Unlocking Value: Whole Life Costing in Procurement

In the ever-evolving landscape of procurement, there is shift underway with focus on not just the upfront cost of a product or service, but its total cost over its entire lifespan. This approach commonly known as whole life costing (WLC), is changing the way organisations make procurement decisions, offering a more comprehensive and insightful perspective.

Whole life costing (WLC) is a methodology that goes beyond the immediate financial outlay of acquiring goods or services. It encompasses a broader spectrum of costs associated with a product or service throughout its entire lifecycle, providing a holistic view of the financial impact of a procurement decision. As Chris Voss aptly puts it, “Successful negotiation is not about getting to ‘yes’; it’s about mastering ‘no’ and understanding what the path to an agreement is.” This resonates deeply with the essence of WLC, emphasising the importance of understanding all facets of a procurement decision before reaching an agreement.

By adopting a WLC approach, organisations gain a deeper understanding of the true cost of ownership. WLC also enables decision-makers to evaluate the total cost of a product or service over its lifespan, considering factors such as reliability, durability, energy efficiency and environmental impact.

Whole life costing has gained prominence as organisations seek to optimise their procurement processes and maximise the value of their investments. By integrating WLC into procurement strategies, businesses can identify cost-saving opportunities, mitigate risks, and enhance sustainability efforts.

Novo-K is a leading procurement consultancy business renowned for its innovative approach to strategic sourcing and is at the forefront of embracing WLC. Their expertise lies in leveraging WLC to drive efficiency, maximise value, and mitigate risks for their clients.

CASE STUDY: Leveraging Whole Life Costing in Laptop Procurement


Novo-K was engaged in a global client project involving the procurement of laptops. The client faced several challenges as their approved distributor lacked arrangements to procure directly from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), resulting in increased procurement costs.


Our objective was to optimise the procurement process for the bulk requirement of laptops by leveraging our expertise in whole life costing (WLC). This included the process of procuring laptops that included taking into account the long-term arrangements while considering the total cost of ownership over the entire life cycle of the devices.


  • We collaborated closely with the client’s IT team to define laptop specifications, considering the overall requirements and estimated budget, utilising WLC principles by taking the following into consideration:
  1. Product Cost
  2. Warehousing Cost
  3. Delivery Cost
  4. Software licensing Cost
  5. Maintenance Cost
  6. Software Subscription Cost
  7. Decomissioning Cost
  • From a strategic point of view, we evaluated the relevance to various types of decision-making and assessment processes. This included its application to decisions required at various stages of an asset’s life as well as procurement decisions
  • We discussed the qualitative aspects as well, such as the supplier’s ability to deliver to certain standards, deliver on time and provide appropriate long-term support, along with the consideration of an asset’s effectiveness in the long term
  • Assessed the operational needs of the laptops, including costs, performance requirements, software compatibility, durability and the decommission process of the product.
  • Conducted thorough market research to identify top distributors capable of fulfilling the client’s requirements and accessing OEM products.
  • Leveraged Novo-K’s proprietary “Sourcing 2 Supervision” process, issuing a tender to selected suppliers, ensuring transparency and competitive pricing, integrating WLC factors into the evaluation criteria.
  • Identified the potential risks associated with each procurement option, such as supplier’s due diligence and assurance of supply
  • Assessed the short-term and long-term benefits and drawbacks of each option, considering both quantitative and qualitative factors.
  • Negotiated with the OEM and with Tier 2 distributors to establish a commercial model that aligned with the client’s budget and procurement objectives, by considering WLC principles.
  • Throughout the procurement process, emphasised the importance of considering the total cost of ownership and long-term value rather than just upfront costs, incorporating WLC insights and analysis.


Our strategic approach made a significant difference by securing a framework contract with a selected distributor and aligning with the OEM’s global pricing model, leading towards a remarkable 14% cost savings for the client. This reduction in procurement cost underscored the effectiveness of whole life costing in driving value and optimising procurement outcomes.


The successful application of whole life costing in this procurement project demonstrated our capability to unlock hidden value and drive sustainable procurement practices. It positioned us as a trusted partner for clients seeking strategic procurement solutions focused on long-term value optimisation. This case study highlighted the transformative impact of whole life costing in reshaping procurement practices and fostering well informed decision-making in strategic sourcing.

Innovation in Elite Sports Procurement: Novo-K’s Event and the Birth of ESPC

Novo-K recently joined forces with Arsenal Football Club, bringing together elite sports procurement and finance professionals for a day of networking and knowledge sharing. Amidst the excitement, pivotal insights emerged, shedding light on the transformative role of procurement in elite sports.

Richard Holmes, a leading figure from The Final Third and a champion of sustainability in elite sports, shared  invaluable insights  from years of experience and a personal passion and drive. Richard Holmes advocated for collaboration between sports clubs and local communities, highlighting its potential to drive sustainability and innovation within the industry.

