BravoConnect, Packed with Procurement Treasures – Overview of Day 1

"The BravoConnect (BravoSolution) annual user conference is being held over two days, yesterday and today, at the Oatlands Park Hotel near Weybridge, Surrey -- a very pleasant country house venue with lovely terrace and grounds (even if it is now surrounded by housing estates). Peter, Pierre Mitchell, our colleague and lead research analyst from the US, and I attended yesterday and joined about 200 clients, potential clients and generally interested delegates at the event.

It was a truly international mix of speakers and delegates, some coming from as far away as New Zealand. It was a busy, interesting and stimulating day, with lots of things happening and lots of different sessions going on, so plenty of choice for delegates depending on their areas of interest, but not so much that you had to forfeit one topic for another. BravoSolution had structured the day really well, duplicating the sessions at intervals to make sure you didn't miss anything, and they allowed lots of mini breaks so you didn't have to rush between events, had time to talk to people and digest the information you'd just heard, or just sit in one of the comfortable nooks and crannies to network or just work!

The keynote came from Gary Noesner, former chief hostage negotiator with the FBI. Now there is an interesting job! Well done BravoSolution for coming up with, and sourcing, such an original and interesting speaker. He was fascinating: he told us stories that would make your hair stand on end, from negotiating with David Koresh during the Waco cult siege, to  persuading a man with a gun on an aircraft carrier to surrender. But he also combined that with some good insights into more general negotiation skills and influencing techniques and styles. Listening was the first message, then developing empathy and rapport. Good advice for anyone negotiating in a collaborative supplier environment. More on that to come in some drill-down reporting next week.

Mickey North Rizza of BravoSolution gave us the ten keys to unlocking procurement value - pretty much the overall theme of the event. (Mirrored by the chest of treasures that BravoSolution kept in the foyer under lock and key -- everyone got a chance to try one key to see if they could unlock procurement. We’ll let you know the outcome at the end of the event). Mickey got a lot of content into 30 minutes or so, and we may come back and unpack some of her points in a later article. The afternoon was given over to break-out sessions, in the main from clients. We managed to attend 8 of the 10 sessions between us, and they were generally high quality, well received and useful as a first-hand viewpoint from an actual adopter with needs that resonated with the attendees. These sessions generated lots of quite specific questions – and we’ll include some of them in individual write ups.

Dermot Cahill and Gary Glifford from the Bangor University Institute of Competition and Procurement Studies explained their work to simplify the tender process with pilot work for two local government bodies in Wales. That was impressive work, with real benefits to the supply market, contracting authorities and "allowing the procurement team to get their life back"! We'll definitely have more on that.

There were also good case studies of procurement transformation programmes, the first from the impressive Jessica Sanchez of C.R. Bard, which provides medical systems, devices and supplies. Another came from Frank Lehmann and Sijia Wen of Imperial Tobacco. That firm uses a wide range of BravoSolution modules, some, like the project and savings reporting and tracking capability, are perhaps less well known than analytics and sourcing. Abu Dhabi Airports Company, Saeed Al Ameri, told us how they have managed to reduce costs, decrease cycle times, improve the procurement process and align procurement goals with those of the organisation by implementing BravoSolution. ADAC is undertaking the construction of the largest, most complex terminal in the UAE. And Benjamin Hulot, Veolia, which designs and deploys waste, water and energy environmental management solutions, explained how they are able to communicate with senior stakeholders about purchasing performance, using BravoSolution to visualise and track addressable spend and savings and consolidate suppliers.

Scott Pryde of BravoSolution gave the background to, and a good all round picture of, the state of healthcare systems around the world. Capacity continues to be squeezed while demand soars ever higher. He gave us a long, hard look at supply chain inefficiencies and the challenges for healthcare procurement. This set the stage perfectly for two upcoming healthcare break-out sessions,  Rob Knott from the Department of Health, and Andy McMinn from Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which Peter will certainly reporting on in full.

Iain Livingstone, from BravoSolution partner n3, gave us an inside look at the journey undertaken by New Zealand Defence Force when it implemented BravoSolution, going  from a paper-based, manual procurement process to a fully automated, integrated one. The hurdles they had to jump along the way give users and potential adopters some key insights. We will definitely be covering that in more depth next week.

So, plenty to talk about. And “bravo!” to BravoSolution for an informative, creative and enjoyable first day – with wonderful food to boot!

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