all parties. 

I have also observed a difference in the way that we are working with our suppliers.  Nothing unites people behind a shared objective as effectively as a crisis.  We have shared challenges and solved them together, we have relied on good honest conversations in these brutal and unforgiving times, our communications have become more open and inclusive.  

By using fact-based supply chain data, we have simulated different business scenarios and collaborated on solutions.  Many of these insights have provided a new optic for suppliers to see the challenges ahead. 

The ability to develop creative and innovative responses will open new doors for both the buyer and the supplier. Having confidence in the quality and integrity of the data is key to unlocking the value.

The ability to quickly aggregate data to use in business scenario planning will unlock untapped opportunities and give early warning smoke signals helping to avoid potential dangers head. This will build strength and resilience within your supply chain and your broader business which will prove invaluable.

The true value of a CPO is their ability to release business potential through unlocking supply chain analytics.  Superpowers are not coming anytime soon, so make sure you have a good reliable source of data to create your business insights.  Let’s work together to ensure that like the eagle, we do not become an endangered species.

Ginny Warr 
Head of Procurement – British Land

blue CTA background

SHARING IDEAS TO DRIVE INNOVATION

Follow Ginny’s lead at British Land, for handy hints, tips and tricks on:

  • Turning data into insight and action.
  • Engaging the wider business.
  • Supply chain resilience
Download now