Following on from Richard’s powerful session a collective call for sustained action resonated within the group. Fisayo Roberts advocated for a prolonged commitment to embedding sustainability within the cultural fabric of sports clubs, stressing the importance of continuity.

Key to this shift is the realisation that sustainability must surpass every aspect of a club’s operations. Tom Roche highlighted the significance of collaboration in fostering a sustainable supply chain, while Jai Pushkin from Defrae stressed the transformative impact of working with local suppliers to achieve cost efficiencies and support communities.

Jason Roberts from Kaleida championed diversity and inclusivity in procurement practices, allowing clubs to enhance their impact while saving valuable time. Michelle Banks from Brouha highlighted the pivotal role of sponsorship in advancing ESG goals, urging clubs to leverage partnerships as platforms for storytelling and community engagement.

As the event progressed, Novo-K’s track record with elite sports organisations like Chelsea Football Club took centre stage. Through strategic partnerships and innovative procurement solutions, Novo-K has established itself as a trusted ally in the pursuit of excellence and efficiency in sports procurement.

However, the day held an even greater importance; Novo-K unveiled the Elite Sports Procurement Collaborative (ESPC) as a game-changer in the realm of sports procurement. More than just a community, the ESPC represents a dynamic ecosystem where procurement professionals and suppliers converge to unlock opportunities and drive success. Novo-K’s ESPC launch captivated the audience, igniting innovation and collaboration in sports procurement.

Novo-K’s Collaboration in Elite Sports event signifies a commitment to partnership, innovation, and community in elite sports procurement. With the launch of ESPC, a new chapter unfolds—a future where collaboration knows no bounds and success knows no limits. Join us as we redefine the rules of the game and unlock a world of possibilities in elite sports procurement.

Personal Reflection:

As the Client Executive and now The ESPC Lead, I’m genuinely excited about the potential of ESPC in revolutionising Sports Procurement. The journey ahead is full of promise and anticipation, and I’m eager to see where it leads. Here’s to embracing the future and all the exciting possibilities it brings. Cheers to the journey ahead!

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Action: Insights from Novo-K’s Webinar

In the dynamic landscape of the modern workplace, the principles of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)  form the essential foundations for cultivating workplaces that are both equitable and progressive. The recent EDI in Action Webinar, that we hosted at Novo-K, brought together a dedicated community of professionals committed to turning words into tangible actions. We discussed the importance for substantial transformations within organisations, emphasising the urgency to create an inclusive workplace that goes beyond lip service, fostering a culture where diversity thrives, and everyone feels valued and empowered.

Our webinar featured insights from thought leaders shaping the landscape of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion. We were privileged to have Madeleine Joubert, CPO at BDO, Harinder Bansal, Head of Procurement at Motability Operations and Laura Daniel, Head of Procurement at GWR, share their experiences. Their insights and personal experiences highlighted actionable steps for creating a more inclusive workplace, making the journey towards diversity more accessible and impactful for all.

Promoting Openness and Fairness

At the heart of their discussions was a simple yet powerful idea: honesty breeds trust. They stressed the importance of being upfront in job adverts, especially about pay. This transparency, they argued, sets a positive tone and helps tackle inequalities head-on. Additionally, they highlighted the importance of paying people fairly for the value of their work and providing thorough training to foster inclusivity. They celebrated the impact of having diverse leaders, not just for reflecting society but also for bringing fresh perspectives to the table.

Tackling Bias and Building Awareness

Another big topic was biases in the recruitment process. Instead of merely discussing biases, they called for action to confront and overcome them. Advocating for training programmes to help hiring managers recognise and address biases, they also championed the need for fair policies and frameworks to ensure everyone has an equal chance, regardless of their background. They emphasised the value of embracing individuals with disabilities and different perspectives, seeing it as an opportunity for innovation and success.

Leading with Accountability and Action

Accountability and proactive measures were also key themes. They stressed the importance of crafting job descriptions that are inclusive for all and actively seek out diverse candidates. Recognising the need to address the challenges faced by underrepresented groups, they called for educational outreach efforts to nurture diversity and break down barriers.

Navigating Parenthood, Procurement, and Education

Their discussions also touched on the challenges of balancing parenthood with career progression and the importance of spreading awareness in industries less familiar with EDI principles. They spoke about the need for support structures for working parents and the importance of teaching equality and inclusion from an early age.

Towards a More Inclusive Future

In summary, their insights highlighted a shared commitment to creating inclusive workplaces. By prioritising transparency, confronting biases, and taking proactive steps, organisations can pave the way for a future where diversity is celebrated and normalised as part of the everyday culture.

As we embrace these lessons and take action, we move closer to a world where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.





Cyber Security in the Supply Chain

Cybersecurity in the supply chain involves protecting digital assets and information exchanged among suppliers, manufacturers and distributors. It aims to prevent unauthorised access, data breaches and disruptions that can impact operations. Key measures include access controls, data encryption, regular audits and fostering a security-aware culture. With the increasing complexity of cyber threats, organisations must adopt proactive measures to ensure the resilience and integrity of the global business environment.

