TUI on Redirecting Procurement Resource to the Value-Add Projects

Almost one month today, Global Business Intelligence (GBI), a long-running events, marketing and multimedia firm, is holding its European CPO event - June 27 to be exact. We discovered that it’s unlike some other events companies in that it does a few things differently: it focuses on strictly targeting the right audience; its offering is one that continues to work for the delegate or sponsor, even after the event (by way of leveraging the messages and benefits of attending through online content, intelligence reports, and so on); it is supported by and consults an Advisory Board comprised of the same calibre professionals as the attendees it wishes to attract.

One of those Board members, who is also delivering one of the sessions of the day, is Paul Harlington FCIPS, Group Procurement Director for TUI, the well-known global travel firm which covers the entire tourism value chain. We spoke to him about the significance of the Board to the event, and about the relevance of his presentation to the overarching theme, the changing CPO agenda.

So why have an Advisory Board?

“This is a new idea for GBI,” he told us. “They have taken the initiative to reach out to and appoint CPOs to find out what it is they believe is most valuable to their peers.” Using that tactic GBI can ensure that the content it creates is most relevant to the attendees – the CPOs and heads of procurement – rather than being driven by the sponsors and exhibitors, so they end up with content that is aimed at CPOs, for the CPOs.

“We had an inaugural meeting earlier this year at the House of Commons” he explained, “where we held some great discussions about what would add value to this event, and what wouldn’t.”

Many topics came up, like the future and value of CIPS for example (this led to GBI proactively engaging with CIPS head, Malcolm Harrison, and approaching him to discuss the subject, possibly at a future event) – so keep your eyes open for that. One of the other subjects that came up, which will definitely be woven into the fabric of the June event, is that of bringing more diversity into the profession and to events like this one. “This was rather odd,” Paul joked, “since we were 10 middle-aged white men sitting round a table.” But the lack of diversity on the Board only made the message more relevant, and it helped to shape the agenda around encouraging more diverse talent at all levels, including more women, black and minority ethnic groups (BMEGs) and people from differing social, economic and cultural backgrounds into the world of procurement.

Other key topics that will be covered on the day include procurement transformation, the uses of IoT, data analytics in supplier management, how technology is shaping procurement, and more generally the challenges facing procurement directors. All of which will be delivered from senior procurement visionaries.

And speaking of which, we asked Paul about his chosen subject:

Redirecting Procurement Resources towards the Value-Add Projects

The significance and benefits of this need hardly be explained – so we talked about what a procurement director might discover from the lessons learnt of another who has already risen to the challenge.

Firstly, a little bit of background to the subject matter. The topic has a long history, but Paul reminded us that in early 2014, the then Procserve (now known under the Basware name) announced a potential partnership with Amazon over a B2B commercial offering, essentially an Amazon commerce site offered through Procserve, to enable purchasing professionals to buy in an ‘Amazon way.’ “It was exciting at the time,” Paul said, “the rationale behind it was to buy low-value items on Amazon, albeit with a 0.5% cost differential from what buyers could get themselves, offset by the bother of all the research, the time and resource to make such a small saving – essentially effort which could be put into sourcing and negotiating for much higher-value projects.”

Unfortunately this initiative never materialised years ago, but “18 months ago we formed the opportunity to spearhead an Amazon Business approach in Europe – trialling this approach via several TUI clients in different countries. With input from TUI, Amazon has created a consumer marketplace experience but with a (slightly) different UI to integrate it into procurement systems. We have allowed employees to purchase up to 1000 euros of low-value goods via Amazon without procurement intervention. Working with Amazon the aim was to increase efficiency of buying low-value items. It is still in its infancy, with some hurdles to get over, but we could see that, as we rolled out, it was easily adopted by buyers, who could understand it because it mirrored what they do in their day-to-day personal lives. Equally, pitching it to the CEO didn’t take much explanation – the initiative was instantly grasped – that’s the beauty of Amazon – it’s a common experience. What was uncommon was having a CPO explain something to a CEO which needed no context!”

So Paul will be speaking fundamentally about how to get a better return on resource investment, helping CPOs to free up critical time for higher-value, more strategic projects that yield more value to the organisation. Joined by Molly Dobson, Head of Enterprise Customer Success at Amazon Business, he will be talking about his experience (gains and losses) of implementing more self-service to achieve that, and the opportunities that exist to simplify procurement. He says: “As a CPO, our job is to identify where we can add value – and where we can’t. Where we can’t add value, we must make that task simple enough that it doesn’t subtract time and resource from activities that do.”

The CPO event takes place in Amsterdam on June 27. For directors of procurement who are serious about improving their processes, and wish to rub heads with others who share the same goal, there are learnings and insight from 50 CPOs, ready, like Paul, to give a candid account of their successes, and failures, and willing to answer questions from their peers.

You can read the full agenda here and there’s still time to apply – here.

Note that to access the schedule you will need to register to gain an access code – we might be cynical and think it’s all about getting lead gen data, or it could simply be that it affords the organisers the opportunity to maintain the right level of seniority across the audience - as we said earlier, it’s something GBI appear to be good at.

We’ve heard Paul present at events before, and we have to say he is a very engaging speaker. If you’d like a taste of his passion for a topic he’s spoken about before, his white paper, on how we can engage and empower procurement and our teams, is well worth a read – download that here.


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