Proxima — See the change

Insight & opinion

 

Professional Services: what are we paying for, exactly?

Richard James: Proxima's Professional Services expert

As supply management evolves into a strategic business function, one of the key roles procurement teams often play is to challenge stakeholders to justify what they are paying for. In “traditional” cases this is relatively easy: you can count the number of laptops you need to buy, you can benchmark the wholesale price of utilities, you can understand the need to use a recruitment agency to find new or replacement staff.

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2014: The year procurement changed

2014: the year procurement changed

Year end reflections are usually about the changes that will happen ‘next year’. 2015 will be the year when (insert as appropriate!) will finally take off...
But this year, we first want to reflect on the year gone by. It’s hard not to make bold statements about how much procurement and the management of suppliers have come to the fore. Take three examples that have shaped the front page news.

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Marketing procurement: Utility and commerciality - drivers of innovation

Proxima: Marketing Procurement

I attended the WARC prize for innovation awards yesterday evening, which certainly got me thinking about what innovation means to different people, companies and industries.

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2014 wrap-up: What's the point of procurement?

proxima-blue-background

This round-up of sought after research, articles, webinars and interviews offers some insight into the journey that procurement has undertaken throughout 2014 and offers some thoughts around what might be to come in 2015.

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A fresh pair of eyes

Guy Strafford: A fresh pair of eyes

The traditional way to explain the role of an auditor is that they’re a watchdog, not a bloodhound. They keep an eye on what’s happening, sit up when something looks suspicious and occasionally bark when they see something dodgy. The job is explicitly not turning over every rock they can find to test ethics or legality - no bloodhounds chasing the bad guys through the woods here.

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Audit services: Four reasons why it pays to be a first mover

Richard James: Proxima Audit Services

During the original dot-com boom, the idea of first mover advantage gained massive currency. Staking out a digital domain before anyone else showed up was considered the best way to guarantee success – gaining mindshare, customers, and above all, experience and personnel that would be denied your rivals.

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Financial Times: Proxima weighs in on new audit market reforms

Guy Strafford: Audit market reforms

There was a strong feeling of anticipation and suspense throughout the Proxima office in London on Wednesday, as we all waited excitedly for Financial Times City Correspondent Harriet Agnew’s article - discussing the shake-up to the audit tender process - to be published. A few weeks earlier, Richard James (Category Director for Professional and Financial Services) had been interviewed by Harriet, and asked to weigh in on what impact the changes to the UK audit tender process are having on the wider market.

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Tender touches for better audits - five recommendations

Richard-James-Proxima

Following new regulations and a deep desire to restore lost public faith in business, audit is making a conceptual comeback. The European Commission’s new rules on mandatory tendering for audit every ten years (along with increased scrutiny; demands for transparency in the audit process; and controls on what other work your auditor can do) make the process of choosing and contracting an auditor incredibly important.

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Infographic: Accountants warn on audit market reforms

Guy Strafford - Proxima

When analysing the current FTSE 350’s use of audit services, our research highlights the impact of the Competition and Markets Authority’s reform on the UK audit market – finding that there is more happening under the surface than meets the eye...

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Are you buying what you want...or what you need?

Guy Strafford and Jonathan Cooper-Bagnall Math Men and procurement

“The fish rots from the head”. Strong words from a recent FT article rounding up a series of accounting issues besetting large companies in the UK. Following a discussion between Proxima and respected commentator Stefan Stern; Stern argues that boards need to open their eyes to all activities in their business (from top to bottom) – but without getting involved in day-to-day tinkering. 

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What’s better for procurement: Mad Men vs Math Men?

Guy Strafford and Jonathan Cooper-Bagnall Math Men and procurement

Many people love to believe the world is driven by “Eureka!” moments – flashes of inspiration or genius leading to a revolution in thinking. 

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3 reasons big data is important to procurement

Guy Strafford: Big data's impact on procurement

Following my previous post, exploring the importance of social media for procurement, this post aims to address the second topic covered in the Financial Times piece - the impact of ‘big data’ on supplier management practices, and why it is essential that this concept is not ignored.

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The Internet of Things - challenging human behaviour

Guy Strafford - The Internet of Things

The progress made by humanity in how we communicate has changed the very nature of how we behave – from the advent of the electric telegraph in the 1700s, to the internet being publicly introduced in the 1980s, to Wi-Fi in 1991.

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3 reasons social media is important to procurement

Guy Strafford - Proxima

I recently read an interesting article in the Financial Times that discussed how social media and big data are being used to help solve supply chain issues and improve supplier management practices at a number of large companies.