Cyber Attacks

A cyber attack happens when an attacker accesses a company’s network via its suppliers or any other portion of the supply chain, introducing an infection which compromises company data.​

Cyber Security

Cyber security aims to reduce the risk of such cyber-attacks, protecting companies against the unauthorised exploitation of systems, networks and technologies thorough the whole supply chain network.


$1 trillion: The world economy loses more than $1 trillion each year due to cybercrime

To fully understand what drives a cyber attack, it is essential to deep-dive into the mind of a hacker. Analysing the method and motivations behind a cyber attack helps organisations further safeguard their digital assets. Here are a few possible reasons why hackers are motivated to conduct cyber attacks: 


Companies often think their supply chain isn’t a cyber security risk because they don’t share anything valuable or confidential.​


Any sensitive data that might cause reputational damage is important. A hacker might sell it or, ask for a ransom.​


Small or medium size organisations with weak security are easy targets as their systems are much easier to access. Companies with large client bases are also valuable targets as they withhold vast data sets that can be used if breached.


Media buzz around compromised information unfortunately assist the motivations of a hacker as the data that has been stolen increases in its value. As a result, the ransom amount to retrieve the data also increases.


Organisations that suffer cyber security breaches may face significant fines. ​There are also non-financial costs to be considered such as: 

  • Reputational damage
  • Fines​
  • Operational disruption​
  • Loss of business​

175 days: The average number of time that a threat has undetected access in a network.

How can Novo-K help you protect your organisation?

Novo-K Cyber+ offers you more than just cybersecurity. Alongside a detailed analysis of your supply chain cyber security, you additionally benefit from guidance on next steps provided by an expert team of procurement specialists.


Here’s how Novo-K Cyber+ can help your organisation monitor cyber risks in your supply chain: 

  • Unlimited Novo-K Cyber Plus reports​- Use reports to your advantage by identifying and uncovering potential cyber threats to your organisation. Our partner Darkbeam’s extensive coverage ensures unrestricted access to invaluable intelligence, allowing you to stay informed about emerging risks, potential data breaches and other cyber threats.
  • 25 Threat intelligence keywords monitored by analytics​- Leverage the power of analytics to monitor and analyse 25 key threat intelligence keywords relevant to your industry. Our advanced analytics system keeps a vigilant eye on digital channels, identifying potential threats associated with specified keywords. Stay ahead of emerging risks with real-time insights, allowing you to proactively address and mitigate evolving cybersecurity challenges.
  • 25 suppliers monitored for vulnerabilities​- Proactively assess and monitor vulnerabilities in up to 25 critical suppliers, receiving timely alerts and insights to fortify your supply chain against potential threats. Enhance the resilience of your business by staying ahead of supplier-related risks.
  • Suggested communication with suppliers- Foster a proactive and collaborative relationship with your suppliers through our Suggested Communication feature. Receive tailored recommendations on effective communication strategies, enabling you to address potential vulnerabilities and strengthen your overall supplier network.
  • Monthly report into emerging supplier vulnerabilities- Stay informed about the evolving landscape of supplier vulnerabilities with our Monthly Report feature. Receive a comprehensive overview of emerging risks within your supplier network, empowering you to make strategic decisions and implement targeted interventions. This insightful report serves as a valuable tool in your ongoing efforts to enhance the security and resilience of your supply chain.
  • Financial checks​- Ensure supplier financial stability with real-time checks, empowering you to make informed decisions and mitigate risks associated with financially unstable partners. Strengthen your risk management strategy with this essential tool.


Novo-K Cyber+ does not stop at identifying cyber threats. After monitoring your organisation’s supply chain, our offering provides expert insights and recommendations on how to manage the cyber risks identified. Here’s how Novo-K Cyber+ can help you manage your cyber risk:

  • “MONITOR” pack + below​- Elevate your cybersecurity with an all-encompassing solution. The package includes every feature from the MONITOR pack, ensuring comprehensive coverage and proactive defence against cyber threats.
  • RASA (Risk and Assurance of Supply Assessment)- Mitigate risks and ensure the assurance of your supply chain with our comprehensive Risk and Assurance of Supply Assessment (RASA). This thorough evaluation identifies potential vulnerabilities, allowing you to implement targeted measures to fortify your supply chain.
  • Lower rate cyber consultancy​- Access expert cyber consultancy services at a reduced rate. Benefit from professional guidance to enhance your cybersecurity strategy without compromising your budget, maximising the value of your investment.
  • RPR – Risk Prevention Report- Stay ahead of potential risks with our Risk Prevention Report (RPR). This feature provides a detailed analysis of potential threats and vulnerabilities, offering actionable insights to pre-emptively prevent risks and fortify your organisation against emerging challenges.
  • Supplier due diligence- Strengthen your supplier relationships by initiating direct contact and conducting due diligence. This feature empowers you to gather essential information, address concerns, and foster transparency, contributing to a more secure and reliable supply chain.​
  • Recommended procurement approach – Streamline your procurement processes with our Recommended Procurement Approach. Benefit from strategic guidance on the most effective procurement practices tailored to your organisation’s needs, ensuring a secure and efficient acquisition process. Optimise your procurement strategy to align with industry best practices and mitigate potential risks.


