Optimising Your Game – At the Trade Extensions User Event

Yesterday we attended the second Trade Extensions European user conference at the impressive Arsenal Emirates Stadium. It was an event reserved for an exclusive number of users and potential users of the TESSTM sourcing optimisation software; about 40 attendees were treated to a day of talks, networking, nice food (although we expect not cooked by the hand of two-star Michelin Chef, Mr Raymond Blanc, responsible for the exclusive Arsenal Diamond Club’s culinary excellence, apparently), and a very interesting tour of the stadium itself.

nancy chantelle arsenalFrom arrival at the entrance hall, the first thing players are greeted with is a giant icon of the club mounted on the wall infront of them, posters of the club’s success moments over the decades surrounding it and the buried time capsule, placed within the Stadium at the time of  the ground's construction in 2004, containing things like boots, a shirt, and even a lock of Charlie George's hair (which I am told he wore famously long!). All a bit intimidating for the away players on arrival, of course! The changing rooms are pretty cool too, with their impossible-to-slip-technology flooring and the cubicles all arranged by shirt and position on the field.

Anyway, what was a bit different about the event, other than the location, was that unlike most software solution user conferences, it wasn’t primarily about the use of the software itself – Trade Extensions managed to avoid the traditional, instead, bringing attendees an approach that would resonate with their daily jobs/lives. (Although there was enough spare time for delegates to network and discuss ideas in the breaks). Speeches focused on real, live issues and scenarios that listeners could learn from and apply to their procurement functions and their companies’ wider strategic visions. Here’s a brief overview of the sessions, and we’ll be back next week with more in depth coverage of each.

Alis Singjberg Hemmingsen kicked off with a fascinating view of "Responsible Procurement" and the "Circular Economy." If you haven't heard that expression up to now, you're likely to hear a lot more of it in the future. We learned from Sigi Osagie in “Procurement Success: What to Pack for the Voyage of Change,” that what every procurement department needs is change -- and that it's a journey, not an event. Sigi outlined his experiences of how to tackle that journey, what you need to take with you and how you can reach the end successfully by focusing on three key sides to the triangle: the people managing the change, the people affected by it and the senior management that need to buy into it. More to come ...

A very humbling speech was delivered by Chris Cushing from Médecins Sans Frontières, a charity which Trade Extensions supplies with free licences to support their sourcing activities, and helps to fund. He spoke about Sourcing and Supply in Extreme Environments, in this case Bosnia and Sarajevo. If you think you are facing strategic or logistical challenges within your function, wait till you hear about their obstacles to supply. Talking to delegates afterwards, it was clear he had really made them turn their minds towards their own risks, due diligence and ways of working.

Hard to follow, but follow he did, Peter then delivered his speech on Procurement -- a Great Future or a Dying Profession? -- one of his favourite subjects. He'll tell you more about that soon I'm sure. Then Garry Mansell, Trade Extensions CEO, gave a bit of history about the firm and how it has grown, from setup following a merger in 2008 to $1 billion of spend every week going through the system by 2013, new corporate headquarters in 2014, then new offices in Germany and TESS Academy launched in 2015.

The success, he explained - including 20 percent year-on-year growth - is partly owed to the firm's working ethos: one of flexibility, staff retention and a system developed in tune with learnings from customers. That's why Trade Extensions is very proud to have so many of the world's largest and most respected firms amongst their customers.

A good event, without a doubt, and there will be more next week on the highlights.

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