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The Challenger manifest: fortune favours the brave

Guy Strafford

Over the centuries, the development of thought and constant challenge of the world around us has enabled mankind to achieve some amazing breakthroughs, which have transformed our lives:

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The Challenger banks

Ian Ingram

In 1596 Shakespeare wrote the Merchant of Venice - a play in which a young Venetian merchant, named Antonio, signs an interest-free loan to help his friend, Bassanio, romantically court (with lots of money) Portia, the woman of his dreams. The catch is that if Antonio defaults on the loan, Shylock (the financier in this scenario) has the right to take a literal “pound of flesh”.

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Your procurement team is drowning

Jonathan Cooper-Bagnall

By now you will already be familiar with our corporate virtualization research, showing that the average company now spends around 70% of its revenues with suppliers. But what does it mean for your business, and how can you uncover the opportunities that this trend encourages?

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Canary song

Guy_and_Scott

The headline on a capital markets report looking at bond yields was worrying: “Canary in the coalmine”. Canaries were useful to miners because, although small, they sing sweetly until they get a whiff of gas and then they abruptly stop singing. The miners say a short prayer for the little bird, then get out as fast as they can.

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The real issues keeping CFOs up at night

Ian-New

Deloitte recently published an article in the WSJ highlighting 10 Issues that are keeping CFOs up at night.

Whilst the Deloitte list highlights some of the important issues, we’ve reached out to our own network (of client teams and readers) and come up with five additional issues that are most likely to make their way to the top of the CFO’s agenda over the second half of 2014.

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The next step to supplier success

Guy-New

At Proxima, an essential part of our work is making sure our finger is on the pulse of opinion and sentiment in our clients’ markets. It means that our advice and strategic development work is contextualised correctly within the environments in which our clients operate, which in turn enables us to find the best solutions to their challenges.

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How to uncover your hidden treasures within indirect procurement

Proxima image; Tom Lawrence

Alsbridge have written a whitepaper outlining why business leaders should look to managed service providers to drive out hidden treasures within their indirect spend.

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The beautiful game

Guy_and_Scott

There’s something a little forced about coming up with a World Cup analogy for business and procurement in light of the quadrennial football festival in Brazil. But – you’ve read this far, so it would be remiss not to give it a go.

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Are you dis-'content'?

New_Scott

The idea of a supply chain for a business sharing 'content' used to be so simple. But it’s not just digitization that’s shaken up the natural order of creator, publisher, retailer and consumer. It’s the way we think of middlemen.

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Publishing: a story of supply management

Guy-New

Twenty years ago the web promised a relentless march of disintermediation. For publishers, often seen as the classic middle-man, the prospect was scary. But all has not been lost…

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One world, one business model – the impact of globalization

New_Scott

I was chatting to a management thinker the other day – a former CFO, as it happens – and he said something so compelling, yet so simple, that I was stunned. “The problem with the runaway success of MBA schools is that we’re developing a global corporate monoculture,” he said. “We’re concentrating risk in similar places around the world.”

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No cost is an island

Guy-New

It’s striking how many CFOs count leadership of a cost saving programme as a major part of their role. There’s nothing wrong with making procurement more efficient and streamlining the cost base, of course. But the best finance functions treat it as part of their commercial contribution, not a traditional bit of hard-nosed accounting.

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Panel session to discuss HBR article; Corporate Virtualization

New_Scott

Following on from our recent Harvard Business Review coverage, I’d like to invite you to join us for an online panel session – discussing practical perspectives and pragmatic insights into the trend of Corporate Virtualization.

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New way of looking at an old problem

Jeroen-New

The European Food & Beverage Market is in a state of turmoil. Increasingly regular headlines are being published around deficiencies in quality standards and growing contamination cases. The reputation and financial damage of these headlines can be critical for any business operating in an already tumultuous industry (as discussed in my previous post).

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Value, values and the return to growth

Ian-New

New research shows that a growing number of corporates are refocusing their procurement functions away from cost and towards strategic innovation. A sure sign that corporate management's attitudes towards procurement are shifting. (We discuss this further in our upcoming webinar). But are the smart ones just copying the companies that have always understood that this is a key source of value?

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A moving feast for the Dutch Food & Beverage Market

Jeroen-New

For Dutch food and beverage (F&B) businesses, improving margins is a constant challenge and breaking out of the commodity trap is the name of the game.

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Proxima clients nominated for a Procurement Leaders Award

Guy-New

Since our inception, Proxima has set out to change the way procurement is both thought of and conducted at organizations around the world. Today we have more proof that we are successfully moving in that direction.

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Harvard Business Review recognizes today's leaders cannot afford to downplay procurement

Proxima image; Scott Sparks

I am pleased to bring you the news that Proxima’s research and thinking on how commerce has evolved, and the implications for modern corporations, is now being recognized at the highest level globally.

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10 questions senior executives should be asking about their cost base

Proxima image; Scott Sparks

Over the past few weeks I have written about the journey towards corporate virtualization that many media & entertainment businesses have been on over the past 10 years.