Reputation Management​: Protection against reputational damage​

Legal Compliance and Risk Assurance​: Cyber crime and GDPR and DPA 2018 compliance​

Financial Security​: A breach could cost your organisation up to 4% of its annual global turnover or €20 million (about £18 million) in regulatory fines​

Business continuity: Minimising the risk of disruptions and ensuring the continuous operation of critical systems​

Global Connectivity: Enhancing secure communication and collaboration in an interconnected digital world​

Privacy​: Safeguarding individuals’ and organisations’ private information from unauthorised disclosure​

​For more information about Novo-K Cyber Plus please feel free to get in touch with us @ info@novo-k.com.

5 tips for Procurement leaders to take control of cyber risks in their suppliers

Cyber attacks cause 50% of all supply chain disruption. Not only that, but all of the data shared with suppliers – from staff and customer data to commercially sensitive details – is only as safe as your organisation’s least secure vendor. When a supplier is successfully attacked, the financial, reputational and regulatory impact on your business can be profound.

With this established, it is clear why governments and regulators (including in Britain) are increasing the pressure on businesses to take control over their supplier cyber risk exposure. Even in organisations with established cybersecurity teams, this inevitably results as a burden upon procurement teams. But with the correct planning, tools and support in place, this can have a very positive impact – both financially and on the wider KPIs against which teams are measured. 

Engage your team from the beginning

Cybersecurity is inherently technical – but Procurement teams don’t need to be. With advances in technology (and the availability of comprehensive support), Procurement professionals don’t need to be computer scientists in order to manage their supplier cyber risks. With that said, your Procurement colleagues are human and understanding why the risks they are managing matter will help them to engage with the tools and processes you put in place.

“Our most successful clients all have one thing in common” says Charles Clark, co-founder of Darkbeam. “They make sure their team understand why managing cyber risks among suppliers has a positive impact on wider supplier performance measures. This increases adoption of risk management measures and consistently leads to a greater reduction in risk exposure across the supply chain than organisations who enforce a top-down approach.”

Through our partnership with Darkbeam, Novo-K Cyber+ provides supplier cyber risk management workshops, structured training and on-demand materials for all Procurement teams within all of our cyber risk management engagements.

Embrace automation

The ‘default’ approach to cyber risk management in the supply chain is to add more technical questions to an organisation’s supplier questionnaire. Sadly, this generally adds to the workloads of Procurement teams (and suppliers!) but provides a very limited amount of actionable, up-to-date visibility of risk levels.

“Supplier questionnaires have their place” says Charles Clark, Darkbeam Co-Founder. “But for a risk factor as fast-moving as supply chain cybersecurity, Procurement teams need up-to-date, consistent visibility that they can use to make decisions. Automation allows for the speed and scale required to get a true picture of supply chain cyber risks so that organisations can protect themselves against costs, data breaches and disruption.”

Darkbeam, our supplier cyber risk management partners, offer a comprehensive, automated platform which removes the manual work from assessing and monitoring cybersecurity risks among suppliers. 

Don’t ignore the tail 

Because of the perceived costs and complexity associated with supplier cyber risk management, many organisations adopt a ‘critical suppliers’ approach. Whilst this is better than no approach at all, it leaves the business exposed to an unknown level of risk – financially, operationally, reputationally and legally.  

“Some of our lowest spend, seemingly least critical suppliers leave us open to the highest level of cybersecurity risk” says Kavita Cooper, Managing Director of Novo-K. “From a purely data perspective, all of that information we share with niche, specific suppliers could be hugely embarrassing or legally consequential if it was stolen by hackers. Data aside, cyber attacks call half of all supply chain disruption – how many of our direct suppliers would be inconsequential if they were suddenly unable to deliver their products or services with no notice and no idea when supply with resume?” 

Novo-K Cyber+ monitor cyber risk levels among all of your suppliers as standard. This gives you the visibility you need to make decisions, while an intelligent approach to communicating risk within your team prevents an unmanageable deluge of alerts being created. 

Involve your suppliers

The fact that your supplier cyber risk management process isn’t solely reliant upon self-reported supplier questionnaires doesn’t mean that your suppliers are not a crucial part of the risk reduction process. Modern automated tools allow you and your suppliers to access the same information regarding their vulnerabilities and risk levels. This empowers a collaborative approach, in which both businesses benefit in an efficient, demonstrable way.

“Collaboration is an important element of any supplier relationship.” says Kavita Cooper of Novo-K. We encourage all organisations to work with their suppliers – using the incredible technologies available – to reduce supplier cyber risk levels across the board. Set clear goals and expectations, be clear about how they will be measured and collaborate on risk reduction activities. It leads to higher success rates and, thanks to automated tools, still takes less time than manual questionnaires.”

Novo-K Cyber+ powered by Darkbeam allows you to share all of your cyber risk analysis with the relevant supplier, so they see the same information you do. Combined with our Procurement expertise, you can collaboratively monitor adherence to clauses and policies with a lower workload than manual assessment.

Standardise reporting 

As we have established, supplier cyber risk is a business risk. To highlight the value created by your new risk management programme, it should be reported as such. At the very least, numerical risk reporting allows reductions to be shown clearly on a report. For best-in-class supplier cyber risk reporting, embrace a ‘value at risk’ approach to financially quantifying impact.  

“Businesses think in finances” says Charles Clark of Darkbeam. “As Procurement, we report our spend under management, cost savings, cost avoidance and often productivity in pounds and pence – there is no reason that our supplier cyber risk management activities should not be reported in the same way. It’s comparatively easy now to calculate supplier cyber risk exposure as a financial risk and share it across the business. This not only makes it ‘real’ for our colleagues but also ensures Procurement’s continued involvement in strategic risk conversations.” 

Through automated dashboards and bespoke KPI reporting, we help you to demonstrate the meaningful risk reductions achieved through your supplier cyber risk management programme from day one, supporting business buy-in and staff engagement. 

Building Your Recruitment Marketing Strategy

Building a marketing strategy to promote your job advert is of utmost importance in the current economic climate. Your job opportunity is going to be in competition with numerous other openings, so a normal job advert could easily be ignored. According to Paula Page, our Head of Procurement and Sustainability Recruitment, the only way to attract passive job seekers is by making sure your opportunity stands out. Therefore, it is crucial to build a reliable marketing strategy that successfully advertises your opportunity. Here are some tips she suggests!

The first step to making sure your job opportunity stands out is to develop its visual design. The appearance of the advert is as important as the content it carries. Ensure that you use imagery and font that is aesthetically appealing, while maintaining the overall structure of the job description. This makes the job vacancy stand out as well as provide an indication of what your organisation does and the larger culture it follows.

You should view your own advertisement through the eyes of the candidate and ask yourself, ‘would I apply to this role if I saw the advertisement?’

Nowadays, most job advertisements will be viewed on a mobile phone. It is, therefore, important that the format of your job advert is mobile-friendly and can easily be viewed and accessed by mobile phone users. It is also important to ensure that the application process is user-friendly making it easy for applicants to apply for the vacancy. Make sure your marketing strategy pays attention to the smallest details when it comes to advertising your job opportunity!

While there are multiple channels through which you can advertise your job vacancy, it is important to prioritise those that give you the best possible return of applications and those that are right for your specialist areas. Consider those channels through which you and your peers applied for jobs as well! Always think about how your advert is going to look to your wider professional network.

Social media is an effective way to market your job advert as the online traffic on social media platforms never runs out. LinkedIn, for example, is one of the biggest social media platforms that caters to building professional networks. So, keep in mind how your advert appears on a platform such as LinkedIn; whether it stands out as you scroll through your feed.

While digital marketing is the predominant method of advertising job vacancies, do not be too quick to disregard print adverts. Depending on the seniority of the vacant position, consider advertising via the press!

Your aim is to target to the right candidate group for your job vacancy.

If you have approached an external party, like a recruitment agency, make sure you have partnered with a specialist agency. It is essential that the team designing and marketing your advert fully understands how you want it to look and most importantly, how your organisation would be viewed by the wider community who will be seeing your advertisement.

Apart from the usual ways you can advertise your vacancy, consider creating a video advertisement! It is a powerful way of marketing your job opportunity. If your team is comfortable appearing on video, ask them to introduce themselves so that potential applicants can visualise what it would be like to work in your organisation. A video advertisement will help to capture the culture of your workplace and the video could even introduce the key stakeholders that the candidate would be working with daily. Video adverts are a powerful way of ensuring your role stands out amongst all the other vacancies in the market. Make sure you do not limit yourself when trying to find the optimal way to stand out amongst other job adverts, because ultimately the aim of marketing your job opportunity is to get the attention of those passive job seekers who will be a perfect fit for your organisation.

Once your recruitment process has a reliable marketing strategy to follow, it is time to think about the route you are going to take to recruit the candidate; whether it is going to be direct recruitment, or whether it is through an external recruitment organisation. Regardless of the route you take, it is imperative that everybody involved in the recruiting process understands exactly what your organisation is looking for to ensure that the advertised position will prove to be successful within your team. Hence, make sure you have invested enough time in fully briefing your recruitment team on the advertised role and how it can not only benefit the wider organisation, but the candidate as well, thereby highlighting each feature and benefit offered by the role.