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Sales and procurement – a corporate paradox

Proxima image; Guy Strafford

Sales and procurement are two ends of the same activity. So why, in non-core procurement, are they like the prince and the pauper separated at birth?

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Benefits for media & entertainment companies from better supply management

Proxima image; Scott Sparks

With the average media & entertainment business spending twice as much on suppliers than on its own people, I thought I would share some of our industry insights on the benefits of successfully getting your suppliers under control and offer a real life example of this happening at leading video game publisher – Activision Blizzard.

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The shifting sands of procurement

Proxima image; Scott Sparks

As the global economic recovery gathers pace, more and more businesses are turning their sights from cost reduction to growth. How well an organization’s procurement team supports this shift will materially impact overall business performance.

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Corporate risk: when upside is a downer

Proxma image; Ian Ingram

Any accountant will tell you that more businesses go bust in the recovery from a downturn than in the recession itself. A big reason for this is poor risk management – because managers think they can stop worrying. They can’t.

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Media & entertainment’s journey of virtualization

Proxima image; Scott Sparks

Business has changed - driven by globalization, technology and changing consumer habits.  Executives have had to rapidly adapt their business models, products, and distribution channels in response to these groundswell changes.  But the implications of these unstoppable forces don’t stop there.  Another impact is that suppliers today are providing an ever-increasing proportion of business activities, many of which used to be delivered by direct employees and internal operations.

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Was 2013 the tipping point?

Proxima image; Proxima logo

As 2014 begins, we've taken a look back over 2013, putting together this selection of our most popular whitepapers, blogs, discussions, and videos.

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Re-evaluating procurement in 2014

Proxima image; Scott Sparks

I hope your 2014 has got off to a positive start – it seems there is an air of positivity covering global economies – with green shoots well and truly growing at pace in US and UK markets.

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Showing procurement's true value

Proxima image; Guy Strafford

I hope your 2014 has got off to a positive start – it seems there is an air of positivity covering global economies – with green shoots well and truly growing at pace in US and UK markets.

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Media & entertainment businesses are now hollow

Proxima image; Scott Sparks

Did you know: The average media & entertainment business spends twice as much on suppliers than its own people?

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Trust us, fee decrees are not the answer

Proxima image; Tom Lawrence

Supplier management is challenging. Gaining the best levels of service, quality, performance and value takes work and relies upon employing the best in class. For marketers, it’s about employing suppliers that genuinely understand your business. And if you motivate them to perform, they will want to deliver.

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2014 the year of working the profit and loss harder

Proxima image; Scott Sparks

CFO.com recently published an article around the Eight Top Issues for CFOs in 2014*. The number one consideration was to ‘avoid choking off revenue growth’ or put another way, focus on growth oriented cost management.

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Getting your extended enterprise working as one. Harmonising your suppliers and your business objectives

Proxima image; Guy Strafford

The modern business now consists of a small central core conducting a large virtual orchestra of suppliers. 

The maestro leading this symphony is procurement.

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Top 5 tips for managing your virtualized/extended enterprise

Proxima image; Scott Sparks

Corporate virtualization’ has taken hold across all large businesses today - the on-going phenomenon of replacing internal functions and labor with suppliers has changed the very fabric of the modern company. It has not been a planned or even conscious decision – but over the last 20 years is has been an unstoppable force.

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Why are businesses failing to get the most out of their non-core costs? (pt 3)

Proxima image; Scott Sparks

Part one and Part two of this three part mini-series have covered several reasons why non-core procurement is more complex, wider reaching and changes faster than most people imagine (compared to core or direct procurement). In this post, the final in the series, I will discuss why businesses need to approach procurement in a completely different way.

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Why are businesses failing to get the most out of their non-core costs? (pt 2)

Proxima image; Scott Sparks

Part one of this three part mini-series discussed how non-core procurement is more complex, wider reaching and changes faster than most people imagine. In this post, I explore three further points, namely the necessary skills, knowledge and perspectives required to effectively manage non-core procurement.

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Why are businesses failing to get the most out of their non-core costs? (pt 1)

Proxima image; Scott Sparks

Businesses are failing to get the most out of the non-core costs. Why? Well, simply put, because procurement is failing. But the issue here is far deeper than simply pointing your finger at the team of people in procurement - in fact, I would argue, the problem lies in five very different areas, which we’ll explore below.

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Outsourcing is NOT offshoring – why procurement outsourcing needs an alternative approach

Proxima image; Guy Strafford

The procurement brand has suffered greatly over recent times, at a time when the business need for it has grown. A history of under-performance, detachment from the real business needs and an unhealthy obsession with savings have all contributed to a widespread reputational problem, that ultimately undermines the credibility of the function.

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