Some of the most successful recruitment processes carry information delivered by those who are passionate to work in their organisation. So, make sure that voice is carried forward to the hiring partner who will eventually echo it in the job posting. Understanding every detail about the role will help in matching it against the experience levels of potential candidates, making it easier to put the right candidates through to the next round of selection.

Key takeaways on how to build an effective recruitment marketing strategy:

  • Use imagery and font that makes your job advert stand out!
  • Make your job advertisement mobile-friendly
  • Prioritise advertising through channels that give you the best possible return of applications and those that are right for your specialist areas
  • Think of different ways you can advertise your vacancy – consider video adverts!
  • Choose between direct or external recruitment processes

Not Just an Average Job Description!

In today’s market, it is especially important to think about how you are writing your job description. You are trying to attract passive job seekers who may not be actively looking for a new job opportunity. Therefore, you need to carefully consider how you write your job description, to ensure you are advertising your position in the best possible way. We asked Paula Page, our Head of Procurement and Sustainability Recruitment on how to best write a job description. Here’s what she suggests!

Firstly, focus on how your job description is structured; have you introduced your organisation and highlighted its culture in the job description? Will potential applicants understand the position and the opportunities that are offered within the role and how it can benefit their career? Does the job description describe the overall strategy of the team and how this role will help deliver that strategy? Make sure that these details are covered in your job description.

Since your priority is to attract the top talent for your organisation, it is imperative that your job description mentions the benefits offered by the vacancy. Focus on providing training and development information that may be relevant to candidates who are seeking significant advancements in their careers. Many candidates who may already be employed may seek opportunities for career progression that their current organisation may not be offering. If they see a job description that emphasises the training they would receive and how the role could lead to future career growth, it might entice them to apply for the vacancy.

Although it is important to make your job description attractive enough to the candidate, it is as important if not more, that you mention how impactful the vacant role will be to the wider team and the overall organisation. Ordinarily, there may be more junior members in a team. So, make sure you mention whether this role would mentor those individuals or whether the role itself would be mentored by more senior members. If so, highlight how such mentorship can help candidates on their CIPS journey or other qualifications that will help further advance their career.

Throughout the process of structuring your job description, keep in mind that you are trying to attract those passive job seekers. So, use this as a chance to entice them into applying for the role. Observe your job description and ask yourself if it excites you if you were in the applicant’s position. Because if your job description does not seem enticing to you and your team, it will not stand out to the passive job seekers you are trying to attract to this position.

Beginning Your Recruitment Process

The recruitment market is extremely buoyant at present with a high demand for experienced procurement and sustainability professionals. In such a market, it is undeniable that there is a struggle to find the right talent. There are numerous aspects to the recruitment process that may be overlooked. It is important that these are acknowledged and most importantly, implemented.

To begin with, think about the deliverables of the offered position and what role this position will take in helping to deliver the procurement or sustainability strategy within an organisation. If this is not decided at the very beginning of writing a job description, it could lead to a significant lack of clarity on what exactly the job entails. Therefore, it is essential to keep in mind the various factors related to those key projects and the potential candidate – on whether the individual is going to lead those key projects, or be a part of delivering them, etc – and to ensure that this has been mentioned in the job description. Additionally, mention the key benefits your organisation offers, its overall culture and why you love working for your organisation. A great place to start is to personalise the narrative by sharing why you like working for your organisation and what keeps you working there.

Once you have decided upon the deliverables of the position and how you are going to communicate them, it is time to think of how you are going to recruit this position. You are either going to follow a direct recruitment process, or go through a talent acquisition or HR team, or through a recruitment specialist. It is crucial to choose the right process that attracts the right applicants since we are currently in a market where there is a shortage of available candidates. Your priority lies in attracting passive job seekers – those who are not actively looking for a new position but who may be open to a good career opportunity if one came along. When you are approaching your recruitment process, make sure you think, “how am I going to appeal to somebody who isn’t actively looking in the market at the moment?” This line of thought additionally helps to decide the marketing strategy; how and where you are going to advertise the job vacancy.

In the current market, recruiters cannot stick to traditional routes of hiring. The process demands that we think creatively and utilise trending methods and platforms. This is essential when you are required to market your vacancy. LinkedIn is a great platform for posting your vacancy, whether you do this via your personal account, your organisation’s page, or traditional job boards. What is important is to recognise which platform acts as the best option to attract procurement and sustainability professionals. Additionally, be sure you do not limit your process to a single medium. Explore other channels through which the vacancy can be advertised. Videos are powerful. It is a fantastic way of advertising your organisation and conveying your company culture, while also introducing the team that this individual is going to be working with, and the wider stakeholders that they may be interacting with.

In a market where it is a struggle to balance the difficulty in finding the right talent while maintaining a visible presence amongst competitors, it is crucial that your organisation has a thorough recruitment process. This will make your opportunity stand out to those passive job seekers, compared to other opportunities in the market.

How Procurement Can Progress Sustainability and Circular Supply Chains

As sustainability has risen to the top of the business agenda rapidly, the procurement function has been given the opportunity to lead the change and innovate towards a better future.

Concepts for circular economy in supply chains and improvements across sustainable procurement practices have passed through businesses for some time.

However, large organisations have made significant investments this year, including IKEA’s production of circular mattresses, Coca Cola’s pilot using bottles made from 100% recycled plastic, and Nissan’s announcement of its aim to produce 100% of Electric Leaf vehicles using renewable energy.

We spoke to procurement professionals around ways to support the progress of sustainability.

Focus on whole-life cost

Stephen Whyte, managing director at supply chain software firm QADEX, highlighted that, a ‘systemic change’ is needed especially within the fast fashion industry as clothing sold extremely cheaply is likely to have potential sustainability risks.

“We all need to be the sustainability experts in our own circle of control ­— from businesses to consumers.”

“The model of cheapest first is not always necessarily going to work in the future. We will have to focus on the total lifecycle cost of production, including the carbon footprint and modern slavery, and look at a balanced scorecard of people planet, and profit,” he said.

“That’s why it’s a systemic challenge, not just a mindset change needed in a single department or function.”

Robert Bonnar, global procurement director at energy firm SHV Energy, added that for sustainability to progress procurement need to adopt a holistic, total cost of ownership approach. “The total business case will work, but might not fit with the traditional profit and loss & balance sheet because you’re trying to implement a different business model.

“Instead of ‘how cheap can I get this new material’, it’s about understanding the cost from a holistic view through the full lifecycle. For example, finding ways to extend the life cycle or improve the usage — rather than buying more — can really optimise costs,” he said.

Drive consumer choice

While procurement usually take the lead from consumer demand, it’s time for the function to take the stage for driving value through the business.

Andy Neilson, founder of procurement consultancy Twisted Orange and commercial director at Novo-K, said: “Procurement can be that conduit for change because a lot of consumers need educating as well.”

It’s a cycle of suppliers educating procurement on the innovation opportunities that can support sustainability targets, which educates the business and expands market competition, enabling consumers to make healthier choices, he added.

Whyte highlighted that its vital to get buy-in from other stakeholders, and procurement plays a key role in communicating the benefits of investing more in products that benefit people and the environment, so that the businesses can bring consumers on board.

Innovation through collaboration

Supplier innovation is the fuel that generates new sustainability solutions, from alternative packaging to improved recycling technology, but organisations need to support these efforts by coordinating needs, investing and helping carry the risks.

Bonnar said: “If you think you’re interested in circular economy or sustainability, your supply chain is investing ten times as much as you are, so tapping into that is key to building the momentum together.”

“They’re also in tune with the market trends and competitors’ movements so building effective supplier relationships, especially on matters of innovation, will be the difference between whether you’re at the forefront of your industry or just trying to catch up with everyone else.”

According to Neilson, good supplier relationship management is having the time, resource and mandate to focus on relationships, not just cost management, and understand how to balance short-term commercial benefit against long-term overall benefits.

Identify circular opportunities and simple solutions

Peter Smith, procurement author and founder of consultancy Procurement Excellence, said companies need to start by defining who their stakeholders are, what they care about and what the business is trying to achieve, in order to identify their sustainability area of focus.

For example, a timber company will prioritise sustainable sourcing to address deforestation, while it might be more beneficial for a cosmetics firm, where most of the customers are female, to donate 10% of profits to educating girls in the developing world or supporting diverse female-owned businesses, he explained.

Smith also highlighted the importance of close cross-departmental relationships between the sustainability and procurement function internally, as well as external collaborations, to build circular economy.

“It’s not just collaboration between the buyer and the supplier, it often goes deeper to include the regulators, government agencies, and industry bodies. While circular supply chains are still in their early days, some of the biggest impacts are being made through mass industry initiatives,” he added.

Similarly, Bonnar cautioned against over-complicating solutions as often processes or materials need improving not reinventing. He highlighted the example of steel cylinders used to store gas which are already recyclable, but could benefit logistically from being made more lightweight.

“Sometimes in a drive for circularity, we can lose sight of the really simple solutions we’ve already got. Make sure that you retain the positives, your innovation should be an improvement, not just taking one slightly imperfect solution and implementing a different, slightly imperfect solution,” he added.

Map with the purpose of measuring

Neilson warned that a lot of corporate news can be PR and doesn’t go far enough to deliver results, saying that too often organisations use the difficulty of measurability as a scapegoat, because if they measure it, they’ll have to manage it.

Supply chain mapping is the main action required to build better visibility in the road to measuring sustainability ­— the shortfalls, opportunities and achievements — as is common with managing a key risk area. Once actions to implement sustainable solutions have been made, contract management is the next step to safeguarding requirements established with suppliers and monitor positive impacts.

Smith said: “For many government contracts, there’s going to be a demand that buyers include a 15% evaluation weighting for social value / sustainability. How this will be done still needs to be clearer however, and contract management and reviews need to be taken more seriously. They are a key part in ensuring suppliers do what they promise.”

Bonnar added that you can’t simply let it run in the background, you need to stay engaged with suppliers and embed continuous improvement and innovation in contracts.

“You should be looking at having key performance indicators (KPIs) and service level agreements (SLAs) to benchmark your sources of logistics, energy utilities, more recyclability in packaging, as well as building that customer of choice/partnership aspect in,” he said.

Overcoming 8 barriers to procurement transformation

This article has been written by Stuart Dunk, Managing Director of Dont Forget to Look.

I’m a firm believer that 80% of procurement’s role in an organisation, is earning the right to do some procurement.

Recently, consultancy The Hackett Group identified eight barriers to procurement transformation (What are the eight barriers to procurement transformation? – Supply Management (cips.org), and it just reinforces my instinct. No, perhaps it’s more like 90%. And it’s not even ‘transformation,’ it’s simply the day-to-day showing up and trying to do a great job in a great team.

I really liked Kavita Cooper’s (MD at procurement firm Novo-K) thoughts on overcoming those barriers.

Here are 3 of mine.

Team culture drives team performance

Start with sitting down as a team, thinking about and articulating ‘Why are we here, who are we, and what are we here to do?’ before diving into the work. (Check out ‘Drexler-Sibbet high performance’ on the search engine of your choice!) Teams who unite around a shared purpose and identity will feel like they are part of something, they will have a high degree of focus, trust and problem solving.

These teams can rely on each other, they are open to share ideas without fear, and they give and receive feedback for the good of their team, never from a position of ego. This is just the sort of commando unit you want to unleash into the complex and fluid landscape of delivering value for stakeholders.

Treat your procurement team like a brand

What do all brands need? Well, lots of things, but if we think of a typical sales funnel, first comes Awareness. Some internal procurement teams just don’t have awareness amongst the stakeholder
groups they serve, (let alone any consideration or preference), so why should we expect them to use our services?

Procurement teams who commit to take their message out into the stakeholder base in a structured and intentional way, will outperform teams who don’t, across any procurement metric you care to mention: savings, revenue, contract coverage, spend under management… my favourite? Go a step further, ask your stakeholders to do a NPS score twice per year!

Get obsessed about the stakeholder universe and what they need. What are they spending their money on? How does it tie to wider business needs? What problems or goals do they have?

Get yourselves an invite to the team meeting of a budget holder and demystify procurement for them. Ask for 5 mins to introduce yourself and what procurement is. Leave a couple of slides behind so they can check back later. Then don’t be afraid to share things you’ve seen in the supply market that have relevance and immediacy based on what you know of the business and stakeholder needs: keep that awareness high, and if you are timely, relevant, and open, you’ll quickly progress down that ‘sales funnel’ to working hand in hand.

Influencing and Persuasion

In procurement we’re supposed to be good at negotiating, right? If my 80-90% mentioned at the beginning is true, then it follows that a good chunk of this 80-90% is influencing the internal stakeholders to work with us.

Dr Cialdini, a professor of both psychology and marketing, explains that which we may intuitively recognise once we see his shortcuts to influence in black and white in a page: people work with people they like, who have authority on a subject, and who have done something for that person already. (That’s 3 out of 6! Check the rest out more on Dr C here: Robert Cialdini – Wikipedia)

It follows that procurement needs to have the right amount of skill (through experience, coaching and previous work) to show a level of subject matter expertise, but simply showing up and offering to help or sharing ideas, will generate the sense of liking and reciprocity that also helps us get closer to the needs of the stakeholder, and a seat at the table to work on the ‘procurement stuff’ of RFIs, RFPs, supplier negotiations, contracts, etc


‘Trusted partner’ status does not come over night. Spend 90% of your time understanding what the business needs, what your stakeholders have to deliver; help them get to know you: how to engage
you, and the different types of value you can bring, then the projects will come, the savings will come, but just as importantly, the job will be a joy.

We can pay for all the training and coaching the company will give us. We can hire the most expensive consultancies and leaders, but if you are new to procurement or finding your way anywhere in business, just remember that people work with people they want to work with because they enjoy it, not just because there might be a business goal.

Ask, then listen. Be interested, show that you care and how you can help. The common ground will grow, and the resistance will evaporate.

If you work in procurement at a brand and would like to discuss how to optimise the relationship with stakeholders, to avoid and overcome any barriers to unleashing the full effectiveness of your procurement function, please reach out at hello@dontforgettolook.com or via Linked In

Auther bio:

Stuart Dunk is a former marketing procurement lead at brands like Nike and Danone, and runs marketing procurement and marketing operations coaching and consultancy Don’t Forget to Look, where he now works with both brands and agencies to deliver better work, demystifying the who, what and why of procurement along the way.